CMYK THURSDAY www.thestatesman.com 07 JANUARY 2021 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |` 5.00|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR ‘MODI EARNED AND ACHIEVED PRIME MINISTERSHIP’ WARNOCK MAKES HISTORY WITH SENATE WIN P10 WEATHER Mainly clear sky. Maximum and minimum temperature most likely to be around 31 °C and 18 °C respectively. BRINDA WRITES TO KEJRIWAL ON RIOTS COMPENSATION P5 P4 IT'S TIME FOR INDIANS TO PULL AHEAD P12 Interfaith marriage: State conversion laws on SC radar RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Bench refuses to stay controversial provisions of the laws, issues notices to UP, U’khand Max. 99 % PRESS TRUST OF INDIA TEMPERATURE Min. 44 % Max: 30.7 °C (+5) Min: 16.4 °C (+2) SUN RISES SUN SETS 06:18 hrs 17:07 hrs MOON RISES MOON SETS 00:04 hrs 11:30 hrs New moon on 13 January THUMBNAILS Students attend classes after schools reopen after a gap of nine months amid Covid-19 safety measures, in Bengaluru on Wednesday. IANS Modi to interact with economists: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with leading economists and sectoral experts on Friday to deliberate on measures that may be included in the upcoming Budget for promoting growth, amid uncertainty caused by Covid-19. The meeting, being organised by the government think tank Niti Aayog will be held virtually and will also be attended by Niti Aayog ViceChairman Rajiv Kumar and Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant. The upcoming Union Budget is likely to be presented on February 1, 2021. Bidding for spectrum auction to start from March 1: Bidding for the sixth round of spectrum auction for radiowaves worth Rs 3.92 lakh crore will start from 1 March, according to a notice issued by the department of telecom today. The spectrum auction is being held after a gap of four years and over two years after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) calculated and recommended P8 base price for the radiowaves. The pleas, filed by advocate Vishal Thakre and others and an NGO Citizen for Justice and Peace', have challenged the constitutional validity of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020 and the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018 which regulate religious conversions of inter-faith marriages NEW DELHI, 6 JANUARY he Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to examine controversial new laws of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand regulating religious conversions due to inter-faith marriages. A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde refused, however, to stay the controversial provisions of the laws and issued notices to both state governments on two different petitions. The pleas, filed by advocate Vishal Thakre and others and an NGO Citizen for Justice and Peace', have challenged the constitutional validity of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020 and the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018 which regulate religious conversions of interfaith marriages. At the outset, the top court asked the petitioners to approach the Allahabad High Court after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that it was already seized of the matter. The bench said that this was not the transfer petition where it could transfer to itself all the cases on the law after one of the petitioners said that the issue should be examined by the top court. Senior advocate C U Singh, appearing for the NGO, referred to the judgement of Justice (retd) Deepak Gupta and said that similar laws were being made in various states. He sought a stay on the provisions of the law and said that people were being “lifted” by authorities in the middle of wedding ceremonies. Some provisions of these laws are “oppressive and horrible” in nature and require prior consent of the government to marry which T is “absolutely obnoxious”, Singh added. The bench said that it was issuing notice and sought response from both the state governments within four weeks. When Singh insisted on stay of the provisions, CJI Bobde said it was being sought without the states being heard. How can it be done? The Uttar Pradesh Ordinance was cleared by the state Cabinet in November and ascent was given by Governor Anandiben Patel on November 28. It relates not only to inter-faith marriages but all religious conversions and lays down elaborate procedures for those who wish to convert to another religion. The Uttarakhand Act entails two year jail term for those found guilty of religious conversion through force or allurement, which can be in cash or in kind --employment or material benefit. Thakre and others said they are aggrieved by the ordinance which curtails the fundamental rights of the citizens provided in the Constitution. Their plea said the laws passed by Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand against Love Jihad' and punishments thereof may be declared ultra vires and null and void, because it disturbs the basic structure of the Constitution as laid down by the Law. It said the ordinance passed by Uttar Pradesh and the law passed by Uttarakhand is against the public policy and society at large. Besides seeking to declare the laws as null and void, the plea sought direction to the two states to not to give effect to impugned provisions/ordinance and withdraw the same. The plea Citizen for Justice and Peace' said that both the legislations violate Articles 21 and 25, as it empowers the State to suppress an individual's personal liberty and the freedom to practice religion of one's choice. It mandates that a series of complicated procedures to be followed before and after conversion, taking the State into confidence to ensure that the act was an informed and voluntary decision by the individual, the plea said. The Mumbai-based NGO further said that the UP ordinance casts the burden of proof on the accused against the established criminal jurisprudence. The plea by the NGO also sought direction to declare both the laws of the States as ultra vires of the constitution. Advisories issued after bird flu outbreaks in 4 states PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 6 JANUARY The Centre on Wednesday said Avian Influenza, or the bird flu outbreak, has been reported at 12 epicentres in four states, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, and advisories have been issued to contain further spread of