WEDNESDAY FACEBOOK KISSES AND MAKES UP WITH AUSTRALIAN GOVT 24 Social media giant said talks were held with the Australian government to amend the proposed media bargaining laws FEBRUARY, 2021 LAST-MINUTE FACE SAVING COMPROMISE epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard FARM PROTEST ‘KRISHNA WILL PUNISH MODI’ In Mathura, Priyanka Vadra turns to scriptures, attacks PM on farm laws A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS PAGE 8 NEW DELHI J8.00 PAGES 12 According to reports, the face-saving compromise will see Facebook as well as internet search giant Google plunge tens of millions of dollars into the struggling local news sector. In return, the US digital firms will not be subjected to mandatory payments that could cost them vastly more and create what they see as an alarming global precedent $28 bn FACEBOOK’S REVENUE IN THE OCTOBER-DECEMBER 2020 QUARTER Bail for Disha as court finds proof ‘sketchy’ Says people can’t be arrested just because they disagree with govt policies; invoking sedition to massage egos not done Two held from J&K in R-Day violence: Cops K A N U S A R D A @ New Delhi CITING scanty and sketchy investigation, a Delhi court on Tuesday granted bail to 22-yearold climate change activist Disha Ravi who was arrested in connection with the toolkit case. “Citizens are conscience keepers of government in any democratic nation. They cannot be put behind bars simply because they choose to disagree with the state policies. The offence of sedition cannot be invoked to minister to the wounded vanity of the governments,” Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana said. The 18-page bail order said, “Even our founding fathers accorded due respect to divergence of opinion by recognising the freedom of speech and expression as an inviolable fundamental right.” Shortly after bail was granted, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of the Patiala House Court disposed of a Delhi Police application seeking Disha’s extended The Delhi Police arrested two people, including a prominent farmer leader, from Jammu for their alleged involvement in the violence at the Red Fort during the farmers’ tractor parade on January 26. J&K nited Kisan Front chairman Mohinder Singh and Mandeep Singh, were active participants and key conspirators in the violence at the historic fort, police said. P5 Climate activist Disha Ravi arrives for hearing in the toolkit case at Patiala House Court on Tuesday | SHEKHAR YADAV custody for four more days. While citing a couplet from Rig Veda, which says ‘let noble thoughts come to me from all directions,’ the judge said, “Difference of opinion, disagreement, divergence, dissent, or for that matter even disapprobation, are recognised legitimate tools to infuse objectivity in state policies. An aware and assertive citizenry , SOARING CRIME Missing UP college girl found burnt, semi-naked ness and told the police that she was stripped and set on fire by A 21-year-old girl, who had mys- Manish, brother-in-law of her teriously disappeared from the friend Pinki. campus of her college in ShajaShe told the police that Pinki hanpur on Monday morning and called her up, saying Manish was found in semi-naked condi- wanted to meet her. Pinki asked tion with severe burns her to come to a place close to the Delhi-Lucwhere three persons Another know National Highway with Manish were waitheadache in UP’s Shahjahanpur ing for her. They allegAlready facing district, has made seriedly poured kerosene the heat in the ous allegations. and set her on fire. MoUnnao case, the tive of the incident was She claimed that she UP government was called by the brothnot clear from the statehas another er-in-law of a friend, who ment of the victim. front to deal tried to burn her alive According to Shahjawith the but she somehow eshanpur SP S Anand, the opposition in caped. The girl was domotive is unclear as the the ongoing ing an undergraduate girl’s statements are inBudget session course at SS College, consistent. She had left r un by Mumukhsu her phone at home. She Ashram of ex-Union Minister said Pinki knew everything but Swami Chinamayanand. when confronted, Pinki denied Police said the victim was having any clue. Later, she took brought to a hospital in Lucknow the names of two youths, one of in early hours of Tuesday. She them was found to be in another had suffered around 60 per cent state. The second was called burns, but regained conscious- for questioning. in contradistinction with an indifferent or docile citizenry, is indisputably a sign of a healthy and vibrant democracy .” Expressing concern over the sketchy probe, th court said, “Considering the scanty and sketchy evidence available on record, I do not find any palpable reasons to breach the general rule of ‘bail’ against a 22-year-old young lady with absolutely blem, ish-free criminal antecedents and having firm roots in