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38 sentenced to death, 11 get life imprisonment in 2008 Ahmedabad serial bomb blast case


Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India](ANI): A special court in Gujarat on Friday pronounced the death sentence to 38 out of 49 convicts in the 2008 Ahmedabad serial bomb blast case.

11 others have been sentenced to life imprisonment by the court.
Earlier on February 8, a Gujarat court convicted 49 accused and acquitted 28 others in the 2008 Ahmedabad serial bomb blast case.

Within a span of 70 minutes as many as 21 bomb blasts had taken place in Ahmedabad on July 26, 2008.

The terror attack had led to the death of 56 people who were killed at various places in the city due to the bomb blasts and over 200 people were also injured.

The Islamic terror group, Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, had claimed responsibility for the attacks. (ANI)(instagram-Image)

ED arrests CMD, CFO of Karvy group in money laundering case


New Delhi [India]: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested CMD and CFO of Karvy Group in a money laundering case committed through the illegal diversion of clients’ securities by Karvy Stock Broking Ltd worth Rs 2,873.82 crore, the agency said on Thursday.

Comandur Parthasarathy, CMD, and G Krishna Hari, CFO, of Karvy Group are also accused of pledging of securities with banks and Non-Banking Financial Corporations (NBFCs) for seeking loans and subsequent loan default.
Both of them have been arrested under the Prevention of Money laundering Act (PMLA), 2002.

ED initiated a money laundering investigation based on the FIR filed by HDFC bank with Hyderabad Police under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for defrauding HDFC bank. Subsequently, more FIRs were filed by other Banks and a few investors.

ED has recorded the statement of various employees of the Karvy Group and conducted searches at nine locations on September 22 last year.

ED said it uncovered the complex web of transactions designed by the senior management of the Karvy Group to misuse the securities of their clients and to raise loans fraudulently which were then rotated via multiple related companies and diverted away from the stated purpose.

“The shares of clients who did not owe any funds to Karvy Stock Broking Limited (KSBL) were also transferred to the margin and pool Account of KSBL and were pledged with the banks and NBFCs,” ED said.

The Power Of Attorney (POA) given by clients to KSBL to facilitate exchange settlements was grossly misused by KSBL at the directions of the CMD and senior executives, said the federal agency.

The agency said that Parthasarathy and Hari were the main conspirators who gave instructions to others.

“Fund trail investigation has shown that the borrowed funds were transferred to other group companies, particularly to one WoS of KSBL like Karvy Realty (India) Limited (KRIL), and then to 14 shell companies floated by Karvy Group,” said the ED.

The same has been further diverted by layering done through a complex web of transactions from the several accounts of group companies without any financial rationale, said the agency.

“Various financial consultants and defunct NBFCs were used to route the funds. Further, it is found that KSBL availed loans from NBFCs to the tune of Rs 400 Crore in the name of five such shell companies by pledging shares of clients of KSBL after illegally transferring these shares to their account.”

The fraudulently availed loans were used to clear pending loans of related companies, do massive stock transactions which have allegedly turned into complete losses and diverted to personally held family companies, said the ED, adding it had earlier frozen share-holding of Parthasarathy worth around Rs 700 crore.

ED is investigating the money trail to trace the proceeds of crime which are close to around Rs 2,000 crore.

Parthasarathy and Hari were lodged in Central Jail, Bangalore and on a Production warrant of ED Court, they were produced before the PMLA Special Court MSJ Hyderabad on January 20. The court has remanded the CMD and CFO of the Karvy Group to four days of ED custody from 27 January to January 30. (image – instagram)

Japan, France express concern over progress in North Korean missile program


Tokyo [Japan]: Japan and France on Friday expressed serious concern over the progress in the North Korean nuclear and missile program and urged Pyongyang to take concrete steps to implement the provisions of the UN Security Council resolutions.

On Thursday, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoshimasa Hayashi held Japan-France 2+2 online meeting with their French counterparts, Florence Parly and Jean-Yves Le Drian. The ministers exchanged views on the issues of bilateral security and defense. Following the online talks, a joint statement was released.
“The parties expressed serious concern over the progress of North Korea’s nuclear and missile program, in breach of the UN Security Council resolutions. The ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the goal of achieving the irreversible and verifiable disposal of all North Korean weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of any range, as well as those related to the military program objects,” the statement said.

The ministers of the two countries also urged Pyongyang to implement targeted policies and take concrete steps to implement the provisions of the UN resolutions.

“The Japanese side also commended France’s efforts to monitor North Korea’s ship-to-ship transfers of goods. Moreover, the ministers called for a speedy resolution of the issue of abducted [Japanese] nationals,” the statement added.

Pyongyang has confirmed it launched on Monday two tactical guided missiles that “precisely hit an island target in the East Sea of Korea.” It became its fourth missile test in a month. On the first two occasions, Pyongyang claimed to have successfully tested hypersonic missiles. (ANI/Sputnik-image)

Why social media companies cannot be included as accused or abettor in criminal cases, Madras HC asks state govt


Chennai(Tamil Nadu) [India]: The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Thursday sought a reply from the Tamil Nadu government and state Police as to why social media companies cannot be included as accused or abettor in criminal cases involving social media platforms.

This comes in response to a petition filed by the Tamil Nadu police seeking to cancel the bail granted to YouTuber Saattai Duraimurugan who came up for a hearing before Justice B Pugalendhi.
Justice B Pugalendhi, observed that misuse of technology cannot be allowed and asked the police to submit a report on how much the YouTuber Duraimurugan earns by broadcasting the objected videos through the social media platforms.

The judge, while asking Duraimurugan’s counsel, orally observed that several people are misusing the platform to earn money and some have even admitted that they learned to commit offences like making guns, robbing through videos on Youtube. He also questioned why the social media platforms like YouTube cannot be added as an accused in such cases.

The judge also directed the Tamil Nadu ADGP – Cyber Crime branch to submit a detailed report on the mechanism needs to be adopted to prevent misuse of YouTube in a week. (ANI/Image -instagram)

India reports 3,47,254 new COVID-19 cases, daily positivity rate at 17.94 pc


New Delhi [India]: India reported 3,47,254 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours and the daily positivity rate stood at 17.94 per cent, said Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Friday.

The fresh infections are 29,722 more than yesterday. On Thursday, India logged 3,17,532 new COVID-19 cases.
The weekly positivity rate stood at 16.56 per cent, as per the government’s data released today.

With the addition of new infections recorded in the country, the active cases mounted to 20,18,825. As per the ministry, the active cases account for 5.23 per cent of the total cases.

As many as 2,51,777 recoveries were reported in the last 24 hours. With this, the total recoveries climbed to 3,60,58,806. The recovery rate is currently at 93.50 per cent.

The number of people who succumbed to the virus in the last 24 hours is 703. The death toll is now at 4,88,396.

The country has so far registered 9,692 cases of the COVID-19 variant Omicron. There is an increase of 4.36 per cent in its cases since Thursday as per the ministry.

To detect the presence of the virus, 19,35,912 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours. Since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, 71.15 crore tests have been conducted.

Meanwhile, 160.43 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far in the country. (ANI-Image – Kshvid)

AAP declared Bhagwant Mann as Punjab CM face based on fake response calls, claims Cong leaders


Amritsar (Punjab) [India]: Congress leader Raj Kumar Verka on Tuesday alleged that on the basis of fake response calls, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had declared MP Bhagwant Mann as the party’s chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming Punjab Assembly polls.

“There is no truth in the response calls that Arvind Kejriwal is talking about and to cheat the people of Punjab and Bhagwant Mann, Kejriwal has played a new trick,” said the Congress leader.
Verka further alleged that the AAP is afraid of the popularity of Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and that is why Kejriwal has declared Bhagwant Mann as the face of the Chief Minister, who was already sidelined.

“The fort of Bhagwant Mann has already been destroyed. The AAP had lost in the municipal elections, Panchayat elections and Zilla Parishad elections. The popularity of Bhagwant Mann is negligible even in his own constituency, so the public has already rejected Bhagwant Mann,” he said.

Verka said that the people of Punjab have now made up their mind that the Dalit’s son Charanjit Singh Channi will now be the next Chief Minister of Punjab.

“Aam Aadmi Party is not going to get a total 5 lakh votes in Punjab and they are talking of more than 20 lakh call response on the basis of lies,” added the Congress leader.

Earlier today, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP Bhagwant Mann has been named as the party’s chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming Punjab Assembly polls, said party’s National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday.

Calling Mann as his “younger brother”, Kejriwal said that of the total responses, 93.3 per cent wanted Bhagwant Mann to be the party’s Chief Ministerial candidate.

Bhagwant Mann is currently an MP from Sangrur Lok Sabha seat of Punjab.

Assembly elections in Punjab will be held on February 20. The counting of votes will be done on March 10.

In the 2017 Punjab Assembly polls, Congress won 77 seats in the 117-member House, whereas Shiromani Akali Dal could win only 18 seats. On the other hand, AAP emerged as the second-largest party with 20 seats. (Image – Instagram)

Covid Report : India reports over 2.68 lakh fresh cases, 402 fatalities in last 24 hours


New Delhi [India]: India recorded 2,68,833 fresh COVID-19 cases and 402 fatalities in the last 24 hours, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Saturday.

The fresh infections are 4,631 more than yesterday. On Friday, India logged 2,64,202 fresh COVID-19 cases.
With the addition of new cases, the total cases of coronavirus in the country rose to 3,68,50,962 including 14,17,820 active cases. Active cases account for 3.85 per cent of the total cases.

Of the total infections reported till date, 6,041 cases of Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been detected so far which is an increase of 5.01 per cent since yesterday.

As many as 16,13,740 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours wherein a daily positivity rate of 16.66 per cent was observed. Further, 70.07 crore total tests to detect the presence of the virus in individuals have been conducted so far in which a weekly positivity rate of 12.84 per cent was observed.

However, the death toll of those infected with the virus reached 4,85,752 with 402 more fatalities, the health ministry said.

Also, 1,22,684 new recoveries were reported in the last 24 hours thereby taking the total tally to 3,49,47,390. The recovery rate is currently at 94.83 per cent.

India has, meanwhile, upscaled its vaccine drive. 156.02 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far under the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive. (ANI/ Image – Kshvid)

UP: Former BJP Ministers Swami Prasad Maurya, Dharam Singh Saini join Akhilesh Yadav


Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) [India] (ANI): Former Uttar Pradesh Ministers Swami Prasad Maurya and Dharam Singh Saini, who resigned this week from the Yogi Adityanath government and the ruling BJP ahead of Assembly polls, have joined the Samajwadi Party (SP) on Friday in presence of the party chief Akhilesh Yadav.

Along with the former Ministers, the sitting MLAs Bhagwati Sagar, Vinay Shakya, Roshan Lal Verma, Mukesh Verma and Brajesh Kumar Prajapati have also joined SP.
Apna Dal MLA Chaudhary Amar Singh, Former BSP MLA Neeraj Kushawaha Maurya, former BJP MLC Harpal Saini, former BSP MLA Balram Saini, former BJP MLA Rajendra Pratap Singh, former Minister of State Vidrohi Maurya, former Chief Security Officer Padam Singh and former Congress MLA Bansi Singh Pahadiya joined the party.

The spate of resignations began with Swami Prasad Maurya quitting the cabinet. Maurya, a prominent leader from the OBC community, had joined the BJP from BSP. Dara Singh Chauhan had resigned as minister on Wednesday. Dharam Singh Saini became the third minister on Thursday.

Samajwadi Party has stitched a coalition of smaller parties for the assembly polls and has emerged as the main rival of the ruling BJP in the state.

Earlier BJP MLAs Mukesh Verma, Vinay Shakya, Avtar Singh Bhadana, Roshan Lal Verma, Brijesh Prajapati and Bhagwati Sagar resigned from the party.

Uttar Pradesh assembly elections will be held in seven phases from February 10 to March 7. The polling in Uttar Pradesh will be held on February 10, 14, 20, 23, 27 and March 3 and 7. (Image -Ani/Instagram)

TCS shares price surge over 3 per cent on buyback proposal


Mumbai [India], (ANI): Share price of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India’s largest IT firm, surged over three per cent on Monday after the company announced that its board will consider buyback of shares at a meeting scheduled to be held on January 12.

TCS started the trading on Monday at Rs 3974, which is 3.09 per cent higher from its previous session’s close at Rs 3854.85. TCS surged to a high of Rs 3979.90 in the morning trade.
At around 11.35 am on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) the share of TCS was trading at Rs 3884.55, which is Rs 29.70 or 0.77 per cent higher from its previous session’s close at Rs 3854.85.

Share price of India’s largest IT firm surged on Monday after the announcement of buyback proposal.

“This is to inform you that the Board of Directors will consider a proposal for buyback of equity shares of the Company, at its meeting to be held on January 12, 2022,” TCS said in a regulatory filing to the stock exchanges on Friday.

The company had made the share buyback proposal announcement after the closing of trade on Friday. Monday was the first trading session after the company’s announcement. (Image-Dreamstime)

Amit Shah writes to MPs; seeks suggestions for amendment to IPC, CrPC, Indian Evidence Act


New Delhi [India]: Union Home Minister Amit Shah has written to MPs, seeking their suggestions regarding amendments in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Indian Evidence Act at the earliest.

Shah, in a letter to MPs, said that the Government of India, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with its mantra of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwan, Sabka Prayas,’ is committed to ensure speedy justice to all the citizens of India, especially those belonging to the weaker and backward sections, in conformity with these constitutional and democratic aspirations.
The Government of India has resolved to make comprehensive changes in the framework of criminal laws, he said.

“The experience of seven decades of Indian democracy calls for comprehensive review of our criminal laws, especially the Indian Penal Code (IPC) 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) 1973 and the Indian Evidence Act 1872 and adapt them in accordance with the contemporary needs and aspirations of our people,” Shah’s letter to the MPs read.

Further, the Home Minister said that the Centre intends to create a “people-centric legal structure”.

Requesting suggestions from Chief Justice of India, Chief Justice of High Courts, Chief Minister of States, Administrator of Union Territories, Bar Councils and Law Universities to send their suggestions, Shah said, “The endeavour of bringing about a paradigm shift in the criminal justice system by the Government of India will actually be an enormous exercise of public participation, which can only be successful with the participation of all stakeholders.”

“The Ministry of Home Affairs intends to make comprehensive amendments in criminal laws after receiving suggestions from various stakeholders,” he added.

Pressing the importance of Parliament as one of the three pillars of democracy, Shah said that a Member of Parliament has a significant role in law making process.

“The suggestions from Members of Parliament will be invaluable in this exercise of comprehensive amendments in criminal laws,” Shah said. (ANI)

PM’s decision to take road journey to Hussainiwala was not part of his original schedule: Surjewala


New Delhi [India]: Hours after a security lapse during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Punjab, Congress General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala on Wednesday slammed BJP President Jagat Prakash Nadda and asked him to introspect on BJP’s anti-farmer attitude.

The Congress leader said that the reason for canceling the rally is that there were no crowds to listen to PM Modi.
Taking to Twitter, Surjewala said to Nadda, “Dear Naddaji, Stop losing cool and all sense of propriety. Please remember–1. 10,000 security personnel were deployed for PM’s Rally. 2. All arrangements were made in tandem with SPG and other agencies. 3. Route was carved even for all buses of BJP workers from Haryana/Rajasthan.”

Randeep Singh Surjewala said that PM’s decision to take a road journey to Hussainiwala was not a part of his original schedule.

“4. PM decided to take a road journey to Hussainiwala. It was not part of his original schedule to travel by road. 5. Kisan mazdoor Sangharsh Committee (KMSC) has been protesting against PM’s visit and Union Minister, Gajendra Shekhawat has held two rounds of negotiation with them,” the Congress leader said.

Surjewala, who is also a member of the Congress working committee highlighted reasons for the protests by the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee.

He tweeted, “6. Do u know why KMSC and Farmers are protesting against PM Modi? Their demands are -: * Sack MoS Home, Ajay Misra Teni. * Withdraw criminal cases against farmers in Haryana, Delhi, and UP. * Compensation for kin of 700 Farmers who died. * Committee on MSP and a quick decision.”

“7. Post Farmer’s agitation, Modi government chose to totally ignore these promises. 8. Finally, the reason for canceling the rally is that there were no crowds to listen to Modiji. Stop blame game and introspect on BJP’s anti-farmer attitude. Hold rallies but listen to Farmers first!,” he tweeted.

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday sought a detailed report from the Punjab government regarding the security lapse during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state. The state government has also been asked to “fix responsibility for this lapse and take strict action”.

The action was taken after the Prime Minister’s convoy during his visit to National Martyrs Memorial in Punjab via road reached a flyover where the road was blocked by some protestors. The Prime Minister was stuck on the flyover for 15-20 minutes. This was a major lapse in the security of the PM.

Prime Minister Modi landed at Bathinda this morning from where he was to go to the National Martyrs Memorial at Hussainiwala by helicopter.

Due to rain and poor visibility, the Prime Minister waited for about 20 minutes for the weather to clear out, said a Home Ministry statement. (ANI)

12 killed, 13 injured in stampede at Mata Vaishno Devi shrine, says J-K DGP Dilbag Singh


Katra (Jammu and Kashmir) [India]: As many as 12 people were killed and 13 others injured after a stampede occurred at Mata Vaishno Devi shrine on Saturday morning, Jammu and Kashmir’s Director General of Police, Dilbag Singh said.

“12 dead, 13 injured in the stampede at Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan in Katra. The incident occurred around 2:45 am, and as per initial reports, an argument broke out which resulted in people pushing each other, followed by the stampede,” Singh said to ANI.
Earlier today, it was reported that 12 people have died in the stampede at Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Katra on Saturday morning.

The injured have been taken to Naraina Hospital after the rescue.

Speaking to ANI, Block Medical Officer of Community Health Centre, Gopal Dutt said, “12 people have died in the stampede at Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Katra. Casualties are from Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, and one from Jammu and Kashmir. More details are awaited. Injured are being taken to Naraina Hospital after rescue.”

A stampede occurred at Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan here on Saturday morning.

An official from the police control room in Reasi town said in a brief communication that a stampede at Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan has occurred.

