WEDNESDAY www.thestatesman.com 24 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 ISRAELIS VOTE AGAIN TO DECIDE NETANYAHU FATE PAKISTAN MUST SET ITS HOUSE IN ORDER P7 WEATHER Partky cloudy sky. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 31 and 19 degrees Celsius respectively. Max: 64% Min: 47% Min: 21.5°C (+4) SUN SETS 18:35 hrs MOON SETS 04:08 hrs THUMBNAILS A man rows his ‘shikara’ amidst rain at Dal Lake, in Srinagar on Tuesday. AGENCIES IIM-C Director quits: First woman Director of C Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (IIMC) Anju Seth has stepped down from her post against the backdrop of confrontation with the teaching faculty. She resigned from the post one year before the end of her tenure in the premier institute. A section of teachers of the 60-year-old IIM-C had recently complained to the Union Ministry of Education about Seth's conduct. Seth had countered the accusation, saying that the faculty was trying to curb her powers as the director of IIM-C. Debutants shine in India win: Debutants Krunal Pandya and Prasidh Krishna made the big stage their own in Pune to give India a 66-run victory over England in the first of three ODI matches on Tuesday. After Shikhar Dhawan delivered with a solid 98, Krunal (58 n.o. off 31) smashed the fastest fifty by a debutant to fire India to 317 for five. Krishna then turned it around after being taken to the cleaners early on to register figures of 4/54 in 8.1 overs, the best by a debutant, as England folded for 251. P12 MUMBAI, 23 MARCH Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Tuesday said suspended police officer Sachin Waze was a “prime accused” in the Mansukh Hiran murder case and it will approach the special NIA court here to get his custody. More arrests were likely in the case, said ATS chief Jaijeet Singh. Waze, arrested in connection with the recovery of explosives-laden SUV near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's residence in south Mumbai, is currently in the custody of the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The NIA custody will expire on March 25. The ATS had last week arrested suspended policeman Vinayak Shinde and cricket bookie Naresh Gaur in the Hiran murder case. “After the arrest of both these men, ATS found Waze P12 Vaccine for all above 45 yrs from 1 Apr Second dose of the vaccine can be taken between four and eight weeks, which was earlier allowed between four to six weeks A ll people above 45 years of age will be eligible to get Covid-19 vaccines from April 1, the government announced on Tuesday and requested them to get registered for the inoculation. Briefing reporters on the decisions taken by the Cabinet after its meeting, Union minster Prakash Javadekar said now even people without comorbidities who are more that 45 years of age can get vaccinated. He requested eligible people to get themselves registered to take the jabs. He said the Cabinet also decided that the second dose of the vaccine can be taken between four and eight weeks, on the advice of doctors. It was allowed to be taken between four to six weeks earlier, but scientists have now said that taking the second dose between four and eight weeks gives improved results. The Union Cabinet discussed about the vaccination drive which has already achieved speedy and good progress, Javadekar said. He said till this day, 4.85 crore vaccines have been administered and more than 32 lakh people administered the vaccine in last 24 hours. Vaccines are available in enough numbers and there is no scarcity and the supply chains and supply line is intact, he said, adding that “I am sure everyone will welcome this decision and come forward to get vaccinated.” Waze ‘prime accused’ in Hiran case, will seek his custody: ATS PRESS TRUST OF INDIA P9 NEW DELHI, 23 MARCH TEMPERATURE Max: 29.6°C (-1) SUN RISES 06:19 hrs MOON RISES 13:58 hrs P9 SNS & PTI RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY WHEN AL HASAN PLAYS UP , HASSAN FUMES CHINA, NORTH KOREA REAFFIRM ALLIANCE is a prime accused in the case and played a vital role,” the ATS chief told reporters. “We need his custody and will approach the court on March 25,” Singh added. Waze's statement was recorded in the Hiran case on March 8 when he flatly denied any role in the crime, but probe revealed that he was lying, the ATS chief said. It was Waze who had contacted Shinde when the latter walked out of jail on parole and took his help, he said. Gaur procured 14 SIM cards and some of them were activated and used in the crime, the ATS chief said. According to ATS, Shinde contacted Hiran, posing as ‘Tawde saab from Mumbai crime branch’ on the evening of March 4, the day before Hiran's body was found in a Thane creek. “Preliminary investigation suggests that Shinde along with others was involved,” the ATS chief said. One has to continue using masks and maintaining social distancing and washing hands is also important, but vaccination is the only shield PRAKASH JAVADEKAR 1,16,86,796 CHANDIGARH, 23 MARCH 3,45,377 40,715 UNION MINSTER To a question on cases of Covid-19 rising in some states, he said, the Central government is in touch with them and there will be effective management of the situation. “One has to continue using masks and maintaining social distancing and washing hands is also important, but vaccination is the only shield,” he noted. More than 32.53 lakh doses of vaccine were administered on March 22, which is the highest single-day vaccination so far, taking the total number of people inoculated to over 4.8 crore. Meanwhile, the doubling time of Covid cases in India has decreased from 504.4 days on March 1 to 202.3 days on March 23, the Health Ministry said, highlighting that six states have reported a surge in daily new cases and together account for 80.90 per cent of the new infections reported in a day. Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu collectively account for 80.90 per cent of the 40,715 infections reported in a span of 24 hours. Maharashtra continues 81% of Punjab samples positive for UK variant 29,785 1,60,166 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. TUESDAY 23 MARCH 2021 to report the highest daily new cases at 24,645, followed by Punjab with 2,299 cases and Gujarat with 1,640 new cases. India's total active caseload is rising after touching its lowest mark in mid-February, the ministry highlighted. India's cumulative recoveries surged to 1,11,81,253, with 29,785 recoveries being registered in a span of 24 hours. Besides, 199 deaths were reported in a day. Delhi’s Covid cases spike t o 1 , 1 0 1 : Delhi today logged a spike of 1,101 fresh coronavirus infections ~ the highest singleday figure in more than three months ~ while 4 more people succumbed to the contagious, deadly virus which is again surging through various parts of the country including the national capital. With 81 per cent of the latest 401 samples sent by the Punjab government testing positive for the new UK variant, chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday appealed to the people to get themselves vaccinated, and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to widen the vaccination ambit to cover those less than 60 years since this mutant has been found to be infecting young people more. The CM stressed the need for the Central government to expedite the vaccination process, saying that experts had found the existing Covishield vaccine to be equally effective against the UK variant - B.1.1.7. Amarinder also urged the people to strictly adhere to Covid safety protocols. The state government, which has already announced fresh restrictions, would be forced to impose more curbs if the people do not follow Covid appropriate behaviour, he warned. His appeal came after the state’s Covid expert committee head, Dr KK Talwar, apprised him of the developments on the variant in the state.SNS (SEE P3) SEE P 2 A medic collects swab sample, in the Capital on Tuesday. SNS Enforce the Test-Track-Treat T T protocol: Govt amidst upsurge STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 23 MARCH Taking note of the fresh surge in coronavirus cases in some parts of the country, the Central government has asked states and Union Territories to strictly enforce the Test-Track-Treat protocol, ensure Covid-19 appropriate behaviour, boost proportion of RT-PCR tests and to scale up the vaccination drive to cover target groups. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)’s Covid-19 Guidelines for April, issued today, emphasised the need “to strictly follow the prescribed containment strategy, and strictly observe the guidelines/SOPs issued by MHA and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW) and other Ministries/Departments of the Central Government and State/UT Governments.“ The MHA order will be effective from 1 April and remain in force up to 30 April, 2021. The government has launched the world’s largest vaccination drive against Covid-19, MHA said. While the vaccination drive is proceeding smoothly, the pace is uneven across different States and UTs, which is a cause for concern, it added. Vaccination against Covid19, in the present scenario, is critical to break the chain of transmission, the MHA Govt raises PF threshold limit for earning tax-free interest to `5 lakh No compound, penal interests during moratorium period: SC PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 23 MARCH NEW DELHI, 23 MARCH Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday raised the limit for tax exemption on interest earned on provident fund contribution by employees to Rs 5 lakh per annum in specified cases as against Rs 2.5 lakh proposed in the Budget. However, the minister in her reply to the discussion on Finance Bill 2021 in the Lok Sabha said the concession would be available to employees only in cases where his or her employer does not make any contribution to the retirement fund. The Finance Bill was later passed by the Lower House with 127 official amendments by voice vote. With the passage of the Finance Bill, which contains tax proposals for the next financial year, the Lok Sabha has completed the budgetary exercise for 2021-22. The Bill is scheduled to be taken up by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. Replying to the debate, she said the Budget proposal taxing interest income on contributions more than Rs 2.5 lakh per annum would affect less than 1 per cent of the total number of EPF subscribers. But there were also cases where EPF contributions were as high as Rs 5 crore, she said. “This Rs 2.5 lakh (limit) is covering majority of 92-93 per cent of the people who are depositing and for whom assured interest is tax free under this scheme. So the limits have been kept keep- ing in mind that small and medium taxpayers are not impacted by the step,” she said. The Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has over six crore subscribers. “I intend to raise this limit to Rs 5 lakh only in those cases, where there is no contribution by the employer in that fund. “So, most often, it is employee contribution and employer's contribution, but there are contributions which are only employee and no employer contribution is made, in such cases that amount is raised to Rs 5 lakh,” she said. This would come into effect from April 1. “In order to rationalise tax exemption for the income earned by high income employees, it is proposed to restrict tax exemption for the interest income earned on the employees' contribution to various provident funds to the annual contribution of Rs 2.5 lakh,” Sitharaman said in her Budget 2021-22 speech. PRESS TRUST OF INDIA In a relief to borrowers, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed that no compound or penal interest be charged during the six-month loan moratorium period announced last year amid the Covid-19 pandemic and the amount already charged shall be refunded, credited or adjusted. The apex court refused to interfere with the Centre's and the Reserve Bank of India’s decision to not extend the loan moratorium beyond August 31 last year, saying it is a policy decision. A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said