the society and send her to jail.” , He also said the police are in the process of collecting more evidence and so they cannot be allowed to further restrict the liberty of a citizen on the basis of propitious anticipations. “The resistance to bail plea seems to be more ornamental in nature.” The court also ruled that any person with dubious credentials may interact with a number of persons during the course of his social interaction. “ long as the engageAs ment remains within the four corners of law, people interacting with such persons, ignorantly innocent, ly or for that matter even fully conscious of their dubious credentials, cannot be painted with the same hue.” It also dismissed Delhi Police’s claim that Disha’s sharing of the ‘toolkit’ with Greta Thunberg amounted to conspiring against the country. “There are no geographical barriers on communication. A citizen has the fundamental rights to use the best means of imparting and receiving communication, as long as it is permissible under the four corners of law and as such have access to audience abroad. In my considered opinion, the creation of a WhatsApp group or being editor of an innocuous toolkit is P7 not an offence.” BJP sweeps Guj civic poll as Cong sinks; debut for AAP N A M I TA B A J PA I @ Lucknow Grand and grandeur The gigantic Motera stadium is all set to host its first international match after renovation when India face England in 3rd Test from Wednesday No floodlights but LED lights fitted on the roof will illuminate the stadium 63 acres Total area over which the Sardar Patel Stadium has been built SIX NUMBER OF INDOOR PRACTICE PITCHES 1,10,000 capacity makes it the largest cricket stadium in the world FOUR Dressing rooms with modern facilities 3 OUTDOOR PRACTICE FIELDS Third Test live on Hotstar/Star Sports: 2.30pm | P11 BJP workers are ecstatic after winning civic body elections in Ahmedabad on Tuesday | PTI S U D H I R S U R YA W A N S H I @ Mumbai A listless Congress found itself whipped by the electorate in Gujarat, as results of the local body polls came in on Tuesday While . there was no surprise in the BJP sweeping the municipal corporation elections, the Congress was forced to cede a part of its opposition space to Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and to a lesser extent to Asaduddin Owasi’s Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen. Of the six municipal corporations that went to polls, the Congress drew a blank in Surat and trailed way behind the BJP in the other five. In contrast, the AAP won 27 seats in Surat while the BJP got 93 of the 120 that were up for grabs. In the Ahmadabad Municipal Corporation, out of 192 seats, the BJP was way ahead of the Congress, while MIM opened account with 7 seats. In the Jamnagar Municipal Corporation, the BJP won 50 while Congress got 11 and the BSP 3. In Bhavnagar, Vadodara and Rajkot municipal corporations, the Congress could not even reach double figures, winning 8, 7 and 4 respectively, as against the BJP’s 44, 69 and 68. The Congress has been out of power in the Gujarat for 25 years. In the 2017 state polls under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, it gave the BJP a scare, scoring 87 as against the BJP’s 96 in a 182-member Assembly. Subse- DARE Blow to Oli, Nepal Supreme Court revives Parliament IN a major setback for Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, the country’s Supreme Court has reinstated Parliament, which was dissolved in December last year. In a landmark ruling on Tuesday A five-member Constitutional bench led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher annulled the Oli government’s tions on April 30 and May 10 at the recommendation of PM Oli, amidst a tussle for power within the ruling Nepal Communist Party . In his letter recommending House dissolution, Oli said he controlled 64% majority in the House and the country needed a fresh mandate of the people to ensure stability . REFERRING to the data from genome sequencing of virus samples so far, the Centre on Tuesday clarified that the recent spurt in Covid-19 cases in some states is not due to the mutated versions of the coronavirus. At least five states in India have reported gradual rise in active Covid cases over the past several days. The active cases in the country crawled up to over 1.5 lakh after touching a low of 1.3 lakh cases earlier this month, the lowest since June. Two variants of SARS CoV 2 — N440K and E484K —have been detected in Maharashtra, Kerala and Telangana, said V K Paul, member (health), Niti Aayog, who also heads the national Covid-19 task force, at a press briefing. He, however, underlined that there is no epidemiological evidence to suggest that these mutants are behind the recent surge in cases or Vaccine whether they are causing faster drive spread of the disease. Health secretary “Based on information available to us, yes, these variants