YK MYK WEATHER TODAY MAX 30 C MIN 26 C KERALA WORKERS LOSE RS 13,650 CR IN WAGES DURING LOCKDOWN OPINION Rainfall may occur. INDIA NAME 15 FOR WTC FINAL; AXAR, SUNDAR EXCLUDED SPORTS Morning India Rs. 3 KOLKATA WEDNESDAY, 16 JUNE, 2021 PG-08, YEAR—8, ISSUE—32 (RNI NO: WBENG / 2014 / 56803) TMC supremo says will not allow Bengal to be divided MI NEWS SERVICE KOLKATA/JALPAIGURI: A controversial demand for carving out a Union Territory comprising North Bengal districts out of Bengal, made by two BJP MPs from the region has sparked off a sharp reaction with the ruling TMC with party supremo Mamata Banerjee stating she would not allow any part of Bengal to "lose its freedom and be dependent on New Delhi." At a closed-door meeting at the residence of BJP MP for Alipurduar John Barla at Lakhipara Tea Garden, the demand for a separate Union Territory was raised and discussed on Sunday. John Barla said in a tele- AT A GLANCE JHARKHAND DECLARES BLACK FUNGUS AS EPIDEMIC RANCHI: The Jharkhand government on Tuesday declared mucormycosis an epidemic amid the rising number of cases in the state. There are 130 suspected cases of mucormycosis, commonly known as black fungus, in the state. Of them, 79 cases have been confirmed, said a senior official at the Chief Minister's Office. So far, 25 people have died in the state due to black fungus, while 37 have recovered, he said. "On the direction of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, black fungus has been declared as an epidemic," the CMO tweeted. The decision was taken amid black fungus threat among immune-compromised patients, especially COVID-19 patients being treated with steroids, the official said. WESTERLIES MAY SLOW PROGRESS OF MONSOON OVER NORTHWEST INDIA NEW DELHI: Due to approaching mid-latitude 'westerlies' (winds), the further progress of the monsoon over remaining parts of northwest India is likely to be slow, the IMD said on Tuesday. CORONA METER INDIA TOTAL CASES: 2,95,84,969 TOTAL DEATH: 3,77,273 WORLD TOTAL CASES: 177,105,726 TOTAL DEATH: 3,829,318 phonic conversation with a news agency on Tuesday that, "I made the demand ... there have been movements here for a separate Kamtapuri, a greater Cooch Behar and for Gorkhaland." However, BJPs Bengal unit officially denied making any such demands. "My belief is that North Bengal should be detached and made into a separate Union Territory," Barla said. The MP who has earlier led an agitation for an autonomous tribal area in the last decade, said "small States perform better. North Bengal is neglected, it also faces security issues. Our economy is affected, tea gardens are being shut down. We will be better off as a Union Territory."Barla, said that he along with others from the region would be meeting both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah on this issue as well as raise it in Parliament. BJP has four MPs from the region and at least one of them Jayanta Roy from Jalpaiguri said that though Barla's comments were made in his personal capacity, he supported them. However, BJP Bengal unit State president Dilip Ghosh said his party does not have any such agenda. "None of our officials has said any such thing," he said, claiming that attempts are being made by the TMC to malign the BJP by raking up various issues. Governor Dhankhar writes stern letter to CM on postpoll violence in Bengal Guv trying to project Bengal as site like Israel- Palestine war: TMC PRIYANKA AICH BHOWMICK KOLKATA: Before heading to Delhi on Tuesday, Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar sent a stern letter to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee again regarding the law and order situation in the State. He is scheduled to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah in the national capital. It is learned that the law and order situation in the State may be discussed at their meeting. He may also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, in a letter before leaving for Delhi, the Governor wrote that, "With heavy heart I am constrained to observe your continued silence and inaction over post-poll retributive bloodshed, violation of human rights, outrageous assault on dignity of women, wanton destruction of property, perpetuation of untold miseries on political opponents- worst since independence and it ill augurs for democracy." According to him, despite repeated calls for attention, not a single day the issues were discussed in the Cabinet. No action was taken in the interest of the victims. The Governor further wrote, "In spite of your attention having been drawn to the enormity of situation, huge exodus of people in search of cover for life and destruction of property worth crores, there has only been stunning silence at your end and you did not deem it necessary to even deliberate this grave human tragedy in any of the Cabinet meetings so far. Your studied silence, coupled with The Trinamool Congress Tuesday claimed Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar is trying to convey a view that a war is going on in the State like that between Palestine and Israel. TMC spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy alleged that the Governor, in "an unprecedented manner has been launching tirades against the State Government almost daily."The Governor is making venomous and baseless comments against the State Government like a spokesperson of the BJP. He is trying to convey a view that as if a war is going on in Bengal like that in Palestine and Israel." absence of any steps to engage in rehabilitation