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IN THE wake of the BombayHighCourt’sstayontheMumbaiMetro III car shed project,Maharashtra Chief MinisterUddhavThackerayhasaskedof-ficials to explorewhether alter-nativelocationsareavailablefor

its relocation.Sources said that one of the

options being examined is astate-owned land parcel in theBandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in

Mumbai, which has been ear-marked for theCentre’s flagshipMumbai-Ahmedabad highspeedcorridorproject,popularlyknownasthebullettrainproject.TheBKCland,67acreinall, is

the startingpointof theproject.About 10 acre have been ear-marked forbullet trainwork.Aprivately-owned500-acre




After HC red signal, Thackeray mullsanother relocation for Metro car shed



REFUSINGTOinterferewiththeorder of the Allahabad HighCourt dismissing charges filedagainst Dr Kafeel Khan underthe stringent National SecurityAct, the Supreme Court onThursday dismissed the appealmoved by the Uttar Pradeshgovernment against the HighCourt's order.“It seems to be a goodorder.

WeseenoreasontointerferewiththeHigh Court order,” a three-judge Bench headed by ChiefJusticeof IndiaSABobdesaid.OnSeptember1,atwo-judge

Bench headed by AllahabadHCChief JusticeGovindMathurhadrevokedchargesunderNSA,andhad ordered the immediate re-leaseofKhanwhohadbeeninaMathura jail since January29.Khanwasaccusedofdeliver-

ing a provocative speech atAligarh Muslim University onDecember 10, 2019, during theprotestsagainstTheCitizenship(Amendment) Act. He was ac-cusedof“disturbingpublicorderin the city and creating an


HC’s order torelease Kafeelgood, will notinterfere: SC

Open to idea of aidingvaccine drive if EChelp is sought: CEC‘Biharcountingupdatesnowatemplate forotherupcomingpolls’

Suvendu Adhikari quitsTrinamool, many likelyto follow him to BJP


THEELECTIONCommission(EC)is open to the prospect of offer-ing assistance, if sought by thesystem, in administering theCovid-19vaccinetothecountry'spopulationnextyear.Speaking Thursday at the

IdeaExchangeprogrammeofTheIndian Express, Chief ElectionCommissioner Sunil Arora saidthe ongoing pandemic is anun-precedented national crisis thatrequires “exceptional and ex-traordinary”response.“Currently,wedonothaveany



WESTBENGAL'SformertransportministerSuvenduAdhikarihasre-signed from the TrinamoolCongress, taking the step that islikelytoopenthefloodgatesforanexodusfromtheTMCtotheBJPatmultiplelevelsacrossthestate.AboutadozenTMCMLAsand

heads of elected bodies are be-lieved to be preparing to resignandwalkwithSuvendutotheBJP.Jitendra Tiwari, MLA from

Pandabeswar and president ofCONTINUEDONPAGE2

SUVENDUADHIKARI'Sfinalbreakwith theTMCwill giveconfidence tomanyotherswhoareei-therunhappy in thepartyorexpect togetbetter returnsby invest-ing in theBJPwhichsomebelievecouldun-seat the rulingparty intheAssemblyelectionsnextyear.



CECSunilAroraat the IdeaExchangeonThursday


NOT ONLY PSUs, academic in-stitutions and public sectorbanksbut also the threearmedforces—IndianArmy, IndianAirForce and Indian Navy — havecontributed in a bigway to thePM-CARES Fund. Together, thethree services contributedRs 203.67 crore from a day'ssalary of their personnel.While the Indian Air Force

andIndianNavyprovidedinfor-mationtoTheIndianExpressun-der theRTIAct, the IndianArmydidnotrespondtotheRTIappli-cation. It did, however, post aTwitter message on May 15regarding its contribution.TheIAF, initsresponsedated



Armedforces gaveRs 203.67 crfrom day’ssalary toPM-CARESYOURRIGHTTOKNOW


FORCES’ CONTRIBUTIONTOPMCARESFORCE CONTRIBUTIONIndianAirForce Rs29.18crIndianNavy Rs16.78crIndianArmy Rs157.71crTotal Rs203.67crSource:RTI (for IAFandNavy);Tweet fromADGPI (Army)

SADleaderSukhbirSinghBadalatSinghravillage inKarnaldistrictofHaryanaonThursday. SukhbirSiwach


SCasksCentre if newfarm lawscanwait until it hearsmatterFarmershaveright toprotest,butmust talkandwewill facilitate,saysCJIbench


ACKNOWLEDGINGTHErightoffarmerstoprotestbutunderlin-ing that they “cannot sit inprotest for years” and “have totalkandwewill facilitate it”, theSupremeCourtThursdaysoughtthe Centre’s viewonwhether itcanputonholdimplementationof the new farm laws until thecourtdecidesonthe issue.“Can the executive assure

that no actionwill be taken un-der the laws tillwehear it?” thebenchheadedbyChief JusticeofIndia asked Attorney GeneralK K Venugopal while hearing aclutch of petitions seeking



WITHFARMERunionsrejectingthe concessions he proposed toend their opposition to thenewfarm laws, Union AgricultureMinisterNarendraSinghTomarThursday slammed theOppositionpartiesandothersforbackingtheproteststomake“in-nocent farmers… puppets oftheirpolitics”.In an open letter to farmers

protesting at the gates of Delhi,Tomarsaidthosestoppingtrainscarrying supplies to soldiers atthe borders, especially at a timewhen the situation in Ladakh is“challenging”,cannotbefarmers.Theminister, who has been


Those stoppingsupply trains tosoldiers can’t befarmers: Tomar



Aidingvaccine drivelegal authority (to assist in theadministration of the vaccine).To conduct elections, we areempowered under Article 324.But having said that, given theexperience and expertise wehave, if someonereachesout tous for a national cause, wewilltakea call,” he said.Arora was responding to a

questionaskedinthecontextofthe recent Health Ministryguidelines shared with thestates,whichsaythattheCovid-19vaccinationdrivewillbesim-ilar to the election process.However,hesaidthatnohelporassistance has been sought, asof now, from the Commissionfor thevaccinationexercise.Onthelessonslearntduring

the Bihar elections, the pollpanel chief said the EC has al-ready begun preparations fortheWestBengalassemblypolls.The Commission, he said, is

alreadyorganising interactionsbetween officers in charge ofBihar elections and their coun-terparts in states going to pollsnextyear to facilitatesharingofexperiences and lessons ofholdingelectionsinapandemic.“Wehavealreadyinformally

reached out to the HealthDepartmentofBihar tohaveaninformal interactionwith theircounterparts in West BengalandTamilNadu,sothattheycanexchange notes on how to bestimplement the lessonsof Bihar(elections). InWest Bengal, wewill have 28,000more pollingbooths.Basedononeofourma-jor lessons from Bihar, we aretrying to locate all additionalpollingboothsascloseaspossi-ble to themain polling stationso that resources, deploymentof forces andpolling personnelareoptimised,”he said.TheBiharprocessof regular

press briefings on the day ofcounting,hesaid,wouldnowbea “template” for all upcomingpolls.Asked about the reformshe

would like to see implementedwithintheelectoralmachinery,Arora highlighted the need toprotect honest electionofficersfromvictimisationattherulingparty'shandsonceelectionsareover.“Many times, we have seen

that our officers, especially theChiefElectoralOfficers,becomevulnerable because of theirhonest and independent con-duct during an election.Immediately after elections,such officers are victimised orharassed. There have been in-stances in which theCommissionhasauthorisedmeto take up thematter with theHonourableChiefMinistercon-cerned.Atthesametime,manyofficers whowe had to change(during an election) because oftheir biased or partial conductget rewarded when the samepartyreturnstopower,”hesaid.“Wewould like to go to the

government and say that atleast foroneyearafterastateorcentralelectionisover,no(elec-tion)officershouldbepenalisedunder different alibis. Just be-causeheorshewasveryobjec-tive and implemented the lawof the land faithfully," he said.

PM-CARESfundfrom April to October “by IAFpersonnel toPMCares Fund”.Itprovidedamonthlybreak-

upof itscontribution—April:Rs25.03crore;May:Rs75.24lakh;June: Rs 1.08 crore; July: Rs73.93 lakh; August: Rs 61.18lakh;September:Rs50.27lakh;and,October:Rs46.70 lakh.The Indian Navy, in its re-

sponse dated December 9,stated that between April andOctober,atotalofRs12.41crore

was contributed to PM-CARESFund “in respect of officers andsailors”andRs4.36crore“inre-spect of civilian personnel” ofthe Navy. The IntegratedHeadquarters under theMinistry of Defence (Navy)statedthat“Contributionmadefromotherheadsisnotavailablewith the concerned direc-torate”.The IndianArmydidnot re-

spondtotheRTIapplication,butits ADG PI (AdditionalDirectorate General of PublicInformation) tweeted onMay15: “#IndianArmy personnelhavevoluntarilycontributedRs157.71 Crores as one day salaryforApr2020towards#Nation’sfight against #COVID-19 pan-demic to#PMCARES fund.”OnMarch29,apressrelease

fromtheMinistryofDefence, is-sued by the Press InformationBureau, stated: “RakshaMantriShriRajnathSinghhasapproveda proposal for the contributionofonedaysalarybytheemploy-eesofMinistryofDefencetothePM-CARESFundto fightCovid-19. It is estimated that aroundRs500crorewillbecollectivelyprovided by the DefenceMinistry to the fund from vari-ous wings, including Army,Navy, Air Force, Defence PSUsandothers.Theemployees’con-tributionisvoluntaryandthosedesirous of opting out will beexempted.”Itwastweetedthesameday

by Defence Secretary AjayKumar who said “Min ofDefence, Armed Forces,Attached offices, DefencePSUs/Organizations come for-ward to donate One day salarytoPMCARESFundonvoluntarybasis. From salary of April/May2020 ~Rs 500 crores to PMCARESFund.”Earlier, RTI responses

showed contributions of Rs204.75 crore fromsevenpublicbanksandother financial insti-tutions includingReserveBankof India, apart from Rs 21.81crore by several central educa-tional institutions,all fromstaffsalaries.Atotalof101PSUscon-tributed Rs 154.70 crore fromsalarieswhile 98 contributed atotal of Rs 2,422.87 crore fromCSR funds.

Suvenduquits TMCtheTMC'sPaschimBardhamandistrict unit, resigned from allpositions in the party onThursday.Suvendu'sfollowersclaimed

theywere in touchwith nearly50 TMCMLAs andmany lead-ers in the party organisation—not just fromhis strongholdsofPurbaMedinipur and PaschimMedinipur, but also fromHooghly andBurdwan.SeveralrebelTMCMLAsand

leaders will join the BJP alongwithSuvenduatapublicmeet-ing presided over by HomeMinister Amit Shah inMedinipur over the weekend,sources said. The rest are likelytowait andwatch fornow.In his short resignation let-

ter dated December 16, ad-dressed to Chief MinisterMamataBanerjee,Suvendusaidhewas“thankfulforall thechal-lenges and opportunities thathas been afforded to me”.Suvenduwas amember of theparty’ssteeringcommitteeandstatecommittee,andaleaderofits trade union front. Lastmonth, hehadquit theCabinetwhereheheld three importantdepartments.Tiwari,whoquitaschairper-

sonof theboardadministrationof Asansol MunicipalCorporation, said he could notstay in the post after Asansolhad been deprived of develop-ment works. He then resignedfrom all his posts in the TMC,andclaimedthathisMLAofficein Pandabeswar had been van-

dalisedon the orders of a partyleader inKolkata.Tiwari,aformerchairperson

of theAsansolCorporation,hadrecently written to UrbanDevelopment Minister FirhadHakim accusing the govern-mentofblockingRs2,000croreof central funds for the smartcity project. TMC leaders metwithhiminKolkataonTuesday,butTiwaribackedSuvenduatapublicmeetingonthefollowingday. Banerjee rang him thesame day, and a meeting wasfixedonDecember18.Aftersubmittinghisresigna-

tion as MLA to the Speaker onWednesday,Suvenduhadgoneto the residence of SunilMondal, the TMC MP fromBardhaman Purba. BesidesMondal and Tiwari, severalother TMC leaders and MLAswere present there, includingBiswajit Kundu, the two-timeMLA from Kalna in PurbaBardhaman district, and Col.Diptangshu Chowdhury, the

chairmanof SouthBengalStateTransportCorporation.“Thetreatmentmetedoutto

SuvenduAdhikari issomethingthat a lot of us have suffered. Itpains to leave a party that youhave served for 22 years,”Kundu toldThe IndianExpress.“BJP is not in power in Bengal;at this point they can't offer usanything. It is not for posts orany greed that anyonewill joinBJP. It is because our party haschosen to ignore honest lead-ers,” he said.“We are in touch with 50

MLAs, some of whom wouldjoin the BJP with SuvenduAdhikari,” Kundu said, but de-clined to give names. “This isapart from district presidents,blockpresidents,chairmenandcouncillors of municipalities,who have started to quit,” hesaid.Both Kundu and Mondal

mentioneda specific grievanceagainst political strategistPrashant Kishor, who is advis-

ing Mamata Banerjee on theAssemblyelection.“Our party spent crores to

bring in PK (Prashant Kishor).He chose organisational headsinmyconstituencywhodonothaveacleanrecordandwhoarenot likedbypeople. People likeusweresidelined.Butheseemsto knows better than us. Sowhat does the party need mefor?”Kundusaid.Mondalsaid:“Thereisanger

because this is the reality. Webecame MLA or MP throughpolitics.PrashantKishordidnotmake usMLA orMP. The partycannot run in thisway.”Saikat Panja, the TMCMLA

from Manteswar in PurbaBardhaman district who islearnt to be in touch withSuvendu, said: “A member ofPrashantKishor'steamhasspo-kenwithme,but Iamnotsatis-fied. I have not decided yet toleavetheparty,butIwillremainpolitically inactive until my is-sueshavebeenresolved,”Panja

toldThe IndianExpress.Shilbhadra Dutta, the two-

term TMC MLA fromBarrackpore in North 24-Parganas district, refused tospeakwithKishor's teamabouthis candidature for theAssembly elections. Dutta didnot take phonecalls from TheIndianExpress.At a lower level, six area

presidentsof theTMChavequitthe party in the Bamangolacommunity block ofMurshidabaddistrict.Adeputychairmanof thelocalcivicbodyin Dankuni of Hooghly district,and the president of the TMC’swomen’s unit at Haldia in EastMidnapore district have re-signed, too.State BJP president and

MedinipurMPDilipGhoshpre-dicted that the “house of TMCwill fall like a house of cards”.The party's Asansol MP BabulSupriyo, however, expressedsome reservations aboutJitendraTiwari.

“Many BJP workers inAsansol were heckled by TMCgoons whose leader wasJitendra Tiwari. I cannot betrayBJPworkers,”Supriyosaid. Inre-sponse,Tiwariconcededthathedid indeed do a “lot of thingsthen”, and could not “denymyresponsibility”. He said hewould speak toSupriyo.Senior TMC leaders sought

toputupabraveface.LokSabhaMPKalyanBanerjeesaid:“GoodriddancetoSuvendu. It isbettertohaveanemptycowshedthananaughty cow.”VeteranTMCleaderSubrata

Mukherjee said: “There arethousandsof leadersandwork-ers in theparty. If oneor twoormore leaders decide to quit, itwill not have any effect at all.Nobody is bigger than theparty.”SinceSuvenduescalatedhis

rebellion, several other leadersand MLAs, including ForestMinister Rajib Banerjee, havepublicly aired their grievancesagainsttheparty.However,theyhavebeenplacatedfornow,andaccordingtosourcestheydonothave immediate plans ofleaving.

HC order torelease Kafeelatmosphereof fearand insecu-rity within the citizens ofAligarh”.On December 12, the UP

government filed an appealagainst thedecisionof theHighCourt.Earlier, the Supreme Court

had refrained from hearing ahabeas corpus plea filed byKhan’smotherNuzhatPerweenchallenging his detention. TheHigh Court was the “appropri-ate forum” to hear the chal-lenge, it had said.Initsdetailed,48-pagejudg-

ment, theHighCourthadnotedthatKhaninfact,“givesacall fornational integrity and unityamong thecitizens”.The High Court had also

come downheavily on the dis-trict magistrate who orderedKhan’s detention. “It appearsthat theDistrictMagistratehadselective reading and selectivemention for few phrases fromthe speech ignoring its true in-tent. Prima facie, the speech isnot such thata reasonablemancould have arrived at a conclu-sion as the inference drawn bytheDistrictMagistrate,Aligarh,”it had said.Althoughchargesunderthe

NSA were revoked, Khan stillfacescriminalchargesincludinghatespeech.UndertheNSA,en-acted in 1980, the state or cen-tralgovernmentscanarrestanddetain any person to preventhimfromacting inanymannerprejudicial tothesecurityof thestate,maintenanceofpublicor-der, maintenance of suppliesand services essential to thecommunity.

Metro car shedrelocationlandsprawl–previouslytaggedas an eco-sensitive belt but re-classified inMumbai’s newde-velopmentplan–inGoregaon’sPahadi isalsobeingconsidered.The previous DevendraFadnavis regime had proposedto reserve 221 acre of the samelandforacarshedbymodifyingthe development plan, a finalnod towhich is still pending.On condition of anonymity,

aseniorShivSenaminister toldThe Indian Express, “The gov-ernment’s legal advisors arestudying the HC order and ex-aminingtheoptionofchalleng-ing it in theSupremeCourt.Weare also exploring whether al-ternativelocationsareavailable.We are looking at the BKC landand the Pahadi land, among

others.”Sources said that another

state-owned land at MumbaiUniversity’s Kalina campus,whichwasalsoexaminedinthepast, is alsobeingexplored.Incidentally, thePahadi land

was one of the parcels exam-inedbyahigh-level committeeappointed by Thackeray andfoundtobeeconomicallyunvi-able.Thecommittee,headedbyAdditional Chief Secretary(Finance)Manoj Saunik, had inits report submittedto thegov-ernment in January, even ad-vised against relocation of carshedtoKanjurmargfromAareyMilkColonywhereitwasbeingbuilt during the previousregime.The committee, which had

explored both the Kanjurmargand the Pahadi options amongother alternatives, had citedtechnicalandlogisticalhurdles,commissioningdelaysandcostescalations to recommendthatthe relocation of the projectfromAareywasunviable.Withtheovernightfellingof

2,141 trees at Aarey for the carshed just ahead of Assemblypolls in 2019 becoming apolitical flashpoint betweenShiv Sena and BJP, Thackerayhad overlooked the commit-tee’s findings and announcedthe relocation of the project toa 102-acre land at Kanjurmarg,which isnowstuck in legal dis-pute.The Bombay High Court on

Wednesday stayed further im-plementationof aMumbaicol-lector’s land allotment orderdated October 1, transferringthe Kanjurmarg land to thestate-run MumbaiMetropolitan RegionDevelopment Authority (MM-RDA) for theproject, orderingastoptoallconstructionactivitiesat the site.Admitting the Centre’s plea

thatthelandinquestionwasanerstwhile salt pan land, whichbelongedtoit,andtakingclaimsof twoprivatepartiesonrecord,theHChadalsorappedthestatebureaucracy for its “careless”approach.Whilethechiefministerhas

asked the state AdvocateGeneralAshutoshKumbhakoniand the law department to ad-vise him on the feasibility ofchallenging theHCorder in theSupremeCourt, sourcessaidhehas simultaneously asked offi-cials to lookforalternativesitesfor relocation, sensing the pos-sibilityofaprotractedlegalbat-tle.Thecourtstayhasledtofur-

theruncertaintyonthecomple-tionof the33.5-kmlongunder-ground Metro line, which isalready running behind sched-uleandhasseenasharpcostes-calation.The HC order has also re-

newedthepoliticalslugfestbe-tweenthetwoformerallies.OnThursday, Shiv Sena’s SanjayRauttookaveileddigat theBJP,labelling the HC order as“unfortunate”andtermingitasa “conspiracy to see thatMaharashtragovernmentisnotallowedtocarryoutworkintheinterestof thepeopleanddevel-opment”.Another Shiv Sena leader

saidthat it isdisappointingthatthe next hearing in the case isscheduled only in February,2021.OnWednesday, hours after

the court delivered its verdict,Fadnavishadsaidthatthey(thegovernment) should set asidetheir ego and resumework attheAarey site.BJP’sPravinDarekar,alsothe

Leader of Opposition in theLegislativeCouncil,onThursdayquestionedSenaon itsmove toexamine the BKC land. “Theyshould not make it a vendettaissue,”he said.Sources, meanwhile, said

that Thackeray is miffed withsomeseniorbureaucrats for in-epthandlingof thematter.


Supreme Court asks Centre if new farmlaws can wait till it decides matter

Those stopping supply trains tosoldiers can’t be farmers: Tomar

removal of farmers staging asit-in at the borders of Delhiagainst thenewfarmlaws.Despite objections from

SolicitorGeneralTusharMehtathat itwouldbe impossible togive such an assurance to thecourt, Venugopal told thebench that he would discusstheissuewiththegovernment.“This is to enable discus-

sion. We are not staying thelaw,” thebenchsaid. It also in-dicated itwould setupan“in-dependentandimpartialcom-mitteetohearbothsides”whilea “non-violent protest” couldcontinue.“The committee’s finding

will have to be followed.Meanwhile,theprotestwillcon-tinue in a non-violent fashionand cannot endanger life orproperty. You cannot instigateviolence too by police,” thebenchsaidinoralobservations.Althoughthecourtdidnotpassanyspecificorder,itsaidexpertssuchasjournalistPSainathandagricultural unions like theBharatiya KisanUnion (one ofthefactionsisapetitioner)couldbemembersof thecommittee.Senior Advocate and for-

mer Union Minister PChidambaram, appearing fortheStateofPunjab,saidhehadnoobjection to formingan in-dependentcommitteetofacil-itate talks between the farm-

ersandtheCentre.Solicitor General Mehta

submitted to the court thatother farmer unionswere notpresent in court andmay notshare theviewsof theBKU.OnWednesday, the court

hadgrantedpermissiontoim-plead in thematter the BKU-Rakesh Tikait, BKU-Sidhupur(Jagjeet S. Dallewal), BKU-Rajewal (Balbeer SinghRajewal), BKU-Lakhowal(Harinder Singh Lakhowal),Jamhoori Kisan Sabha(KulwantSinghSandhu),BKU-Dakaunda (Buta SinghBurjgill), BKU-Doaba (ManjitSinghRai) andKulHindKisanFederation (Prem SinghBhangu).Buttherewasnorep-resentation from themThursday.AstheSupremeCourtisset

to break for winter vacation,the CJI-led bench said it willensure that the case is listedbefore a vacation bench forhearing.“Wewillnotdecidetheva-

lidity of the laws today. Thatcan wait. The only thing wewill decide today is regardingthe farmers’ protest andaciti-zen’sfundamentalrighttofreemovement,”CJIBobdesaid.Senior Advocate Harish


Haryana, said that the right toprotesthastobebalancedwiththe right to life.“Delhi has a population…

which cannot sustain itself.Fruits and vegetables comefromneighbouring states andpriceswillskyrocketifbordersare restricted. The right toprotest does not extend todenyingother rights,”hesaid.Salve also called for a fresh

protocol while allowingprotests that would includeprior identificationof thepro-testerssothattheycanbeheldaccountablefordamagetoanylifeandproperty later.“It is high time this court

makes a declaration on thecontoursoftherighttoprotest.Unions who organise largecrowdsshouldbeheldrespon-sible for the acts of thecrowds,”hesaid.TheCJIagreedthattheright

toprotestcannotinterferewiththerightsofothersandsaidthecourtwouldconsulttheCentreto see if the mode of protestcanbealtered.“Youhavearighttoprotest

whichwe are not going to in-terfere with. Carry on theprotest,butthepurposeof theprotest must be to talk tosomeone. You cannot sit inprotestforyears.Farmershavetotalkandwewill facilitateit,”theCJI said.

“Wearemakingitclearthatwerecognisethefundamentalrighttoprotest,andthereisnoquestionofbalancingtocurtailit.Butitshouldnotcausedam-age toanyone’s life,”hesaid.Meanwhile, leaders of

farmerunionsannouncedtheywould be consulting fourlawyers—DushyantDave,HSPhoolka, Prashant Bhushanand Colin Gonsalves— on theSupreme Court proceedingsbeforemaking any commentordecision.K V Biju of the Rashtriya

KisanMahasangh, addressinga press conference Thursdayevening at the Singhu border,said their unions are not yet aparty to the petition in theSupremeCourt.“The farmerunions collec-

tivelyheldameetingtoday.Wehavedecidedtodiscussthede-velopments in the SupremeCourt with a legal team ofPrashant Bhushan, ColinGonsalves,DushyantDaveandHSPhoolka…Wedonotwanttomakeanycommentwithoutconsulting them,”hesaid.Phoolkaconfirmedthatthe

fourlawyerswereintalkswiththe farmer leaders. “They(unions) have taken consentfromallfourofusandwehaveofferedourservicesprobono,”hesaid.

leadingthegovernment’stalkswith the farmer unions, alsoreferred to the call for boycottof “Indian products” – someunionshad called for theboy-cottofproductsof theAmbaniandAdanigroups.“At a timewhen the coun-

try ismoving forwardwith itsresolveofAtmanirbharBharatandvocal isgoinglocal, thein-tention of these people whohave called for the boycott ofIndia'sproductsmustbeiden-tified,”hesaid.Tomar’s letter was

retweeted by PrimeMinisterNarendraModi who said theminister had expressed hisfeelings and tried to have ahumbleconversation(vinamrasamvad)with the farmers. Herequested all “annadatta” toreadtheletter,andurgedcoun-trymen to make it reach asmanypeopleaspossible.Inhis8-pageletterinHindi,

Tomar said: “When the secu-rity situation at the borders ofLeh-Ladakhischallenging,andthesnowfall ismany feethigh,thenthosestoppingtrainscar-ryingsuppliestosoldiersontheborderscannotbefarmers.”“Because of these people,

we have to transport suppliesand other essential goods toour troops by air and othermeans,”hesaid.Without naming any or-

ganisationorpoliticalparty,herecalled the situation duringthe Sino-Indian war of 1962.“The ideologyof thesepeople,whoaremisleading the farm-ers by hiding behind curtains,wasnotwiththecountryevenduring the war of 62. Today,these people are again speak-ingthelanguageof62,”hesaid.He said farmers should

think what their goal waswhentheystartedtheirmove-ment andwhat was happen-

ing today.He urged them not to be

misled and think on the basisof facts. “It is the duty of ourgovernmenttoremoveallyourdoubts and answer all yourqueries,”hesaid.Tomarsaidpoliticalparties,

which have lost ground, havebeenmisleading farmers thattheir landswill be takenawayunder thenewlaws.“The Congress did not im-

plement the SwaminathanCommittee report for 8 years,how can the Congress be awell-wisherof farmers…Whyhave UPA governmentminis-ters,whoused towrite lettersin favour of these reforms,doneaU-turnnow,”hesaid.“The Aam Aadmi Party

wrote in its Punjab electionmanifesto that it will givefarmers the facility to selltheir produce outside themandi, why is it now speak-

ing against it,” he said.He said SAD leaders were

part of theHooda committeethat recommended agricul-ture reformsbut are nowop-posing these laws.He also questioned why

farmunions,whichweresup-portiveof these reformsuntiltwo-three months ago, weresuddenly opposed to them.Tomar’ letter comes at a

time when senior ministersand BJP leaders are mobilis-ing support for the new farmlaws, and attacking theOpposition for “misleading”farmers.Sources said UnionHome

Minister Amit Shah andTomaralongwithBJPgeneralsecretaries Arun Singh, C TRavi and Dushyant Gautamheld a meeting Thursday inwhich they reviewedthe party’s moves so far onthe issue.


Why36accusedoftakingpart inTablighieventwereacquittedNEWEPISODEEVERYDAY

In today’sepisode,we’re lookingatwhy36foreignnationalswhotookpart inthecontroversialTablighi Jamaateventwereacquittedbyacourt.


ANTICIPATING TROUBLE, PUNEPRIDEORGANISERSMULL ACTIONThetentheditionofthemarch,usuallyheld inJune,couldnotbeorganisedthisyearduetothecoronaviruspandemic.



‘Language isat theheartofwhatwedo’















THESPECIALInvestigationTeamof the Mumbai Police CrimeBranchonThursdayarrestedtheformerchiefoperatingofficerofthe Broadcast AudienceResearch Council (BARC) for hisalleged involvement in theTelevision Rating Points (TRP)manipulationscam.Romil Ramgarhia was pro-

ducedbefore theMumbaimet-ropolitanmagistrate court andremanded in police custody tillDecember 19. According to thepolice, this is the 14th arrest inthecase.OfficerssaidthatRepublicTV

distribution head GhanshyamSingh, during his interrogation,

had spoken about the dualLogical Channel Number (LCN)system. LCN is an identificationnumber assigned to a TV chan-nel, and the allegations againstRepublicTVare that it allegedlyuseddualLCN,whichalloweditto showup in the genre of ‘kidschannels’, apart from the ‘newschannels’ category, thus show-ingupat twoplaces.“Manypeoplewerecalled for

questioningandwecametoknowthatpeopleworking inBARCarealso involved.Aswe investigatedfurther,Ramgarhia’srolewasiden-tified,”saidanofficer.A teamheaded by Assistant

PoliceInspectorSachinVazewenttoRamgarhia’sresidenceatDostiAcres in Wadala on Thursdaymorning. Hewas brought in forquestioning and arrested at 1.05pm. Thepolice said that he held


trend of television viewership,news viewership and channelperformance.Asheanalysedtherevenuesof televisionchannels,he had knowledge about theirincomes,”saidanofficer,addingthat they suspect that he hadsharedtheinformationwithcer-tain channels that helped themmanipulateTRP.Also, Ramgarhia had knowl-

edgeonthelocationsofbarome-ters across India, which the po-licesuspecthemusthavesharedwithtelevisionchannels,helpingthem inTRPmanipulation. “Wehave learnt that he has guidedandassistedchannels inmanip-ulatingTRPs,” saidanofficer.Inhisremandapplication,the

policesubmittedbeforethecourtthatRamgarhia’sWhatsAppchatsshowed that hewas in contactwith Republic’s TV CEO VikasKhanchandani, who was onWednesdayreleasedonbailinthecase.Thepolicesuspectthathehassharedsomecrucial informationwithKhanchandani that helpedthechannelmanipulateTRP.The police further told the

court that as Ramgarhia hasshared informationwith televi-sionchannels,itissuspectedthathegainedfinancially,duetowhichhisbankaccountsshouldbescru-tinisedandhebeinterrogated.In relation to dual LCN, the

policehavesofarrecordedstate-ments of 24 cable operatorsacross Maharashtra, while 50morecableoperatorshavebeensummoned forquestioning.


THE STATE government onThursday opposed a plea be-fore the Bombay High Courtseeking suspension of actorKangana Ranaut’s Twitter ac-countstatingthat thepetitionwasvague,non-maintainableand did not raise grievanceaboutanypersonal injury.Additional Public

Prosecutor J P Yagnik opposedthe plea saying that the stategovernmenthada limitedrolein thepleasince thedirectionsweresoughtagainstsocialme-diaplatformTwitterandhence,thesameshouldbedismissed.A division bench of Justice

S S Shinde and Justice M SKarnikwashearingacriminalwrit plea filed by Mumbai-basedlawyerAliKaashifKhanDeshmukhseekingdirectionstopermanentlysuspendorde-activate Ranaut’s Twitter ac-count to stop “spreading ofcontinuoushatredanddishar-mony through extremist or

derogatorytweetsor remarksand attempting to divide thepeopleandpromotecommis-sionof crime in thecountry”.Deshmukhhadearlier filed

twocriminalcomplaintsagainstthe actor andalso accusedhersisterRangoli Chandel ofmak-ingoffensivetweets.The HC on Thursday di-

rected Deshmukh to justifyhowhis plea could be treatedas awrit plea andnot apublicinterest litigation (PIL), as hisclaimswere not personal butinvolvedanentirecommunity.ItthenaskedDeshmukhtoex-plore and study the issue –whether it shouldbepursuedasawritpleaoraPIL–andin-formthecourtonMonday.


THENARCOTICSControl Bureau(NCB)hasissuedanoticetofilm-makerKaranJoharoveravideoofapartythathehadorganisedlastyearandwhichhadgoneviralonsocialmedia.ShiromaniAkaliDal(SAD) leaderManjinder Sirsa,whohaslodgedacomplaint,saidthatcelebritiesuseddrugsinthesaid party, an allegationwhichJoharhadrefutedlastyear.Confirming the develop-

ment,anofficialsaidthattheno-ticewassentonWednesday.“He need not be present

physicallybuthehasbeenaskedtorespondsoon,”saidanofficer.NCB statement read, “The

notice has been givenwith re-specttothevideowhichwasun-dercirculation.NCBhadreceiveda complaint from ManjinderSirsa in this regard and wasmarkedtoMZU(MumbaiZonalUnit).Tochecktheveracityofthevideo,thenoticehasbeensent.”The video features several



TRACKTenAClocal trainservicesbetweenCSMTandKalyanresumedoperationsonThursday. GaneshShirsekar


Goswami withdraws anticipatory bail pleaEXPRESSNEWSSERVICEMUMBAI,DECEMBER17

REPUBLIC TV editor-in-chiefArnab Goswami and his wifeSambyabrata Goswami onThursdaywithdrewtheir antic-ipatory bail pleas filed before asessions court last month, in acase registered against thembytheNMJoshiMargpolicestation.Thepolicehadfiledacaseac-

cusingGoswami, hiswife, theirsonandtwounknownpersonsforoffences pertaining to assault orcriminal forceonpublic servantsto deter them fromdischargingtheir duty, intentional insult toprovebreachofpeaceandcrimi-nal intimidationunderIPC.As per the complaint, when

the police went to arrestGoswamiathisLowerParel res-idence in the interior designerAnvayNaik abetment to suicide

case, he allegedly kept themwaitingoutside foroveranhourandalongwithhis familymem-bersphysicallyresistedhisarrest.The petition was filed

through advocate ShyamKalyankar claiming that the ar-

restwas‘illegal’sincetheAlibaugpolice had already filed an ‘A-summary’ report in thecase.Thepleahadclaimedthatthe


In HC, govt opposes pleaseeking suspension ofKangana’s Twitter account



Ex-BARC chief operating officer held

Bollywood actors, includingDeepika Padukone, RanbirKapoor, Vicky Kaushal, VarunDhawan, Arjun Kapoor, ShahidKapoor,directorAyanMukherjee,ZoyaAkhtar,andMalaikaArora.After the death of actor

Sushant Singh Rajput, severalBollywoodcelebritieshavebeenquestioned in connectionwithsubstanceuse, includingSaraAliKhan, Padukone and ArjunRampal. NCB has also ques-tioned Anubhav Chopra andKshitij Prasad, and linked themwithDharmaProductions.JoharhassaidthatChoprawasassoci-ated with the productionhouseforprojectsfrom2011to 2013. Prasad joinedDharmaticEntertainmentin2019asaproducer,thecom-pany is linkedwithDharmaProductions..

NCB issues notice to Joharover viral video of party






THEBOMBAYHighCourthasre-cently directed the JuvenileJusticeBoardtoverify theageofa27-year-oldman,sentencedtolife imprisonment in amurdercase in2010.Themanfiledapleathrough

his father claiming that hewasonly 17 years old at the time ofmurder and should have beentreatedasa juvenile rather than

beingconvictedasanadult.ThecourthasaskedtheBoardtosub-mit the reportwithin14weeks.A division bench of Justice S

S Shinde and JusticeMSKarnikpassed an order on the petitionfiledbyoneArvindkumarSahu,a resident of Khar in Mumbai,who has been lodged in theNashik Central Jail sinceMay 4,2010.The habeas corpus plea

sought directions to the stategovernment to release him andto initiate inquiry to verify the

claimof juvenility raised by thepetitioner.Advocate Manas N

Gawankar submitted that Sahuhad undergone 10 years of im-prisonment so far. His appealagainst conviction before theHigh Court was dismissed inJune2015,whereasconsequentchallenge to HC order was dis-missedbytheSupremeCourt inFebruary2016.Gawankar added thatwhen

Sahuwasoutonparoleandhadvisited his native place in

Allahabad,UttarPradeshin2017,he came across certain docu-ments that indicatedhis dateofbirth as July 7, 1992. Therefore,he had not completed 18 yearsof ageat the timeof themurderonOctober6,2009.Thereafter, his father ob-

tainedacopyof the school reg-ister and transfer certificate is-sued by the school, where thepetitioner completed his edu-cation. On November 21, lastyear, the Section EducationOfficer,Allahabad, issuedacer-

tified copy of the said schoolregister and transfer certificateto thepetitionerwith the samebirthdateasclaimed.Thesamedate was mentioned on hismarksheet from 2005-06 andthe grampanchayat register.Gawankar argued that his

clientwasajuvenileonthedateof commission of the offenceandhenceheshouldbetreatedas ‘juvenile inconflictof law’asper the Juvenile Justice (CareandProtectionofChildren)Act,2000andsoughtSahu’srelease.