are there. Rajesh Bhushan But there’s no reason today for us to said nearly 62% of the healthbelieve that these are responsible for care workers, the upsurge of the outbreak that you scheduled for see in some districts of Maharashthe second dose tra and Kerala,” said Paul. So far, nearly 200 cases of the UK of Covid-19 vaccination have variant, 6 of the South African varitaken the jabs ant and 1 case of Brazilian variant of SARS CoV-2 have been found in while 41% of the targeted frontIndia out of the 3,500-genome seline workers quencing carried out since Decemhave received ber, he added. the shots. These three variants, whose presence have been detected in international travellers but not in the community so far, are of particular concern as they are found to be more transmissible and more capable of causing severe disease in a higher number of infected people. The data generated by a consortium for laboratory and epidemiological surveillance of circulating coronavirus strains in India, INSACOG, led by the National Centre for Disease Control, is being epidemiologically analysed, interpreted and shared with state or district for investigation, contact tracing and planning response strategies. The rise in active cases, after a long and swift decline over several weeks, meanwhile, has spurred fresh worries for the Centre’s disease response plan. Prepare for gherao by 40 lakh tractors: Tikait At the ancestral village of Punjab CM, Lakha Sidhana, a key accused in the Red Fort violence, challenged the Delhi Police to arrest him | P7 ‘unconstitutional’ decision to dissolve the 275-member lower house of Parliament. The court also ordered the government to summon the House session within the next 13 days. Nepal plunged into a political crisis on December 20 after President Bidya Dev Bhandari dissolved the House and announced fresh elec- S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi EXPRESS READ R-DAY VIOLENCE ACCUSED SURFACES EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE quent defections weakened the party and reduced it to 61. The Gujarat blow comes a day after the Congress lost power in Puducherry. According to an analyst, consecutive Congress losses in all major elections has forced people to look for an alternative. “In 2017, people of Gujarat wanted to vote out BJP but , the Congress failed to capitalise on it. Continuingnfighting in its Gujarat unit, too, is a factor in the poor perfor mance,” he added. Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the verdict. “Thank you Gujarat! Results... clearly show the unwavering faith people have towards politics of development and good governP7 ance,” he tweeted. Surge in cases not due to new Covid variants, says govt Oli’s move to dissolve the House sparked protests from a large section of the NCP led by his rival Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, also a co-chair of the ruling party . As many as 13 writ petitions including the one by the ruling party’s Chief Whip Dev Prasad Gurung were filed in the apex court seeking the restoration of the lower house of Parliament. Jaipur: Farmers will gherao Parliament if the Centre does not repeal the three new agriculture laws, said farmer leader Rakesh Tikait. At a kisan Mahapanchayat in Sikar, Tikait appealed to farmers to be ready as the call for ‘Delhi march’ can be given at any time. “There will be 40 lakh tractors instead of four lakh tractors,” he said. Poll schedule of five states likely today New Delhi: The Election Commission will hold a meeting on Wednesday to finalise the schedule of upcoming Assembly elections of five states. Sources with the Election Commission said that in the recent past various teams of EC officials have visited these poll bound states. The final schedule is likely to be decided today. (From left) KP Singh, Rambai Thakur, Narottam Mishra MLAs FLOUT COVID RULES IN MP HOUSE BHOPAL: A day after Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan ordered compliance with mandatory use of face masks in Indore and Bhopal amid a surge in Covid-19 cases, many lawmakers were seen flouting the directive in the Assembly premises. The violators included BJP MLAs Usha Thakur, Ramesh Mendola, Yashpal Singh Sisodiya and former health minister Ajay Vishnoi and Congress legislators Sunil Saraf, Siddharth Kushwah and Alok Chaturvedi. When questioned, the legislators made various excuses. Usha Thakur, who is the minister of state for tourism and culture, said, “I regularly do yoga and blow conch. So, there is less possibility of me being infected. I use my dupatta to cover my face when needed.” BSP’s Rambai Thakur claimed she feels uneasy and nauseous on wearing mask while Kushwah claimed, “I’ve already had Covid-19 in the recent past, so I’ll not get infected again. Still if you want to make it an issue, you’re free to do so.” ENS
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