and compensation to alleviate the unimaginable suffering of people, force an inevitable conclusion that all this is State-driven. Your stance is plunging vast suffering populace in a state of hopelessness and helplessness. Such 'punitive' decimation of human rights and dignity shames democracy." Therefore, all necessary steps should be taken in the interest of law and order. During May 13-15 the Governor visited to postpoll violence affected areas and met people in Coochbehar, Nandigram and Ranpagli camp in Assam. In his letter he also raised his voice for those people, and wrote," narrated heart rendering tales and woes of arson, loot, rapes and killings apart from wanton destruction of property. A worrisome premise of this carnage is to 'punish', 'discipline' and instil fear of life in those who 'dared' to vote against the ruling party. "I want to make it clear that the BJP has no such agenda to divide Bengal or create a different State," Ghosh said. The Trinamool Congress came out strongly despite BJPs denials. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said "They should be ashamed after their humiliating loss in the elections but, instead, they are trying to divide Bengal. In whose interest are they trying to split Bengal? " She argued that formation of a Union Territory takes away people's rights as it denies them of the benefits of statehood. "I will not allow anyone to divide Bengal. UT means being at the mercy of New Delhi and losing all freedom. But I will not allow North Bengal or any other part of Bengal to lose its freedom and become dependent on New Delhi." CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty also said "any attempt to divide Bengal again, after the 1947 partition, will be fought and opposed by the Left tooth and nail." While blaming BJP for coming up with the idea to divide Bengal, Chakraborty said, "The TMC supremo should also keep in mind that separatist forces like Kamtapuris, proGorkhaland outfits should not be kept in good humour by her party." The longest and most violent agitation movement in North Bengal was for a separate territory for Gorkhaland which was resolved by a series accords which finally saw the setting up of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. Other movements such as for Kamtapur which saw the setting up of the proscribed Kamtapur Liberation Organisation, have largely petered out. The BJP has 20 MLAs from the five districts which make up North Bengal Alipurduar, Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling and Kalimpong - whereas TMC has six and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has one. Govt: Delta Plus variant of interest, not variant of concern NEW DELHI: The new Delta Plus mutation of coronavirus is "a variant of interest", not "a variant of concern", the government said on Tuesday. "Delta variant played a major role in the second wave. An additional mutation of this variant, known as Delta Plus, has been detected and submitted to the global data system. It has been seen in Europe since March and was brought into the public domain two days ago on June 13," NITI Aayog's Member Health, Dr V.K. Paul, said at a Health Ministry press meet. "Delta Plus is a variant of interest, but not a variant of concern. It has not yet been classified as a variant of concern, in which there is adverse consequence to humanity. As per data available in the public domain, this variant nullifies the use of monoclonal antibody. We will scientifically study and learn more about this variant. "The new variant was found outside India and we have to found out its presence, spread and way of spread in the country. INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia) will keep a constant watch on the new variant and find ‘NOVAVAX RESULTS ARE PROMISING, HOPE COMPANY STARTS TRIAL ON KIDS SOON’ NEW DELHI: The Centre on Tuesday said clinical trials of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine in India are in an advanced stage of completion and hoped the US-based company will soon start trials of its protein-based vaccine on children too. "Novavax results are promising. What we are learning from data available in the public domain that this vaccine is very safe and highly effective. It will be produced in India. Clinical trials are being conducted and are in an advanced stage of completion," Dr VK Paul, Member- Health, Niti Aayog said in press briefing by the Union Health Ministry. He said that Novavax vaccine will be produced in India, hopefully in very large quantities. Preparatory work has already been done by the Punebased manufacturer Serum Institute of India, which has an agreement with the Marylandbased company to produce 1.1 billion doses of the vaccine in India. Dr Paul said there will be some gap in the production of the (of Novavax vaccine) for a while. MORE ON PG 5 INSIDE out its harmful effects," he added. Paul emphasised that it is important to continue to follow Covid appropriate behaviour. "We are dealing with a highly transmissible variant this year than we were in 2020, hence we exercise greater caution and strictly abide by Covid appropriate behaviour," he said. DAILY COVID-19 COUNT IN INDIA LOWEST AFTER 75 DAYS PAGE 5 Devotees come to offer prayers at temple on a peak amid COVID-19 pandemic, in Rudraprayag on Tuesday. ANI May retail sales fall 79% from pre-Covid levels in 2019 NEW DELHI: Retail sales in India last month declined 79 per cent from the sales recorded in the pre-Covid period of May 2019, according to a survey by Retailers Association