Telangana Governor urges people to take 2nd dose of COVID-19 vaccines


Hyderabad (Telangana) [India]: Telangana Governor Tamilisai Sounderrajan has congratulated the state on achieving 100 per cent first dose vaccination and urged people to take the second doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

On completion of 100 per cent vaccination of the COVID-19 first doses in Telangana, Governor visited Chintalbasti Urban Primary Health Center (UPHC) in Hyderabad on Wednesday.
Addressing media persons yesterday, the Governor said: “Telangana has completed 100 per cent first dose vaccination and 65 per cent second dose vaccination. I appeal to the people to take the second dose of vaccination also. Just a single dose is not enough and the people have to take a second dose too. Now we have entered the era of taking booster dose.”

Expressing her happiness at the Telangana State achieving 100 per cent first dose vaccination, she congratulated and lauded the efforts of the State government, officials, doctors, ASHA workers, and other para-medical staff for achieving this remarkable feat.

Soundararajan also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for supplying an adequate number of vaccine doses to the State.

She further emphasised adhering to the COVID-appropriate behaviour to contain the spread of the pandemic escalated due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

“Apart from vaccination we need to be very cautious about the omicron, in Africa, the health workers have completed only 4 per cent of vaccination and even Health Minister Harish Rao mentioned unvaccinated people are seriously affected. In Puducherry, people are affected intensively. ,” she added.

Telangana Governor also appealed to people not to be reckless even after taking vaccination and appealed to the people to follow corona protocols to celebrate New Year.

Omicron Threat : Mumbai Police impose Section 144, New Year celebrations banned


Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]:In view of the rising COVID-19 cases, the Mumbai Police on Thursday has imposed Section 144 in the city starting from today till January 7.

As per the new COVID-19 restrictions, prohibition has been placed on New Year’s celebrations, parties in any closed or open space including restaurants, hotels, bars, pubs, resorts and clubs from December 30 to January 7.
“The order shall come into the force, in the areas under the control of Commissioner of Police, Greater Mumbai from 00:00 Hrs of 30th December 2021 and will remain in force till 24:00 Hrs of 7th January 2022, unless withdrawn earlier,” the order reads.

“Any person contravening this order shall be punishable under section 188 of Indian Penal Code 1860 in addition to the penal provision under the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 and National Disaster Management Act 2005 and other legal provisions as applicable,” said Chaitanya S, Deputy Commissioner of Police.

Meanwhile, Mumbai on Wednesday reported 2,510 fresh COVID-19 cases and one death in the last 24 hours, informed the state health bulletin.

Mumbai has 8,060 active cases and the recovery rate stands at 97 per cent.

Presently, 45 buildings have been sealed in Mumbai.

Maharashtra cabinet minister Aditya Thackeray also chaired a meeting at Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) headquarters.

AFSPA Debate: Centre extends AFSPA in Nagaland for 6 months

New Delhi [India]: The Centre on Thursday extended the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 or AFSPA in Nagaland for another six months, mentioning that the state is in such a “disturbed and dangerous condition” that the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary.

The announcement was made through a gazette notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs amid calls from the Northeastern state to withdraw it after the alleged botched security operation near Oting Village in Nagaland’s Mon district that left 14 civilians and one jawan dead on December 4.
“Whereas the Central Government is of the opinion that the area comprising the whole of the state of Nagaland is in such a disturbed and dangerous condition that the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary,” the notification said.

“Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (No.28 of 1958) the Central Government hereby declares that whole of the State of Nagaland to be ‘disturbed area’ for a period of six months with effect from December 30, 2021 for the purpose of the said Act,” it mentioned.

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958 provides certain special powers to a member of the Armed Forces in areas in the Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. The powers were also extended to forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir as well.

Interestingly, the law was first introduced by the British to suppress the Quit India movement in 1942.

AFSPA confers special powers on the armed forces in areas deemed “disturbed”. In a ‘disturbed area,’ a military officer can fire upon an unlawful assembly of five or more people if the need arises or even for illegal possession of firearms.

Moreover, according to the law, no arrest and search warrants are required for any operation.

It also provides protection to persons acting under Act, which means ‘No prosecution, suit or other legal proceedings shall be instituted, except with the previous sanction of the Central Government, against any person in respect of anything done or purported to be done in exercise of the powers conferred by this Act’. (ANI)

Six Naxals killed by security forces in encounter on Telangana-Chhattisgarh border

Bhadradri Kothagudem (Telangana) [India], December 27 (ANI): At least six Naxals have been killed in an encounter that took place in the forest area of Kistaram PS limit in the border area of Telangana and Chhattisgarh on Monday.

“Around six Naxals have been killed in the encounter with security forces on the border area of Telangana and Chhattisgarh. It was a joint operation of Telangana, Chhatisgarh police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF),” said Sunil Dutt, Superintendent of Police, Bhadradri Kothagudem.
“The operation is still continuing, we are monitoring the situation,” he said.

Further details are awaited.

France sees record 104,611 daily COVID-19 cases

Paris [France] (ANI/Sputnik): The French sanitary authority reported 104,611 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, the highest daily toll seen in the country since the pandemic began.

France said daily infections surpassed 94,100 on Friday and 58,500 last Saturday.
Health Minister Olivier Veran said that the Omcron strain was set to become the dominant variant in France by the end of the year but stopped short of toughening COVID-19 restrictions. (ANI/Sputnik)

Africa’s COVID-19 cases exceed 9.25 million


Addis Ababa [Ethiopia](ANI/ Xinhua): The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa reached 9,259,813 as of Wednesday evening, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.

The specialized healthcare agency of the African Union (AU) said the death toll across the continent stood at 226,536 and 8,405,631 patients had recovered from the disease.
South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Ethiopia are among the countries with the most cases on the continent, said the Africa CDC.

According to the latest figures from the Africa CDC, the African continent represented 3.3 percent of all COVID-19 cases reported globally, as well as 4.3 percent of all COVID-19 related deaths globally.

In terms of caseloads, southern Africa is the most affected region, followed by the northern and eastern parts of the continent, while central Africa is the least affected region in the continent, according to the Africa CDC.

Power Crisis in Jammu & Kashmir: Army called in for help as strike by electricity employees triggers massive power outage

Jammu: Several areas of Jammu and Kashmir witnessed electricity outages as linemen to senior engineers begin their indefinite strike on Saturday against the government’s privatisation move and failure of two-round talks.

The government has called in Army to restore essential services hit by the ongoing strike of electricity department personnel in Jammu and Kashmir, officials informed.. They said the deployment was made following a request by the administration.

In a communication addressed to the army, Jammu Divisional Commissioner Raghav Langer said that due to the strike by electricity department personnel, essential services have been severely affected in the Jammu region.

“We would like to hereby requisition the Indian army to assist in the restoration of the essential services by provisioning manpower to main critical electricity stations and water supply sources,” Langer said.

Speaking on the matter, Union Power Minister RK Singh said, “There is a minor impact at a few places, by and large, things are normal. In Jammu, only 15-20 per cent of feeders are affected. There is no situation of blackout. Talks are on with employees union to know their demands & grievances.”

Meanwhile, the army acted swiftly and deployed its troops at main critical electricity stations and water supply sources to restore supply, the officials said. Several areas of Jammu and Kashmir witnessed electricity outages as linemen to senior engineers begin their indefinite strike on Saturday against the government’s privatisation move and failure of two-round talks. During the night-hours, there was a blackout in nearly 50 per cent of areas across J&K.

Reacting to the prevailing condition of power outage in the UT, National Conference leader and former CM of the erstwhile state, Omar Abdullah, said that the Jammu and Kashmir administration is causing inconvenience to the locals.

“The army has been called to operate the power infrastructure in Jammu division of J&K. There no bigger admission of failure for a civilian administration than to call upon the army, it means a total breakdown of governance has been accepted by the J&K government,” he tweeted.

Telangana News: IAF Chief assures ‘very very fair’ inquiry into CDS chopper crash case

Dundigal (Telangana) [India]: Assuring that the court of inquiry into the CDS chopper crash case would be a “very very fair process”, Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari on Saturday said the probe team’s mandate is to investigate every single angle and aspect of the accident and come out with findings and recommendations.

Speaking after the Air Force Combined Graduation Parade at the academy here, the IAF chief said he would not like to pre-empt the findings of the investigations as it was a thorough process.
The tri-services inquiry set up by the Defence Ministry to probe the reasons behind the chopper crash wherein Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and 13 others were killed is expected to complete its proceedings within the next two weeks, government sources said.

“Let me assure you that it is a very very fair process, this entire Court of Inquiry… I would not like to pre-empt any findings of the court of inquiry as it is a thorough process. It is a mandate to investigate every single angle and look into every single aspect of what could have gone wrong and come out with suitable recommendations and findings,” he said.

The IAF chief expressed his “heartfelt grief and sorrow on the demise of CDS Bipin Rawat, Madhulika Rawat and 12 armed forces personnel.”

A tri-services inquiry has been formed by the Defence Ministry including its head Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, a Brigadier from the Indian Army and a Commodore from the Indian Navy.

The inquiry team is expected to submit its report by the end of this year and they have already recorded statements of the witnesses on the ground and at the airbase from the aircraft had taken off on December 8 and crashed soon after.

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat and 12 defence personnel lost their lives in the crash involving the Mi-17V5 chopper flown by the commanding officer of the 109 helicopter unit Wg Cdr Prithvi Singh Chauhan. (ANI)

Over 10.03 crore disbursed between 2018-2021 for promoting defence start-ups

New Delhi [India]: The Ministry of Defence on Friday said that it has disbursed over 10.30 crore between 2018 and 2021 under the Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) scheme for promoting start-ups in the field of defence sector.

According to the ministry, till date, iDEX has launched five rounds of Defence India Startup Challenges (DISCs), and three rounds of Open Challenge (OC), receiving more than 2000 applications from innovators. iDEX has been able to fund projects in many technological areas under DISCs and OC through the Support for Prototype and Research Kickstart (SPARK) framework, which entails provisioning of grants up to Rs 1.50 crore to the startups, said the ministry.

It further stated that the Partner Incubators (PIs) bridge the gap between the requirements of startups and the technological expertise required to develop the product. iDEX also features as a procurement avenue under the Defence Acquisition Procedure-2020.

The Government has approved a scheme worth Rs 498.78 crore to scale up iDEX in the next five years. 60 contracts for developing innovative prototypes have been signed under iDEX, said the ministry.

The establishment of iDEX is aimed at the creation of an ecosystem to foster innovation and technology development in Defence and Aerospace by engaging Industries including MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes, and academia and providing them grants/funding and other support to carry out R&D development which has good potential for future adoption for Indian defence and aerospace needs.

Accordingly, as per the feature incorporated in the Defence Acquisition Procedure, the prototypes that have been successfully developed through the iDEX framework find the route for procurement by the concerned Services. In line with the above, the Indian Navy has already placed a Supply Order on one iDEX Winner. The Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) are also mandated to follow similar procurement procedures for iDEX cases. (ANI)

Katrina Kaif Weds Vicky Kaushal, Close Friends Attend The Celebrations

It’s confirmed! Star couple Katrina Kaif and Vicky Kaushal have tied the knot in an intimate ceremony held at Six Senses Fort Bawara, Rajasthan on Thursday.

As per close sources, the couple has taken the ‘seven pheras’ on Thursday afternoon in the presence of their families and friends. The pre-wedding festivities kick-started on December 7 with mehendi, followed by big fat Punjabi Sangeet Night on December 8.

Katrina weds Vicky Kaushal

Kabir Khan, Angad Bedi, Mini Mathur, Neha Dhupia, Gurdas Maan, Sharvari Wagh, and Vijay Krishna Acharya among many others from the film industry were a part of Vicky and Katrina’s wedding festivities.

#vickykaushal#katrinakaf#katrinaweds vicky

States on alert, Third wave may hit by February but will be milder than second wave

Delhi: Omicron Variant Latest News Updates: Two fully vaccinated persons who returned from abroad last month have tested positive for the new Covid-19 Omicron variant in Mumbai on Monday, the first cases of the variant found in the metropolis, taking India’s total tally of the new coronavirus variant to 23.

With Omicron, the new variant of SARS-CoV2, the third wave of coronavirus could hit the peak by February with cases likely to be reaching up to 1-1.5 lakh a day in the country, but it will be milder than the second wave, Manindra Agarwal, IIT scientist involved in the mathematical projection of trajectory of COVID-19, said.

Several states have stepped up vaccination, surveillance and containment measures as India detected over 20 cases of Omicron variant of coronavirus. Amid growing concerns over the new variant, a parliamentary committee has recommended that the efficacy of Covid vaccines must be evaluated and concerns with regards to the new strain developing immunoescape mechanism critically addressed.

As the country records over 20 cases of Omicron in just three days while several COVID-19-positive samples undergo genome testing, as many as 50 per cent people want the central government to suspend all Vande Bharat flights coming from countries where 20 or more Omicron cases have been detected, according to a survey.

Ashes, 1st Test: James Anderson ruled out due to calf strain

Brisbane [Australia]: England pacer James Anderson has been ruled out of the upcoming first Ashes Test.

The first Test between England and Australia of the five-match series will be played at the Gabba, beginning Wednesday.
As per a report in Sydney Morning Herald, Anderson has been ruled out due to a calf strain and this is the same problem that had ruined his 2019 campaign.

England management has decided to rest Anderson for the first Test to ensure that he is raring to go for the pink-ball second Test slated to be played in Adelaide.

Cricket Australia (CA) on Monday had confirmed that the fifth men’s Ashes Test match will be relocated from Perth Stadium due to COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions.

CA and Western Australian Cricket (WA Cricket) have worked closely and constructively with the Western Australia Government and Perth Stadium over several months, with the shared goals of prioritizing the health and well-being of the WA community, while providing the best possible environment for the players, their families, match officials, staff and broadcast partners.

Discussions about a replacement venue for the fifth Test match are underway.

Uttarakhand CM announces withdrawal of Char Dham Management Board law

Dehradun (Uttarakhand) [India]: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Tuesday announced that the State government will be withdrawing Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board Act after months of protests by Char Dham Teerth-Purohit Hak Hakookdhari Mahapanchayat Samiti and other organisations.

“Our government has taken a decision to take back the Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board Bill,” said Dhami.
“The decision to abolish the Devasthanam Board is taken on the basis of the feedback received by Teerth Purohit, Haq Hookdhari, people’s representative and report of a high-level committee,” he added.

Last December, the Uttarakhand Assembly had passed the Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board Bill.

The law aimed at bringing the Char Dham of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri and 49 other temples under the purview of a proposed shrine board.

Many organisations including Char Dham Teerth-Purohit Hak Hakookdhari Mahapanchayat Samiti were opposing the said act. According to the temple priests, their rights are being played due to the formation of this board.

Mahapanchayat in its meeting on November 20 had decided to organise a sit-in protest against the Devasthanam Act at worship places of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri Dham.

Kedarnath Teerth Purohit Samaj had earlier claimed that the then Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat had assured to reconsider the board.

The agitation against the board has been going for 21 months.

Earlier, Uttarakhand High Court had dismissed two pleas challenging the validity of the said law, one of the pleas was filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy. (ANI)

‘Story of my team’: Kapil Dev on ’83’ trailer

New Delhi [India]: Former India captain Kapil Dev could not be more proud of the makers of ’83’ who have the hard task of portraying India’s World Cup in 1983 on the silver screen.

Sharing the trailer of ’83’ starring Ranveer Singh, Kapil Dev wrote on Instagram: “The story of my team.”
Helmed by director Kabir Khan, ’83’ revolves around India’s historical 1983 Cricket World Cup win. The movie features Ranveer Singh as Kapil Dev, captain of the World Cup-winning team.

Film ‘ 83’ directed by Kabir Khan.

Tahir Raj Bhasin, Jiiva, Saqib Saleem, Jatin Sarna, Chirag Patil, Dinker Sharma, Nishant Dahiya, Sahil Khattar, Ammy Virk, Addinath Kothare, Dhairya Karwa, R Badree and Pankaj Tripathi are also a part of the film. Interestingly, Deepika Padukone will be seen playing Romi, Kapil Dev’s wife in ’83’, which will hit the big screen on December 24.

It was on June 25, 1983, when India lifted their first-ever cricket World Cup title, defeating West Indies in the finals by 43 runs at the Lord’s Cricket Ground. It is now 38 years to India’s triumph in the tournament.

The World Cup-winning team was led by all-rounder Kapil Dev. India’s World Cup final playing XI included Sunil Gavaskar, K Srikkanth, Mohinder Amarnath, Yashpal Sharma, SM Patil, Kapil Dev (c), Kirti Azad, Roger Binny, Madan Lal, Syed Kirmani, and Balwinder Sandhu. After the win, cricket got a fillip in the country, elevating the sport to religion for fans with every child wanting to become a cricketer. (ANI)

Tripura: Story of a RSS Karyakarta who became Chief Minister


Shri Biplab Kumar Deb (born 25 November 1971) is the Chief Minister of the state of Tripura.

Born in Rajdharnagar village in Udaipur situated in the Gomati District. Since childhood, Shri Deb took active interest in various social welfare activities which took place in his village and adjoining areas while serving in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as a ‘Bal Swayamsevak’.

Shri Biplab Kumar Deb graduated from Tripura University in 1999.

Newly appointed Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb gestures during the swearing-in ceremony of Tripura legislative assembly at Assam Rifles ground in Agartala, the capital of northeastern state of Tripura on March 9, 2018. The right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party and its local allies swept the polls, winning 43 seats in the 59 member house.

Shri Deb shifted to New Delhi in the coming years where he served the society and nation in various capacities while first working at the RSS Karyalaya at Jhandewalan, New Delhi followed by serving at the Office of the Minister of State, Coal, Mines and Steel, Government of India and then at the Office of the Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Other Backward Classes (OBC).

During these years, Shri Deb was closely involved in numerous social causes and activities in his home state Tripura and took proactive interest in various initiatives for the development of the state.

In May 2015, Shri Deb was entrusted the responsibility of being the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Central Jansampark Prabhari for Tripura Pradesh.

In January 2016, Shri Biplab Kumar Deb was appointed as the BJP State President for Tripura Pradesh, a position which he continues to hold till date. During his tenure as the State President of the party, the BJP achieved an unprecedented victory in the Assembly Elections in Tripura held in February 2018, the first-ever for the party in the state.

In March 2018, Shri Biplab Kumar Deb took oath of office as the Chief Minister of the state of Tripura. As the Chief Minister of the state, Shri Deb has enunciated his vision of transforming Tripura into a Model State and his Government is committed towards achieving the same for building a Shreshtha Tripura for a Shreshtha Bharat. 

