Agartala, 19 April : At least eight of the total 19 candidates contesting the two Lok Sabha seats in Tripura were undergraduates while two have criminal cases pending against them, the National Election Watch (NEW) said in a report Saturday.
There is just one woman candidate in Tripura that goes to the polls 23 April. ‘It is a shame for the country with most of the political parties giving tickets to semi-literate candidates,’ NEW’s Tripura chapter’s chairman B.B. Senapati said.
Comprising 1,200 NGOs across the country, NEW is a non-partisan civil society effort in creating accountable and transparent governance in India. The NEW has been publishing state-wise reports about all states, highlighting the backgrounds of the candidates contesting the Lok Sabha polls.
‘Analysis of the candidates’ backgrounds revealed that 63 percent of the contesting 19 candidates were above 40 years, while 50 percent candidates were more than 65-years-old,’ Senapati told reporters. According to the NEW report, there was only one ‘crorepati’ (multi-millionaire) out of 19 contestants. The report also said that of the 19 candidates, five were renominated by their parties for the Lok Sabha polls.
Sunday was the hottest April day in Kolkata since 25 April, 1980, when the mercury had risen to 41.7 degrees Celsius. The discomfort index on Sunday touched 64.8 degrees Celsius, 10 degrees above normal. Going by the weatherman’s prediction, there is little chance of relief from the sweltering spell in the next 24 hours. “The heat wave will continue in isolated places in Gangetic Bengal in the next 24 hours,” said D.N. Talapatra, the director of the Regional Meteorological Centre, Alipore.
Agartala, 19 April : Frequent power cuts are causing discomfort during this dry and hot season. Several areas of Agartala are reeling under power cuts. Power situation in Sub divisional towns and rural areas are pathetic, sources said.
Dhaka, 18 April : Bangladesh has revamped security measures for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina after India cautioned it about possibility of her exposure to an "assassination attempt."
"We have asked the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to be on high alert so that no one can harm the Prime Minister... Besides (the security agencies), people will always be there to resist the schemers - be they local or international," Home Minister Sahara Khatun told reporters. Khatun, however, evaded a direct comment on the reported warning by Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, who held an exclusive 40-minute meeting with Hasina during a surprise two-day visit to Dhaka last week.
Menon came to Dhaka on 12 April on a two-day visit when he also held talks with Army Chief Gen Moeen U Ahmed ahead of a routine meeting with his counterpart Touhid Hossain and making a courtesy call on Foreign Minister Dipu Moni.
All the fishers and the owners of the fishing vessels are, therefore, advised not to carry out fishing by employing bottom trawling gear and shark fishing during the period. Violation of the rule shall be dealt with strictly as per the Rules.
Further, the fish traders, trading in shark and shark products are advised to declare and get their stock of shark and shark products inspected.
Dhaka, 18 April : At least five people, including two children, were killed as Cyclone Bijli struck the Bangladesh coast Friday night, said a food and disaster management ministry official. Deputy secretary of the Bangladesh ministry, Md Sultan Ul Islam Chowdhury, briefed reporters on the damage and death toll collated up to 5pm(BDST) Saturday.
"The cyclone hit three districts—Chittagong, Cox's Bazar and Bhola—where necessary relief materials are being sent. Maritime ports were able to lower all danger signals as the storm passed over by afternoon", he added.
The five cyclone victims died at Bashkhali cyclone shelter in Chittagong; 1 died as a tree fell; another child died at Cox's Bazar cyclone centre; 1retired school teacher died of a heart attack at Kutubdia Upazila shelter; and 1 was struck by lightning. The death toll could rise as more reports are collated, say officials.
Dubai, 17 April : Pakistan has been stripped of hosting rights for the 2011 World Cup because of the 'uncertain security situation' in the country, the International Cricket Council said on Friday.
"It is a regrettable decision (but) our number one priority is to create certainty and deliver a safe, secure and successful event," ICC president David Morgan said in a statement.
Pakistan were due to co-host the event with India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
They were waiting for Mithun Chakraborty, the Mahaguru of Bengali cinema to hear him speak about Pranab Mukherjee, the MP from Jangipur, an otherwise little known town in Murshidabad. The venue turned chaotic and the villagers violent after the tiring wait. Mithunda was escorted out after barely three minutes on the dais. Pranab couldn't even reach near the venue. For nearly 10 days, Congress workers in Jangipur and the rest of Murshidabad had only one thing to talk about the high-voltage election campaign of Mithun Chakraborty with Pranab Mukherjee. The other speaker was Behrampore MP and Congress strongman Adhir Chowdhury. At 5.55 pm, Mithun reached the venue. As he walked to the dais, clad in a white shirt, white trousers and dark glasses on, the situation turned more chaotic.