the infection in poultry ducks, crows and migratory birds. In a statement, the Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying said that other states have been asked to keep a vigil on any unusual mortality amongst birds. The current bird flu outbreak is reported barely a few months after India in September 30, 2020 declared the country free from the disease. India notified the first outbreak of Avian Influenza in 2006. “After confirmation of positive samples from ICAR-NIHSAD NEW THREAT flu outbreak, has been reported at 12 epicentres in four states, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh Of the 12 epicenters, the bird flu has been reported in crows in Baran, Kota, Jhalawar region of Rajasthan as well as Mandsaur, Indore, Malwa areas of Madhya Pradesh. In Himachal Pradesh, the infection was found in migratory birds in Kangra region and in poultry ducks in Kottayam, Alappuzha in Kerala (National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases), Avian Influenza has been reported at 12 epicenters,” the ministry said. Of the 12 epicenters, the bird flu has been reported in crows in Baran, Kota, Jhalawar region of Rajasthan as well as Mandsaur, Indore, Malwa areas of Madhya Pradesh. In Himachal Pradesh, the infection was found in migra- tory birds in Kangra region and in poultry ducks in Kottayam, Alappuzha (4 epicentres) in Kerala, it added. Further, the ministry said it has set up a “control room” in New Delhi to keep a watch on the situation and to take stock on a daily basis the preventive and control measures undertaken by the state authorities. Avian Influenza, or the bird In India, the ministry said that the disease spreads mainly by migratory birds coming into India during winter months from September-October to FebruaryMarch. The secondary spread by human handling (through fomites) cannot be ruled out. “Infection in humans is not yet reported in India though the disease is zoonotic. There is no direct evidence that AI viruses can be transmitted to humans via the consumption of contaminated poultry products,” it noted. As per the action plan on Avian Influenza, the ministry has suggested the affected states for strengthening the biosecurity of poultry farms, disinfection of affected areas, proper disposal of dead birds/carcasses, timely collection and submission of samples for confirmation and further surveillance, intensification of surveillance plan as well as the general guidelines for prevention of disease. SC to hear pleas against farm laws on 11 Jan NEW DELHI, 6 JANUARY The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it would hear on January 11 a batch of pleas challenging the new farm laws as also the ones raising issues related to the ongoing farmers' protest at Delhi borders. A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, which observed that there is no improvement on the ground regarding farmers' protests, was informed by the Centre that healthy discussions are going on between the government and farmers over these issues. Attorney General K K Venugopal said there is a good chance that parties may come to a conclusion in the near future and filing of response by the Centre on the pleas challenging the new farm laws might foreclose the negotiations between the farmers and government. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, while informing the bench that talks are going on between the government and farmers in a healthy atmosphere, said that these matters should not be listed for hearing on January 8. We understand the situation and encourage the consultation. We can adjourn the matters on Monday if you submit the same due to the ongoing consultation process, the bench said. The top court was hearing a plea filed by advocate M L Sharma. Details on Pg 5 Mamata-Guv in ‘courtesy meeting’ UP govt faces Opp flak after gang-rape, murder of 50-yr-old PRESS TRUST OF INDIA BUDAUN (UP), 6 JANUARY A 50-year-old anganwadi worker was gang-raped and brutally murdered allegedly by a priest and his two accomplices in Budaun district of Uttar Pradesh, police said on Wednesday. Two of the accused were arrested on Tuesday night after the post-mortem report confirmed rape while the priest is on the run, they said, adding that the woman's leg and a rib bone were fractured and there were injuries in her private parts. The incident, which triggered an instant hue and cry in the political circles, took place on Sunday and the matter came to light when her body was brought home at night. The FIR was registered two days later following which the duo was nabbed. Opposition parties attacked the BJP government in the state and termed the incident “horrific” and “shameful”, with the Congress comparing it to the Nirbhaya incident of 2012. “The post-mortem report confirms rape and there are injuries in her private parts and a fracture in the leg,” Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Sankalp Sharma said. She suffered from a rib fracture too, he said, citing the autopsy report. He said the station house officer (SHO) of Ughaiti police station has been suspended for “delay in informing higher authorities, laxity in taking action, dereliction of duty and failure in tak- Gas leak in Rourkela Steel Plant, 4 dead KOLKATA 6 JANUARY STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE ROURKELA, 6 JANUARY In an apparent bid to break the ice between the state government and the governor, chief minister Mamata Banerjee called on Mr Jagdeep Dhankhar at Raj Bhavan this evening. Though what exactly transpired at the 45minute meeting was not known, sources said the two discussed “various issues”, while Nabanna sources termed it as a “courtesy meeting”. Miss Banerjee’s visit assumes significance as it has come at a time when the relationship between Raj Bhavan and the state government has reached a new low.SNS Four contractual employees on Wednesday died after inhaling toxic gases that leaked from a unit at Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP), a subsidiary of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) in apparently the worst industrial accident in Odisha in recent years. The RSP suspended two deputy general managers of coal chemical departments and energy management department, Navendu Das and GB Barik respectively, for dereliction of duty. A high-level committee headed by chief general manager CR Mohapatra is investigating the incident. “A joint probe by different