DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE SATURDAY, JANUARY 9, 2021, NEW DELHI, LATE CITY, 18 PAGES `6.00 (`8 BIHAR & RAIPUR, `12 SRINAGAR) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 HEARING IN SUPREME COURT ON MONDAY Noheadway,GovtwantsustogotoSCorform panel:farmerunions;nextroundoftalksJan15 Sought option other than repeal, court hearing did come up during talks: Tomar HARIKISHAN SHARMA & RAAKHI JAGGA NEW DELHI, LUDHIANA, JAN 8 Farmer union leaders leave after their meeting with the government, in New Delhi on Friday. Prem Nath Pandey TALKSBETWEENtheCentreand farmer unions opposed to the new agriculture laws failed to make headway Friday after the unions insisted on repeal of the laws, only to be told by the government to “suggest an alternative other than repeal”. While the two sides agreed to sit across the table again on January 15, all eyes are now on the Supreme Court where hearing on a clutch of petitions is scheduled January 11. Leaders of the unions claimed they were told by the government to go to the Supreme Court or form a committee with representatives of the two sides. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Minister of State Som Prakash, who along with Food Minister Piyush Goyal have been negotiating with the farmers, said reference to the Supreme Court hearing on January 11 did come up during the talks. Last month, the Supreme Court, while noting that the Centre’s talks with farmer groups did not appear to be yielding results, had said it would form a committee comprising representatives of the Centre and farmers organisa- UK air arrivals stranded as Delhi orders quarantine without notice tions to try and resolve the impasse – farmer unions, the majority from Punjab, have been camping at the gates of Delhi since November 26. Two days ago, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde posted the matter to January 11 after Attorney General K K Venugopal told the court that “there are chances of the parties coming to some sort of an understanding”. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY PRANAV MUKUL & ASHNA BUTANI NEW DELHI, JANUARY 8 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 EXPRESS NETWORK PM TO DISCUSS VACCINE ROLLOUT WITH CMS ON JAN 11 PAGE 7 Workers install heavy-duty security fencing around the US Capitol a day after President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the building, in Washington DC on Thursday. Reuters THERETURN OF BIRD FLU PAGE 13 PAGE 1 ANCHOR Lashkaropschief sentencedin terrorfinancecase M ZULQUERNAIN LAHORE, JANUARY 8 MUMBAI ATTACK mastermind and Lashkar-e-Taiba operations commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhviwassentencedto15years in jail Friday by a Pakistani antiterrorismcourthereinaterrorfinancing case, amidst growing internationalpressureonIslamabad tobringtojusticeterroristsroaming free in the country. UN proscribed terrorist Lakhvi,61, who was on bail since 2015 in the Mumbai attack case, was arrested by the CounterTerrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab province last Saturday. “The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Lahore convicted Lakhvi for commission of offences of terrorismfinancinginacaseregistered by the CTD for 15 years under different sections of the Anti-TerrorismAct1997,”acourt official told PTI after the hearing. Judge Ejaz Ahmad Buttar sentenced Lakhvi to five years of rigorous imprisonment each on three counts with a fine of PKR 100,000 (approximately USD 620) each on three counts. “Indefaultof paymentof fine, he will have to undergo an im- ACROSS FARM COMMODITIES WASHINGTON, JANUARY 8 AFTER BEGRUDGINGLY concedingdefeatlessthantwoweeksbefore he is due to leave office, US President Donald Trump announcedonTwitterthathewould not be attending President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th,” he said on Friday. The announcement marks anotherbreakwithtraditionthat undermines the ceremonial demonstration of a core democraticvaluethat Trumphasvirulentlydisregardedsincetheelection — the peaceful transfer of powerbetweenadministrations. Only three presidents in US history have skipped their successor’s swearing-in — the last timeithappenedwasmorethan A video grab of President Donald Trump’s address. Twitter via Reuters CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 US tweaks H1B visa rules again, higher wage is key factor now AASHISH ARYAN ABOUT A fortnight before its term ends, US President Donald Trump's administration has once again amended its H-1B visa regime to give priority to higher wages and skills instead of the prevailing lottery system for selection of candidates looking to work in the country. The new rules will be effective 60 days after publication in the federal register Friday, making it likely that they will cover E Indian, US firms tobe ● affected IT COULD impact US tech companies looking to hire from the pool of H1B visa workers as they are skilled and available for lower salaries. Indian companies are also likely to be hit and may have to shell out more salary for on-site workers. 