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Thu, 08 April 2021
ED summons Mehbooba Mufti's mother in PMLA case

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23:37   ED summons Mehbooba Mufti's mother in PMLA case
The Enforcement Directorate has summoned the mother of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti for questioning in a money laundering case, officials said on Thursday.
   
They said Gulshan Nazir, in her seventies, has been asked to appear before the central probe agency at its office in Srinagar on April 15.
 
Mufti, 61, also the president of the People's Democratic Party, was questioned in this case on March 25 in Srinagar.
 
After her five-hour-long questioning that day, Mufti had told reporters that central agencies like the NIA, CBI and the ED were being "misused" to silence the opposition.
 
A PDP spokesperson said the latest summons are "part of the political vendetta against Mehbooba Mufti and PDP".
 
"It is an attempt to stop her from giving voice to the sentiments of the people in which they have failed miserably."
 
Nazir is the wife of former J&K CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
 
The criminal case filed under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act is linked to the recovery of at least two diaries by the ED, after raids on an alleged associate of Mufti, in which some purported payments made from the CM's discretionary fund were made in alleged contravention of rules.
 
These funds are alleged to have been diverted during the tenure of Mufti as the CM of the erstwhile state. -- PTI
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23:23   COVID-19 drug Remdesivir's price must not cross Rs 1400: Tope
The Maharashtra government on Thursday decided to cap the price of Remdesivir between Rs 1,100 and Rs 1,400 per vial with Health Minister Rajesh Tope calling for slashing the MRP of the key COVID-19 drug.
He made it clear that theprice of a Remdesivir injection should not cross Rs 1,400.
Tope said with a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases, the state may need 1.5 lakh Remdesivir injections daily which would require ramping up of production.
The MRP of the anti-viral drug, widely used in treatment of serious coronavirus patients, runs into a few thousands.
Tope said the COVID-19 drug should be available at a rate anywhere between Rs 1,100 and Rs 1,400.
Besides, he warned of a crackdown against stockists hoarding the medicine and asked doctors to be judicious in use of the injection.
He said Remdesivir manufacturers should supply the stock directly to government hospitals.
The stock sent to district collectors will be given to private hospitals as such a system will help to stop black-marketing and hoarding, Tope said.
Tope sought setting up of flying squads in every district to check malpractices in sale of the injection.
He saidat present 50,000 vials are being supplied and used on a daily basis in hospitals.
With the active cases shooting beyond the 5-lakh mark in Maharashtra, the demand for the medicine authorised for emergency use to treat COVID-19 has gone up.
"We may need 1.5 lakh injections daily and hence production needs to increase," he said.
"These are pandemic times, let's not engage in profiteering," he said.
Tope chaired an online meeting with officials of pharma companies manufacturing Remdesivir. -- PTI
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22:55   Pak parliamentary panel endorses 2-yr jail term for criticising armed forces
A Pakistani parliamentary panel has endorsed a controversial law to criminalise any criticism or ridicule of the powerful armed forces with a two-year imprisonment or fine up to Rs 50,000 or both.
 
The legislation was adopted by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior on Wednesday despite sharp criticism by the Opposition parties which called it ultra vires of the fundamental rights.
 
Coup-prone Pakistan has been under military rule for almost half of its existence, with many governments deposed before completing its term, mostly at the behest of the country's powerful armed forces.
 
The law, which aims to amend the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), was introduced for discussion by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Amjad Ali Khan.
 
However, difference erupted over the law between the 11-member body after Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) opposed the harsh punishment suggested in the bill.
 
PML-N's Marriyum Aurangzeb and Chaudhry Nadeem Abbas Rebaira as well as Syed Agha Rafiullah of the PPP said that the amendment would be used to curb the freedom of expression in the country.
 
The vote was tied at 5-5 and the stalemate was broken by the chairman of the committee, Raja Khurram Shahzad Nawaz, who belonged to the ruling PTI. Normally, the chairmen of committees remain neutral.
 
The bill suggests that armed forces' personnel would not be subjected to any deliberate ridicule, insult and defamation, and those targeting them would be punished.
 
The only saving grace is that the trial of such critics would be held in a civil court and not in a military court.
 
But in order to become a law, the bill still needs to face the hurdle of being separately passed by the National Assembly (NA) and the Senate, the lower and the upper houses of Parliament. While the government enjoys a majority in the NA, the Opposition controls the Senate.
 
