YK MYK SALARIED CLASS LOSING JOBS FASTER THAN EXPECTED THIS YEAR TAMIL ACTOR VIVEK PASSES AWAY AFTER HEART ATTACK OPINION SCREEN & CINEMA Morning India Rs. 3 KOLKATA SUNDAY, 18 APRIL, 2021 PG-12, YEAR—7, ISSUE—330 (RNI NO: WBENG / 2014 / 56803) Peaceful polls witness over 78 pc turn-out in the fifth phase MI NEWS SERVICE KOLKATA: Bengal saw 78.36 per cent voter turnout till 6.30 pm in the fifth phase of the Assembly election on Saturday. Chief Electoral Officer Ariz Aftab said that the polling "was held peacefully" in 15,789 polling stations spread across 45 Assembly constituencies. Polling was held in six districts - Jalpaiguri, Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Nadia, North 24Parganas and Purba Bardhaman. Jalpaiguri recorded the highest turnout with 81.71 per cent, while Purba Bardhaman and Nadia registered 81.67 per cent and 81.50 per cent respectively. A total of 319 candidates, including 38 women, contest- WEATHER TODAY MAX 36 C MIN 27 C ed in this phase. Among the 45 constituencies, Maynaguri reported the highest turnout of voters at 85.65 per cent while the Matigara-Naxalbari constituency recorded 81.65 per cent and Barasat recorded 77.71 per cent. Bidhanagar saw 61.10 per cent of voters and Siliguri 74.83 per cent turnout. The Election Commission (EC) had invoked powers under Article 324 to curtail the timing of the campaign to curb the spread of COVID-19, extending the silence period to 72 hours for the remaining three phases. The fourth phase of polling had seen violence in which five persons were killed. Few minor incidents were reported in the fifth phase election on Saturday. Aftab said a country-made firearm was recovered from booth number 44 and 45A in Ranaghat. Police have seized the firearm and an independent candidate Kaushik Bhaumik has been arrested. "In Ranaghat, a man was attacked and he suffered an injury in his left leg. He has been admitted to Shantipur State General Hospital. His condition is stable and three people have been arrested in this regard. Another man's house was damaged in Ranaghat. Two people have been detained," he added Locals in the Deganga constituency alleged that the Central forces opened fire in the area and chased away people from a polling booth, although no one was injured. They also claimed that the forces vandalised booth number 81 in Kumarpur in the Deganga constituency. However, the Barasat Superintendent of Police (SP) wrote a letter to the Special Police Observer in Bengal, saying that the allegation of blank firing in the Deganga constituency "is found to be not based on facts". A minor scuffle between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supporters was earlier reported at Bidhannagar. "TMC goons stopped me here at Nayapatti. They are also stopping the voters," BJP candidate from Bidhannagar Sabyasachi Dutta said. TMC candidate Sujit Bose blamed the BJP workers. "Two of our people were injured in stonepelting by BJP supporters at booth numbers 265 and 272. We have informed the election Observer and police. The situation is normal now," Bose said. The convoy of BJP candidate from Kamarhati, Raju Banerjee, was also allegedly attacked during the fifth phase of voting The voting for the sixth of the eightphased election in the State will be held on April 22. Central forces allegedly open fire : During the fifth phase of the Bengal Assembly elections on Saturday, Central forces allegedly opened fire in Delhi court grants interim HC grants bail to Lalu Prasad in bail to Vikas Mishra fodder scam case MI NEWS SERVICE MI NEWS SERVICE Sky will be partly cloudy. AT A GLANCE JUNA AKHARA, OTHER SECTS END KUMBH PILGRIMAGE NEW DELHI: Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call to observe the ongoing 'Kumbh Mela' in a "symbolic" way, the 'Juna Akhara' on Saturday concluded the annual event from its side ensuring that other saints linked to different Akharas also agree to end the holy pilgrimage. PG 5 CORONA METER INDIA TOTAL CASES: 1,46,07,283 TOTAL DEATH: 1,75,973 WORLD polling station number 215 in the Deganga constituency in North 24-Parganas. Speaking to ANI, Mohammed Jabirullah Mondal on said: "We were voting peacefully when they (Central forces) suddenly appeared and chased our men in the fields... Around 78 forces arrived and chased four of our men who were lying here and opened fire. We do not know why they started shooting." He further informed that the forces fired a single round and no one was