After hearing submissions,thecourtheld,“Inthesecircum-stances, it would be expedientto refer the matter to theJuvenile JusticeBoard,Mumbai,for making an enquiry as re-gards the issue of juvenility ofthe petitioner in accordancewith lawandsubmit thereportto this court.”The court added that the

reportbesubmittedasexpedi-tiously as possible and andgave the Board 14 weeks forthe same.


AFTER A break of ten months,the Maharashtra governmenthasallowedsportspersonstore-sumepractice and training ses-sions. Water sports and swim-ming can now resume withstrictadherencetostandardop-eratingprocedures.In a government circular

which categories sports intonon-contact,minimal-mediumcontact games, full contactgamesandwater sports, sport-ing associations have been ad-visedtoavoidexcesscrowding,especially in team sports andcompletely avoid containmentzones.However, it is learnt thatthegovernmentwill takea fewmore weeks to allow resump-tion of sports competitions inthecity.According to thecircu-lar, organising sports competi-tions or workshops and train-ing camps at any level shouldnot be done till further ordersare issued."Before starting practice of

all these games, the standardworkingproceduresof thegov-ernment (Covid-19 StandardOperating Protocol) should beobservedandfollowed,"thecir-cular reads.It isunderstoodthatthestate

governmentwill allow holdingofcompetitionsinthecityinthelast week of December. TheMumbai Cricket Association(MCA)isscheduledtohostSyedMushtaq Ali Trophy fromJanuary 10. So as per the circu-lar, theMCAwill again have toapproachthestategovernmentforpermission.MCA will host teams like

Haryana,AndhraPradesh,Delhi,Kerala and Puducherry, whichwill play T20 league games inthe city at two grounds -Wankhede Stadium and MCABKCground."The news has certainly

comeas abreathof fresh air forus. We have approached thegovernmentmanytimesbeforeseekingpermission. At least in-dividual players can resumetraining before tournamentsstart," saidMCA joint secretaryShahAlamShaikh.According to the circular,

thereshouldbenomorethan10to 15 players at the scheduledtime without crowding at thetraining groundwhile practicetimes should be kept differentforplayersbelow14yearsofage."Careshouldbetakentoen-

sure that senior players do notparticipate in thepractice. Inallthese sports practice areas,cleaning and sanitising shouldbedoneaftereachbatchaccord-ing to the standard operatingprocedure (Covid-19 StandardOperating Protocol) of sportsequipment," thecircularadded.If any player or parent is

found to have cold, cough orfever, he or she should be pro-hibitedfromcomingtopractice.Sports like cricket, football

and inter-school games havetaken a severe hit due to thepandemic and many coacheshavebeen rendered jobless.


THE BOMBAY High Court haspassed severe strictures on theMumbai suburban district col-lectoroverhisdecisiontotrans-fer102-acreKanjurmargsaltpanlandfortheMetrocarshedproj-ect, observing that the order“borders on committing fraudon power”, was “perverse” andshowed“seriousflaw”inthede-cision-makingprocess.“It seems to be clear that

there has been a change in pol-icywithchangeintherulingdis-pensation in the state. Whilechangescanbeeffectedkeepinginmindwhat the larger publicinterest warrants, extraneousconsiderationsoughtnottoout-

weighallotherconsiderationsofpropriety, legalityandfairnessinadministrative action,” ChiefJusticeDipankarDattasaidinthe24-page order passed onWednesdayandmadeavailableonThursday.The bench added, “We are

consciousoftheelementofpub-licinterestinvolvedinsettingupoftheMetrocarshedonthesub-ject land; at the same time, wecannotremainobliviousifaper-son is divested of its/his right inpropertywithout the authorityof law.”Pulling up the collector, the

HC said, “We do notwish to beharshatthisstagebecauseallthematerialsareyettobeplacedbe-fore us, but cannot desist fromobservingthatthecollector’sac-tionofpassingtheimpugnedor-

der in themanner he did doesborderoncommittingafraudonpower.”On October 11, while scrap-

ping the car shed project atAarey Milk Colony, ChiefMinisterUddhavThackerayhadsaid that it would now insteadcomeup on the salt pan land atKanjurmarg. The ruling ShivSena had touted themove as amajor achievement, claimingthat it had saved the vital greenspace in Aarey forMumbai andits futuregenerations.Subsequently, theMumbai

suburban district collector hadordered the transfer of theKanjurmarg salt pan land onOctober 1 to the MumbaiMetropolitan RegionDevelopment Authority (MM-RDA). However, the Union gov-

ernment aswell as privatepeti-tioners had challenged themove.On Wednesday, the HC

stayedthemoveafteritprimafa-cie observed that the operationofthecollector'sordercannotbeallowed to continue, as there

were multiple claims over theland and all the parties neededto be heard and claims settledbefore the car shedwork couldcommence.Besides the Centre,

Maheshkumar Garodia of realestate firm Garodia Group hadalso challenged the collector’sorder in the HC claiming that asuitwaspendingbeforethecitycivilcourtoverpossessionof theland and the order was passedwithout taking cognizance ofthe same.Garodia claimed thathewaslesseeofnearly500acreofKanjurvillage,wherethesaltpan is located.In view of this, the HC had

said onWednesday, “What isrevealed from thematerials onrecord is dispossession of par-ties interested inapropertynot

byprocedureknowntolaw,butbyanexecutive fiat. Thecollec-torhas treated the subject landasthepropertyof thestategov-ernment and allowed posses-sion thereof to be taken by theMMRDAby referring to certainnotifications/resolutions,with-out giving any opportunity ei-ther to the central governmentor topetitionerGarodia.”Itadded:“Inasocietywhere

rule of law has primacy, theminimum that we expect of aresponsibleofficeas thecollec-tor is to adopt a fair, reasonableand impartial approach. That isunfortunately lacking in thepresent case.”Moreover, the bench said

that it was “aghast” that whilea civil application filed by thestate government in 2016 for

the 102-acre Kanjurmarg landhasbeenpending, thecollector,“on his own andwithoutwait-ing outcome of such applica-tion”, passed the impugnedor-deranddelivereditspossessionto MMRDA. “We, thus, see noreasonastohowduringitspen-dency the collector could passsuch anorder,” it added.Observingthat thecollector

failed to consider relevant evi-dence while passing the order,theHCsaid,“Non-considerationof evidence that was relevant,material and germane is a seri-ous flaw in the decision-mak-ing process, vitiating the im-pugned order and rendering itperverse.”The courtwill hear all pleas

seeking claims over the land inFebruary, 2021.


THE BOMBAY High Court onThursdaydirectedthepolicenottotakeanycoerciveactionorfilechargesheet in any of the threecasesfiledagainstNaviMumbairesident Sunaina Holey, whowasbookedbytheMumbaiandPalgharpoliceforallegedlymak-ing offensive remarks on socialmedia against Chief MinisterUddhav Thackeray and his sonAaditya.The court also askedHoley’s

counseltoadvisehisclienttore-frainfrompostingcommentsonthe subjectmatter of the threepetitions filedbyHoley, seekingquashingof theFIRsagainstherallegedoffensivetweets,astheyarebeingheardby theHC.A division bench of Justice S

S Shinde and JusticeMSKarnikpassed order while hearingHoley’s plea, seeking quashingofanFIRfiledagainstherincon-nectionwith her comments ona gathering of people outsideBandra station during the lock-down.Senior counsel Manoj

Mohite, appearing forMaharashtragovernment,how-ever,soughtfromHCadirectiontoaskHoleytorefrainfrommak-

ing any more inflammatorytweetstillthepetitionsweredis-posed. Additional PublicProsecutor J P Yagnik, also ap-pearing for the state, submitteda list of tweets by Holey, one ofwhich mentioned “tarikh petarikh”, which he alleged per-tained to theongoingcases.After hearing submissions

andperusing the tweets postedbyHoley since thecourt startedhearing her plea, the benchasked her counsel AdvocateAbhinavChandrachudtotakein-structions and advice his clientto refrain from posting com-ments on the subjectmatter ofthe threepetitions.“Petitionerisopentoexpress

her opinion and that is her fun-damental right. But she is ad-vised to refrain fromcomment-ing on the subjectmatter of thecases,” JusticeShindesaid.TheHCalsodirected thepo-

licefromtakinganycoerciveac-tion against Holey in regard tothe Bandra station plea tillMonday. In regard to her pleasconcerning the other two FIRs,theHCdirectedthatnocoerciveactionwill be taken till January12, 2021, when the matterswould be heard. Also, nochargesheet would be filed inanyofthethreecasestilltheyareheard, theHCsaid.


THE BOMBAY HC-appointedKonkanwetland grievance re-dressalandstatemangrovemon-itoring committees on Tuesdaydirected the Raigad collector tosetupasub-committeetoverifythestatusofallwetlandsatUraninThanethatareidentifiedundertheNationalWetland InventoryAtlas(NWIA),Maharashtra,2011.Themove comes days after

the Raigad administration hadtold the wetland panel onDecember 9 that therewere nowetland (small water bodies)sitesinUrantaluka.However,ac-cording to NWIA, there are 17wetlands inUran.A letterbymembersecretary

of the panel, Neenu Somraj, di-rected theRaigad collector to setup the sub-committee compris-ingthecollector,arepresentativeeach from the police, environ-mentandforestdepartments,CityIndustrialDevelopmentCorpora-tionLimitedandHC-panelmem-ber Stalin D. “The committeeshouldsubmititsreportwithin15days,” the letter stated, directingthe collector to expedite the ap-pointmentsattheearliest.The letter was issued after

the Konkan wetland redressalandstatemangrovemonitoringcommitteesreceivedcomplaintsregarding the destruction ofwetlands identifiedbyNWIA.“Numerouscomplaintshave

been received about encroach-ment, debris dumping on thesitesidentifiedbyNWIAinUran.Thus, we intend to ensure theyremain protected. The commit-teeisaskingtheRaigadcollectortosurvey/inspectandsubmitthefindings. Based on this, furtherdirections will be issued,” saidSomraj.Inawetlandcommitteemeet-

ing held onDecember 9, RaigadCollector Nidhi Choudhary hadsaidthattherearenowetlandsinUran. Shewas responding to aproposal todeclare sites inUran,including Panje, Bhendkhal andBelpada,aswetlands.


THE BOMBAY High Court onThursdaydecidedtocontinuetheNovember 25 interim reliefgrantedtosenioradvocateAnandGroverofNGOLawyersCollectivefrom appearing before theEnforcementDirectorate (ED) tillJanuary 6. The court had earliergranted him interim relief tillDecember14.Adivisionbenchof JusticeSS

ShindeandJusticeMSKarnikex-tended the interim relief whilehearingpleasbytheNGOseekingto quash and set aside theEnforcement Case InformationReport(ECIR)registeredbytheEDand subsequent summons andprobearisingoutofthereport.Thepetitioners had also challengedsummonsissuedbyEDunderthePreventionofMoneyLaunderingAct(PMLA).Lastyear,theCBIhadregistered

acaseagainstLawyersCollective,an NGO run by senior lawyers

Indira Jaising andAnandGrover,for alleged violations of ForeignContribution (Regulation) Act(FCRA).Thecase,whichalsomen-tionedGroverasanaccused,wasregisteredonacomplaintfromtheMinistry of HomeAffairs,whichhadin2016cancelledtheFCRAli-censeoftheNGOforallegedlyus-ingforeigncontributionsfor“polit-icalpurposes”.The bench onNovember 25

hadsaid, “The (Covid-19)virus isspreading rapidly. Thepetitioneris around 80 years old and had

testedCovid-19positive.Wehaveto respecthumanity, his ageandyour(ED)proceedingstoo.Keepinmindwhatever news is coming(related to the pandemic). Weneedtomindthepresentcase,butinthissituationinourstateandris-ing cases inDelhi, the authority(ED)candefersummonsandcanpostponeit.”TheHChadgrantedtimetoED

to file an affidavit in reply to theplea.OnThursday, thecourtcon-tinuedearlierreliefandpostedthematterforhearingonJanuary6.

Collector’s order transferring Kanjurmarg land forMetrocar shed ‘borders on committing fraud on power’, says HC

Kanjurmargsaltpan landforMetrocarshedproject. File

ApersondonningaSantaClauscostumesanitises theselfiepointatCSMTonThursday. Express


A 31-YEAR-OLD relationshipmanager of a leading privatebank was found dead onThursdaywithhisbodychoppedinto 11pieces, five days after hewas reportedmissing from hisWorli residence. His friend andhis wife have been arrested forthemurder.The body of Sushilkumar

Sarnaikwasfoundpackedintwosuitcases in a nullah near NeralrailwaystationinRaigaddistrict.The accused have been identi-fiedasCharlesNadar(41)andhis

wifeSalomi (31).The police said that Sarnaik,

whowasworking at the GrantRoad branch of the bank, wentmissingfromTakshashilabuild-ing atGandhiNagar inWorli onDecember12.Senior Inspector Sukhlal

Varpe of Worli police stationsaid, “Sarnaik told his motherthat he was going for a picnicwith his colleagues andwouldreturnbySunday(December13)evening.”When he did not re-turn, hismother started inquir-ingwithhis friendsonMonday.She went to the Grant Roadbranchofthebankbutashiscol-leagues did not have any clue

about hiswhereabouts, she ap-proached theWorli police sta-tiononDecember14,headded.“Amissingpersonreportwas

lodged.Whilewewere lookingfor him, we got a call from theNeralpoliceonThursdaymorn-ing informing about Sarnaik'smurder,”saidVarpe.Hisparentsidentifiedhisbody.TheNeralpolicesaidthat lo-

calresidentsfoundtwosuitcasesfloating in the nullah near thestation onWednesday. The po-lice were informed and a bodywas found chopped into piecesinside the suitcases. Followingthis, a case of murder and de-structionof evidencewasregis-

teredagainstunknownpersons.“We managed to find a

sticker on the bag, with thehelp of which, we located theseller of the bag... Theshopowner recognised thebaginstantlyandhelpedus identifythe buyer,” said an officer.While scrutinising footage

of CCTV cameras installed atthe shop, the police identifiedNadar. LateWednesday,heandhis wife were picked up fromtheir residence in Rajbhag so-ciety at Neral. The police saidthat Sarnaik and Salomi kneweachother, as theyhadworkedtogether at a call center inMumbai earlier.

Inspector Tanaji Narnawarof Neral police station said,“Sarnaik visited the couple onDecember 12. At night, he al-legedly commented onSalomi's character, angeringCharles, who then slashed hisneckwith a knife.”“The couple then chopped

hisbody into12pieces.Charlesbought two suitcases from anearby shop. They packed thebody parts pieces in the bagsand dumped them in the nul-lah on Tuesday night,” headded. His right hand is stillmissing.The two accused will be

produced in court on Friday.

Bank official killed, chopped into 12 pieces by friends

HC asks juvenile board to verify age of murder convict



No coercive action,chargesheet againstNavi Mumbai resident:HC directs policeCourtadvisesaccusedtorefrain fromtweetingonsub judicematters


Money laundering case: Interim relief for Anand Groverfrom appearing before ED extended till January 6

State govt allowspractice andtraining sessionsfor swimmingand watersports to resume

AFTER10MONTHSRaigad collectortold to set upcommittee toverify status ofall Uran wetlands

Mumbai: Passengerswithacon-firmed ticket for a long-distancetraincannowtraveltotheboard-ing stationby suburban locals intheMumbai region, the railwayauthorities said on Thursday.Similarly,thosearrivinginthecityby long-distance trains can alsotravel by local trainswithin sixhours.Currentlyonlycertaincate-gories of commuters, includingthoseprovidingessentialservices,can travel by local trains in theMumbai region, in view of theCovid-19pandemic.Asperajointstatementissued

byCR andWR, thosewith validconfirmed tickets for anyoutsta-tiontrainwillbeallowedtobuyanon-returnlocaltrainticket.Theycantravelbylocalstotheboardingpoint fromanywhere inMumbaiMetropolitanRegionsixhoursbe-forethetimeofdeparture.PTI

Long-distancetrain passengerscan travel bysuburban locals



Strengthening Cooperation in Post Covid Era

Bangladesh and India have excellent bilat-eral relations based on shared history,her-

itage,culture, language and other unique com-monalities. Father of the Nation BangabandhuSheikh Mujibur Rahman founded the relationsmarked by sovereignty,equality,trust and under-standing. The emotional bonds are stemmedfrom the invaluable contribution of the Govern-ment and the people of India in theWar of Liber-ation of Bangladesh in 1971.

The year 2020 is the birth centenary ofBangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and theGovernment of Bangladesh had decided to ob-serve the year as ‘Mujib Borsho’ (Mujib Year).Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi wasthe Guest of Honour at the grand inaugural cer-emony of Mujib Borsho in Dhaka on 17 March2020.Due to the global outbreak of COVID-19,physical visit could not take place but he at-tended the ceremony virtually and paid richtributes to the great leader mentioning Banga-bandhu as ‘one of the greatest figures of thelast century’.

Bilateral engagements including summitlevel meetings between the two countriestake place regularly on various issues of mu-tual cooperation.Yesterday, on 17 December2020, the two Prime Ministers held a virtualmeeting when they had comprehensive dis-cussions on the entire spectrum of the bilateralrelationship to further strengthen coopera-tion in the post-COVID era.

During this summit,seven Memorandum ofUnderstanding on cooperation in various sectorswere signed.A postal stamp marking the birthcentenary of Bangabandhu was launched andBangabandhu-Bapu Digital Museum was un-veiled. The two Prime Ministers also inaugu-rated the restoration of Chilahati (Bangladesh)to Haldibari (India) rail link connecting thenorthern part of Bangladesh with the adjoin-ing districts of the State of West Bengal. Thiswas the fifth rail link restored in the recent pastout of six pre-1965 rail networks aimed at en-hanced people to people contact and growthof bilateral trade and economic developmentbetween the two countries and beyond.

People-to-people contact betweenBangladesh and India has increased manifold

due to better connectivity and flexibility in visaregime. It has been observed that, during therecent years, the highest number of foreigntourists to India were from Bangladesh.The of-ficial statistics showed that 2.25 million tourists(one in five foreign tourists) came to India fromBangladesh in 2018. A good number of stu-dents are also coming from Bangladesh tostudy in various disciplines in Indian institu-tions. On the other hand, a large number oftechnically qualified Indian nationals are cur-rently engaged in Bangladesh’s businesses, in-dustries and service sectors contributing to theeconomies of both the countries.

A stable,strong and friendly neighbourhoodis a necessity for any country, big or small, andespecially in our region which is reeling with ahost of challenges. A fast-developingBangladesh offers opportunities to its neigh-bours to further deepen economic relations.

Bangladesh is going to celebrate the 50thanniversary of its independence and 50 yearsof Bangladesh-India diplomatic relations. Inyesterday’s virtual summit,our Prime MinisterSheikh Hasina extended an invitation to herIndian counterpart to join the celebration inMarch 2021 which was warmly accepted. Weare looking forward to welcome the IndianPrime Minister to Bangladesh soon and hopethat such high-level engagements will take ourbilateral relations to a further new height.

Long live Bangladesh-India friendship.



INDIA and Bangladesh held an im-portant virtual summit to strengthentheir bilateral ties and trade. Held a

day after Bangladesh’s Victory Day,Prime Minister Narendra Modi said atthe inauguration of a summit-leveltalks that Bangladesh is a major pillar ofIndia’s ‘neighbourhood first’ policy.Greeting Bangladesh on the occasionof centenary of Bangabandhu SheikhMujibur Rahman, PM Modi said inHindi, “Bangladesh is a major pillar ofour ‘neighbourhood first’ policy and ithas been a special priority for me fromDay 1 to strengthen our relations withBangladesh.Today, I pay my respect tothe martyrs of both our sides who sacri-ficed their lives during the 1971 war,when the anti-liberation forces weredefeated by us.”

During the summit, PM Hasina said,“Our relations have embarked on alandmark moment. Bangladesh hasstepped into the 50th year of its inde-pendence. Our relations are also step-ping into the 50th year. We havechalked out programmes for the en-tire coming year that will jointly markour collaboration in the LiberationWar”. She pointed out that despitethe pandemic, both sides had workedtogether to ensure connectivity andtrade remain uninterrupted. Extollingthe efforts of Indians, Prime MinisterSheikh Hasina said many Indian na-tionals were working in Bangladeshto enhance bilateral economic ties be-tween the two countries.

The two sides inked seven agree-ments “to further cooperate in variedsectors, such as hydrocarbons sector,High Impact Community Development

Projects, trans-border elephant conser-vation, solid waste management, tex-tiles and agriculture, and terms of ref-erence of the India-Bangladesh CEOsforum.” On the bilateral trade front,both Prime Ministers directed the offi-cials to expeditiously conclude the ongo-ing joint study on the prospects of en-tering into a bilateral ComprehensiveEconomic Partnership Agreement(CEPA). The leaders emphasized “theimportance of increased linkages andcollaboration in the textile sector anddirected the officials to conclude the on-going negotiations on the MOU be-tween Ministry ofTextiles,Governmentof India and Ministry of Textiles andJute,Government of Bangladesh at theearliest.”

The agreement on hydrocarbons“will help streamline investments, tech-nology transfers and joint studies andpromote hydrocarbon connectivity.”

The two countries agreed “tostrengthen sub-regional energy coop-eration, especially with Nepal andBhutan,and speed up work on the 130-km India-Bangladesh FriendshipPipeline.”

Strengthening the connectivity be-tween the two countries, “both sidesalso restored a cross-border Chilahati-Haldibari rail link, snapped during the1965 India-Pakistan war.” Upgrade ofthe old lines were carried out before theinauguration.Further,both leaders wel-comed the recent initiatives, includingthe signing of the second addendum tothe Protocol on InlandWaterTransit andTrade (PIWTT), trial run of trans-ship-ment of Indian goods from Kolkata toAgartala via Chattogram and opera-tionalization of Sonamura-DaudkandiProtocol route under the PIWTT. Boththe leaders agreed to expeditiously op-erationalise trans-shipment of Indian

goods through Chattogram andMongla Ports.

According to a joint statement re-leased at the end of the summit, thefilming of a biopic on Bangabandhuwould begin under the direction ofShyam Benegal in January 2021.A pactbetween the National Museum of Indiaand Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rah-man Memorial Museum in Dhaka wasalso declared.The two leaders virtuallylaunched a “stamp on BangabandhuMujibur Rahman, and inaugurated adigital exhibition of Rahman andGandhi focusing on their contributionsto independence movements of thetwo countries.”

Speaking on COVID-19 vaccine avail-ability, PM Modi assured PM Hasina“vaccines will be made available toBangladesh as and when produced inIndia,” and also offered a partnershipin vaccine production.

Bangladesh, a major pillar of India’s‘neighbourhood first’ policy

India and Bangladesh signed seven agreements to boost connectivity andenergy cooperation, among others, at the virtual summit

by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and PM Sheikh Hasina

A lmost 50 years ago,on December 16,1971, India changed the world mapby liberating Bangladesh after a hard-

fought,13-day-long battle with Pakistan thatsaw 93,000 Pakistani troops surrender at thefamous Ramna Race Course in Dhaka.Sincethen,India and Bangladesh have been work-ing hand in glove in almost every sphere oflife,making the most of this fructifying bilat-eral relationship.

On January 1 this year, the bilateral rela-tionship between India and Bangladesh be-ganonahighnotewith theexchange ofNewYear greetings between Prime Minister Modiand Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.Moreover,PM Sheikh Hasina had visited New Delhi onan official visit from 3 to 6 October, 2019.Both the Prime Ministers also met in a high-level event on the celebration of 150th birthanniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on the side-linesof74thsessionofUNGeneralAssembly inSeptember 2019.Ten MOUs/agreements forcooperation in various sectors were signed bythe two nations on various occasions in 2019.

In order to promote cooperation on bilat-eral trade,both the Prime Ministers agreed tocreate an India-Bangladesh CEO’s Forum toprovide policy-level inputs in various areas oftrade and investment and also to facilitate ex-changes among the business communities ofboth the countries. Meetings of various insti-tutional mechanisms to promote bilateraltrade, including thatof border haats,shipping,LCS/ICP infrastructure and on establishmentof Indian Economic Zone etc, were held in2019. Clearly, these high-level visits havecharted the path for strengthening the multi-faceted partnership between the two coun-tries.

Today, India and Bangladesh enjoy a warmand cordial relationship, with positive devel-opment in the areas of diplomatic, political,economicandsecurity relations.Bilateral tradewas a little over $9 billion in FY 2017-18 andBangladeshi exports increased by 42.91%,reaching $1.25 billion in FY 2018-2019. Bysigning the Land Boundary Agreement in2015,the twoneighbours amicably resolved alongstanding issue. India and Bangladeshhave also decided to expedite their proposedComprehensive Economic PartnershipAgree-ment (CEPA).The CEPA is an advanced formofa free tradeagreement thatwill ensurepref-erential and even tariff-free access to goods,

services and investments in both countries.In 2018, in addition to the 660 MW of

power imported by Bangladesh,Indian exportof electricity increased by another 500 MW.Besides, railway connectivity got a majorboost as freight services were increased in thepast few months.Train services on the Dhaka-Kolkata and Kolkata-Khulna are doing well,whilea third,on theAgartala-Akhaura route,isunder construction.Moreover, India considersBangladeshas itsbiggestdevelopmentpartner,evinced fromthe fact that Indiahasextended3LinesofCredits (LOC) toBangladesh in the last8yearsamounting toUS$8billion fordevelop-ment of infrastructure in various sectors, in-cluding roads, railways, shipping and ports.Apart from this,GoI has extended grant assis-tance to Bangladesh for various infrastructureprojects, including dredging of inland water-ways in Bangladesh andconstruction of India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline.

The two Prime Ministers had jointly inau-gurated four bilateral developmental projectsin March 2019 in Bangladesh through video-

conferencing, including (i) supply of 500trucks, 300 double decker buses and 200 ACbuses under the second Line of Credit, (ii) ex-tension of National Knowledge Network toBangladesh,(iii) establishment of 36 commu-nity clinics in five districts of Bangladesh and(iv) establishment of 11 water treatmentplants in Bangladesh and another three pro-jects inOctober2019,including (i) inaugurationofVivekananda Bhaban at Rama Krishna Mis-sion in Dhaka, (ii) import of bulk LPG fromBangladesh and (iii) inauguration ofBangladesh-India Professional Skill Develop-ment Institute (BIPSDI) at the Institution ofDiploma Engineers, Bangladesh (IDEB),Khulna.

During the COVID-19 crisis,“the coordina-tion between the two nations deepened asBangladesh announced that it will contributeUS$1.5 million to the proposed Corona emer-gency fund for the prevention and combat ofCOVID-19 pandemic in the SAARC region.”India also provided “medical aid toBangladesh to tackle medical assistance fordealing with Covid-19 pandemic.”

Again, in July 2020, “the maritime con-nectivity was enhanced as a trial for thetranshipment to India’s Northeast throughChittagong and was completed.” The in-land waterways connectivity between In-dia and Bangladesh has also been strength-ened. In May 2020, “the two countriessigned an addendum to the protocol on in-land water trade and transit and added twonew routes and five port of call.”

India and Bangladesh,the Perfect Neighbours

PM Modi - PM Hasina Virtual Summit

Over the years, the cooperation between India and Bangladesh has deepenedand is often regarded as an example of good neighbourly ties

Prime Minister Narendra Modi paying tribute at the National War Memorial onthe occasion of Vijay Diwas in New Delhi on December 16, 2020.







VILASUPHADE,directorofVikasAgro farmerproducercompany(FPC)atTaklivillageinLaturdis-trict has been inundated withcallsfromtoorgrowerssincetheend of November, asking as towhenthegovernmentprocure-ment of pulse grainwill begin.“Farmers are scared as harvesthas started but dal millers inLatur are quoting prices belowMSP (minimum support price)ofRs6,000perquintal,”hesaid.UphadesaidtradersinLatur’s

wholesalemarketwereblaming“unstable” government policiesfor this year’s price trend. “TheCentre is tryingtopacifyprotest-ing farmers inDelhi about theirrighttoMSP,butthisisdirectlyaf-fecting our chances in Latur,” he

said.Continuationof thepresentMSP-basedgovernmentprocure-ment system is one of themaindemands of protesting farmersfromPunjabandHaryanacamp-ing outside the national capital.Whilethegovernmentcontinuesto reassure farmers, its actionshave resulted in despair amongtoorgrowersinMaharashtraandKarnataka. Evenbefore the crophas hit the market, wholesalepriceshavegonebelowMSP.AtLatur’swholesalemarkets,

traders offer an explanation forthisfear.“Justaboutamonthorsoago, exmill prices of the pulsewerearoundRs7,500perquintalas against MSP of Rs 6,000.Reportsof cropdamage inNorthKaranataka came in so priceswere expected to be aboveMSPafterarrivalspostDecember,”saidNitinKalantri, oneof the leadingdalmillersandtraders.

Mumbai:Asub-committeeoftheMaharashtraCabinet, formedtostudy the contentious farm re-forms of the Centre,met for thefirst timehere onThursday. TheShivSena-NCP-Congressgovern-ment in the state wanted toframelawsthatwillmakefarm-ers“stronger”,RevenueMinisterBalasaheb Thorat said after-wards.Therulingcoalitioninthestate has already announcedsupport to the ongoing farmers’stirat Delhiborders.“Meetingwasheldunderthe

chairmanship of@AjitPawarSpeakstoreviewtheunjust farmlawsenactedbythecentralgovernment.Thecentrallaws will harm the interest offarmers,thestategovernmentisin the mood of framing lawswhich will make farmersstronger,”Thorat tweeted.The sub-committee is


and NCP leader Ajit Pawar. Itsother members are Thorat,Ashok Chavan and Sunil Kedar(Congress); Chhagan Bhujbal,Jayant Patil and Balsaheb Patil(NCP);EknathShindeandDadajiBhuse (ShivSena).Speakingtoreportersbefore

themeeting,Ajit Pawar said theissue cannot be resolved in onesitting.“Thecommitteewillsub-mit its report to thechiefminis-terafterdiscussingthelaws.Thechief ministerwill then discussitwith thecabinet,”hesaid.PWDMinister Chavan also

wrote a letter to Ajit Pawar onThursday,seekingchangesinthefarmlaws,sayingthatthecentrallawsare“exploiting”farmers.Punjab, Rajasthan and

Chhattisgarh— all ruled by theCongress—have enacted “goodlaws” and theMaharashtra gov-ernment shoulddo the same,hedemanded. PTI


WITH DEMAND for convales-centplasmatherapyfizzlingoutas quickly as it saw a spike, atleast 1,143 plasmaunits are stillavailable with blood banksacrossthestate forCovid-19pa-tients–anunlikelysituationun-til a fewmonthsago.Bloodbankssaidtwofactors

have led to this – prescriptionsfrom doctors recommendingplasma therapy have consider-ablyseenadecreaseandaware-

ness has increased among therecovered patients to donatetheirplasma.Plasmatherapy isextraction

ofantibodiesfromarecoveredaCovid-19 patient and injectionintoanotherpatienttofastenthelatter’s immune responseagainst coronavirus.The Indian Council of

Medical Research (ICMR) hasrecommended that plasmamustbetransfusedwithinthreeto seven days of a Covid-19 pa-tientdevelopingsymptomsandnot later than10days.But ICMRhasalsowarnedthat‘PlacidTrial’

– where plasma therapy wasusedon464Covid-19patients–neither led to a reduction inmortalitynorpreventedthepro-gressionofthediseaseintoitsse-vere form.Until December 2, the state

governmenthadrecordeddistri-bution of 17,372units of plasmabybloodbanks –maximumbe-tweenMayandSeptember.SinceOctober,thedemandhasdipped.WhileMumbai blood banks

have distributed 3,390 plasmaunits,Punehasdistributed5,981units and Thane 3,195 units tillDecember2.

“Demandforplasma iscloseto negligible now. Doctors pre-fer anti-viral drugs likeRemdesivirorFavipiravir.Wearenotcomingacrosscomplaintsofplasmashortageanymore,”saidJ BMantri, Joint Commissioner(Drugs) in the Food and DrugAdministration.Dr Arun Thorat, in charge of

the State Blood TransfusionCouncil, said that blood banksstarted showing less interest inplasmacollectionafter thestategovernmentcappedpricesatRs5,500perunit.In Mumbai, blood banks in

Nanavati hospital, LHHiranandanihospital,KEMhos-pital, Sion hospital, B Y L Nairhospital, H N hospital andJagjivanRamhospital,aswellasblood banks like Arpan, SevaMandir andNavjivan, have col-lected and soldmore than 200unitseach.Plasma donation has re-

ceivedapoorresponseinSangli,Akola, Yavatmal and Kolhapur.Ofover18,000unitscollectedsofar, 83unitshad tobediscardedduetoeitherablooddisorderorbecause they did not haveenoughantibodies.

Mumbai:ChiefMinisterUddhavThackeray on Thursday in-structed the Pune and NagpurMetropolitan RegionDevelopmentAuthoritytocom-plete its various developmentprojectswithin the time limit.Thackeray took stock of the

variousdevelopmentworksbe-ingundertakenbythePuneandNagpur Metropolitan RegionDevelopment Authority onThursday. During themeeting,itwasdecidedtoappointacom-mittee to evaluate the land re-

quiredfortheprojectswithintheAuthority’s jurisdiction inPune.Besides, it was also decided toappoint thesteeringcommitteetoplantheprojectsinPunefromCorporate Social Responsibility(CSR) funds, saidofficials.Officials also said that in

Nagpur, thedevelopmentproj-ects worth at least Rs 1,500crorearebeingundertakenandemphasis is being placed onbeautification along with de-velopment.



THEMAHARASHTRA Food andDrugAdministration(FDA)hasbe-guntesting14brandsofhoneyfortheir standardandquality after areportfromtheCentreforScienceandEnvironment (CSE) tested13brandsinaGermanlabandfoundonlythreehadpassedalltests.“AftertheCSEreport,wede-

cided to test all honey brandsavailablehere.Thetestingbeganlast week,” said ShashikantKekare, joint commissioner(food), inFDAMumbai.Apartfromcheckstomeasure

acidity,moisture,sucrosepercent,pollencountandspecificgravity,theFDAplanstoconductanewertest on honey called NuclearMagnetic Resonance (NMR), anexpensive test that is only avail-able in one lab in Mumbai’sAndheri East. NMR can test themolecular structureof carbon inhoney to assesswhether sugarlevels are beyond permissiblelimits and if artificial sweetenerhasbeenadded.“Until now, this testwas not

onthelistofFSSAIqualitychecksfor honey for domestic use. FS-SAI has recently added it,” saidRoshniKhandare,scientificoffi-cerand foodanalyst atFDA.The sample results are ex-

pectedbynextweek.Earlier this month, CSE had

released a report on 13 honeybrands. Only three had passedall tests.CSE conducted tests with a

Gujarat -based lab in July,whichtested samples based on FSSAIstandards. The same samplesweresent toaGermanlabtoun-dergotwomoretestscalledTraceMarker forRicesyrup(TMR)andNMR. The CSE report found 10honey brands had failed NMRtests and five failed TMR tests.According toCSE,NMRtest indi-cated addition of artificial sugarsyrupinthe10brands.Arvind Zalke, food analyst

withtheFDAlab,saidNMRisnor-mallynotusedinIndiaduetohighcostandmaintenance.FSSAIrec-ommendsNMR test onlywhenhoneyisforexportpurpose.“Theinstruments in NMR cost Rs 5crore. It is usedonlywhena for-eigncountrydemandsitasastan-dardtestbeforeimportinghoneyfromIndia,”Zalkesaid.Honey’s use has shot up

since the Covid-19 pandemicbeganwithmanyrelyingonitasan organic substitute to sugar.FDAlabofficialssaidtheyarere-ceiving several samples ofhoney for testing and compli-ance to export the product asglobaldemand for it rises.


ASTATECabinetsub-committeeheadedbyDeputyChiefMinisterAjit Pawar has cleared the pro-motion of backward class gov-ernment employees on the ba-sisofseniority.Themoveislikelytohelpnearly 30,000 state gov-ernment employees from thebackwardclasses.The decisionwas taken in a

meetingofthestateCabinetsub-committee on ‘reservation inpromotion’,headedbyPawar,onWednesday. The proposal willnowbeputbeforethestatecab-inet for its approval soon.The Bombay High Court in

August 2017 had struck down

reservations inpromotionwhilehearingapetitionthatchallengedthereservationinpromotionatalllevels. Subsequently, theGeneralAdministration Department(GAD)issuedaletterinDecember2017,restrictingthepromotionofbackwardclassemployeesandof-ficers from the open categorybasedontheseniority.EnergyMinister andmem-

berof the sub-committee,NitinRaut, said theGAD letterwas il-legal and shouldbewithdrawn.Raut told in themeeting that apetitionregardingreservationinpromotionisbeingheardbytheSupremeCourt.“The SC had directed to

check whether the backwardclasseshaveproperrepresenta-tion in the government before

givingreservationinpromotionto the backward classes.Subsequently, the KarnatakagovernmentsetupacommitteetosubmitquantifieddatabeforeSC highlighting the need forreservation in promotions. Theapex court has accepted the re-port andgranted reservation inthe promotion,” Raut said,adding that the SC validatedKarnataka’s reservation in pro-motion in July this year.Theminister said thatonthe

linesofKarnataka,ithasbeende-cidedtosetupahigh-levelcom-mittee headed by additionalchiefsecretaryoftheGADtosub-mit a report to the governmentonwhetherthereisaproperrep-resentation of backward classesintheadministration.


