DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE MONDAY, APRIL 12, 2021, NEW DELHI, LATE CITY, 14 PAGES `6.00 (`8 BIHAR & RAIPUR, `12 SRINAGAR) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 ACTIVE CASES SURGE PAST 11 LAKH, HIGHEST EVER Oxygen,ventilators,testing:Central teamsflaggapsinkeysurgestates Health Secy writes to Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh; concern over testing in UP, Gujarat 14-yr-old among five militants shot dead in J&K BASHAARAT MASOOD SRINAGAR, APRIL 11 FIVE MILITANTS, including a 14year-old boy, were killed in two separate encounters in South Kashmir overnight, taking the number of militants killed in the region during the past 72 hours to 12. The boy, Faisal Gulzar Ganai, had gone missing just two days ago,andhadjoinedthemilitants. Two of the five slain militants were responsible for the killing of a Territorial Army (TA) soldier in Bijbehara on Friday, police said. Late on Saturday afternoon, a joint team of Jammu and Kashmir Police, Army, and paramilitary forces began cordonand-search operations at Reban village in South Kashmir’s Shopian following inputs about the presence of militants. Astheforceszeroedinonthe targetarea,thetrappedmilitants opened fire, triggering a gunfight. Police said the forces gave sufficienttimetothemilitantsto surrender, especially the 14year-old boy, whose family they called to the site of the encounter. “They (militants) were given an opportunity to surrender. However, they fired indiscriminately upon the joint search partywhichwasretaliated,leading to an encounter. In the initial retaliatory firing, one terrorist waskilled,buttheoperationwas suspended to give the trapped terrorists another chance to surrender,” police said in an official statement. “The joint teams exercised maximum restraint and facilitated the presence of family membersofterroristFaisalGulzar to encounter site so as to persuadehimtosurrender.However, despite repeated appeals by his family members and assurances by the security forces, the other terroristsdidn’tallowhimtosurrender,” the statement said. West Bengal BJP chief says those killed in firing were ‘bad boys’ KAUNAIN SHERIFF M NEW DELHI, APRIL 11 ■ Maharashtra has very high hospital occupancy in three districts; three other districts are facing problems with oxygen supply; malfunctioning ventilators found in two districts. ■ In two districts of Punjab there is no dedicated Covid hospital; there is a shortage of healthcare workers in three districts, and no RTPCR testing lab in one. ■ In Chhattisgarh, there is a shortage of RTPCR testing in threedistricts;fourdistrictshave high hospital bed occupancy rates; the state capital has limited oxygen availability. These are among the problems identified by central teams sent by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in surge districts of three states of At Pune railway station on Sunday evening. Amid rising Covid cases and fears of another lockdown in Maharashtra, migrants have been heading to railway stations in an attempt to return home. Ashish Kale TRACKING THE SECOND SURGE 405 NEW CASES: 1,62,978 ACTIVE CASES: 11,98,377 TOTAL VACCINATION: 10,15,95,147 DAILY DEATHS 913 TOTAL DEATHS 1,71,750 WEEKLY CFR* 1.39% Record 10,000-plus cases in Delhi, Kejriwal warns of possible lockdown MALLICA JOSHI OVERALL CFR 1.43% TESTS TODAY: 10,65,425 | TOTAL TESTS: 25,76,92,275 WEEKLY POSITIVITY: 8.86% | OVERALL POSITIVITY: 4.85% STATES REPORTING MOST CASES STATE NEW CASES ACTIVE CASES ■ Maharashtra 63,294 5,65,587 25.20% 99,23,253 ■ Uttar Pradesh 15,276 71,241 4.60% 84,93,841 WEEKLY TOTAL POSITIVITY VACCINATION ■ Delhi 10,774 34,341 7.50% 20,62,691 ■ Chhattisgarh 10,521 90,277 23.49% 41,27,809 ■ Karnataka 10,250 69,235 6.26% 60,66,457 STATES REPORTING MOST DEATHS STATE TODAY’S DEATHS TOTAL DEATHS WEEKLY CFR OVERALL CFR ■ Maharashtra 381 59,497 0.95% 2.19% ■ Chhattisgarh 122 4,899 3.64% 1.44% ■ Uttar Pradesh 67 9,152 4.33% 1.49% ■ Punjab 59 7,507 2.28% 3.24% ■ Gujarat 54 4,800 1.69% 1.60% Note:VaccinedataasaccessedfromCovid19india.org; otherfiguresbasedondataavailable fromstatesuntilpresstime;deathsincludethosecausedbycomorbidities. NEW DELHI, APRIL 11 AS MORE than 10,000 new infections were detected in Delhi for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, Chief MinisterArvindKejriwalwarned on Sunday that the capital may have to be put under lockdown if hospitals start running out of Covid beds. “I am not in favour of lockdown. I feel that lockdown is not the solution to Corona. [But] It should be imposed by any governmentwhenitshospitalstructure collapses. Through lock- ‘Not in favour of lockdown but...’ down, the pace of the spread of diseasereduces...If you(citizens) cooperate and the hospital facilitiesstayundercontrol,wewon’t have to impose a lockdown in Delhi,” the Chief Minister said. “However”, he added, “in case the number of beds in hospitals starts falling short, we might have to impose a CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 DELHI HAS seen nearly 60,000 new cases in April so far. Of the 1,153 