KOTTAYAM l FRIDAY l JULY 10, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l CITY EDITION NEPAL PULLS PLUG ON INDIAN TV CHANNELS E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi CABLE TV operators in Nepal on Thursday banned all Indian news channels except Doordarshan, accusing them of spreading misinformation and defaming their leaders. However, there has been no government order to this effect so far. Nepal’s minister for informa- tion and broadcasting Yubaraj Khatiwada said the government would seek political and legal remedies against Indian media for disseminating news that jeopardises the nation, nationality, sovereignty and self-respect of Nepalis. “We also request not to disseminate news that infringes sovereignty and self-respect of Nepal- is. This includes the media of neighboring countries. We might seek both political and legal remedies,” he said. Nepal-India relations have been on a downward spiral since the Himalayan nation passed a constitutional amendment to include territories of Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura and Kalapani in their new map claiming them un- PLA FULLY WITHDRAWS FROM GOGRA, HOT SPRINGS der the Treaty of Sugauli. India, however, maintains that the territories are theirs. Both countries are mandated by a 1988 treaty to resolve all boundary issues through diplomatic talks. The latest move also comes after a media house claimed Nepal leaders were honey trapped by Chinese ambassador to Nepal after she met them. LAC Corps commanders of India and China will meet next week to discuss pullback of larger troop formations, heavy equipment SITUATION IS “STABLE AND IMPROVING”, CHINA SAID ON THURSDAY Lt Gen Harinder Singh and Maj Gen Lin Liu will meet for the fourth time to decide the next phase of troop withdrawal Disengagement now enters an important phase after pullback in three areas of stand-off in Eastern Ladakh The entire focus now shifts to Pangong Tso area where there has been thinning out of troops from Finger area 4 Galwan Valley is india’s, says MEA The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday termed China’s claims over Galwan Valley “untenable and exaggerated” | P7 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 Door opens for Covid-19 test by more private labs MHA allows NIA to probe gold smuggling The agency to probe national security angle; decision comes a day after Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to Prime Minister EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi P T I @New Delhi TAKING proactive steps to ramp up the Covid-19 testing capacity in the country the gov, ernment has decided to allow non-accredited private labs — who apply for accreditation — to carry out diagnostic tests for the viral disease. With the national test positivity rate crossing 10 — against the WHO recommended guideline of keeping it under 5 in order to contain the outbreak — low testing continues to be a major concern. Dr Nivedita Gupta, a senior scientist at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said private labs have now been allowed to apply for National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) accreditation and in parallel submit their application to the ICMR to carry out Covid-19 tests. “Private labs can complete accreditation in a month. As of today, a total of 1,132 testing THE Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday allowed the National Investigation Agency to probe the gold smuggling case detected at the Thiruvananthapuram airport as the incident “may have serious implications for national security,” officials said. The decision came a day after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his “intervention for an effective investigation” into the seizure of gold worth crores of rupees from a “diplomatic baggage” at the airport in the state capital. “The MHA permits the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to investigate the Thiruvananthapuram airport gold smuggling case, as the organised smuggling operation may have serious implications for national security a home min,” istry spokesperson said. Golfers +ve but play Even though three professional golfers continued to test positive for Covid-19, teed off together at a PGA meet in the US. New rules allow golfers to play if at least 10 days have passed since the symptoms first appeared | P11 labs are operational,” she said. At present, more than 2.6 lakh samples are being tested for Covid-19 each day . “TrueNat and CBNAAT tests too have been deployed recently, in addition to RT-PCR and we hope to see a further rise by the use of the antigen test,” Dr Gupta added. Ten companies have approached the ICMR for test validation. Special strategy for Poonthura after 77 local spread cases KERALA CASE DIARY 339 cases reported on Thursday 2,795 under treatment 6,534 cases have been confirmed so far 3,708 recovered 4 MIGRATED 27 DEATHS E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ T’Puram POONTHURA, an otherwise quiet coastal hamlet in the state capital, has suddenly become the centre of attention due to local transmission of coronavirus. A day after the health department confirmed super spread in Poonthura, its adjacent Manikyavilakom and Puthenpally wards were declared as critical containment zones. Restrictions in those areas will be more stringent than in the containment zones. Of the 95 cases reported in the capital on Thursday 92 were due to local contact in, cluding four with unknown sources of infection. Poonthura reported 77 new local spread cases. Because of the alarming situation, the government is planning to set up dwellings for reverse quarantine in the area. The situation in Poonthura first came to light when a fisher from the Poonthura locality who sells fish at the Kumarichantha, a market at Ambalathara, tested positive. A wholesale fish vendor, he contracted the virus during a trip to Kanyakumari and transmitted the virus to more than 20 ● More on P5 people. 