VANCHIT BAHUJAN Aghadi(VBA) president PrakashAmbedkar on Thursday de-mandedthat theUniongovern-mentshouldbringalawmakingviolation of Minimum SupportPrice (MSP) a serious offencesubject to harsh punishment inorder to safeguard financial se-curityof farmers.“TheVBA is vehemently op-

posed toall three farm laws thatwere hastily bulldozed by theModi government in theParliament.We are not going toacceptanyamendmentormod-ification.Ourstandistheyshouldbewithdrawn, as they are goingto favour big corporate houses,”AmbedkartoldTheIndianExpress.He added that VBA is trying

tomobiliseitssupportersamongDalits,tribalsandOBCstoprotestagainst the farm laws. OnThursday, VBAworkers stageddemonstrations outside collec-tors’officesacrossMaharashtra,demandingrollbackof thelaws.“Wewantalllike-mindedor-

ganisationsrepresentingfarmergroupsandunionstojoinhandsin this battle... The condition isthatwewon’t to alignwithnei-ther BJP nor ruling Shiv Sena,NCP and Congress in

Maharashtra,” saidAmbedkar.TheVBAleaderhasrefusedto

joinaDecember22protestcallbySwabhimaniShetkariSanghatana—anallyoftheMahaVikasAghadigovernment— in support of thefarmers’agitationinDelhi-NCR.“We cannot join handswith

anyorganisationthatisalignedtoBJP,Congress,NCPandShivSena...TheMVA government protestraisesmanyquestions.WhatwasitsstandinParliamentwhenthefarmBillswerebeingdiscussed?The rulingparties are constantlychangingtheirstandtosuit theirpolitics,”saidAmbedkar.Headdedthat the three laws

are not going to help small andmarginal farmers. “The lawsfavour the bigmarts. Corporatehousesandindustrialistswillcap-turetheentireagriculturesector.”“Government procuring

crops from farmers is essentialto maintain the disbursementprocess at highly subsidisedrates.Onceagriculturegoesintoprivate hands, whatwill be thestatus of subsidised foodgrainsto be supplied to the poor...?”saidAmbedkar.

18.84 lakhTOTALCOVIDCASESINMAHARASHTRAActiveCases 60,905NewCases 3,880TotalDeaths 48,499NewDeaths 65Quarantined 5.10LTested 1.19crore

2,84,990TOTALCOVIDCASESINMUMBAI*NewCases 586TotalDeaths 11,013NewDeaths 10*Mumbai’stotalCovid-19caseloadhasreducedaftergovern-ment foundandremovedsev-eral duplications in the list

Healthcareworkerscollect swabs forCovid-19tests inThaneonThursday. Deepak Joshi

Few takers for plasma therapy, 1,143units still availablewith blood banks


GADCHIROLIDISTRICT, home toover100tigersaboutfourdecadesago,hadlostallofthemtoseveralfactorssuchashunting,poachinganderodedpreybase.Butoverthelastfiveyearsorso,thedistricthasbeenslowlywitnessingthereturnof thebigcat.Whilethatappearsto be goodnews fromawildlifepoint of view, experts feel that itcomeswithaprice.Thepaceatwhichtigernum-

bers are growing in the districtsuggests that the Forest depart-ment is facedwith a huge chal-lenge.Fromjustoneortwotran-sient tigersabout fiveyearsago,the district now has at least 22tigers located in the three divi-sions of Wadsa, Gadchiroli andAlapalli.Whilesomeofthesearetransient, abouteightarecubs.Oneoftheunavoidableimpli-

cations is already panning out,much to theForestdepartment’sconcern.Thisyear,thedistricthas

seenfivehumandeathsintigerat-tacks, the latest one onWednesday,whena58-year oldwoman fromGadchiroli citywaskilled in tiger attackbarely2kmawayfromthecity,whenshehadgonetocollectfirewood.Thiswasthe secondhumandeath in twomonths in Gadchiroli division.Earlier,threedeathswerereportedfromWadsadivision,whichhasthemostnumberoftigers.According to Assistant

Conservator forForestofWadsa,BhaskarKamble,thedivisionhas12-14tigers,includingthreecubs.Wadsagetsitstigersfromthe

adjoining Brahmapuri divisionforest in Chandrapur district.Brahmapuri,despitenotbeingaprotectedwildlife area, has 53tigersandisthebiggestman-bigcat conflicthotspot in thestate.“Since Brahmapuri is satu-

ratedwith tigers, they are nowmovingtowardWadsaacrosstheWainganga river,” saidWadsaDeputy Conservator of Forest(DCF)NiranjanVivarekar.“Somebecameresident tigershereand

somehavemoved further up toGadchirolidivision,”headded.Brahmapuri itself gets its

tigersfromtheadjoiningTadoba-AndhariTigerReserve(TATR).According toGadchiroli DCF

SRKumarswamy,thereareninetigersinhisdivision,fiveofthemcubs.“Thetwohumandeathsinthepast twomonthsareby twodifferent tigers,”hesaid.

Already,twotigerdeaths,onestatedtobenaturalandtheotherin a territorial fight, have beenrecordedinGadchiroliinJanuaryand June this year. Back in 2017,a tigress had to be captured inWadsadivisionafterithadkilledtwopersons.Alapallidivisionhasonlytwo

transient tigers. “Theywere notseen over the past about eight

months. But recently, theyhavecome back and have killed cat-tle,” said Alapalli DFCChandrakant Tambe. All threedivisions have been recordinggrowing number of cattle kills,as revealedby the threeDCFs.Thus, the Gadchiroli tiger

storyhasquicklyacquiredallthetrappings of amajorman-tigerconflict.NagpurChief Conservatorof

Forest Kalyan Kumar, whowasGadchiroli DCF between 2015and 2017, said, “A lot of waterconservationworkunderMGN-REGA has helped improve thehabitat inGadchiroli during thepast fewyears, leading to an in-creaseinwildpreys.Thishasalsoattracted tigers to Gadchiroli inrecentyears.”Goingbytigers’preferenceto

move into Gadchiroli at a pacethat not many could have ex-pected and given a very poornatural preybasethere,tiger-hu-man conflict could be muchmore intense there than inChandrapur, which has amuch

betterpreypopulation.With five deaths so far this

year, Gadchiroli is the next bighotspotafterChandrapur,whichhas recorded 26 human deathsin tigerattacks.“Wearestaringatachalleng-

ing situation in Gadchiroli,wheretigerswillhavetosurvivemostly ondomestic cattle sincethenaturalpreybaseisverypoor.Thatwillkeepthetigersclosetothehumanpopulation,resultingin conflict,” said Principal ChiefConservator of Forest (Wildlife)NitinKakodkar.The othermajor implication

is for Community Forest Rights(CFR)activity.Gadchirolihasthebiggest CFR movement in thecountry, with over 1,300 gramsabhasacquiringrightsforcom-munity management of theirforests under the Forest RightsAct(FRA).Gadchiroli’sCFRactiv-itycurrentlydoesn’thave tone-gotiatewithpredatorsliketigersand leopards.Devaji Tofa, who spear-

headed the CFRmovement at

Mendha-Lekha village inDhanoratahsil,widelyreckonedas the cradle of the FRAmove-ment in the country, said: “Wewill have to put our heads to-gether about the prospect oftigers making our forests theirhome. Earlier too,wehad tigersbuttherewashardlyanyconflict.But the situation has changed alot since then. Clearly, we needto factor in the tiger issue inourfuturestrategies.”Social and health activist

Prakash Amte, who has beenworking for tribals in remoteGadchirolivillagesatHemalkasainBhamragadtahsil,said,“Whenweestablishedourcentreherein1973, therewere tigers atmanyplacestill1980.Butpoachingandrevenge killing by villagersagainstcattlepredationsawthemvanish. But then the populationofGadchiroliwasverysmall.Overthepastfourdecades,ithasgoneupmultifold and so has humanfootfall in the forest. So, conflictwith tigerswould verymuchbeachallengetobeexpected.”

Ambedkar: Centre shouldbring law making MSPviolation punishable offence


Farm laws: State Cabinetpanel holds first meeting

Both tigers and humans in Gadchiroli may find the going tough

FDA to test 14honey brandsfor quality,adulteration

CM takes stock of developmentworks in Pune and Nagpur

Cabinet sub-committee clearspromotion of backward class govtemployees based on seniority


Thedistrictnowhasat least22tigers located inthethreedivisionsofWadsa,GadchiroliandAlapalli. File

9 women heldfor committingthefts in PunePune:Overamonth,LashkarPolicein Pune have arrested ninewomen, who allegedly woreburqaswhilecommittingtheftsatclothand jewellery shops. Policehave identified the accused asShabana Zamir Qureshi (35),ShabanaSadiqQureshi(35),bothresidents of Aurangabad; IrfanaIsmail Shaikh (37), SahidaAnsari(35),bothfromMalegaon;ShantaDashrathGaikwad(50), LakshmiDeepak Jadhav (60), LakshmibaiGaikwad (50), Vilas DhanappaJadhav (61) and ParshuramGaikwad(49)fromPune.ENS

Toor growers stare at seasonwith prices below MSP



Maharashtra Regional & Town Planning, Act, 1966.● Notice under section 37 (1AA) of the said Act.● Proposed modification to Development Plan-

2034 for Greater Mumbai in respect of landbearing CTS No. 382 Main, 382/1 to 66 ofVillage Anik, Chembur, Mumbai.

GOVERNMENT OF MAHARASHTRAUrban Development Department,

Mantralaya, Mumbai-400 032.Dated : 7th December, 2020.

NOTICENo. TPB-4319/474/CR-147/2020/UD-11

WHEREAS, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub Section (1) of Section 31of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966 (hereinafter referred to as''the said Act''), the State Government vide Notification No. TPB-4317/629/CR-118/2017/DP/UD-11, Dt. 08.05.2018 (hereinafter referred to as ''the said Notification'')has accorded sanction to the Draft Development Plan-2034 of Greater Mumbai(hereinafter referred to as ''the said Development Plan'') along with the DevelopmentControl and Promotion Regulations-2034 for Greater Mumbai with modificationsshown in SCHEDULE-A appended to the said Notification excluding the substantialmodifications as shown in SCHEDULE-B appended to the said Notification. Andwhereas, Government has issued a corrigendum of even number dt. 22nd June, 2018 tothe said Notification, as per which the said Development Plan has came into forcefrom 01.09.2018. And whereas, thereafter Government has issued a Corrigendum andAddendum of even number dt. 29th June, 2018 to the said Notification, which ispublished in the Government Gazette dt. 30th June, 2018;

And whereas, Government of Maharashtra vide Notification dated TPB-4317/629/CR-118(V)/2019/UD-11, dated 23.11.2020 has accorded sanction undersection 31(1) of the said Act to certain Excluded Part (E.P.) of the said DevelopmentPlan; and whereas, E.P. ME58 is included in Schedule of sanctioned E.P., wherein,keeping all other reservations unchanged, all Garden/ Park reservations on landbearing CTS No. 382 Main, 382/1 to 66 of Village Anik, Chembur, Mumbai known asMumbai Refinery of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (hereinafter referredto as ''HPCL'') are shown as ROS 2.7 (Green Belt) and plot is shown in industrial (I)zone;

And whereas, as per the said Development Plan, there are reservations of FireStation (RPU1.1), D.P. road of 18.3m. wide and certain portion is shown as Green Belt(ROS2.7) on land bearing CTS No. 382 Main, 382/1 to 66 of Village Anik, Chembur,Mumbai (hereinafter referred to as ''the said land'') And whereas, HPCL vide theirletter dated 19.09.2019 and dated 16.12.2019 has requested the Government to deletereservation of Fire Station (RPU1.1), D.P. Road (18.3m. wide) on the said land;

And whereas, considering the request of HPCL and considering the said land isincluded in Mumbai Refinery Expansion Project, the Govt. is satisfied that in thepublic interest it is expedient to delete the reservations on the said land and to changethe boundry of Green Belt (ROS2.7) within the land owned by HPCL, morespecifically described in the schedule given below (hereinafter referred to as ''theproposed modification'');

Now, therefore, after considering the above facts and circumstances and inexercise of the powers vested in it under sub-section (1AA) of Section 37 of the saidAct, and all other powers enabling it in this behalf, the Government hereby publishesa Notice for inviting objections/ suggestions from any person with respect to proposedmodification, as required by clause (a) of sub-section (1AA) of Section 37 of the saidAct, within a period of one month from the date of publication of this Notice in theMaharashtra Government Gazette;

The Government is further pleased to inform that any objections/ suggestionsupon the proposed modification received before the expiry of one month from the dateof publication of this notice in the Maharashtra Government Official Gazette beforwarded to the Deputy Director of Town Planning, Greater Mumbai having his officeat ENSA Hutments, E-Block, Azad Maidan, Mahapalika Marg, Mumbai-400 001. Anyobjection or suggestions, which may be received by the Deputy Director of Townplanning, Greater Mumbai within the said period shall be dealt with in accordancewith the provisions of sub-section (1AA) of section 37 of the said Act;

A part plan showing the proposed modification is kept open for the inspection ofthe general public at the following offices :(1) Office of the Chief Engineer (Development Plan) Municipal Corporation of

Greater Mumbai, Mahapalika Marg, Mumbai-400 001.(2) Office of the Deputy Director of Town Planning, Greater Mumbai,

having his office at ENSA Hutments, E-Block, Azad Maidan, Mahapalika Marg,Mumbai-400 001.

SCHEDULE''The reservation of ''Fire Station (RPU1.1), D.P. road of 18.3m. wide'' on land

bearing CTS No. 382 Main, 382/1 to 66 of Village Anik, Chembur, Mumbai areproposed to be deleted and it is proposed to change the boundry of Green Belt(ROS2.7) within the land owned by HPCL and the land so proposed to be deleted fromreservations and Green Belt is proposed to be included in Industrial Zone (I-Zone) andthe consequential change in alignment of 13.40 m. wide D.P. road on North-East ofHPCL land holding boundary as shown on plan.''

This Notice is published on the Govt. of Maharashtra web site :www.maharashtra.gov.in (Acts/Rules).

By order and in the name of the Governor of Maharashtra.Sd/-

(Nirmalkumar Chaudhari)DGIPR/2020-2021/1521 Under Secretary to Government.


Authorized Officer’s Details:Name: LAWKUSH MANEE-mail: [email protected] No.: 9422687792Landline No. (Office): 022-22177667

Address of the Branch:The Arcade, 2nd Floor, World Trade Centre,Cuffe Parade, Colaba, Mumbai - 400005.E-mail ID of Branch: [email protected]

E-AUCTION SALE NOTICESALE OFMOVABLE AND IMMOVABLE ASSETS CHARGED TO THE BANKUNDER THE SECURITISATION AND RECONSTRUCTION OF FINANCIALASSETS AND ENFORCEMENT OF SECURITY INTEREST ACT, 2002.The undersigned as Authorized Officer of State Bank of India has taken over possession ofthe following property/ies u/s 13(4) of the SARFAESI Act.Public at large is informed that E-Auction (under SARFAESI Act, 2002) of the chargedproperty/ies in the below mentioned cases for realisation of Bank’s dues will be held on“AS IS WHERE IS BASIS and AS IS WHAT IS BASIS”.

E-Auction is being held on “AS IS WHERE IS” and “AS IS WHAT IS BASIS” and will beconducted “On Line”. The auction will be conducted through the M/s. MSTC Ltd. at the webportal (https://www.mstcecommerce.com/auctionhome/ibapi/index.jsp).Contact Persons: Mr. Shri Argha Sengupta- CM, Mob No. 09231690249, E-mail: [email protected], Mr. Sarabani Barai- Manager, Mob. No. 09051077886, E-mail: [email protected], Mr. Rakesh Ranjan- AM, Mob. No. 09911700233, E-mail: [email protected] Tender Document containing online E-auction bid form, Declaration, General Termsand Conditions of online auction sale are available in websites (https://www.mstcecommerce.com/auctionhome/ibapi/index.jsp). To the best of knowledge and information of the AuthorisedOfficer, there is no encumbrance on the property/ies. However, the intending bidders shouldmake their own independent inquiries regarding the encumbrances, title of property/ies puton auction and claims / rights / dues / affecting the property, prior to submitting their bid.The E-Auction advertisement does not constitute and will not be deemed to constitute anycommitment or any representation of the bank. The property is being sold with all theexisting and future encumbrances whether known or unknown to the bank. The AuthorisedOfficer/ Secured Creditor shall not be responsible in any way for any third party claims / rights/dues. The sale shall be subject to rules / conditions prescribed under the Securitisation andReconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002. The otherterms and conditions of the E-Auction are published in the following websites.(1) https://www.mstcecommerce.com/auctionhome/ibapi/index.jsp,(2) https://www.sbi.co.in

Name Of Borrower(s) MACROCOSM INDUSTRIES PVT. LTD. (MIPL),401, 4th Floor, Wellington Business Centre, Andheri Kurla Road,Marol, Andheri (East), Mumbai - 400059.804, 8th Floor, Maker V, Jamnalal Bajaj Marg, Nariman Point,Mumbai - 400021.

Name of Guarantor(s) Shri Hrishikesh Shah, Anjali, 2nd Floor, Plot No. 18, JVPD,Vile Parle (West), Mumbai.Shri Jaykishan Shah, Anjali, 2nd Floor, Plot No. 18, JVPD,Vile Parle (West), Mumbai.

Outstanding Dues forRecovery Property/iesis/are Being Sold

Rs. 32,58,44,816/- (Rupees Thirty Two Crore Fifty Eight Lakh FortyFour Thousand Eight Hundred Sixteen Only) as on 31.05.2014 +further interest & costs less subsequent recoveries if any.

Name of Owner /Title Deed Holders

M/s. Macrocosm Industries Pvt. Ltd. (MIPL)

Description ofProperty

• Lot 1: Open Industrial Land bearing Survey No. 55, Hissa No.1/12 (area admeasuring of 5,000 sq.mtrs.), Near Toll Plaza,Khopoli - Pen Road, Village Vadval, Taluka Khalapur, Dist. Raigad,Maharastra. Total area admeasuring of 5,000 sq.mtrs.• Lot 2: Open Industrial Land bearing Survey No. 52, Hissa No.L 1/26 (area admeasuring of 900 sq.mtrs.), Hissa No. 1/11 (areaadmeasuring of 2,400 sq.mtrs.) and Hissa No. 1/17 & 1/20 (areaadmeasuring of 3,000 sq.mtrs.) Near Toll Plaza Khopoli - PenRoad, Village Vadval, Taluka Khalapur, Dist. Raigad, Maharashtra.Total area admeasuring of 6,300 sq.mtrs.• Lot 3: Open Industrial Land bearing Survey No. 51, Hissa No.1-A-2 (area admeasuring of 15,500 sq. mtrs.), Near Toll PlazaKhopoli - Pen Road, Village Vadval, Taluka Khalapur, Dist. Raigad,Maharashtra. Total area admeasuring of 15,500 sq.mtrs.

Reserve Price (R. P.):For Lot 1: Rs. 1,00,00,000.00For Lot 2: Rs. 1,25,00,000.00For Lot 3: Rs. 3,09,00,000.00

Earnest Money Deposit (EMD):For Lot 1: Rs. 10,00,000.00For Lot 2: Rs. 12,50,000.00For Lot 3: Rs. 30,90,000.00

Bid Increment Amount in multiple of Bid increase amount Rs. 5.00 Lakh

Date & Times of Inspection on 23.12.2020, from 03:00 p.m. to 05:00 p.m.

Date & Times of E-Auction on 30.12.2020, from 12:00 p.m. to 02:00 p.m.

Last Date & Time for Submission ofRequest Letter of Participation /KYC Documents / Proof of EMD etc.

28.12.2020 upto 05:00 p.m.E-Auction site: https://www.mstcecommerce.com/auctionhome/ibapi/index.jsp

Date: 17.12.2020Place: Mumbai

Sd/-Authorized Officer,


Authorized Officer’s Details:Name: LAWKUSH MANEE-mail: [email protected] No.: 9422687792Landline No. (Office): 022-22177667

Address of the Branch:The Arcade, 2nd Floor, World Trade Centre,Cuffe Parade, Colaba, Mumbai - 400005.E-mail ID of Branch: [email protected]

E-AUCTION SALE NOTICESALE OFMOVABLE AND IMMOVABLE ASSETS CHARGED TO THE BANKUNDER THE SECURITISATION AND RECONSTRUCTION OF FINANCIALASSETS AND ENFORCEMENT OF SECURITY INTEREST ACT, 2002.The undersigned as Authorized Officer of State Bank of India has taken over possession ofthe following property/ies u/s 13(4) of the SARFAESI Act.Public at large is informed that E-Auction (under SARFAESI Act, 2002) of the chargedproperty/ies in the below mentioned cases for realisation of Bank’s dues will be held on“AS IS WHERE IS BASIS and AS IS WHAT IS BASIS”.

E-Auction is being held on “AS IS WHERE IS” and “AS IS WHAT IS BASIS” and will beconducted “On Line”. The auction will be conducted through the M/s. MSTC Ltd. at the webportal (https://www.mstcecommerce.com/auctionhome/ibapi/index.jsp).Contact Persons: Mr. Shri Argha Sengupta- CM, Mob No. 09231690249, E-mail: [email protected], Mr. Sarabani Barai- Manager, Mob. No. 09051077886, E-mail: [email protected], Mr. Rakesh Ranjan- AM, Mob. No. 09911700233, E-mail: [email protected] Tender Document containing online E-auction bid form, Declaration, General Termsand Conditions of online auction sale are available in websites (https://www.mstcecommerce.com/auctionhome/ibapi/index.jsp). To the best of knowledge and information of the AuthorisedOfficer, there is no encumbrance on the property/ies. However, the intending bidders shouldmake their own independent inquiries regarding the encumbrances, title of property/ies puton auction and claims / rights / dues / affecting the property, prior to submitting their bid.The E-Auction advertisement does not constitute and will not be deemed to constitute anycommitment or any representation of the bank. The property is being sold with all theexisting and future encumbrances whether known or unknown to the bank. The AuthorisedOfficer/ Secured Creditor shall not be responsible in any way for any third party claims / rights/dues. The sale shall be subject to rules / conditions prescribed under the Securitisation andReconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002. The otherterms and conditions of the E-Auction are published in the following websites.(1) https://www.mstcecommerce.com/auctionhome/ibapi/index.jsp,(2) https://www.sbi.co.in

Name Of Borrower(s) MACROCOSM INFRASTRUCTURE & POWER PVT. LTD.,401, 4th Floor, Wellington Business Centre, Andheri Kurla Road,Marol, Andheri (East), Mumbai - 400059.804, 8th Floor, Maker V, Jamnalal Bajaj Marg, Nariman Point,Mumbai - 400021.

Name of Guarantor(s) Shri Hrishikesh Shah, Anjali, 2nd Floor, Plot No. 18, JVPD,Vile Parle (West), Mumbai.Shri Jaykishan Shah, Anjali, 2nd Floor, Plot No. 18, JVPD,Vile Parle (West), Mumbai.

Outstanding Dues forRecovery Property/iesis/are Being Sold

Rs. 75,97,06,224/- (Rupees Seventy Five Crore Ninety Seven LakhSix Thousand Two Hundred Twenty Four Only) as on 31.05.2014

Name of Owner /Title Deed Holders

M/s. Macrocosm Industries Pvt. Ltd. (MIPL)

Description ofProperty

Open Industrial Land bearing Survey No. 51, Hissa No. 3 (areaadmeasuring of 4700 sq.mtrs.) Near Toll Plaza Khopoli - Pen Road,Village Vadval, Taluka Khalapur, Dist. Raigad, Maharashtra.Total area admeasuring of 4700 sq. mtrs.

Reserve Price (R. P.): Rs. 94,00,000.00

Earnest Money Deposit (EMD): Rs. 9,40,000.00

Bid Increment Amount in multiple of Bid increase amount Rs. 5.00 Lakh

Date & Times of Inspection on 23.12.2020, from 03:00 p.m. to 05:00 p.m.

Date & Times of E-Auction on 30.12.2020, from 12:00 p.m. to 02:00 p.m.

Last Date & Time for Submission ofRequest Letter of Participation /KYC Documents / Proof of EMD etc.

28.12.2020 upto 05:00 p.m.E-Auction site: https://www.mstcecommerce.com/auctionhome/ibapi/index.jsp

Date: 18.12.2020Place: Mumbai

Sd/-Authorized Officer,


Notice is hereby given that the Hon'ble National Company Law Tribunal, MUMBAI BENCH III hasthordered the commencement of liquidation of the VAST INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED on 15

December 2020.The stakeholders of VAST INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED are hereby called upon to submit aproof of their claims, on or before 14th January 2021, to the liquidator at the address mentionedagainst item 10.The financial creditors shall submit their proof of claims by electronic means only. All otherstakeholders may submit the proof of claims in person, by post or by electronic means.Submission of false or misleading proofs of claim shall attract penalties.

Date: 17-12-2020Place: Bengaluru


PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT(Regulation 12 of the insolvency and Bankruptcy (Liquidation Process) Regulations, 2016)


2. Date of incorporation of corporate debtor 02-05-20123. Authority under which corporate

debtor is incorporated / registeredRegistrar of Companies, Mumbai

4. Corporate identity number / limited liabilityidentification number of corporate debtor


5. Address of the registered office andprincipal office (if any) of corporate debtor

B-821, Pranik Chamber, Saki Vihar Road,Sakinaka, Andheri (East) Mumbai - 400072,Maharashtra, IN

6. Date of closure of insolvencyresolution process


7. Liquidation commencement date ofcorporate debtor


8. Name and registration number of theinsolvency professional acting as liquidator





1. Name of the corporate debtor VAST INDUSTRIES PRIVATE LIMITED

NAME: Kanekal Chandrasekhar.Reg.No. IBBI/IPA-002/IP-N00642/2018-19/11964

9. Address and E-mail of theLiquidator, as Registered withthe Board

ADDRESS : No 6, 'Shree' 9th Cross, BhuvaneshwariNagar, Hebbalkempapura, H.A.Farm Post,BENGALURU - 560024 (KARNATAKA)EMAIL: [email protected]: +91 7899802070 (M)

10. Address and E-mail to be used forCorrespondence with the Liquidator

ADDRESS: No 6, 'Shree' 9th Cross, BhuvaneshwariNagar, Hebbalkempapura, H.A.Farm Post,BENGALURU-560024 (KARNATAKA)EMAIL: [email protected]: +91 7899802070 (M)


THENUMBERofchildrenborninthelastfiveyearsinMaharashtrahasrecordedadropby11points,according to the fifth round ofNational Family Health Survey(NFHS-5). The sex ratio at birth(SRB) stands at 913 girls/1,000boys as against 924 girls/1,000boysasperNFHS-4.An analysis of district-wise

estimates shows reduced ratiosinBeed(1,046in2015-16to843in2019-20),Jalgaon(922to857),Akola (934to896),Hingoli (992to 838), Aurangabad (1,130 to875), Jalna(880to867),Nanded(961to888),Nashik(867to816),Nandurbar (1,023 to 885) andPune (927to873).Therearesomedistricts that

have showna rise in sex ratio atbirth. For instance, Dhule re-ported ratios increasing from853 to 919: Kolhapur (651 to937),Latur(920to1,265),Raigad(793to871),Sindhudurg(824to874)Osmanabad (821 to1,050),Sangli(913to1,012)andSolapur(815 to960).Accordingtothestatehealth

department’s latest provisionaldata based on civil registrationsystem (CRS), which tracksbirths and deaths, for 2018showsthatthereare60blocksin11 districts in Maharashtrawhere sex ratio at birth has de-clined to less than 900girls/1,000 boys. These includeDhule (893 girls/1,000 boys),Solapur (895), Aurangabad(896), Jalgaon (889), Kolhapur(870), Jalna (879),Gondia (897),Hingoli (891) and Buldhana(857). Overall, sex ratio at birthas per CRS in the state in 2018was at 916 girls/1,000 boys. In2016,itwas904girls/1,000boys.ProfUshaRamatthedepart-

ment of public health andmor-tality studies, InternationalInstituteofPopulationSciences,toldTheIndianExpressthatcom-

parisonofsexratioatbirthfromCRS and NFHSwould be incor-rectasbothhave theirownlim-itations. “The completeness ofbirth registration in theCRShasalwaysbeenamatterofconcernin India, nationally as well assub-nationally,specificallyforfe-male births. Thus, onehas to becareful when using CRS data atthe district level. The NFHS, onthe other hand, sample size is abig concern and, hence, esti-mated SRB at the district levelmaynotbereliable.Nonetheless,you can compare the SRB fromtwo rounds of NFHS over timewith a caution for sample sizeconstraint,” Prof Ramsaid.DrArchanaPatil, statedirec-

tor of health, said CRS figureswereusually considered for sexratioatbirth. “However, there is


MUMBAI-BASEDbusinessmanBirjuSalla,whowassentenced to life imprisonment in 2019 for plant-ing a hijack threat note on a Mumbai-Delhi JetAirwaysflightinOctober2017, lostanopportunityfor furlough after he changed his place of accom-modationtothatofahoteldespiteprovidingares-idential address initially.Salla was convicted by a special NIA court in

AhmedabadinJune2019undertheprovisionsoftheAnti-HijackingAct2016,thefirstsuchconvictionun-dertheActafteritwasamendedandmadestringentin 2016. He had planted a hoax hijack note in theflight’sbathroomandtheNIAclaimedthat itwasinthehope that itwould force JetAirways to close itsDelhioperationandSalla’sgirlfriend,whoworkedintheairline’sDelhioffice,wouldcomebacktoMumbai.Salla approached the InspectorGeneral (IG) of

prisonsseekingfurloughandthesamewasgrantedsubject to terms and conditions on September 15butwascancelledaweek later.Oneoftheconditionsimposedbytheauthority

whilegrantingthatleavewasthatSallashallstayatthegivenaddress,whichwastheresidentialhouseofhiscousinbrother,duringtheperiodof furlough.On September 23, the prisons IG issued anor-

dercancellingtheearliergrantedfurlough,broadlyonthegroundsthatSallahadchangedhisplaceofstay froma residential house to ahotel,which is apublicplace,whichwasnotpermissibleunderthestringentactandprovisionshewasconvicted for.SallamovedtheGujaratHighCourtinDecember

challengingthecancellationorderof the IGPrisonsand sought that it be quashed. He contended thattheorder“iserroneous”, ashehad“onlysought forachangeofhisplaceofstaytoahotelsinceitwasnotpossible toaccommodate fivepoliceofficialsat thegivenaddress,whichisaresidentialhouse”.However, the court of Justice Gita Gopi on

December 15 refused to entertain the petition asthe authorities had assigned reasons for such amove. Among the factors considered for furloughincludetheviewtakenregardinggravityof theof-fencewhile imposingpunishment.

need to improve the sex ratio atbirthandseveralactionshavetobe taken,”DrPatil said.Dr Digambar Kangule, state

nodal officer to implement thePre-Conception and Pre-Natal

Diagnostic Techniques (PC-PNDT) Act, 1994, also pointedout that Maharashtra was theonly statewhere the convictionrateagainstoffendersundertheActwas18percent.

Maharashtra records declinein sex ratio at birth: NFHS-5

PUNE: As many as 604caseswereregisteredun-der the PC-PNDT Act inthelast19years.Amajor-ity of caseswere filedbe-tween 2011 and 2015 af-ter the 2011 Censusshowed a skewed sex ra-tio.Maharashtra took theleadinstrictlyimplement-ingtheAct. Inthelast fewyears,however, thenum-ber of cases registeredwentdown.Thisyear,twocaseswere filed,while in2019,sevenwerefiledandninein2018.Atotalof109people have been con-victed and, according tostate health authorities,thereare313acquittals.“In some cases, we

have appealed to thehigher courts against theacquittal,” Dr Kangulesaid.ENS


Furlough of Mumbaibusinessman heldunder Anti-HijackAct cancelled

16-year-old girl raped,14-yr-old cousin molested;police arrest five suspectsPune:A 16-year-old girl was allegedly raped andher 14-year-old cousinmolested by two of theirmale friends inPuneonTuesdaynight. Theywereallegedly later abducted and confined by the twoyouths,with thehelpof threemoremen.All fivemen,whoare in theirearly20s,werear-

restedhoursafter the incidentcameto light.AnFIRinthecasehasbeenregisteredbythe16-year-oldgirl.The complainant has said that she andher cousinweretakentoasecludedplacebytheirmalefriendsonDecember15.The16-year-oldgirlwasallegedlyrapedbya20-year-old suspect andher cousinwasallegedlymolestedbyanothersuspect,aged21.ENS





E-TENDER NOTICEDIGITALLY Signed & unconditional online e-Tender in form "B-1" (Percentage rate) are invited by Executive Engineer, City Dn., MumbaiHousing & Area Development Board (Unit of MHADA) Room No. 213, 1st Floor, Griha Nirman Bhavan, Bandra (E) Mumbai 400051 fromthe Labour Co-Opreative Society registered with MHADA under appropriate class with DDR class in Mumbai City District.

Main Portal :- https://mahatenders.gov.in.MHADA Portal :- https://mhada.gov.in

Tender Schedule

1. The Complete bidding process will be online (e-Tendering) in two bid system. All the notifications and detailed terms and conditionsregarding this tender notice hereafter will be published online on website https://mahatenders.gov.in, MHADA Website-https://mhada.gov.in

2. bidding documents can be loaded on the website https://mahatenders.gov.in, from date 21.12.2020 at 10.00 to Date 11.01.2021upto 17.00.

3. The payment for Tender Form Fee and Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) must be made online.4. Techincal Bids will be Opened on 13.01.2021 at 15.00 PM at office of Executive Engineer City Div M.H.& A.D. Board, Room No. 213,

1st floor, Griha Nirman Bhavan, Bandra (East) Mumbai 400051 on website https://mahatenders.gov.in,5. e-Tenderer should submit original documents (those were uploaded during bid preparation) for verification at the time of technical

Bid opening.6. Tenderer should submit information and scanned copies in PDF format in Technical envelope as mentioned in Technical Offer.7. Tenderer should have valid class II/III Digital Signature certificate (DSC) obtained from any certifying authority.8. The Executive Engineer City Div, M.H. & A. D. Board, Room No. 213, 1st Floor, Griha Nirman Bhavan, Bandra (East) Mumbai 400051

reserves the right to accept or reject any or all tenders without assigning any reason.9. Intending Bidders shall have to comply with the contents of Government Resolutions No. ÀFeEMe-qr/sqrv/´Fi.Ii .sq/B¸FF-s, dQ. su.qu.sqrv.10. Registration certificate under GST is compulsory.11. In case of the rates quoted below the estimated Tender cost the L-1 (1st Lowest) bidder should have to submit additional

Performance Security Deposit within 8 days after date of opening tender. If he failed to submit the Additional Performance SecurityDeposit then L-2 (2nd Lowest) bidder will be asked and if he L2 is agree to carry out the work below % than L-1 Quoted Rate thanhis offer will be accepted. For more information please refer Detail Tender Notice.

12. Guidelines to download the tender documents and online submission of bids can be downloaded from websitehttps://mahatenders.gov.in, Help Support : 1800-233-7315 E-Mail- [email protected]

Sd/-MHADA- Leading Housing Authority in the Nation Executive Engineer/City Div.CPRO/A/235 Mumbai Board

Sr. No. Description Date & Time

1 Publishing Date 21.12.2020 - 10.00 am

2 Document Sale Start Date 21.12.2020 - 10.00 am3 Document Sale End Date 11.01.2021 - 17.00 pm4 Bid Submission Start Date 21.12.2020 - 10.00 am5 Bid Submission & Documents download End Date 11.01.2021 - 17.00 pm6 Technical Bid Opening date 13.01.2021 - 15.00 pm

Name Of Work EstimatedCost

EMD PerformanceSecurity

Deposit 2%

Tender PriceIncluding GST

12% in Rs.

Registrationclass of


Period ofCompletion(IncludingMonsoon)

Repairs to Pump House No. 1 & 2External and Internal Plaster Painting &Water Proofing work Abhyuday Nagar,Kalachowky.

19,63,540/- Nil Rs. 20,000/-(50% initially &50% through


Rs. 560/- Class-A 12 Months(IncludingMonsoon)

PR.NO.237714 Urban Development(20-21):D

Sd/-Project Director (Tech)

JUIDCO Ltd. Ranchi.

