CMYK THURSDAY www.thestatesman.com 18 FEBRUARY 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 IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: TRUMP SLAMS MCCONNELL HUNTER BIDEN AND THE ART OF THE POSSIBLE P7 WEATHER Partly cloudy sky. Maximum and minimum temperatures most likely to be around 28 °C and 20 °C respectively. RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max. 97 % TEMPERATURE P10 Max: 27.7 °C (-2) Min: 19.5 °C (+1) SUN RISES SUN SETS 06:07 hrs 17:35 hrs MOON RISES MOON SETS 09:33 hrs 22:24 hrs Next moon quarter on 20 February THUMBNAILS NSUI activists protest against the arrest of climate activist Disha Ravi, in connection with the 'toolkit' case, in New Delhi on Wednesday. AGENCIES Manufacturing push for telecom equipment: The government on Wednesday approved a 12,195 crore production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for telecom gear manufacturing in India which is expected to encourage production of equipment worth Rs 2.44 lakh crore and create direct and indirect employment for about 40,000 people, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said. The PLI scheme for telecom gear manufacturing will be operational from April 1, 2021. Juvenile justice law: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved amendments to the juvenile justice law to increase the scrutiny of child care institutions to ensure the set-up works in the best interests of children. Women and child development minister Smriti Irani told the media that district magistrates along with additional district magistrates will monitor the functioning of various agencies under the JJ Act in every district. #MeToo case: Priya Ramani acquitted PRESS TRUST OF INDIA Eighteen states and Union Territories, including Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, have not reported any death due to Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, the Union health ministry said on Wednesday. The country as a whole reported 100 fatalities linked to the virus in the same period, the majority of them occurring in Maharashtra (39), Kerala (18) and Tamil Nadu (seven). India reported 11,610 fresh cases during the period, taking its tally of infections to 1,09,37,320, while the death toll now stands at 1,55,913, with the case fatality rate at 1.43 per cent. There are 1,36,549 active cases of the coronavirus Delhi court on Wednesday threw out M J Akbar's criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani who accused him of sexual harassment, saying a woman cannot be punished for raising her voice against such abuse. A woman has the right to put grievances before any platform of her choice even after decades, the court said and dismissed Akbar's complaint, holding that no charges were proved against Ramani. It said right of reputation cannot be protected at the cost of right of life and dignity of a woman as guaranteed in Constitution under article 21 and right of equality before law and equal protection of law as guaranteed under article 14. Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey said it is shameful that incidents of crime and violence against women are happening in the country where mega epics such as Mahabharata and Ramayana were written around the theme of respect for women. Ramani made allegations of sexual misconduct against Akbar in the wake of the global #MeToo movement in 2018. Akbar filed the complaint against her on October 15, 2018 for allegedly defaming him by accus- A 2018 NEW DELHI, 17 FEBRUARY On a day when petrol crossed the Rs 100 a litre mark, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the middleclass would not have been burdened if the previous governments had focussed on reducing India's energy import dependence. Without referring to the relentless increase in retail fuel prices, which are linked to international rates, he said India imported over 85 per cent of its oil needs in the 2019-20 financial year and 53 per cent of its gas requirement. “Can a diverse and talented nation like ours be so energy import dependent?” he asked, addressing an online VICTORY MOMENT 2020 8 OCTOBER Ramani names Akbar in a tweet with a reference to a 2017 Vogue India article she had written titled To the Harvey Weinsteins of the World. 15 OCTOBER Akbar files criminal defamation complaint before Delhi court. 17 OCTOBER Akbar resigns as Union minister. 7 FEBRUARY Court starts hearing final arguments in the case. 19 SEPTEMBER Judge hearing the case seeks transfer of the matter to another court. 22 OCTOBER District judge refuses to transfer the case to another court and sends it back to the magistrate who was hearing the matter. 18 NOVEMBER Judge hearing the case transferred. 21 NOVEMBER New judge starts hearing afresh the final arguments in the case. 2019 29 JANUARY Delhi court summons Ramani as accused in the case. infection in the country currently. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, 20,79,77,229 samples have so far been tested for the viral disease in the country, including 6,44,931 on Tuesday. Nearly 90 lakh vaccine doses have been given to beneficiaries through 1,91,373 sessions till 8 a.m. on Wednesday, according to provisional data. Bengal logs 133 cases: West Bengal today registered 133 fresh Covid cases and 2 deaths linked to the infection. The state's total Covid case count is 5,73,012 with the death toll reaching 10,237. There are 3,736 active cases. Kolkata recorded 44 cases and 1 death while North 24Parganas recorded 35 cases and 1 death. 2021 1 FEBRUARY Court reserves the verdict after both the parties complete their final arguments. 10 FEBRUARY Judgment adjourned to Feb 17. 