DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA ● REG.NO. MCS/067/2018 - 20 RNI REGN. NO. 1543/57 JOURNALISM OF COURAGE FRIDAY, JUNE 4, 2021, MUMBAI, LATE CITY, 14 PAGES `5.00, WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 No decision yet, clarifies state govt after minister announces ‘unlock plan’ YOGESH NAIK MUMBAI, JUNE 3 AN ANNOUNCEMENT by Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Vijay Wadettiwar on Thursday that lockdown-likerestrictionswould be lifted in 18 districts of MaharashtraonFridayforcedthe governmenttoclarifyhastilythat no such decision had been taken andthatitwasonlyaproposalunder discussion. Blindsided by Wadettiwar's announcement,whichcamesoon after a meeting of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and other ministers with the State Disaster ManagementAuthority,atwhich a "five-step unlockdown" proposalwasdiscussedindetail,and was disseminated across the countrywithinminutes,theChief Minister's Office had to swiftly deny any such decision. Officials attached to the CMO were calling reporters to say that Wadettiwar's statement was wrongandshouldnotbedissem- SEDITION FIR AGAINST VINOD DUA QUASHED SC underlines its ruling to protect journalists against sedition law abuse inated.Thegovernment'spublicity department issued a clarification that the five-step unlockdown was only a proposal. The relief and rehabilitation departmenthadproposedrelaxationbut any decision would be based on the Covid case count in each district, which is being looked at closely, the release said. "Covid's second wave has still not reduced and the spread has increased in rural areas. A proposal is being examined on how the lockdown can be relaxed and no proposal has been okayed so far. A five-phase unlockdown process is being planned and the government will be informing at aformal level.Thegovernmentis assessing the situation in various districts," the government said in the clarification. Says 1962 Kedar Nath Singh norm of incitement to violence has to be test ANANTHAKRISHNAN G NEW DELHI, JUNE 3 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 NO CLASS XII STATE BOARD EXAMS: GOVT MAKES IT OFFICIAL PAGE 5 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 COVID VACCINE POLICY SHIFT In a first, Centre will pay Rs 1,500 cr to reserve 30 cr doses of new vaccine MUMBAI, JUNE 3 TO ENSURE that online education of students does not suffer for lack of resources, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) has decided to extend financial assistance of Rs 500 to each student studying in corporation-run schools to help them purchase a mobile internet connection. AccordingtoNMMCofficials, ever since the lockdown started last year, schools run by the municipal corporation have remained closed and classes have moved online. However, since moststudentsinNMMCschools come from lower-middle class families, many do not have the money to purchase an internet connection, they said. Therearearound40,000students enrolled in the civic bodyrun schools in Navi Mumbai. According to the NMMC, it hasbeenobservedthatwhilethe parents do not possess computers in many cases, most own a basicsmartphone.However,due to the inability of the parents to purchaseamobileinternetpack, the students were unable to attend the classes, which ultimately affected their education, an official said. With the new academic sessionsettostartsoon,andwithno signs of schools reopening, itbecomes even more important for the children to have an internet connection, the official added. "We all know that the third wave is expected in August or Septemberandschoolswon'tbe CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 PAGE 1 ANCHOR 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 220,805seconddose beneficiaries. 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 EXPLAINED VALLABH OZARKAR ‘At-risk’ policy change: Govt puts money on new-platform Covid vaccine BUSINESS AS USUAL ■ Citizens can criticise govt, can’t incite violence ■ 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 86 DEAD DURING TAUKTAE 3 executive directors of ONGC suspended pending inquiry JAYPRAKASH S NAIDU MUMBAI, JUNE 3 THREE EXECUTIVE directors of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) were suspended on Wednesdayaspartofanongoing high-level enquiry into the chain of incidentsatBombayHighduring Cyclone Tauktae that led to the death of 86 workers in the Arabian Sea and endangered the lives of hundreds more. A huge rescue operation mountedbytheIndianNavyand Coast Guard managed to rescue 628 people from various locations in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai. The three senior officials are executive directors in charge of drilling, safety and executive exploration,respectively.Theyhave beensuspendedpendinginquiry by the high-level committee instituted by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas into the entire incident, which is the biggest tragedy so far in Bombay High due to a cyclone, said sources in the ministry. "Thedirectorshavebeensuspended to ensure a free and fair enquiryandtoensuretheydonot interfere with the enquiry," a source said. Oneofthecrucialpiecesofevidence before the enquiry committee is an email sent by the Deck Officer of P 305 -- the barge thatservedasaccommodationto 261 workers -- to an ONGC official and copied to many others. Theemailpointsoutthataprivate weather forecaster Storm Geo, that many seafarers rely on, had predicted a cyclone in the "west coast/Mumbai high region". Noting that the wind speeds were likely to reach 40 to 50 knots,andtheseaswellhadbeen predicted to reach 7 to 9 mts, the deckofficerrequestedtheofficials "to guide or instruct the CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 10 yrs ago, Modi as CM had Shah: PM Modi led, we flagged UPA threat; federal 2 months after explosive surge, 2nd shoe now on the other foot controlled second wave APRIL 4-JUNE 3: AT LEAST 1.76 LAKH DEATHS in a very short time EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE AHMEDABAD, 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 ‘India set record in the world for fastest vaccination’ corona ki doosri lahar aayi aur virus ne apna swaroop badal kar badi tezi se phailna shuru kiya — nakevaltezisephailnashurukiya, iske saath-saath manav ki sehat CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 wave still visible but its worst over ACTIVE CASES IN INDIA AMITABH SINHA PUNE, JUNE 3 APRIL 4 was the first time India’s daily Covid case count crossed 1 lakh setting off the most explosive phase of the pandemic duringwhichthe daily count of 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 17,13,413 6,14,696 MANOJ C G NEW DELHI, JUNE 3 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 NMMC school students to get Rs 500 each for mobile internet 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 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 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 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 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. Onthedayoftheresultsitself, 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
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.