www.freepressjournal.in | twitter.com/fpjindia Reg. No. Mcs/048/2018-20; RNI No. 1541/1957 I M.p.c.s office Mumbai-400001 BOTTAS RULES RUSSIAN TRACK Pg 14 CENTRE MISDIRECTING CESS POOL TO BOOST REVENUE TIGER ‘ROARS’ HIS WAY TO MUSIC CHARTS Pg 12 320c. 260c. Sunrise: 06:28 am Sunset: 06:30 pm Vol. 64 No. 128 | MONDAY | SEPTEMBER 28, 2020 | 13 Pages | EDITIONS : Mumbai*, Pune, Indore, Bhopal, E-Paper Fast News NCB CHIEF IN CITY, BRIEFED With the Narcotics Control Bureau questioning several top Bollywood divas as part of its investigation into the drug angle in actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death case, the drug law enforcement agency's chief Rakesh Asthana arrived in Mumbai on Sunday to take stock of the probe. According to NCB sources, Asthana, who flew from Delhi to Mumbai earlier in the day, met several officers and was briefed on the two drugs cases the agency had registered last month. SPYING: SCRIBE IN JUDICIAL CUSTODY A Delhi court on Sunday sent freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma, Chinese woman Qing Shi and Nepalese citizen Sher Singh to judicial custody in connection with the espionage case against them. On September 14, the Delhi Police's Special Cell had arrested 61year-old Sharma, who was allegedly working for Chinese intelligence. During a search of his house in the Pitampura area, a laptop, some confidential documents related to Indian defence and some other incriminating papers were reportedly seized. During his police remand, Qing and her Nepalese partner Sher Singh alias Raj Bohra were also arrested as they were found supplying Sharma with huge amounts of money, routed through hawala channels, for conveying sensitive information to Chinese intelligence, DCP Special Cell Sanjeev Yadav had said. FORMER BIHAR DGP JOINS NITISH PARTY Bihar's former Director General of Police Gupteshwar Pandey on Sunday joined the state's ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U). Pandey, who had taken voluntary retirement from the Indian Police Service a few days back, said that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had called him at his residence in the morning and asked him to join the party. Pandey is expecting ticket to contest the October-November Assembly election from his home district Buxar. Pandey came into the limelight in the Sushant Singh Rajput case, after the state police registered an FIR in connection with the actor's death, following a complaint by Rajput's father who lives in Patna. Moreover, he sent a team headed by an IPS officer to Mumbai to probe the case despite the issues of jurisdiction. ‘I was told to name Karan Johar’ Pg 8 Former production executive tells court NCB asked him to implicate filmmaker, others BHAVNA UCHIL Mumbai A magistrate's court has remanded Kshitij Prasad, a former employee of Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions, in the custody of the Narcotics Control Bureau till October 3, even as it recorded his statement that he had been coerced and blackmailed during questioning. In Prasad’s statement to magistrate VJ Dongre that was recorded after his advo- cate Satish Maneshinde requested the court to do so, Prasad is said to have stated that an NCB officer, Sameer Wankhede, in the presence of several other officers, told him that since he was associated with Dharma Productions, they would let him off if he implicated either Karan Johar, Somel Mishra, Rakhi, Apoorva, Neeraj or Rahil and falsely alleged that they consumed drugs. Led by Johar, most of those named hold senior positions Glimpses of a cleaner world What the lockdown gave us However, the rise in biomedical waste is worrying SANJAY JOG Mumbai A study carried out by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board on the impact of the lockdown says the slowdown has had a direct positive impact on almost all vital environmental parameters, except for biomedical waste. Air quality has improved, as all other markers, including pollutant load, have shown a consistent reduction of 60 per cent during the entire phase of lockdown. In many places, the grinding to a halt of industry has yielded glimpses of a cleaner world, with many reports of exceptional blue skies, says the MPCB report. Similarly hazardous waste , generation due to restricted industrial activity reduced pressure on its handling by 75 per cent on an average. Emission from construction was extremely marginal, with only 21 tonnes per day during pre- COVID-19, while in Phase 4 of the lockdown, it was 8 TPD, due to limited activity because of resource constraints. Mass generation of waste diminished as shopping malls, hotels and restaurants and other leisure spots were closed. However, people appear to be consuming an equal volume CONTD. ON P6 stated that Wankhede told him that if he did not want to cooperate, he would teach him a lesson and made him sit on the floor next to his chair. Wankhede then put his shoe near Prasad’s face and proclaimed that this was his true 'aukat' (standard). All present in the room laughed at his plight. He said he was left “severely traumatised” and “shaken”. When Prasad asked to be allowed to speak with his lawyer, he was asked to sign AJIT K DUBEY AND SAHIL PANDEY Chumar-Demchok (Ladakh) Just when the most sanguine among defence experts had begun believing that India and China have, for strategic reasons, pressed the pause button before the harsh Siberian winter sets in at Ladakh, a video has emerged which indicates that the game of brinkmanship is far from over. The video, released by the government, shows Indian army tanks and armoured personnel carriers in forward locations in Chumar-Demchock in eastern Ladakh -- possibly the highest tank deployment anywhere in the world. In the cover of the ongoing commander level talks, which have essentially given both sides the time to regroup and refortify their positions, the PLA had on August 29 and August 30, moved