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 FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2021, MUMBAI, LATE CITY, 14 PAGES `5.00, WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 PAK AMONG 10 AT WORKSHOP Covidiplomacy pitchbyPM: Visaformedics, airambulance BUSINESS AS USUAL Modi: Regional collaboration valuable takeaway, we need to take it forward BY UNNY KAUNAIN SHERIFF M & SHUBHAJIT ROY NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 18 REPORTS,PAGE5 Women block railway tracks as part of the protest against the new farm laws, in Jind district of Haryana on Thursday. Express Cases up, ‘partial lockdown’, curbs in 5 Vidarbha districts VIVEK DESHPANDE NAGPUR, FEBRUARY 18 WITH THE Covid-19 positivity graph shooting up sharply in Maharashtra'sAmravatidivision, the authorities have reimposed strictrestrictionsinallitsfivedistricts—Amravati,Akola,Yavatmal, Buldana and Washim — with a "partiallockdown"intwoofthem. The five districts, of the 11 in the Vidarbha region, saw 1,188 new cases on Thursday, with Amravati leading the chart with 597, followed by Yavatmal (237), Akola (179), Buldana (134) and Washim (41). Yavatmal's tally more than doubled, to 237 new cases, from 109 on Wednesday. Amravatidistrict'sactivecaseload stood at 3,468 on Wednesday,upfrom423amonth ago.Officialssaiddailydeathsdue toCovid-19inthedistrictwereup fromone-twodeathsamonthago to three-four a day now. Amravati Divisional CommissionerPiyushSinghtold The Indian Express, "Restrictions EXPRESS NETWORK VACCINATION: DELHI, TAMIL NADU, PUNJAB STILL TO REACH 50% COVERAGE PAGE 6 havebeen imposed in allthe five districts and a partial lockdown will be imposed in Akola and Amravati, the two most affected districts, from 5 pm on Saturday to 7 am on Sunday." Apartfromtheserestrictions, Akola, Akot and Murtizapur in Akola district, Amravati and Achalpur in Amravati district and Yavatmal, Pusad and PandharkawadainYavatmaldistricthavebeendeclaredcontainment zones. Singh said the Amravati division was likely to move past its September peak of over 7,600 cases this month. "We have already seen more than 5,000 cases this month." CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 BMC issues fresh guidelines as cases rise in Mumbai SANJANA BHALERAO MUMBAI, FEBRUARY 18 AMID A rising number of daily Covid-19 cases in Mumbai, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Thursday issued fresh guidelines to make implementation of Covid norms more stringent, including limited gathering duringmarriages, fines for face mask violations, hand-stamps on home-quarantine patients, and sealing of buildings where five or more cases are found. Thereinforcedguidelines are also a precaution to prevent what several districts in Vidarbhaarewitnessing--asudden rise in infectivity. On Thursday, Mumbai recorded 736 cases, the highest PAGE 1 ANCHOR since the year began. The last time Mumbai's daily case load crossed 700 was 49 days ago on December 31. Mumbai's positively rate stands at 5.4 per cent, up from less than 4 per cent until a month ago. The only indication that Covid-19 progression is under control is the declining active case load, from 5,296 to 4,120 cases in last one week. On an average Mumbai is recording 417 new cases daily in February. In January it was recording 501 cases per day on an average. This trendmayhoweversoonchange as daily cases continue to soar. In Mumbai, 11,430 deaths have been recorded so far, with four newdeathsdue toCovid-19 on Thursday. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Speak up on fuel prices, PCC chief warns Akshay and Bachchan VIVEK DESHPANDE NAGPUR, FEBRUARY 18 NEWLY APPOINTED MaharashtraCongresspresident Nana Patole Thursday threatened to stop shooting of films starring Amitabh Bachchan and AkshayKumarif theydidn'tclarify their position on the rising fuel prices, later saying he meant only to stage protests against them. Addressing Nana Patole mediapersons at Bhandara, Patole said, "Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar issued tweets against the hike in petrol and diesel prices during the government of Manmohan Singh. They should alsoexplaintheirpositionnowon the unjust fuel price hikes by the Modi government. Else we will seetoitthattheirfilmsandshootingfortheirfilmsarenotallowed." The life of common people had been badly affected due to the hike in petrol, diesel and cooking gas prices, Patole said. "We pay to watch Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 TRAI DATA SHOWS FIRST-TIME FALL IN DECEMBER Farm protest effect: Jio saw dip in subscribers in Punjab & Haryana Firm wrote to TRAI alleging ‘malicious campaigns’ by rivals PRANAV MUKUL NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 18 INDIA’S LARGEST telecom operator Reliance Jio’s wireless subscriber base in the states of Punjab and Haryana recorded a slide in December 2020, in what is being seen as a potential outcome of the backlash its parent companyRelianceIndustriesLtd faced from the ongoing protests against farm laws. Data for December 2020 releasedbytheTelecomRegulatory Authority of India showed that Punjab and Haryana were the onlytwostatesinwhichReliance Jio lost subscribers during the