DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA ● REG.NO. MCS/067/2018 - 20 RNI REGN. NO. 1543/57 JOURNALISM OF COURAGE SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2021, MUMBAI, LATE CITY, 14 PAGES `5.00, WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 ADDRESSES GROWING FOOTPRINT OF BEIJING The day after, Army chief flags: China’s moves lead to conflict Talks of ‘belligerence in Indo-Pacific’, ‘relentless initiatives like the BRI’ BUSINESS AS USUAL KRISHN KAUSHIK NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 12 HOME SAFE Rescued from Uttarakhand flash floods, Ankit Kumar Singh meets mother Lugni Devi, at Baruhatu village in Jharkhand’s Latehar. Two bodies were found Friday. PTI REPORTP5 A N E X P R E S S I N V E S T I G A T I O N - P A R T III Covid gaps in the open: Bihar CM promises action, some heads roll; Centre seeks report After RJD’s Manoj Jha flags Express reports in Rajya Sabha, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu says issue important; Bihar govt suspends 9 First testing red flags went up 6 months ago EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE SANTOSH SINGH BIHAR CHIEF Minister Nitish Kumar Friday said that action is being taken on the findings of The Indian Express investigation that revealed glaring gaps in the state’s Covid testing data even as his government suspended nine Health personnel, including five senior officials, in Jamui district from where “irregularities were detected... in particular”. The Centre hassoughta “detailed report” from the Bihar government on the findings. This came on the day RJD MP Manoj Jha referred to The Indian Express reports in the Rajya THE FIRST red flags came six months ago. In August 2020 when Covid testing was suddenly ramped up as infections beganto soaracrossthecountry. InBihar,Katiharledthewaywith around3,000samplesa daythat month, opening up a wide gap with others that were testing “barely 700-1,000 per day”. “After Katihar, a meeting of District Magistrates was called in Patna, where all DMs were askedtoincreasetesting.Around that time, Antigen testing had begun and kits were being supplied in bulk to districts. A few other districts started following NEW DELHI, PATNA, FEBRUARY 12 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 JAMUI, SHEIKHPURA, PATNA, FEBRUARY 12 Naidu presiding in RS as Jha seeks a high-level probe. PTI Govts failing in duty towards labourers, says Jharkhand CM ABHISHEK ANGAD GOVERNMENTS ACROSS the board are failing in their responsibility in dealing with the problems of labourers in the unorganised sector, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren said on Friday. Soren blamed the central government for the lack of coordination that had pushed to the back burner action on the commitment that his government had extracted from the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to do away with labour contractors and to recruit directly from the state after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU). The Chief Minister was the CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Katihar’sexample,andtherewas pressure on other districts to increase testing,” a senior official, who attended the meeting, told The Indian Express. “The DMs were asked to put inextraeffort...Butsomeof them pointed out that they did not have enough lab technicians to conduct the testing. All the 38 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 From Dawood Hotel to cocaine stash: ED maps Mirchi’s global network NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 12 At the event Friday. Express GAPS SUPPLEMENTARY CHARGESHEET RITU SARIN RANCHI, FEBRUARY 12 TESTING MORE THAN two decades after the thriving narcotics and money laundering operations run by now deceased underworld operative Iqbal Mirchi began to be busted, the Enforcement Directorate has recorded testimonies of his relatives and tracked down his alleged transactions to reveal details of his global network and “proceeds of crime.” The result: a voluminous supplementarychargesheetpresented before a Mumbai court which besides seven others, is learnt to have also named Dheeraj Wadhawan and Kapil Wadhawan, the Promoters/ Directors of DHFL. In 2010, they had purchased three “tainted” properties in Mumbai originally owned by the Mirchi clan. While several properties have already been attached by the ED, sources said the agency has collected evidence of Mirchi’s multiple foreign passports, his banking channels and contacts in Pakistan. The ED, sources said, has tracked down residences, hotels and offshore companies purchased from proceeds of smuggling. Some offshore entities listed by the ED, like Country PropertiesLimited,wereincorporated by Mossack Fonseca and were flagged by The Indian Expressaspartofitsinvestigation into The Panama Papers. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 A DAY after New Delhi confirmed the start of the disengagement process at Pangong Tso as a first step to resolve the nine-month military standoff in Ladakh,Army chief General MM Naravane cautioned against Beijing’srecentmoves,including along the Line of Actual Control, which“havecreatedanenvironment of confrontation and mutual distrust”. Addressing the joint annual seminar of the Assam Rifles and UnitedServicesInstitution—excerpts of the keynote address Friday were made available to the press — General Naravane said: “The rising footprints of China in India’s neighbourhood and its attempts to unilaterally alter the status-quo along our disputed borders have created anenvironmentof confrontation and mutual distrust.” He said the regional security environment is “characterised by Chinese belligerence in the Indo-Pacific,itshostilitytowards SUNNY VERMA NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 12 TO ENSURE THAT the ‘bad bank’ mechanism proposed in the Budget takes off, the Finance Ministry is