DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE THURSDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2020, NEW DELHI, LATE CITY, 18 PAGES THE EDITORIAL PAGE THEGROWTH WEDESERVE BY NAUSHAD FORBES PAGE 10 BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY `6.00 (`8 BIHAR & RAIPUR, `12 SRINAGAR) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 SOME HEADWAY AFTER MARATHON MEETING OVER FARM LAWS Govtagreesonpowersubsidy,stubble curbs;talksonMSP,repealtocontinue Tomar: mutual consensus; finally, something positive: BKU (Ugrahan) PRABHA RAGHAVAN NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 30 THE UNITED Kingdom drug regulator cleared the OxfordAstraZeneca vaccine for use on Wednesday, making it very likelythatCovishield,thevariant of the vaccine being tested and manufactured under licence by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), will become the first vaccine to be approved for use in this country. A final decision on theclearanceislikelyto comeby the end of this week. Following the nod for the vaccine in the UK, a subject expert committee (SEC) of the Indian regulator was considering a request from SII for similar approval in India under HARIKISHAN SHARMA & RAAKHI JAGGA NEW DELHI, LUDHIANA, DECEMBER 30 Cabinet clears Akash missile export, forms panel for faster nod KRISHN KAUSHIK NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 30 THE UNION Cabinet Wednesday approved export of the Akash surface-to-airmissileto“friendly countries”andconstitutedacommittee, headed by the Defence Minister,forfasterapprovalofexport of defence platforms. The export version of Akash, anofficialstatement said, willbe different from the system currently deployed with the Indian armed forces. The Akash SAM, with a range of 25 km, was inducted into the IAF in 2014 and in the Indian Army in 2015. According to the official statement, Akash is an important missile of the country with over 96 per cent indigenisation. Following its induction in the armed forces, many friendly countries, the statement said, showed interest in Akash during international exhibitions, DefExpo, Aero India. The Cabinet approval will facilitate Indian manufactures to participate in RFI/RFP issued by various countries. “So far, Indian defence exports included parts/components etc. The export of big platforms was minimal.Thisinitiativeof theCabinet would helpthecountryimprove its defence products and make them globally competitive,” the statement said. “UnderAtmaNirbharBharat, India is growing in its capabilities of manufacturing a wide variety of defence platforms and missiles,” it said. Besides Akash, there is interest in other major platforms like the coastal surveillance system, radarsandairplatforms.“Toprovide faster approvals for export of such platforms, a Committee comprising Raksha Mantri, CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 PAGE 9 INDIA IS heavily invested in the OxfordAstraZeneca and Bharat Biotech vaccines, both of which are being manufactured in large volumes here. Covishield and Covaxin don’t require super-cold storage temperatures, and are likely to be significantly cheaper than the mRNA options. Sikh brothers protect First thaw in the chill: country, can’t question underlining agreement, their integrity: Rajnath language of compromise EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE HARIKISHAN SHARMA NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 30 DEFENCE MINISTER Rajnath Singh Wednesday disapproved of remarks like ‘Naxal’ and ‘Khalistani’ for farmers opposed to the new agriculture laws, saying “such allegations should not be made by anyone” against any farmer. He also recalled the sacrifices of the Sikh community ‘Deepest respect for farmers’ and said “there can be no question on their integrity”. In an interview with news agency ANI, when he was asked NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 30 AFTER OVER a month, and five rounds of frosty talks, there was some conciliation and progress in resolving the stand-off, and a lot morebonhomie between the farmer unions and the government on Wednesday. For the first time, there were some takeaways: a perceptible changeinthe gestureon thepart of the government, and some positive outcome that opens more space for further discussion and a resolution. If Home Minister Rajnath Singh eulogised the Sikh communityingeneral,andthefarmers in particular in an interview to news agency ANI earlier Wednesday,AgricultureMinister Narendra Singh Tomar, and his NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 30 Security personnel at the site of the gunfight, on the outskirts of Srinagar on Wednesday. PTI Three killed in J&K, police say militants, their families deny Ahmad of Shopian, and Ajaz AhmadGanaiandAtharMushtaq ofPulwamawere“hardcore”militantassociates,thoughitadmitted their names were not in the list of terrorists. Ajaz was the son of a policeman. IGP, Kashmir, VijayKumarsaidtheywereinvestigating the case and “will come to a conclusion soon”. While the first statement attributed the encounter to a joint operation by the police, Army and CRPF, later on Wednesday, the police said it had joined only later with the CRPF. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris receives the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine in Washington DC on Tuesday. AP Flight ban extended till Jan 7, UK variant BJP inducts Shaheen Bagh shooter in found in 20 samples CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 AMIL BHATNAGAR THREE YOUTHS were killed in Srinagar in the early hours of Wednesday in an "encounter", with the Army and police claiming that they were terrorists planning a big strike along the Srinagar-Baramulla highway. Soon afterthe photosof the men surfaced on social media, families came forward claiming the three were innocent and had no militant links. As per the J&K Police, Zubair Significant development Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar shares lunch with farmers' representatives in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Kapil Gurjar out on bail, party claims didn’t know SRINAGAR, DECEMBER 30 POLITICS: A FORECAST FOR FRICTION CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Ghaziabad, expels him hours later BASHAARAT MASOOD EXPLAINED PAGE 1 ANCHOR MAKING HEADWAY in talks for the first time since farmers opposed to the new agriculture laws showed up at the gates of Delhi more than a month ago, the Centre Wednesday said there had been “mutual consensus” on two of the four demands raised by the farmer unions. The two sides agreed to meet again on January 4. The Centre agreed to “decriminalise” stubble burning by excluding farmers from the ambitof the‘CommissionfortheAir QualityManagementinNational Capital Region and Adjoining AreasOrdinance2020’,anddrop those provisions of the draft Electricity Amendment Bill, 2020, which are intended to changetheexistingmodeof subsidy payment to consumers. Therewasnoheadwayonthe demands to repeal the three newly enacted farm laws and provide legal guarantee on the MSP or minimum support price. Thesewillbediscussedwhenthe twosidesmeetagain nextweek. Emerging from the meeting, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, “There has been mutual consensus (aapsi razamandi) between UK clears Oxford shot, regulatory panel considers nod in India too KAPIL GURJAR, the 25-year-old man who allegedly fired at least two shots about 50 metres from the stage at the Shaheen Bagh anti-CAA protest on February 1, joined the BJP’s Ghaziabad unit on Wednesday. Hours later, the party revoked his membership, claiming that it was not aware of his criminal antecedents. WORLD Kapil Gurjar with the BJP’s Ghaziabad district convenor Sanjeev Sharma UJJAIN, DECEMBER 30 PAGE 12 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 30 THE UNION Health Ministry on Wednesday recommended to the Civil Aviation Ministry to extend the temporary suspension of flights originating from the United Kingdom until January 7. Thenumberof samplesdetected in India withthenew, more contagious strain of the novel coronavirus — the UK “variant under investigation” VUI-202012/01 — is now 20, the government said. Based on inputs received fromtheJointMonitoringGroup (JMG) headed by Prof Balram Bhargava, DG, Indian Council of Medical Research, and the National Task Force headed jointly by Dr V K Paul, Member, NITI Aayog, and Prof Bhargava, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Wednesday wrote to his counterpart in Civil Aviation, recommending that the flight ban, initially announced from December 23 until December 31, be extended. “Temporary suspension of flights originating from the UK intoIndiabefurtherextendedtill January 7, 2021. Thereafter, strictly regulated resumption of limited number of flights originating from the UK into India CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 House razed after Ujjain clash, a neighbour crosses fault-lines to shelter family of 19 displaced IRAM SIDDIQUE U.S. DETECTS FIRST CASE OF COVID-19 VARIANT UK LAWMAKERS CLEAR POST-BREXIT TRADE DEAL WITH EU At the event, the BJP hailed Gurjar saying he had "influence inthearea"andhadbeen"working for Hindutva". Gurjar claimed to be a part of the RSS but not of any other party. Soon after the shooting incident, the BJP had accused Gurjar of being an Aam Aadmi Party leader. An FIR under the Arms Act and IPC Sections336(actendangering life) and 506 (criminal