FRIDAY www.thestatesman.com 20 NOVEMBER 2020 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |`5|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR ‘CONGRESS NEEDS TO CLARIFY STAND ON GUPKAR ALLIANCE’ Mainly clear sky. Mist in the morning. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 25 and 09 degrees Celsius respectively. Max: 93% Min: 42% TEMPERATURE Max: 25.6°C (-2) SUN RISES 06:49 hrs MOON RISES 12:34 hrs Min: 09.4°C (-3) SUN SETS 17:26 hrs MOON SETS 22:31 hrs THUMBNAILS Women shopping for Chhath Puja in the Capital SNS Thursday. Calcutta HC refuses to modify order on Chhath: A Division Bench of Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Arijit Banerjee of Calcutta High Court on Thursday refused to modify its 10 November which banned Chhath celebration at Subhas Sarobar. In a petition during the day, the state had prayed for a modification of 10 November order where the court had ordered that there will be no Chhat puja celebration at both Rabindra Sarobar and Subhas Sarobar. SC restores PIL against Centre’s farm laws: The Supreme Court on Thursday restored a PIL, which was dismissed earlier, challenging the constitutional validity of Centre's newly enacted three farm laws on a ground that Parliament lacked power to make legislations on the subject as 'agriculture' is a state subject in the Constitution. Sadananda Gowda tests positive for Covid: Fertilizer minister D V Sadananda Gowda on Thursday said he has tested positive for coronavirus and has isolated himself. “After initial symptoms of Covid-19, I got myself tested and the report came positive. I have isolated myself,” Gowda tweeted. Indian Army strikes suspected Pakistani terror launch pads in response to ceasefire violations, terrorists’ infiltrations across LoC SNS & PTI T he Indian Army is carrying out “pinpoint strikes” on suspected terror launchpads inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in response to Pakistani military’s unrelenting efforts to push maximum number of terrorists into India before the onset of harsh winters, sources in the security establishment said today. The ‘deep state’ in Pakistan has tried to manage a fine balance between escaping the scrutiny by global anti-terror watchdog FATF and supporting terror at the same time with an aim to fuel unrest in Jammu and Kashmir, they said. In the last few weeks, Pakistan Army has been aggressively targeting civilians on Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC) by resorting to indiscriminate PATNA, 19 NOVEMBER JD(U) leader Mewa Lal Chaudhary, whose appointment as the education minister of Bihar despite a corruption taint had brought the Nitish Kumar government under heavy opposition fire, resigned on Thursday barely hours after taking charge. Soon after assuming charge, Chaudhary expressed dismay over the controversy and told journalists that he was neither convicted by a court nor named in any charge sheet filed by the investigating agency in connection with irregularities that allegedly took place at an firing by heavy calibre artillery guns to support infiltration of terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir, they said. This year, 21 innocent civilians have lost their lives in Pakistani firing compared to 18 in the whole of 2019, according to official data. The sources said intelligence-based targeted strikes are being conducted by the Indian Army to neutralise mostly Pakistani and foreign terrorists, and the collateral damage has been very negligible in these operations. The new pattern being followed by Islamabad in “inciting” unrest and arm the youths in Jammu and Kashmir has been to avoid any trace of its involvement in view of the growing international pressure on it to take action against terror groups operating from its soil, they said. on suspected launchpads inside Pakistan-OccupiedKashmir,” the source said, adding deaths of terrorists in the area are shown as civilian deaths by Pakistan in order to garner sympathy and aid from foreign donors. TARGETED ATTACKS In the last few weeks, Pakistan Army has been aggressively targeting civilians on Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC) by resorting to indiscriminate firing by heavy calibre artillery guns to support infiltration of terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir, sources in the security establishment said The ‘deep state’ in Pakistan has tried to manage a fine balance between escaping the scrutiny by global anti-terror watchdog FATF and supporting terror at the same time with an aim to fuel unrest in Jammu and Kashmir The sources said intelligence-based targeted strikes are being conducted by the Indian Army to neutralise mostly Pakistani and foreign terrorists, and the collateral damage has been very negligible in these operations “Pakistan has sought to target the peaceful villagers living alongside the Indian side of the LoC in order to send a message to the inhabitants of Kashmiri hinterland that to disobey Pakistani directives on terrorism will prove lethal,” said a military source. Triggering a major flare up, Pakistan resorted to heavy shelling in several areas along the LoC in north Kashmir on Friday killing five security personnel apart from at least four civilians. The Indian Army mounted a major retaliation pounding several Pakistani positions with anti-tank guided missiles and artillery guns in which at least eight Pakistani soldiers were killed and 12 others injured. “Pakistan Army’s actions to exclusively target civilians are countered by Indian Army’s pinpoint strikes 4 JeM terrorists killed in J&K encounter STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE JAMMU, 19 NOVEMBER Four Pakistani suicide bombers of Jaish-e-Mohammad ( JeM) were on Thursday killed in an encounter with security forces at Ban near the strategic headquarters of the Indian Army’s 16 Corps at Nagrota on the JammuSrinagar highway. Two policemen were injured during the gunfight that began in the wee hours at 4.50 a.m. at the toll plaza where the security forces had laid a cordon following intelligence inputs about movement of the terrorists in a Srinagar