Thursday Petrol BREAKS `100/L BARRIER in Rajasthan February, 2021 At `100.13 per litre, petrol was at its costliest in western state’s Sriganganagar town. In MP, the rate is `99.90 18 epaper.morningstandard.in Modi blames predecessors `89.54 facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard Petrol price in Delhi In Mumbai I96 Chennai I91.45 Kolkata I90.78 G oo d w i l l 2 Lakh JABS For UN peacekeepers 60% of retail cost is govt taxes External Affairs Minister announces gift of vaccines to peacekeeping forces A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS Page 7 l New Delhi l J8.00 l PAGES 12 The all-time high comes weeks after Rajasthan slashed 2% VAT on fuel. Still, at 36% after the cut, Rajasthan’s levy is highest in India. Central and state taxes make up for as much as 60% of retail price of petrol and over 54% of diesel. The Centre levies I32.90 a litre as excise duty on petrol Petrol rates have risen by I19.95 since mid-March last year, after Centre hiked levy to benefit from fall in international prices. PM Modi said if previous regimes had reduced India’s energy dependence, global fluctuations wouldn’t have hurt the middle-class FIR says toolkit Victory for Ramani in Akbar’s defamation suit part of plot to damage India K a n u S a r d a @ New Delhi No names of accused in it; Nikita Jacob gets three-week advance bail from HC G ayat h r i M a n i a n d S u d hi r S u r ya w a n shi @New Delhi/Mumbai An accidentally-leaked toolkit Google doc was not just meant to amplify the ongoing farmers protest, it also contained a detailed plan to wage an economic, social, cultural and regional war against India, if one were to go by the first information report (FIR) the Delhi Police filed on February 4. The FIR does not name any of the accused, including activists Disha Ravi, Shantanu Muluk and Nikita Jacob, but Disha’s arrest and the subsequent actions are on its basis. Disha’s advocate got access to the FIR on Wednesday . Four sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) — 123A, 153, 153A and 120B — pertaining to sedition, criminal conspiracy and creating disharmony or enmity between different groups religious, regional and social groups, have been invoked in the FIR. The toolkit inadvertantly shared by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg on February 3 is at the centre of the raging controversy . “A perusal of the said document (toolkit) reveals that it was promoting campaign material by Poetic Justice Foundation (PJF), a Canada-based organization that openly and deliberately shared posts on social media to create disharmony and enmity, hatred and ill-will among different religious, cultural and regional groups,” the FIR states. It claims the January 26 violence was part of a pre-planned conspiracy of the PJF. In the toolkit, “There a call for economic warfare against India and certain Indian companies. Their assets in India and outside are to be made targets for physical as well as coordinated actions.... The documents specifically mentions targeting certain regions of India to instigate enmity and divide. Further, detailed plans have been made by conspirators to instigate certain communities against one another,” the FIR alleged. Meanwhile, Mumbai-based advocate Nikita Jacob was given three-week transit anticipa- ‘Pre-planned plot’ “It is evident from the contents of the said toolkit that the violence that took place at the streets of Delhi on 26th January 2021 near ITO, at the Red Fort, near Nangloi, etc., as a result of the farmers’ protest was a pre-planned conspiracy meant to undermine India’s sovereignty and integrity, security of the state and public order,” the FIR said tory bail by the Bombay High Court on Wednesday . While passing the bail order, Justice P D Naik cited the Aurangabad bench order that gave advance bail to another accused Shantanu Muluk the previous day adding: “It would , not be appropriate to make any observations on the merits of the case.” The Delhi Police claim that Disha Ravi and Nikita Jacob were editors of the toolkit created by Shantanu Muluk. P4 E x press re a d Bengal minister hurt in crude bomb attack Baharampur: West Bengal minister Jakir Hossain was grievously injured after unidentified attackers hurled bombs at him in Nimtita railway station in Murshidabad district on Wednesday night. At least two other persons who were with him were also injured. Hossain, the minister of state for labour, was waiting at platform no. 2 of the station to board a train to Kolkata around 10 pm when he was attacked, a senior police officer said. Two others were also injured in the attack. Tsitsipas stuns Nadal in five-set thriller Stefanos Tsitsipas came back from two sets down to beat Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinal of the Australian Open. The five setter scoreline read 3-6, 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4, 7-5 I AFP Stressing that women cannot be punished for raising their voice against sexual a buse, a Delhi court on Wednesday acquitted journalist Priya Ramani in a defamation suit filed by former Union minister M J Akbar contesting her allegations of sexual harassment by him in the past. Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey said, “The right of reputation cannot be protected at the cost of the right of life and dignity of woman as guaranteed in Indian Constitution under Article 21 and right of equality before law and equal protection of law as guaranteed u n d e r A r t i cl e 1 4 o f t h e Constitution.” The court accepted Ramani’s contention that Akbar wasn’t a man of stellar reputation. In its 91-page verdict, the court said, “It cannot be ignored that most of the time, the offence of sexual harassment and sexual abuse (was) committed in the close doors or privately Some. times the victims herself does not understand what is happen- Pakistan will attend a workshop on Covid-19 management hosted by India on Thursday which will see the participation of 10 countries. According to the sources, the workshop titled, Covid-19 Management: Experience, Good Practices and Way Forward, will be held on February 18. For the first time in years, Pakistan delegates will be attending a workshop initiated by India which is not being organised under any multilateral forum.The other countries which would attend the workshop include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Seychelles and Sri Lanka. “The Health Secretary of India will chair the event. Each country has been invited to participate in one plus one format - health secretary and Head of their Technical Team in charge of Covid management,” sources said. Pakistan, in March last year, had attended the SAARC meeting on Covid which was pro- Court observation Healing verdict, hail women journos Women journalists, who had come out in support of Priya Ramani and narrated tales of MJ Akbar harassing them, hailed the verdict as ‘healing’. They said the judge had understood problems from a woman’s point of view | P7 Priya Ramani and her lawyer Rebecca John pose after the court order, in New Delhi on Wednesday | Pic cOURTESY: TWITTER ing to them or what is happening to them is wrong. Despite how well respected some persons are in the society, they in their personal lives, could show extreme cruelty to females.” The court took note of the systematic abuse at the workplace due to lack of grievance redressal mechanisms at the time Priya Ramani and witness Ghazala Wahab were allegedly sexually harassed. “Time has come for society to understand sexual abuse and harassment and its implications on the victim,” the court said, adding most women do not speak about Cong sweeps Punjab civic polls, BJP last as farm stir takes its toll H a r p r e e t B a j w a @ Chandigarh As expected, the ruling Congress has swept the civic polls in Punjab which were held in the backdrop of prolonged farmers’ protests being supported by the party . The Shiromani Akali Dal came a distant second and the BJP came last with the main opposition AAP faring well below its expectations. The civic polls were held barely a year ahead of the Assembly polls. The Congress swept seven municipal corporations in the state as it bagged Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, Abohar, Pathankot, Batala, Moga and Bathinda. It was after decades that the party won back the Bathinda civic body from the Akali Dal. The results of Mohali Municipal Corporation will be declared on Thursday . The Bathinda Lok Sabha constituency is represented by former Union minister Harsimrat Badal of SAD, which broke off from the ruling BJP last year following differences over new farm laws. In a major setback to the BJP , the Congress clinched the Pathankot Municipal Corporation by a big margin. Despite the BJP holding the mayor post in Pathankot, it could win only 11 seats in the corporation. The Congress won 37 out of the total 50 seats. The BJP also lost in neighbouring Saujanpur civic body another stronghold of the , party, where Congress won eight out of total 15 seats while the BJP won five. Of the 109 municipal com- Covid times: Pak officials to attend multi-nation workshop today in India E X PRESS NEWS S ERV I C E @ New Delhi A woman cannot be punished for raising her voice against sex abuse ... The right of reputation cannot be protected at the cost of dignity of women posed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Though the other SAARC member states were represented by their heads of state or governments, Pakistan was represented by its health minister in the meeting. Islamabad’s acceptance of the invite comes weeks after Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa, in an apparent reference to India, had said that it was time Pakistan offered a hand of friendship to all sides. it because of social stigma. “This judgment is a validation of the stand taken by us and all women during the #Metoo campaign,” Ramani’s lawyer Rebecca John later said. Ramani had in 2018 made allegations of sexual harassment against Akbar. DMs to approve adoption, ease bottleneck @ New Delhi It is a powerful message to these parties to keep out of Punjab, which was not ready to either forgive or forget the deceit and the treachery to which the people had been subjected — Amarinder Singh, Punjab CM mittees and councils in the state for which elections were held, the Congress has won 78, SAD 5, independents 14 and for 12 seats, there was no clear majority for any party Meanwhile . AAP and BJP could not win any of the seats. In the final count of the state, the Congress won 1,199 of the 1,815 wards (municipal councils) and 281 of the 350 municipal corporation seats, with SAD trailing at 289 and 33, BJP at 38 and 20, and AAP at 57 and nine, while the remaining went largely to independents and BSP (K) and CPI winning in 13 and 12 wards respectively . Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the party’s victory was due to its “progressive policies”. “These were the first polls to be held in Punjab since the enactment of the draconian farm laws which underscored the people’s anger with the BJP which was responsible , for these laws with the active support of its former ally, the SAD, and in collusion with the ruling AAP in Delhi”. He said the “pro-governance and pro-progress” verdict of the urban voters endorsed their rejection of hateful political ideologies. S A D ’s D r D a l j i t Singh Cheema said the Congress had resorted to state-sponsored repression. “The SAD emerged as the principal opposition party despite going it alone. The AAP is completely routed. Our candidates gave a tough fight to the Congress with almost all seats witnessing a direct contest between the Congress and SAD.” Legal experts are of the opinion that this verdict will set a precedent and encourage more women to go public about the unpleasant experiences they had been subjected to, without fearing defamation suits | P5 c a b i net st a m p S u m i S u k a n ya D u t ta Congress candidate Baljinder Kaur Rinki celebrates her win in the municipal election in Punjab’s Patiala district on Wednesday | Pti Great precedent for women, say lawyers The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved a key change in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 to authorise district magistrates to validate adoptions. The decision is meant to address the rather slow in-country adoptions in India, as hundreds of prospective parents are forced to wait for years to adopt orphaned or abandoned children. As of now, prospective adoptive parents are required to go to civil or family courts to get the final goahead after all formalities are over. However, with pendency high in civil and family courts, it is not easy to get a date for hearing, said officials in the Central Adoption Resource Agency under the Union women and child development ministry . Government figures show that 2,160 adoptions took place in India in 2020-21 but officials pointed out that about 1,000 adoption cases are pending in courts at any given time. “Though the JJ law mandates that courts have to dispose of adoption cases within two months from the date of filing of application, it rarely happens,” said an official. “The latest amendment will clear these major hindrances in the w ay o f c h i l d r e n reaching their adoptive families.” As per the norms, orphaned and abandoned children are required to be declared legally free for adoption within two months in the case of a child up to the age of two years and within four months in case of a child above the age of two years, after following due procedure. Further, surrendered children are required to be declared legally free for adoption after two months, called reconsideration period, from the date of surrender of the child. parameters for appointing child welfare committee members Defining eligibility parameters for appointment of child welfare committee members, and categorising previously undefined offences as “serious offence” are some of the other aspects of the proposal Dhaba owner’s kin shot at on day of envoys’ visit F aya z W a n i @ Srinagar As foreign envoys arrived in Srinagar on a two-day visit on Wednesday morning, militants in the evening shot at a dhaba owner’s relative at the high security Dalgate area of the city . Militants fired at Akash Mehra, 22, near Krishna Dhaba area at Durga Nag area of Dalgate around 7.35 pm. Mehra was taken to the SMHS Hospital. A lesser known militant outfit Muslim Janbaz Force has claimed responsibility for the attack. The outfit claimed that it would not allow India to change demography of Kashmir through the domicile law. Medical Superintendent Na- Security personnel put up barricades after the attack in Srinagar | ZAHOOR PUNJABI zir Ahmad Choudhary said the youth received a bullet in his chest and is being operated on. His condition is critical, he added. A police officer of Ram Mun- shi Bagh police station said Akash, who is from Janipora area of Jammu, is the relative of the Krishna Dhaba owner and was working in the dhaba. Immediately after the inci- dent, a team of police personnel and security men rushed to the spot. The area was cordoned of f and searches were conducted. The area where the militant attack has taken place is a highly secured area. The office of the UN Military Observers is located near the spot. Besides, a police station is located near the spot. A police officer said CCTV footage is being analyzed to identify the militants. On December 31, militants shot dead jeweler Satpal Nishal, 67, inside his shop at Hari Singh High Street in Srinagar. Satpal received the domicile certificate a few days before he was shot dead.
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