Tripura: At a Glance

Tripura is a state in North-East India. It shares borders with Bangladesh, Mizoram and Assam. Tripura is surrounded by Bangladesh on its north, south and west. The length of its international border is 856 km (84 per cent of its total border). The state is connected with the rest of India by NH-44 that runs through Assam, Meghalaya, North Bengal, Kolkata and other parts of India.


Tamil Nadu rains: Several areas submerge in floodwater in Chennai

Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India]: Several areas in Chennai have been partially submerged in floodwater after torrential rains over the past few days on Saturday.

“We are suffering due to rain for the past few days. The water level has come to 4 feet. We are finding difficulties in getting food as we are not able to move out,” Ananth, a local said.
Earlier in the day, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin met Governor RN Ravi at Raj Bhawan in Chennai. He briefed the Governor about the rain situation and ongoing relief and restoration work in the rain-affected areas in the state.

Nagapattinam and Cuddalore are the most affected districts due to the incessant rain.

Chennai Meteorological Department on Friday had given a red alert to all coastal districts till today and an orange alert to the adjacent districts. (ANI)

Rannvijay Singha to host first season of ‘Shark Tank India’

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: As the first season of the globally renowned business reality show ‘Shark Tank’ comes to India, actor and TV personality Rannvijay Singha has been roped in as the show’s host.

The show will give an opportunity for budding entrepreneurs to present their business ideas to experienced investors and business experts a.k.a ‘The Sharks’.
While ‘The Sharks’ will play a key role, host Rannvijay will act as a guide for the audience. He will explain the format of this first-of-its-kind concept, introduce the innovative business ideas on the show, and will simplify the key business facts/processes for the audience to understand.

Additionally, he will be a confidant to the pitchers as he will make them feel at ease while also capturing their pre and post-pitching experiences with the Sharks in the Sharks Den.

Sharing his excitement on hosting Shark Tank India, Rannvijay shared, “Being a part of a revolutionary show like Shark Tank India is the most thrilling experience for me. I have been an ardent fan of the global version of Shark Tank for many years and have always enjoyed watching this along with my family. I always believed that if a show like Shark Tank comes to India it would help uplift so many business aspirants here. Glad that this show has finally made its headway into India with Sony Entertainment Television and I get to host India’s very first edition of Shark Tank; the feeling is just unbelievable.”

Elaborating about the show’s concept he added, “Shark Tank as a show is truly amazing since it helps turn many dreams into reality. While the entrepreneur comes up with a business idea, the show and the Sharks provide the right guidance to them on how to start, grow or go about your business. As the host, I will explain the format of the show, simplify the process of the business deal for the audiences, will engage with the pitchers about their business ideas, highlight the Sharks expectations and more. I am really looking forward to take the viewers on this one of its kind journey with Shark Tank India.”

‘Shark Tank India’, which is set to air on Sony Entertainment Television, will make its premiere on December 20.

Mumbai Terror Attack: India asks Pakistan to expedite trial in 26/11 attacks

New Delhi [India]: India summoned a senior Pakistani High Commission diplomat on the 26/11 Mumbai attacks anniversary and reiterated its call for an expeditious trial in the terror case.

The Ministry of External Affairs, in a statement issued on Friday, said a note verbale was handed over to the senior diplomat calling on the Government of Pakistan to abide by its commitment to not allow territories under its control for terrorism against India.

“Senior diplomat from the High Commission of Pakistan in India was summoned by the Ministry of External Affairs today. A Note Verbale reiterating India’s call for an expeditious trial in the Mumbai terror attacks case, and calling on the Government of Pakistan to abide by its commitment to not allow territories under its control for terrorism against India was handed over to him, the MEA statement read.

On the 13th anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks, the Indian Government and its people somberly remember the victims of this dastardly attack and the valiant security personnel who laid down their lives to protect the people.

According to the MEA, the President, Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister, in separate messages, have expressed their firm solidarity with the families of the victims.

Meanwhile, a solemn memorial event was organised earlier today by the State Government of Maharashtra at the Police Memorial in Mumbai, the release added.

Fourteen other countries lost their nationals in these attacks. Indian Missions in these countries are organizing memorial events remembering the victims, both national and foreign, reminding the world of the continuing global threat of terrorism. Senior government representatives from the host Governments, family members of victims and survivors will be participating in these solemn events, the statement read.

“It is a matter of deep anguish that even after 13 years of this heinous terror attack, the families of 166 victims from 15 countries across the globe still await closure, with Pakistan showing little sincerity in bringing the perpetrators to justice,” it added.

The MEA said that the 26/11 terrorist attack was planned, executed and launched from Pakistani territory. The former Prime Minister of Pakistan had gone on record and admitted that the terrorists were sent from Pakistan’s soil, it added.

“We once again call on the Government of Pakistan to give up double standards and to expeditiously bring the perpetrators of the horrific attack to justice. This is not just a matter of Pakistan’s accountability to the families of the innocent victims who fell to terrorists, but also an international obligation,” the MEA statement said.

The Government of India will continue to make every effort to seek justice for the families of the victims and the martyrs, it said further.

SENSEX Down by over 1600 points, panic in markets

The Indian equity benchmarks suffered their worst single-day drop since April 12 on Friday on weak global cues after investor sentiment was dented by detection of a new and possibly vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant. The Sensex fell as much as 1,801 points or 3 per cent and Nifty 50 index briefly dropped below its important psychological level of 17,000 to hit an intraday low of 16,985. Both the benchmarks fell to their lowest level in three month

The Sensex fell 1,688 points or 2.87 per cent to close at 57,107 and Nifty 50 index dropped 510 points or 2.9 per cent to end at 17,026.

Global stocks tumbled on Friday and oil fell below $80 a barrel after news of a possibly vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant sent investors scurrying to the safety of bonds, the yen and the Swiss franc.

European stocks plunged 2.7 per cent, on track for their worst day since September 2020, with travel and leisure stocks particularly badly hit.

Congress calls a meeting of Opposition parties on Nov 29 to Finalize Parliament strategy

New Delhi [India]: Senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge has called a meeting of the Opposition parties on November 19, informed sources.

Earlier on Thursday, Congress leaders reached party interim president Sonia Gandhi’s residence for a meeting of the party’s Parliament Strategy Group to discuss the issues that the party will raise in the winter session of the Parliament beginning on November 29.
The party is likely to several issues including raise price rise in the winter session.

Earlier, on November 25, Congress general secretary KC Venugopal had told ANI, “We will raise the issue of inflation in the upcoming session of Parliament. Congress Parliamentary Strategy Group will meet in New Delhi on November 25 to finalize the strategy for the upcoming Parliament session.”

The government’s agenda for the winter session includes 26 new bills including legislation on cryptocurrency and another to repeal three farm laws.

‘Absconding’ Ex Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh reaches Mumbai, joins probe in extortion case

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]- Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh who has been declared ‘absconding’ by a Mumbai court, has arrived at Crime Branch unit 11 office in Kandivali to join the investigation of the Goregaon extortion case, informed police official.

“He has reached at Crime Branch unit 11 and he will record his statement in Goregaon extortion case,” said Milind Bharambe, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime).
Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh on Monday told the Supreme Court that he is very much in the country and he is not absconding, the top court granted him interim protection from arrest and directed him to join the investigation.

Six cases of corruption and extortion were filed against Singh after he wrote a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray levelling corruption and misconduct against the then Home Minister and senior NCP leader Anil Deshmukh.

Singh, a 1988-batch IPS officer, was removed from the post of Mumbai Police Commissioner on March 17 and was made the General Commander of Maharashtra State Home Guard after he levelled allegations against Deshmukh.

Punjab polls: SAD, BSP exchange Mohali, Ludhiana North seats with Raikot, Dina Nagar

SAD BSP PUNJAB elections

Chandigarh (Punjab) [India]: Ahead of Punjab Assembly elections, Shiromani Akali Dal and Bahujan Samajwadi Party on Tuesday announced the exchange of Mohali and Ludhiana North seats with Raikot and Dina Nagar seats.

Former Punjab Education Minister and SAD leader Dr Daljit S Cheema informed today that the total seat share of both parties remains the same.
In a tweet, Cheema wrote, “The SAD President S Sukhbir Singh Badal and BSP President S Jasbir Singh Garhi have jointly announced the exchange of Mohali and Ludhiana North seats which were with BSP with Raikot and Dina Nagar seats which were earlier with SAD. The total seat share remains the same.

Punjab is scheduled to go for Assembly polls in 2022.

In the 2017 Punjab Assembly polls, Congress won an absolute majority in the state by winning 77 seats and ousted the SAD-BJP government after 10 years. Aam Aadmi Party emerged as the second-largest party winning 20 seats in 117-member Punjab Legislative Assembly. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) could only manage to win 15 seats while the BJP secured 3 seats.

Majestic Pride felicitated Ravi Kumar Dahiya in a Glittering Ceremony

Panaji (Goa) [India]: Majestic Pride Group held a special event on Saturday and felicitated freestyle wrestler Ravi Kumar Dahiya, the Tokyo Olympics Silver Medalist and recipient of the country’s highest sporting honour – Khel Ratna.

“Ravi Kumar Dahiya brought glory to our country. So, we thought of honouring him in a glittering ceremony,” said Majestic Pride Group Chairman Ashok Khetrapal, adding, “We are happy the event held under strict COVID-19 protocols was a huge success.”
The meet-and-greet program after the felicitation ceremony gave Majestic Pride Group guests a rare opportunity to interact with the country’s wrestling icon besides taking photographs with the champ.

“I’m touched with the gesture extended by Majestic Pride Group. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I am looking forward to take part in the Group’s future events too,” said Freestyle Wrestler Ravi Kumar Dahiya.

Majestic Pride Group has been holding various events, from time-to-time to promote sporting culture among the youngsters in the country and to recognise the achievements of India’s leading sportspersons.

“The Group last year held a roof-top boxing match between boxers Vijendrar Singh and Russia’s Artysh Lopsan. It was a successful event and our guests have been waiting for such matches,” said Majestic Pride Group Director, Baldev Raj Arora.

According to Arora, the Group plans to hold various events including boxing and wrestling matches since tourists in large numbers are expected to visit Goa during Christmas and New Year Celebrations. It has already lined up events with Bollywood celebrities and leading sporting icons.

Majestic Pride Group earlier used to host Sufi Nights, Laughter Nights and other exciting tournaments on a regular basis. “We want to carry forward this legacy. Felicitating Ravi Kumar Dahiya is part of this process,” said Khetrapal.

“We will keep our guests updated on our social media platforms and we are excited to unravel and curate new and exciting events on-board Majestic Pride Group,” Arora added.

This story is provided by NewsVoir. ANI will not be responsible in any way for the content of this article. (ANI/NewsVoir)

Covid-19 Restrictions : Protests rock Netherlands, Belgium, France

covid protest netherlands

Amsterdam [Netherlands]: People continued to protest against COVID-19 curbs in parts of the Netherlands, France and Belgium.

People continued to show up in numbers across European cities on Sunday, with the police deploying water cannons and tear gases to disperse crowds. More people have been arrested, reported DW News.
Riots broke out in cities across the Netherlands, the third night in a row that police clashed with mobs of angry youths who set fires and threw rocks to protest COVID-19 restrictions.

Protests continued in the Netherlands for the third day in a row with police issuing an emergency order in the eastern city of Enschede, near the German border, reported DW News.

Protesters set off fireworks and vandalized properties in cities — Groningen and Leeuwarden in the north, Enschede in the east, and Tilburg in the south. 130 people have been arrested since the protests began, police said.

A football match in Leeuwarden was briefly disrupted after supporters, who were barred from the games because of COVID restrictions, threw fireworks into the ground, Dutch media reported.

In Rotterdam, the second-largest Dutch city, police arrested 26 people after fans grew rowdy at a game — people attacked police, threw bins, and lit fireworks.

The Netherlands imposed a partial lockdown on November 13 and is considering tighter rules for the unvaccinated in public arenas.

Meanwhile, thousands of people protested against COVID restrictions in downtown Brussels, reported DW News.

They were mainly demonstrating against the government’s requirement to have people show a vaccine certificate in public places like restaurants.

Around 35,000 people took to the street in Brussels, police said. But the majority had dispersed before protests grew violent.

Towards the evening, protesters began smashing cars and setting trash bins ablaze, forcing the police to respond with water cannons and tear gas to restore order, reported DW News.

COVID infections have grown at an alarming pace in Belgium in recent weeks, with the country seeing an average of over 12,000 new infections per day.

French overseas territory of Guadeloupe was hit by the third night of looting and rioting, with armed protesters shooting at police and firefighters, said authorities, reported DW News.

Police arrested 38 people as protesters broke into cars and set them ablaze. They also destroyed pharmacies, Alexandre Rochatte, Guadeloupe’s prefect, who represents the French government, said in a statement.

The island territory has been rocked by protests over a week, with people demanding an end to the government’s mandate of compulsory vaccination for health workers, as well as seeking support for rising fuel prices. (ANI)

Ex Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh is ‘absconding’, notice pasted outside his flat

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: A Mumbai court order, declaring former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh as ‘absconding’ has been pasted outside his flat located in Juhu on Tuesday.

The order said that a complaint has been made before the court under various sections of the Indian Penal Code related to extortion and criminal conspiracy and the court is satisfied that the accused i.e., Singh has absconded or concealing himself to avoid the service of the warrant.
“Singh is required to appear before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Esplanade, Mumbai or investigating officer to answer the said complaint within 30 days,” reads the order issued by the court.

Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh on Monday told the Supreme Court that he is very much in the country and he is not absconding, the top court granted him interim protection from arrest and directed him to join the investigation.

A Bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul asked Singh to join the investigation and issued notices to the Maharashtra government and CBI on Singh’s plea. The apex court now posted the case for hearing on December 6.

Six cases of corruption and extortion were filed against Singh after he wrote a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray levelling corruption and misconduct against the then Home Minister and senior NCP leader Anil Deshmukh.

Singh, a 1988-batch IPS officer, was removed from the post of Mumbai Police Commissioner on March 17 and was made the General Commander of Maharashtra State Home Guard after he levelled allegations against Deshmukh. (ANI)

Taliban expand interim cabinet, 27 new members named

Kabul [Afghanistan]: The Taliban on Tuesday said that they have expanded their interim cabinet by adding 27 new members.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman for the interim government, said the appointments had been made in compliance with orders from Taliban’s supreme leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, reported Pajhwok Afghan News.
More than two dozen high-level officials, including ministers and deputy ministers, were named.

Maulvi Shahabuddin Delawar has been appointed as acting minister of mines and petroleum and Mullah Mohammad Abbas Akhund as acting minister of disaster management.

Twenty-five others have been appointed as deputy ministers, corps commanders and heads of independent departments, according to a list released by Mujahid, reported Pajhwok Afghan News.

The new names in the interim cabinet of Islamic Emirate include – Maulvi Shahabuddin Delavar, acting minister of mines and petroleum; Haji Mullah Mohammad Esa Akhund, deputy minister of mines and petroleum; Mullah Mohammad Abbas Akhund, acting minister of disaster management; Maulvi Sharafuddin, deputy minister of disaster management; Maulvi Enayatullah, deputy minister of disaster management; Maulvi Hamdullah Zahed, procurement director; Sheikh Abdul Rahim, deputy director of procurement; Maulvi Qudratullah Jamal, Supreme Audit Office head; Maulvi Ezatullah, deputy chief of the Supreme Audit Office; Maulvi Mohammad Yousef Mastari, acting director of prisons; Mullah Habibullah Fazli, deputy director of prisons; Maulvi Keramatullah Akhundzadah, head of the Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission; Maulvi Ahmad Taha, deputy minister of border and tribal affairs; Maulvi Gul Zarin, head of Kochi affairs at the Ministry of Border and Tribal Affairs; Sheikh Maulvi Abdul Hakim, deputy minister of martyr and disabled affairs; Maulvi Saeed Ahmad Shahidkhel, deputy minister of education; Maulvi Abdul Rahman Halim, deputy minister of rural rehabilitation and development; Maulvi Atiqullah Azizi, deputy minister of finance and administration at the Ministry of Information and Culture; Mullah Faizullah Akhund, deputy minister of youth affairs at the Ministry of Information and Culture; Maulvi Saifuddin Tayeb, deputy minister of communications; Maulvi Fathullah Mansour, head of Kandahar airport; Mohammad Ismail, executive commander of the Military Court; Maulvi Esmatullah Asim, deputy head of the Red Cross; Maulvi Rahimullah Mahmoud, deputy commander of the Al-Badar Corps in Kandahar; Maulvi Abdul Samad, deputy commander of Azam Corps in Helmand; Mullah Nasser Akhund, deputy minister of finance; and Maulvi Arefullah Aref, deputy minister of energy and water.

The Taliban in early September formed the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) and had appointed 33 more cabinet ministers that neither have women nor mainstream politicians from previous regimes rather it appointed the world’s most dreaded and wanted cabinet ministers.

In September, the Taliban announced a new list of 17 more ministers in the caretaker Afghanistan Cabinet.

The latest list of 27 new members in the cabinet too excludes any women representation. (ANI)

Karnataka CM visits flood-affected areas in Bengaluru

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India]: Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday visited and inspected the flood-affected areas in Bengaluru.

The Chief Minister visited Kendriya Vihar Apartment and surrounding areas in the city.

After heavy rains, the Yelahanka Lake overflowed and water flooded into Kendriya Vihar and surrounding areas.

Earlier, the Chief Minister had announced that a sum of Rs 5 lakh would be paid as compensation for completely damaged houses and Rs 3 lakh for partially damaged houses in three instalments.

District Collectors have been instructed to disburse the first instalment of Rs 1 lakh immediately.

Bommai further said that the state government has released Rs 500 crore for the repair of damaged roads and bridges. Schools and Anganvadis too had suffered damages and their repair would be taken up through the NDRF fund.

The rains have caused extensive damage to Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural, Tumakuru, Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Ramanagar, Hassan districts.

Karnataka and its neighbouring states have been receiving incessant rainfall in the month of November.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Sunday predicted widespread light to moderate rainfall in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry during the next five days. (ANI)

XPDEL, LA-based eCommerce fulfillment network, launches operations in India

New Delhi [India]: XPDEL, a fast-growing LA-based eCommerce Fulfillment center network, today announced its entry into the Indian markets. XPDEL plans to start with 3 markets – Delhi NCR, Mumbai, and Bengaluru wherein it will offer a wide range of technology enabled solutions for India’s rapidly expanding e-commerce market.