Often, the bills opposed by the Opposition parties at committee stage are killed in the Senate. -- PTI 
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22:46   Covid: AIIMS to perform only urgent surgeries
Amid a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in Delhi, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi decided on Thursday that only urgent procedures and surgeries will be performed in its operation theatres from April 10.
 
In a communique issued to all the chiefs of centres and HoDs, AIIMS medical superintendent Dr D K Sharma said a meeting chaired by the AIIMS director was held in the Ramalingaswamy Board Room on Thursday over the need to curtail the operation theatre services for the diversion of infrastructure, manpower and material resources to curb the spread of COVID-19.
"It has been decided at a meeting chaired by the AIIMS director in the Ramalingaswamy Board Room that the operation theatre services need to be curtailed in response to the heightened need for diversion of infrastructure, manpower and material resources for the prevention and control of the COVID-19 outbreak.
"Accordingly, it is decided that only urgent procedures or surgeries are to be taken up in various operation theatres of AIIMS with effect from 10.04.2021 (Saturday)," it added.
The AIIMS in New Delhi has also temporarily closed down the routine walk-in OPD patient registrations, including at the speciality clinics and all the centres of the hospital, with effect from Thursday to minimise the possibility of a community spread of COVID-19 and optimise the diversion of available manpower and resources for the treatment of the affected patients.
It said the OPDs and speciality clinics will continue to register and provide OPD requisite services only for such patients (new and follow-up) who have prior appointments.
The respective departments may fix the limits of the daily new and follow-up patients in the OPD for the next four weeks, depending on the available strength of the residents after contributing to the COVID-19 pool. -- PTI 
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22:37   MoU signed to introduce 'ayurveda' disciplines in veterinary science: Govt
The concept of ayurveda and its allied disciplines will soon be introduced in veterinary sciences with the ministries concerned signing an initial pact to this effect.
    
The MoU between Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying and Ministry of AYUSH was signed on April 7, an official statement said.  
         
This cooperation will definitely help in developing a regulatory mechanism for the use of ayurveda in the veterinary sector for the benefit of animal health, livestock owners' community and the society at large, it said.
         
The initiative involves capacity building in related areas through training, exploring marketing possibilities for herbal veterinary medicines on a sustainable basis and providing for services including cultivation, preservation and conservation of medicinal plants. 
     
The cooperation will help in developing herbal veterinary education programmes and creating  awareness among dairy farmers and agro-farmers about utilization and importance of herbal veterinary medicine and cultivation of medicinal herbs, the statement by Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying added. -- PTI 
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22:33   Need 40 lakh vaccine doses per week: Maha CM to PM
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the state was not lagging behind in the fight against COVID-19, and urged him to affirm that there should be no politics
in this effort.
He was speaking during the video-conference meeting with Modi to review the coronavirus situation in the country.
His statement comes a day after Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan made a stinging attack on the Maharashtra government, saying that it had "singularly bogged down" the entire country's effort to fight the virus.
A statement issued by the Chief Minister's Office said that Thackeray requested the prime minister to address the leaders of all political parties, asking them to refrain from indulging in politics on the issue.
He said Maharashtra has increased the number of daily tests and requested for additional vaccine doses. He also sought PM's help in procuring oxygen and ventilators from other states.
Thackeray urged Modi to approve the proposal of Haffkine Institute to manufacture anti-coronavirus vaccine.
During the meeting, Union health secretary expressed satisfaction that out of the total tests conducted, 71 per cent were RT-PCR tests and 28 per cent rapid antigen tests, and requested the numbers to be increased, the statement said.
Thackeray said the state had succeeded in keeping the virus in check, but the grampanchayat elections, marriage events resulted in the spread of the virus. 

There was a sudden spike in Vidarbha and the spread was rapid. There was a virus mutation when the situation was being normalised.
He added that the state government aims to complete vaccination of 1.77 crore population in the priority list, for which 40 lakh vaccine doses are required per week.
The state has so far received 1,06,23,500 doses, out of which 92 lakh to 95 lakh have been administered. But the stocks have dried up and many vaccine centres have been shut.
He said that the Centre has assured supply of 17.43 lakh doses after April 15, but then there would be interruption in the vaccine drive.
He reiterated the demand for lowering the vaccination age limit to 25 years.
Thackeray also sought the supply of anti-viral drug remdesivir, oxygen and ventilators.
He said that in the last three days, over two lakh tests were conducted daily, out of which 1.25 lakh were RT-PCR. -- PTI  
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22:24   Cong leader Oommen Chandy tests positive for COVID-19
Senior Congress leader and former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. 

