SUNDAY www.thestatesman.com 31 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 ‘AMAZON PLAYING THE DOG IN THE MANGER’ MYANMAR ARMY DENIES COUP THREAT CLAIMS P11 WEATHER Mainly clear sky with fog/mist in the morning. Temperature most likely to be in the range of 23-12 degrees Celsius. RAINFALL: NIL RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max. 91 % TEMPERATURE Min. 44 % Max: 23.1°C (-4) Min: 15.3°C (1) SUN RISES SUN SETS 06:15 hrs 17:23 hrs MOON RISES MOON SETS 18:59 hrs 07:29 hrs Next moon quarter on 04 February P8 PM assures Opp that Govt ‘a phone call away’ for talks Repeal farm laws: TMC STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE KOLKATA, 30 JANUARY PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 30 JANUARY rime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday told floor leaders of various political parties that his government’s offer on agri laws made to protesting farmers “still stands” and it was a “phone call away” for talks, days after violence broke out in parts of the national capital on Republic Day. Addressing these leaders at the customary allparty meeting convened by the government for the smooth conduct of the Budget Session, the Prime Minister, responding to the references by Opposition leaders about the “unfortunate incident” on Republic Day, said that the “law will take its own course”. Sharing the details of the meeting chaired by Modi and attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said, “The Prime Minister assured that the Centre is approaching the farmers issue with an open mind.” P Indian Youth Congress activists pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his death anniversary, in the Capital on Saturday. SUBRATA DUTTA Rajib Banerjee, other ex-TMC leaders join BJP: T Former West Bengal minister Rajib Banerjee, who recently quit the Trinamool Congress, joined the BJP in the national capital on Saturday along with a few other leaders of the state's ruling party after meeting senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Banerjee and MLAs Prabir Ghosal and Baishali Dalmiya, who was recently expelled from the TMC, and former Howrah Mayor Rathin P3 Chakraborty met central BJP leaders. 10 killed in mishap on Agra Highway: At least 10 people were killed and around a dozen received injuries when a private bus collided with a truck on the Moradabad-Agra Highway on Saturday morning owing to poor visibility due to dense fog, an official said. Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath expressed grief and announced a financial assistance of Rs 2 lakh for the kin of the deceased. The accident took place at around 8 am on the Nanpur-Chandausi stretch of the highway near Manpur village P4 under Kundarki Police Station. P7 Govt offer on agri laws still on table: Modi THUMBNAILS Kolkata North MP and Trinamul Congress Leader in the Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay, speaking at the all-party meeting hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said that 20 Opposition parties boycotted the President’s address to a joint sitting of Parliament in a strong message to the Centre to withdraw the farm laws. “Farmers cannot suffer from majoritarianism,” the MP said. Mr Bandopadhyay said the PM must convene a meeting of all party leaders and discuss the farmer issue threadbare. This will be a good message that government is democratic, he said. Bandyopadhyay also asked how could the Pres“The Prime Minister said the Centre’s stand is same as it was on 22 January, the last meeting between the protesting farmers and the Centre and proposal given by Agriculture minister on the farm laws still stands. Modiji reiterated what Tomarji had said - that he (Narendra Singh Tomar) is phone call away for talks,” Joshi said quoting Modi. Emphasising on the need for smooth functioning of Par- ident in his address to Parliament note that the ‘one nation, one ration card’ policy had been introduced when the Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution was discussing the matter. “We were surprised that President’s address said policy had already been introduced! This has to be clarified as the committee had taken it up with all priority just 15 days back,” he said. He said: “Unemployment continues to be a problem; the hungry youth are fighting and we need to show them a path. Let us hold a comprehensive debate in the House.” He iterated, “the philosophy of our federal structure system needs thorough review.” liament, Modi said smaller parties suffer the most due to disruptions as they do not get chance to raise their issues. The all-party meeting is convened for the government to put forth its legislative agenda before political parties. Leaders from various parties flag issues they wish to raise during the meeting. All Opposition parties sought discussions on farmers’ issues during the meeting. NEW DELHI, 30 JANUARY The Supreme Court Collegium is understood to have withdrawn its approval to a proposal for the appointment of an additional judge of the Bombay High Court, Justice P V Ganediwala, as a permanent judge of the court following her two controversial verdicts in sexual assault cases. The decision was taken after the judge faced flak for her interpretation of sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, a source said. Justice Pushpa Ganediwala recently acquitted a man accused of groping a 12-yearold girl’s breast because he did DANGEROUS PRECEDENT Justice Pushpa Ganediwala recently acquitted a man accused of groping a 12-year-old girl’s breast because he did not make skin-to-skin contact and days earlier, ruled that holding the hands of a fiveyear-old girl and unzipping the trousers do not amount to “sexual assault” under the POCSO Act not make skin-to-skin contact and days earlier, ruled that holding the hands of a fiveyear-old girl and