VOL. 32 NO. 43| MUMBAI, PUNE, INDORE, BHOPAL SUNDAY| FEBRUARY 28, 2021| 15 PAGES Countdown begins for ISRO’s first mission in 2021 Coronavirus Cases 114,131,144 BENGALURU: If things go as planned, an Indian rocket will launch a Brazilian satellite for the first time from Sriharikota spaceport on Sunday. It’s also ISRO's first launch of 2021. Subject to weather conditions, the blastoff is scheduled at 10.24 am. (Report on Pg 9) Fissures in Cong, rebels put up show of strength Deaths 2,531,845 Source - Worldometer Veteran Congress leader Kapil Sibal says party has become ‘very weak’ at the G-23 leaders’ event in Jammu l Ghulam Nabi Azad presses for Priyanka to head Congress FROM OUR BUREAU New Delhi Fissures in the Congress were wide open on Saturday . Several dissenters (rebel leaders) came out in open under the stewardship of veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad, challenging the party leadership in the first-ever public show of strength in Jammu. The Group of 23 senior leaders vented against the leadership for doing nothing despite their warning letter in August 2020. Their views came on a day when former , Congress President Rahul Gandhi, tipped to head the party soon, was campaigning in Tamil Nadu. Senior Congress leaders at the Shanti Sammelan event in Jammu on Saturday PHOTO PTI At an event titled ‘Shanti Sammelan’, senior Congress leader and former union minister Kapil Sibal (72) No commercial intl flights till March 31 FROM OUR BUREAU New Delhi The ban on the international commercial passenger flight services has been extended till March 31. This was announced by the aviator regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), through a circular. It, however, said the international scheduled flights may be allowed on select routes by the competent authority on a case- Fast News Mukesh Ambani is richest man in Asia MUMBAI: Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani has once again become the wealthiest person in Asia after China's Zhong Shanshan lost $22 billion this week, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Zhong Shanshan's bottled-water company tanked a record 20% this week, making Mukesh Ambani the richest person in Asia. With a net worth of about $80 billion, Mukesh Ambani is now richer than Zhong Shanshan, who is worth $76.6 billion. Zhong Shanshan had previously become Asia's richest person, surpassing Chinese tech titans like Jack Ma. Hi-res sequencing of 64 genomes NEW YORK: Two decades after the successful completion of the Human Genome Project, an international group of researchers has now sequenced 64 human genomes at high resolution. This reference data includes individuals from all over the world to better capture the genetic diversity of the human species. Among other applications, the work, published in the journal Science, enables populationspecific studies on genetic predispositions to human diseases as well as the discovery of more complex forms of genetic variation. Now, lockdown till Mar 8 in Amravati MUMBAI: In view of the rising COVID-19 cases in Amravati, the district administration has extended the lockdown for another 7 days till March 8. The initial lockdown was from February 21 to February 28. In Amravati, a record 12,052 coronavirus cases were reported between February 1 and 27. On an average there are 700 plus cases reported daily. FULL STORY ON P2 to-case basis. The scheduled international flights were suspended from March 23, 2020 in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The restriction will not apply to cargo flights and flights specifically approved by DGCA, the circular added. But special international flights have been allowed under the Vande Bharat Mission since May 2020 and under , bilateral "air bubble" arrangements. questioned the party leadership letting Azad retire from the Rajya Sabha, instead of using his experience when Manchester City on high; register 20th win in all competitions the party is "getting weak." He was a part of the Group of 23 (G-23) who had openly questioned Rahul Gandhi's style of functioning. Spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi lamented that some leaders had created a "tamasha" at a time when they should help campaign in the five states and Union Territories going to polls. The dissenters, included Anand Sharma, former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, former union minister and MP Manish Tewari, Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha and former UP Congress President Raj Babbar. CONTD. ON P8 Covid-19 vax jabs to cost `250 in all pvt hospitals FPJ BUREAU Mumbai/ New Delhi The Coronavirus vaccines will be capped at Rs 250 per shot at private hospitals and health centres, the Health Ministry said on Saturday The vac. cines will be free in all government hospitals and centres. The price of the coronavirus vaccine at private facilities in the country has been capped at Rs 250 per dose which includes Rs 100 as service charge, according to central government sources. From March 1, India is going to start the vaccination of people above 60 years and individuals above 45 years of age having comorbidities against coronavirus. Quality at Value New social media, OTT rules dictatorial: Patil Says such orders will not have any standing in the court of law SANJAY JOG Mumbai Maharashtra Minister of state for Information Technology Satej Patil has on Saturday slammed the Centre for issuing new Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code for social platforms and over the top (OTT) players. He told the Free Press Journal, “The guidelines are dictatorial and a threat to democracy. Such