KOCHI l WEDNESDAY l DECEMBER 04, 2019 l `7.00 l PAGES 20 l LATE CITY EDITION SPG AMENDMENT BILL GETS RAJYA SABHA’S STAMP Elite protection now only for the PM and ex-PMs for a limited period as Rajya Sabha too passes the Bill to amend SPG Act ‘SPECIAL SECURITY NOT A STATUS SYMBOL’ HOW GANDHIS CAME UNDER SPG COVER Home Minister Amit Shah rejected accusations that the government is pursuing political vendetta and reiterated that the decision to exclude the Gandhi family from the elite security cover was based on a revised threat assessment. “Security cover must not be treated as a status symbol,” Shah said, adding his party is concerned about the security of all Indians ■ ■ Following Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in May 1991, the SPG Act 1988 was amended to provide SPG-level security to former PMs and their family members for 10 years after demitting office In 1999, it was decided to extend the special cover beyond the 10-year period in cases where threat level justified such security 55 PERSONNEL ASSIGNED TO THOSE WITH Z+ COVER, LIKE THE GANDHIS 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 EXPRESS READ Police in spot after Basheer leaves groups T’Puram: Four months after he was fatally knocked down off a motorcycle , journalist K M Basheer suddenly ‘left’ the WhatsApp groups on Tuesday, leaving the police confused. P6 Navy forced Chinese ship to retreat Indian Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh on Tuesday revealed that a Chinese naval ship was driven away from India’s EEZ in the Andaman sea in September. The Navy suspected the Chinese ship of spying ` HDFC NET BANKING, APP DOWN Thousands of customers were unable to pay their credit card dues, EMIs, and rents as HDFC’s net banking services and app remained down until Tuesday eve Page 13 STUDENTS BACK TO SCHOOL In recent days, Kashmiri students have returned to their classrooms. However, they have been asked to come in casual clothes for security reasons SHOPS STAY OPEN LONGER Shops opened in J&K on Tuesday morning and markets remained open well past noon. Until last week, shops downed their shutters much before noon BACK TO NORMAL? Centre starts pulling out troops from J&K Improvement in ground situation, claim security officials; de-induction in phases most wholly’ been withdrawn from the Jammu region, except THE Centre on Tuesday sig- from Poonch and some critical nalled the pullout of ‘additional junctions, where presence of troops’ inducted in militancy- troops to ensure basic security hit Jammu and Kashmir for se- remains an imperative still, ofcurity duties beginning July ficials said, adding that the malast week, just before the abro- jority of units pulled back were gation of Article 370 which en- drawn from the Border Securisured the state’s special status. ty Force and the Central ReThe decision to de-induct ad- serve Police Force. ditional troops was takThe Centre had canSouth en after due assessment celled the Amarnath Kashmir and “considerable imYatra on August 3 and p r o ve m e n t i n t h e asked pilgrims to leave Troops ground situation in the the state before rushing stationed in Valley”, a top security in about 50,000-70,000 disturbed official said. additional paramilidistricts of He said 20 of the 300 tary forces to the Valley Anantnag, companies of paramiliahead of the scrapping Kulgam, tary forces which were of J&K Special status Shopian and inducted had already Pulwama, will and bifurcation of the left the Kashmir Valley see continued State into two UTs. from areas in Baramu- deployment of The additional la and Bandipora, bestrength was to bolster troops sides Srinagar. The the forces already stapullout will continue in a tioned in the state and pre-empt phased manner, he said but possible outbreak of violence. gave no timeline by when the “We are keeping a close full withdrawal would be watch on the situation. The deachieved. He, however, added induction is also directly linked the additional troops inducted to the situation. If the authori“would not leave in one go”, but ties feel that de-induction of be de-inducted in phases as per troops won’t impact the ground periodic assessments of the situation, then more troops will ground situation. be sent back,” said a CRPF Paramilitary forces have ‘al- spokesperson. F AYA Z W A N I @ Srinagar As bad roads kill 17, cops take matter into own hands A J AY K A N T H @ Kochi CALL it an apt response to those who, when pulled up for traffic violations, ask the cops to fix the roads before going after them. With accidents due to bad roads killing 17 persons and injuring 85 in the state till September this year, the Kerala Police have decided to take up the additional task of preparing reports on the condition of roads that pose a danger to motorists. Besides, the matter will be taken up with the departments concerned for follow-up action. Police stations have been asked to prepare detailed reports on potholes and poor condition of roads within their limits and submit them to higher-ups. State police chief Loknath Behera has issued a directive to senior officers in