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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Daily Briefing: China announces ‘synchronised’ Pangong disengagement; How Bihar Covid testing data got infected

From the men and women behind the massive rescue effort in Uttarakhand, to the new homegrown microblogging Koo app; here are today's top stories.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: February 11, 2021 8:45:50 am
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Good morning, 

Big Story

In a significant breakthrough to end the military standoff along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, China announced that Chinese and Indian troops on the southern and northern shores of Pangong Tso began “synchronized and organized disengagement.” While there is no immediate statement from the Indian Army,  Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will make a statement in Rajya Sabha today regarding the situation in Eastern Ladakh. 

Only in the Express 

An investigation by The Indian Express has revealed a string of glaring irregularities in Covid testing data at six primary health care centres in three Bihar districts. After tracking down nearly 600 entries shown as tested, it was found that basic data protocol was bypassed in a scramble to meet the daily target — from fudged mobile numbers to fake names and dodgy entries.

The Indian Express has learnt that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking India to speak out against a ruling last week by the International Criminal Court claiming jurisdiction over Palestinian territories

On India’s fastest highway — the under-construction Nagpur-Mumbai Super Communication Expressway, which cuts across three wildlife sanctuaries — the focus is on coexistence between humans and animals. Five “wildlife bridges” and a network of underpasses are being built along the 701-km-long and 120-m-broad highway, which is designed for a top speed of 150 kmph. 

Front Page 

After a two-hour-long virtual meeting with senior Twitter officials, the IT Ministry conveyed its “strong displeasure” over the “differential treatment” in the “action taken by Twitter during the Capitol Hill episode and… the disturbance in Red Fort.” Twitter has already suspended more than 500 accounts after a notice from the ministry, but did not take action on accounts of “journalists, activists, and politicians.”

In his address to the Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the “Kisan Andolan” and andolankari were pavitra (pure), but  “andolanjeevi” — a controversial term he used in his Rajya Sabha address to describe the “habitual protester” — had hijacked the protests.  

Must Read 

The glacier burst in Uttarakhand buried the Rishi Ganga mini-hydel plant along with several of its workers. But this is not the first time tragedy has struck. In 2011, when Rakesh Mehra, the former owner of the plant, drove up to Chamoli to inaugurate the trial run of a unit of the project, a boulder slid overhead and fell on him. Today, some wonder if the incident was just a freak accident or an early warning. 

After Twitter put out its blogpost on Wednesday, the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s first response was on Koo, a homegrown microblogging platform. In a koo – term for a post on the platform – the ministry said the IT Secretary was to “engage with” senior officials of Twitter, “upon the request of Twitter” and a blogpost “prior to this engagement is unusual”.

For three days now, hundreds of men and women have found themselves at the forefront of a search and rescue operation that has mounted challenges not many have faced before. “Those stuck inside are my friends and brothers,” 34-year-old Naveen Nautiyal, an excavator driver involved in rescue efforts, said. We spoke to three other people, who like Nautiyal, are part of the massive effort at Tapovan and Raini.


The government told Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that 17 migrant workers lost their lives in Maharashtra after the imposition of the nationwide lockdown in March last year in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The newly inaugurated Sarovar Portico hotel in Junagadh city had an unusual guest Monday — an Asiatic lion from the nearby Girnar jungle that had all the staff members in full attention and awe. Watch the video here.

Loujain al-Hathloul, one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent political activists was released from prison, her family tweeted, after serving nearly three years on charges that have sparked an international uproar over the kingdom’s human rights record.

Over four years after two Haryana mountaineers claimed to have reached the top of Mount Everest, their summit certificate was cancelled after an investigation concluded that they had lied about climbing the summit. 

And Finally

Former India opener Wasim Jaffer’s resignation as Uttarakhand coach has triggered an ugly row — a kind unheard of in Indian cricket circles. On Wednesday, a day after Jaffer accused Cricket Association of Uttarakhand (CAU) officials of pushing “undeserving players”, the state unit’s secretary alleged that Jaffer had “communalised” the dressing room atmosphere and “favoured Muslim players”.

Delhi Confidential: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Japanese Minister for Administrative Affairs Kono Taro had an unusual social media exchange recently. “My goal in terms of the number of followers is the Minister of Defence of India, who I also worked with,” Taro tweeted on Monday, tagging Singh’s official handle. The next day, Singh responded using a Japanese phrase that can also be translated as “thank you”. 

In today’s episode of 3 Things, we take a look at rescue efforts in Uttarakhand, how the farmers’ protest at Singhu border evolved after the Republic Day incident, and finally the new Koo app, the homegrown version of Twitter. 

Until tomorrow, 

Leela Prasad G and Rahel Philipose

Express Cartoon by EP Unny.

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