66 children died by suicide since lockdown started T’Puram: Sixty-six minor children died by suicide in the state since March 25, the day when the countrywide lockdown came into effect, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Thursday. In view of the situation, the Student Police Cadet project will launch ‘Chiri’ a telephonic counselling programme to provide relief to students facing mental pressure. The government has formed a committee headed by Fire and Rescue Services DGP R Sreelekha to study the suicides. P5 The gold, weighing over 30 kg, was seized from a “diplomatic baggage” that had landed by air cargo at the Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 5 from the United Arab Emirates. The customs department has said that it suspected a smuggling syndicate had misused the name of a person who enjoys diplomatic immunity . Meanwhile, in his customary media briefing in Thiruvananthapuram, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan — citing rising incidents of smuggling in the state — said all culprits involved in the illegal activity that robs the country of its wealth should be brought to book. Queried on his letter to the Centre seeking a coordinated probe, Pinarayi said the state has limitations in intervening in such a case. In the letter to the Prime Minister, the state has offered all help in any probe that the Central agencies would conduct, he added. Police-killer don Vikas Dubey arrested in MP A N U R A G S I N G H A N D N A M I TA B A J PA I @ Bhopal/Lucknow UTTAR Pradesh’s most wanted gangster Vikas Dubey, who was on the run after he and his aides allegedly killed eight UP policemen in Kanpur last week in a deadly ambush, was on Thursday nabbed by Ujjain police. He was arrested when came to offer prayers at the world famous Mahakal Temple on Thursday morning. Later in the day a team , of UP police led by an Assistant SP of Special task Force reached Ujjain and took the gangster into custody The UP police team is . Wife, son too expected to take Dubey to arrested Kanpur by road. According to sources, Dubey’s wife Richa during the initial interroand the couple’s gation by Ujjain police afyounger son were ter his arrest, Dubey said arrested by a he ambushed the police team of the UP party in Bikru village in Special Task Force Kanpur fearing his own from Krishnanagr encounter at the hands of on Thursday cops. He added he had stored gallons of oil as he had planned to burn the bodies of the cops to destroy evidence. He even collected the bodies at one place but failed to execute his plan. Dubey also admitted to having solid links in the police department, sources said. He told Ujjain cops that during his run from Chaubeypur to Mahakal, he was duly informed about the police movements and those trailing him. When he purchased flowers from a shop near the Mahakal temple, the shopkeeper recognised him and alerted police. CONTINUED ON: P8 ONLINE LIFESTYLE CONTEST IN UK Kerala couple wins Lamborghini, `18.94L C Y N T H I A C H A N D R A N @T’Puram Shibu Paul and Linnet Joseph with the Lamborghini car they won in the online lifestyle contest in the UK SHIBU PAUL and Linnet Joseph, a Malayali couple based in Nottingham in the United Kingdom, thought they were in dreamland when they were woken up by the officials of Lamborghini with a brand new luxury car worth `1.84 crore (£195,000). But it was definitely for real as Shibu won an online competition organised by ‘Best of the Best’ (BOTB), a dream car and lifestyle competition company Shi. bu, who had lost his job amid the coro- navirus pandemic, couldn’t believe his eyes when he opened the boot of the car. For there was Rs 18.94 lakh (£20,000) as prize money too. A native of Velloor near Piravom in Kottayam district, the 31-year-old Shibu had reached the UK a year ago after having worked as a sound engineer with a leading studio in Kochi. Initially, the couple lived in Cambridge. But the high cost of living there prompted them to move to Nottingham where Linnet is currently working as a staff nurse with the Nottingham City Hospital. ● More on P5 SWAPNA DENIES ROLE IN SMUGGLING Kochi: Swapna Suresh, in an anticipatory bail petition, has claimed that she had contacted the customs on behalf of the Charge d’ Affairs at the UAE Consulate. Suspect gives clean chit to CM T’Puram: Swapna Suresh, in an audio clip, gave clean chit to CM, ministers, Speaker and IT secretary and threatened to end her life. Probe extended to Kozhikode Customs is now probing the link between Sandeep Nair, a close associate of Swapna Suresh, and a Kozhikodebased textile and gold merchant. Sarith collected diplomat’s parcel 7 times in 6 months T O B Y A N T O N Y @ Kochi AS the probe into the attempt to smuggle gold through the Thiruvananthapuram airport is The investigation progressing, the customs department has can only collect facts from the learnt that accused Sarith Kumar and suspect diplomats. No Swapna Suresh have used their close connec- criminal probe tion with diplomats as a cover to smuggle large against the quantities of gold. diplomat can be Sources in the customs said the gold smug- carried out gling activities through the diplomatic channel A customs started after Sarith and Swapna quit their jobs department source at the UAE Consulate. Sarith had received the baggage for Charge d’Affaires Rashid Khamis Alshemeilly on seven occasions in the past six months after they resigned from the consulate. “On all these occasions, the payment for the parcel was made by Sarith. Contrary to the procedure of using consulate vehicles for receiving diplomatic baggage, Sarith went to the airport in his private car. From the airport, he went to Peroorkada. It is quite clear that the influence of top officials of the UAE Consulate was used for the smuggling activities. “The links of diplomats with Swapna and Sarith are under probe. We are also collecting CCTV footage from the airport,” a ● More on P4 source said.
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