Fri, 10 July 2020
Cong seeks judicial probe into Dubey episode
23:48 Cong seeks judicial probe into Dubey episode
The Congress demanded a judicial probe by a Supreme Court judge on Friday into the entire episode involving gangster Vikas Dubey and the alleged politician-criminal nexus in Uttar Pradesh to bring out the truth about those who had 'granted protection' to him.
Chief spokesperson of the party Randeep Surjewala told a press conference here that the killing of the gangster in an encounter raises several questions and sought answers as regards the people who had 'granted protection to criminals like him'.
Dubey was shot dead by the Uttar Pradesh police on Friday.
The police claimed that the dreaded gangster tried to flee after the car carrying him from Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh overturned on the outskirts of Kanpur.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi used an Urdu couplet to take a swipe at the Uttar Pradesh government, saying the silence of a person has kept the respect of many questions.
"The Congress demands that the unholy nexus between organised crime and the likes of Vikas Dubey with those sitting in the echelons of power be probed by a sitting Supreme Court judge," Surjewala said.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also demanded a judicial probe by a Supreme Court judge into the entire Kanpur episode, including the killing of eight policemen allegedly by Dubey.
"The Congress demands a judicial inquiry by a sitting Supreme Court judge that should probe the entire Kanpur incident and bring out the truth before people.
"The truth about those who nurtured and protected criminals like Vikas Dubey should come out. Till the time this truth and the nexus between politicians and criminals are not exposed, justice will not be done to those eight policemen who were killed by him," she said.
Surjewala said Uttar Pradesh has become synonymous with 'goonda raj' and criminals like Dubey are allowed to move around freely in the state and thus, it is necessary to expose the politician-criminal nexus.
He also said Dubey's encounter raises several questions than answers and sought to know who was afraid of the gangster's arrest and the statement he would have given before a magistrate, spilling the beans about the alleged nexus between criminals, politicians and officers in Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress leader said the encounter, the suspicion over it and the manner in which a criminal like Dubey was allowed to 'roam around' freely raise questions on the commitment of the Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party government in Uttar Pradesh towards law and order and of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clean the political system, riding on which he had come to power.
The encounter also raises a question over a nexus between organised crime, those enjoying political power and those sitting in the highest echelons of the law-and-order machinery, he said.
"How and when and in what fashion will this nexus be exposed, found, revealed and punished is a question that Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath need to answer to the people of the state and the country," Surjewala said.
"Who are the people sitting in the echelons of power, who were protecting criminals like Vikas Dubey? What is the connection of Vikas Dubey, what are the secrets or the beans that he was about to spill of those sitting in the echelons of power that an encounter of this nature took place?" he asked.
The Congress leader wondered why a gangster like Dubey did not figure in the list of the 25 most-wanted criminals in Uttar Pradesh.
"Is it not correct that this encounter raises more questions than the answers it gives?" he asked, while wondering that if he had to run away, why did Dubey identify himself and surrender in Ujjain.
Raising doubts on the police claims regarding the encounter, Surjewala said Dubey is said to have an iron rod put in his leg and thus, he could not run or even walk properly and used to walk with a limp.
"Then how did he escape and run away from the custody of the UP STF?" he asked.
"If the criminal, Vikas dubey, was running away, how was he not shot in the back and instead, shot in the chest by the UP STF?" the Congress leader asked.
He said the onus is on Adityanath and Shah to come forward and answer the questions, instead of burying those. -- PTI
22:54 SC summons can be sent on mail, fax, WhatsApp
The Supreme Court on Friday decided to use technology more in judicial proceedings keeping in mind the prevailing COVID-19 situation and directed that now court summons and notices can be served on persons through emails, fax and instant messaging applications like WhatsApp.
The top court had earlier taken suo motu (on its own) cognisance of the difficulties faced by lawyers and litigants during lockdown due to COVID-19 and had decided to extend the period of limitation prescribed under laws for initiating arbitral proceedings and the cheque bounce cases with effect from March 15 till further orders.
A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices R Subhash Reddy and A S Bopanna passed the order on the plea filed by Attorney General K K Venugopal in the case.
'For services of notices and summons, pleadings it has been seen that it was not possible during lockdown to visit postal offices, we direct that such service (of notices and summons) may be done by email, fax, or through an instant messenger service,' the bench said and refrained from using the name of 'WhatsApp' in the order.
It referred to the example of 'Xerox' and said that the name of the company has been used to convey the meaning of 'photostat'.
The top court allayed the apprehension of Venugopal that he was 'not comfortable' with the service of summons and notices through WhatsApp as it has been a 'completely encrypted platform'.
It said that the 'blue tick' feature of the messaging application can be used to prove the service of the court's notices under the Evidence Act and if the application is deactivated then it cannot be proven and hence such services can be used.
On the extension of limitation period for filing of cheque dishonor cases under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act , the apex court Friday said that it will not intervene into this and the time period can be extended by the RBI only.
'Under Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act, we don't consider it appropriate to interfere in the deadline prescribed by RBI. If RBI considers to extend, then they can do it.'
The apex court then allowed the modification plea and said the 12 months-time period under the law to complete arbitral proceedings be allowed to remain in force.
The bench then dealt with a provision related to the functioning of Commercial Courts and said that the limitation period fixed for mediation will be extended by 45 days after lifting of the lockdown.
The apex court took note of the submission of senior advocate Shyam Divan that the lifting of lockdown was a vague term and even after its lifting, certain areas are still declared containment zones having the earlier problems.
The apex court said that it was a valuable suggestion and it would like to deal with the term 'lifting of lockdown'.
Earlier, it had extended the period of limitation prescribed under laws for initiating arbitral proceedings and the cheque bounce cases with effect from March 15 till further orders.
The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 provide fixed time periods to litigants to initiate arbitral proceedings and cheque dishonour cases. They become time-barred if filed after the statutory periods.
Prior to this, the top court on March 23 had invoked its plenary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to extend limitation period of appeals from high courts or tribunals on account of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. -- PTI
22:10 Fresh order for transfers of Mumbai DCPs issued
Five days after the earlier order was revoked, reportedly because of friction between the ruling allies Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party, fresh order transferring 10 deputy commissioners (DCP) in the city was issued on Friday.
The earlier order was issued on July 2, but it was revoked by the Maharashtra government three days later.
There was speculation in political circles that earlier transfer order had been issued by keeping the chief minister's office in the dark.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar and home minister and NCP leader Anil Deshmukh had met Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray after the revocation. Pawar again met Thackeray earlier in the day.
As per the new orders, DCP Paramjit Dahiya, who was earlier transferred to Zone I, has now been sent to Zone III, while Sangaramsingh Nishandar will continue as DCP Zone I.
Prashant Kadam has been posted as DCP Zone VII, Ganesh Shinde has been posted in the Port Zone, Rashmi Karandikar in Cyber cell, Shahaji Umap in Special Branch-I, Vishal Thakur to Zone XI and Pranay Ashok to Zone V.
These officers had received the same transfer orders last week, there has been no change.
Mohan Dahikar, who was posted as DCP (Detection) by the earlier order has been now sent to Local Arms, Tardeo, while Nandkumar Thakur, who was posted as DCP (HQ 1) will now be DCP (Detection).
The charge as DCP (Operations) has been given to DCP Special Branch I while Protection and Security Branch will be looked after by DCP Prevention (Crime). -- PTI
21:11 Dubey encounter: STF narrates how it happened
The Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force on Friday said the official vehicle in which gangster Vikas Dubey was being brought to Kanpur overturned when a herd of cattle suddenly came in front of it.
According to a statement released by the STF, Dubey was being brought to Kanpur from Ujjain for appearance in a local court when the vehicle in which he was coming overturned in front of Kanhaiyalal Hospital on the national highway after a herd of cattle suddenly came in front of it.
The vehicle overturned when the driver, who was tired, tried to avoid the cattle on the road, the STF said, adding that five policemen were seriously injured.
Dubey, who was sitting with them, tried to take advantage of the situation and snatched the pistol of injured Inspector Ramakant Pachauri and ran on the 'kaccha' road.
Deputy Superintendent of Police of the STF Tej Bahadur Singh who was coming in the other vehicle along with policemen ran after him, the statement said.
'Vikas opened fire indiscriminately at the police which had reached very close to nab him. In self defence, police opened fire in which Vikas Dubey got injured,' the STF claimed.
He was given first aid and rushed to a government hospital, where doctors declared him dead, it said.
Head constable Shivendra Singh Sengar and constable Vimal Yadav of the STF were injured in the firing by Dubey, the statement added. -- PTI
21:02 Sharad Pawar meets Thackeray for second time in four days
Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar met Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray at the latter's official residence 'Varsha' in Mumbai on Friday, sources said.