Chandy, who contested the April 6 assembly polls from Puthupallyin Kottayam, was not keeping well since the past two days, party sources said. 
 
He is likely to be shifted to a hospital in Thiruvananthapuram. -- PTI  
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21:53   EC notice to Suvendu Adhikari over 'hate speech'
The Election Commission on Thursday issued a notice to Suvendu Adhikari, the BJP candidate from Nandigram in West Bengal, for alleged communal overtones in his speech made last month.
   
He has been asked to respond to the notice within 24 hours.
 
The notice said the poll panel received a complaint from Kavita Krishnan of CPI-ML Central Committee in which it was alleged that on March 29 Adhikari delivered a "hate speech" in Nandigram while addressing a public meeting.
 
The EC referred to two provisions of the Model Code of Conduct which state that criticism of other political parties, when made, shall be confined to their policies and programmes, past record and work.Criticism of other parties or their workers based on unverified allegations or distortion shall be avoided.
 
Another provision states that there shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes.
 
The notice said the EC has been found to be in violation of certain clauses of the model code. 

Adhikari is pitted against chief minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram. -- PTI 
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21:06   Delhi's daily Covid tally breaches 7kmark for 1st time this year
Delhi recorded 7,437 fresh COVID-19 cases Thursday, the highest single-day surge this year, while 24 more people died due to the coronavirus infection, taking the death toll to 11,157, according to the ciity's Health Department.
 
The positivity rate also mounted to 8.1 per cent from 6.1 per cent the previous day, as the massive spike in cases witnessed over the past few weeks continues.
This is also the first time that over 7,000 cases have been reported in a day this year.
The daily case count for the past two days was also above 5,000.
The highest single-day spike in Delhi till date -- 8,593 cases -- was reported on November 11, while on November 19, the city recorded 131 COVID-19 deaths, the highest single-day fatality since the pandemic began.
On November 27, the city had recorded 5,482 cases and 6,224 cases on November 24 and 7,486 on November 18, as per official data.
A total of 91,770 tests, including 52,696 RT-PCR tests and 39,074 rapid antigen tests, were conducted a day ago, the bulletin said.
The number of cumulative cases on Thursday stood at 6,98,005. Over 6.63 lakh patients have recovered from the virus.
As per the latest bulletin, 24 more people died due to the disease, taking the toll to 11,157.
The number of active cases rose to 23,181 from 19,455 a day before.
The number of people under home isolation increased to 11,367 from 10,048 on Wednesday while the number of containment zones mounted to 4,226 from 3,708 a day before, the bulletin said. -- PTI
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20:50   Mumbai's COVID-19 case count drops below 10,000 after 2 days
Mumbai reported 8,938 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a drop from over 10,000 infections each on the previous two days, and 23 fresh deaths, the city civic body said.
According to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's updated data, with the addition of 8,938 cases, the city's COVID-19 tally surged to 4,91,698, while the death toll jumped to 11,874.
The financial capital had reported 10,428 new COVID-19 cases and 23 fatalities on Wednesday and 10,030 infections and 31 deaths on Tuesday.
According to the BMC, 4,503 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals during the day, pushing the number of recovered cases to 3,92,514.
Mumbai's number of active COVID-19 cases rose to 86,279, it said.
As many as 48,902 more COVID-19 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours, taking the number of samples examined so far to 44,54,140, the civic body said.
 
The COVID-19 recovery rate in Mumbai has gone down to 80 per cent, according to the BMC.
The overall infection growth rate has increased to 2.03 per cent, while the case doubling rate has dropped to 33 days, it said.
The civic body said the city currently has 71 active containment zones, in slums and 'chawls' (old tenements), and 750 sealed buildings. -- PTI 
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20:47   PM calls for Covid vaccine festival from Apr 11-14
Noting that administration was appearing lax in many states amid a rising number of COVID-19 cases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday urged chief ministers to strengthen their efforts for the next 2-3 weeks to check the spread of the virus on a "war-footing".
 
