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 THURSDAY, MARCH 4, 2021, MUMBAI, LATE CITY, 14 PAGES `5.00, WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 FEW ADVERSE EFFECTS; REGULATOR TO TAKE A CALL ON ‘TRIAL MODE’ Interim final-phase data is in: Bharat Biotech’s Covid shot is 81% effective KAUNAIN SHERIFF M NEW DELHI, MARCH 3 ` 84 per kilo ` 112 per kilo ` 137 per kilo Global freedom watchdog report downgrades India from ‘free’ to ‘partly free’ KARISHMA MEHROTRA NEW DELHI, MARCH 3 WASHINGTON-BASED noted think tank Freedom House has demoted India’s freedom score from “free” to “partly free”, sayingrightsandcivilliberties“have been eroding since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in 2014”,specificallyreferringtoattacks on Muslims, use of the sedition law, and the government’s coronavirus response including the lockdown. India’s score decreased from 71 to 67, with 100 being the ranking for the most free country, and its rank fell from 83 to 88 outof 211countries.Initsannual report,FreedomHousesaid,"His (Modi's) Hindu nationalist government has presided over increased pressure on human rights organizations, rising intimidation of academics and journalists, and a spate of bigoted attacks -- including lynchings -- aimed at Muslims. The decline deepened following Modi’s reelection in 2019, and the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 featured further abuses of CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 EXPRESS NETWORK Vaccination on at a Delhi hospital Wednesday. Praveen Khanna PAGE 7 WORLD Agencies have credible information, matter goes to courts: Javadekar KHUSHBOO NARAYAN, AANCHAL MAGAZINE & ALAKA SAHANI THE INCOME TAX (IT) Department Wednesday conducted searches in at least 30 locations in Mumbai and Pune connected with actor Taapsee Pannu and film-maker Anurag Kashyap as well as his partners linked to production house Phantom Films Pvt Ltd. The raids elicited strong response from the Maharashtra state government which called itanattemptbytheCentreusing agencies to intimidate those who spoke out against the BJP government. Those whose premises were searched include current Phantom directors Madhu Mantena and Sibhashish Sarkar who is also CEO of Reliance Entertainment; Kashyap’s Taapsee, Kashyap vocal against govt on many issues BUSINESS AS USUAL PAGE 1 ANCHOR RSS did not take part in freedom struggle, patriotism can’t be proved just by saying ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’: Uddhav BY UNNY EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE MUMBAI, MARCH 3 Minister Jarkiholi quits, sex CD shakes up poll-bound BJP, BSY govt AN INFLUENTIAL MINISTER in the BJP government Ramesh Jarkiholi submitted his resignation to Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Wednesday, a day after a video CD allegedly involving him and a young unidentifiedwomanwasplayed by local television channels. Dinesh Kalahalli, a social activist, who claimed to have been authorisedbythewoman’sfamily, had later filed a complaint with the Bengaluru police alleg- LUNCH FOR THOUGHT Speaker Om Birla leaving Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s home on Wednesday. Sources said Azad had invited Birla and Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh for lunch. Anil Sharma MUMBAI, NEW DELHI, MARCH 3 BENGALURU, MARCH 3 PAGE 11 THE RESULTS are the first interim efficacy data of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate being clinically tested in India. Serum Institute has only conducted a bridging study on 1,600 people for safety and immunogenicity of Covishield, and is relying on efficacy data from the UK and Brazil trials of Oxford University and AstraZeneca. I-T knocks on doors of Anurag Kashyap, Taapsee; because they spoke up, says Opp EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE 9 KILLED AS TROOPS SHOOT AT MYANMAR PROTESTERS NAVALNY: KREMLIN SHRUGS OFF IMPACT OF SANCTIONS CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 E First such datafrom ● Indian trial SEARCHES AT 30 SITES IN MUMBAI, PUNE CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 SASIKALA STUNS: ‘WITHDRAWING FROM POLITICS’ HYDERABAD-BASED Bharat Biotech said on Wednesday that its vaccine against Covid-19 had demonstrated 81 per cent interim efficacy in phase 3 clinical trials in protecting participants without prior infection after the second dose. The vaccine candidate, Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech along with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), received regulatory approval for emergency use in “clinical trial mode” – in which beneficiaries have to sign a consent form before being vacci- nated – at the beginning of January. Since January 16, when India's vaccination programme was rolled out, more than a million doses of Covaxin, the country's first indigenous vaccine against the novel coronavirus, have been administered to the priority group of healthcare and frontline workers. ICMR Director-General Dr BalramBhargavatoldTheIndian Express that the interim trial data will be submitted to the regulator seeking emergency use authorisation similar to the one that has been granted to Covishield, a variant of the Oxford-AstraZenecavaccinethat EXPLAINED Bench-to-bedside journey shows self-reliant India: ICMR