Thu, 27 August 2020
10 test positive at Gehlot's residence, CMO

Timeline  Refresh

23:43   10 test positive at Gehlot's residence, CMO
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot cancelled his meetings with visitors after 10 people at his office and residence tested COVID-19 positive on Thursday.

Nine staffers, including clerks, of the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) and one member of the staff at Chief Minister's Residence (CMR) tested positive for the disease, sources said.

In total 10 people at the CMO and CMR have tested positive, and the chief minister has cancelled his meetings with visitors as a precautionary measure, a statement said.

"Those who wish to meet the chief ministers have to come in contact with security staff and other personnel at the CMO and residence and in view of the safety for the visitors, the chief minister has cancelled all meetings with visitors," it said.

Meanwhile, the cabinet meeting which was scheduled on Thursday at the Chief Minister's Residence was also cancelled.

While no reason was officially disclosed, sources indicated that the meeting was cancelled in view of the positive cases at the CMO and at the CMR.  -- PTI
22:54   Jairam to be chief whip in RS; Cong forms 10-member panel
UPDATE: Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has been appointed party's chief whip in Rajya Sabha, sources said.

The party has formed a group of 10 MPs (five each from Lok Sabha  and Rajya Sabha) to deal with issues relating to Parliament.

It includes party's leader and deputy leader in Rajya Sabha, chief whips in both Houses and two whips in Lok Sabha.

Senior party leaders Ahmed Patel and K C Venugopal are the other two members of the group, sources said.   -- ANI/PTI
22:11   Cong appoints Gaurav Gogoi as dy leader in LS
Congress president Sonia Gandhi appointed Gaurav Gogoi as the party's deputy leader in the Lok Sabha and Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu as its whip in the Lower House of Parliament on Thursday.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the leader of the opposition party in the Lok Sabha, and K Suresh, its chief whip in the Lower House, confirmed the development.

The appointments came ahead of the Monsoon Session of Parliament, which is likely to commence from September 14.

It is seen as a move by the Congress to strengthen its team of floor leaders in the Lower House, party leaders said.

The opposition party did not have a deputy leader in the Lok Sabha till now.

A three-time MP from Punjab, Bittu has been entrusted with the responsibility of the Congress whip in the Lok Sabha.

Another MP from Kerala, Manickam Tagore, is the other whip of the party in the Lower House.

Gogoi hails from Assam, where Assembly polls are due early next year.

The MP from the Kaliabor Lok Sabha constituency was the party's whip in the House till now and has been elevated.

Gogoi is the son of former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi.

He was blessed with a daughter earlier this week.

During the previous Lok Sabha, Amarinder Singh was the deputy leader of the Congress, before he became the chief minister of Punjab.  -- PTI
21:27   Rhea has never used drugs, claims lawyer
Rhea Chakraborty is being hounded and subjected to a witch-hunt even as no incriminating evidence has been found against her in the Sushant Singh Rajput suicide case, her lawyer Satish Maneshinde claimed on Thursday.

Chakraborty is facing a Central Bureau of Investigation probe in a case of abetment of suicide lodged by Rajput's father.

She is also facing money laundering probe by the Enforcement Directorate and another probe by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

Reacting to allegations that Chakraborty (28) took drugs or had given banned substances to her boyfriend Rajput, advocate Maneshinde said, "Rhea has never consumed drugs in her life, and she is ready to undergo a blood test.

"She is being hounded and a witch-hunt is being carried out," he said.

"Earlier the Mumbai police was probing the case, then the Bihar police came into the picture followed by the Enforcement Directorate, CBI and now the Narcotics Control Bureau," Maneshinde said.

"Now only the NIA (National Investigation Agency), Income Tax and Intelligence Bureau (IB) are left out," he said in a sarcastic vein.

Chakraborty has already appeared before the Mumbai police and the ED, and if she is summoned by the CBI and NCB she will cooperate, the lawyer said.

"She has nothing to hide and to date no agency has found anything incriminating against her. Even in terrorism cases such scrutiny does not happen," Maneshinde said.

Rajput, 34, was found hanging in the bedroom of his flat in suburban Bandra on June 14.

On July 25, the Bihar police lodged first information report against Rhea, her parents and others, accusing them of abetting the actor's suicide, on the basis of a complaint lodged by Rajput's father K K Singh.

Singh had also alleged that the accused siphoned off Rs 15 crore from Rajput's bank accounts, following which the ED registered a complaint on money laundering charges.

The NCB too registered a case after the ED claimed that its probe revealed that Chakraborty and others were dealing in drugs.  -- PTI
21:23   Phase 6 of Vande Bharat Mission from Sept 1: MEA
The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said the phase 6 of the Vande Bharat Mission to repatriate Indians stranded abroad due to COVID-19 pandemic will begin on September 1.

Speaking on the Vande Bharat Mission's Phase 5, Anurag Srivastava, MEA Spokesperson, said the phase will culminate on August 31.

"Phase 6 of Vande Bharat Mission scheduled to begin on September 1, based on an assessment of demand by our missions abroad, flights are being rescheduled by Air India group and private carriers," Srivastava said at the weekly virtual briefing.

He further said, "During the Phase 5 of Vande Bharat Mission, which will end on August 31, 900 international flights have been operated from around 22 countries reaching 23 airports across India.

"More than 12 lakh stranded Indians have been repatriated by different modes under mission till August 26."

"The bubble arrangements will continue as per schedule in the next phase," he added.

India has so far established air bubbles arrangements with the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and the Maldives.

The negotiations are underway with Australia, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Bahrain, Israel, Kenya, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. -- ANI
20:41   Will maintain social distancing in Parl: Birla
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Thursday said a smooth transaction of the business of Parliament during the Monsoon Session in view of COVID-19 is his priority and all guidelines pertaining to social distancing will be adhered to during the session.

In a series of tweets from the Lok Sabha speaker's Twitter handle, Birla said he chaired a meeting on Thursday to review the preparations for the upcoming session and directed all the agencies concerned to work diligently for sanitisation and other arrangements.

