WEDNESDAY www.thestatesman.com 17 FEBRUARY 2021 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |`5|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR RAHUL GANDHI A MIGRANT LEADER: PRALHAD JOSHI Mainly clear sky. Shallow to moderate fog in the morning. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 28 and 11 degrees Celsius respectively. RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Min: 48% Min: 11.6°C (+1) SUN SETS 18:13 hrs MOON SETS 23:17 hrs THUMBNAILS Children perform during Saraswati puja at ANAGHA BANIK Garia in Kolkata on Tuesday. ‘Farm reforms will benefit small, marginal farmers‘: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asserted that the new farm reforms will benefit small and marginal farmers, and that farmers themselves have been exposing those spreading false information against agri laws. While laying the foundation stone for a statue of warrior king Suheldev in Uttar Pradesh via video conferencing, he also said that his government was trying to rectify the P5 “mistakes” of previous regimes. India reports four cases of SA variant Refuting allegations that there were lapses in the arrest of climate activist Disha Ravi, Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava on Tuesday said her arrest was made in accordance with law, which doesn’t differentiate between a 22year-old and a 50-year-old. “I can not divulge the details of the case as the investigation is underway. Everyone will be notified as and when things become more clear,” Srivastava said. Several political leaders have criticised Delhi police regarding the arrest of Disha, alleging that her arrest is ‘unwarranted harassment’ and that proper procedure was not followed. Delhi Police has written a letter to video conferencing platform Zoom over the meeting between jailed climate activist Disha Ravi and others in which they discussed the contentious toolkit, and sought details of other participants of the meeting, sources said. The police have also sought answers from Google on the toolkit, though no response was received as yet. Sources said police are likely to approach WhatsApp seeking details of the 'International Farmers' Strike' group created in December NEW DELHI, 16 FEBRUARY F our people were detected with the South Africa variant of SARS-CoV2 in India in January, while one tested positive for the Brazil variant in the first week of February, the Centre said on Tuesday. In India, the South Africa strain has been detected in four returnees ~ one from Angola, one from Tanzania and two from South Africa in January, ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava said. All travellers and contacts have been tested and quarantined. “The ICMR-NIV is attempting to isolate and culture the SA variant strain from the samples of these four individual returnees”. “The Brazil strain has been successfully isolated and cultured at ICMRNIV, Pune,” he said. Meanwhile, the number of people who have tested positive for the UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the country has climbed to 187. There has been no mortality. PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 16 FEBRUARY The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it was contemplating “some action” on the issue of regulating OTT platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, which was initially of the view that the petitioner should approach the government for the remedy, asked the government to file its response within six weeks to the PIL seeking OTT regulation by an autonomous body. At the outset, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain said the Centre was contemplating some action on the issue of regulating OTT platforms. The CJI sought to know from Jain as to what would be the action from the government and asked him to file the response in six weeks while tagging the matter with the pending petition. The top court had on October 15 last year issued notices to the central government, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Internet and Mobile Association of Woman thrashed, forced to walk with boy on shoulders PRESS TRUST OF INDIA GUNA (MP), 16 FEBRUARY A tribal woman was beaten up and forced to walk for three km carrying a teenage boy on her shoulders by her in-laws in Madhya Pradesh's Guna district, police said on Tuesday. The woman had left her husband and was living with another man which apparently led to the assault, police said. Five persons have been arrested in connection with the incident that took place at Sanai village, said Guna superintendent of police (SP) Rajesh Kumar Mishra. The incident took place on February 9 and came to light on Monday when a purported video of it went viral. “We have been able to culture and isolate this strain and test the efficacy of the vaccine,” he said. A very close watch is being kept on these variants, he stressed. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said as of February 16 till 1 p.m., 87,40,595 Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the country out of which a total of 62,82,646 healthcare workers have been vaccinated. First dose has been given to 61,11,968 (60.5 per cent healthcare workers) and second dose have been given to 1,70,678 healthcare workers which is 37.5 per cent of eligible vaccinations, he said. He further said a total of 24,57,949 frontline workers have been vaccinated. Bhushan said 14 states and UTs have administered the first dose to more than 70 per cent of registered healthcare workers which is higher than the national average of 60 per cent. These states include Rajasthan, Sikkim, Jharkhand, Kerala, UP Madhya , Pradesh and Bihar. ‘Contemplating some action on regulating OTT platforms’ NEW DELHI, 16 FEBRUARY Kiran Bedi has been removed as Lieutenant-Governor of Puducherry, Rashtrapati Bhavan said in a statement released late Tuesday night. The statement from President Ram Nath Kovind's office said that Tamilisai Soundararajan, the Governor of Telangana, was directed to discharge functions of the Lieutenant-Governor of Puducherry, in addition to her own duties, until a new appointment is made. “The President has directed that Dr Kiran Bedi shall cease to hold the office of the Lieutenant-Governor of Puducherr y and has appointed Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan, Governor of Telangana, to discharge the