Subsequently, it plans to expand its footprint to 20 markets by end of 2023 to provide nationwide coverage. As part of its global expansion, the company aims to launch in Europe and Canada by 2022.
Manish Kapoor, Founder and Global CEO of XPDEL, said, “We are thrilled to bring the global operations best practices and most advanced technology for eCommerce to India. This is close to my heart as it brings me back to my roots. The XPDEL launch in India will bring growth solutions for small and mid-sized retailers & new age eCommerce companies. We are solving their inventory, order fulfillment and logistics needs by providing a complete solution from order through delivery, with live tracking & visibility resulting in exceptional customer experience.”

India’s eCommerce sector is expected to reach US$ 111.40 billion by 2025 from US$ 46.20 billion in 2020, signifying an annualized growth of 19.24%. Grocery is expected to be one of the key pillars of growth and it is predicted to reach US$ 18.2 billion in 2024 from US $1.9 billion in 2019, expanding at a CAGR of 57%. With its aggressive growth plans, robust technological architecture and focus on accurate and speedy deliveries, XPDEL will play a critical role in supporting this spurt in growth for eCommerce business in the country.

Ashish Chadha, Co-founder & CEO, XPDEL-APAC said, “The Indian eCommerce industry offers promising opportunity and we are addressing the key challenges related to logistics and inventory. Our first customers are from the automotive and personal care verticals who have taken the lead against competition by partnering with XPDEL. We will also be contributing significantly in employment generation by creating thousands of job opportunities. Furthermore, we plan to grow responsibly, as 50% of our nationwide fleet would consist of electric vehicles and our operations will be backed by sustainable, world-class technologies.”

Jon Johnson, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, said, “We are excited to bring the speed of delivery and best-in-class customer experience to the Indian consumers. We are building on XPDEL’s success in the US that is engineered with customer density analytics, network design, efficient operations, optimized logistics and advanced technology.”

The eCommerce giants are rapidly replacing retail and small businesses. On the other hand, XPDEL’s core purpose is to help small and medium businesses succeed with eCommerce. XPDEL enables businesses to sell through retail and multiple marketplaces by providing multi-channel fulfillment and logistics services.

This story is provided by PRNewswire. ANI will not be responsible in any way for the content of this article. (ANI/PRNewswire)

Andhra govt to distribute essential commodities free in flood-affected districts

Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh) [India]: The Andhra Pradesh government on Tuesday decided to distribute commodities like rice, red gram dal, onions, potatoes for free to all flood-affected families.

The decision to distribute essential commodities came after a review meeting held to assess the flood situation in Chittoor, Nellore, YSR Kadapa and Anantapur districts, said a press release from the state government.
The government has decided to provide 25kg rice, 1kg red gram dal, palm oil 1litre per family, onion (1kg), potatoes (1kg) for the families in these affected districts.

The government has asked the commissioner of Civil Supplies and ex-officio Principal Secretary to the government to take necessary action for the distribution of the essential commodities.

Morning Slide: Sensex down by 502 points

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], November 23 (ANI): Equity indices opened in red on Tuesday with Sensex down by 502.92 points and Nifty down by 134.70 points.

The 30-scrip BSE Sensex was down by 502.92 points or 0.86 per cent at 57962.97 at 9.15 am.
Similarly, 50-scrip NSE Nifty was trading at 17281.80 at 9.15 am, down by 134.70 points or 0.77 per cent.

On the Sensex, the sectors which are trading high are metal and basic material, while realty and finance are trading low. (ANI)

China in Trouble : Is the PLA ground force facing comparative neglect?

Hong Kong: The ground force of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) contains approximately 975,000 active-duty soldiers, but in some regards, its modernization is being left behind by China’s heavy investment in the navy, air force and missile force. The ground force makes up slightly less than half the PLA’s two million members.

A report known as Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2021, published by the Pentagon on 3 November, stated that the PLA ground force had “generally achieved mechanization” by 2020. It summarized, “Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, border clashes with India and other significant events in 2020, the PLA (ground force) accelerated its training and fielding of equipment from the already fast pace of recent years.”
Nevertheless, this annual report for US Congress went on to say that the Chinese ground force “remains a relative laggard within the PLA in terms of modernization”. This is quite an astounding statement, but there are reasons for it. Within the PLA, major modernization efforts have occurred approximately every 20 years.

Future targets, as enunciated by Chairman Xi Jinping, who is head of the powerful Central Military Commission (CMC), are to “basically complete national defence and military modernization by 2035”, and to possess a “world-class military” by 2049.

Many commentators make much of the “rapid” pace of PLA modernization, but perhaps this word is not the most apt. Given the enormous size of the PLA, it takes a long time to withdraw legacy equipment and replace it with modern equivalents. Therefore, it would perhaps be better to term the Chinese military’s modernization as “deliberate”.

Such is the sheer bulk of the PLA that it cannot renew its inventory quickly. Indeed, Dennis Blasko, a prominent expert on the PLA and a former US defence attache in Beijing and Hong Kong in the 1990s, estimates that probably 25-30 per cent of the ground force – whether tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, artillery, etc. – is still legacy equipment. Thus, it will probably take till 2035 to get rid of all Soviet-era gear. “As fast as they’re putting new equipment in, it’s not fast enough for the size of the force,” Blasko explained.

It was only in about 2018 that modern Type 96 and Type 99 tanks made up half the PLA’s tank force, a process that took 20 years. If the Type 15 light tank is added, perhaps 60-70 per cent of the tank fleet today can be described as modern. This means that obsolete equipment such as Type 59 tanks is still common in armoured units.

Certainly, the PLA has been undergoing upheaval as the cumbersome, hierarchal and corrupt organization transformed in the past five or so years. 2016 was momentous, as Xi created five PLA theatre commands to promote joint operations. Has this reorganization been effective?

The answer is not clear, with Blasko telling ANI, “You know, we really can’t judge until they actually get put into practice someplace where there’s actually some shooting going on.”

With the PLA not having fought a shooting war since its unsuccessful cross-border campaign against Vietnam in 1979, it is extremely difficult to adjudge whether the combat effectiveness of the PLA has improved.

There is no doubt that the PLA was well overdue for revamping. It underwent extreme growth pangs after 2016 as the whole military transformed. Indeed, Blasko noted of the reorganization: “It was totally disruptive. Literally, every army unit was modified and adapted in some way, and many personnel moved from one part of the country to another and were told to change their military occupational specialities or functions … That standardization lasted for probably about two years.”

At the same time as the five theatre commands were formed, further disruption was caused by the ground force transitioning from a divisional structure to a brigade-based one that is more modular and capable of independent operations in multiple theatres.

China has continued to tinker with its military structure since then, making modifications as it sees fit.

Blasko observed: “They did the changes and then immediately started to experiment, so in the next decade or so we’re still going to see changes to the structure, especially as more new equipment comes in. I think, too, that they’ll find some of their organizations may be too large for a single commander to handle. But I also foresee more general downsizing of personnel and structure in the coming decade.”

As part of the PLA’s reorganization, Xi wanted to redress the historical dominance of the army in relation to the navy, air force and rocket force. On two occasions, a theatre command has been led by a commander other than an army general, but currently, the PLA is back to five army commanders. Even if this might just be a temporary state, such ongoing army-centricity does nothing to convince the other services that they are equal to the ground force.

The PLA has been flaunting its strength in the South China Sea – where it has built military bases on reclaimed reefs, and shadows any foreign warship or aircraft that passes through or over international waters – and is doing much the same with Japan in the East China Sea.

Similarly, China has been using its air force to fly into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone to cow Taipei into submission.

The PLA ground force has been largely missing out on such excitement, and the only real chance to flex its muscle is along with border areas, principally the disputed frontier with India.

This area falls under the aegis of the Western Theater Command -the largest of the five theatres, and which contains Tibet and Xinjiang. Tensions flared into a bloody confrontation in the Galwan Valley in June 2020, and both China and India maintain troop concentrations as neither side backs down.

Satellite imagery taken earlier this year suggests that perhaps a Chinese division’s worth of 10,000 personnel and thousands of vehicles were spread over a 320km front and up to approximately 30km back from the Line of Actual Control in the Aksai Chin area.

Blasko told ANI: “Those are defensive positions. Most cannot mutually support each other through fire and manoeuvre because of the mountains … But it’s a deployment meant to consolidate ground; it’s not a deployment that is concentrating on a push into India or anything like that. What they’re doing is establishing these positions and then they can negotiate.’

Indeed, Blasko sees Indian border tensions as analogous to Beijing’s South China Sea “salami-slicing” strategy – consolidating claims in disputed territory and extending its

strategic depth. “What they’re trying to do is establish facts on the ground that then will continue there for a long time … I see them set up to stay there indefinitely unless and until a political settlement is reached.”

With this focus on the Aksai Chin area, it is interesting to note that the Xinjiang Military Command’s four divisions have now all transformed into combined-arms divisions. Each division has three combined-arms regiments, a combat support regiment and a newly created firepower regiment (combining artillery and air defence assets).

For a long time, the Western Theater Command, and particularly the Xinjiang Military Command, has been treated as the ugly sister in terms of receiving modern equipment, especially compared to the Eastern Theater Command opposite Taiwan, for example.

However, in the past year or so, the PLA has been proudly publicizing the new equipment flooding into Xinjiang.

Examples of new hardware include PCL-181 6×6 155mm truck-mounted self-propelled howitzers in firepower regiments in both the 8th and 11th Combined Arms Divisions to replace 152mm towed howitzers. Another new type of artillery is the PCL-161 4×4 122mm truck-mounted howitzer.

Although the PCL-181 and PCL-161 are being introduced in numbers, it is questionable how much faster they are to deploy than towed artillery pieces. Video footage shows that their rear spades have to be dug in before the fire, and their lightly armoured cabs and manual loading would surely be vulnerable to airbursts from enemy counter-battery fire.

Speaking of artillery, the US Army recently assessed, “No other capability area within the PLA has received greater emphasis during the recent period of reform than fire support. In just over two decades, PLA fire support evolved from a collection of ageing Soviet-derived equipment to a largely indigenous, sophisticated, widely varied and numerous collection of gun and rocket systems.”

There is also a preponderance of Type 08 8×8 armoured vehicles and Mengshi 4×4/6×6 light tactical vehicles. Units equipped with such wheeled vehicles can move rapidly by road, as well as be loaded into aircraft, trains or ships.

China is a master at propaganda, and it likes to present an image of an inexorably powerful PLA that is modern and capable. However, by digging deep enough, it becomes clear that the PLA routinely brings up the matter of tactical and small-unit leadership as being problematic.

Blasko explained: “They couch it in terms that some commanders have problems understanding the intentions of higher headquarters, can’t make battlefield decisions, don’t know how to deploy troops, etc. But they’ve been saying that now for five or six years, and what they’re talking about is basic military leadership.”

This area of difficulty includes how officers, non-commissioned officers and conscripts interact, and attempt to break down upward and downward communication barriers. The PLA does not seem to have as many professional military education courses like the US Army, for instance.

“You know, they’ve got a contradiction because what they’re trying to do is push operations down to the battalion level,” the former US Army military intelligence officer elaborated.

“Now they say the battalion is the lowest-level unit capable of independent operations. They’re pushing more responsibility down to battalion level but, so far, I haven’t seen a whole lot of formalized training for battalion commanders.”

Blasko continued, “It almost seems like they’re just throwing them the books and say, ‘Learn about it online.’ But at the same time, the CMC is sending down inspection teams to inspect training and inspect discipline. And so they’re being told to go out and do things on their own, but they oftentimes turn around and there’s somebody looking over their shoulder. So there’s that friction.”

Another area requiring constant attention is absolute loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its figurehead Xi.

“We would think, with all the political training they do, that loyalty would not be as great an issue. But they quite frequently talk about having to enforce political loyalty or to make sure everybody is on the same sheet of music when it comes to the party. So in their minds, I think there’s a question.”

However, Blasko did not conceive of the PLA rising up against the CCP. The military has proven its loyalty numerous times already, including the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989.

Annually, the PLA and People’s Armed Police conscript some 400,000 members. Although delayed a year because of COVID-19, this year the PLA went from one annual conscription period to two. The first cadre was inducted in March and a second in September. This change should even out stresses caused by massive annual departures and influxes of soldiers within units.

There is no doubt that the PLA is a force on the march. The ground forces might be struggling to keep up with the other services, but massive amounts of money are still being flung at it.

Indeed, the land-centric history of China will be hard for the PLA to quickly throw off. Additionally, the military remains at heart a political organization, and such status must affect its capability as a fighting force.

Karnataka farmers facing crop loss due to rains will receive compensation by Nov 30

Dharwad (Karnataka) [India]: As the farmers of Dharwad face crop loss and damage to their houses due to unseasonal incessant rains in the region, Karnataka Minister and district-in-charge Shankar Patil Munenakoppa visited them and promised that the compensation ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh as per various government schemes will be paid to them by November 30.

“Farmers are facing a lot of difficulties as their entire harvest is destroyed due to incessant rains in Dharwad. Compensation between Rs 50 thousand to 5 lakhs will be given to them as per various government schemes. Money will be deposited in farmers’ accounts by November 30,” said Munenakoppa on Monday.
“Crops like chilli, cotton, chana are completely destroyed here as they were ready to cut. As per the initial reports I have received, around 1 lakh hectare of harvest is destroyed,” he added.

Devendra, one of the farmers, told ANI, ” Five days continuous rain washed away all corp. Green gram completely is washed away. Chilly crop which was ready to harvest is drenched in water. I have three acres of land in Yarinarayanpur village in the taluka of Kundgol. My loss is worth Rs 50,000.”

Earlier, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had instructed the officials to transfer the compensation amount for the heavy losses of crops suffered due to the destruction caused by incessant rains to affected farmers’ accounts immediately after accessing the details being uploaded to Relief App based on the GPS survey.

Speaking to the media during his visit to rain-affected areas of Kolar district on Monday, the chief minister had said, “Incessant rains have caused huge losses to standing crops in the state. GPS based survey of the destruction is on and the details were being uploaded to Relief App. Officials had been instructed to transfer the compensation amount to affected farmers’ accounts immediately after accessing the details.”

The rains have caused extensive damage to Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural, Tumakuru, Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Ramanagar, Hassan district.

Karnataka and its neighbouring states have been receiving incessant rainfall in the month of November.

India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Sunday has predicted widespread light to moderate rainfall in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry during the next 5 days.

India’s first veterinary ventilator hospital: After losing his dog, Man opens hospital in Ahmedabad

Gujarat (Ahmedabad) [India]: A Gujarati, who lost his pet a year ago due to lack of facilities has now opened “a one-stop solution to everything related to pets – a non-profit veterinary hospital with fully equipped OT rooms and India’s first animal vet ventilator” in Ahmedabad.

Shaival Desai, founder of ‘BestBuds Pet Hospital’, while speaking to ANI, said, “The idea for a multi-speciality hospital for pets struck when I lost my dog a year ago. It was a painful time. He could not be treated well due to shortage of facilities which is when I decided to come up with a hospital for pets.”

“Now, I have opened a one-stop solution to everything related to pets – a non-profit vet hospital with fully equipped OT rooms and India’s first animal vet ventilator,” Shaival added.

Dr Divyesh Kelawaya, a Senior Veterinarian, said, “During COVID-19, many people abandoned their dogs following the rumour that dogs can spread coronavirus. I request people not to abandon their pets over such rumours.” (ANI)

World of Refugees: 84 million people mostly in Developing Countries

By KSHVID NEWS DESK with Inputs from Agencies.

The UNHCR, the refugee body of the United Nations, had released a new Mid-year report for 2021 which says that a total of 84 million people have been displaced globally, including cross-border and internal displacements. This comes after its previous statement that 2020 created the highest number of refugees worldwide in history.

The UNHCR had previously stated that the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide was 82.4 million at the end of 2020. Similarly, the World Bank’s Groundswell report warned by 2050, 216 million people could become internally displaced (within their own countries) due to climate change.

In the official press release announcing the new report, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi is quoted thus: “The international community is failing to prevent violence, persecution and human rights violations, which continue to drive people from their homes”.The report also says that “The number of active conflicts reached a record high in 2020, more than at any time since 1945, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and calls from the UN for a global ceasefire.

Refugees and asylum seekers are differentiated on the basis of recognition. When people flee their home countries to other countries due to fear of human rights violations and their adverse situations, they are considered refugees.

“Refugees have a right to international protection” states Amnesty International. There are various conventions and laws that systematize how countries should receive and treat refugees. Asylum seekers (or asylees) are those whose refugee status is pending with the host country. They are people who await a legal recognition for their claims to asylum. Seeking asylum is also considered as a human right.

Refugees crossing sea to enter USA

The report states that the USA has the highest number of asylum-seekers at 72,900, followed by Germany (58,900), Mexico (51,700), the Democratic Republic of the Congo(46,200) and France (36,500).Migrant is a more ambiguous category without a fixed international legal definition. They are those people who have chosen to leave their home countries for any reason such as climate change, gang war, or economic opportunities. They are not fleeing persecutions directed specifically at them as individuals or groups but rather seek to move away from adverse conditions in their place of origin.

Developing Countries Host the Most Refugees – Consistent with the previous UNHRC report which covered the year 2020, the new mid-year report of 2021 says that up to 85% of those forcibly displaced are hosted by developing countries. The following cart from the report shows briefly the host and origin countries of the most refugees worldwide.The source of most new refugees (68%) is just 5 countries: Central African Republic, 71,800; South Sudan, 61,700; Syria, 38,800; Afghanistan, 25,200; and Nigeria, 20,300.Of the total 26.6 million refugees, 20.8 million are under the UNHRC mandate, which has increased by 172,000 in 2021. Similarly, 4.3 million new internally displaced people were added this year 2021, bringing the total to 48 million.

Return And Resettlement-The report states that “1.1 million displaced people returned to their areas or countries of origin in the first half of 2021, including 936,400 internally displaced people and126,700 refugees”. Similarly, 16,300 refugees were resettled, declining from 17,400 in 2020 and 28,700 in 2019.

Internal Displacement- As mentioned above, the World Bank and UNHRC have already sounded the alarm over internal displacement as well. The chart below shows the most updated situation of internal displacements by country. The most number of internal displacements were in Congo, while Myanmar and Afghanistan which have been recently hit by bouts of severe violence and instability as figure on top.

