DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2021, KOLKATA, LATE CITY, 12 PAGES SINCE 1932 `5.00/EX-KOLKATA `6.00 (`12 IN NORTH EAST STATES & ANDAMAN) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM BAIL FOR DISHA RAVI IN TOOLKIT CASE Lakha at mahapanchayat Tuesday. Gurmeet Singh CourtpullsupDelhiPolicefor‘scanty’ proof,sayscitizens‘consciencekeepers’ ‘Sedition can’t be invoked to minister to wounded vanity of govts… call for violence absent (in Toolkit)’ RAAKHI JAGGA LUDHIANA, FEBRUARY 23 WANTED BY the Delhi Police for the January 26 violence, absconding gangster-turned-activist Lakha Sidhana appeared Tuesday on the stage of a 'Youth Mahapanchayat' organised in Mehraj village in Punjab's Bathinda district, in support of the farmers protesting at Delhi borders. Addressing the crowd of thousandsgatheredatthenative village of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Lakha said, "I dare the Delhi Police to enter Punjab and arrest youngsters. YoumustgheraotheDelhiPolice if they come to arrest anyone. And if they arrest anyone, it will not be done without the help of the Punjab Police, for which CM Captain Amarinder will be responsible." Lakha surfaced at around 2 pm, along with another gangster-turned-activist Kulbir Singh Naruana,andstayedforabout30 Conspiracy, sedition: ruling raises bar for State ANAND MOHAN J NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 23 OBSERVING THAT “citizens are conscience keepers of government in any democratic Nation” and “cannot be put behind the barssimplybecausetheychoose to disagree with the State policies”, and that the “offence of sedition cannot be invoked to minister to the wounded vanity of governments”, a Delhi court granted bail Tuesday to BengaluruactivistDishaRavi,arrested February 13 by Delhi Police in connection with a Toolkit on the farmer protests thatwastweetedbySwedishactivist Greta Thunberg. She was released from custody late Tuesday. Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana, noting that theDelhiPolice“resistancetothe bail plea seems to be more of ornamental in nature,” said: “Considering the scanty and sketchy evidence available on record, I do not find any palpable reasonstobreachthegeneralrule of ‘Bail’ against a 22 year old young lady, with absolutely blemish-free criminal antecedents and having firm roots inthesociety,andsendhertojail.” He ordered that Ravi be released on bail after filing personal bond/surety bond of Rs 1 lakh with two sureties each. She was told to continue to CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 APURVA VISHWANATH NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 23 Disha after bail on Tueday; (right) her mother at their home. Prem Nath Pandey/Darshan Devaiah B P Mother: Waiting to hug her... stand by our kids in their fight for justice DARSHAN DEVAIAH B P BENGALURU, FEBRUARY 23 “I AM waiting to hug her once she comes back home.” That was Manjula Nanjaiah, themotherof activistDishaRavi, soon after her daughter was granted bail by a Delhi court in BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY thetoolkitcaseTuesdayevening. Speaking to The Indian Express, Manjula said: “This was difficultforanyonebutwhenour children have not done anything wrong, why do we need to fear? Wehavetostandbesideourchildren when they are fighting for truth and justice.” CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 BY RULING that “mere engagement with persons of dubious credentials” is not a crime, the Delhi trial court, which granted bailtoclimateactivistDishaRavi Tuesday, has, effectively, raised the bar for the state to initiate prosecution for being part of a “largerconspiracy.”Thisissignificantgiventhischargeisnowrecurrently levied in cases related to riots and protests. “Any person with dubious creden● tials may interact with a number of persons during the course of his social intercourse. As long as the engagement/interaction remains within the four corners of law,peopleinteractingwithsuch persons, ignorantly, innocently or for that matter even fully conscious of their dubious credentials, cannot be painted with the E EXPLAINED Wanted for Jan 26 clash, Lakha turns up on stage in Bathinda CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Can’t have parallel judicial system: Govt on fact-finding teams STATINGTHATtherecannotbea “parallel judicial system”, the Centre told the Delhi High Court on Tuesday that a petition challenging the reports of fact-findingcommitteessetupbyvarious bodies, including the Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC), on the riots in Northeast Delhi lastyear“needsanexamination”. Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta told the Division Bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh that “tribunals” come up whenever there is an incident, and they issue summons and call witnesses. “Can there be a parallel judicial system? I cannot have my own tribunal. If you have a grievance, go to the competent court.Icannothavemyownfactfinding committee,” he said. The petition was filed by Dharmesh Sharma, the administrative head of DRP Convent School in Shiv Vihar which was set on fire during the riots. Sharma, represented by CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 EXPLAINED BHUBANESWAR, LONAVALA, FEBRUARY 23 AN UNEXPECTED encounter inside a jail, a crucial mistake spotted in records, an elaborate three-month intelligence operation in an Odisha village, suspiciousbanktransfers--andalastminute escape bid. PAGE 1 ANCHOR These are the key turning points on the trail that led a police team from Bhubaneswar to Lonavala in Maharashtra last weekend and finally to the primeaccusedinarapecasethat had rocked Odisha in 1999 and led to the resignation of then Chief Minister J B Patnaik. On Monday, Odisha Police formally recorded the arrest of Bibekananda Biswal alias Biban, 50, in Bhubaneswar after bring- 2 new strains in 3 states, but not linked to surge: Centre SIMPLY PUT OUTLINES OF A MIGRANT POLICY PAGE9 THE WORLD PAGE 10 ing him from Aamby Valley where he was working as a plumber earning Rs 17,000 a month and holding an Aadhaar card in the name of “Jalandhar Swain”. “He was identified as Biban by multiple sources, including his family. Following identification,Bibanwasformallyarrested and handed over to the CBI for further investigation,” said Dr CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 A TEAM of CBI officials on Tuesday questioned Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee's wife Rujira Banerjee at their south Kolkata residence for nearly an hour in connection with the coal pilferage case. Ahead of the CBI team’s visit, Chief Minister and Trinamool Congresschief MamataBanerjee visited nephew Abhishek Banerjee’s Harish Mukherjee Road residence in south Kolkata. She spent 10 minutes there before leaving with his daughter. The central probe agency team reached Abhishek’s residence just before noon and the examinationwentonforaround an hour, sources said. The team leftaround1.15pmamidaheavy police presence. “Our team questioned her (Rujira Banerjee) based on the evidence we have gathered. The investigation is underway,” said a CBI official. Sources in the CBI said that they had a set of questionnaire basedonwhichRujirawasquestioned. According to the sources, the CBI sought details of her bank account and transactions which were duly presented in presenceof Rujira'slawyertothe investigating team. The CBI team’s visit to Abhishek’s residence comes after Rujira told the central agency that she will be available for examination between 11 am and 3 pm on February 23, replying to the CBI notice hand-delivered to CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 BJP leader detained in Pamela drug case NEPAL APEX COURT REINSTATES DISSOLVED HOUSE Odisha rape: Jail meeting, bank transfers led police to accused AISHWARYA MOHANTY & SUSHANT KULKARNI CBI questions Abhishek’s wife, CM drops by before officials come visiting KOLKATA, FEBRUARY 23 DELHI RIOTS NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 23 COAL CASE EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 SOFI AHSAN CM Mamata Banerjee leaves nephew Abhishek’s south Kolkata residence with his daughter on Tuesday. Express At MG Road in Pune during night curfew late Monday. With Maharashtra witnessing a new surge in Covid infections, the government had announced lockdowns, night curfews. Ashish Kale SWEETY KUMARI & RAVIK BHATTACHARYA tion on engaging private players to accelerate Covid-19 vaccination, the Centre said private hospitals would “be utilised in large numbers” in the next phase of vaccinating the 27 crore priority group, set to begin in March. Addressing the weekly briefing, Dr V K Paul, Member, NITI Aayog, said the Indian SARSCoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG) has detected two variants – N440K and E484K. “We are also looking for any abnormal shift or change in the virus character... There are two variants in Maharashtra that have THE KOLKATA POLICE Tuesday detained Rakesh Singh, West Bengalstatecommitteemember of the BJP and convenor of the party’s basti (slum) cell from Galsi in Purba Burdwan district in connection with a case in which 