The half-an-hour-long meeting, a second in four days,came against the backdrop of reports of strain in the Shiv Sena-NCP ties.
Thackeray-led Shiv Sena, the NCP and Congress are allies in the ruling coalition.
Five Sena councilors in the Parner Municipal Council in Ahmednagar district joined the NCP last week, which had caused alarm in the Sena.
They later returned to the parent party.
Another source of tension was the transfer of 10 deputy commissioners of police in Mumbai by the home department which is held by the NCP.
The transfer order was revoked by the state government within three days.
There were also reports about disagreement over fresh coronavirus lockdown in some cities.
The NCP was of the view that local elected representatives and not bureaucrats should be consulted before imposing lockdown, sources said. -- PTI
20:40 No compromise on vaccine quality: Govt advisor
India's COVID-19 vaccine candidates will go through a rigorous evaluation process that will not be compromised, the government's Principal Scientific Advisor K Vijay Raghavan said on Friday, indicating that the Indian Council of Medical Research-Bharat Biotech vaccine is unlikely to be out by August 15.
Phase 1 of the human trial of any vaccine usually takes 28 days and that is followed by two other phases, Vijay Raghavan said while addressing a webinar at the Vivekananda International Foundation.
India's drug regulator has given the go-ahead for trials for two vaccine candidates -- Bharat Biotech vaccine and the Zydus Cadila vaccine.
So, the Bharat Biotech vaccine or the Zydus Cadila vaccine will go through a rigorous evaluation process which will not be compromised, as ICMR clarified, Vijay Raghavan said.
Aiming to launch an indigenous COVID-19 vaccine by August 15, the ICMR has written to select medical institutions and hospitals to fast-track clinical trial approvals for the vaccine candidate COVAXIN being developed in collaboration with Bharat Biotech.
Responding to a question on ICMR's letter, Vijay Raghvan said, Today is 10th of the July and let's say the phase 1 trial starts today. And they start at all the 12 sites simultaneously...(which is) unlikely.
Let us assume that they start together. Phase 1 trial involves an injection, then another injection after seven days and then an examination after 14 days and then looking at the results of that before deciding, so after 28 days, he said.
After Phase 1, there are two other phases, he stressed.
So the timeline for a vaccine, if we look at the global ones, will go into phase 3 trials in several months after the Phase 1 trial, he said.
Experts have cautioned against rushing into the process for developing a COVID-19 vaccine and stressed that fast-tracking vaccine development for diseases of pandemic potential is not in accordance with globally accepted norms. -- PTI
20:12 Vikas Dubey's encounter straight out film: Sharad Yadav
Former Union minister and Loktantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav on Friday alleged that the police's claim of killing gangster Vikas Dubey in an encounter seems to be 'fake' as he could have disclosed many big 'secrets'.
"This encounter (killing) of Vikas Dubey seems to be fake and straight out of a film. This is an illegal way. This man could have disclosed many big secrets like who sheltered him... Those who sheltered him are as much to blame as Vikas Dubey and the country needed to know them," Yadav said.
Dubey was shot dead on Friday by police, who claim he was trying to flee after the car carrying him from Ujjain overturned on an isolated stretch of the highway on the outskirts of the city. -- PTI
20:01 Border issue sensitive, complicated: Chinese envoy
China and India should be partners rather than rivals, Chinese ambassador to India Sun Weidong said on Friday, noting that the border question left over by history is "sensitive and complicated" and there was a need to find "a fair and reasonable solution mutually acceptable" through equal consultation and peaceful negotiation.
In remarks titled `Implement Consensus and Handle Differences Properly to Bring China-India Relations Back on the Right Track', posted on the Chinese embassy website, Sun spoke of disruptions in the bilateral relationship and outlined five steps to clarify "some fundamental points".
He said China and India need peace rather than confrontation, need to pursue win-win cooperation instead of a zero-sum game, need to build trust, rather than suspicion and relations should move forward rather than backward.
Sun said pending an ultimate settlement to the boundary question, the two sides have agreed to work together to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
19:58 India, China agree on complete disengagement
India and China on Friday held a fresh round of diplomatic talks on the border row in eastern Ladakh and reaffirmed to ensure 'complete disengagement' of the troops in the region for 'full restoration' of peace and tranquility along Line of Actual Control.
The Ministry of External Affairs said the talks were held under the framework of Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC).
It said the two sides reaffirmed to ensure complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC for 'full restoration' of peace and tranquility in the border areas in accordance with bilateral agreements and protocols.
'They also agreed that for the overall development of bilateral relations it was essential to maintain enduring peace and tranquillity in the border areas,' the MEA said in a statement.
The Indian delegation at the online talks was led by the Joint Secretary (East Asia) in the MEA while the Chinese side was headed by the Director General of the Boundary and Oceanic Department in China's foreign ministry.
'They reviewed the situation in the India-China border areas including the progress made in ongoing disengagement process along the LAC in the Western Sector,' the MEA said.
It said both sides agreed that it was necessary to sincerely implement the understandings reached between senior commanders.
The Indian and Chinese armies were locked in a bitter standoff in multiple locations in eastern Ladakh for the last eight weeks.
The tension escalated manifold after a violent clash in Galwan Valley in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed.
In the last five days, Chinese military has withdrawn troops from three friction points in line with a disengagement understanding with Indian Army.
Both sides have held several rounds of diplomatic and military talks in the last few weeks to ease tension in the region. -- PTI
Cops at Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai. Photograph: ANI Photo
19:44 Cong to Uddhav: Open places of worship, let people share their pain with God
The Mumbai Congress on Friday urged Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to open places of worship so that people distressed by the coronavirus outbreak and resultant lockdown can 'share their heartfelt pain' with God.
Mumbai Congress vice president Amarjit Singh Manhas said such a move would help people passing through depression and hopelessness due to the outbreak and the deaths caused by it in the metropolis.
In letter to Thackeray, Manhas said, 'I request you to open up places of worship with all the required precautions so that citizens can share their heartfelt pain to their creator and seek help from the Almighty to come out of this depression and calamity.'
'This will give them a new ray of hope to fight the battle against COVID-19,' Manhas said in the letter, adding that states such as West Bengal, Punjab, Karnataka have opened places of worship.
Manhas also pointed out that several places of worship manage their power and water expenses, salaries to staff, taxes etc through donations from devotees. -- PTI
19:24 Rajnath, US def secy discuss China border row
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday held a telephonic conversation with his US counterpart Mark T Esper during which India's border row with China in eastern Ladakh and the overall security scenario in the region figured prominently, people familiar with the development said.
Singh and Esper also deliberated on ways to further boost bilateral defence and security cooperation, they said, adding the telephonic conversation took place at the request of the US side. China's aggressive posturing along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh was discussed, and Singh apprised the US defence secretary about India's position on the row, they said.
"The two ministers have been in regular touch with each other. They have spoken several times on bilateral defence cooperation and issues of mutual interest. Today's conversation was in continuation of this exchange," said a source.
19:20 Nikki Haley to lead the post-Trump Republican party?
The ex-US ambassador to the UN is one of the few Trump officials to leave on good terms and has diligently built up a national profile, writes Daniel Strauss in The Guardian, here.
19:18 'Ajit Doval is being targeted by Western lobby'
'The civilian-military relationship is a complex matrix. In "wartime," this is more so when civilian leaders who never held a killer's weapon in their hands are called upon to make decisions on the passage of arms.Of course, there are strong-willed leaders who force their will. Otto von Bismarck was one such leader -- Josef Stalin another -- who lacked real military service,' says Ambassador MK Bhadrakumar, here.
19:06 Pune to go on 10-day lockdown starting Jul 13
In a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19, a 10-day lockdown will be imposed in Pune, neighbouring Pimpri-Chinchwad and a few other parts of the district starting July 13, a senior official said on Friday.
The lockdown will come into force from midnight of July 13 and end on July 23, he said.
The district reported a record spike of 1,803 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday that pushed the tally to 34,399, while the toll rose to 978.
The decision to enforce the lockdown was taken in a meeting chaired by Maharashtra deputy chief minister and district guardian minister Ajit Pawar here, the official said.
"A lockdown will be imposed in Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad and some other areas of the district considering the rise in COVID-19 cases," divisional commissioner (Pune division) Deepak Mhaisekar said.
The lockdown period between July 13 and July 18 will be stricter, wherein only milk shops, pharmacies and clinics will be allowed to operate, he said.
Emergency services have been excluded from the lockdown, he added.
