CMYK RAJ’S WAR AGAINST HIS UDDHAV IS LEADING TO TURMOIL IN MAHA OPINION Rs. 3 PATNA THURSDAY, 5 MAY, 2022 PG-12, YEAR—8, ISSUE—159 (RNI NO: BIHENG / 2014 / 59124) TIME FOR LALIT YADAV TO DELIVER AS DC FIGHT SRH TO STAY ALIVE IN IPL SPORTS Morning India Modi reviews bilateral relations with Norwegian counterpart Talks economic ties with Iceland PM AGENCIES NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi met his Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Store in Copenhagen on Wednesday and reviewed the ongoing activities in bilateral relations and discussed future areas of cooperation. The meeting took place on the sidelines of the second India-Nordic Summit in Copenhagen. This was the first meeting between the two leaders since the assumption of office by Prime Minister Store in October 2021. India's Ministry of External Affairs in a statement said, "Both Prime Ministers reviewed the ongoing activities in bilateral relations and discussed future areas of cooperation." Prime Minister Modi highlighted that Norway's skills and India's scope provided natural complementarities. Both leaders discussed the potential for deepening engagement in areas like Blue Economy, renewable energy, green hydrogen, solar and wind projects, green shipping, fisheries, water management, rainwater harvesting, space cooperation, long term Infrastructure investment, health and culture. India reports 3,205 new Covid cases AGENCIES NEW DELHI: India reported 3,205 new coronavirus infections in a day, pushing the number of active cases to 19,509 and the overall tally to 4,30,88,118, according to the Union health ministry data updated Wednesday. The data released at 8 am also showed that 31 fatalities -- 29 of them from Kerala alone -- were reported in a 24-hour span, taking the cumulative death toll to 5,23,920. The active cases constitute 0.05 per cent of the total infections, the health ministry said, adding the country's COVID-19 recovery rate is 98.74 per cent. The daily positivity rate was recorded at 0.98 per cent while the weekly figure was recorded at 0.76 per cent, the ministry said. An increase of 372 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload which now stand at 19,509. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease rose to 4,25,44,689, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.22 per cent. AGENCIES Discussions also took place on regional and global developments. As members of UNSC, India and Norway have been engaging with each other in the UN on global issues of mutual interest. Modi is on a three-day visit to Germany, Denmark and France, which started from May 2 aimed at further strengthening bilateral cooperation. It is the Prime Minister's first visit abroad in 2022. On Tuesday, Modi held a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen and discussed a wide range of issues, including regional and global matters. The two leaders held talks in a one-on-one format, followed by delegation level talks. Both Prime Ministers reviewed progress of the India-Denmark Green Strategic Partnership. Discussions covered cooperation in renewable energy, especially offshore wind energy and green hydrogen, as well as skill development, health, shipping, water and the Arctic, among others. NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday met his Iceland counterpart Katrin Jakobsdottir in Copenhagen and discussed strengthening bilateral economic cooperation. The meeting took place on the sidelines of the 2nd IndiaNordic Summit. Both Prime Ministers warmly recalled their first meeting during the 1st IndiaNordic Summit in Stockholm in April 2018. They noted that this year, both countries are celebrating the 50th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations. Modi and Jakobsdottir discussed ways to further strengthen economic cooperation especially in the sectors of geothermal energy, Blue Economy, Arctic, renewable energy, fisheries, food processing, education including digital universities, and culture. Rahul shifts to resort near Kathmandu after controversy AGENCIES KATHMANDU: After the controversy over his appearance at a Kathmandu-based nightclub, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has shifted to a resort nearby Kathmandu valley. Gandhi, who arrived in Kathmandu on Monday evening to participate in a marriage function of his Nepali friend, Sumnima Udas, was earlier staying at a fivestar hotel in Kathmandu. After the marriage ceremony was over, Rahul and some other guests attending the wedding of Udas, shifted to Lakhuri Bhanjyang-based lavish resort, the Terrace Resort, on Tuesday, two security officials confirmed. Terrace resort is located on the outskirts of the Kathmandu valley and is famous for sightseeing of the majestic Himalayas that also provide organic food to its guests. The resort is owned by the Sherpa family whom Sumnia got married into on Tuesday evening. Rahul's Kathmandu visit has courted controversy after he was seen with a woman in a Kathmandu- based nightclub on Monday night. A video went viral in India and lots of comments were pouring in. Some even criticized that the woman, who was seen with Rahul at the nightclub, was the Chinese Ambassador to Nepal, Hou Yanqi. 