SORRY STATE OF KERALA’S ROADS 85 people were injured till September in accidents due to bad roads this regard. They have also been asked to take action against officers who fail to generate reports in time. “Police will prepare a report if they spot a bad road. A report should be made even if there is a pothole on the road which puts the life of motorists at risk,” Be- The Road Transport and Highways Ministry data has put the state in the high-risk category with regard to pothole-related accident deaths hera told TNIE. He said the reports will be forwarded to the depar tments and authorities concerned for necessary action. “Once we file the report, we will follow it up thoroughly to ensure that the officials concerned take action to make the road safe,” Behera said. HC directs dist collector to take over Kothamangalam church E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Kochi Aluva Rural SP has gone on leave. The church issue is a sensitive one and it needs to be discussed in detail before we go ahead with an action plan. The High Court has not set any deadline to execute the order. We’re planning to implement the order once the SP is back on duty S Suhas, Ernakulam District Collector Heads of Churches offer to mediate in ‘painful’ feud Kochi: Terming the dispute between Jacobite and Orthodox factions as painful, the heads of other Christian Churches have offered to hold parleys to find an amicable solution. P6 THE Kerala High Court on Tuesday directed the Ernakulam district collector to take over the Kothamangalam St Thomas Church — popularly known as Cheriyapally — and remove the people squatting on the church premises. A single judge issued the order after considering a petition filed by Orthodox priest Thomas Paul Ramban seeking police protection to conduct religious services at the church in view of the Supreme Court verdict in this regard. Justice P B Sureshkumar also directed the collector to ensure that public order, peace and tranquility prevail in the locality The . court said the collector should hand over the church, its precincts and movables to the petitioner for management if he was satisfied that the situation prevailing in the area was conducive to enable the petitioner to conduct religious ceremonies. The Orthodox faction vicar shall render the services required if the funeral of any parishioner has to be conducted. There shall not be any impediments in conducting the funeral. Once the church and its precincts are handed over to the petitioner, necessary police protection should be provided for conducting religious ceremonies. If any person obstructs the religious services or creates trouble, the police shall forthwith arrest and remove him. The court directed the collector to deploy necessary contingent of police on the church premises until peace and harmony is restored, and the petitioner is in a position to manage the church affairs. Considering a plead by Ramban in 2018 seeking control of the church as per SC verdict, the Muvattupuzha munsiff court had restrained the Jacobite faction from entering the church. ● More on P6 Eating soil: Panel dismisses media report; govt offers family support E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @T’Puram Action taken Mother and six children shifted to a child-care home at Vellanad Family issued a ration card State child welfare council demands action against kids’ father for abusing them The children undergo health screening THE State Child Rights Commission (SCRC) has termed as ‘baseless’ the media reports that abject poverty forced one of the children living in a shanty at Kaithamukku in the capital to eat soil. The Commission also blamed authorities of the Kerala State Council for Child Welfare (KSCCW) for wrongly interpreting the incident. “Such false media reports emerged after officials of the state child welfare council, who saw the children playing with soil, thought one of them was eating it,” Suresh told mediapersons. He added such ‘reporting’ had brought ‘shame’ to the state. Even as many government officials expressed doubt about starvation, the mother and six children were shifted to a child- care institution at Vellanad. Following the SCRC’s intervention, the family was issued a ration card on Tuesday . KSCCW general secretary S P Deepak also demanded criminal proceedings against Kunjumon, the father, for physically and mentally abusing the mother and children. Mayor K Sreekumar offered the mother a temporary job at the city corporation and a flat to the family in city limits. The children were subjected to thorough health screening and Deepak said it showed two of them had chest infection and one infant displayed scabies-like symptoms. Meanwhile, Suresh said Sreedevi, the mother, told the Commission that her husband would go to work daily and bring food and provisions home, contrary to what media reported. P5 PRICE CATCH Joshin, a migrant worker from Kolkata, takes a selfie amid sacks of onion in the godown of a wholesale dealer at the Ernakulam market on Tuesday. With the price hovering above C120 per kilogram, demand for onion