"I have not come here to campaign for any political party. I have very good relation with Pranab babu and came here out of respect," Mithun told the awe-struck villagers. Referring to shoegate, Mithun said new shoes should be hurled. "Don't throw old ones at the political leaders," were his words.
< Tropical cyclone Bijli, formerly "1B" puts India and Bangladesh on alert. Photo : Nasa
UNB, Dhaka, 17 April : The cyclonic storm Bijli is likely to intensify further and move in a north or northeasterly direction and may cross Barisal-Chittagong coast by Friday midnight, a Met Office bulletin said today. Maritime port of Chittagong has been advised to hoist warning signal No seven and Mongla port signal No five.
Bijli, the season’s first cyclonic storm (with ecp 992 hpa) over northwest bay and adjoining west central bay, moved slightly northeastwards on the same area at 6:00am(BDST). The coastal districts of Chittagong, Noakhali, Feni, Laxmipur, Bhola, Barisal Chandpur and their offshore islands and chars will come under danger signal No seven. The coastal districts of Cox’s Bazar and offshore islands and chars will come under danger signal number six. The coastal districts of Patuakhali, Barguna, Pirojpur, Jhalakathi, Bagerhat, Khulna, Satkhira, and their offshore islands and chars will remain under danger signal No five.
The cyclone was centred about 525 kms southwest of Chittagong Port, 485 kms southwest of Cox’s Bazar port and 360 kms south-southwest of Mongla Port. Under the influence of the storm, the coastal districts of Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong, Noakhali, Feni, Laxmipur, Bhola, Barisal, Patuakhali, Barguna, Chandpur, Pirojpur, Jhalakathi, Bagerhat, Khulna, Satkhira and their offshore islands and chars are likely to experience heavy rain accompanied by squally wind speed up to 120 kph with the passage of the storm.
The low-lying areas of the coastal districts of Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong, Noakhali, Feni, Laxmipur, Bhola, Barisal, Patuakhali, Barguna, Chandpur, Pirojpur, Jhalakathi, Bagerhat, Khulna, Satkhira and their offshore islands and chars are likely to be inundated by storm surge of height seven to ten feet above normal astronomical tide.
Under its influence deep convection is taking place over north Bay. Squally weather may affect the maritime ports. Maximum sustained wind speed within 54 kms of the cyclone centre is about 70 kph rising to 90 kph in gusts or squalls. Sea will remain very rough around the storm centre. All fishing boats and trawlers over north Bay must remain in shelter till further notice.
။ Rohingya Refugee :
Dhaka ready to assist Yangon in early repatriation: Dipu Moni
UNB, Dhaka, 17 April : Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni expressed Bangladesh's readiness to extend assistance to Myanmar for early repatriation of the remaining Rohingya refugees to their homeland.
"With limited resources, Bangladesh had done more than enough for the refugees from Myanmar for the last three decades and Myanmar must take back its own people," she said at a meeting on the sidelines of the '3rd Bali Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crimes'.
She also stressed multilateral approach by the countries of the region to solve the Rohingya problem. Other ministers present at the meeting also agreed with her and called upon the Myanmar delegation to improve the state of affairs and develop basic facilities and resources in Rakhaine province of Myanmar.
Barisal, 17 April : The authorities today closed the Barisal Sher-e-Bangla Medical College for an indefinite period following a series of clashes between two factions of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) that left a student missing and 10 injured.
The students have already vacated their halls by 8 in the morning following an order of the authorities asking to vacate the halls, private television ATN Bangla reports. The clash broke out last night at the hostel No 1 of the medical college between two factions of the BCL over establishing supremacy on the campus.
Later, the academic council of the medical college decided to shut down the college to avert further untoward incident.
Dhaka, 16 April : Authorities in Bangladesh Thursday alerted coastal residents about an intensifying cyclone in the central Bay of Bengal, officials said. The Meteorological Department advised coastal residents and crews on fishing boats in the bay to be cautious after the deep depression over the southeast and central Bay of Bengal turned into a cyclone early Thursday.
The cyclone was named Bijli and was centred about 875 km south of the port of Cox's Bazar and 760 km south of Mongla port at 9 a.m., according to a department statement.
Acting on the directives of the Election Commission to carry out preventive arrests, police had entered Jadubari Chowk village to arrest Chittaranjan Ray. Villagers however, alleged that on the pretext of arresting Ray, police molested several women. Villagers alleged that there were no women in the police team.