rules will not be accepted by the people of this democratic country .” The minister took a strong objection against the central government’s move to have an access with the 53 crore users of WhatsApp, 44.8 crore of YouTube, 41 crore of Facebook, 21 crore of Instagram COVID report a blow for migrant workers Doctors, activists hail contractors’ move saying people begin to adopt preventive steps SWAPNIL MISHRA Mumbai Rising coronavirus cases across the city are going to be tough on the migrant workers, who have returned to Mumbai with the hope of getting work. The contractors have now asked their workers to get a corona report done before resuming their work. This move has not gone down well with the labourers because if they test positive for COVID-19, they will have to sit at home which will affect their day-today life once again. Meanwhile, doctors and health activists have welcomed this move saying at least people have started taking preventive measures to protect their co-workers and employees. Contractors said they have taken this step to ensure no employee or labourer working at the sites are corona positive. They are keeping a MANCHESTER: Manchester City won its 20th straight game in all competitions and opened up a 13-point lead in the Premier League by beating West Ham 2-1 thanks to goals from center backs Ruben Dias and John Stones on Saturday. Stones swept in the decisive goal. (Report on Pg 12) close watch on each employee at site for which the supervisors have been given strict instruction to send home if any worker shows coronalike symptoms. They asked them to conduct a corona test before resuming work. “We have not received any circular or notice from the civic body or state government to conduct such things and all these are being done as preventive measures,” said Nikhil Mishra, Interior designer at Nilesh Construction. CONTD. ON P8 and 1.75 crore of Twitter. “Why the government needs an access? Has the government got an adequate machinery or a mechanism to implement these rules?’’ he asked. Patil said in the present set up the Cyber Crime can delete objectionable tweets or write ups on other social media platforms. He further stated that these regulations need to be opposed strongly as they infringe the privacy of individuals and free speech given by the Biden vows to hold Saudi responsible for human rights AGENCIES Washington US President Joe Biden on Friday said that he will hold Saudi Arabia accountable after the government released a report revealing that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi. According to The Hill, in an interview with Univision, Biden detailed a conversation he had on Thursday with Saudi king Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in which BJP leader Chitra Wagh’s PM isn't useless…who is he useful to? asks Rahul husband booked in DA case Case triggers a war of words between BJP and MVA partners SANJAY JOG Mumbai The Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has registered a first information report (FIR) against Kishor Wagh, who is the husband of state BJP vice-president Chitra Wagh, in a disproportionate assets (DA) case. The case has been registered against Wagh, who was an employee of the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital, under Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, Section 13 (2) and 13 (1) E. The ACB in its investiga- tion report has found that the Wagh family's income is 90 percent more than their actual income. Wagh had not sought the government permission while flying to Dubai and he has not also filed his income details with the government department that is mandatory . Employees’ pay, pension cannot be deferred: SC FROM OUR BUREAU New Delhi The Supreme Court has held that the government cannot defer pay and pension since they are rightful entitlements of the employees. The ruling came on a petition by the Andhra Pradesh government on the High Court examining a petition by retired additional district judge Dinavahi Lakshmi Kameswari, challenging sus- pension of salary and pension of its employees in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. A Bench of Justices Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and MR Shah gave the only relief to the state government in its verdict on February 8 to reduce to 6 per cent per annum the interest of 12 per cent per annum fixed by the High Court on the deferred salary and pension for the period of delay . CONTD. ON P8 The anti-graft agency’s move comes at a time when Chitra Wagh has been at the forefront of campaign demanding removal of Shiv Sena minister Sanjay Rathod from state cabinet for his alleged links with the Tik Tok star Pooja Chavan’s suicide case. CONTD. ON P8 FPJ BUREAU & PTI Chennai Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Sino-India border standoff, charging him of being 'scared' of China. Launching his three-day Tamil Nadu tour ahead of the April 6 assembly elections, Gandhi said, “Question isn't whether PM is useful or useless. The question is who is he useful to? PM Modi is extremely useful to two people i.e. 