Meanwhile, district collector Naval Kishore Ram said the decision was taken to break the chain of viral spread.
A detailed order about the lockdown will be issued soon, Pune municipal commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad said. -- PTI
19:03 Sasikala family will have no place in AIADMK, govt: TN minister
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader and Tamil Nadu fisheries minister D Jayakumar on Friday said Sasikala, a close aide of late J Jayalalithaa, or her family will have no place in the party or in the government.
As Tamil Nadu's political landscape hots up over a tweet by a BJP leader over the release of V K Sasikala from the prison, Jayakumar asserted, "Sasikala or her family will have no place in AIADMK or in the government. The party's stand is consistent."
Sasikala, who surrendered before the prison authorities on February 15, 2017, a day after she was convicted in a disproportionate assets case, is currently serving four-year jail term in Bengaluru.
On June 25, Aseervatham Achary, Coordinator of the BJP's Documentation and Library Department, tweeted that Sasikala is likely to be released in August.
"Mrs. Sasikala Natarajan is likely to be released from Parapana Agrahara Central Jail, Bangalore on 14th August 2020. Wait for further update," he tweeted.
Thereafter those close to Sasikala started claiming her release was imminent and this triggered a political speculation.
While trying to maintain that the ruling AIADMK was not rattled by her possible release from the prison in Karnataka, Jayakumar when asked to spell out his party's stand, reiterated that there was no room for Sasikala family's domination in the party.
"The party's view is based on the decision already taken (on the issue). Our stand is consistent yesterday, today and tomorrow, it will hold good.. Sasikala or her family have no place in the AIADMK or the government. There's no change ( on this stance)."
When reporters sought his comments on handlooms minister O S Manian claiming earlier in the day that only the AIADMK leadership will decide on whether Sasikala will lead the party after her release from the prison, Jayakumar said that it might be Manian's personal view.
"I don't wish to say anything further.." he said.
When reporters in Nagapattinam posed a question on who will lead the party post Sasikala's release, Manian said, "I am only a district secretary....The party leadership will decide on whether Sasikala will lead the party after her release."
Nearly nine months after Sasikala was unanimously appointed interim general secretary of the AIADMK following then Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's death, she was removed from the post on September 12, 2017, by the AIADMK's general council.
And in June 13, 2019, the AIADMK resolved to continue with dual leadership under it's coordinator and deputy chief minister O Pannerrselvam and co-coordinator and chief minister K Palaniswami. -- PTI
18:51 Amid LAC row, India, China hold diplomatic talks
In the midst of tense border standoff, India and China held 16th meeting of Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on border affairs..
In diplomatic talks, India and China reviewed progress made in disengagement process along Line of Actual Control in western sector, the ministry of external affairs said.
The MEA said that senior army commanders of India, China will meet soon to discuss further steps to ensure complete disengagement.
"Both sides agreed to maintain communication at diplomatic, military level to ensure early resolution of situation," MEA said.
It further said, "The two sides will ensure complete disengagement of troops along LAC."
18:35 'Dengue outbreak may aggravate Covid crisis'
As dengue season sets in across large parts of India with the onset of the monsoon, scientists warn that COVID-19 and the mosquito-borne disease have overlapping symptoms and worry the country's healthcare infrastructure won't be able to cope with this double whammy.
The impact of a 'dengue-COVID-19' season would entail two different diagnostic tests and extract a huge toll on patients too, each disease making the other more complicated to deal with and perhaps more fatal.
While the number of COVID-19 cases races towards the 8,00,000 mark with 7,93,802 cases on Friday and 21,604 fatalities, the incidence of dengue is also high.
Based on 2016-2019 data, virologist Shahid Jameel estimated that India gets about 100,000 to 200,000 confirmed cases of dengue each year.
According to the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), 1,36,422 dengue cases were diagnosed in 2019 and an estimated 132 people died.
"The virus is endemic and present around the year in southern India, and in monsoon and early winter in northern India," Jameel, CEO at DBT/Wellcome Trust India Alliance, a public charity that invests in building biomedical sciences and health research framework, told PTI.
Both COVID-19 and have symptoms such as high fever, headache and body pain.
The dengue season may aggravate the COVID-19 situation as both viruses may supplement each other, warned Dhrubjyoti Chattopadhyay, virologist and vice chancellor of the Amity University in Kolkata.
"This situation is not yet well studied. But the information available from South America is dangerous and found to create a major challenge to their medical infrastructure," he said.
"The effect will be very critical. As major symptoms are overlapping, simultaneous infection will be much more fatal. Weakened immune systems will help the other to be more fatal."
Once the dengue season starts, added virologist Upasana Ray, the infection spreads aggressively due to high prevalence of its mosquito vector, aedes aegypti.
"Each season, we experience heavy loads in the hospital wards due to dengue outbreak and those times it gets almost unmanageable. So, have we thought about what will happen when we have two menaces to handle together? Both of them have overlapping symptoms. Are we geared to distinguish if a person has dengue or COVID 19?" asked the senior scientist, CSIR-IICB, Kolkata.
The challenges are many.
Almost each patient with a three-day fever would need to undergo a test for dengue and another for the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19.
"Considering the current numbers of COVID-19 patients, will our hospitals have beds available for dengue patients? Or will only severe dengue cases be handled at hospitals?" she asked. -- PTI
17:56 India's Covid fatality rate dips to 2.72%
From 2.82 per cent a month earlier, India's COVID-19 case fatality rate has declined to 2.72 per cent which is lower than that of many other countries, the Union health ministry said on Friday.
It also noted that 30 states and Union Territories have a fatality rate lower than the national average.
Also, there is an upward trend in the recovery rate which was recorded at 62.42 per cent on Friday. In 18 states and UTs the recovery rates are higher than the national average, the ministry said.
"At the national level, the case fatality rate has declined to 2.72 per cent. This is lower than the fatality rates observed in many other countries in the world. The focus of COVID-19 management in the country has been to keep the fatalities low," it said.
The ministry said with the support and guidance of the Central government, the states and union territories have taken many steps like mapping of communities to focus on high-risk groups like the elderly/aged and population with comorbidities, and providing special care to them.
There is a focus on the improvement of quality of medical care for coronavirus patients. The country-wide strong network of ASHAs and ANMs along with Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centres have helped in effective surveillance and contact tracing of the cases, including the lakhs of migrants and returnees, it said.
There are 30 states and UTs which have a fatality rate lower than the national average which includes Kerala (0.41 pc), Jharkhand (0.71 pc), Bihar (0.82 pc), Telangana (1.07 pc), Tamil Nadu (1.39 pc), Haryana (1.48 pc), Rajasthan (2.18 pc), Punjab (2.56 pc) and Uttar Pradesh (2.66 pc).
Manipur, Nagaland, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Mizoram, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Sikkim have zero case fatality rate.
There are 18 states and UTs where the recovery rate is more than the national average. They which include West Bengal (64.94 pc), Uttar Pradesh (65.28 pc), Odisha (66.13 pc), Jharkhand (68.02 pc), Punjab (69.26 pc), Bihar (70.40 pc), Gujarat (70.72 pc), Madhya Pradesh (74.85 pc), Haryana (74.91 pc), Rajasthan (75.65 pc) and Delhi (76.81 pc).
On Friday, India registered yet another record single-day jump of 26,506 COVID-19 cases pushing its tally to 7,93,802, while the death toll climbed to 21,604 with 475 people succumbing to the infection in 24 hours. -- PTI
17:48 Total' lockdown extended till July 19 in Thane
A lockdown with minimal exemptions that is in force in Thane city till July 12 has now been extended till July 19, a senior official said on Friday.
The order was issued by Thane Municipal Corporation Additional Commissioner Ganesh Deshmukh.
This "total" lockdown, as part of which most shops were closed and essential items ordered to be home delivered, was enforced on July 2 for a period of ten days.
As on Thursday night, Thane city accounts for 12,053 of the district's 48,856 COVID-19 cases.
The TMC limits account for 5.23 per cent of the cases and 4.80 per cent of deaths in Maharashtra. -- PTI
17:36 Global public debt, fiscal deficits to reach all-time high, IMF warns
A top IMF official on Friday warned that the global public debt is expected to exceed 100 per cent of the GDP in 2020-21, and the average overall fiscal deficit is expected to soar to 14 per cent of the GDP in 2020, pointing out that never have public debt and deficits risen so high and so fast.
