KOCHI l TUESDAY l JUNE 23, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 l LATE CITY EDITION IN U-TURN, SUPREME COURT GREEN-LIGHTS RATH YATRA Four days after it stayed the Puri Rath Yatra due to Covid-19, the top court on Monday let it proceed with restrictions PUBLIC BARRED FROM PARTICIPATING Monday’s decision by the Supreme Court follows assurances from the Centre and the Odisha government that all Covid-19 precautions will be followed during the event. “In Puri, we will impose a curfew, the yatra will be held only by the servitors. We won’t allow public participation,” an advocate appearing for the Odisha government told the apex court 5,160 CHARIOT FESTIVAL ONLY IN PURI ■ ■ ■ SC directed the Odisha government to ensure each Rath would be pulled by less than 500 people, all tested negative for Covid-19 A curfew has been imposed in Puri. People have been told not to step out of their homes when the chariot procession takes place The festival will be held only in Puri and no other parts of Odisha IS THE TOTAL CONFIRMED COVID-19 CASES IN ODISHA AS OF MONDAY 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 Over 10-hour meeting of State capital comes under tougher curbs Corps Commanders ends E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ T’Puram No information on talks outcome yet; Army chief plans to visit Leh this week; Chinese commander too died in the June 15 face-off Manmohan assails Modi, Nadda hits back at ex-PM EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi An Indian fighter jet flies over a mountain range near Leh in Ladakh, where forces have been given a free hand to respond to Chinese aggression on the border | AFP M AYA N K S I N G H A N D P U S H K A R B A N A K A R @ New Delhi A marathon meeting of Corps Commanders of India and China got wrapped up late on Monday night, indicating the intricacies involved in the border stand-off along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). There was no immediate word on its outcome though. Also, the Indian Army decided to harden its stance on deployments along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh. “The over 10-hour-long meeting ended around 10pm,” a senior officer informed. The Army confir med that Lt General Harinder Singh, head of Lehbased 14 Corps, held his second round of talks with Major General Lin Liu, commander of the People’s Liberation Army in South Xinjiang region. The meeting is important as tensions along the border have soared after the June 15 attack on Indian soldiers by Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley leading to casualties on both sides. Sources said now the Army is also preparing to strengthen its defences, with senior officers from the Operations Branch visiting Leh in quick succession. Army Chief General M M Naravane is likely to make a trip to Leh next week and take stock of the situation on ground, said another source. All seven Army commanders have gathered in Delhi for the Annual Army Commanders Conference, in which the standoff was discussed on Monday It . is expected to be taken up again on Tuesday in the presence of the Army chief and the vice chief. Troops of 3 Division of the Army are directly handling the stand-off. They are strongly supported by troops of two other divisions. Also, the Indo Tibetan Border Police has been put into standby, informed sources. While India has been open about its fatality in the deadly fight on June 15, China continues to play ostrich. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Monday said he had no information about the Chinese casualties, a day after Union minister and former Army Chief General V K Singh revealed that at least 40 Chinese soldiers were killed. India declared the death of its 20 soldiers, including the commanding officer of its local unit, and injuries to around 70 others. Meanwhile, sources said that External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also told the allparty meeting on Friday that a Chinese commander had been killed in the face-off. The meeting was also told that Colonel B Santosh Babu had sustained head injuries and was killed in action. Lijian, however, reiterated that China and India are in communication with each other to resolve the situation on the ground through diplomatic and military channels. IT’S TIME FOR RIC DIPLOMACY The next diplomatic push could come from the virtual Russia, India, China (RIC) foreign ministers’ conference that begins today. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar was not keen on sharing space with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi but was persuaded by Russia to relent. Russia has taken a cautious and measured approach to the LAC situation and urged both sides to resolve disputes through dialogue | P7 Missing church vicar found dead in well found in the well near the church after the search reTHE vicar of St Thomas Catho- sumed on Monday morning. lic Church (Vellappalli Palli), His hands were tied with a rope who went missing on Sunday while its other end was tied noon, was found dead in a well around a stone, the police said. in the church compound at The CCTV footage confirmed Punnathura near the vicar’s presence in Ayarkkunnam in Kotthe church till 10.50am tayam on Monday . on Sunday . Fr George EttuHowever, the CCTV parayil, alias Sonicameras were switched yachan, 55, had been off after that and the under severe mental vicar’s mobile phone pressure after four pawas in silent mode. rishioners suffered The police have regburns in a fire incident istered a case for unat the church recently, Fr George Ettuparayil natural death and police said. launched an The Ayarkkunnam police investigation. registered a case and launched Deputy Superintendent of a search on Sunday evening af- Police R Sreekumar said, “A ter the church authorities filed preliminary medical examinaa complaint regarding Fr tion confirmed drowning as the ● More on P4 George’s missing. His body was cause of death.” E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @Kottayam FORMER prime minister Manmohan Singh on Monday advised his successor Narendra Modi to always be mindful of the implications of his words in the Chinese context, drawing a sharp retort from BJP chief J P Nadda. Singh told Modi that China should not be allowed to use his words as a vindication of their position. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, too, wondered why China was praising the PM. Singh’s remarks came after the PM during an all-party meeting last week — following the killing of 20 Indian soldiers by Chinese troops in Galwan in Ladakh on June 15 — said, “neither has anyone entered Indian territory nor is anyone present , in Indian territory currently, and nor is any Indian post captured.” Singh pressed on, saying: “We remind the government that disinformation is no substitute for diplomacy or decisive leadership. The truth cannot be suppressed by having pliant allies spout comforting but false statements.” However, Nadda pounced on Singh, accusing that under his watch China illegally occupied vast tracts of land besides launching not less than 600 incursions across the Line of Actual Control (LAC). “Dear Dr. Singh and Congress Party, Please stop insulting our forces repeatedly, questioning their valour. You did this post the air strikes (Balakot) and surgical strikes. Please understand the true meaning of national unity , especially in such times. It’s never too late to improve,” Nadda tweeted. Rahul Gandhi added to the Twitter war, saying: “China killed our soldiers. China took our land. Then, why is China praising Mr Modi during this conflict.” He tagged a news report in the Chinese media that lauded Modi’s concluding address during an all-party meeting on the Ladakh situation. WITH sources of infection remaining unknown in many Covid-19 positive cases, leading to panic in Thiruvananthapuram, the government on Monday brought out a slew of new restrictions in the district. The new curbs were announced on a day the state reported the highest number of Covid-19 cases — 138. No visitor will now be allowed in hospitals in the district and only one bystander will be permitted with a patient. Anyone using an autorickshaw or taxi will have to note down the name and phone number of the driver. Fifty per cent of the shops each will open on alternative days at major markets and shopping centres in the city . Only five to 10 people will be allowed to take part in protests or strikes. This apart, less than 20 persons will be allowed in government functions. The city corporation has also decided to strengthen monitoring of fishermen going to Tamil Nadu shores. Though restrictions will be implemented in rural and urban areas in varying degrees, stricter measures will be put in place in the city limits. From a Nalanchira native priest who died of Covid around three weeks ago to a security officer at the Government Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram, NEPAL GANDAK BARRAGE GANDAK RIVER UP BIHAR Bihar flood threat as Nepal stops repair of embankment R A J E S H K U M A R T H A K U R @ Patna THE Nepal government has blocked Bihar officials from carrying out repair works on a section of the Gandak embankment that sits on a piece of no man’s land along the India-Nepal border. Barricades have been Big worry, put up there to prevent the movement of says minister men, materials and machinery from the Indian side. Bihar’s water Sources said, the repair works, being resource minister Sanjay Kumar Jha done by Bihar’s Water Resource Department, have been going on for a long time. admitted that if But on June 15, the Nepal Armed Border the repair works Force (NABF) reached the spot and halted are not done on time, many parts the works. The district administration promptly alerted the state government. of North Bihar’s Bihar’s water resource minister Sanjay would face a devastating flood Kumar Jha on Monday confirmed the development. when the rain “This for the first time that Nepal has starts resorted to an act putting a barrier to stop movement of material, men and machinery from India side,” Jha said, adding the Ministry of External Affair has been being apprised of the situation. “The Gandak Barrage has 36 gates, half of which fall on our side. Repair of these has been completed by our engineers. However, we tried to cross over to the other side for doing the needful for the remaining 18 gates, maintenance of which is carried out by us, we found the barricades,” Jha said. testing positive on Monday, the sources of infection of many patients are unknown, triggering fears of community transmission. Taking into account the seriousness of the situation, two high-level meetings, in the presence of Minister Kadakampally Surendran, were held on Monday to finalise the restrictions in the district and within the corporation limits. A meeting of the MLAs in the district decided to open more institutional quarantine centres at the panchayat level, with at least one such facility in each panchayat. People with no room quarantine facility can utilise them at the ● More on P4 local level. 