month. Also, during December, Jio was the only major operator to have lost subscribers in these two states. In Punjab, Jio had 1.25 crore subscribersasof end-December, the lowest in the preceding 18 months, falling from 1.40 crore as of November 2020. This was onlythesecondtimeJiolostsubscribersonanetbasisinthestate since its commercial launch, withtheonlyothermonthbeing December 2019, when all major telecom companies, except CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 SC closes cases against ex-CJI, says plot against him not ruled out ANANTHAKRISHNAN G NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 18 OBSERVING THAT the Justice A K Patnaik inquiry committee, constituted to examine if there wasaconspiracybehindthesexual harassment charges against thenChief Justiceof IndiaRanjan Gogoi, had said that “the existence of a conspiracy cannot be completely ruled out,” the Supreme Court Thursday closed the case it had initiated in 2019 in the wake of the controversy. Stating that it had gone through the Justice Patnaik committee report and had found it to Ex-CJI Ranjan Gogoi be “quite comprehensive” in termsof“thescopeoftheenquiry, thematerialsandthefindingsand theconclusionsalongwiththelist of annexures and articles”, the bench of Justices S K Kaul, A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said: “The learnedJudgehasrecordedinthe final paragraph that the Director ofIBinhisletterdated05.07.2019 has stated that on account of the then Chief Justice of India taking serioustoughdecisionslikeinthe case relating to National Register ofCitizens(NRC),therewasstrong reason to believe that persons who were unhappy with those decisions hatched a conspiracy against the then Chief Justice of India. A reference has also been made to certain tough administrativedecisionstakentostreamline the process in the Registry.” “The report has also taken note of the limited investigative powers and access to records which it had and based on those materials and evidence before PM Modi at the video conference, Thursday. ANI sion for regional cooperation on theseproposalstotakethemforward, sources said. Addressing a workshop on ‘Covid-19 Management: Experience, Good Practices and Way Forward’ — it is being attended by health leaders, expertsandofficialsof Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 China on mind, Quad ministers want respect for territorial integrity SHUBHAJIT ROY NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 18 SIGNALLING A closer alignment with other partners, India Thursdayofficiallyusedtheterm “Quad” for the first time to describe its grouping with the US, Australia and Japan, which is increasingly being seen as a possible counterweight to China's aggressive moves in the region. India's reference to “Quad” came in its official statement after a video conference of the group’sForeignMinisterswhere New Delhi underlined its “commitment to upholding a rulesbasedinternationalorder,underpinned by respect for territorial integrityandsovereignty,ruleof law, transparency, freedom of navigation in the international seas and peaceful resolution of E E X P L A I NE D RAIL ROKO APPLAUDING THE “spirit of collaboration” among South Asian andIndianOceanislandcountries as“avaluabletakeawayfromthis pandemic”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested Thursday the creation of a regional platform for collating and studyingdataontheeffectiveness oftheCovid-19vaccines,aspecial visa scheme for doctors and nursestotravelwithintheregion during health emergencies, and a regional air ambulance agreement for medical contingencies. Official sources later said “all countries, including Pakistan, supported the PM's proposals”. Theysoughtastructureddiscus- Good news ● for India WITH THE Biden administration yet to complete even a month in office, the first Quad meeting reflects continuity in Washington’s approach towards China. For Delhi, it’s a reassuring signal amid the border standoff in eastern Ladakh, although disengagement has started at one of the flashpoints. disputes”—alineseenasareference to China's moves. While the US and Australia havealwaystermedthegrouping CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Metro Man Sreedharan Day after lawyer couple killed, TRS leader to join BJP, contest polls: detained; father points to ‘illegal’ land deals ‘Party can deliver results’ SREENIVAS JANYALA HYDERABAD, FEBRUARY 18 SHAJU PHILIP THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, FEBRUARY 18 ESREEDHARAN,popularlyknown asMetroManforhisroleinsetting up Delhi Metro as a showpiece publictransportmodel,isallsetto join the BJP and contest as a candidate for the Kerala Assembly electionsslatedtobeheldinAprilMay, the party's state chief K SurendransaidThursday. Sreedharan, 88, is expected CONTINUED ON PAGE 4 ‘LDF, UDF working for furthering their interest’ GOVT & POLITICS WILL BRING LAW AGAINSTLOVEJIHAD: GUJARAT DEPUTY CM PAGE 7 FIVE MONTHS before they were hacked to death on a busy highway in Peddapalli district of Telangana on Wednesday afternoon, lawyer couple G Vaman Rao (52) and G Nagamani (48) had sought protection from the high court, alleging police harassment over their PIL