ventilator beds in Delhi, only 307 are currently available. Several government hospitals and more than half the private hospitals have run out of ventilator beds. In Gujarat, patients line up, BJP’s remdesevir stocks get a political twist EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE GANDHINAGAR, NEW DELHI, MUMBAI, APRIL 11 THE BJP on Sunday defended its Gujarat unit chief C R Paatil followingoppositioncriticismover the free distribution of remdesivir,anantiviraldrugusedinthe treatmentof Covid,whichissold on prescription and is currently in short supply. Queues for the drug were seen outside both Zydus hospitals — which renewed its sale with stricter conditions — and the BJP office in Navsari, where the party distributed it for free for the second day. In a video statement issued on Sunday, the Gujarat BJP mediaconvenerYagneshDavesaid: “BJP started providing remdesivir injections in Surat free of cost...with cooperation of local Covid doctor heckled by MP Congmen, quits IRAM SIDDIQUE BHOPAL, APRIL 11 THENODALofficerforCovidcare at a top government hospital in Bhopal submitted his resignation after he was heckled by a group led by Congress MLA and formerministerPCSharmaover the death of a 35-year-old man inthefacility'semergencyroom. The incident on Saturday was captured on video by a doc- PAGE 1 ANCHOR CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Day after Bihar cop killed in Bengal, his mother dies EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE PATNA, APRIL 11 BARRY O’FARRELL AUSTRALIA’S HIGH COMMISSIONER TO INDIA PAGE 10 THE MOTHER of the Kishanganj policeman who was lynched by a mob in West Bengal, died early Sunday morning, police said. Ashwini Kumar, 52, Station House Officer of Kishanganj police station in Bihar, was on Saturday lynched in Pantapara villageinBengal’sUttarDinajpur district, where he had gone with a team of eight policemen and two informers to look for a gang of alleged motorcycle thieves who operated in Bihar. On Sunday, the West Bengal police arrested two more persons in connection with the murder, taking the total arrests to five. Prime accused Firoz Alam, at whose house Kumar was attacked, had been arrested earlier along with his mother and one other person. Kishanganj SP Kumar Ashish said that on Sunday, Kumar’s CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 THEONUS OFCALM INBENGAL Capital faces a grim situation traders. As per the instructions of our president C R Paatil, local traders bought (the drug) in whichever available quantity on theirown,fromGujaratandoutside... Cases (of Covid-19) have started increasing in Surat, so to CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 PIL IN GUJARAT HC ON COVID ‘HEALTH EMERGENCY’ PAGE 7 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 tor on duty at J P Hospital, who shared the clip online, prompting a backlash on social media and a tweet from Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan appealing for people to respect those at the forefront of the fight against Covid. However, the family of the deceased said the video did not show the full picture and that theywererepeatedlytoldtotake him away to a private hospital as tributes. “Mamata Banerjee had paid KOLKATA, APRIL 11 tributes to four persons who were killed in the CISF firing but THEDAYafterfourpersonswere did not condole the death of killed when CISF personnel Anand Barman as he is from the opened fired at a mob that tried Rajbongshi community and is to snatch their not suited for her vote weapons outside a bank. It is very unfortupolling station in West nate to see appeaseBengal's Cooch Behar, a ment politics even in war of words broke out case of deaths. This is Sunday between the not Bengal's culture,” BJP and the ruling TMC DECISION Shah said. with Union Home The BJP's state chief 2021 Minister Amit Shah Dilip Ghosh described WEST blaming Mamata those who were killed BENGAL Banerjee's provocative in the CISF firing as comments for the attack “dustuchelera(badboys)” on central forces and the Chief and said there will be similar inMinister describing the incident cidents if they do not behave. as a “genocide”. Addressing a press confer“Mamata Banerjee had ad- ence in Siliguri, Banerjee said: vised the people to gherao cen- “This is nothing but genocide... If tral forces. Is thisnot responsible CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 for the deaths in Sitalkuchi? Her advice had instigated the people THE EDITORIAL PAGE to attack the CISF,” Shah said. Referring to a fifth death on Saturday, in a separate incident, Shah accused Banerjee of indulging in “appeasement poli- PAGE 8 tics” by being selective in paying EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 DAYS SINCE PANDEMIC BEGAN Mamata calls poll deaths ‘genocide,’ Shah says she instigated attack THE WORLD VACCINE EFFICACY LOW, ADMITS TOP CHINA OFFICIAL BLACKOUT STRIKES IRAN’S NATANZ NUCLEAR SITE PAGE 12 BJP supporters hold up their smartphones at a public meeting in South 24 parganas. Partha Paul Phone screen is rally