CMYK FRIDAY www.thestatesman.com 28 MAY 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 HIGH-VOLTAGE DRAMA ‘ISRAELI STRIKES IN GAZA STRIP MAY BE WAR CRIMES’ P9 WEATHER Generally cloudy sky, rain/ thundershower likely. Temperature likely to be in the range of 32-25 degrees Celsius. RAINFALL: 110.5 mm RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max.95% Min. 79% TEMPERATURE Max: 31.8°C (-3) SUN RISES 05:52 hrs MOON RISES --:-- hrs New moon on 10 Min: 25.7°C (-1) SUN SETS 18:15 hrs MOON SETS 06:23 hrs June P6 West Bengal Covid curbs extended till 15 June RULLI WINS BATTLE OF GOALIES IN EUROPA FINAL JAISHANKAR IN USA FOR TALKS WITH BIDEN ADMINISTRATION P5 P12 Yaas aftermath: Mamata to meet Modi NOW THE DELUGE KOLKATA, 27 MAY MHA: Covid guidelines to continue THUMBNAILS STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE KOLKATA, 27 MAY he West Bengal government today extended the existing restrictions to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the state till 15 June. The restrictions that are in place from 16 May to 30 May will now continue for another 15 days. “Our Covid cases are slowly decreasing so we will continue the restrictions till 15 June. We are not calling this a lockdown or curfew. It is just that some restrictions have been imposed such that Covid is controlled but the economy is not hampered. Like already announced markets will remain open from 7 to 10 a.m. but complete restriction on movement will continue from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m,” Miss Banerjee told mediapersons. Bengal on Thursday registered 13,046 fresh Covid19 cases, the lowest such figure since the last week of April, and 148 deaths. Kolkata saw 1,489 cases and 32 deaths in the last 24 hours. Miss Banerjee said the jute industry has been given a further relaxation so that mills can operate with 40 per cent instead of 30 per cent strength. She T A tired frontline worker resting before taking a Covid victim for her last rites in Imphal, Manipur on Thursday. SNS Sikh man dead in US shooting: A 36-year-old Indian-origin Sikh man was among eight people killed in a horrific rail yard shooting in San Jose in the US state of California, according to media reports on Thursday. Taptejdeep Singh, who was a light rail operator at the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) was among those gunned down by a co-worker in the inciP10 dent. Delhi allows duty free import of black fungus drug: The Delhi High Court Thursday allowed duty free import of Amphotericin B, used for treating black fungus patients, primarily those affected by it after recovering from COVID-19, on furnishing of a bond by the importers till the Centre takes a final decision on waiving the customs duty on it. HS in July, 10th in Aug KOLKATA, 27 MAY The Higher Secondary examination will be held in the last week of July and Madhyamik in the second week of August in view of the Covid pandemic, announced chief minister Mamata Banerjee at Nabanna today. Details on Page 3 said construction workers too can be allowed to work, provided their agency first conducts vaccination for them. All restrictions for combating Covid that are currently in place will continue. Offices, industries and transport sector, including metros will remain suspended. Only emergency services and home delivery will be allowed. MHA guidelines:The Centre has directed states and Union territories to continue the ongoing Covid19 guidelines till June 30 and asked them to go for intensive and local containment measures in districts with a high number of cases. Even as Cyclone Yaas spared Kolkata on the day of its landfall, torrential downpour of about 75 mm on Thursday resulted in waterlogging in several areas of the city. SNS Govt defends vaccine procurement policy PRESS TRUST OF INDIA The statement said the Centre ran the entire vaccine programme from January to April and it was quite well-administrated compared to the situation in May. NEW DELHI, 27 MAY Facing accusations of delay in placing orders for vaccines, the government on Thursday defended its vaccine procurement policy saying it has been pursuing Pfizer, J&J and Moderna since mid-2020 for the earliest possible imports, and has even waived local trials for well-established foreign vaccine makers. In a statement, ‘Myths & Facts on India's Vaccination Process’, the government said it has proactively eased entry of vaccines approved by USFDA, EMA, UK's MHRA and Japan's PMDA, and WHO's Emergency Use Listing into India in April. “These vaccines will not need to undergo prior bridging trials. The provision has now been further amended to waive off the trial requirement altogether for the well-established vaccines manufactured in other countries,” it said. The Modi government has often been criticised by Opposition parties for placing orders for vaccines as late as January this year and delaying approvals for for- India in touch with Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda to bring back Choksi R&AW, IB heads get one-year extension PRESS TRUST OF INDIA SNS & AGENCIES NEW DELHI, 27 MAY India is in touch with the governments of Dominica, and Antigua and Barbuda to bring back fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi from the Caribbean region, sources said on Thursday. Choksi, who had recently fled from Antigua and Barbuda, was captured in neighbouring Dominica, Antiguan media reported on Wednesday. The sources said India was in touch with Antigua and Barbuda on the matter and now contact has been established with the government of Dominica. Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said Choksi, who had recently fled from Antigua and Barbuda, was captured in neighbouring Dominica he has asked Dominica to hand the diamantaire over to India directly. After news of Choksi's arrest in Dominica came on Tuesday night (local time), Browne told media that he has given “clear instructions” to the Dominican authorities to repatriate Choksi to India. “We asked them not to repatriate him to Antigua. He needs to return to India where he can face the criminal charges levelled against him,” Antigua News Room, a media outlet, reported Browne as saying. Choksi is wanted in a Rs 13,500-crore loan fraud in the Punjab National Bank. He was last seen going for dinner in his car in Antigua and Barbuda on Sunday. His staff had reported him missing. Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi allegedly siphoned off Rs 13,500 crore of public money from the state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB) using fraudulent letters of undertaking. Nirav Modi, lodged in a London jail, is contesting his extradition to India after repeated denial of his bail by courts. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Kalaikunda in east Midnapore on Friday to discuss the extent of damage caused by cyclone Yaas which has resulted in losses amounting to Rs 15,000 crore while a new doorstep scheme, ‘Duare Traan’ was announced today. This will be the first meeting between the two after Miss Banerjee was elected the CM earlier this month. She will visit the cyclone-affected areas of Sandeshkhali and Sagar tomorrow before meeting Modi. “The Prime Minister is coming to West Bengal on May 28... After the meeting with the PM, I’ll go to Digha and on 29 May, I’ll conduct an aerial survey in east Midnapore,” the CM said. SNS Details on Page 3 NEW DELHI, 27 MAY The Narendra Modi government on Thursday extended tenures of Samant Kumar Goel, secretary, Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), and Arvind Kumar, director, Intelligence Bureau (IB) for one year. The two 1984-batch IPS officers of Punjab and AssamMeghalaya cadre respectively now retire on June 30, 2022. Goel has been a hard-core operations man, while Kumar is known for a political reading of the internal situation. Both work under the close supervision of the Prime Minister, Home Minister Amit Shah and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Goel and Kumar are experts on Pakistan and had given valuable inputs during the Balakot airstrike on Jaish-eMohammed terror camps across the Line of Control on February 26, 2019. Goel, a 1984-batch IPS officer from the Punjab cadre, has served on the Pakistan desk and groups working against the interest of the country from Europe. Kumar of the same batch from Assam-Meghalaya cadre has served on important desks in the IB, including Kashmir and Left-Wing Extremism. The extensions were cleared by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. eign manufacturers to sell shots in the country. The statement, however, did not give out details of when and how many vaccines were ordered. According to the statement, the Centre has engaged continuously with all the major international vaccine manufacturers right from mid-2020. “Multiple rounds of discussions have happened with Pfizer, J&J & Moderna. The government offered all assistance to have them supply and/or manufacture their vaccines in India,” it said. “The central government is playing the role of an effective facilitator to enable more companies to produce vaccines from early 2020. There is only one Indian company (Bharat Biotech) which has the IP . The government of India has ensured that three other companies/ plants will start production of Covaxin apart from enhancing Bharat Biotech's own plants, which have increased from 1 to 4,” the statement said. The statement said that Covaxin production by Bharat Biotech is being increased from under 1 crore per month to 10 crore per month by October. According to the statement, when the government of India ran the entire vaccine programme from January to April, it was quite well-administrated compared to the situation in May. “But states, who had not even achieved good coverage of healthcare workers and frontline workers in 3 months wanted to open up the process of vaccination and wanted more decentralisation. Health is a state subject & the liberalised vaccine policy was a result of the incessant requests being made by the states to give states more power,” the statement said. India seeing downswing in Covid-19 second wave: Govt SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 27 MAY 2,73,69,093 24,19,907 2,11,298 2,83,135 3,15,235 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. THURSDAY 27 MAY 2021 India is witnessing a downswing in the second wave of Covid-19 and hopefully it will be sustained even when restrictions are relaxed, the government said on Thursday. NITI Aayog member (Health) V K Paul told the media the country continues to see stabilisation of second wave in most parts, both by the number of cases and positivity rate, and despite a sustained and high overall testing coverage which is reassuring. We are achieving this in face of very significant restrictions in most states in addition to other tools and operations, including testing and Covid appropriate behaviour and vaccination efforts, he said. Health ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said a steady decline in new Covid-19 cases has been recorded in India for the last 20 days, with 24 states witnessing a dip in active cases since the last week. He also said that while testing has increased manifold, a steady decline in weekly Covid-19 positivity rate has been seen since the last three weeks. Paul said the vaccination