DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2021, KOLKATA, LATE CITY, 14 PAGES SINCE 1932 `5.00/EX-KOLKATA `6.00 (`12 IN NORTH EAST STATES & ANDAMAN) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM PAK AMONG 10 AT WORKSHOP THE EDITORIAL PAGE Covidiplomacy pitchbyPM: Visaformedics, airambulance HER RIGHTTO DIGNITY BY URVASHI BUTALIA PAGE 6 BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY Modi: Regional collaboration valuable takeaway, we need to take it forward KAUNAIN SHERIFF M & SHUBHAJIT ROY NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 18 NARAYANASAMY TO FACEFLOORTEST ON FEB 22 PAGE 5 RAIL ROKO Women block railway tracks as part of the protest against the new farm laws, in Jind district of Haryana on Thursday. Express REPORTS,PAGE9 TRAI DATA SHOWS FIRST-TIME FALL IN DECEMBER Covid cases go up, ‘partial lockdown’, curbs in five districts | in Vidarbha Firm wrote to TRAI alleging ‘malicious campaigns’ by rivals Farm protest effect: Jio saw dip in subscribers in Punjab & Haryana VIVEK DESHPANDE PRANAV MUKUL 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, up from 423 a month ago. Officials said daily deaths due to Covid-19 in the district were up from one-two deaths a month ago to threefour a day now.Amravati Divisional Commissioner Piyush Singh told The Indian Express, "Restrictions have been imposed in all the 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." 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 NAGPUR, FEBRUARY 18 Union Home Minister Amit Shah at a public meeting in South 24 Parganas on Thursday. PTI MOREREPORTS,PAGE3 Shah in Bengal: 33% job quota for women, scheme for fishermen EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE KOLKATA, FEBRUARY 18 VIRTUALLY ROLLING out the Bharatiya Janata Party’s manifesto for West Bengal ahead of Assembly polls, Union Home Minister Amit Shah Thursday promised a ‘Machhuara Samman Nidhi Yojana’ for fishermen, 33 per cent reservation for women in state government jobs, and implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations. Addressing a public meeting at Namkhana in South 24 Parganasdistrict,Shahsaid,“You havegiventheTMCachancebut you got syndicate raj in return. Now give us an opportunity to serve you.” The Machhuara Samman Nidhi Yojana will be on the lines of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana. “Under the scheme, nearly 4 lakh fishermen will get Rs 6,000 annual subsidy. This will be done keeping fishermen produce organisations in the loop,” he said. For lunch, Shah reached the house of Subrata Biswas, a BJP worker, at Narayanpur village in CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 CONTINUEDONPAGE2 NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 18 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 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- 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 X P L A I NE D GOVT & POLITICS E 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 UNNAO DEATHS Day after lawyer couple killed, TRS leader to join BJP, contest polls: Police say no injuries detained; father points to ‘illegal’ land deals ‘Party can deliver results’ in post-mortem report, SREENIVAS JANYALA poisoning suspected SHAJU PHILIP HYDERABAD, FEBRUARY 18 ‘LDF, UDF working for furthering their interest’ 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 2 PAGE 1 ANCHOR INSIDE WILL BRING LAW AGAINST LOVE JIHAD: GUJARAT DEPUTY CM PAGE 5 ASAD REHMAN UNNAO, FEBRUARY 18 A DAY after bodies of two Dalit girls, aged 13 and 16, were found in the family’s fields in Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh, along with a 17-year-old in a serious condition, the police Thursday said that the post-mortem report had not found any injuries and was inconclusive on the cause of death. The eldest girl, Police at the spot where the girls were found. Asad Rehman who continues to be critical, is being treated for poisoning. An FIR was lodged Thursday CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 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. Andthatbecamethe storyof 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 tweet avideothatcaptured 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 wasin 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,itbeginstoplay on 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 Kolkata
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