DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE SATURDAY, MAY 15, 2021, NEW DELHI, LATE CITY, 14 PAGES 8TH RELEASE OF PM-KISAN 8,506 CASES; 14,000 RECOVERIES PM flags rapid rural spread, says India will fight and win New cases fall below 10,000 in Delhi, first time since April 10 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, MAY 14 WITHTHElockdowninplacefor close to four weeks, Covid cases in Delhi have finally started to dip, with 8,506 cases being recorded on Friday. This is the firsttimesinceApril10thatcases droppedbelow10,000inthecity. A total of 68,575peoplewere tested and 12.40% of them were found to be positive — which is the lowest positivity rate in a month. Over 50,000 of these were RT-PCR tests. Over 14,000 people were reported recovered on Friday. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said this was “good news” and was possible because of the cooperation from people, but cautioned against any laxity. “If webecomecarelessagainand stop following social distancing norms and guidelines, cases can increase again. We are making arrangements for more oxygen ‘India doesn’t lose courage... I feel your pain, as PM, I share every feeling’ HARIKISHAN SHARMA NEW DELHI, MAY 14 SOUNDINGANOTEof cautionto farmers and rural areas, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday said Covid-19 was spreading to villagesata“rapid”pace,butsaid India will not lose courage and will fight the pandemic and win. “Iwant to alertall farmers, all brothers and sisters living in villages, about Corona again. The infectionisnowreachingthevillage at a rapid pace,” he said addressing several Chief Ministers of states over a video conference after releasing the eighth instalment of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PMKISAN) scheme. Expressing hope the country will win the fight against Covid19, the Prime Minister said, “Bharat himmat haarne vaala desh nahin hai. Na Bharat himmat haarega aur na koi Bharatvaasi himmat haarega. Ham ladenge aur jeetenge (India is not a country that loses courage. Neither India nor any Indian will lose courage. We will fight and win).” Modi also said he felt the same pain which people have suffered for some time now and said the government was doing everything to fight the second wave. “As the Prime Minister of Modi at a virtual PM-Kisan event on Friday. PTI the country, I share every feeling of yours... Whatever bottlenecks were there with regard to resources to fight the second wave of corona, are being removed rapidly. There is an attempt to work on a war footing...,” he said. The political leadership has explicitly acknowledged the ruralspreadof Covid-19forthefirst time now. Just three weeks ago, on April 24, Modi had told gram panchayats that the challenge was to not allow this infection to enter villages under any circumstances. “I am confident all people and villages will be able to prevent corona from entering villages,” he had said. OnTuesday,theUnionHealth Ministryhadsaidthatasmanyas 533ofthecountry’s700-plusdistricts were reporting a test positivity rate of more than 10 per cent, underlining CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 From inside a Covid ward at GMCH, Goa’s largest facility for coronavirus. Express 13 more die, Goa hospital says it has ‘fixed’ its oxygen issues EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE PANAJI, MAY 14 GOA MEDICAL College and Hospital (GMCH) that has seen deaths on successive days due to oxygen issues saw 13 more casualties during the early hours of Friday. While the opposition Goa Forward Party blamed these too on inadequate oxygen supply, the hospital said the reasons for the deaths were yet to be ascertained. Claiming to have details re- THE EDITORIAL PAGE INTHEDARK Fix accountability in Goa PAGE 8 garding the latest deaths, Goa Forward Party resident Vijai Sardesaisaid,“Seventy-fivepeople have died on four consecutive days. On the night of May 11, 21 people died, on the night of May 12, 15 people died, and last night, 13 people died." He said the deaths had again happened during “the dark hours” at GMCH—2amto6am,whenthe CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Delhi Police arrests 9 Riding on direct payment, Punjab over posters against wheat procurement hits new high PM, vaccine exports ANJU AGNIHOTRI CHABA JALANDHAR, MAY 14 Crime Branch questions Youth Congress leader, face of Covid relief MAHENDER SINGH MANRAL NEW DELHI, MAY 14 DELHIPOLICEThursdayarrested nine persons for allegedly pasting posters with comments critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding the Covid vaccination drive and lodged 10 FIRs across several districts in connection with the matter. OnFriday,inaseparatemove, the Delhi Police Crime Branch visited the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) office