Note: Onlye-tenderswillbeaccepted.Further details are available on Jharkhand Government e-procurementwebsitehttp://jharkhandtenders.gov.in


NIT No.:JUIDCO/DPR/Secretariat/Ranchi/2677/2020/361Date: 17.12.2020

stNotice Inviting Short Tender- 1 CallNational Competitive BiddingRequest for Proposal (RFP) for

1. Name of the Workselection of consultant for providingArchitectural & engineering designServices along with projectmanagement consultancy forUpgradation of existing buildingworks to Proposed Composite StateSecretariat Project at smart cityRanchi2. Mode of bid submission Online Tender

3. Tender Fee & Bid SecurityCost of Tender Document: Rs.10,000/-(Rupees Ten Thousand) only

(Non-Refundable)Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) :Rs.5,00,000/-(Rupees Six Lakh) only4. Date & Time of publication ofTender on website 18.12.2020 & 10:00Hrs5. Last Date & Time ofsubmission of Pre Bid queries 24.12.2020 & 15:00Hrs6. Date & Time of Pre BidMeeting 28.12.2020 & 15:00Hrs7. Last Date & Time forsubmission of online bids 07.01.2021 & 17:00Hrs

8.Last Date & Time ofsubmission of EMD andTender fee in form of BankGuarantee/FDR and TenderFee in form of Demand Draft ofany Nationalized/ ScheduledBank (Hard Copies) 08.01.2021 & 17:00Hrs

9. Date & Time of bid opening 08.01.2021 & 17:30Hrs10. Bid submission address Jharkhand Urban InfrastructureDevelopment Company Ltd, 3rdFloor, Pragati Sadan, Kutchery RoadRanchi-834001.11. Helpline no. +91651 2225878


RWSS DIVISION, KORAPUTNational Competitive Bidding Through E-Procurement

Tender Identification No. 9/EE/RWSS/KPT/2020-21/11.12.2020The Executive Engineer, RWS&S Division, Koraput on behalf of theGovernor of Odisha invites Percentage Rate Bids in Double cover ( P1contract) from the eligible class of experienced registered contractorsthrough e-Tendering system for the Piped water supply works asdetailed in DTCN. The bid should be submitted on-line in the websitewww.tenderorissa.gov.in separately for the works.

Further details can be seen in the bidding documents which is availablein the e-procurement portal https/www.tendersorissa.gov.insubsequent corrigendum if required shall be appeared in the web siteAuthority reserves the right to reject any or all tenders without assigningany reason thereof.

Sd/- Executive Engineer,RWS&S.Division, Koraput.


O - 750

1 Nature of work. Rural piped water supply work(Civil)2 Estimated Cost. Varies from 6.20 Lakhs to 139.40

lakhs3 No. of works 13 nos.4 Tender cost Rs.4000/- to 10000/-

5 Class of Contractor. “D”,“C”, “B” & “A”6 Availability of Bid document

in the web siteDt. 24.12.2020 17 hours to 2.1.202117 hours.

7 Date of Seeking clarification. During the Office hours of 24.12.2020to 1.1.2021

8 Date of Opening of Bid. Dt. 4.1.2021 at 11 hours

GOVERNMENT OF MAHARASHTRAExecutive Engineer South Mumbai Electrical Division

P. W. D. MumbaiTENDER NOTICE NO. 40/2020-21

ONLINE tender in B-1 form are invited through E-tendering mode byExecutive Engineer South Mumbai P.W.D. Electrical Division Mumbaiform registered Contractor with P.W.D. Government of Maharashtra inappropriate class/ having experience for execution of similar type ofwork. Online blank tender form are available on sitehttp://mahatenders.gov.in can be downloaded from 18.12.2020 at 1300Hrs. to 02.01.2021 at 1300 Hrs. Online E-tender will be opened in the officeof Executive Engineer South Mumbai (Electrical) Division P.W.D. Mumbaion 04.01.2021 at 1400 Hrs. if possible. Right in reserved to accept or rejectthe tender without giving any reason.Note : To participate in the tender it is necessary that bidder should haveClass II/III digital signature and register with above site. There is 30 tenderin the above tender notice. Details tender notice is available on the noticeboard of office of Ex. Engineer South Mumbai P.W.D. Electrical DivisionMumbai.(Estimated Cost of the work above 03.00 Lakhs)ow/No/4668/EE/SMED/TENDER/2020-21Dt. 15.12.2020

Sd/-Executive Engineer

South Mumbai ElectricalDGIPR/2020-2021/1525 Division P.W.D. Mumbai

New Delhi: A special NIA courthasconvictedaB.Techgraduatefrom Chennai who pledged hisallegiance to the Islamic Stateterror group in a bid to fightalongwith it in Syria, an officialsaidonThursday.The NIA Speical Court at

Delhi’s Patiala House pro-nouncedthejudgementagainst

Mohammad Naser onWednesday.The case, registered by the

NIA inDecember2015,pertainsto the criminal conspiracyhatched by the ISIS to establishits base in India by recruitingMuslim youths through differ-ent socialmediaplatforms.


ISIS conspiracy : Spl NIAcourt jails B Tech grad


THIRTY-NINE Indians are on board two shipsstranded in Chinese ports for the past fewmonths due to Covid-19 curbs and India is inregular touchwith theneighbouringcountry toensure that theirneedsaremet, theMinistryofExternal Affairs said Thursday.MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said

that bulk cargo vessel MV Jag Anand has beenanchored near Jingtang port in Hebei provincesince June 13 with 23 Indian nationals as partof its crew. The other vessel,MVAnastasia, has16 Indian crew members. It is anchored nearCaofeidianport sinceSeptember20and iswait-ing for discharge of its cargo.“Thegovernment continues tobe in regular

touchwiththeChineseauthorities toseekares-olutionof these issuesat theearliest andalso toensure that thehumanitarianneedsof thecreware taken care of,” Srivastava said.

‘39 Indian crewstuck on 2 cargoships in China’


TEARING COPIES of the farmlaws on the floor of the DelhiAssembly, Chief MinisterArvindKejriwalThursdayques-tionedtheirpassageintheRajyaSabha without voting despitestiff resistancemountedby theOpposition.Healso alleged thefarm laws would help the BJPfund its election campaigns,suggesting that theyhavebeenintroduced to benefit businesshouses, not the farming com-munity.This prompted an attack by

Union Environment Minister

Prakash Javadekar, whotweeted:“Yetanotherhypocrisyof Arvind Kejriwal! He tore offcopies of the same farmreform



bills today in Delhi Assemblywhich he had notified inNovemberintheDelhiGazette.”The Delhi government had

on November 23 notified theFarmers’ Produce Trade andCommerce (Promotion andFacilitation) Ordinance, 2020.During a press conference ear-lier this month, Kejriwal hadsaidthethree lawswerepassedby the Centre and it is not theprerogative of any state to im-plement or not implementthem, since they had beensignedby thePresident.On Thursday, Kejriwal was

speaking on a Delhi govern-ment resolution on the farmlaws and the ongoing agitationatDelhi’s borders.The resolution, which was

tabled by Transport MinisterKailashGahlot,waslateradopted.He said the BJP government

was subjecting farmers to treat-mentwhich is “worse than theBritishRaj”.“Howmanymoresac-rificeswill the farmers have tomake to get their voices heard?Over 20 farmers have madesupremesacrificeoverthelast20days,”hesaid, referringtothe in-cident involving Sant BabaRamSingh,whoshothimselfatKundlibordernearSinghuWednesday.“For the first time in history,

three billswere passedwithoutvoting.Whatwas the urgency?The countrymust realise thattheselawsareaimedatensuringBJP’selectoralfunding.Thefarm-ersarewellawareofthis,”hesaid.The CM also drew parallels


and the Pagdi Sambhal JattamovementagainsttheDoabBariAct,PunjabLandColonisationActand the Punjab LandAlienationActin1907.“Thefarmershadledthemovement for ninemonths.TheCentremust realise theyarenotgoingbacksoeasilythistimearoundeither,”hesaid.Referringtoclaimsmadeby

leaders of the ruling establish-ment that the protesting farm-ers were being “misled”,Kejriwal said the BJP leadersweremisled instead.“ItseemsBJPleadershavebeen

fed opiumconsidering thewaytheyareparrotingone lineof ar-gument that the lawswill enablefarmerstosell theirproduceany-where in the country. But kindlyshowusoneplacewherefarmerswillgettherightpricefortheirpro-duce. InUttarPradeshandBihar,farmersarehavingtoselltheirpro-ducebelowMSPrates.“UP Chief Minister Yogi

Adityanath says the benefits ofthe farm laws include the factthat landwillnotbetakenawayfrom farmers, thatmandiswillremain. Are these supposed tobebenefits?TheCentretoldtheSupreme Court that our coun-sel is arguing for the farmers.Should we argue for the mid-dlemeninstead?”Kejriwalsaid.As theCMtore copies of the

laws, AAPMLAs raised slogansof ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’.Development Minister GopalRai, Malviya Nagar MLASomnath Bharti and RithalaMLAMahendarGoyal also torecopies of the three laws.

CMtears copies of farmbills inHouse





FRIENDLY PUSHAS THE stalemate between the government and farmers,largelyfromPunjabandHaryana,continues,thegovernmentispushinghardtoproject“PrimeMinisterNarendraModiandhisgovernment’sspecialrelationshipwithSikhs”.TheCentrehad earlier released a 44-page booklet on the topic — inEnglish, Hindi and Punjabi — onNovember 30 on the occa-sionofGuruPurab.Anextendedversionof thebooklet, now88pages long,wasagainbeingcirculatedbymembersof theparty and the government this week. The renewed pushcomesontheheelsofModiinvokingGuruNanakatthefoun-dation-laying ceremonyof thenewParliament building lastweek, saying “so long as theworld exists, dialoguemust goon”. Two days ago in Kutch, where he had blamed theOppositionofmisleadingthefarmers,thePrimeMinisterhadmet a group of people andwas picturedmeetingmembersof theSikhcommunity there.

IN CONDOLENCEPRIMEMINISTERNarendraModihadsentacondolencelettertoformerPakistanPMNawazSharif onhismother's demise lastmonth.HehadmetBegumShamimAkhtarduringhissuddenLahorevisitinDecember2015.Indiandiplomatshandeditoverto Sharif's daughter,MaryamNawaz Sharif, who is based inPakistan.Sharif is inLondon.

COURT FOR ALLEXTERNAL AFFAIRSMinister S Jaishankar is an avid squashplayer.Thisweek,he laid the foundationstone forsixsquashcourtsatMajorDhyanChandNationalStadium.Inhisremarksat the inauguration, Jaishankar called fordemocratisationofthesport, andnot treat it asaprivilege.


THE OPPOSITION Congress inBiharhasdemandedrepealoftheliquorprohibitionlawinthestate,claiming that itwas hurting thestate exchequerwhile the liquormafiaweremakingmoney.Congress Legislature Party

leader and BhagalpurMLAAjitSharma has written to ChiefMinisterNitishKumar,sayingtheprohibition law has failed andliquor is nowbeinghomedeliv-ered in the state at rates two orthree times thanwhat itwasbe-fore the law came into force in2016. “We suspect a nexus ofliquor mafia, police and somepoliticians in home delivery ofliquor,”hewrote.Pointingout the revenue loss

for the fund-starved state, hewrote, “Therehasbeen lossof Rs4,000crore-Rs5,000croretothestate exchequer because of theprohibition. Liquormafiawouldbeearningtwicetheamount.”“It would be only be proper

towithdrawtheprohibitionanduse the excise revenue to set upnewindustriesandcreatemorejob opportunities,” Sharmawrote.Ruling JD(U) spokesperson

Neeraj Kumar, however, said:“TheCLPleadershouldfirstknowthathispartyhadtalkedaboutre-viewof the law in itsmanifesto,not repeal. Second,doesSharmaknow that staying away fromdrinkingisapre-conditionforpri-marymembership of Congress.Third,wedonot appreciate ideaof employmentgenerationfromliquorsale.”Meanwhile, NDA alliance

partnerHAM(S) has demandedbailofthoseinjailforminorviola-tionof theliquorlaw.


AYEARafter theCAA-NRC issueadversely impacted thebilateralties between New Delhi andDhaka, India andBangladeshonThursday sought tobring it backon track as Prime MinisterNarendraModi andBangladeshPrimeMinisterSheikhHasinametthroughvideo-conferencinganddiscussedabroadrangeof issues—fromlossof livesontheborder,Teestawater-sharing agreementandeaseoftraveltoamoreambi-tious tradepact, vaccinesagainstCovid-19andRohingyarefugees.Hasina invitedModi to visit

Bangladesh for celebrations ontheoccasionof the50thanniver-sary of Bangladesh’sIndependence and 50 years ofBangladesh-Indiadiplomatic re-lationsinMarchnextyear,whichheaccepted.“Bangladesh is amajor pillar

ofour‘NeighborhoodFirst’policy.Fromthevery firstday, strength-

ening anddevelopment of rela-tionswithBangladeshhasbeenaspecialpriorityforme,”Modisaidafter thebilateralmeeting. “It’s afact that this yearhas been chal-lenging due to the global pan-demic.Butitisamatterofgratifi-cationthat IndiaandBangladeshhad good cooperation...We arealsohaving good cooperation inthefieldofvaccine,”hesaid.Hasina said, “I believe both

our countries canmove up the

global andregionalvaluechainsby further integrating oureconomies taking advantage ofavailable synergies...we happilyrecognise the growingmutualdependencyoftheeconomiesofBangladeshandIndia.”Accordingtoajointstatement,

both sides emphasised simplify-ingpeople topeoplemovementbetween the two countries. Thetwo leaders also agreed to facili-tatecompletionofborderfencing

atallpendingsectorsattheinter-nationalborderattheearliestbe-ginningfromtheTripura(India)-Bangladeshsector.Thejointstate-ment also said that the“BangladeshPMhighlighted theneed for early signingof (an) in-terimagreementforsharingoftheTeestawaters, asagreeduponbyboththegovernmentsin2011”.Modi “appreciated the gen-

erosity of Bangladesh in shelter-ing andprovidinghumanitarianassistance to the 1.1 millionforcibly displaced persons fromtheRakhine State ofMyanmar”.Both PrimeMinisters reiteratedthe importance of their safe,speedyandsustainable return, itsaid.At the virtual summit, India

andBangladeshalsosealedsevenagreements to expand coopera-tion indiverseareas—hydrocar-bons,elephantconservation,san-itation, and agriculture, andrestored a cross-border rail linkwhichwasinoperationtill1965.



THE DEFENCE AcquisitionCouncil headed by DefenceMinister Rajnath Singh onThursdayclearedsevenpropos-alsworthRs28,000crore,twoofwhich are aimed to boost sur-veillance capabilities of theforces.While one of them is forsixnewindigenouslybuilt“eyesin the sky” platforms for theAirForce, the other is related toShipborne Unmanned AerialSystems for theNavy.Apartfromthese,theDACgave

itsgo-aheadtotheNavytoprocure38BrahMosmissilesandfivemoreNextGenerationOffshorePatrolVehicles. It also clearedModularBridgesfortheArmy.In a statement, the govern-

mentsaidthiswastheDAC’sfirstmeeting since the “new regimeof Defence AcquisitionProcedure 2020” came into ex-istenceinSeptember,and“theseare the first set of AcceptanceofNecessity(AoNs)accorded,withthe majority AoNs being ac-corded in the highest categori-sationof Buy Indian”.Thegovernmentsaidthatsix

of the seven proposals “that is,Rs 27,000 cr out of Rs 28,000 crfor which AoNs were grantedwill be sourced from the Indianindustry to give a boost” to theMake in India andAtmanirbharBharat initiatives.

TheAirborneEarlyWarning&Control (AEW&C),alsocalledthe“eyes in the sky”,will boost AirForce’s surveillance capabilities,especially on the borderswithPakistanandChina.Theprevioussuchplatform,Netra,whichwasdevelopedbytheDRDO,wasusedby theAir Forceduring the2019Balakot airstrike to track any in-comingPakistanifighterjets.Under the new project, to

build the six newAEW&C plat-forms, DRDO will use planesfromAir India tomount ActiveElectronically Scanned Arrayradarsystemsthatcangive360-degreesurveillancecapabilities.The project is estimated to costoverRs10,000crore.Theotherimportantsurveil-

lance project that got DAC ap-provalwasforUnmannedAerialVehicles for the Navy that canoperate fromthedeckof ships.China and Pakistan are al-

ready using such platforms.While Pakistan has Boeing’sScaneagle, China is usingAustria-madeS-100.


ONthefinaldayofcanvassingforthe eight-phase DistrictDevelopmentCouncil(DDC)elec-tions in JammuandKashmir, theBJP on Thursday chose to con-clude its campaign at PDP chiefMehboobaMufti’shometurf.At Dara Shikoh park in

Bijbehara, the party’s nationalspokesperson Syed ShahnawazHussain unfurled the tricolourandsaid, “MehboobaMufti usedtosaythattherewillbenooneleftto unfurl the flag, this is our re-sponsetoher.”ACRPFpersonnelwasinjured

inagrenadeattackroughlyakilo-metre fromthevenuebeforeBJPleadersarrivedfortherally.Addressing about 300 resi-

dents from the district, Hussainsaid, “If they thought that theycould scare us and cancel thisevent, they are wrong and we

haveproven it bybeingherede-spitetheattack.”Stating that leaders of the

“Gupkar gang” failed towork forpeople of theUnionTerritory, hesaid, “They are not your own.NarendraModi is your ownbe-causeheknowswhatpoverty is.The son of a poormanwhohaslivedhislifelikeyouhave.”SpeakingtoTheIndianExpress,

Hussain said theparty takes “allelections seriously,whether it isKashmirorHyderabad”andthatiswhy senior party leaders havecampaignedintheDDCelections.On theotherhand, he said, lead-ers likeMehboobaMufti “can’tfacethepublic”.Theparty is contestingabout

80 of the 140 DDC seats inKashmir.


ADAYafterhewalkedoutofapar-liamentarypanelmeetingafteraheated exchange over a briefingonuniformsandrankstructureinthearmedforces,CongressleaderRahulGandhionThursdaywroteto Lok Sabha Speaker OmBirla,seekinghisinterventiontoensurethat discussions and presenta-tions held in the StandingCommitteeonDefenceareincon-sonancewiththeroleandobjec-tiveoftheinstitution,sourcessaid.Gandhi,whoalongwith two

partycolleaguesexitedthepanelmeetingafterhewasnotallowedtocompletehisinterventionoverthe issue, also requested theSpeaker to see to it that the rightofanelectedMPtospeakfreelyisprotected,thesourcessaid.Whilethecommitteewaswellwithinitsrights toagreeordisagreewithamember’ssuggestion,amembercannotbedisallowedfromspeak-ing,heislearnedtohavesaid.It is learned that during

Wednesday'smeeting, inwhichtopArmyofficers, including theChief of Defence Staff, appearedbefore the panel, Gandhi tookstrongexceptiontomembersdis-cussinguniformsandrankstruc-tureandquestionedwhymorese-riousissueswerenotbeingtakenupbytheMPs.TargetingGandhiforthewalk-

out, Union minister PrakashJavadekar on Thursday said theCongressMPhad“insulted”con-stitutional institutionsby imput-ing that important issues arenotdiscussedbyparliamentarypan-els.HeallegedthatGandhihasat-tendedonlytwoof thepanel's14meetingsinthepast18months.“Himself not attending the

meeting and conveying desiredagenda, and thenmaking impu-tationofnotdiscussingimportantissuesisaninsulttoallparliamen-tary procedures and constitu-

tional institutions,” theministersaid.In his letter to the Speaker,

GandhiislearnedtohavenarratedtheentireincidentthattookplaceatWednesday'smeetingandsaidhe had written to committeechairman Jual Oram suggestingthat the panel should discussIndia'sstrategyagainstChina'sag-gressivepostureatthebordersincoordination with Pakistan,India's response to Beijing'sreusable autonomous armeddrones and unmanned systemstrategy,theinformationwarfareithasbeenindulgingaswellasitsrocket and strategic capabilities.HeissaidtohavealsomentionedthepurchaseofRafaleaircraft.HealsowrotethatheconveyedtothechairmanthathecouldnotattendthepreviousmeetingduetopriorengagementsinhisconstituencyWayanadinKerala.TheCongress leader, sources

said, expressed surprise whenthe panel chose a discussion onuniforms, but thought that itwould be a presentation on theprocurementof uniforms. Inhisletter, he is learned to have toldthe Speaker that he was dis-turbed to find that the Chief ofDefence Staff had to spend halfthe day explaining colours andtypes of uniforms and badgeswornbydifferentranks.Gandhi is learnedtohaveal-

leged that he was not allowedto speak by the chairman andthat is why he had to walk outof the room.


KERALACHIEFMinister PinarayiVijayan has written to PrimeMinisterNarendraModitoprotestthe line of inquiry takenby cen-tral agencies probing the goldsmuggling case in the state andsoughthisinterventiontoensurethat the "contours ofConstitutionaldivisionofpowers"arefollowed.The letter, written on

Wednesday, came after theEnforcementDirectorate(ED)andtheCBI,whichareprobingvariousaspectsofthegoldsmugglingcasesince early July, beganwideningthe scopeof theirprobe, encom-

passing keyprojects and impor-tant figures in the state govern-ment.On Thursday, the ED ques-

tioned the Chief Minister'sAdditional PrivateSecretary, CMRaveendran, in the gold smug-glingcase.Raveendranhadearlierfailedtoturnupbeforetheagency.In his letter, Vijayan alleged

thatthecentralagenciesare"con-ducting fishing and roving en-quiriestofindoutwhetherthereisany chance to allege anyoffenceinasituationwheretheagencieshave not been able to find any-thing specific against the stategovernment".Seeking corrective steps,

Vijayan wrote: "Orchestratedcampaignstodefamethepoliticalleadership of the State

Governmentarebeingcarriedoutinaconsistentmannerseeminglywith the cooperation of the cer-tain officials of the investigatingagencies. This is evident in thenewsleakedoutregardingallegedcontents of a sworn statementrecorded before amagistrate atthe instance of the CustomsDepartment."

TheChiefMinisterstatedthatthe agencies, insteadof carryingout an effective inquiry into thegold smuggling case, have beendoing anything but. "The state-mentsgivenbytheaccused/wit-nessesarebeingselectivelyleakedtothemedia.Theinformationre-gardingissuanceofthesummonsgetintotheknowledgeoftheme-dia even before the person ad-dressedinthesummonsreceivesit,"hewrote.Five months into the gold

smugglingprobe,hesaid,neitherthesourcenortheendutilisationofgoldwhichhasbeensmuggledhas been unravelled. "Nohead-way has been made in appre-hending the suspected abroad.Instead, the aim of the centralagenciesseemtobetarnishingthe

imageof the state government,"Vijayansaid.Vijayantookstrongexception

toEDseekingdetailsofstategov-ernment’s flagshipprojects suchas LIFEMISSION,K-FON (free in-ternet connections for thepoor),electricity vehicle policy etc. Hewrote: "The ED had crossed alllimitswhileprobingthecase.Inaco-operativefederalsetup,Centralinvestigatingagencieshavetofol-lowthecontoursofconstitutionaldivisionofpowers.Anytransgres-sion of the same, by conductingroving enquiries andproceedingon fishing expeditions to reviewtheprojects of the state govern-mentwith the intention of faultfindingisnotwithintheprovinceof thecentralgovernment inves-tigatingagencies."


THE ODISHA government haswrittentotheCentrerecommend-ingthecompulsoryretirementofIndianForestServiceOfficerAbhayKant Pathak on Thursday. Thiscomesafterthestatevigilancede-partmentarrestedPathakandhisson Akash Pathak for allegedly“amassing ill gottenwealth” ofmorethan20croreunderadispro-portionate assets case. SeniorOdishagovernmentofficials saidthatthisisforthefirsttimethatanAllIndiaServicesOfficerhasbeen“recommended by the Odishagovernment” for compulsory re-tirementongroundsofcorruption.State government officials

said that Pathak “wasmakingcash deposits of his ill-gottenwealthinhissonAkashPathak’sbankaccountsandfurtherhelp-inghissoninfraudulentlyposingasMDofTataMotors.Hissonhasbeen also arrested by CrimeBranch in case of forgery, cheat-ing and duping unemployedyouth by taking huge cash fromthemby falselypromising themjobs in Tata Motors,” the stategovernmentsaid.SpeakingtoTheIndianExpress,

senior advocate PitambarAcharya, lawyer for the Pathaks,saidthat“thesewereonlyallega-tions”andtherewasalackofcon-sistency. “The investigation isyetto be completed. Even thechargesheethasnotyetbeensub-mitted by the vigilance wing.Allegationslikethishavebeenlev-eledagainstotherbureaucratsofthestate,likeallegedcasesofcor-ruption in PPEkits. That is beingenquired into by the Lokayukta,andtheyhaverecommendedittotheVigilancedepartmentforen-quiry. If the government is thattransparent, thensimilar recom-mendationsshouldalsobemadethen,”Acharyasaid.Acharya,whoisconnectedto

the BJP, and fought against CMNaveen Patnaik from theHinjliseat,said,“Theprosecutionhastoprove itwhether it is dispropor-tionateornot.“

Bangladesh pillar of ‘neighbourhoodfirst’ policy: Modi after Hasina meet7pacts inked;Teesta, trade,RohingyaandCovidvaccinesamong issuesdiscussed

PrimeMinisterNarendraModiandhisBangladeshcounterpartSheikhHasinaduringthe India-Bangladeshvirtualbilateral summitonThursday.PTI

Repeal lawon liquorprohibition:Bihar Cong

Odisha seekscompulsoryretirement forarrested forestservice officer

J&K DDC polls: BJP endscampaign on Mehbooba turf

Rahul seeksSpeaker’sinterventionin panel row


ADAYaftertheCongresssufferedreverses in local body electionsinKerala,oneofthestateswhichthepartyhasarealisticchanceofwinning in the next round ofAssemblyelectionsinApril-May,aworriedcentralleadershipsaidthe defeat was a “warning sig-nal”, and asked the state unit toanalysethereasons indepth.It also signalled that the set-

backnotwithstanding,achangein leadership was not feasiblenow, with the Assembly elec-tionsaroundthecorner.An initial assessment of the

election performance by theCongress central leadership hasconcluded that the party “ig-nored” local issues to focus nar-rowly on corruption allegationsagainstthegovernment.Also,theswitch of the Kerala Congress(Mani) from theUDF to the LDF

proved costly. The central lead-ershipalsobelievesthatthepartyfailed to effectively counter theLDF’s attacks on the tie-upwithWelfarePartyof India, thepolit-icalarmof the Jamaat-e-Islami.SeveralleadersinKeralahavehit

outat theparty'sstate leadership.“Ourbaseisintactbutwedidnotre-alisethattheBJPandtheLDFwere

fastexpandingtheirbase...Wedidnotseeorunderstandthatreality.Wewerelivinginadreamworld,wewerebusythinkingaboutwhowillbetheChiefMinisterandministersafter the Assembly elections,”KasargodMPRajmohanUnnithantoldTheIndianExpress.AICC general secretary in


“Panchayat elections aremainlyaboutlocal issues.Wekepthigh-lighting issues such as the goldsmugglingcase[towhichtheof-fice of Chief Minister PinarayiVijayanhasbeenlinked]andthedrug case [in which the son ofstate CPM secretary KodiyeriBalakrishnanhasbeenjailed]andignored local issues. One of thereasonswasthat;therearemanyotherreasons.IhavetoldthePCCpresident to discusswith seniorleaders,districtpresidents,wherewewerelacking.”Thedefeatwouldnot impact

the Assembly elections, Anwarinsisted.Askedaboutthecontroversy

overtheCongress’salliancewiththeWelfare Party of India, hesaid: “Wedidnot officiallyhavean alliance with Jamaat-e-Islami... But the Left Front builtup this impression... We couldnotproperlycounter that.”


Congress leadersOommenChandy,RameshChennithalaandMullapallyRamachandranafter thepoll results, inThiruvananthapuramonWednesday. PTI

Disquiet mounts in Kerala, Cong leadershipsays defeat in local body polls a warning



STARTINGWITHaprobe into alleged smuggling of goldthroughdiplomatic cargo, Central agencies havebroughtunder their scannermultipleKerala governmentproj-ects. They contend that key accused in the smugglingcase, Swapna Suresh, hadpocketed crores as kickbacksfromanapartment project under LifeMission, fundedbyUAERedCrescent. The ED says that suspended IASofficerMSivasankar, also an accused in the initial case, hadleakeddetails of several projects such asK-FON–meanttodistribute internet free to thepoor – andelectric vehi-cle scheme to theother accused in the scam. TheEDhasalsowritten to theRBI aboutmasala bonds issuedbyKerala Infrastructure Investment FundBoard, a state gov-ernment entity.

BJP leadersSyedShahnawazHussainandVibodhGuptaatBijbehara inAnantnagonThursday. ShuaibMasoodi




Central agencies on ‘fishing’ expeditions against govt: Pinarayi to PM

DAC nod to proposalsworth Rs 28,000 cr, twoof them for surveillance




THE SIKHpreacherwhodied ofa bullet injury Wednesday atKundlineartheSinghuborderofDelhi,withhisassociatessayingthat he shot himself with his li-censed revolver, had visited thefarm protest sites twice earlier,including on the day before hisdeath, according to followers.In a purported suicide note,

Baba RamSingh, also knownasNanaksarSinghraWale,hadex-pressed pain over the plight offarmers protesting against theCentre’s farmlaws.“OnDecember9,hefirstvis-

itedthesiteoftheagitationattheSinghuborderanddonatedRs5lakh.Healsoaskedhisfollowersto join the agitation,” said BabaAmarjeetSingh,whoisthemostsenior functionary of theNanaksar sect after Baba RamSingh, at the Singhra gurdwarainHaryana'sKarnal.“He last went to the Singhu

and Tikri borders onDecember15 and returned at 2.30 am thatnight.Withinhalfanhour,hetoldhis associates that hewanted togoagainbutwasadvisedagainstit. At 10.30 amonDecember 16,theytookhimtotheSinghubor-der... Hedidnot give any indica-tion that hewould commit thisextremeact,”hesaid.Theincidenttookplacewhen

the preacherwas alone in a carnear theproteststage,hisassoci-ateshave toldpolice. “Babaji had

askedhismen to go to the stageandwaswiththedriver.Then,hesentthedrivertogettea.Whenhereturned after a few minutes,around3pm,Babajiwasnomore.Hehadnoenmitywithanybody,”saidAmarjeetSingh.Accordingtopolice,thereisno

indicationsofarofanyfoulplayinthe death. “As per the postmor-temreport,hediedbecauseofonebullet injury near the forehead.Theweapon is yet to be recov-ered,”SandeepKumar,investiga-tionofficer,toldTheIndianExpress.According to followers, Baba

RamSinghtookchargeofthegur-dwara, known as ‘Ek OnkarAshramThathNanaksarSinghra’,in 1990. Over the past three

decades, the sect has becomepopular in the regionwithSinghtravellingtoseveralcountries,in-cluding the US, Canada andAustraliatodeliverhislectures.On Thursday, there was a

stream of political leaders tomournhisdeath:FormerPunjabdeputy chief minister SukhbirBadal and his wife and formerUnionminister Harsimrat KaurBadal; Haryana Congress chiefKumari Selja; Rajya SabhaMPDeepender Hooda. The crema-tion is scheduled to be heldFriday.“BabaRamSinghhailedfrom

KonkeKalaninLudhianadistrict.Hehadstartedtakinginterest inreligiousactivitieswhenhewas

justfiveyearsold.Atayoungage,he joined a gurdwara in theneighbouringJagraontownandjoined the Nanaksar sect,” saidAmarjeetSingh.According to those closely

linkedto thegurdwara, anotherpreacherfromtheNanaksarsecthad died during a protest 38yearsago.“In 1982, Baba Jang Singh,

whowasheadingthisgurdwara,losthislifeinDelhiduringanag-itationagainst thedeathof over30personsinanaccidentinvolv-ing a train and a bus,” saidUpinder Raj Singh, adding thathis family haddonated13acresof landtosetupthegurdwarain1971.

Day before death, Sikh preacher wentto farm protest site, say associates

Followersqueueuptopayrespects toBabaRamSinghatSinghragurdwara. SukhbirSiwach


ADAYafterTheIndianExpressre-ported that at least oneCommunist Partyof China (CPC)memberwashiredbythe IndianconsulateinShanghai,theIndiangovernment on Thursday saidthatwhilethehiringof localstaffrequiresapprovaloflocalauthor-itiesincertaincountries,allIndianembassiesandconsulates“ensureduesecurityprecautions”.Responding to questions at

theweeklybriefingonThursday,theMinistry of External Affairs’official spokesperson AnuragSrivastava said, “Wehavenotedthemediareports inthisregard.Andwe are not in a position toindependentlyverifythedata.Incertain countries, the hiring oflocal staff requires the approvalof localauthorities.However,allourmissions and posts ensuredue security precautions inthis regard.”Chinese embassy spokesper-

son Ji Rong saidonThursday theCPCisthevanguardoftheChineseworkingclass,theChinesepeople,and the Chinese nation. The 92million CPCmembers are out-standing people in all walks oflifeplayingavanguardandexem-plaryrole.“Hypingupthe“ChinaThreat

Theory” and “demonizing” theCPCmembers by certain anti-Chinaforcesis inessenceintend-ing to provoke ideological con-frontation, mislead the publicwith ulterior motives, and at-tempttorevive“McCarthyism”inthe21stcentury.Suchactionsonthebasisof ideology isverydan-gerous.Anyonewithreason,con-

scienceandasenseof justicewillnotacceptit,” Jisaid.The Indian Express reported

on Thursday that at least sevenbranches of the CPC have anIndia connection, and at leastone CPCmemberwas hired bytheIndianconsulateinShanghaiusing the services of a Chinesestate-owned recruitmentagency,accordingtodatasharedbyasourcewithaninternationalconsortiumof journalists.According to thedataset, the

sevenCPCbrancheswithanIndiaconnectioncumulativelyhave91partymembers. Separately, a listof local Chinese professionalshired by asmany as 30 foreignconsulates using the services ofChinese state-owned ForeignAgency ServiceDepartment, in-cludesonesuchprofessionalem-ployedby theConsulateGeneralof IndiainShanghai.The Indian Expresswithheld

thename, sex, date of birth, eth-nicityandemploymentdetailsofthe person due to privacy con-cerns.ThislocalChineseservedinthe Indianconsulate inShanghaifor threeyears frommid-2014tomid-2017.ThedataonCPCbranchesand

memberships,firstsharedinpri-vatechatroomsinChinain2016,wasmadeavailabletoTheInter-ParliamentaryAllianceonChina(IPAC)andaconsortiumofglobalmedia organisations recently.The IPAC is a global cross-partygroup of legislatorsworking to-wards reform on how demo-craticcountriesshouldapproachChina. Internet 2.0, a Canberra-basedcybersecurityfirm,whichhadearlierverifiedtheZhenhuadatasource,madeanassessmentof thisdata too.

Lucknow:Uttar Pradesh ChiefMinister Yogi Adityanath onThursday alleged that peoplemisleading farmersagainst thenew farm laws brought bythe Centre are the “verysame people who couldnot tolerate theconstructionofa grand Ram temple inAyodhya” andopposed theab-rogation of Article 370 thatgranted special status toJammu&Kashmir.“TheOpposition ismislead-

ing the farmers by spreadingrumours about the scrappingof MSP and mandi system.They are fighting the battle ofmiddlemen and brokers... TheCommunismtheoryof repeat-ing a lie hundred times tomake it truewillnever succeedhere,” the BJP leader said. ENS


MEA: Indian embassies,consulates ensure duesecurity precautions


Protest has support ofanti-nationals, terrorists,Khalistanis, Communists,says Gujarat Deputy CMPARIMAL DABHIMORVAHADAF(PANCHMAHAL),DECEMBER17

GUJARAT’S DEPUTY ChiefMinister Nitin Patel onThursday said the farmers’protest on theborders of Delhiagainst the Centre’s threenewlaws had the support of “anti-national elements, terrorists,Khalistanis, communists andpro-China people”.Addressing a Kisan

Sammelan inPanchmahaldis-trict, he said, “Anything canbe achieved through negotia-tions, but just adamant ap-proach of no discussionwith ademand to repeal thelaw... We all are in a democ-racy... A law which has beenpassed by the Parliament,Rajya Sabha with majority,whichhasbeenassented tobythe President.... what is theneed to have Lok Sabha andRajya Sabha?”The Kisan Sammellan was

partof theBJP’s efforts to reachout to farmers amid the agita-tion against the new laws.“If 50,000 out of 130 crore

population come on to thestreets asking to repeal a law,then tomorrow some otherpeoplewill come anddemandrepeal of CAA... Anti-nationalelements will come together,terrorists from Kashmir and

pro-Pakistan peo-plewill cometogetherwith in-stigation from Pakistan... if50,000anti-nationals cometo-gether and demand to repealthe law that abrogated Article370, do we have to repeal theAct passed by Parliament? If50,000 people demand, doweletKashmir go (toPakistan)? If50,000 Communists get to-gether and ask to give LadakhtoChina,dowehave todoso?,”he said.“I tell the young genera-

tion... When the first war be-tween India and China wasfought... these Communists —those with the flag bearingsymbols of sickle andhammerin the farmers’ agitation hadopenly supported China...TheseKhalitaniswant to sepa-ratePunjab fromIndia...,” Patelsaid. “In the name of farmers,anti-national elements, terror-ists, Khalistanis, Communistsand pro-China people havesneaked into theagitation...Wecan see them having pizza,pakodi... All that is coming freeof cost... Anti-national ele-ments aregiving themlakhsofrupees to stayput...,” Patel said.



