DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE THURSDAY, MARCH 4, 2021, KOLKATA, LATE CITY, 12 PAGES SINCE 1932 `5.00/EX-KOLKATA `6.00 (`12 IN NORTH EAST STATES & ANDAMAN) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM As BJP wants FEW ADVERSE EFFECTS; REGULATOR TO TAKE A CALL ON ‘TRIAL MODE’ her in ADMK, Sasikala stuns: ‘withdrawing from politics’ Interim final-phase data is in: Bharat Biotech’s Covid shot is 81% effective Nephew Dhinakaran says tried to stop her KAUNAIN SHERIFF M NEW DELHI, MARCH 3 ARUN JANARDHANAN CHENNAI, MARCH 3 WITH JUST A month to go for Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu, J Jayalalithaa’s close aide VK Sasikala, who was released from a Bengaluru prison on January 27, issued a statement Wednesdaythatshehasdecided to “step aside” from politics and that she will pray for Amma’s (Jayalalithaa’s) “golden rule”. A two-page letter, signed by her, and released first on Jaya TV, appealedtoAmma’sfollowersto workhardtoensureherrule.“As Amma used to say, defeating the evil force DMK should be the mainaimof allobedientcadreof Amma’s party,” Sasikala wrote, thanking all who showered her with love. WhileSasikala’ssurpriseand sudden decision is expected to help the ruling AIADMK and avoidsplitting DECISION of votes, it comesasajolt 2021 to her TAMIL nephew TTV NADU Dhinakaran, who was ousted from AIADMK along with her in 2017. After defeating the AIADMKandDMKcandidatesin the high-decibel RK Nagar — Jayalalithaa’sconstituency—bypoll in December 2017, he launched his own party, Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK), in March 2018. The party garnered a vote share of more than 4 per cent in the Lok Sabha polls in 2019. Minutes after her statement, Dhinakaran told media persons he was not in agreement with her on the decision. “I tried to speak to her, convince her… I told her this is unnecessary now, and requested her to remain in politics. I delayed the release of CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 INSIDE HDFC LOWERS HOME LOAN RATES FIRING IN JIND OVER JJP MLA VISIT P 11, 8 Vaccination on at a Delhi hospital Wednesday. Praveen Khanna 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 approvalforemergencyusein“clinical trial mode” — in which beneficiaries have to sign a consent form before being vaccinated — 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 Balram Bhargava told The Indian Expressthattheinterimtrialdata will be submitted to the regulator seeking emergency use authorisationsimilartotheonethat has been granted to Covishield, a variant of the OxfordAstraZenecavaccinethatisbeing manufactured under licence by CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 E X P L A I NE D Bench-to-bedside journey shows self-reliant India: ICMR E First such data from ● Indian trial 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. SEARCHES AT 30 SITES IN MUMBAI, PUNE I-T knocks on doors of Anurag Kashyap, Taapsee; because they spoke up, says Opp LUNCH FOR THOUGHT MUMBAI, NEW DELHI, MARCH 3 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 a strong response from the Maharashtra state government which called itanattempt by theCentreusing 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’sassociates and film directors Vikas Bahl Taapsee, Kashyap vocal against govt on many issues BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY 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 ED case against Kerala govt body officials, Pinarayi complains to EC SHAJU PHILIP THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, MARCH 3 THE ENFORCEMENT Directorate (ED) has registered a case against top executives of the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB), the state government's flagship entity for mobilisingfundsforinfrastructureprojects, in connection with alleged CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 violationsoftheForeignExchange Management Act (FEMA). ED sources said a case has beenregisteredandnoticeshave been served to KIIFB CEO Dr K M Abraham, a former chief secretary of the state, and KIIFB deputy managing director Vikramjit Singh, a servingIPS officer of the Kerala cadre. “The issue is related to FEMA violationsinconnectionwithKIIFB raising Rs 2,150 crore masala bondslistedontheLondonStock Exchange. Prima facie, there are violations of FEMA,” an ED official said. No decision has been taken yet on recording the statement of the state Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, who is vice-chairman of KIIFB, the official said. “That (questioning Isaac) would happen only in the next stage. If the officials own up to the CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Global freedom watchdog DECISION Sex CD shakes up poll-bound BJP, report downgrades India 2021 BSY govt, minister Jarkiholi quits from ‘free’ to ‘partly free’ W E ST B E N GA L 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 71to67,with100beingtherank- PAGE 1 ANCHOR ingforthemostfreecountry,and its rank fell from 83 to 88 out of 211 countries. In its annual report, Freedom House said, "His (Modi's) Hindu nationalist government has presided over increased pressure on human rightsorganizations,risingintimidationofacademicsandjournalists,andaspateof bigotedattacks -- including lynchings -- aimed at Muslims. The decline deepenedfollowingModi’sreelection in2019,andthegovernment’sresponse to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 featured further abuses of fundamental rights." CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE BENGALURU, MARCH 3 BJP LIST OF 60 TODAY, SUVENDU LIKELY TO BE PITTED AGAINST MAMATA IN NANDIGRAM EYE ON FURFURA CLERIC, TRINAMOOL WORKS ON COUNTER-PLAN WITH SOME CAUTION PAGE 3 