He also shared a video of the meeting with officials from the secretariats of both houses -- Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

'Necessary protocols are being prepared for Members and their staff. Guidelines are also being formulated for the Parliament officials.

'All guidelines pertaining to Social Distancing will be adhered to during Session,' the speaker said in one of the tweets.

The Lok Sabha Secretariat, the nodal agency for the Parliament complex, has been making necessary preparations and modifications in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha chambers to ensure social distancing.

Sources said Birla also told the officials to make adequate arrangements for sitting the parliamentarians while maintaining social distancing, sound systems, interpretation services, waiting facilities for the staff of the MPs.

Lok Sabha Secretary General Snehlata Srivastava and Rajya Sabha Secretary General Desh Deepak Verma briefed Birla about the ongoing preparations.

The session is likely to start from September 14 and conclude on October 1.  -- PTI
20:13   Top Pakistani Taliban Leader killed
A top commander of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was shot dead on Thursday by security forces in northwest Pakistan.

Abu Bakr alias Hamza associated with Asmat Shaheen Bhittani group of the TTP was killed in an exchange of firing in restive Waziristan tribal district of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The forces seized ammunition and weapons from the possession of the slain TTP commander.

Hamza is the younger brother of TTP commander Maulvi Daud Bhittani and had carried out several terrorist attacks.   -- PTI
19:52   LIVE! China fires 'aircraft carrier killer' missile amid US reconnaissance
For the first time, China has fired its 'aircraft-carrier killer' missile into the South China Sea as part of the naval drills being carried out by the military in the disputed region amid aerial reconnaissance by United States spy planes.

China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. Beijing has also made substantial progress in militarising its man-made islands in the past few years, which it says it has the right to defend.

Beijing claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. But Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims. In the East China Sea, China has territorial disputes with Japan. The South China Sea and the East China Sea are stated to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources. They are also vital to global trade.

China launched two missiles, including an "aircraft-carrier killer", into the South China Sea (SCS) on Wednesday morning, a day after US U-2 spy plane entered a no-fly zone during a Chinese live-fire naval drill in the Bohai Sea off its north coast, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Thursday.

One of the missiles, a DF-26B, was launched from the north-western province of Qinghai, while the other, a DF-21D, (aircraft-carrier killer missile) lifted off from Zhejiang province in the east.

Both were fired into an area between Hainan province and the Paracel Islands, the Post quoted Chinese military sources as saying.

Paracel Islands fall in the disputed part of the South China Sea.

The DF-26 dual-capable missile is a type of weapon banned by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by the US and Soviet Union towards the end of the Cold War.

When the US withdrew from the treaty last year, it cited China's deployment of such weapons as justification, the report said.

The DF-26 has a range of 4,000 kilometres and can be used in nuclear or conventional strikes against ground and naval targets.

The DF-21 has a range of around 1,800 kilometres, with the state media describing it the most advanced in the series, and the DF-21D, as the world's first anti-ship ballistic missile.

The missile launch was aimed at improving China's ability to deny other forces access to the South China Sea, the report quoted sources as saying.

"This is China's response to the potential risks brought by the increasingly frequent incoming US warplanes and military vessels in the South China Sea. China doesn't want the neighbouring countries to misunderstand Beijing's goals," the report said.

Asked for his comment on the missile launches at an online media briefing, Chinese Defence spokesman Sr. Col Wu Qian said China will not dance to the US tune or tolerate its reckless provocations.

Wu slammed the recent US provocations in the South China Sea, stressing China is not afraid of such actions, state-run CGTN TV reported.

Besides sending the spy planes to the area of People's Liberation Army (PLA) drills, the US added 24 Chinese companies to the Entity List on Wednesday for their role in China's construction works in the South China Sea. China refuted the US accusations, terming the sanctions unjust.

Wu said the Chinese armed forces will take forceful measures to protect the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country and safeguard world and regional peace.

"We advise some US politicians to recognise the realities, remain rational and stop provocation, so as to push the bilateral military relations back to the right track," Wu said.

China lodged a diplomatic protest with the US on Wednesday objecting a second spy plane, specialising in gathering data on missile launches "intruded" into its "no-fly zone", snooping over the ongoing military exercises by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in the disputed South China Sea.

The US is increasing the frequency of its close-up reconnaissance of the PLA drills in order to pry about its capabilities, which is provocative, brings the risk of accidents, and could lead to escalation, Chinese experts told the state-run Global Times.

The US, which is piling up pressure on China on trade and diplomatic fronts during the past few months, also stepped up air and naval patrols in the South China Sea where USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Groups conducted a dual-carrier operation in the area last month in a show of strength.

Song Zhongping, a Hong Kong-based military commentator, said the missile launches were clearly meant to send a signal to the US.

"The US continues to test China's bottom line in Taiwan and South China Sea issues, and this pushed China to showcase its military strength to let Washington know that even US aircraft carriers cannot flex their full muscle near China's coast," Song told the Post.   -- K J M Varma/PTI
18:50   Punjab House meets tomorrow under Covid shadow
The Punjab Assembly will meet on Friday for a truncated, one-day session with strict protocols in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 23 legislators including three ministers have tested positive for coronavirus, though a few of them have recovered.

Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana K P Singh has made coronavirus negative test report mandatory for ministers, MLAs, officers and employees to attend the 12th session of the 15th Vidhan Sabha.

It is a constitutional requirement to hold a session within six months of the previous Assembly session. In order to ensure social distancing in the House, one member per bench will be allowed to sit, an official of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha said.

Against two members per bench earlier, this time only one member will occupy the bench in order to maintain social distancing norms, the official said.

Some additional benches have also been kept in the House to accommodate all the members, the official said.

In the 117-member House, there are a total 105 benches.

However, with many MLAs getting infected, the requirement for additional benches may not arise.

Visitors and journalists will not be allowed inside the Assembly, the official said.

Social distancing norms will also be followed for the bureaucrats concerned in the officers' gallery.

A kit comprising masks, gloves and hand sanitiser will be provided to each member of the House, the official said.

The Speaker has notified the Punjab Bhawan as an extended precinct of the House for media coverage of the session.

