ELECTION COMMISSION CIRCULAR ON GUJARAT LOCAL BODY POLLS CHALLENGED IN COURT - The Daily Guardian
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ELECTION COMMISSION CIRCULAR ON GUJARAT LOCAL BODY POLLS CHALLENGED IN COURT

Abhijit Bhatt

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The circular issued by the Election Commission on the local body polls has been challenged in the Gujarat High Court. The petitioner has submitted in the court that the free and fair election process could be affected if the district panchayat and taluka panchayat elections are held after the results of the municipal corporation elections. A hearing will be held by the High Court in the coming days.

Regarding the separate local body elections counting, Gujarat Congress president Amit Chavda tweeted that we are ready for the local body elections. “Even after the High Court order in 2015, a different date for counting of votes has been announced under the pressure of the BJP. We will challenge this decision of the Election Commission in the court.”

Considering the Covid0-19 situation in Gujarat, the local body elections of the state will be held in two phases, in the first phase of the municipal corporation and then of the municipalities and panchayats. Polling for 6 municipal corporations will be held on 21 February and counting of votes will take place on 23 February. While polling for 31 district panchayats and 231 taluka panchayats as well as 81 municipalities will be held on 28 February, counting of votes will be done on 2 March. At the same time, the code of conduct has been implemented in the state.

Preparations are currently underway by political parties for the local body elections. In particular, the BJP has taken a number of programmes, inaugurations and policy decisions over the last ten days. At the same time, the BJP and the Congress are conducting a candidate selection process.

The State Election Commission held a review meeting with all the district collectors through video-conferencing on the local body elections, as well as meetings with different departments of the government. Sanitizers will be provided to voters at polling stations, with an emphasis on the need for sanitizers and masks.

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Fuel price hike: SAD MLAs ride to Punjab Assembly on bullock carts

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Chandigarh (Punjab) [India], March 4 (ANI): The MLAs of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Thursday rode to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on bullock carts, demanding a reduction in the tax levied by the state government on petrol and diesel.
Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, SAD MLA from the Sahnewal constituency, told ANI that taxes on petrol and diesel are so high that people are unable to afford these items.
“The Punjab government is fooling the people of the state. The government has levied taxes to the extent that it has become almost impossible for people to buy petrol and diesel. It is true that the central government has increased the price of petrol and diesel but if the Punjab government takes back the taxes then it will be easy for the people to buy the fuels,” he said.
The rates of petrol and diesel differ from state to state depending on the value-added tax (VAT), a type of indirect tax levied on a product whenever a value is added at each stage of the supply chain, from production to the point of sale.
Currently, the petrol price in Chandigarh is at Rs 87.73 per litre and that of diesel is Rs 81.17.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had earlier said that the only way to find a solution to the problem is that the Centre and states should hold a dialogue. “I concede that’s where action has to be, let’s see what we can do,” said Sitharaman, adding that she agrees the end-users should pay less for fuel. (ANI)

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Agitating farmers gear up for summer months with mosquito nets, repellent, fans

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Amritsar (Punjab) [India], March 4 (ANI): After surviving Delhi’s harsh winters, farmers agitating at the borders of the national capital against the Centre’s contentious farm laws are now gearing up to battle the summer months with portable fans, mosquito nets and other necessities.
In light of the rising temperature in Delhi, farmers starting from Amritsar have fitted their tractor trolleys with nets on all sides to keep mosquitoes away and have installed electric mosquito repellants.
“Keeping in mind the heat in Delhi, a jatha recently left the Golden Gate in Amritsar with special arrangements for the summer months. Earlier, to protect ourselves from the cold, we used to cover the sides of the tractor-trolley with tarpaulin on all sides. Those have been rolled up and replaced by mosquito nets,” Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC) General Secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher told ANI.

Lakhwinder Singh, district in charge of the KMSC, said arrangements had also been made for water, portable fans and mosquito repellants.
“We have covered the sides of the trolleys with mosquito nets to allow wind and keep mosquitoes away. Electric fans have also been set up, along with electric mosquito repellants and Odomos,” Singh said.
Pandher reiterated that the agitation would continue till the Centre takes back the three farm laws, and said that if need be, they could go on till 2024.
“The government will decide the end of the agitation. We can go on till 2024 if needed. They have been chosen by the people and if the government believes in democracy, they should respect the demands of the people. If they don’t listen to us now, the people decide who the next government will be,” he said.
“The struggle will continue till the Modi government takes the bills back and decides on the MSP for all the crops,” the farmer leader added.
He also denied media reports about the dwindling numbers of agitators at Delhi’s borders and said there are thousands of trolleys and lakhs of agitators.
“The agitation is growing across the country, not decreasing. All those who are healthy and able are going to the protest,” he added.
Meanwhile, the farmers’ protest, which began on November 26 last year against the recently enacted three farm laws continue as no new dates for discussions between the government and farmers’ unions have been declared.
Several have been protesting against the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance, and Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 at Delhi’s borders.
The implementation of the three laws, however, was put on hold in January by the Supreme Court. (ANI)

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Bomb scare at Taj Mahal, search operation launched, security beefed up