FULL COVERAGE, VISIT WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM 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 unidentifiedwoman wasplayed 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 alleging coercion and “sexual harassment” by Jarkiholi. I have faith probe will clear me: Jarkiholi On Wednesday, Water Resources Minister Ramesh Jarkiholideniedanywrongdoing. Althoughhewasinitiallyadamant hewouldn’tquit,hesubmittedhis resignation later on “moral grounds”throughhisbrotherand BJP MLA Balachandra Jarkiholi. “The allegations against me are far from the truth. An investigation is needed to prove the truth. Though I have the faith of MAN AMAN SINGH CHHINA CHANDIGARH, MARCH 3 A DRUG racket linked to Pakistani intelligence agencies has surfaced as the Army probes the alleged breach of sensitive operational data from its Northern Command headquarters inUdhampur.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 sellers has been probedbythe intelligence 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. A Central intelligence agency, sources said, stumbled upon the matter during an investigation into a drug trade with Pakistani links. A dead drop of a pen drive, containing allegedly sensitive operational information pertaining to the Northern Command, was made by one of the jawans which 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 the Govt not seditious, says SC dismissing plea against Farooq Agencies have credible information, matter goes to courts: Javadekar KHUSHBOO NARAYAN, AANCHAL MAGAZINE & ALAKA SAHANI Army investigates 3 jawans for Northern Command Hq data breach, Pak drug racket under scanner being proven innocent I am submittingmyresignation onmoral grounds.Please accept my resignation,” Jarkiholi stated in his resignation letter. The resignation came in the wake of pressure from the BJP at the Centre as well as the state following fear the allegations will embarrass the party ahead of pollstofourstatesandaUnion Territory,tobeheldinApril-May. Chief Minister Yediyurappa and BJP leaders refused to comment on the issue. Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said “police will investigate” the allegationsbroughtagainsttheminister through a third party. ANANTHAKRISHNAN G Court says it discourages endeavours such as this NEW DELHI, MARCH 3 THE SUPREME Court Wednesday dismissed a plea seeking sedition charges under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code against former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah over some of his reportedremarksaftertheabrogation of Article 370 of the Constitutionstatingthat“theexpression of a view which is a dissentfromadecisiontakenbythe 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 cause of action for a court to initiate proceedings.” It added that “the petitioners have nothing to do with the subject matter and this is clearly a case of publicity interest litigation for the petitioners only to get their names in press”. “We discourage such endeavours”, said the bench which went on to dismiss the petition and imposed a cost of Rs 50,000 on petitioners Rajat Sharma, Secretary and Trustee, Viswa GuruIndiaVisionof SardarPatel; and Uttar Pradesh resident Neh Srivastava. The fine is to be deposited with the SC Advocates WelfareFundwithinfourweeks. The petition said that on October 11, 2020, Abdullah, who is a Member of Parliament, and PresidentofNationalConference, hadonliveTVsaidthat“yeproperty tumhare baap ka nahi hai and (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” anything to the effect of involving China. The plea also referred to BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra’s remarks critiquing Abdullah over the said comments. The petitioners said the formerJ&KCM’sstatement“isseditious” and that “he is propagatinganti-nationalthoughtsin the mind of innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir…and he deservestoberemovedfromthe membership of Parliament''. The apex court’s observations come amid growing criticism of thegovernment over the frequent use of this colonial provision to allegedly quell dissent. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 WORLD NINE KILLED AS TROOPS SHOOT AT PROTESTERS IN MYANMAR PAGE 10 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 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 Gundechafamily inBhopal, fora while.AkhileshGundechacould alsobesuspendedfromteaching and mentoring students at the instituteforayear,afterwhichhe may come back to teaching but under observation. Students of Dhrupad Sansthan, including those who have accused Akhilesh of harassment and those who have left, have also demanded therapy for Akhilesh. According to sources, that demand is being considered. Akhilesh, who withdrew himself fromthegurukul following 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 thattheseissuesaretreatedwith Akhilesh (left), the late Ramakant accused of harassment 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 havededicated areasof teaching that are under CCTV surveillance.Wewillcontinuetodoour work,” said Anant. A workshop was held in February for the students and staff at the gurukul. “We thought 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. Anant said more new students had joined the institute in the past couple of months and teaching at the gurukul had continued. Sources told The Indian Express that Umakant Gundecha had stepped down as chairperson of the Sansthan and 24year-old Anant had taken his po- sition. 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 traditionalgurukulwithstudents 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. Kolkata
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.