ELECTRIC fences put up by vil-lagers to protect their cropsand homes from wanderingpachyderms claimed threemore elephants in Assam’sChirang district this month,with the last one onWednesday. Officials said theone killed onWednesday waspregnant.This takes the number of

elephantskilled insimilar inci-dentssinceAugust in thevicin-ity of theManasNational Park,

amid a growing human-ele-phant conflict, to six. “At leastfive elephants have been elec-trocuted inChirangalonesinceAugust.Villagersstealpowertoelectrify their fences topreventelephants from destroyingtheir paddy fields,” saidGautam Talukdar, DeputyCommissioner,Chirangdistrict.Data shared by the Assam

Forest Department show thatthe state saw 113 elephantdeathsduetoelectrocutionbe-tween2009andSeptember25,2020, with severalmore casu-alties reported since.Chirang Divisional Forest

Officer (DFO) BrahmanandaPatiri said seven people hadbeenheld for the five elephantdeaths in the district. "We arein touch with Assam PowerDistributionCompanyLimited(APDCL) and 29 transformershavebeendisconnected in the

area, as per provisions of elec-tricity rules (regarding im-proper use of power connec-tions)," he said.Assam Environment and

Forest Minister ParimalSuklabaidya saidelectrocutionwas a “dangerous villain”, buttherewasnoeasy solution. “Ateverymeeting, I talk about thiselectrocutionproblem... Peoplehave encroached upon landthat is meant for elephants,”Suklabaidya said.He said they had also ap-

proached officials of theElectricity Department for away out. “We have spoken toAPDCL and deputy commis-sionersof districtswhere suchincidents are happening fre-quently."Bibhab Talukdar, secretary

general of conservation NGOAaranyak, said many of thesedeathswere “deliberate”. “The

villagers harbour resentmentbecause they are not compen-sated (by the government) forthe damage to their crops andproperties for years,” he said.“So they takematters into theirown hands, build these livewire fences.”The DFO said fences also

enduphurtingelephants, pigs,wild boars aswell as deer.Dr Bhaskar Choudhry,

wildlife veterinarian of theWildlife Trust of India (WTI),saiduncheckedsaggingpowerlines were often to blame too.“TheAPDCL can at least try in-sulatingwiresatvulnerable lo-cations, check sagging wires.Or, for thatmatter, look into thetheft of power from domesticlines,” he said.M K Yadava, Chief Wildlife

Warden,Assam, said theywerelooking at a holistic approachnow. “We have begun in-

stallinghangingsolar-poweredfences in places like Orang(National Park), Manas &Laokhowa. These are visiblefrom a distance, and are moreeffective in keeping the ele-phants away. We are erectingtall (over 50 feet) towers tomonitor movement of ele-phants in vulnerable areas...We have set up Mobile AntiDepredation Squads, armedwith pump action guns andrubber bullets." Additionally,Yadava said, they were tryingto ensure that payment ofcompensation forcropdamagedoes not take long, "so thatfarmers are more tolerant ofthe elephants".Forest and electricity offi-

cials are working together tocreate awareness, Patiri said."We are putting up posterstelling people about the situa-tion.”


Assam electric fences take toll, pregnant elephant latest casualty


TRACKING IP addresses, theCBI team that is probing thepre-Matric scholarshipscaminBihar, based on the findings ofan investigation by The IndianExpress, has zeroed in on loca-tions from where the onlineforms of “several fake benefi-ciaries” were filled — all are inJharkhand's Chatra, a districtthat has already come underthe scanner of local police.“After conductingan initial

investigation,we foundbenefi-ciaries in Sasaram and Gayadistricts (of Bihar). Through IPaddresses,we tracked the loca-tions from where the formswere filled to Chatra. A few

personshavebeenquestionedandsomeAadhaar cards foundin their possession,” CBIsources toldThe IndianExpress.“On enquiry, a number of

residents in Chatra said theyknewwhohad filled the forms.Theypointed tovarioushouse-holds in Line Mohalla. Somesuspects are yet to be traced.We are investigating the in-puts,” sources said.The mohalla has already

comeunder thescannerof dis-trict authorities in Jharkhand'sDhanbad, who said in a probereport that theallegedmaster-

mind of the scam in the state,identified as MohammadSadiq, and his associates werebased in Chatra.Dhanbad was among the

six districts in Jharkhandwhere The Indian Expressfound that anexus of middle-men, officials and school staff,colluded to steal IDs and pass-words of schools to access theNational Scholarship Portal(NSP), dupe gullible parentsand students, and set up fakebeneficiaries.The Indian Express also

found that the scam stretchedfrom Jharkhand to Bihar andinvolvedschools inPunjabandAssam as well. Taking note ofthese findings, the UnionMinistry of Minority Affairs,which administers this schol-

arship, sought a CBI investiga-tion lastmonth.The agencybegan its probe

based on an FIR registered bypolice in Gaya where TheIndian Express found 134 fakebeneficiaries from ManuIndian Public School in theBankeBazar area after investi-gating entries on the NSP andmatching themwith bank ac-counts in the Public FinanceManagement System (PFMS).CBI sources said theagency

will sendan initial report to theMinorityAffairsMinistry afterwhich itmay register an FIR.In Jharkhand, the Anti-

Corruption Bureau lodged aPreliminary Enquiry into thescam Wednesday. “A teamheaded by a DySP-rank officerwill investigate. Theofficerwill

submit the initial findings in15days, which will be handedover to the Cabinet VigilanceDepartment,” said an official.In its report, the Dhanbad

administration referred to therole of several middlemen,school owners, a lawyer, anddistrict officials involved inverification of applicants -- 11FIRs have been registered inthe district.The scholarship scheme,

launched in 2008, is meant tohelpstudentsofminoritycom-munities from families withannual income below Rs 1lakh. Eligible students fromClass1 to5receiveRs1,000peryear, and students of Class 6 to10 receive Rs 5,700 a year ifthey are day scholars or Rs10,700 if they are in a hostel.



CBI tracks online trail fromBihar toJharkhand district at heart of probe


SONIAGANDHIwill onSaturdaymeetsomeofthe23seniorleaderswhohadwrittentoherinAugustseeking sweepingchanges in theCongressorganisationandanef-fective,full-timeleadershipthatis“visible”and“active”.Thiswillbethefirstattemptatrapprochementfrombothsides.Themeetingwasarrangedaf-

ter seven-eight key leaders fromamong the23 letter-writersmetseveraltimesinDelhioverthepast

week.Alistofpotentialattendeeswas sent toSonia, outofwhichaselectgroupwillmeether,sourcessaid.Former Congress president

Rahul Gandhi is expected to bepartofthemeeting.Among thosewho could at-

tend themeetingwithSonia areLeader of Opposition in RajyaSabhaGhulamNabiAzad,formerunionministersAnandSharma,Kapil Sibal,Manish Tewari andShashiTharoor; and formerchiefministers of Haryana andMaharashtra, Bhupinder SinghHooda and Prithviraj Chavan,

sourcessaid.Senior leaders Manmohan

Singh, P Chidambaram, A KAntonyandAICCgeneralsecretary(Organisation)KCVenugopalarealsoexpectedtobepresent.FormerMadhyaPradeshchief

ministerKamalNathislearnttobecoordinating themeeting. NathhasmetSonia twiceafter she re-turnedfromGoaafterafortnight'sbreakearlierthismonth.“Thesenior-mostleadershipof

the Congress will attend themeetingtoresolveorganisationalmattersandfindawayforward,”aseniorCongressleadersaid.

The Indian Express had onAugust 23 reported on the un-precedentedletterwrittenbythe23 senior leaders, including fiveformer chief ministers, manyCongressWorking Committee(CWC)members,sittingMPs,andseveralformerunionministers.But at itsmeeting two days

later, theCWCneitherdiscussedthecontentsoftheletternorgaveanyspecificcommitmentsonthewayforward.Instead,memberaf-termemberattackedthe23rebels,questionedandcriticised the in-tentandtimingoftheirletter,andpledgedloyaltytotheGandhifam-


ing reforms, decentralisation ofpower, empowerment of stateunits,electionstotheCongressor-ganisation at all levels from theblock to theCWC,andtheurgentconstitution of a central parlia-mentaryboard,theleadershadar-gued that uncertainty over theleadership and the “drift” in theparty haddemoralisedworkersandweakenedtheCongress.SinceAugust,theCongresshas

sufferedmore reverses in elec-tions, including inBihar–whereits dismal performanceperhaps

keptthegrandallianceawayfromthe halfway mark – Kerala,Hyderabad,andAssam.Sourcesinthe groupof 23 claimed severalleaders fromacross the countryhavebackedtheirarguments.The Congress plans to hold

electionsforthepostofpartypres-ident in the next few months.WhileitisnotclearwhetherRahulhasagreed to return to thehelm,the23leadershaddemandedthatan“institutionalleadershipmech-anism” thatwould “collectively”guidetheparty’srevival,shouldbeestablishedurgently.SourcessaidtheCWCtoocouldmeetsoon.

Four months after unprecedented dissent, Soniawill meet some of 23 letter-writers tomorrow


DAYSAFTERnoticesweresentbytheSub-DivisionalMagistrateinUP's Sambhal asking farm lead-ers to submit personal bonds ofRs50 lakheach toprevent themfrom “inciting” farmers to jointheprotests against theCentre'snew laws, police Thursdayclaimedtheamountwas“acler-ical error” andwill be reduced.But leaders said the notice itselfis a means to “throttle demo-craticprotest”.The notices for Rs 50 lakh

eachwere sent to six leaders inSambhal,mainly office-bearersof Bhartiya Kisan Union (Asli).Similarnoticesseekingbonds

ofRs5lakheachweresenttosixothers. They were issued onDecember 12 and13under sec-tion 111 of the CrPC, which au-thorisesthemagistratetosendashow-causenoticeunderabond.“I have spoken to the SDM

and therewill be fresh noticesfollowingtheerror,"SambhalSPChakreshMishra toldThe IndianExpress.“TheSDMiscurrentlyonleaveandoncehecomesbackwewill look to issue a bond of Rs50,000sincetheearlieronewasaclericalerror,”saidArunKumarSingh,CircleOfficer,Sambhal.Butthefarmleaderssaidthey

“wouldratherbeinjailthangiveintothesetactics”.“They decided on a random

numberas longas it coulddeter

us fromprotesting. It's anon-vi-olentprotest.Whyistheadmin-istration so afraid of farmersprotesting? They have men-tionedRs50lakhasifweareter-rorists.Theyknowthatwedonothave that kind of money," saidRajpalSinghYadav,districtpres-identofBKU(Asli),whoisamongthesixwhohavebeenservedno-tices seeking Rs 50 lakh in per-sonalbond.The farm leaders, hailing

mostly from the Chandausi andSinghpur areas, have been call-ing for protests sinceNovember26.Onthefirstdayoftheprotest,nearly400peoplehadgatheredat a chowk in Sambhal. Sincethen,theleaderssaid,policehavemadeseveralattemptstoensurethat the protests do not takeplace.“Beforethenotices,thepolice

havebeenmakingroundsofourvillages to keep a track of ourmovements. Whenever wecalled for a gherao or a demon-stration, the policewould cometo our houses to arrest us. Wemanaged to go to Delhi onNovember 28, for a day. Wesometimes leave our house be-fore the police come and evensleepinthefieldstowakeupandprotest the following day," saidSanjeev Gandhi of BKU (Asli),whowasalsoservedwiththeno-tice.According to the leaders,

some farmers were also takenintopreventivecustodyforadayprior toaprotest.

In UP, farmers get noticeof Rs 50 lakh for protests,police say will revise sum


BITCOIN, THE cryptocurrency, has breachedanimportantpsychologicalbarrieragainsttheUSdollar—the$20,000mark—afterhavingfallen just short during its 2017 rally. As ofThursday,Bitcoinwastradingabove$23,000.The rally to these levels,whichhas sustainedover the last fourmonths, has also seenvari-ous stakeholders taking steps towards legit-imisingthecryptocurrency.Butbeforeonede-cides to invest inBitcoin, there are anumberof factorstobeconsidered.

HowdoesaBitcoinwork?Theorigin of Bitcoin is unclear, as iswho

foundedit.Aperson,oragroupofpeople,whowentbytheidentityofSatoshiNakamotoaresaidtohaveconceptualisedanaccountingsys-temintheaftermathofthe2008financialcri-sis.Nakamotopublishedawhitepaperaboutapeer-to-peerelectronic cashsystem,whichwould “allowonlinepayments tobe sentdi-rectlyfromonepartytoanotherwithoutgoingthrougha financial institution”. According toBitcoin.org,awebsiteoriginallyco-ownedbyNakamoto,Bitcoinfromauser’sperspectiveis“nothingmorethanamobileapporcomputerprogramthatprovidesapersonalBitcoinwal-let and allows a user to send and receiveBitcoinswiththem”.Bitcoins are generally identifiedwith a

Bitcoin address,which comprises 26-35 al-phanumericcharactersstartingwitheither“1”or “3”. This address,which remains anony-mous, representsthedestinationof aBitcoin,or a fraction. Originally, the Bitcoinwas in-tendedtoprovideanalternativetofiatmoneyandbecomeauniversally acceptedmediumof exchange directly between two involvedparties.However,afterBitcoinspickedupmo-mentum, someentities started establishing

exchanges—onlinesofstockexchanges—forpeople to buy and sell Bitcoins against fiatmoneysuchasdollarsoreurosorpounds.Earlyproponentsofthecryptocurrencyarguedthatonce an exchangewas established, all thestrengthsofaBitcoinwentaway,consideringa third party institutionwas involved onceagainformoneytochangehands.

ArerecordsofBitcointransactionsmaintained?Nakamotomooted an idea for a publicly

available, open ledger thatwould contain allthetransactionsevermade,albeitinananony-mous and an encrypted form. This ledger iscalledblockchain.Consideringthepublicandopennatureof the ledger, proponentsof thiscurrencysystembelieveitcouldhelpweedoutcorruptionandinefficienciesinthesystem.Ina traditional financial deal inwhich twopar-tiesareusingfiatmoney,athird-partyorgan-isation—usuallyacentralbank—assuresthatthemoney is genuine and the transaction isrecorded.WithBitcoin,achainofcomputersisconstantlyworking towards authenticatingthe transactions by solving complex crypto-graphicpuzzles.Forsolvingthepuzzles,thesesystems are rewardedwith Bitcoins. ThisprocessiscalledBitcoinmining.

HowdoesoneacquireaBitcoin?OnecaneithermineanewBitcoin if they

havethecomputingcapacity,purchasethemvia exchanges, or acquire them in over-the-counter, person-to-person transactions. ABitcoinexchangefunctionslikeabankwherea person buys and sells Bitcoinswith tradi-tional currency. Depending on the demand

andsupply,thepriceofaBitcoinkeepsfluctu-ating.Miners are the peoplewho validate aBitcoin transaction and secure the networkwith their hardware. TheBitcoin protocol isdesigned insuchawaythatnewBitcoinsarecreated at a fixed rate. Nodeveloper has thepower tomanipulate the system to increasehisprofits.OneuniqueaspectofBitcoinisthatonly 21million units will ever be created.However,transactionscanbedenominatedinsub-unitsofaBitcoin.ASatoshiisthesmallestfractionofaBitcoin.

WhathasledtotheriseinBitcoinprices?According to those closelywatching the

currency,thepriceshavebeendrivenbyvari-ous factors, including increased acceptanceduring thepandemic. Globally, largeplayerslikepaymentsfirmPayPal,andIndianlenderslikeStateBankofIndia,ICICIBank,HDFCBankandYesBank, havegiven legitimacy to cryp-tocurrency through someof their decisions.For example, these Indian banks reportedlyhaveallowedtheircustomerstousetheirbankaccounts to fund cryptocurrency trading. InIndia, accounts of several exchangeswerefrozenby financial institutions back in 2018followingafiatfromtheReserveBankofIndiathatbarredbanksfromusingtheirsystemsforcryptocurrency-relatedtransactions.However,theSupremeCourtruledagainstthisorderinMarchthisyear.“…Thebiggestfactor(intherecentriseof

Bitcoinprices)hasbeenthefactthatsomepen-sion fundsand insurance funds tookpermis-sion topark a small part of their portfolio inBitcoins.Oncethathappened, theavailabilityisan issue leading tothespike inprices,” said

SathvikVishwanath, co-founder andCEOofBitcoinexchangeUnocoin.Vishwanathhow-ever feels that therewouldbeacorrection inthepriceswhenpeople see abubble aroundtheprices, “butwedon’t knowatwhat levelthatwouldhappen”.


ittobeusedasanasset,butthemushroomingofexchangesturneditintoone.Traditionalin-vestmentexpertsarewaryofBitcoinasanin-vestment. “We are not offering advisory onBitcoininvestment.Idon’tseeanyunderlyingfundamental that drives its price and I thinkit’smostlydrivenbysupplyanddemandandontechnicalfactorsandhencewearenotoffer-ing our advice. It is an alternative currencywhichisdigitalinformandonehastobecare-ful while going for it,” said Surya Bhatia,founderofDelhi-basedfinancialservicesandinvestmentadvisoryfirmAssetManagers.It is important to note that the price of

Bitcoin fell sharply from over $18,000 inDecember2017toaround$3200inDecember2018. It thenwentup toover $10,000 in July2019,thenfelltoaround$5,500inMarch2020.It hashada sharp rally since then (see chart).Marketparticipants say thehugevolatility inthepricewithoutanymajorfundamentalrea-sonshouldmakeretail investorscautious.


out that there is no underlying asset in caseofBitcoin,andthevalueis“fictitious”.Beforeinvestors can look at it as an asset, severalthings need to fall in place. If the cryptocur-rencyisregulated,itcouldresultinthevolatil-ityreducing,anditsacceptabilityandmoneti-sation needs easing up. “You can’trecommendittoanyoneasitismostlyaspec-ulative thing as of now. No one knowswhythe prices crashed by 80% in 2018 and havejumped four times this year. This kind ofvolatile product is not for small investors,”saidatopofficialwithafinancialservicesfirmwhodidnotwishtobenamed.However,giventhatBitcoinwasintended

to comeacross as a global decentralised cur-rency,anycentralauthorityregulatingitwouldeffectivelydefeatthatpurpose.

Thecryptocurrencyhascrossed$20,000 invalue.Butyouneedtoconsideranumberof factorsbeforeinvesting—Bitcoin’spricehasalwaysbeenvolatile, andthere isnoclearexplanation for itscurrent rally


DENTALPROCEDUREScanposeahighriskof viral transmissionbecause thetoolsoftenproduceaerosols—whichcan contain the novel coronavirusSARS-CoV-2.Newresearchhasfoundthat careful operation of dental drillscanminimisetheaerosolspread.Conducted by Imperial College

London and King’s College London,the study was published in in theJournal of Dental Research onThursday. The results arealreadybe-ingincludedasevidenceinguidesfordental practices in theUKduring thepandemic, Imperial College Londonsaid inastatement.Aerosols are generated when

salivamixes with water and the airstreams used in dental procedures.Now,researchershavemeasuredandanalysed aerosol generation duringdental procedures and suggestedchanges to prevent con-tamination to improvesafety for both patientsand the dental practiceworkforce.Theysuggestdentists

avoid using dental drillsthat use amixture of airandwaterastheabrasioncoolants,andcarefullyse-lectandcontroldrillrota-tion speeds for those in-struments that only usewater as a coolant. They also identi-fied parameters that would allowsome procedures such as dental fill-ings to be providedwhile producing60 times feweraerosoldroplets thanconventionalprocedures.At dental clinical rooms at Guy’s

Hospital in London, the researchersexaminedhowaerosolsaregeneratedduring various procedures. Theymeasured theaerosolgenerationus-inghighspeedcamerasand lasers.They found that using air turbine

drill types creates dense clouds ofaerosol droplets that spread as fast as12metrespersecondandcanquicklycontaminateanentiretreatmentroom.

Justonemillilitreofsalivafrom infected patientscontains up to 120mil-lion copies of the virus,eachhavingthecapacitytoinfect.They tested a differ-

ent type of drill, knownas high torque electricmicromotor, with andwithouttheuseofwaterand air streams. Usingthis drill type at low

speeds,andwithoutairstreams,theyfound, produced 60 times fewerdroplets thanair turbinedrill types.Also, aerosol concentration and

spreadwithinaroomdependsonthepositioning of the patient, ventilationsystems,andtheroom’sgeometry.Itisalso influencedbytheinitialdirectionand speed of the aerosol itself,whichcanbe affected by the type of cuttinginstrument(burr),andtheamountandtypeofcoolingwaterused.

Source: Imperial College London





THE OPPOSITION Congress has calledamendmentstotheKarnatakaLandReformsAct 1961—whichwerepassed in the statelegislature lastweekbytheBJPgovernmentwiththesupportoftheoppositionJanataDal(Secular)—a“deathwarrant”forfarmers.The amendments allownon-agricultur-

ists to buy agricultural land in the state.Successivegovernmentshaveinrecentyearsgraduallydilutedlandownershipnormsun-der theLandReformsAct to facilitate indus-trialgrowthandagriculturallandownershipbynon-farmers.

Whatarethelatestamendments?The Karnataka Land Reforms

(Amendment) Bill, 2020has repealed threekeysectionsof theKarnatakaLandReformsAct of 1961which imposed certain restric-

tionsonownershipof farmland.Theamendmentshavedoneawaywith

Section79AoftheActthatallowedonlythoseearninglessthanRs25lakhperannumtobuyagricultural land, and Section79B that saidonlypeopleearningalivingthroughagricul-turecouldbuyagriculturalland.Theamend-menthasalsoremovedSection79CoftheAct,which allowed revenuedepartments to in-vestigate allegedviolations of Sections 79Aand79Bduringlandpurchases.

Whatrationalehasthestategovernmentcited?RevenueMinister RAshok,whopiloted

theBill, saidduringdiscussionsthatthesec-tionsproposed tobe repealed fromtheActwereonlyfacilitatingcorruptionintheofficesof landregistrarsandtahsildars, rather thanbenefiting farmerswhowanted to sell theirland.Hesaidover13,814casesofviolationofSections 79AandBwerependingwithoutanyactionbeing taken. “The sectionsof the

laware losing their relevance in thepresentsituationandareportwasgiventocarryoutchanges inurbanareasduring the tenureoftheCongressitself,”hesaid.ChiefMinister B SYediyurappahas said

irrigated agricultural land, and landownedbySC/STcommunities,willremainprotectedas farmlanddespite the amendments.Only2% of the agricultural land in the state hasbeenusedforindustrialpurposes,hehassaid.

WhatistheCongress’sobjection?Leader of theOpposition Siddaramaiah

hassaidtheamendmentwillresultinthelossofagriculturallandthatcouldhavebeencul-tivatedtomeetfoodrequirements.Hehasal-legedthattheamendmentisintendedtoben-efittherealestatemafiainBengaluru.“Under Sections 79 A and B, there are

13,814casespendinginthecourts involvingaround 60,000 acres in and aroundBengaluru. Assuming a rate of aroundRs 2croreforeachacre,propertyworthRs1.2lakh

crore will be freed up by this Act,''Siddaramaiahhassaid.“Theretrospectivena-tureoftheBillshowsthegovernmentishandinglovewith corporatebodies andhousingsocieties,.Thelawwillbeadeathwarrantforfarmers, farmworkers andDalits. Farmergroups like the Karnataka Rajya RaithaSanghatoohaveopposedtheamendments.InAugust2015,theCongressgovernment

headedbySiddaramiah,too,hadeasedrulesforlandacquisitionbypeoplenotengagedinagriculture. The Karnataka Land Reforms(Amendment) Bill, 2015 amended Section79Aandenhanced the annual incomeceil-ingforacquisitionof landbypersonsnoten-gaged in agriculture fromRs2 lakh toRs25lakh.Atthattime,itwasthethenoppositionBJPandJDSthathadarguedthattheamend-mentwouldonlyhelprealestatebusinessesacquiremorelandaroundcities.

AndwhatistheJD(S)’sstand?The JD(S) initially opposed the amend-

mentsproposedbytheBJPonthegroundthattheywere not in the interest of farmers. ItspecificallyopposedanamendmentproposedtoSection63Atoincreasetheceilingforlandholdings— from54acres to108acres for afamilyoffive,andfrom108acresto216acresfor a family of 10. After the governmentdroppedthemovetoamendSection63A,theJD(S) supported the Bill. JD(S) leader HDKumaraswamysaidlastweekthathehimselfhadtofaceallegationsofviolationofSections79AandBoverownershipofnearly50acresofagriculturallandonBengaluru’soutskirts.


dustry to amend land ownership laws tobring them in linewith those in theneigh-bouring states in order to facilitate growthaway from the stagnant agriculture sector.Yediyurappa had promised such changesduringhisvisittotheWorldEconomicForum


aBilltoamendSection109ofthe1961Acttoallowindustriestosellagriculturallandtheyhadbought for industrial purposes (ratherthanreturnittothegovernmentatnocost)ifthey failed to carry onwith theplanned in-dustry.Theamendmentallowedsuchsaleaf-tersevenyearsof runningtheindustry.The rulingBJPhas argued that curbs on

sale and purchase of agricultural land inKarnatakadonotexistinMaharashtra,AndhraPradeshorTamilNadu. “InBallari, land isRs1.10 crore an acre while in neighbouringAnanthapur (Andhra) the landcostsonlyRs10 lakh. Investors were going to AndhraPradeshandTamilNaduasaconsequence,”saidCRJanardhana,president,FederationofKarnataka Chambers of Commerce andIndustry. “The landreformswill change this.There isanopportunity toemployonecrorepeoplewithacquisitionofanother2%ofland.”

@ieExplained#ExpressExplainedIf there are questions of current or contemporary relevance that youwould likeexplained, pleasewrite to [email protected]

Should you invest in Bitcoin?


Amendment to Karnataka LandReformsAct:what govt, opposition say






Note: TheDec16 figure in this graph isbasedon thegovernmentupdateonDec17

Dec7 Dec16LAST 10 DAYS






PranavMukul& Sandeep Singh

Theresearchers testedaerosolgenerationonadummy.ImperialCollegeLondon


AMUTATEDvariantof thenovelcoronavirusSARS-CoV2hasbeenassociatedwithrecentinfections in England. The question beingraised iswhether themutation could affectpeople’s response to vaccines— and scien-tistssaythisisunlikely.Thevirushasunder-goneseveralmutationssinceitfirst infectedhumans,which scientists say is neither un-expectednoracause forpanic.

What isamutation?Amutationmeansachangeinthegenetic

sequenceofthevirus.InthecaseofSARS-CoV-2,whichisanRNAvirus,amutationmeansachangeinthesequenceinwhichitsmoleculesarearranged.Amutation inanRNAvirusof-tenhappenswhenthevirusmakesamistakewhile it ismakingcopiesof itself.Onlyifthemutationresultsinasignificant

changeintheproteinstructurecanthecourseofadiseasebealtered,saidProfVRavi,retiredHeadof theDepartmentofNeurovirologyatNIMHANS (National Institute of MentalHealthandNeuro-Sciences),Bengaluru.

What is thenewmutation?UK researchers have identified it as

N501Y.Theviruscarryingthismutationhascaused 1,100 new infections in 60 local au-thority areas, according to reports quoting

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock. TheConsortiumforCovid-19genomicsUK(COG-UK) has been tracking themutation and islikely toprovideacritiquesoon.Prof Ravi said that it is likely to be amu-

tation in thespikeprotein. Therehasbeenasingle nucleotide change in one portion ofthespikeprotein,sotherewouldbenobear-ing on the disease biology or even di-agnostics,hesaid.

Isamutationinthespikeproteinparticularlysignificant?Dr Gagandeep Kang,

Professor at ChristianMedicalCollege,Vellore,saidthatingeneral,therewould bemore concernabout a mutation in thespike region than other re-gions of the coronavirusgenome.Itisthecoronavirusspikeprotein that binds to a human proteinto initiate the process of infection. So,changes here could possibly affect how thevirusbehaves intermsof itsability to infect,or cause severe disease, or escape the im-mune response made by vaccines — butthese are theoretical concerns at themo-ment,DrKangsaid.Through the pandemic, over 4,000mu-

tations have been detected in the spike re-gion. This one appeared initially in Brazil in

April, in a small proportion of cases. Sincenumbers have gone up in the UK, Dr Gangstressedtheneedtounderstandwhythein-crease andwhat it means. At themoment,however,thereisnodatatoindicateseverityor faster spread.

Whatcanitmeanforpeople’s responsetocoronavirusvaccines?

Several coronavirus vaccinesare designed to create anti-bodies targeting the spikeprotein. But the vaccinestarget multiple regionson the spike, while amutation refers to achangeinasinglepoint.So, if there is onemuta-tion, it does not meanvaccineswouldnotwork,DrKangsaid.Butchangesinthe virus will be tracked

around theworld because thereisnowunprecedentedsequencingca-

pacityanddata sharing.

Shouldweworryaboutthesechanges?Mutationswill keep happening and the

newvirusvariantswill surviveordisappeardependinguponour immuneresponseandtheir ability tomultiply and transmit, saidProfArindamMaitraoftheNationalInstituteof Biomedical Genomics. But all SARS-CoV-2 strains are genetically similar to one an-

other,andscientistsdonotexpectthesemu-tations tohave a significant impact on theirability to cause more severe disease thanwhathasbeenobservedso far.“Manymutationsmeannothingatall,or

at least aremore successful for reasonswedon’t know. For instance a different strainmay bemore transmissible, but cause lessdisease.Bottomlineisthatweneedtomon-itor,butatpresent, there isnoevidencethatthe new strain in UK ismore transmissiblenorseverenorresistanttotreatmentorvac-cination,” Dr Marc-Alain Widdowson,Director of Institute of Tropical Medicine,Antwerp, toldThe IndianExpress.

Is thismutatedstrain inIndia?“Wehavenot seen thisvariant in India,”

saidDrRakeshMishra,Director,CISR-Centrefor Cellular andMolecularBiology (CCMB),Hyderabad. “But we are watching out formutations as they are constantly happen-ing. For themoment, it is not something tobeworried about and is restricted to a fewcountries.”ScientistsatCCMBhaveanalysedseveral

thousand SARS-CoV-2 genomes from Indiaavailable in the public domain. DrMishrasaid there are no indications so far that theUKmutationhasmoreaffinity to theACE-2receptor(thehumanproteinwithwhichthevirus spike protein binds). Also, it is notproven that there are clinical and immuno-logical consequences.

Mutated coronavirus in UK: implications





$02014 2016 2018 2020







To limit aerosol spread atdental clinics, slow downspeed of drilling: study



SPECTRUM OF CHOICESHighreserveprice forspectrumledtopoorauctionoutcomesinpast.Governmentmust lookbeyondrevenuemaximisation

ONWEDNESDAY, THE government kickstarted the process of auction-ing4Gspectrum,approving the saleof 2,251MHzof spectrumata re-serve price of Rs 3.92 lakh crore. The auction is expected to be com-pleted byMarch next year with bidders having the option of eitherpayingtheentireamountupfront,orpayingacertainamountnow,with

the balance being paid in annual instalments subsequently. Considering the revenueshortfall that the Centre is facing, a successful auction could help boost its coffers — inthebudget, thegovernmenthadpeggedrevenuefrom“othercommunicationservices”,whichincludeslicencefeesfromtelecomoperatorsandreceiptsonaccountofspectrumusagecharges, atRs1.33 lakhcrore in2020-21.However,whether this roundof auctionwill bemetwith enthusiasm isnot clear as

highreservepriceshaveinthepastledtopooroutcomes.Forinstance,inthepreviousauc-tionsheld in2016,while thegovernmenthadoffered2,354.55MHzof spectrum, itwasable to sell just 40per cent (965MHz)due tohigh reserveprices. As a result, itwas abletomopuponlyRs65,789crore. This timearound, it ispossible that telcos looking to re-newtheirlicencesinbandswhichareexpiringin2021,andseekingtoplugexistinggaps,might pick up spectrum in the less expensive bands. But demand for the higher pricedbands isuncertain. For instance, the reserveprice for the700MHzband—it ismoreef-ficientthanthebandsbeingoffered,andhasbetterpropagationcharacteristics—ispeggedatRs6,568croreperMHzforallIndia.Whilethisisaround43percentlowerthanthe2016priceofRs11,485crore,whenitremainedunsoldduringtheauctions,whetherfirmswillbid at even these prices remains to be seen. Telecom operators have in the past com-plainedaboutthehighreserveprices.Somemayoptoutof thebidding,whileothersmaybid,heighteningtheriskof“winner’scurse”.Alternatively,highreservepricescouldleadto a situationwhere bidding is dominated by a single player to the detriment of bothcompetitionandconsumers.Reportedly, the Department of Telecommunications is yet to finalise the bands for

auctionof5Gspectrum.Thisputs telcos inablindspot.Withnoclarityoverwhichbandwillbeofferedupforauction,andwhen, theyareunable toplantheirauctionstrategiesinadvance.Thegovernmentwouldthusdowell toprovideatimelineofwhenit intendstoauction5Gspectrum.Equally, itmustreconsideritsapproach,whichisdrivenmorebyconcernsof revenuemaximisation than thesector’swelfare.

LEFT TURN IN KERALACongress is the loser in localbodiespolls, asCPMregainsground lost in2019generalelection

THERESULTSOFKerala’s localbodiespollswouldbeabigrelief fortherul-ingLeftDemocraticFront(LDF),whichfoughtthepollsbattlingcorruptionallegations.TheFrontbuckedanti-incumbencytowinfiveofthestate’ssixmunicipalcorporations—onemorethanin2015—besidesmakinggainsin central Kerala, a stronghold of the Congress-led United Democratic

Front. Though itmanaged towin amajority of municipalities, the UDF has reasons toworryabout its insipidperformance, less thansixmonthsbefore theassemblyelection.TheBJPimproveditstally inall thetiers,buthasfailedtoconsolidate itsrisingvoteshareto grab at least one corporation ormake a splash in any region. Clearly, the party has tocovera lotmoregroundbefore it canhope to redrawKerala’s two-frontpoliticalmap.TheLDF’ssuccessowesmuchtowelfaremeasuresundertakenbythePinarayiVijayan

government,especiallysincetheoutbreakofCOVID-19.Thelocalbodieswereinthefore-frontofensuringrelief—medicalandmaterialhelp.Thegovernmentbeefedupthepub-lic distribution systemandprovided extra rations aswell as specialmonthly kitswheneconomic activities ceased in thewake of the pandemic. The lockdown had increasedthedependencyof peopleonpublicwelfare andgoods and thegovernment rose to thechallenge.Onthepoliticalfront,theCPMbenefitedfromtheabsenceof factionalismthathadplaguedthepartyinthepast,theentryofafactionoftheKeralaCongress,apartywithinfluenceamongChristians, into theLDF, and thesmartmove to fielda largenumberofwomenandyouth.TheCongress,ontheotherhand,waslistlessinitselectioncampaignandpollmanagement. Though theUDFwon19of the20LokSabha seats in the state in2019,theCongresshasbeenunabletostemtheleakofcadresandlower-levelpartyfunc-tionaries to theBJP in thewakeof increasingcommunalpolarisation in thestate.Also, adividedpartyleadershipwasunconvincingwhenitspokeaboutthescandalsthathadem-broiled thechiefminister’sofficeandtheCPMstate secretary’s family.Theassemblyelectionwill haveapolitical dynamicof its own, of course. But the re-

sultsof localbodiespollsareominousfortheCongressinoneof itsfewremainingstrong-holds. Thepartyseemstobewilting in theheat fromboth theCPMandtheBJP,particu-larly the latter since it became the party of office at the Centre.With the erosion in itssocialbase, theCongress isnowdependent solelyonanti-incumbencyagainst theCPMtowinelections.But theremaynotbeenoughof it always.

NON, MONSIEURFranceshouldreward,not fine,Parismayor forhiringmorewomeninpositionsofpower.That’swhere theybelong

FORHEAVEN’SSAKE, it’s 2020.By rights, patriarchyought tohavepackedupandgonehomeaeonsago.Buthereweare, still stuck inaworldwheremenoverpopulateboardrooms,courts,bureaucraciesandministries,wheretheycontinuetoexplainthingstowomenandtalkoverthem,andwhereoldwhitemencanthrowtantrumsandclingontopowerevenafterlosinganelection.