which sought a probe into an alleged custodial death. Thiswasjustoneof themany cases that Rao and Nagamani — who practiced in the Telangana High Court and were known for their activism — had taken up. According to a friend of the couple, they had also filed several police complaints against some local political leaders over “suspicious” land deals. On Wednesday, between 2:15 and 2:30 pm, Rao and Nagamani,parentsof ateenaged son, were pulled out of their vehicleandhackedtodeath.Scores of people witnessed the attack — at least three state transport buses, dozens of cars and twowheelers stopped on the highway as the couple's car was blocked by the two unidentified Vaman Rao, Nagamani assailants. Several people also videographed the attack. In one of the purported video clipsoftheincident,aninjuredRao has named Kunta Srinivas, a local Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leader. Srinivas, president of the party unit in Manthani mandal, andtwoothers,identifiedasVeldi Vasantha Rao and Chiranjeevi, weredetainedonThursday. Srinivas and Veldi Vasantha Rao have been named in the FIR, on the basis of a complaint filed by Rao’s father, G Kishan Rao. The FIR, filed at the Ramagiri police station, also names a third suspect — Akkapaka Kumar. In his complaint, Kishan Rao has said that his son and daughter-in-law were killed because they had threatened to expose “illegal” land deals. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 In cricket’s box office, this Shahrukh Khan is already a hit VISHAL MENON NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 18 PUNJAB KINGS owner Preity Zinta leaned back in her chair, looked at the Kolkata Knight Riders table, and gave a triumphant shout: “We've got Shahrukh”. On the KKR table was Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan. On Thursday, Zinta's team pocketed Tamil Nadu’s swashbuckling middle-order batsman M ShahrukhKhan forRs 5.25 crore. Andthatbecamethestoryof the IPL2021auction,onceagaintriggering Bollywood meets cricket, and Veer meets Zara, references on social media. Meanwhile,farfromtheauctionvenueinChennai,Shahrukh Khan, the cricketer, was on a bus in Indore with his Tamil Nadu teammates, following the auction on phone. Dinesh Karthik, KKR star and TN captain, would later tweetavideothat captured the excitement of the bid that skyrocketed from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 5.25 crore. The clip has an embarrassed IPL debutant giving a reluctant smile as squeals and claps greet every new bid. On a day when South African all-rounder Chris Morris became the costliest IPL cricketer ever, Rajasthan Royals signing him for Rs 16.25, Shahrukh was easily the mostsought after first-timer. Speaking to The Indian Express, the 25-year-old is amused by the SRK connection but admits that he is a die-hard Rajinikant fan, watching the superstar's movie Basha on loop. He also plays down the hype aroundhispricetag.“Thechance to play under K L Rahul and coach Anil Kumble and getting an opportunity to play a tournament like the IPL is something that excites me. Money is secondary,” he says. IPL watchers may be sur- Shahrukh Khan tracks the auction in a bus with teammates prised by Shahrukh's price tag, but those following domestic cricket saw it coming. In his nascent first-class career, Shahrukh has displayed the ability to be a reliable finisher, the kind that makes T20 MVPs. The 6-feet-4 inch big-hitter isthatrareIndianplayerwhohas the temperament and skills to take his team across the line in tightgames.Thescrambletobuy him proves that he is a rarity in a tournament where most teams dependonforeignplayerstoseal games. In last month's domestic T20 tournament, Syed Mushtaq Trophy, Shahrukh scored a 19ball unbeaten 40 to win the game for Tamil Nadu. When asked what makes him tick in tense chases, Shahrukh gives a nonchalant reply: “It’s just the hard word that has paid off. As far as the big hits go, I think I am naturally gifted.” Having grown up in Velachery, a bustling commercial and residential area in south Chennai, Shahrukh had his fill of tennis-ball cricket before progressing to age-group games. Despite the early highs, he had to wait for four years before cementing his spot in Tamil Nadu’sRanjiTrophyandlimitedover squads. “We picked him purely on his natural ability in the 2014-15 season. Back then, the TN team was filled with superstars in their prime — Dinesh Karthik, Murali Vijay, Abhinav Mukund, Subramanian Badrinath. So, he didn’t have a readymade spot open. He was in thereservesforfouryearsbefore he finally made his debut in 2018,” says Sharath T N, former Tamil Nadu selector. Those four years on the fringes were tough. After stacking up over 600 runs in the Cooch Behar Trophy in the leadup to the 2014 Under-19 World Cup in the UAE, he was expecting a call for the showpiece ICC event.“Iwasworkingreallyhard in that period. But if you get benched for four consecutive seasons,itbeginsto playon your mind. When I failed to make the U-19 World Cup squad, it shattered my confidence,” he says. Shahrukh's father Masood, a CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
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