kollam l thursday l January 28, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 14 l city EDITION Biden nixes Trump bid to kill spouse work permits VISA Joe Biden administration has withdrawn Trump’s proposal to refuse work authorisation to spouses of H1-B holders Obama era decision restored Indians among biggest beneficiaries Until 2015, H4 visa holders (spouses of H1-B workers) could not legally hold paid employment in the US. Former US President Barack Obama changed the regulation. However, the Trump administration proposed to reverse Obama’s decision, saying it is economically significant and is in line with the Buy American and Hire American executive order ■ ■ The decision to rescind Trump proposal came on the day Biden signed an executive order calling for racial equity in the country Indian and Chinese workers account for the majority share of H1B visas and H4 visas. Indians filed 74% of all H1B petitions in 2019 while the number was 11.8% for the Chinese 1,25,000 No. of H4 visas issued by the u.s. in 2019 calendar year 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 9 lakh & rising: state to get strict, experts doubtful E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ T’Puram/Kochi WITH active Covid-19 cases crossing the 9-lakh mark, and Kerala set to overtake Karnataka to become the second worst pandemic-hit state in the country soon, the state government on Wednesday announced a slew of measures including increasing the number of tests to 1 lakh per day . But experts said it would take an enormous effort for the government to bring the pandemic under control, given the fast pace of the Covid spread in the state. The government, which held a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday announced more restric, tions including putting a cap on wedding gatherings at 100 people. Attukal Pongala festival, which draws more than a lakh devotees, would be held as a low-key manner this year. Devotees would be con- fined to the temple premises and admissions would only be through online registration. Out of the 1 lakh tests proposed to be conducted daily , 75 per cent would be RTPCR, a government statement said. “We have seen similar announcements in the past too. We need to see how the government implements these measures on the ground. The decision to go for more RTPCR tests is welcome,” said Dr Rajeev Jayadevan, scientific advisor, I M A , Ke r a l a . A t present, the state tests about 50,000-55,000 samples a day and the test posi, tivity rate hovers around 1112 per cent. With 71,603 active coronavirus cases, Kerala has the highest number of active Covid cases, while Maharashtra is at a distant second with 43,811 active patients. In terms of total confirmed cases, Maharashtra is the worst-affected with 20.13 lakh cases. Your home not safe anymore? Study by T’Puram Medical College said more than half of the people are contracting the virus from their own homes 56% 20% of patients infected in their homes contracted the virus from workplaces 20% 65% of infection from markets, shopping malls and restaurants of the infected people have not followed social distancing 45% have not worn masks Mid-Feb is when the government aims to bring down spread of the virus 50% Pools for all, more can watch movies seating cap on cinema halls and theatres lifted, says the latest Union home ministry advisory. New standard operating procedure (SOP) to be issued by I&B ministry to lay down norms Swimming pools permitted for use of sports persons now open for all CM TO LAUNCH WATER METRO ON FEB 22 The commercial services will be launched on March 1. The Kochi Metro Rail Ltd, which is implementing the project, will start operations initially on the Vyttila-Infopark route. Apex court stays skewed HC judgment on groping E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed a Bombay High Court order acquitting a man accused of child abuse on the ground that groping a child’s breasts without skin-toskin contact didn’t amount to sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. A bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde issued the order after Attorney General K K Venugopal said the judgment would set a dangerous precedent. “It is a very disturbing conclusion,” Venugopal said. The court allowed him to file a Special Leave Petition against the January 19 verdict of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court and also issued notice to the Maharashtra government and the accused. Several organisations have already moved the top court stating that the verdict contained observations about the victim modesty, which were both derogatory and defamatory . B2B exhibition halls already permitted, now all types of exhibition halls can function Further opening up of international air travel of passengers based on assessment of the situation Persons above 65 years, pregnant women and children below 10 advised to take precautions while moving out Police go after