Youwouldthinktheproblemisthenear-universalmalemonopolyoverwealth,property,resourcesandentitlement—ergo,toomanymen.But,no,France’spublicserviceministryappears tobelieveotherwise. It hasdecided to slapa$110,000 fineonParis city authori-tiesforemployingtoomanywomeninitsseniorpositions.Apparently,byhiring11womento fivemen, Parismayor AnneHidalgo has broken a 2013 law that holds that notmorethan60percentmanagementpositionscangotopeopleof thesamegender.Toquotearulethatpromotesgenderequalitytorundownaninitiativethatsucceeds

in achieving just that is rich in irony. It is also amanouevre thatmight be familiar in theIndiansubcontinent,where thestandard-issuemalechauvinist cutshis teeth insexismbywhining about seats reserved forwomen in public transport. Dominant groups in-creasinglywieldthis languageof “fairness” to justify theirdiscomfortat teenystepsthatforcethemtosharepower,whetherit isviareservationforhistoricallyoppressed“lowercastes” ormore seats inParliament forwomen;orhaving to listen to angry critiquesbythedisenfranchisedwhich theyrighteouslyderideas “cancel culture”.Thetrickistoownthechange.TheParismayorhassaidshe’dpaythefine—unjustas

it is—buthandoverthechequetoauthoritiesaccompaniedbyallherwomencolleagues.ShearguesFranceneedsmore,notless,ofsuchahiringskew,toaggressivelyplugalong-neglectedgendergap. Inallthis, lurksabiglessontoorganisersofmanelseverywhereintheworld. Toomanywomen?Theyexist.Now,go find them.

Let schools open


Education isanessentialactivity. Ignoringschoolingwillhave long-termimplications

ITWASVERYnicetoreadreportsaboutsomestates reopening schools, and some othersplanning to do so. Over the last severalmonths, during thevariousupsanddowns,lockdownsandunlocks,start-stopactivitiesin both business and social spheres, one(near)constantfeaturehasbeentheclosureofschools.Itistheeasiestthingtodobecausethe consequences are not immediately ob-vious. During the pandemic, theywere thefirst to close nationwide andwould proba-blybe the last toopen.Variousstateshaveattemptedtoreopen

schools, with limited successes due to theresurgence of the virus. Barring some at-tempts,suchasconductofentrancetestsandoptionalattendancebysomepupils,schoolshaveremainedoutofreachformost.There-centattemptswillalsofaceobstacles,possi-bleleadtoariseinlocalinfections,andotherdisruptions, but let us hope authorities andparentsareprepared to face these.That brings us to a more fundamental

point. Do we treat the education sector,schoolsinparticular,asanessentialactivity?In the recent past, we have had big rallies,protests, socialandreligious festivities (onareducedscalethough)andcrowdedmarkets,busyroadsandalmosteveryactivity,butthedoors of schools have remained shut. Weconstantly talk aboutGDPgrowth rates butignore schooling and educationwhich de-termine,accordingtoseveralscholarlystud-ies, long-rundevelopmentandgrowth.Overthe lastninemonths,humaninter-

action in the realworld has become a scareresource.Thepandemichasforcedustopri-oritise activities overwhich this limited re-sourcecanbespent. Differentsocietieshavechosen toact differently in this respect. TheEuropeanmodel has been to keep schoolsrunning asmuch as possible,with great in-novations. Denmark and Norway openedschools early in April/May in a staggeredmanner—thisdidn’tleadtoasecondorthirdwave of infection. In the UK and Germany,schoolsreopenedinAugust/September,andit was not smooth sailing for them. Someschools had to be closed temporarily, some

(in Germany) adopted mass testing.Reopening schools could have contributedto some increase in infection numbers aswell, but then all activities have producedsuch an outcome. But the government andschool authorities deserve credit. For in-stance,theUKoptedforasecondnationwidelockdowninthefirstweekofNovemberbutannounceditsresolvetokeepschoolsopen:Itchoseschoolsovernon-essentialbusiness.SeveralcountriesinEuropedidthesame,sig-nallingthatschoolingwastobeidentifiedasanessential activity.Of course, suchcomparisonsarenot fair.

The incidence of infection, the school sup-portsystemsandbudgetaryburdensaredif-ferent. Butwe should not dismiss these ex-amples on the ground that these countriescouldkeep their schoolsopenbecause theyaredeveloped. Itcanbearguedthattheyaredevelopedbecause theyconsider schoolingtobeanessentialactivityanddotheirutmostto see students do not lose out. In fact, theUK’s educationministermade it clear that“continuity of education is anational prior-ity”andthegovernmentwasthreateningtotakeactionagainstalocalcouncilwhichhadorderedclosureof schools!Apartfromintent,whatelsemakeskeep-

ingschoolsopensohard in India?Thereareseveralfactors.Forexample,averagedistancetravelledbyastudentandthedensityofstu-dentpopulation inanyschoolarehigh.Thismakes it difficult to safeguard against thespread of the infection.While schools canbring in changes in terms of class arrange-ments, staggered lunch hours, reduction inphysical sports, limited social interactionsandyear-groupbubbles,theycannotcontrolwhat happens outside their premises. But,more than these logistical factors, I wouldlike todrawattention to twoother issues.Theschoolsystemneedsmoredecentral-

isationbothintermsofgovernanceandplan-ning.Notalldecisionsneedtobetakenatthenational or state level. Local councils or dis-tricts could have chosen to stay open, de-pending on the spread of the disease, theirlocalneedsandcapabilities. Infact,weneed

this flexibilityandfreedomat the local levelnot just tokeep schools openbut,more im-portantly, to address the damageswroughtby the pandemic. Inequality in educationalcapability has no doubt been exacerbateddue to the closureof institutionsduring thepandemic.Soonceschoolsacross thecoun-try reopen, it cannot be simply teaching asusual. Schoolsneedtoreassess theneedsoftheirpupilsanddoutmosttoattendtothese.Theotherissuehastodowiththepartic-

ular teachingmethods thatwe tend to use.In an interesting study, economists YannAlgan, Pierre Cahuc and Andrei Shleifer(2013) show how teaching practices atschoolshaveasizeableimpactonastudent’ssocial capital. Theydistinguishbetweentheverticalmethodwhere the teacher lecturesand students take notes and ask questionsand thehorizontalmethodwhere studentswork in groups and ask questions to eachother and the teacher. Obviously, countriesaswellasschoolswithinacountryusebothformsbutvaryinthemix.Theyshowthatinsocieties where the horizontal method ispredominant, generalised levels of trust inthe society are likely to be higher. Studentsunder the vertical system are also likely tohavelowerassessments(belief)of thevalueofcooperation.Wenowknowhowtrustandcooperation affect the long-termgrowth ofaneconomy. InIndia,weareprobablymoreinclinedtowardstheverticalmethod,whereonlineclassesareviewedasclosesubstitutesof classroomexperience.Let me end with an optimistic note. If

schools inEnglandcouldstayopenover thelast threemonths or so, with alarming riseinCOVID-19casesallaroundandafour-weeknational lockdown, we should be able tobringchildrenbacktoschools.Nowthatweare talkingaboutvaccinationstrategiesandcandidates for early rounds of vaccination,let us treat schools as part of the essentialsector and vaccinate teachers and schoolworkers too.

Thewriter isprofessorof economicsanddirector, InstituteofEconomicGrowth,Delhi

If schools in England couldstay open over the last threemonths or so, with alarmingrise in COVID-19 cases allaround and a four-weeknational lockdown, weshould be able to bringchildren back to schools.Now that we are talkingabout vaccination strategiesand candidates for earlyrounds of vaccination, let ustreat schools as part ofthe essential sector andvaccinate teachers andschool workers too.




§ §


The thingwomen have yet to learn isnobody gives you power. You just take it.


Manoj Jain and Suvanand Sahu

CONTAGIONS IN THE AIRLearnings frompandemiccanhelp in the fightagainstTB

RECENTLY, UNIONMINISTER of Health andFamilyWelfare Harsh Vardhan acknowl-edged the impact of COVID-19 on the fightagainst tuberculosis. He said: “The deadlyvirushasderailedourpainstakingefforts ofmanydecadesanddivertedscientificatten-tionfrommanyinfectiouskillerdiseaseslikeTB.” Theminister is right. COVID-19 lock-downshaveresultedina30percentdeclinein tuberculosis diagnosis and reporting, ac-cording togovernment figures.Researchersestimatethatoverthenextfiveyears,anad-ditional1.19millionTBcasesand3,61,000TBdeathsmayoccur in India.Weagreethatthepandemichassetback

theresponsetoTB,butwebelievethisistem-porary. In the long run, the pandemic pro-vides an unprecedented learning opportu-nityandopensuppossibilitiesofacceleratingourTBeliminationendeavour.Here iswhy.First,COVID-19hasrattledgovernments,

institutions, and people in a way that noother disease has inmodern history. TB is acousin infectious disease that also spreadsthroughdropletsandaerosols,causesrespi-ratory illness, andhas amortality rate of 13percent—farworsethanthe1.3percentforCOVID-19. In 2019, TB caused 1.4 milliondeaths,globally.COVID-19 isset toovertakethis figure. In the COVID-19 era, the publichealth attention and prioritywhich TB andmulti-drug resistant TB deserve from localgovernments and the publicwill be signifi-cantlygreater,nowthatleadersandindivid-uals have realised the devastation an infec-tious respiratorydiseasecancause.

Second,masking, social distancing, andtracing have become commonplace prac-ticesduetoCOVID-19.TheseholdthekeytoTB elimination aswell. Doctors and nurseswill be less complacent about thesemeas-ures, and, over time, thegeneral publicwillcomplymoreeasilywiththesepracticestoo.Moreover, investmentsinhealthsystemsin-frastructure, infection control equipmentandpersonalprotectionequipmentwillen-sure better airborne infection preventionandcontrol—thiswillcomeinhandyinthefight against TB.Third, the COVID-19 experience will

boostTBtestingatscaleusingmoderntools.Therewillbeincreasedpublicacceptanceforthe sputum test to diagnose TB — like theCOVID-19test,thismethodalsoinvolvestest-ingnasalswabs.Moreimportantly,COVID1-9 has changed the landscape of testing andsurveillance. The speed of research on newCOVID-19testsandthescaleatwhichtestingwas applied are lessons to be learnedbyTBprogrammes.Weare excited to learn aboutthe“bi-directional”TBandCOVID-19testinglaunched recently under the HealthMinister’sleadership.WithPCR(polymerasechainreaction)technologyandthenext-gen-eration sequencing technologyas theback-bone of diagnostics, tests for COVID-19, TBandother respiratorydiseases canbepack-aged together at low cost and high volumeatcommunity-basedscreeningsites.Greateridentificationof caseswill leadtomoreper-sons being isolated and treated, and lesslong-termtransmissionof TB.

Fourth, the success of various COVID-19vaccine platforms and the speed at whichthevaccinehasbeenbrought to themarketgivestremendoushopeforTBvaccinecandi-dates,whichhavebeenontheslow-trackfordecades.Governments,donorsandaffectedcommunitieswillask:“Ifwecanhaveavac-cine forCOVID-19 in suchashort time,whycan’twedo the same for TB?” Fast-trackingof research, advance purchasing, and risksharing by countries witnessed during thepandemic could apply to the TB vaccine.Researchers on the COVID-19 vaccine racecanquicklypivotusingtheirplatformstoTB.Lastly, while national and international

leadershaveseenTBasapriorityarea,manystate and local leaders in Indiahavenotpri-oritised TB elimination. But COVID-19 hastaughtustoprioritisepublichealthasmuchas curative andpreventivehealth. InvestingmoreinTBeliminationrightnowismoreim-portant thaneverbefore.So, to the respectedhealthminister and

other leaders, we say: Yes, the fight againstTBhaslostgroundduetotheCOVID-19pan-demic,butonlyintheshortterm.Inthelongterm,COVID-19 is likely toexpedite the tra-jectoryofTBelimination.Wenowreadilyac-ceptmasking, physical distancing, tracing,testing,andvaccinating.Letusnotsquanderthis window of opportunity that has beenopened for theeliminationof TB.

Jain isatEmoryUniversity,RollinsSchoolofPublicHealth,USA,andSahu iswithStopTB


Masking, social distancing,and tracing have becomecommonplace. These are keyto TB elimination as well.Doctors and nurses will beless complacent about thesemeasures, and the generalpublic will comply moreeasily with these practicestoo. Moreover, investmentsin health infrastructure,infection control equipmentand personal protectionequipment will ensure betterairborne infectionprevention and control.This will come in handy inthe fight against TB.

VIOLENCE OVER URDUCurfew was clamped for 13 hours inDarbhanga because of clashes in severalparts of the town during the bandhagainst the recognitionof Urduas the sec-ond official language of the state. Twopersonswere stabbed todeathduring thebandh. At Ranchi, a miscreant stabbed astudent to death near the Urdu library.Another death by stabbing was reportedat Jamshedpur by the spokesperson ofthe Dwitiya Rajbhasha Virodhi Samiti,whichhad given the call for the bandh. AtMuzaffarpur, the Delhi-bound JayantiJanata Express had to be cancelled be-cause some miscreants set fire to it. Thefirewas quickly brought under control. In

Dalmia Nagar in Rohtas district, thetelephone exchange and railway stationwere attacked.

POLICE STIRTHE MADHYA PRADESH government isperturbed over ominous developmentsin Indore. Policemen there have virtuallyrevolted against the superintendent ofpolice for taking action against some oftheir colleagues, who were alleged tohavemolested awoman, extortedmoneyfrom a cycle stand contractor and hand-cuffed and humiliated a teacher. The ad-ministration has taken a tough stand.Fifteen policemen, including some lead-ers of the Indore police association, have

been suspended. The agitating police-men want the criminal cases againsttheir colleagues to be dropped, and a de-partment inquiry instead.

HIDAYATULLAH UPSETTHERAJYASABHAalmostlostitschairman—on his 76th birthday. About an hour and ahalfafterhewasfelicitated,MHidayatullah,whoisalsotheVice-President,wasoutragedover some remarks bymembers. He threwthe gavel andwalked out. Manymembersran behind him to his chamber and per-suadedhimto return.Membersof all sides,including the leader of the house, PranabMukherjee, expressed his confidence inthechairman.




“Prime Minister Boris Johnson believes that asserting something withconfidence makes it more likely to become true. That method can be effective ascampaign rhetoric, but in government it risks making an enemy of reality.”


1n reform lies thefarmer’s interestNewfarmlawswill freethefarmers,

help increasetheir income.Theyarebeingmisledtobelievetheopposite

BEING FROMMADHYAPradesh, a state intheheart of Indiawhereagriculture formsthemainstayoftheeconomy,hasprovedtobe quite an instructive experience forme.Born in the family of a farmer, my back-groundandthetimeIspentonthefieldsof-feredme an opportunity to learn and ob-serve from close quarters the problems avastmajority of farmers face. Thebigmis-matchbetweenmonthsof labourandpoorreturnson theirproduceand the sufferingof farmersmade it obvious that farming isalosingpropositionformost.Later,asapub-lic representative for more than threedecades, I closely interactedwith farmersandotherswhodependonagricultureasasourceof livelihood,anditbecameincreas-inglycleartomethatallisnotwellwithourfarmsector. Somethingneededtobedoneto fix theproblems if ourannadata is tobeliftedoutof themorassofpoverty.Fromchancemeetingstoscheduledin-

teractions with farmers in the last twomonths,theirexperiencesaroundproducepurchase serveas abeaconof hope. Theirthoughts delightedme and impelledmeto do some plain-talking, particularly inthewakeofvoicestryingtopaintanincor-rectpictureaboutthenewfarmlaws. I feelit ishightimewesettherecordstraighttosilenceelementsbabblingmisinformationas facts.It saddens me deeply to see farmers

stagingadharnainthecoldatatimewhentheCOVID-19pandemic continues to rageon. Itmakes one angryupon learning thatcertainelementsaretryingtosowmistrustamong our hard-working farmers byspreading canards and distorting facts.Divisive elements are egging them on totake the path of agitation. By resorting tosuchlowlytactics,thefissiparouselementsare doing a great disservice to the societyandinnocent farmers.Ever-conscious of the important role

farmers play in the overall progress of thesociety, the BJP-led government in its 15-yearruleinMadhyaPradeshreachedouttofarmers and stoodwith them in times ofneed andwas always quick to offer themrelief,beitforcropdamageduetoanaturalcalamityorsomeotherreason.TheBJPgov-ernmentsparednoefforttoensurethatthe

benefitsofwelfarepoliciesreachthem.Thepositive results of the aggressive push interms of welfare schemes are visible inMadhyaPradesh.Toquoteafewexamples,42.05 lakh farmerswere paid their claimsfor thefinancialyear2018-19and2019-20under the Pradhanmantri Fasal BimaYojana. Farmers of the statewere paid Rs5,348croreunderthePradhanmantriKisanSammanNidhi and Rs 3,500 crore by thestategovernment.InHoshangabaddistrict,action was taken against the company,Fortune Rice Ltd, for breach of contract.Farmersweregivenjusticein24hours.Thecompanywas instructed to purchase andpay Rs 3,000 per quintal (Rs 2,950 and Rs50asabonus).The new farm laws are bold inmany

ways. The lawswill havea far-reachingef-fectandhelpaugmentfarmers’income.Theinitiatives taken by our far-sighted primeminister,NarendraModi,willprovetobeamajor turning point in the history of theagriculture sector. The lawswill go a longwayinredefiningthefuturecourseofagri-culture andmillions of those associatedwith it in oneway or the other. The laws,withenoughprovisions,willcushionfarm-ersandfarmgrowersfromanyadverseim-pacts of price fluctuations. Unlike in thepast,nowtheannadatawillenjoythefree-domtosellhisproducewhereverhewantstodoso. Simplyput, therewillbenocurbsof stateboundariesorchoiceof traders.So,farmerswillbefreefromstifling,monopo-listic tradingpracticesandcartels.For years, one political party after an-

other had espoused the need to give ourfarmersabetterdeal. It is ironic thatwhenan opportunity presented itself after thepassageofthebills,theCongressandsomeother partieswith vested interests are in-stigating farmers tooppose the farm laws,which promise to improve the economicconditionofour farmers.Thenewfarmlawshavemanypositive

points,likecontractfarming.Here,thecon-tract is for farming, not the land. So, it isgrosslyerroneous,whenthoseopposedtothese laws say the changes are against theinterestsof farmers.Theywillinnowayaf-fect the functioningofmandisandthere isnoattempttodoawaywithminimumsup-port price (MSP). On the contrary, in-builtreformsinthe farmlawswilloffer farmersmore options and improve the farm-in-come-growthtrajectory.Letmeassure farmers,oncetheybegin

toreapthebenefits,wewillbeprovedright.A word of suggestion to the sceptic andthose resisting such laws —misleadingfarmerswon’tpaypoliticaldividends.

Thewriter is thechiefministerofMadhyaPradesh

UNIQUE FRIENDSHIPTHISREFERStotheeditorial‘Equalpart-ner’ (IE, December 17). The cultural in-fluenceofBritaininIndiaandviceversahasbeenacceleratingpeople-to-peoplecontact fordecades. Thisorganicbond-ingbetweenthepeoplehasbeenuniquein the sense that the twonationalitiessharedanunequalrelationshipforcen-turies. Our founding fathers choose tohave a bloodless transfer of power in-steadof seizing control of the adminis-tration, the visionaries leading inde-pendent India choose not to makeenemiesleft, right,andcentre.


THISREFERStotheeditorial,‘Equalpart-ner’ (IE, December 17). Boris Johnson’svisitaschiefguestintheRepublicDaypa-radenextyearsignalsathawinIndiaandBritain’s relationship. Bothnationsnowrealise theneed to tap into the tremen-dous potentialwhich their coming to-getherwouldbring.It’shearteningtoseethe colonial baggagebeing forsaken forthestartofmutuallybeneficialtiesonanequal footing.RudyardKipling’s famouslines, ‘East is East andWest isWest, andnever the twain shallmeet’, no longerhold true ina rapidlychangingworldof21stcentury.


CASTE IN LAWTHIS REFERS TO the article ‘The PlotAgainstHinduWomen’( IE, December17).Theauthorhassuccinctlydescribedthe problem created by the new anti-conversion law in Uttar Pradesh andsimilarlawsintheworksinotherstates.TheordinancedemonisesMuslimmenandhidesthefactthatitisanattempttomaintaincastedistinctionsinsociety. Ifwomen freely choose their partnersandexercisetheirrightofsexualauton-omy, the caste structures are liable tobreak.Thisiswherethejudiciarycomesin as a protector of the personal free-dom of citizens. Unfortunately, it has

failed todoso in recent times.AkulBaiju,NewDelhi

WELL DONE, SUKHBIRTHISREFERStothereport,‘BJPrealtukdetukdegang,pitHindusagainstMuslimsfirst, nowSikhs: Sukhbir’(IE, December16).SukhbirSinghBadalmustbepattedon theback.He is the first leader topaybacktheBJPinthesamecoin.Regardinghisparty’sassociationwiththeBJP,eventheCPIandCPI(M)werepartofGurnamSingh-ledUnited Front government inPunjabin1966 Perhaps,thedepartureofSukhbir’spartymaybethebeginningofdepletionofpopularsupportfortheBJP.


MEDIA TRIALTHIS REFERS to the editorial, ‘SaySorry’ (IE, December 17). As much asthe BJP leaders owe an apology to theTablighi Jamaat attendees, the TVchannels who aggravated this issueandgave itanentirelydifferentcolouroweanapologytoo.Channels justcan-not get away with anything. At least,honour theHighCourt!



A STRONGER-THAN-EXPECTED rebound ineconomic activities in recentmonths hasraisedhopes of a faster-than-previously-an-ticipated recovery. But if employment is thelodestarof policymaking, it isequallycriticaltoevaluatewhetherthelabourmarketiswit-nessing a similar rebound or not.While jobcreation typically tends to followeconomicrecovery, surely, by now, given that valueaddedby almost all sectors is around90percent of last year’s levels, the distress in thelabourmarket should also be showing signsofeasing.In the absence of reliable and regularly

availabledataonthelabourmarket, it isdiffi-cult togaugethescaleof thedistressandtheextenttowhichithasreceded.Butpiecingto-gether informationfromvarioussourcescanhelp understand how the labourmarket, inparticular, three segments— the formal andtheinformalurbanlabourforce,andtherurallabour force—have fared over the past sev-eralmonths.Oneway to examine the state of the for-

mal labour force is to look at EPF data. Butrather than looking atmonthly payroll data,monthlydataoncontributingemployeesandestablishmentsprovidesabetterunderstand-ing of the entire universe of formal sectorworkers.DataforJanuary2020hasbeentakenas the startingpoint simplybecause thedis-ruption in economic activities,which beganinthelastweekofMarch,islikelytohaveim-pacted the ability of employers to file theirElectronic Challan cum Return (ECR) forFebruary.

InJanuary,thetotalnumberofcontribut-ing establishments and employees stood at5.4lakhandfivecrorerespectively.However,inApril—thefirstfullmonthofthelockdown—thenumberof contributingfirmsandem-ployees declined to 3.32 lakh and3.84 crorerespectively.Inlargepart,thisfallcanbetracedtodifficultiesfacedbyfirmsinfilingtheirECRsduring thisperiod. The rise in thenumberofcontributing establishments in themonthsthereafter— in linewith the easing of lock-downrestrictions—atteststothispossibility.However, despite formal establishments

returning to almost pre-COVID levels bySeptember, thenumberof contributingem-ployeeswas23.26lakhlowerthaninJanuary.Whileanecdotalevidencesuggeststhatsomeof these employeesmayhave subsequentlysecured employment, thoughnot formal innature,thesenumberssuggestthattheupperlimitofformaljoblossesislikelytohavebeenaround23.26 lakhor 4.6 per cent of the for-mal labour force. Data forOctober shows aneven greater fall in contributing employees.But,giventhedelaysinfilingECRs, it ispossi-blethattheOctobernumberswillberevised.Byallaccounts,theurbaninformallabour

force faredevenworse.While it isdifficult togetpreciseestimates,thereissomeindicationof the scale of the reversemigration and theextentof thedistress.Between May 1 and August 31, 4,621

Shramiktrainscarried63.19lakhpassengers—strandedmigrantswhohadlost their jobsduring the lockdown— from cities back totheirhomestates.Byaroundmid-September,

stategovernmentspeggedthenumberofre-turningmigrants at 1.06 crore. This likelypresents the lowerboundof thereversemi-gration thatunfoldedover thosemonths.Atthe other end of the spectrum, the numberof migrants provided foodgrain under theAtmanirbharBharatscheme—peggedat2.8crore—perhapsrepresentstheupperbound.Acceptingthesenumbersimpliesthattheto-talmigrantexodusfromurbanareasis likelytohave rangedbetween10 to28per centofthe urban informal (those not contributingto EPF) labour force. (Though it is likely thatsomemigrantsmaynothavebeenpartofthelabour force.)Some have argued that the increase in

work demanded underMGNREGA duringthisperiodwasdrivenbythesereturningmi-grants. This is a likely proposition. But it isequallypossiblethatgiventhescaleofdisrup-tion innon-farmactivities, rural householdsmay also havedemandedmoreworkunderthe scheme. Therefore, the increase inworkdemanded can be divided into two parts:Work demanded by the returningmigrantsandagreaternumberofruralhouseholdsde-mandingwork.One indicationof the former is thenum-

ber of new job cards issued this year. Thiswould represent all thosewho traditionallyhavenotsoughtworkunderthescheme,buthavenowreturned to their villages, andde-mandedwork.Asperdata,86.8lakhnewjobcardswereissuedbySeptember,upfrom36.6lakh over the sameperiod last year. This in-creaseinthenumberofjobcards—peggedat

50 lakh—likely represents the lowerboundofthemigranthouseholdsdemandingworkunderthescheme(asajobcardisgivenatthehousehold level, more than one adult perhousehold could have demandedwork un-der thescheme.)Now,thenumberofhouseholdsdemand-

ingwork underMGNREGA peaked at 4.47crore in June—an increase of 1.9 crore overthe previous year. Excluding themigranthouseholds, theremainder likelyreflects theincrease in demand from rural householdswhohave demandedwork in greater num-bers thanbefore, signalling theextent of thedistress in rural areas. Thesewould include,both,householdswhotypicallyrelyonMGN-REGAaswellasthosewhohavenotreliedontheschemeintherecentpast. Therise in thenumberofactivejobcardssofarthisyear—90lakhhigher as compared to last year— is in-dicativeof this.Inthemonthsthereafter,whileworkde-

manded has declined, it still remainswellabove last year’s levels — in August,September and October, one crore morehouseholdsdemandedworkascomparedtolast year. This could also be due to two rea-sons: First, it is possible that somemigranthouseholds have stayed back. And second,more ruralhouseholds continue todemandworkthanbefore—bothsignalacontinuinglackofabsorptivecapacityinruralandurbanareasdespitethestronger-than-expectedre-boundineconomicactivities.

[email protected]


A shallow recovery








Shivraj SinghChouhan

Ishan Bakshi

What is the purpose of sucha law? There is no dataproduced by the UPgovernment on any harmfrom inter-faith marriages.An analysis of ‘India HumanDevelopment Survey data,2005’ showed that only 2.21per cent of all marriedwomen between the age of 15-49 had married outside theirreligion. This is an extremelysmall numberand there is no empiricaldata on harm, if any,resulting from inter-faithmarriages after conversion.

IN1967,whenRichardLovingchallengedthebanon inter-racialmarriages in the State ofVirginia, the United States Supreme Courtstated in Loving v. Virginia, “Under ourConstitution, the freedom tomarry, or notmarry,apersonofanotherraceresideswiththe individual, and cannot be infringed bytheState…Wehaveconsistentlydeniedtheconstitutionalityofmeasureswhichrestricttherightsofcitizensonaccountofrace.Therecanbenodoubtthatrestrictingthefreedomtomarry solely because of racial classifica-tions violates the central meaning of theEqualProtectionClause.”A lot has been written about the new

Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of UnlawfulConversion of Religion Ordinance 2020.Most of it has been around the lawbeing aviolation of an individual’s right tomarry apersonof one’s choiceandbeingrestrictiveof the fundamental right to life, autonomyand privacy. It is certainly all of it. In addi-tion, I argue that this ordinance, which isnothing less than a draconian law, is a seri-ous violation of the right to equality basedon religion.TheUPordinanceprohibitsanyreligious

conversionduetocoercion, force,unduein-fluence,allurement,fraudorbymarriageandmakessuchamarriage liable tobedeclaredvoid. Italsomakessuchanactof conversionanon-bailable criminaloffence.How is this a violation of the right to

equality onemight ask? The lawwould ap-ply to people of all religions equally andwouldbananykindofreligiousconversionsformarriage.Merely because a law appliesto persons of all religions, would notmakethe law fulfil the guarantee on equality. InLovingv.Virginia,too,merelybecausethelawbanned interracialmarriages by persons ofall races, the lawwas not held to be equal.The Uttar Pradesh ordinance violates theconstitutionalguaranteeofequalitybecausemaking religious conversions the soleground for terming themarriage as void orforimposingtheonerousrequirementsthatparties in an inter-faith marriage have tocomplywith—suchasgivingpriornoticeofconversion and a post-conversion notice ofdeclaration — is discrimination on thegroundofreligion.Ourequalityguaranteesinthe Constitution demand that all personshave equal protection of the law underArticle14.Thisgoes togetherwiththeguar-anteeofnon-discriminationunderArticle15whichmandates that thestateshallnotdis-criminateagainstanycitizenongroundsonlyof religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth orany of them. Imposing such restrictions onmarriage only on the ground of religionamountstodiscriminationandaviolationofthe right toequality.Ourequality jurisprudencealsorequires

that the state canmake separate classifica-tion if such classification has a reasonablenexuswith the purpose of the law. Hence,what is thepurposeof sucha lawby theUP

government? There is no data produced bythe stategovernmentonanyharmfromin-ter-faithmarriages. Infact,thepercentageofinter-religiousmarriagesinthecountryisex-tremelyminuscule. Therehas beenno cen-sus dataonthenumbersof inter-faithmar-riages, but an analysis of “India HumanDevelopmentSurveydata,2005”—asurveyof 41,554 households in 1,503 villages and971 urban neighbourhoods across Indiajointly organisedby theNational Council ofAppliedEconomicResearch—showed thatonly2.21percentofallmarriedwomenbe-tweentheageof15-49hadmarriedoutsidetheir religion. This is an extremely smallnumberandthereisnoempiricaldatawhat-soeveronharm, if any, resulting from inter-faithmarriagesafter conversion.A common question usually asked by

supportersof theordinance is that if peoplereally love each other, what is the need tochangetheirfaith?Theycangetmarriedun-der theSpecialMarriageAct1954.Thispre-sumesthat theSpecialMarriageAct isa lawthatmakesiteasyforcouplesfromdifferentpersonal laws to getmarried. Sadly, that isnotso.Itis, infact,farmoreonerousthanget-tingmarriedunderone’spersonal laws.TheSpecialMarriage Act has a requirement forputtingupapublicnoticefor30daysbeforea couple is able to register their marriage.Whenpartiesarefromdifferentfaiths,com-munities or castes, such a public notice canbe a great source of danger and harm fromtheir familymembers and the only optionwould be for one of the persons to convertto the religionof theother andgetmarried.Curiously, therefore, most of our personallawsmake it far easier to convert and get

married.This requirementof a30-daypub-licnoticeundertheSpecialMarriageActhasbeenchallengedinmultiplepetitionsbeforetheDelhiHighCourtandtheSupremeCourt.Despite this, similar andmore onerous re-quirements of an application to the districtmagistratewith a 60-daypublic notice andapoliceenquirybeforeconversion formar-riage ismandated under the UP ordinance.Thiswillensurethatneitherconversionnormarriagewill takeplace.At the heart of this ordinance is a deep

opposition to inter-faithmarriages and theneed to controlwomenand girls under thegarbofprotectingthemfrombeingcoercedinto forced conversions bymarriage. Thisdeep-rooted opposition to inter-faithmar-riageiscomparabletoasimilardeep-rootedopposition to inter-castemarriage, in thatboth stem from historical prejudices be-tween specific communities. Recognisingthis,duringthedraftingofourConstitution,somemembers of the Sub-Committee onFundamentalRights, especially thewomenmembersRajkumariAmritKaurandHansaJivrajMehta, advocated for the inclusion ofinter-faithmarriageasa fundamental right.Theywanted to introduce a constitutionalprovisiontorequire thestate toremoveanyimpedimentstointer-faithmarriages,sothatthe social stigma against suchmarriages isremovedandcoupleswhowishtoenterintointer-faithmarriages are enabled and pro-tected. Howfarwehavecomefromthatpo-sition today in2020.

Kothari isaBengaluru-basedsenioradvocateandexecutivedirectorofCentre for



Loving versus law

CR Sasikumar

Besidesviolatingan individual’s right tomarryapersonof one’schoice, theUPanti-conversion lawalsoamounts todiscriminationandaviolationof theright toequality






Dehradun: The cybercrimewing has arrestedtwopersonsinTirunelvelidistrict of TamilNadu forallegedlydupinganArmypersonnel inDehradunofRs7lakhafterpromisingareward of Rs 25 lakh in afake Kaun BanegaCrorepati lottery. TheArmypersonnelwascon-tactedthroughWhatsAppcalls asking him tomakepayments of aroundRs 7lakh indifferent bank ac-counts as registrationcharges,bankchargesandincome tax to receive theprizemoney. Inquiry re-vealedthattheaccusedgotmoneydepositedin14ac-counts in Tamil Nadu,Assam, Bihar, UttarPradeshandGujarat. ENS


Aligarh:TraineeconstablefoundhangingLucknow: A 27-year-oldtraineepoliceconstableal-legedly diedby suicide inAligarhdistrict under theAkrabadpolicestation,po-lice saidonThursday. Thebody of Sonu Hudda, ofBaghpat district, wasfoundhangingfromatreeinAligarhonWednesdayevening, police said. “Hewascurrentlyundergoingtrainingforthepostofcon-stableintheMainpuripo-lice linessinceOctober6,”said Akrabad InspectorUmesh Chandra. Policesaidtheyareprobinghowthe constable reachedAligarh from Mainpuri,where he met his col-leaguesTuesday. ENS


CapitalrecordscoldestdaysofarthisseasonNewDelhi: A severe coldday lowered the maxi-mumtemperatureto15.2degrees Celsius onThursday inDelhi, as perthe IndiaMeteorologicalDepartment (IMD). Thiswas the coldest dayrecorded so far this sea-sonwith the dip inmer-curybeingsevendegreesbelow the normal tem-perature — 22.5 degreesCelsius— for this time ofthe year. The IMD’sSafdarjung observatory,whichisrepresentativeofthecity, recordedamini-mumor night time tem-perature of 4.6 degreesCelsius. ENS



WEST BENGAL Chief MinisterMamata Banerjee on Thursdaytermed the Centre’s move tosend three IPS officers from thestate on central deputation de-spite the state’s objection “acolourable exercise of power”anda“deliberateattempttoen-croach”uponthestate’sjurisdic-tion.The Centre has asked the

WestBengalgovernmenttoim-mediately relieve the three IPSofficers so that they join theirnewassignments.Theofficers--RajeevMishra

(1996 batch), Praveen Tripathi(2004 batch) and BholanathPandey (2011batch) --weredi-rectedtoreportoncentraldepu-tation hours after the West

Bengal government refused tosend its chief secretary and po-lice chief to Delhi to discuss thelaw and order situation in thestate.In a freshorder, theministry

cited rules of Indian PoliceServices (IPS) while asking thestate government to relieve thethree officers -- Pandey (SP,Diamond Harbour), Tripathi(DIG, Presidency Range) andMishra (ADG,SouthBengal).The threewere responsible

for the security of BJP chief J PNadda during his recent visit tothe state when his convoywasattackedatDiamondHarbour.TheorderalsocitedRule6(1)

of the Indian Police Service(Cadre) Rules of 1954 andamended in 1985which states,“...provided that in case of anydisagreement, thematter shallbe decided by the CentralGovernment and the State

Government or StateGovernments concerned shallgive effect to thedecisionof theCentralGovernment”.The Centre has already is-

suedpostingtoPandeytojoininthe Bureau of Police Researchand Development, Tripathi asDIG in the Sashastra Seema Bal(SSB) and Mishra as IG in theIndo-TibetanBorderPolice.Inaseriesoftweets,Banerjee

slammedtheCentre’smove.“GoI’s order of central depu-

tationforthe3servingIPSofficersofWestBengaldespitetheState’sobjectionisacolourableexerciseof power and blatantmisuse ofemergencyprovisionofIPSCadreRule1954,”shetweeted.“This act is nothing but a de-

liberateattempttoencroachuponState’s jurisdiction&demoralizethe serving officers inWB. Thismove,particularlybeforetheelec-tionsisagainstthebasictenetsofthe federal structure. It's uncon-stitutional & completely unac-ceptable!,”sheadded.“We wouldn’t allow this

brazenattemptbytheCentre tocontrol the Statemachinery byproxy!WestBengal isnotgoingto cow-down in front of expan-sionist & undemocratic forces,”shesaid inanother tweet.After the attack onNadda’s

convoy, the Ministry of Home

Affairshad summoned theWestBengalchiefsecretaryandDGPonDecember14.However, thestategovernment refused to send theofficersforameetingwithUnionHomeSecretaryAjayBhalla. Thetwo officers were called afterGovernorJagdeepDhankharsentareportontheattack.After the MHA summoned

the three IPS officers for newpostings,thestateonDecember12conveyedtotheCentrethatitwouldnotbeabletosparethem.A senior Bengal official said

the Centre usually “takes thestategovernment’sconsent”be-fore an all-India services officeris called for central deputation,butinthiscase,theMHAhasde-cided“unilaterally”.A senior officer in the state

homedepartment said the stategovernmenthadrefusedtorelievethe threeofficers due to a short-ageof IPSofficersinthestate.

