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Cyclone Remal Damages 48 Polling Stations in West Bengal Ahead of Final Polling Phase

Cyclone Remal impacts 48 polling stations in West Bengal, affecting preparations for the final phase of Lok Sabha elections. Urgent repairs are underway to ensure voting can proceed.

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Cyclone Remal Damages 48 Polling Stations in West Bengal
(Photo:ndtv)

Cyclone Remal’s recent impact on West Bengal has caused significant disruption, particularly affecting the upcoming seventh and final phase of polling scheduled on June 1. A senior poll official revealed that 48 polling stations, primarily located in the North and South 24 Parganas districts, have sustained damage due to the cyclone. These stations are crucial as they serve the nine Lok Sabha constituencies of Dum Dum, Barasat, Basirhat, Jaynagar, Mathurapur, Diamond Harbour, Jadavpur, Kolkata Dakshin, and Kolkata Uttar.

The cyclone’s aftermath has left many of these stations submerged in water or with structural damage, posing a challenge for the electoral preparations. Chief Electoral Officer Ariz Aftab has proactively addressed the situation by holding a telephonic meeting with the district magistrates of the affected areas. During this meeting, Aftab assessed the extent of the damage and discussed immediate measures to ensure the polling stations are ready by June 1.

Aftab has requested detailed reports from the district magistrates and directed them to expedite the pumping out of rainwater from the submerged areas. Additionally, he has emphasized the need for urgent repair work, instructing officials to carry out these tasks on a wartime footing. This swift response aims to restore the polling stations to a functional state, ensuring they are safe and secure for the voters.

The Election Commission has also turned its attention to the condition of strongrooms across the districts. These strongrooms are critical for storing electronic voting machines (EVMs) and other election-related materials securely. Election officers have been instructed to inspect these strongrooms thoroughly to ensure their integrity and safety post-cyclone. This step is crucial to maintain the security of the electoral process and the equipment involved.

In the Diamond Harbour and Basirhat constituencies, which were notably affected by the cyclone, the response from local officials has been prompt. Efforts are underway to clear debris, repair damaged infrastructure, and restore access to the affected polling stations. The local administration’s collaboration with state and central electoral bodies underscores the importance of seamless coordination in crisis management, especially in the context of ensuring democratic processes are not hindered.

As the final phase of polling approaches, the resilience of the electoral infrastructure and the dedication of officials are being put to the test. The combined efforts of district magistrates, local officials, and the Election Commission reflect a commitment to upholding the democratic process despite natural adversities. The ability to adapt and respond effectively to such challenges is crucial in maintaining public trust in the electoral system.

The upcoming polling on June 1 will be closely monitored, with particular attention to the areas hardest hit by Cyclone Remal. The readiness of the polling stations, the security of the EVMs, and the overall preparedness of the electoral machinery will be under scrutiny. Voters in the affected constituencies will be keen to see how effectively the authorities have managed to restore normalcy and ensure a smooth voting process.

Cyclone Remal has undeniably added a layer of complexity to the electoral process in West Bengal. However, the proactive measures and rapid response by electoral officials offer a reassuring glimpse of the resilience and adaptability of the system. As the state prepares for the final phase of polling, the efforts to mitigate the cyclone’s impact will play a crucial role in facilitating a fair and orderly election.

In conclusion, the damage caused by Cyclone Remal to 48 polling stations in West Bengal has necessitated a robust and swift response from electoral authorities. Through coordinated efforts and urgent repairs, the state aims to ensure that the final phase of polling proceeds without significant disruption. The resilience displayed by officials and the commitment to maintaining the integrity of the electoral process highlight the importance of preparedness and adaptability in the face of natural disasters. As West Bengal moves towards the final polling day, the effectiveness of these measures will be pivotal in determining the success of the electoral process amidst adversity.

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India

Supreme Court declines to hear plea against ‘Hamare Baraah’.

Following the court’s observation, Basha chose to withdraw the plea, which the top court allowed.

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Supreme Court declines to hear plea against 'Hamare Baraah'.
Hamare Baraah

The Supreme Court of India on Friday declined to entertain a plea questioning the alleged derogatory dialogues and scenes in the Annu Kapoor-starrer movie ‘Hamare Baarah‘. The court noted that the film was being released with necessary cuts. A bench consisting of Justices Vikram Nath and S V N Bhatti observed that they were not inclined to hear the plea on its merits, which was filed by Syed Ahamed Basha.