The steep contraction in output and ensuing fall in revenues along with a sizable discretionary support have led to a surge in the government debt and deficits, Vitor Gaspar, Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF's) Fiscal Affairs Department told PTI. Global public debt is expected to reach an all-time high, exceeding 100 per cent of the GDP in 202021, a surge of almost 20 percentage points from a year ago, he said, adding that the rise in debt is most significant among advanced economies such as the US, Japan and those in Europe. -- PTI
17:23 UGC, HRD ministry from alternate universe: Aaditya
Maharashtra's minister for tourism and environment Aaditya Thackeray says the decision of the HRD Ministry of the Union government, and the University Grants Commission, "is absolutely absurd and probably from an alternate universe."
"I urge UGC to not make this a silly issue of egos and realise that lakhs of lives of students, teachers, non teaching staff are at stake. Unless, the HRD Ministry and UGC take responsibility for the health of each student appearing for exams, one wonders what is the guarantee apart from just that the ministry and UGC don't realise the growing number of cases in India.
"Mental stress, incomplete syllabus, highest risk to students and teachers, but while the top universities of the world skip exams, our HRD Ministry and UGC enforce exams on students. Nowhere in the world is academic excellence dependent on 1 exam, other than our HRD & UGC."
The UGC, after being asked by the Education Ministry to review its exam guidelines, released revised guidelines to conduct university exams for the final semester/year. The Commission has set the deadline to conduct final year exams by September 30.
The Commission maintained its previous order that Universities may go for pen-paper exam, online exam, or a blended form of both.
UGC justified its decision to go ahead with the exams citing examples of several top ranking universities in the world like Princeton, MIT, University of Cambridge, Imperial College of London, University of Toronto and McMaster, University of Heidelberg and University of Hong Kong that have resorted to the online technology-based mode of examinations.
17:03 Tablighi: 62 Malaysians,11 Saudis to walk free
A Delhi court Friday allowed 62 Malaysians and 11 foreigners from Saudi Arabia to walk free on payment of fine of Rs 7,000 and Rs 10,000 each respectively, after they accepted mild charges, under the plea bargain process, related to various violations including visa norms while attending Tablighi Jamaat congregation here during the COVID-19 lockdown.
A lawyer, who appeared for the foreign nationals, said that Metropolitan Magistrate Siddharth Malik passed the order after the Malaysians sought lesser punishment under plea bargain process by accepting mild charges.
They were allowed to walk free after the Sub-divisional magistrate of Lajpat Nagar, who was the complainant in the case, Additional commissioner of Police of Lajpat Nagar and Inspector of Nizamuddin, said they have no objection to their pleas.
Senior advocate S Hari Haran, said another Metropolitan Magistrate Ashish Gupta passed the order in the case of foreign nationals from Saudi Arabia who accepted mild charges in exchange for lesser punishment under the plea bargain process. Under plea bargaining, the accused plead guilty to the offence praying for a lesser punishment.
The Criminal Procedure of Code allows plea bargaining for cases where the maximum punishment is imprisonment for seven years, where offences don't affect the socio-economic conditions of the society and when the offences are not committed against a woman or a child below 14 years. The court had on Thursday allowed 60 Malaysians to walk free on payment of Rs 7,000 fine each after they accepted a few mild charges under plea bargain process. -- PTI
16:46 Govt's wheat procurement touches record high of 38.98 mn tonnes
The government's wheat procurement has touched an all-time record of 38.98 million tonnes so far in 2020-21 marketing year (April-March), with Madhya Pradesh surpassing Punjab as the country's biggest wheat procuring state.
The previous record was 38.18 million tonnes achieved in 2012-13. Wheat procurement stood at 34.77 million tonnes during 2019-20 marketing year. Wheat marketing year runs from April-March, but bulk of procurement is normally done in the first three months. Wheat procurement target has been set at 40.7 million tonnes for the current year.
The state-run Food Corporation of India and state agencies undertake purchase of wheat at minimum support price. "We have procured 38.98 million tonnes of wheat so far. The procurement operations are almost complete in major states. Few thousand tonnes more will be brought in the next few days," a senior FCI official told PTI.
According to FCI's latest data, Madhya Pradesh became the largest contributor to the central pool with 12.93 million tonnes of wheat, surpassing Punjab which procured 12.71 million tonnes. Haryana (7.4 million tonnes), Uttar Pradesh (3.55 million tonnes) and Rajasthan (2.21 million tonnes) also made significant contributions to national procurement of wheat. FCI has a total stock of 81.25 million tonnes as on July 8, of which wheat comprises 54.52 million tonnes and rice is at 26.72 million tonnes. -- PTI
16:23 Gangster's village celebrates freedom from terror
People in Bikaru village distribute sweets after history-sheeter Vikas Dubey was killed in police encounter today. Locals say, "This entire area is very happy today. It feels as if we are finally free. This is the end of an era of terror. Everyone is very happy."
Gangster Vikas Dubey was shot dead Friday by police, who claim he was trying to flee after the car carrying him from Ujjain overturned on the outskirts of the city. The SUV met with an accident at Bhaunti in Kanpur district, toppling on an isolated stretch of the road which was slippery after the rains, police claimed.
The car was part of a small convoy of police vehicles. Police said the gangster snatched a pistol from one of the policemen injured in the accident and was shot when he opened fire while trying to flee, an account being questioned by opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh.
Six policemen, including two from the Special task Force, were hurt in the accident and the exchange of fire around 6 am, an official said.
Dubey was the sixth man to die in a police encounter after the ambush he allegedly masterminded in Kanpur's Bikru village past midnight on July 2, killing eight policemen who had come to arrest him. Madhya Pradesh police arrested Vikas Dubey outside the Mahakal temple in Ujjain on Thursday morning. He was handed over to an Uttar Pradesh police late in the evening.
Kanpur Range Inspector General Mohit Agarwal said Dubey tried to flee from the car with an injured policeman's pistol. He was chased and surrounded by policemen and was asked to surrender. When he started firing with an intention to kill, policemen opened fire in self-defence, Kanpur police said.Eight policemen, including Deputy Superintendent of Police Devendra Mishra, had died in a hail of bullets from the rooftops in Dubey's Bikru village in Chaubeypur area of Kanpur on July 3.On the day the Bikru ambush took place, two of Dubey's alleged accomplices, Prem Prakash Pandey and Atul Dubey, were killed in an encounter with police in Kanpur district. -- PTI
16:18 Why is Dubey's encounter by cops being questioned, asks Raut
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Friday said there was no need to shed tears over the killing of gangster Vikas Dubey in an encounter and wondered why the police action was being questioned. Dubey was shot dead by the Uttar Pradesh police on the outskirts of Kanpur city on Friday morning. The police claimed that he was trying to flee after the car carrying him from Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh overturned at Bhaunti in Kanpur district.
Talking to PTI, Raut said, "Dubey had killed eight policemen. Attack on the uniform means there is no law and order. Taking strict action is the need of that states police be it in Maharashtra or Uttar Pradesh."
"There is no need to shed tears over the killing of Dubey in an encounter. Why is the police action being questioned?" the Rajya Sabha MP asked. Madhya Pradesh police had arrested Vikas Dubey outside the Mahakal temple in Ujjain on Thursday morning and he was handed over to an Uttar Pradesh police late in the evening.
The UP police said that the car carrying him overturned and the gangster snatched a pistol from one of the policemen, but was shot dead when he opened fire while trying to flee. Opposition parties, however, targeted the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh over the encounter.
16:14 Justice only thing killed in UP CM's 'encounter raj': TMC
Senior TMC leader and MP Mahua Moitra came down heavily on the Uttar Pradesh government on Friday over the killing of gangster Vikas Dubey, asserting that justice is the "only thing killed" in Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's "encounter raj".
Dubey was killed in an encounter earlier in the day, after a police vehicle carrying him from Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh to Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh met with an accident in the Bhaunti area of Kanpur district and he tried to flee.
"It is the job of the courts to deliver justice. It is the job of the police to deliver the accused. Shocking that India under @BJP has confused the two," Moitra said in a tweet.
"Only thing killed in Yogiji's "encounter Raj" is justice!" she added. Dubey had allegedly masterminded the ambush in Kanpur's Bikru village, in which eight policemen, who had gone to arrest him, was killed past midnight on July 2. PTI
15:34 BJP turned UP into Apradh Pradesh: Priyanka
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on the encounter killing UP gangster Vikas Dubey this morning. "The BJP government has turned Uttar Pradesh into 'apradh pradesh'. Criminals like Vikas Dubey are prospering amd being shielded by people in power. Congress demands a probe by a sitting Supreme Court judge in the entire Kanpur episode."
