KOLLAM l friday l july 23, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 14 l city EDITION Muted, subdued Tokyo 2020 Games opens today Only 26 Indians to march More Covid cases & off-field drama In what is likely to be a running theme, two more athletes at the Village tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday. Besides, 12 other Games-related personal were found infected. Meanwhile, Opening Ceremony director, Kentaro Kobayashi, was fired after footage emerged of him making Holocaust-related jokes in a 90s TV skit In a departure from the past, there will only be 26 during the march past. This is to avoid exposure to Covid-19. Two flag bearers will be men’s hockey captain Manpreet Singh and 2012 Olympic medallist MC Mary Kom The Opening Ceremony will be held without spectators amid Covid concerns on Friday the gala today 4.30pm: Opening Ceremony india in Archery 5.30am onwards: Women’s individual ranking round 9.30am: Men’s individual ranking 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 Big drama in RS. Ex-CBI boss spied upon? Numbers of Alok Verma, Asthana on the database; French President Macron weighs options, reworks security protocol E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi The Pegasus snoopgate continued to roil governments globally on Thursday, with French President Emmanuel Macron holding an emergency cybersecurity meeting to weigh action and rework security protocols after it emerged that his phone numbers figured among those that were potentially hacked. In Mexico, reports said previous administrations from 2012 to 2018 had spent about $300 BSY drops big hint with end of 2-yr tenure million to purchase the spyware from the NSO Group, an Israeli firm. Back home, attempts by the Modi government to shake off charges of using the spyware became that much more difficult, with revelations that former CBI chief Alok Ver ma’s phone numbers were added to the list the day he was chucked out of the hot seat in 2018. Interestingly mobile num, bers of his adversary Rakesh Asthana were added to the list an hour before Verma’s. Meanwhile, Parliament continued to be in turmoil as both Houses witnessed sloganeering and disruptions. The Rajya Sabha witnessed high drama as Trinamool member Shantanu Sen snatched a copy of a statement on the spyware from Electronics and Information Technology minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, tore it up and flung it towards the Chair. Other Trinamool members did likewise and the House was adjourned for the day. Shortly thereafter, minister Hardeep Puri and Sen exchanged sharp words, forcing Marshals to intervene. Sen later said Puri verbally abused and was on the verge of assault before he was rescued. The Centre is learnt to be planning a privilege motion against Sen. The Opposition wants a discussion on Pegasus with Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Home minister Amit Shah speaking on the matter. E XPR E SS N E WS S E RVIC E @ Bhopal/Lucknow Amid heavy speculation over his exit after completing two years in office, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Thursday said that so far, he has not received any message from the party high command. “I will be completing two years in office on July 26. The party high command will send a message this weekend and I will abide by their direction,” he said, breaking his silence on the leadership issue. Yediyurappa also said he had decided to resign two months ago itself to make way for others. Last month, he had stated he will quit the day the high command asks him to do so. After his recent visit to the national capital, political circles have been abuzz with speculation over his imminent exit and the names of many BJP leaders are doing the rounds as his successor. As several seers from the Lingayat and other communities continue to extend their support to the Lingayat strongman and warn the BJP central leadership against dislodging him, the 78-yearold CM said PM Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president J P Nadda had a ‘special concern’ for him and allowed him to work as CM even after 75 years of age. TAX sleuths knocked on the doors of Bhopal-headquartered Dainik Bhaskar group and Uttar Pradesh-based Bharat Samachar in the wee hours on Thursday, raiding their premises across various states for alleged tax evasion. Multiple teams of the I-T department from Delhi and Mumbai conducted the searches under Section 132 of the Income Tax Act at business premises owned by the two media groups in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and UP, following specific inputs about tax evasion by these firms. The Bhaskar group, which runs around 65 daily newspaper editions in Hindi, Marathi and Gujarathi, had run a series of stories on the alleged coverup of casualties in MP Gujarat , and UP as well as the vaccine wastage in Rajasthan. After the authorities denied reports of mass graves on the banks of Ganga, it sent an army of reporters to document the same. The raids drew sharp criticism from Opposition leaders as both the media groups had done numerous stories and programmes highlighting the failure of authorities in managing the pandemic. “The attack on journalists and media houses is yet another BRUTAL attempt to stifle democracy tweeted West Ben,” gal CM Mamata Banerjee. “Their message is clear that whoever will speak against the BJP government... will not be spared,” said Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal, adding that the searches are an “attempt to scare the media”. However, government sources said the group evaded huge amounts of tax by claiming bogus expenses and purchases using shell entities. ‘Retaliation’ The Bhaskar group claimed the raids were a retaliation to their stories exposing the mishandling of