YK MYK INDIA FACES A DIFFICULT CHOICE BETWEEN USA AND CHINA NEW AUDITORS: RBI CLARIFIES ON TENURE, ELIGIBILITY NORMS OPINION NATION Morning India Rs. 3 KOLKATA TUESDAY, 15 JUNE, 2021 PG-08, YEAR—8, ISSUE—31 (RNI NO: WBENG / 2014 / 56803) WEATHER TODAY MAX 30 C MIN 26 C Rainfall may occur. AT A GLANCE BIHAR COURT AWARDS DEATH SENTENCE TO 10 MURDER CONVICTS ARRAH: Death sentence was awarded to 10 people by a court here on Monday in a three years old murder case. The order was passed by Additional District Judge Manoj Kumar, Bhojpur, who also slapped a fine of Rs 2.60 lakh each on all the 10 who had been convicted in January this year, said Additional Public Prosecutor Nagendra Prasad Singh. He said the quantum of sentence was pronounced by the judge through video conferencing in view of the recent COVID surge. The convicts brother duo Khursheed Qureishi and Abdullah Qureishi, besides Raju Khan, Anwar Qureishi, Ahmed Miyan, Babli Miyan, Tausif Alam and Fuchan Miyan were named in the murder of Mohd Imran, a businessman based in Arrah town where Bhojpur district is headquartered. Imran, who ran a shop in one of the crowded localities of the town, was killed in a fusillade of fire on December 06, 2018 which had also left his brother Aqil and a bystander injured. INDIA WORKING TO RESTORE 26 MILLION HECTARES OF DEGRADED LAND BY 2030: PM MODI AT UN NEW DELHI: PM Modi on Monday stressed that land degradation poses a special challenge to the developing world and it was the world's sacred duty to leave a healthy planet for future generations. PG 5 CORONA METER INDIA TOTAL CASES: 2,95,26,750 TOTAL DEATH: 3,74,722 WORLD TOTAL CASES: 176,793,683 TOTAL DEATH: 3,820,990 WPI inflation hits record high of 12.94 pc in May on costlier fuel: Govt data NEW DELHI: The wholesale price-based inflation accelerated to a record high of 12.94 per cent in May, on rising prices of crude oil and manufactured goods. Low base effect also contributed to the spike in WPI inflation in May 2021. In May 2020, WPI inflation was at (-) 3.37 per cent. This is the fifth straight month of uptick seen in the wholesale price index (WPI)based inflation. In April, 2021, WPI inflation hit double digit at 10.49 per cent. "The annual rate of inflation, based on monthly WPI, was 12.94 per cent for the month of May, 2021 (over May, 2020) as compared to (-) A worker fills the petrol as the petrol prices cross 100 mark, in Hyderabad on Monday. ANI 3.37 per cent in May 2020. "The high rate of inflation in May 2021 is primarily due to low base effect and rise in prices of crude petroleum, mineral oils viz. petrol, diesel, naphtha, furnace oil etc. and manufactured products as compared to the corresponding month of the previous year," the Commerce and Industry Ministry said. Inflation in fuel and power basket spiked to 37.61 per cent during May, against 20.94 per cent in April. In manufactured products, inflation stood at 10.83 per cent in May, against 9.01 per cent in the previous month. However, inflation in food articles eased marginally to 4.31 per cent in May, even as onion prices spiked. Inflation in onion stood at 23.24 per cent in May, against (-) 19.72 per cent in April. The RBI in its monetary policy earlier this month kept interest rates unchanged at record lows and committed to maintain an accommodative policy stance to support growth. RBI pegged retail inflation at 5.1 per cent in this fiscal ending March 2022, with upside risks from higher commodity prices and reemergence of higher supply constraints amidst the current phase of lockdowns. Retail inflation data for May is scheduled to be released later in the day. CM condemns death of UP scribe Condemning the death of a journalist under mysterious circumstances in Uttar Pradesh's Pratapgarh, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday questioned the Uttar Pradesh Government regarding the incident. "What happened in Uttar Pradesh today? Shocked at the demise of journalist Sulabh Srivastava. A reporter has been murdered. Sad to see that despite democracy and freedom being a part of our ethos, we are unable to save lives who are working tirelessly towards unfolding the truth. I condemn this," said Banerjee. Television journalist Sulabh Srivastava was found dead under mysterious circumstances in Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh late Sunday night. Pratapgarh Police registered FIR on Monday against unknown persons at Kolwali Police Station in connection with the death of the scribe. Earlier, police called it an accident. "Sulabh Srivastava, a scribe, was returning from Lalganj where he met with an accident. He was taken to the district hospital where doctors declared him dead. Initial probe revealed that Srivastava fell after his bike collided with a hand pump along the road," said Additional Superintendent of Police, Pratapgarh East. Mamata Banerjee announces extension of COVID-induced lockdown till July 1 Parks to be open from 6 am-9 am for only those who have completed vaccination. Grocery shops to remain open from 7-11 am only. Retail shops to operate between 11 am and 6 pm. Restaurants and bars can be open from 12pm-8pm with 50% seating capacity. Malls to remain open with 30 pc capacity from 11 am-6 pm. Games and sports activities may resume without spectators. All educational institutes to remain closed. All public transport to remain suspended except for special staff trains. Taxis and autos allowed for hospitals and airports only. Gyms, salons and cinema halls to remain closed. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee conducts the press conference at Nabanna on Monday. Kolkata: Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday announced that the ongoing COVID-induced lockdown in the State has been extended till July 1 in a bid to contain the fastspreading viral disease. However, the State Government has also eased certain curbs during the lockdown period. As per the new order, Government offices in Bengal have been allowed to operate with 25 per cent manpower, while private and corporate offices can remain open from 10 am 'LS Speaker assures of committee over disqualification of two TMC MPs' MI NEWS SERVICE KOLKATA: The Trinamool Congress on Monday again took up with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla the issue of disqualification of party MPs Sisir Adhikari and Sunil Mondal who joined the BJP. Leader of TMC in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay told reporters that he spoke to Birla over phone, the second time this month, and was assured that a committee would be formed to examine LS Speaker Om Birla the issue. "The two MPs and I will be present before the committee. I told the Speaker that I am ready to be present whenever asked," Bandyopadhyay said. "We have enough evidence to support our demand of disqualification. They shared the podium with PM Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah at BJP's election rallies, calling to defeat TMC. We have video clips and audio recordings, apart from their interviews and press clippings," he said. The senior TMC lawmaker also raised the issue with the Speaker on June 3. Besides, he had sent two letters to Birla in January and May. Adhikari, the MP from Kanthi, and Mondal, who won the Bardhaman Purba seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, had switched over to the BJP ahead of the Bengal Assembly polls without resigning as parliamentarians. Meanwhile, leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Monday wrote to Speaker Om Birla urging him to take necessary steps for election of Deputy Speaker of the House in the monsoon session of Parliament. to 4 pm with 25 per cent strength. Shops in malls and complexes are allowed to open between 11 am and 6 pm with a 50 per cent workforce. Sports activities can also resume without spectators. All educational institutes and waterways will remain closed. Movement of private vehicles to remain suspended except for emergency, the CM announced. Restaurants with bars have been permitted to open between 12 noon and 8 pm with 50 per cent seating capacity, she added. LJP MPs join hands against Chirag NEW DELHI: Five of the six Lok Janshakti Party MPs in the Lok Sabha have joined hands against their leader Chirag Paswan and elected his paternal uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras in his place, causing a big churn in Bihar politics. Paras on Monday lauded Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as a good leader and "vikas purush" (development-oriented man), highlighting the deep fault lines within the party as his nephew Chirag Paswan has been a strong critic of the JD(U) president. "I have not broken the party but saved it," Paras, MP from Hajipur, told reporters. He asserted that 99 per cent of LJP workers were unhappy with the turn of events in Bihar as Chirag Paswan led his party against the JD(U) and fared poorly in the 2020 assembly polls. Paras said his group will continue to be part of the BJP-led NDA, and said Chirag Paswan can remain part of the organisation. The group of five MPs has conveyed their decision of electing Paras as the LJP leader in Lok Sabha to the Speaker. There has been no comment from Paswan on the issue. Soon after Paras spoke to reporters, Paswan drove to his uncle's residence in the national capital to meet him. RARE GESTURE Pak, India agree to share ownership of Basmati rice ISLAMABAD: In a rare agreement between two arch-rivals India and Pakistan, which have a history of long-time rivalry with disputes on every front from sea to land, exporters from both sides of the border have mutually agreed to