Live streaming of the session would be provided in the hall of the Punjab Bhawan, though no camera or mobile phone will be allowed, the official said.

Legislators can hold press conferences in the open area of the Punjab Bhawan.

A COVID-19 test has also been made mandatory for journalists who will cover the session.

Meanwhile, several bills and ordinances are likely to be presented during the one-day Vidhan Sabha session for enactment.

These are related to regulation of private clinical establishments, temporary release of some prisoners amid the pandemic, control of drugs dispensation by private de-addiction centres, industrial disputes and child labour.

The 'Sri Guru Teg Bahadur State University of Law Bill 2020' for the establishment of a law university in Tarn Taran to commemorate the 400th birth anniversary of Guru Teg Bahadur is also likely to be tabled in the House.

Meanwhile, the opposition has slammed the state government for the truncated session, accusing it of running away from discussing the important issues of the state.   -- PTI
18:11   Director Mahesh Manjrekar receives Rs 35-crore extortion call
Bollywood director-actor Mahesh Manjrekar received an extortion call from a person claiming to be a member of underworld don Abu Salem's gang, the Mumbai police said.

However, the anti-extortion cell has arrested the accused who was trying to extort Rs 35 crore from the filmmaker.

The national award-winning filmmaker is known for directing critically acclaimed movies including Viruddh, Vaastav: The Reality, Astitva, and more.

-- ANI
18:00   Entire CWC should be elected: Azad
Ghulam Nabi Azad, senior Congress leader, on the party's internal functioning: "Anyone who has a genuine interest in the internal working dynamics of Congress would welcome our proposal to have every state and district president as being elected. The entire Congress Working Committee should be elected. The intention is to make Congress active and strong. But those who simply got 'appointment cards' continue to oppose our proposal. What's the harm in having elected CWC members who will have stable tenures in the party."

Azad was one of the 23 Congress leaders who wrote to party chief Sonia Gandhi seeking an overhaul in the organisation among other things, on Monday said he was ready to step down if he was in any manner helping the Bharatiya Janata Party or working at its behest.

17:33   India to allow 74% FDI in defence: PM
PM Narendra Modi addresses the 'Atmanirbhar Bharat Defence Industry Outreach Webinar' through a video conference. Highlights:

"We aim to increase defence manufacturing in India. For many years, India has been one of the biggest defence importers. 

"When India got independence, it had great capability in defence manufacturing and an ecosystem of defence manufacturing established over 100 years. Unfortunately, this subject couldn't get requisite attention.  

"A decision has been taken to permit up to 74 per cent FDI in the defence manufacturing through automatic route. We aim to increase defence manufacturing in India."
17:12   GST collection severely hit by Covid: FM
The 41st meeting of GST Council chaired by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is being held. Highlights from the meeting.

Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Finance Secretary, says, "Collection has been severely impacted this year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As per GST Compensation Law, states need to be given compensation.

"Central govt released more than Rs 1.65 lakh crore as GST compensation to states for FY 2019-20, including Rs 13,806 crore for March. Total amount of compensation released for 2019-20 is Rs 1.65 lakh crore, whereas cess amount collected was Rs 95,444 crore."

The Finance Secretary said that the  Attorney-General said that GST Compensation has to be paid for a transition period -- from July 2017 to June 2022. Revenue has to be protected and compensation gap to be met from cess fund, which in turn has to be funded from levy of cess.

As mentioned by Finance Minister in GST Council meeting held in March, legal views of the matter were sought from the Attorney General of India who said that GST compensation has to be paid for transition period from July 2017 to June 2022: Compensation gap which has arisen this year (expected to be Rs 2.35 lakh crores), is due to Covid-19 as well. 

The shortfall in compensation due to the implementation of GST has been estimated to be Rs 97,000 crores. 

Finance Minister Nirmala Sithaaraman said that states have asked the Centre to give them 7 working days to think about the options. These options would be available only during the current year, the situation would be reviewed next year.

"We may have another GST meet soon.  AG's clear opinion was that compensation gap cannot be met from India's consolidated fund. 

Option 1 presented to GST Council was to provide a special window to states, in consultation with RBI to provide Rs 97,000 crores at a reasonable interest rate. 

Option 2 presented to GST Council was that the entire GST compensation gap of Rs 2,35,000 crore of this year can be met by states, in consultation with RBI. These options will be sent to states for a view within 7 Days & will apply for this fiscal year only.

Once the arrangement is agreed upon by GST Council, we can proceed fast and clear these dues and also take care of the rest of the financial year. These options will be available only for this year; in April 2021, the Council will review &decide action for 5th year.

During April-July 2020, total GST compensation to be paid is Rs 1.5 lakh crores, this is so because there was hardly any GST Collection in April and May. 

Annual GST compensation requirement is estimated to be around Rs 3 lakh crores, and cess collection is expected to be around Rs 65,000 crores, leaving us with an annual compensation gap of Rs 2.35 lakh crores.
Photograph: Marzio Torniolo/Reuters
Photograph: Marzio Torniolo/Reuters
16:54   How the lockdown affects the elders
'These five months of thrown-together meals, lack of sufficient nutrition, poor diet and basic drudgery have taken a very heavy toll on our already fragile' elder generation, and 'the lockdown, the isolation, the anxiety and the challenge in procuring basic essentials have taken a huge toll on their physical and psychological wellbeing.' 

'We really need to shut up about how tough the last few months have been for us and imagine how these days have been for our parents, our in-laws, our older relations, friends and neighbours. Just because they are a generation who don't complain doesn't mean they aren't hurting. If there is ever a time to reach out and give a little of yourself, it's now. Do it today. A video call, a socially distanced visit, a special treat, a little help with technology,' writes Arti Dwarkadas in her blog, here.
16:48   Centre increases NEET/JEE exam centres
Update on NEET/JEE exams: Ramesh Pokhriyal, Union Education Minister says the JEE exam centres have been increased to 660 from 570 while there are now 3,842 NEET centres, up from 2,546 for the convenience of students. Students have also been allotted exam centres of their choice. 

