THURSDAY www.thestatesman.com 01 FEBRUARY 2018 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 16+4 |` 3|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR P6 SENSEX 35,965.02 -68.71 WEATHER Partly cloudy sky. Mist likely to occur in the morning. The maximum and minimum temperatures are likely to be around 26 and 10 degrees Celsius respectively RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max. 95% Min. 45% Max: 25.4°C (+3) SUN RISES 07:09 hrs MOON RISES 19:01 hrs Min: 9.9°C (+1) SUN SETS 18:00 hrs MOON SETS 08:26 hrs TEMPERATURE P8 NIFTY 11,027.70 -21.95 SC seeks Centre's response on Rohingyas: The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought the Centre's response on a plea that the BSF was stopping Rohingya refugees from entering India. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud sought the response as counsel Prashant Bhushan complained that the Border Security Force was preventing them from crossing the Myanmar border by "sprinkling chilli powder". Tremors in north India: A 6.2 magnitude earthquake on the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border region Wednesday shook several parts of north India, including the national capital and the Kashmir Valley. The quake, which was felt in the Delhi-NCR region as well as the Kashmir Valley, led to panic in some parts with people rushing outdoors for safety. There were however no reports of any losses in India. The quake, lasting for a few seconds, was recorded at 12.36 p.m. TRAI slashes MNP rates: With increasing demand for mobile number portability (MNP) requests, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) slashed by almost 79 per cent the rates for successful porting reducing it to Rs 4 from Rs 19 earlier. The move by TRAI came after taking into consideration the comments received from the industry stakeholders. TRAI said it would come into effect from P11 the date of the Gazette notification. NGT cannot have single judge Bench, says apex court: The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that no single judge Bench should be constituted to hear and decide matters in the National Green Tribunal (NGT). An apex court Bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, was hearing the NGT Bar Association's petition challenging the constitutional validity of the National Green Tribunal (Practices and Procedures) Amendment Rules, 2017 that allows even a single member Bench to P10 discharge judicial functions. GOLD 29,290.00 +25.00 UP probing if clashes were ‘pre-planned’ p P15 SILVER 39,300.00 00.00 BRENT CRUDE (IN $) 68.66 -0.36 CELESTIAL SHOW Kasganj murder accused held, UP files report to Centre AGENCIES T India aim for their 1st ODI series triumph on S African soil when they take on Proteas in a 6P16 match rubber, starting in Durban today. MARY KOM IN FINAL, SHIVA UPSTAGED IN SEMI-FINALS P13 ` vs $ 63.58 +2 PAISE NEW DELHI/LUCKNOW, 31 JANUARY THUMBNAILS PUTIN CALLS RUSSIA LIST ‘HOSTILE’ AN EXCEPTIONAL REVOLUTIONARY ‘COUNTRY HAS NOT SEEN ENOUGH OF RAHUL AS A PERSON’ he Uttar Pradesh government in its report to the Union Home Ministry on Wednesday said it was in the process of ascertaining if the violence and arson were pre-planned in Kasganj where communal riots broke out after a youth was killed on Republic Day. The main accused in the youth’s murder was arrested on Wednesday even as a Congress delegation was stopped from entering the violence-hit district amid continuing tension in some pockets. In the report, Uttar Pradesh Police said it "swung into action after the violence was reported and brought it under control quickly", according to Home Ministry officials. It mentioned the arrests made by the police and the circumstances leading to the death of 22-year-old Chandan Gupta. "All facts are being ascertained to know if violence was pre-planned or not," said the report. The Uttar Pradesh government's move comes a day after the Home Ministry sought a detailed report on the incident and the current situation in the state, including on the measures taken to ensure peace in the district. Meanwhile, Inspector General (Aligarh range) Sanjeev Gupta said Uttar Pradesh Police has arrested the main accused in the Kasganj arson. He was identified as Salim. Kasganj SP Piyush Srivastava said notices pertaining to attachment of properties of the accused earlier arrested in connection with the violence have been pasted on their houses. Following the killing of the youth, three shops, two buses, and a car were burnt by a violent mob. The district administration said it had taken a slew of measures to contain lingering tension, with the state government removing the Superintendent of Police. As many as 118 persons have been arrested in connection with the violence, according to inputs with the Home Ministry's control room. Besides police, units of the anti-riot Rapid Action Force have been deployed in sensitive locations in the district to check untoward incidents, a senior Home Ministry official said. Tension still prevailed in a few pockets. Stray incidents of violence were reported on Tuesday, but the situation was by and large peaceful on Wednesday. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said on Tuesday that his government was committed to providing security to each and every citizen. “Anarchy has no place in the state,” he said, and promised strict action against the perpetrators of violence, asserting the guilty would not be allowed to go unpunished. During the lunar eclipse as seen from New Delhi on Wednesday. The much-awaited ‘Supermoon’ became visible in India a little later than expected Wednesday as millions of stargazers across the country relished the rare celestial triple treat in the form of ‘Super Blue Blood Moon’ with a sense of awe. The spectacle of a ‘Blue Moon’ and a total lunar eclipse occurred in India for the first time after 1982. This breathtaking celestial event was also visible from many other parts of RITIK JAIN the world. BJP in a fix over FIR against Major STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 31 JANUARY The ruling BJP was in the line of fire on Wednesday after the party's ally in Jammu and Kashmir, the PDP said the FIR against , Major Aditya of 10 Garhwal Rifles for alleged murder was filed after getting Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's permission. The FIR was lodged with J & K police after an army convoy at Ganowpora village in Shopian came under intense stone-pelting by a mob of over 250 stone-pelters on 27 January. A junior commissioned officer in the convoy was reportedly hit on the head and fell unconscious. Stonepelters attempted to set vehicles on fire, forcing the army to open fire in selfdefence. Seven army men suffered injuries, even as three civilians succumbed to the bullet injuries, according to reports. BJP spokesmen, Sambit Patra and Amit Malviya, said on Wednesday the FIR against Major Aditya could be set aside in a court of law. The party, however, had nothing to say about the PDP leader and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's remarks in the Assembly that prior permission of the Defence Minister was taken before lodging the FIR against Major Aditya. BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy demanded the Defence Minister's clarification on the FIR against Major Aditya. "I am wondering why Nirmala Sitharaman has not given any clarification. Do we take her silence to mean yes. If it is then it is truly against party policies, the sentiment of the people of India and against patriotism. I have decided that if she doesn't give a clarification by the morning of February 2, then I will raise the issue in the House," Swamy said. He has demanded immediate withdrawal of FIR against the army officer. Trump’s immigration move may help Indian techies IAF officer held for espionage SC asks AIIMS doctors to check 8-mth-old rape victim’s condition PTI NEW DELHI, 31 JANUARY STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE WASHINGTON, 31 JANUARY US President Donald Trump on Tuesday urged the Congress to pass a legislation that promotes meritbased immigration, a move that would benefit hundreds of thousands of Indian professionals. He proposed a pathway to citizenship for almost 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought in the US by their parents at a young age. “It is time to begin moving towards a merit-based immigration system ~ one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country,”Trump said in his first State of the Union address. The State of the Union address is a traditional annual speech of the US president to a joint session of the Congress where he gives an account of the situation in the country. He proposed four pillars of his immigration reform. This includes building a wall, and ending chain migration and diversity visa. Trump said that his proposal should be supported by both parties (Republican and Democratic) as a fair compromise ~ one where nobody gets everything they want, but where the country gets the critical reforms it needs. “The first pillar of our framework generously offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age ~ that covers almost three times more people than the previous administration. “Under our plan, those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States,” Trump said. The second pillar fully secures the border, that means building a wall on the southern border, and it means hiring more people to keep the communities safe. “Crucially, our plan closes the terrible loopholes exploited by criminals and terrorists to enter our country ~ and it finally ends the dangerous practice of 'catch and release',” Trump said. NEW DELHI, 31 JANUARY A Group Captain, posted at the IAF's headquarters here, has been taken into custody by the force for alleged involvement in espionage and possible attempt to access sensitive documents, official sources said Wednesday. The investigators are probing whether the officer was a victim of honey trap as it is suspected he was sending pictures of classified documents to a woman throughWhatsApp. It is also being probed whether he was part of a larger espionage ring being run from Pakistan, sources said. The officer was indulging in certain “unwanted activities” through unauthorized electronic devices. A team of the IAF's central security and investigation took the officer into custody, and currently he is being interrogated, said the PTI sources. Expressing serious concern and anguish over the rape of an eight-month-old girl child allegedly by her 28-year-old cousin in the national capital last Sunday, the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed two doctors of the country's premier hospital, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), to visit the infant victim in the hospital and assess her condition. The apex court made it clear that the baby, admitted on Sunday to Kalawati Saran Hospital in central Delhi, should "get all necessary treatment and special care". A Bench ~ headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and comprising Justice A M Khanwikar and Justice D Y Chandrachud ~ asked two senior AIIMS doctors to go to Kalawati Saran Hospital with a special ambulance, assess the infant victim's medical condition, and shift her to the AIIMS for better care and treatment if it is required.The Bench also sought a report from the AIIMS doctors in this regard by Thursday. As the Bench stressed upon concerns about the baby's condition, her health and medical treatment, the Centre assured it that the infant will get the best medical care. The top court also asked a member of the Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA) to accompany the doctors during their visit to the baby victim's hospital. The plea, filed by lawyer Alakh Alok Srivastava, stated that the external and