DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2021, NEW DELHI, LATE CITY, 18 PAGES KAUNAIN SHERIFF M NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 16 FIVE PERSONS who returned recently to India have been detectedwiththeinfectiousCovid19 variants foundin SouthAfrica and Brazil, the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday. DrBalramBhargava,Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said theIndianSARS-CoV-2Genomic Consortia (INSACOG) had detected the South Africa variant, associatedwiththefasterspread of novelcoronavirusinfection,in four persons in January, while another person had been detected with the infectious Brazil variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus earlier this month. “All travellers and contacts have been tested and quarantined,” he said. Of the four who were found to have the South Africa variant, known as ‘B.1.351’, one had returned from Angola, one from Tanzania, and two from South CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 E X P L A I NE D Ministry: 4 found with South Africa Covid strain, one with Brazil variant NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 16 WARY OVER the farmer agitationspreadingacrosstheJatbelt, the BJP top brass Tuesday held talks with party leaders from Haryana,RajasthanandWestern UttarPradesh,resumingtheirattempts to find ways to end the stalemate. E THE US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said there is evidence to indicate that the South Africa Covid strain’s spike protein mutation can reduce the efficacy of spike protein-specific antibodies, like those induced by most of the current vaccines. South African researchers have already said that Covishield provides “minimal” protection against mild and moderate infection only. It remains to be seen whether Covaxin will be effective against the variant. MAHARASHTRA SURGE:CM WARNS OF LOCKDOWN PAGE 8 Party chief J P Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah met MPs, MLAs and district leaders against the backdrop of a string of mahapanchayats by protestingfarmleadersinthesugarbelt. Also present were Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjeev Balyan, who belongs to the Jat CONTINUED ON PAGE 9 Toolkit does not talk of violence or taking over Red Fort: Jacob’s counsel OMKAR GOKHALE MUMBAI, FEBRUARY 16 Chinese troops disengaging from the banks of Pangong lake in eastern Ladakh on Tuesday. ANI Chinese troops pull back from Pangong north, south banks Army releases video clips, photos of bunkers, tents being dismantled MAN AMAN SINGH CHHINA CHANDIGARH, FEBRUARY 16 DAYS AFTER Indian and Chinese troops started the process of disengagement in a “phased, coordinatedandverifiedmanner”,the IndianArmyonTuesdayreleased video clips and photographs of Chinese troops withdrawing from the Pangong Tso area. Sources saidthevisuals were from the north bank of the Pangong Tso, and the Kailash Range area on the lake’s south bank. The video clips — five in all — NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 16 45 KILLED AS BUS PLUNGES INTO CANAL IN MP’S SIDHI DISTRICT THE LAW of sedition “is a powerful tool in the hands of the state” and “cannot be invoked to quieten the disquiet under the pretence of muzzling the miscreants”, a Delhi court observed while granting bail to two men PAGE 8 and photographs show the Chinese troops dismantling bunkers and temporary fortifications made of stone, both manually and with JCB excavators. OnevideoclipshowsChinese troops dismantling tents on a hillside. Another shows them dismantling tents and trudging down a mountain slope. A third clip shows a large formation of Chinese troops walking down a hillside, towards truckswaitingtotransportthem to rear areas. Another clip shows PLA vehicles assembled at the base of a hill, and driving away facing that charge for allegedly sharing a Facebook post on the Delhi Police during the farmers’ protest. Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Ranamade theobservations Monday while granting bail to the accused, Devilal Burdak and Swaroop Ram, who were charged under sections of sedition, statements conducing 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 IV Bhagalpur is latest on testing radar: 1,400 entries with gaping holes, string of zeroes SANTOSH SINGH PATNA, FEBRUARY 16 TESTING GAPS complete addresses, making it virtually impossible to trace them. The data, from December 13, 2020 to January 5, 2021, do notshowresultsof thetestsconducted. There is more. One of those hospitals, a referral facility at Pirpaiti, had 10 zeroes listed as mobile numbers for 534 entries across a fortnight from December 13 to 31, 2020. with troops, raising a cloud of dust. A fifth clip shows before and after visuals of an area from where Chinese troops are withdrawing, showing visible reduction in the number of troops. The still photographs show Chinese troops dismantling bunkers, removing corrugated tin sheets, and carrying away portable generators. The photographs also show JCB excavators levelling the ground at a place where fortifications had been built. According to the agreement reached between the