DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA SURGE IN COVID CASES Centre writes to five states, top concern Punjab, eye on J&K Govt set to modify webinar checks as scientists object AMITABH SINHA PUNE, FEBRUARY 21 Gag on discussing ‘internal matters’ KAUNAIN SHERIFF M NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 21 THE GOVERNMENT had asked publicly funded educational institutions and universities to “seek approval” before organising online international conferences related to India’s “internal matters”. The president of the Indian Academy of Sciences had protested that the order was “too constraining”. PROTESTS FIELD DAY A demonstration against Centre’s farm laws in Barnala, Punjab, Sunday. Reuters CBI reaches home of Mamata’s nephew to quiz wife in coal case Education Ministry on January 15, asked all government CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 INSIDE 24-YR-OLD MAN HELD FOR TRYING TO PUSH WOMAN UNDER RUNNING TRAIN PAGE 4 ARUN JANARDHANAN CHENNAI, FEBRUARY 21 AHEAD OF a floor test in the Puducherry Assembly Monday, the Congress-led government found itself on the verge of collapse with two more MLAs submitting their resignations. This pulled own the rulingcoalition’s numbers down to 12 in the 33memberHouse whichhasacurrent strength of 26. With Sunday’s resignations of the Congress’s K LakshminarayananandrulingallyDMK’s K Venkatesan, a Congress leader told The Indian Express: “Even if CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY SWEETY KUMARI KOLKATA, FEBRUARY 21 MARKING A new flashpoint in the tussle between the BJP-led Centre and the TMC’s state government, with Assembly elections around the corner in West Bengal, the CBI Sunday reached the Kolkata residence of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee to At Abhishek Banerjee’s house on Sunday. Express Border tensions: funds from China down to a third of 2019 Cumulative FDI in USD Million; Source: DIPP PRANAV MUKUL & SANDEEP SINGH NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 21 CONTINUING TENSIONS at the borderandmeasuresadoptedby the government to check investments by Chinese firms and funds have significantly impacted the flow of investments from China into India over the past year. Data from Venture Intelligence, which looks at pri- PE-VC FUNDING 2019 $39.6billion $1.05billion $36.4billion ■ FundingfromChinaandHong Kong-basedcompanies ■ OverallFunding $3.5billion Sep’20 Sep’19 Mar’20 Mar’19 1,985.90 2,138 2,214 2,315 2,378 2,433 Sep’18 Mar’18 Mar’17 1,635.70 Sep’17 1,738.90 FDI FROM CHINA 2020 Source: Venture Intelligence vatecompanyfinancials,transactions,andtheirvaluationsinIndia, showthatprivateequityandventure capital funding from funds basedinChinaandHongKongfell sharply to $1.05 billion in 2020, compared to $3.5 billion in 2019. For context, overall private equity and venture capital (PEVC) investment in Indian companies increased to $39.6 billion in 2020 from $36.4 billion in the previous year. Foreign direct investment CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Spotlight on Hot Springs, Gogra in swap of proposals KRISHN KAUSHIK & DEEPTIMAN TIWARY NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 21 AIMING TO take the disengagement process in eastern Ladakh forward, India and China exchanged proposals on outstanding issues in the region during the 10th round of military-level talks between the two sides that started 10 am Saturday and continued past 2 am Sunday. Sources told The Indian Express that the proposals will be considered at the political level beforebeingtaken forward CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Busted by Mumbai police, how apps streaming porn thrived MOHAMED THAVER MUMBAI, FEBRUARY 21 A DAY-LONG shoot. A bungalow in Madh. A crewof sevenincluding‘actors’.Atwo-page scriptincluding dialogues. A mobile camera and halogen lights. That is all it takes subscription-based porn streaming platforms to produce movies for which the demand has spiked since the Covid-19 lockdown. Based on nine arrests made so far by the Property Cell of the Mumbai Crime Branch, the police have uncovered a thriving business of pornographic subscriber-based apps on the lines of popular OTT streaming platforms where short 30-minute porn clips are uploaded once a week as “episodes”. Some of these platforms that thrived especially during the lockdown have a subscriber base in lakhs, and though police have not yet arrived at a specific number, a turnoverbelievedtobeincrores. The Mumbai police’s crackdown began with a tip-off that pornographicmovieswerebeing shotatapropertyinMadh.Araid at a Green Park bungalow in the northern suburb proved the tip was spot on. Five persons were arrestedfromthepropertyinthe midst of one such shooting. The movie was being shot by Yasmeen Khan alias Rowa (40) onhermobilecamera.Alsopresent was a lightman, a graphics designer and the actors, a semi- CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Signboards, slogans face BJP as it heads for west UP to woo Jats before rural polls PAGE 1 ANCHOR AMIT SHARMA & AMIL BHATNAGAR MEERUT, MUZAFFARNAGAR, FEBRUARY 21 DAYS AFTER the BKU’s Naresh Tikait suggested a social boycott