injured. Furthermore, another person named Abir Hussain told ANI that there were five to six people resting in the shade at the polling station when the Central forces arrived and opened fire. Meanwhile, locals alleged RANCHI: The Jharkhand High Court on Saturday granted bail to RJD supremo Lalu Prasad in the Dumka fodder scam case. With it, the path for release of the RJD leader has been paved. Justice Aparesh Kumar Singh allowed the bail while asking Lalu to furnish two sureties of one lakh each and also pay half of the fine imposed on him under IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act respectively. Notably, Lalu had approached the court for bail with the plea that he has completed half of the sentence, which is 42 months, in the case. CBI lawyer Rajiv Sinha opposed the petition on the grounds that the court had awarded the punishment of seven years each under the IPC and the PC Act, adding that the terms were to run consequently. He said that under the situation the half-term be calculated on 14 years and not seven years. Sources said that the CBI is likely to move the Supreme Court against the HC order. The CBI is of view that as per law that Lalu who is convicted under several fodder scam cases has to serve each TOTAL CASES: 140,675,357 TOTAL DEATH: 3,015,246 of the terms separately. Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal argued the case of Lalu online. The court had in February rejected the bail plea of Lalu saying that he has not completed the half term. Meanwhile, RJD leaders expressed happiness over the decision. Office bearer Irfan Ansari said that his prayers during holy Ramadan month has bore fruit. Ansari said that he would celebrate Eid with festivity this season. Working president of Congress Rajesh Thakur has also welcomed the decision. It may be stated here that a fodder scam case related to illegal withdrawal from the Doranda treasury is also under trial in the special CBI court. FISCAL PACKAGE MAY BE ON CARDS TO MAINTAIN ECONOMIC RECOVERY AMID COVID 2.0 NEW DELHI: A fiscal stimulus package may be on the cards again as the government looks at ways to prevent the present surge in Covid-19 cases and the ensuing restrictions imposed by the states from derailing the economic recovery. After last year's lockdowns, which resulted in the country's GDP contracting by (-) 23.9 per cent, it was hoped that the economy will grow handsomely in FY22 to register a double digit growth. For this to happen, the RBI has projected a Q1 FY22 GDP growth of 26.2 per cent. But the recent surge in the pandemic has again raised serious questions about the health of the economy. There are some discussions within the government about the need, shape and timing of a fresh fiscal stimulus package. BUSINESS NEW DELHI/KOLKATA: A Delhi Court granted interim bail to Vikas Mishra, brother of Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Vinay Mishra, arrested by Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the coal mining scam. The Court has granted bail to Mishra till May 15 on medical grounds. Special Judge Anurag Sain in an order passed on Friday said: "The interim bail has been granted to accused solely on the basis of medical grounds and for a period of one month starting from Saturday till May 4 and the accused is directed to surrender before the Tihar Jail on or before the approved date." In case the accused has violated any of the condition of the bail, ED has the right to move appropriate application for cancellation of bail, the judge added. "....Vikas Mishra is admitted to interim bail till May 15 on his furnishing personal bond in the sum of Rs.2,00,000 with one surety. The accused shall not interfere in the investigation of the matter in any manner and shall join the investigation as and when called by the investigation officer...." the Court added while imposing several conditions. The Court also noted that the detailed medical report of the accused was filed by the doctor and as per the report and the submissions made by the doctor, the medical conditions of the accused are not good. The medical report submitted by the doctor stated: "Inmate patient admitted in MI Room but his symptoms are persisting and his general condition is deteriorating and currently in view of COVID-19 pandemic the OPD referral is avoided to control the spread of the virus to other inmates as well as restricted availability of treatment due to pandemic restrictions of