SUNDAY www.thestatesman.com 15 NOVEMBER 2020 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 | `5.00 |LC* KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR BIHAR’S CLOSE SHAVE AMIT MITRA SEEKS GST COUNCIL MEETING P3 WEATHER Mainly clear sky. Maximum and minimum temperature most likely to be around 32 °C and 19 °C respectively.. P6 India will give fierce reply if tested: Modi In his Diwali message from Longewala Post, PM takes indirect dig at China Max.84% PRESS TRUST OF INDIA TEMPERATURE Max: 32.3°C (2) SUN RISES 05:49 hrs MOON RISES 04.31 New Moon on 15 Min: 19.9°C (N) SUN SETS 16:53 hrs MOON SETS 16:20 hrs November THUMBNAILS Kali Puja at Baithakkhana area in Kolkata on Saturday. SNS ED Director S K Mishra's tenure extended: The Union government has extended the tenure of ED Director Sanjay Kumar Mishra by a year after modifying his appointment order that was issued in 2018, officials said. Mishra, 60, is a 1984-batch Indian Revenue Service officer of the Income Tax cadre and was appointed the Enforcement Directorate chief on 19 November 2018. His tenure was to end next week as the ED director's post has a fixed term of 2 years. Soumitra Chatterjee on life support: The condition of legendary actor Soumitra Chatterjee remained grave on Saturday and he is on life support in the city hospital, where he was admitted over a month ago. One of the doctors attending on him said Chatterjee's condition remained unchanged for the past 24 hours. “He is on different life support systems ... It seems that our almost 40 days' fight is not enough to make him well,” he said. Chatterjee, he said, seems to be not responding to the curP3 rent therapies. LoC ceasefire violation: India summons Pak diplomat LONGEWALA (RAJASTHAN), 14 NOVEMBER elivering an unambiguous message to India’s enemies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday asserted that it will give a “prachand jawab” (fierce reply) if provoked, as he flew to Longewala Post to celebrate Diwali with soldiers, a tradition he has been following since assuming office in 2014. Addressing soldiers at the forward post, which has become a part of military legend after troops here successfully thwarted numerically higher Pakistani forces in the 1971 war, Modi took a swipe at China without naming it, saying the world is troubled by “expansionist forces” and expansionism shows a “distorted mindset” that belongs to the 18th century. India has become a forceful voice against forces of expansionism, he said and also took aim at Pakistan, adding that Indian soldiers have hit “sponsors of terrorism” in their home, a reference to air and surgical strikes against terror camps in the neighbouring country. “No force in the world can prevent our brave soldiers from defending our borders. The world today knows that we will not compromise with our interests even one bit at any cost,” he said amidst a standoff with China in eastern Ladakh. He said India today believes in the policy of understanding others and making them understand D NEW DELHI, 14 NOVEMBER but if it is tested, then it will give a fierce reply. The country has the capability and political will to give a befitting response to those who challenge it, Modi added. He also underlined the importance of having strong capability, saying despite advanced international cooperation and equations, vigilance is the path to security, alertness leads to happiness and peace is the prize of having strength. “History of the world tells us that only those nations have remained safe and advanced who had the ability to take on invaders,” he said, adding that 130 crore Indians stand with the country’s soldiers and bow to their bravery. “They are proud of your valour,” he told the soldiers, saying their bravery has got the better of all adversities, be it in deserts, forests or deep oceans. Modi said his Diwali is complete only after he P12 P10 RAINFALL: NIL RELATIVE HUMIDITY Min. 39% ‘INDIAN PACE IS MEAT AND DRINK TO AUSTRALIA’ LAW FIRM QUITS AS GOP FACES COURT SETBACKS comes among soldiers, adding he cannot stay away from his own on this festival. He said the more time he spends with the soldiers, the stronger his resolve to serve and protect the country gets. “Your sacrifices teach the country discipline and sense of service,” the Prime Minister told soldiers, referring to his government’s efforts to combat the coronavirus and also to restart the economic activity fully. The Prime Minister referred to his government’s stress on self-reliance and ‘vocal for local’ campaign, and complimented the armed forces for the decision to bar import over 100 weapons and defence equipment. Recalling the glorious battle of Longewala, Modi said it