THURSDAY March 25 Tokyo Olympics organisers 04 The postponed nationwide torch relay is set to begin next month FEBRUARY, 2021 epaper.morningstandard.in AVOID SONGS, CHANTS The ‘playbook’ advises officials to show support not by singing or chanting but clapping. They will also be prevented from taking public transport. Wearing masks will be a must facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard POLL BUGLE SHAH TO LEAD YATRA ON FEB 11 Senior BJP leader orders Bengal unit to go ahead even if officials deny permission PAGE 8 A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS NEW DELHI J8.00 PAGES 12 release first ‘playbook’ New rules aimed at conducting Games safely could see violators expelled. Version to be updated in April & June POST-EVENT PARTIES BANNED: REPORT ■ A report in The Times of London said athletes coming to Tokyo ‘have been told that the post-event parties and ensuing sexual encounters will not be tolerated’ ■ The ‘playbook’ says that everyone at the Games should ‘avoid physical contact including handshakes’ | P11 Pushback as support to farmer stir goes global Foreign office urges them to ascertain facts before commenting in suo motu riposte, blames R-Day violence on vested interests; ministers and others retweet it E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi REACTING strongly to comments by some international celebrities and politicians, including pop star Rihanna, on the ongoing farmers’ protest, India on Wednesday said there were “vested interest groups trying to enforce their agenda” and urged them to ascertain the facts “before rushing to comment on such matters”. While the suo motu official statement in the morning on Twitter included the hashtags ‘IndiaTogether’ and ‘IndiaAgainstPropaganda’, there was a concerted and aggressive pushback by almost the entire government machinery ruling party lead, ers and some celebrities by evening. Several Union ministers and well-known personalities retweeted the statement or came out in support of the government, decrying what they called was an international propaganda to defame India. The ministry of external affairs said “vested interest groups have also tried to mobilise international support against the reformist (agriculture) legislation,” which was passed by “Parliament of India after a full debate and discussion”. It said “respecting the sentiments of a very small section of farmers” who are protesting against the laws, the government had held 11 rounds of talks. Yet, “instigated by fringe elements, Mahatma Gandhi statues have been desecrated in parts of the world. This is extremely disturbing for India and for civilised society everywhere.” Emphasising that the “protests must be seen in the context of India’s democratic ethos and polity the government said “the ,” temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible.” The government also said in Parliament that no foreign government had backed the agitation against the farm laws. It said protests by a few motivated persons of Indian origin were reported in Canada, UK, US and a few European countries. As if the strong MEA reaction was not enough, almost the entire cabinet retweeted the spokesman’s statement, calling for an end to the “campaign to malign India”. Home minister Amit Shah tweeted: “No propaganda can deter India’s unity!” Shah was followed by foreign minister S Jaishankar, who said: “Motivated campaigns targeting India will never succeed. We have the self confidence today to hold our own. This India will push back.” P4&7 EXPRESS READ Jeff Bezos quits as Amazon CEO, Jassy named successor New York: Jeff Bezos, who founded Amazon as an online bookseller nearly three decades ago, will step down as the CEO of the USD 1.7 trillion global e-commerce giant and will become the executive chairman. He said the move would give him “time and energy” to focus on other ventures and passions | P9 IPS officer Praveen Sinha appointed acting CBI chief New Delhi: CBI Additional Director Praveen Sinha, a 1988-batch Gujarat cadre IPS officer, has been appointed the acting chief of the agency till a decision on a new director is taken to succeed Rishi Kumar Shukla who retired on Wednesday after a two-year fixed stint LIC IPO in fourth quarter of 2021-22, says DEA secretary New Delhi: The initial public offering of LIC may hit the market in the fourth quarter of next financial year, and the government has introduced amendments to the Life Insurance Corporation Act 1956 to facilitate this, Economic Affairs Secretary Tarun Bajaj said on Wednesday why aren’t we talking about this?! #FarmersProtest No one is talking about it because they are not farmers they are terrorists who are trying to divide India, so that China can take over our vulnerable broken nation and make it a Chinese colony much like USA... Sit down you fool, we are not selling our nation like you dummies @KanganaTeam responding to Rihanna @rihanna We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India @GretaThunberg It’s no coincidence that the world’s oldest democracy was attacked not even a month ago, and as we speak, the most populous democracy is under assault. This is