DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31, 2021, AHMEDABAD, LATE CITY, 18 PAGES `4.00 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 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 in surge districts within the next two weeks. The Government will roll out WORLD the third phase of its vaccination drivefromApril1tocoverallthose above the age of 45. On Saturday, duringameetingwith46districts thatreported70percentofthetotal cases over the last month, the Centre conveyed that 90 per cent of Covid-linked deaths in the countrycontinuetobeinthecategory 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 complacency atthisstage,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 andGujarat--continuetoreport a surge in daily cases and account for 78.56 per cent of the new cases overall. BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY As cases rise, IIM-A imposes curbs on campus movement EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE AHMEDABAD, MARCH 30 THE INDIAN Institute of Management,Ahmedabad(IIMA),Tuesdayimposedrestrictions on movement across its campus after 11 more persons tested positive for Covid-19 since Sunday Sixty-four people, including students, faculty and staff mem- CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 bers, at the premier B-school have tested positive on the virus over the last two weeks. Gujarat recorded 2,220 new cases of Covid-19 on the day, with the areas within Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) limits recording the lion’s share of 606 infections. Two legislators, BJP’s Dushyant Patel from Bharuch and Congress’s Mohansinh CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Voting tomorrow: High-octane campaigns by Mamata, Shah draw battlelines in Nandigram We will fight every inch, says Chief Minister; Shah says can sense mood for poriborton WORLD LEADERS CALL FOR TREATY TO COMBAT FUTURE PANDEMICS WITH SHIP FREED, PROBE INTO SUEZ CANAL BLOCKAGE BEGINS GUJARAT NIGHT CURFEW IN FOUR CITIES EXTENDEDTILL APRIL 15 NANDIGRAM, MARCH 30 PAGE 10 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 phase of Assembly elections in West Bengal. The two parties, led on the ground by Banerjee and Union cumbers. Home Minister Amit That spot is barely Shah, went all out 500 metres from the Tuesday,firmingbattletwo-storeyed house lines for the vote that Banerjee has Thursday. DECISION rented for her stay in Around1.30pm,fol2021 Nandigram. lowing a 2.5-km road WEST Shortly after 5 pm, show in Nandigram for BENGAL the Chief Minister, after BJP candidate Suvendu addressing her last Phase Adhikari,Shah,onhisway to a Shiva temple in Reyapara, 2 public meeting in Bhekutia, stopped to buy cucumbers. As about10kmfromReyapara,rose security personnel tried to push from her wheelchair and stood back the crowds, Shah walked on one leg -- her other leg has a up to Parulbala Mal’s shop and plastercastfollowinginjuriesafsought the octogenarian’s bless- ter a fall in Nandigram – to sing ings before accepting the cu- the national anthem. 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, recorded a statement Tuesday beforeamagistrateinBengaluru. The woman, untraceable ever since March 2, the day the videoCDwasplayedbyTVchannels, appeared before a magis- Ramesh Jarkiholi trateTuesdayafternoonafterbeing brought to the court by her lawyers. On March 26, the Bengaluru police, acting on a complaint sent 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. In her complaint to the Cubbon Park police, the woman allegedthatJarkiholicoercedher into a sexual relationship by offeringheragovernmentjob,and that he later reneged on the promise. She alleged that Jarkiholi enticed her into sexually explicit conversations on video calls and later lured her to meet him at his apartment in Bengaluru where he forced her into sexual intercourse. After she recorded her statement Tuesday, her lawyer, K Jagadish, said: “We have fulfilled CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 For her, and the BJP, the battle for Nandigram is a prestige fight. Because it was the 2007 agitation against land acquisition in Nandigram that catapulted Banerjee to the centrestage of politics in West Bengal, paving the way for the TMC’s victory in the 2011 Assembly polls that ended 34 years of Left Front rule. Addressing a press conference after the road show, Shah exuded confidence: “I have spoken to the local leaders. Seeing the enthusiasm of the people of CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 EXPLAINED RAVIK BHATTACHARYA & AMITAVA CHAKRABORTY WAIT FOR YOUR CAR, IT’S COVID 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 Amit Shah’s roadshow for BJP candidate Suvendu Adhikari; Mamata Banerjee at a rally in Nandigram on Tuesday. PTI, ANI EXPLAINED SIMPLY PUT SHUBHAJIT ROY & KRISHN KAUSHIK At Myanmar border, Assam Rifles, refugees keep endless watch PAGE 16 PAGE 4 Pak govt meets today on reviving trade with India E Why the stakes ● are high 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 GARGI VERMA GUMIYAPAL, MARCH 30 ON JANUARY 6, 28-year old Nanda Midiyami, one of the 14 tribals whom the police recorded as a naxal, was restless, and scared. The next day, they had to present themselves at the Superintendent of Police’s office in Dantewada, and put their thumb impressions on a surrender document. 