I have faith probe will clear me: Jarkiholi ing coercion and “sexual harassment” by Jarkiholi. On Wednesday, Water Resources Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi denied any wrongdoing. Although he was initially adamant he wouldn’t quit, he submitted his resignation later on moral grounds through his CONTINUEDONPAGE2 IN AN all-out attack against the BJP, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday said the party's parent organisation, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), did not take part in the freedom struggle, and it cannot prove its patriotic credentials by chanting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. Thackeray also said that UnionHomeMinisterAmitShah was “shamelessly” denying the discussion that took place between them in Matoshree on sharing of the chief minister's Uddhav Thackeray arrives at the Assembly. Express post between BJP and Shiv Sena in regard to the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly polls. Thackeray was speaking in the state Assembly on the motion of thanks on Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s address to the joint session of the state legislature. “The Shiv Sena did not exist during the freedom movement. But your (BJP) parent organisation (RSS) also did not take part in the freedom movement. So, patriotism cannot be proved by just saying ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. If you are not giving justice to the people after coming to power, then you do not have the right to say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’,” he said. Thackeray criticised the BJP on a range of issues – not bestowing the Bharat Ratna on V D Savarkar, increasing fuel prices, announcingasuddenlockdown, not granting classical status to CONTINUEDONPAGE2 OCTOBER 12 POWER OUTAGE Probe suggests cyber attack on Mumbai’s electrical infrastructure: Raut in Assembly EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE MUMBAI, MARCH 3 MAHARASHTRA ENERGY Minister Nitin Raut on Wednesday informed the state Assembly that a Mumbai Cyber Police investigation into the October 12, 2020, power outage had suggested a possible cyber attack on the city's electrical infrastructure with an intent to disrupt power supply. Raut did not name any country in the statement that he read out in the Assembly. He said the investigation had revealed that some of the Trojan horses used to hack into Mumbai's electrical infrastructure with an attempt to disrupt it had been earlier deployed for cyber attacks in other parts of the world. Whilespeakingtomediapersons later in the day, Raut said the report shows intrusion of malware from China, UK and other places into the power grid system. He added that the state power department has now banned the use of Chinese equipment. Raut said that the malware had easily bypassed the firewall systems and entered the Information Technology(IT)and Operational Technology (OT) servers used to oversee the power distribution system. He added that while the IT system CONTINUEDONPAGE2 Army investigates 3 jawans for Northern Command Hq data breach, Pak drug racket under scanner MAN AMAN SINGH CHHINA CHANDIGARH, MARCH 3 ADRUGracketlinkedtoPakistani intelligenceagencieshassurfaced as the Army probes the alleged breach of sensitive operational datafromitsNorthernCommand headquarters in Udhampur. A preliminary investigation is said to have revealed the alleged involvement of three jawans. Sources told The Indian Express that while one of the jawans was based in Udhampur and allegedly had access to operational data at the headquarters, the two other jawans were from different battalions, and were posted elsewhere. But all three are said to have been in contact with each other, sources said. It is learnt that the alleged involvementof atleasttwojawans in the drug trade as users or sellershasbeenprobedbytheintelligence agencies because it was via the drug route that Pakistani intelligence operatives allegedly enticed them into gathering in- telligence. Significantly, the General Officer Commanding 16 Corps is the presiding officer of the Court of Inquiry along with two Major Generals as members of the inquiry team into the alleged breach. ACentralintelligenceagency, sources said, stumbled upon the matter during an investigation into a drug trade with Pakistani links. A dead drop of a pen drive, containingallegedlysensitiveoperationalinformationpertaining to the Northern Command, was madebyoneof thejawanswhich was intercepted by the agency. Sources said the Military Intelligence was alerted and the involvement of the three jawans came to light. Further investigation is still on and culpability of other individuals is being explored, it is learnt. When contacted, a senior Army officer in New Delhi declined to comment on these details, saying the inquiry is in progress and the probe will reveal all details concerning the data leak. Dissent against Govt not seditious, says SC dismissing plea against Farooq ANANTHAKRISHNANG NEW DELHI, MARCH 3 THESUPREMECourtWednesday dismissedapleaseekingsedition chargesunderSection124Aofthe IndianPenalCodeagainstformer Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah over some of his reported remarks after the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution stating