to question its chief Srinivas B V, who has been at the forefront of Covid relief efforts,inconnectionwithalleged “illegal distribution of Covid medicines, etc”. Police said four of the arrests made on Thursday were from East Delhi’s Kalyanpuri, and that themenwerepastingposterson behalf of AAP councillor Dhirender Kumar. While police said Kumar's alleged role would be probed, the councillor said he was not aware of any such alle- INSIDE One FIR, two arrests over this poster put up at Dwarka, since removed gations against him. A senior officer said they received information that posters that read “Modi ji humare bachon ki vaccine videsh kyon bhej diya (Whydidyousendourchildren’s vaccines abroad?)” had been pasted in several areas of Delhi. “Acting on this input, all district police officers were CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 PAGE 1 ANCHOR THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, MAY 14 PAGE 12 REBEL YSRCP MP ARRESTED ON SEDITION CHARGE PAGE 6 INTHEmidst of the secondcoronavirussurgeandtheagitationby farmersagainstagriculturallaws that has been now on for five months,Punjabhassurpassedall previous records in wheat procurement for the rabi season. Government agencies have procured 132.08 lakh metric tonnes of wheat, 2 lakh metric tonnes more than the target set by the state, with more than 9 lakh farmers receiving over Rs23,000croredirectlyintotheir bank accounts. It was the first timeinPunjabthatfarmerswere paid directly instead of through arhtiyas or middlemen. At 34 days, this rabi marketing season, that began on April 10 and ended Thursday, was 12 days shorter than last year. Food Corporation of India records show that this is the highest wheat procurement in Punjab’s history. The number was under 100 lakh metrict tonnes till 2009-10. At over 9 lakh,thenumberof farmerswho came with their grain to mandis this year is also higher than the figure of 8.8 lakh last year. While the procurement was CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Goodnews for Centre,state FACING THE brunt of anger over farm laws, Punjab had resisted the direct payment scheme, fearing a backlash. The procurement then is good news for the Centre, and the state. 68 out of 100 beds were vacant at the Shehnai banquet hall Covid facility in Delhi on Friday. Abhinav Saha beds, are buying oxygen cylinders and are setting up new ICU beds. If cases increase again, we should be prepared. But please continue to observe Covid-appropriate behaviour. We have seenverytoughtimesinthepast month,” he said. Delhi was among the worsthit in thecountry in April, seeing Sputnik unveiled: Rs 1,000 a shot, in cities by mid-June UNNAO, GHAZIPUR, MAY 14 At the Baksar Ghat in Unnao, where an estimated 200 bodies were laid bare this week. Express DAYS AGO, the bodies were in scores, unclaimed, uncounted and unidentified. On Friday, at the Gahmar Ghat in Ghazipur, there were five. Two face down in the sand on the Ganga riverbank; one part submerged, the remainingtwoinfragments.Not far from here, in Unnao, again on the banks of the Ganga, an esti- CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Standoff in Chitrakoot jail: Inmate kills 2, takes 5 hostage; shot MANISH SAHU LUCKNOW, MAY 14 The first foreign-made Covid vaccine for India, Sputnik saw a ‘soft launch’ on Friday, with an executive given a dose. Reuters PRABHA RAGHAVAN NEW DELHI, MAY 14 A BATCH of 150,000 doses of Sputnik V has been cleared after quality and stability tests for distribution in select cities and tier 1 metros, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories(DRL),whichhasan agreement with the Russian manufacturer of the Covid-19 vaccine, said on Friday. At a little over Rs 995 per dose — not just for private hospitals but also for central and state governments — this will be the most expensive vaccine so far in the country’s mass immunisation programme. In private hospitalsthough,aSputnikVjab is likely to cost less than Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. The vaccine received a soft launch in Hyderabad on Friday. The Sputnik V Twitter handle posted a photo of DRL’s CEO for its API and Services Business, Deepak Sapra, being administered the first dose. Thevaccinewillbeavailablefor customers by mid-June, when commercial shipments are expected to begin, DRL said. The company, which has an agreement with its Russian partner to acquire 250 million doses of SputnikV,expectstobeabletovaccinate at least 125 million Indians overthenext8-12months. Around 15-20 per cent — or up to 50 millionof thesedoses— areexpectedtobesuppliedfrom Russia,whilethecompanywaits for local production of the vaccine to pick up. DRL is also in discussions CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Behind bodies found on