Gangster Vikas Dubey was shot dead Friday by police, who claim he was trying to flee after the car carrying him from Ujjain overturned on the outskirts of the city. The SUV met with an accident at Bhaunti in Kanpur district, toppling on an isolated stretch of the road which was slippery after the rains, police claimed. The car was part of a small convoy of police vehicles. Police said the gangster snatched a pistol from one of the policemen injured in the accident and was shot when he opened fire while trying to flee, an account being questioned by opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh.
Six policemen, including two from the Special task Force, were hurt in the accident and the exchange of fire around 6 am, an official said. Dubey was the sixth man to die in a police encounter after the ambush he allegedly masterminded in Kanpur's Bikru village past midnight on July 2, killing eight policemen who had come to arrest him.
Madhya Pradesh police arrested Vikas Dubey outside the Mahakal temple in Ujjain on Thursday morning. He was handed over to an Uttar Pradesh police late in the evening.
Kanpur Range Inspector General Mohit Agarwal said Dubey tried to flee from the car with an injured policeman's pistol. He was chased and surrounded by policemen and was asked to surrender. When he started firing with an intention to kill, policemen opened fire in self-defence, Kanpur police said.
15:29 HC stays demolition of Telangana secretariat till July 13
Three days after the state government began demolishing secretariat buildings in Hyderabad to construct a new one at the same site, the Telangana High Court on Friday issued an interim stay on knocking them down till Monday. A division bench, comprising Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy was hearing a petition filed by Prof P L Vishweshwar Rao and Dr Cheruku Sudhakar.
The petitioners alleged that demolishing the 10 block secretariat complex of approximately 10 lakh square feet was being done without following the due procedure of law.
The government act is against the Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules 2016, the Provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act,1897 and provisions of the Environment Protection Act,1986, among other laws,the petitioners alleged. -- PTI
15:24 Rajnath calls up South Korean defence minister
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday held a telephonic conversation with his South Korean counterpart Jeong Kyeong-Doo with a focus on further ramping up bilateral defence cooperation by launching joint production lines for military hardware and key platforms, officials said. South Korea has been a major supplier of weapons and military equipment to India for past several years.
Last year, the two countries finalised a roadmap for cooperation in joint production of various land and naval systems. In May, the government announced relaxing foreign direct investment norms in defence manufacturing by allowing 74 per cent FDI under the automatic route with a view to attract overseas players in the sector.
The telephonic conversation took place in the midst of a tense border row between India and China. It is not immediately known whether the issue figured in the conversation.
A defence ministry statement said views on the regional developments of shared security interests were also discussed during the telephonic call. The officials said the two ministers reviewed the progress on various bilateral defence cooperation initiatives and expressed commitment to further promote defence cooperation between the armed forces.
"It was also agreed to take forward the agreements in the field of defence industry and defence technology cooperation between India and Republic of Korea," the defence ministry said. -- PTI
15:20 BJP ally wants Bihar polls postponed
BJP ally Lok Janshakti Party on Friday appeared to be in favour of postponing the Bihar assembly polls, with its president Chirag Paswan saying that voter turnout may be very low if the elections are held amid the spread of COVID-19, and put people at risk. The state polls are due in October-November. The Election Commission has so far not made any official announcement about its schedule.
"Not only Bihar but entire country is affected by the coronavirus. It has impacted finances of the Centre as well as Bihar. Holding elections amid this will financially burden the state more," Paswan said, adding that his party's parliamentary board has expressed concern over the issue.
"The Election Commission should take a decision with a lot of deliberations. It should not happen that a huge population is put into danger. Polling percentage may also be very low if elections are held amid this pandemic which is not good for democracy," Paswan tweeted.
However, he said his party is ready for the polls. PTI
15:17 Kerala elephant tragedy: SC seeks reply of Centre, 13 States
The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from Centre, Kerala and 13 other states on a plea challenging the barbaric practices to ward off wild animals terming them as illegal and unconstitutional and violating Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
The plea filed by an advocate has also sought issuance of guidelines for creation of Standard Operating Procedures to tackle such incidents and filling up of vacancies in forest forces across the country. A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices R Subhash Reddy and A S Bopanna issued notice to Centre and 13 states including Kerala and sought their responses.
The petition sought declaration of the practice of using barbaric means/snares/shaved sticks/explosives to ward off wild animals as illegal, unconstitutional, and violative of Articles 14, and 21 of the Constitution.
Petitioner Subham Awasthi in his plea has referred to an incident of Kerala, where a pregnant elephant recently died after eating a pineapple stuffed with firecrackers, offered to her allegedly by some locals. Besides, Kerala other States which are made party in the petition include Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. Awasthi said that the incident which happened in Kerala and hundreds of incidents like it are waiting to unfold in various parts of country due to the dubious practice of using snares to scare wild animals. -- PTI
15:15 5,935 Covid cases in Maharashtra police
Maharashtra police: "222 new COVID-19 positive cases and 3 deaths reported in the state Police force in the last 48 hours. The total number of positive cases in the force now stands at 5,935 including 74 deaths and 4,715 recovered."
BSF Meghalaya: Twenty-six more personnel of the BSF have tested positive for COVID-19 in Meghalaya, taking the number of infections in the border-guarding force in the state to 91, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said on Friday. They are all posted at the Border Security Force frontier headquarters in Umpling, which has been declared a containment zone.
14:47 Boeing completes helicopter deliveries to IAF
Boeing has completed delivery of all new AH-64E Apache and CH-47F(I) Chinook military helicopters to the Indian Air Force. The final five of the 22 Apache attack helicopters were handed over to the IAF at Air Force Station, Hindan. Earlier in March, Boeing handed over the last five of 15 CH-47F(I) Chinook heavy-lift helicopters to the IAF, read a statement.
"Customer centricity, commitment to the modernization and mission-readiness of India's defence forces are key values to our partnership with India," said Surendra Ahuja, Managing Director, Boeing Defence India.
"With this delivery of military helicopters, we continue to nurture this partnership and are fully committed to working closely with India's defence forces to deliver the right value and capabilities to meet their operational needs," Ahuja added. -- PTI
14:38 With record spike of 1,803, Pune Covid tally reaches 34,399
Pune district in Maharashtra reported its highest single-day spike of 1,803 new COVID-19 cases, which pushed its overall count to 34,399, a health official said on Friday. This single-day rise was reported on Thursday, he said. The death toll in the district reached 978 with 34 more people succumbing to the infection on Thursday, the official said.
"Of the 1,803 cases, as many as 1,032 were reported from the areas located in the Pune Municipal Corporation limits, where the number of patients has reached 24,977," he said. A total of 581 patients were discharged from hospitals post recovery across the district during the day. With 573 new cases in Pimpri Chinchwad on Thursday, the COVID-19 count in the industrial township stood at 6,982.
The number of coronavirus positive cases reported from the district's rural parts, areas in the Pune Cantonment Board as well as the civil hospital rose to 3,138, the official said. PTI
14:32 Prohibitory order on fake social media posts ended on June 8
The Maharashtra government on Friday informed the Bombay High Court that the prohibitory order against spreading of incorrect or false information on social media amid the Covid-19 pandemic has ended and no extension has been given to it.
Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni told a division bench of Justices A A Sayed and M S Karnik that the order dated May 23 passed by the deputy commissioner of police (Operations) under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) had been in effect only till June 8.
"The same has not been extended after June 8 and presently there is no prohibitory order in place," Kumbhakoni said.
The court was hearing two public interest litigations challenging the legality of the prohibitory order. As per the order, action can be taken against any person who spreads incorrect or fake information on social media. -- PTI
14:24 Vikas Dubey encounter: Injured cops stable
The condition of three police personnel, injured in an encounter with the Kanpur encounter accused Vikas Dubey, is now stable, said Dr RB Kamal, Principal, LLR Hospital, Kanpur on Friday.
"The condition of the three injured police personnel is now stable; bullets brushed by them. Vikas Dubey had three bullet injuries on the chest and one on his arm," said Dr Kamal while speaking to reporters.
The fourth police personnel, however, sustained minor injuries.
Earlier today, four policemen were injured in the encounter with Vikas Dubey.
"Gangster Vikas Dubey has been killed in an encounter with the police today. Four police personnel have also been injured," IG Kanpur Mohit Agarwal said.
14:16 Tata Motors reports 64% decline in group global wholesales
Tata Motors on Friday reported a 64 per cent decline in group global wholesales, including that of Jaguar Land Rover to 91,594 in June quarter of the current financial year over year-ago. Global wholesales of all Tata Motors' commercial vehicles and Tata Daewoo range in Q1FY21 were at 11,598 units, lower by 89 per cent over Q1FY20, Tata Motors said in a regulatory filing. Global wholesales of all passenger vehicles in June quarter of the current fiscal dropped 49 per cent to 79,996 units over the same quarter of the previous fiscal, it said.
