DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE FRIDAY, JUNE 4, 2021, NEW DELHI, LATE CITY, 16 PAGES `6.00 (`8 BIHAR & RAIPUR, `12 SRINAGAR) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 Signs of normalcy in J&K, onus on Pak: Army chief SEDITION FIR AGAINST VINOD DUA QUASHED SC underlines its ruling to protect journalists against sedition law abuse NAVEED IQBAL SRINAGAR, JUNE 3 AS INDIA and Pakistan approach 100 days of adherence to the ceasefirealongtheLineofControl in Jammu and Kashmir, Army chief General MM Naravane said ThursdaythatthesituationinJ&K pointstoareturntonormalcyon all parameters, and the onus of ensuring that the ceasefire holds lies squarely with Pakistan. He said “after a long time, we have reached a situation where peace and tranquillity prevails”. Speaking to reporters in Srinagar at the end of a two-day review of security in the Valley, General Naravane said: “I have been briefed by all commanders on ground on the situation, both on the LC and in the hinterland. Alltheparametersthatwejudge normalcybyhaveseengreatimprovement. There have been very few terrorist-initiated inci- Says 1962 Kedar Nath Singh norm of incitement to violence has to be test Terror infra across LoC still there, said Gen Naravane. PTI dents, hardly any cases of stonepelting,nocasesof IEDsintherecentpast.Alltheseareindicators of a return to a sense of normalcy… these are all indicators thattheawaam(thepeople)also want the same.” Reiterating that India will hold the ceasefire along the LoC as long as Pakistan does, he said: “The onus of making sure that theceasefireholdsissquarelyon CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 ANANTHAKRISHNAN G NEW DELHI, JUNE 3 A MONSOON DATE Rain clouds in the Kochi sky on Thursday as the Southwest monsoon made an onset over Kerala after a delay of two days. PTI BSP shrinks COVID VACCINE POLICY SHIFT even more as Mayawati expels two senior leaders In a first, Centre will pay Rs 1,500 cr to reserve 30 cr doses of new vaccine LUCKNOW, JUNE 3 WITH the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh just about six months away, BSP chief Mayawati on Thursday expelled two of its most prominent leaders, Lalji Verma and Ram Achal Rajbhar, for "indulging in antiparty activities" during the recent panchayat polls. Added to the expulsions by Mayawati earlier, this leaves the BSP with just seven MLAs in the Assembly, with one of them (Mukhtar Ansari) in jail. It had won 19 seats of 403 in the 2017 Assembly elections. Verna, however, said he was verymuchintheBSPstill,hadno plans of joining any other party, and was hopeful of ironing out differences after meeting Mayawati. He also pointed out thatallthoseexpelledcontinued totechnicallybemembersof the BSP as Mayawati hadn't written to the Speaker about them. While Verma is a five-time MLA from Katehri seat in Ambedkarnagar district, a BSP stronghold,andthe leaderof the party in theAssembly, Rajbharis an MLA from Akbarpur in Amedkarnagar. While Rajbhar CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY KAUNAIN SHERIFF M NEW DELHI, JUNE 3 THE GOVERNMENT said on Thursday that it would make an advance payment of Rs 1,500 crore to Hyderabad-based manufacturer Biological E to reserve 30 crore doses of its under-development Covid-19 vaccine. This is the first time that the Centre has placed an order with a vaccine manufacturer before the product has been granted emergency use authorisation (EUA) by the regulator. The vaccine doses for which arrangements have been “finalised”, will be “manufactured and stockpiled by Biological E from August-December 2021,” the Union Health Ministry said in a statement. “For this purpose, the...Ministry...would be making an advance payment of Rs 1,500 crore to Biological E.” CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 PRABHA RAGHAVAN Health staff in the record room of Jumbo Covid hospital, Pune. The daily case count in Pune is now below 2,000 . Arul Horizon Harris calls PM on US vaccines for India; first set is one day’s dose SHUBHAJIT ROY NEW DELHI, JUNE 3 DAYS AFTER External Affairs MinisterSJaishankarmetkeyofficials in the Biden administration in Washington DC, the US announced Thursday that it will distribute Covid-19 vaccines to India as part of its “strategy for global vaccine sharing”. PresidentJoeBidenmadethe announcement and Vice President Kamala Harris called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding Washington’s plans to make vaccines available to other countries, including India. Initial estimates suggest India will get about 2-3 million dosesinthefirsttrancheof doses via COVAX and directly from the US. This is a day’s dosefor India – onThursday,thecountryadmin- istered 2.62 million doses, according to a provisional official report.Theseincluded24,04,166 first dose beneficiaries and 220,805seconddosebeneficiaries. A US statement said that the administration will begin sharing the “first 25 million doses of COVID vaccines” with countries as part of the framework for sharing at least 80 million CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 NEW DELHI, JUNE 3 THE DECISION to book 30 crore doses of Biological E’s Covid-19 vaccine before it has launched marks a major shift in the government’s stance on procurement for mass immunisation against the coronavirus. The advance order, which in● cludes Rs 1,500 crore in monetary assistance to help the company stockpile doses, is the government’sfirstat-riskinvestment on vaccines so far. It is significant that the government has put its money on a novel platform for a Covid-19 vaccine that is yet to receive regulatory approval. E CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 ACTIVE CASES IN INDIA AMITABH SINHA NETANYAHU RIVALS AGREE ON COALITION TO OUST HIM SLOW TO START, CHINA MOBILISES TO VACCINATE AT RAPID PACE PAGE 12 APRIL 4 was the first time India’s daily Covid case count crossed 1 lakh setting off the most explosive phase of the pandemic duringwhichthedailycountof new infectionsreachedashighas4.14 lakh on May 6. Two months since that milestone, the Covid curve, after claiming a devastating toll of at CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 40,00,000 30,00,000 37,45,237 May 9 20,00,000 10,00,000 0 AHMEDABAD, JUNE 3 17,13,413 6,14,696 June 2 1-Apr 5-Apr 9-Apr 13-Apr 17-Apr 21-Apr 25-Apr 29-Apr 3-May 7-May 11-May 15-May 19-May 23-May 27-May 31-May PUNE, JUNE 3 UNION HOME Minister Amit Shah said Thursday that the countryhad“controlled”thesecondwaveof thecoronavirus“ina very short time”, attributing the success to the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Virtually inaugurating nine oxygenplantssetupbyanorganisation in Gujarat, Shah said, “Jab corona ki doosri lahar aayi aur virus ne apna swaroop badal kar ‘India set record in the world for fastest vaccination’ badi tezi se phailna shuru kiya — nakevaltezisephailnashurukiya, iske saath-saath manav ki sehat par bhi bahut tezi se nuksan pahunchane ka iss baar uska lakshan dekha gaya — phir bhi iss ko bahut kam samay ke andar niyantrit kar ke dhalan ki aur le ■ Journalists entitled to protection under SC ruling of 1962 ■ Petitioner’s comments an appraisal of situation ■ Petitioner was touching upon issues of concern tion 124A (sedition) but made clearthatitsoperationbelimited “onlytosuchactivities...involving incitement to violence or intention or tendency to create public disorder or cause disturbance of public peace”. This is the first time that the apex court has explicitly linked the Kedar Nath Singh judgment CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Bengal to Lakshadweep, vaccines to CBI: states push back over last month MANOJ C G NEW DELHI, JUNE 3 THIS DAY, exactly 10 years ago, Narendra Modi, as Gujarat Chief Minister, moved a resolution at the BJP’s national executive in Lucknow. Titled “UPA – a Grave Threat to our Federalism”, it accusedtheCongress-ledCentreof usurping law-making powers of thestates,misusinginvestigative agencies,exploitingstatutoryand constitutionalbodiestoundercut states and getting Governors to work as political agents. “Non-Congress ruled states are making their voice of disapproval heard from all over the country,” said the resolution. “But their cry is only falling on deaf ears.” Cuttotoday,theshoe’sonthe PM Modi led, we controlled second 2 months after explosive surge, 2nd wave in a very short time, says Shah wave still visible but its worst over EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE ■ Citizens can criticise govt, can’t incite violence 10 yrs ago, Modi as CM had flagged UPA threat; federal shoe now on the other foot APRIL 4-JUNE 3: AT LEAST 1.76 LAKH DEATHS THE WORLD PAGE 1 ANCHOR ‘At-risk’ policy change: Govt puts money on new-platform Covid vaccine EXPLAINED ASAD REHMAN Hyderabad’s Biological-E to make 7.5 cr doses of Corbevax available by Sept STRESSING THAT “a citizen has a right to criticise or comment upon the measures undertaken by the Government and its functionaries, so long as he does not incite people to violence against the Government established by law”, the Supreme Court Thursday quashed the FIR registered by Himachal Pradesh Police against journalist Vinod Dua for sedition, public mischief and other offences over the contents of atalkshow broadcaston YouTube last year. A bench of Justices U U Lalit andVineetSaransaideveryjournalist is entitled to