16 PAGES, INCLUDING 4 PAGES OF KOCHI EXPRESS 1,540 are under treatment 1,747 3,310 recovered cases confirmed so far FIVE MALAYALIS DIE IN GULF Five Keralites died of Covid-19 in Gulf countries on Monday, taking the total number of NRKs who died in the region to 254 that the increase in freight prices have been “nowhere MONDAY marked the sixteenth close” to the over 20% rise in straight day of fuel price hikes diesel rates seen over the sumfor Indian consumers, petrol mer in places like Delhi. and diesel rates having surged “We are in a position where by a record `8.30 and `9.46 per we cannot pass on the full imlitre respectively in little over a pact of the fuel hike to consumfortnight. The day’s diesel pric- ers. Prices are a factor of dees reached yet another all-time mand and supply, and both high — `78.85 per litre in New remain very low,” said Naveen Delhi — while petrol Kumar Gupta, secrewas being sold just Livelihood of tary general, All Inshy of the `80 per li20 crore tied dia Motor Transport tre mark at `79.56. Congress. He also to the sector This steep rise is pointed out that since India’s fleet of already having a fuel prices are remarked impact on the commercial trucks vised daily, it was cost of road freight currently stand at very difficult to facover one crore transport. According tor in these changes to S P Singh, senior light, medium and for trips that generheavy duty trucks. ally last over several fellow at the Indian Around 20 crore Foundation of Transdays. people are port Research and “Most transporters dependent on it, Training (IFTRT), are currently runaccording to All truck rental rates ning on huge losses India Motor have increased by as and over 60 per cent much as 10-12 per Transport Congress of the fleet remains cent over the fortidle,” Gupta said. Sinnight beginning June 7. gh agreed: “Current fleet utili“The impact of the fuel price sation is only at around 30-35 hikes have been observed on per cent.” trunk routes pan-India,” he Around 20 crore people are said, adding freight costs had dependent on the commercial already been rising over the truck sector. “Even if we do summer. “Very low demand pass on the entire impact, these meant transporters weren’t 20 crore people will still be afable to get assured return loads fected, since prices of food and and tried to protect their mar- other articles on the ground gins,” he noted. will also increase,” Gupta Transporters say, however, pointed out. CONTINUED ON: P10 THE UPWARD TRAJECTORY Price on June 22 (New Delhi) PETROL A71.26 A79.56 Kochi: Pappukutty Bhagavathar, one of the multifaceted personalities of Kerala’s artistic realm, passed away here on Monday. He was 107. Having excelled as a theatre artist, actor and singer, Bhagavathar breathed his last at his house in Perumbadappu due to age-related illnesses. P5 21 DEATHS J O N AT H A N A N A N D A @ New Delhi ‘Honour killing’: Girl’s dad acquitted Pappukutty Bhagavathar no more Chennai: A division bench of the Madras High Court on Monday acquitted the prime accused B Chinnasamy, also the father of Kausalya, in the sensational 2016 Udumalpet Shankar so-called honour killing case. The court also set aside the death sentence awarded to five convicts, reducing it to life imprisonment with a minimum of 25 years without any right for remission. P5 138 cases reported on Monday Transporters hit as fuel cost goes North, jacks up freight rates Price on June 6 (New Delhi) EXPRESS READ KERALA CASE DIARY 0.60 0.60 0.60 0.60 0.54 0.40 0.60 0.57 0.60 0.58 0.45 0.59 0.58 0.64 Jun 10 0.64 0.60 0.63 0.61 Price on June 6 (New Delhi) DIESEL Jun 14 0.33 0.56 0.51 0.35 0.55 0.53 0.60 0.59 0.57 DIESEL PETROL Jun 7 0.59 0.62 0.48 0.47 0.58 Price on June 22 (New Delhi) A69.39 A78.85 Jun 18 Jun 22 Prithviraj’s Vaariyamkunnan caught in ‘historic’ muddle S H I B U B S @Kochi THE announcement of a new film by Aashiq Abu, based on the life of Variyankunnathu Kunjahammed Haji, has triggered a controversy with the Sangh Parivar coming out against the movie. According to some history books on the freedom struggle in Kerala, Kunjahammed Haji is portrayed as a rebel who fought against the British in the Mappila Rebellion of 1921. While Muslims and Left-liberals portray him as an unsung hero, the Sangh has always opposed him as someone who led a rebellion that committed atrocities against the Hindus of Malabar. The Aashiq Abu movie — titled Vaariyamkunnan, with Prithviraj playing the title role — is set to cause a stir under the current sociopolitical circumstances. “The entire team has researched the topic and referred all available books and documents,” said Muhsin Parari, the co-director of the project. “It will be an effort to tell the tale of Kunjahammed Haji which was recorded in Kerala’s history A documentary on . him will also be made along with the movie.” Recently, CPM leader M Swaraj, speaking in the Kerala Assembly, praised the role of Muslims in the freedom struggle and portrayed Haji as a true patriot. The Sangh, having protested Swaraj’s speech then, raised objections again after the announcement of the project on Monday . “The Mappila Rebellion had nothing to do with the freedom struggle,” said Prajna Pravah n at i o n a l c o nve n o r J Nandakumar. “It was a planned massacre. Books like Malabar Kalapam written by K Madhavan Nair have mentioned the facts. Moreover, Ahmed Haji was a person with a shoddy background. There is a deliberate attempt from Leftists and a particular community to glorify him. Actors should desist from getting involved in such divisive campaigns.” ● More on P4
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