departments has been initiated to ascertain the circumstances leading to the fatal accident. Lapses might have caused the industrial accident. We are looking into the criminal negligence angle before booking anyone”, said Mukesh Kumar Bhamoo, Rourkela SP . The deceased contractual workers were identified as Ganesh Chandra Paila (55), Rabindra Sahu (59), Abhimanyu Sah (33) and Bramhananda Panda (51). Trade union leaders however said 10 workers were affected by the gas leak. Four died and six others are undergoing treatment, they said. Second pan-India dry run of Covid vaccine on 8 Jan SNS & AGENCIES NEW DELHI, 6 JANUARY A second dry run for Covid-19 vaccination will be held in all the states on Friday, sources have said. The first massive dry run was held on 2 January. The exercise checked the best way to vaccinate people against Covid-19 and plug loopholes in logistics and training. The day-long drive on Friday will again test the operational feasibility of Cowin application in a field environment. The government has said vaccination for Covid-19 would start within 10 days from the day when vaccine-makers were given emergency use authorisation. India has cleared Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and BEWARE! Bharat Biotech's Covaxin. The government has been preparing for the vaccine rollout for the last four months, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said last week when the dry run was held. During the dry run, over 20 health workers get dummy vaccines at each site, which is meant to test the mechanisms and reveal possible gaps in the The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday cautioned people against downloading and sharing personal information on some apps named Co-WIN, “created by unscrupulous elements”, that sound similar to the upcoming official platform ofthe government for carrying out the Covid-19 vaccination process. system ahead of the actual vaccination drive. Cases of new strain go up to 73: The number of people who have tested positive for the new UK variant of SARSCoV-2 in the country has climbed to 73, the Union health ministry said on Wednesday. All these people have been kept in single room Bengal: 25 health workers to get Covid jab in dry run centres STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE KOLKATA, 6 JANUARY The second phase of dry run of vaccine will be launched in different districts across Bengal on 8 January before vaccination drive in the country kicks off likely by middle of this month. On 2 January, the first phase of the ‘dry run’ started at three health centres at Salt Lake, Madhyamgram isolation in designated healthcare facilities by respective state governments, the ministry had said on Tuesday. Meanwhile, India’s Covid- and Duttabad areas in North 24 Parganas. Sources in Swasthya Bhavan, state health department head quarters at Salt Lake, said that the second phase of the dry run would start on 8 January in several districts in north and south Bengal.Vaccines would be administered among around 25 health workers in each dry run centre in these districts. Details on Pg 3 19 caseload rose to 1,03,74,932 with 18,088 infections being reported in a day, while the recoveries are nearing one crore. West Bengal registered 868 CMYK Punjab to reopen schools for students of classes 5 to 12: Punjab school education minister Vijay Inder Singla, on Wednesday, said that following the demand of parents, the state government has decided to reopen all government, semi-government and private schools from 7 January onwards. The timings of the schools will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and students only from class V to XII will be allowed to attend physical classes in the schools . SNS fresh Covid cases and 22 deaths due to infection. The total Covid case count is 5,57,252 and death toll is 9,863 in the state till now while there are 8,868 active cases. 1,03,74,932 2,27,546 18,088 21,314 1,50,114 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. WEDNESDAY 6 JAN 2021 Two of the accused were arrested on Tuesday night after the post-mortem report confirmed rape while the priest is on the run ing speedy action”. “On Sunday, the 50year-old woman, who had gone to a temple, was found dead under mysterious circumstances. Family members of the woman have accused the temple mahant (priest) and his accomplices of raping and murdering her. Based on this, a case was registered against the accused. Two of the accused persons were arrested on Tuesday night, while the mahant is still absconding,” he said. Four teams have been formed to nab the priest, the SSP said. The case was registered yesterday after the postmortem report came. “Based on complaints of the family members and the post-mortem report, a case has been registered under section 376D (gang-rape) and 302 (punishment for murder) of IPC,” the SSP said. He said that opinion on the postmortem report is being sought from medical experts and after that only any conclusion can be reached. To a specific question as to whether the case bore any resemblance to the horrific Nirbhaya rape case, the SSP said, “It will be wrong to link this incident to any previous incident. Let's wait for the medical examination report.” TRP case: Cops find ‘proof’ against Arnab, Republic TV MUMBAI, 6 JANUARY The Mumbai Police on Wednesday told the Bombay High Court that “some evidence” was found against Republic TV and its editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami in the Television Rating Points (TRP) scam case, and therefore, it did not want to continue granting them any protection from any coercive action. However, as the high court adjourned the matter without hearing any arguments during the day, the police agreed to continue its previous assurance of not taking any coercive action till January 15, the next date of hearing in the case. The alleged fake TRP scam was unearthed last year after the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) filed a complaint alleging that certain television channels were rigging their TRP numbers, apparently to generate more revenue from advertisements. On Wednesday, the HC adjourned the matter without hearing any arguments after a Republic TV counsel told the court that senior advocate Harish Salve was unable to appear while the second senior lawyer was stuck due to some medical emergency PTI in family.
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