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Agra (Uttar Pradesh) [India], March 4 (ANI): A search operation was launched by the Agra Police after it received information about a bomb being placed at the Taj Mahal premises here.
Shiv Ram Yadav, Superintendent of Police Protocol, Agra said a man called the police control room alleging discrepancies in military recruitment and informed about a bomb at the Taj Mahal premises which would explode soon.
“We had received information from the control room that a man called them up saying that there are discrepancies in military recruitment and he wasn’t recruited. A bomb is placed at the Taj Mahal which would explode soon. A security check is being done around Taj Mahal,” Yadav said.
“The CISF has been alerted. The man’s location was traced to Firozabad. Further investigation underway,” he said.
The Taj Mahal has been temporarily shut and security has been beefed up following the incident.
According to Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) sources, “Around 9:30 am local police informed CISF officials about a bomb call at the Taj Mahal. A joint team of CISF and UP police are conducting the anti-sabotage check. Security has been beefed up.”
A Satish Ganesh, Inspector General, Agra Range assured people that there is no need to panic and that it was only a hoax call.
However, he said, the police are following the drill and conducting searches.
“An unknown person dialled 112 and said there will be a bomb blast at the Taj Mahal. On this information, police teams and bomb disposal squad launched a search operation. The field units have not received any such thing. The person who made the call is being traced,” Ganesh said.
“I want to assure you 99 per cent this is a hoax call but we are following the drill. CISF officers informed me that Taj Mahal will reopen for tourists in half an hour and there is no need to panic,” he added. (ANI)

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Bomb scare at Taj Mahal, search operation launched, security beefed up

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Agra (Uttar Pradesh) [India], March 4 (ANI): A search operation was launched by the Agra Police after it received information about a bomb being placed at the Taj Mahal premises here.
Shiv Ram Yadav, Superintendent of Police Protocol, Agra said a man called the police control room alleging discrepancies in military recruitment and informed about a bomb at the Taj Mahal premises which would explode soon.
“We had received information from the control room that a man called them up saying that there are discrepancies in military recruitment and he wasn’t recruited. A bomb is placed at the Taj Mahal which would explode soon. A security check is being done around Taj Mahal,” Yadav said.
“The CISF has been alerted. The man’s location was traced to Firozabad. Further investigation underway,” he said.
The Taj Mahal has been temporarily shut and security has been beefed up following the incident.
According to Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) sources, “Around 9:30 am local police informed CISF officials about a bomb call at the Taj Mahal. A joint team of CISF and UP police are conducting the anti-sabotage check. Security has been beefed up.”
A Satish Ganesh, Inspector General, Agra Range assured people that there is no need to panic and that it was only a hoax call.
However, he said, the police are following the drill and conducting searches.
“An unknown person dialled 112 and said there will be a bomb blast at the Taj Mahal. On this information, police teams and bomb disposal squad launched a search operation. The field units have not received any such thing. The person who made the call is being traced,” Ganesh said.
“I want to assure you 99 per cent this is a hoax call but we are following the drill. CISF officers informed me that Taj Mahal will reopen for tourists in half an hour and there is no need to panic,” he added. (ANI)

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2 Jawans killed, 3 injured in IED blast planted by Naxals in Jharkhand

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West Singhbhum (Jharkhand) [India], March 4 (ANI): Two jawans of the Jharkhand Jaguar (JJ) unit lost their lives and three others sustained injuries in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast planted by Naxals in the Jharjhara area of Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum district on Thursday, Jharkhand Police said.
“Today at about 8:45 am, a pressure IED blast took place in the forest area of Hoyahatu village in West Singhbhum, Jharkhand,” CRPF said in its statement.
“Two jawans of Jharkhand Jaguar of State Police reportedly lost their lives while 2 received critical injuries. One jawan of 197 Battalion CRPF got injured,” it added.
Jharkhand Police also informed that the incident happened in the forest area of village Hoyahatu, under Toklo police station.
Police said that it has launched a massive search operation after the blast.
“The incident happened around 8:45 am when police teams consisting of CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) and Jaguar Assault team were to replace a temporary camp,” said Jharkhand Police.
Jharkhand Jaguar (JJ) was formed for the eradication of extremist activities in Jharkhand. (ANI)

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Urdu Bulletin: I-T raids on properties of Anurag Kashyap, Taapsee Pannu, COVID-19 vaccination reported prominently

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New Delhi [India], March 4 (ANI): Thursday’s editions of various Urdu publications gave prominent coverage to the Income Tax department’s raids at the residences and offices of film director Anurag Kashyap and actor Taapsee Pannu in Mumbai.
The publications also reported about the COVID-19 vaccination drive across the country, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s remarks in the Assembly and the results of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) bypolls in five wards.
Inquilab: The newspaper led with the Income Tax department raids at the offices and residences of Kashyap and Pannu. It reported that both of them were interrogated in connection with alleged tax evasion.
The newspaper also highlighted the Supreme Court’s refusal to entertain a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah, seeking a direction to prosecute him for allegedly making a statement on scrapping of Article 370.
The newspaper also reported Maharashtra chief minister Udhav Thackeray’s dig at the Centre over changing the Motera stadium’s name to Narendra Modi stadium in Ahmedabad, and his statement that his party does not need to learn Hindutva from BJP.
Inquilab also published a report in which it said that over 3,000 girls of ‘Khatoon volunteers’ have written an open letter demanding the resignation of Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde for asking a rapist to marry his schoolgoing victim.
Rashtriya Sahara: The newspaper led with the news of MCD bypoll results in which Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won four seats, Congress won one and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) drew a blank.
The newspaper also highlighted the COVID-19 vaccination drive. A report in the newspaper said that over 50 lakh people registered in the last 24 hours on CoWIN portal. It also said that over 1.56 crore people have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Rashtriya Sahara also reported PM Modi’s address at a webinar on the implementation of Union Budget 2021 in the education sector in which he stressed the need to reform the sector by including skill development, research and innovation for a ‘self-reliant India’. (ANI)

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