DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE THURSDAY, JULY 22, 2021, NEW DELHI, LATE CITY, 14 PAGES `6.00 (`8 BIHAR & RAIPUR, `12 SRINAGAR) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 URGES OPP TO UNITE, PLAN FOR 2024 Shell firm director who sold flat to Mehta linked to group in ED probe Govt trying to turn country into a surveillance state: Mamata No Tharoor: Shows phone with plaster: ‘This govt too needs to be plastered, can’t even speak to Chidambaram, Pawar’ ATRI MITRA BUSINESS AS USUAL KOLKATA, JULY 21 Nikhil Ketan Gokhale KHUSHBOO NARAYAN MUMBAI, JULY 21 MAHARASHTRA REAL Estate Regulatory Authority (Maha RERA) Chairman Ajoy Mehta's Nariman Point apartment — which has come under the Income Tax (I-T) scanner for alleged benami transactions — was sold to him by Nikhil Ketan Gokhale, director of Anamitra Properties Pvt Ltd, official records show. Gokhale is on the board of at least seven entities promoted by Pune-based businessman Avinash Bhosale of ABIL Group, who is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in a case pertaining to the purchase and construction of a commercial building in Pune on a plot meant for houses for bureaucrats. According to the Registrar of Companies (RoC) records of December 2020, Gokhale was appointed as a director of Anamitra Properties in October 2008. He has given (an) ABIL Group email address in company records. When contacted, Gokhale denied any association with Anamitra Properties. “I have CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 THE EDIT PAGE HOWHIGHCAN ECONOMYBOUNCE? BY NEELKANTH MISHRA PAGE 8 A volunteer for the Olympic Games in Tokyo on Wednesday. The Games open Friday. Reuters Tests, re-tests, more tests: An Olympics like no other EXPRESSAT OLYMPICS MIHIR VASAVDA TOKYO, JULY 21 HISTORICALLY, THE rings represent the plurality of the Olympicsmovement.Butforthe thousands who have descended upon this futuristic city, the five Olympicringshaveendedupbeing a metaphor for all the hurdlesthey’vehadtohopandjump through simply to reach Tokyo. This was all too evident at a football-field-sized waiting hall inside the Haneda Airport on Wednesday. People from hundreds of nationalities — athletes and coaches, umpires and broadcasters—wereherdedinto this vast space, where they waitednervouslyfortheirCovid19 reports. The anxiety levels were high since it had emerged that two athletes — a Dutch surfboarder and a Chilean taekwondo player —hadtestedpositiveatthecity’s other airport in Narita. Heartbreakingly, their Olympics was over even before it began. For those inside the waiting hall at Haneda, this was a makeor-breakmoment–apositiveresult, and they would perhaps be watching the Games from the Japanese government’s quarantine facility; a negative test would bring momentary relief before the cheery volunteers lead them to the next challenge. And there have been many. The pandemic means the Olympics will be unlike any other. On Wednesday, two days before the opening ceremony, Tokyo reported 1,832 new Covid-19 cases. As athletes from across the world start to gather and the polite volunteers welcome everyone with a huge grin, the grim situation on the ground is inescapable. The streets are busy, but not in a typical Olympic manner — apart from the flags signaling priority lanes on Games vehicles, there’s hardly After three-month thaw, an uptick in militancy in Kashmir; June, July see 16 encounters NEW DELHI, SRINAGAR, JULY 21 AFTER A semblance of tranquility along India-Pakistan border in Jammu and Kashmir, militancy-related violence has witnessed a spike in the Valley over the last six weeks, along with an increase in the participation of foreign terrorists in attacks on security forces. In 2021, 86 militants were killedacrossJ&K.InJuneandJuly alone,36militantsor45percent werekilledin16encounters.July hasbeenparticularlyactive,witnessing 10 encounters in 20 days, in which 20 militants were killed, of which four are suspected to be from Pakistan. In all this year, the security forces were engaged in 36 operations, and of the 86 killed, 80 were killed in Kashmirandsix in PAGE 1 ANCHOR E EXPLAINED DEEPTIMAN TIWARY & NAVEED IQBAL Spikenot ● expected THE CHANGING dynamics of militancy in Kashmir coincides with shifting sands in the region's geopolitics, particularly Pakistan's own importance and developments in Afghanistan. It is assumed that uncertainties in Afghanistan early this year and pressure from FATF had forced Pakistan to come to the negotiating table. Those pressures have eased now. Jammu. Also half the militants killed were from LeT. In these operations, 15 security personnel and 19 civilians lost their lives this year in militancy-related incidents. Notably, the data obtained fromgovernmentsourcesshows foreignterrorists(fromPakistan) were not involved in any encounter with security forces until April. Between April and June, fourforeignterroristswerekilled in encounters with terrorists. In July,anotherfourFTswerekilled, taking their count to eight. India and Pakistan had decided to honour the ceasefire after the DGMOs of the two countries met and issued a joint statement on February 25. This was seen as a significant thaw in the relations between the two countries and was expected to translate into a drop in infiltration and terrorist activities in Kashmir. The peace within the Valley could, however, sustain for just a couple of months. Sources said four infiltration attempts were CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 any sign or suggestion that the biggest sporting event in the world will get underway in less than 48 hours. At least 67 cases related to Olympicdelegateshavebeendetected since July 1, which has put theorganisersunderfurtherpressureaftertheyhintedonTuesday thatalast-minutecancellationof the Games was still a possibility. But despite all the uncertainty, Tokyo 2020 remains a reality, even if it means further tightening the already-strict restrictions.The“bubble”mightbe the most used term in sports since the pandemic hit last year, but nowhere has it been enforced to the extent that it will be over the next fortnight here. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 SPORTS JUDOKA SUSHILA'S JOURNEY FROM OBSCURE MANIPUR VILLAGE TO TOKYO PAGE 13 WORLD URGING ALL Opposition parties to form a united front and start planning to defeat the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, TMC leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday accused the government of making attempts to turn the country into a “surveillance state”. Addressing the Martyrs' Day rally via virtual mode from Kolkata — Opposition leaders such as Sharad Pawar, P Chidambaram, Digvijaya Singh, Ram Gopal Yadav, Manoj Jha, Tiruchi Siva, Supriya Sule, Sanjay Singh, K Keshava Rao, Jaya Bachchan were among those present at the Constitution Club in New Delhi ahead of her address — Banerjee appealed to the Supreme Court to take suo motu cognisance of alleged surveillance using the Pegasus spyware. BY UNNY MANOJ C G NEW DELHI, JULY 21 Mamata with her phone, the camera taped over Holding up her phone, she showed its camera covered with tape.“Ihaveplasteredmyphone becausetheytapeeverything,be it video or audio... This government should also be plastered over, otherwise this country will be destroyed... Do you know I NEW DELHI, JULY 21 BARELY A fortnight before the global expose on the alleged misuse of its flagship spyware, Israel’s NSO Group, in a policy document, acknowledged that “the customers for Pegasus are states and state agencies” who may be “tempted to limit fundamental freedoms”. Prepared on June 30, the policy document said NSO Group has 60 customers — states and state agencies — in 40 countries. Of these, 51% are intelligence agencies, 38% law enforcement ‘CUSTOMERSARESTATES,STATEAGENCIES’ 60 Customers in 40 Countries 51% PAGE 10 GOVT & POLITICS AMID EXIT TALK, YEDIYURAPPA SAYS HE IS A LOYAL BJP WORKER IN SHOW OF STRENGTH, SIDHU TAKES MLAs TO GOLDEN TEMPLE PAGE 5 38% Intelligence Agencies Law Enforcement Entities 11% Military entities and 11% military. Titled ‘Transparency and Responsibility Report 2021’, the policy document identified the potential misuse of NSO Group’s spyware against politicians, NGOs, journalists, lawyers etc among the “most salient human rights risks” associated with it. Thesehumanrightsrisks,the NSOGroupreportnoted,also include potential misuse “for reasons unrelated to national security or law enforcement, such as in support of litigation or to CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Why no O2 deaths on record? Delhi blames Centre, experts point to absence of records, gaps in protocol Karnataka HC had ordered Rs 5 lakh each for 13 such deaths MALLICA JOSHI & SUKRITA BARUAH U.S. LIFE EXPECTANCY IN 2020 SAW BIGGEST DROP SINCE WWII CHINA NAMES SPECIAL ENVOY TO AFGHANISTAN cannot talk to Chidambaramji because my phone will be tapped? I cannot talk to Sharad Pawarji. I cannot talk to even the DelhiChief Minister.Icannottalk toShivSenaChief Minister.Icannot talk to the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister. I cannot talk to the Odisha Chief Minister. Why? ... Instead of giving money to the poor, you are spending a lot of CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 3 weeks ago, NSO admitted misuse risk, said secrecy barred it from gatekeeping JAY MAZOOMDAAR NEW DELHI, JULY 21 THAT A severe shortage of oxygen exacerbated the Covid crisis in the second wave and contributed to mortality is beyond doubt. But lack of a definition of an "oxygen-shortage death," no classification of Covid casualties as such as per established protocol and hospitals wary of linking death with oxygen supply — giventhemanyvariablesinmortality — are behind the fact that zerodeathswereofficiallyattributed to the lack of oxygen. Delhi’sDeputyChief Minister Manish Sisodia Wednesday sought to lay the blame squarely on the Centre, saying that the Delhigovernmenthasnorecords of such deaths because the Centre did not allow it to form a committeetolookintoclaimsby patients’ families and doctors. need for JPC into Pegasus, IT panel will do its duty Twelve deaths at Batra Hospital were linked to oxygen shortage. File JOHNSON T A BENGALURU, JULY 21 His response came a day after the Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Bharati Pravin Pawar, told Rajya Sabha: “Detailed guidelines for reportingof deathshavebeenissued by the Union Health Ministry to all states/UTs. Accordingly,allstates/UTsreport cases and deaths to the Union Health Ministry on a regular basis. However, no death due to lack of oxygen has been specificallyreportedbythestates/UTs.” CONTINUED ON PAGE 6 WHILE THE Union Health Ministry said in Parliament on Tuesday that “no deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported” by states, a fact-finding team appointed by the Karnataka High Court had reported that 24 Covid-19 patients died at the Chamarajanagar Institute