FRIDAY www.thestatesman.com 23 JULY 2021 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |` 5|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR P4 WEATHER Partly cloudy sky with light rain/ thundershowers. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 35 and 25 degrees Celsius respectively. RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max: 100% FIFTH TIME OUT, WILL DEUBA CHANGE? COMMAND & CONTROL YEDIYURAPPA HINTS HIS EXIT IS CLOSE P6 P7 Ugly turn to Pegasus row in Parliament TMC MP snatches Pegasus statement from minister, tears it in Rajya Sabha Min: 69% ‘Dalai’s aides, NSCN leaders potential targets’ TEMPERATURE Max: 34.1°C (-1) SUN RISES 05:39 hrs MOON RISES 18:59 hrs Min: 25.6°C (-2) SUN SETS 19:18 hrs MOON SETS 05:29 hrs NEW DELHI, 22 JULY THUMBNAILS SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 22 JULY A Municipal Corporation firefighters during a rescue operation after heavy rain in Kolhapur on Thursday. AGENCIES Bengal HS results: A girl from Murshidabad district topped the Class 12 board examinations of the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education (WBCHSE), while over 97 per cent of the 8.19 lakh candidates passed the exams, the results of which were announced on Thursday. The examinations were not held this year due to the raging Covid-19 pandemic and marks were awarded based on a student's previous academic performance. NHRC report on post-poll violence: Calcutta p High Court on Thursday gave the West Bengal government a "last opportunity" to file an affidavit stating its position on the NHRC report on post-poll violence in the state by July 26. Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the state, disputed the findings of the report, contending that there were several discrepancies in this report and many incidents in the report were actually in the category of pre-poll violence. He also contended that the report is politically motivated. Trinamul Congress MP snatched papers from minister Ashwini Vaishnaw in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday and tore them as the Pegasus snooping row turned ugly while the BJP dubbed the reports of surveillance as “concocted, fabricated and evidenceless". As the proceedings in the Upper House descended into chaos, Shantanu Sen, who targeted the Communications and Information Technology Minister as he was making a statement on the snooping issue, also alleged that Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri abused him in the House and was on the verge of physically assaulting him. Sources said the government will move a motion on Friday seeking suspension of Sen. Union minister Meenakshi Lekhi condemned the conduct of the opposition members as a "new low" in India's parliamentary democracy. Opposition parties have stalled proceedings in Parliament alleging the union government's involvement in the alleged snooping following reports that nearly 300 mobile phone numbers including of journalists, activists, opposition leaders and even of union ministers from India figured in a list of potential snooping targets by Israel's NSO group which sells its Pegasus spyware only to "vetted" governments and government agencies. "This is not a story. This is a non-starter across the globe because based on a concocted, fabricated, evidence-less story, nobody does story. Because that story itself calls for forgery and defamation. Leaked data is an offence and that leads to further complications for people who base their stories on leaked data," Lekhi told reporters. In the Rajya Sabha, the TMC, Congress and other opposition party members, who had earlier forced two adjournments of the proceedings, rushed to the well of the House as Minister Vaishnaw was called India, China in touch for military commanders’ meet on stand-off STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 22 JULY India and China are in touch to fix an early date for the 12th round of talks between military commanders of the two countries on disengagement at Eastern Ladakh, sources said today. It is understood that the Chinese side had proposed 26 July as the date for the meeting but India asked for a fresh date in view of the fact that the Indian Army would be occupied with Kargil 'Vijay Diwas' celebrations at that time. Sources said the two sides were expected to discuss disengagement from existing friction points in Depsang plains, Gogra and Hot Springs at the next meeting. Earlier today, India said it was awaiting confirmation of the date for the next round of talks between the senior military commanders of the two countries. At a media briefing here, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said New Delhi expected that both the India and the Chinese sides would continue to ensure stability on the ground and neither side would take any unilateral action that could increase tension at the LAC. He was asked why the meeting between the military commanders was not materialising despite a decision taken in this regard at the 25 June meeting of the Working Mechanism for Coordination and Con- sultations in the border areas and an understanding reached in this regard between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign MinisterWangYi at their meeting in Dushanbe on 14 July. Kidnapping row: India today lashed out at Pakistan for dragging it into the recent kidnapping of the daughter of Afghanistan’s envoy to Pakistan in Islamabad. “This involves two other countries... and usually we would not comment on it. However, since Pakistan’s Interior Minister has dragged India into it, I would only like to say that even by their standards, Pakistan's denial of the victim's account is stooping to a new low,'' Bagchi said. INDIA LOOK TO EXORCISE PAST GHOSTS to make a statement on the snooping controversy. Shantanu Sen snatched the papers from the hands of the minister, tore and flung them in the air, prompting the minister to stop making the statement and say he was laying a copy on the table of the House. The statement that the minister laid on the table of