MONDAY www.thestatesman.com 28 DECEMBER 2020 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |` 5|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR RCP SINGH IS NEW JANATA DAL (UNITED) PRESIDENT CONFLICT IN KERALA P5 WEATHER Mainly clear sky. Shallow to moderate fog in the morning. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 20 and 05 degrees Celsius respectively. RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max: 97% P9 Farmers’ agitation enters 2nd month PRESS TRUST OF INDIA TEMPERATURE Max: 22.6°C (+2) SUN RISES 07:13 hrs MOON RISES 16:06 hrs P6 Min: 6.0°C (-1) SUN SETS 17:33 hrs MOON SETS 06:22 hrs THUMBNAILS At a Trinamul Congress-organised demonstration protesting against the BJP for an alleged bid to malign Nobel laureate Amartya Sen in SNS Kolkata on Sunday. Cold wave: Several places in north India, including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, recorded their minimum temperature below the five-degree Celsius mark on Sunday, with the India Meteorological Department forecasting severe cold wave in parts of the region later this week and warning of dense fog. Though the mercury rose slightly in Delhi due to a Western disturbance, the department said the relief will be short-lived and the minimum temperature could fall by a further three to five degrees. P4 Sunil Kothari dead: Padma Shri dance historian and critic Sunil Kothari passed away Sunday morning at a Delhi hospital after he suffered a cardiac arrest a month after testing positive for coronavirus. He was 87. “He had tested positive for Covid almost a month back and was not in a good condition,” Vidha Lal, a family friend and herself a dancer, said. Kothari was recovering at home in Asian Games Village but was rushed to a hospital after suffering a P5 cardiac arrest this morning, she added. NEW DELHI, 27 DECEMBER The war of words between the BJP and opposition parties intensified on Sunday as the stir by thousands of farmers who are camping on Delhi's borders braving the harsh winters to press for the repeal of three new central agriculture laws entered the second month. A day after protesting farmer unions proposed December 29 for the next round of talks but put forth several conditions for the agenda, Union minister of state for agriculture Kailash Choudhary expressed hope that a solution will be reached in the meeting, even as several BJP leaders decried alleged attempts to politicise the farmer issues. However, farmer leader and CPI(M) politburo member Hannan Mollah said there has been no response to their proposal for talks and dismissed claims that the Left parties were behind the agitation. “The government till now said that we did not want a meeting, now that we have specifically told them when, where and what of the meeting, there is no response from them. Now, it is for the people to decide who are liars. We acknowledge that there cannot be a resolution without a dialogue with the government,” the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) general secretary said. Mollah said the farmer unions have proposed four specific talking points for the December 29 meeting ~ the government stating the procedure for repealing three farm laws, procedure to make minimum support price (MSP) for crops a legal SRINAGAR, 27 DECEMBER Police have filed a chargesheet against three men, including an Army officer, in the Shopian “fake” encounter case of three civilians in July, officials said on Sunday. The 1,400-page charge sheet was filed in the court of principal district and sessions judge, Shopian on Saturday by the head of the Special Investigation Team (SIT), the officials said. Captain Bhupinder of the Army's 62 Rashtriya Rifles, Bilal Ahmed Lone and Tabish Nazir were named as accused in the chargeseheet for their role in the alleged fake encounter killing of the three men hailing from Rajouri dis- right, release of Punjab farmers arrested in pollutionrelated cases, and repeal of the Electricity Amendment Bill.The government had earlier objected to the raising of issues not related to the three farm laws. “While there is no response from the government, they are busy pushing an agenda on the movement which was never ours to start with. Out of the 500 organisations which are part of the farmer struggle, around 10-11 would be Left-leaning. They want the people to believe that crores of people are responding to the call of the Left parties? If this were true, then we would have a revolution,” the 76-year-old leader said. There has been no break- one of the prominent leaders leading the farmer agitation. Opposing the 'Mann Ki Baat' radio programme by beating a 'thali' at the Makdoli toll plaza in the Rohtak district of Haryana, Chaduni while addressthrough after five rounds of talks between the Centre and the farmer unions, which rejected a government proposal to amend the laws and provide a written assurance on the MSP issue. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal visited the protest site at Singhu border for the second time and appealed to the Centre to scrap the contentious laws, but the BJP said he can fix a date and place of his choice where the benefits of the legislation could be explained to him. Security remained tight at the Delhi borders with hundreds of personnel deployed at Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri where the farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana ing Modi said, "We are not convinced by your 'Mann ki Baat' address. You speak your mind but do not listen to other people's voices." The farmer agitation entered its 32nd day on Sunday. (Photograph by Deepak) and parts of Uttar Pradesh, have been camping since the last week of November. Sources claimed ?that more than 176 mobile signal transmitting sites have been vandalised in the last 24 hours in Punjab by protesters despite chief minister Amarinder Singh's appeal not to damage telecom infrastructure. While firms belonging to Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani do not procure foodgrains from