He also called for observing a vaccine festival between April 11-14 to inoculate the maximum number of eligible beneficiaries.
 
In his interaction with chief ministers to discuss the COVID-19 situation and the ongoing vaccination drive, Modi asserted that the country had much more resources to deal with the virus than before and the focus should be on micro-containment zones.
 
"There is a need to improve the governance system. I understand that because of the one-year battle, the system can experience tiredness and there can be laxity, but we must tighten it for 2-3 weeks and strengthen the governance," he said.
 
Modi emphasised on 'Test, Track, Treat', Covid-appropriate behaviour and Covid management to contain the pandemic.
 
Along with public participation, our hard-working doctors and health-care staff have helped a lot in handling the situation and are still doing it, he said.
 
"With administration appearing lax in many states, rise in cases has increased problems. To stop the spread of the virus, there is a need to work on a war-footing," he said.
 
The daily count of positive cases has reached a new record high of over 1.26 lakh, despite having dipped to about 20,000 a few weeks back.
 
At a high-level meeting with senior officials, Prime Minister Modi had on Sunday reviewed the COVID-19 situation and vaccination exercise in the country amid the "alarming rate of growth" in infections and deaths.
 
Modi had said the five-fold strategy of testing, tracing, treatment, COVID-appropriate behaviour and vaccination, if implemented with utmost seriousness and commitment, would be effective in curbing the spread of the pandemic, according to an official statement that was released after the meeting. -- PTI 
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20:01   Dassault rejects wrongdoing charges in Rafale deal
French aerospace major Dassault Aviation on Thursday rejected fresh allegations of corruption in the Rafale fighter jet deal with India, saying no violations were reported in the frame of the contract.
 
The assertion by the manufacturer of the Rafale jets came days after French publication Mediapart, citing an investigation by the country's anti-corruption agency, reported that Dassault Aviation had paid about one million Euros to an Indian middleman.
"Numerous controls are carried out by official organisations, including the French Anti Corruption Agency. No violations were reported, notably in the frame of the contract with India for the acquisition of 36 Rafales," a Dassault Aviation spokesperson said.
The official said Dassault Aviation reiterated that it acts in strict compliance with the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Anti Bribery Convention and national laws.
"Since the early 2000s, Dassault Aviation has implemented strict internal procedures to prevent corruption, guaranteeing the integrity, ethics and reputation of the company in its industrial and commercial relations," the spokesperson said. 
The NDA government had signed a Rs 59,000-crore deal on September 23, 2016 to procure 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace major Dassault Aviation after a nearly seven-year exercise to procure 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft for the Indian Air Force did not fructify during the UPA regime.
Prior to the Lok Sabha elections in 2019, the Congress raised several questions about the deal, including on rates of the aircraft, and alleged corruption but the government rejected all the charges. -- PTI
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19:47   Maha govt wasted 5 lakh Covid doses: Javadekar
Union minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Prakash Javadekar alleged on Thursday that five lakh doses of the COVID-19 vaccines were wasted in Maharashtra due to a lack of planning by the state government.
 
Addressing a press conference at the BJP office in New Delhi, Javadekar, who himself hails from Maharashtra, said he has taken all the information and 23 lakh doses of the vaccines are available with the Maharashtra government.
His remarks came after Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday said many inoculation centres in the state are being shut due to a shortage of the vaccines and that the state now has 14 lakh doses, which would only last for three days.
"I want to make it clear that the Maharashtra government has 23 lakh doses of the vaccines with it...which is a stock for five to six days. Now, to distribute in villages and districts is the responsibility of the state government," Javadekar said.
He alleged that the Maharashtra government has "wasted five lakh doses of the vaccines, and it is not a small number, due to its lack of planning. The planning for carrying out a vaccination drive is the responsibility of the state government".
The Union minister also said a higher number of vaccines was given to Maharashtra as compared to the Centre's previous allocation to the state. -- PTI
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19:44   Pak to start vaccination of all its citizens next month: Minister
Pakistan will start vaccination of all its citizens after the festival of Eid to be celebrated next month, a senior minister said on Thursday, as the country recorded 5,329 new coronavirus cases, the highest single day surge during the ongoing third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Minister for Planning Asad Umar told journalists that more than one million people had been vaccinated.
 