Indian and Don’t invoke sedition to quieten disquiet, says court, grants bail to 2 EXPRESS NETWORK PAGE 1 ANCHOR Toolkit case: Transit bail for Muluk, HC order on Jacob today INDIA, CHINA DISENGAGEMENT ANAND MOHAN J LAST WEEK, Bihar set up 10 teams to conduct a state-wide probe based on the findings of an investigation by The Indian Express on how Covid testing data was allegedly fudged and inflated to meet targets in three districts. But the state government insisted that there were “irregularities”mainlyinjustone — Jamui. New records accessed and tracked by The Indian Express show otherwise. Data compiled by four Primary Health Centres and two government hospitals in Bhagalpurshow1,438entriesfor RT-PCR tests with 10 zeroes listed as their numbers and in- `6.00 (`8 BIHAR & RAIPUR, `12 SRINAGAR) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 Vaccine efficacy ● undertest BJP top brass in huddle over farm protest fallout in 40 LS seats in Jat belt LIZ MATHEW JOURNALISM OF COURAGE did not accept incoming calls. With Bhagalpur emerging as one of the districts hard-hit by Covid with nearly 10,000 cases, the civil surgeon in charge of the districtsaidthataninquiryis“already” being conducted on the “anomalies”. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY CONTINUED ON PAGE 9 Bihar tightens norms, ID card must for Covid tests PATNA, FEBRUARY 16 In fact, there is not a single valid mobile number for any entry for this period at this hospital. At the PHC in Bihpur, one mobile number has been providedfor138consecutiveentries for RT-PCR tests conducted between December 29, 2020, and January 5, 2021 — this number CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 to public mischief, forgery, and using forged documents. In his order, ASJ Rana noted: “The law of sedition is a powerful tool in the hands of the state to maintain peace and order in the society. However, it cannot be invoked to quieten the disquietunderthepretenceof muzzling the miscreants.” SANTOSH SINGH In December, the referral hospital in Bhagalpur’s Pirpaiti had zeroes listed against mobile numbers for 534 entries Chinese military commanders, bothsideshavetorestoreallland form to as it was before the standoff began in May 2020. Army sources said the disengagementprocess“wasontrack”, and after the withdrawal of mechanised elements, comprisingtanksandinfantrycombatvehicles, by both sides, the infantry was now being brought back from forward deployment. “The de-inductionistakingplaceasper planandtherehavenotbeenany hitches,” said a senior officer. On the north bank of Pangong Tso, the Chinese have MOVING TO ensure the authenticity of crucial data that it compiles to chart the state’s Covid graph, Bihar’s Health Departmenthasaskedallcivilsurgeons in charge of districts to ensure that those who get tested in facilities under their jurisdiction produce a valid ID, senior officials told The Indian Express. The move comes after an investigation by The Indian Express CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 INSIDE BIPLAB ON SHAH’S BJP ‘PLANS’: NEPAL LODGES OBJECTION PAGE 6 THE BOMBAY High Court on Tuesday granted transit anticipatory bail to Shantanu Muluk in the Greta Thunberg toolkit case, and reserved its order on a similar bail plea by advocate and activist Nikita Jacob. While issuing the non-bailable warrants against Jacob and Muluk,whoworkforaUK-based NGO Extinction Rebellion, Delhi Police had on Monday accused them of creating the toolkit tweeted by Thunberg on the farmers' protest. On Tuesday, a single-judge bench of Justice Vibha V Kankanwadi of the Aurangabad benchof theBombayHighCourt granted 10-day transit anticipa- tory bail to Muluk on a personal bond of Rs 50,000, to approach the competent/appropriate court for relief. In the case of Jacob, a singlejudgebenchof theBombayHigh Court reserved its order on her transit anticipatory bail plea for Wednesday. Appearing before a singlejudge bench of Justice Prakash D Naik, advocate Hiten Venegaonkar, who represented Delhi Police's Cyber Cell unit, challenged the maintainability of Jacob’s plea and submitted that the offence had been registered in Delhi and that there is no causeof actioninthejurisdiction of the Bombay High Court to grant anticipatory bail. Jacobhasbeenbookedunder IPC Sections 124(A) for sedition, CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Police probing Muluk’s presence in Tikri on R-Day JIGNASA SINHA NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 16 DELHI POLICE officers probing the toolkit posted on Twitter by SwedishactivistGretaThunberg onthefarmers'protestaretracking records that allegedly point to the presence of one of their suspects,ShantanuMuluk,atthe protest site in Tikri on the Delhi border on January 26, The Indian Express has learnt. Police sources said they believe Muluk came to Delhi to take videos and photos of the protest site and use it for the toolkit. On Tuesday, Muluk, an engineer from Maharastra's Beed, was granted transit anticipatory bail in the case. “With the help of call detail records and other technical surveillance,wehavecometoknow that Shantanu was at the farmers’ protest