planning to provide a guarantee against security receipts to be issued by the Asset Reconstruction Company (ARC) to banks against the value of theirbadassetsbeingtakenover. TheARC,accordingtogovernmentofficials,islikelytotakeover Rs 2-2.5 lakh crore of stressed assets that remain unresolved in around70largeaccounts.Stressed loanaccountsofmorethanRs500 crore each are expected to be transferred to the new entity. “Even though there will be E CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Finally, govtskin ● in game TO OPERATIONALISE the ‘bad bank’ idea, the government, which has decided not to contribute to the capital of the ARC, now plans to give guarantee to securities issued by it. This will create a market for such securities, and prod banks to partake in the process by transferring their bad and stressed assets to the ARC. Cricket is open again, crowds line up at Chepauk: ‘Chennai always a Test city, long gap was painful’ PAGE 1 ANCHOR SHAMIK CHAKRABARTY CHENNAI, FEBRUARY 12 ■ Rama Subramanian, 64, has been watching Tests at Chepauk since 1975. By contrast, Gopinath, who is in his forties, and his son Ajith, will be at the venue for the first time to watch a Test. ■Mythily has been a regular at the Indian Premier League (IPL) fixtures at Chepauk. She wantedtobeinthestandsforthe second India-England Test that begins on Saturday – when cricket welcomes back spectators to the ground after a year of Covid-enforced hiatus. ■ Kamraj, a middle-aged software engineer and Test cricketnerd,hasn’tmissedafiveday fixture at Chepauk since the India-Australia tied Test in 1986. Thefansallstoodinqueuefor hours on Friday, baking in the sun, waiting tocollectthe tickets that they had booked online. A daily turnout of around Rama Subramanian, a fan since 1975, in queue. Shamik Chakrabarty CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Indian Army and Chinese officers at a meeting in the Pangong Lake region. Indian Army via AP Rahul slams pullback; Govt says misinformed, no territory ceded EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 12 STATING IT had “taken note of somemisinformedandmisleadingcommentsbeingamplifiedin the media and on social media regarding the disengagement currently underway at Pangong Tso”, the Ministry of Defence Friday said “India has not conceded any territory as a result of this agreement” with China. In a statement, the Ministry, referring to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement in ParliamentThursdayonthestart of thedisengagementprocesson the north and south banks of Pangong Tso, said: “Raksha Mantri’s statement also made clear that there are outstanding problems to be addressed, including at Hot Springs, Gogra and Depsang. The outstanding issues are to be taken up within 48 hrs of the completion of the Pangong Tso disengagement.” CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 ‘Bad bank’ IMPASSE OVER JUSTICE KURESHI Deadlock in collegium: CJI may retire idea: govt guarantee without any appointment to SC APURVA VISHWANATH for ARC NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 12 paper likely E X P L A I NE D BY UNNY weaker nations and relentless drive to create regional dependenciesthroughinitiativeslikethe BRI(BeltandRoadInitiative).The resultantSino-USrivalryhascreatedregionalimbalancesandinstability”. Speaking at the seminar on ‘Evolving security challenges in the North-East and Way Forward’, the Army chief underlined:“Growthanddevelopment areintricatelylinkedtothesecurity environment. Nowhere has thislinkagebeenmoreprofound than in the North-East region.” Calling it the centre of gravity for sub-regional connectivity and the launch pad for Act East initiatives, he said the region, although endowed with natural resources, is “a laggard in terms of growth and development”. “Protracted insurgencies, legacy issues further accentuated after Partition and inefficient integration with rest of India account for much of what the region faces today,” he said. “Theimpactof thepandemic and the ongoing security dynamics across our borders have 14,000 is expected at the stadium after the Tamil Nadu government gave the go-ahead for 50 per cent occupancy at sports events – a full house would have meant a little over 33,000 fans. The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) has capped the number at the stadium at 15,000. Chennai is India’s oldest Test centre.TheIPLwenttotheUnited Arab Emirates last year, and fans nowhavethefirstopportunityto return to the stadium. “I haven’t missed a Test at CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 WITH JUST over a month left in his 14-month tenure as Chief Justice of India, the Justice S A Bobde-led collegium is yet to make its first recommendation of a judge to be appointed to the Supreme Court since he took office in November 2019. The last time a CJI retired without a single appointment to the SC was in 2015 during the tenure of CJI H L Dattu when Just over a month left in tenure of CJI Bobde there was an unprecedented stand-off between the judiciary and the government over the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC). This time, though, the impasse is within. Sources told The Indian Express that one reason is the lack of consensus in the collegium – comprising CJI Bobde and Justices NV Ramana, Rohinton Nariman, U U Lalit and AM Khanwilkar – on recommending Justice Akil Kureshi, Chief Justice of Tripura High Court, to the apex court. The stalemate in the collegium comes even as the process of appointment of at least six SC judges is due. Theapexcourtisshortof four judges while two retirements -- CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
Indian Express Limited is an Indian news media publishing company. It publishes several widely circulated dailies, including The Indian Express and The Financial Express in English, the Loksatta in Marathi and the Jansatta in Hindi.