150 years ago. Democrat Andrew Johnson sat out the 1869 inauguration after he was replacedbyRepublicanUlyssesS Grant; before that, John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams skipped the inaugurations of 1801 and 1829 respectively. Meanwhile, the Trump administration plunged deeper into crisis as more officials resigned in protest, prominent Republicans broke with the President, and Democratic H-1B applicants for the new fiscal year starting April 1. According to the amended rulesreleasedbytheDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS), US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will first select registrations where the “proffered wage equals or exceeds” theprevailinglevelinthatareaof employment. “The proffered wage is the wage that the employer intends to pay the beneficiary. The wage level ranking will occur first for the regular cap selection and CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Food and Agriculture Organisation’s food price index highest since 2014 FAO FOOD PRICE INDEX 120 110 93.3 100 90 80 (2014-2016=100) 102.5 THE EDITORIAL PAGE ONCEUPON A FAILEDCOUP BY ASHUTOSH VARSHNEY PAGE 10 WORLD U.S. TRANSPORT, EDUCATION SECYS QUIT IN STAFF EXODUS JUSTICE DEPT OPEN TO CHARGES AGAINST TRUMP FOR INCITING RIOT PAGE 12 107.5 91.0 Sept-19 Oct-19 Nov-19 Dec-19 Jan-20 Feb-20 Mar-20 Apr-20 May-20 June-20 July-20 Aug-20 Sept-20 Oct-20 Nov-20 Dec-20 PETER BAKER, MAGGIE HABERMAN, LUKE BROADWATER & GLENN THRUSH NEW DELHI, JANUARY 8 EXPLAINED 15 years’ jail for 26/11 planner Lakhvi, India points to FATF Growth silver lining As Democrats push to impeach him, but food inflation Trump says won’t be at inauguration may be dark cloud E X P L A I NE D A DAY after Delhi Chief Minister ArvindKejriwalurgedtheCentre to extend its ban on all flights fromtheUK,hisgovernmentannouncedstringentconditionsfor passengers arriving from that country, including seven days of institutional quarantine even if they test negative at the airport. However,thedecision,which was announced in an order issued Friday, took the nearly 250 passengers who arrived on an Air India flight (AI 112) in the morning by surprise as they were bunched in groups to be takentotwohotelsinAerocity— JW Marriot and Aloft — for institutional quarantine. Till 9 pm, official sources told The Indian Express, about 150 of them had been tested, with one positive case reported. Whentheflighttookoff from London at about 9.40 pm Thursday local time, the prevalentrulesinDelhiallowedforarriving passengers to exit the airportaftertestingnegative.AI112 was the first flight from London following partial resumption of India-UK flights after the Centre temporarily suspended arrivals to prevent the spread of a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus in that country. However, a relative of one of the affected passengers said, “there was chaos” on landing at 10:30 am as none of the passengers was prepared for institutional quarantine. Gouri Shankar Das, who was on the flight, tweeted from the airport: "... I am one of the passengers of flight AI112 from London with my 4.5 months old daughter...There is no food for DAY AFTER AZHAR WARRANT HARISH DAMODARAN NEW DELHI, JANUARY 8 FIRST,ITwastheReserveBankof India (RBI) that, on December 4, revised downwards its GDP degrowth projection for 2020-21 from 9.5% to 7.5%. On Thursday, the National Statistical Office (NSO)peggedthecurrentfiscal’s GDP growth at minus 7.7%. The figure was even better, at minus 7.2%, after netting out taxes and subsidies on products. These official estimates — alongwithdatapertainingtothe purchasing managers’ index, electricityandfuelconsumption, goodsandservicestaxcollection, Google mobility index and other high-frequencyindicators—con- firmonething:Theextentofnegative growth induced by Covid19andthelockdownhasn’tbeen as much as was initially feared. The NSO’s first advance estimates suggest that the Indian economy may even register a small 0.3% year-on-year growth in the second half (OctoberMarch), after contracting minus 14.9% in the first half (AprilSeptember) of 2020-21. Butthis relative optimism on growth — economic activity seems inching towards its prepandemic levels — is tempered by an emerging challenge: food inflation. Thisalsomakesitdifficultfor the RBI to further cut interest rates or even continue with its CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi after a court appearance in Islamabad in Jan 2015. AP file prisonment of six months each on three counts. He has been sent to prison to serve the sentences,” the official said. (ENS reports from New Delhi: The Ministry