'How one can imagine that a diplomat joins with the leader of a foreign nation in a third country at midnight,' security sources said, adding that this was baseless rumour and there was no truth in it. She could be someone from the family of the bride's side, an official added. After Rahul's visit was dragged into controversy in the Indian media, now Nepal Police has deployed some security personnel in plain clothes for his security. It is said that Rahul and some of his Indian friends, who arrived to attend the marriage function of Sumnina, will stay in Kathmandu until Friday. The Udas- family has organised a reception on Friday evening at a five-star hotel in Kathmandu. Sumnima is the daughter of former Nepali ambassador to Myanmar, Bhim Udas. Sumnima, a former CNN correspondent, has married Nima Martin Sherpa. Sherpa family owns many family businesses in Nepal, including hotels, resorts, and manufacturing units among others. Currently, Sumnina is working on a project in Lumbini where she is setting up a Buddhist Museum in Lumbini, the birth place of Gautam Buddha. Sumnima was working as CNN's correspondent in New Delhi and was responsible for covering key political, economic, social, environmental, and general interest stories from the country. When she was in Delhi with CNN, it is said that Rahul and Sumnina became friends. Geothermal energy, in particular, is an area where Iceland has special expertise, and both sides stessed on collaboration between universities of both countries in this sector. Modi lauded Jakobsdottir's personal efforts at promoting gender equality and briefed her on India's advances in this regard. Discussions also took place on expediting the IndiaEFTA trade negotiations. They also held discussions on regional and global developments. Modi is on three day visit to Germany, Denmark and France, starting from May 2, aimed at further strengthening bilateral cooperation. It is his first visit abroad in 2022. On Tuesday, Modi held a bilateral meeting with his Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen and discussed wide range of issues including regional and global matters. 141 arrested in Jodhpur after clashes AGENCIES JODHPUR: As many as 141 people have been arrested so far in connection with communal clashes over the hoisting of a flag before Eid in Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's constituency Jodhpur where a curfew continued for the second consecutive day on Wednesday. The situation is under control and no fresh incident of violence has been reported, the police said. Nearly 1,000 policemen have been deployed to maintain law and order. Earlier, the authorities issued orders imposing a curfew till Wednesday midnight besides suspending mobile internet services. DGP ML Lather said 141 people have been arrested and 12 FIRs registered in Jodhpur. Four FIRs were registered by police and eight lodged by people, he added. Lather said nine policemen were injured in the violence. Tensions broke out past Monday midnight over putting up of Islamic flags on the Jalori gate circle in Jodhpur, which led to stone pelting in which five policemen were injured. RBI hikes repo rate by 40 bps on inflation worries Equities plunge AGENCIES NEW DELHI: Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das on Wednesday said that the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the central bank, in an off-cycle meeting, hiked the repo rate by 40 basis points (bps) to 4.40 per cent with immediate effect. Repo rate is the rate at which the central bank lends short-term funds to banks. The RBI has cut the repo rate by 250 basis points since February 2019 to help revive the growth momentum. The Monetary Policy Committee has been on a prolonged accommodative stance to support the growth. Also, the case reserve ratio has been hiked by 50 basis points to 4.5 per cent. The move was taken in order to contain inflation. The ongoing geopolitical tensions are pushing inflation higher in major economies besides the crude oil price also being volatile and above $100 per barrel. Edible oil shortage is due to the conflict and ban by exporters, said Das. "The decision today to raise the repo rate may be seen as a reversal of rate action of May 2020. Last month, we had set out a stance of withdrawal of accommodation. Today's action needs to be seen in line with that action," Das said. "I would like to emphasise that the monetary policy action is aimed at containing inflation spike and re-anchoring inflation expectation," Das said. "High inflation is known as detrimental to growth." Das, however, added that monetary stance remains accommodative and actions will remain calibrated. Most importantly, the unscheduled announcement by the central bank surprised the equity markets as it nosedived right after. Sensex tanked nearly 1,100 points, whereas Nifty over 300 points. Rana couple granted bail AGENCIES MUMBAI: A Mumbai Court on Wednesday granted conditional bail to independent MP Navneet Rana and her MLA husband Ravi Rana, who were arrested in the 'Hanuman Chalisa' recital case. The couple was arrested from their home after giving a call for reciting Hanuman Chalisa outside Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's private residence. According to their lawyer Rizwan Merchant, the duo shall be released on a bail of Rs 50,000 each, ordered not to speak to the media pertaining to the case under investigations and refrain from tampering with evidence, etc. The Rana duo was booked and arrested by Khar Police Station on April 23 and slapped with several charges, including sedition, breach of public peace, making inciting statements, and other sections for their plans to chant 'Hanuman Chalisa' outside the Thackeray's personal home, 'Matoshri' in Bandra east. The Special Public Prosecutor Pradip Gharat argued that chanting of Hanuman Chalisa could incite religious passions, which was strongly opposed by the Ranas' lawyers. Maha peaceful as MNS starts 'anti-loudspeaker' campaign AGENCIES MUMBAI: The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena workers launched their campaign to play 'Hanuman Chalisa' outside certain mosques in Mumbai and other parts of the state where 'azan' was relayed on loudspeakers, here on Wednesday morning. In places like Kandivali in Mumbai, pockets of Thane, Pune and Nashik, some MNS workers were seen playing Hanuman Chalisa on portable loudspeakers as 'azan' was heard on local mosques, though at low decibels. Police have deployed tight security in Mumbai and rest of Maharashtra, aided by over 30,000 Home Guards, QRT and other units, and there have been no