THURSDAY www.thestatesman.com 29 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 P6 Generally cloudy sky. Moderate rain/thundershowers. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 29 and 24 degrees Celsius respectively. RAINFALL: 005.4 Mm RELATIVE HUMIDITY P12 P8 Opposition hardens stance on Pegasus Mamata meets Sonia, says 2024 year of hope KOLKATA/NEW DELHI, 28 JULY PRESS TRUST OF INDIA Min: 84% Govt flays Opp’s ‘bad behaviour’ NEW DELHI, 28 JULY TEMPERATURE Max: 27.6°C (-7) SUN RISES 05:42 hrs MOON RISES 22:52 hrs P4 Demands discussion in Parliament in presence of PM or Home minister WEATHER Max: 100% BILES WITHDRAWS FROM WOMEN'S ALL-ROUND FINAL SEBI MULLS REFORMS IN IPO NORMS BOMMAI TAKES CHARGE AS KARNATAKA CM THE NEXT TRYST Min: 25.1°C (-2) SUN SETS 19:14 hrs MOON SETS 11:30 hrs THUMBNAILS People cross the road amidst a heavy spell of SNS rain in Kolkata on Wednesday. Delhi HC unhappy with Twitter: Delhi High Court Wednesday expressed displeasure over Twitter Inc appointing a “contingent worker” as Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) and said the microblogging platform was non-compliant with the new Information Technology (IT) Rules. Justice Rekha Palli noted that while the rules mandated appointment of a key managerial person or a senior employee as CCO, Twitter had appointed a “contingent worker” through a third party contractor. SC on Kerala House ruckus: The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that no member of an elected legislature can claim either a privilege or an immunity to stand above the sanctions of criminal law, adding acts of destruction of public property cannot be equated with freedom of speech, as it dismissed a plea by the Left government in Kerala for withdrawal of the criminal case against the then six MLAs of the LDF, the current education minister V Sivankutty among them, over the Opposition ruckus inside the state Assembly in 2015. T he Opposition on Wednesday gathered its forces on the Pegasus spyware issue with leaders of 14 parties meeting to make a vigorous push for a debate in Parliament and a Supreme Court monitored probe. Multiple leaders took on the government for suppressing their voices and toughened their stand both inside and outside Parliament, where the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day following protests and the Rajya Sabha was also repeatedly disrupted. Earlier in the day, several leaders decided to submit similar adjournment notices on the matter of the snooping row targeting a host of people, including political leaders, journalists and civil society activists. Demanding a debate in Parliament in the presence NEW DELHI, 28 JULY of Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Home minister Amit Shah, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi accused them of "hitting the soul of India's democracy by snooping upon its institutions". “The opposition is united for a discussion on the Pegasus issue... We are not going anywhere till it is discussed in Parliament," Gandhi told reporters in the presence of leaders of 13 other opposition parties at Vijay Chowk. “We just have one question. Has the government of India bought Pega- sus, yes or no? Did the government use Pegasus weapon on its own people, yes or no? That is all we wish to know," he said. DMK’s T R Baalu said the government has given an impression that the opposition is against holding discussions in Parliament but that is not so. “We wanted a discussion from day one. Every day, we are giving notices but the government is not coming forward for a discussion... It is a matter of great concern for democracy," he said. (Photo: Subrata Dutta) The government said it is ready to discuss any issue in Parliament but the Opposition is behaving in a manner that is not good for democracy. It also alleged that the way the Opposition parties are exerting their might to create havoc in Parliament, it is clear that they are not interested in issues concerning the common man. Union minister Anurag Thakur said that the Opposition is running away from debate and sought to know why it "doesn't want issues to be discussed in Parliament”. “There is a way to protest. But today, the Opposition has damaged the dignity and decorum of the temple of our PTI democracy," he said. STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had an hour-long meeting with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi on Wednesday which she later described as “positive.” Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi was also present at the meeting at 10, Janpath, the residence of Sonia Gandhi, part of Miss Banerjee’s series of outreach meetings in the national capital. Political analysts feel that the UPA chairperson is keen in forging an alliance with anti-BJP Opposition parties and Mamata Banerjee will play a key role in bringing the Opposition parties together. “It was a very good meeting," Miss Banerjee told reporters after the meeting, saying she discussed the political situation in the country as well as opposition unity with the Gandhis. She added that she is expecting positive results Mamata Banerjee on the way to meet Congress interim SUBRATA DUTTA president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday. in the future. Earlier in the day, she held an informal Press conference where she said: “I will prefer to call 2024 a year of hope.” Asked who will be the Prime Minister face of the Opposition, she quipped, "I'm not an astrologer. It is only 2021. Lok Sabha poll is due in 2024. But I request all the Opposition leaders to come under one umbrella and fight unitedly against the BJP." She said it will "depend on the situation" who becomes the face of the Opposition to take on the BJP but added she has , no problem if someone other than her leads. Asked whether she will approach BJD and other parties, she said: “When storm is approaching we have to be together." Asked whether she would tie up with the Left parties in Bengal, she said,"It is up to them to decide whom they will support." Miss Banerjee also lashed out at the