of External Affairs, in its remarks on Lakhvi’s sentencing, said: “The timing of these actions clearly suggest the intention of conveying a sense of compliance ahead of the APJG (Asia-Pacific Joint Group) meeting, and the next FATF (Financial Action Task Force) plenary meeting in February 2021. It has become routine for Pakistan to come up with such farcical actions, prior to important meetings.” CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Aurangzeb not secular, says Uddhav, spars with Cong over Aurangabad VISHWAS WAGHMODE MUMBAI, JANUARY 8 RULING ALLIES Shiv Sena and CongresssparredFridayoverthe name of Aurangabad, where civic polls are slated to be held this year, with Chief Minister UddhavThackeraycontinuingto refer to the city as Sambhaji Nagar and saying that while the coalition's agenda adheres to secularism, Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb “does not fit into it”. RespondingtotheCongress’s objection to him referring to Aurangabadas Sambhaji Nagar to honour the Maratha ruler, Thackeraytold reporters: “Aurangzeb was not a secular person. Uddhav While our Thackeray agendahasthe word secular in it, a person like Aurangazeb does not fit into it.” Thackeray'sremarksassume significance with the Shiv Sena takingadifferentstanceonsecularismfromitsalliesonthisissue. Whenitwaspointedoutthat he had referred to Aurangabad as Sambhaji Nagar on his official Twitterhandleoverthepasttwo CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 A village in Uttarakhand dumps tradition, puts curbs on liquor LALMANI VERMA DEHRADUN, JANUARY 8 THIS NOVEMBER, as a gesture of thankstolocalresidentswhohad helped out during the wedding functionsof hiscousinsisterand two daughters, primary school teacher Mahesh Singh of Ratir Kethi village in Uttarakhand's Bageshwar district promised themliquorinsteadof money,as per a local tradition. Consequently, Singh recalls, at each of the three ceremonies, he ended up spending Rs 15,000 on liquor for the guests and all those who helped out — from door-to-door distribution of invitations to fetching wood for fuel, and arranging food and serving of meals. With labour hard to find in remote areas like Ratir Kethi, the village saw at least four other wedding ceremonies that month where the same promise was made. ButonDecember29,drivenas muchbythemoneyspentonthis traditionascomplaintsofdrunken brawls and domestic violence, Ratir Kethi passed a resolution banningthesale,distributionand servingofliquoratweddingcere- monies,andreligiousaswellassocialgatheringslikefairs. The women of Ratir Kethi drove the change, with the resolution passed in the presence of at least one member from each of the 80 households of the village, said pradhan Surendra Singh Mehta. No one raised a protest, he added. A copy of the resolutionwaslaterhandedover tothelocalpolicestationandauthorities, seeking their support in executing the move. Apart from banning liquor at ceremonies or gatherings, the resolutionsaysthatif apersonin a drunken state misbehaves Ratir Kethi passed a resolution to ban liquor at weddings with family members or indulges in domestic violence, the panchayat will take the matter to the police. Villagers can also approach the police if any person creates a ruckus or enters into a scuffle at a public place or a gathering in a drunken state. Mehta pointed out that women at the receiving end of domesticviolenceusuallydonot approach authorities, and said the resolution will be enough of a deterrent. Located at the border of Pithorgarh and Bageshwar districts at a height of about 4,000 feet, Ratir Kethi is about 81 km from the district headquarters. The nearest liquor shop is over 20 km away in Saama sub-town, which is where mobile connec- tivity ends as well. Liquor is sourced from here and sold in villages by local retailers. Bageshwar SP Manikant Mishra said: “The villagers have requested us to ensure that the sale and consumption of liquor do not take place during marriagefunctionsandotherevents. The police cannot stop that legally, but their resolution deserves appreciation. I will visit the village soon to speak to the villagers and discuss how they can stop this. A social evil can be stopped only with the cooperation of society.” Mishra added that liquor is the cause of most arguments, scufflesandcrimesinthehills.At least four cases of clashes between guests had been reported inmarriageceremoniesintherecentseasoninthedistrict,hesaid. Ontheirpart,theSP said,thepolice can ensure there is no illegal sale of liquor in bulk and from groceryshopsaroundthevillage. Mahesh Singh recalls that till a decade ago, there was no compulsion to serve liquor at weddings, or to people helping out with tasks. “It increases the financial burden but worse is when someone in a drunken state starts a scuffle," he said.
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