KANNUR l FRIDAY l SEPTEMBER 18, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l CITY EDITION FURNITURE GIANT IKEA TO OPEN GLOBAL CENTRE IN INDIA Ingka Group, which handles Ikea’s retail operations, said on Thursday it will open a global operations centre in Bengaluru EYES COUNTRY’S LARGE TALENT POOL With the new giant hub, the Ingka Group said it aims to utilise India’s large talent pool. The Bengaluru centre comes as Ikea is seeking to improve its digital footprint to meet the growing e-commerce demands. “With a move towards a new digital Ikea, we are excited to explore and connect with the excellent digital competence in India,” a top Ingka Group official said ■ 2018 FOURTH COUNTRY TO HOST IKEA GBO ■ Apart from expanding its digital presence in India, the company is planning to open smaller format city centre stores with an aim of reaching 100 million consumers over the next few years Besides India, the Swedish furniture giant has global business operations (GBO) centres in Poland, China and the United States WHEN INGKA GROUP OPENED FIRST IKEA STORE IN INDIA, IN HYDERABAD 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 First wicket falls in Modi ministry as Badal quits over ‘anti-farm’ bills ‘Farmers not taken on board’ Harsimrat said she was hurt that despite her persistent pleas, the government had not taken the farmers on board H A R P R E E T B A J W A @ Chandigarh THE first hint of a crack in the ruling NDA appeared on Thursday as Union Minister for Food Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who represents the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) at the Centre, put in her papers opposing what she called were ‘antifarm’ legislations. Though she stepped out of the government, sources said the SAD will con- tinue to stay with the BJP-led NDA coalition. Her party is bitterly opposed to three bills the Centre introduced in the Lok Sabha to replace three ordinances on reforming the farm sector, which includes dismantling the decades-old mandi system. The ordinances had angered the agrarian sector in Punjab, which is the SAD’s core constituency forcing its hand. , Harsimrat and her husband and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal are the only two party MPs in the Lok Sabha. It was Sukhbir who broke the news of her resignation while participating in an LS debate on the farm sector bills. Sukhbir said Harsimrat had flagged her reservations when the matter was discussed at a Cabinet meeting. The decision to quit was taken at the SAD’s core committee meet on Saturday “My decision . symbolises my party’s vision, its glorious legacy and its commitment to go to any extent to safeguard the interests of the farmers,” Harsimrat said in a four-page letter of resignation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The mandi system the bills propose to abolish has political patronage. Farmer bodies and political parties in Punjab and Haryana are worried that the new system that will be put in place could end the minimum support price Harsimrat Kaur’s decision to quit Union Cabinet is another in the long chain of theatrics being enacted by @Akali_Dal_ which has still not quit ruling coalition. It’s motivated not by any concern for farmers but to save their own dwindling political fortunes. - Amarinder Singh, CM mechanism, too. The resignation is meant to undo the SAD’s self-inflicted damage, as in the past its leadership had supported the ordinances. In fact, party cadre were not allowed to enter many villages by the ang ry far m lobby, Farmer outfits in Punjab have already announced that MPs who do not vote against the bills and abstain will not be allowed to enter the state. P7 NIA questions Jaleel for 7 hrs, min LAC situation unlike past says he’s witness, Oppn ups attack face-offs: Rajnath Singh Interrogation by a second national agency within a span of six days Quizzing adds spark to Oppn parties’ protests Minister’s attempt to evade media fails this time around E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Kochi THE National Investigation Agency (NIA) questioned Higher Education Minister K T Jaleel for seven hours as part of a probe into the smuggling of gold through the baggage addressed to a diplomat in the UA E Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram even as his attempts to reach the NIA office secretively fell flat on Thursday . The minister’s interrogation by a second national agency, within a span of six days, added spark to Opposition parties’ protests which turned violent in several parts of the state, including in front of the NIA o f f i c e at Gir ina g a r. T he Enforcement Directorate (ED) had questioned him last week. Jaleel attempted to evade the attention of the media and the general public while arriving at the NIA office, but he failed this time. Last week, he managed to reach the ED office clandestinely. Like on the previous occasion, he opted for a private car, rather than his official vehicle, to reach the interrogation venue. Jaleel stayed at the PWD Rest House in Kalamassery and reached the NIA office in a Toyota Etios car -- KL 07 CD 6444 -- owned by former MLA and CPM leader A M