chennai l friday l july 23, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l vellore EDITION Muted, subdued Tokyo 2020 Games opens today The Opening Ceremony will be held without spectators amid Covid concerns on Friday 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 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 protocols Ex p r e ss N e ws S e 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 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. Stand by it, says Amnesty 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 BSY drops big hint with end of 2-yr tenure Tax raid on media group DVAC raids ex-min’s properties, seizes `25L draws coercion charges A s h w i n i M S r i pa d @ Bengaluru @ 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 Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda had a ‘special concern’ for him and allowed him to work as CM even after 75 years of age and had also appreciated his work. Jab-o-meter Take your shot July 21 20,83,892 doses July 22 48,86,103 doses Total doses: 42,28,26,035 NATIONWIDE july 21 july 22 Fresh cases 42,015 41,383 Recoveries Deaths 36,977 38,652 3,998 507 tamil nadu july 21 july 22 Fresh cases 1,891 1,872 Recoveries Deaths 2,423 27 2,475 29 HC BUYING BAR ON TN busES unless... The Madras High Court restrained the Tamil Nadu government on Thursday from adding any new buses to its fleet used for public transport, unless the vehicle purchased was disabled-friendly | P2 E X PRE S S NE W S S ER V I C E @ Chennai/Karur E X PRE S S NE W S S ER V I C E 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 Officials from the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption raided about 26 places, linked to former minister and Karur AIADMK district secretary MR Vijayabhaskar, on Thursday and seized documents and `25.5 lakh of unaccounted cash. The raid, which began at around 7 am, was conducted based on allegations of corruption against him from his tenure as Transport Minister in the previous AIADMK government. It is alleged that he had tenders issued favouring certain companies to sell government-approved reflective stickers, GPS tracking devices and speed governor devices. The DVAC, in a release, said that a case was registered on Wednesday against Vijayabhaskar, his wife Vijayalakshmi, and his brother Sekar. “The allegation was that Vijayabhaskar enriched himself during his tenure in office as the minister while Vijayalakshmi and Sekar intentionally aided him for accumulation of disproportionate assets,” read the statement. AIADMK coordinator O Panneerselvam, addressing reporters with former CM Edappadi K Palaniswami in Chennai, condemned the raids as an act of political animosity by the DMK government, and said the AIADMK was ready to face this threat legally “The raid was conducted . without any evidence. So, an appropriate remedy will be obtained through the court,” he asserted. Officials are searching many properties linked to Vijayabhaskar, including his house in Karur, dyeing unit in Aandankovil, crusher and stone quarries in Paramathi panchayat union and apartment in Chennai’s RA Puram, in which he currently resides. P4
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