farmer leaders Claim they instigated mobs, which triggered the violence; add their names to the FIRs; unions call off Parliament march slated for Feb 1 Fi g u r i n g i t o u t E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e police personnel injured @ New Delhi A day after Delhi convulsed as mobs resorted to violence amid the farmers’ tractor rally, the police on Wednesday launched a crackdown, adding names of several farmer union leaders to the 25 first information reports (FIRs) filed in connection with the riots. Delhi Police Commissioner S N Srivasatava squarely blamed leaders like Satnam Singh Pannu, Darshan Pal Singh and others for giving provocative speeches at Mukarba Chowk to instigate the mob. Others like Bhuta Singh and Bhurj Gill at the Tikri border and Rakesh Singh Tikait at Ghazipur instigated the people, which led to the violence, he charged. “No one will be spared and strict action will be taken against everyone involved, who incited the violence,” he said. As of now, the police have arrested 19 accused and detained 59 persons who were allegedly involved in the vandalism and clashed with the security personnel. The police are scanning CCTV footage and using the facial recognition tool to identify more culprits. As many as 394 police personnel were injured and many of them are in serious condition in the ICU. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the umbrella body of agitating farmer unions, on Wednesday announced its decision to postpone the proposed march to Change style, field more youths in polls: Rahul to state Congress E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Malappuram Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has asked the state unit to change its working style and inject more young blood while selecting candidates for the assembly elections. “The method of determining a Congress candidate should change drastically in Kerala. We should do away with the traditional style. Priority should be given to energetic young men and women,” Rahul told a meeting of the UDF MPs in Nilambur on We d n e s d ay. H e r e a c h e d Kozhikode for a two-day visit t o h i s c o n s t i t u e n cy o f Wayanad.”Candidates who are connected with the people should be nominated. Their selection should be transparent. The election should be fought ideologically. Election manifesto should be prepared among the people and not in a closed room. It should capture the sentiments of the people. I told this to the Congress leaders who had come to see me in Delhi. If all these are guaranteed, I will definitely be part of every campaign to be staged by the UDF ahead of the assembly elections,” Rahul said. He also took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the India-China border standoff. “The PM claims to have a 56-inch chest, but what has he done for the country? The Chinese have been crossing the border frequently because they know the Modi regime is weak,” Rahul said. “Modi is ruling for a few capitalists in the country That . is the reason why the BJP government opposes the farmers’ strike,” he added. Earlier, senior leader Oommen Chandy Opposition lead, er Ramesh Chennithala, KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran, AICC general secretary K C Venugopal and leaders of Indian Union Muslim League welcomed Rahul at the Kozhikode airport. 25 FIRs filed so far leaders named 37 farmerin FIRs l Charges slapped include rioting, criminal conspiracy, robbery, attempt to murder and others under relevant IPC sections Vandalised ticket counters on the premises of the historic Red Fort bear testimony to Tuesday’s mob fury during the farmer tractor parade | Parveen Negi Parliament on February 1, the budget day and observe fast on the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on January 30 as atonement. Bhartaiya Kisan Union Punjab (Rajewal) president Balbir Singh Rajewal said, “the morcha regrets the Red Fort incident and accept moral responsibility for it.’’ Rajewal and Swaraj Abhiyan president Yogendra Yadav alleged that Punjabi actor-singer Deep Sidhu and the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee were behind the mob violence and added that they would expose the ‘conspiracy’ of the government. In a related development, the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan (RKMS) announced its withdrawal of support to the farmers’ agitation. “We cannot continue to join forces with people who have a different direction,” said VM Singh, its national president, in Ghazipur. l Leaders named in FIRs include Rakesh Tikait, Yogendra Yadav, Darshan Pal and Gurnam Singh Chaduni No FIR against Deep Sidhu, BJP silent on his party link H a r p r ee t B a j w a @ Chandigarh In his quest for his 15 seconds of fame, he was seen on social media instigating mobs to hoist a religious flag at the Red Fort on Tuesday. However, Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu stands today as the most reviled