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Ahead of forming new govt., Modi submits resignation
Meets President Kovind, to visit Varanasi before his swearing-in next week
SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

Sweet tidings: Prime Minister Narendra Modi being offered sweets by BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi as party president Amit Shah looks on in New Delhi on Friday.PTI
NEW DELHI
A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was re-elected with a thumping majority, the process of putting in place the new government began, with Ministers of the Union Cabinet meeting and passing a resolution to dissolve the 16th Lok Sabha and tendering their resignations.

A Rashtrapati Bhavan communique confirmed that Mr. Modi called on President Ramnath Kovind and handed over his resignation, along with that of the Union Cabinet. The resignations were accepted and Mr. Modi has been asked to continue till a new government, again under him, takes charge.

The NDA will also be holding a meeting of its parliamentary party at Parliament House on Saturday evening to elect Mr. Modi as its leader. All NDA leaders and elected Members of Parliament will be attending this meeting, which will be addressed by Mr. Modi.

While government sources remained tight-lipped on the date for the swearing-in ceremony, two likely dates have been flagged — May 28 or May 30. The Prime Minister is likely to visit his constituency Varanasi to thank voters and his home State of Gujarat in the interregnum.

Sources also said that the oath-taking ceremony was still being worked upon and did not rule out the possibility of a special touch to it, like the invitation to heads of government of SAARC countries last time. “But since the time to organise is shorter this time as it’s a government in continuation, it may not pertain to foreign dignitaries alone,” said a source.

Blaze kills 21 students at coaching centre in Surat
Victims were trapped on top floor; 17 injured, three missing
MAHESH LANGA

Students jumping out of the coaching centre that caught fire in Surat on Friday. Special Arrangement
AHMEDABAD
A massive fire in a four-storey commercial building in Surat on Friday afternoon killed 21 students at a coaching centre. At least three students are still missing.

Seventeen students have been admitted to hospitals in the city, some in a critical condition.

The fire, which broke out around 3.30 p.m on the ground floor of the building, soon engulfed the third and fourth floors of Takshashila Arcade in the Sarthana area of the city. The students mostly between the ages of 15 and 19, were attending preparatory classes for an architecture exam. The walls and roof of the coaching centre on the top floor were made of plastic. As the fire spread through the building, including the staircase, the victims on the higher floors were trapped.

To escape the blaze, several students tried to jump to safety from the building, which did not have any fire safety systems installed. Four such students were among those killed.

Ninteen fire tenders and two hydraulic platforms were pressed into service, said an official of the Surat fire control room.

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who rushed to the spot, ordered an inquiry and announced compensation of ₹4 lakh for the families of each victim.

After failing to deliver Brexit, Theresa May calls it a day
Crisis deepens as PM says she will step down on June 7
REUTERS, LONDON

An emotional Theresa May announcing her resignation in London.REUTERS
Fighting back tears, British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Friday she would quit after failing to deliver Brexit, setting up a contest that will install a new PM who could pursue a cleaner break with the EU.

Her departure deepens the Brexit crisis as a new leader, who should be in place by July-end, is likely to want a more decisive split, raising the chances of a confrontation with the EU and potentially a snap election.

Former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, the favourite to replace Ms. May, said Britain should be prepared to leave the EU without a deal to force the bloc to offer a “good deal”.

Current Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt also confirmed he would run for the leadership just hours after Ms. May said she would resign as Conservative Party leader on June 7, setting up a contest to succeed her. “I will shortly leave the job that has been the honour of my life to hold,” Ms. May said outside her Downing Street official residence with her husband, Philip, looking on. “It is, and will always remain, a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit,” Ms. May said.

‘We had the right to know how he died’
Feel cheated, says family of sergeant on board Mi-17 taken down by friendly fire
ASHOK KUMAR

Sergeant Vikrant Sherawat’s wife Suman and mother Kanta Devi. Ashok Kumar
JHAJJAR
A day after the February 26 Balakot air strike, as Indian and Pakistani fighter jets were engaged in combat over the Naushera sector in Jammu and Kashmir, news filtered in of an Mi-17 crashing in Budgam.

Six IAF personnel on board and a civilian were killed; among them was sergeant Vikrant Sherawat. With preliminary probe findings suggesting that the helicopter was shot down by India’s own ground-based air defence systems, Vikrant’s family feels cheated over being kept in the dark all these months — the IAF officers who brought his remains home had alluded to a “technical fault”.

‘Facts hidden from us’

At their house in Bhadani village here, Vikrant’s father Sri Krishan, 62, lies on a wooden bed, anguish writ large on the farmer’s face. “We had the right to know the circumstances in which he died. We don’t understand the politics. But it could be because of the elections that the facts were hidden from us. The way the Pulwama attack was politicised to seek electoral mileage, it seems the matter [friendly fire] was hushed up to avoid embarrassment to the government in election season,” says Mr. Krishna.

Vikrant’s widow Suman says that a week after the incident, she had stumbled upon an article in a Hindi daily suggesting that the chopper was possibly hit by friendly fire.

Kanta Devi, the late sergeant’s mother, says that a couple of his Air Force friends from neighbouring villages had also hinted at it, but advised her to keep mum in view of the political situation.

Court of Inquiry

The Court of Inquiry probing the incident is expected to submit its report in the next couple of weeks but until a definitive official version is shared with them, all Vikrant’s family has is information through the media.

“News reports suggest the senior-most officer among those guilty is being transferred as punishment. I demand that all officers responsible for it be given strict punishment,” said Ms. Devi.

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