Over 14 lakh admit cards for the medical and engineering entrance exams -- National Eligibility cum Entrance Test and Joint Entrance Examination -- were downloaded after the National Testing Agency (NTA) released them on Wednesday, even as the issue was discussed extensively during a meeting of chief ministers of non-Bharatiya Janata Party ruled states who decided to jointly move the Supreme Court to seek deferment of these exams.
16:32   China will realise their mistake with India: Varun
India is the only country that has been able to stare down China with the might of its border troops and the Chinese will be forced to realise the strategic mistake they are making by provoking a powerful neighbour, BJP leader Varun Gandhi said on Thursday. 

In an interview with PTI, the saffron party MP from Pilibhit (Uttar Pradesh) also said it was "a dream come true" for him as a devotee of Lord Hanuman that the Ram Temple was being built in Ayodhya after years of struggle. Relating August 5, the day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of the temple, with the country's Independence Day, Gandhi said, "India once had a tryst with destiny in August 1947. It has woken up anew, reconnecting with its civilisational ethos."

He said a successful resolution of the Ayodhya dispute is a hallmark of India's system of governance, democracy and judiciary, while it also depicts a remarkable amity among people of different creeds and faiths in our country. 

"As a bhakt of Hanumanji, the establishment of the foundation stone of the Ram Janambhoomi temple is a dream come true for me," the 40-year-old leader said. "Lord Ram is not just for Hindus, he is a remarkable emblem of the Indic civilisation," he added. 

On the recent stand-off between India and China at LAC, Gandhi said China has been notably aggressive across most of its border areas in the recent past, with tension observed in South China Sea, Senkaku Islands, Taiwan and in Tibet, but "India remains the only country that has been able to stare down the Chinese, using its border troops." 

He further said many policy commentators voice apprehensions about China's armed might, but it is often forgotten that India possesses the world's largest and most experienced mountain fighting troops. 

Describing death of India's troops in Galwan Valley as a "seminal moment" in Indo-China relations, the BJP leader said he is confident that India's armed forces, under Prime Minister Modi leadership, will hold forth and force the Chinese to realise the strategic mistake they are making in provoking India. -- PTI
16:20   Markets rise for 5th day, end modestly higher amid F&O expiry
Equity benchmarks Sensex and Nifty pared most of their intra-day gains to end marginally higher on Thursday as monthly derivative contracts expired amid weak global cues. After touching a high of 39,326.98 during the session, the BSE Sensex succumbed to selling pressure in the last hour of trade. It finally finished at 39,113.47, up 39.55 points or 0.10 per cent. 

The NSE Nifty inched up 9.65 points or 0.08 per cent to close at 11,559.25. IndusInd Bank was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, rallying over 6 per cent, followed by M&M, SBI, HDFC, Axis Bank, Sun Pharma and Maruti.
Rhea Chakraborty
Rhea Chakraborty
15:59   Cops pick up Rhea's father for ED questioning
A team of Mumbai police reached the residence of actress Rhea Chakraborty, who is accused of abetting actor Sushant Singh Rajput's suicide, in Santacruz on Thursday and took her father along for a questioning by the Enforcement Directorate, an official said. 

The police team reached Chakrabortys house as per the request made by the ED, the official said. "The ED requested the Mumbai police to reach their house and escort Rhea's father Indrajit out as it wants to question him," the police official said. 

"Accordingly, some police personnel reached their residence in the afternoon and took her father along for a questioning by the central agency," he added. However, he did not specify whether her father was taken to the ED office in south Mumbai or some other location. -- PTI
15:50   Manjhi meets Nitish amid speculations of return to NDA
Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) president Jitan Ram Manjhi on Thursday met Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar amid speculations of his talks over seat sharing before joining the ruling NDA. Manjhi paid a visit to Kumar, who is also national president of the JD(U), at his official residence 1, Aney Marg here. 

The HAM chief, however, denied having any political deliberations with Kumar and asserted that the talks were centred around local issues and problems. Notably, Manjhi had on August 20 severed his ties with Grand Alliance (Mahagathbandhan) after spending two and a half years in the opposition coalition. 

"No political talks took place (with Kumar), rather it (talks) was centred around some local issues, Manjhi told reporters emerging out of the CM residence. The HAM chief is the lone member of his party in the Legislative Assembly currently. I will talk to you (media persons) on August 30," Manjhi gave a terse reply when reporters wanted to know from him whether he has been offered 10 seats to contest as a constituent of NDA, which currently comprised of three parties -- BJP, JD(U) and LJP. 
15:21   Will resume services when Centre gives go-ahead: Kolkata Metro
The Metro Railway in Kolkata said on Thursday that it will restart services on receiving the go- ahead from the Union Home Ministry and the Railway Ministry. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Wednesday that the Metro Railway authorities can resume services, maintaining all Covid-related safety protocols.

"We will start the process of resuming services once we receive directives from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Railway Ministry," Metro Railway spokesperson Indrani Banerjee said. After receiving the go-ahead, the Metro authorities will discuss the modalities of running the services in the city with the West Bengal government, she told PTI.

The chief minister announced a series of relaxations on Wednesday. Regarding the resumption of Metro and local train services, she said that the Railway authorities should speak to state officials to work out the modalities. Metro Railway, which forms an integral part of the city's public transportation system, stopped services as the nationwide lockdown began in March to control the spread of the coronavirus. PTI
15:11   No Muharram processions to be allowed: SC
The Supreme Court Thursday declined permission for carrying out Muharram procession across the country and asked Lucknow-based petitioner to move before the Allahabad High Court with his plea. The apex court said how can it pass a general order for the whole country.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said it would lead to chaos and targeting of a particular community.  "You are asking for a general order and then if we allow this there will be chaos. Particular community will be targetted for spreading Covid. We don't want that. We as a court cannot risk the health of all the people," the bench, which heard the matter through video conferencing, said. The bench allowed the petitioner to withdraw the petition with the liberty to approach the high court with limited prayer of holding procession in Lucknow. The apex court was hearing a PIL was filed by Shia leader Syed Kalbe Jawad. PTI
14:55   Carbon emissions for 2020 to come down by 8% pc due to lockdown
Due to the COVID-19 lockdown across India this year's carbon emissions are predicted to fall by around eight per cent, a senior official of the environment ministry has said. During a virtual session organized by PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday on 'Paradigm Shift in Business Sustainability Strategies to Meet the Challenges in the Post COVID-19 scenario', Sujit Kumar Bajpayee, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, said the pandemic has given an opportunity to jump start economies.