site in Tikri on January 26. He was in Delhi for around a week,” a senior officer told The Indian Express. Askedaboutthepoliceclaim, advocate Satej Jadhav, who rep- resented Muluk before the Aurangabad bench of the BombayHighCourtthatgranted him relief, told The Indian Express: "I have no idea whether he was present there...he was supporting the farmers' protests through online platforms only." On January 26, a tractor rally held by the protesters had turned violent with a mob stormingRedFort,leadingto the arrest last week of Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu in that case. On Sunday, Delhi Police recorded its first arrest in the toolkit case by taking into custody 22-year-old Disha Ravi, an activist from Bengaluru, triggering outrage and allegations that they had violated procedures. On Tuesday, speaking at the 74th Raising Day Ceremony at Police Lines, Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava said: “She was arrested as per the investigation and following all due procedures. The law doesn’t differentiate between a 22-year-old and a 50-year-old. We produced her before the CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Puducherry Cong govt on the brink, Bedi removed as L-G ARUN JANARDHANAN & MANOJ CG Bedi, CM clashed often CHENNAI, NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 16 THE CONGRESS-LED governmentinPuducherryappearedto havelostmajorityonTuesdayafter a second MLA of the party resigned in two days. Lateintheevening,theCentre removedtheLieutenantGovernor (L-G)oftheUnionTerritory,Kiran Bedi,withwhomthegovernment has had a long-running battle. Telangana Governor Tamilisai INTERVIEW WITH CM NARAYANASAMY PAGE 7 Soundararajan,aformerpresident of the Tamil Nadu BJP, was given additional charge of Puducherry. TherulingCongress-DMKal- liance and the opposition AIADMK-BJP alliance now have 14 MLAs each in the House that has a current effective strength of 28. While the Opposition demanded the government's resignation on Tuesday, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy said he retained majority support. The 33-member Puducherry Assembly includes three nominated MLAs. Of its current active strength of 28, the Congress has 10MLAsandtheDMKthree,and the ruling coalition is supported by an Independent. CONTINUED ON PAGE 9 Deep under the city, giant machine builds Mumbai’s Coastal Road LAXMAN SINGH & SANJANA BHALERAO MUMBAI, FEBRUARY 16 THE COASTLINE at the southernmost tip of Mumbai is changing at the speed of 3 metres per day under one of the biggest green recreational open spaces in the city. Mavala, India’s biggest Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM), hasbeenatwork20metres–the height of a 5-storey building – under Priyadarshini Park at Nepean Sea Road for nearly a month. From there, Mavala, named after the infantry warriors in Shivaji’s army, is burrowing metre-by-metreunderMalabarHill, towards its main challenge, an undersea portion aligned to Marine Drive, as part of the Rs 12,721crore Mumbai Coastal Road project. The project, consisting of a tunnel, a road, and an interchange, aims to connect South Mumbai to the Worli end of the Worli-Bandra Sea Link through a high speed corridor. The country’s first undersea tunnel is actually a set of twin tunnels, one for each traffic carriageway. The length of each is 2.07kmfromPriyadarshiParkto Chhoti Chowpatty at Marine Drive, close to the landmark Chowpatty beach at Girgaum. From January 11, when Chief MinisterUddhavThackerayinaugurated Mavala, the TBM has so fardrilled30metresofthetunnel deep under Mumbai’s most expensiverealestate.TheTBMofdiameter 12.19 metres is said to be thebiggestmachineof itskindin the country. It weighs 2,300 tonnes, and is 80 metres long. About 50 metres of the TBM is still in the launching shaft where the staff of L&T, labourers and engineers, are at work. Officials at the site said that in another fortnight, the TBM Project aims to connect South Mumbai to Worli end of Worli-Bandra Sea Link. Ganesh Shirsekar wouldhaveburrowedenoughto disappear into the tunnel which it is drilling. Priyadarshini Park was developed on reclaimed land, and 80-100 metres of the park falls in the intertidal sea area. The tunnel will meet the sea on the other side of Malabar Hill, at Walkeshwar. From there, it will hug Marine Drive under the sea forabouthalf akm,beforeopening to a connecting road overland, 4 km to Nariman Point. At the Priyadarshini Park end, the tunnel will connect to a road to Haji Ali. The project is set to change the coastline in South Mumbai, whichhasalonghistoryof reclamation. The road willextend the coastupto100metresinsidethe sea. The BMC has planned to reclaim 111 hectares, 12 times the size of Oval Maidan at Churchgate. Of the 111-hectare land reclamation required for the project, the civic body has completed about 80 hectares. Officials at the site said the machine can drill up to 10 metres daily, and currently it is boring the southbound traffic tunnel. “It will take about nine months to complete drilling for one tunnel. The TBM will be removedatChhotiChowpattyand 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.