US: 5 people killed, several injured as car rams into holiday parade


Wisconsin [US]: Several people were killed and a total of over 20 suffered injuries after a car rammed into a holiday parade in Wisconsin on Sunday night (local time),

“The vehicle struck more than 20 individuals, some of the individuals were children and there are some fatalities as a result of this incident,” Waukesha Police Chief Daniel Thompson told reporters on Sunday evening without providing an exact number or any additional information on fatalities.
The Waukesha Holiday Parade was live-streamed on the city’s Facebook page on Sunday. A video from the parade showed a red SUV car driving through the crowd and hitting people on its way, Sputnik reported.

Local media said that more than one person was killed and multiple others were injured. There were also reports of shots having been fired from the car window.

“An officer did discharge his weapon at the suspect’s vehicle to try to stop the vehicle. No bystanders were injured as a result of the weapon discharge,” Thompson specified at the Sunday press conference adding that “we do not believe that there were any shots that were fired from the vehicle.”

The White House said it was aware of the situation in Waukesha.

“The White House is closely monitoring the situation in Waukesha and our hearts go out to everyone who has been impacted by this terrible incident. We have reached out to state and local officials to offer any support and assistance as needed,” a White House official said as quoted by CBS.

According to Waukesha police, it is unclear whether the Sunday car incident is related to terrorism.

Trinamool Youth Congress president arrested by Tripura Police

Agartala (Tripura) [India]: Trinamool Youth Congress President Sayonni Ghosh was arrested by Tripura Police on Sunday for allegedly causing a ruckus at a public meeting of Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb.

B Jagadishwar Reddy, Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) West, Tripura said, “She has been arrested based on preliminary evidence. We have registered a case under sections 307, 153 of the Indian Penal Code. Action will be taken against those who attacked TMC workers as well after identification, an FIR has been filed.”
When she was being brought to the East Agartala Women Police Station in West Tripura district, TMC alleged that several BJP workers gheraoed the site and attacked its party workers.

Trinamool Congress leaders Sushmita Dev and Subal Bhowmik have slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party for alleged abuse of police power and vandalisation of police station by its party workers.

Bhowmik alleged that at least four TMC workers were injured in the incident today.

“They started their drama from the morning itself. We are here with Sayonni, without any notice whatsoever. The ruling party has been isolated. They will lose the upcoming civic body elections which will start on November 25. BJP hooligans vandalised the police station, beat up the police as well. We have seen such administration and government for the first time. This is all pre-planned. Our four to five workers have been injured,” Bhowmik told ANI.

Sushmita Dev while talking to ANI also called out the police for allegedly abusing their power.

“They have attacked the Thana again where @sayani06 is under arrest and also attacked our Convenor Shubol Bhowmick’s house in Agartala. @Tripura_Police I have been trying to call the IG & DGP but to no avail. This is mayhem,” Dev tweeted.

“Shame on @BJP4Tripura! Watch how @BjpBiplab ‘s goons are attacking our members IN FRONT OF THE POLICE and clearly getting away with it! Complete breakdown of law and order in Tripura!,” tweeted the Tripura unit of TMC.

TMC National general secretary Abhishek Banerjee alleged that his party supports were attacked.

“@BjpBiplab has become so UNABASHEDLY BRAZEN that now even SUPREME COURT ORDERS DOESN’T SEEM TO BOTHER HIM. He has repeatedly sent goons to attack our supporters & our female candidates instead of ensuring their safety! DEMOCRACY BEING MOCKED under @BJP4Tripura #NotMyINDIA,” Banerjee tweeted.

Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress has announced that the party’s National General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee will reach Tripura on Monday to show his support to the party workers.

“Our National Gen Secy Shri @abhishekaitc will reach Tripura tomorrow morning to stand beside our workers who were BRUTALLY ATTACKED by BJP goons. Permission to land today was denied. An autocrat is running the show in Tripura and we will fight tooth & nail to end this torture,” said a tweet from the official handle of the party.

Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress MPs will sit on a dharna from Monday morning in New Delhi over the alleged police brutality in Tripura.

According to TMC sources, a delegation of 15 Trinamool Congress MPs will reach Delhi on Sunday night.

“They have sought an appointment with the Union Home Minister Amit Shah over the alleged police brutality in Tripura. The MPs will sit on a dharna from tomorrow morning in the national capital,” they said.

The MPs in the delegation include Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, Kalyan Banerjee, Derek O’Brien Sougata Roy, and Dola Sen. (ANI)

Indore ranks India’s cleanest city for 5th consecutive year

New Delhi [India], November 20 (ANI): Madhya Pradesh’s Indore has been ranked India’s cleanest city for the fifth time in a row by the Centre.

President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday presented the Swachh Survekshan Awards 2021 at New Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan.
Gujarat’s Surat was named the second cleanest city, while Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh was ranked third in the list.

Gujarat’s Ahmedabad was conferred with Swachh Survekshan Awards for being the country’s cleanest cantonment.

Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh has been ranked as the country’s cleanest state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi bagged the cleanest ‘Ganga town’ award. (ANI)

Chandrababu Naidu breaks down, vows to re-enter assembly after coming back to power

Amravati: Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief and former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Nara Chandrababu Naidu broke down on Friday while addressing a press conference, saying that the YS Jagan-led ruling party in the state has been doing revenge politics in the state since it came into power.

Covering his face with both his hands, Naidu was seen weeping inconsolably. He had earlier walked out of the assembly and vowed to re-enter the House only after he becomes the Chief Minister again. 

Naidu, 71, alleged that the ruling party members in the assembly made abusive comments about his wife during a debate on women empowerment on the second day of the winter session. 

The former AP CM likened the Assembly to ‘Kaurava Sabha’ and decided to boycott it till 2024 in protest against ‘ugly character assassinations’ by YSRCP ministers & MLAs,” the TDP in a statement. 

He said that he has never been humiliated and insulted in such a manner throught his decades of political experience. “The opposition leaders are being targeted,” he added. 

“This is a dharma poratam (just battle) against the atrocious rule of the YSRC. I will go to the people and seek their support. If people co-operate, I will strive to save the state,” the TDP chief said.

Earlier in the state Legislative Assembly, the Leader of the Opposition said in an emotion-filled tone that the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led party had been continuously casting a slur on him for the past two-and-a-half years.

“I have been bearing the insults for the sake of people, but remained calm. Today, they have targeted even my wife. I always lived with honour and for honour. I can take it no more,” Chandrababu said.

Though he continued to speak, Speaker Tammineni Seetaram cut the mike even as the ruling party members called Chandrababu’s remarks a “drama”.

The former Chief Minister vent his frustration following an acrimonious exchange of words between the two sides in the House during a short discussion on the farm sector. Later, he held an impromptu meeting with his party legislators in his chamber, where he reportedly broke down. Stunned TDP legislators consoled Chandrababu, after which they all came back into the House.

Chandrababu then announced his decision, but that did not go on record, even as he left in a huff. Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, who later came into the House, said the Opposition leader’s behavior and words were nothing but a drama.

“Chandrababu only seeks to derive political mileage out of everything. It is very unfortunate. His drama was visible to all eyes, though I was not inside the House at the time,” Jagan observed.

“Yes, Chandrababu Naidu’s condition, and that he is in frustration, is known not only to me, but also to everyone in the state. People of the state have openly rejected him. Even in his own Kuppam constituency, he, unimaginably, faced people’s rejection,” the Chief Minister remarked. He said the YSRC legislators did not speak anything about the (opposition leader’s) family members.

“It was Chandrababu himself who spoke about my family members (slain uncle, mother and sister) and there was no reference to his family from our side. The House records clearly prove that,” Jagan added.

But Chandrababu himself over-reacted and became emotional. “Not only that, he went on to take a vow. We all have seen that. But ultimately, God will be observing all this from above,” the Chief Minister said.

Roll Back of Farm Laws: Victory of farmers’ willpower, struggle; hope Centre draws lessons, says Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi [India]: Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi on Friday termed farmers’ protest as “Gandhian agitation” and said that it is a victory of the “willpower” and “struggle” of 62 crore farmers.

She further hoped that the Centre draws lessons for the future and “shed its pride and arrogance” and work towards policies for farmers’ welfare.
“After almost 12 months of Gandhian agitation, today the struggle and willpower of 62 crore farmers of the country have won. Today, the sacrifices of more than 700 farmer families have paid off, whose families have laid down their lives in this struggle for justice. Today truth, justice, and non-violence have won,” Gandhi said in an official statement after the government announced repealing of three Central agricultural laws.

The Prime Minister earlier in the day assured that the constitutional measures to repeal the laws will begin in the Winter session of Parliament.

Slamming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led central government, Gandhi said, “I hope that the Prime Minister and the BJP government will leave their pride and arrogance and pay attention to implementing the policies of farmer welfare, will ensure MSP and before taking any such step in future, will take the consent of the state governments, farmer organizations and opposition parties.”

She further accused the BJP of “attacking the agricultural sector” for the last seven years and said, “Whether it is a matter of discontinuing the bonus given to the farmer as soon as the BJP government is formed, or there is a conspiracy to end the fair compensation law of the farmer’s land by bringing an ordinance. Whether it is the refusal to pay the farmer the cost plus 50 per cent profit as promised by the Prime Minister, or the huge increase in the cost of diesel and agricultural products, or the attack of three black anti-farming laws.”

Gandhi cited figures of the government’s NSO and said that the average income of a farmer is Rs 27 per day while the average debt on each is Rs 74,000.

“The government needs to think again on how farming can be made profitable in the true sense and how farmers get the right price for their crop by way of MSP,” she added.

The Centre had last year passed contentious farm laws that prompted nationwide protests.

These included– Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. (ANI)

US today is much more flexible partner than in past, says Jaishankar

Singapore: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday said that the US today is a much more flexible partner, much more open to ideas, suggestions, working arrangements than in the past.

“I have been dealing with the US for close to 40 years now. US today is a much more flexible partner, much more open to ideas, suggestions, working arrangements, than in the past,” Jaishankar said in response to a query during the panel discussion ‘Greater Power Competition: The Emerging World Order’ at the Bloomberg New Economic Forum event in Singapore.
Answering another query, he said the manner of China’s growing influence is very different from the US.

“There is no question that the US has strategically contracted for some time. Relatively and absolutely, American power and American influence are not what they used to be. It is also clear China has been expanding, but the nature of China, the manner of its growing influence is very different from the US, and we don’t have a situation where China necessarily replaces the others – US,” he said.

“It is natural to think of the US, China as the big one, but there are other countries, not just India, which have come much more into play. There has been rebalancing in the world. I think different countries have different ways to do that. In essence, the landscape has changed and become more volatile,” he added.

The session was also attended by former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Referring to Quad, which is a grouping of Australia, India, Japan and the US, Jaishankar said, “It is a good example of some countries coming together on a certain set of concerns or issues of interest.”

“This reflects a very different kind of world we are moving into…the real transition after 1982 is now occurring,” he added.

Answering a question about how the world is changing, he said it is not unipolar and not bipolar either.

“It is certainly not unipolar and it is not really bipolar either. There are many more players. A lot of what we are doing in terms of repositioning, working with countries, (it) is multipolar work,” he said.

“In a sense, it is partly a hedging strategy, partly autonomous partnership, often very issue-based (as) we work with different countries on different sets of issues,” the minister said. (ANI)

Merkel, in conversation with Lukashenko, refused to accept migrants from border

Berlin [Germany], November 18 (ANI/Sputnik): Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a conversation with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, refused to accept migrants from the Belarusian-Polish border, since this is a European problem that Germany does not solve alone, a source in the German government told Sputnik.

“Germany did not agree with this. This is a European problem, which Germany does not solve alone,” the source said.

Russia confirms 37,374 new COVID-19 cases over past 24 hrs

Moscow [Russia]: Russia has confirmed 37,374 COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the cumulative total to 9,219,912, the response center said on Thursday.

“Over the past day, 37,374 COVID-19 cases were confirmed across 85 Russian regions, including 2,617 cases (7.0 per cent) without clinical symptoms,” the center said, adding that the rate of increase fell to 0.41per cent.
Moscow registered 4,062 new COVID-19 cases. The Russian capital was followed by Saint Petersburg with 2,645 new cases, and the Samara region with 1,781 new cases.

The response center reported a record 1,251 deaths linked to the coronavirus, bringing the country’s death toll to 260,335.

In the same 24 hours, 36,414 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals across the country, bringing the total to 7,919,250.

SC dismisses students’ plea on CBSE, ICSE Board exams for classes 10, 12 in hybrid form

New Delhi [India]: The Supreme Court on Thursday declined a plea filed by students seeking directions to CBSE and ICSE to hold Term I exams for Classes X and XII in a hybrid manner.

The Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and CT Ravikumar dismissed the petition of the students stating that the exams of CBSE have already commenced on November 16 and refused to interfere with the process.
The Bench in its order said, “As the exam has commenced on November 16, it will be inappropriate to intervene now and disturb the entire process. At this belated stage, the petition cannot be entertained. We hope and trust that all the precautions will be taken by the authorities and COVID-19 SOP will be adhered to.”

It also took into note that the ICSE term exams will commence from November 22.

The Bench was hearing a petition filed by some students challenging the revised examination schedule directing the exams to be conducted in offline mode only instead of adopting the Hybrid mode.

Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBSE, assured the apex court that adequate arrangements have been taken regarding COVID-19 and the exam centres have been increased to 15,000 from 6,500 of last year to ensure more social distancing and less travel time.

Now only 12 students will sit in a centre, as opposed to 40 students earlier, Mehta told the Bench, adding that the exam time has been reduced from three hours to 90 minutes.

He further contended that nearly 34 lakh students are appearing for the exams and to alter the mode of exam now will be tough.

Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, appearing for the petitioners’ students, argued that all they seek is a hybrid option, as the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over. (ANI)

Param Bir Singh’s plea for protection against arrest to be heard only after he discloses his whereabouts: SC

New Delhi [India]: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh to disclose his whereabouts.

The Apex Court said that it will hear Singh’s plea for protection against arrest only after he tells which part of the country or the world he is in.
The court asked Singh’s lawyer to inform his whereabouts and posted the matter for hearing on November 22.

Last month in October, the investigating agencies had said that the former Commissioner of Mumbai Police may have left the country either before a Lookout Circular (LOC) was issued by Maharashtra Police or he travelled on a forged passport.

According to the officers, the Maharashtra Police issued LOC two months after Parmbir Singh went on leave.

Singh was allegedly named in several FIRs registered against him under various IPC sections. There were also two pending enquiries against him in the Anti Corruption Bureau. He was also summoned by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the Antilia bomb scare case but he never joined the investigation.

A case of extortion was registered on July 23 against Param Bir Singh, Sachin Waze, and others at Goregaon Police Station, whose investigation was handed over to the Mumbai Crime Branch.

It was the second case of extortion in which Param Bir Singh has been named.

The Enforcement Directorate had earlier summoned the former Mumbai Police Commissioner to record a statement in connection with the Rs 100 crore money laundering case against ex-Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh. (ANI)

Two arrested in Kolkata for illegally selling firearms

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India]: Two men were on Wednesday arrested for allegedly selling firearms and ammunition illegally, after a raid was conducted at Kolkata’s Mominpore, informed the police.

The two men have been identified as Sk. Saddam Hossain (18) and Bablu Ari (21 yrs).
One single shot of country-made firearms along with two live cartridges was recovered from Hossain for which he could not produce any relevant documents.

Hossain who was arrested from Kolkata’s Ekbalpore revealed during interrogation that they carried the firearms and ammunition for the purpose of selling those to the public.

Pursuing the statement of Hossain, the police arrested one of his associates namely Bablu Ari from Kolkata’s Taratala.

Cases have been registered against the two accused persons under the Arms Act.

Both the arrested persons will be produced before the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Alipore, South 24 Paraganas on Thursday. (ANI)

Instagram asks suspected bots for verification with video selfies

Washington [US]: Instagram has many bot accounts which can leave spam messages, harass people or be artificially inflate like or follower counts.

As per The Verge, Instagram is asking some users to provide a video selfie showing multiple angles of their face to verify that they’re a real person.
The company started testing the feature last year but ran into technical issues. Multiple users have recently reported being asked to take a video selfie to verify their existing accounts.

As per reports, it looks at “all angles of your face” to prove that you’re a real person.

Instagram posted on Twitter that accounts that had suspicious behaviour (such as quickly following a ton of accounts) could be asked to do a video selfie. The company also reiterated that the feature doesn’t use facial recognition, and said that Instagram teams review the videos.

The move may surprise some, given Meta’s recent announcement that it would be shutting down one of its Face Recognition features.

As the company has since reiterated, though, it was only shutting down a specific Facebook feature, not Meta’s use of facial recognition as a whole.

Nevertheless, the message from Instagram is that the video selfie feature won’t use face recognition at all and that the video will be deleted after 30 days.

Meta’s promise to not store or post the data may not reassure some users who are already distrustful of Meta / Facebook. (ANI)

India reports 11,919 new COVID-19 cases, 470 deaths in last 24 hours

New Delhi: India reported 11,919 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday.

With this, India’s active caseload stands at 1,28,762. The active cases account for less than 1 per cent of total cases, currently at 0.37 per cent, the lowest since March 2020.
With 11,242 people recovering in the last 24 hours, the recovery tally has gone up to 3,38,85,132. The recovery rate is currently at 98.28 per cent, the highest since March 2020.

The country also reported 470 deaths in a day. With this, the death toll has gone up to 4,64,623.

Of the total new cases, recoveries and deaths in the last 24 hours, Kerala reported 6,849 cases, 6,046 recoveries and 61 deaths.

As per the health ministry, the daily positivity rate stands at 0.97 per cent. It has remained below 2 per cent for the last 45 days while the weekly positivity rate is at 0.94 per cent, less than 2 per cent for the last 55 days.

India has tested 62.82 crore samples for Covid-19 so far.

More than 114.46 crore vaccine doses have been administered under the nationwide vaccination drive. (ANI)

Equity indices open in green, Sensex up by 158 points

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: Equity indices opened in green on Thursday with Sensex up by 158.53 points and Nifty up by 38.60 points.

The 30-scrip BSE Sensex was up by 0.26 per cent at 60166.86 at 9.25 am.
Similarly, 50-scrip NSE Nifty was trading at 17937.30 at 9.25 am, up by 38.60 points or 0.22 per cent.