internal injuries of the girl child were extremely severe and that the infant victim had to undergo a three-hour-long surgery. "Presently, she is admitted in a local Delhi hospital in an extremely critical and painful condition, battling for life. The said victim baby girl belongs to an extremely poor family. Her father works as a labourer and her mother works as a domestic help," the plea said. Pressing for a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the victim's parents, the petition sought framing of guidelines that investigation and trial of the cases involving rape of children below the age of 12 years under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act should be completed within six months from the date of registration of the FIR. She had undergone a three-hour-long surgery at Kalawati Saran Hospital on Monday. All eyes on Union Budget: FM may do a balancing act PRASHANT MUKHERJEE NEW DELHI, 31 JANUARY The salaried class will be listening closely when the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley rises to present his last full Union Budget speech, before the 2019 elections, on Thursday. The question uppermost in everybody's minds is whether Jaitley will be factoring in poll considerations to present a populist budget. To ensure investors' confidence, Jaitley is expected to maintain a fine balance in containing the fiscal deficit, while increasing spending in key areas of the slowing economy and addressing pressing issues of agricultural distress, job creation and boosting growth. Continuing last year’s trend, Jaitley may consider some manoeuvring in the personal income tax to pro- vide relief to the middle-class. The salaried class may expect some changes in Section 80C. Under the section, an individual, currently, can reduce up to Rs 1,50,000 from the total taxable income. The government may hike this exemption to Rs 2 lakh per annum. Even as the Economic Survey 2017-18 authored by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian noted that the government will continue with its reform agenda, the government has already formed a task force under the chairmanship of Arbind Modi to revamp the more than 50 -yearold Income Tax Law, 1961, for a major direct tax overhaul. However, the task force is expected to submit its report only by May or June. Stock market participants remain nervous after the government's annual Econom- ic Survey tabled in Parliament on Monday where the chief economic advisor called for higher vigilance and staged a probability of sharp corrections in elevated stock prices. The shortfall in revenues in the government kitty may allow the Finance Minister to do away with the capital gains tax exemption from the investment made in the stock market. Bimal Jalan, former Reserve Bank of India Governor, said, “The upcoming Budget will most probably abolish the tax exemption.” At a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 9 January, several economists were of the opinion that the government should increase tax incidence on gains in the equity market, which currently enjoys the lowest tax rate. Speaking at a SEBI event on 24 December 2016, Modi had highlighted the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, along with Ministers of State Shiv Pratap Shukla and Pon Radhakrishnan, gives final touches to the Union Budget 2018-19 at his office at North Block in the Capital on Wednesday. SNS government’s agenda to raise taxes for the stock market. But unlike Jaitley’s previous four Budget exercises the expectations from this year’s Budget are relatively subdued because the major portion under indirect tax has come under the Goods and Services Tax (GST). However, small and medium businesses, which have traditionally formed the core support base of the BJP may get some sops , to ease the pain caused to them from the twin blows of demonetisation and chaotic rollout of GST. Also on Jaitley’s agenda would be increasing spending on infrastructure projects like highways and modernisation of railways to boost economic growth that is at a four-year low. Hit hard by demonetisation and some policy reforms like the implementation of RERA and GST, the real estate sector is betting big on the Budget for revival of its fortunes and is looking towards the Finance Minister with much hope. Pratibha Advani, chief financial officer of Tata Com- munications, said, “A reduction in the corporate and dividend tax rate and the abolition of all surcharges and cess would go a long way in bolstering organisations and helping them build a significant competitive edge in the global economy.” She added that a reduction in the Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) rates would also be very welcome. However, Jaitley who promised to reduce corporate tax rates from 30 per cent to 25 per cent over four years is unlikely to do so. Sachchidanand Shukla, chief economist of Mahindra Group ,said, “GST revenues have not stabilised, hence there is lack of resources. I don’t think the government will have room to substantially reduce corporate tax rates in line with the 25 per cent commitment.” Last year, the Modi government decided to end the 92-year-old practice of holding a separate Railway Budget speech and instead merged it with the main Budget. The Railway Budget always assumed great significance and is likely to get more space unlike last year. There is unlikely to be any fare hike or announcement of new trains, as the budget is likely to earmark Rs 95,000 crore for overall modernisation, upgradation in rail infrastructure including signalling automation, replacement of age-old tracks and other assets. Amid rising global crude oil prices, a recent spike in inflation, tightening cash conditions, worries about fiscal slippage and dipping of the GST collections, Jaitley is expected to do a tightrope walk while presenting the Budget.
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