Global sales of JLR stood at 65,425 vehicles in the June quarter, it said adding that Jaguar wholesale units during the period were 17,971 vehicles, while Land Rover wholesales for the quarter were 47,454 vehicles. The company did not provide comparative figures of the year-ago period. PTI
14:07 Rajnath reviews situation in eastern Ladakh
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday carried out a comprehensive review of the situation in eastern Ladakh with top military brass in view of the withdrawal of troops from the friction points by China's Peoples Liberation Army, government sources said.
The defence minister carried out the review at a meeting with Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Army Chief Gen MM Naravane, Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh and Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria besides several other senior military officials.
Gen Naravane gave a detailed account of the implementation of the first phase of mutual disengagement of troops from Galwan Valley, Gogra, Hot Springs and Finger 4 areas in Pangong Tso, the sources said.
They said the army chief apprised Singh about combat readiness of the Indian Army in the region to deal with any eventualities and presented a detailed update of situation in all the sensitive areas along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh as well as in Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim.
As the first phase of the disengagement is nearing completion, government sources said the two sides are set to hold a fourth round of corps commander-level dialogue by early next week to finalise modalities for de-induction of troops amassed by both sides in their rear bases along the LAC, the de-facto border between the two countries.
Both sides have completed creation of a buffer zone of three kilometres in the three friction points of Galwan Valley, Gogra and Hot Springs as part of a temporary measure, they said, adding there has been thinning out of troops from Finger 4 area in Pangong Tso as well.
The disengagement of troops from the friction points formally kicked off on Monday following eight weeks of eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation between the two armies at multiple locations in eastern Ladakh.
The Indian and Chinese armies were locked in a bitter standoff in multiple locations in eastern Ladakh for the last eight weeks. The tension escalated manifold after a violent clash in Galwan Valley in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed.
Both sides have held several rounds of diplomatic and military talks in the last few weeks to ease tension in the region.
13:56 Rahul Gandhi seeks cancellation of varsity exam
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday demanded cancellation of university exams and urged the University Grants Commission to promote students on the basis of past performance during the coronavirus pandemic.
Accusing the UGC of creating confusion, Gandhi said it is unfair to conduct examinations during the COVID-19 pandemic and the UGC should listen to the voice of students.
"COVID has harmed many people. Students in schools, colleges and universities are being made to suffer.
"While the IITs and colleges have cancelled exams and have promoted students, the UGC is creating confusion. UGC should also cancel the exams and promote students on the basis of past performance," he said in a video message.
Gandhi participated in the 'SpeakUpforStudents' campaign by the Congress party and posted a short video message on Twitter.
"It is extremely unfair to conduct exams during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The UGC must hear the voice of students and academics. Exams should be cancelled and students promoted on the basis of past performance," he also tweeted.
The Congress has launched a campaign in favour of students, demanding cancellation of exams during the pandemic and urging their promotion.
13:30 Don't reveal names of Covid patients, suggests HC
The Bombay High Court on Friday sought to know why should the names of persons who have tested positive for COVID-19 be disclosed and said the issue involves privacy rights of such patients. A division bench of Justices A A Sayed and M S Karnik made the observation while hearing a petition filed by two persons seeking disclosure of names of coronavirus patients to enable contact tracing and save others from getting infected.
The PIL has been filed by a law student, Vaishnavi Gholave, and a farmer from Solapur, Mahesh Gadekar. The PIL said when the fundamental right to life and right to lead a healthy life clash with the fundamental right to privacy, then the court needs to see which of these rights would advance public morality and interest.
"How far can one go in revealing the identity of the person who has tested positive (for COVID-19)? Privacy rights are involved. "The authorities declare a particular place or building as a containment zone when someone tests positive so that people are made aware," Justice Sayed said.
"Isn't this enough? Why do you want to know who is the person who has tested positive?" the bench queried. The HC also sought the Maharashtra government's response to the petition.
Advocate Aditya Thakkar, appearing for the Union government, submitted that as per the guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the names of COVID-19 positive persons cannot be declared so as to avoid their stigmatisation.
The petitioners' lawyer, Vinod Sangvikar, however, argued that the ICMR guidelines extended only to those who have died due to COVID-19. The bench posted the petition for further hearing after two weeks and directed the Maharashtra government to respond to the plea. -- PTI
The overturned police vehicle at the site of the encounter
13:20 Mayawati seeks SC-monitored probe into Vikas Dubey encounter
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Friday demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the encounter of gangster Vikas Dubey. She wanted the inquiry to cover the killing of eight policemen last week in an ambush allegedly masterminded by Dubey. Dubey was shot dead on Friday by police, who claim he was trying to flee after the car carrying him from Ujjain overturned on the outskirts of Kanpur.
The SUV met with an accident at Bhaunti in Kanpur district, overturning on an isolated stretch of the road which was slippery after the rains, police claimed.
"There should be an unbiased probe under the supervision of the Supreme Court into the killing of policemen in Kanpur and the encounter of main accused Vikas Dubey while he was trying to flee when the police vehicle overturned," Mayawati said in a tweet in Hindi.
In a separate tweet, she said, "This high-level probe is necessary for ensuring justice to eight policemen killed in Kanpur and to identify the nexus between police and criminal political elements. By such steps, UP can become crime free." -- PTI
13:14 'Vikas Dubey thought nothing would happen to him'
Was Vikas Dubey arrested by the Madhya Pradesh police or was it a staged surrender made to look out like an arrest?
Why was Vikas Dubey's close associate Amar Dubey killed in an encounter?
How did Dubey's alleged financier Jay Vajpayee escape being slain in an encounter?
What explains Dubey's audacity to kill eight policemen on duty?
How will the UP government now act against organised crime in the state?Can Chief Minister Ajay Singh Bisht -- aka Yogi Adityanath -- cleanse UP's badlands of its bahubalis?
To understand the criminal-police-bureaucrat-politician nexus and the rise of Vikas Dubey, Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com spoke with Dr Surya Pratap Singh, who after his retirement from the IAS in 2015 has become a social activist.
The UP government recently filed a case against Dr Singh for posting content that was 'inaccurate and insulting'.This interview was recorded hours before Dubey perished after an alleged road accident on Friday morning. Read the interview here
13:00 SC warned of Dubey's likely encounter at 2 am
Hours before gangster Vikas Dubey was killed in an encounter near Kanpur on Friday, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Uttar Pradesh government and the police to safeguard his life and ensure that he is not killed by the cops.
The plea has also sought registration of an FIR and an apex court monitored probe by the CBI into the encounter of five co-accused, who were alleged to be associated with Dubey in the killing of eight policemen last week.
Eight policemen, including DSP Devendra Mishra, were ambushed in Bikru village in Chaubeypur area of Kanpur when they were going to arrest Dubey and fell to bullets fired from rooftops shortly after midnight on July 3. Dubey was killed in an encounter this morning when a police vehicle carrying him from Ujjain to Kanpur met with an accident and he tried to escape from the spot in Bhauti area, the police said. Four policemen, including an inspector posted in Nawabganj, were injured in the accident, IG, Kanpur Range, Mohit Agarwal said. He was rushed to the hospital where he was declared dead. Dubey was the prime accused in the ambush in which the policemen were killed. Prior to Dubey's encounter, five of his alleged associated were killed in separate encounters.
The plea, filed in the apex court by advocate Ghanshyam Upadhyay, has referred to media reports and claimed that encounter of these five co-accused by the police is "not only extremely illegal, inhuman, but also it is shocking to the conscience of the court and is nothing but Talibanisation of the country, which cannot be countenanced at all".
"I had done e-filing of the petition at 2 AM and provisional number was also allotted," Upadhyay told PTI over phone. It has sought direction to the Uttar Pradesh government and police to register FIR for demolition of residential building, vehicles and other properties of Dubey and also regarding encounters of the co-accused.
The plea said the investigation must be transferred to the CBI and the probe agency should be directed to submit its periodical reports before the top court. "In view of the extremely high handed and illegal action of Uttar Pradesh Government/Police so carried out inasmuch as completely pulling down/demolishing the residential building, shopping mall of accused Vikas Dubey.there is every possibility of even accused Vikas Dubey being killed by Uttar Pradesh Police after his custody being obtained by them from MP police and then concoct a story of encounter.," the plea alleged.
It claimed that killing of accused by police and then "giving the same colour of encounter is extremely inhuman and against the very rule of law and orderly society" and the same cannot be countenanced under any circumstances.