their tanks and troops, in contravention of confidence building measures that ban military movements at night. On August 31, more troop movements took pace even as the two commanders were holding discussions to de-escalate the situation. The video, which shows T-90 and T-72 tanks along with the BMP-2 Infantry Combat Vehicles which can operate at temperatures up to minus 40 degree Celsius, suggests that Indian Army's armoured regiments are ready to take on the PLA at altitude of over 14,500 feet. China, too, has augmented its fire-power in high-altitude areas of Ladakh. Earlier this month, a video of a military exercise at the high-altitude Tibet Autonomous Region was tweeted by the editor of the China-controlled Global Times. The Two back-to-back meetings but don't join the dots yet SHAKTI KAPOOR AS NCB OFFICER SANJAY JOG Mumbai A day after the meeting between former CM Devendra Fadnavis and the Shiv Sena MP and executive editor of the Sena mouthpiece Saamna, Sanjay Raut, to discuss the format of an interview, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar held an hour-long meeting on Sunday with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray at the latter’s offi, cial residence Varsha. The farm and labour laws passed by Parliament and signed by the President of India dominated the discussion, given that Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had announced last week that the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government was in no hurry to implement the new laws in the state. Pawar is believed to have made a strong case for the government focusing on corona containment while stepping up efforts for the revival of the economy Fur. ther, the NCP chief also emphasised the need for further coordination among the three ruling partners in deci- sion-making and government functioning. In addition, the Akali Dal’s decision to quit the NDA and actively join the farmers' agitation also came up for discussion. Pawar welcomed the Akali Dal’s move, reminding that yet another of the BJP's oldest allies had deserted the NDA, just like the Shiv Sena had done last year. He also reportedly emphasised the need for all nonBJP parties to work together, not just in Maharashtra but also at the national level. Hours before the meeting between Pawar and Thacker- ay both Fadnavis and Raut , separately clarified the purpose of their meeting, which took place at a five-star hotel in the city on Saturday They . had met on the same day that the BJP national president, JP Nadda, had announced his new team, in which the disgruntled leaders Pankaja Munde and Vinod Tawde had been accommodated. On his part, Fadnavis said the BJP had no intention of joining hands with the Shiv Sena or to bring down the Uddhav Thackeray-led state government. CONTD. ON P6 Something to ‘wine’ about LAST WORD State Govt launches first grape park in Nashik; plans to place Maharashtra on global tourism map SANJAY JOG Mumbai On World Tourism Day Maharashtra , raised a toast to the first grape park in Nashik. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray launched the first grape park resort developed by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation in Nashik, one of the leading grape and wine-producing hubs in the country Spread over 14.48 . hectares near the Gangapur dam, the resort was constructed with an investment of Rs 72 crore and comprises four twin villas, 28 suites, restaurants and a boat club. Primarily 11 , boats will be operated, on trial basis. The state government has chosen Nashik, not only because it is a holy city on the banks of the Godavari river but over the years, has emerged as a statement they had prepared and was told he could retract it later, he told the magistrate. “At the end of nearly 50 hours of interrogation, humiliation and torment, Kshitij, in his desperation to speak to his lawyer or family , unwillingly , and under threats, signed the statement,” said Maneshinde, who also represents Rhea Chakraborty and her brother Showik. The advocate added that it could be seen from Prasad's statement that the NCB was bent on implicating Karan Johar or some top officials of Dharma Productions. Prasad also told the court that a person named 'Sanket', who had earlier denied that he knew Prasad at the agency office, had said later that he recognised Prasad from his WhatsApp picture. However, Prasad said he had never met Sanket and did not recognise him. CONTD. ON P6 Army tanks up for China, harsh cold in the production company . He informed the court that he had refused to do so. He is further said to have Fadnavis says BJP had no intention of joining hands with Sena or oust MVA; Raut says former CM not an enemy; clarifications come hours before Pawar and Thackeray meet TAILPIECE Bollywood actress Shraddha Kapoor was grilled by the Narcotics Control Bureau on Saturday. Incidentally, her father, veteran actor Shakti Kapoor, has been cast as a narcotics officer in an upcoming film inspired by the life of late actor Sushant Singh Rajput. Kapoor senior essays the role of a narcotics officer in the film "Nyaay: The Justice", which is incidentally backed by Sarla A. Saraogi, whose husband Ashok M. Saraogi represents Sushant's exmanager Shruti Modi in the ongoing investigations. Although the casting is done, the actors are yet to begin filming. EDIT the wine capital of India, with half of the nation's vineyards and wineries located there. It was the guardian minister of Nashik district, Chhagan Bhujbal, who, during his stint as tourism minister in the Congress-NCP government, had conceived the idea of a grape park resort. He told The Free Press Journal, ‘‘The Grape Park Resort and Boat Club launched today (Sunday), will give a big boost to tourism in Nashik. Many tourist spots in the area are being developed for visitors, so that they will hang around for longer instead of just going to pilgrimage spots and ancient temples. Connectivity with Shirdi, Trimbakeshwar, Saptashrungigad and other tourist destinations has been enhanced.’’ CONTD. ON P6 video, which showed an array of multi-barrel rocket launchers in action, came hours ahead of talks between foreign ministers of the two nations, reports NDTV . The Indian Army is also working on war footing to fight the extremely harsh winters by building new shelters and prefabricated structures for the soldiers. The Army needs to maintain its domination of the key heights in the area in sub-zero temperatures if it hopes to neutralise the PLA deployments. The Eastern Ladakh area witnesses the harshest winters, where temperatures plummet to minus 35 degrees in the night during winters, coupled with high-speed freezing winds. "The Fire and Fury Corps is the only formation of the Indian Army and also in the world to have actually deployed mechanised forces in such a harsh terrain. The maintenance of the tanks, infantry combat vehicles and heavy guns is a challenge in this terrain. To ensure crew and equipment readiness, adequate arrangements are in place for both man and machine," Major General Arvind Kapoor told ANI near a tank exercising area. The Indian armoured regiments can reach the LAC within minutes if required and had done so recently when the Chinese activated their tanks after the August 29-30 incidents, when India occupied several heights near the southern bank of Pangong Lake. The entire territory spreading from eastern Ladakh to the Tibetan plateau, which is occupied by the Chinese forces, is suitable for the operation of tanks. (Rewritten input: FPJ NEWS SERVICE) Farm Bills: Row is over TV footage FPJ NEWS SERVICE New Delhi A day after the Akali Dal walked out of the NDA, snapping the umbilical cord that tied it to the BJP Presi, dent Ram Nath Kovind put his initials on all the three controversial farm bills. The opposition had requested the President not to sign the bills and send them back to Parliament for reconsideration. The opposition has alleged that the bills were pushed through voice vote in violation of rules. The government, it has claimed, lacked the numbers, which would have become clear if a physical voting was held. They have also accused Deputy Chairman Harivansh Singh, who was presiding over the proceedings, of colluding with the government. Harivansh Singh and the government, however, have contended the opposition demands for physical voting were negated as the members were not in their seats while making the demand. Television footage of the Rajya Sabha proceedings of September 20 accessed by a TV channel shows that at least two of the three MPs -KK Ragesh and Trichy Siva - who moved the motion to send the controversial bills to a select committee, were in their seats when they demanded a division of votes. On Sunday evening, reacting to the footage, Harivansh Singh issued a clarification which said, "I hold a CONTD. ON P6 Watch out for people who criticize. Those who criticize the most do the least. Master ChoaKok Sui 1MN DEAD, REST NONE THE WISER WHERE IT STARTED: First-year students at Wuhan University FPJ NEWS SERVICE New York The world has crossed another dubious milestone – a coronavirus death toll of more than one million -1,000,199, to be precise (September 27, 2020, 15:38 GMT). The number of lives lost daily to the virus has been rising through most of August and September, reaching more than 5,000 in an average measured over seven days, according to the New York Times data base. India seems to be crossing one grim threshold after another: the COVID-19 caseload neared 60 lakh with 88,600 fresh infections being reported on Sunday Mean. while, the death toll had mounted to a morbid 94,503 with 1,124 people succumbing to the disease in a span of 24 hours, data updated at 8 am on Sunday showed. On Saturday India, the , world’s second-most populous nation, continued to lead in daily virus-related deaths, with about 7,700 over the most recent seven-day period. The United States was second, with more than 5,000, Brazil third with more than 4,800, and Mexico fourth with nearly 3,000. The US, Brazil, India and Mexico account for more than half of the world’s total deaths from the virus, according to the NYT database. With seasons changing, some countries that were hit hard by the virus in the spring and summer are beginning to shed lockdown policies, raising fears of future surges. CONTD. ON P6 Vajpayee associate Jaswant is no more STATE CORRESPONDENT Jaipur Former Union minister Jaswant Singh, one of the founding members of the BJP and a close associate of ex-prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, died here on Sunday following a long spell of illness. He was 82. Singh, a former Army officer, had a fall at his home in August 2014 and was admitted to the Army Research and Referral Hospital. He was in coma for a long time and had been in and out of the hospital since then. He was admitted again in June this year. Reacting to Singh's death, the President said the demise of the "veteran sol- R dier, outstanding parliamentarian, exceptional leader and intellectual" was distressing. "He combined many difficult roles with ease and equanimity My . heartfelt condolences to his family and friends," he said. PM Modi said that Singh had served India diligently and will be remembered for his unique perspective on matters of politics and society The prime minister later . spoke to Singh's son Manvendra to convey his condolences. In his eclectic career, Singh donned many hats -- army officer, author, Union minister, but his handling of the Kandahar hijack crisis as the then external affairs CONTD. ON P6 ajasthan Royals chased down a record target of 223 to beat Kings XI Punjab by 4 wickets. Sanju Samson scored 85 off 42 and Rahul Tewatia hit five sixes in an over to pull off the unthinkable win. But before that, Mayank Agarwal hit a fluent century (106) for Kings XI Punjab.