that the top court cannot do judicial review of the Centre's financial policy decision unless it is malafide and arbitrary. The apex court said it cannot interfere with the government's decision to fix priorities for relief during the pandemic which has affected all across the country and the gov- ernment has been under severe financial constraints. The bench said this in its verdict on a batch of pleas filed by various trade associations, including from real estate and power sectors, seeking extension of loan moratorium and other reliefs in view of the pandemic. The RBI had on March 27 last year issued the circular which allowed lending institutions to grant a moratorium on payment of instalments of term loans falling due between March 1, 2020 and May 31, 2020, due to Covid. Later, the moratorium was extended till August 31 last year. In its verdict, the top court said that complete waiver of interest is not possible as it will have huge financial implications. The Centre had earlier submitted before the top court that if it were to consider waiving interest on all the loans and advances for the sixmonth moratorium period, then the amount foregone would be more than Rs 6 lakh crore. Chaos in Bihar House, Patna streets over ‘draconian’ Police Bill PRESS TRUST OF INDIA PATNA, 23 MARCH In unprecedented chaos in the Bihar legislative Assembly, Opposition legislators on Tuesday laid siege to the Assembly Speaker’s chamber and virtually held him captive to protest the introduction of the Special Armed Police Bill, 2021, which they say is ‘draconian’, resulting in police being call in to physically evict the agitating MLAs. The Bill seeks to give the police force more teeth, and allegedly empowers it to arrest people without a warrant. As the House assembled for the day, the Opposition legislators resorted to sloganshouting in protest against the Bill, leading to adjournment of the House. The chaos led to further adjournment after the House resumed after some time. Irked at the government not taking note of their complaint, the Opposition members later laid siege to the official chamber of Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha by sitting on dharna just outside his office. The protesters remained unmoved despite repeated requests by the Speaker’s office and police had to be called in to remove them. TV footage showed riot gear-clad police personnel carrying legislators by their arms and legs, and physically removing them. Many legislators said they were shabbily treated by the police and assaulted although they were protesting in a democratic manner. A group of female legislators from the Opposition camp rushed near the Speaker’s chair in a bid to stop him from taking his seat. Female police personnel swing into action to bodily carry away the legislators gheraoing the Speaker’s chair. “This had not happened in the past. The chief minister who claims to be working for the welfare of women ordered the police to remove us by force. We were only protesting in a democratic manner,” alleged Sangeeta Kumari, RJD legislator from Mohaniya seat. She said the Bill was Draconian as it allows police to enter anybody's house and arrest them without any warrant. “We fear this provision could be misused to settle personal scores. We strongly oppose this,” she said. While Opposition legislators created a ruckus in the House, hundreds of people led by Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav protested on the streets. Eventually, he was taken into custody by police after the protest march reached Dak Bungalow crossing and the protesters tried to move towards the Assembly premises. Reports said the protesters fought a pitched battle with the police which resorted to mild force and also water cannon to disperse the mob. RJD legislators stage a dharna outside Speaker Vijay Kumar Singh's chamber during the Budget Session of the Bihar AGENCIES Assembly, in Patna on Tuesday. said. States were told to take all necessary measures to promote Covid-19 appropriate behaviour in work places and in public, especially in crowded places. For strict enforcement of such rules, States and UTs may consider administrative actions. The guidelines said the states and UTs, where the proportion of RT-PCR tests is less, should rapidly increase it, to reach the prescribed level of 70 per cent or more. The new positive cases need to be isolated/ quarantined at the earliest and provided timely treatment; all their contacts should be traced and similarly isolated, the guidelines said. Mass tragedy: Colorado shooting leaves 10 dead BOULDER, 23 MARCH A shooting at a crowded Colorado supermarket that killed 10 people, including the first police officer to arrive, sent terrorised shoppers and workers scrambling for safety and stunned a state that has grieved several mass killings. A lone suspect was in custody, authorities said. Hundreds of police officers from throughout the Denver metropolitan area responded to the Monday afternoon attack, converging on a King Soopers supermarket in a busy shopping plaza in southern Boulder. SWAT officers carrying ballistic shields approached the store as others quickly escorted frightened people away from the building, some of its windows shattered. Customers and employees fled through a back loading dock to safety. Others took refuge in nearby shops. One suspect was in custody, a tearful Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said late Monday. Authorities didn't identify the suspect, though Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said the suspect was the only person injured and was receiving medical care. Officers had escorted a shirtless man in handcuffs, blood running down his leg, from the store during the siege. Authorities would not say if he was the suspect. Foothills Hospital in Boulder was treating one person from the shooting scene but refused further comment, said Rich Sheehan, spokesman for Boulder Community Health, which operates the hospital. DETAILS ON PAGE 10
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.