The pandemic has given a lot of challenges but it has given the opportunity to jump start the economies, rebuild societies through recovery plans and focus on climate change and environment conservation, he said. 

Talking about the importance of environment and conservation of natural resources, he also insisted on the importance of bio-diversity. 

"We need to realize that our life and livelihood revolves around nature and the environment, he said. Due to the Covid-19 lockdown across India, carbon emissions are predicted to fall by around eight per cent in 2020," Bajpayee said. He pointed out that "nature" is an essential source of many medicines and industries like construction, agriculture, food and beverages are highly dependent on it. -- PTI
Representational image
Representational image
14:51   Meet the doctor who's a Covid vaccine volunteer
A 48-year-year-old man, who was among the two volunteers administered the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine candidate on day one of the second phase, says he is happy to be a part of the global effort to fight coronavirus. The volunteer, a doctor, said on Thursday that he also volunteered 10 years ago for clinical trials for a vaccine against the H1N1 (swine flu) virus. 

The phase-II clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and being manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India, started at the Bharati Vidyapeeth Medical College here on Wednesday, with the two volunteers being administered the Covishield vaccine.

The volunteer said his 21-year-old daughter had also volunteered herself during the trial of a vaccine on cervical cancer in 2014. "My daughter, who is pursuing a B Tech degree, has volunteered and become eligible for the trial as her reports COVID-19 and antibody came negative," he said.

He said more than feeling excited, he is feeling good that he and his daughter could become a small part in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by volunteering for the trial. This is a noble and global effort for mankind, he said. 

"Since yesterday, my vital signs are normal and I have started my routine work," he said. "I am a science enthusiast and since I work in the healthcare sector, I know that the vaccines have made a huge difference in the quality of human life all over the world. When I read the history of vaccination, I got inspired by pioneers of vaccination Louis Pasteur and Edward Jenner as they performed trials on themselves," he said. 

He said he has worked as a teacher at the medical college and tried to create an awareness among the medical students about the vaccination trials. "To lead by an example, I volunteered myself for the H1N1 vaccine trial," he said.

The volunteer said as per the ICMR panel norms, he is entitled to get travelling allowance for the hospital visits. "If the volunteer has some health issues during the trial period, the treatment is free," he said. 

The second volunteer, a 32-year-old man, who is a PhD holder in statistics and works in a private firm, said he was excited to become a part of the trial. "When I came to know about the trials through social media, I approached the hospital and enrolled myself for the voluntary vaccination trial," said the person, who hails from Aurangabad in Maharashtra. PTI
13:50   Threat to my life: Rhea seeks police protection
Actor Rhea Chakraborty on Thursday said there was a threat to her and her family's life and requested the Mumbai police for protection. Rhea took to Instagram and shared a video where her father was seen being hounded by the media outside her building compound.  

She said they have been trying to get out of the house to cooperate with various investigating agencies probing actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death. "The man in this video is my father Indrajit chakraborty (retd. army officer). We have been trying to get out of our house to co-operate with ED, CBI and various investigation authorities to cooperate.

"There is a threat to my life and my family's life. We have informed the local police station and even gone there, no help provided. We have informed the investigation authorities to help us get to them, no help arrived. How is this family going to live?" the 28-year-old actor wrote.  Using the hashtag #SafetyForMyFamily, Rhea said basic law and order restrictions should be provided especially amid the coronavirus pandemic.  

"We are only asking for assistance, to cooperate with the various agencies that have asked us. I request @mumbaipolice to please provide protection so that we can cooperate with these investigation agencies," she said.
13:37   Stringent lockdown in Kolkata, violations reported
Normal life was affected in the city on Thursday as a complete shutdown was enforced across West Bengal to stem the spread of Covid-19 cases, while violation of the lockdown restrictions was witnessed in some districts. All public transport, government and private offices, banks and other commercial establishments, barring those dealing with essential services, were closed due to the lockdown.

Flight operations in and out of the Kolkata international airport were suspended for the day, while long- distance trains were rescheduled. Ferry services through inland waterways were also suspended. Essential services like medicine shops and health establishments remained open as these were kept out of the purview of the complete shutdown. 

Petrol pumps are also allowed to remain open on the lockdown days. Schools, colleges and other educational institutes have remained closed in the state since late March when the first phase of the nationwide lockdown started.
12:54   Patnaik speaks to PM over JEE/NEET exams
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the phone and requested him to postpone NEET and JEE exams, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and the flood situation in the state, a senior official said. Two day ago, the CM had written a letter in this regard to Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank. Patnaik, during his conversation with the prime minister, explained that Odisha is in the grip of a pandemic as well as flood, and students might face difficulties in appearing for the examinations, the official at the chief minister's office told reporters.

The CM, in his letter to Nishank on Tuesday, had urged the Centre to take steps for postponing the Joint Entrance Examination (Main) and the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) as it "will be unsafe for students to physically appear for the exams amid the pandemic". The National Testing Agency (NTA) has scheduled medical and engineering entrance exams -- NEET and JEE (Main) -- in September. -- PTI
12:22   SC reserves order in Mallya's 'not guilty' plea
The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on a plea filed by fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya seeking a review of its May 2017 order holding him guilty of contempt for transferring USD 40 million to his children in violation of the court's order.

A bench of Justice UU Lalit and Justice Ashok Bhushan reserved the order after hearing both the parties in the case. It further said that there were two allegations against Mallya, failure to disclose his assests and siphoning off money. Mallya is an accused in a bank loan default case of over Rs 9,000 crore involving his defunct Kingfisher Airlines and is presently in the United Kingdom. -- PTI
12:17   Realty stocks zoom up to 15%
Realty stocks on Thursday were in huge demand, rising up to 15 per cent, following the Maharashtra government's decision to reduce the stamp duty to two per cent till December saying the move will foster demand creation and give a boost to the allied industries. 