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, are subsistence farmers and grow paddy in small plots of land aroundtheirvillage,forpersonal consumption. They had gathered in the outskirts of the village along with their gaayta (the tribal head), siyaan (the elders), women and children, to speak withTheIndianExpress.Besides the police, the dozen-plus 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 policeappealstothosewhohave turned naxals to come back home.Theyprintpamphletsand nail posters in the walls with the names and other details of those who are members of Maoist-affiliated organisations. Under the scheme, every surrendered person gets Rs 10,000 in cash, and this is mentioned in the surrender document she/ he signs in the police station. Naxals who carry cash rewards on their heads, are paid that sum too. There are, however, conflicting claims on two counts: whether those who surrender are genuinely naxals, and CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 AninjuredpersonfleeingMyanmarinThailand,Tuesday. Reuters BORDERLINE AN EXPRESS SERIES PART - 2 KRISHN KAUSHIK AIZAWL, MARCH 30 WITH THE Centre ordering the border with Myanmar sealed, many fleeing the army crackdownfollowingthecoupthatdeposed 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 withMyanmariscompletelyunfenced. Since 2017 there have beenmultipleproposalstofence parts of it, especially around the Champhai region, but there has been no progress. Intelligence inputs suggest 733 Myanmar nationals have made it into the state, with the largest numbers being 324 in Champhai district, 144 in Siaha, 83 in Hnahthial, and 55 in Lawngtalai. Officials believe 90 more crossed over between March 18 and 20, and are yet to be accounted for. A top official of the Mizoram government, that has opposed the Centre's decision to identify the Myanmar nationals and depose them, pointed out that the Assam Rifles manning the border is “not standing hand-inhand” to guard every inch, at all times. “So if someone tries, they can come. Those encountering patrols (while seeking to cross over) are just unlucky... They are tricklingineveryday,sometimes in large crowds, sometimes in smaller batches." Senior sources in the Assam Rifles admit it is virtually impossible to man the border with just CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 MANIPUR FLIP-FLOP ON ORDER PAGE 14 Night sessions, awareness drives in Gir nesses but Covid vaccination slow PAGE 1 ANCHOR GOPALKATESHIYA DHARI(AMRELI),MARCH30 SITTING UNDER a thatched roof structure supported by wooden trusses with no walls outside his mudhouseinAsundaralinessinside Gir forest, 65-year-old Rana Makwanatalksabouthowhevolunteered to get inoculated for Covid-19wheneveryoneelsewas reluctant. His wife Lakshmi did not take the vaccine shot fearing “some- thing” might happen and then “who would do the household chores?”.Neitherhasherbrother MamaiyaKhambhaliya(63),who tellsMakwana,“Butwhatwasthe need? You don’t have coronavirus.” Makwana responds cheerfully how he has had three heart attacks and is diabetic. “Nothing has happened to me. There is nothing to be afraid of about that injection”, he says. Manyamongthecattle-herdingcommunityofmaldharisthat livesintheisolatedcoloniescalled ness,deepinsidetheGirforest,are reluctanttotaketheCovid-19vaccine even as the state health officials are making special arrange- mentstocoverthemundertheinoculationdrive,giventheformer’s tough summer schedule, by launchingmobileunitsandnight shifts. Makwanatellshisbrother-inlaw, “A few days ago, a madam cameinanambulancetoourness and told us to take injections so thatCovid-19can’ttouchus.There arearoundadozenpeopleinthis ness who are above 60 years but no one was willing. So, I volunteered and I am hale and hearty till date.” Makwana’s two elder sons and their wives have migrated to coastalvillagesinsearchoffodder and water for their herd of buf- A maldhari woman administered Covid-19 vaccine at a ness inside Gir forest. Photo courtesy: Gujarat State Health Department faloesandcows,andhisyoungest son transports milk from AsundaralinesstoIngoralavillage inKhambhatalukaeverydayand thus the regular contact with the world outside Gir forest. Lakshmi says she might consider being inoculated when the health team visits next. “But I’ve not seen corona(virus). People with mobile phones keep talking about it, but I am convinced, the Almightywouldprotectmefrom it,” she says. Health department staff say their task (to vaccinate the maldharis)isnoteasy.“Formostpartof the daytime, maldharis remain awayfromtheirness,grazingtheir livestock and it is impossible to contact them as mobile phone networkisnotavailableinsideforest.Therefore,wehadtoorganise a vaccination session at night for maldharis of Bordi Timbo, Dalli and Rajgariya nesses three days ago,”DrJankiBhalala,themedical office of Jira primary health centre(PHC)inAmreli’sDharitaluka, says.Sheadds35maldhariswere vaccinatedatthenightsession.So far, the district has reported 4110 cases and 41 deaths due to the virus. In the neighbouring Gir Somnath district, the health departmentfacesanissueofmigration. “Lots of maldharis have movedoutoftheforestwiththeir livestock in search of fodder and waterandarenolongeravailable at their listed addresses. So, it is impossibletoachievethe100per cent target. Logistics is also an issue and to overcome it, we have assigned to our mobile health unit(MHU)atTulsishyamtheadditionaltaskof Covid-19vaccination besides their regular job of providing OPD and routine immunisation services,” says Dr Harun Bhaya, the chief district health officer (CDHO) of Gir Somnath, whose team led the drive in Asundarali and Ghudjinjva nesses. CONTINUEDONPAGE15 Ahmedabad
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