On the Sensex, the sectors which were trading high with maximum gain are realty sector at 1.07 and consumer durables sector at 0.63. (ANI)

Sky is not the limit, it’s benchmark: Suryakumar

Jaipur (Rajasthan) [India]: After playing a match-winning knock against New Zealand, India batter Suryakumar Yadav said that he loved how things went in his favour and it was good to play a match-winning knock.

Suryakumar Yadav (62) and Rohit (48) starred with the bat as India chased down 165 to defeat New Zealand by five wickets in the first T20I of the three-match series here at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.
“I think the sky is not the limit, going forward it should be a benchmark. Really loved the way things went for me on the ground, just wanted to bat in the same way like I was doing in the nets. I think New Zealand’s preparation was really good, they did not let me explore the cover drive option so I had to play other shots,” Suryakumar told Ravichandran Ashwin in a video posted on

“I played out Mitchell Santner, this is the call me and Rohit took. Really disappointed, would have loved to finish the game. It was my wife’s birthday so I dedicate my Man of the Match award to her,” he added.

Earlier, Martin Guptill and Mark Chapman played knocks of 70 and 63 respectively as New Zealand posted a total of 164/6. For India, Ravichandran Ashwin and Bhuvneshwar Kumar returned with two wickets each.

Rahul Dravid’s coaching stint got off to a winning start as Rohit Sharma-led India defeated New Zealand by five wickets in the first T20I.

With this win, India gained a 1-0 lead in the three-match series, with the second game set to be played on Friday. (ANI)

After months of closure, girl schools reopen in Afghanistan’s Ghor province

Kabul [Afghanistan]: After months of the closure of girls’ schools in Ghor province of Afghanistan, now female students from grade 7 to 12 were allowed to attend their schools in Ferozkoh, capital of the western province, reported local media.

The reopening of schools came as a result of efforts made by the Ferozkoh council which had urged the province’s education officials to reopen the girls’ schools, reported TOLOnews.
Sultan Ahmad, head of the Ferozkoh council, said: “We reached an agreement that the high schools for girls in the capital and all districts of Ghor should be reopened.”

Expressing happiness over the reopening of the schools in the province, civil rights activist Habib Wahdat said: “Fortunately, the schools will be reopened for the girl students.”

Stressing that reopening of the schools is very important, Wahdat said: “If women are deprived of education, the next generation of the society will not have a bright future.”

So far, in western Afghanistan Herat and Ghor provinces have allowed girls to attend secondary and high schools.

When the Taliban took control of the country in August, it had barred girls from going to schools across Afghanistan. (ANI)

62.82 cr samples tested for COVID

New Delhi [India]: India’s testing capacity has been ramped up extensively and it has conducted 62,82,48,841 COVID-19 tests so far, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said on Thursday.

Of the total testing done so far 12,32,505 samples were tested in the last 24 hours.
Meanwhile, India on Wednesday reported 10,197 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The country also reported 12,134 recoveries in the last 24 hours, taking the recovery tally to 3,38,73,890. The recovery rate is currently at 98.28 per cent, which is the highest since March 2020.

India’s active caseload stands at 1,28,555, the lowest in 527 days. The active cases account for less than 1 per cent of total cases, currently at 0.37 per cent and it is the lowest since March 2020.

More than 113.68 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far under the Nationwide Vaccination Drive. (ANI)

IMF demands five major prior actions to resume loan facility: Pakistan finance advisor Shaukat Tarin

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistani Finance Adviser Shaukat Tarin has said that IMF gave Pakistan a list of five major prior actions for the resumption of its six billion dollars Extended Fund Facility (EFF), local media reported.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Shaukat Tarin said the five prior actions going to be implemented by Pakistan include submission of abolishing of Tax Exemption bill 2021, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Amendment bill 2021, and already hiked electricity tariff besides two other minor actions, Geo Tv reported.
He said that the IMF did not agree with the promulgation of the ordinance for withdrawal of tax exemptions but the government would have to submit a tax exemption bill in order to fulfil the IMF’s conditions.

Citing top official sources, Goe Tv reported that the increase in monetary policy ranging from 75 to 100 basis points, adjusting upward from 7.25 to 8 or 8.25 per cent and adjustment in the exchange rate, will also be part of prior actions for completion of the outstanding Sixth Review under the IMF programme. Now the SBP has convened its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) on Friday (November 19) instead of November 26, 2021, for considering the monetary stance.

He said that Pakistan’s exports were largely dependent upon USA and EU and in the aftermath of the surfacing of GSP Plus related issues, there was a need to diversify our export-related destinations.

Last week, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) had raised Cash Reserve Requirement (CRR) by one percentage point for scheduled banks for the first time in 13 years in a bid to curb rising inflation in the country.

Moreover, the rupee plunged to a record low of 176 against the dollar in intra-day trading before closing at 175.73 this week. The rupee is under pressure due to increased dollar demand from importers to make payments. Besides this, traders and investors are also worried about the future of the IMF’s USD 6 billion worth loan facility. (ANI)

No coercive steps against lawyers, journalist; SC notice to Tripura police on plea challenging UAPA charges

New Delhi [India]: The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a notice to the Tripura police challenging its action to invoke Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) provisions against two lawyers and a journalist over their social media posts regarding the recent communal violence in Tripura.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana directed the police not to take any coercive action against lawyers Mukesh Kumar and Ansarul Haq Ansari and journalist Shyam Meera Singh.
The petition has challenged the Tripura Police’s decision to invoke UAPA against Kumar and Ansari over their social media posts and statements and journalist Singh for tweeting “Tripura Burning”.

After the Tripura police booked them for offences punishable under the UAPA, petitioners then moved the apex court seeking to quash the first information report (FIR) registered against them.

The police slapped UAPA charges against lawyers who were part of a team that published a fact-finding report about the recent communal violence in the state.

“The petition is filed in relation to the targeted political violence against the Muslim minorities in the State of Tripura during the second half of the month of October 2021, and the subsequent efforts by the State of Tripura to monopolize the flow of information and facts emanating from the affected areas by invoking provisions of the UAPA against members of civil society including advocates and journalists who have made the effort to bring facts in relation to the targeted violence in the public domain,” the plea stated.

The plea filed by Kumar, Ansari and Singh, said, “The petitioners are seeking to quash qua the petitioners herein of the FIR. The petitioners are also challenging the constitutional validity of Section 2(1)(o) r/w Section 13 of the UAPA and provision pertaining to bail under Section 43(d)(5) of the UAPA.” (ANI)

‘Ind vs NZ: Rohit & Dravid bond well’

Jaipur (Rajasthan) [India]: Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar feels head coach Rahul Dravid and T20I captain Rohit Sharma will get along well because their “temperaments” are quite similar.

India and New Zealand will be squaring off in a three-match T20I series, beginning Wednesday in Jaipur. This is the first assignment in charge for head coach Dravid and full-time T20I skipper Rohit.
“If you look at both of their temperaments, they are quite similar. Rohit is of a quiet nature just like Rahul Dravid. So I think their bond will be quite good because both of them will understand each other well,” said Gavaskar on the Star Sports show Follow The Blues.

“When he used to play we used to think that till Rahul Dravid is at the crease, the Indian batting is safe and strong. This is the reason why I believe that the new responsibility of head coach that falls upon him, he will be able to handle it in a similar way,” he added.

Former India opener Gautam Gambhir is “sure” that Dravid will become a very successful coach as he brings a lot of “assurance” with his arrival in the dressing room.

“He was a very successful player then he became a very successful captain and I’m sure he is going to become a very successful coach as well. With him in that dressing room, I think he brings a lot of assurance, he’s played more than 100 Test matches,” said Gambhir.

“He’s captained the side, his work ethics were unbelievable, really hard working. So, I think he brings a lot on the table,” he added. (ANI)

Australian PM announces new Consulate General in Bengaluru

Bengaluru: Terming Bengaluru as the world’s fastest-growing technology hub, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday announced a new Consulate General in the capital city of the Indian state of Karnataka.

“I’m pleased to let you know that Australia is also seeking to establish a new Consulate General in Bengaluru,” Morrison said at Sydney Dialogue. “Bengaluru is the world’s fastest-growing technology hub – of course we want to be part of it. It is home to a third of India’s unicorn companies,” he added.
Morrison further stated that Australia’s new mission in Bengaluru would expand their diplomatic presence in India to five posts. He also expressed resolve to strengthen relations with India adding that it will deepen its ties to “India’s innovators, to your technologists and entrepreneurs – as well as India’s governments at all levels.”

Announcing Australia’s first-ever Blueprint for Critical Technologies at that event, Morrison stated that this signals country’s firm commitment to shaping the development and adoption of critical technologies internationally, including by working with trusted partners like India.

The Australian PM said that there is so much to do with India in the field of technology, adding that both countries are already cooperating on cyber security, critical and emerging technologies, critical minerals, digital economy.

“There is much we can do with India in this area – some of which I have already touched on today, including as part of our Quad partnership,” he said at the inaugural Sydney Dialogue on emerging, critical and cyber technologies.

He also informed the forum that he will be speaking at the Bengaluru Tech Summit, India’s biggest technology summit today. (India KSHVID News Network-IKN)

Salman Khan should encourage Muslims to get vaccinated against COVID-19: Mumbai Mayor

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: Expressing concerns over ‘religious apprehensions among Muslims’ on COVID-19 vaccination, Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar on Wednesday hoped that celebrities like Salman Khan will help raise awareness among Muslims to get vaccinated.

“Whenever vaccination happened there were religious apprehensions in Muslims, which delayed it slightly. Hoping that Muslims will take jabs and actors like Salman Khan should encourage them,” said Mumbai Mayor on the issue of the Muslim community not in favour of getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
Earlier today, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope had said that the state government is in talks with religious leaders and celebrities like Salman Khan to raise awareness on COVID-19 vaccination.

While speaking to ANI, Tope said, “In order to get more people vaccinated, we will be getting religious leaders, celebrities to create awareness on vaccination. We are also in talks to bring onboard celebrities like Salman Khan for the awareness drive.”

As many as 10,41,16,963 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Maharashtra, wherein 6,98,15,228 people were administered the first dose of the vaccine, as per the data of the Union Health Ministry.

India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage has exceeded 113.68 Crore (1,13,68,79,685) as per provisional reports till 7 am today. (ANI)

Taliban deputy PM Baradar meets Iran’s special envoy, discusses Afghan political, security issues

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Taliban co-founder and acting Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar met with Iran’s special envoy to Afghanistan Hassan Kazemi Qomi and discussed political, security, economic and cultural issues, local media reported on Tuesday.

Deputy PM Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar met with Iran’s envoy for Afghanistan Hassan Kazemi Qomi, Tolo News reported citing Mohammad Naeem, Islamic Emirate political office spokesman as saying. They discussed political, security, economic and cultural issues, he added.
Earlier, Qomi also met with acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and acting Commerce Minister Nooraddin Azizi.

“Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and acting Commerce Minister Nooraddin Azizi met with Iran’s special envoy to Afghanistan Hassan Kazemi Qomi and discussed the economy and the development of trade between countries,” Tolo News reported citing the Foreign Ministry spokesperson as saying.

Qomi arrived in Kabul on Monday to hold meetings with officials of the interim Afghan government led by the Taliban.

Earlier, spokesperson of Iran’s foreign ministry Saeed Khatibzade in a statement said the international community is asking for an all-inclusive and responsible government in Afghanistan and added that Iran will never leave behind the Afghan people as the latter want Iran not to.

The Taliban took over Afghanistan in August and the US military ended its 20 years of military presence in the country. Meanwhile, after announcing the government in Afghanistan, the Taliban regime has failed to get recognition. Aside from China, Pakistan and a handful of other countries, the rest of the world is taking a wait and watch policy while keeping an eye on the conduct of the outfit. (ANI)

Philippines approves China’s Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine as booster shots

Manila [Philippines]: The Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of China’s Sinovac CoronaVac vaccine and three other brands as booster shots against the COVID-19, FDA Director General Enrique Domingo said Tuesday.

During a pre-recorded meeting aired on Tuesday, Domingo said the FDA has already amended the emergency use authorization of Sinovac, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sputnik Light, “meaning six months after the second dose, another can be administered.”
The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) said that all fully vaccinated healthcare workers could get the booster doses starting on Wednesday, as well as people with underlying health conditions and the elderly with comorbidities.

To date, the Philippines has received almost 125 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from different vaccine makers. China, the biggest supplier of COVID-19 vaccines, was the first country to provide vaccines to the Philippines, allowing the Southeast Asian country to kick off its vaccination drive on March 1.

The Philippines has administered nearly 71 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. More than 31.8 million people have been fully vaccinated. The government aims to vaccinate up to 70 per cent of its 110 million population this year.

As of Tuesday, the country has reported a total of nearly 2.82 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 45,808 deaths. (ANI/Xinhua)

Hospitals witness rise in patients suffering from respiratory disease post Diwali: Expert

New Delhi [India]: The hospitals in Delhi have witnessed a surge in patients with respiratory ailments due to pollution after Diwali.

Doctors in the hospitals located in the national capital said that the number of cases of respiratory diseases has increased due to pollution after the recent festivities.
Medical Director of Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, Suresh Kumar told ANI that on a daily basis 10-15 people including children with such ailments are reporting to the hospital.

“Every year air pollution level increases in the last month of October and November post-Diwali. This year we saw pollution is in the very severe category. Many patients are coming to the hospital who have respiratory problems. They have wheezing, problems in breathing. Few patients are asthmatic and few are of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease,” he said.

Whenever air pollution gets worse, these patients get infections in the chest and faces breathing problems. Many times, we have to admit such patients to the hospital. This year also, we are seeing 10-15 such patients daily including children. Asthmatic people, chronic smokers, people who have allergic lung conditions deteriorate during air pollution and we have to admit them,” the doctor informed.

He further informed that if Delhi’s air quality is compared with that of WHO’s standards, then it stands in the ‘severe’ category.

“You have more cases in the emergency, OPD, Chest Clinic who have this type of problem. Along with this, patients who are facing problems in the throat, irritation and redness in the eyes, patients whose blood pressure has been increased are coming,” Dr Kumar said.

“We have sufficient oxygen in the hospital. Earlier the capacity we had was 5metric tons and now it is 55 metric tons per day in the hospital. We have a great backup of cylinders. As we are preparing for the third wave, so we have no shortage of oxygen,” he added.

He further noted that the hospital only admits people who face respiratory fatigue, or who have an infection in the chest.

He further informed that there are three types of respiratory problems. “Mild respiratory, moderate respiratory, and severe respiratory problems. Last we have respiratory failure. Some people have compromised lung function. People who are elderly and children face more problems. The adults do not have many problems. We treat them in OPD,” he said.

The doctor said that most of suffering from respiratory problems should stay indoors.

“They should not go outside their home as the outdoor air quality is not good. If they want to go outdoor, they must use a triple layer mask or N-95 mask. This mask lowers the pm 2.5 level from 65 per cent to 95 per cent. Along with this, people can take steam and intake lots of liquids. Those who are smokers should not smoke at all as if they’ll do, their lung condition will be in the very severe category and their respiratory problem will increase in such a way that they’ll have to get admitted, he added.

Dr Bobby Bhalotra (MD), Vice-Chairman Department Of Chest Medicine at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said, “Respiratory problems are increasing these days mainly because the winter sets in. There is an increase in respiratory infections and pollution is contributing in a very big way and increasing the number of these patients.”

“So, we have two types of patients who come to the hospital. One is the fresh case of respiratory ailment where there is a history of prolonged pollution exposure and then followed by an increase in sudden breathlessness, chest pain. There is a subgroup which is chronic lung patients, asthmatic patients and patients who have COPD interstitial lung disease or post covid recovering patients. They are also coming in big numbers because of the pollution,’ he added.

Dr Bhalotra stressed that the pollution level in Delhi “is very high.”

“All of us know that pollution is very bad for the lungs. If a person is inhaling polluted air, obviously the lung and respiratory system is going to get affected. That is the reason why people are getting excessive issues of asthma, COPD and interstitial lung diseases. I think it is related to pollution directly. I think the number of patients has increased in a big way. The OPD are full of patients who are complaining of cough, cold, sneezing, burning eyes, chest pains, breathlessness and it is directly related to pollution. We are getting quite several patients in the emergency department who are complaining of respiratory problems,” he said.

Lalit Kumar Sharma, a patient’s son, who came to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said, “My mother had the problem of chest congestion and cold and cough. For that, I have come to the hospital. 95 per cent we can say my mother is facing such an issue due to the pollution. We are wearing the masks at home itself. We have stopped going out early in the morning and late in the evening and we try to go to the market during sunny days. We are also planning to purchase the air purifiers for bedrooms also.”

Surendra Kumar Mehra, a patient who came to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital for a check-up said, “I am facing slight congestion. Earlier I had no problem. I am facing this because of the environmental problem. Neither the central government, not the state government nobody is taking care of the people. We as a public should thrash them out. They are only concentrating on Mandir and Masjid political issues whether it’s the prime minister or chief minister all are irresponsible people. I am not going out in the morning and the evening. I have started using filters in the house.”

The Air Quality Index (AQI) in the national capital was recorded at 396 as it continued to remain in the ‘Very Poor’ category for the third consecutive day today.

According to data from the Central Pollution Control Board, the average AQI of Delhi stood at 396 in the morning at 10 am.

As per SAFAR’s bulletin, the AQI in Delhi which was recorded at 331 is “unlikely to improve” today as winds at the transport level are increasing, resulting in more intrusion of farm fires-related pollutants into Delhi. Yesterday, the national capital recorded an AQI at 318 (overall). (ANI)

Trinamool Congress releases manifesto for Agartala civic polls, party MP says doors open for like-minded parties

Agartala (Tripura) [India]: All India Trinamool Congress on Tuesday released its election manifesto exclusively for Agartala Municipal Corporation Areas making nine major promises aimed at improving the standard of living for residents of Agartala City.

TMC Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy announced the manifesto and said that the Trinamool Congress would work hard for the development of the prestigious Agartala Municipal Corporation areas.
He said that the TMC if voted power in the AMC, will ensure that residents receive better amenities, at least two bio-toilets in every ward, better markets equipped with fire and disaster management facilities, eradication of all dark spots with enough lighting, tax rebates and direct access to the Mayor through “Hello Mayor” initiatives.

He said, “The manifesto reflects TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee’s way of thinking for the people and how the Bengal government reaches out to people with its welfare schemes. The attitude of the AMC board will be similar to the people-centric TMC government in Bengal.”