23-year-old Pamela Goswami, one of the state secretaries of BJP Yuva Morcha, was arrestedforallegedlypossessing 76 gm of heroin. Singhwassummonedbythe policeunderSection160CrPCafter his name cropped up during the investigation in the drug case. He had conveyed to the police in writing he would not be KAUNAIN SHERIFF M NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 23 THE CENTRE said on Tuesday that two new Covid-19 strains have been detected in three states – Maharashtra, Kerala and Telangana – but there is no scientific evidence to suggest that the recent surge being reported by the first two states is linked to these variants. This is in addition to the three other strains – from UK, South Africa and Brazil – reported earlier. Responding to Wipro founder Azim Premji's sugges- CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Precaution is key WHILE FIVE Covid-19 variants have been detected so far, there is no evidence to suggest that these new strains are responsible for the upsurge being reported in some states. Surveillance and containment measures, and Covid-appropriate behaviour remains key. KOLKATA, FEBRUARY 23 Rakesh Singh available since he had a prior appointment in Delhi. His petition against the summons was turned down by the Calcutta High Court. Police sources said he has beentakentothelocalpolicestation but did not confirm his arrest yet. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Chaat packs a punch, bitter morning after for two families AMIT SHARMA BARAUT (BAGHPAT), FEBRUARY 23 BUT FOR a local journalist on whom one of the rods being swung around on Monday afternoon landed, a brawl over customers for chaat, on a crowded street whimsically named Atithi Bhawan,wouldhavebarelyraised a stir even in this town of Uttar Pradesh -- known more for the sweet smell of jaggery in its air from numerous units dotting it. As it happens, the two clashingpartiesarenowfacingablow bigger than those 45 seconds of lathi-exchange and the long monthsof lockdowndealtthem, witheightunderarrestandfamilies unsure how to go about getting them released. The charges against them include attempt to murder. There is little to tell Shiv Chaat Bhandar apart from Nav Durga Chaat Bhandar. If their names invoke gods, both came up around the same time 15 years ago, and their prices and menus are almost the same -chaat, paani puri, matar palak ki pakiri and gulab jamun, from Rs 20 a plate to Rs 50. And therein lies the problem. Witnesses say helpersof thetwoshopswerealmost dragging prospective customers into own outlets when the fight started. A day later, both shops are shut as two sub-inspectors and 10 constables, deployed as "precautionary measure", keep a desultory watch in the deserted steet. Those arrested include Shiv Chaat Bhandar owner Ram Kumar alias Pappu and family members Shivaji, Anil, Dhaani, Harendra (with the hennastreaked hair that stood out of the blur), and Nav Durga's Adayafterstreetfight,thechaatshopsstayedshut. Amit Sharma Puranmaasi, Narendra and Vickky. Vinay and Annu are absconding. Present at the house of Shiv Chaat Bhandar owner Ram Kumar alias Pappu on Tuesday evening to console the family, Chandrama Prasad, who did a similar round of the Nav Durga owner's house, said, "While all businesses suffered losses to the tune of lakhs during the lockdown, the impact was worst for those who sell food items. They earn from daily sales... the families were reduced to almost beggars. They were recovering somehow, but now this closure of the two shops has spelled doom. They are afraid they will have to spend huge amounts to ensure that their fathers, uncles and sons are freed from jail." Ram Kumar's daughter Rekha Kumarisaid,"The fight on the street may be laughing matter for the country but all the malemembersof ourfamily,my father, two uncles and my younger brother, are in jail." The family that owns Nav Durga Chaat Bhandar refused to talk. Ajay Kumar Sharma, the incharge of Baraut Kotwali Police Station said, "Five persons in- cluding a local journalist sustained injuries in the clash. Ten persons have been booked for charges including under Section 307 of the IPC (attempt to murder). We have arrested eight while hunt is on for the remaining two." Prabhat Kumar Jain, who ownsajewelleryshopafewmetres from the chaat shops, says they were left stunned by the free-for-all. "I was busy at my shop when suddenly I heard a loud roar from outside. I sent my helper to see what had happened and was shocked when CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Kolkata
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