of India (RAI). The decline comes on the back of the lockdowns across states amid the second wave of Covid-19. With sales down 34 per cent in May 2021, categories such as food and grocery fared better than categories like footwear (86 per cent), beauty, wellness and personal care (-87 per cent) and sports goods (-80 per cent) as compared to preWITH SALES DOWN 34 Covid sales levels PC IN MAY 2021, (May 2019). CATEGORIES SUCH AS Retailers FOOD AND GROCERY across regions FARED BETTER THAN are reflecting a CATEGORIES LIKE deep fall in sales FOOTWEAR (-86 PER with southern CENT), BEAUTY, WELLIndia at '-73 per NESS AND PERSONAL cent' in May CARE (-87 PER CENT) 2021 as comAND SPORTS GOODS pared to May (-80 PER CENT) AS 2019 pre-covid COMPARED TO PREsales, eastern COVID SALES LEVELS region at '-75 (MAY 2019). per cent', while western and northern regions have indicated '-83 per cent' sales in May 2021 as compared to May 2019. The RAI statement noted that many of the states have now slowly begun to open all forms of retail in a calibrated manner. Commenting on the current state of the retail industry, Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India (RAI), said: "Retailers are looking forward to some improvement in the month of June with gradual unlocking. However, the retail industry needs collective support of various government bodies to tide over the present situation." Pak, China focused on protecting CPEC after Galwan Valley standoff NEW DELHI: While the stand-off between India and China was at peak in the Galwan Valley, after a lethal but unarmed clash on June 15 last year, the wheels of diplomacy, and more, began to swiftly turn between Islamabad and Beijing. The public response was muted from the Pakistani side but as an "All weather friend" of China, it was obvious that Pakistan would show its support for China--less overtly but more covertly. This was evident in the statement by foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi when he said that China cannot remain ignorant towards India's "illegal" construction of roads in Ladakh. Pakistan was obviously trying to cash in on the situation. It chose the line that its confrontation with China was another illustration that India was destabilizing the entire South Asian region. Qureshi therefore flagged India's so-called aggressive behaviour towards its neighbours that could put regional peace and security at stake. The Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan also criticised the Modi government and his "expansionist policies" while stating that India's aggressiveness is a threat to India's neighbours. India has border disputes with Nepal, China, and Pakistan and is being constantly threatened with false flag operations. Such continuous arrogant behaviour will not be tolerated, he said, while trying to drive a wedge between India and its South Asian neighbourhood, in its bid to undermine New Delhi's status as a rising regional power. In slamming India postGawan, Khan was following up on his earlier steps of downgrading diplomatic ties with India by withdrawing its High Commissioner after India abrogated Article 370 in August 2019. India-Pakistan ties were already going steeply south ahead of the Galwan incident. After abrogating Article 370 and Article 35A, India reasserted its claims over PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan in accordance with the February, 1994 Parliament resolution. The Survey of India's new map depicted Gilgit-Baltistan and Aksai China within the UT Ladakh boundary. Another move was the India Meteorological Department including areas in PoK and GilgitBaltistan in its daily weather forecasts, starting May 6 last year. Post-Gawan, the future of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project under the Belt and Road Initiative blipped ever-more strongly on the ChinaPakistan radar. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a multi-billion dollar project that serves as the flagship of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), from the very outset. As CPEC passes through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, both China and Pakistan have a joint interest in protecting the area that India energetically claims. China and Pakistan appear to have been worried that India under Prime THIS WAS EVIDENT IN THE STATEMENT BY FOREIGN MINISTER SHAH MAHMOUD QURESHI WHEN HE SAID THAT CHINA CANNOT REMAIN IGNORANT TOWARDS INDIA'S "ILLEGAL" CONSTRUCTION OF ROADS IN LADAKH. PAKISTAN WAS OBVIOUSLY TRYING TO CASH IN ON THE SITUATION. Minister Narendra Modi has become strategically confident. The Doklam standoff, cross LoC surgical strikes, Balakot air strike,Operation All Out in Kashmir and the abrogation of Article 370, further gave rise to the perception of India's strategic confidence. It is understood that the Chinese have conveyed their concerns over CPEC to its all-weather ally Pakistan as India has very strongly objected to Beijing exploiting the ecologically sensitive Gilgit-Baltistan area and PoK. Last year, according to a US intelligence report, China had a much better understanding of Indian troop positions and movements ahead of the June 15 Galwan Valley clash in Ladakh, thanks to Pakistan. Some analysts say that the revival of the ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan, and the blow-hot blowcold noises towards normalisation of India-Pak ties serve China's interests. Any breakthrough between India and Pakistan is likely to secure CPEC, China's too-big-to-fail flagship project under its BRI.