farmers, the narrative that new farm laws are to benefit them has made them targets, with protesting farmers in many places in Punjab having vandalised and damaged Reliance Jio towers, snapping connectivity. MORE ON PAGE 5 trict, they added. A police spokesperson said the court has issued an order, giving an option to the Army under the relevant sections of law for a trial of Captain Bhupinder in a criminal court of ordinary jurisdiction or court martial. The spokesperson said during investigation, it came to light that a conspiracy was hatched by the accused captain and civilians Nazir and Lone to abduct the three civilians and stage the encounter. “They deliberately and purposefully chose not to follow SOPs, planted illegally-acquired weapons and material on their (victims) bodies after stripping them of their identities and tagged them as hardcore terrorists in possession of war- like stores, deliberately providing false information to colleagues and seniors,” he said. The information obtained from the accused led the SIT to recreate the scenes of the crime, including the routes used after meeting the victims and the place where they were killed, the spokesperson said. “During further investigation, all the circumstantial evidence, which includes two vehicles and the service rifle of Captain Singh of the 62 RR, were seized,” he added. Lone has become an approver under the relevant section of law and his statement has been recorded before the chief judicial magistrate, Shopian, the spokesperson said. During the investigation, the statements of 49 witnesses were recorded, he added. The Army on Friday said it has completed the Summary of Evidence against two of its men involved in July's Amshipura encounter in Shopian district, in which the three civilians were killed. A possible court martial could take place after the completion of the formalities, Army officials said. The Army had ordered a Court of Inquiry (CoI) earlier this year after reports appeared on social media that the three men, labelled as terrorists, were gunned down by its personnel. The CoI, which completed its probe in September, found “prima facie” evidence that the troops had “exceeded” the powers under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) during the July 18 encounter. Following this, the Army had initiated disciplinary proceedings. Officials in the know of the development said the two Army personnel may face court martial proceedings for violating the powers vested under the AFSPA, 1990 and not following the “dos and don'ts” of the Chief of Army Staff as approved by the Supreme Court. (Representational image) ‘Big brother’ AIADMK tells BJP to fall in line PRESS TRUST OF INDIA CHENNAI, 27 DECEMBER In its first poll rally here, the ruling AIADMK on Sunday bluntly told ally BJP that it cannot be accommodated in the government if their alliance won the assembly elections, due next year, and asserted that the saffron party cannot make a mark in the Dravidian heartland of Tamil Nadu. The BJP has to endorse chief minister K Palaniswami's (photo) candidature for the CM's post for the polls, the AIADMK indicated and wanted its partner to agree to its other terms like non-participation in government and if not it should rethink its 2021 electoral options. Pointing to the deaths of AIADMK's top leader J Jayalalithaa and DMK's M Karunanid- NEW DELHI, 27 DECEMBER INDO-ASIAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 27 DECEMBER Shopian ‘fake’ encounter: Jammu and Kashmir police file charge sheet against Army officer, 2 other personnel PRESS TRUST OF INDIA SNS & PTI Listen to our 'Mann ki Baat' too, farmers tell PM Modi While Prime Minister Narendra Modi was addressing the people of the country on Sunday through his monthly radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat', the protesting farmers opposed it by beating 'thalis' (plates) and clapping their hands. Haryana farmer leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni appealed to the Prime Minister to listen to the "Mann ki Baat" of farmers and voices of other people as well. Gurnam Singh is the Haryana state President of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) and is hi, senior leader and AIADMK deputy coordinator K P Munusamy said that in the absence of such leaders, 'many' parties were now trying to make a political entry into Tamil Nadu. Some national parties, “opportunists, betrayers and a crowd,”were blaming the Dravidian outfits, alleging they ruined Tamil Nadu by their 50-plus year rule of the state, he said. All such forces eying political gains should realise that Tamil Nadu would not endorse them as Dravidian ideology is the bedrock of the state's social and cultural milieu, he said. Tamil Nadu's socio-political landscape was nurtured by the Dravidian movement, which was built on the ethos of Tamil culture, language and valour and hence the state was entirely different from the rest of the country, Munusamy said. The distinctive feature and undercurrent of the Dravidian movement has effectively blocked the entry of national parties into the state for over half a century, he said, adding it was only the offshoots of the movement ~ AIADMK and DMK ~ that have been ruling Tamil Nadu since 1967. Munusamy made the remarks in the presence of chief minister K Palaniswami, deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam and other senior leaders. Assembly elections are due during April-May 2021 in Tamil Nadu. In his speech, Munusamy, a senior leader seen as close to Panneerselvam, who is also the party coordinator, was clear in his political message that BJP cannot succeed independently in Tamil Nadu and was very much dependent on AIADMK. He indicated that BJP should accept that AIADMK was the senior partner, endorse the candidature of Palaniswami or the saffron party may reconsider its electoral options for the 2021 polls. Though Munusamy did not mention BJP by name, it was clear that the message was intended for the party that leads the Central government. “Be it a