Later addressing a press conference, TMC Rajya Sabha MP Sushmita Dev said, “If polls are conducted in a free and fair spirit with zero intimidation from the end of the ruling party, all the Trinamool candidates shall form the board of Agartala Municipal Corporation.”

Dev also did not rule out any possibilities of coming to a pre-poll arrangement with the regional political parties like former Congress leader Pradyot Kishore Dev Barman-led Tipra Motha and said that the first priority of the Trinamool Congress is to oust the BJP and for that doors are open for like-minded parties. Although she did not specify the name of any party but did give enough indications of a pre-poll alliance with like-minded political parties in the run up to the 2023 assembly elections.

She said, “Mood of the people in Tripura is that they don’t want the BJP. People who are in mass politics like us and who are in other parties are well aware of that. Now, respecting the mood of the people, we shall stand with the parties who will agree to come with us for BJP’s ouster.”

Dev also debunked the statement of Tripura Minister Sushanta Chowdhury who alleged that TMC was misleading the Supreme Court. She said, “I am a lawyer myself. If TMC is misleading the Supreme Court, they should move the Court with real facts. Since the matter is sub judice, and we are misleading, then take appropriate action against me.”

Meanwhile, actor turned politicians Soham Chakraborty and June Maliya along with former MP Arpita Ghosh also attended the press conference. (ANI)

Xi warns Biden, says US ‘playing with fire’ on Taiwan issue

Beijing [China]/Washington [US]: The highly anticipated meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday saw the two leaders locking horn on the issue of Taiwan, in a summit that saw a discussion on strategic and overarching importance and topics of mutual interest.

Both leaders held an “in-depth and constructive” meeting for over three hours and exchanged views on bilateral relations on issues of fundamental importance shaping the development of China-US relations.
Xi said that China will be compelled to take resolute measures, should the separatist forces for “Taiwan independence” “provoke us, force our hands or even cross the red line.”

Chinese President noted the new wave of tensions across the Taiwan Strait, and ascribed the tensions to attempts by the Taiwan authorities to look for US support for their independence agenda as well as the intention of some Americans to use the issue to contain China, Xinhua news agency reported. “Such moves are extremely dangerous, just like playing with fire,” Xi said. “Whoever plays with fire will get burnt.”

For the two countries to get along in the new era, three principles must be followed, Xi emphasised.

“First, mutual respect. The two countries need to respect each other’s social systems and development paths, core interests & major concerns, and respect each other’s right to development. Second, peaceful coexistence. No conflict and no confrontation is a line that both sides must hold. Third, win-win cooperation. The world is big enough for the two countries to develop individually and collectively,” he said.

Underscoring his country’s commitment to the “one China” policy, Biden strongly opposed unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

Reiterating the importance of freedom of navigation, Biden stressed that the US will continue to stand up for its interests and values to ensure the rules of the road for the 21st century advance an international system that is free, open, and fair.

“On Taiwan, President Biden underscored that the United States remains committed to the ‘one China’ policy, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances, and that the United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” the White House said in a statement.

This meeting was held amid deteriorating relations between Beijing and Washington on several issues including human rights, trade and the growing arms race. Recently, Beijing has increased its military incursions in Taiwan and continues to claim sovereignty over the democratic island.

During the meeting, Biden raised concerns about China’s practices in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong. Biden also discussed the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific and communicated the continued determination of the US to uphold its commitments in the region.

In particular, the two leaders discussed the existential nature of the climate crisis to the world and the important role that the United States and China play. “They also discussed the importance of taking measures to address global energy supplies.

Both leaders also discussed the ongoing situation in Afghanistan and the Iranian nuclear program.

“The two leaders also exchanged views on key regional challenges, including DPRK (North Korea), Afghanistan, and Iran. Finally, they discussed ways for the two sides to continue discussions on a number of areas, with President Biden underscoring the importance of substantive and concrete conversations,” the White House said. (ANI)

Actor Shahrukh Khan’s manager Pooja Dadlani summoned second time by Mumbai police, she seeks more time

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: Actor Shahrukh Khan’s manager Pooja Dadlani has sought more time after she was summoned for the second time by the Mumbai police for questioning in the drugs-on-cruise extortion case, police said.

Now, there could be the issuance of a third summon too, the police added.
So far 20 people have recorded their statements in the drugs-on-cruise extortion case, as per the police.

Pooja Dadlani on Wednesday skipped the Mumbai Police’s summon for questioning in the drugs on cruise case citing health reasons.

Mumbai Police’s SIT team is investigating allegations of extortion against Dadlani in the cruise drugs case.

An NCB team busted an alleged drugs party on the Cordelia Cruise ship which was on its way to Goa at mid-sea on October 2. A total of 20 people, including two Nigerian nationals have been arrested so far in the case. (ANI)

Federer unlikely to play Australian Open

Melbourne [Australia]: Swiss maestro Roger Federer is unlikely to play in the Australian Open as he recovers from injury, according to his coach Ivan Ljubicic.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion is still determined to return to tournament action at some point. He has been inactive since losing in the Wimbledon quarter-finals in July.
Federer underwent arthroscopic right knee surgeries in February 2020 and May 2020. Federer has played five tournaments since having those surgeries, all of which came this season.

“I think the Australian Open is not a real possibility right now,” Ljubicic told Stats Perform.

“I think there are very few chances, he is still recovering and knowing him, he wants to be sure he can play to win the tournament and be at 100 per cent. He will go step by step because he is 40 years old now and he needs to be patient. He cannot recover as quickly as he used to,” he added.

However, the Croatian stated he was certain that Federer was not thinking about retiring just yet.

“We have spoken and I can guarantee he wants to return to playing tennis,” he said.

Last month, Roger Federer dropped out of the Top-10 in the ATP rankings. This was for the very first time since January 2017 that the 20-time Grand Slam champion crashed out of the Top-10 rankings in men’s tennis. (ANI)

Turkey favours lifting of US sanctions against Iran: Foreign Minister

Ankara [Turkey]: Turkey has urged the United States to lift the unilateral sanctions it imposed on Iran, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday, describing the punitive measures against his country’s eastern neighbour as “inappropriate.”

“Unilateral sanctions against Iran are inappropriate, they must be removed,” Cavusoglu said during a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, in Tehran.
In 2015, Iran signed a nuclear deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actions (JCPOA) with the P5+1 group, which includes the United States, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and the European Union. It required Tehran to scale back its nuclear program and drastically reduce its uranium reserves in exchange for sanctions relief, including the lifting of an arms embargo five years after the deal was made.

In May 2018, the US abandoned its conciliatory stance, withdrawing from the JCPOA and implementing hardline policies against Iran, prompting the latter to largely abandon its own obligations under the accord.

Since April, Vienna has been hosting talks aimed at preventing the Iran nuclear deal from failing altogether. The sixth round of the talks finished on June 20 and the negotiations have since hit a deadlock.

In October, both Tehran and Washington affirmed their readiness to revive the Vienna talks as soon as possible. (ANI/Sputnik)

Imam-ul-Haq named in Pak squad

Dhaka [Bangladesh]: National selectors on Monday announced the Pakistan men’s cricket team for the two Tests against Bangladesh, which will be played in Chittagong (November 26-30) and Dhaka (December 4-8).

Opener Imam-Ul-Haq, middle-order batter Kamran Ghulam and off-spinner Bilal Asif have been named in the 20-player squad, replacing Haris Rauf, Imran Butt, Shahnawaz Dahani and Yasir Shah, who were part of the 21-player side that toured the West Indies in July/August.
Left-handed Imam has been recalled following his stellar performances in the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam Trophy in which he has aggregated 488 runs in five innings of four matches, including an unbeaten double-century. Imam had played his 11th and last Test against Australia in Adelaide in November/December 2019.

Bilal has replaced Yasir Shah who is still recovering from a thumb injury he sustained during the National T20 and is yet to feature in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. The off-spinner has taken 16 wickets in five Tests and has been drafted in the side considering Bangladesh squad includes left-handed batters and also looking ahead to the home Tests against Australia.

Kamran has returned to the side after missing the West Indies tour. He was in the squad for the home series against South Africa after scoring a Quaid-e-Azam Trophy record 1,249 runs in the 2020-21 season. Kamran is presently in Sri Lanka with the Pakistan Shaheens where he scored 58 not out and 45 in two innings of the rain-affected two-match four-day series.

Chief Selector Muhammad Wasim: “We have selected the squad following discussions with the team management and after taking into consideration the opposition’s potential make-up and the conditions in which the Tests will be played. As we already have four frontline fast bowlers, we have allowed Haris Rauf and Shahnawaz Dahani to return to Pakistan after the T20Is so that they can play in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and prepare for Australia Tests. An in-form left-handed Imam-Ul-Haq has replaced Imran Butt, who managed to score at 17.8 in 10 Test innings, but he has a chance to continue to play and perform in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy so that he can force his way back in the side.”

“Bangladesh are strong side in their backyard but we have the resources, talent and experience to perform strongly and then carry that momentum into the Australia Tests, which will be part of the ICC World Test Championship,” he added.

Pakistan Test squad: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan, Abdullah Shafique, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali, Bilal Asif, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Fawad Alam, Imam-Ul-Haq, Kamran Ghulam, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Zahid Mahmood. (ANI)

Author Mannu Bhandari passes away

New Delhi [India]: Renowned Hindi author Mannu Bhandari passed away at Narayana hospital in Gurugram, Haryana on Monday.

She had been keeping unwell. Her last rites will be performed in Delhi tomorrow, confirmed her daughter Rachna Yadav via an official communication today.
Aapka Bunty, Mahabhoj, and Yahi Sach Hai are some of her works in Hindi. (ANI)

Nitish Kumar says, crime rate in Bihar has come down after liquor ban

Patna (Bihar) [India]: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said the crime rate in Bihar has come down after the liquor ban and he stands against liquor.

Speaking to media persons here, Kumar said, “Some people have turned against me because I ordered a liquor ban and I am serious about it. Those who are against it, feel bad. It is a different matter. They might have their own opinion. But we listened to the people – both men and women. I stand against liquor.”
“The crime figures have not increased. If something happens, action is taken. Administration and Police are active and action is being taken wherever something is happening,” he said.

“At some places, other incidents have occurred, an incident of Naxals have been reported from one location. It is being probed. It is a different matter but the incidents of general crime have come down. I did also like to add that the crime rate has come down after the liquor ban,” the Bihar CM added.

Earlier this month, 32 people died in the state after consuming spurious liquor in Muzaffarpur.

Nitish Kumar has called a high-level meeting over the liquor ban on November 16.

Defence, Home, RAW secretaries and IB Director can now get two-year extension

New Delhi [India]: The Central government on Monday issued the Gazette notification with respect to extending the tenure of Defence Secretary, Home Secretary, Director of Intelligence Bureau (IB), Secretary of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) for the period of two years.

The notification reads that the Central Government may, “if it considers necessary in the public interest so to do, give extension in service to the Defence Secretary, Home Secretary, Director of Intelligence Bureau, Secretary of Research and Analysis Wing and Director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) appointed under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (25 of 1946) and Director of Enforcement in the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) appointed under the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003 (45 of 2003) in the Central Government for such period or periods as it may deem proper on a case-to-case basis for reasons to be recorded in writing, subject to the condition that the total term of such Secretaries or Directors, as the case may be, who are given such extension in service under this rule, does not exceed two years or the period provided in the respective Act or rules made thereunder, under which their appointments are made.”
In 2005, the Union Cabinet had cleared a fixed tenure of two years for Defence Secretary, Home Secretary and Chiefs of Intelligence Bureau and RAW.

On Sunday, President Ram Nath Kovind had promulgated two ordinances allowing the Centre to extend the tenures of the directors of the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate from two years to up to five years. (ANI)

Babar named skipper as Indian players miss cut in ICC Most Valuable Team of T20 WC

Dubai [UAE]: No Indian cricketer featured in the ICC men’s T20 World Cup Most Valuable Team of the Tournament as players from six teams were named on Monday following the conclusion of the showpiece event.

Stars from champions Australia, runners-up New Zealand, semi-finalists England and Pakistan as well as Sri Lanka and South Africa feature in the star-studded line-up.
Opening batter David Warner, leg-spinner Adam Zampa and seamer Josh Hazlewood all made the cut for Australia after helping steer their side to their first-ever ICC Men’s T20 World Cup title.

There are also spots for England ace Jos Buttler as wicket-keeper, Pakistan’s Babar Azam as captain, New Zealand left-armer Trent Boult and Sri Lanka star Wanindu Hasaranga — the tournament’s leading wicket-taker — in the line-up.

According to ICC, the side was pulled together by a selection panel featuring commentators, former international players and journalists.

“As with any team selection, there will be varying opinions and robust discussion on the final composition of the squad. The panel respects that, and we encourage the strong debate that will ensue,” said Ian Bishop, who was one of the members of the selection panel.

“This team was incredibly difficult to select over such a highly competitive tournament. Selections were based predominantly on the Super 12 onward to the final,” he added.

The team of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 (in batting order) is:

  1. David Warner (Australia) – 289 runs at 48.16
  2. Jos Buttler (wk) (England) – 269 runs at 89.66, five dismissals
  3. Babar Azam (Captain, Pakistan) – 303 runs at 60.60
  4. Charith Asalanka (Sri Lanka) – 231 runs at 46.20
  5. Aiden Markram (South Africa) – 162 runs at 54.00
  6. Moeen Ali (England) – 92 runs at strike rate of 131.42, seven wickets at 11
  7. Wanindu Hasaranga (Sri Lanka) – 16 wickets at 9.75
  8. Adam Zampa (Australia) – 13 wickets at 12.07
  9. Josh Hazlewood (Australia) – 11 wickets at 15.90
  10. Trent Boult (New Zealand) – 13 wickets at 13.30
  11. Anrich Nortje (South Africa) – nine wickets at 11.55
  12. Shaheen Afridi – seven wickets at 24.14 Warner, who was named as the Player of The T20 World Cup, came into the tournament in uncharacteristically patchy form but laid those demons to rest in style with a power-packed set of performances. The left-handed Australian opener racked up a tally of 289 runs — the second most of the tournament — at a healthy average of 48.16 to help propel his team to victory in Sunday’s Dubai final. Warner struck 65 against Sri Lanka in the Super 12 stages, before a breath-taking 89 not out against the West Indies and then 49 against Pakistan in the semi-finals placed his team on the cusp of global glory. And his 53 in the final provided the perfect support act for Mitchell Marsh — 77 not out — as Australia chased down a total of 173 to clinch their maiden ICC Men’s T20 World Cup crown. (ANI)

Reconstruction of 50,000 India-funded houses in Gorkha, Nuwakot districts

Kathmandu [Nepal]: Embassy of India in Kathmandu on Monday organised a closing ceremony and Lessons Learnt workshop to mark the successful completion of the Government of India- funded reconstruction of 50,000 houses in Gorkha and Nuwakot districts of Nepal.

In a statement, the Embassy said that the event was held in association with National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), United Nations Development Programme and United Nations Office for Project Services.
During the event, Namgya C Khampa, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India Kathmandu has announced that reconstruction of 50,000 private houses as committed by Indian Government has been completed with Owner Driven Reconstruction Approach adopted by the Government of Nepal.

According to the statement, UNDP and UNOPS were engaged by the Government of India in March 2018 to provide socio-technical facilitation and consultation (STFC) services to earthquake affected beneficiaries in 4 Urban Municipalities and 14 rural municipalities of Gorkha and Nuwakot districts. The Indian Government committed USD 150 million as post-earthquake assistance package on the housing sector to provide financial and technical support for reconstruction of 50,000 beneficiaries, including USD 100 million grant and USD 50 million under our Fourth Line of Credit.

A workshop on the lessons aimed at bringing together the project’s major stakeholders to acknowledge the pivotal role played by local government and agencies of NRA in the effectiveness and successful completion of the private housing reconstruction project.

Furthermore, the workshop also elaborated the best practices, shared key learning, and collectively discussed the effectiveness of project to local government as guidance and for future reference.

Government of India is also working with NRA for the construction of 71 education sector projects, 132 health buildings and restoration/retrofitting of 28 cultural heritage sites in total 11 districts of Nepal affected by the earthquake of 2015.

Apart from Khampa, the event was attended by CEO NRA Sushil Gyawali, Mayor of Palungtar municipality in Gorkha, Deputy Mayor of Bidur municipality in Nuwakot as well as representatives of NDRRMA, several GoN agencies, UNDP and UNOPS, EU, USAID, World Bank, ADB, JICA, FNCDO as well as respective Nagarpalikas/ Gaunpalikas. (ANI)

Chinese envoy to US condemns Taiwanese political party for seeking ‘Taiwan independence’

Beijing [China]: Chinese Ambassador to the US Qin Gang condemned the Taiwanese political party Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for seeking “Taiwan independence” during the 2021 annual meeting of Alliance for China’s Peaceful Reunification (ACPR) in San Francisco, Chinese state media reported on Sunday.

In the speech, Qin’s also blamed the US saying it has been “manipulating the Taiwan question in an attempt to use it as leverage to shadow and control the Chinese mainland”, Global Times reported.
Qin’s speech came on the day when Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a phone conversation.

The talks between the two was a preparation from both sides for a virtual meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden, which is scheduled on November 16.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has expressed concerns over China’s approach to Taiwan to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, also calling for measures to ensure global energy supply, ahead of the upcoming talks between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In the statement, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a Saturday (local time) said that Blinken urged Beijing to engage in dialogue to resolve the Taiwan issue peacefully.

At times, Biden’s firm line on China over human rights abuses and other practices has complicated his administration’s climate efforts. Disputes over commitments to tackle climate change are the latest flashpoint in tensions between the US and China.

Biden, in recent days, has rebuked China, saying President Xi Jinping’s decision to skip a United Nations climate summit was a “big mistake” because it would diminish Beijing’s influence. China subsequently hit back at America over the criticism.

Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.

Taipei, on the other hand, has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, which has been repeatedly opposed by Beijing.

China has also threatened that “Taiwan’s independence” means war. On June 1, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to complete reunification with self-ruled Taiwan and vowed to smash any attempts at formal independence for the island. (ANI)

‘Will continue to back Team India..’

New Delhi [India], November 14 (ANI): Former India men’s cricket team head coach Ravi Shastri on Saturday penned a heartfelt note on social media following Men in Blue’s forgetful campaign in the T20 World Cup 2021.