will always be remembered in the annals of strategic planning and military valour. He said this was the time when the ugly face of India today summoned the Charge d’Affaires of the Pakistan High Commission and lodged a strong protest over the unprovoked ceasefire violations by Pakistani forces on multiple sectors along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday. In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said India also condemned, in the strongest terms, the “deliberate targeting” of innocent civilians by Pak forces, saying it was highly deplorable that Pakistan chose a festive occasion in India to disrupt peace and perpetrate violence in Jammu & Kashmir through coordinated firing along the the LoC. PTI Pakistan was exposed as its army was terrorising innocent citizens of Bangladesh and committing atrocities against women. Modi noted that the battle will mark 50 years in 2021. “Every year, I cherish spending Diwali with our security forces. It is a way of reaffirming our solidarity with them, as they bravely protect the nation and ensure our country can scale new heights of progress,” Modi tweeted later. New Delhi air quality slips back to ‘severe’ on Diwali PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 14 NOVEMBER CHOKED Delhi’s air quality turned “severe” on Diwali with stubble burning accounting for 32 per cent of the city’s PM2.5 pollution and calm winds worsening the situation as they allowed accumulation of pollutants, weather officials said. The Ministry of Earth Sciences’ air quality monitor, SAFAR, said, “Even a small increase in local additional emissions is likely to have significant deterioration impact on Sunday and Monday.” It said peak levels of PM10 and PM2.5 are expected between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. in case of additional internal emissions. Earlier, it had said that the PM2.5 concentration in Delhi on Diwali is likely to be the “lowest” in the last four years if no firecrackers are burnt. The city recorded an overall AQI of 414 on Saturday, which falls in the “severe” category. The 24-hour average AQI was 339 on Friday and 314 on Thursday. Delhi recorded a 24hour average AQI of 337 on Diwali last year (27 October), and 368 and 400 in the next two days. Thereafter, pollution levels remained in the “severe” category for three days on the trot. In 2018, the 24-hour average AQI (281) on Diwali was recorded in the “poor” category. It deteriorated to 390 the next day and remained in the “severe” category on three consecutive days thereafter. In 2017, Delhi’s 24-hour average AQI on Diwali (19 October) stood at 319. It, however, slipped into the “severe” zone the next day. This time, the India Mete- Stubble burning accounted for 32 per cent of the city’s PM2.5 pollution and calm winds worsened the situation as they allowed accumulation of pollutants Earlier, the weather officials had said that the PM2.5 concentration in Delhi on Diwali is likely to be the “lowest” in the last four years if no firecrackers are burnt. The city recorded an overall AQI of 414 on Saturday, which falls in the “severe” category The officials say peak levels of PM10 and PM2.5 are expected between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. in case of additional internal emissions. orological Department has said that a fresh western disturbance is likely to increase the wind speed and improve the air quality in Delhi-NCR post Diwali. Light rain is likely on Sunday under the influence of a western disturbance. It is still to be seen if it is enough to wash away pollutants, Kuldeep Srivastava, the head of the IMD’s regional forecasting centre, said. “However, Delhi-NCR’s air quality is likely to improve post Diwali due to an expected increase in the wind speed on Sunday,” he said. V K Soni, the head of the IMD’s environment rese-arch centre, said calm winds, smoke from farm fires and firecrackers emissions may push the air quality to the “severe” zone on Diwali night. The wind speed is expected to pick up thereafter and the wind direction will be east-southeasterly, he said. Covid restrictions hold back Diwali fun Active caseload shrinks to 4.8L PRESS TRUST OF INDIA SNS & AGENCIES NEW DELHI, 14 NOVEMBER Lights decked up buildings and earthen lamps dotted houses as India celebrated Diwali on Saturday amidst Covid-19 restrictions and a ban on bursting of firecrackers in several states. Prayers were offered and sweets distributed though people mostly took the virtual route to extend wishes. People also visited temples, observing social distancing norms. President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the people on Diwali. In his message, Kovind said: “May