Pangong lake india KOZHIKODE l friday l january 07, 2022 l `9.00 l PAGES 14 l city EDITION Foreign office hard talk on china’s encroachment MEA said the bridge being built across Pangong lake in eastern Ladakh is in an area illegally occupied by China 60 years ago India has stepped up border infra: MEA ‘Embassy letter to MPs INAPPROPRIATE’ India has never accepted such action and the government is monitoring this activity closely, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday, adding that India has taken steps to ensure its security interests are protected. “The government has increased the budget for development of border infra and completed more roads and bridges than ever before,” he said ■ ■ The MEA also hit out at the political counsellor of the Chinese embassy for writing an ‘inappropriate’ letter to Indian MPs over attending an event hosted by the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile “We expect China to refrain from hyping Indian MPs’ normal activities and complicating the bilateral situation,” Bagchi said Ridiculous is how the mea described china’s Renaming of Arunachal areas CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Internal police correspondence shows they were aware of road blockades due to protests by farmers and were instructed to make traffic diversions Probe panels set up; govt warns of big, tough action H a rpree t B a j w a & S a n a S h a k i l @ Chandigarh/New Delhi As the Centre on Thursday warned of “big and tough decisions” over the security breach during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Punjab on Wednesday, it has now emerged that the state police knew of the possibility of farmers staging dharnas and the movement of protesters to Ferozepur district to disrupt the PM’s rally . After a Union Cabinet meeting, I&B minister Anurag Thakur said, “the home ministry has also spoken about taking action. After gathering information, whatever steps…big and tough decisions will be taken by it.” Hours later, the Union home ministry formed a three-member committee to probe the lapse. On Wednesday, Modi’s cavalcade could not reach Ferozepur as protesting farmers had blocked the highway . Earlier in the day, the Punjab government set up a two-member probe committee while the Supreme Court agreed to hear a plea seeking a thorough investigation into the security breach. The inquiry committee comprises Justice Mehtab Singh Gill (Retd) and principal secretary, home, Anurag Verma. It has been asked to submit its report in three days. The panel quickly sent a questionnaire to all police officials tasked with the security cover. Justice Gill described the matter as “very serious.” “Prima facie there is a lapse somewhere, which the committee will look into before fixing responsibility .” Internal communication within the state police revealed that field officers had been instructed to make suitable traffic diversions. “There are a large number of dharnas going on in most of the districts. Farmers are also likely to hold dharnas on January 5. These dharnas may result in road blockade at many places, please make necessary traffic diversion plans in advance,” said a letter written by Additional DGP (Law and Order) Naresh Kumar Arora on January 2 to all SSPs and police commissioners. Arora also said about one lakh people could attend Modi’s rally and asked all officers to make necessary security and route arrangements. He wrote another letter on January 4 to all IGPs and DIGs (Range) asking them to specifically keep a watch on the movement of farmers. “You are further directed to keep a watch on the movement of farmers and they If not now, when? CM on SilverLine JICA ready to fund project at 0.25% rate Axe on DGP, chief secy? With Union minister Anurag Thakur saying that “big and tough decisions” were imminent against the Punjab government, sources suggested that the Union government may demand the scalp of state Director General of Police Sidharth Chattopadhyay and Chief Secretary Anirudh Tewari should not be allowed to move to Ferozepur district to disrupt the rally. Any dharna may result in road blocks therefore please make necessary traffic diversions in advance. Please brief your SSPs personally and make necessary arrangements,” the letter said. A senior officer said there were reports of protests on the MogaFerozepur highway and it should have been cleared by the officer who was in-charge of that sector. Sources said the Intelligence Bureau had alerted Punjab Police on the movement of farmers and state police officers assured them of complete protection. In the morning, Modi met President Ram Nath Kovind, who expressed concern over the security lapse. Besides, dozens of retired top cops wrote a joint letter to Kovind seeking action against those responsible for the security mess. Multilateral funding agencies such as Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have informally agreed to finance the SilverLine project at 0.25% interest rate. P4 A33,000 cr to be provided by the Japanese