Yousuf. Jaleel reached the NIA office premises at 5.55am and sat inside the car for a few minutes before coming out. The questioning started around 9am, after investigation officer C Radhakrishna Pillai reached the NIA office by 8.20am, and lasted until 4pm. He then waited for an hour or so for the police to clear the way through the stor m of protests outside the NIA office before coming out. “Statements were collected from around 160 INTERVIEW K T JALEEL Higher Education Minister IT’S FOR CM TO TAKE CALL Higher Education Minister K T Jaleel comes out of the National Investigation Agency’s office in Kochi after questioning on Thursday | ARUN ANGELA Another agency, more quizzing 8.20AM Jaleel stays at the PWD Rest House in Kalamassery and reaches the NIA office in a Toyota Etios car — KL 07 CD 6444 — owned by former MLA and CPM leader A M Yousuf Investigation officer C Radhakrishna Pillai reaches the NIA office 9AM The questioning starts 4PM The interrogation ends He then waits for an hour or so for the police to clear the way through the storm of protests outside the NIA office before coming out witnesses. I’m just one of them,” he later told TNIE in an interview. Meanwhile, the minister’s official vehicle was moved from t h e P W D Re s t H o u s e i n Kalamassery to the Government Guest House in Kochi. However, to avoid questions from the press, he alighted from the private car on the way to the Guest House, got into another private vehicle a n d l e f t f o r Thiruvananthapuram via the Thevara-Kundanoor road. NIA will summon him again The agency questioned Jaleel regarding copies of the Quran he received from the UAE Consulate during Ramzan Questions were also asked about the phone call details of the key accused, Swapna Suresh, which had revealed that she contacted Jaleel around 13 times before July 2020 if further clarification is required, an officer told TNIE. “Recording the statement of a person is a preliminary part of the probe. Based on the given statement, a probe has to be conducted before deciding whether to implicate the person or to give a clean chit,” the of ficer said. T he a g ency questioned Jaleel regarding copies of the Quran he received from the UAE Consulate during ● More on P4 Ramzan. EDIT | TROUBLED MINISTER & AN EDGY GOVERNMENT | P 6 B a c k - t o - b a c k questioning of Higher Education Minister K T Jaleel by t h e E n fo rc e m e n t Directorate and NIA in connection with the gold smuggling case has mounted pressure on the Left government as both the Congress and the BJP are demanding his resignation. But all the clamour seems to have had little impact on the CPM leader. Speaking to TNIE Chief of Bureau Anil S just hours after the NIA inter ro g ated him in Kochi, Jaleel said he was called as one of the 160 witnesses in the crime re gistered under the UAPA Act. Jaleel, who said it was for Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to take a call on his ministership, once again challenged IUML supremo Panakkad Sayed Hyderali Shihab Thangal to vouch on the Holy Q u r a n i f t h e l at t e r considers him as someone involved in fraudulent activities. Jaleel justified clandestine manner in which he appeared before the probing agencies stating “Why’s it necessary to inform the media when those who served me the notice did not choose to infor m them?” FULL INTERVIEW: P4 SUSPENDED FOR 5 MONTHS Kochi Metro suffers `34.18-cr loss due to Covid A J AY K A N T H @ Kochi KOCHI Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) suffered a loss of `34.18 crore due to halting of services owing to Covid-19. Union Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri revealed the figures while answering a question by Benny Behanan, MP, in the Lok Sabha on Thursday . The loss of Delhi Metro — the largest metro network in the country — stands at a whopping `1,609 crore. Bangalore Metro incurred a loss of `170 crore followed by Lucknow Metro (`90 crore) and Chennai Metro (`80 crore). Non-operation of services for more than five months, since A strong ridership in the coming months should help (Kochi Metro) meet the operating expenses — Alkesh Kumar Sharma, Managing Director, Kochi Metro the start of the nationwide lockdown on March 25, put Kochi Metro under severe financial stress as salaries had to be paid to around 1,200 employees, including Kudumbashree workers, and rail tracks and 25 trains had to be maintained. It was only on September 7 that the Kochi Metro resumed services, by adhering to Covid protocol. “Kochi Metro has incurred losses due to Covid-19 like other Metros in India. A strong ridership in the coming months should help in meeting the operating expenses. This loss in the short term has to be met through government support. T h e l o s s d e f i n i t e ly w i l l adversely affect our accounts and balance sheet,” KMRL Managing Director Alkesh Kumar Sharma told TNIE. Kochi Metro car ries an average 60,000 passengers a day during peak months while the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation makes 2,700 trips per day carrying 1.5 million passengers, who on an average travel 17 kilometres each. The pandemic-induced lockdown, however, has