"Around midnight, police broke into Ray's house and molested the women in his family. We blew conch shells to raise an alarm and other villagers rushed to help," said Falguni Ray, a neighbour. Meanwhile, Chittaranjan fled. When police were leaving, villagers blocked the road by felling trees. They hurled stones and severely damaged one of the two police vehicles. No one was injured. ။ Photo : Raghu Nandan Mallik
Port Blair, 16 April : The lone Lok Sabha seat in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands recorded a voter turnout of 49.4% amidst heavy rains on Thursday. Braving rains since the morning there was good turnout in the Andamans and Nancowrie Islands, election office sources said.
Today's election sealed the fate of 11 candidates in EVMS. Polling was sparse in the Tsunami-affected area of South Andaman, like Sippighat, Chouldari, Manpur, Farrergunj, where roughly a thousand tsunami-affected people are lodged.
In stark contrast large queues were seen outside booths in Port Blair city of the Nicobar Islands.
WB to get 250 companies of central forces for polls
Kolkata, 16 April : West Bengal will get 250 companies of central paramilitary forces for its three-phased Lok Sabha polls starting 30 April, a police official said here today.
Fourteen of the state's 42 Lok Sabha constituencies, including sensitive Northern West Bengal and three Maoist-affected districts of Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore, go to the polls in the first of the three phases. Seventeen constituencies will vote 7 May and the remaining 11 constituencies on 13 May.
"We will also deploy the central forces in areas in Darjeeling where the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation is active and the Maoist-dominated districts," Inspector General (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia told reporters after a meeting of top state and police officials.
The first batch of central forces will arrive 20 or 21 April, he said. State Chief Electoral Officer Debasish Sen said the process of identifying booths on the basis of their vulnerability was discussed in the meeting.
Regional parties lack national perspective : Pranab
Agartala, 16 April : Regional parties have ‘no uniformity on national issues and no all India perspective’, External Affairs Minister and Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee said Thursday, reiterating the views of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
‘The prime minister rightly said that regional parties have regional perspectives on all-India issues and these different viewpoints create problems,’ Mukherjee told journalists here in the Tripura capital.
Mukherjee was here Thursday afternoon to campaign for the Congress for the April 23 Lok Sabha elections to the two constituencies in Tripura.
Prisoner on run from Howrah jail arrested
Howrah, 16 April : An undertrial prisoner, who had escaped from Howrah jail in December last year, has been arrested along with his associate by UP Special Task Force from Lucknow, police said on Thursday.
Dilip Singh, an accused of double murder, was arrested last night. He had escaped from Howrah jail by scaling the 18-foot wall with a ladder last year, CID sources said.
Polling begins in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Port Blair, 16 April : Polling for the lone Lok Sabha seat in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands began this morning. There are 11 candidates, including a single woman in the fray. Six of the contestants are first timers. There would be 347 polling stations.
The largest polling station is at Pathrapur in the South Andaman with 1611 voters. The smallest polling station is on East Island where there are only 7 voters, all forest department employees. A high security alert has been sounded for the polls.
Election campaign with Poila Boisakh cards
Kolkata, 15 April : Trinamool supporters might have sported Mamata Banerjee's masks to give their campaign a unique twist, but CPM's Amitava Nandy, the incumbent MP from Dum Dum, is also not far behind in the race for being innovative.
Nandy has been sending Poila Boisakh greeting cards to voters. They come printed with the CPM symbol and propaganda, complete with Nandy's printed signature and phone number. CPM workers are distributing the cards door-to-door.
The cards greet voters on the Bengali New Year, but also list Nandy's achievements that he had "developed drainage in Dum Dum, improved drinking water supply, used MPLAD funds to develop infrastructure in education, culture and sports".
Unique reunion on Pahela Baishakh at Panchagrah
Panchagarh, 15 April : It was a different scene on Omarkhana border in Panchagarh Sadar upazila as Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bangla New Year, brought a unique opportunity to meet for thousands of Bangla speaking people living on two sides of the border. Standing on both sides of the barbed wire on Omarkhana border, people of neighbouring Bangladesh and India exchanged greetings on the Bangla New Year and talked with their near and dear ones.
They were seen giving various things including biscuits, chanachur, pens and clothes to each other as token of good wishes. Many of them could not check their tears as they saw near and near ones after a long time.
As residents of the same country before the 1947 partition and creation of India and the then Pakistan, people of the area were related in various ways, said several people who came here on Tuesday. But after the partition, most of them, especially those who cannot manage expenditure to visit relatives through proper ways, became detached from their friends and relatives.