related. We ALL should be outraged by India’s internet shutdowns and paramilitary violence against farmer protesters @meenaharris No propaganda can deter India’s unity! No propaganda can stop India to attain new heights! Propaganda cannot decide India’s fate only ‘Progress’ can. India stands united and together to achieve progress. #IndiaAgainstPropaganda #IndiaTogether @AmitShah India’s sovereignty cannot be compromised. External forces can be spectators but not participants. Indians know India and should decide for India. Let’s remain united as a nation. #IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainst Propaganda @sachin_rt Why did the PM comment on the assault on the Capitol building by Trump stormtroopers? It is sad that someone erudite and worldly wise like Mr S Jaishankar should allow such puerile reactions by the MEA? @PChidambaram_IN Twitter put on notice The Centre issued a stronglyworded notice to Twitter to immediately take down handles and hashtags that suggest a farmer genocide was being planned, saying it could incite passions. It warned of action if Twitter fails to comply | P11 5 more hrs of debate in RS Five hours have been added to the duration of discussion in Rajya Sabha on a motion of thanks to the President’s address, to allow the debate on the farmers’ protest against three agri reform laws. Yet, 3 AAP members were evicted from RS for unruly behaviour (Above) Commuters take an unconstructed road to cross Ghazipur border area due to road blockades by security personnel in the view of farmers’ ongoing agitation;(right) Rakesh Tikait addresses mahapanchayat in Haryana’s Jind | PARVEEN NEGI & PTI POP QUEEN, CLIMATE ACTIVIST AT CENTRE OF TWITTER STORM EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi THE more than two months old farmers’ protests at the gates of Delhi got an international fillip on Wednesday after American pop singer Rihanna’s tweet “why aren’t we talking about this?!” went viral. Rihanna shared a CNN article “India cuts internet around New Delhi as protesting farmers clash with police” on social media. The singer was soon followed by other international personalities such as Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, US Vice President Kamala Harris’ niece, Meena Harris, American actress Amanda Cerni, and pol- ‘Not in talks with unions’ Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the Centre is not holding any informal talk with protesting farmers. He said more barricades were put for law and order issues BIDEN BEGINS CLEANING UP THE GREEN CARD MESS US President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed three executive orders to undo Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies that are music to green card aspirants REUNIFYING FAMILIES The first order was on creating a task force to reunify families, which will work across governments to find parents and children separated by the prior administration Trump administration had separated undocumented adults from children as they crossed the US-Mexico border, in a bid to deter illegal immigration HUMANE ASYLUM The second executive order seeks to address the root causes of migration and creates a humane asylum system INTEGRATION & INCLUSION The third order promotes immigrant integration and inclusion. It ensures legal immigration system operates fairly by instructing agencies to review public charge rule and related policies It requires agencies to do a “top-tobottom review of recent regulations, policies and guidance that have set up barriers to our legal immigration system I’m not making new law. I’m eliminating bad policy — Joe Biden iticians in the US and the UK. US House Representative Jim Costa wrote on Twitter that the right to peaceful protests should be respected. “The unfolding events in India are trubling. As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I am closely monitoring..,” he wrote. Thunberg added a toolkit to her tweet. The document ‘#ASKINDIAWHY Global Farmers Strike First Wave’ collated information on the protest and outlined the need to petition for protecting the protesters. UK MP Claudia Web thanked Rihanna for showing solidarity with the farmers. “In an era where political leadership is lacking we are grateful for others stepping forward,” she wrote. Rihanna’s tweet was met by a strong backlash from right wing groups and Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut. Calling the protesters terrorists, Kangana said of Rihanna: “She hasn’t released a single song in 5 years.