thursDAY Fuel price nears all-time high as oil cos hike rates 07 Petrol price was hiked by 26 paise a litre and diesel by 25 paise, according to a price notification from oil marketing companies january, 2021 `83.97 epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard The price of one litre of petrol in Delhi on Wednesday M U R A D NA G A R ‘PAID BRIBE TO muncipal staff’ Contractor told cops that he gave `16 lakh for winning the bid to construct the roof Page 8 Increase in tandem with crude oil prices A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS l New Delhi l J8.00 l The price change was effected by state-owned fuel retailers after a rise in crude prices. Brent crude rose to $53.94 a barrel on Wednesday on the back of Saudi Arabia’s decision to cut daily production by 1 million barrels. The highest petrol price in India was recorded on October 4, 2018 when one litre cost H91.34 in Mumbai. At that time, Brent was trading at $85.45. To cool prices, the government had cut excise duty in 2018 PAGES 12 Nirbhaya horror revisited at temple in UP’s Badaun N A M I TA B A J PA I @ Lucknow THE badlands of western Uttar Pradesh saw yet another gangrape and murder, this time of a 50-year-old anganwadi worker in Badaun district, with horrific brutalities perpetrated on her in a reminder of the Nirbhaya case. The woman was allegedly raped and brutalised within a temple premises by three men, including the priest, and left to die outside her house on Sunday. While the priest, Baba Satyanarayan Das, is on the run, the other two perpetrators — Ved Ram and Yashpal — have origin tracing WHO rebukes China over blocking virus probe team E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e Months after grandstanding at the World Health Organization, saying it was ready allow an expert team to probe the origins of the deadly coronavirus, China denied them entry drawing a rare re, buke from WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Better known as China’s poodle, Tedros said, “Today, we learned that Chinese officials have not yet finalised the necessary permissions for the team’s arrival in China. I’m very disappointed with this news, given that two members had already begun their journeys and others were not able to travel at the last minute, but had been in contact with senior Chinese officials.” In what was seen as sharp line, given his pro-China leaning, Tedros said he had ‘made it clear’ that the mission was a priority for the WHO. Tedros had last year failed to take China to task for delayed reporting of the outbreak and kept dragging his feet on declaring it a pandemic, drawing international ridicule. The virus has since infected over 85 million people worldwide and killed close to 2 million. A 10-member team of experts from Japan, Qatar, Germany, Vietnam, Russia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, the UK and the US was to travel to Wuhan, the epicentre of Covid-19. Since origin-tracing is complicated business, a crack team was put together for the task. Later in the day, an apparently embarrassed China acknowledged that there could be some misunderstanding over granting timely permission to WHO’s experts, but gave no indication about when it will allow them in. DM Kumar Prashant (blue coat) inspects the crime scene in Badaun district | Pti been arrested. The incident was reported from a village in the Ughaiti police station area in Badaun. The victim’s post-mortem examination revealed grievous injuries in her private parts. Her left ribs and a leg were also broken while one lung had ruptured as it was apparently hit with a heavy object. A rod was inserted into her private parts causing fatal damage to her internal organs. The autopsy said the woman died due to excessive bleeding. The villagers and the victim’s family alleged SHO Ravindra Pratap Singh did not reach ‘love jihad’ laws stay for now, but sc to examine E XPR E SS N E WS S E RVIC E ordinance requires prior re@ New Delhi porting of marriages and the burden of proof is on the The Supreme Court on individual.” Wednesday refused to stay At this, the bench said, new laws introduced in Ut- “Can a law be stayed if prostar Pradesh and Uttara- ecution is oppressive or khand to punish interfaith false?” It was of the view marriages based on reli- that the matter should go to gious conversion, but agreed the high court since similar to examine them. pleas are pending before the A bench headed by Chief Allahabad and the UttaraJustice of India S A khand high courts. Bobde issued noticHowever, Singh ares to both state govgued that it was not ernments on petia matter of only two tions challenging states and similar the constitutional laws were being validity of the love made in other states, jihad ordinance in too. The SC then isUP and the Freedom sued notice saying Fervent of Religion Act, 2018 the prayers in the appeal in Uttarakhand. The pleas for staying the Initially, the CJI court also issued nolaws can’t be grantadvised the tice to the Centre on ed without the states peitioners to two petitions filed being heard. approach the by advocate Vishal Meanwhile, the High Courts. CU Thakre and Teesta Ja m i at U l a m a - I Singh then Setalvad’s NGO CitiHind moved the SC submitted to zens for Justice and