functions of the Lieut e n a n t - G ove r n o r of Puducherry, in addition to her own duties, with effect f ro m the date she assumes charge of her office, until regular arrangements for the office of Lieut e n a n t - G ove r n o r of Puducherry are made,” the Rashtrapati Bhavan stateAGENCIES ment said. P11 Police deny lapses in Disha’s arrest, seek info from Zoom PRESS TRUST OF INDIA TEMPERATURE Puducherry: Kiran Bedi removed as LG WHY DE KOCK REQUIRES A RESPITE One Brazil strain detected; UK variant cases climb to 187 WEATHER Max: 29.4°C (+5) SUN RISES 06:57 hrs MOON RISES 10:44 hrs P10 P9 P4 Max: 100% PELOSI PROPOSES 9/11-TYPE PANEL TO PROBE US RIOT SUU KYI FACES NEW CHARGE; CRACKDOWN INTENSIFIES A case has been registered against a total of eight persons inlcluding a minor, the police official said. Earlier the police had said the woman's husband was among the accused, but the SP later said he was not among them. In the video, the woman, who is around 20 years old, is seen walking barefoot with the boy on her shoulders as some men keep hitting her with sticks and cricket bats. The woman, who married a man from Banskhedi village two years ago, had separated from him due to some dispute. On February 9, when she was alone, some members of her estranged husband's family and the boy turned up and and allegedly beat her up, he said. India. The plea filed by advocates Shashank Shekhar Jha and Apurva Arhatia also sought a proper board/institution /association for the monitoring and management of content on different OTT/Streaming and digital media platforms. With cinema theatres unlikely to open anytime soon in the country, OTT/Streaming and different digital media platforms have surely given a way out for film makers and artists to release their content without being worried about getting clearance certificates for their films and series from the censor board, the plea said. At present, however, there is no law or autonomous body governing the digital content to monitor and manage these digital contents and it is made available to the public at large without any filter or screening, it said. The ministry had earlier told the top court in a separate case that there is a need to regulate digital media and that the court may first appoint a committee of persons as amicus before laying down guidelines with respect to the regulation of hate speech in the media. New cases fall below 10,000 for fourth time SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 16 FEBRUARY The daily new infections fell below 10,000 for the fourth time this month taking India's tally of Covid-19 cases to 1,09,25,710, while fresh fatalities remained below 100 for the tenth time this month, according to Union health ministry data updated on Tuesday. The death toll increased to 1,55,813 with 81 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,06,33, 025 which translates to a national recovery rate of 97.32 per cent. The active caseload remained below 1.5 lakh. Delhi sees 94 cases: Delhi today recorded 94 fresh coronavirus 1,09,25,710 1,36,872 9,121 11,805 1,55,813 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. TUESDAY 16 FEB 2021 infections ~the lowest in more than nine months ~while its positivity rate slipped to 0.17 per cent, according to the Delhi government’s latest health bulletin. (SEE P2) SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 16 FEBRUARY last year, they said. Police said that apart from Disha and two other activists, around 70 people had attended the meeting through Zoom app. Non-bailable warrants have been issued against Mumbai lawyer Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk besides Disha Ravi, a 21-year-old climate activist based in Bengaluru. Few days before the Republic Day violence in Delhi, Nikita and Shantanu had allegedly attended a Zoom meeting organised by pro-Khalistani group Poetic Justice Foundation, sources said. Police sources claimed that Shantanu was in the national capital between January 20 and 27, but did not elaborate. Joint Commissioner of Police (Cyber) Prem Nath also said that the meeting decided the modalities to create the toolkit titled "Global Farmer Strike" and "Global Day of Action, 26 January". Police said the three allegedly created and circulated the toolkit with others, which was later shared by global climate activist Greta Thunberg on Twitter. This led to the Delhi Police filing an FIR. Disha Ravi has been charged with sedition and has been remanded in custody for five days. Meanwhile, the Delhi Commission for Women sent a notice to the city police on the arrest of Disha Ravi and sought a report by Friday. The DCW asked the police to provide a copy of the FIR registered in the matter and reasons for allegedly not producing Ravi before a local court for transit remand. It also asked the reasons for allegedly not providing a lawyer of her choice when she was produced before the court here, and a detailed action taken report, a statement said. Police also said they are also probing the role of a man named Peter Friedrich in connection with the “toolkit” case. More reports on Pg 5 45 killed as bus falls off bridge Army monitoring in Madhya Pradesh, search on disengagement at Pangong Tso Lake STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 16 FEBRUARY STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE BHOPAL, 16 FEBRUARY At least 45 people, including young railway job aspirants and players of a local cricket team, were killed on Tuesday morning when the bus they were travelling in fell into a canal in Sidhi district of Madhya Pradesh. The deceased include 24 men, 20 women and one child. Rescuers saved seven persons who were trapped inside the vehicle that was completely submerged. The canal is brimming with water these days as water from the Ban Sagar dam is being supplied through it to Uttar Pradesh. According to sources, the bus, which had left Sidhi and was heading towards Satna, was carrying nearly 55 passengers. It is said that the bus fell into the canal from Patna Bridge located near the Sarda Patan village in Sidhi, after the driver lost control. Rescuers managed to retrieve 45 bodies while a search was on for the remaining passengers. Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan annou-nced an ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and an additional Rs 2 lakh each from the PM Relief Fund. The state government will also provide Rs 50,000 to each of the injured. State water resources minister Tulsiram Silawat and Panchayat and Rural Development minister Ram Khelawan Patel ruhsed to the spot. Chouhan cancelled the “Griha Pravesham” programme scheduled today under the PM Housing Scheme (Rural). The Indian Army is closely monitoring evacuation and dismantling of the military infrastructure by Chinese troops at the Pangong Tso Lake in Eastern Ladakh as part of the agreement for disengagement between the two countries, sources said today. The disengagement process at both northern and southern banks of the lake was expected to be complete by 20 February, sources added. It is learnt that the Indian Army teams were using drones and high-resolution cameras to check and record dismantling of the infrastructure, especially set up along the lake by PLA troops. China has created a military garrison at Finger 7 where 13 jetties were stationed, longrange guns were positioned, bunkers were constructed and permanent structures built to accommodate thousands of troops. "We will verify physically whether each and everything has been dismantled and removed. We will go up to Fin- The Indian Army released a video of the disengagement process at the lake in which the PLA troops are seen dismantling tents and bunkers ger 8 to check if disengagement is happening as per the agreed terms," sources said. According to the disengagement agreement, announced by the two countries last week, Chinese troops will move back to Finger 8 and Indian troops will pull back to the Dhan Singh Thapa post between Finger 2 and 3 of the northern bank of the Pangong Tso Lake. Further, there would be a temporary moratorium on military activities, including patrolling to the traditional areas. There have been regular face-offs between the two armies between Finger 4 and Finger 8, on the northern bank of the lake. The Indian Army, meanwhile, released a video of the disengagement process at the lake in which the PLA troops can be seen dismantling tents and bunkers. Unstoppable Ash wins it for India PULAKESH MUKHOPADHYAY KOLKATA, 16 FEBRUARY Social media last night showed a video which had people ~ standees as well as grandees ~ prognosticating how long India would take today to complete the formality with seven wickets to be taken. Eventually, it turned out to be fast forward enough, proving nearly all the amateur astrologers right in a collective Nijinsky Leap the great Russian master might himself have thought quite improbable. Wonders never cease. But if cricket's global media seemed somewhat subdued hours after the hurly-burly had been done, like an uncharacteristically forlorn, soggy pandal during Durga puja in this city, it, of course, was because some very popular voices had earlier let it be known that they didn't quite think that the Chepauk wicket for the second Test was ***comme il faut.*** Not that the one for the first Test, which England had won, had been deemed just what the doctor had ordered. But the very brief interregnum between the two matches is said to have been quite action-packed in the best traditions of made-inMumbai blockbusters. India, reportedly very, very cross after losing, were believed to have told the cricket control board that the pitch they had been expected to win on had let them down badly. With a thud, in fact. So the board's own pitch-making man who had been flown out to Chennai to supervise the prolonged preparation was told - and these messages are never meant to be conveyed in sugar-coated phraseology - that he must come back and make himself useful in terms of his requirement for the Vijay Hazare Trophy tournament. Word is that this was when the Indians, presumably inspired by the ages-old idea that self-help is the best help, took over. While the country has yet to happen on someone who actually saw them, in galoshes with pail, broom and all, go about the job preserving all the while the gungho spirit of the archetypal go-getter, suspicions lurked even before the get-go that this was destined to be a dog's dinner. It was a turning track all right and you didn't have to wait and watch ad infinitum to arrive at the conclusion: it revealed itself without a lot of persuasive prodding and pushing. Celebrities like Michael Vaughan, Mark Waugh, Jonathan Agnew, India's own Sanjay Manjrekar, among oth- ers, were utterly critical of it once the action started, some going to the extent of calling it unworthy of Test cricket. Sunil Gavaskar and Shane Warne, to specify but two, said no. It was no picnic spot but if you kept your nose to the grindstone, you were likely to emerge glowingly out of the contest. Ravichandran Ashwin, with his coruscating all-round performance, and Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Axar Patel, subsequently lent undeniable strength and authenticity to the positive view. India, despite a few rather egregious umpiring howlers, won the second Test essentially because they batted better, with their spinners showing a greater command of their craft than their England peers ever seemed capable of. Ashwin is the most spectacular success story, though, and Chennai, with some crowds back in, would have relished the home boy's personal triumph as much as anything else in the game. The question, after this, is how long would it be before they made him captain? A prompt answer to this seems unlikely, but he has by now, in modern parlance, ticked all the boxes. His confident return to match-winning prominence was only a matter of time. And now that it has happened, his consistency is part of the story if you consider his track record of the recent past. They will only be fair if they put him in the leading role.
The Statesman is one of India's oldest English newspapers. It was founded in Kolkata in 1875 and is directly descended from The Friend of India (founded 1818). The Englishman (founded 1821) was merged with The Statesman in 1934. The Delhi edition of The Statesman began publication in 1931. The Statesman Weekly is a compendium of news and views from the Kolkata and Delhi editions. Printed on airmail paper, it is popular with readers outside India. The Statesman (average weekday circulation approximately 180,000) is a leading English newspaper in West Bengal. The Sunday Statesman has a circulation of 230,000.