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 ■ ■ File picture of Indian High Commission officials Dwimu Brahma (R) and Selvadhas Paul who returned home from Pakistan | AFP CHENNAI l WEDNESDAY l JUNE 24, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 l LATE CITY EDITION INDIA DOWNGRADES TIES, DIRECTS PAK TO CUT MISSION STRENGTH BY 50% EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi BILATERAL relations with Pakistan dipped sharply on Tuesday with India directing it to reduce the strength of its High Commission in New Delhi by half, holding it responsible for cross-border violence and terrorism. According to a statement from the ministry of external affairs, Pakistan’s charge d’affaires Syed Haider Shah was summoned to the ministry and informed about the decision. “Shah was told India will reciprocally reduce its diplomatic presence in Islamabad by the same TRUMP GAMBIT Citing virus job losses, US suspends H-1B PUSHKAR BANAKAR AND BISMAH M A L I K @ New Delhi US President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order enabling the suspension of green cards and non-immigrant work visas such as the H-1B till December, a move that is likely to affect thousands of Indians. However, the order said existing H-1B visa holders will not be impacted. The White House said the visa system will undergo a permanent overhaul in future making it merit based as opposed to the current lottery system. The categories that have been suspended include H-4 (spouse for H-1B workers), H-2B (low-skilled workers), J (cultural and education workers) and L-1 ( i n t r a - c o m p a ny VISA transfer). The Trump administration claims that the freezing of visas was done due to the economic impact of the coronavirus lockdowns and to give priority to Americans in the wake of record unemployment levels. The move is expected to free up over 5 lakh jobs in the US market, officials say . Indians are the largest beneficiaries of the H-1B visa, accounting for around three-fourths of the total 85,000 visas issued annually . Around four lakh Indians are in the US on the H-1B visa. The biggest impact will be felt by IT bigwigs such as TCS, Cognizant, Tech Mahindra, Larsen and Toubro and Infosys. The companies saw a decline in H-1B visas by over 60% from 18,320 in 2015 to 6,885 in 2020. The H-1B denial rate P7 has gone up to about 32%. FIGURE IT OUT 1.86 lakh registrations for the H-1B visa from India were received by the US for the fiscal year 2021, as of April 1 this year 67.7% 65K is the annual cap for H-1B visas, with an extra 20,000 for those with advanced degrees from a US institution The figure amounts to 67.7% of the total 2.75 lakh applications received by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services Immigration has contributed immensely to America’s economic success, making it a global leader in tech, and also Google the company it is today. Disappointed by today’s proclamation - we’ll continue to stand with immigrants and work to expand opportunity for all Sundar Pichai, Alphabet CEO proportion within a week,” the ministry said. More often than not, the treatment of diplomats in the Capital is a mirror image of the bilateral relationship. “They have been engaged in acts of espionage and maintained dealings with terrorist organisations. The activities of the two officials caught red-handed and expelled on 31 May was one example in that regard,” the statement said. The decision to reduce the strength of the Pakistan High Commission by half comes a week after two Pakistan High Commission officials were arrested on charges of espionage Disengage decision biggest takeaway Will take a long time before both sides actually pull back from all friction points; Army Chief visits Leh broad agreement. “There will now be meetings between Division Commanders of both sides to work out INDIA and China decided to disen- the specifics.” Sector Commanders gage from their stand-off positions in will then get involved to firm up the Eastern Ladakh during the mara- nuts and bolts of the actual pullback. thon Corps Commander-level talks The retreat of soldiers will be in on Monday, but it will take a long phases, the officer added. time before forces actually move At the diplomatic level, India took back on the ground. “Modalities for a veiled dig at China with External disengagement from all friction are- Affairs Minister S Jaishankar saying as were discussed and will the world’s leading voices be taken forward by both should act in an exemplaJaishankar sides,” a highly placed ry manner by respecting raps China source confirmed. international law and rec“Recognising the The decision was taken ognising the interests of legitimate interests partners. And on the poat the second meeting of of partners, Corps Commanders in litical front, India was supporting Moldo on the Chinese side more explicit, as Defence of the Line of Actual Con- multilateralism and Minister Rajnath Singh trol (LAC), which was held promoting common refused to meet his Chigood are the only in a ‘cordial, positive and nese counterpart, who way of building a constructive atmosphere’. sought to make himself But their first meeting on durable world order,” available in Russia for a foreign minister S June 6 had similar soundone-on-one. Jaishankar said ing protocols, yet there At the military level, without naming was a bloody face-off at Army Chief General M M Galwan Valley on June 15, China, while speaking Naravane visited Ladakh’s where 20 Indian jawans at the RIC meet | P7 capital Leh to take stock died in action. So, the Inof the situation. dian side is understandably wary . Sinologist B R Deepak described “We must wait till the retreat of the decision to disengage as a expresthe Chinese soldiers actually begins sion of intent. “It’s not clear as yet, I on the ground,” a source said. India think it is a statement of intent the has clearly reiterated its position way they made it on June 6 followed that status quo ante must be restored by a series of meetings at both miliin the areas of stand-off. tary and diplomatic levels,” said A senior officer aware of the situa- Deepak, who heads the Centre for tion said the entire process will take Chinese and South Asian Studies at time as what was clinched was a the Jawaharlal Nehru University P7 . M AYA N K S I N G H & P U S H K A R B A N A K A R @ New Delhi DUMPING DUTY ON CHINESE STEEL New Delhi: The Department of Revenue has imposed anti-dumping duty on flat rolled zinc/aluminium