...AND AWAYISRO’s42ndcommunicationssatellite,CMS-01, is launchedonboard itsworkhorsePSLV rocket fromSriharikotaspaceport in AndhraPradeshonThursday.This is the Indianspaceagency’s secondandlast launchthisyear,amidtheCovid-19pandemic.Therocket injectedthesatellite intothepredefinedorbitaround20minutesafter lift-off.CMS-01willhavea lifeof sevenyearsandprovideservices intheExtended-CBandof thefrequencyspectrumcoveringmainlandIndia,andAndamanandNicobarandLakshadweepislands,accordingto ISRO. PTI



CASES:99,56,557TESTS: 15,78,05,240 | RECOVERIES: 9,489,740

ACTIVE CASES:3,22,366DEATHS: 144,451

CASES DEATHS RECOVERIES TESTS24,010 355 33,291 11,58,960


Uttarakhand 7,147 777Assam 3,547 2


Karnataka 15,476 7,580Delhi 13,261 7,285Rajasthan 14,510 5,282


Kerala 6,185 6,83,440Maharashtra 4,304 18,91,111WestBengal 2,293 5,28,211


Maharashtra 101 49,542WestBengal 46 9,191Delhi 32 10,147

DataasonDecember16,releasedbyUnionMinistryofHealthandFamilyWelfare, IndianCouncilofMedicalResearchandstategovernments.Often,thenumbersreleasedeverydaycontaindatafrompreviousdays



ACONSTABLEattachedwiththeMadhyaPradeshSpecialArmedForce was found murderedalongwithhiswifeattheirhomein Indore on Thursday. Theirdaughter, 16, who ismissing, isbeing considered themain sus-pect.A letter written by her indi-

catingwhy shemayhave takenthestepwasfoundlyingnearthecouple,police sources said.Theincidentcametolighton

Thursdaymorning after neigh-bourssuspectedthatsomethingwasamissasneithertheconsta-

blenorhiswifewasseenoutsidetheirhometilllateintheday.Theneighbours hadheard a screamfrom the house in the earlyhours, police officials said, andlaterseenthedaughterroamingaround. The parents of the cou-ple staynearby.Whenknockingdrewno re-

sponse, theneighbours realisedthehouse doorwas locked, andalertedthepolice.Officialsbrokeopenthedoorandfoundthetwolying inapoolof blood.They had apparently been

stabbedinthefaceandstruckonthehead.Assistant Superintendent of

Police Prashant Choubey saidsome of the neighbours had

questioned the 16-year-oldabout the sounds from thehouse."Shetoldthemherfatherhad returned home drunk andhermotherandhehadgotintoafight.Wealso founda letter, thewriting onwhichmatches thatof thegirl."The police have reportedly

alsofoundthattheconstablehadgot into an argument with afriendof thegirl,whomshehadgrownclosetoinrecentmonths.The friend isalsomissing.Choubeysaid thatwhile the

CCTV camera installed at theresidence was found switchedoff, “previous footage hints attheroleofanotherpersoninthemurder".


FOLLOWING THE Sri LankanNavy's recentcaptureof anum-ber of Indian fishermen, theMinistry of External AffairsThursdaysaidthegovernmentisin touchwith the neighbouringnation to ensure that themenget consular access and are re-leased soon along with theirboats.Ministry of External Affairs

SpokespersonAnuragSrivastavatoldreportersatanonlinebrief-ing:"Wehaveseenreportsaboutapprehension of 36 Indian fish-ermen and five of their fishingvessels on December 14 and 15

bytheSriLankanNavy.Thegov-ernment attaches high priorityto this issue andwe are in closetouchwith the government ofSri Lanka through our HighCommissioninColomboandtheConsulate in Jaffna to verify theinformation and to ensure con-sular access and facilitate theearly release of the fishermenandtheirboats."To a question on Khalistani

separatists defacingMahatmaGandhi's statue outside theIndian embassy inWashingtonDCduringapro-farmerdemon-stration by Sikh-Americanyouths,SrivastavasaidtheIndianmission has strongly taken thisupwith US authorities and hassoughtaction.


THE CONGRESS government inChhattisgarh on Thursday cele-brated its two years in poweramidchantsof Jai ShriRam.Theoccasionwasmarkedby

a grand event organised by thestate tourism department atChandkhuri’sKaushalyaTemplewhere state ministers pro-claimedtheirdevotion toRam.The Ram Van Gaman

Paripath Paryatan Rath Yatra tomark two years of the BhupeshBaghel-led government startedfromthenorthand southof thestate simultaneously onDecember 14. After following azig-zagcircuitofmorethan1500

kmand covering nine spots be-lievedtohavebeenRam’sabodeduring his exile inDandakaranya, theYatra culmi-nated at Chandkhuri onThursday.Stateministers on Thursday

reachedtheChandkhuritemple,about25kmfromcapitalRaipur,in a bus. Addressing the event,Chief Minister Baghel accusedthe BJP of using Ram’s name tocausediscord.“Wedon’twanttofight on the ownership, nor dowewanttospreadhate.Ramjanjan me hain, kan kanme hain(Ram is in everyone, every-thing),”hesaid.Soilbroughtfromtheninelo-

cations believed to have beenRam’s abodewas carried in byninewomen on their heads, all

of them clad in yellow sarees.The venuewasmarked by yel-lowflagswithJaiShriRamwrit-ten on them. “The soil has beendeposited near the temple andon them, nine rudraksh treeswouldgrow.Theywouldsignifythe strength and unity ofChhattisgarh,” said Home andTourismMinister TamradhwajSahu.Minister Ravindra Chaubey

said, “The BJP seems to have aproblem with the Congress'slove for Ram. But they seem tohaveforgottenaboutKewatandShabriandonlycarefortherich.TheyevokeRam’snameforvote,note and chot (hurt), but for us,every work starts by invokingHisname.”“Ourvarious schemes toen-

sure that villages thrive andgrow under the Suraji GramYojana is a part of RamRajya orgood governance that this gov-ernment has promised and de-livered,”headded.Minister Shiv Daharia said

Congressleaders, likeHanuman,carry Ram in their hearts. “AnyCongressi can, like Hanuman,split their chest open and showRama,”Daharia said.A section of the tribal com-

munityhastakenastrongobjec-tiontoagovernmentfunctionor-ganised around a religioustheme.“Since it isagovernmentevent, thetaxpayer’smoneyhasbeenused.Tribalsareagainstthisevent and the RamVanGamantourism circuit project,” triballeaderVinodNagvanshisaid.


POLICE PERSONNEL attachedto theKarelibaugpolicestationin Vadodara on Wednesdaynight had to physically bar en-tryofpeople intothepolicesta-tion after groups belonging totwo different communitiesgathered to protest the mar-riage of a Muslim man with aHindu woman residing in theneighbourhood of Nagarwadaarea.Thecouple,bothintheir20s

andof legallymarriageableage,hadelopedearlier inDecemberandregistereda 'nikahnama' inBandra in Mumbai, the policesaid.However, when they re-

turned to their home onWednesday, gauging thepalpa-ble tension in the neighbour-hood,thecoupleapproachedthepolice forhelpciting threat. Thepolicecounselledthecoupleandsentthemhometotheirrespec-tive families.The incident occurred on

Wednesdaynightwhengroupsbelonging tobothcommunitiesgathered at Karelibaug policestation.While the girl's familyand supporters demanded thata case be booked against theyouth for allegedly “luring” her

into"forcedconversionandmar-riage", the resulting tensionprompted the police to counselthe couple to “let things cooldown”.RAJadeja,PoliceInspectorof

KarelibaugpolicestationtoldTheIndianExpressthatnocasecouldbebookedagainst thecoupleasthemarriage is 'valid' accordingto law.Thepolicesaidthattherewas

aconcernof lawandorderissue,which is why the couple weresentwith their respective fami-lies even as local political lead-ers alleged “love jihad” and de-mandedaction.Jadeja said, "The couple ar-

rived here and stayed at theboy's housebut they felt intim-idated by the tension in theneighbourhood and soughthelp.We called both the fami-lies also for counselling.”“The couple are definitely

standing up for their marriagebutinitiallyonlythegirl's familywas opposing the marriage.Further towards the end of thediscussion, theboy's familyalsoexpressed apprehensions thattheir sonmight be harmed. Sowetoldthemtocooloff for fourdays.We advised the couple togowiththeirrespectivefamiliesto see if they could sort out thematterwithintheirhomes,”thepoliceofficer added.


THESUPREMECourtwill Fridaypronounce its order on a batchof petitionsseeking initiationofcriminal contemptproceedingsagainst stand-up comic KunalKamraforhistweetsontheapexcourt.Thepleas cameup forhear-

ingonThursdaybeforeabenchheaded by Justice AshokBhushanwhich heard the sub-missionsof advocateNishantRKatneshwarkar, who appearedfor one of the petitioners, andclaimedthatKamrahadpostedtweets scandalous to the judi-ciary."All these tweets are scan-

dalous andwe had sought con-sent fromtheattorneygeneral,"Katneshwarkar told the bench,whichalsocomprisedjusticesRSReddyandMRShah.He read out the letter of


The bench asked the lawyernottoreadtheallegedcontemp-tuous tweets of the comic artistinthecourt,sayingtheyhaveal-readygonethroughVenugopal'sletteron the issue.

Contempt action callon comic artist TanejaThe Supreme Court will take acall on initiating criminal con-tempt action againstwebcomicartist Rachita Taneja on Friday.Taneja, who runs the popularSanitary Panels page on socialmedia sites, had posted imagesthatwereallegedlycriticalof theSupremeCourt.A bench comprising Justices

Ashok Bhushan, R SubhashReddy and M R Shah onThursday took note of A-GVenugopal's consent to thepleafiledbyalawstudentagainsttheartist.


A 21-YEAR-OLD woman whowas set on fire allegedly by fivevillagers in Gopiganj area ofBhadohitwomonthsagodiedinaVaranasihospitalduringtreat-mentonTuesday.The police,which had regis-

teredanFIRagainstthefiveper-sons based on a complaint filedby thewoman'smother, are yettomakeanyarrest.The FIR was registered in

November,weeksaftertheinci-dent.In her complaint to the po-

lice,thewoman'smotherhadal-leged that the five accused hadbargedintoherhomeandsetherdaughter on fire. She had suf-fered 50 per cent burn injuries.Her father lives inMumbai.Sourcesinthepolicesaidthat

the families of thewoman andthe accusedwere engaged in alanddisputeandthatcouldhavebeen the reason behind the at-tack.


MHAasksBengal to relieve3 IPSofficersat once,Mamata says statewon’t cower

Constable, wife found killed inMP, 16-yr-old daughter suspect

Ram the key theme as Chhattisgarh’sCongress govt marks 2 years in office

Woman set onfire in Bhadohi 2months ago dies

Working to ensure swiftrelease of fishermencaptured by Lanka: MEA


SC to decide on contemptaction against Kamra today

Interfaith marriagein Vadodara sparkstension, police sendcouple to own homes EXPRESSNEWSSERVICE


INDIA THURSDAY expressedhopethatmorediscussionswithChinawill help both sides cometo an acceptablesolutionforcompletedisengage-ment along the Line of ActualControl(LAC)ineasternLadakh.Ministry of External Affairs

spokespersonAnurag Srivastavatold reporters that the two sidescontinue tomaintain communi-cation through diplomatic andmilitary channels and that thesediscussionshavehelpedenhancetheir understanding of eachother'spositions.Srivastava, asked about the

nextroundofSino-Indiamilitaryanddiplomatictalksonthemorethan seven-month-long borderstandoff, didnot give adirect re-plybutsaidIndiaexpectsthatfur-thertalkswillhelpinreachinganagreement. “It is ourexpectationthat the further discussionswillhelp both sides to achieve anagreementonamutuallyaccept-able solution for ensuring com-pletedisengagementinallfrictionpoints along the LAC in theWestern sector and full restora-tion of peace and tranquillity asearlyaspossible,”Srivastavasaid.

Further talksexpected toease LACstandoff: MEA

Jharkhand likelyto fall short ofFY21 exciserevenue target



IN A court hearing repletewitharguments that referredto the Mahabharata andRamayana,prosecutionandde-fence lawyers Thursday arguedthebailpleaofPinjraTodmem-berNatashaNarwal,whois fac-ing trial in a UAPA case con-nected to the Northeast Delhiriots.Additional Sessions Judge

AmitabhRawatpresidedoverthehearing when Special PublicProsecutorAmitPrasadreliedontheMahabharata to drive homethe point that like the epic, theDelhiriotsisalsoastoryofacon-spiracywhose “Dhritarashtra”wasyettobeidentified.Defence lawyer Adit Pujari

shot back, telling the court thatlike the Ramayana, they cannotwait 14years for justice to see iftheaccusedcancomeout.The defence said theywere

like Mahabharata characterAbhimanyu,whowill break the‘Chakravyuh’ prepared by theprosecution.This reference to the Hindu

epics started when Pujari toldthe court that the UAPAchargesheet was “the secondbiggest document after theMahabharata”.Prasadrebuttedthis,sayingthe

WhatsAppgroup—DelhiProtestSupportGroup(DPSG)—waslikethe mythological character ofSanjaya,whowasnarratingevery-thing to themain conspirator intheMahabharata,Dhritarashtra.“Theaccused’scounselsaidthe


HehadarguedtheMahabharatawas 22,000 pages and thechargesheetwas17,000pages. Iwould like to point it out thatMahabharatawasastoryofacon-spiracyand, incidentally, thiscaseis also that of a conspiracy. InMahabharata,Sanjayawastheonewhowasabletoseeeverything.TheSanjaya of this conspiracy wasDPSG.Sanjayawasnarratingevery-thing to Dhritarashtra. TheDhritarashtrahereisyettobeiden-tified.Theaccusedfurtherarguedthatprotestisnotcrime.Iagreebutwehaveseenthatclearlythroughandthroughthe intentwasnotaprotest, (but)adisruptive chakkajamandwithclear indicationthatend resultwasviolence,” Prasadtoldthecourt.Pujaritoldthecourt,“Overthe

past eight-odd hearings, a‘Chakravyuh’ has beenpreparedby theprosecution. It is going tobe our attempt to be anothermythological character,Abhimanyu, andbreak out of it.Let’sbeveryclear,thereasonthisis being done is that thechargesheet doesnot really con-tainaprimafaciecase.This isnotgoingtobeaRamayanawherewearegoingtowait14yearstoseeifwe can finally comeout, like theSikhriots.Itishappeningnowandhere,wearearguingthisnow.”Pujari told the court that 53

people died in the riots but thechargesheetrevolvedaroundthedeaths of only three persons —head constableRatan Lal, RahulSolanki and IntelligenceBureauofficial Ankit Sharma: “Are weliving in a societywhere the lifeof a policemen, they are doinghardworknodoubt, ismoreim-portant than 48 other civil-ians...?”

Mahabharata andRamayana figure inriots case in court


JHARKHANDSEEMSlikelytofallshort of this fiscal’s excise rev-enuetarget,mainlyowingtotheCovid-19 pandemic, accordingto an Excise and ProhibitionDepartment meeting heldThursday. The state has alsofailed to achieve the December15targetofRs1,389crore,earn-ing Rs 1,025 crore from the de-partment, according to docu-mentsseenbyTheIndianExpress.“This fiscal year,we set a tar-

get of Rs 2,300 crore. But due tothepandemic,itisunlikelywewillachieve it,” said anofficial awareof the discussions during themeeting.Atthemeeting,inwhichChiefMinisterHemantSorenwaspresent,exciseofficialscomparedJharkhand’ssituationwiththatofneighbouringChhattisgarh.





Singapore’s‘hawker’culturegivenUNESCOrecognitionSINGAPORE’STRADITIONof communal dining athawker centres, open airfood courts popularisedbycelebrity chefsandhitfilms such as Crazy RichAsians, has been recog-nised by UNESCO for itscultural significance. TheUN cultural agency an-nouncedlateWednesdayit had added the city-state’s “hawker culture”to its Representative Listof the IntangibleCulturalHeritage of Humanity.Singapore’s hawker cen-treswere setup tohouseformer street vendors, or“hawkers”, in aneffort tocleanupthe island in the1970sandserveavarietyof cheap dishes to localsaswell asprovidinga so-cial setting.REUTERS

Hawkercentresweresetuptohouse formerstreetvendors inaneffort tocleanupthecity inthe1970s



EUstatescanrequirestunningbeforeritualslaughterTHEEUROPEANCourt ofJusticeruledThursdaythatEUmember states canre-quire that animals bestunnedbeforetheyarerit-uallyslaughtered.ThecasewasbroughttotheEU’stopcourt after Jewish andMuslim associationssoughttheannulmentofa2017decreebytheFlemishregionofBelgiumthatpro-hibitedtheslaughterofan-imalswithoutprior stun-ning. In its ruling, theEU’stopcourt said “theprinci-ple that ananimal shouldbe stunnedprior tobeingkilledmeets themainob-jectiveof theprotectionofanimalwelfare.”AP


Putindeniesrole inNavalnypoisoningRUSSIAN PRESIDENTVladimir Putin onThursday rejectedallega-tionsthattheKremlinwasbehindthepoisoningofhistoppoliticalfoe,oppositionleaderAlexeiNavalny,andaccused US intelligenceagenciesof fomenting theclaims.TheRussianleadercounteredtheaccusations,saying that if theKremlinwantedtopoisonNavalnyitwouldhavepressed theattackhome.“If therewassuchadesire,itwouldhavebeendone,”Putinsaidwithachuckle.AP


AS THE Chinese governmenttrackedandpersecutedmembersofpredominantlyMuslimminor-ity groups, technology giantAlibaba taught its corporate cus-tomershowtheycouldplayapart.Alibaba’swebsiteforitscloud

computingbusinessshowedhowclients could use its software todetect the faces of Uighurs andother ethnicminorities withinimages and videos, according topages on the site thatwere dis-covered by the surveillance in-dustry publication IPVM andsharedwithTheNewYorkTimes.

ThefeaturewasbuiltintoAlibabasoftware that helps web plat-formsmonitordigitalcontentformaterial related to terrorism,pornography and other red-flagcategories, thewebsitesaid.The discovery could thrust

oneof theworld’smostvaluableInternet companies into thestormof international condem-nationsurroundingChina’streat-mentof itsMuslimminorities.TheChinesegovernmenthas

swepthundredsof thousandsofUighurs and others into indoc-trinationcampsaspartofwhatitcalls an anti-terrorism cam-paign. It has also rolled out abroad surveillance dragnet, us-ingfacialrecognitionandgenetic

testing,tomonitorthem.TheUSgovernment, amongothers,hasdenouncedtheprogrammeandpenalised Chinese companies

thatarebelieved tobe involved.It could not be determined

whetherorhowAlibaba’sclientshadused theminority detection

tool.Butthepotentialfortroublinguse is high. A socialmedia plat-form,forinstance,couldautomat-ically flag videos for additionalscrutinyorevenalertauthoritiesifthe videos contain faces that thesoftwarepredictsareUighur.AftertheTimesaskedAlibaba

about the tool this week, thecompany edited its website toremovethereferencestoUighurandminority faces.“Theethnicitymentionrefers

toafeature/functionthatwasusedwithinatestingenvironmentdur-inganexplorationofourtechnicalcapability,”anAlibabaCloudrep-resentativesaidinawrittenstate-ment. “Itwasneverusedoutsidethetestingenvironment.”

Thecompanydeclinedtosaymoreaboutitstestingorexplainwhyinformationabout the fea-turehadbeenincludedintheof-ficial documentationof its soft-ware. It also declined tocomment on why it had beentestingtoolsfordetectingethnicminority faces.Alibaba is a Chinese corpo-

rategiantwithworldwidereach.It is perhaps Amazon’s soleglobalpeer, abehemothof digi-talcommercethathassprawledinto logistics, groceries, brick-and-mortar retail and cloudservices. Alibaba’s shares tradeontheNewYorkStockExchangeand are owned bymajor inter-nationalinvestors.Globalbrands

like Nike, Starbucks and RalphLaurenuseitsplatformstoselltoChineseshoppers.AlibabaistheofficialcloudservicespartnerfortheOlympicGames.But the Trump administra-

tion has viewed Chinese tech-nologycompanieswithgrowingsuspicion,particularlythosethatare seen as participating in hu-man rights abuses in Xinjiang,thewesternChineseregionthatishometomanyUighurs.The administration last year

added 28 Chinese entities, in-cludingmanufacturers of sur-veillancegearandartificialintel-ligence startups, to a tradeblacklist over concerns abouttheirroleinthecrackdown.NYT


As China tracked Muslims, Alibaba showed customers they could, too

AlibabacouldbedrawnintotheglobalcontroversyoverChina’s treatmentofUighurs.Reuters


USCORONAVIRUSdeathssoaredto a daily record of 3,580 andhospitalisationsroseforthe19thstraight day on Wednesday,rampingupthestakesasregula-tors on Thursday consideredwhether to approve a secondCovid-19vaccine.Another232,255caseswere

reported, the second highestdaily case load on record, asCaliforniabecamethe first statetoreportmorethan50,000casesin a single day, according to aReuters tally.The United States leads the

worldwithacumulative307,767deathsandnearly17millioncasesasmanyAmericansand theout-goingadministrationofPresidentDonald Trumphave resisted thestay-at-homeorders andmask-wearing that haveproven effec-tiveatcontrollingthespread.Butmorehelpcouldbearriv-

ing soonwith a second vaccinenearing approval from the USFoodandDrugAdministration.Apanelofoutsideadvisersto

the FDA is expected to endorseemergency use of Moderna’scoronavirus vaccine onThursday, one week after thesame committee backed theCovid-19vaccinefromPfizerandGermanpartnerBioNTech.Meanwhile, Pharmacists

across the United States got ahappy surprise when theyopened up newly deliveredcoronavirus vaccine vials anddiscoveredthatsomeheldmorethan their labels indicated.As boxes of the Pfizer-

BioNTechvaccinebeganarrivingaround the country, hospitalpharmacists discovered that theglassvialsthatweresupposedto


lichealthemergency”, itwasac-ceptable to use every full doseleftoverineachvial.Theagencysaid it was consulting withPfizer to determine “the bestpath forward”.


SAUDIARABIAbeganinoculatingpeople in the kingdomwith aCovid-19 vaccine on Thursday,becoming the first Arab countrytorolloutthePfizer-BioNTechjab.Saudi Arabia received two

shipments of the vaccine onWednesday.Earlier thisweek, health au-

thorities askedcitizens and resi-dents to register to receive thevaccine,which they saidwouldbegivenfreetoall inthecountry.The kingdom has reported

around 360,000 cases coron-avirus case with 6,080 deathssince the start of the pandemic.Althoughitbeganliftingrestric-tions several months ago, thecountryhassofaravoidedanewwaveof infections.

Health Minister Tawfiq al-Rabiahwasoneof the first peo-pletoreceivethevaccine,rollinguphissleevetoreceivetheinoc-ulation in frontof themedia.“Todaymarks thestartof re-

lief tothiscrisis,”Rabiahtoldre-porters at a vaccination center

withmorethan550inoculationstations inRiyadh.“For the past ninemonths, I

anxiouslymonitored the num-berof registeredcases,” he said.“But today, I will happilymoni-torthenumbersof thosegettingvaccinated.”


PRESIDENT EMMANUELMacronofFrancetestedpositiveforCovid-19onThursday,hisof-fice said, prompting a track andtraceeffortacrossEuropefollow-ing meetings between theFrench leader and EU heads ofgovernment in recentdays.Macron,42,wasrunningthe

countryremotelyaftergoingintoquarantine in the Elysee Palace,the presidency said. His wifeBrigittewasalsoself-isolating.“Thisdiagnosiswasmadefol-

lowing a PCR test performed attheonsetofthefirstsymptoms,”Macron’sofficesaid,decliningtogive further details of his condi-tionsor thesymptomshehad.Macronwillcancelallupcom-


Macron’s Covid infectionspurred other leaders to taketheirowntests.Macron joinedall but twoof


at a summit in Brussels late lastweektodiscussclimatechange,theEUbudgetandTurkey.Macron, GermanChancellor

Angela Merkel, Italian PrimeGiuseppeConteandotherswereseeninitiallyminglinginthesum-mit roomwith their facemaskson.Germanofficials saidMerkelwore amask at the summit andcompliedwithCovidrules.TheGermangovernmentsaid

Merkel tested negative for thecoronavirusaftertheEUsummit.More recently,Macron had

lunch with European CouncilPresidentCharlesMichel,SpanishPrimeMinisterPedroSanchezandOECDchief AngelGurria,who is70,onMonday.Healsoheldtalkswith Portuguese PM AntonioCostaonWednesday. Costaisnowinself-isolationandSanchezwillbeinquarantine.REUTERS


CHINAWILLsharedataandsam-ples fromtheMoonobtainedbyits Chang’e 5 probe on the basisof international conventionsthough“unfortunate”USrestric-tionsoncooperationmightpre-vent it getting any, the deputyheadof itsspaceagencysaid.The probe landed in the

northern region of InnerMongolia in the early hours ofThursday,bringingbackthefirstlunarrocksandsoil retrievedbyanycountrysincethe1970sandmakingChina the third countryever toobtain lunar samples.

Thematerial collected dur-ing the Chang’e-5 mission,named after the mythicalChinese goddess of theMoon,will further scientists’ under-standingof theMoon’sorigins.The mission also tested

China’s ability to remotely ac-quiresamplesfromspace,aheadofmorecomplexmissionsinthesolar system.“Inaccordancewithinterna-

tional cooperation conventionsandmultilateralandbilateralco-operation pacts, we will issuerules on managing the Moonsamples and data,” said WuYanhua, deputy head of theChina National SpaceAdministration.


THE TOPUS general held unan-nouncedtalkswithTalibanpeacenegotiatorsinthePersianGulftourge a reduction in violenceacrossAfghanistan, evenassen-ior American officials in Kabulwarnedthatstepped-upTalibanattacks endanger themilitantgroup’speacenegotiationswiththeAfghangovernment.ArmyGeneralMarkA.Milley,

chairman of the Joint Chiefs ofStaff, met for about two hourswithTalibannegotiatorsinDoha,Qatar, on Tuesday and flewWednesday to Kabul to discussthe peace process with AfghanPresidentAshrafGhani.

Milley’smeetingscameamida new drawdown of US troops,althoughunder currentUS pol-icyacompletepullouthingeson

theTalibanreducingattacksna-tionwide.“Themost important part of

the discussions that I hadwith

both theTalibanandthegovern-mentofAfghanistanwastheneedforanimmediatereductioninvi-olence,” Milley told reporters.“Everythingelsehingesonthat.”ItwasMilley’s secondunan-

nounced meeting with theTaliban’s negotiating team; thefirst, in June, also in Doha, hadnotbeenreporteduntilnow.AlthoughMilley reportedno

breakthrough, his Talibanmeet-ingsrepresentaremarkablemile-stone — America’s top generalcoming face-to-facewith repre-sentativesof thegroupthatruledAfghanistanuntilitwasousted19years ago in the early stages ofwhat becameAmerica’s longestwar.Milley served three tours ofduty in Afghanistan, the first in2003andthelastin2013-14.AP


US PRESIDENTDonald Trump’sneighboursinFloridaareseekingtoenforceadecades-oldcompactthat saysMar-a-Lago,hisprivatesocial club, cannot be used as afull-time residence— as Trumphas suggested he plans to do af-terheleavestheWhiteHouse.Neighbours of Mar-a-Lago

sent a letter to theTownof PalmBeach and theUS Secret Serviceon Tuesday complaining thatTrumpviolated the 1993 agree-menthemadewiththetownthat

allowedhimtoconverttheprop-ertytoamoneymakingclub.“Per the use agreement of

1993,Mar-a-Lago is a social club,and no one may reside on theproperty,” wrote ReginaldStambaugh,alawyerfortheneigh-bours.“Toavoidanembarrassingsituationforeveryoneandtogivethepresidenttimetomakeotherliving arrangements in the area,we trust youwillworkwith histeam to remind themof theuse

agreementparameters,”hewrote.Itwas reported in 2018 that

TrumphadchangedhisdomiciletoMar-a-Lago,inpartfortaxpur-poses. Immediately, residents ofthetownbeganraisingquestionsabout the legality of themove,giventheagreementthePresidentstruckwiththetown.Constructionhasbeendoneon thePresident’sresidential quarters at the club,whichStambaugharguedalreadyviolatestheuseagreement.NYT

Eyes onBiden’sAfghanistanplan

TRUMPHASorderedthatUSforcesinAfghanistanbereducedto2,500byJan15, justdaysaheadofBiden’sinaugurationasUSpresident.Thereductionof troopshascausedconcernthattheTaliban,whohaveescalatedvi-olenceinrecentmonths,couldcapitaliseonthediminishedsupportfortheAfghanforces.



Hospitalsdiscoverasurprise in theirPfizervaccinedeliveries:Extradoses

USsetsnewrecord fordailyCovid-19deathsas2ndvaccinenearsapproval

HEALTHOFFICIALS inAlaskahavereportedthattwohealthcareworkershadanadversereactions to the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.BartlettRegionalHospitalsaidthetwoworkersshowedad-versereactionsabout10min-utes after receiving the vac-cine.OnereceivedthevaccineTuesday andwill remain inthehospitalanothernightun-der observation while theother has fully recovered.Officialssaidthiswillnotdis-ruptvaccinerolloutplans.AP

US VICE President MikePence and his wife, KarenPence,willreceivethePfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vac-cine on Friday, according totheWhiteHouse,amovetheTrump administration saidwas intended to “promotethesafetyandefficacyof thevaccineandbuildconfidenceamong the American peo-ple”. Pence leads theWhiteHouse Covid task force, andhisinoculationwillbeahigh-profilemoveamidabroaderpushtoencouragepeople intheUStogetvaccinated.NYT

Alaska reports 2adverse reactions

Pence to publiclyget vaccine today


BIONTECH,THEGermandrugmakerthatworkedwithPfizertodevelopaCovid-19vaccine,will ship 100million doses ofthe vaccine to China after it isauthorisedbytheChinesegov-ernment, making it Beijing’sfirst foreignorderof aninocu-lationagainst thedisease. The100milliondoseswouldbean

initialshipment,BioNTechandits Chinese partner, ShanghaiFosun Pharmaceutical, saidWednesday. They did not sayhowmanymoredoseswouldbe sent. The companies alsodid not saywhen the Chinesegovernment is expected togiveregulatoryapprovaltothevaccine.NYT

China to get Pfizer shots after itsfirst order of foreign-made vaccine

Saudi Arabia begins inoculatingresidents with Pfizer vaccine

French PresidentMacron testspositive for Covid-19

Morethan100,000dosesofthePfizer-BioNTechvaccinearrived in IsraelonDec9.AP

Palestiniansleft waiting asIsrael is set todeploy vaccine


ISRAELWILL begin rolling out amajor coronavirus vaccinationcampaign next week after thePrimeMinister reachedoutper-sonallytotheheadofamajordrugcompany.MillionsofPalestiniansliving under Israeli controlwillhavetowaitmuchlonger.Worldwide, rich nations are

snatching up scarce supplies ofnew vaccines as poor countrieslargely rely on aWorld HealthOrganisation programme thathas yet to get off the ground.There are fewplaceswhere thecompetition is playing out incloser proximity than in Israelandtheterritoriesithasoccupiedformorethanhalf acentury.Nextyearcouldbringasharp

divergence in the trajectory ofthe pandemic,which until nowhasblithelyignoredthenationalboundaries and political enmi-ties of West Asia. Israelis couldsoonreturntonormallifeandaneconomic revival, even as thevirus continues to menacePalestinian towns and villagesjust a fewkilometresaway.Israel’svaccinationcampaign

willincludeJewishsettlerslivingdeep inside theWestBank,whoareIsraelicitizens,butnottheter-ritory’s2.5millionPalestinians.Theywillhavetowaitforthe

cash-strapped PalestinianAuthority, which administerspartsoftheoccupiedWestBank.ThePAhopes togetvaccines

throughaWHO-ledpartnershipwith humanitarian organisa-tions known as COVAX, whichaimstoprovidefreevaccinesforup to 20% of the population ofpoorcountries.AP

US Joint Chiefs chairman meets with Taliban

TheUSPresidentwill leaveofficeonJanuary20

Glitch in Trump plan to live at Mar-a-Lago: A 1993 pact


China says will share lunarsamples with other nations


EU states to start Covidvaccinations from Dec 27Berlin: European Union stateswill start vaccinations againstCovid-19 in 10 days as EuropetriestocatchupwithBritainandUnited States after what somehave criticised as a slow EU ap-provalprocess for theshots.TheDec27 start date—con-

firmedbyEUCommission chiefUrsula von der Leyen, Austria,Germany and Italy—will be al-mostthreeweeksaftertheworld’sfirstfully-testedCovid-19vaccina-

tionwasadministeredinEngland.“InGermanywewill start, if

the approval comes as planned,onDec27.Theothercountries intheEUwanttobeabletostartandwanttostartfromDec.27,”HealthMinisterJensSpahnsaid.As a member of the EU,

GermanyisobligedtowaitfortheEuropean Medicines Agency(EMA)toapprovethevaccine.TheEMA is expected tomakeanan-nouncementonDec21.REUTERS


MCKELLEN ‘EUPHORIC’ AFTERVACCINATIONBritishactorIanMcKellen,whoplayedthewizardGandalf intheLordoftheRingsmovies,saidhewaseuphoricafterreceivinghisfirstdoseofthePfizerCovid-19vaccineandurgedeveryonewhowasofferedthejabtoacceptit. “It’saveryspecialday.Ifeeleu-phoric,”McKellen,81,said.“Iwouldhavenohesitationinrecommendingittoanyone.”




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1. Start Date for submission EOI 16/12/2020

2. End Date for Start Date for submission EOI 31/12/2020 by 5:30 PM

3. Project Briefing Meeting 07/01/2021 at 3:00 PM

4. Date of Presentation To be notified separately



THE Superintending Engineer, PMGSY, Konkan Region,Thane on behalf of the Government of Maharashtrainvites the item rate bids in electronic tendering systemfor Improvement of road under Mukhya Mantri GramSadak Yojana in the District of RAIGAD, 01 number ofpackage No. ADB-RAI-14, with length = 4.500 km,including their maintenance for five years from theeligible contractors registered with Govt. of Maharashtra,in Public Works Department/ Rural DevelopmentDepartment or Non-registered contractors.Date of release of Invitation for Bids throughe-procurement : 18th December 2020.Availability of Bid Documents and mode of submission :The bid document is available online and should besubmitted online in https://mahatenders.gov.in. Thebidder would be required to register in the web site whichis free of cost. For submission of the bids, the bidder isrequired to have a valid Digital Signature Certificate (DSC)from one of the authorised Certifying Authorities.Last Date/ Time for receipt of bids throughe-procurement :30th December 2020 upto 1700 hours.For further details please log on tohttps://mahatenders.gov.in

Sd/-Superintending Engineer

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak YojanaKonkan Region, Thane.


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E-mail ID : [email protected] NO. : MHMC/2035/2020-21 DATE : 17.12.2020

Public Notice E-TENDERTHE Chief Officer Matheran Municipal Council, has Published the

declaration of e-tender for various work regarding road repairing anddevelopment. Detail information is available on thehttps://mahatenders.gov.in web site.

Sd/-Chief Officer

Matheran Hill Station Municipal Council, Matheran


Department of Health and Family Welfare, PunjabPrayas Building, 5th Floor, Sector-38-B, Chandigarh



Ref No. Tender/Proc-Cov/2020/NHM-12The National Health Mission-Punjab, Department of

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Regd. Office: PSEB Head Office, The Mall, Patiala - 147001, CIN: U40109PB2010SGC033813, Website: www.pspcl.in(O/o CE/TS, B-1, Shakti Vihar, Patiala)

OPEN e-TENDER NOTICEOnline Tenders are invited for the supply of the following material as per Tender Specification No 220/2020 of PSPCL:-

EMD 1,05,220/-Minimum EMD 26,310/-

Detailed NIT and Specifications may be downloaded from PSPCL e-Tendering website: https://eproc.punjab.gov.in.The prospective bidders may contact customer care of above cited website in case of any difficulty.It is informed that in case tender process is not completed due to any reason, No CORRIGENDUM will be published in newspapers.