river banks, a Covid shadow AVANEESH MISHRA & DIPANKAR GHOSE the highest daily cases and deaths of all cities. On April 20, it saw over 28,000 Covid cases, while daily death toll crossed 450 at one point. A definite downward trend in cases started a week ago, when the positivity rate started declining. While the number of COVID IN THE COUNTRYSIDE UTTAR PRADESH AN EXPRESS SERIES PART-7 mated200bodieswerelaidbare thisweekbytheshiftingsandafter a heavy downpour. These bodies, juxtaposed with images of overflowing cremation and burial grounds, frame a tragic rural postcard from UP and downstream Bihar touched by Covid. Interviews with next of kin, officials, eyewitnesses and local residentsinUnnaoandGhazipur reveal that behind the bodies lie long-held traditions, deep economic distress and the sudden rush to lay the dead to rest — all of this under the shadow of a INAmajorsecuritybreachinside the high-security barracks of Chitrakoot jail in Uttar Pradesh onFriday,twoinmateswereshot dead by another inmate who went on to hold five others at gunpoint as hostages before being gunned down by police. Police said that all the three who died had several criminal cases against them, including on chargesofmurder.ChiefMinister Yogi Adityanath has sought a report on the incident from Director-General (Prison), Anand Kumar. The state government, meanwhile, suspended ChitrakootJailSuperintendentSP Tripathi and jailor Mahendra Pal. Accordingtopolice,Mukeem Kala,whohailsfromwesternUP, and Mirajudeen alias Miraj, an associate of jailed MLA Mukhtar Ansari,wereshotdeadbyAnshu Dixit, a known gangster who waslodgedinadifferentbarrack. The motive is yet to be ascertained, police said. Kala was at the centre of allegations levelled by the BJP in 2016 of a mass exodus from Kairana town because of threats from his gang. He was shifted to Chitrakoot jail from Saharanpur just five days ago. Miraj was shifted to Chitrakoot on March 20 from a Varanasi jail. Detailing the sequence of CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Sleepless in Israel, Indian nurses hang on for families SHAJU PHILIP 12 KILLED IN ATTACK ON KABUL MOSQUE DURING PRAYERS `6.00 (`8 BIHAR & RAIPUR, `12 SRINAGAR) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 ON TUESDAY evening, K Santhosh, a farmer in Kerala's Idukki district, heard the sound of anairraidsirenfromtheother end of a video call with his wife who was in the Israeli city of Ashkelon. Seconds later, Santhoshwatchedindisbelief as his wife’s face disappeared from the screen, and was replaced by thick smoke. Today, the echoes of that rocket attack from Gaza, which killed 32-year-old Soumya Santhosh, continue to reverberate in the homes of several nursingprofessionalsfromIndia,who are employed as caregivers for the elderly in Israel. With Israel conducting massive retaliatory air strikes and massing tanks along the Gaza border, they find themselves in the middle of an escalatingconflictthatthreatens their lives — and livelihood. “I haven’t slept for the last four days,” says Mariya Joseph, 33, speaking to The Indian Express over the phone Friday evening from the Israeli city of Ashdod, 38 km from Gaza. “Yesterday night, rockets were raining in the region. Our buildingswereshaking.Wekeep posting messages in our groups askingwhetherallweresafe.We are trying to find comfort this way. A lot of caregivers from India, particularly from Kerala, are working in areas close to Gaza,’’ says Joseph. She has been in Ashdod for the past two-and-a-half years, and is taking care of an 88-yearold woman who is bedridden. “We are getting street-specific A Palestinian family fleeing Gaza City on Friday crosses one of the high-rises hit by Israeli strikes. Reuters Report PAGE12 alerts. But this is an old building, and it does not have an in-house bomb shelter. As a nurse, I can’t rush to the common shelter leavingmypatientinthehouse,” says Joseph, who worked in Delhiforeightyearsbeforemoving to Israel. “I am flooded with calls from panic-stricken family members. We are hoping peace will prevail in a few days,'' says Shinto Kuriakose, 33, who has been a caregiver in Israel for the past six years. According to data available till 2019 with the Indian Embassy in Israel, there are about 14,000 Indian nationals in the country, including 13,200 employed as caregivers. What makes the job of a caregiver in Israel attractive for nurses in India is the easy migration processandattractive salary, say officials. Soumya was employed with an 80-year-old woman who was injured in the attack. “We know that thousands from Keralaare working in Israel as caregivers and domestic helpers. There is a huge demand for Israel visas in Kerala. Israel is CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
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.