unzipping the trousers do not amount to “sexual assault” under the POCSO Act. On 27 January, the Supreme Court stayed the Bombay High Court order acquitting the man after Attorney Gen- eral K K Venugopal said the order would set a dangerous precedent. The collegium headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, at a meeting held on 20 January, had okayed the proposal for making Justice Ganediwala a permanent judge. In two other judgments this month, Justice Ganediwala acquitted two men accused of raping minor girls after noting that the testimonies of the victims did not inspire confidence to fix criminal liability on the accused. “No doubt the testimony of the prosecutrix (victim) is sufficient for conviction of the accused. However, the same ought to inspire confidence of this court. It ought to be of sterling quality,” she said in one of the judgments. PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 30 JANUARY Investigators probing the minor blast near the Israeli Embassy have not come across “anything concrete” yet as most of the CCTV cameras near the site of the explosion were “non-functional” at the time of incident, official police sources said on Saturday. An investigation team of Delhi Police’s Special Cell had earlier in the day visited the site near the embassy to collect more evidence as part of its ongoing probe, sources said. “We have recovered some CCTV footage but have not obtained anything concrete yet as most of the CCTV cameras in the area near the embassy are non-functional,” an official source said. PRESS TRUST OF INDIA GHAZIABAD/NEW DELHI, 30 JANUARY Agitating farmer leaders held a day-long fast at various protest sites on Delhi’s borders on Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary on Saturday as the stir against the agri laws appeared to regain momentum after rallying support from the agricultural community of the crucial western Uttar Pradesh region. More farmers gathered at Gazipur, on the DelhiMeerut highway, that has now become the new focal point of the stir, while union leaders claimed that protesters were also heading back to Singhu and Tikri borders from Punjab and Haryana, days after the crowds had waned following the violence at the tractor rally on 26 January. The administration remained on high alert WASHINGTON, 30 JANUARY Secretary of State Tony Blinken has underscored India’s role as a pre-eminent US partner in the Indo-Pacific during his maiden telephonic conversation with external affairs minister S Jaishankar and discussed ways to better seize the new opportunities and combat shared challenges in the region and beyond. It was Blinken’s first telephonic conversation with Jaishankar after he assumed the charge as America’s top diplomat early this week. They discussed issues of mutual concern, including Covid-19 vaccination efforts, regional developments and next steps in expanding bilat- STRATEGIC TIES In the new US Secretary of State Tony Blinken’s first telephonic conversation with India’s external affairs minister Jaishankar, they discussed issues of mutual concern, including Covid19 vaccination efforts, regional developments and next steps in expanding bilateral ties. Blinken underscored India’s role as a pre-eminent US partner in the IndoPacific and the importance of working together to expand regional cooperation, including through the Quad eral ties, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said on Friday. Blinken underscored India’s role as a pre-eminent US partner in the Indo-Pacific and the importance of working together to expand the regional cooperation, including through the Quad, Price said. “Both agreed to coordinate closely on global developments and look forward to meeting in person at the earliest opportunity, Price said in a readout of the call, which was the first com- munication between them after 20 January when Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. “I was delighted to speak today with my good friend @DrSJaishankar to discuss US-India priorities. We reaffirmed the importance of the US-India relationship and discussed ways we can better seize new opportunities and combat shared challenges in the Indo-Pacific and beyond,” Blinken wrote on Twitter. In New Delhi, the External Affairs Ministry said Jaishankar and Blinken expressed their commitment to consolidate and expand the multifaceted strategic partnership. “They appreciated the robust defence and security ties, growing economic engage- Farmers during their ongoing protest at Delhi’s Ghazipur border on Saturday. SNS with Internet services temporarily suspended at the Singhu, Gazipur, and Tikri borders of the national capital, as well as the adjoining areas. Haryana has already suspended the internet in 14 districts. Security personnel, including from anti-riot police and paramilitary forces, were deployed in strength. Multiple layers of barricades were being put at the protest sites. Wearing garlands, the farmer leaders, who had called for observing ‘Sadbhavana Diwas’ (Harmony Day) on Saturday after the immense outrage over violence by protesters during their Republic Day tractor rally, sat on the dais during the fast, as crowds of supporters swelled, especially in Gazipur where the Bharatiya Kisan Union is leading the protest. Addressing the pro- Addressing the protest in Gazipur, BKU leader Rakesh Tikait, whose emotional appeal had galvanised farmers from UP, Uttarakhand to flock to the protest site, said they have fought this battle for over two months now, and “they won't relent or retreat” testers in Gazipur, BKU leader Rakesh Tikait, whose emotional appeal had galvanised farmers from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to flock to the protest site, said they have fought this battle for over two months now, and “they won't relent or retreat”. Till now, the agitation was seen