on Wednesday seekthe court that Peace. ing to be made a parthat more Thakre’s PIL said, ty in the batch of states like MP “ T h e O rd i n a n c e pleas challenging and Haryana passed by the State the laws. are bringing of Uttar Pradesh In its plea, the Jasimilar laws and law passed by miat Ulama-I-HindUttarakhand are contended that Musagainst the public policy and l i m yo u t h “ a r e b e i n g society at large and violates targeted and demonised by basic structure of the using the ordinance which Constitution.” itself is unconstitutional, Senior advocate C U Singh, being violative of Articles who appeared for Setalvad’s 14, 21 and 25”. Similar legisNGO, sought a stay on the lations are also being enactUP ordinance saying, “Ram- ed or planned by other states paging mobs are moving which need to be declared around lifting people from unconstitutional, it said in marriage ceremonies. This its petition. assure caa issue in bengal Home Minister Amit Shah is likely to visit the headquarters of Matuas in Bengal to clear citizenship queries of the Hindu refugees from Bangladesh | P8 the spot even after a complaint was lodged. Initial investigation revealed the victim’s body was sent for post-mortem on Monday afternoon, 18 hours after the incident. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered an inquiry into the incident by the Special Task Force of Uttar Pradesh Police and directed the ADG of Bareilly zone to submit a detailed report. Station House Officer Singh has been suspended, said officials. Four teams have been formed to nab the priest and a bounty of `50,000 has been announced on his arrest. Victim fell in a well: Priest A video has surfaced showing the accused priest denying the crime and claiming that the victim fell into a well on the temple premises. The clip shows him asking his aides to take her out and then rush her to Chandausi for treatment. But, the priest couldn’t answer pointed questions. NCW perturbed, seeks report The National Commission for Women said it was deeply perturbed by the incident and the alleged police apathy. NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma had written to state DGP seeking immediate intervention in the matter. A panel member will meet the victim’s family and police officers. 49 DEMOCRAT Warnock Ossoff Warnock wins, Ossoff leads in runoff race; with House of Representatives already in his grip, Biden can push challenging legislative agenda easily Dems set to control Senate too Express News service The Democratic Party is on course to taking control of the Senate, which is crucial for United States President-elect Joe Biden to push his legislative agenda, with the Georgia elections tipping the balance in the party’s favour. Major US media outlets have already declared Pastor Raphael Warnock as the winner, while fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff is comfortably leading in the second seat over Republican Senator David Perdue. Warnock beat Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler to become the first African-American to represent Georgia — a slavery state in the US Civil War — in the US Senate. He is also the first Democrat to win the Senate race from Georgia in over 20 years. The election in Georgia is being rerun thanks to the state’s rule that a candidate must take Key questions Why the runoff? Georgia rules mandate that the winning candidate gets at least 50% of the votes polled, which did not happen in the November polls What is the situation now? Democrats are coursing towards creating a 50-50 tie with Republicans in the Senate, picking up one seat and leading in another Which party stands to gain? Democrats of course, since Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would hold the tie-breaking vote in the Senate 50% of the vote to win. In the November 2020 general election, none of the candidates could meet that threshold. As things stand now, Democrats would need to take both the seats in Georgia to gain full control of Congress, while the Republicans need to win just Since when will the Senate be in Democrats’ control? The Senate will be in Democrats’ control for the first time since 2014 What does it mean for Presidentelect Joe Biden? The Senate win will help him carry out his early legislative agenda since the House of Representatives is already in Democrats’ pocket What does it mean for Trump? He is already being blamed by Republicans for mess up, as he kept peddling baseless claims that Georgia’s electoral systems were rigged, turning off the voters one to retain the Senate. Ossoff has declared victory but no major news outlet has projected him as the winner. With the result of the Perdue versus Ossoff is yet to be called in, the 100-member Senate now has 50 seats for the Republican Party and 49 to the Democrats. Pa r v ez S u ltan @ New Delhi With the Covid-19 impacting the Delhi government’s finances, the restrictions on expenditure will continue for now. Unlike previous notices, however, the fresh order issued by the finance department for rationalisation of expenditure and better revenue management doesn’t specify till when the curbs on government spending will last. The preceding order issued on November 6, when the third wave of the pandemic was at its peak in the national capital, clearly stated that restrictions would remain in effect till December 31. This time, the order signed by Manju Sahoo, joint director (budget), finance department, says the restrictions “are extended till further orders”. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who also holds the charge of finance, had in July 2021 ordered all expenses to be authorised by his department. In September, the department had withdrawn the directive but within a week the curb was reintroduced given the pressure on resources. The cap on expenses has significantly impacted planning as well as projects in the city, said Delhi government officials. “With non-availability of funds, various departments have shelved their projects. Budget is being sanctioned only for ‘essential’ purposes for the time being. We are hoping for improvement soon,” said a city government official. Hotels, houseboats open up for stranded tourists in Kashmir Valley Call it Kashmir’s famed hospitality or a humanitarian gesture, stranded passengers in the Valley have some relief courtesy houseboat and hotel owners who have opened their properties to the visitors. Flight operations at the Srinagar airport remained suspended for the fourth consecutive day on Wednesday due to poor visibility following heavy snowfall. Road link also remains out of bounds as the Srinagar-Jammu national highway remains closed. Most ot the tourists, who had are starnded now, had arrived in the Valley to celebrate the New Year at the famous ski re- sort of Gulmarg. But now with many passengers unable to move out, Kashmir Houseboat Owners Association president Abdul Hamid Wangnoo told this newspaper that the houseboat owners have opened up their houseboats for the tourists stranded due to suspension of the Valley’s surface and air link with the rest of the country. “We have provided our helpline Nos and made some of our houseboats at Nageen and Dal Lake available to stranded tourists free of cost,” Wagnoo said. The tourists, who had already booked the houseboats and were supposed to leave in last four days, were told to continue their stay in the house- At the time of going to press, Ossoff had secured 22,13,099 votes, over 17,500 more than Perdue. If elected, 33-year-old Ossoff will be the youngest member in the US Senate. If both Republicans and the Democrats end up having 50 seats each in the Senate, then Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in her capacity as the Vice Chairman who presides over the Senate meetings can cast the crucial vote in favour of the Democrats. Gaining control of the Senate will help Biden in what he intends to do as President with his party being in a comfortable position to set the legislative agenda. They will be able to have their say in Senate committees, call hearings, and decide which items get top priority . It will also help them push through the ambitious proposals addressing climate change and health care. Austerity: Restrictions on Delhi govt spending due to pandemic continue W a r m t h i n chi l l F AYA Z W A N I @ Srinagar 50 REPUBLICAN 51 NEEDED FOR CONTROL Kashmir remained cut off from rest of the country for the fourth day, with even Srinagar city receiving heavy snowfall for the last three days | Pti boats without worrying for the charges. “We will be giving them up to 50 per cent rebate on the boarding and lodging charges. And in case, somebody does not have money to pay the bills, we will provide complimentary services without charging anything extra,” Wagnoo said. Some stranded tourists have been provided accommodation free of cost, he added. Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation president Abdul Wahid Malik said hotels are providing rebates to the tourists, who had booked rooms and were unable to move out. “Since, tourists are stranded, we are providing them some rebate in our services.” The United Tourism Forum, an organization of nine tour and travel operators, is providing accommodation freee to the stranded tourists in guest houses and hotelss. Ather Yameen, spokesman of the Forum, said the initiative was launched on Tuesday to assist the stranded passengers. “We have provided the boarding and lodging facilities to over 60 stranded tourists in Government guest houses and private hotels.” The tourism stakeholders are hopeful that the hospitality will send a positive message across the country and attract more tourists. The tourism sector is still recovering from the two lockdowns since the scrapping of Article 370 in 2019. Delhi Covid watch status of cases Recovered Death Active cases Total +ve Today 719 16 -654 Cumulative 6,13,246 10,625 4,481 6,28,352 Patient Management Total beds Occupied Vacant h os p i ta l 14,076 1705 12,371 c a r e c e n tr e 7,422 31 7,247* h e a l t h c e n tr e 562 24 538 *144 beds of CCC are occupied by persons under quarantine including travellers who came by Vande Bharat Mission and Bubble flights 2,067 Home Isolation Testing Status 39,623 RTPCR/CBNAAT/TrueNattests conducted today 35,027 Rapid antigen test conducted today 90,81,233 Total tests done so far 4,77,959 Tests per million Containment Zones as on date: 3,623 Source: Delhi health bulletin | January 6
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