of Medical Sciences, which is also the district hospital, due to shortage of oxygen on May 2-3. In a memo to the court, the state government indicated that CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 RULING OUT a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into alleged surveillance using the Pegasus spyware, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, said Wednesday that the committee will “do its duty” and that the subject is “already on the mandate of mycommittee”. The House Tharoor committee has heads the called reprepanel sentatives of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Ministry of Home Affairs and Department of Telecommunications on July 28 to discuss citizens' data security and privacy. Speaking to The Indian Express, Tharoor said there was no need to set up a JPC to look into the disclosures since the standing committee and the JPC have identical rules. He said the government has been saying that they have done no unauthorised surveillance. He said while one must take the CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 NSCN-IM MEMBERS, MONSANTO STAFF, ON TARGET LIST P5 Covid patient critical, his sperm collected after HC grants wife’s plea EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE AHMEDABAD, VADODARA, JULY 21 A PRIVATE hospital in Vadodara on Wednesday collected and preserved the sperm of a man suffering from multi-organ failure following post-Covid complications,adayaftertheGujarat High Court granted “ad interim relief” to his wife on her petition that she wanted to bear his child through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). The 32-year-old man, who washospitalisedforCovid-19on May10,isonECMO(extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) support. The couple have been married for over eight months. Thewomanfiledthepetition on Monday, after doctors at Sterling Hospital in Vadodara, where he is undergoing CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Tragedy later, villagers get borewells, promises: ‘If only they did this before’ IRAM SIDDIQUE VIDISHA, JULY 20 AS THE boring machine drilled into the earth, its rumble drownedoutthesobsof thepeople of Lal Pathar in Madhya Pradesh’s Vidisha district on Sunday, three days after 11 people died after falling into a well, until then the only source of water in the village. The deaths and the outrage thatfollowedledtotheadministration swinging into action. Within 72 hours, the village got two hand pumps, while work is set to begin on three others. Overnight, three other defunct hand pumps in the village were also fixed. For the villagers, however, this rare attention from the administration has come at a great human cost. One of the last houses in Lal Pathar, a village that straddles two panchayats — Mahagaur and Swaroop Nagar — is that of the Ahirwars. It was around 6.30 pm on July 15 that 10-year-old Ravi, along with his elder brothers Sanjay, 17, and Akshay, 14, hadgoneto fetch water from the well, around 100 meters away from their home. “Our mother was unwell so we went to the well. I had just turned to keep one of our waterfilled pitchers away when Ravi, who was drawing water,slipped and fell into the well. I threw a rope for him to catch but he didn’t respond and I started yelling forhelp,”saysSanjay,sittingona wooden cot in their one-room home. Hearing Sanjay’s cries, a crowdgatheredaroundthewell, with many of them standing on the concrete slab that partially covered the mouth of the well. Around 30 minutes after Ravi had fallen into the well, Sanjay dialled the police control room and two policemen ar- Boring machines at work in Lal Pathar village. On July 15, 11 people died when they fell into a well in the village. Express rived at the spot. The villagers also called the CM helpline. As time passed, more villagers assembled on the top of the well. All of a sudden, the concrete slab caved in and about 30 villagers fell into the well. What followed was an overnight rescue operation by the administration. While 11 people were brought out dead, those who survived had broken or severed limbs and other injuries. “Had a larger team of policemenbeensentwhenSanjayfirst called,thecrowdwouldnothave assembled on the well,” says Akhilesh Parihar, who lost his son Sandeep, 18, to the tragedy. But that wasn't the first time the villagers' cries for help had gone unheard. They say the accident could have been averted had the government paid heed to their appeals made over the past six monthsformorehandpumpsin the village, and for the concrete cover on the well to be fixed. Parihar and Omkar Ahirwar, Ravi’s father, say they were among the villagers who signed an application urging village sarpanch Raj Kumar Dangi to fix the cement cover. When contacted, Dangi, the sarpanch of Mahagaour pan- New Delhi chayat, said, “I have not got any request from the villagers in the past few months to repair the well. Anyway, making water availabletothevillagersistheresponsibility of the Public Health Engineering Department.” Of the four public hand pumps in the village, three were defunct, while the fourth in the part of the village that falls in Swaroop Nagar panchayat. “If we go to the hand pump in Swaroop Nagar, the villagers would ask us to wait until everyone in their localities was done filing water. So all of us mostly depended on the well,” says CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
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