DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE TUESDAY, MAY 17, 2022, NEW DELHI, LATE CITY, 16 PAGES `7.00 (`8 BIHAR & RAIPUR, `12 SRINAGAR) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 VIDEOGRAPHY SURVEY COMPLETED, REPORT IN COURT TODAY Varanasi court orders sealing of Gyanvapi mosque spot after Shivling discovery claim SC’s Ayodhya verdict faces Kashi test: Mosque plea hearing today Masjid panel says object is part of fountain, will challenge sealing order in top court Survey violates Places of Worship Act, says petition ANANTHAKRISHNAN G ASAD REHMAN NEW DELHI, MAY 16 LUCKNOW, MAY 16 RETURNINGTHEspotlighttothe Kashi Vishwanath templeGyanvapimosquecontroversy,a Varanasi court Monday directed thedistrictadministrationtoseal the spot in the mosque complex where a Shivling was claimed to have been found during a courtmandated videography survey Security personnel at the site in Varanasi Monday. Anand Singh that just concluded. The Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee said it would challenge the order in the Supreme Court where it had CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 THE SUPREME Court is likely to hear Tuesday a plea by the Committee of Management of Anjuman Intezamia Masjid, Varanasi, challenging the videography survey ordered by a local court of the Maa Shringar Gauri Sthal in the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi mosque complex. The Muslim EXPRESS NETWORK PLEA IN MATHURA COURT FOR SURVEY OF SHAHI IDGAH PAGE 6 body contends that it is contrary to provisions of the Places of WorshipAct(SpecialProvisions) Act 1991. TheAct states thatthenature of all places of worship, except Ram Janmabhoomi–Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, shall be maintained as it was on August 15, 1947 and that no suit shall lie in any court with respect to the conversion of the religious characterof aplace of worship,asexisting on that date. Incidentally, the Act itself is under challenge before the topcourtwithatleasttwopending petitions questioning its CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 BUDDHIST CULTURE CENTRE TO COME UP India-Nepal ties are as stable as the Himalayas, says Modi in Lumbini LUMBINI, MAY 16 MARKING HIS first official visit to the birthplace of the Buddha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday marked Buddha Purnima by laying the foundation stone of a centre for Buddhist culture and heritage in Nepal’s Lumbini — the first such facilitytobesetupbyIndiathere. Modilatersaidthetwocountries of “Buddha’s birth and enlightenment together have an obligation to work for the entire humanity” — and said that rela- Probe into J&K bus fire looks at use of ‘sticky bomb’ DEEPTIMAN TIWARY NEW DELHI, MAY 16 THEINVESTIGATIONintothefire in a passenger bus near Katra town, in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), on May 13 that claimed fourlivesandleftover20injured isveeringtowardsaterrorprobe, sources said. According to sources, circumstantial evidence suggests that the fire was an act of sabotageandtheuseof anIEDtotrigger an explosion in the bus’s fuel tank cannot be ruled out. Investigating officials suspect that a “sticky bomb”, which can be stuck to a vehicle using magnets, was used. The bus, mostly carrying pilgrims, had just left for Jammu when it caught fire near Khanak, about 1.5 km from Katra town. Katra is the base camp for pilgrims going to the Vaishno Devi shrine. According to preliminary investigations, the fire started in the engine of the bus, and soon engulfed the vehicle. The initial police probe termed it as a case of theenginecatchingfiredueto a technical fault. However, CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 PAGE 1 ANCHOR tions between India and Nepal are “as ancient as the ocean and as stable as the Himalayas”. “The growing and strengthening friendship between India and Nepal will work for the benefit of the entire humanity amid the kind of global situation that is emerging today. The devotion to Lord Buddha binds us together, and makes us members of one family,” Modi said, referring to Nepal and India as “the countries of Buddha’s birth and enlightenment”. “The energy of the place, where Lord Buddha was born, CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 NEW DELHI, MAY 16 Prime Minister Modi with Nepal counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba at the Lumbini site that marks Buddha’s birthplace. PTI NCLT ruling in way, so India looks at reopening mission Govt takes another look in Kabul minus senior diplomats at sale