17 FEBRUARY Ramani acquitted, court dismisses the complaint filed by Akbar. 25 FEBRUARY Delhi court grants bail to Ramani. It feels amazing, truly does. I feel vindicated on behalf of all the women who have ever spoken out against sexual harassment at work place JOURNALIST not proved and she is acquitted for the same”. Reacting to the verdict, Ramani said it feels great to have truth validated before the court. She said: “It feels amazing, truly does. I feel vindicated on behalf of all the women who have ever MUMBAI, 17 FEBRUARY 1,09,37,320 1,36,549 11,610 11,833 1,55,913 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. WEDNESDAY 17 FEB 2021 spoken out against sexual harassment at work place. It was me the victim who had to stand up in the court as an accused. I thank everyone who stood by me especially my witnesses Ghazala Wahab who came to the court and testified on my behalf”. Toolkit case: Nikita Jacob gets transit pre-arrest bail PRESS TRUST OF INDIA The Bombay High Court on Wednesday granted transit anticipatory bail to advocate Nikita Jacob, a suspect in a case registered by Delhi police in connection with the “toolkit” shared by climate activist Greta Thunberg over the ongoing farmers' protest. Justice P D Naik gave Jacob three weeks' time to approach the court concerned in Delhi for relief. The court in its order noted the applicant (Jacob) is a permanent resident of Mumbai and the FIR is lodged in Delhi, and the relief sought by her now is only temporary. The court said if Jacob is arrested in the three-week period, then she shall be released after furnishing a bond of Rs 25,000. Meanwhile, Shivlal Muluk, event to inaugurate oil and gas projects in poll-bound Tamil Nadu. “I do not want to criticise anyone but I want to say (that) had we focused on this subject much earlier, our middleclass would not be burdened,” he said. The price of petrol crossed the Rs 100 per litre mark in Rajasthan after fuel rates were hiked for the ninth day in a row. Since India imports the majority of its oil needs, retail rates are benchmarked to international prices, which have spiralled in recent weeks. Opposition parties, including the Congress, have criticised the price hikes, blaming it on the Modi government raising taxes to scoop out the benefit that arose from inter- national oil rates plunging to a two-decade low in April/May last year.While global rates have rebounded with pick up in demand, the government has not restored the taxes, which are at a record high. Central and state taxes make up for 60 per cent of the retail selling price of petrol and over 54 per cent of diesel. The Prime Minister further said it was a collective duty to work towards clean and green sources of energy as well as energy independence. “Our government is sensitive to the concerns of the middle class. That is why India is now increasing the focus on ethanol to help farmers and consumers,” he said. Ethanol extracted from sugarcane is being doped in petrol to reduce the requirement of imports. Currently, 8.5 per cent of petrol is ethanol and this proportion is targeted to be raised to 20 per cent by 2025, helping cut imports as well as give farmers an alternate source of income. India, he said, is looking to cut energy import dependence as well as diversify its sources to reduce risks. The focus now is also towards using renewable father of green activist Shantanu Muluk, a suspect in the “toolkit” case, told local police that two persons claiming to be personnel of Delhi Police seized a computer hard disk and other items from Muluk's home in Beed in Maharashtra without a search warrant on February 12. Beed superintendent of police Raja Ramaswami said the matter was under investigation. Man arrested for waving swords: A 30-year-old man who was allegedly swinging swords that “motivated” the protesters at the Red Fort during the violence in Delhi on Republic Day has been arrested, police said on Wednesday. Maninder Singh, who works as a car AC mechanic, was arrested on Tuesday near the C D block bus stop in Pitampura in northwest Delhi. sources of energy, which will by 2030 form 40 per cent of energy generated in the country, he said, listing measures. Modi further said India is looking to reduce energy import dependence through capacity building. “In 2019-20, we were fourth in the world in (oil) refining capacity. About 65.2 million tonnes of petroleum product have been exported. This number is expected to rise even further.” Also, Indian firms have ventured overseas in the acquisition of oil and gas assets, which provide energy security. Modi said the nation is looking to build a natural gas pipeline grid to boost usage of the environment-friendly fuel that would help cut carbon emissions. CMYK In first polls since start of farmers’ stir, Cong sweeps Punjab civic polls CHANDIGARH, 17 FEBRUARY PRIYA RAMANI ing him of sexual misconduct decades ago when he was a journalist. The court said it is of “the considered view that case of complainant regarding commission of offence punishable under section 500 IPC against the accused Priya Ramani is Punjab finance minister and Congress leader Manpreet Singh Badal meets the winning candidates of his party after the results of municipal corporation elections were declared in Bathinda, Wednesday. The ruling Congress won six of the seven municipal corporations in the civic polls in Punjab. AGENCIES STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE Petrol at `100: Modi blames previous regimes PRESS TRUST OF INDIA P12 THE AKBAR VS RAMANI SAGA NEW DELHI, 17 FEBRUARY No Covid deaths in last 24 hours in 18 states, UTs; 100 fatalities total NEW DELHI/KOLKATA, 17 FEBRUARY P4 Defamation case was filed