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81 % votes polled in Bengal, and above 78% in Assam.
West Bengal recorded voter turnout of about 81 per cent, while in Assam the figure went over 78 per cent in the first phase of assembly elections conducted on Monday, according to the Election Commission.
No incidents of election-related violence were reported.
“The figures are till 5 p.m. With queues of voters still present at polling stations, the figures could go up,” said Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena at a press conference in the national capital.
In the 2011 assembly polls, the voter turnout in the respective assembly constituencies of West Bengal stood at 83.72 per cent and 75 per cent in Assam, whereas in the 2014 general elections, the figures were 83.39 and 79 per cent, respectively.
On Monday, elections were held in 18 of the 294 constituencies of West Bengal, including 13 naxal-affected segments.
In Assam, 65 of the 126 constituencies went to polls. “The first phase of elections in the two States was by and large peaceful. No incidents of violence, injury or death were reported,” said Mr. Saxena.
The overall turnout recorded in the three West Bengal districts of Paschim Medinipur, Purulia and Bankura was 80.92 per cent. Six Assembly segments of Paschim Medinipur registered the highest overall turnout of 81.66 per cent.
47 POLICEMEN GET LIFE TERM FOR FAKE ENCOUNTER KILLINGS IN UTTAR PRADESH
A quarter of a century is a long time but Balkar Singh, 56, believes it is “never too late for justice”. Mr. Singh’s brother Lakhbinder Singh, a teenager, was among the 10 who were rounded up by the Uttar Pradesh police in 1991 and shot dead in an “encounter,” which has now been proven fake.
With a special CBI court on Monday awarding life sentence to 47 policemen, the chemist from Pilibhit district, which borders Nepal, felt justice was done.
While the court’s verdict has brought delayed justice to the victims’ families, it has brought back haunting memories of July 12, 1991.
Police intercepted a private bus carrying Sikh pilgrims near a bridge in Baduan and pulled out the 10 young men, who were made to board a mini bus. The men were then split into three groups and allegedly gunned down in separate encounters. The police later showed ‘fake’ recovery of arms from them and claimed they were Khalsa terrorists. The bodies of three men were never found, putting the actual number of victims at 13.
The killings led to much outrage and many media reports punched holes in the police version. In May 1992, the Supreme Court ordered a CBI probe on a PIL plea by advocate R.S. Sodhi. The prosecution claimed that the police killed the Sikh men to secure promotion.
After a long-drawn battle, CBI special judge Lallu Singh on April 1 convicted all 47 policemen for murder, abduction and criminal conspiracy, among others. Fifty-seven policemen were accused in the crime. Of these, 10 died during the trial. The police took 38 officers into custody.
WHITE TIGERS RETURN TO THEIR ROOTS IN M.P.
With the inauguration of world’s maiden White Tiger Safari, the rare breed of the big cat has returned to its place of origin in Madhya Pradesh’s Vindhya region where the feline was first discovered over a century ago.
So emotionally attached the locals felt about the feline’s return to its place of origin that notwithstanding the severe heat wave more than a lakh people turned up to witness the inaugural event here on Sunday.
It was an important political issue until last Assembly election in the State which forced leaders across parties to resolve for the white tigers’ return to the native Vindhya region.
In 1915, the then ruler of Rewa princely state Maharaj Gulab Singh spotted the world’s first white tiger and brought it to his palace in Rewa. The tiger died in 1920.
In 1951, Gulab’s son Martand Singh spotted a white tiger cub and named it Mohan. He arranged for its breeding so that the world could be introduced to the rare species of the big cat. All the known white tigers in the world now are descendants of Mohan.
IIT-M, JNU STAND FIRST IN GOVERNMENT RANKING
In the first of its kind ranking of educational institutions released by the government, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and the University of Hyderabad (UoH), which were recently embroiled in controversies, are among the topmost institutions in the country.
The National Institutions Ranking Framework (NIRF), unveiled by the Human Resources and Development Ministry on Monday, declared the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Madras the best institute for engineering and the Indian Institute of Management (IIM)-Bangalore the best for management. The IIM-Ahmedabad is placed second.
The NIRF covers 3,500 institutions in four categories: university, engineering, pharmacy and management. It was released by HRD Minister Smriti Irani. Architecture was included in the list when the Ministry had announced plans for the ranking last November, but due to the lukewarm response from institutes, this category was dropped from the list.