Covid-19 by the Centre and various state governments Employees stopped The group said journalists at Indore and Bhopal offices were not allowed to work for one hour and their phones were seized. They were let go only around 1.00 pm, the group said `300-cr fraud: Charges true, co-op dept dissolves bank director board E XPR E SS N E WS S E RVIC E @ Thrissur The cooperation department joint registrar on Thursday dissolved the director board of the Karuvannur Cooperative Society Bank that is allegedly involved in a `300-crore scam. Probing the allegations, Joint Registrar Mohan Mon P Joseph found them true and submitted a report to the reg- istrar to that effect. The report also indicated the actual fraud comes to around `300 crore, rather than `100 crore mentioned initially, under which many loans were given. The committee headed by K K Divakaran was dismissed and Mukundapuram Assistant Registrar M C Ajith appointed the ad● More on P4 ministrator. The loss suffered by the bank will be recovered from the guilty. Regarding depositors’ funds, discussions will be held with Kerala Bank Mohan Mon P Joseph, Joint Registrar HC seeks status of `16.5 cr collected for Imran THE Kerala High Court on Thursday orally directed the state government to infor m how the `16.5 crore collected through crowdfunding for the treatment of a child who died of spinal muscular atrophy was spent. Six-month-old Imran Mohammad from Perinthalmanna, who was on ventilator support, died on Wednesday due to the illness. The court With the BJP trying to demolish the snoopgate list claiming it was fake, Amnesty International defended its findings. “Amnesty categorically stands by the findings of the Pegasus Project, and that the data is irrefutably linked to potential targets of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware,” it said in a statement Bid to distract attention Rumours pushed on social media are intended to distract from the widespread unlawful targeting of journalists, activists and others, it added Tax raid on media group All appointments will be made before draws coercion charges validity of PSC ranklists expires: CM A s h w i n i M S r i pa d @ Bengaluru E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Kochi Stand by it, says Amnesty asked whether the money raised for the child could be used for the treatment of other children suffering from rare diseases. The query was raised when a batch of pleas seeking government’s help for treating children with rare diseases came up for hearing. Additional Advocate General K P Jayachandran said the government, following a High Court directive, issued an order for depositing `50 lakh from ‘We Care’ scheme to the special account created for the treatment of children with rare diseases. The government also handed over the order dated July 20. The order was issued considering the urgent need to purchase medicines to be administered to children affected with rare diseases. The court adjourned the hearing of the case to July 26. Meanwhile, the government filed a report regarding provisions to control crowdfunding in the state before a bench in a ● More on P4 sealed cover. Checking funding The government filed a report regarding provisions to control crowdfunding in the state before a bench in a sealed cover On July 9, a single judge had directed the state to file a statement EXPRESS READ TCS, V-Guard, Lulu to invest in Kerala: Min Minority scholarship: CM says state to approach SC Film and theatre actor Padannayil, famous for comic roles, passes away T’Puram: TCS will invest D600 crore in Kerala and the IT major will sign an MoU with the state government for the project shortly, Industries Minister P Rajeeve informed the state assembly on Thursday. The minister said V-Guard and LuLu would also invest in the state. P6 T’Puram: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan informed the assembly on Thursday that the state government would approach the Supreme Court against the High Court order nullifying the minority scholarship ratio fixed by the state government, based on the Paloli Commission report. P4 Kochi: Film and theatre actor K T S Padannayil, who captured the hearts of Malayali moviegoers with his distinctive dialogue delivery and comic timing, passed away here on Thursday. He was 88. He had been undergoing treatment for age-related ailments. The Tripunithura native, who forayed into the world of theatre at 21, entered cinema in the 1990s. P5 E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @T’Puram The state government’s policy is to carry out appointments to all available vacancies before the expiry of the PSC ranklists, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan infor med the assembly on Thursday . Replying to a submission by Leader of Opposition V D Satheesan, Pinarayi said that since the government has already taken steps to carry out appointments against all existing vacancies, there is no need to further extend the validity of the ranklists. The validity of ranklists that were to expire between February 5 and August 3 has already been extended till August 4, he said. Interviews and exams that were postponed in the wake of the Covid spread will be restarted as soon as the situation improves — Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister The chief minister admitted the PSC could not conduct various competitive exams owing to the Covid situation but it has not affected reporting of vacancies or giving advice for appointments. “Taking into account the August 4 deadline, appointing authorities should report vacancies till that date to the Public Service Commission. Strict action will be taken against department heads and appointing authorities who commit lapses,” Pi● More on P4 narayi warned.
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