"We will be able to vaccinate more than 125,000 people per day after Eid," Umar said, adding that China was the main provider of vaccines.
 
He said the next five to six weeks were critical and urged the people to follow SOPs to help mitigate the cases and the impact of the pandemic.
 
Umar also said that the single-shot Cansino vaccine of China will also be available after Eid and help to speed up vaccination process.
 
The vaccination in Pakistan is open for people with more than 50 years of age, as well as all health workers. The vaccination has been going on since February 2 when the first phase was launched for only the frontline health workers.
 
Pakistan recorded 5,329 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the highest single day surge during the ongoing third wave of the pandemic, according to the official data.
 
The new cases are also the highest since June last year when the country faced the first wave of the coronavirus. Before this, the highest new cases in a day were 5,234 reported on April 1.
 
With the new cases, the total number of COVID-19 infections in the country reached 705,501, the Ministry of National Health Services reported.
 
The data showed that 98 more people died in the last one day, pushing the COVID-19 death toll to 15,124. Another 3,942 were reportedly in a critical condition.
 
The authorities performed 49,816 tests in the last 24 hours, which showed that the positivity rate was 10.7 per cent, it said. -- PTI 
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19:19   There should be 'Kharche pe charcha': Rahul mocks PM
Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Parikasha Pe Charcha' programme, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said there should also be 'Kharche Pe Charcha' (discussion on expenses) as filling fuel in a car has become no less than giving an examination due to the Centre's tax collection.
   
The Congress has been attacking the government over the rise in fuel and gas prices and has demanded that the prices be brought back to the level at which they existed at the time of the UPA government.
 
"Due to the central government's tax collection, filling fuel in the car has become no less than giving an examination, then why doesn't the PM discuss it?" Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.
 
"Kharche pe bhi ho charcha (Discussion should also be done on expenses)," he said.
 
At his annual 'Parikasha Pe Charcha' programme, Prime Minister Modi told students on Wednesday not to fear exams but to see them as a test to improve themselves, and said social and family environment at times create pressure around students that is not desirable. -- PTI
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19:13   Happiest day of my life: CRPF jawan's wife
"Today is the happiest day of my life. I always remained hopeful of his return," Meenu, the wife of CRPF jawan Rakeshwar Singh Manhas, said on the release of her husband by Naxals in Chhattisgarh.

Manhas was kidnapped by Naxals during the Bijapur attack on April 3
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19:07   CoBRA jawan brought to CRPF camp
CoBRA jawan Rakeshwar Singh Manhas brought to CRPF camp in Bijapur after he was released by Naxals.

"We have brought him back safely. He will undergo a medical examination by a doctor here," said SP Bijapur.

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19:04   Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan tests Covid positive
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday tested positive for COVID-19.

He had taken the first dose of the COVID19 vaccine on March 3.

"I have been confirmed Covid +ve. Will get treated at the Government Medical College, Kozhikkode. Request those who have been in contact with me recently to go into self observation," he said on Twitter.

Vijayan had extensively travelled across the state as part of the electioneering for the Assembly polls which was held on April 6. 
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19:00   COVID: Sachin Tendulkar discharged from hospital
Former India captain and batting icon Sachin Tendulkar, who was hospitalised as a precautionary measure after testing positive for COVID-19, was on Thursday discharged and is now recuperating in home isolation here.
   
The former player, who will turn 48 later this month, posted a statement on Twitter to confirm the development.
 
"I have just come home from the hospital and will remain isolated while continuing to rest and recuperate. I would like to thank everyone for all the good wishes and prayers. Really appreciate it," Tendulkar said.
 
Tendulkar also thanked the medical staff for taking care of him during the hospitalisation.
 
"I remain ever grateful to all the medical staff who took such good care of me & have been working tirelessly for over a year in such difficult circumstances," said Tendulkar.
 
Tendulkar was hospitalised on April 2 as a precautionary measure after testing positive for the dreaded virus on March 27.
 
However all his other family members have tested negative.
 
The legendary right-handed batsman had taken part in the Road Safety World Series Challenge veterans' tournament in Raipur last month. He had led the Indian team to victory in that event. PTI 
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18:37   Mukesh Ambani to appeal against SEBI penalty
Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani will appeal against the fine imposed by market regulator SEBI over alleged irregularities in a two-decade-old share issue in the company, the firm said on Thursday.
   