national party or state party...the government will be led by the AIADMK. There is no necessity for a coalition government. If any political party comes forward for an alliance arrangement with an idea of a coalition government, let them please think about it,” he said. P12 Covid-19: Lowest daily cases after nearly 6 months Farmer leader claims there’s no response from govt to talks proposal Min: 50% RAHANE DEFIES WEIGHT OF CAPTAINCY SINDH GOVT NOT TO RELEASE PEARL MURDER ACCUSED India registered the lowest single-day rise in Covid-19 cases in nearly six months at 18,732, while it is set to hold a two-day dry run from Monday in four states for its proposed ambitious vaccination drive likely to be kicked off in January. The states continued to put into place several measures including testing of people arriving from abroad in the wake of a new strain of the coronavirus detected in the UK. The Covid-19 active caseload in the country also dipped to 2.78 lakh on Sunday, the lowest after 170 days, the Union health ministry said. But the pandemic continued to take a toll on activities as it forced the postponement of the winter session of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, which was scheduled to begin on December 28, after protem speaker disclosed that 61 employees and officials of the Assembly secretariat and five MLAs have tested coronavirus positive. To assess the readiness of the mechanism laid out for the Covid-19 vaccination drive, a dry run has been planned by the Centre on December 28 and 29 in four states ~ Punjab, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. India registered 18,732 fresh cases of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours while 97,61,538 people have recuperated so far from the disease, taking the recovery rate to 95.82 per cent, according to health ministry data updated on Sunday. The death toll climbed to 1,47,622 with the novel coronavirus claiming 279 lives in a span of 24 hours, the data updated at 8 a,m showed. The total number of confirmed cases climbed to 1,01,87,850. Delhi adds 757 cases, 16 deaths: Delhi today recorded 757 fresh cases of coronavirus infections (Covid-19) following 75,210 tests conducted in different parts of the city, according to the Delhi government’s latest health bulletin. 1,01,87,850 2,78,690 18,732 21,430 1,47,622 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. SUNDAY 27 DECEMBER 2020 The tests included 40,742 RTPCR/CBNAAT/TrueNat ones and 34,468 rapid antigen tests. The positivity rate stood at 1.01 per cent, the health bulletin said. The national capital reported 16 fresh Covid fatalities, which took its toll to 10,453. (SEE P2) Global Covid tally tops 80 million INDO-ASIAN NEWS SERVICE WASHINGTON, 27 DECEMBER In another grim milestone, the overall number of global coronavirus cases has surpassed the 80 million mark, while the deaths have surged to more than 1.75 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. In an update on Sunday morning, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 80,282,523 and 1,756,584, respectively. The US is the worst-hit Araceli Hidalgo (96), receives a dose of the PfizerBioNTech vaccine in Guadalajara, becoming the first person vaccinated against Covid-19 in Spain. AFP country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 18,943,541 and 331,754, respectively. India comes in second place in terms of number of cases. Other countries with more than a million confirmed cases are Brazil (7,448,560), Russia (2,992,123), France (2,607,688), the UK (2,262,735), Turkey (2,133,373), Italy (2,038,759), Spain (1,854,951), Germany (1,646,240), Colombia (1,584,903), Argentina (1,578,267), Mexico (1,372,243), Poland (1,253,957), Iran (1,194,963), Ukraine (1,049,717) and Peru (1,005,546), the CSSE figures showed. Brazil currently accounts for the second highest number of fatalities at 1,90,795. SMOGGY VISTA The Capital continues to reel under cold and smoggy weather conditions. On Sunday. (P2) SUBRATA DUTTA Lawyer from Punjab commits suicide near farmers’ protest site PRESS TRUST OF INDIA JHAJJAR (HARYANA), 27 DECEMBER A lawyer from Punjab allegedly committed suicide by consuming poison on Sunday a few kilometres from the site of a farmers' protest at Tikri border. Amarjit Singh from Jalalabad in Punjab's Fazilka district was taken to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS) in Rohtak where doctors declared him dead on arrival, police said. In a purported suicide note, Singh said he was sacrificing his life in support of the farmers' agitation against the Centre's new farm laws so thatthegovernmentiscompelled to listen to the voice of the people. Singh wrote that the common people like farmers and labourers are feeling "defrauded" due to the three "black" agriculture laws and "the worst life is inevitable". The police said they are verifying the authenticity of the suicide note, dated December 18. "We have informed the relatives of the deceased and once they reach here their statements will be recorded and further proceedings will be conducted," a police officer from Haryana's Jhajjar district said, adding that they were informed about the suicide by the hospital authorities. Earlier, at least two suicides have been linked to the farmers' stir, underway at various border points of Delhi for over a month now. A Sikh preacher, Sant Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide near the Singhu border protest site earlier this month claiming that he was "unable to bear the pain of the farmers". A 22-year-old farmer had allegedly committed suicide in Punjab's Bathinda after returning from a protest site near the Delhi border. A week ago, a 65-year-old farmer from Punjab had attempted suicide by consuming some poisonous substance near the Singhu border.Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and some other states have been protesting at various border points of Delhi against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.
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