as mainly being led by Punjabbased farmer unions. STRICT VIGIL Singhu border turns into fortress Delhi’s Singhu border was fortified with several layers of barricades and increased presence of security personnel on Saturday, a day after violence erupted during a demonstration by ‘locals’ against agitating farmers. The entry to the protest venue was closely guarded by police and para military personnel A senior police officer, said “There is blanket order not to allow free movement across the protest site” Security was tightened while farmers and their supporters carry on protest at Singhu border on Saturday. SNS Earlier, footage retrieved from CCTV cameras showed a vehicle moving suspiciously near the embassy just before the explosion, sources said. Forensic experts also collected samples from the crime scene that will ascertain the chemical composition used in the low-intensity improvised explosive device (IED). Official sources said ball bearings seized from the spot were found scattered on the ground and the impact of the explosion was felt within a radius of 20-25 metres. The minor blast took place on Friday evening in a highsecurity zone of the national capital. No one was injured. An envelope addressed to the Israeli and containing a note was found at the site of the blast, sources had said. India pre-eminent partner of US: Blinken PRESS TRUST OF INDIA P12 Farmers observe fast as protest gains fresh energy under Tikait POCSO row: SC collegium takes back Most CCTVs faulty near approval for judge’s permanent appt. Israeli Embassy: Police PRESS TRUST OF INDIA ‘CLASS OF 2012 WAS ONE OF THE BEST’ DECODING THE FUTURE OF SASIKALA ment, productive health-care collaboration and strong people-to-people linkages as its important pillars,” it said in a Press release. Recognising the challenges of a post-Covid world, the two leaders agreed to work together to address global issues, including safe and affordable vaccine supply. They also reiterated their commitment to peace and security, especially in the Indo-Pacific region, the release said. After assuming charge at the State Department, Blinken has spoken to his counterparts from over a dozen countries including Canada, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Britain, Japan, Germany, France, Israel and South Africa. Covid: Over 37L vaccinated so far PTI & SNS NEW DELHI, 30 JANUARY The Centre on Saturday asked states and Union Territories to augment coverage of beneficiaries receiving vaccination against Covid-19 and increase inoculation sessions per day. The states and UTs have also been asked to start vaccinating frontline workers from the first week of February, the Union Health ministry said in a statement. This was done during a review meeting chaired by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan. “While some states and UTs have more than 50 per cent coverage, they were all advised to improve the percentage coverage of vaccinated beneficiaries as there are many states and UTs that need to improve their per- formance on this parameter,” the statement said. The health secretary pointed out that Covid-19 vaccine is available in sufficient quantity and technical glitches on CoWIN have now been resolved. Over 37 lakh beneficiaries have been vaccinated against Covid-19 in the country till now with 5,70,000 vaccinations conducted in the last 24 hours, according to the health ministry. Bengal logs 310 new cases: Bengal today registered 310 fresh Covid-19 cases and 9 deaths linked to the disease. With 341 patients discharged from hospitals in the last 24 hours, the state currently has 5,671 active cases. The total Covid case count stands at 5,69,769 while 10,164 people have lost their lives due to the disease in the state. India takes up vandalism of Gandhi statue with US STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 30 JANUARY India has taken up with the United States the vandalism of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in California on Thursday, demanding a thorough investigation into the incident and appropriate action against those responsible for this despicable act. The US Department of State has assured New Delhi that this act of vandalism was unacceptable and expressed the hope that perpetrators would be brought to justice as quickly as possible, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said today. Unknown miscreants vandalised, broke and ripped from the base the Mahatma’s statue in a park in the US state of California, shocking and outraging Indian-Americans across the country, who have demanded that the officials investigate it as an incident of hate crime. The statue was a gift to the city of Davis by the Government of India in 2016. “The Consulate General of India in San Francisco has separately taken up the matter with the city of Davis and local law enforcement authorities, which have initiated the investigations. The mayor of Davis deeply regretted the incident and informed that they have initiated an investigation,” the MEA said. 1,07,33,131 1,69,824 13,083 14,808 1,54,147 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. SATURDAY 30 JANUARY 2021 SII applies for trials of another Covid-19 vaccine PUNE, 30 JANUARY Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla on Saturday said his company has applied to start the trials of another Covid-19 vaccine and that it hopes to launch it by June 2021. The city-based firm has already produced Covishield vaccine, co-developed by the University of Oxford and BritishSwedish company AstraZeneca. The Centre has purchased 11 million doses of Covishield. Poonawalla tweeted, “Our partnership for Covid-19 vaccine with @Novavax has also published excellent efficacy results. We have applied to start trials in India. Hope to lau-nch #COVPTI OVAX by June 2021!”
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