Sunteck Realty zoomed 14.61 per cent, Prestige Estates Projects 10.23 per cent, Godrej Properties 9.99 per cent, DLF 9.52 per cent, Indiabulls Real Estate 6.37 per cent, Oberoi Realty 8.28 per cent, Sobha Limited 4.12 per cent and Mahindra Lifespace Developers jumped 4.10 per cent on the BSE. The BSE realty index was trading 7.28 per cent higher in morning trade. The ailing real estate has welcomed the Maharashtra government's decision to reduce the stamp duty to two per cent till December. 

 The state government on Wednesday decided to slash stamp duty on sale deed documents by 3 per cent from September 1 to December 31, 2020, and by 2 per cent from January 1, 2021 to March 31 2021. Stamp duty is the transactional tax collected by the government on property purchases. Stamp duty collection is one of the largest contributors to a state's revenues.
11:59   Don't be averse to risk, RBI governor tells banks
RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das on Thursday warned banks that being overly risk averse will be "self-defeating" and that lenders will not be able to "win their bread' if they do not carry out their basic task. Speaking at a webinar organised by financial daily Business Standard, Das said, rather than becoming averse to lending, banks have to improve their risk management and governance frameworks, and also build sufficient resilience. 

"Extreme risk aversion can be self-defeating, banks will not be able to win their bread," Das said, amid reports of a slowdown in credit growth in the system, which is essential to push up the economy. Bankers point out to past experiences and feel that containing loans from getting sour is an important objective. Das said there is a scope for banks to improve their ability to avert frauds from happening and added that their risk frameworks should be able to "smell vulnerabilities'. 

The Governor said, overall, the banking system continues to be sound and stable and the lenders will have to evolve a new model of growth in the times to come. He said the RBI will withdraw its COVID-19 pandemic-related dispensations in a calibrated manner, but will not do so very soon. Appreciating the work done by the government in response to the crisis, Das termed it as fiscally responsible, prudent and well calibrated. -- PTI
11:49   America needs four more years of Trump: Pence
Portraying President Donald Trump as a protector of the nation, his deputy and running mate Vice President Mike Pence has said the US needs four more years of his administration in these challenging times. Pence, 61, formally accepted the Republican Party's vice-presidential nomination on the third night of the National Republican Convention on Wednesday. 

"In these challenging times' our country needs a president who believes in America. Who believes in the boundless capacity of the American people to meet any challenge, defeat any foe, and defend the freedoms we all hold dear," he said. Republican delegates from across the country have re-nominated Trump and Pence for the November 3 election. They will be challenged by former vice president Joe Biden and his Indian-origin running mate Senator Kamala Harris on the Democratic ticket.

"America needs four more years of President Donald Trump in the White House!' Pence said in his address. "The hard truth is... you won't be safe in Joe Biden's America,' Pence said in his acceptance address from Fort McHenry in Baltimore. "Four years ago, I answered the call to join this ticket because I knew that Donald Trump had leadership and the vision to make America great again," Pence said. 

Amid protests over the police shooting of a Black man in Wisconsin, Pence described the election between Trump and Biden as a choice between law-and-order and lawlessness. -- PTI
11:44   Vaccine trial: Vital signs of volunteers normal
Vital health parameters of the two volunteers, who have been administered the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine candidate at a medical college here as part of the phase II clinical trial, are normal, a senior official from the medical facility said on Thursday.

Two men, aged 32 and 48, were given the first shot of the 'Covishield' vaccine, being manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India, at Bharti Vidyapeeth's Medical College and Hospital on Wednesday. The dose will be repeated after one month, an official said. 

"Since yesterday, our medical team is in touch with the two volunteers and both are fine. They do not have any pain, fever, injection-side reaction or systemic illness post-vaccination," the medical college and hospital's deputy medical director Dr Jitendra Oswal said. 

After the vaccine was administered on Wednesday, both the volunteers were observed for 30 minutes and later allowed to go home, he said.

"They have been given all the necessary emergency numbers (to contact in case of need) and our medical team is also conducting follow-ups with them," he added.

The vaccine dose will be repeated on both the volunteers after one month, the hospital's medical director Dr Sanjay Lalwani said on Wednesday. He said in all, 25 candidates will be given the vaccine in the next seven days. Dr Sonali Palkar, in-charge of the medical college's research cell, said four to five persons were screened on Wednesday and a decision to administer the vaccine to them as part of the clinical trial is subject to their Covid-19 and antibody test reports. -- PTI
11:36   Virat, Anushka announce January baby
Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma announce the arrival of their baby in January. Anoushka, who is four months pregnant, sports a radiant smile and a polka dress that reveals a tiny baby bump. Kohli tweeted, "And then, we were three! Arriving Jan 2021," followed by a heart emoji. More updates in a bit.
11:20   CBI questions Rhea Chakraborty's brother
The questioning of actor Rhea Chakraborty's brother Showik Chakraborty is underway at the DRDO guest house in Mumbai where the CBI is staying to probe the Sushant Singh Rajput death case. The CBI team is recording the statement of Showik. 

Earlier this month, Rhea, Showik and their father Indrajit Chakraborty were also examined by the Enforcement Directorate.

On Wednesday, Rajput's friend Siddharth Pithani and Neeraj Singh were grilled by the CBI at the DRDO guest house.

The questioning with Pithani lasted for over 13 hours and around 7 hours with Singh.The probe agency also questioned watchman of late actor's residence at Mont Blanc apartment. -- ANI
11:07   Sushant: ED summons Rhea's father
Indrajeet Chakraborty, father of actor Rhea Chakraborty, who was Sushant Singh Rajput's live-in partner, has been summoned by  the Enforcement Directorate again.
Meanwhile, Vikas Singh, the lawyer representing Sushant's father observed that if the CBI took Rhea Chakraborty into custody without any hard evidence and she gets bail, then the entire exercise would be counter-productive.

