THURSDAY www.thestatesman.com 04 MARCH 2021 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |`5|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR DIPLOMATIC REALPOLITIK AAP SWEEPS DELHI CIVIC BYPOLLS P6 P2 WEATHER Mainly clear sky. Mist in the morning. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 32 and 14 degrees Celsius respectively. Max: 80% Min: 39% TEMPERATURE Max: 30.8°C (+4) SUN RISES 06:42 hrs MOON RISES 23:54 hrs Min: 13.2°C (0) SUN SETS 18:23 hrs MOON SETS 10:50 hrs THUMBNAILS Visitors at a rose garden in Sector 16, ChandiPARDEEP SAINI garh on Wednesday. Difference of opinion not sedition, says SC: Observing that expression of views that are different from the opinion of the government cannot be termed as seditious, the Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a PIL seeking action against National Conference president Farooq Abdullah over his comments on abrogation of Article 370 and imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on the petitioners. MUMBAI/NEW DELHI, 3 MARCH The Income Tax Department on Wednesday raided premises linked to Bollywood actor Taapsee Pannu and filmmaker Anurag Kashyap as well as his partners who launched the now dissolved production house Phantom Films, officials said. The searches, part of a tax evasion probe against Phantom Films and carried out across 30 locations in Mumbai and Pune, also covered Reliance Entertainment group CEO Shibhasish Sarkar and some executives of celebrity and talent management company KWAN, they said. The raids began in the morning and were continuing till evening. The action is part of an investigation against the production house, which was dissolved in 2018, and its then promoters Kashyap, director-producer Vikramaditya Motwane, producer Vikas Bahl and producer-distributor Madhu Mantena. Tax department sources said some inter-linked transactions between the entities searched are under the scanner of the department. The raids, they added, are aimed at gathering more evidence to further probe tax evasion allegations against them. The business transactions of films made under the banner of Phantom Films are also being probed, the sources said. The searches against Mantena are being carried out in context of his links with KWAN, of which he is a copromoter. Both Kashyap and Pannu, who worked together in the 2018 film Manmarziyaan and are now collaborating in the upcoming film Dobaara, are known to be outspoken about P12 Bharat Biotech said the study enrolled participants between 18-98 years, 2,433 over the age of 60 and 4,500 with comorbidities STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE B harat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccine has demonstrated 81 per cent efficacy in preventing Covid-19 in those without prior infection after the second dose during its phase III clinical trials and also offers significant immunogenicity against the rapidly emerging variants, including the UK strain, the company said on Wednesday. The company issued a statement at the end of phase III trials of the vaccine involving 25,800 subjects, the largest ever conducted in the country in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research. Covaxin had been dragged into a controversy after it was granted emergency authorisation in the country before it completed phase III clinical trials. On Monday, while flagging off the country’s vaccination drive for the general public Prime Minister Narendra Modi had opted for the indigenously developed Covaxin. According to Bharat Biotech, Covaxin is based on an established manufacturing platform with a better safety profile when Tax evasion: I-T dept raids premises linked to Taapsee, Anurag PRESS TRUST OF INDIA P10 ‘Covaxin 81 pc efficient in Phase 3 trials’ NEW DELHI, 3 MARCH RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY TIME FOR OUR BATSMEN TO SHOW THE WAY NEERA TANDEN WITHDRAWS HER NOMINATION their views on a range of issues. Responding to a question at a press conference in Delhi, Union minister Prakash Javadekar rejected allegations that the raids against Kashyap and Pannu were linked to their comments, which are seen at times critical of the BJP. “This is too much,” he said to the question. “Probe agencies undertake investigations based on credible information and the matter later goes to courts as well,” he added. In Maharashtra, the debate intensified with state minister and NCP leader Nawab Malik describing the searches as an attempt to suppress the voices of those who speak against the Narendra Modiled government. “Central agencies like ED, CBI, and Income Tax are being used to target those who take an anti-government stand and speak against the policies of the regime,” the minister told reporters in Mumbai. “The premises of Anurag Kashyap and Pannu have been raided. Both were raising their voices against the Modi government,” he said. Pannu's last tweet was on March 1, when she spoke on the Supreme Court asking a man accused of repeated rape whether he was willing to marry the woman. When the court was told he is already married, he was asked to seek regular bail from the concerned court. The 33-year-old actor, known for her films Pink, Thappad and Badla, put out a strong worded post on the matter. Kashyap, who had visited JNU and Shaheen Bagh during the anti-CAA protests last year and is known to be equally outspoken on a range of issues, has been mostly quiet on Twitter in recent times. ‘Get vaccinated 24x7 at your convenience’ KRISHNA ELLA BHARAT BIOTECH CHAIRMAN AND MANAGING DIRECTOR compared to other vaccine platforms and also offers long term protection. Chairman and managing director of Bharat Biotech, Dr Krishna Ella, said: “With today’s results from our phase III clinical trials we have now reported data on our Covid-19 vaccine from Phase I, II and III trials involving around 27,000 participants. Covaxin demonstrates high clinical efficacy trend against Covid-19 but also significant immunogenicity against the rapidly emerging variants.” Analysis from the National Institute of Virology indicated that the vaccine-induced anti-bodies can neutralize the UK vari- ‘PM’s photo on vaccine certificates violates MCC’ KOLKATA, 3 MARCH A delegation of TMC leaders on Wednesday met Election Commission officials here and alleged that the use of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s photo on advertisements of various Central schemes and the Covid vaccination certificates, distributed by the Union health ministry, violated the model code of conduct. The ruling party in West Bengal termed it as a “blatant misuse of official machinery” and sought the intervention of the poll panel to remove hoardings advertising Central government schemes with images of Modi at petrol pumps, state minister Firhad Hakim said after meeting the EC officials. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi happens to be the star campaigner of the BJP in this assembly elections. As a politician, he is seeking support for his party during rallies. In this situation, using his photo in vaccination certificates is akin to influencing voters and violates the model code of conduct (MCC),” he said. The minister called on the EC officials a day after TMC Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien alleged that the PM’s photos have been used even after the announcement of SNS & PTI poll dates. President Ram Nath Kovind receives the first dose of Covid vaccine at an army hospital in New Delhi on Wednesday. He thanked all doctors, nurses, health workers and administrators who are successfully implementing the largest vaccination drive in history and urged all eligible citizens to get vaccinated. AGENCIES ant strains and other heterologous strains. The phase III trial held at 25 centres across the country had enrolled 25,800 participants between the ages of 18 and 98 including 2433 over the age of 60 and 4500 with co-morbidities. The interim analysis included a preliminary review of the safety database which showed that severe, serious and medically attended adverse events occurred at low levels. The trial was conducted by a third party, a multinational company IQVIA, said Dr Ella, and ethical committee members monitored each of the 25 test centres adhering to Good Clinical Practice guidelines. Dr Ella said the rest of the data will be shared in public domain through submission to a peer reviewed journal for publication. More than 40 countries in the world have expressed their interest in Covaxin, said the company. The vaccine is stable between 2 and 8 degree C when refrigerated and is shipped in a ready to use liquid formulation that permits distribution using existing vaccine supply chain channels. Moreover it has 28 days open vial policy thereby reducing vaccine wastage approximately by 10-30 per cent, the company said. Karnataka minister quits over sex scandal STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE BENGALURU, 3 MARCH Ramesh Jarkiholi, water resources minister in the B S Yediyurappa government, resigned today following the release of a controversial compact disc allegedly involving him and a woman in a “sex for job” scandal. The resignation, which was forced on the minister by the BJP’s central leadership following the accompanying furore and embarrassment, comes a day before the monthlong Budget session of the state Assembly commences. An embarrassed MrYediyurappa is learnt to have assured Jarkiholi while seeking his resignation that he would be reinducted once his name was cleared. BJP national general secretary B L Santosh too spent time in convincing him to resign to spare the government a major discomfort. The party is learnt to have moved fast in this case prompted by the ensuing Assembly polls in major states. In his brief letter to the chief minister, Mr Jarkiholi contested the allegation but said he was resigning on moral grounds even though there was no truth in the charge against him.“ I believe that I am innocent but am resigning on moral grounds,“ he wrote, while seeking a probe into the affair. The controversy erupted after an RTI activist, Dinesh Kallahalli, met the Bengaluru police commissioner, Kamal Pant, and sought protection for the unidentified woman concerned. Urging the police to institute an enquiry into the incident, he alleged that the minister had taken advantage of the woman who went to seek help in getting a government job. According to Mr Kallahalli, the woman had contacted him as she feared for her life while maintaining that the question of going public did not arise in view of the influence that the powerful minister wielded. Minutes after the details went public, political parties and other organisations went on the offensive. While the BJP minister, who has won six consecutive elections from Gokak, had called the allegations a “honey trap”, his supporters claimed that the whole issue was an attempt to undermine him. A former Congressman, he was instrumental in breaking the JDS-Congress combine under H D Kumaraswamy’s chief ministership in 2019 by taking a group of his partymen and JDS legislators to the BJP . Subsequently, he won the bypoll on a BJP ticket. Previously, in 2016, Congress minister HY Meti was forced to resign from the K Siddaramaiah cabinet after a sex tape went public. In the past three BJP ministers also had to resign after allegedly watching porn in the Assembly. Active Covid caseload back above 1.7 lakh NEW DELHI, 3 MARCH Today is an important milestone in vaccine discovery, for science and our fight against the coronavirus STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 3 MARCH Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday said that citizens will now be able to get the Covid-19 vaccine round the clock as per their convenience. “The government has ended the time constraint to increase the speed of vaccination,” he wrote on Twitter. The announcement comes a day after the Centre directed states and union territories to utilise private hospitals empaneled under government insurance schemes in full capacity to achieve optimum number of vaccinations. Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan had also said on Tuesday that the timeline of vaccinating beneficiaries from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. has been done away with and it is up to hospitals to decide whether they want to continue administering the vaccines even beyond SNS that period. With 14,989 new infections in the last 24 hours, India's total tally of Covid cases mounted to 1,11,39,516 even as the number of active cases rose above 1.7 lakh after a month, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday. The number of deaths increased to 1,57,346 with 98 fatalities in a day, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed. The active caseload has increased to 1,70,126 which comprises 1.53 per cent of the total infections. Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab,Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Karnataka continue to report a surge in fresh cases, accounting for 85.95 per cent of the cases reported in the previous 24 hours. Maharashtra has reported the highest daily new cases at 7,863. It is followed by Kerala with 2,938, while Punjab reported 729 new cases. Delhi logs 240 cases, 3 deaths: Delhi today record- 1,11,39,516 1,70,126 14,989 13,123 1,57, 346 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. WEDNESDAY 3 MARCH 2021 ed 240 fresh Covid cases and 3 coronavirus-linked fatalities, according to the Delhi government's health bulletin.The city's active cases tally rose to 1,584 while its recovery rate dipped to 98.04 per cent, the bulltein said. HEALTHIER WORLD A worker sanitises the premises of the National Zoological Park, amid the coronavirus pandemic, AGENCIES in New Delhi on Wednesday. Govt okays 12 new SSB battalions to fortify Nepal, Bhutan borders, tri-junction area PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 3 MARCH The government has sanctioned a dozen fresh SSB battalions, comprising over 13,000 personnel for the Nepal and Bhutan borders guarding force, to “fortify” defences along these fronts including the tri-junction area in Sikkim that adjoins Bhutan and Tibet, officials said. Though the Union Home Ministry has denied creation of a new field frontier for the border force, it has allowed the SSB to create one out of three new sector, responsible for the operations of about 5-6 battalions, and it is expected to come up in the Delhi-NCR region. The Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) is the designated force to guard the open Indian fronts with Nepal (1,751 km) and Bhutan (699 km). SSB Director General Kumar Rajesh Chandra said the 12 new battalions will be raised in phases, three units each over the next four years. “It is very supportive of the government to have given the sanction to raise new battalions and establishments for the SSB. The new manpower will ensure that border security is strengthened,” the DG said. The SSB chief added that the government has also sanctioned a total of 548 posts to the force for deployment at four ICPs (integrated check posts) along the Nepal border out of which two are already operational. Nepal PM Oli takes jibe at Prachanda’s India remarks ASHISH PRADHAN BIRTAMOD, 3 MARCH As India’s relations with Nepal hit another of their periodic lows, and in the wake of his rival Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s statement that the next coalition government would be “comfortable for India,” embattled Nepali Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli has said that he was in favour of a government that the Nepali people were “comfortable” with. Mr Oli was speaking during the inauguration of the Purbanchal Cancer Hospital at the neighbouring town of Birtamod in Jhapa district in East Nepal yesterday. The statements come amidst continued rumblings in Mr Oli’s Nepal Communist Party (NCP) government and the recent political developments after Nepali President Bidhya Devi Bhandari dissolved the House of Representatives as per his advice in December last year and the Supreme Court reinstated it on 23 February. Mr Dahal, aka Prachanda, who leads a splinter faction of the NCP had earlier said that it was time PM Oli was replaced by a new coalition of his NCP faction, Nepali Congress and Janata Samajwadi, which would be “comfortable for India.” “The road we have paved for ourselves, we should not let others damage it. We will keep cordial relations with our neighbours by keeping our national interests, our geography, our land, our sovereignty, our self-respect, intact. We do not need a government that others are comfortable with, but one that the Nepali people are comfortable with, one that is easy for the Nepali people, that can work for the Nepali people,” Mr Oli said. “We will maintain friendly relations with all (countries), will take help from all, and cooperate with all, but our destination will be a prosperous Nepal, peaceful Nepal. Making others happy is not our job,” he added. Mr Oli also welcomed people from neighbouring countries, especially India, to reap benefits from his country’s healthcare services, which, experts say, have now developed to such an extent that they can be compared to other top medical facilities in the entire South Asian region. “People from Nepal and other countries can come here for medical treatment,” Mr Oli said, also mentioning how the services in Nepal were “way cheaper” than other places in South Asia. “I can vouch for the quality and low cost of medical services that we provide in Nepal now,” he added. The 100-bed Purbanchal Cancer Hospital, a separate wing of the existing B&C Teaching Hospital, and the brainchild of Nepali entrepreneur Durga Prasain, is already catering to around 20 cancer patients from areas in India near the Nepal border like Siliguri, Naxalbari and Matigara, and even from Sikkim.
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