reports of any untoward incidents so far. Mumbai Police Commissioner personally went around some sensitive spots in Dharavi and south Mumbai to oversee the security arrangements and deter MNS workers from creating any law and order issues. The MNS leaders referred to the Supreme Court guidelines prohibiting use of loudspeakers between 10 p.m. - 6 Police have deployed tight security in Mumbai and rest of Maharashtra a.m. and said that their campaign will continue as announced before. Party Spokesperson Sandip Deshpande said that the activists are ready to face action -- "Let the police do their job, we will do our jobs" -- as police continued to round up MNS workers from Mumbai and other areas in the state. Late on Tuesday night, MNS President Raj Thackeray had issued an appeal to all Hindus to blare out 'Hanuman Chalisa' outside any mosque using loudspeakers and not disturb those masjids which have already stopped using the public address systems. Raj is likely to address the media later this afternoon to announce his further course of action in the matter as the civic elections are round the corner. Meanwhile, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government ministers and officials reviewed the current situation and chalked out the future plans as the MNS remained adamant on its agitation despite all preventive measures. Variant may cause another Covid outbreak: Study Antilia case: ‘Cop plotted Hiran's cold-blooded murder’ AGENCIES NEW DELHI: The Omicron subvariants may burn themselves out in the next couple of months and there could be another outbreak of Delta or a different coronavirus strain this summer, according to a modelling study conducted in Israel. The finding, published last week in the journal Science of The Total Environment, suggests that while Delta wiped out the variants that preceded it, Omicron has not eliminated the deadly variant which could re-emerge. Researchers from BenGurion University of the Negev in Israel developed sensitive arrays that can differentiate variants from each other in wastewater which continues to give indications of where the coronavirus is active, even when PCR and rapid testing of people declines. They monitored sewage in Beer-Sheva city of Israel from December 2021 to January 2022 and noticed a "disturbing interaction" between the Omicron and Delta variants. The researchers also built a model which predicts that Omicron is burning itself out while Delta is just biding its time. "Of course, there are a lot of factors involved, but our model indicates there could be another outbreak of Delta or another coronavirus variant this summer," said Professor Ariel Kushmaro from BGU in a statement. Until now, the researchers said, whenever a new, dominant, variant appeared, it overpowered its predecessor after a short parallel period. However, in contrast to the expected dynamics whereupon the Delta variant diminishes as Omicron variant increases, results received from wastewater detection indicated a cryptic circulation of Delta even with the increased levels of Omicron, they said. "According to the developed model, it can be expected that the Omicron levels will decrease until eliminated, while Delta variant will maintain its cryptic circulation," the authors of the study noted. "If this comes to pass, the mentioned cryptic circulation may result in the reemergence of a Delta morbidity wave or in the possible generation of a new threatening variant," they added. AGENCIES MUMBAI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has named dismissed police officer Pradeep Sharma as the 'main conspirator' in the "cold-blooded murder" of Thane businessman Mansukh Hiran, in its affidavit in the case pertaining to planting a SUV with 20 gelatin sticks outside Antilia, the home of industrialist Mukesh Ambani. Aware of the entire conspiracy, the NIA told the Bombay High Court that Hiran was considered the 'weak link' in the larger conspiracy to terrorise the billionaire Ambani family, when the SUV was discovered on February 25, 2021, sending shockwaves across the country. Opposing the bail plea of Sharma - nabbed on June 17, 2021 and currently in judicial custody - the NIA affidavit said he was not innocent and had committed offences of criminal conspiracy, murder and terror acts. A division bench comprising Justice A. S. Chandurkar and Justice G. A. Sanap has kept Sharma's bail plea -challenging the Special NIA Court's rejection of his bail application in February 2022 -- for further hearing on July 17. "Pradeep Sharma was an active member of a gang that had conspired to terrorise people, including the Ambani family, and murdered Hiran as he was a weak link in the conspiracy," said the NIA, adding that Sharma and other accused were charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for heinous and serious offences. Hiran was aware of the entire conspiracy of parking the SUV outside Antilia that day and the accused (Sharma and co-conspirator and sacked cop Sachin Vaze) feared that he (Hiran) could spill the beans making it difficult for the duo to gather the fruits of the larger plot. The NIA said that from the evidence gathered, it was crystal clear that Sharma was directly involved in the crime and committed offences of conspiracy, terrorist act, being member of a terror gang, kidnapping, murder and destruction of evidence. It said Sharma willingly and intentionally entered into a well-organised criminal conspiracy for the execution of Hiran which was a direct outcome of the terror acts committed by Vaze and the other accused. The NIA also claimed that Hiran was eliminated after he refused to take the blame for parking the SUV outside Antilia. "When Hiran refused to take blame for the crime, Vaze hatched a conspiracy with Sharma and other accused to kill Hiran so that he does not divulge that Vaze was the one who parked the vehicle outside Antilia," the NIA said in its affidavit.