ground in Bengal: PM clip to Didi foot RAVIK BHATTACHARYA & AMITAVA CHAKRABORTY COOCH BEHAR, APRIL 11 ONCE UPON a time, Dipak Das was the admin of 1,124 WhatsApp groups. That was during the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. Today, in the middle of Assembly polls in West Bengal, the BJP’s social media convenor in Cooch Behar is the admin of 2,209 groups and a member of 3,500 in all. On Saturday, Das pushed a video of the CISF firing at an angry mob outside a polling booth inSitalkuchithatledtothedeaths of four people identified as TMC supporters. That was just a nuggetfromthedatadelugethat has made the smartphone the rally ground, the home visit, the campaign booth, all rolled into one — much larger in size and scale than ever before; generating and fuelling its own content, not reliant on traditional media. Over two days last week, in the run-up to voting in Cooch BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY Behar for the fourth phase, The Indian Express tracked the smartphones of several BJP and TMC workers to know what’s streaming. It found a surge of videos, messages and “news items” — some spin, some splice and a lot of slant to suit the narrative. First, the BJP, which is in the middle of a no-holds-barred bid to capture power in the state. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 For her dream, MBBS student fights her cerebral palsy and a system ANANTHAKRISHNAN G & SHAJU PHILIP NEW DELHI, THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, APRIL 11 SHE WAS born with Spastic Cerebral Palsy, a disorder caused by brain damage. Fifty-two days after her birth, she lost her mother. And with her father, a daily wage labourer in Kerala's Malappuram,strugglingtomake bothendsmeets,lifedidn’t leave AswathyPwithmuchof achoice — except to fight back. In 2020, she secured rank 3,44,859 in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) but was denied admissiontothestate-runmedicalcollege in Manjeri under a special quota since her right arm “is involved in her disability” making herineligibleformedicalcourses. The 20-year-old didn't give up. She took her case to the Kerala High Court, which ruled in her favour. It got a separate medical examination conducted and said: She “is a person who can climb stairs with railing, though she has only minimum ability to run or jump and she has difficulty in moving with uneven surfaces. She is also a person who is able to handle most objects with somewhat reduced quality and/or speed of achievement.” Today, Aswathy is a first-year MBBSstudentinManjericollege, thankstoaninterimorderbythe HighCourtonDecember7,2020, which was made absolute on January 25 this year following the medical examination. “Classes began on February 8,” she says. Butthenextchallengelooms. The National Medical Commission (NMC) has approached the Supreme Court Aswathy is now a first-year MBBS student against the High Court order stating that the “legal issues involved...is of general and public importance,andwillhaveanimpact in a large number of cases everyacademicyearthroughout the country”. Aswathy says she will fight this, too. “I have been nurturing a dream since childhood of becomingadoctor.Istartedregular schooling from Class 3 at the age of 10...treatment consumed much of my childhood. But the several years I spent in hospital made me emotionally attached to the medical world. What will anyone gain by spoiling my dream and playing with my life?” she asks. “All the way in my life, I have been fighting for justice. The medical boards always discouraged me. But I am going ahead only because of my determination. On every occasion in life, I have had to prove before others that I can study,’’ she says. AccordingtoMedicalCouncil of IndiaRegulationsonGraduate Medical Education 1997, five per cent seats of the annual sanctionedintakecapacityingovernmentandgovernment-aidedinstitutions shall be filled by candidates with not less than 40 per cent of a specified disability undertheRightsof Personswith Disabilities Act 2016, based on NEET rank. For Cerebral Palsy, the Act providesadmissionif thedisability is not more than 80 per cent. And initially, Aswathy was provisionally allotted a seat at the Manjeri college in the second round of allotment in the allIndia quota. She also had a certificatefromadesignatedcentre, stating that she is suffering from Spastic Cerebral Palsy Triplegia (spastic movements in three limbs) and that her disability is 63.3 per cent. But then, she was denied admission because the certificate also stated that her right upper limb “is involved in her disability”. Arguing for Aswathy in the High Court, Senior Advocate Kaleeswaram Raj pointed out that she is eligible for admission asherdisabilityiswellbelowthe 80 per cent cut-off. Following its interim ruling in Aswathy's favour, the High Court ordered a medical examination to know “as to whether” her “disability of Triplegia is independent of cerebral palsy” CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
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