bound truck. The terrorists are suspected to have infiltrated through the internation- Graft-taint row forces Bihar minister to quit PRESS TRUST OF INDIA P12 India executing pinpoint strikes in PoK NEW DELHI, 19 NOVEMBER RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY BETTER MEDVEDEV THAN TENNIS’ TOP GLOBAL STAR P10 P7 P5 WEATHER TRUMP TARGETS VOTE CERTIFICATION IN LATE ATTEMPT GETTING TO KNOW FLOTUS agriculture university a few years ago while he was its vice chancellor. His resignation was accepted by Governor Chauhan on the recommendation of the CM, and Ashok Choudhary, who holds building construction and other portfolios, has been asked to take the additional charge. “I was nowhere directly involved in the appointments. As the VC, I was only the Chairman of the experts’ committee which was entrusted with the recruitments,” said Chaudhary. He had been named in a 2017 FIR regarding alleged irregularities in appointment of teachers at the Bihar Agriculture University. al border somewhere near Samba district of Jammu and boarded the truck with a cache of arms, ammunition and Pakistanmade medicines. A team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) reached the spot to probe the incident. The injured policemen have been identified as Kuldeep Raj (32) of the special operations group (SOG) and senior constable Mohammad Ishaq Malik of Ramban. “In a bid to escape, terrorists tossed grenades at security forces when the truck was intercepted. The truck caught fire and a few grenades exploded inside it during the exchange of fire,” Mukesh Singh, Inspector General of Police (Jammu zone), said. Thereafter, the terrorists fled towards the forest area where they were trapped and the encounter broke out. A cache of arms and ammu- nition, including 11 AK-47 Rifles, three pistols, 29 grenades and other devices were recovered from the slain terrorists. Medicines with Pakistan marking prove Pakistani origin of these terrorists. The quantity of weapons and the SOS medicines also indicate towards fresh infiltration and they being suicide attackers, the IGP said. “The truck driver is absconding, we’re looking for him. It’s possible that they were planning a big attack. It is one of the largest seizures of its kind in the recent past. It’s possible that they were targeting the District Development Council (DDC) elections. However, we’re investigating,” said Mukesh Singh. The IGP said that the encounter lasted for three hours. The area has been sanitized and security has been tightened. The IGP over the public address system asked the terrorists to surrender but they continued firing at the security forces. A cavity had been fabricated in the truck with registration number JK01AL1055 to hide terrorists and the arms and ammunition they were carrying. The Jammu-Srinagar national highway was closed for vehicular traffic because of the encounter. Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha later visited Government Medical College here to enquire about the wellbeing of JKP injured jawans. Saeed gets 10 years jail in two more terror cases PRESS TRUST OF INDIA LAHORE, 19 NOVEMBER Mumbai terror attack mastermind and Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed was on Thursday sentenced to 10 years in jail by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan in two more terror financing cases. Saeed, a UN designated terrorist whom the US has placed a $10 million bounty on, was arrested on 17 July last year in the terror financing cases. He was sentenced to 11 years in jail by an anti-terrorism court in February this year in two terror financing cases. The 70-year-old JuD chief is lodged at Lahore’s highsecurity Kot Lakhpat jail. “The Anti-Terrorism Court Jamat chief Hafiz Saeed, a UN designated terrorist whom the US has placed a $10 million bounty on, was arrested on 17 July last year in the terror financing cases. He was sentenced to 11 years by an anti-terror court in Feb this year of Lahore on Thursday sentenced four JuD leaders, including its chief Hafiz Saeed, in two more cases,” a court official said. Saeed and his two close aides - Zafar Iqbal and Yahya Mujahid~ have been sentenced to 10 and a half years each, while JuD chief’s brother-in-law Abdul Rehman Makki was sentenced to six months imprisonment. “Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta of ATC Court No. 1 heard the case filed by the Counter Terrorism Department in which the verdict has been announced after the statements of witnesses were crossexamined,” the official said. A total of 41 cases have been registered by the CTD against the JuD leaders, out of which 24 have been decided while the rest are pending in the ATC courts. Four cases have been decided against Saeed so far. Thursday's sentencing comes weeks after Paris-based global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog ~ the Financial Action Task Force retained Pakistan on its grey list till February 2021 as Islamabad failed to fulfil the agency’s six key obligations, including failure to take action against two of India’s most wanted terrorists~ Saeed and Maulana Masood Azhar. Saeed-led JuD is the front organisation for the Lashkare-Toiba (LeT) which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans. The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. He was listed under the UN Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008. P ‘Pak forces providing cover fire to terrorists': India today charged Pakistani forces with continuing to provide supporting cover fire to terrorists to cross the LoC to indulge in terrorism in India. “Despite repeated calls for restraint and adherence to the ceasefire understanding of 2003 for maintaining peace and tranquility, Pakistani forces continue to engage in providing supporting cover fire to infiltrators. The incessant infiltration of terrorists and induction of weapons to fuel terror activities continue unabated. Such activities are not possible without the support of Pakistani forces deployed along the LoC,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava told a media briefing here. He said the Charge d’Affaires