this grand festival of happiness and light bring delight, peace and prosperity to each and every house of our country.” Naidu hoped A young girl lights up earthen lamps during Diwali, in Kolkata on Saturday. IANS that this festival of light ushers happiness, prosperity and peace. In Maharashtra, Diwali Pahat cultural programmes, an integral part of the festival, were missing this year due to the coronavirus outbreak. Though the Maharashtra government has not banned firecrackers, the Shiv Senaled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has announced restrictions on the use of crackers and fireworks in the city. The civic body has, however, allowed use of ‘mild firecrackers’ on Laxmi Pujan. On the commercial front, domestic equity benchmarks surged to lifetime highs as investors built up fresh positions in the special Muhurat trading session to mark the beginning of Hindu Samvat year 2077. The Golden Temple in Amritsar was illuminated with special lighting system and traditional ‘diyas’. It witnessed a huge rush of devotees who took a dip in its holy tank and offered prayers at the sanctum sanctorum. The task force of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parband- hak Committee was also deployed in the periphery of the Golden Temple. Community kitchen were arranged for the devotees. With farmers groups agitating against the Centre’s new farm laws, peasants at many places in Punjab including Amritsar, Mohali, Sangrur and Faridkot districts held protests on Diwali day. In Jammu and Kashmir, Army, central paramilitary forces and police personnel celebrated the festival with enthusiasm at their locations along the border and hinterland amidst strict vigilance in the wake of recent ceasefire violations by Pakistan. Kali puja was celebrated in several states, including West Bengal where people visited Kali temples since the morning to pay obeisance to the deity. NEW DELHI/KOLKATA, 14 NOVEMBER India’s active caseload of Covid-19 has shrunk to 4,80,719, registering a four-day streak of less than five lakh active cases, the Health Ministry said on Saturday. In a statement, the Ministry said the share of active cases in the total positive cases has further decreased to 5.48 per cent. The total recovered cases stand at 81,63,572, and the gap between the recovered cases and active cases that is steadily increasing, presently stands at 76,82,853, the Health ministry said. The cumulative national figure of recoveries is 93.05 per cent. With 44,684 new cases in a day, the country's Covid-19 tally climbed to 87,73,479 while the death toll mount- ed to 1,29,188 with the pandemic claiming 520 more lives in a span of 24 hours in the country, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed. Delhi reported 7,802 cases in the last 24 hours topping the tally of new additions. West Bengal adds 3,8K new Covid cases: West Bengal recorded 3,823 fresh Covid cases and 53 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the total case count to 4,28,498 and death toll to 7,610 while there are 30,792 active cases. Kolkata registered 836 fresh cases and 13 deaths while North 24-Parganas recorded 820 cases and 13 deaths. With 4,479 Covid patients being discharged from hospitals in a single day, a total of 3,90,096 patients have recovered in the state till now taking the discharge rate to 91.04 per cent. There will be a significant improvement in air quality by 16 November, Soni said. The Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi also said the situation is likely to “improve significantly” on Sunday. “Under the influence of a Western Disturbance, isolated rainfall over plains of northwest India and adjoining central India is likely on Sunday. The predominant surface wind is likely to be coming from East-Southeast direction of Delhi with wind speed up to 20 kmph,” it said. The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) on Friday directed the CPCB and states concerned to ensure there is no lapse in the implementation of the NGT’s directions during the Diwali period. The NGT had on Monday imposed a total ban on sale or use of all kinds of firecrackers in the NCR from 9 November midnight to 30 November. Places of worship in Maharashtra to reopen tomorrow MUMBAI, 14 NOVEMBER 87,73,479 4,80,719 44,684 47,992 1,29,188 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 08.00 A.M. SATURDAY 14 NOVEMBER 2020 Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday said the places of religious worship across the state, which were shut since the Covid-19 lockdown in March, will reopen from Monday. Extending greetings to people on the occasion of Diwali, the chief minister said, “We can’t forget that the demon