'hum do, humare do', who are using him to increase their wealth, and useless to the poor," he said. He accused PM Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah of backing crony capitalists. Gandhi said that before the stand-off at eastern Ladakh, where the disengagement process has been completed with the withdrawal of troops, weapons and other military hardware from the North and South banks of Pangong lake areas, the Chinese "tested the idea in Dokhlam (in 2017)." They tested the idea to see how India would react and they noticed India did not react. And then they carried out the idea again in Ladakh and also I believe in Arunachal Pradesh," he said. Kunte’s priority is to stub virus spread SANJAY JOG Mumbai The Maharashtra Government has appointed Sitaram Kunte, an IAS officer of 1985 batch as the new Chief Secretary Kunte, who is cur. rently the additional chief secretary (home) will succeed the outgoing CS Sanjay Kumar whose term ends on Sunday . Kunte’s appointment coincided with the Maratha Bhasha Divas (Maratha Language Day) FPJ FOLLOW UP celebrations. In Kunte, the state has got a Marathi Manoos as the Chief Secretary Kunte while . speaking to the Free Press Journal confirmed that he has been intimated telephonically on his new assignment. The FPJ broke the story on Saturday Kunte . and his batchmate Praveen Pardeshi were two contenders for the CS post. However, Pardeshi’s move to opt for a foreign assignment after he was removed as the BMC Commissioner and appointed as the additional chief secretary (urban development) has gone against him. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday night signed the file and Kunte was informed on phone on Saturday about his appointment. Kunte’s appointment comes three days before the commencement of an eightday budget session and also when there has been a spurt in COIVD 19 cases. On Saturday there were 8,623 cases , and 51 deaths were reported while of the 36 districts a record 28 districts have witnessed spike in cases. CONTD. ON P8 Lady Gaga sings with joy after reuniting with her two dogs LOOK WHAT I FOUND: Singer’s two Bulldogs were stolen two days ago while she was in Italy IANS Los Angeles A woman has turned in Lady Gaga’s two French bulldogs at a Los Angeles police station, two days after they were stolen in a brazen armed robbery in Hollywood. Gaga had offered a $500,000 (around 3.68 crore) reward for the return of the dogs. There was no immediate word on whether the reward would be claimed. Lady Gaga's dog walker, Ryan Fischer, was shot once while struggling with the robbers on Wednesday night. He is in stable condition, according to police. The robbers made off with two of the singer's three dogs -- Koji and Gustav, variety .com reported. The dogs were turned in at the LAPD Olympic station around 6 p.m. on Friday and were reunited , with Lady Gaga's representatives, said LAPD Officer Mike Lopez. CANINE CRAZY · Lady Gaga had offered a $500,000 (Rs 3.68 crore) reward for the return of the dogs · Robbers had made off with two of the singer's three dogs -- Koji and Gustav · Dogs were turned in at the LAPD The robbers remain at large, and the investigation is ongoing, Lopez said. "My heart is sick and I am Constitution. Patil, who is also a senior Congress leader and the Kolhapur district guardian minister, insisted that the Centre’s move should be fought tooth and nail. “Such dictatorial regulations will not be accepted by the people of this democratic country Some bureaucrats . deciding on what needs to be published and what not on any media platform is nothing but an attack on the freedom of press in India,” he added. “Such orders will not have any standing in the court of law,” the minister said. Patil reminded that Twitter had permanently suspended the account of former US President Donald Trump due to his objectionable tweets. CONTD. ON P8 praying my family will be whole again with an act of kindness," she wrote. According to the LAPD, Fischer was walking the dogs near Sierra Bonita Avenue and Sunset Boulevard around 9.40 p.m. on Wednesday when he was accosted by two armed men. Surveillance video of the attack, obtained by TMZ, showed Fischer struggling with the men as they sought to wrest away the dogs. The men fled in a white Nissan Altima. KHASHOGGI CASE he emphasised that the US would push Riyadh to honour human rights amid lingering criticism over the killing of Khashoggi, a columnist from The Washington Post who lived in Virginia and was critical of the Saudi royal family . Republicans ask for US to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in China PTI Washington Accusing China of "horrific" human rights abuses, some top Republican leaders, including IndianAmerican politician Nikki Haley have demanded that , the US boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. They called on the International Olympic Committee to select a new site for the event. Beijing is scheduled to host the Winter Olympics from February 4 to 20, 2022. The White House, however, said that no decision has been taken yet on the demands of the leaders. It is no secret that China wants to use the Winter Olympics as part of its "massive communist propaganda campaign," Haley a former US ambassa, dor to the UN, said on Friday as she launched a campaign to demand President Joe Biden, a Democrat, announce a boycott of the games. "We cannot sit back and watch China use the Olympics to cover up its horrific human rights abuses," the Republican leader said. Senator Rick Scott in a letter to President Biden has requested a meeting to discuss the "horrific human rights atrocities" occurring across China and called for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to select a new site for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Haley said that "we need to stand up to China, and we need to do it now. That's why I'm asking you to join me and sign our petition calling on President Biden to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in China". If America participates in the Olympic Games in Beijing, the "Chinese Communist Party will claim it as further proof of China's good global standing and world leadership," she said.