Saturday STATES CRACK THE WHIP 03 april, 2021 DELHI Is witnessing the fourth wave of Covid-19 infection epaper.morningstandard.in Govt not planning a lockdown as of now facebook.com/TheMorningStandard Fourth wave seems less serious than previous ones as there are fewer deaths and hospitalisations, says CM Arvind Kejriwal twitter.com/TheMornStandard police action militants killed in valley Two involved in attack on BJP leader’s house in Srinagar gunned down Page 8 A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS l New Delhi l J8.00 l MAHARAShTRA 47,827 cases across state, 8,832 in Mumbai on Friday l Eateries, bars and restaurants in Pune district KARNATAKA ordered to be shut for seven days from Saturday School hostels, l Will order complete lockdown across state if situation gyms, club doesn't improve in 2 days, says CM Uddhav Thackeray houses and pools shut l Children and youngsters constitute 47% of new cases PAGES 12 Second wave fast and furious, 10 states fighting S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi BJP functionaries from Madurai present a picture of Meenakshi Amman Temple to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the city on Friday | kk sundar Modi promises med colleges in 1 of 3 TN districts Prime Minister says medical and technical courses will be taught in local languages Alleging that the Congress @ Madurai and DMK have mastered the art of not working but spreadMadurai will get a state-of- ing lies about those who work, the-art All India Institute of he said, “One example is the isMedical Sciences (AIIMS), sue of AIIMS. Despite being in Prime Minister Narendra Modi power for many years, they promised on Friday. Besides didn’t even think of bringing this, medical colleges will be AIIMS to Madurai. It was our set up at one in three disgovernment that did it.” tricts of Tamil Nadu, Modi added that the more UG and PG seats project would ensure will be offered, and medquality healthcare for ical and technical courspeople of the region. The DMK and Cones will be taught in local DAyS TO GO gress pretend to be the languages, he asserted. Modi made these only custodians of promises during a public Tamil culture, but their acmeeting of the National Dem- tions contradict their words, ocratic Alliance (NDA) at he alleged, and added: “In 2011, Amma Thidal here. Sharing the UPA came to power in Delthe dais with Chief Minister hi. The same UPA government Edappadi K Palaniswami, banned jallikattu. A UPA leadDeputy Chief Minister O Pan- er even called it a barbaric neerselvam and other leaders, practice. In 2016, the TN Conhe began his campaign for the gress manifesto called for a elections by chanting “Vetri ban on jallikattu. They should Vel Veera Vel”. be ashamed of it.” S h o b ana R ad h akris h nan 3 The second chapter of the Covid19 infection explosion that started in a handful of states in February is galloping and more , states are now reeling under the fresh wave of the pandemic, shows data maintained by the Union government. While till last month, it was largely Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat driving the second wave of the pandemic, at least four more states—Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana— have now started showing alarming growth rates in the active cases. Even more worryingly, the seven-day moving average of the test positivity rate, which is 6.3 per cent nationally is rising , in a large number of states that include West Bengal, Odisha, Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand among others. In a span of 24 hours, the country has recorded 81,466 new cases taking the cumulative active cases in India to 6,14, 696 — the highest since October. Covid-19 cases began rising from around mid-February and , picked up pace from the second week of March. On Thursday, the cases rose steadily for the 23rd day in a row (after March 9), pushing the active caseload to over 6 lakh. In just 21 days, the cases have sk y-rocketed from 18,377 (March 10) to 81, 466 (April 1). In the first wave, the daily cases spiked from 18,000 plus to 80,000 plus in about 65 days. Trends suggest that with the rate at which the cases are increasing, India may soon surpass the peak of 93,277 cases recorded on September 17. The second wave is not restricted to rising cases. Deaths due to infection too has been increasing. For more than a week now, 200 or more infected people succumbed to the disease and this number reached a whopping 469 on April 1. These numbers have prompted experts to argue that the second wave in India may be more intense than the first. While relaxed behaviour and lax health administration are said to be the reasons, the role of mutant virus in driving the transmission is under investigation. P8 Express read India, Australia to hold trilateral talks New Delhi: The foreign ministers of India, France and Australia are expected to hold a trilateral meeting on April 13 with a focus on boosting cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, people familiar with the development said on Friday. The meeting