fund Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank are ready to back the project by lending funds at 1-1.5% rates We have already lost decades due to opposition to development projects. If we stop this project, it will pull us back by several decades and affect our future generations. It will be a big injustice to our children Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Kochi “IF NOT now, when?” This was Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s plea on Thursday as he urged everyone who wants development in the state to back the government’s showpiece `64,000-crore semi high-speed rail project. The CM also countered the UDF-led Opposition saying that the 530-km SilverLine was discussed in the assembly when it was first conceived. “We’ve already lost decades due to opposition to development projects. If we stop this project, it will pull us back by several decades and affect our future generations. It will be a great injustice to our children,” Pinarayi told a group of nearly 350 selected invitees from various strata of society during the ‘Janapaksham’ programme at the TDM Hall here. Pinarayi said the government’s job is not to stop a project due to opposition from some quarters, but to take steps Industries Minister P Rajeeve is all ears for Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at the Janapaksham programme held in Kochi on Thursday | Albin Mathew for the future of the state. “That’s the responsibility,” he said. On the Opposition’s demand for a special session of the assembly to discuss SilverLine, being implemented by the Kerala Railway Development Corporation, the CM said the project was discussed in the House when it was conceived itself, during the LDF’s first term. “It’s natural for people to forget things after some time. But this is something that shouldn’t have been forgotten easily,” the CM said, adding the vehement opposition for the multi-crore project now maybe because it happened before the last elections. “The project was first discussed with MLAs when UDF leaders were also present. The MLAs had also come up with some doubts. So, this is not something they hear for the first time,” he said. ● More on P4 CM to fly to US for medical treatment E xpress N ews S ervice @ T’Puram CHIEF Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will leave for the US on January 15 for a two-week-long medical treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. The state government will bear the entire expenses, subject to Centre’s clearance, said the order issued by general administration (political) department, and signed by Chief Secretary V P Joy. The order, however, does not say whether the chief minister will hand over charge to any of his cabinet colleagues. Last time when Pinarayi left for the US in September 2018, no minister was given the charge. The CM used to handle e-files from there. Then industries minister E P Jayarajan was authorised to chair cabinet meetings and co- ordinate flood relief activities. Pinarayi, 76, had undergone treatment at Mayo Clinic and is now going for the follow-up treatment. He will be accompanied by wife Kamala and personal assistant V M Sunish. He is expected to return by January 29. The CM had scheduled the US visit more than two months ago. It was postponed due to various reasons. State’s mortality rate now closer to nat’l average Vaccination momentum lags U nni k ris h n a n S @ T’Puram Bulli Bai app’s creator nabbed E xpress N ews S ervice 67.6L 36,814 18,542 deaths previously undercounted were 0.51 added to the total tally in three months Andhra Pradesh 14,499 20.8L Karnataka 38,357 27.6L 1.33 Tamil Nadu 1.27 48,895 30.2L 52.6L Cases Deaths Mortality rate 0.93 Kerala 1.42L 2.10 Maharastra ONE more claim by Kerala about its Covid management has fallen flat. The state government used to highlight the low mortality rate as a success of the Kerala model, but the state is now second in the country in terms of the total number of deaths. As the state adds deaths from the previous two waves --which were dubiously omitted from the official list initially --- its mortality rate (0.93%) is inching closer to the national average of 1.3%. In the last three months, the state added 18,542 such deaths, which form 38% of the total official toll. Death count Kerala had claimed a low case fatality ratio (deaths among the total cases detected) of 0.4% also to be an achievement. “The state government’s narrative has been that we’ve the lowest mortality rate, which is no longer true. States like Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Telangana have a lower rate,” said health economist Rijo M John, who closely tracks the Covid management across the country. His analysis is based on the reported deaths from different states. Kerala is far behind Maharashtra (1.42 lakh deaths), but way ahead of the neighbouring states. While Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have been adding deaths in single digit for a while, Kerala has been adding in three digits. The