Expressing his gratitude, Shastri described the journey with Team India as ‘incredible’ and said he will continue to support the team until he is able to watch the sport.
Tagging skippers Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and deputy Ajinkya Rahane in his post, Shastri added that he will cherish the memories with the team.

“Now that the penny has dropped…thank you so much for making me part of this incredible journey. Memories that I will cherish and a team that I will continue to back till the time I’m able to watch the sport #TeamIndia @imVkohli @ImRo45 @ajinkyarahane88,” Ravi Shastri tweeted.

Shastri (head coach), Bharat Arun (bowling coach), and R Sridhar’s (fielding coach) tenures ended with India crashing out of the ICC T20 World Cup in the Super 12 stage. And now Rahul Dravid will be taking over as the head coach and his first assignment would be home T20I and Test series against New Zealand.

Under Shastri, Team India played 43 Tests, out of which the side won 25 and lost 13. Not to forget, Shastri and Co also have a good showing in England on their CV. Team India lead the five-match series 2-1 and the final match of the series will be played next year.

Team India played 76 ODIs and 65 T20Is under Shastri. The Men in Blue managed to win 51 ODIs and 43 T20Is. (ANI)

Manipur: Terrorists carried out IED attack on Assam Rifles convoy, 7 dead

New Delhi [India]: In the ambush against the 46 Assam Rifles convoy in Manipur on Saturday, terrorists first carried out an improvised explosive device (IED) blast and then fired at the vehicles in it, Indian Army officials said.

46 Assam Rifles Commanding Officer Colonel Viplav Tripathi, his wife and son along with four personnel lost their lives in the attack when they were returning from their company forward base to the headquarters.

“The terrorists first carried out an IED blast to ambush the convoy of 46 Assam Rifles Commanding Officer Colonel Viplav Tripathi and then fired at the vehicles in the area. The officer was returning from his forward company base to his battalion headquarters,” Indian Army officials told ANI.

Meanwhile, Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane briefed on the Manipur terrorist attack in which a Colonel, his two family members and four jawans lost their lives today. Operations have been launched in the area where the incident took place to nab the terrorists involved in the attack.

“Close watch being kept on the Myanmar border to prevent any escape of the terrorists. Army headquarters closely monitoring the situation,” Government sources said.

Colonel Viplav Tripathi lost his life along with his wife and son who were travelling with him in the convoy. Army troops have been deployed in border areas close to the Myanmar border to keep an eye on terrorist activities across the border in their camps.

Meanwhile, the terrorist group PLA has taken responsibility of the attack on the troops. (ANI)

26 Naxalites killed in encounter with police in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli

Gadchiroli (Maharashtra) [India]: Twenty-six Naxalites were killed in an encounter with the Maharashtra Police in the Gyarapatti forest of Korchi Tehsil in Gadchiroli district, Gadchiroli Superintendent of Police Ankit Goyal said.

C-60 unit of the anti-Naxal operation of Gadchiroli Police has killed 26 Naxalites in an encounter in Gyarapatti forest of Korchi Tehsil on Saturday, police said.

“Police had received secret information that there was a camp of Naxalites in the Gyarapatti-Kodagul forest of Korchi, on the basis of this, the C-60 unit of Gadchiroli Police started the search operation in Gyarapatti-Kodagul forest from 6 am on Saturday morning,” said Gadchiroli SP Ankit Goyal told ANI.

The bodies of 26 Naxalites have been recovered, whose identification is on, he added.

Along with the 26 bodies, the police recovered a large amount of Naxal literature and weapons, the police added.

Four jawans of the C-60 unit were injured in the encounter that lasted for about eight hours.

The jawans had been airlifted to Nagpur and are undergoing treatment at Orange City Hospital in Nagpur. (ANI)

Women in sports are powerful catalysts of change: Mithali on her Khel Ratna accolade

New Delhi [India]: Indian women’s cricket stalwart Mithali Raj expressed gratitude after becoming the first Indian woman cricketer to receive the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award.

Olympic gold medallist Neeraj Chopra, wrestler Ravi Kumar, para shooter Avani Lekhara, Indian football team skipper Sunil Chhetri and cricketer Mithali Raj were among the 12 athletes who were conferred the Khel Ratna Award on Saturday.

“When I was growing up and learning to play this amazing game, representing my country was my dream. I always wanted to wear the blue jersey, which represents the absolute pride we feel for our nation. One strives for mastery but there are so many variables and infinite parameters that when success comes by, it often is a result of hours of grind every day,” said Mithali Raj in a statement on Twitter.

“This award is a validation of those hours, of all the sacrifices a player makes her entire life. I just wanted to give cricket everything I had and I think I am happy that it pushed me harder and harder to get to this momentous day. Today, I am honoured, proud and fortunate to be a part of Indian Cricket,” she added.

Mithali further said that women in sports are the ‘catalysts’ of change as it inspires others to follow their dreams.

“Women in sport are powerful catalysts of change and when they get the appreciation they deserve, it inspires change in several other women wanting to achieve their dreams. I sincerely hope that my journey inspires young girls all across the country to pursue their dreams and know that only when you dream can you make it happen,” said Mithali.

“Any recognition from the government is special and a reminder that our game, our sport, is an important constituent of our national pride and we must continue to give it our best. I owe so much to my country, my institution Indian Railways, administrators, selectors, coaches, trainers, physiotherapists, masseuses, supporters and fans for their patience and encouragement,” she added.

Lovlina Borgohain (Boxing), Sreejesh P.R (Hockey), Sumit Antil (Para-Athletics), Pramod Bhagat (Para Badminton), Manish Narwal (Para Shooting), and Manpreet Singh (Hockey) are other athletes who were conferred with the prestigious award.

Krishna Nagar (Para Badminton) was also slated to receive the Khel Ratna Award but had to miss the event after the sudden demise of his mother.

Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award is given for the spectacular and most outstanding performance in the field of sports by a sportsperson over a period of the previous four years. (ANI)

Case filed against Salman Khurshid over his book

Jaipur (Rajasthan) [India]: A police complaint was filed on Friday against Former Union Minister and Congress leader Salman Khurshid over his recent book ‘Sunrise over Ayodhya–Nationhood in our times’ at the Kotwali police station of Jaipur.

Advocate Bharat Sharma filed a complaint under Sections 153, 295 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the statements cited in Khurshid’s book, on the grounds of ‘hurting religious sentiments’.
Speaking to reporters, Advocate Sharma said, “While a newspaper, I got to know that Salman Khurshid, in his book, has compared Hindutva to radical terrorist groups like ISIS and Boko Haram.”

Condemning such a comparison, the advocate accused Khurshid of hurting religious sentiments through his book.

“This is condemnable and has hurt my religious sentiments. And that is why I have filed a complaint in Kotwali Police Station and demanded an FIR against it. A case should be filed on the grounds of hurting the religious sentiments,” he said.

Earlier on Thursday, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ram Kadam had filed a police complaint against Khurshid over his book and also against Congress leader Rashid Alvi over his comments on ‘Ram Devotees’ at the Ghatkopar Police Station of Mumbai.

Kadam demanded an FIR on his complaint and the arrest of the Congress leaders.

Yesterday, two Delhi lawyers had also filed complaints with Delhi Police against Khurshid, for allegedly defaming and comparing Hinduism with terrorism in his book.

On Wednesday, former union minister Salman Khurshid got embroiled in controversy for “defaming and comparing Hinduism with terrorism” in his recent book “Sunrise Over Ayodhya: Nationhood in Our Times”.

Khurshid’s new book on the Ayodhya verdict was released last week. It explored the Apex Court’s landmark judgment on the Ayodhya dispute. Senior Congress leader Khurshid has compared Hindutva to radical terrorist groups like “ISIS and Boko Haram”.

The development comes at a time when seven states in the country namely Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Gujarat are slated to go for assembly elections next year. (ANI)

Punjab govt to give Rs 2 lakh as compensation to 83 people held for R-day tractor rally

Chandigarh [India]: Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Friday announced to provide Rs 2 lakh as compensation to 83 people arrested by Delhi Police for carrying out a tractor rally in the national capital on January 26.

“Reiterating my government’s stand to support the ongoing Farmers’ Protest against three black farm laws, we have decided to give Rs 2 lakh compensation to 83 people arrested by Delhi Police for carrying out a tractor rally in the national capital on January 26,” Channi tweeted.
On January 26, protesters broke barricades to enter New Delhi and clashed with police in several parts of the national capital during the January 26 ‘tractor rally’ protest organised by farmers.

The protestors also had entered the iconic Mughal era monument Red Fort and unfurled their flags from its ramparts.

Farmers have been protesting on the different borders of the national capital since November 26 last year against the three newly enacted farm laws: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

Farmer leaders and the Centre have held several rounds of talks but the impasse remains. (ANI)

Pak’s Lahore declared most polluted city globally after breaching AQI 700 mark

Lahore [Pakistan]: Pakistan’s Lahore has been declared the most polluted city globally after the city recorded its highest ever smog levels as the Air Quality Index (AQI) went above 700, reported a local media.

The Air Quality Index data was released on Thursday and put Lahore on the list of the most polluted cities in the world.
The AQI remained above 500 for the fourth consecutive day in various parts of the city which worsened to 700 after 12 pm on Thursday, reported Samaa TV.

Meanwhile, the issue of pollution has hit the Pakistani courts as an environmental pollution case was heard in the Lahore High Court on Friday.

The HC judge said that no measures have been taken by the authorities to bring the pollution to curb the smog, reported Samaa TV.

“Now I will visit myself to know the whole matter because our nation is well aware of everything,” the news channel quoted the judge as saying. (ANI)

No sacred cows in Pakistan: Imran Khan to SC after being summoned in 2014 Peshawar school massacre case

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that there are “no sacred cows” in Pakistan as he appeared in connection with a case pertaining to the 2014 Army Public School massacre in Peshawar.

The Pakistan Prime Minister was summoned by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed in a suo motu case pertaining to the 2014 school massacre in Peshawar where Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorists stormed the school and killed over 140 people, mostly schoolchildren on December 16, 2014, reported Geo News.
In a plea to the SC, the parents of the children demanded that the top leadership of the country be nominated in the case and a transparent probe be conducted into the incident.

At the time of the incident, Imran Khan’s party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was the ruling provincial government and seven years had passed since the tragedy took place.

Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, part of the bench reviewing the case, said it is important to satisfy the parents who had lost their children to such a barbaric act. “The parents demand that the leadership of the time be prosecuted,” he said.

In response, the prime minister acknowledged that when the massacre took place, his party was in power in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The prime minister said he had met the parents, who were paralysed with grief, in hospitals, reported Geo News.

“We took whatever remedial measures we could at the time,” said the prime minister.

At this, the chief justice told the prime minister that the parents of the victims were not seeking compensation from the government. “The parents are demanding to know where the entire security apparatus was [that day]?” he said.

“Despite our clear orders, nothing was done,” the chief justice observed.

Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed, speaking to Prime Minister Imran Khan, said: “You have brought the culprits to the negotiating table. Are we once again about to sign a surrender document?”

He was referring to a ceasefire agreement reached by the government with the banned TTP — the terrorist group behind the attack.

The Supreme Court said the government should pay heed to the demands made by the parents and take action against the culprits, reported Geo News.

Earlier today, the court had asked the attorney general for an update regarding the registration of the cases, who responded by saying that FIRs cannot be filed against the top officials.

At this, the bench angrily had told the government’s lawyer that the incident had taken place as a result of a “security lapse” which the government should accept, adding that the top civil and military leaders of the time should have known about the attack.

The chief justice then remarked that Pakistan’s agencies and institutions have access to all sorts of information, but when it comes to the security of the people “our security agencies fail”. (ANI)

PM Modi greets nation on occasion of Chhath puja

New Delhi [India]: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday extended his greetings to people on the occasion of Chhath puja.

“Many best wishes to all of you on Chhath, the festival of sun worship. May Chhath Goddess bless everyone with good health and happiness,” read PM Modi’s tweet roughly translated from Hindi.
Earlier in the day, President Ram Nath Kovind also greeted the nation on the occasion of Chhath Puja and wished the festival would strengthen people’s efforts to protect the environment.

“Greetings to all the countrymen on the auspicious occasion of Chhath Puja. This festival is an occasion to acknowledge our dependence on nature, especially the sun and water. I wish that along with making our cultural heritage strong, this festival should also strengthen our efforts to protect the environment,” tweeted Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Chhath Puja is celebrated widely across north India, especially in Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh. This year the festival starts with Nahay Khay on November 8, 2021, and concludes with Usha Arghya on November 11, 2021.

From worshipping the sun to making satwik food including kheer with gud, thekua and arwa chawal, and hopping from one stall to another in melas, people celebrate Chhath puja in their own special ways. (ANI)

Schools, colleges to remain closed on Nov 10-11 due rains in Puducherry, Karaikal

Puducherry [India]: Due to continuous rainfall in and around the Union Territory, Puducherry Education Minister A Namassivayam on Tuesday said all schools and colleges in the UT and Karaikal will remain closed on November 10 and 11.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall with isolated “extremely heavy falls” over Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Karaikal from November 09-11 and over south Coastal Andhra Pradesh on November 11.
The fishermen have also been advised not to venture into the Southwest and adjoining West-central Bay of Bengal and along and off south Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu coasts and Gulf of Mannar during the next 4 days and over Southeast Arabian sea along and off Kerala coast during the next 24 hours.

“The Well Marked Low-Pressure Area (Remnant of the Depression) over central parts of Arabian Sea with the associated cyclonic circulation extending upto 5.8 km above mean sea level persists. It is likely to move west-southwestwards during next 3 days,” IMD said. (ANI)

Kolkata’s Mitrabha Guha becomes India’s 72nd Grandmaster

Novi Sad [Serbia]: Kolkata based International Master Mitrabha Guha has become the 72nd Grandmaster of India after completing the requirement by securing his third and final GM norm at GM Third Saturday Mix 220 – Novi Sad, Serbia.

The 20-year-old who scored his second GM-norm at the Sheikh Russel GM tournament in Bangladesh, a fortnight ago had already crossed the 2500 barrier in the second round of the tournament.
To achieve the GM title, a player has to secure three GM norms and cross the live rating of 2,500 Elo points.

All India Chess Federation (AICF) congratulated Mitrabha for the remarkable achievement after he defeated GM Nikola Sedlak of Serbia in the ninth round.

“Kolkata based International Master Mitrabha Guha becomes the 72nd Grandmaster of the country after completing the requirement by securing his third and final GM norm at GM Third Saturday Mix 220 – Novi Sad, Serbia. All India Chess Federation congratulate Mitrabha for the achievement,” AICF wrote on their website.

On Sunday, Nagpur-based teenager Sankalp Gupta became the 71st Grandmaster of India after completing the third and final norm at the GM Ask 3 round-robin event in Arandjelovac. (ANI)

Chinese village in Arunachal constructed over years on land occupied by PLA in 1959: Sources on Pentagon report

New Delhi [India]: The “large 100-home civilian village” mentioned in a Pentagon report was built over the years in the area in Arunanchal Pradesh that was occupied by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) after overrunning an Assam Rifles post in 1959, clarified sources in the Indian security establishment.

The US Department of Defense in its annual report to Congress said that China has built a large 100-home civilian village inside disputed territory between the Tibet Autonomous Region and India’s Arunachal Pradesh in 2020.
The sources said that the village is along the disputed border in Upper Subansiri District in Arunanchal Pradesh which is in territory controlled by China.

“The village has been built by China in an area that was occupied by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) after overrunning an Assam Rifles post in 1959, in an operation known as Longju incident along the frontier in Arunachal Pradesh,” the sources clarified.

“For years, they have maintained an Army post in the region and various constructions undertaken by Chinese haven’t happened in a short time,” the sources said.

The US Department of Defense report blamed China for the series of confrontations along the border that culminated into the violent clash in June 2020 in Ladakh’s Galway Valley, which was one of the worst crashes seen in 45 years.

“In 2020, China built a large 100-home civilian village inside disputed territory between the Chinese Tibet Autonomous Region and India’s Arunachal Pradesh state in the eastern sector of the LAC. These and other infrastructure development efforts along India-China have been a source of consternation in the Indian government,” the Pentagon said. (ANI)

Rohit Sharma reaches 3000

Dubai [UAE]: Indian batter Rohit Sharma on Monday completed 3000 T20I runs and became the third cricketer in the world to achieve this feat.

Rohit reached the 3000 run mark in the ongoing match against Namibia in ICC men’s T20 World Cup here at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Monday.
Indian skipper Virat Kohli is at the top of the tally with 3227 runs, which is followed by New Zealand’s Martin Guptill and India’s Rohit Sharma with 3115 and 3008 runs respectively.

India restricted Namibia to 132/8 in the Group 2 match. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were picks of the bowlers as they scalped three wickets each for India.

For Namibia, David Wiese and Stephan Baard played knocks of 26 and 21 runs respectively and no batter from their side crossed the 30-run mark. (ANI)

Trump slams Biden over ‘most embarrassing’ Afghanistan withdrawal

Washington [US]: Former US President Donald Trump slammed President Joe Biden’s administration for its withdrawal from Afghanistan and termed it the “most embarrassing and horrible thing”, reported TOLOnews.

“What they did with the so-called withdrawal, which was really a surrender, what they did, it was the most embarrassing, horrible thing, and I don’t know that if we will ever psychologically recover from that,” TOLOnews quoted Trump as saying citing his interview with Fox News.
The former President claimed that he would never have withdrawn from the war-torn country the way the Biden administration did, as per the news channel.

Notably, it was under the administration of Donald Trump that the deal with the Taliban was signed about the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan, following which the number of US troops in the country was decreased.

Trump asserted that he would have withdrawn too but with strength.

“Don’t forget, I’m the one that brought it down to 2,500 troops. I would have been out too, but we would have been out with strength. We would have come out with strength,” TOLOnews quoted Trump as saying in the interview.

The Republican Party leader came down heavily on President Biden over leaving Bagram Air Base in the north of Kabul and said that it was a strategic airbase near China. According to him, China will take over the base, as per the news channel.

“We would have kept Bagram because it is next to China. And it is one hour away from their nuclear facility, and we gave that up too,” TOLOnews quoted Trump as saying.

Trump blasted Biden over leaving the US equipment and the American citizens in the war-torn country and said that Biden should not have withdrawn military personnel before evacuating all of these out of the land, reported the news channel. (ANI)

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