of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, an MP, MLA and several leaders of the party visited Lisad village in Shamli Sunday afternoon in the first such foray by the party into ground zero of the Jat unrest A sign outside Bardaula village in Sambhal. Express `5.00, WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 EDUCATION MINISTRY ORDER Floor test in Puducherry today: Cong govt minus 2 more MLAs REG.NO. MCS/067/2018 - 20 RNI REGN. NO. 1543/57 JOURNALISM OF COURAGE MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2021, MUMBAI, LATE CITY, 14 PAGES DAYS AFTER two science academies, representing over 1,500 topscientistsandacademics,expressed concern at a recent ordermandatingpriorapprovalfor holding online seminars and conferences, the government on Sunday said it will “modify” the order “soon”. Principal Scientific Advisor K VijayRaghavan and Science and Technology Secretary Ashutosh Sharma told The Indian Express thatthematterwasunderactive considerationofthegovernment. “This has been taken note of a couple of weeks ago. There is no intent to curb academic and research interactions at all. Modifications that both clarify and make enabling changes will be coming out very soon,” VijayRaghavan said. The order, issued by the ● over the farm laws in western Uttar Pradesh. However, anger with the BJP overthelaws was palpable,asits Muzaffarnagar MP and Union Minister of State Sanjeev Balyan and Buldana MLA Umesh Malik, among others, were met with slogans of “Balyan Murdabad” and “Kisan Ekta Zindabad” in village Baiswal. The BJP attempt to retain its Jat base comes ahead of the zila panchayat elections. “BJPbacked candidates had won 25 of the 26 zila panchayats in west UP last time and the Jat community has a sizeable presence in at least18,”pointedoutaseniorBJP functionary. Lisad, where the BJP leaders headed on Sunday, is the native village of khap panchayat leader Baba Harikishan, who enjoys a huge following in the region. Harikrishansaidtherewasnogoing back for the community. “We clearlytoldBalyanandBhupendra Chaudhary (UP Panchayati Raj Minister)thattheCentremustrepeal the farm laws. We also informed them that sugarcane growers hadn’t been paid their dues even for the last season.” Denying that there was a CONTINUED ON PAGE 5 question his wife over alleged “bank transactions” in connection with a coal pilferage case. The move marks the first time that a central agency has sought to question a close familymemberof theChief Minister. However, with Abhishek’s wife Rujira unavailable, the threemember CBI team left within 15 minutes after serving a notice to question her under Section 160 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 INSIDE BJP MEET PASSES RESOLUTION PRAISING PM ON COVID, FARM LAWS PAGE 5 FROM MONITORING mutant strains to increasing the proportion of RT-PCR tests, the Centre has written to the five states reportingasurgeincasestoimplement a multi-pronged strategy to curb the spread of Covid-19. Topgovernmentsourcestold The Indian Express that the Centre would be rushing mobile RT-PCRtestingfacilitiestoKerala, in view of the rise in cases in the state. The other states to whom the Centre has written are Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. Sources said Jammu & Kashmir has also emerged as a cause for concern, and the authorities might be writing to the Union territory. InMaharashtra,selectcityareas in Amravati, Akola and BuldanadistrictsintheVidarbha region announced a lockdown for a week from Tuesday morning. The Pune district administration imposed fresh curbs, including on night-time movement,largegatheringsand restaurants and bars. Schools and colleges will stay shut till February 28. The Centre has told the five states under watch to improve testingbyincreasingtheproportion of RT-PCR tests; ensure that all negative Rapid Antigen Test CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Discharged after testing negative for Covid, CM Vijay Rupani votes in Rajkot for Gujarat corporation polls Sunday. Express ‘Second wave at door’, Uddhav warns of fresh lockdown in Maharashtra EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE MUMBAI, FEBRUARY 21 WITH RISING Covid-19 cases in parts of the state, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray Sunday warned of a lockdown in MaharashtrafromMarch1again if people did not follow Covid norms in the next eight days. "Shall we impose lockdown again? I will wait for eight days to get an answer toit.Those who don't want lockdown will wear masks, use sanitiser and maintainsocialdistancing.Thosewho want lockdown will not follow all of these. We will see how many people want lockdown. I say wear a mask and follow norms to avoid lockdown," said Thackeray in a webcast. Messagingtheimportanceof individual responsibility in the battle to bring the coronavirus numbers down again, the chief minister launched a new campaign named 'Mi Jababdar' (I am responsible) to emphasise the need to wear a mask, use sanitiserandmaintainsocialdistancing. "We successfully launched and implemented 'My Family, My Responsiblity' campaign. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
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