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Sources will be protected, Rafale documents not stolen, says N Ram

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N Ram, Chairman of The Hindu Group

Chennai, March 7: The documents pertaining to the purchase of Rafale fighter jets based on which articles were published in The Hindu were not stolen and the sources which provided them will not be revealed, said N. Ram, Chairman of The Hindu Group of Publications.

Contrasting the days when he wrote extensively on the kickbacks paid in the Bofors gun deal, Ram said no threats were then made to him or to The Hindu like invoking the Official Secrets Act as it was being done by the Modi government.

On Wednesday, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told the Supreme Court that the Rafale deal documents were stolen from the government and those publishing them were guilty under the Official Secrets Act.

Speaking to IANS on Thursday, Ram said the bogey of stolen documents were raised during WiKi leaks, Pentagon Papers and other issues as well.

On the central government’s stand that the documents pertaining to Rafale fighter jet deal were stolen, the veteran journalist said: “We don’t have stolen documents. We will not reveal our source as we have given our word (to our sources).”

Ram said the information was published in public interest as part of investigative journalism as it was suppressed despite repeated demands made inside and outside Parliament.

According to him, the government saying the documents were stolen authenticated their genuineness.

Ram said there was protection available under Article 19 (1) A of the Constitution, the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression as also under Sections 8(1) (i) and 8(2) of the Right to Information Act that overrides the Official Secrets Act.

According to him, the India specific enhancements in the Rafale fighter planes were not published as they were not relevant for investigative journalism.

Asked if the data he had put out were part of the papers submitted to the Supreme Court by the central government, Ram said: “We don’t know what the central government gave to the Supreme Court in a sealed cover. I feel what we have published may not be part of the documents shared with the Supreme Court by the central government.”

Ram said the Official Secrets Act had outlived its necessity and must be scrapped.

He said there was no threat from the central government after his first report on Rafale deal some time ago.

On the impact of central government advertisement revenues to The Hindu after he started writing about the Rafale deal, Ram said: “We are getting the advertisements. Initially our access to DAVP (Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity) was blocked after a couple of reports.”

When the Hindu exposed the kickbacks allegedly given in the Bofors artillery deal, Ram said, “there was no threat to The Hindu and to me.

“Our investigation into the purchase of Swedish gun Bofors started after the Swedish Radio put out news about commissions paid as part of the deal. We carried out our investigations for over two years and we got the first set of documents in 1988,” Ram recalled.

Ram said the then Congress government did not make threats to invoke the Official Secrets Act.

“I had a meeting with Rajiv Gandhi when we were carrying reports about the Bofors deal. It was a friendly meeting. We also talked about Sri Lanka.

“Even at the swearing in ceremony of V.P. Singh as the Prime Minister, I had met Rajiv Gandhi who was friendly. He acted like a co-host offering tea.”

Ram was critical of newspapers when it came to reporting about the Rafale deal.

“During the Bofors investigation days, the competition was severe, with Arun Shourie writing in the Indian Express and India Today also carried articles about Bofors deal.

“But now big newspapers are not doing what is expected of them in the Rafale deal,” Ram added. “Further television channels are carrying out propaganda for the government.

“There is a huge difference between the two periods – Bofors period and Rafale period. At that time investigative journalism was on the upswing,” Ram said.

IANS

Disaster

ISKCON Temple in Vrindavan sealed after 22 test COVID-19 positive

The famous temple dedicated to Lord Krishna has been closed to devotees since the lockdown was imposed in March.

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ISKCON Temple in Vrindavan

VRINDAVAN : After 22 persons associated with the temple were found infected with coronavirus, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) has decided to seal the temple in Vrindavan and restrict movement. The announcement comes a day ahead of the Janmashtami festival which will be celebrated in the country on August 12.

“Earlier, one person had tested positive, so more testing was conducted and now 22 people tested positive. After that, contact tracing was conducted and sampling is being done; we will isolate those who test positive. Movement of people have been restricted and the temple has been sealed,” an ISKCON official said. He said the 22 people includes priests at the temple.

In the temple town of Vrindavan, authorities of Banke Bihari temple have also decided to keep the shrine closed till September 30. The decision was taken due to repair work on the temple premises, said the authority in a notice.

It also stated that the repair work will be taken up by engineers. Earlier, the temple was closed in the view of COVID-19.

The famous temple dedicated to Lord Krishna has been closed to devotees since the lockdown was imposed in March.

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India

SC calls 4G restoration on trial basis in Jammu and Kashmir ‘fairly good start’

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Postpaid Mobile in Kashmir

New Delhi, Aug 11 : The Centre on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that the special committee constituted to examine restoration of 4G services in Jammu and Kashmir has agreed to provide the high speed Internet access on a trial basis in limited areas.

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal appearing for the Centre before a bench headed by Justice N.V. Ramana said that restrictions on Internet will be lifted on trial basis at certain geographical locations. It will be at one location in each district.

The Centre informed the court that the relaxation from August 16, in one district each of Jammu and Kashmir division will be assessed after two months. The government also said that blanket restoration of 4G in the UT would not be possible due to threats to security.

The apex court remarked “this is a fairly a good start”, and commended the Centre’s decision. The bench also observed that it hoped the situation would improve and the access could later be expanded.

The Centre submitted that the special committee held its meeting on August 10, and explored multiple options in the backdrop of security situation in the union territory. They recommended opening up of 4G in specified areas of low intensity terrorist activities, not on international border even in the trial basis.

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the petitioner NGO, said: “Today is a good and a step forward at least some limited restoration has been made.”

Justice Ramana then closed the contempt case following the Centre’s submission.

The bench had given two weeks time to the Centre to file a reply on the intervention application. The contempt petition was filed by the NGO alleging that the Centre has not formed a special committee to review Internet restrictions in the UT despite the apex court’s order.

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Disaster

India records 53K new Covid-19 cases, tally crosses 22.68L

The US accounted for the world’s highest number of infections and fatalities at 50,89,416 and 1,63,425, respectively, according to the CSSE.

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COVID-19 pandemic

New Delhi, Aug 11 : India, the third country worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, recorded a spike of 53,601 coronavirus cases on Tuesday, pushing the total tally to 22,68,675. The country tested a record over 871 deaths in a single day.

The number of recoveries mounted to almost 16 lakh, more than twice the active cases. Out of the total cases, 6,39,929 are active cases while 15,83,489 have recovered from the disease and 45,257 people have lost their lives in the fight against the deadly virus.

Notably, India recorded the highest number of recoveries in a single day at 47,746. The recovery rate has gone up to 69.79 per cent.

On Monday, the government tested 6,98,290 samples. A total of 2,52,81,848 samples have been tested so far.

Maharashtra remained the worst-hit state with a total of 5,15,332 cases and 17,757 deaths, followed by Tamil Nadu with 2,96,901 cases and 4,927 deaths. The southern state is followed by Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh.

Globally, the overall number Covid-19 cases has surpassed the 20 million mark, while the deaths have increased to over 7.34 lakh, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Tuesday morning, the total number of cases stood at 2,00,11,186 and the fatalities rose to 7,34,664, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

The US accounted for the world’s highest number of infections and fatalities at 50,89,416 and 1,63,425, respectively, according to the CSSE.

Brazil came in the second place with 30,57,470 infections and 1,01,752 deaths.

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