of Pawan Hans NIRUPAMA ENS ECONOMIC BUREAU NEW DELHI, MAY 16 THE CENTRE is taking a relook at the Pawan Hans disinvestment process on account that Almas Global Opportunity Fund, one of the three entities part of the winning consortium, has a court order passed against it by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), government sources told The Indian Express. The government is studying whether the NCLT verdict amounts to an “adverse order” — something that may lead to disqualification of the bid, as per guidelines on strategic disinvestment. The consortium entity that placed and won the bid for the state-owned helicopter service providerisStar9MobilityPvtLtd. Cayman Islands-based Almas Global OpportunityFund,which is managed by Dubai-based Almas Capital owns 49% of Star9 Mobility, with the remaining held by Mumbai-based Big Charter Pvt Ltd and Delhi-based Maharaja Aviation. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 SUBRAMANIAN NEW DELHI, MAY 16 E INDIAISexploringthepossibility of reopening its embassy in Afghanistan soon, but without top level diplomatic representation, according to sources. The Indian Express has learnt that a team of security officials flew to Kabul in February to assess the ground situation. The plan for reopening does notincludesendingdiplomatsat senior levels — the embassy will likelyfunctiononlywithpersonnelforliaisonpurposesthatmay ● Much at stake WHILE IT has not granted recognition to the Taliban regime, Delhi has been calling for an inclusive government in Afghanistan, one that ensures that Afghan soil is not used for any terror activity. India has much at stake in Afghanistan, having participated in a range of development projects. More men eating non-veg than before: NFHS data HARIKISHAN SHARMA 15-49 YRS: WHO IS EATING NON-VEG, HOW MUCH AMID THE veg/non-veg debate that periodically convulses the country is a reality check: more people are eating non-vegetarian food than ever before, and the proportion of Indian men who do so has gone up sharply in the six years between between 2015-16 and 2019-21, shows an analysis by The Indian Express of the National Family Women NEW DELHI, MAY 16 Export ban shakes world markets, wheat prices up 6% HARIKISHAN SHARMA E X P L A I NE D YUBARAJ GHIMIRE DOMESTIC PRICES DROP SHARPLY Year Daily Weekly Occasionally Never 6.1 36.6 27.3 29.9 2019-21 5.9 39.3 25.4 29.4 2015-16 5.7 43.2 29.5 21.6 2019-21 Men 2015-16 8 49.3 26.1 16.6 (figures in %) Health Survey (NFHS) data. Data from the recently released NFHS-5, which was con- Source: NFHS-4 and NFHS-5 ductedin2019-21,showthatthe proportion of men aged 15-49 yearswhohaveneverconsumed non-vegetarian food — listed as ‘fish, chicken or meat’ in the survey — stood at 16.6 per cent in 2019-21. That’s a 5-percentagepointdropfromthe21.6percent reported in the previous round of the survey, NFHS-4, conducted in 2015-16. There is, however, a gender skew here: the proportion of women in the same age group (15-49) who have never consumed ‘fish, chicken or meat’ stood at 29.4 per cent in 2019-21, only a CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 extend to consular services, the sources said. It would not mean a recognition of the Taliban regime. India shut down its embassy in Kabul on August 17, two days after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Since then, Delhi has debated whether that was therightdecision.Somesections of the security establishment and Ministry of External Affairs have maintained that continuing there would have put the lives of Indian personnel at risk, pointing to the 1998 incident in whichIraniandiplomatsatIran’s Mazar-i-Sharif consulate were CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 THE WORLD SRI LANKA DOWN TO LAST DAY OF PETROL, SAYS ITS PM PUTIN APPEARS TO BACK OFF THREATS AS SWEDEN DECIDES TO JOIN NATO P 12 INDIA’S BAN on wheat exports Saturday fuelled international prices by almost 6 per cent a bushel(60poundsoronemillion kernels or 27.21 kg) when global markets opened Monday. Locally, prices dropped sharply by4-8percentindifferentstates — Rs 200-250 a quintal in Rajasthan, Rs 100-150 a quintal in Punjab, and about Rs 100 a quintal in Uttar Pradesh. With the February 24 invasionof UkrainebyRussiaandthe supply disruption that followed, globalwheatpricesjumpedover 60 per cent in 2022; just Russia andUkrainetogetheraccountfor almost a third of world wheat exports. TheunexpectedbanbyIndia, which accounts for about 5 per cent of world wheat exports, stoked pricesfurther.In Chicago, futures rose 5.9 per cent to $12.47 a