person, disowned by the farmer leaders, his own state and politicians across the spectrum. Some opposition parties accused the government of planting him to discredit the farmers’ agitation, while the BJP has sought to stay silent on the allegations. Curiously his name did not figure any of the FIRs filed so far , though many farmer leaders have been named in over 25 FIRs. Confirming that Sidhu has not been booked, DCP North Delhi, , Anto Alphonse said, “We are investigating the matter and the process is going on. We will share the details once done.” The Samyukta Kisan Morcha alleged ‘anti-social elements’ like Sidhu attempted to torpedo their peaceful agitation as part of a conspiracy hatched by the government. Pointing to his past links with the BJP farmer leaders alleged he misguided , some protesters. “Sidhu is an RSS man. Police let him go after P9 he hoisted flag,” said farmer leader Darshan Pal. OVER TO SEAT SHARING The ruling Left front and Opposition UDF have started their seat-sharing discussions as the assembly elections draw closer. CONG KICKS OFF TALKS WITH MUSLIM LEAGUE T’Puram: The Congress leadership has officially started bilateral talks with its main ally, Muslim League, on Wednesday. While the League leadership has demanded six more seats, the Congress has relented only on two. P4 LDF BEGINS INFORMAL TALKS; CPM TO SETTLE PALA ISSUE T’Puram: The CPM has begun attempts for a consensus within the front over Pala Assembly seat. The CPM leadership reached out to the NCP which has been unhappy over Pala. The LDF has also started informal discussions on seatsharing. CPM and CPI leaders held talks with Kerala Congress Jose K Mani faction on Wednesday. P4 JOSEPH TO LAUNCH OUTFIT AHEAD OF ASSEMBLY POLLS Kochi: P J Joseph faction is looking to float a new outfit ahead of the assembly elections. The move, which comes after the court’s allocation of the Kerala Congress (M) title and ‘Two Leaves’ symbol to the faction led by Jose K Mani prior to the civic polls, will see Joseph’s candidates contesting under the new outfit’s banner. P4 KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran, former chief minister Oommen Chandy, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and P K Kunhalikutty, MP, welcome Rahul Gandhi at the Kozhikode airport on Wednesday | Express 394 19 people arrested, 50 detained Youngsters have been arriving in good numbers. There are families also. The hotels are full V V George, a resort owner wind chill A layer of frost formed on the rooftop of a vehicle at Old Munnar on Wednesday | Express -1 degree Celsius was the mercury level at Letchmi Estate on Monday Tourists from across the state are flocking to the hill station to enjoy the chilly weather e x p ress rea d Five youths killed in car-lorry collision Viral videos show ‘mob justice’ in Kollam T’Puram: Five car passengers from Kollam died in an accident after their vehicle collided with a lorry ferrying fish near Thottakkadu on Tuesday night. The police said the accident occurred around 10.30pm in the poor-lit stretch of the national highway. Kollam: Two videos from Kollam that went viral on social media displayed mob justice. While one showed a mob attacking a youth mistaking him for a bike thief in Chathannoor, the other showed a group of minor boys thrashing their friends at Karicode. en d ga m e ? HC notice to gambling app ambassadors Kohli, Tamannaah & Aju E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Kochi THE Kerala High Court on Wednesday issued a notice to Indian men’s cricket team captain Virat Kohli and actors Tamannaah Bhatia and Aju Varghese — all brand ambassadors of Online Rummy — on a petition seeking a ban on online gambling games. The court also sought the views of the central and the state governments on the issue. T h r i s s u r n at ive Pa u ly Vadakkan, who filed the petition seeking the ban, submitted that gambling through online platforms is now a growing menace and many are lured into it by celebrities including Kohli, Tamannaah and Aju by making promises. The petitioner’s counsel, Virat Kohli Tamannaah Bhatia Jomy K Jose, submitted there is no law in the state to regulate online gaming. Aju Varghese Online gambling, wagering and betting activities do not come under the purview of the Kerala Gaming Act, the only law in the state to govern gaming. Using such legal loopholes, many online platforms have flourished in the state, the petition said. It added several people have lost their lives in the country after losing huge amounts of money by playing online games. An ISRO employee, 28, from Kattakkada in Thiruvananthapuram, allegedly killed himself after online gaming addiction pushed him into a `21-lakh debt. The petitioner also sought a directive to the state government to ban all forms of online gambling and online betting “until an appropriate regulatory regime is established and regulations are framed”.
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