not affected loan repayment by any of the above Metros. RUNNING LOSS Metro Loss incurred Delhi D1,609cr Kochi D34.18cr Bangalore D170cr Chennai D80cr Lucknow D90cr EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi OFFERING a glimpse of the dynamic situation on the Line of Actual Control, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday the eyeball-toeyeball confrontation between Indian and Chinese troops is unlike any in the past. But Indian troops are well prepared for any eventuality and are conducting intense patrolling along the LAC, Singh said in the Rajya Sabha. Replying to former defence ministry A K Antony query on whether Indian soldiers are being stopped from patrolling in certain areas, Singh said: “I want to clarify that the face-off is because of it and patrolling is done on traditional pattern. No power in the world can stop our soldiers from patrolling there and there will be no change in patrolling pattern.” He asserted India will not accept any change in its tradi- SPECIAL CBI COURT ORDERS REGISTRATION OF CRIMINAL CASE AGAINST ARUN SHOURIE Andhra HC’s gag order raised in RS EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi THE tussle between the Andhra Pradesh gover nment and the judiciary intensified Thursday with the ruling YSRC once again raising the high court’s gag order on media inside and outside Parliament. Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, YSRC Parliamentary Party leader V Vijayasai Reddy said AP has been suffering not only economically and financially but also judicially . Referring to the high cour t’s interim orders staying further probe in a case registered against Dammalapati Srinivas, the former advocate general, and restraining the media from reporting on the FIR concerned, Vijayasai Reddy termed it quite unusual and legally questionable. Vijayasai raised the issue during a discussion on Covid-19 situation. When reminded by the Chair to stick to the topic under discussion, he minced no words in saying that despite odds from the judiciary, the AP government is doing its best to fight coronavirus. He wondered how the media gag could benefit the petitioner. An army convoy carrying military material on its way to Ladakh amid border tension with China, at Manali-Leh highway on Thursday | PTI tional and well-defined patrolling pattern. The defence minister, however, expressed his inability to divulge more information in public because of the sensitivity of the matter. Singh’s statement comes in the wake of the Chinese foreign ministry’s comment that India needs to “correct mistakes”, realise disengagement on the ground and take concrete steps to ease up tension in the relevant areas. Rajya Sabha members expressed solidarity with the armed forces and said they all stand united behind them. “We stand by India’s sovereignty and with the Government and it must restore status quo ante and send the Chinese back to their preApril positions,” said Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. P7 A special court on Thursday ordered the CBI to register a criminal case against former Union minister Arun Shourie over alleged corruption in the 2002 divestment of a state-owned hotel in Udaipur, Rajasthan State quashes the order allowing asymptomatic migrants to join work E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ T’Puram IT took only 24 hours for the state to withdraw the controversial order allowing asymptomatic mig rant labourers with Covid infection to work at exclusive segregated areas by taking all precautions. Alarmed, the health department had called the order issued by t h e g e n e r a l a d m i n i s t r at i o n department (GAD) a ‘bizarre’ one. Taking an about turn from its earlier position, the government issued a new order that prevented Covid-positive migrant labourer from working till he/ she recovers from the viral disease. The new order of GAD, undersigned by Chief Secretary Vishwas Mehta, also called for isolating the infected workers. Wednesday’s order was issued after Industries Secretary Alkesh Kumar Sharma complained that the existing quarantine norms for migrant workers were causing delays in competing ● More on P2 infrastructure projects. COVID COUNT CROSSES 4K-MARK IN STATE 4,351 cases reported on Thursday 45,730 samples tested Six districts reported more than 300 cases 10 more deaths reported on Thursday taking toll to 489 “Many people are publically violating Covid protocol and behaving as if it is not applicable to them — Pinarayi Vijayan, CM CBI questions Devassy on Balabhaskar’s death Covid-19: 25th IFFK postponed to Feb 2021 T’Puram: CBI recorded the statement of musician Stephen Devassy in connection with the death of Balabhaskar on Thursday. He spent more than four hours at CBI’s office. A close friend of Balabhaskar, Devassy had met the violinist on his last days in hospital. P5 T’Puram: The 25th edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) has been postponed to next year due to Covid. The Kerala State Chalachitra Academy said it plans to conduct the festival from February 12 to 19. It will be held adhering to protocol. P2
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