High Court

The bench emphasized that the movie had been screened and reviewed by the judges of the Bombay High Court. They had directed the deletion of a few scenes, shots, and dialogues which were deemed objectionable. Consequently, the court found no reason to consider the plea further. Following the court’s observation, Basha chose to withdraw the plea, and this withdrawal was permitted by the top court.

The petitioner, Basha, represented by his counsel Syed Mehdi Imam, had challenged the certification granted to the film by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). The plea asserted that the director and producers of ‘Hamare Baarah’ had targeted a specific community, portraying Muslim women in a demeaning manner as slaves and chattels exploited by male members of the community.

The plea also highlighted a specific grievance regarding the misinterpretation of Chapter 2 of the Holy Quran. It argued that the film projected a distorted view, suggesting that the Quran ordained Muslim males to treat Muslim females as chattel and exploit them in any manner. This portrayal, according to the plea, was not only a gross misrepresentation but also intended to malign the religion of Islam and the Muslim community as a whole.

Certain Muslim intellectuals had voiced their objections to the film, arguing that it grossly misinterpreted Islamic teachings and aimed to damage the reputation of the religion and its followers. The Bombay High Court had intervened on June 19, directing the producers to remove the objectionable content after they agreed to delete the controversial portions from the film.

‘Hamare Baarah’, featuring notable actors such as Annu Kapoor and Ashwini Kalsekar, was released in theatres across India on Friday, June 21. Despite the controversies surrounding it, the film hit the screens after complying with the directives of the Bombay High Court, which had seen the expunging of the disputed scenes and dialogues.

The refusal of the Supreme Court to entertain the plea signifies the judiciary’s stance on respecting the due process followed by the CBFC and the High Court in addressing concerns about the film. It underscores the balance between creative expression and sensitivity towards community sentiments.

The controversy around ‘Hamare Baarah’ brings to light the broader debate on freedom of expression versus the need to avoid content that can potentially hurt religious or community feelings. While filmmakers are entitled to their creative freedoms, they must also navigate the complex landscape of societal values and legal regulations that aim to maintain communal harmony.

As ‘Hamare Baarah’ continues to screen in cinemas, it will be seen whether the controversy affects its reception among audiences. The film industry and audiences alike will watch closely how such issues are handled in the future, setting precedents for both artistic expression and the respect for religious sentiments. The outcome of this case may influence future decisions regarding the portrayal of sensitive subjects in Indian cinema.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s decision to decline the plea against ‘Hamare Baarah’ while noting the corrective measures taken highlights the judiciary’s role in balancing the scales of justice, ensuring that neither creative freedom nor community sentiments are unduly compromised. This case serves as a reminder of the intricate dynamics at play in the world of film and the ongoing dialogue between art, law, and society.

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NEET-UG row: Supreme Court refuses to defer counselling

The Supreme Court rejects deferment of NEET-UG 2024 counselling despite ongoing controversies and petitions over alleged exam irregularities and paper leaks.

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NEET-UG row: Supreme Court refuses to defer counselling
(Supreme Court of India | Representational Image)

The Supreme Court of India, on Friday, refused to defer the counselling date for the NEET-UG 2024 examination, scheduled to commence on July 6. The apex court emphasized that the counselling process is not an “open and shut” procedure and needs to proceed as planned to avoid further delays.

Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court issued notices to the National Testing Agency (NTA), the Central Government, and other involved parties, seeking their responses to a petition calling for the cancellation of the NEET-UG 2024 exam due to alleged irregularities during the exam held on May 5.

A two-judge vacation bench comprising Justice Vikram Nath and Justice SVN Bhatti presided over the hearing on three pleas related to the alleged NEET UG exam irregularities. These pleas were filed by individuals named Hiiten Singh Kashyap, Floral Vyas, and Sunil Jain. They sought a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the alleged paper leak, the cancellation of the NEET-UG 2024 exam, and a postponement of the counselling process, among other requests.

During the hearing, a lawyer representing one of the petitioners requested the postponement of the counselling scheduled to start on July 6. The lawyer pointed out that the Supreme Court had already scheduled a hearing for the batch of petitions challenging the NEET-UG exam on July 8. However, the court refused to delay the counselling process, emphasizing its procedural nature.

“Counselling is not open and shut. It is a process. That process commences on 6th (July). It may be for four days or five days, or a week. But, afterwards, within that week, applicants have any number of options to amend/modify etc. We are allowing time not to be lost, either by this side or that side,” the Supreme Court stated in its order.