state reported 221 deaths on Thursday, taking the total ● More on P2 toll to 49,116. in most poll-bound states Namita Bajpai , Harpreet Baj wa, Vineet U pad hyay, Su d hir Suryawans hi & Prasanta Mazum dar @ Lucknow/ Chandi garh/ De hradun/ M umbai / G uwahat i The state government’s narrative has been that we’ve the lowest mortality rate, which is no longer true. States like Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Telangana have a lower rate Rijo M John, health economist Infant stolen from Kottayam MCH, recovered within hours from hotel @ Guwahati/Bhopal/Mumbai E xpress N ews S ervice @Kottayam Neeraj Bishnoi, the alleged key conspirator and creator of Bulli Bai and the app’s prime Twitter account holder, was arrested by a team of Delhi Police from Assam’s Jorhat on Wednesday night. He is the fourth student arrested for the hate app where morphed images of Muslim women were posted for ‘auction’. Neeraj Bishnoi (21) is a B Tech second year computer science (gaming) student at the Vellore Institute of Technology, Bhopal University located in Kothri Kalan village of Sehore district, Madhya Pradesh. THE MATERNITY ward at the Government Medical College Hospital in Kottayam witnessed dramatic scenes on Thursday as a two-dayold baby was stolen from the hospital. Within a couple of hours, the police recovered the baby from a woman staying at a hotel nearby . The Gandhinagar police recorded the arrest of Neethu R Raj, a 33-year-old Tiruvalla native who has been residing at Kalamassery in Ernakulam, in connection with the incident. The series of incidents began to unfold by 3pm when Neethu ap- proached Aswathy -- a resident of Vandiperiyar in Idukki -- who gave birth on Wednesday. According to the hospital authorities, Neethu approached Aswathy pretending to be a nurse and took the baby away os, tensibly for medical care. When the baby was not returned even after 30 minutes, Aswathy enquired at the nursing station. She was shocked to know that none of the nurses on duty had taken her baby . The MCH authorities soon passed on the information to the police aid post on the hospital campus, and Aswathy launched a complaint with the Gandhinagar police sta● More on P4 tion. A police officer arrives at the Kottayam Government MCH after recovering the newborn baby Considering the risk of holding elections in the midst of a fresh spurt in Covid cases, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan had on December 27, 2021 held a high-level meeting with senior officials of the five poll-bound states and asked them to ramp up vaccination drive on an exponential scale. However, data from the five states — Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur, and Punjab — don’t suggest officials have stepped on the pedal to scale up the process exponentially . In UP for instance, 15.04 lakh people received the jab on December 27, which declined to 14.05 lakh on December 28 and further to 12.56 lakh the next day. Similarly, in Goa the vaccination figure on December 27 was 4,337 which dipped to 3,319 the next day and further to 2,949 on December 30. In Uttarakhand, the number of overall vaccinations was 53,500 on December 28 which saw a decline over the next few days and stood at 45,200 on December 31. In most of these states, the numbers dropped between December 31 and January 2. The figures picked up from January 3 when jabs for the 15-18 age group started. In Uttarakhand, the vaccination figure for January 4 in the state health department’s daily bulletin had a discrepancy as the number of those vaccinated in the 15-18 age-group was higher than the total vaccination figure. TNIE tried seeking clarification for the discrepancy but state health department officials did not respond to the queries. With the Election Commission ruling out postponing the elections, the Centre and the poll panel have repeatedly asked the state authorities to scale up the inoculation drive to try and ensure 100% vaccination of the voter population before the elections. The UP gover nment has started Cluster Approach 2.0, under which special teams are visiting households to encourage people to get jabbed. All the surveillance panels comprising ASHA workers have been reactivated. “They are deployed to hold door-to-door contact with people and convince them for vaccination as early as possible,” said additional chief secretary, health, Amit Mohan Prasad. In Manipur, health department officials said there was still vaccine hesitancy among people which was one of the factors behind the low figures. LET THE NUMBERS SPEAK Here’s a look at the average vaccinations in poll-bound states ever since the Centre issued an advisory to ramp them up so as to protect the voters 2 3 1 4 5 28-Dec ■ Average now ■ 1. Uttar Pradesh ■ 14.04 lakh ■ 11.13 lakh 2. Punjab ■ 55,518 ■ 79,411 3. Uttarakhand ■ 53,506 ■ 54,488 4. Manipur ■ 3,621 ■ 2,501 5. Goa ■ 3,319 ■ 4,590 (Figures are average daily vaccination between December 28 and January 6)
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