KOCHI l TUESDAY l SEPTEMBER 03, 2019 l `7.00 l PAGES 18 l LATE CITY EDITION IAF CHIEF’S FINAL FIGHTER JET SORTIE IS WITH ABHI ON MiG-21 It is seen as a measure by the IAF to acknowledge Abhinandan Varthaman’s bravery in shooting down a Pak F-16 jet in Feb HAD FLOWN WITH VARTHAMAN SR EARLIER ‘BOTH OF US FOUGHT THE PAKISTANIS’ “It was an honour for me to fly with him,” Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa, who is set to retire on Sept 30, said. The Air Chief has earlier flown with Abhinandan’s father Simhakutty Varthaman, who retired as Air Marshal. Abhinanadan, who ejected in PoK after his MiG-21 was hit by the enemy, was recently conferred Vir Chakra and returned to the cockpit 2 weeks ago ■ ■ The IAF chief said he too ejected from a combat jet in 1988 and had to wait for nine months before returning to the cockpit The Air Chief had commanded the MiG’s 17 Squadron when he took part during the 1999 Kargil war. “Both of us fought the Pakistanis,” he said after the 30-minute sortie on Monday <6 months TIME IT TOOK FOR ABHI TO GET HIS FLYING CATEGORY BACK AFTER EJECTION INJURIES CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOGGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI JADHAV UNDER Core sector growth plunges to 2.1 pc in July GREAT STRESS, FINDS ENVOY E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi Forced to parrot Pakistan line during his meet with top Indian diplomat EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi FOR the first time since retired Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested by Pakistan in 2016, a top Indian diplomat got to meet him on Monday but came away with the distinct impression that he was under severe stress to tow the captor’s line. Charge d’ Affaires of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad Gaurav Ahluwalia spent two hours with Jadhav. Exter nal Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “While we await a comprehensive report, it was clear that Jadhav appeared to be under extreme pressure to parrot a false narrative to bolster Pakistan’s untenable claims.” The Centre will decide its further course of action after Ahluwalia submits his full report. Raveesh Kumar underlined the fact that the consular access was part of the binding obligations of Pakistan as ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). A statement issued by the Pakistani foreign office said, “Consular access was provided at 1200 hours and lasted for two (02) hours, in the presence of officials of the Government of Pakistan... On Indian request, there was no restriction on the language of communication. In order to ensure transparency and in line with standard operating procedures, and as conveyed to the Indian side in advance, the access was recorded.” Before meeting Jadhav, Ahluwalia met Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal. Jadhav has been in a Pakistan prison since March 3, 2016, after he was abducted from Iran, where he was pursuing his business. Later, a Pak military tribunal awarded him capital punishment on charges of being a spy . IN what may be an indicator of how wide the economic slowdown has spread — and how deep can go from here — government data released on Monday showed the growth of the crucial core industries plunged to 2.1% last month compared with 7.3% in July 2018. The core-sector slowdown was primarily due to contraction in production in coal, crude oil, EXPRESS READ IMD issues yellow alert for 8 districts Kochi: With the rain intensifying across the state, the IMD has issued yellow alert for eight districts — Ernakulam, Idukki, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod — for Tuesday. These districts may receive heavy rain ranging from 6.5 to 11.5 cm. P4 Maharaja’s-Thykoodam Metro stretch opens today Kochi: The inauguration of Kochi Metro’s new stretch between Maharaja’s and Thykoodam will be held on Tuesday, with the passenger service set to start from Wednesday. P2 18 PAGES, INCLUDING 4 PAGES OF KOCHI EXPRESS natural gas and petroleum refinery products. “These are signs of a major slowdown in the economy. Not only retail but industrial demand has also been affected,” said Prof. Biswajit Dhar of JNU, adding that this is in line with global trends. “Germany grew 0.1% in the June quarter and 2019 Euro-zone growth forecasts have been trimmed from 0.4% to 0.2%,” he added. According to Commerce Ministry data, coal production declined by 1.4% in July, while crude dropped 4.4%. Natural gas production and refinery products contracted by 0.5% and 0.9%, respectively However, fertilis. er grew 1.5% and steel by 6.6%. Cement and electricity production grew by 7.9% and electricity by 4.2%. Meanwhile, the country’s manufacturing sector activity declined to its 15-month low in August, a monthly survey said on Monday (see graphic). According to finance ministry sources, the government is worried if the ongoing slowdown will hit revenues. “Slowdown is a matter of concern as it is likely to hit revenue collections. The PMO has flagged its concern over the revenue collection tar- Tired of CITU trouble, Muthoot decides to press the ‘exit’ button E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Kochi LEADING gold loan company Muthoot Finance Ltd said it has decided to close down a large number of its branches in Kerala after hundreds of its employees, a majority of them women, were prevented from entering the branches and more than 300 branches were forcibly shut by CITUaffliliated union activists on Monday . The Kochi-headquartered NBFC has appointed chartered accountants PZ Chackos & Co to find buyers for its gold loan portfolio of some of its branches in Kerala, in a clear indication to exit from CITU is destroying the business climate in Kerala. They’ve wrecked several businesses in the state in the past, and they’re doing it again now — Babu John, Muthoot Finance these locations. “We’ve been retained by a leading NBFC having pan-India presence intending to sell out the gold-loan portfolio of some of their branches in Kerala which they’re contemplating to close down due to labour issues,” said a PZ Chackos & Co advertisement. CITU-affliated Non-Banking & Private Finance Em- ployees Association has been creating trouble in Muthoot Finance’s branches in Kerala over the last couple of years, putting pressure on its employees to join the union. CITU also wants the association to be recognised by the management. Muthoot Finance DGM (Communications) Babu John said most of its employees have no plans to join the association and CITU is trying to use “terror tactics” to prevent the employees from opening the branches. He said Muthoot Finance may be forced to permanently shut down 346 out of the 623 P5 branches in the state. gets and asked for a plan on how targets could be met. They are likely to meet revenue department officials in the next few days,” said a senior official from the Department of Revenue. The government has already lowered its projections for GST collections in the Budget for 201920 to `6.63 lakh crore from the Interim Budget’s mop-up target of `7.6 lakh crore. But the average GST collection per month still remains below `1 lakh crore. P11 BCCI CoA to relax Sept 14 poll deadline AT R E Y O M U K H O PA D H YAY @ Chennai IF one expected the Committee of Administrators to tighten the noose around defiant state associations of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the opposite is going to happen. The deadline of September 14, by when the state bodies were supposed to complete their elections or lose voting rights at the BCCI’s annual general meeting on October 22, is set to be relaxed. High-profile associations like Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Karnataka and MP are among the 10 associations that are still to send their amended constitutions to the CoA for approval.
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