The controversy surrounding the NEET-UG 2024 examination arose from allegations of a paper leak, irregularities, and other malpractices. Various students and educational institutions approached the Supreme Court and several State High Courts, seeking directions and orders against the NTA. On Thursday, the Supreme Court stayed proceedings on related pleas filed before various State High Courts, consolidating them with pending pleas before the apex court. The consolidated matters are scheduled for a hearing on July 8, after the court’s summer vacation.

More than 35 petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court, including a recent one by a group of 20 students who took the NEET-UG exam. These petitions demand the cancellation of the NEET-UG 2024 exam and call for an apex court-monitored probe by the CBI or another independent agency into the alleged irregularities.

In response to the allegations, the NTA recently informed the Supreme Court that the scorecards of 1,563 candidates who received “grace marks” in the NEET-UG 2024 will be annulled. These students will be given the opportunity to retake the exam. The NTA explained that a committee had been formed to review the results of these candidates, who were awarded grace marks to compensate for time lost during the exam.

The Supreme Court’s decision to proceed with the counselling as scheduled highlights the importance of maintaining timelines in the admission process while also addressing the serious allegations surrounding the NEET-UG 2024 exam. As the apex court prepares to hear the consolidated pleas on July 8, the outcome will significantly impact the future of the students involved and the integrity of the examination process.

The controversy and subsequent legal proceedings underscore the critical need for transparency and fairness in national-level entrance examinations like NEET-UG. Ensuring that the examination process is free from irregularities and malpractices is essential to maintain the trust of students, parents, and educational institutions in the system.

As the situation unfolds, the Supreme Court’s forthcoming decisions will be crucial in addressing the grievances of the petitioners and determining the course of action for the NEET-UG 2024 examination. The integrity of the examination process and the future of thousands of aspiring medical students hang in the balance.

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North India Heat Wave: 143 Lives Lost, 42,000 Heat Stroke Cases

Severe heat wave in India has resulted in 143 deaths and 41,789 suspected heat stroke cases from March 1 to June 20, 2024, according to Health Ministry sources.

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North India Heat Wave: 143 Lives Lost, 42,000 Heat Stroke Cases
(Representational Image)

A severe heat wave has swept through large parts of India, resulting in a tragic toll: 143 deaths and 41,789 reported cases of suspected heat stroke from March 1 to June 20 this year, according to sources from the Health Ministry.

Impact of Severe Heat Wave

The situation escalated dramatically on June 20 alone, with 14 confirmed deaths and nine suspected deaths due to heat stroke. These numbers reflect a significant increase from the earlier reported toll of 114 deaths for the same period.

The worst affected states include Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Bihar, and Rajasthan, as per data collected under the National Heat-Related Illness and Death Surveillance by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Uttar Pradesh recorded 35 deaths, followed by Delhi with 21, and Bihar and Rajasthan each reporting 17 deaths due to heat stroke.

In Delhi, hospitals such as RML and Safdarjung reported approximately 17 fatalities within a 24-hour period, all suspected to be related to heat-induced illnesses. Officials caution that these numbers are preliminary, as data from various states is still being compiled and verified, potentially leading to higher casualty figures.

Responding to the crisis, Union Health Minister JP Nadda conducted a review meeting where he instructed all states and union territories to submit daily reports from health facilities detailing suspected heat-related deaths. This directive comes in light of the absence of comprehensive national data on heat stroke cases and fatalities.

Furthermore, Minister Nadda emphasized the importance of disseminating timely heat wave warnings issued by the India Meteorological Department (IMD). These warnings, provided daily after 4 p.m., include forecasts for the next four days and are crucial for alerting health facilities and vulnerable populations.

To address the escalating health crisis, the Ministry of Health has issued an advisory to all state health departments for the ‘Heat Wave Season 2024’. The advisory mandates thorough investigations of suspected heat-related illnesses and deaths by qualified medical officers or epidemiologists for each case.

In addition, Minister Nadda proposed the establishment of special heat wave units within central government hospitals to provide immediate care to individuals affected by heat stroke.

As northern and eastern India continue to endure scorching temperatures, the number of heat stroke casualties is expected to rise. The ongoing heat wave underscores the critical need for proactive measures and robust healthcare responses to mitigate the impact on public health.

In conclusion, while efforts are underway to monitor and manage the heat wave’s effects, vigilance and swift action remain imperative to safeguard vulnerable populations during Heat Wave Season 2024.

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