Details regarding corrigendum may be seen on PSPCL e-tendering website https://eproc.punjab.gov.in.Sd/-

Dy. CE/Sub-Station DesignPSPCL, Patiala.


Manufacturing, Testing and supply of Battery Chargerof following ratings



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30.12.202011.30 AM

BRIEFLYCreditSuisse,IcraoneconomyNewDelhi:CreditSuissesaidthe economy is showingsigns of bottoming out,while Icra revised its GDPcontractionprojectionto7.8percentforFY21. PTI

IGPframework:SebiseeksviewsNewDelhi:SebionThursdayfloatedaconsultationpaperseekingviewsonproposedchanges for the InnovatorsGrowth platform (IGP)framework. ENS

GadkariwritestoPMonsteelpriceNew Delhi: Union MSMEMinisterNitinGadkari saidhehassoughtPrimeMinis-terNarendraModi’sattent-iontowards55percenthikeinsteelpricesbyplayers.PTI


‘Two in 5 professionals expectmore jobs in 2021’Indian professionals are cautiously optimistic heading into 2021, as two in five expect arise in the number of new jobs, LinkedIn year-end key survey and platform data showed

Why is it important:With 2020being a disruptive year and 2021 expected to helpcompanies tackle unforeseen challenges, India could reimagine the future of workacross five areas: workplace, careers, recruiting, business, and leadership styles


21,066 Indianprofessionals

whowere surveyed online inApril-November 2020, as partof the fortnightly LinkedInWorkforceConfidence Index,to calculateworkforcesentiment data andconfidence scores

40%Expect an increasein number of new

jobs (up from19per cent inApril 2020)

53%Expect theircompanies to do

better in next sixmonths,going into2021


TROUBLEDUAE-BASED remit-tance and foreignexchange firmFinablr Plc, owned byNRI busi-nessmanBRShetty, has decidedto sell its operations to GlobalFintech InvestmentsHoldingAG(GFIH),anaffiliateofPrismGroupAGof Israel, for$1.Finablr, having a direct pres-

encein45nationsthroughitslice-nsedoperations complementedbyanetworkreachspanning170countries, commandedamarketvalueof around$2billion till lastyear.Prismhasformedaconsort-iumwithAbuDhabi’sRoyalStrat-egicPartners(RSP)forthedeal.Shetty-promotedUAEExcha-

ngeand itsparent firmFinablr—which is listed on the LondonStockExchange(LSE)—controlledasizeableremittancebusinessin-volving non-resident Indians(NRIs).InMarch,theCentralBankof theUAE (CBUAE)had slappedcurbsanddecidedto“overseetheoperationsmanagement”ofUAEExchange LLC, a remittance and

wage protection firm in theMiddleEastpromotedbyShetty.Shetty hadmoved toAbuDhabifrom India in1975andoncehadanetworthofover$3.1billion.In April, Finablr found out

about $1 billion of debt hiddenfromitsboardafteraUSinvestm-entfirmallegedthatNMCHealthinflatedcashbalancesandunder-stated its debt. This scandal pus-hedFinablr’ssisterfirmNMCHea-lthPlcintoadministration.InanLSEfiling,Finablrsaid,“In

returnforthetransferofFinablrtoGFIH, in addition to thenominalinitial consideration of US$1payable,GFIH isprovidingwork-ing capital support to the com-panytoenableittocontinuetoop-erate and support variousstakeholders, including employ-eesandcreditors.”

NewDelhi: AGoAir flight fromChennaitoPortBlaircarrying160passengerswasTuesdayaskedtoreturnmid-airforhavingpassen-gers on boardwhen itwas onlypermittedtofly incargototheis-landairport.AseniorofficialattheDirectorate General of Civil

Aviation (DGCA) said the regula-torwaslookingintothematter.Theplane took off from Chennaiaround3pmonTuesdayandwasovertheBayofBengalwhenitwasaskedby theair traffic control toreturn toChennai because it didnothavetheclearance. ENS

Flyers in cargo plane:DGCA to probe GoAir


ALPHABET INC’S Google onThursdayfaceditsthirdmajorlaw-suitasagroupof38USstatesandterritories filedanantitrust com-plaintaccusingGoogleofseekingtoextend its searchmonopoly todominate smart speakers, televi-sionsandcars.The statesareasking for their

lawsuit to be consolidatedwithone filed by the JusticeDepartmentinOctober,accordingtoastatementfromtheColorado

attorneygeneral’soffice.The complaint focusses on

Google’s search business andsearchadvertising,aswellaswhattheysaidwasaneffortbyGoogletouseexclusionaryagreementstoalso dominate newer technolo-gies.Thiswouldexclude,forexam-ple, competing virtual assistanttechnology.Theaccusationbuildsonconcernspubliclyexpressedbyspeakermaker Sonos andothercompanies that sayGoogle hasacted unfairly to grow itsmarketpower.Googledidnotim-mediatelyrespondtoarequestforcomment.

Israeli-UAE consortiumto acquire Finablr for $1


THE KARNATAKA governmentmust ensure thatworkers at theWistronunit inKolar district arepaidminimumwages, on timeeverymonth, and not forced towork overtime, the All IndiaCentral Council of TradeUnions(AICCTU) has said in a letter toChiefMinisterBSYediyurappa.The factory run byWistron

InfocommManufacturing India,which employs around 10,000workers, saw a rampage onDecember12,followingadisputeover unpaidwages anddifficultworkcircumstances.TheAICCTU, inareport tothe

stategovernment, saidnon-pay-ment and delayed payment ofwages, failure to payminimumandovertimewages, andacom-pulsory 12-hour shift, were therootcausesof theunrest.

Trade body toCM: Ensuretimely wagesto Wistronunit workers


THEUShasonceagain includedIndia in its monitoring list ofcountrieswithpotentially“ques-tionable foreign exchange poli-cies” and “currencymanipula-tion”. This comes a year afterIndia was removed from thewatchlist in the USTreasury Depart-ment’s semi-annualforeign-exchangere-port to theUSCongress.

Whatdoes‘currencymanipulator’mean?This isa labelgivenbytheUS

government to countries it feelsareengaging in“unfaircurrencypractices”bydeliberatelydevalu-ing their currency against thedollar.Thepracticewouldmeanthatthecountryinquestionisar-tificiallyloweringthevalueof its


Whataretheparametersused?Aneconomymeeting twoof

the three criteria in the TradeFacilitation and Trade Enforce-mentActof2015isplacedontheMonitoringList.This includes:

A “significant” bilateraltradesurpluswiththeUS — one that is atleast$20billionovera12-monthperiod.

Amaterial cur-rent account surplusequivalenttoatleast2percentofGDPovera12-monthperiod.

“Persistent”, one-sided in-tervention — when net pur-chases of foreign currency to-talling at least 2 per cent of thecountry’s GDP over a 12monthperiodareconductedrepeatedly,inat leastsixoutof12months.

Full reportonwww.indianexpress.com

Why has US put Indiaon currency watchlist?


THE VIOLENCE at WistronCorp’s iPhonemanufacturingfacilityinKolar,Karnataka,isbe-ing viewed as having widerramifications in India’s re-newedmanufacturing sectorpush, prompting a damagecontrolexercisethatisnowbe-ing driven directly by theCentre. The state administra-tion is learnt tohavebeen in-structedtosalvagethesituationandensureaquickresolution.Uniongovernmentofficials

indicated there are three rea-sonswhy, fromanadministra-tivestandpoint, theviolenceatthe Wistron unit is beingviewedasmorethanjustaskir-mishataphoneassemblyunit.Thetimingisbeingseenasbe-ing particularly detrimental,giventhatitcomescloseontheheelsof theCentre’sconcertedpushfortheproduction-linkedincentives(PLI)scheme,wherethelimitedsuccessinthesmart-phoneassemblysector isnowbeingsoughttobereplicatedinnewindustrycategoriesthatin-cludepharmaceuticalsandau-tomobiles.Smartphonemanu-facturingattheheartof thePLIpushandtheinterventioninre-solving the incident, involvingcontract workers who ran-sackedtheWistron facilityde-manding unpaidwages andbetterworkinghours, isaimedatcontainingthepotentialdam-age to thePLI-led investmentimpetus,officialsindicated.Another concern is that

Taiwan-basedWistron, oneofApple’s top global suppliersthathadopened thisnewfac-tory just in July this year, aTaiwanese flagbearer in thecontractmanufacturingspace.AlongsideWistron, twootherTaiwanese contractmanufac-turers—FoxconnandPegatronCorp—are at theheart of thecomponent manufacturingandcellphoneassemblydriveinIndiaandnowcarryincreas-ing collectiveheft in the elec-tronics equipment space. Thethree Taiwanese companies

havealreadyannouncedplansto investup to$850million inIndia over thenext five yearsunder the PLI scheme. It islearntthattheTaiwanExternalTradeDevelopmentCouncil,aninfluentialTaipei-basedindus-trybody,hasflaggedtothegov-ernmentthatthelabourunrestandviolencehadcausedaflut-ter among the investor com-munity in that country and issaidtohavesoughtadministra-tive support on labour issues,both in theWistron case andtheir other investments.Meanwhile, Apple has said itwasprobingwhetherWistronhadfloutedsupplierguidelines.Evenmoredisconcertingis

that the Wistron violencecomesatatimelabourunrestatToyotaKirloskarMotors’man-ufacturingplant inBidadi,out-sideBengaluru,hasbeenmak-ing headlines. Last Monday,VikramKirloskar, vice-chair-manofToyotaKirloskar,islearnttohavesoughttheassistanceofKarnataka Chief MinisterBSYediyurappa to resolve theworkerunrest.In their reconciliation ef-

forts, governmentofficials in-volved in theparleyswith in-vestors have been asked tohighlightthechangesinlabourrules moved by the Centre,wherein the option of usingfixed-termcontractstoprovidejobs to workers, mostly forshort-termprojectsorseasonalwork,isbeingseenasareformmeasure. The IndustrialRelat-ionsCode,2020hasaprovisionenabling industries toemployworkersona fixed-termcon-tract for seasonal and short-term jobs. Currently,most in-dustrieshire contractworkersthrough labourcontractors, aswas the casewithemployeeswhoallegedly caused thevio-lenceattheWistronfacility.


WistronunitinKolar. Reuters

Unrest may stressPLI push, Centre indamage control mode



ADVANCECORPORATEtaxcollec-tionsroseby49percent,whilead-vance personal income tax de-clinedby5.6percent in the thirdinstallmentof advancetaxes thatweredueonDecember15, a taxofficial said. The rise in advancecorporatetaxpaymentshascomemainlyon thebackof a lowbaseeffect due to lower advance taxpaidbycompanies inDecemberlastyearfollowingacutinthecor-porate tax rate announced inSeptember2019.Individual andcorporate tax-

payersarerequiredtopayadvancetaxinfourinstalments.ByJune15,theyarerequiredtopay15percentoftheirtaxliability,45percentbySeptember 15 and then 30 percentand25percentoftheirliabil-

ity in the next two installmentsdueDecember15andMarch15,respectively.“The improvement ismainly

duetolowbasethoughtherehasbeen pickup from advance taxpaymentsfromsomecompanies,informationtechnologyenabledservicesaredoingwell,” theoffi-cialsaid.Cumulatively, corporate tax

collections so far have beenrecorded at Rs 2.39 lakh crore,down4.9per cent fromlast year,

whilepersonalincometaxcollec-tions are down10.4 per cent atRs60,491crore,reflectingtheim-pactof slump ineconomicactiv-ityinaftermathofthepandemic.During October-December,

grosstaxcollectionstoodatRs7.3lakh crore, down 12 per cent,while net direct tax collectionsweredown13per cent year-on-yearatRs5.8lakhcrore.Refundswere downover 8 per cent dur-ing the third quarter atRs1.5 lakhcrore.

ThegovernmentinSeptemberlast yearhadannounceda cut inthe corporate tax rate,whereincorporatetaxforexistingcompa-nieswas reduced to 22per centfrom30percent,andto15percentfrom25per cent fornewmanu-facturingfirmsincorporatedafterOctober1,2019,andstartingoper-ationsbeforeMarch31,2023.Asperlatestgovernmentdata,

released forApril-October, grosstaxcollectionswereatRs8.75lakhcrore,down16.7percentfromthesameperiodlastyear.For2020-21, thegovernment

hadsetatargetofRs6.81lakhcrorefromcorporate tax, Rs 6.38 lakhcrore from incometaxandsecu-rity transaction tax. The growthratefortotaldirecttaxcollectionsfor 2020-21hadbeenpeggedat12.7percent,whichhadlaterrisentonearly28percentfromtheac-tualcollectionsin2019-20.

Vedanta chief,Centricusplan $10 bninvestmentin Indian cosENSECONOMICBUREAUMUMBAI, DECEMBER17

VEDANTAGROUP founder andchairman Anil Agarwal is plan-ning to invest $ 10 billion inIndian companies with “sub-stantial turnaroundandgrowthopportunities”,especiallyinpri-vatisation. The investmentwillbe made in association withCentricus, a London-based in-vestment firm.The target businesses,many

ofwhicharemajordriversof theeconomy, will include busi-nesses that aremajority ownedby the government and ear-marked for divestment, said astatement fromthegroup.“Thestrategyaimstodeploy

$10 billion in these businessesinseekingtosupportandaccel-eratetheir transitiontobecomeindependent private sectorcompanies with professionalmanagement, independentgovernance structures and acommitmenttosustainability,”it said.

■Cumulatively, corporatetaxcollectionssofarhavebeenrecordedatRs2.39lakhcrore,down4.9percent fromlastyear,whilepersonal incometax

collectionsaredown10.4percentatRs60,491crore,reflectingthe impactofslumpineconomicactivityintheaftermathof theCovid-19pandemic.


Advancecorporatetaxmop-upjumps49%,personal I-Tfalls


FINANCE MINISTER NirmalaSitharamanonThursdaysaidclearsignsofbroad-basedrevivaloftheeconomywasvisible and reiter-ated that the upcoming budgetwould accelerate public invest-mentsininfrastructure.“Evenaswearegoingtowards

themakingof thenextbudgetaf-ter an extraordinary yearwithchallenges…Iwouldliketoassurethatpublic expenditurewill con-tinueandwithbetterpace..Capitalexpenditure fromthepublic sec-torundertakingsparticularly forinfrastructurewill be (acceler-ated)”Sitharamansaidaddressinga virtual session by IndianChamberofCommerce(ICC).Effortstodisinvestsomeofthe

big central public sector enter-prisesareontrack,shesaid.FE

Broad-basedrevival on,Budget topush infraspending: FM

Google hit with thirdsuit as 38 US states sue


TEN STATE attorneys general intheUnitedStatesonWednesdayaccusedGoogleof illegally abus-ingitsmonopolyoverthetechnol-ogy that delivers ads online,adding to the company’s legaltroubleswithacasethatstrikesattheheartof itsbusiness.Thestateprosecutorssaidthat

Googleoverchargedpublishersforadsitshowedacrossthewebandedgedoutrivalswhotriedtochal-lenge thecompany’sdominance.They also said that Google hadreached an agreement withFacebook to limit the social net-work’s own efforts to competewithGoogleforaddollars.Googlesaid the suitwas “baseless” andthatitwouldfightthecase.Texas attorney general Ken

Paxton announced theplans forthesuit inavideoonTwitter.Thecomplaint, filed in theUSDistrictCourt for the EasternDistrict ofTexas,addstothefiercebipartisanbacklashagainstoneof thecoun-try’sbiggesttechfirms.“AttorneyGeneralPaxton’sad

techclaimsaremeritless,yethe’sgoneaheadinspiteofallthefacts,”saidaGooglespokeswoman,JulieMcAlister. “Wewill strongly de-fendourselves fromhisbaselessclaims in court.” InOctober, theJusticeDepartmentand11statessaidGoogle had illegallymain-tained amonopoly over onlinesearchenginesandtheadsthatap-pearinusers’results. NYT

Online ad: 10 US statesaccuse co of monopoly

TheUAE-basedremittanceandforeignexchangefirm,ownedbyBRShetty,has facedproblemssinceMarch

TheprosecutorssaidGoogleoverchargedpublishers forads




PAKPACERAMIRQUITS INTLCRICKETPakistanfastbowlerMohammedAmirannouncedadramaticendtohisinternationalcricketcareer,allegingthathehasbeen"mentally tortured"bythemanagementofhisnationalboard,whichcalledthemoveapersonaldecision. "Iamquittingcricket this timebecauseIhavebeenmentally tor-tured. Ican'tplayunderthiscurrentmanagement,"Amirsaid. PTI

Vol. LXIVNo.298Printedfor theproprietors,The IndianExpress (P)LtdbyMsVaidehiThakaratThe IndianExpressPress,PlotNo.EL-208,TTCIndustrialArea,Mahape,NaviMumbai-400710andpublishedfromMafatlalCentre,7th floor,RamnathGoenkaMarg,NarimanPoint,Mumbai400021.Editorial&Administrativeoffices:MafatlalCentre,7th floor,RamnathGoenkaMarg,NarimanPoint,Mumbai400021.Phone:22022627/67440000.Fax:022-22835726.Chairmanof theBoard:ViveckGoenka,Chief Editor:RajKamal Jha,Editor:UnniRajenShanker,Editor (Mumbai):NirupamaSubramanian.* (*Responsible forselec-

tionofNewsunderthePRBAct)Additionalairsurchargeof `1 .00-Goa.Copyright:TheIndianExpress (P)Ltd.All rights reserved.Reproduction inanymanner,electronicorotherwise, inwholeor inpart,withoutpriorwrittenpermission isprohibited.The IndianExpress®


TENMONTHSafter his last competitive out-ing,BajrangPuniareturnstoactionataneight-maninvitationaltournamentinAustin,Texas.The three-time worlds medallist — whoearned a silvermedal at February's AsianChampionshipsinNewDelhibeforetheCovid-19ravagedsportingcalendars—willheadlinetheFloWrestlingmeetonFriday."Couldn'tbemorerelievedtobecompet-

ing again," Bajrang tells The Indian ExpressfromhistrainingbaseinAnnArbor,Michigan."Losing these10monthswas extremelydis-appointing, but looking back and thinking'what couldhavebeen'meanswasting evenmore time. Competing is theonlyway togetback on track, especiallywith theOlympicseightmonthsaway."Bajrang, who booked the 65kg (143lb)

Olympic quotawith amedal at last year'sworlds, is the top seed and the only non-American in a 68 kg (150lb) field featuringworld medallists James Green and JoeyMcKenna."Competinginaweightclassaboveisverydifferent,asitgenerallymeansadiffer-ence inpower," says the26-year-old. "Others

will be cutting 2-3kg to competewhereas Iwouldbewrestlingatmynormalweight.Butthat extra challengemakes it an evenbettertournamenttoreturnat."TheAustinmeetwillbefollowedbyaclash

againstUSA'sOlympichopefulZainRetherfordonthe22nd,aone-offevent.Bajrangbelievesthetwoback-to-backevents,partoftheongo-ingmonth-long training stint inUSA,wouldbeabetterwaytoshakeoffthelockdownbluesthantheWorldCupinBelgrade."The tournament in Belgrade is good as

well. But topwrestlingnations such asUSA,Kazakhstan,Mongolia,Japan,evenGeorgiaandCuba,aren'tcompeting,"saysBajrang."Iamal-readypart of a training camphere andhavegoodmeetslinedup.ThetrainingpartnersareexactlywhatIneededaswell."Bajrang has been sparring with top

University ofMichigan talents aswell as for-mer worlds opponents at the Cliff KeenWrestlingClub."Oneofthethingswe'vebeenconcentratingonisthelegattackdefence.I'vebeen impressedwith his ability to score formanydifferentpositions,"saysMichiganheadcoachSeanBormet. "Anytimeyouputalotofgreatwrestlersandgreatwrestlingmindsto-gether inaroom,there'sa lotof collaborationandtechnicalwork.Sharingideasandtalking

throughpositions,findingsolutionsfordefenceorforscoring.That'stheenvironmentwehavebeen able to create herewith aworld-classwrestlerlikeBajranghere."

Rustiness aworryBajrangiswaryofrustinessandillustrates

the opening-round defeat of 57kgworldsmedallistandOlympiccontenderRaviDahiyaatBelgradeWorldCupasanexample."Ravi is good.He is abetterwrestler than

his opponent," Bajrang says. "His defeat here

doesn'tmeanthatheissuddenlydownornotasgood,butit'sbecausewehaven'tcompetedinsuchalongtime.Thepandemicthenmadeittoughtoevendopropersparring.Thatiswhyyouneed toget intoa tournamentas soonaspossible. "Themore you compete, themoreyouimprove.Atleastthat'showitgoesforme.Traininghasbeengoingon for years, but it isonlyafteracompetitionthatyoucanmakecal-ibrationsandfocusonspecifics."The spectre of Covid-19 isn't off hismind

either. "Whenthepandemicwasat itspeak, Ididn'tstepoutofthehouse.Sabguidelinesfol-lowkari,shayadisiliyebachehuehainabhitak(Iwas following all guidelines.Maybe that iswhyIdidn'tcatchtheinfection),"Bajrangsayswithanuneasylaugh."Therearedailytestshere,andIonlygofor

trainingafterseeingthereport.Nobodywantsto jeopardise the trainingordoanythingthatmight cause the training centre tobe closed.Andwhenyou're outside, the usual precau-tionsofmasks,sanitizers,"hesaid."Whenyou'reonthemat,sparringortrain-

ing,youhavetotakeitoutofyourhead.Attheendof theday, it is a contagiousdisease andoursisacontactsport.Youcanonlyhopethattheguyinfrontofyouhasalsobeentakingalltheprecautions."

Bajrang reboots for Tokyo Olympics in Austin

Russiabannedfromusingname,flagatnext2OlympicsGeneva:Russiawasbannedfromusingits name, flag andanthemat thenexttwoOlympicsoratanyworldchampi-onships for the next two years. TheCourt of Arbitration for Sport's rulingalsoblockedRussiafrombiddingtohostmajor sporting events for two years.Russianathletesandteamswill stillbeallowedtocompeteatnextyear'sTokyoOlympicsandthe2022WinterGamesin Beijing, aswell asworld champi-onshipsincludingthe2022WorldCupinQatar, if they are not implicated indopingorcoveringuppositivetests.

Boxing:MedalsassuredamidaCovid-19caseNewDelhi:Indiawereassuredofmedalswithoutasingleblowbeingexchangedatboxing'sWorldCupinCologne.Fourpugilists—AmitPanghal(52kg)amongmenandPoojaRani (75kg),Manisha(57kg) andSimranjeetKaur (60kg)—found themselves in semifinalsdue tosmallsizeofthedrawevenasapositiveCovid-19caseamongthesupportstaffcausedsomeanxietyinthecontingent.

BengalurubeatOdisha,movetothirdspotPanaji: Goals fromSunil Chhetri (38’)andCleitonSilva (79’) gaveBengaluruFCa2-1winoverOdishaFCattheGMCStadium on Thursday and sent theBlues to third position on the IndianSuper League table. Bengaluruwentahead in the first half when skipperChhetrirosetoheadhomeforasecondconsecutivegame,beforeStevenTaylorbrought Odisha back on level termswithagoalinthe71stminute.However,scoredhisthirdgoalofthecampaigntogiveBengaluruallpointsonthenight.

VenuesannouncedforMushtaqAliT20Mumbai: The refurbished SardarPatel stadium in Ahmedabad willhost the knock-out matches of theSyedMushtaqAliT20championship,from January 10-31. The teams havebeen divided into six Groups - fiveElite Groups and one Plate Groupwith Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata,Indore,ChennaiandVadodarabeingthe venues for league games. Theknock-outs are scheduled to start onJanuary26,withthequarter-finalstobeplayedonJanuary26and27,whilethetwosemi-finalswillbeplayedonJanuary 29 and the final on January31 inAhmedabad.

YogaformallyrecognisedassportNew Delhi: The Sports Ministry onThursday formally recognised yo-gasana as a competitive sport,whichwillenabletheancientpracticetoavailgovernment funding. SportsMinisterKiren Rijiju andMinister of AYUSH(Ayurveda Yoga and NaturopathyUnani SiddaHomoeopathy) ShripadYesso Naik formally promotedyogasanaasacompetitivesportduringan event here. An InternationalYogasana Sports Federation wasformedunderthepresidentshipofyogaguru Baba Ramdev with DR HRNagendra as secretary general inNovemberlastyear.




INDIA 233/6,89OVERSPPSShhaawwbStarc 00(2b)MMAAggaarrwwaall bCummins 1177(40b,2x4)CCPPuujjaarraacLabuschagnebLyon 4433(160b,2x4)VVKKoohhllii runout(Hazlewood/Lyon) 7744(180b,8x4)AARRaahhaannee lbwStarc 4422(92b,3x4,1x6)HHVViihhaarrii lbwHazlewood 1166(25b,2x4)WWSSaahhaabatting 99(25b,1x6)RRAAsshhwwiinnbatting 1155(17b,1x4)■Extras (b2, lb7,nb7,w1) 17■FoW: 1-0(PrithviShaw,0.2ov),2-32(MayankAgarwal,18.1ov),3-100(CheteshwarPujara,49.4ov),4-188(ViratKohli,76.6ov),5-196(AjinkyaRahane,80.4ov),6-206(HanumaVihari,83.2ov)■Bowling:MStarc 19-4-49-2; JHazlewood20-6-47-1; PCummins 19-7-42-1; C Green9-2-15-0;NLyon21-2-68-1;M Labuschagne1-0-3-0


Toss: India, chose to bat

FormostofDay1of the firstTest, Indiacopedwithall theAussiescould throwat them,beforeslipping in the lasthour


ALARGELYattritionaldayendedanti-climat-icallyforIndia.Forthemostpartof theopen-ing day of the first Test, India matchedAustraliatoolfortool, tacticfortactic,beforeblinking in the twilight phase of the game,as is characteristic in day-night Tests inAustralia. Thus, from a comfortable 188/3,thevisitors teetered to233/6at stumps.ThedaywassettinginbeautifullyforIndia

whenmisfortune struck. Virat Kohli lookeddestined for a hundred, Ajinkya Rahanecounter-attackedmanfully,andthegamehadbeguntodriftfromAustraliainthemiddleoftheir 88-runstand. But amomentof indeci-sion, rather indiscipline,was to undo all thedisciplineanddiscretionIndia’sbatsmenhadembodieduntil thatmomentof thematch.It’s a sequenceneitherRahanenorKohli

would like to recall. RahanebuntedNathanLyontomid-off,thensetoff forastealthysin-gle,beforerealisingtheballwasdangerouslyclose to the onrushing Josh Hazlewood atmid-off. He immediately yelled at Kohli toretreat and stopped instinctively, but theIndian skipperwasmidway through an ex-plosive sprint, and could not turn back tomake thecrease in time.Thecaptainwasgutted, thevice-captain

devastated. InaTestmatch,anykindof run-out shouldbeswalloweddistastefully.Ithurt India inseveralways.Firstly,Kohli

was looking in sublime touch, neither in amood to dominate nor in a whim to holdback, lookingsetforthelonghaulanddeter-mined tomake an impact before he returnshome.Hewieldedabsolutecontrol,master-fullydebunkingeachof Australia’swell-laidplans.HewouldnotnibbleintoPatCummins’sixth-stumpbarrage,orget luredintoLyon’stempters outside theoff-stump.He resistedthe temptation to drive on the rise or lungeforth for the cover-drive— itwas not a fast,true-bounce surface for extravagance. Heneutered the inward-shapingmovement ofMitchellStarcwiththehelpofdecisive foot-movement and delectable wristwork. Aflicked boundary, picking the ball fromoff-stump, was pure art. It seemed only KohlicouldgetKohliout.Until therun-out.Secondly,suchmodesofdismissalscould

leave a trail of negativity in the middle.Suddenly,theaccumulatedconfidencedissi-patesandasenseofdespondencycreeps in.After Kohli’s exit, Rahane seemed half theman he was in the captain’s company.Tentativenesssnuckback,and22balls later,Starc’s nip-backer fizzed through his shakyprodandblastedontohishalf-forwardpad.Hewas asmuchbeaten bypace andmove-mentas thedisturbance inhismind.Thirdly, it exposed the lower-middleor-

der to the new ball all too soon. HanumaVihari had got just a few sighters, inwhichhedidn’t lookparticularly in control, beforeJosh Hazlewood nailed him in frontwith adelivery that skid on straight after pitching.The movement was not extravagant, butVihari had failed to read the line of the ball.He didn’t anticipate it to be too full either,andhencewaslateinbringingthebatdown.Onlygood fortuneensured that Indiadidn’tlosemorewicketsbefore stumps.Fourthly, suchasliceof fortuneenergises

theopponents.Thewicketarrivedjustwhentheshouldersof theAustralianbowlersweredrooping,whentheywererestlesslyawaitingtheopportunitytotakethesecondnewball.In the end, the Australian bowlers har-

vested the rewards for their diligence andpersistence.Onasurfacethatassistednegli-giblemovementoff thesurfaceorbounceasthey would have relished, they kept theIndian batsmenon aproverbial leashwith-outresortingtonegativetacticsorgivingup.Cummins embodied that fire-and-brim-stonementalitywithunflaggingenergyand

limitlessvenom.HebeatCheteshwarPujaraseveraltimes,struckKohli’sgloves,andgiftednofreebies,concedingbarelyaruninhisfirst10 overs. Hazlewood did the support actwhile Starc probed for seammovement forwickets,withboth theoldandnewballs.Interestingly,itwasoff-spinnerLyonwho

harnessedmorebouncefromthesurfacethanhis pace-bowling colleagueswith over-spin.It was his bounce that troubled Pujara andKohli thanturnorthecrosswind-aideddrift.But for amajority of the day, the Indian

batsmen, especially Pujara and Kohli, dealtwith the quartet without undue fuss andminimum fear. Their use of hands and feetwas exemplary. Therewas a clarity ofmindthatmanifested inprecise stroke-making.Itmade for a slow-burning but edge-of-

the-seat watch. The Australians gave fewloose balls, but when they did Kohli andPujara cashed in. Only in their bid to unset-tle Lyon did they take calculated gambles.But theychosetherightmoments, therightballs andrisk-freemeans, though iteventu-allydidnotfrazzlethemasterfuloff-spinner.AfterPujara’sdeparturefora160-ball-43,

Rahane and Kohli resumed the fight in thesamevein,until thatspinalmomentof inju-diciousness.


ViratKohli lookedset forabigscorebeforehewasrunout for74 inthe last sessionofDay1onThursday.AP



Aussieoff-spinnerNathanLyon.Whydon’tthebats-men go back and workthe ball behind square?Whydon’ttheypressfor-ward to blunt the spin?Theanswerissimple:Hedoesn’tallowthem.

Whenbatsmenthinkofgoingback,theballclimbsandturnsinexorably.Thismakesthemfeel thattheycan’twrist itdownortapitpastwaitingpalmsatbackwardshort-legandthevery squarish-short legwhichLyon regularlydeploys. When they press forward, likeCheteshwarPujaratriedandfailedonthefirstdayof theAdelaide Test, theball rears uponthem. It triggers self-doubtsaboutgettingontopofthebounceandtheymustbemutteringundertheirbreath:“Damnthatoverspin”.

HowPujara’sdegreeofdifficultykeptincreasing?Itwas fascinating tosee themoodof an-

ticipation,hopeandexpectancyLyongotintoafter releasing the ball towards Pujara. NotthatIndia’sNo.3wasstruggling,butthechal-lengeshewas trying toovercomewereget-ting steeper by theminute. Pujara wouldlatertalkabouthowLyonhas“increasedtherevolutions” on the ball these days, whichpresentedmorequestions forbatsmen.The ball that got Pujara had that extra

tweak.Hisfirstmovementtocountertheballwas to tryandget forward.ButLyonhas theskill to control the air-timeof his deliveries.He doesn’t always allow the ball to hang inthe air for too long, especially on tracks likethis. Thisone toodippedprettyquickly.Pujarasensedhewasn’tgoingtogetany-


early intent to get forward. So he stopped.Now, the challengewas to hold his balance.He triedmaking tiny stutteringmovements.Theballbegantoclimb,andPujarawascaughtat the crease. His instinctwas to somehowtakehisbataway.Hetriedtotuckthebatbe-tweenhislegsandhopedtheballwouldbreakawayfromtheedge.Thatwasnottobe.RavichandranAshwinhas spoken about

the kind of balls that take the edge. “Peoplethinkit’sthebreakthatgetstheinside-edges.It isn’t always (so). It’s theangle fromwhereyoureleaseat times.Thebatsmenaretryingtopushordefenddownthetrack,buttheballgoesinatanangle,andtakestheinsideedge.”That’s what happened here too, sharp

turnwouldhavemeant jailbreak forPujara.

If pressingforwardhas itspitfalls,whataboutgoingback?BothPujaraandViratKohli triedthat tac-

tic. However, the extra bounce, alignedwithturn, didn't allow them to ride itwhen theypressed back. Back in the day, the wristyMohammadAzharuddinandtheequallyskill-fulPakistanbatsmanSaleemMalikwouldre-treat right back, openupabit, and forcefullywrist the ball between short-leg and back-wardshort-leg.Probablythepresentgenera-tionlacksthosesupplewristsandconfidence.

WhyKohli ismoresuitedtofaceLyon?OnthefirstdayinAdelaide,Kohliwassu-

perior to Pujara in dealing with Lyon. Hisgame is inherently suited to counter thistoughchallenge. Theangleatwhich thebatcomes down helps and he also trusts hishands to floatwell aheadof hispads,unlikemost of his teammates. His wristy bottomhand and the angle with which it comesacross allow him towork the ball to mid-wicket,whichhedoesa lot.UnlikePujara, Kohli rarely allowedhim-

self to be caught at the crease. Time andagain,heleanedforwardbuthisgameallowshimtotacklethetwinmenaceofbounceandturn, especiallyonanopeningdaypitch.Eventhoughtheball isclimbing,because

Kohli letshishandswanderahead,thepointwhere hemeets the ball is not alarminglyhigh.Ofcourse,thereisthedangerof thein-side-edgegoingtothehandsofclose-infield-ers.That’sthereasonnotmanytakethatbaitandsomeone likePujarapreferswaiting forthe ball to come tohim.Only thosewith anupperbodyaselasticasKevinPietersenandYounis Khan, can perhaps lean so far aheadandreachareasunreachable forothers.Kohliisanextremelyself-awareandego-

lessbatsmaninthatrespect.Andso,hekeptpressingforwardandworkingtheballtotheonside. Pujara too did his thing, and so didLyon.Thetriokeptatit.Lyonkeptwaitingforsomething,lookingforsomething,Pujarane-gotiatedhopewithmethod,Kohlitrustedhisdefensivegame.Itwastheperiodofplaythatdiffusedrestlessnessandeageranticipation.


2Numberof timesViratKohlihasbeenrunout inhisTestcareer. Incidentally, the first

timewasalsoagainstAustraliaattheAdelaideOval in January2012.

Lyon vs Kohli-Pujara and the perils ofgoing back or pressing forward


Adelaide: Cheteshwar Pujara said atno point did he feel he batted tooslowlyduringtheopeningday.Askedif he felt thathecouldhavepacedhisinnings better, the Saurashtra manhad an emphatic no for an answer.“Notatall.Wewereinaverygoodpo-sition in the first two sessions,” saidPujara.“Weneededtomakesurethatwedon'tlosewicketswhentheball isswinging. It was a great day of Testcricket and there are no regrets at allaboutthestrategy.Wecouldhavelostmorewickets playing shots and get-tingbowled inaday.” PTI

No regrets aboutstrategy: Pujara

Slowand steady,with a twist in the end


ROBERTO FIRMINO scored with a 90th-minuteheaderasLiverpoolbeatTottenham2-1toclimbaboveitsopponenttothetopofthePremierLeague. Inavictoryreminiscentof somanywhich carried the Reds to theirfirst title in 30 years last season, Liverpool'srelentlessnesswasrewardedwhentheBrazilstriker powered home a header fromAndyRobertson'scornerwiththeclocktickingto-wardstoppage timeonWednesday.Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho

looked sickened, having assumed his sidehaddoneenoughtoearnthepointtostayinfirst place. Liverpool had comfortably out-shot their opponents during the 90 min-utes, in which it enjoyed 76% possession,but saw Mohamed Salah's 26th-minutegoal canceled out by Son Heung-min's ef-fort on a breakaway in the first half.Tottenham sat back and soaked the pres-sure,butLiverpoolwererewardedfor theirpatience with a late winner, which tookthemto the topof the table.

Barca beat SociedadBarcelonadefenderJordiAlbascoredone

goalandsetupanothertosparka2-1come-back victory over Real Sociedad, deprivingthe Basque Country side of the Spanishleaguelead.AlbacanceledoutWillianJose'sopener by curling in a strike in the 32ndminute onWednesday. Sociedad, AtleticoMadrid and Real Madrid, are all level onpoints at the top of the table and separatedonlybygoaldifference.Barcaareplacedfifth.

Liverpool beat Spurs, go topof the table in Premier League


Three-timeworldsmedallistBajrangPunia is training inMichigan.