intimidation) had been registered KAUNAIN SHERIFF M & PRANAV MUKUL ITWASstone-peltingonamarch of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha(BJYM),allegedlyraising provocative slogans while passing through Begum Bagh here, that brought the Ujjain district administration to the MuslimdominatedlocalityonDecember 26. Abdul Rafeeq's house was razedintheactionthatfollowed. His family of 19 has since then been sheltered in one room of her house by his neighbour Meera Bai, who agrees with Rafeeq that there was no reason for the police to pull down his two-storey home. A daily wager, who built the house over the past 35 years on a patta alloted to him by the government, Rafeeq says the police were looking for two women, identifiedasHeenaandYasmeen, CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Abdul Rafeeq in front of his demolished house. Vishnukant Tiwari ‘Calls, threats’: the three suicides driven by instant loan racket SREENIVAS JANYALA HYDERABAD, DECEMBER 30 ON DECEMBER 16 afternoon, P Sunil, 24, hugged his fivemonth-old son for a long time as he and his wife Ramya, 23, watched TV at their home in Kismatpur in Hyderabad. Then, he went into another room, and hanged himself. In the days since, the police havefoundthatonthatmorning, Sunil had received dozens of phone calls and messages from numbers linked to instant loan apps. "I knew he had taken loans throughtheapps.Hewasunable torepayashehadlosthisjobduringthelockdown,andhegotcalls continuously,evenatnight,fullof abuses. They threatened to file FIRs,tolockhisbankaccount,defamehim.Hewasworriedallthe time. To repay one loan, he took another, and ended up with over Rs2lakhdebt," saysRamya,now at her in-laws' house in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. In the past few days, the Telangana Police has received at least 90 complaints from similar victims, who borrowed money through apps that clear loans within half-an-hour, charging a high interest, and believed to be working in tandem. A defaulter is subjected to constant harassment, over phone, including messages of fake FIRs and court notices, and humiliated before friends and relatives. There have been reports of three suicides, and one attempted suicide. The police of Hyderabad, Cyberabad and Rachakonda in TelanganahavewrittentoGoogle to take down 158 instant loan appsfromGooglePlayStore.The Telangana Police has raided offices and call centres in Hyderabad,Bengaluru,Puneand Gurugram, from where hun- Kirni Mounika with her brothers. She died on Dec 16 dreds of staff members made calls to customers. The 14 arrestedincludeaChinesenational, behind allegedly 11 of the apps. Cyberabad Police Commissioner V C Sajjanar said theyfear"thousandsmaybesufferingtheabuseandharassment silently, afraid to seek help". A preliminaryinvestigationhasrevealed close to 1.4 crore transactions worth nearly Rs 21,000 crore, as per a Hyderabad Police release, reported by PTI. D Balraj, Sub-Inspector at Rajendranagar Police Station, who is investigating Sunil's case, said Sunil had 30 instant loan apps. "Due to the high interest rates, he had to repay almost double the amount he had borrowed.Hegotanewjobandwas to join a week later, but the recoveryagentshadstartedcalling up his contacts." Sunil used to work as a developer at a gaming company at Madhapur in Hyderabad, before he was laid off. He initially used a credit card to pay his bills, but when the dues mounted, started borrowingfrominstantloanapps. Before she consumed pesticide on December 12, Kirni Mounika, 24, sent a message to theFlyCashinstantloanapp,one of 55 on her phone, saying, "Already you spoiled my life." Four days later, Mounika, the soleearningmemberof herfamily, with three younger brothers who are still studying, was dead. After a B.Sc in Agriculture, Mounika had joined work as an agriculture extension officer in Rajgopalpet village in Telangana, earningRs37,000permonth."She was lively, hardworking. She had joined two years ago and was already a role model among young officers," says P Sravan Kumar, District Agriculture Officer. Apart from taking care of household expenses, Mounika's salary paid for the tuition and hostel fees of her three brothers. The police have found that she first borrowed Rs 16,832 on November 1 from Cash Bean. As the due date of November 7 arrived, she borrowed Rs 22,000 from Credit Bean on November 5. "From November 1 till December 9 she borrowed Rs 2.71 lakh, of which she had repaidaboutRs2.50lakh.Fromthe way the money, ranging from Rs 2,800 to Rs 7,000, was deposited in her account, it seems that she took a loan from one app to repay the other. Also, some apps CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
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