of the High Commission of Pakistan in New Delhi was summoned by the foreign office on 14 November and a strong protest was lodged over unprovoked ceasefire violations by Pakistani forces, on multiple sectors along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir on 13 November, resulting in the death of four civilians and injuries to 19 others. He said India lodged a protest with Pakistan over its continued support to cross border terrorist infiltration. Pakistan has once again been reminded of its bilateral commitment to not allow any territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India. Malda blast: 5 dead, police say machine fault; BJP cries foul AVIJIT ROY MALDA, 19 NOVEMBER Five persons were killed and five more seriously injured when an explosion ripped through a plastic recycling factory at Sujapur under the Kaliachak police station in Malda at 11 a.m. today. The intensity of the blast was such that the tremors were felt 100 metres from the place of occurrence, while it left a two-feet-deep crater at the place of explosion. The dead have been identified as Rajib Shaikh 18, Mustafa Shaikh, 40, Ajijul Rahaman, 13, and Abdul Rahaman, 28. The owner of the factory, Alif Shaikh, is absconding, sources said. According to authorities, preliminary investigations have revealed that the explosion could have come from a recycling machine in the factory. District Magistrate Rajarshi Mitra and Superintendent of Police Alok Rajoria led a team to the spot and sent the bodies for postmortem, while admitting the injured in the Malda Medical College and Hospital. Around 2 p.m. today, the chief secretary of the state, Alapan Bandopadhyay, in a Press conference in Kolkata, announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each for the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the injured, as per directions of chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Meanwhile, BJP MP from North Malda, Khagen Murmu, alleged presence of explosives in the factory and demanded NIA investigations into the matter. The entire Sujapur village felt the tremors of the explosion. “The incident reminded people of the explosion in a toto (battery-powered rickshaw) in July, where the driver’s body was charred into pieces in English Bazaar,” sources said. “It seems that a machine in the factory malfunctioned and exploded, killing four people. Forensic experts will visit the spot and then we can have more details,” Rajoria said. Sujapur MLA Isha Khan Choudhury demanded thorough investigations. Murmu later alleged, “From the recent incidents, it is quite evident that the TMC has set up factories of crude bombs everywhere in the state and in Sujapur too, it is no exception, as the elections are knocking on the door.” 50 per cent rise in daily Covid-19 cases recorded; Delhi situation grim STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 19 NOVEMBER With 45,576 more coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours on Thursday, India witnessed a jump of over 50 per cent in such cases reported on Tuesday, pushing its cumulative tally to 89,58,483. As per Health Ministry data, the total death toll rose to 1,31,578 with 585 more fatalities in the last 24 hours, a jump of 24 per cent over the previous day’s figure. On Wednesday, India reported 38,616 new cases and 449 deaths, and on Tuesday 29,154 new cases. The active cases now total 4,43,303 as 83,83,602 people have recovered from the disease so far. One reason for the daily spike could be increased test- ing as 10,28,203 samples were tested on Wednesday after a long weekend when eight lakh samples on an average were tested, data from the Indian Council of Medical Research showed. Meanwhile, the situation of Covid-19 remains grim in the national capital. The latest surge has left the healthcare system here gasping for relief. The hospitals in Delhi, both government and private hospitals, as of now, are left with only nine per cent ICU beds with ventilators, which are extremely crucial for patients with severe disease, as per the Delhi Corona App. Apart from severe patients, the patients with moderate symptoms are made to wait hours before admission in the hospitals. Besides, the non-Covid patients are running from pillar to post just to get hospital beds. The AAP government on Thursday announced sweeping measures, including a steep Rs 2,000 fine for not wearing masks, reservation of 80 per cent ICU beds in private hospitals, doubling testing centres in every district and postponement of non-critical surgeries at health facilities. Also, citing the proposal sent by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has decided to reinforce the restrictions on number of guests at marriagerelated events to 50. The decision came a day after Kejriwal wrote to Lt Governor Anil Baijal, who is also the Chairperson of the DDMA. it was “disheartening” to see that the number of daily deaths due to the virus has increased to 131 and fresh Covid cases have risen to 7,486. Visitors throng at the Humayun Tomb. In the Capital on Thursday. Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the AAP government if it could explain to those who had lost their near and dear ones to Covid-19 in the last 18 days why the administration did not take steps when cases were spiralling in the nation- SUBRATA DUTTA al capital. The court, which also asked the government to look at the situation with a “magnifying glass”, observed that Delhi adds 7,546 fresh virus cases, 98 deaths: Delhi today logged 7,546 fresh coronavirus (Covid-19) cases and recorded 98 more fatalities that pushed its Covid death toll to 8,041, according to the Delhi government’s latest health bulletin. These fresh cases were detected out of 62,437 tests conducted the previous day, including 22,067 RT-PCR tests which were reportedly the city’s highest in a day till date. The positivity rate stood at 12.09 per cent, the bulletin said. SEE ALSO PAGES 2 & 3 89,58,483 4,43,303 45,576 48,493 1,31,578 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. THURSDAY 19 NOVEMBER 2020
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