coronavirus is still amongst us. Even though this demon is slowly falling silent now, we cannot be complacent. Citizens need to follow discipline.” “Crowding will have to avoided. The reopening of religious places is not a government order, but the wish of the Almighty. Shoes will have to kept outside the premises and wearing masks is mandatory,” Thackeray said. PTI Details on Page 4 Cummings leaves Downing Street after losing power battle with PM THE INDEPENDENT LONDON, 14 NOVEMBER Dominic Cummings has exited Downing Street in a final headline-grabbing act, after losing a power struggle and reportedly being told to “never return” by Boris Johnson. Carrying a box of belongings, the controversial aide marched out of No 10, briefing allies that he was gone for good~although it is understood that he will actually carry on working for another month. The bizarre photo-op was staged after a week of turmoil and bitter infighting that saw the prime minister’s confidence in Mr Cummings apparently drain away. It is reported that Mr Johnson wants to “clear the air and move on” after the departure, with suggestions the PM accused Cummings and his close ally Lee Cain of being behind recent negative briefings. Further reports suggest Cummings was told to “get out and never return” following a 45 minute explosive meeting in Downing Street. It comes as No 10 has bowed to MPs’ pressure to appoint a chief of staff, to bring discipline to its operation, after the extraordinary disorder and upheaval of recent days, triggering Mr Cummings’ demise. The role will be taken on temporarily by Edward Lister, a trusted aide from Mr Johnson’s days running London “pending a permanent appointment to the post”. In a day of confusion, Downing Street first refused to say if Mr Cummings had formally quit or whether he will sever all ties, amid a suggestion that he could even retain a ‘hot desk’. The later, furious briefing over his departure date pointed to a fresh clash and a possible attempt to force him ~ and Cain, the former No 10 communications chief~ to work a notice period. A No 10 source insisted: “Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain will continue to work for the PM and No 10 until midDecember.” Alternative versions of the final meeting between Boris Johnson and his aides soon surfaced, with some reports suggesting that the prime minister had angrily ordered the pair to “get out and never return” after accusing them of briefing against him and his partner Carrie Symonds. Another version of the alleged “show- down” claimed the trio had shared jokes and posed for pictures. Nevertheless, the departure brings down the curtain on Mr Cummings’ extraordinary central role at the heart of power, after being credited as the campaign genius behind the Brexit referendum victory. Michael Heseltine, the pro-EU former Conservative deputy prime minister and now the president of the European Movement, said: “In an interview in March, I forecast Dominic Cummings would be gone by Christmas. “I can think of no man who has done so much harm to this country, in so short a time. He has left a generation to pay the price of Brexit.” Tory MPs ~ who credit him with the twin triumphs of the 2016 referendum and the 2019 general election campaign – also spoke of the need for change. Theresa Villiers, the former environment secretary, attacked his “dismissive attitude” to ministers and MPs” saying: “This is an opportunity to move on from that and to have a more collaborative approach.” Bernard Jenkin, who chairs the Commons Liaison Committee, welcomed an opportunity to restore “respect, integrity and trust” that had been “lacking in recent months”. “It’s an opportunity to reset how the government operates and to emphasise some values about what we want to project as a Conservative Party in government,” he said. Arguing that “no prime minister can afford a single adviser to become a running story”, Sir Bernard added: “I’m not surprised in a way that it is ending in the way it is. Nobody is indispensable.” And Roger Gale, another Tory MP called for a power, ful chief of staff, saying: “Frankly, this is a distraction that cannot and should not be allowed to take place, and the prime minister has got to get a grip on it.” Mr Cummings’ departure was “probably the sign that Johnson has begun his Uturn and will in the end accept EU conditions" for a trade deal, said Phillippe Lambert, who sat on the European Parliament’s Brexit committee. But the claim was rubbished by the PM’s spokesman, who said: “That is simply false. The government’s position in relation to the future trade agreement negotiations is unchanged.”
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