In the category of universities, the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, is rated the top-ranked institute followed by the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Mumbai.
Jawaharlal Nehru University, which was recently in the news for an event to mark the death anniversary of Afzal Guru and the arrest of its students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar, is ahead of all other central universities.
The Central University of Hyderabad, which has been rocked by protests after the suicide of Rohith Vemula, is placed fourth.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC MOVES PAST LEGENDS WITH HISTORIC MIAMI OPEN WIN
World number one Novak Djokovic surpassed Roger Federer as the highest-earning player in ATP Tour history on Sunday after capturing a third consecutive Miami Open crown with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
Djokovic’s win — his sixth career victory in Miami to equal Andre Agassi’s record — saw him pocket $1.028 million (902,000 euros), taking him past Federer as the all-time ATP earnings leader with $98,199,548 to the Swiss great’s $97,855,881.
Djokovic’s win also took him to a record 28th career ATP Masters title, one better than the old mark he shared with Spain’s Rafael Nadal.
CENTRE ORDERS PROBE AGAINST INDIANS LINKED TO TAX HAVENS
The BJP-led NDA government on Monday ordered the formation of a special agency to investigate Indians who figure in the ‘Panama papers’ — a set of over 11 million leaked documents that reveal how the rich and connected around the world used tax havens for salting away their wealth.
The documents, about the clients of one of the world’s biggest law firms offering such services, was leaked to a German newspaper, which in turn shared it with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
The multi-agency group that was set up following directions from Prime Minister Narendra Modi will consist of officers from the investigative units of the Central Board of Direct Taxes, the Financial Intelligence Union and Foreign Tax & Tax Research division and the Reserve Bank of India.
The Special Investigation Team on Black Money, appointed under the Supreme Court’s directions, had in its third report submitted last year to the court said that various departments were not prepared to share the information received in tax evasion cases.
BLACKSTONE BUYS CONTROL OF MPHASIS
Blackstone Group agreed to buy out Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s (HPE) majority shareholding in Bengaluru-based IT services provider Mphasis Ltd., in a deal worth up to Rs.7,071 crore. The transaction will be the U.S. private equity firm’s single largest investment in the country.
According to Blackstone, it will acquire at least 84 per cent of the 60.5 per cent stake owned by HPE and make an open offer for buying another 26 per cent from the public.
The company said it would pay a purchase price of Rs.430 per share to HPE and Rs.457.50 apiece for shares bought from the public through an open offer.
As per the terms of the definitive agreement, HPE has also signed a master services agreement with Mphasis. The duration of the agreement is five years with three automatic renewals of two years each under which HPE has proposed to commit a minimum revenue amount escalating year-over-year and totalling $990 million.
The company’s direct business contributes half of the total revenue and is growing at approximately 14 per cent per annum. Meanwhile, HPE business is declining between 19 to 20 per cent per annum. “The commitment from HPE to Mphasis through the MSA gives us predictability and stability of the business going forward. The delivery capabilities and experienced management team are also two important aspects for the growth,” said Mr. Dixit.
Blackstone also said that it has no plans to change the current management structure of Mphasis.
MEHBOOBA CREATES HISTORY AS J&K’S FIRST WOMAN CHIEF MINISTER
BJP’s Nirmal Singh is Deputy Chief Minister; Congress boycotts function.
Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti, 56, on Monday took oath as the first woman Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Nirmal Singh was sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister, bringing back a popular government after 11 weeks of Governor’s rule, imposed following the demise of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
Governor N.N. Vohra also administered the oath of office to 22 Ministers, 11 each from alliance partners PDP and BJP.
Congratulating Ms. Mufti, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “May the new government of J&K leave no stone unturned in fulfilling the dreams and aspirations of the people and take the State to new heights of progress.”
Union Ministers Venkaiah Naidu, Jitendra Singh and Harsimrat Kaur Badal were present at the swearing-in ceremony. “It’s good that a popular government is back on the same agreed agenda. The focal point will be good and clean governance. The delay [in government formation] only helped in mutual understanding and removing misconceptions,” said BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav, the Centre’s chief interlocutor during the coalition crisis after Mr. Sayeed’s demise on January 7.