"Though, it cannot be denied the act of the accused of killing eight policemen is extremely heinous crime, yet the accused were/are required to be dealt with in accordance of law and in the process, upon their guilt being proved after full-fledged trial, they could have been convicted even for death sentence.," it said. It said that FIR should be registered against the concerned policemen and officials involved in demolition of residential building of Dubey and encounter of five co-accused. -- PTI
12:26 India most attractive global market for clean energy: Modi
India has emerged as the most attractive global market for clean energy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday. Launching a 750 MW solar project in Rewa in Madhya Pradesh through video-conferencing, Modi also said the state will emerge as a major hub for clean and cheap power in the country.
"Solar energy is sure, pure and secure and the country is now among the top five solar power producers in the world," he said. The Rewa solar power plant will not only supply power to Madhya Pradesh, but also to the Delhi Metro, Modi said. This Rewa project comprises three solar generating units of 250 MW each located on a 500 hectare plot of land situated inside a Solar Park (total area 1500 hectare). The Solar Park was developed by the Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Limited a joint venture company of Madhya Pradesh Urja Vikas Nigam Limited, and Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), a Central Public Sector Undertaking. -- PTI
12:11 China warns of unknown virus deadlier than Covid
China has warned its citizens living in Kazakhstan of a local "unknown pneumonia" which, it said, has a "much higher" fatality rate than the COVID-19 disease. The "unknown pneumonia in Kazakhstan caused 1,772 deaths in the first six months of the year, including 628 people in June alone", the Chinese embassy in the central Asian country said in a statement on its WeChat platform on Thursday, adding that the fatalities also included Chinese citizens. The fatality rate of the disease is much higher than COVID-19," state-run Global Times quoted the embassy's statement on Friday.
Many organisations including Kazakhstan's health department are studying the "virus of this pneumonia", the embassy said. There has not been any indication whether this disease is related to the COVID-19. Some Chinese experts said that measures should be taken to prevent the pneumonia from spreading into China. Kazakhstan borders China's northwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The embassy is reminding the Chinese citizens in Kazakhstan to raise their awareness of measures to prevent the spread of the virus. It quoted local media as saying that since mid-June, almost 500 people have been infected with the pneumonia in three regions of Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan's healthcare minister on Wednesday said that the number of patients sickened by the pneumonia is two to three times more than those who have been infected with the COVID-19, the report quoted Kazakh media as saying.
The minister said that it has planned to publish accurate tallies of confirmed cases as early as next week, noting that while it is not necessary to publish the number, the public needs to know the true situation, Kazakh international news agency Kazinform reported. Kazakhstan has reported 51,059 cases of COVID-19, including 264 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus resource centre. --PTI
11:50 Singaporeans vote for new government amid pandemic
Wearing face masks and gloves, Singaporeans were voting on Friday in a general election that is expected to return the ruling party once again to power but the result could be a test for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's handling of the economy during the COVID-19 crisis. Voting began at 8 am and will end at 8 pm with the first count expected late at night.
Morning slots have been reserved for voters who are 65 years and older to minimise their interaction with younger voters and to allow them to vote ahead of others, the Elections Department (ELD) said on Thursday.
Singaporean voters are facing "longer than usual queues" at some polling stations. Long lines were seen at several polling centres across Singapore on Friday, the ELD said in an update this morning.
"This is partly due to the additional safety measures put in place to ensure safe voting," Channel News Asia reported. At 10 am, 350,000 voters - 13 per cent of the registered voters - cast their vote at local polling stations, the ELD said.
A total of 2.65 million people will vote on Friday as voting is compulsory in Singapore and the government has declared Friday a holiday. Eleven political parties, including the ruling People's Action Party (PAP), campaigned for nine days amid the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19 that has pushed the city-state's economy towards the worst-ever recession in nearly two decades. -- PTI
11:26 Cop's wife killed in encounter questions Dubey's encounter
"I'm satisfied. But now how will it come into fore as to who were backing him (Vikas Dubey)? It could have been unraveled by questioning him," Urmila Verma, wife of constable Sultan Singh who lost his life in the encounter at Kanpur's Bikru village on July 3.
11:16 PPE shortage in US again as Covid cases rise
Healthcare workers on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States have once again started facing shortages of masks, gowns, face shields and gloves as the infection spread and the number of patients getting hospitalised continues to climb.
According to The Washington Post, the mess of equipment shortages has come at a time when other issues have plagued the country's early response to the pandemic return, including surging cases, overwhelmed hospitals, lagging in testing and contradictory public health messages. But the inability to secure PPEs is especially frustrating, healthcare workers say, as it acts as their main defence against warding off the coronavirus.
Nurses say they are reusing N95 masks for days and even weeks at a time. Doctors say they cannot reopen offices because they lack personal protective equipment. State officials say they have scoured US and international suppliers for PPE and struggle to get orders filled. Experts worry the problem could worsen as coronavirus infections climb, straining medical systems.
"A lot of people thought once the alarm was sounded back in March, surely the federal government would fix this, but that has not happened," said Deborah Burger, a California nurse and president of National Nurses United, a union representing registered nurses.
Like many healthcare workers, Burger also blamed the Trump administration for the lack of equipment, noting the administration has insisted the responsibility falls to state and local officials, with the federal government playing only a supporting role.
However, White House officials, in an interview to the Post, were quoted as saying that concerns over PPE shortages are overblown. They said that US manufacturing and stockpiles of protective equipment have improved dramatically and are adequate in most states.Instead, Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, whom President Trump put in charge of coronavirus-related supplies, alleged that the PPEs demand continues to outstrip supply because hospitals, states and the federal government are trying to stockpile supplies.
Demand for protective equipment has soared, but unlike in March, when efforts focused on getting PPE for major hospitals -- especially in New York, Detroit and Chicago -- supplies now are desperately needed by primary care offices, nursing homes, prisons and psychiatric and disability facilities.
As many states continue to reopen their economies, demand has also surged from the construction industry and other sectors. With soaring demand, prices have also skyrocketed.In a letter last week, the American Medical Association told the Federal Emergency Management Agency that doctor's offices outside big systems -- including those providing primary care, chemotherapy and minor surgeries -- have struggled to reopen because they are unable to secure PPE.
The association, which pleaded for transparency and a coordinated national strategy, said it is unclear "whether the central problem is in the availability of raw material, production backlogs, gaps in the distribution systems, or some combination of all three."
In a second letter, the medical association urged the White House to invoke the Defense Production Act to compel manufacturers to increase supplies of N95 masks and gowns.
A Washington Post-Ipsos poll in May found two-thirds of frontline healthcare workers were still experiencing insufficient supplies of face masks that filter out airborne particles.
As the virus has rampaged through the US, it has pummeled the ranks of healthcare workers, infecting at least 94,000 and killing 500, according to an incomplete count by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the true number is believed to be much higher. -- ANI
11:11 PNB reports Rs 3,689 crore exposure to DHFL as fraud
Government-owned Punjab National Bank has reported a fraud of Rs 3,688.58 crore in the non-performing asset account of non-banking financial company Dewan Housing Finance Ltd which is in bankruptcy proceedings.
DHFL had accumulated total debts of almost Rs 1 lakh crore and failed to honour dues to its creditors. PNB said the fraud in NPA account of DHFL at a large corporate branch in Mumbai was reported to the Reserve Bank of India.
According to RBI rules, once an account is declared a fraud, banks need to set aside 100 per cent of the outstanding loans as provisions either in one go or over four quarters.
"The bank has already made provisions amounting to Rs 1,246.58 crore as per prescribed prudential norms," it said in regulatory filings at stock exchanges late on Thursday after market closing hours.In 2018, PNB was hit by Rs 11,300-crore fraud involving billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi. Last year in July, it reported a borrowing fraud of Rs 3,805 crore in Bhushan Power and Steel Ltd's account. In November last year, the RBI had superseded DHFL's board and later referred the mortgage lender to the National Company Law Tribunal. -- ANI
11:06 Statement by UP ADG on Vikas Dubey encounter
UP ADG law & order Prashant Kumar: "After car overturned, Vikas Dubey tried to snatch police weapon and attempted to flee after which there was retaliatory fire by police in which he was injured. He was declared dead after being taken to hospital. We'll issue official statement soon."
10:46 Another gangster killed in encounter in UP
In another case, a notorious criminal, Panna Yadav, was injured in an encounter with the Special Task Force at Ahiranpurwa village in Hardi area of Bahraich last night. He was rushed to district hospital where he died. He was a resident of Gorakhpur and carrying a reward of Rs 50,000, SP Vipin Mishra, said.