In a fresh turn of events, KK Singh, the father of the late actor Sushant Singh Rajput on Thursday alleged that Rhea Chakraborty is the "murderer" of his son and demanded her arrest by the probe agency.

"Rhea Chakraborty was giving poison to my son, Sushant for a long time, she is his murderer. The investigating agency must arrest her and her associates," he said in a self-made video. His statement came just a day after the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) registered a case against Chakraborty and others in connection with the death case of Sushant Singh Rajput.
10:54   Covid-19 can affect almost all organs: Experts
Covid-19 can affect almost all organs besides the lungs and the initial symptoms may be totally unrelated to chest complaints, according to experts at AIIMS in Delhi. They stressed that classification of cases into mild, moderate and severe categories based just on respiratory symptoms should be relooked to include other organ involvement. 

Experts from the institute, including its director Dr Randeep Guleria, Dr MV Padma Srivastava, head of department of Neurology, Dr Ambuj Roy, Professor of Cardiology and Dr Neeraj Nischal, Associate Professor in the department of Medicine during their weekly 'National Clinical Grand Rounds' organised in collaboration with NITI Aayog discussed various possible extra-pulmonary complications of Covid-19. 

Dr Guleria said eight months into COVID-19, a lot has been learnt and accordingly strategies are being changed from time to time.  From what we thought of as a viral pneumonia has a lot of other manifestations which are beyond the lungs, he said. 

"As we have known more and more about Covid-19, we have realised it causes many extra pulmonary manifestations. This is basically of the fact that this virus enters into cell through ACE2 receptors which although are present abundantly in upper airways and lungs, they are also present in many organs and thus other organs are also affected. 

"We have seen many patients who presented with features which are not been predominantly pulmonary but extra pulmonary manifestations," Dr Guleria said. He said though pulmonary manifestations continue to dominate as far as majority of COVID-19 cases are concerned, there is a significant number of patients who would present with manifestations which may be along with pulmonary manifestations or may be without pulmonary manifestations. 

"We as clinicians need to have a high index of suspicion during this pandemic -- when to suspect, treat and isolate these patients so that we can provide them good quality care," he stressed. The experts in the programme presented a number of cases in which the patients were labelled as asymptomatic or mild COVID but had serious life-threatening extra-pulmonary manifestations like stroke and heart blocks.  

"What started off as a viral pneumonia is now a multi-systemic disease. However, the jury is out whether SARS-COV2 is the culprit in these extra pulmonary manifestations or just an innocent bystander which happens to be at the wrong place at a wrong time,"  Dr Nischal said.

"So the classification of COVID-19 into mild, moderate and severe cases based only on respiratory symptoms should be relooked into to incorporate other organ involvement," he said. -- PTI
10:37   Sushant: Delhi narcotics team heads to Mumbai
Update on the Sushant Singh Rajput case: A team has been formed and has left from Delhi for Mumbai for investigation in the drugs-related matter in Sushant Singh Rajput's death. "The investigation has been put into motion," says Director General, Narcotics Control Bureau to ANI. 

Another team of the Central Bureau of Investigation arrived at the DRDO guest house in Santacruz, Mumbai. 

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Wednesday filed a criminal case against Rhea Chakraborty and others for their alleged dealings in banned drugs, officials said. They said sections 20, 22, 27 and 29 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) have been pressed in the complaint filed by the federal anti-drugs agency on an official reference received from the Enforcement Directorate (ED).These sections under the NDPS pertain to punishment for contravention in relation to cannabis plant and cannabis (20), punishment for contravention in relation to psychotropic substances (22), punishment for consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance (27) and punishment for abetment and criminal conspiracy (29).

The NCB is now the third federal investigative agency probing this case apart from the ED and the CBI.
10:13   Record 75,760 new Covid cases reported in a day
India's COVID-19 tally crosses 33 lakh-mark today with 75,760 fresh cases in the last 24 hours, Union health ministry said.

The total cases in the country now rises to 33,10,235, including 7,25,991 active cases.

With 1,023 deaths in the last 24 hours, India's fatalities rises to 60,472.

The total recoveries stands at 25,23,772.
10:11   Mother instilled in me core values of America: Kamala Harris
Indian-origin Senator and Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris has said her mother instilled in her that the core values of America is not just to strive for success and but also to leave the country better than they found it.
And this is what she strives to be, Harris said during the launch of the Asian American and Pacific Islander for Biden, a group supporting the Democratic nominee for the November presidential election.
Harris, 55, is of both African and Indian descent, with her father being from Jamaica and mother Shyamala Gopalan from Tamil Nadu. In public addresses, Harris has regularly reflects on the deep influence that her mother had on her.
"When my mother arrived in the United States from India, she understood that the core of her new home in America is that we not only strive for success, but to leave our country better than we found it, she told the AAPI event.
"That's the approach she instilled in me, and I know many of you are working toward that same end, she said.
In a short video release later in the day on the occasion of Women's Equality Day, Harris said that her mother was the greatest source of inspiration in my life.
"She taught me from a young age that I had a responsibility to fight for justice. At the age of 19, she arrived in the United States from India alone and with the dream of curing cancer. She was a woman who believed in solving problems, Harris said.
"In fact, she always used to say, 'if you see a problem, don't just sit around complaining about it, do something about it'," she said. 
"On the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, it's more important than ever that we keep up the fight at the ballot box to honor the women who came before us," she asserted.
The 19th amendment to the US Constitution granted women the right to vote.
In another tweet along with a video, Harris said that as a young girl, her grandfather would often take her on his morning walks in India, where he'd discuss the importance of fighting for democracy and civil rights. 

"That commitment and that fight for a better future live on in me to this day," she said. -- PTI
09:40   Rhea killed my son, arrest her: Sushant's father
Actor Sushant Singh Rajput's father K K Singh has alleged that his late son's rumoured girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty was giving poison to Sushant and she is his murderer.

Singh also demanded Rhea's arrest and her associates.