is set to focus on exploring practical cooperation in other areas. Both countries counterparts are expected to visit India on April 12 to attend the Raisina Dialogue. Farmer leader Tikait attacked in Rajasthan New Delhi: Senior leader of the farmers’ agitation, Rakesh Tikait of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) was allegedly attacked in Rajasthan’s Alwar on Friday. The attack on his convoy smashed the windows of Tikait’s car. The shocking incident reportedly happened in Tatarpur village of Alwar district. Tikait’s convoy was on its way to Bansur from Alwar after the leader addressed a gathering in Harsora when his convoy was allegedly attacked. I-T raids houses of Stalin’s kin & DMK leaders EXP R E S S N EW S S E R V I CE @ Chennai/Karur/Thanjavur/Vellore/ Puducherry/Tiruvannamalai Four days ahead of the elections, the Income Tax (I-T) department on Friday raided the houses of DMK leaders across the State. This prompted the party to seek the Election Commission’s intervention, saying the BJP-led Central government is misusing the department to “threaten” it. The I-T department said the raids pertained to “handling of cash of politically exposed persons for the ongoing elections”, and added that “incriminating materials” have been found. The searches were still underway late on Friday . Among the houses raided were those of party chief MK Stalin’s daughter Senthamarai in Chennai, Karur constituency candidate V Senthil Balaji in Rameswarapatti, DMK union secretary S Murasoli in Thanjavur, and MP CN Annadurai at Devanampattu village. Taking to Twitter, Stalin wrote: “BJP is abusing its power as their defeat is sure since there is no support from the public. No fear. People will give you a clear answer to your mistakes on April 6”. MK Stalin’s daughter Senthamarai’s house in Chennai | Aadittheesh Murali designed for safe passage Preparations going on near a Delhi Gate intersection to enhance road safety for commuters, on Friday | Shekhar Yadav No lockdown without consulting public: CM Delhi Covid watch status of cases Recovered Death Active cases Total +ve Today 2,084 14 -3,594 Cumulative 6,45,770 11,050 11,994 6,68,814 Patient Management Total beds Occupied Vacant h os p i ta l 5,938 2,255 3,683 car e c e n tr e 5,525 24 5,487* h e a l t h c e n tr e 82 15 67 *14 beds of CCC are occupied by persons under quarantine including travellers who came by Vande Bharat Mission and Bubble flights 6,106 Home Isolation Testing Status 54,898 RTPCR/CBNAAT/ TrueNat tests conducted 32,607 Rapid antigen tests conducted on Friday Source: Delhi health bulletin | April 2 2021 e x p r e ss n e w s s e r v i c e @ New Delhi Ruling out possibilities of imposing another lockdown in the national capital owing to the constant surge in Covid-19 cases, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said that the impact of the second wave is less serious than the previous ones. Kejriwal added that people will be consulted if a lockdown has to be put in place. “The Delhi government is not planning any lockdown in the wake of the fourth wave of coronavirus in the national capital. If needed, the government will do it after due consultation with the public,” said the chief minister, while addressing a digital press conference. Saying that speeding up the vaccination process is important, Kejriwal urged the Central government to open it up for everyone instead of keeping it restricted to specific age groups. “The Centre should allow states to vaccinate everyone on a war footing... We need to involve non-healthcare facilities in the inoculation drive. However, if non-health facilities are not allowed to vaccinate people, then Delhi might not be able to go beyond a certain number,” he noted. With the rising count of new infections, Kejriwal added that the state is prioritising a few aspects — more testing, isolating people to stop further spread, proper hospital management (addition of beds, ICU, ventilators) and focus on increasing vaccination. A meeting was held with State Health Minister Satyendar Jain along with other officials, where provisions for additional requirements in or hospitals and the need to get admitted were looked upon. EVM found in BJP MLA car; repoll in booth, 5 suspended Prasanta M a z umdar @ Guwahati The Election Commission on Friday suspended five polling personnel, including a presiding officer, and ordered re-polling at a booth in Assam after a polling team, travelling with polled EVMs in a car registered in the name of a BJP MLA’s wife, was held hostage and allegedly attacked. A sub inspector of police tasked with escorting the polling party was also suspended for leaving them stranded and not ensuring their safe arrival. With the incident triggering a flutter, EC explained it was raining heavily and the polling party of No 149 Indira MV School of Ratabari seat was returning with escorts when the vehicle broke down and got detached from the convoy While . an alternative vehicle was being arranged, the polling party boarded a ‘passing vehicle’ without checking its ownership. When the car slowed down in the traffic at Kanaishil in Karimganj around 10 pm, it was surrounded by about 50 people who started pelting stones. The mob abused the officials and did not allow the car to pass, the EC said. The mob said the vehicle belonged to sitting MLA of Patharkandi and BJP candi- date Krishnendu Paul, and alleged the EVMs were being taken to be tampered with. Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra lit into it, saying the EC needs to start acting decisively on these complaints. The EC’s special observer said there was no “deliberate or mala fide intention” to disrupt the poll process. The observer said the incident appears to be an isolated one “due to the total negligence and foolishness of the presiding officer and his team”. He said there does not seem to be any ground to change the returning officer as it appears to be an isolated incident. P7 File picture of election officials carrying EVM and other material while heading for a polling booth in Assam 48-hour campaign ban on Assam minister Sarma The EC has barred BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma from holding rallies, public meetings, processions, road shows and media interactions for 48 hours over his statement on BPF chief Hagrama Mohilary. Sarma submitted his reply to the EC denying allegations, which was not found satisfactory. Congress had said Sarma was threatening Hagrama Mohilary, whose BPF is part of the opposition alliance. drugged Labourers exploited: MHA to punjab Har p r e e t Ba j w a @ Chandigarh The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has written to the Punjab government that migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are forced to work as bonded labourers in border villages of the state and they are often given drugs which affect their physical and mental condition. These facts came to light after the Border Security Force (BSF) rescued a few of them. Arun Sobti, Deputy Secretary (PR and ATC), MHA, wrote a confidential letter to the Punjab Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police on March 17 saying the BSF had apprehended 58 persons from the border areas of Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Ferozepur and Abohar in 2019 and 2020. During questioning, it emerged that most of them were “either mentally challenged or in feeble state of mind” and had been working as bonded labourers with farmers in border villages of Punjab. The persons belonged to poor families from Bihar and UP the letter stated. , The MHA letter further said that human trafficking syndicates hire such labourers on the promise of good salary, but after reaching Punjab, they are exploited, paid poorly and meted out inhuman treatment. “For making them work for long hours in fields, these labourers are often given drugs which adversely affect their physical and mental condition. The BSF has been handing over the rescued persons to the state police for further necessary action.’’ The ministry asked state of- ficials to look into the matter and take appropriate measures “to address this serious problem”. Action taken may be informed to the MHA on priority Sobti stated. , Copies of the letter were also marked to Apurva Chandra, Secretary, Union Ministry of Labour and Employment, with request to issue suitable instructions to all states — especially Bihar, UP, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha — for generating awareness at various levels. When contacted, Punjab’s Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Anurag Aggarwal said: “The MHA letter did not have details. So, we have asked the deputy commissioners concerned to probe the matter and submit a report. We will take action as per law.” However, Surjit Singh Bhura, vice-president of Punjab Border Kisan Welfare Society , denied any such thing was taking place. “The farmers of the border areas do not force labourers from UP and Bihar into bonded labour and also do not give them drugs. The narcotics come from Pakistan and the people of our area do not smuggle them,” he said. The Shiromani Akali Dal also termed the MHA missive as a “ridiculous assumption” aimed at defaming the Punjab farmers. Former MP Prem Singh Chandumajra alleged the letter was self-contradictory and asked the Union home ministry not to make “illogical connections”. Chandumajra said such letters from MHA would send a wrong signal across the country and would create an atmosphere of confrontation. He said there was no FIR about any person being forced to work as a bonded labourer in any of the areas mentioned in the letter. “In fact, the opposite is true. Farmers of Punjab pay labourers in advance for their services and that’s why lakhs of migrant workers come to Punjab every year for planting crops,” he said. scare Capitol under Lockdown After Vehicle Rams 2 Injured police officers in hospital, suspect in custody as TV footage shows blue sedan crashing into security barrier on street leading to Congress. No information on identity of the driver Page 9
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