has come down in the state, especially from hoteliers | ALBIN MATHEW NEEDLE MENACE Dope alarm in Indian sports ahead of Olympics 300 tests to be done at Khelo India To be on the safe side, authorities have decided to conduct 300 dope tests in the Khelo India meet to be held in Guwahati in January. It is an event for junior athletes. I N D R A N E E L D A S @ New Delhi WITH around eight months to go for the Tokyo Olympics and Indian hopes soaring with a string of impressive performances in various World Championhips this year, there comes a bad news. The number of cases of doping involving Indians continues to be alarming. In the last 11 months, there have 156 failed dope tests. In a list released by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) in possession on this newspaper, bodybuilders are the prime offenders, with 60 positive tests. That’s not an Olympic event, one can say The wor. rying part is, even track and field and weightlifting athletes feature near the top of the list. Other than 26 weightlifters, there are 20 athletes whose urine samples contain traces of illegal performance-enhanc- ing subsatnces. Even a relatively dope-free sport like shooting has two offenders in 2019. The NADA will up its ante on anti-doping measures before the Olympics. Its director-general, Navin Agarwal, felt the number of samples collected ahead of the Olympics will be substantial. For the record, 3814 samples have been collected in 2019 so far. “We have increased our detection rate and all Olympic-bound athletes will be continuously monitored,” Agarwal said. When woman boxer Neeraj Phogat was caught for the drug ligandrol on Monday, it was thought to be the first instance in India of this drug being used. It emerged on Tuesday that three lifters were guilty of using it in 2019. They got hefty bans, but it shows that Indians are not averse to exploring new avenues in doping. In Thiruvananthapuram, the city traffic police have begun submitting reports. Officials said there is a provision for the police to serve notice under the CrPC on the official in charge of maintenance of a road and if he/she fails to act, the official concerned can be held responsible for the delay and a case can also be registered. Starting this year, the police have begun to compile a list of accidents caused by bad roads. No such entry was being made in the accident data all these years. The Road Transport and Highways Ministry data puts the state in the high-risk category with regard to pothole-related accident deaths. Between 2015 and 2017, 159 persons were killed and 1,968 injured in accidents caused by potholed roads in the state. SHORTFALL Union govt looks to tax GST-exempt items next A N U R A D H A S H U K L A @ New Delhi WITH GST collections falling short of targets and compensation cess to s t a t e s wo r t h about `40,000 crore remaining unpaid, the government is looking at ways to bring GSTexempt items under tax net. According to sources, the GST Council meeting later this month is likely to discuss ways to improve revenue and identify GST-exempt items that can be taxed. The next GST Council meeting will be closely watched as it is expected to take some drastic steps. While the GST Council’s remit is to review tax and cess rates, its focus so far has been rationalising GST by reducing levies on many items or taking them out of the list of taxable items. “The total collection has improved slightly but it is still below target. With falling revenue, a review is required of items under exemption and cess imposed by state,” a finance ministry official said. If GST collections remain low, it will hit both the Centre and states. The Centre has already written to states seeking suggestions on rates and on exemption list for the next GST Council meeting. Food, fertiliser, certain medicines and far m tools are among the items that are currently exempt from GST. GST revenues grew 6% in N ove m b e r a f t e r s eve r a l months of poor collections. Total collections are still far below the estimate and officials say the mop-up has to grow over 20% each month to meet Budget targets. 20 PAGES, INCLUDING 4 PAGES OF KOCHI EXPRESS Govt will drop cases against Koregaon activists: Uddhav EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Mumbai MAHARASHTRA Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday said his government will withdraw all wrongful cases filed in connection with the Bhima Kore g aon violence. This comes soon after a senior NCP MLA Prakash Gajbhiye handed a letter to Thackeray on Tuesday demanding that “false cases” filed against Dalit activists and students in the case be withdrawn. “We are of opinion that all wrongful cases should be withdrawn. The previous government too had initiated the process of withdrawing cases in Bhima Koregaon violence, except those involve serious criminal offences,” Thackeray told reporters in Mumbai. Several youngsters were implicated in the riots cases.
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04122019 of The New Indian Express-Kochi
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