protection specified under the Supreme Court’s 1962 judgment in the KedarNathSinghvsStateOfBihar case. That judgment upheld the Constitutionalvalidityof IPCsec- KEY OBSERVATIONS jaane mein hum sab ko ek samoohik safalta mili hai (When the second wave came and the virusmutated,startedspreading rapidly — not just spreading rapidly but also affecting people fast and in a much worse manner — still, in a short time, controlling it and ensuring it declines, is a collective success for us).” Chief Minister Vijay Rupani too said that while India had tackled the pandemic first wave successfully, the second wave wasnowcontrolledandthestate CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 other foot. Over the last one month, especially after the May 2 election results, several state governments are echoing the spirit of that resolution, accusing the Modi government of hardening Centre-state battlelines on a sweeping range of issues: politicalupmanshiptohealth,Bengal toLakshadweep,CBItovaccines. And, in the process, forging a unity and a pushback that, they say, will play out in Parliament when it meets. Prominent in the cross-hairs is West Bengal. Four days after Mamata Banerjee returned to power, Central teams landed days after theverdicttoprobepost-pollpolitical violence (May 6); CISF security cover was given to all CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 GOVT & POLITICS CHOKSI DEPORTATION HEARING ADJOURNED BIHAR PLANS 33% SEATS FOR GIRLS IN MEDICAL, ENGG COLLEGES PAGE 6 Now, BJP turn to watch exit door as leaders reach out to TMC RAVIKBHATTACHARYA &ATRIMITRA KOLKATA, JUNE 3 IN THE month of upheavals in West Bengal since Mamata Banerjeestormedbacktopower, one man’s silence has made the loudest noise. The former TMC No. 2, now a BJP vice-president, Mukul Roy has kept largely quiet since the May 2 result except to tweet his steadfast loyalty to the BJP. On Wednesday, the buzz about his plans returned as Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek dropped in at a Kolkata hospital tocallonRoy’swifeKrishna,who is ailing from Covid. This, in turn, prompted a similar visit by BJP West Bengal chief Dilip Ghosh soon after, followed by a phone call by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday to Roy, who has been in home isolation since the middle of May after testing positive. It’s not just Roy who is keepingBJPcirclesguessing.Inareversal of fortunes from before the Assembly elections, which saw high-spectacle desertions from the TMC to the BJP, it is the BJP’s turn now to watch the exit door. While some leaders have madetheirdesiretoreturntothe TMC known, in plaintive appeals toBanerjee,othershavedropped hintsof their“remorse”viasocial media.TheTMCclaimsadmitting them is not on the agenda right now, busy as the Banerjee government is with fighting Covid and Cyclone Yaas’s aftermath. Onthedayof theresultsitself, ex-TMC minister Rajib Banerjee, who lost on the BJP ticket from DomjurinHowrah,tweeted,“The lovable people of Bengal have madetheirchoiceveryclear...Any Ex-MLAs Dipendu Biswas (above with Mamata) and Sonali Guha have reached out to Mamata. Source: Facebook attempt to do politics now while BengalisfightingCovidcannotbe acceptable.” Then,onMay8,Royskippeda BJP meeting in the Assembly while notably exchanging pleasantries with TMC West Bengal chief Subrata Bakshi. His tweet declaring loyalty to the BJP followed a day later. One of the first TMC-turnedBJP leaders who appealed to Banerjeetotakeherbackwasher one-time confidant and former Satgachia MLA Sonali Guha. Having joined the BJP after the TMC denied her an Assembly ticket,butfailingtogetanomination,Guharecentlytweeted,tagging Banerjee, “Mach jemon jol charabanchteparena,temoniami apnake chara banchte parbo na (Like a fish cannot live without water,Icannotlivewithoutyou)”. Guha told The Indian Express, “Ihaveacceptedmyguilt.TheBJP didnotgivemeanyimportance.” Accordingtoher,whenshewent for the post-death rituals for Banerjee’s brother, who died of Covid, several TMC leaders assured her not to worry. “My return to the TMC is only a matter of time,” she said. Ex-MLAofBashirhatDakshin and former footballer Dipendu BiswassaiditwastheCBI’sarrest of TMC leaders in the 2014 Naradastingcasethatconvinced himtoleavetheBJP.Biswas,who also released a letter to Banerjee, toldTheIndianExpress,“Atatime when we are fighting Covid, the CBI arrested leaders like Firhad HakimandSubrataMukherjee.It was political vendetta and I quit the BJP that day.” Several leaders from North Bengal who had joined the BJP before the Assembly polls have CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
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