the House was similar to one he had made on July 19 in the Lok Sabha. In the statement, Vaishnaw, whose phone number was among those listed as compromised by the Washington Post, called the reports an "attempt to malign the Indian democracy and its well-established institutions". Meanwhile, representatives of the Press Club of India, The Editors Guild of India, Indian Women's Press Corps, Press Association and Delhi Union of Journalists along with some media personalities demanded at a news conference today that the government should launch a probe into the Pegasus spyware case and come clean on the issue. Top advisers of the Dalai Lama and several leaders of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) are among those listed as potential targets of Israeli spyware Pegasus, an international media consortium reported on Thursday. In the continuing series of reports on revelations from the international collaborative journalistic investigation called the Pegasus Project, the Guardian reported that the phone numbers of the top ring of advisers around the Dalai Lama are believed to have been selected as those of people of interest by government clients of NSO Group. “Analysis strongly indicates that the Indian government was selecting the potential targets,” the newspaper reported, naming the president of the governmentin-exile, Lobsang Sangay, staff in the office of the Gyalwang Karmapa, and several other Tibetan activists and clerics as those targeted. In a separate report, the Wiresaid phone numbers of several top leaders of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (IM), were added to a list of numbers of persons of interest believed to be generated by an Indian PTI client of Pegasus. P12 I-T dept raids two media houses; govt says ‘no interference' PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 22 JULY The Income Tax Department on Thursday conducted raids across several states against prominent media group Dainik Bhaskar as well as Uttar Pradesh-based TV channel Bharat Samachar for alleged tax evasion, drawing a sharp response from several quarters. The raids against the multi-media Dainik Bhaskar group ~ which has presence in 12 states and runs newspapers as well as operates radio stations, web portals and mobile phone apps ~ were taking place in 30 locations, including Bhopal, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Noida, sources said. The searches started around 5.30 a.m. and were going on till evening. "The group is also involved in textiles and mining businesses and the department is also looking into these transactions," an official said on condition of anonymity. The department is looking at charges of claiming bogus expenses and purchases by the group using certain dubious companies, sources added. There was no official word from the Income Tax Department or its policymaking body, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), on the searches targeting the promoters and staffers of Dainik Bhaskar, and Bharat Samachar. The issue was raised in the Rajya Sabha. It also came in for wide condemnation from several leaders, including West Bengal The issue was raised in the Rajya Sabha. It also came in for condemnation from several leaders, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Rajasthan's Ashok Gehlot and Delhi's Arvind Kejriwal. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Rajasthan's Ashok Gehlot and Delhi's Arvind Kejriwal. “Agencies are doing their own work and there is no interference in them." Union minister Anurag Thakur said in response to the criticism . “...one should take complete information and sometimes many issues come up that are far from truth," he said, replying to a question on the Congress' charge that the raids were intended to throttle the voice of democracy. Both Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar have been critical of the Covid19 management in the country and done numerous stories highlighting the failings of authorities Farmers launch ‘Kisan Sansad’ at Jantar Mantar PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 22 JULY Amid heavy security, a group of 200 farmers protesting the Centre's three agri laws started a 'Kisan Sansad' at central Delhi's Jantar Mantar on Thursday, a few metres away from Parliament where the Monsoon Session is underway. Farmers said the idea behind organising the 'Kisan Sansad' was to show that their agitation is still alive and tell the Centre that they too know how to run the Parliament. Police said security has been tightened and thousands of personnel have been deployed in the area. They said day one of the protest went off peacefully. Farmer leader Raminder Singh Patiala said, "There will be three sessions of the 'Sansad'. Six members have been selected who will be chosen as speaker and deputy speaker for the three sessions. In the first session, farmer leaders Hannan Mollah and Manjeet Singh were selected for the posts. Another leader Shiv Kumar Kakka said after the Republic Day incident, the farmers this time decided to make the gathering small. "Neither we nor the government were comfortable with large gathering," he said. Elaborating on the need for the 'Kisan Sansad', he said, the media has been reporting on the Covid situation across the country and a message was going that the agri move- ment was dying. "With ‘Kisan Sansad’, we have shown that the agitation is still alive and we will take our right," he said. Rakesh Tikait, leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, whi has been spearheading the farmers' movement, said it is only after eight months that the government has accepted that those who have been sitting at Delhi's borders are farmers. “Those siting in Parliament ~ be it opposition leaders or those in the government, if they don't raise our issues, we will raise our voice against them in their constituency. “'Kisan Sansad' will go on for as long as Parliament is in session and you (govt) will have to agree to our demands," he said. Tikait said they will pass a motion on the cancellation