Reliance Industries Ltd had issued debentures with convertible warrants in 1994 and allotted equity shares against the warrants in 2000.
 
This was when Dhirubhai Ambani was heading the undivided company.
 
"SEBI had issued a show-cause notice in February 2011 (more than 11 years after the acquisition of shares) to then promoter and promoter group (as in the year 2000) alleging violation" of takeover regulations, the company said in a stock exchange filing on Thursday.
 
The show-cause notice has now been adjudicated (21 years after the acquisition of shares) and a penalty of Rs 25 crore levied on then promoter and promoter group -- brothers Mukesh and Anil (who had split the company after the death of their father in 2002) and other individuals.
 
"The promoter and promoter group have informed RIL that there has been no violation of Regulation 11(1) of the SEBI Takeover Regulations and they have complied with applicable laws, and an appeal will be preferred to the Securities Appellate Tribunal and they remain confident of vindicating their position," the filing said.
 
SEBI had penalised Ambani brothers and other promoter family members for not making regulatory disclosures when they collectively raised their shareholding in RIL by nearly 7 per cent by subscribing to the January 2000 issue. -- PTI 
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18:20   CoBRA jawan abducted by Naxals released
CoBRA jawan Rakeshwar Singh Manhas, who was abducted by Naxals after a gun-battle in the Bastar region on April 3, has been released by them, police sources said.

Rakeshwar Singh Manhas, a commando of the 210th battalion of CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action), an elite unit of the CRPF, had gone missing after the fierce gunfight with Naxals on Saturday.

Manhas was part of a squad that had gone for an anti-Naxal operation in jungles on the Bijapur and Sukma border on the night of April 2, hours before the deadly ambush.
On Saturday, the gunfight broke out between security forces and ultras between Tekalguda and Jonaguda villages in which 22 troopers were killed and 31 others injured.
Out of the 22, eight were from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), including seven CoBRA commandos and one jawan of its 'Bastariya' battalion, eight from the District Reserve Guard (DRG) and six from the Special Task Force (STF).  
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17:51   Home delivery of alcohol permitted in Mumbai
The Mumbai police has clarified that in view of the updated Covid guidelines, home delivery of alcohol is allowed. However, wine shops will continue to remain closed for over-the-counter sales.

You can see their post on Twitter, here.
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17:48   Gainers and losers as Sensex inches up
Rising for the third session on the trot, the 30-share BSE benchmark settled 84.45 points higher at 49,746.21. 

The broader NSE Nifty advanced 54.75 points or 0.37 per cent to 14,873.80. 

UltraTech Cement was the top performer among the Sensex constituents, rallying 4.24 per cent, followed by Titan, Tech Mahindra, Nestle India, TCS, Bajaj Finserv and L&T. 

On the other hand, IndusInd Bank, ONGC, Sun Pharma, Bajaj Auto, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank were among the laggards, slipping up to 1.07 per cent.
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17:38   'April status quo' on LAC could be discussed: China
China on Thursday said that India's proposal for the restoration of the status quo of April 2020 at eastern Ladakh could be discussed at the next meetings between the two countries.
China also said that there is no delay in holding talks with India to discuss the disengagement of troops from the remaining friction points in eastern Ladakh, amid reports about the likelihood of the 11th round of corps commander-level talks on Friday.
Asked to confirm the date for the 11th round of China-India Corps Commander-level meeting to discuss further disengagement in eastern Ladakh, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing here that "China and India are in communication on the holding of the 11th round of talks."
"As for the specific date for the upcoming talks, I have no information," he said.
The spokesman also denied any delay in holding of the 11th round of talks when pointed out that it is going to be about two months since the first disengagement has taken place and a month since the 10th round of talks on the disengagement of troops.
"There is no delayed meeting as you cited. I want to stress that the merits of the situation at the India-China border are very clear and the responsibility does not rest with the Chinese side," Zhao said.
"We hope the Indian side will work with China to follow through the important consensus of our two state leaders, abide by relevant agreements and treaties to de-escalate the tension at the border," he said.
He also said India's proposal for the restoration of the status quo at eastern Ladakh could be discussed at the meetings between the two countries.
About India's stand that the status quo of April 2020 should be restored and whether China would consider such a proposal, Zhao said, "for the proposal, you mentioned I believe it should be talked in the meetings and I already made clear my position on the border issue just now."
Media reports from Delhi said the corps commanders of both the militaries are likely to meet on Friday to discuss the disengagement of troops in the remaining friction points in eastern Ladakh.
India was expected to insist on early disengagement of troops in Gogra and Hot Springs besides pressing for resolution of pending issues in Depsang plains, the reports said.
The border standoff between the Indian and Chinese militaries erupted on May 5 last following a violent clash in the Pangong Lake areas and both sides gradually enhanced their deployment by rushing in tens of thousands of soldiers as well as heavy weaponry.
As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the withdrawal of troops and weapons from the North and South banks of Pangong Lake in February in line with an agreement on disengagement.
In the subsequent military talks on February 20, India insisted on the resolution of outstanding issues including in Depsang, Hot Springs and Gogra.
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17:18   Vaccination drive to stop from Friday: Mumbai Mayor
The ongoing COVID-19 vaccination drive in Mumbai will come to a halt from Friday as the stock of vaccine doses in the city is about to end, Mayor Kishori Pednekar said.
Talking to PTI on Thursday, she said that the vaccination drive could continue only if the city receives enough number of doses.
"The vaccination drive in the city will definitely come to a halt from Friday...Only if the city gets the supply (of vaccines), the drive will continue," Pednekar said.