“Following the 1947 partition, relatives of many people became residents of a different country on the other side of the border. I am one of them,” said Abdus Sattar, general secretary of Jalpaiguri district unit of Trinamul Congress.
He urged the authorities to give chance to meet near and dear ones from the two sides of the border every year on Pahela Baishakh. Many people of the two countries, especially those who cannot afford the cost for visiting their relatives through maintaining legal procedure, come here every year to meet their friends and relatives.
No info about Kasab's mother visiting India : Pranab
PTI, Jangipur, 15 April : Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said there is no information officially about the visit by the mother of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunman in Mumbai terror attack, to India. "Officially, we have no information about her coming to India, about the so-called visit of Kasab's mother as reported in a section of the media.
"We have no information about the alleged visit of Kasab's mother," Mukherjee told PTI last night clarifying reports that she is coming to India.
Mukherjee said he had earlier spoken about Kasab's mother coming to India based on a newspaper report. Kasab is currently lodged in a high security central prison in Arthur road in Mumbai.
Helicopter to cover hill distance for LS Election
Darjeeling, 15 April : The state election commission has decided to press into service a helicopter, for the first time, during the coming parliamentary polls in the Darjeeling hills to access remote places in case of any emergency.
“During a meeting held in Kolkata with the Election Commission of India, we pointed out the difficult terrain of the hills. It is then that the commission had recommended a helicopter to be used in the hills on the polling day for any emergency,” said Surendra Gupta, the district magistrate of Darjeeling.
The three hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong have 19 P-2 booths (where officials will have to reach two days before voting). In areas like Srikhola and Daragoan, the polling officers will have to trek for almost three hours after a drive of four to five hours from Darjeeling.
Gorkhaland-type demand echoes in Tripura by NCT
Agartala, 15 April : The BJP’s support for separate Gorkhaland seems to have opened a Pandora’s box with the demand for a separate state encompassing the entire Autonomous District Council (ADC) areas in Tripura snowballing into a major issue in the election campaign for the state’s two Lok Sabha seats.
The BJP in Tripura had formed an alliance with the National Conference of Tripura (NCT) before announcing its candidate. State NCT chief and former MLA Animesh Debbarma, who commands a following among the state’s tribal youths, elicited an assurance from the state BJP leadership and the party’s central observer that at the national level BJP would support the NCT’s longstanding demand for a separate state based on the ADC areas which cover 68.10 per cent of the state’s geographical territory.
In spite of squeamishness from a section of the state BJP leadership, Debbarma had told a joint news conference: “The purpose of giving autonomy to the tribals through ADC has failed because of non co-operation from successive state governments and now the lone option left for tribals is a separate state.”
Celebration of the biggest Bengali carnival :
Carnival of millions bengali rings all over Bangladesh
Dhaka, 14 April : Millions were ringing in Pahela Baishakh, the Bengali New Year 1416, on Tuesday in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka and across the country with colour and verve.
Men in traditional punjabi and pyjama, women in white and red sari and children dressed in all hues were thronging Ramna Batamul and the traditional Baishakhi Mela from dawn in celebration of the biggest Bengali carnival. Crowds streamed through the city streets making for the leafy shade of Ramna Batamul. The traditional New Year platter of panta ilish, fried hilsa fish, lightly fermented rice, lentil and smoked chilli was all the rage.
။ Colour and culture
Cultural organisation Chhayanaut, which has been organising the day's centerpiece event since 1965, ushered in the first day of the Bangla year with songs and other performances in the cool early hours of the morning.
Marchers in masks and traditional dress, mostly students of the Institute of Fine Arts, led Mongol Shobhajatra, a colourful parade seeking well-being of all, through Dhaka University campus at 8am.(BDST)
Several thousand people participated in the parade, ushering in good spirits for the New Year and vowing to defeat all ill-will. At the forefront of the parade were processionists carrying figures of the owl, tortoise, tiger and elephant as well as lakkhir sara (vessels of good fortune). The procession marched through Dhaka University campus and Ramna, with thousands of men, women and children of all ages and professions wearing colourful masks and playing flutes and other instruments.
Participants wore painted masks or carried symbolic figures to protest fundamentalism, communalism and corruption. Passengers on vehicles ranging from motorbikes to buses found themselves stuck in tailbacks to allow the passage of pedestrians along the crowded streets.
Traditional baul or folk songs and other music floated through the air at the Rabindra Sarobar amphitheatre by Dhanmondi lake, organised by Sammilito Sangskritik Jote in Dhanmondi.