10:41 Law has taken its course: MP HM on Dubey's death
Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra on the encounter death of gangster Vikas Dubey: Law has taken its course. It could be a matter of regret and disappointment for those who raised questions on Vikas Dubey's arrest yesterday and death today. MP Police did its job, it arrested and handed him over to UP Police."
Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav on Friday raised questions on gangster Vikas Dubey's encounter killing after an accident, saying the car did not topple but it was an effort to save the government from toppling if facts came to light. Dubey was killed in an encounter after a police vehicle carrying him from Ujjain to Kanpur met with an accident and he tried to escape from the spot, police said. "Darasal ye car nahi palti, raj khulne se sarkar palatne se bach gayi hai," (Actually, the car did not topple. It is an effort to save the government which would have toppled if facts came to light)," Yadav said in a tweet in Hindi.
Senior Superintendent of Police (Kanpur) Dinesh Kumar P said that the accident took place in the morning when it was raining heavily and the police vehicle overturned near Kanpur.
Image: Body of gangster Vikas Dubey who was killed in the police encounter today, at LLR Hospital in Kanpur. Pic: ANI
10:32 Texas hits record with 105 new COVID-19 deaths in a single day
Texas has reported more than 100 new coronavirus deaths in a single day for the first time making this the deadliest week so far of the COVID-19 pandemic while newly confirmed cases continue to rise in the state, the health officials said. The grim milestone marks the third consecutive day the state broke its record for single-day COVID-19-related deaths, with 98 fatalities on Wednesday and 60 on Tuesday. Texas also reported 9,782 new cases on Thursday, bringing its total to 230,346, with 2,918 resulting in death, state figures show.
In addition to 105 new deaths on Thursday, Texas also reported a new high for hospitalisations for the 10th consecutive day and the rolling rate of positive tests inched closer to nearly 16 per cent the highest in the pandemic yet.
With cases of the new coronavirus and related hospitalisations rising at alarming rates, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, expanded his ban on elective medical procedures to cover more than 100 counties across much of the state. Surgeries and other procedures that are not immediately, medically necessary which have already been on hold in many of the state's biggest cities and several South Texas counties are now barred in much of the state, from far West Texas to much of Central Texas, Southeast Texas and the Gulf Coast.
"We are freeing up more resources to address upticks in COVID-19 related cases, Abbott said in a statement. The State of Texas will continue to do everything we can to mitigate the spread of this virus and support our hospitals and health care professionals as they care for their fellow Texans.
10:18 'Proud of UP Police': Father of dead cop
Father of constable Jitendra Pal Singh who lost his life in an encounter at Bikru village in Kanpur, said he was proud of UP Police for "bringing solace to his soul."
Gangster Vikas Dubey has been killed after a car in the Special Task Force convoy, taking him from Madhya Pradesh's Ujjain to Uttar Pradesh's Shivli, overturned in Kanpur.
The history-sheeter, accused of masterminding a deadly ambush on a police party outside his Bikru village home, apparently tried to flee that led the police team to open fire.
09:50 Over 26,000 COVID cases in 24 hrs for first time
India has once again reported the highest single-day spike in fresh coronavirus cases with 26,506 new cases recorded in 24 hours. Indias Covid count now stands at 7.93 lakh.
India has reported 475 deaths and the 26,506 new COVID19 cases in the last 24 hours. Total positive coronavirus cases in India now stand at 7,93,802.
India now has 2,76,685 active cases and 4,95,513 cured and discharged cases. Indias coronavirus death toll has gone up to 21,604.
With 7.93 lakh coronavirus cases, India now ranks third in the world coronavirus charts after US and Brazil.
Maharashtra, which is the worst-affected state in India, has recorded 2.30 lakh coronavirus cases and 9,667 deaths while Tamil Nadu, which is the second worst-affected state, has recorded 1.26 lakh Covid cases.
09:20 Yogi govt saved its secrets: Akhilesh
Former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav hit out at the Yogi Adityanath-led government after gangster Vikas Dubey was killed in an encounter.
He wrote on Twitter, "Darasal ye car palti nahi, raaz khulne se sarkaar palatne se bachayi gayi hai."
Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Digvijaya Singh also reacted to Vikas Dubey's death - "Exactly what we had been suspecting, happened now. Which political figures, police and other officials that Vikas Dubey was connected to, will never be known now."
08:58 Politican leaders react to encounter of Vikas Dubey
Shortly after the UP Police announced that gangster Vikas Dubey had been killed when he tried to flee from the car which was bringing him to Kanpur from Ujjain, leaders from various political parties have reacted.
"Na rahega bas, na bajegi basuri"
-- Priyanka Chaturvedi, Deputy Leader of Shiv Sena and Rajya Sabha MP from Maharashtra
"Oh so predictable! The biggest mob in India is the @Uppolice headed by a Don Now everything is settled. All inconvenient truths buried for good. @IPS_Association"
-- Karti P Chidambaram, Congress leader
"Darasal ye car palti nahi, raaz khulne se sarkaar palatne se bachayi gayi hai"
-- Akhilesh Yadav, Former UP CM
08:43 4 cops hurt in gunfight when Dubey tried to flee
On the encounter that broke out between the STF and the gangster, Kanpur SSP said that the vehicle escorting Vikas Dubey overturned after which he got out and snatched the pistol of one of the wounded cops and tried to escape.
Firing took place and Vikas Dubey was shot at, the SSP said.
Four policemen have also been injured, the SSP added.
SP Kanpur, speaking to ANI, said, "Gangster Vikas Dubey attempted to flee after the car overturned. Police tried to make him surrender, during which he fired at the policemen. He was injured in retaliatory firing by police. He was later rushed to the hospital."
The gangster was declared dead by hospital authorities.
08:13 Gangster Vikas Dubey killed while trying to flee
Gangster Vikas Dubey has been killed after a car in the Special Task Force convoy, taking him from Madhya Pradesh's Ujjain to Uttar Pradesh's Shivli, overturned in Kanpur.
The history-sheeter, accused of masterminding a deadly ambush on a police party outside his Bikru village home, apparently tried to flee that led the police team to open fire.
Dubey was arrested outside Mahakal temple in the pilgrimage city of Ujjain on Thursday after purchasing prasad and an entry ticket to the shrine, ending a six-day manhunt.
08:03 1 cop car taking Vikas Dubey to Kanpur overturns
One of the vehicles of the convoy of Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force that was bringing back history-sheeter Vikas Dubey from Madhya Pradesh to Kanpur overturned.
Police have reached at the spot. Further details are awaited.
Dubey, the main accused in the Kanpur shoot out case was arrested by the police in Ujjain on Thursday morning. He was on the run for the last six days and had come to Ujjain to offer prayers at Temple, where he was identified by a security guard at the shrine.
The gangster is the main accused in the encounter that took place in Bikru village in Chaubeypur area of Kanpur last week, in which a group of assailants allegedly opened fire on a police team, which had gone to arrest Dubey. Eight police personnel were killed in the encounter.
Dubey managed to escape and the Uttar Pradesh police launched a hunt for him and raised the bounty him to Rs 5 lakh.
00:11 On portfolio allocation, BJP MP's jibe at Scindia
A senior Madhya Pradesh BJP leader on Thursday asked Jyotiraditya Scindia to consider if he is the reason behind "delay" in the allocation of portfolios among ministers in the state government led by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and said it is not sending out a good message.
Ganesh Singh, a fourth term Lok Sabha MP from Satna in the state, said the delay is "unnecessary" and has not sent out a good message to public.
"Scindia has a tall stature in the state's politics, and senior leaders of the party hold him in high regard. He should seriously consider it if he is the reason behind the delay in allocation of portfolios. People want to see a good government at work under Chouhan," Singh said in a statement.
He said the allocation of portfolios is a chief minister's privilege, and nobody should interfere with this.
Chouhan has put Madhya Pradesh on path to development in his three successive tenures, he said, adding that the chief minister should be trusted in this matter.
The second expansion of the state cabinet had taken place on July 2, nearly three months after the first 'mini' expansion in April.
Even six days after 28 ministers took oath, Chouhan is unable to allocate portfolios to them.
He had recently visited New Delhi to meet top BJP brass apparently to discuss the issue.
The delay, sources said, has been caused due to lack of agreement over which minister should get which portfolio.
The BJP came to power in the state after the Congress government was toppled due to defection of 22 of its MLAs, who owe allegiance to Scindia, to the saffron camp.
They resigned from the state assembly, bringing the Kamal Nath government to a minority and paving the way for the BJP to return to power.
As many as 12 former Congress MLAs have been made ministers in the BJP government. -- PTI