these higher approved referral centres." Advocate Amit Mahajan, Central Government Standing Counsel along with NK Matta, Nitesh Rana, Special Public prosecutor appeared for ED and Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra with Advocate Neeraj Shekhar had appeared for accused Vikas Mishra in the case. According to the ED, on November 27, 2020, a case was registered by CBI, Kolkata against Amit Kumar Dhar, the then general manager, Kunustoria area, ECL Jayesh Chandra Rai, general manager ECL, Kajora Area, Tanmay Das, chief security, ECL Asansol, Dhananjay Rai, Area Security Inspector ECL, Debashish Mukerjee, Security in charge, Kajora area, ECL, Anup Majee and unknown officials of ECL, CISF, Railways, other departments and unknown private persons for alleged commission of cognisable offence under various sections of IPC and Prevention of Corruption . BENGAL ASSEMBLY POLLS Huge turnout in largely peaceful fifth phase polling KOLKATA: Though there were some stray incidents but the state recorded huge polling in the fifth phase of the election. The final figures are yet to come but the voters' turnout recorded by the commission shows that there was 78.36 percent polling till 5 p.m. on Saturday evening. According to the data released by the commission, Jalpaiguri registered the highest voting percentage of 81.73 percent followed by East Burdwan with 81.72 percent. Nadia witnessed 81.57 percent voting while North 24 Parganas and Darjeeling had 74.83 and 74.32 percent voting respectively. Kalimpong recorded the lowest turnout with 69.56 percent. TMC MP Mimi Chakraborty after casting her vote in Jalpaiguri on Saturday. ANI There were altogether 319 candidates from different political parties in the fifth phase of polls that was conducted in 45 constituencies including 7 in Jalpaiguri, 5 in Darjeeling, 1 in Kalimpong, 8 in Nadia, 16 in North 24 Parganas and 8 in East Burdwan. Though overall the voting was peaceful all over the state, there were some sporadic incidents including the arrest of an Independent candidate of Chakdah AC in Nadia district for having a firearm in his possession. "Koushik Bhowmick, the candidate was found going around a polling booth at Baliadanga, Daspara area with a country made gun tucked in his trousers. He dropped the firearm when the central forces intercepted him after the local people raised a hue and cry," CEO Ariz Aftab told the media after the election. Incidentally a booth agent of the BJP Abhijit Samanta died after falling sick at a polling station in Kamarhati, North 24 Parganas district. He was rushed to a local hospital where he was declared brought dead. How an India, Iran and Russia alliance can save Afghanistan NEW DELHI: Tired and broken, the United States has announced its unceremonious exit from Afghanistan. The decision, in many ways, is a throwback to a similar moment in recent history— the pullback of the Soviet forces from the strife torn nation after Moscows ill-fated intervention in Afghanistan in 1979. The Soviet Union was then a superpower, although ailing, when it decided to move forces across the Hai ratan bridge now in Uzbekistan, only to face defeat in a country which has been well described as the "graveyard of empires". After President Joe Biden's announcement of pulling out of Afghanistan by September 11, the US forces would be scurrying back to the mainland, without achieving most of their mission objectives as announced after the collapse of the twin towers in 2001. After the 9/11 terror attacks, the US had ousted Afghanistan's Taliban rulers, who were fully backed by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence. During their rule, the Taliban had sheltered the worst of the international terror groups in Afghanistan, headed by Al Qaeda. But after 20 years of western intervention, and after copious drain of blood and treasure, the Taliban are back, now lying-in wait to make a full-fledged comeback in the badlands of the AfPak. And over the years, the Taliban have not severed their links with Al Qaeda and ISIS and ISKP, AQIS and the Haqqani Network. With the exit of the western forces, regional powers in Afghanistan's periphery are set to fill the vacuum left behind by the vanquished western nations. Acknowledging defeat, US President Joe Biden has personally pleaded for the regional countries to script Afghanistan's post-withdrawal future. "We'll ask other countries, other countries in the region, to do more to