pace should pick up in July. India's Covid-19 infection tally climbed to 2,73,69,093 as 2,11,298 more people tested positive for the disease in a day, while death toll due to the disease rose to 3,15,235 with 3,847 fresh fatalities. Row escalates: Twitter flags ‘intimidation’, govt says defaming India PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 27 MAY The row over Twitter's handling of certain messages escalated into a war of words on Thursday, with the government saying the messaging platform was levelling baseless and false allegations to defame India and dictating terms to the world's largest democracy. It started with Twitter calling the visit by Delhi Police to its offices a form of “intimidation” ~ a statement which met with vociferous protests from both the government and Delhi Police. While the government called it “totally baseless, false and an attempt to defame India”, Delhi Police said the statement was “mendacious” and designed to impede a lawful inquiry. Twitter had marked several tweets by ruling BJP leaders TWITTER TANGLE Twitter said it was several tweets by rul- committed to India as a ing BJP leaders on an vital market, but criticised the alleged strategy doc- new IT rules and regulations that ument of Opposition it said “inhibit free, open pubto target the govern- lic conversation.” It went on to ment over Covid as express concern over the safecontaining 'manipu- ty of its employees in India and lated media', which said it will continue to be strictprompted the police to ly guided by principles of transvisit its offices late on parency and protecting freedom of expression. Monday. Twitter had marked on an alleged strategy document of the Opposition to target the government over Covid as containing 'manipulated media', which prompted the police to visit its offices late on Monday. Twitter said it was committed to India as a vital market, but criticised the new IT rules and regulations that it said “inhibit free, open public conversation.” It went on to express concern over the safety of its employees in India and said it will continue to be strictly guided by principles of transparency and protecting freedom of expression. Within hours, Delhi Police issued a strongly-worded statement saying Twitter was purporting to be both investigating and adjudicating author- ity and had “taken upon itself, in the garb of terms of service, to adjudicate the truth or otherwise of documents in public space”. The reference being to the alleged 'toolkit' ~ the one that Twitter, which uses factchecking websites, tagged as 'manipulated media'. Delhi Police is investigating it on a complaint by Congress of the 'toolkit' being fake. Delhi Police said it had gone to the Twitter office to ask its India head to join the investigation as the messaging platform seemed to have information based on which it declared the 'toolkit' manipulated media. Shortly thereafter, the Ministry of Electronics and IT issued a statement saying India has a glorious tradition of free speech and democratic practices dating back centuries. “Twitter's statement is an attempt to dictate its terms to the world's largest democracy.Through its actions and deliberate defiance, Twitter seeks to undermine India's legal system,” it said. Stating that Twitter has refused to comply with new digital rules requiring identification of the originator of a flagged message and appointing grievance redressal officers, the ministry said the purported commitment of the US-based firm to India not only sounds hallow but completely selfserving. “Twitter needs to stop beating around the bush and comply with the laws of the land,” the ministry said. It went on to highlight previously raised concerns around certain locations in Ladakh being shown as part of China, alleged reluctance to block content around a “genocide plan” during farmers' protest, rampant proliferation of fake CMYK and harmful content against India, and no action being taken on a type of coronavirus being called the Indian variant. The statement at the same time said that Twitter employees are safe in India and there is no threat to their personal safety and security. In its first official statement after Delhi Police visited the company's offices in Delhi and Gurugram to serve notice to its country managing director about the investigation into the 'manipulated media' tag, Twitter said it will continue to be strictly guided by principles of transparency and protecting freedom of expression. The company said it will “strive” to comply with applicable law in India to keep its service available in the country but will“advocate for changes to elements of these regulations that inhibit free, open public conversation.” WhatsApp users have nothing to fear: Prasad PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 27 MAY Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday said WhatsApp users have nothing to fear about new social media rules, that are designed to prevent abuse and misuse of platforms, and offer users a robust forum for grievance redressal. Prasad said that the government welcomes criticism including the right to ask questions. “The rules only empower the ordinary users of social media when they become victims of abuse and misuse,” Prasad posted on homegrown micro-blogging platform Koo, and also tweeted. The government fully recognises and respects the right of privacy, he asserted. “Ordinary users of WhatsApp have nothing to fear about the new Rules. Its entire objective is to find out who started the message that led to commissioning of specific crimes mentioned in the Rules,” Prasad added.
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.