bushel on Monday, the BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY INDIA’S WHEAT EXPORTS Year Wheat Export (lakh tonnes) 2020-21 21.55 2021-22 72.15 Source: Government of India highestin two months.Theclosing price in the previous trading CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Trucks loaded with wheat at Kandla port. Express Chaos in Kandla after ban: 4,000 wheat trucks in queue, 4 ships half-full GOPAL KATESHIYA & AVINASH NAIR RAJKOT, AHMEDABAD, MAY 16 OUTSIDE, THERE are over 4,000 wheat-laden trucks stuck in a queue to nowhere. Inside, there are four ships, half loaded with wheat and no order to sail. The snap announcement of thebanonwheatexportshasled to chaosatthe Deendayal portin Gujarat's Kutch district, with exportersandtradersunsureof the fate of their cargo. According to officials, close to 4 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of wheat stranded outside the port belong to merchants from Madhya Pradesh alone — some still in trucks, some in godowns already overflowing with wheat. Among the held-up cargo is 60,000 MT of wheat to Egypt — the first ever consignment that was to leave the port after the Ukraine-Russia conflict began. Last Friday, a day before the ban was announced, the port was humming with loading activity. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 RELATED REPORT PAGE 5 Skyfall in Gujarat, expert says likely debris of a Chinese rocket ADITI RAJA VADODARA, MAY 16 FIRST CAME the metal balls, five of them, one after the other. Then came bits and pieces of metal, one that looked like a “ruler”. Across a clutch of villages in central Gujarat, the sky is falling — literally. It started with three metal balls that fell on Bhalej, Khambholaj and Rampura villages on Thursday evening.They were followed by fragments of metal, one of which apparently fell on a sheep pen in a farm, killing a lamb. No one’s yet got a grip on what’s been happening. Gujarat officials said an ISRO team has collected samples but the premier space organisation declined comment. The only possible clue so far has comefroman astronomer at the Harvard SmithsonianCenter for Astrophysics who tweeted this could possibly be debris from the “re-entry of the third stage”of aChineselaunchrocket. It was around 4.45 pm on May 12 that the first chunk — a large,blackballweighingaround 5kg — fell in Bhalej followed by two more in Khambholaj and Rampura — all located within 15 km from each other in Anand district. Even as the local police were called in, a similar ball fell in Chaklasi village in neighbouring Kheda district, followed by another in Vadodara’s Savli taluka on May 13. A day later, villagers from Kasor in Sojitra taluka of Anand reported that a fragment “resembling a ruler” fell on a farm, killing a lamb. And on Monday, the police received a similar call from Khodiyarpura in the same taluka. ‘Metal balls’ fell on Bhalej, Khambholaj and Rampura villages on Thursday evening According to police, the objects fell mostly in empty areas — some on heaps of mud. And in all cases, they have begun probes, roping in forensic experts. On May 12, astronomer Jonathan McDowell tweeted that the debris could possibly be the “re-entry of the third stage from the Chang Zheng 3B serial Y86 launch rocket”. The rocket had lifted off on September 9, 2021, carrying a 5,500-kg communication satellite to geostationary transit orbit. Speaking to The Indian Express, McDowell said he was identifying the debris based on tracking data, which showed that this object was “the only reentry that day (May 12) that went anywhere near India”. He said “the predicted path was a few 100 km north of the villages in question, but that’s within the uncertainties for this particular object since its orbit was more uncertain than usual”. The orbit was rapidly changing due to atmospheric drag, which may cause a change in the predicted ground location, he said. Anand District Collector, M Y Daxini, said: “We have sent all the items, including the metal spheres that fell last week, to the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) of ISRO. They have collectedallthepartsandareexamining it.” When contacted, ISRO PRL director Anil Bharadwaj said he was out of station and would be able to comment on Tuesday. ISRO Space Applications Centre (SAC) director Nilesh Desai was not available for comment. But in the villages where the “debris” have fallen, local residents have a lot to say — even thoughpolicesuspecttherecould be more to it than space debris. 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.