share the ownership of the regions prized Basmati rice, a solution considered the most workable to reach the European markets. "There has to be a joint ownership, which is a logical solution to the dispute," said Faizan Ali Ghouri, a Pakistani rice exporter. The fight between India and Pakistan over the claim of the origin of Basmati rice has a long history, as this variety is produced largely on both sides of the border. India has filed a claim in the European Union (EU) seeking a geographical indication (GI) tag for Basmati rice. Pakistan, on the other hand, has opposed India's claim and has filed a request for a protected GI tag. "There is no logic in both countries' claim for the sole exclusivity of Basmati rice. Although its origin is Pakistani Punjab, it is grown in both sides of the border. Therefore, a joint ownership is the only viable solution to the longstanding dispute," said Ghouri. "The EU buyers also prefer joint ownership of the rice variety as they want to keep both New Delhi and Islamabad on board in terms of commodity exports," he added. Ghouri's views were seconded by Ashok Sethi, the director of Punjab Rice Millers Export Association in India, who also suggested that both the countries should jointly protect the Basmati heritage. "India and Pakistan are the only two countries which produce Basmati in the world. Both should jointly work together to save the heritage and protect the GI regime of the rice," said Sethi. It is pertinent to mention that EU had recognised Basmati as a joint product of India and Pakistan in 2006. Both Pakistan and India make good money from their respective exports of Basmati rice. Pakistan annually earns $2.2 billion, while India makes about $6.8 billion from Basmati exports. "Both countries export Basmati rice. India, in its application to the EU, has never stated that it is the only Basmati producer in the world," insisted Vijay Sethi, a New Delhi-based exporter. While both sides still have their own historical details on the origin of Basmati, it is rare to see two arch-rivals, who are not ready to come to the table for talks until their demands are met, come down to a mutual agreement. Pakistan demands India to reverse its August 5, 2019 decision that changed the special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into two Union Territories by abrogating Articles 370 and 35A, as a benchmark to make way for dialogue and address other issues between the two countries. India, on the other hand, demands Pakistan to stop crossborder terrorism and take decisive action against terror elements, which it claims, enjoy the support of the establishment. Rape survivors move SC against TMC workers NEW DELHI/KOLKATA: A minor girl and 60-year-old woman have approached the Supreme Court alleging gang rape by Bengal's ruling party members after the declaration of Assembly poll results and sought a courtmonitored SIT probe into all incidents of violence and the alleged inaction of police. The 17-year-old girl from the Scheduled Caste community allegedly gang-raped on May 9 by members/supporters of the ruling party and sought transfer of investigation to a Special Investigation Team (SIT) or Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and shifting the trial out of Bengal for her own and family's safety. The girl alleged that not only was she gang-raped and left to die in the jungle after being dragged there by TMC supporters, the very next day a TMC local leader Bahadur SK came to her house and threatened the family members against lodging a complaint. She stated that he threatened to burn their house and kill them if they lodge a complaint. The women cited the proactive action taken by the Supreme Court in postGodhra communal riots cases in Gujarat and sought a similar court-monitored SIT probe into incidents of gang rape and murders that went on with impunity for a fortnight in the State after TMC scored a massive victory in the Assembly elections. The senior citizen narrated that TMC workers ran amuck after the declaration of Assembly poll results and barged into her house in a village in Purba Medinipur and gang-raped her in front of her six-year-old grandson prior to robbing her household of all valuables on the intervening night of May 4-5. The plea said, "While the history is replete with gruesome instances where rape was employed as a strategy to terrorise the enemy civilian population and to demoralise enemy troops, but never have such cruel crimes been committed against a woman citizen for her or her family's participation in the democratic process. Not merely the said crimes were facilitated by the inaction of the State authorities/police, but what was shocking is post-crime humiliation that the rape survivors were subjected to, for their perceived audacity in reporting the crime."