THURSDAY 31 25 km DECEMBER, 2020 epaper.morningstandard.in Akash missile systems can hit targets within this range facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard CABINET APPROVES EXPORT OF AKASH MISSILE SYSTEM FLIP-FLOP BJP MP CANCELS RESIGNATION Mansukh Vasava says made the decision after the party leadership persuaded him PAGE 8 The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared export of the indigenouslydeveloped surface-to-air missile system GLOBAL COMPETENCE FOR INDIAN PRODUCTS A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS NEW DELHI J8.00 PAGES 12 Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the export version of Akash missiles would be different from the system currently deployed with Indian armed forces. The Akash missile systems have 96% indigenous components | P7 Bill passed, state-run madrasas now to become regular schools in Assam EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and MoS for Commerce Som Prakash have food served by farmers during a snack break at a meeting over new farm laws, at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi on Wednesday. Also, the farmers for the first time accepted the tea served by the government | PTI GOVT-FARMERS BREAK BREAD, BUT NOT ICE ON VEXED ISSUES After agreement reached on air pollution law and electricity bill, farmers put off tractor rally EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi/Chandigarh THE sixth round of talks between the Centre and agitating farm unions on Wednesday appeared to have produced a partial breakthrough as both sides agreed on two points — air pollution law and the electricity amendment bill — but there was no meeting ground on the more contentious issues of the repeal of the farm laws and legal guarantee for MSP . The improving chemistry was also exemplified by the fact that Union ministers Narendra Tomar, Piyush Goyal and Som Prakash accepted the ‘langar’ food offered by the farmers while the protesters for the first time accepted the tea served by the government. Union leaders had earlier refused to eat food served by the government duri n g t h e p r ev i o u s r o u n d of talks. After the five-hour marathon talks on Wednesday, Union agriculture minister Tomar said the next round of talks would be held on January 4. Sensing a slightly accommodative government and also in view of the agreement on two of their demands, the farmers decided to put off the tractor rally they had planned for Thursday along the KundliManesar-Palwal Expressway just outside Delhi. While the government tried to paint the sixth round of talks as positive with Tomar claiming the meeting ended on a good note, the farmers said the agreement on two smaller issues can’t be termed a breakthrough as they are firm on their main demands of repeal of the laws and MSP . Tomar said the government had agreed to “decriminalise” the Commission for the Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance, 2020, while the electricity amendment bill has been put on hold. “The first issue was an ordinance related to the environment. Unions were apprehensive about farmers being included. Farmers also feel if reform is introduced in the Electricity Act, they will suffer losses.” Noting that the government has softened its stance, All India Kisan Sabha general secretary Hannan Mollah, who attended the talks, said, “I don’t call it a breakthrough or victory but some advancement from the deadlock.” Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) president Balbir Singh Rajewal said, “The government is still adamant on the repeal of the farm laws and MSP We are . hopeful the government will P7 agree on them also.” Talks were held in a good environment and it concluded on a positive note. Consensus on two out of four issues was reached by both sides Narendra Tomar, Agriculture Minister I don’t call it a breakthrough or victory but some advancement from the deadlock. ...Little hope (on law repeal) but govt softened by accepting two demands Hannan Mollah, AIKS general secretary Assocham writes to Punjab CM Assocham on Wednesday wrote to Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh, expressing concern over damage to over 1,600 mobile towers during farmers’ protest BJP faces blue in Haryana local poll H A R P R E E T B A J W A @ Chandigarh A year after the NDA comprising the BJP and the Jannayak Janata Party came into power in Haryana, it suffered a setback in the civic body elections, as it lost mayoral/presidential positions in five of the seven municipal bodies that went to polls, the results of which were announced on Wednesday . Coming as it did in the backdrop of the month-long agitation by farmers, analysts sought to read in the outcome the disquiet of the tillers, who constitute a large chunk of the voters. While Nikhil Madaan of the Congress wrested the Sonipat municipal corporation mayor post, Shakti Rani Sharma of the Haryana Jan Chetna Party is the new mayor of Ambala municipal corporation. Sharma is wife of former union minister Vinod Sharma. Independents did remarkably well, wresting presidentships of Uklana, Dharuhera, and Sampla municipal committees. The BJP however, managed to win the , Panchkula mayoral poll and the Rewari Municipal Council’s presidentship. Manu Sharma’s mom win polls Incidentally, Shakti Rani Sharma of the Haryana Jan Chetna Party, who won the mayoral seat at Ambala, is the mother of Manu Sharma — convicted in the infamous Jessica Lal murder case. THE Assam Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill to convert all state-run madrasas into regular schools amidst a walkout by Opposition parties. The Congress and the All India United Democratic Front had demanded that the bill to be sent to the Assembly’s Select Committee for vetting. However, Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami rejected it and got the bill passed through voice vote. Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the Assam Repealing Bill, 2020 would repeal the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialization) Act, 1995 and the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialization of Services of Employees and Re-Organisation of Madrassa Educational Institutions) Act, 2018. He said madrasas would now be converted into upper primary, high and higher secondary schools with no change of sta- EXPRESS READ I-T return filing deadline extended to Jan 10 New Delhi: The government on Wednesday extended the deadline to file income tax return for individuals by 10 days to January 10, 2021. This is the third time the government has extended the deadline — first from the normal deadline of July 31 to November 30, 2020, and then to December 31, 2020 | P10 SHOT 3 TERRORISTS BROUGHT DOWN IN SRINAGAR OUTSKIRTS While the security forces said that the trio planned an attack on a highway, the families alleged foulplay claiming the three were civilians arrested and killed in a fake encounter | P8 I feel this is going to be a gift to the minority community. The students studying in those Madrassas will hail