Centre for not allowing discussions on the Pegasus issue, saying that the situation is worse than during the Emergency. Unruly scenes in both Houses MHA, Assam, Mizoram agree Central STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 28 JULY The Lok Sabha today witnessed unruly scenes as Opposition MPs tore business papers and threw them on the officer’s table and chair, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the house. In the morning, Speaker Om Birla conducted the Question Hour but amidst din. MPs from Congress-led UPA and TMC kept shouting slogans and raising placards standing in the well of the House, forcing an abrupt adjournment at 12:05. The members raised 'Khela Hobe' slogans and demanded a discussion on the Pegasus Project report. BJP’s Nishikant Dubey stood up raising a notice on privilege motion against Congress MP and IT panel chairman Shashi Tharoor. Dubey, who has sought Tharoor’s removal from the chairmanship of the committee, said the Congress leader was planning to take up the Pegasus issue in the panel, while MPs in the House indulged in dis- tractions on the issue. Then the Opposition MPs started shouting again. The torn papers thrown by them fell on the treasury benches. Parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi protested and proceedings were adjourned. The Rajya Sabha, which has seen continuous protests by the Opposition since the Monsoon session over the Peagasus and farm laws issues, was also adjourned thrice because of Opposition protests, before being finally adjourned for the day. forces to be deployed at disputed border STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 28 JULY A Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) unit under a senior CRPF officer will be posted at the Assam-Mizoram border “disturbed area” where several Assam police personnel were killed in Mizo firing last Monday. This was agreed to by the two States at a meeting of Chief Secretaries and Directors-General of Police Officials of the two states said the situation along the interstate border is currently peaceful and it was agreed that everyone will try to maintain peace. The withdrawal of state forces is being worked out. (DGPs) of the two States held under the chairmanship of Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla. Convened by the Central Government, the meeting lasted two hours where the two states’ senior officials agreed for the deployment of a “neutral force” in the disturbed area. Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) sources said the CRPF was likely to be force to be posted. The posting of the force will be on the Assam-Mizoram border along the National Highway 306. Both state governments also agreed to continue discussions mutually to resolve the border issue in an amicable manner. The Centre had yesterday informed Parliament that it acted only as a facilitator for amicable settlement of inter-state boundary disputes in the country. Bank depositors to get coverage of up to `5 lakh 17 dead as cloudbursts India, US rule out military solution in Afghanistan hit Himachal, J&K NEW DELHI, 28 JULY STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE SHIMLA/JAMMU, 28 JULY In a bid to ensure timely support to depositors of stressed banks, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved amendment to the DICGC Act to provide account holders access to up to Rs 5 lakh funds within 90 days of a bank coming under moratorium. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech had announced that changes will be made to the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC) Act, 1961. Last year, the government raised insurance cover on deposit five-fold to Rs 5 lakh to provide support to depositors of ailing PTI lenders. Flash floods resulting from cloudbursts killed at least 17 people in Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh and damaged several residential houses, standing crops and a mini power plant, officials said. Nine persons died while seven persons are reported to be missing in flash floods that were caused by heavy rains since Tuesday night in Himachal Pradesh’s Lahaul Spiti and Chamba districts. A State Disaster Management Authority official said twelve persons were washed away in flash floods that NEW DELHI, 28 JULY were triggered by cloud burst over Tozing nullah in Udaipur area of Lahaul Spiti district on Tuesday night. Of these, two were rescued while seven bodies have been found. Eight persons, including four women, were killed and 14 were missing after a cloudburst triggered flash-floods in Honzar village of Dacchan area in Kishtwar district of Jammu on Wednesday. Seven bodies were recovered downstream till the afternoon. In Ladakh, two cloudbursts hit different areas of Kargil, causing damage to a mini power project, nearly a dozen residential houses and standing crops, though no casualties were reported. Details on pages 3 & 5 India and the United States today ruled out a military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and expressed deep concern over the violence unleashed by the Taliban and called upon all parties to come to the negotiating table for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. “India and the US share strong interest in peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan. As a credible partner in the region, India has and will continue to make vital contributions to Afghanistan's stability and development,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a joint press conference with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar after talks between the two leaders. Blinken also had MHA extends Covid-19 guidelines STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 28 JULY The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) today extended till 31 August its 29th June order for implementation of targeted and prompt actions for Covid-19 management, and asked states to ensure strict compliance. India added 43,654 fresh cases of Covid-19 with 640 deaths in 24 hours, according to Union health ministry data updated