support Afghanistan, especially Pakistan, as well as Russia, China, India, and Turkey. They all have a significant stake in the stable future for Afghanistan," Biden said in his major speech announcing the closure of another infamous chapter in Afghanistan. As regional powers realign ahead of the departure of western forces, what are India's options that would enable New Delhi to protect its core interests? Despite the overhang of regional powers over Afghanistan, it is important to note that there are significant fault lines among the local powers that will be in play once the Americans leave. Among the regional powers, a new power cluster comprising China-Pakistan-Turkey is emerging which is working closely to exercise dominance inside Afghanistan. As reported earlier by India Narrative, it is in Afghanistan that interests of Turkey, Pakistan, and China strongly converge. For Turkey, an entrenchment in Afghanistan will turn Kabul into a springboard for forays into broader Central Asia -- a resource rich region with which Ankara shares deep seated cultural and linguistic ties. For Pakistan, Turkey's assistance is badly needed to reacquire its "strategic depth" to counter India and Iran, and to seal a security threat from across the Durand Line. For China, tighter control will allow the extension of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), to access Afghanistan's resources including lithium, the feedstock of Beijing's electric car revolution. It would also help prevent the seepage of Islamic extremists from Afghanistan into the Wakhan corridor, and help prevent the destabilisation of China's strategic Xinjiang region. As regional powers realign ahead of the departure of western forces, what are India's options that would enable New Delhi to protect its core interests? For starters, India has to quickly and fundamentally readjust its strategic prism and look afresh at Afghanistan and its neighbourhood. With the US virtually out of the equation, New Delhi has no option but to find a powerful niche within the ambit of divided regional powers. that Central forces vandalised booth number 81 in Kumarpur in the Deganga constituency. A Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers named Sahabuddin said: "They came back here and vandalised the station, beat up voters and hurled abuses. Five were injured. They tore up Mamata Banerjee's posters. Our only fault is that we are Didi's workers, and they are central forces, who are working for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)." Meanwhile, the Barasat Superintendent of Police (SP) wrote a letter to the Special Police Observer in Bengal, saying that the allegation of blank firing in the Deganga constituency "is found to be not based on facts". RS 500 FINE FOR NOT WEARING FACE MASKS IN RAIL PREMISES, TRAINS NEW DELHI: In view of the rising Covid cases across the country, Indian Railways on Saturday said that it will impose a fine of up to Rs 500 on the passengers for not wearing face masks in the railway premises or during the travel in trains, for a period of six months. In an letter to all the General Managers of Railway zones on Saturday, Executive Director of Passenger Marketing Neeraj Sharma said, "Indian Railways is taking various measures to contain the spread of the resurgence of Covid-19 pandemic, in accordance with the guidelines issued by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Home Affairs from time to time. One of the specific guideline is to wear masks in order to contain the spread of the pandemic." CENTRE DEVELOPING OXYGEN GENERATION PLANTS IN HOSPITALS NEW DELHI: Taking a serious note of the issue of shortage of medical oxygen in many states across the country amid surging COVID-19 cases, the Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Saturday said that the Centre has taken concrete steps to resolve the issue and situation will be normalised soon. The Union Minister chaired a high-level meeting with the Health Ministers of 11 states and UTs. JAC POSTPONES CLASS X-XII EXAMS RANCHI: Jharkhand Academic Council (JAC) has postponed the matriculation and the intermediate examinations, which were to be held from May 4. JAC secretary Mahip Singh said that the next direction on the issue would be issued on June 1 after a review. He said that minimum of 15 days would be given to the students to prepare for the examination. Around seven lakh students were expected to take the examination.