of the three contentious farm (SEE P2) laws. ‘Greatest show on Earth’ set to begin in India logs 41K new Covid cases Tokyo amidst distinct lack of enthusiasm STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 22 JULY INDO-ASIAN NEWS SERVICE has been placed on every phone and if the visitor goes beyond the activity plan that he mentioned at the time of arrival, he runs the risk of being deported. TOKYO, 22 JULY The Olympic Games, beginning on Friday, is the world's biggest sporting extravaganza but in the Japanese capital, which is the host city, there is clear lack of enthusiasm. According to media reports, the local public is largely indifferent, which is understandable, considering that the Games are being held in the middle of a Covid-19 pandemic. "For Tokyo locals, concern has been replaced by indifference. A thriving city enthusiastically hosting a global sporting event is a sight to behold. Right now, Tokyo is not one. That is hardly the fault of the Japanese. With about 80% of the population More Covid cases: Two more athletes tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, taking the total of infected athletes in the city to 10, even as Tokyo logged nother six-month high in new Covid-19 cases. opposed to the Olympics, fans banned from attending events and Covid numbers surging, it is little wonder the streets are not alive with joy. But the silence - and an absence of signage, flags and adornments - is stark," said The Guardian newspaper. Those arriving in Tokyo for the Games have to go through multiple checkpoints. At each of these checkpoints, paperwork is inspected, QR codes scanned and questions are asked. Visitors like journalists and officials will be confined to their hotels, venues and the main press centre for the next 15 days. A GPS-linked app Opening ceremony director fired: A day before the launch of the Games The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee fired Kentaro Kobayashi, the director of the opening ceremony, bec-ause of a Holocaust joke he made during a comedy show in 1998. India on Thursday recorded 41,383 fresh cases of Covid19 and 507 deaths, according to data provided by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The country now has 4,09,394 active cases, registering an increase for the second consecutive day. The official death toll due to the novel coronavirus stands at 4,18,987. Among the states, Kerala on Thursday recorded 12,818 fresh Covid-19 cases, with the Test Positivity Rate continuing to rise and crossing the 12 per cent mark. Maharashtra reported 7,302 new Covid19 cases and 120 fatalities. Refuting media reports that alleged India's Covid19 death toll was "vastly undercounted", the government on Thursday said the re- ports assume that all excess mortality figures are Covid deaths, which is not based on facts and totally fallacious. Given the robust and statute-based death registration system in India, while some cases could go undetected as per the principles of infectious disease and its management, missing out on the deaths is unlikely, the Union Health Ministry said. There have been some recent media reports alleging that India's toll of excess deaths during the pandemic could be in millions, terming the official Covid-19 death toll "vastly undercounted". Delhi cases: The national capital on Thursday reported fresh 49 Covid cases and one death due to the virus, according to the latest health bulletin of Delhi government. SEE P 2 3,12,57,720 4,09,394 41,383 38,652 4,18,987 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. THURSDAY 22 JULY 2021 and the distress of people during the second wave of the pandemic. Giving details of the searches, sources said the premises of Bharat Samachar and its promoters and staffers were raided in Lucknow. Bharat Samachar TV said on its official Twitter handle that searches are being conducted at the "house of its Editor-in-chief Brajesh Mishra, state head Virendra Singh, houses of some employees and the channel office". Tax sleuths also raided some premises linked to BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh's Harraiya assembly seat Ajay Singh and his associates. It was, however, not clear if the raids were connected to the media groups. Dainik Bhaskar posted a message on its website saying the government was scared of its true journalism. From bodies in the Ganga to Corona deaths, the group that brought the real numbers in front of the country is being raided by the government, it said in a message in Hindi. “I am independent because I am Bhaskar, Only the readers' will matters in Bhaskar”, it added. Mamata to meet PM Modi during Delhi trip Miss Banerjee said the Pegasus snooping scandal was bigger than the US Watergate scandal and, with the latest tax raids on media houses, signalled a ‘super-emergency’ in the country. STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE KOLKATA, 22 JULY Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said she will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi when she visits Delhi next week. This will be the first one-on-one meeting after the elections in May. “I will go to Delhi for 2-3 days. I will meet the President if I get time. The PM has given me time. I will meet him," said Miss Banerjee at Nabanna today while slamming the central government over a range of issues from the Pegasus snooping scandal to the tax raids on media houses. Miss Banerjee said the Pegasus snooping scandal was "bigger" than the 1972 Watergate scandal in the USA and coupled with the latest tax raids on media houses, signalled a “super-emergency” in the country. “I condemn the attack on the owners and journalists of Dainik Bhaskar. On one side, the raids and on the other side Pegasus. This is dangerous,” she said. Miss Banerjee’s trip to Delhi is being seen as an attempt to galvanise the disjointed Opposition to take on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2024, when the next Lok Sabha elections are scheduled. DETAILS ON PAGE 4
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