"Rhea Chakraborty was giving poison to my son, Sushant from a long time. She is his murderer. The investigating agency must arrest her and her associates," KK Singh said.
08:59   Pence formally accepts Republican VP nomination
Mike Pence has formally accepted the Republican vice-presidential nomination for the November 3 election.
Pence, 61, accepted the nomination on the third night of the National Republican Convention on Wednesday as a crowd in Baltimore, Maryland, cheered, "Four more years."
"Four years ago, I answered the call to join this ticket because I knew that Donald Trump had the leadership and the vision to make America great again," Pence, the current Vice President, said.
"And for the last four years, I've watched this President endure unrelenting attacks but get up every day and fight to keep the promises that he made to the American people," Pence said.
"So with gratitude for the confidence president Donald Trump has placed in me, the support of our Republican Party and the grace of god, I humbly accept your nomination to run and serve as vice president of the United States," he said.
Pence and Trump will challenge Democratic Patry's presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate Indian-origin Senator Kamala Harris in the November election. -- PTI
08:37   New Zealand mosque shooter sentenced to life
New Zealand mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Thursday for the massacre of 51 Muslim worshippers.

The judge imposed the maximum available sentence on 29-year-old Australian gunman.

Judge Cameron Mander said Tarrant's crimes were so wicked that a life time in jail could not begin to atone for them. He said they had caused enormous loss and hurt and stemmed from a warped and malignant ideology.
"Your actions were inhuman," Mander said. "You deliberately killed a 3-year-old infant as he clung to the leg of his father."

Tarrant sparked global revulsion on March 15, 2019 when he rampaged through two Christchurch mosques for 20 minutes during Friday prayers.

He had admitted 51 charges of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one of terrorism over the attacks, after reversing an initial not-guilty plea.
08:07   Trump is no hawk, believes in peace: WH official
United States President Donald Trump "is no hawk" and he believes in seeking peace instead of perpetual conflict, a top national security official from the White House told Americans Wednesday as he urged them to re-elect him in the November presidential election.
"President Trump challenged, and continues to challenge, an increasingly provocative and militant China. But make no mistake, President Trump is no hawk," Lt Gen (retired) Joseph Keith Kellogg Jr., who is the National Security Advisor to Vice President Mike Pence, said in his address to the Republican National Convention.
"He wisely wields the sword when required, but believes in seeking peace instead of perpetual conflict," Kellogg said in his address on the third day of the convention.
The Republican National Convention will on Thursday formally re-nominate President Donald Trump as its candidate for the November 3 presidential election.
President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will be challenged by the Democratic Party's presidential nominee Joe Biden and his Indian-American running mate Senator Kamala Harris.
In his remarks, Kellogg said that just over a week ago, Trump brokered a peace agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, the first in the Middle East in over 25 years. And this week, Afghan negotiators, with help from American officials, will start peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government to end America's longest war, he said.
"Ask yourself, has this President kept his keep us out of needless conflicts and to pursue ending wars without end? Has he defended your interests in renegotiating trade deals that previously hurt Americans and our national security? Has he fulfilled his Commander in Chief role by decisively going after our Nation's enemies? You and I know, the answer is yes," Kellogg said.
The choice is clear, he said. "This is the most important election of our lifetime. The next four years will decide the course of our country for decades to come. I am asking you to stand up and be counted, so we never have to look back and recall what it was once like in America when men and women were free, our families were secure -- and we had a President who served the people," he said.

Over the past three-and-a-half years, Kellogg said, he has witnessed every major foreign policy and national security decision by the President. 

"I have been in the room where it happened. I saw only one agenda and one guiding question when tough calls had to be madeis this decision right for America?" he said. -- PTI
00:42   Academics write to PM against delaying JEE, NEET
Over 150 academicians from various universities in India and abroad have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that delaying the medical and engineering entrance exams -- JEE-Main and NEET any further will mean compromising the future of students.

Referring to the growing chorus against the conduct of these exams in September in view of the rising COVID-19 cases, the academicians said in their letter, 'Some are trying to play with future of students to propel their own political agenda.'

'Youths and students are the future of the nation but in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, clouds of uncertainty have gathered over their careers too.

'There are lot of apprehensions about admission and classes which need to be resolved at the earliest,' they have said in their letter.

Like every year, this year too millions of students have passed their Class 12 exams and are now waiting at home to eagerly take the next step, the letter said.

'The government has announced the dates for JEE-Main and NEET any further delay in conducting the exams will result in waste of precious year for students.

'The dreams and future of our youth and students cannot be compromised at any cost. However, some are trying to play with the future of our students simply to propel their own political agenda and oppose the government,' it said.

The signatories include academicians from the Delhi University, Indira Gandhi National Open University, Lucknow University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Banaras Hindu University, Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi and Indian academicians from foreign universities such as University of London, University of California, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Ben Gurion University, Israel, among others.

'We strongly believe that the central government will successfully conduct the JEE and NEET exams taking full precautions to ensure that the future of students is taken care of and the academic calendar for 2020-21 is rolled out,' it added.

Over 14 lakh admit cards for the medical and engineering entrance exams --NEET and JEE-- were downloaded after the National Testing Agency (NTA) released them on Wednesday, even as the issue was discussed extensively during a meeting of chief ministers of non-BJP ruled states who decided to jointly move the Supreme Court to seek deferment of these exams.

The issue, which has been a matter of intense public discourse for the past few months, has evoked contrasting views with many backing the holding of the tests arguing that not doing so would result in a zero academic year for students, while the Opposition and a section of activists demanding their postponement in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The issue also took political undertones on Wednesday with opposition leaders attacking the central government.

While the NEET is planned on September 13, engineering entrance exam JEE Main is scheduled from September 1-6. Around 9.53 lakh candidates have registered for JEE-Mains and 15.97 lakh students have registered for NEET.

These exams have already been deferred twice in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

JEE-Main was originally supposed to be held from April 7-11, but postponed to July 18-23, NEET-UG was originally scheduled for May 3, then pushed to July 26.

They were postponed again and are now scheduled in September.  -- PTI