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was among the first international leaders to support the farmers’ movement. “Canada will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protest,” he said. Later, over 100 British MPs wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson backing the protests. We can bring down govt, warns Tikait H A R P R E E T BA J WA @ Chandigarh THE protesting farmers at a mahapanchayat in Haryana’s Jind district on Wednesday passed five resolutions demanding a repeal of the three farm laws, making a law to ensure minimum support price, waiving farmers’ loans, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations and withdrawal of criminal cases registered against farmers in Delhi on January 26. They also threatened a mahapanchayat at the national level, saying such village gatherings will continue across the country till the government repealed the new farm laws. Speaking at the Jind mahapanchayat on Wednesday Bharatiya Kisan Union lead, er Rakesh Tikait claimed the BJP government would find it difficult to stay in power if the farm laws were not revoked. “If the demands of farmers are not accepted, they would hold a mahapanchayat at the national level. Such panchayats will be held across the country A weeklong campaign to intensify the .... agitation would be launched across Haryana,’’ warned Tikait. Ram temple fund drive to ‘expose’ Sangh: NSUI R A J E S H A S N A N I @ Jaipur CAUGHT in a row over its donation drive for the proposed Ram temple in Ayodhya, the Congress’ student wing NSUI has sought to reject ‘soft Hindutva,’ saying its campaign would “expose” RSS affiliates. The NSUI in Rajasthan has launched a fortnight-long drive — Re 1 Ram Ke Naam — to collect donations for the Ayodhya temple. The special drive would seek a token one rupee from each student in schools, colleges and universities across the state. Critics have termed the drive as a ‘soft saffron’ approach to win Hindu votes. The NSUI, however, claimed it was meant to send a message that “God needs devotion, not money”. The NSUI sought to clarify that its aim was to tell the people that Lord Ram belongs to everyone and that people of all religions have equal faith in the Hindu god. “We want to expose the way Rajasthan NSUI started the ‘Ek rupiya Ram ke naam’ campaign on Monday | TWITTER We want to expose the way people are being looted by groups related to the BJP and RSS. Our campaign is to tell people that God doesn’t need money but devotion —Abhishek Choudhary, chief, NSUI Rajsthan people are being looted by groups affiliated to the BJP and RSS. They are pressuring the public to donate money in the name of Lord Ram. Our campaign is meant to tell the people that God doesn’t need money but needs devotion. If you donate one rupee out of devotion, it is as much as those donating crores,” said NSUI Rajasthan chief Abhishek Choudhary . He charged RSS groups with looting `14,000 crore from people in the name of bricks for the temple between 1989 and 2000. “They continue to collect funds in the same fashion,” said Choudhary. “They never gave any account of how those funds were used to promote their political agenda. They have done nothing but divide people in the name of Ram. But we want to say that Lord Ram is not their monopoly; he belongs to all 135 crore people of the country he said. ,” The Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, responsible for building Ram Temple, is conducting a nationwide fundraising campaign since January 14 for the construction of a grand Ram temple estimated to cost around `1,100 crore. RSS-affiliates are collecting funds. They say all funds are being collected through receipt books and every rupee will be well accounted for. RSS leader (prant pracharak) in Jaipur, Dr. Shailendra said, “Our aim is not to collect big funds but to connect every citizen with construction of the temple. We have coupons of `10 and people can pay digitally too,” he said. BRINGING WARMTH Army goes beyond security, to jointly host winter festival in Gulmarg SHARJEEL ACTIVIST FACES ARREST Maharashtra Home Minister says state police will arrest former AMU student for “offensive remarks” | P8 Need for boost The Valley’s tourism sector has been badly hit by two lockdowns — first after scrapping of Article 370 in 2019 and another on March 2020 after the outbreak of Covid F AYA Z W A N I @ Srinagar AS tourists thronged the world famous ski resort of Gulmarg, the Army will be holding a two-day winter festival for reopening Kashmir to the world. An Army spokesperson said the winter festival will be held in snow covered Gulmarg from February 6 to February 8. The snow clad mountains of Gulmarg have always been a major tourist attraction, the spokesperson said, adding the Army along with J&K Tourism Department have come together to provide a platform for youth to showcase talents. The two-day extravaganza, the spokesperson said, is being organised as Kashmir is emerging from the shadow of Covid and enters a new era of peace and development. “It will include adventure activities — skiing, snowmobile and ATV race — besides snow cycling and other activities.” Bollywood stars Arbaaz Khan and Vidya Balan would attend the Gulmarg festival. “Other notable artists include Altmash Faridi, Aabid Aly Shafi Sopori, Zubair Khan, , Waseem Ahmed & Umer Rockband will also perform in the 2-day event,” the spokesperson said, adding local cuisines and handicrafts would also be pro- moted during the festival. “The event is likely to provide a fillip to tourism and support Kashmiris, whose livelihood has been impacted adversely due to Covid pandemic.” It is yet another instance of Army supporting the aspirations of people for a future of hope, the officer said.
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