that “the expression of a view which is a dissent from a decision taken by the Central government itself cannot be said to be seditious”. A bench of Justices S K Kaul and Hemant Gupta said “there is nothing in the statement which we find so offensive as to give a causeof actionforacourttoinitiate proceedings.” It added that “the petitioners have nothing to do with the subject matter and this is clearly a caseofpublicityinterestlitigation forthepetitionersonlytogettheir names in press”. “Wediscouragesuchendeavours”,saidthebenchwhichwent ontodismissthepetitionandimposedacostof Rs50,000onpetitioners Rajat Sharma, Secretary and Trustee, Viswa Guru India Vision of Sardar Patel; and Uttar Pradesh resident Neh Srivastava. The fine is to be deposited with the SC Advocates Welfare Fund within four weeks. The petition said that on October 11, 2020, Abdullah, who is a Member of Parliament, and PresidentofNationalConference, had on live TV said that “ye propertytumharebaapkanahihaiand (that) he will get Article 370 restored with the help of China”. The plea added that the National Conference had stated that Abdullah had “never said” anythingtotheeffectofinvolving Court says it discourages endeavours such as this China. The plea also referred to BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra’s remarkscritiquingAbdullahover the said comments. The petitioners said the former J&K CM’s statement “is seditious”andthat“heispropagating anti-national thoughts in the mind of innocent people of JammuandKashmir…andhedeserves to be removed from the membership of Parliament''. Theapexcourt’sobservations come amid growing criticism of thegovernmentoverthefrequent useofthiscolonialprovisiontoallegedlyquelldissent.Thetopcourt has also had the occasion to deal withpetitionsinwhichtheprovision has been invoked, some of them still pending. This also comes close on the heelsoftheobservationsbyatrial court in Delhi that “offence of sedition cannot be invoked to minister to the wounded vanity of governments”, while granting bail to Bengaluru activist Disha Ravi arrested in connection with the Toolkit FIR. Incidentally,onFebruary9,an SCbenchheadedbyChief Justice SABobdehadrejectedapleaurgingittore-examinetheconstitutional validity of Section 124A. ThebenchsaidthattheSChad in the past laid down that there should be appropriate cause of action (materials to sue) to challenge a law and the petition, which was filed by a group of lawyers, lacked this and that the petitionerswerenotaffectedparties in any case. CONTINUEDONPAGE2 Gundecha case: Gurukul may shut for a while, suspend Akhilesh SUANSHU KHURANA NEW DELHI, MARCH 3 OVER FIVE months after The Indian Express reported allegations of sexual harassment against Ramakant and Akhilesh Gundecha, notable names in the musical tradition of dhrupad, a few disciplinary measures may be in process. Sourcessaidoneof themeasures being considered is closing down Dhrupad Sansthan, the residential gurukul run by the Gundecha family in Bhopal, for a while. Akhilesh Gundecha could also be suspended from teaching and mentoring students at the institute for a year, after which he may come back to teaching but under observation. Students of Dhrupad Sansthan, including those who haveaccusedAkhileshof harassment and those who have left, have also demanded therapy for Akhilesh. According to sources, that demand is being considered. Akhilesh, who withdrew himself fromthegurukulfollowing the charges, was in December dropped from the artiste schedule of the Madhya Pradesh government’s famed Tansen Samaroh. One of those who objected to his presence at the festival was its main artiste Madhu Tailang. Anant Gundecha, secretary of Dhrupad Sansthan and son of the late Ramakant Gundecha, said the gurukul was taking action on the suggestions that had beenmade.“Wehavemadesure Akhilesh (left), the late Ramakant accused of harassment thattheseissuesaretreatedwith sensitivity and have already taken steps in that direction. We have gender sensitisation sessions, we have a specific code of conduct for people living in the gurukul and those joining it, we havededicatedareasof teaching that are under CCTV surveillance.Wewillcontinuetodoour work,” said Anant. A workshop was held in February for the students and staff atthegurukul.“Wethought that it is important for everybody to know about the law and besensitisedabouttheseissues,” said Anant. A former student said that while some CCTV cameras outside buildings had existed since 2019, new ones have been installed inside teaching rooms. Anantsaidmorenewstudents hadjoinedtheinstituteinthepast coupleofmonthsandteachingat the gurukul had continued. Sources told The Indian Express that Umakant Gundecha had stepped down as chairperson of the Sansthan and 24-year-old Anant had taken his position. Anant, however, refused to comment on whether Umakant had stepped down. “I am the secretary. That’s all I can tell you,” said Anant. Situated on the outskirts of Bhopal, Dhrupad Sansthan has a hostel facility and functions as a traditional gurukul with students staying on the premises. The institute has been empanelled by the ICCR, which sends foreign students to study music there. The Sansthan is also associated with the American Institute of Indian Studies.
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.