against Priya Ramani for accusing M J Akbar Min. 47 % SNS & PTI GOAL-RUSH MBAPPE LEAVES MESSI AND BARCA IN A DAZE RAHUL FORGIVES FATHER’S KILLERS In a boost to the Congress ahead of Assembly polls expected early in 2022, the ruling party on Wednesday swept the urban local body polls in Punjab, leaving both Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) far behind. In the final count, the Congress had won 1199 of the 1815 wards (municipal councils) and 281 of the 350 municipal corporation seats, with SAD trailing at 289 and 33, BJP at 38 and 20, and AAP at 57 and nine, while the remaining seats largely went to Independents and others. The swing in favour of the Congress, compared to the ‘Encourage students to take online exam on cow science’ NEW DELHI, 17 FEBRUARY The University Grants Commission has asked vice-chancellors of varsities across the country to “encourage” students to take an online voluntary national-level exam to test their knowledge on ‘gau vigyan’ (cow science). The ‘Kamdhenu Gau Vigyan Prachar-Prasar Examination’, for which there is no registration fee, will be held on February 25, and students from primary, secondary and senior-secondary schools as well as colleges can take the test being conducted by the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog (RKA). Besides them, anyone from the general public can also take the hour-long multiple choice question-based exam that will be held in 11 regional languages and English. The commission was constituted by the government for conservation, preservation, protection and development of cows. The exam on February 25 aims to “infuse curiosity into all Indians about cows and make them aware of the unexplored potential and business opportunities a cow can offer, even after it stops giving milk”, the RKA had said in its notification for the exam on January 5. The RKA is going to conduct the all-India online 'Kamdhenu Gau Vigyan Prachar-Prasar Examination' for students of primary, secondary and senior secondary schools, colleges, universities and for all citizens, University Grants Commission secretary Rajnish Jain said. The exam will be conducted in English, Hindi, Gujarati, Sanskrit, Punjabi, Marathi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Marathi, Telugu and Odia. PTI 2015 municipal corporation elections in Bathinda, Hoshiarpur, Moga and Pathankot districts is manifest in the fact that from 11 seats back then, the party’s tally has improved to a whopping 149 now. Similarly, in the wards, from 356 in 2015, the Congress score now has gone up to 1480. Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday hailed the Congress party’s spectacular victory in the state municipal polls as not just a validation of his government’s development-oriented policies and programmes but also a total rejection of the antipeople actions of the major opposition parties ~ SAD, AAP and BJP . The CM said the people of the state had clearly and unequivocally denounced the divisive, undemocratic, unconstitutional and regressive agendas of the three parties. He thanked and congratulated the people for defeating the negative and vicious forces. The first major polls to be held in Punjab since the enactment of the draconian farm laws had also underscored people’s angst with the BJP which was responsible , for the anti-farmer legislation with the active support of SAD, and the collusion of ruling AAP in Delhi, Amarinder noted. “With these results, all these parties have got a foretaste of things to come in the Assembly elections, due just a year from now,” the chief minister said. Envoys greeted with shutdown in Srinagar Envoys visit Srinagar's Hazratbal Shrine on Wednesday. SNS STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE JAMMU, 17 FEBRUARY Amidst a shutdown and heightened security, envoys of 22 countries reached Kashmir on Wednesday on two-day tour during which the government has showcased the efforts to restore normality and accelerated development in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The team is expected to visit Jammu on Thursday. This is the fourth such visit of envoys after the Centre abrogated Article 370 and split the state into two UTs. The diplomats immediately after landing in Srinagar drove to Magam town in Budgam district where at a government-run degree college they met some recently elected members of the District Development Council (DDC), students, and some elected village heads. Some DDC members praised the conduct of elections. They were accorded traditional reception at Srinagar airport by girls who sang Kashmiri welcome song and showered flower petals at them. The Lal Chowk that is the business hub of Srinagar also observed shutdown. No separatist or other group had called for the shutdown. The diplomats began their meetings immediately after landing in the valley. They are scheduled to meet a delegation of officers, political leaders, civil society, journalists, traders and those connected with the tourism sector. The National Conference and PDP have said that they were not invited to meet the envoys. Among those in the team are ambassadors of the European Union, Italy, France, Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Brazil, Bangladesh, and Ghana. In January 2020 European Union chose not to send its representatives unless they were allowed to meet people freely. The diplomats held meetings with various groups and delegations at the Sher-eKashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) on the banks of the Dal Lake. They visited the Hazaratbal Shrine in the heart of Srinagar and took stock of the situation.
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