onWednesday morning. On Tuesday, India recorded 29,689 new Covid-19 cases, after 132 days, and 415 deaths. Among the states, Kerala on Wednesday recorded 22,056 fresh cases, after adding 22,129 cases on Tuesday. In a letter to chief secretaries of state governments, Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla asked them to issue strict directions to district and other local author- 2/3rd of population in 11 states have Covid antibodies: ICMR NEW DELHI, 28 JULY At least two-third of the population surveyed in 11 states were found to have developed coronavirus antibodies, according to the findings of a serosurvey by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) done between June 14 and July 6. Madhya Pradesh leads the chart with 79 per cent seroprevalence while Kerala is at the bottom with 44.4 per cent. Seroprevalence in Assam is 50.3 per cent and Maharashtra 58 per cent. The findings of the fourth round of national serosurvey conducted by the ICMR across 70 districts of India was shared by the Union Health Ministry on Wednesday. PTI ities to take necessary measuresformanagementofthepandemic. Bhalla noted that while the decline in the number of active cases was a matter of satisfaction, “it may be noted that the absolute case numbers are still significantly high.” Therefore, he stated, there was no room for complacency. Delhi cases: The national capital onWednesday recorded 67 cases of Covid and three fatalities in a day while the positivity rate stood at 0.09 per cent, according to a health bulletin issued by the Delhi government. meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. He said the Taliban and the warring parties in Afghanistan must come to the negotiating table. Any future government in Afghanistan has to be inclusive. The peace process in the embattled nation must be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. Blinken pointed out that even though the US was withdrawing its forces, it remained engaged in Afghanistan. ''We have not only a strong embassy there but also have important programmes that support the country economically through development and security assistance.” It was also very much engaged in the diplomacy of working to bring parties together at the table for the 3,99,436 43,654 41,678 4,22,022 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. WEDNESDAY 28 JULY 2021 with its neighbours but its independence and sovereignty will only be ensured if it was free from malign influences. “Similarly unilateral imposition of will by any party will obviously not be democratic and can never lead to stability nor indeed can such efforts ever acquire legitimacy. The gains to Afghan civil society, especially on the rights of women, minorities and on social freedoms, over the last two decades are selfevident; we must collectively work to preserve them. Afghanistan must neither be home to terrorism nor resource of refugees,'' he added. On the challenge posed by Covid-19, Blinken said India and the US would work together to end the pandemic, including through the 'Quad' vaccine partnership. Sindhu, Deepika advance; women’s hockey team loses again in Olympics PRESS TRUST OF INDIA 3,14,84,605 resolution of the conflict. Blinken was concerned that the Taliban was making advances and committing atrocities in Afghanistan. “It certainly doesn't speak well about their intention for the country.” Jaishankar said India believed the diversity of Afghanistan must be taken into account while finding a solution to the conflict. ''We don't think the outcome in Afghanistan should be decided by force on the battlefield.'' He indicated that during his talks with Secretary Blinken he had highlighted how Pakistan continued to provide support to the Taliban for the last 20 years. He said the world wished to see an independent, sovereign, democratic and stable Afghanistan at peace with itself and TOKYO, 28 JULY It was the sort of day when almost everything unfolded as it was expected to for India in the Olympics. So, badminton ace P V Sindhu and seasoned archer Deepika Kumari marched into the last-16 of their respective events, debutant boxer Pooja Rani (75kg) won her easy opening bout without fuss to enter the last-eight stage and the women's hockey team stared at early elimination after failing to upstage defending champions Great Britain. It was, in a nutshell, another mixed day for the country which is waiting for its second medal after the spectacular silver by weightlifter Mirabai Chanu on the opening day of competitions. Things started on a disappointing note with Rani Rampal's women's hockey team taking a 1-4 hammering from Britain, thoroughly punished for not grabbing its chances in the crucial match, which has now severely dented the side's quarterfinal prospects. In archery, three-time Olympian Tarundeep Rai defeated Oleksii Hunbin of Ukraine but lost to Itay Shanny of Israel in a shoot-off in the second round. As Rai faded, a new star rose on the horizon in Pravin Jadhav, the son of a daily wage labourer in Maharashtra's Satara, who stunned world number two Galsan Bazarzhapov of Russia 6-0 before expectedly going down to world number one Brady Ellison of the USA in the second round. Deepika managed to stay on target in her clashes against Bhutan's Karma and American Jennifer Mucino-Fernandez to make the last-16, struggling in the windy conditions overall. Before that, Sindhu did her thing in the badminton court, outwitting Hong Kong's N Y Cheung 21-9 21-16 to top her group and make the last16. There was minimum drama in that outing, the Indian going about her business like the world champion that she is. In contrast, B Sai Praneeth endured a miserable day, losing 14-21 14-21 to Mark Caljouw of Netherlands in 40 minutes for his second defeat in Group D. The boxing ring brought some good news for the Indians with Rani's progression to the last-eight stage. The 30year-old two-time Asian champion out-punched Algeria's Ichrak Chaib 5-0, thoroughly dominating a rival 10 years her junior. More reports on Page 12
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