the decision after 10 years Himanta Biswa Sharma, Assam Education Minister tus and pay, allowances and service conditions of their teaching and non-teaching staff. Assam has 189 state-run high madrasas and madrasa higher secondary schools that are run under the Board of Secondary Education, Assam and the Assam Higher Secondary Education Council. There are also 542 state-run pre-senior, senior and title madrasas and Arabic colleges, which are run by the State Madrasa Education Board. The 189 state-run madrasas are like any other high schools with subjects such as mathematics, science, English etc. But, they also have a subject on theology, which carries 50 marks. The government decided to drop this subject and remove the word “madrasa” from the names of the institutes. Sarma said 97 state-run Sanskrit tols (Sanskrit-learning centres) would also be converted into study centres, research centres and institutions to study certificate/diploma/degree courses under the Kumar Bhaskar Varma Sanskrit and Ancient Studies University . Madrasa education in Assam was introduced in 1915. The state government annually spends `260 crore on the staterun madrasas and Sanskrit “tols”. In February, the Sarbananda Sonowal-led BJP government had said “religious teachings cannot be imparted with government funds in a secular country .” After the state cabinet recently approved the proposal to turn the state-run madrasas into general schools, Sarma had said, “We’ve taken a historical decision to secularise the state’s education system.” U’khand reports first anti-conversion arrest V I N E E T U PA D H YAY @ Dehradun UTTARAKHAND registered its first case under a two-yearold anti-conversion law against an interfaith couple that had gone to court seeking protection. The couple, who got married in September, had approached the Uttarakhand High Court after their marriage seeking security, citing threat from the woman’s relatives. The court had asked Dehradun district magistrate to conduct an inquiry into the matter. An FIR was lodged post-inquiry at the Patel Nagar police station in Dehradun against the couple. “The case has been registered against four persons,” said Pradeep Rana, in-charge of the police station. The others to be booked are the cleric who sol- emnised the marriage and a relative of the husband in whose presence the nikah took place. The investigation revealed that the couple had failed to inform district officials about their marriage, as mandated under the Freedom of Religion Act, 2018. Section 8 of the Act says a declaration has to be given to the DM at least one month in advance by a person who wishes to convert “without any force, coercion, undue influence or allurement”. It also makes it mandatory for the religious priest, who performs the ceremony for converting any person to another religion, to give a month’s advance notice to the DM. The contravention of any provisions shall render the conversion, illegal and void, the law says. Shaheen Bagh shooter removed from BJP hours after joining N A M I TA B A J PA I @ Lucknow THE BJP on Wednesday cancelled the membership of Kapil Gurjar, the man who had shot to infamy by opening fire at the anti-CAA protest site in Shaheen Bagh, just hours after inducting him into the party . Kapil Gurjar aka Baisla was admitted into the BJP fold by the party’s Ghaziabad leaders on Wednesday, setting social media abuzz. Hours later, the Caught by police for firing at Shaheen Bagh, Kapil Gurjar joined the saffron party which claimed that he was a part of BSP worker group who joined en mass | FILE CENTRE EXTENDS FLIGHT BAN FROM BRITAIN TILL JANUARY 7 E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ New Delhi WITH the number of Indians testing positive for the Covid-19 strain from the UK jumping to 20, the Centre on Wednesday decided to extend the suspension of flights from the island nation till January 7. The Union health ministry also asked states to be vigilant about potential “super spread- er” events such as New Year celebrations. The developments follow the identification of the B117 variant, reported to be highly infectious, in the country . A total of 107 samples from infected persons have been subjected to whole genome sequencing at six designated laboratories in different parts of the counP7 try so far. party cancelled his membership, apparently on directions from senior leadership. In a press release, BJP Ghaziabad unit chief Sanjeev Sharma said Gurjar was part of a group of BSP workers who joined BJP on Wednesday. Sharma claimed he had no knowledge about Gurjar’s controversial past. Uttar Pradesh BJP’s general secretary JPS Rathore said local leaders had processed the induction and as soon as the state leadership got information about it, the membership was cancelled.After joining the saffron bandwagon, Gurjar had said he decided to join the BJP because the party worked for Hindutva and that he was a strong votary of its ideology . Gurjar shot into limelight on February 1 when he fired three blank shots at Shaheen Bagh. He was arrested but released CONTINUED ON P5 on bail. WHAT’S COOKING? Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee tries her hand at cooking at a tribal village at Shantiniketan on Wednesday | PTI Oxford vaccine gets UK nod, India seeks more data S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi HOURS after the UK approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine for human use on Wednesday, India’s drug regulator met on Wednesday to review the applications by Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech. However, the meeting remained inconclusive as the Drugs Controller General of India’s Subject Expert Committee was not satisfied with the appli- cations of either of the companies. The next meeting will be held on January 1. “SII has been asked to submit more data from AstraZeneca trial globally while Bharat Bio, tech will have to submit the interim analysis of phase 3 trial,” said a source. Serum Institute is conducting a bridging phase-three clinical trial of the AstraZeneca vaccine Covishield on 1,700 volunteers in India. Bharat Bio- tech, whose homegrown Covaxin has been developed in collaboration with the ICMR, is being tested on 26,000 people in late-stage trial. Covishield has been found to be 70% effective in multi-country phase-3 trials, while a recent scientific paper published on Covaxin’s phase-1 and phase-2 trials said it could lead to generation of antibodies lasting up to 6-12 months. Pfizer, the first company to apply for its Covid-19 vaccine in India, has sought for more time to submit data for its vaccine’s consideration. The UK’s drug regulator, Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said the second dose of the vaccine will be given 12 weeks later as a longer interval between two doses could produce better results. Meanwhile, Chinese vaccine maker Sinopharm has claimed to have 79% efficacy rate. India’s daily number of Covid-19 cases jumped 6.88% to touch 20,021 on Wednesday .
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