DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31, 2021, NEW DELHI, LATE CITY, 16 PAGES `6.00 (`8 BIHAR & RAIPUR, `12 SRINAGAR) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 GOVT SOUNDS ALARM: DEATHS UP FOUR-FOLD IN LAST FEW DAYS Situationgoingfrombadtoworse,vaccinate all45-plusinsurgedistrictsin2weeks:Centre Daily cases up in 6 states; worry over Maharashtra, Punjab KAUNAIN SHERIFF M NEW DELHI, MARCH 30 WITH SEVERAL parts of the countryreportingasecondwave of Covid-19 cases, the Centre Tuesday warned that the situationisgoingfrom“badtoworse” and urged states to achieve 100 per cent vaccination coverage of those above the age of 45 years in surge districts within the next two weeks. TheGovernmentwill roll out the third phase of its vaccination drive from April 1 to cover all those above the age of 45. On Saturday, during a meeting with 46 districts that reported 70 per cent of the total cases over the last month, the Centre conveyed that 90 per cent of Covid-linked deaths in the country continue to be in the category of those aged above 45. “All districts with high caseload and fast growth of cases must ensure 100 per cent saturation vaccination of the priority age group of 45 years and above in the coming two weeks. Any complacencyatthisstage,atany level, will have heavy costs,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote in a letter sent to all states and Union Territories. On Tuesday, the Health Ministry said that six states — Maharashtra,Punjab,Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY Delhi spike mainly among young, says AIIMS chief ASTHA SAXENA NEW DELHI, MARCH 30 THE COVID surge in Delhi has mainly affected the younger population with most of the patients reporting “relatively milder symptoms”, according to AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria. But there is a need to re- 'Number of patients in hospitals increasing' Pak govt meets today on reviving Voting tomorrow: High-octane campaigns by trade with India CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 main vigilant, he said, because the infection can “spread to the CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Mamata, Shah draw battlelines in Nandigram We will fight every inch, says Chief Minister; Shah says can sense mood for poriborton WORLD WORLD LEADERS CALL FOR TREATY TO COMBAT FUTURE PANDEMICS WITH SHIP FREED, PROBE INTO SUEZ CANAL BLOCKAGE BEGINS PAGE 10 RAVIK BHATTACHARYA & AMITAVA CHAKRABORTY NANDIGRAM, MARCH 30 ROAD SHOWS, public meetings, fiery speeches Tuesday in Nandigram, from where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is seeking a third term in office, marked the end of the high-octane campaign by the ruling TMC and rival BJP for the second phaseof AssemblyelecAdhikari, Shah, on his tions in West Bengal. waytoaShivatemplein The two parties, led Reyapara, stopped to on the ground by buy cucumbers. As seBanerjee and Union curitypersonneltriedto DECISION push back the crowds, Home Minister Amit 2021 Shah, went all out Shah walked up to WEST Tuesday, firmingbattleParulbala Mal’s shop BENGAL lines for the vote and sought the octogeThursday. narian’s blessings before Around 1.30 pm, following a accepting the cucumbers. 2.5-kmroadshowinNandigram That spot is barely 500 mefor BJP candidate Suvendu tres from the two-storeyed CD case: Jarkiholi faces arrest after woman records statement in court JOHNSON TA BENGALURU, MARCH 30 BJP MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi, who had to step down as Karnataka WaterResourcesMinisterearlier this month after TV channels played a video CD allegedly featuring him and a young woman, faces the prospect of arrest. The woman, who accused him of sexual assault and harassment, PAGE 1 ANCHOR Ramesh Jarkiholi recorded a statement Tuesday beforeamagistrateinBengaluru. The woman, untraceable since March 2, the day the video CD was played by TV channels, appeared before a magistrate Tuesday afternoon after being brought to the court by her lawyers. On March 26, the Bengaluru police,actingonacomplaintsent to them by the woman through her advocates, had registered a complaint of assault and sexual intercourse by an official in authority under IPC sections 354 and 376 (c) against Jarkiholi. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 house that Banerjee has rented for her stay in Nandigram. Shortly after 5 pm, the Chief Minister, after addressing her last Phase 2 public meeting in Bhekutia, about 10 km from Reyapara, rose from her wheelchair and stood on one leg — her other leg has a plaster cast following injuries after a fall in Nandigram — to sing the national anthem. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 E E X P L A I NE D Amit Shah’s roadshow for BJP candidate Suvendu Adhikari; Mamata Banerjee at a rally in Nandigram on Tuesday. PTI, ANI Why the stakes ● are high GARGI VERMA GUMIYAPAL, MARCH 30 ON JANUARY 6, 28-year old Nanda Midiyami, one of the 14 tribals who the police recorded as a Naxal, was restless, and scared. The next day, they had to present themselves at the SP’s office in Dantewada, and put their thumb impressions on a surrender document. NEW DELHI, MARCH 30 IN WHAT could be a first major step by Islamabad to attempt revivalof relationswithNewDelhi, the Pakistan government is going to consider Wednesday the resumption of trade ties with India, sources told The Indian Express Tuesday. Pakistan’scabinetcommittee oneconomicaffairs,sourcessaid, is going to decide on importing sugar and cotton from India. The committeemeetingisscheduled 11.30 am Pakistan time. Pakistan snapped ties with India following the August 2019 abrogation of Article 370 in J&K and the division of the state into two new Union Territories. Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s letter wishing him on Pakistan’s National Day, said his country wants peace with its neighbours, including India, for which all outstanding issues between the two nations, including the dispute over J&K, needs to be resolved. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 At Myanmar border, Assam Rifles, refugees keep endless watch FOR BANERJEE, and the BJP, the battle for Nandigram is a prestige fight. This was the place where she led an agitation against land acquisition in 2007, and it catapulted her to the centrestage of state politics. Caught in crosshairs of Chhattisgarh’s police-Naxal war, 14 who surrendered Gumiyapal is a village 45 km fromthedistrictheadquartersin Dantewada. It is difficult to access the village, with the nearest road at least 25 km away. The 14 men, aged 25-40 years, are subsistence farmers and grow paddy in small plots of landaroundtheirvillage,forpersonal consumption. They had gathered on the outskirts of the village along with their gaayta (the tribal head), siyaan (the eld- SHUBHAJIT ROY & KRISHN KAUSHIK ers), women and children, to speak with The Indian Express. Besides the police, the dozenplus men also feared retribution from Maoists, who they feared would brand them as police informers, working for the lure of money. Under an initiative launched last June called ‘Lon Varattu’ (which in Gondi dialect means ‘return to your village’), the state CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 AninjuredpersonfleeingMyanmarinThailand,Tuesday. Reuters BORDERLINE AIZAWL, MARCH 30 posed Aung San Suu Kyi are believed to be stuck between the twocountries.Thejobof holding themback,aspertheCentre'sinstructions, is almost impossible, given the porous 510-km border along Mizoram alone. Unlike its border with Bangladesh, the state's border WITH THE Centre ordering the border with Myanmar sealed, many fleeing the army crackdownfollowingthecoupthatde- MANIPUR FLIP-FLOP ON ORDER PAGE 6 AN EXPRESS SERIES PART - 2 KRISHN KAUSHIK CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 For 8 months, a father in J&K has been digging for missing son’s body NAVEED IQBAL HARMAIN (SHOPIAN), MARCH 30 A SHOVEL and a spade in hand, he sets out from his twostoreyed house. Depending on what he last heard, he chooses a spot and starts digging. Manzoor Ahmad Wagay has been digging the earth for the pasteightmonthsnow.Whathe hopes to find one day is his son’s body — the son who would have been 25 years old in a few days. On August 2 last year, TerritorialArmysoldierRifleman Shakir Manzoor was travelling between the Balpora and Bahibagh army camps in Shopian area. Since it was Eid day, he stopped to have lunch with his family on the way back and left home at 5 pm. “That is the last time I saw him,” says his father, 56. The last time anyone heard from Shakir was about half-anhour later, when he called the family and said he had run into some friends and that they should not worry if his officers called to ask his whereabouts. “I think he had been kidnapped already and he just wanted to talk to us one last time,” says Wagay. Hours later that day, Shakir's charred vehicle was recovered from a field in the neighbouring Kulgam district, about 16 km from his village. About seven days later, his clothes were found in a ditch 3 km from the house. Wagay breaks down as he holds out a pair of beige trousers and a brown shirt covered with dried blood and mud. A piece of the shirt was found inside the burnt vehicle as well which, the family believes, could have been torn in the scuffle of the kidnapping. A week after the killing, an audio clip circulated on social media made unverified claims Manzoor Ahmad Wagay’s son Shakir Manzoor was a Territorial Army soldier. Shuaib Masoodi that “the soldier’s killing and denial of his body to his family was retribution for a similar policy adopted by J&K authorities for militants killed in encounters”. On the records, Shakir remains missing. Amritpal Singh, Superintendent of Police (Shopian), says the “case is under investigation and efforts are on to trace the body”. Wagay is convinced that his son has been killed. “A woman had seen about four men torturing him. Given that and the bloodonhisclothes,Idon’tthink he could have survived,” he says. Every other day since then, the father would hear about a sighting from days ago and take his shovel and head over. At first, localresidentswouldassistinhis search. But in an area covered with orchards as far as the eye can see, it has been an ordeal. Shakir was born to Wagay and Ayesha after four daughters. He was the only one with a job and helped out the family after joining the Territorial Army in 2016, although, the family says, he wished to become a doctor. Today, the search has left the family in severe financial strain that has also led to Shakir's youngerbrotherShaan(20)dropping out of college in Aligarh. Shaan's phone is full of photos with his older brother including one from last Eid, in the same clothestheylaterrecoveredfrom the ditch. It was Shaan who first raised the alarm after Shakir’s phone was found switched off. “Atsomepoint,weheardthat an arrested militant had told authorities that they had buried himnexttoacanal.Sowehireda JCBmachineandstartedlooking for his body near every water body we could see,” Shaan says. “Police record him as missing. If the search had been conductedmorethoroughlyinthose first few hours, maybe we could have found his body, since he CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
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