coated steel originating or exported from China, Korea and Vietnam for five years. The notification said after complaints of many steelmakers, including Jindal Steels, the Directorate-General of Trade Remedies came to the conclusion that steel produced from these countries are exported to India below their normal subjected value and thus amount to dumping. The decision came after countrywide protest to ban products from China. Parallelly, the Centre tweaked rules to make it mandatory for all foreign firms registering fresh products for sale in India to mention the country of origin in the Government e-Marketplace. It will be mandatory for existing products too. NO DJOKO, IT’S A SHOCKER! EVENT OF CONCERN Novak Djokovic tested positive for Covid-19 -- days after he was spotted in a party at a Serbian nightclub. His wife Jelena too was infected After three players — Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric, Viktor Troicki — tested positive, the final of Djokovic’s exhibition Adria Tour (pic) in Serbia and Croatia was put off. The stands were packed and players casually interacted with fans Pak cricket Seven England-bound Pakistan cricketers were positive on team hit too Tuesday, taking total to 10 after three detections on Monday 2 traders die in custody, shops to shut today S G O D S O N W I S E LY D A S S @ Thoothukudi EVEN as parts of the State have been placed under a strict lockdown, the Tamil Nadu Traders Association has announced that shops across the State will be shut on Wednesday to protest the death of two Thoothukudi shopkeepers allegedly in police custody T Vellaiyan, president of the as. sociation, urged the public not to panic as shops would only down shutters for a single day . On Tuesday angry traders in Sathankulam, Udangudi and Peikulam in Thoothukudi shut shop alleg- ing police brutality . As tension prevailed, Superintendent of Police Arun Balagopalan and Collector Sandeep Nanduri held talks with the protesters. By the end of the day four policemen, , including two sub-inspectors, were suspended pending inquiry and 12 police staff, including an inspector, were transferred. Meanwhile, the Madurai Bench of the Madras HC ordered that the postmortem be performed by a team of three doctors and the procedure be videographed. The court also initi- ated suo motu proceedings to inquire into the case. The deceased J Fenix (31) and his father P Jeyaraj (63) were traders in Sathankulam. The son was declared dead at Government Kovilpatti Hospital on Monday night while the father died at the same hospital early Tuesday morning. Jeyaraj was taken to the Sathankulam station on June 19 allegedly for keeping his timber shop open past 9 pm. Fenix, who ran a mobile phone shop, went there to enquire after him. But, police booked P4 and remanded both of them. and sent back. In what was seen as a tit-for-tat, Pakistani authorities arrested two Indian High Commission staffers for their alleged involvement in a hit-and-run case. They were later released and are back in India. According to sources, the current strength of the Pakistan high commission is 110. NO TALKS AT DEF MINISTER LEVEL, CHINA TOLD M AYA N K S I N G H @ New Delhi IN a clear snub to Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe, New Delhi on Tuesday rubbished any possibility of his holding talks with his visiting Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh in Moscow. Both are expected to attend the World War II Victory Day Parade in Russia on Wednesday . Shortly after Chinese government mouthpiece Global Times did kite flying on bilateral talks, defence ministry spokesperson A Bharat Bhushan Babu denied it. “Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe is expected to attend Russia’s Victory Day parade in Moscow on Wednesday, and since Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh is also attending the event, the two will very likely meet in Moscow over border tensions between the two countries,” wrote Global Times. Rajnath Singh started his three-day visit to Russia on Monday . Global Times quoted an expert to say if the meeting happens, it would contribute to easing the tense situation along the border in Ladakh. However, both missions are not functioning at full strength after Islamabad drastically downgraded ties in August last year following the Centre’s decision to scrap Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. They even refused to send a high commissioner. Both missions are headed by deputy high commissioners. This is, however, not the first time that Pakistan has been asked to reduce its strength in the High Commission. A similar decision was taken following the 13 December 2001 attack on Parliament. New Delhi has blamed Pakistan-based terror organisations for carrying out the attack. City ramps up facilities to tackle rising caseload EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Chennai/Madurai TAMIL Nadu reported 2,516 Covid cases on Tuesday, taking the tally to 64,603 cases, even as Madurai and Theni districts geared up for a complete weeklong lockdown from Wednesday . Chennai accounted for 1,380 of the cases, and for 22 of the 39 total deaths reported during the day The Statewide toll has now . reached 833. As Chennai continued to be the major contributor to the caseload, with its tally touching 44,205, Corporation Commissioner G Prakash said a new 5,000-bed Covid care centre would be ready for patients with mild symptoms by month-end. After inspecting the facility coming up at a Tamil Nadu Housing Board Tenement in Ambattur, he told reporters, FRESH CASES DEATHS “The tenement has 1,450 apartments and each one will have at least four to five beds. As many as 450 apartments will be given to doctors, nurses, paramedics and technicians and 1,000 to the patients. About 1,500 beds are being readied at Anna University as well.” With 137 fresh cases reported in Madurai on Tuesday the dis, trict authorities are all the more determined to tighten the vigil around Madurai corporation limits, Paravai town panchayat and all the village panchayats of Madurai East, Madurai West and Tiruparankundram for the June 24-30 complete lockdown. The area will resemble a “fortress,” with 35 additional checkposts set up to close all pores around these areas. The Madurai Corporation has deployed 1,400 officials to carry out doorto-door survey to identify people P2,P4 with symptoms. TALLY TOLL 2,516 39 64,603 833
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