"The existing stock of vaccine doses could last only till today (Thursday) evening and Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope has also declared about it," she added.
This is for the first time that Maharashtra is going through such "worst situation", she said, and held the Union government responsible for it.
The mayor said that due to the shortage of vaccines, it would be difficult for the authorities to administer the second dose of vaccines to those people who have got the first dose so far.
Meanwhile, several civic-run as well as private hospitals in the city have put up boards outside their premises, which read that due to the unavailability of vaccines, the vaccination process cannot be carried out.
The health department officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, however, did not respond to the query related to vaccination. 
Till April 7, over 15.52 lakh vaccine doses were administered to the people, including the essential services staff and frontline workers in the city. Of them, more than 1.72 lakh people were given a second dose of the vaccines.
Health Minister Rajesh Tope had on Wednesday said that many inoculation centres in Maharashtra are being shut due to the shortage of coronavirus vaccine. -- PTI 
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16:58   Those travelling to Mysuru from B'luru need to carry COVID-19 -ve certificate
The Mysuru district administration on Thursday issued an advisory stating that it was "appropriate" for all those travelling to Mysuru from Bengaluru to have COVID-19 negative reports, not older than 72 hours at the time of travel.
An advisory to this effect signed by Mysuru Deputy Commissioner Rohini Sindhuri was issued on Thursday.
Noting the surge in COVID cases in Bengaluru city and district, it said, many people commute between Mysuru and Bengaluru on a daily basis for job and business reasons, also it being a tourist spot many tourists travel to the district from the state capital.
Hence day by day surge in COVID spread has been noticed in Mysuru, it said.
"In this regard it is appropriate for those travelling to Mysuru district from Bengaluru to have a COVID-19 negative report (not older than 72 hours). It is hereby requested to cooperate to control the COVID spread by following the advisory," it added.
Speaking to reporters, the Deputy Commissioner said that those going to tourist spots, convention and party halls, recreational clubs and cinema halls will have to carry COVID-19 negative reports, from April 10 to 20 in the wake of Ugadi festivities and related holidays.
"Though we are not closing down any of the tourist places, as many tourists are coming in, wherever people gather, a negative report is to be carried," she said. -- PTI 
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16:22   SC refuses to cancel CBI probe against Deshmukh
The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the pleas filed by the Maharashtra government and its former home minister Anil Deshmukh challenging the Bombay high court order directing a CBI probe into allegations of corruption levelled against him by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh. 

Lawyer Kapil Sibal, representing Anil Deshmukh, told the court that the law must be uniform for everyone. 

"It can't be that just because the police commissioner has said something, his words become evidence,' he argued. 

"It was not your (Anil Deshmukh) enemy who made the allegations against you but it was done by the one who was almost your right-hand man (Param Bir Singh)," Supreme Court Justice S K Kaul observed. 

"The probe should be done against both."
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16:02   Rohingyas won't be deported sans due process: SC
The Supreme Court Thursday said that Rohingyas detained in Jammu shall not be deported to Myanmar without following the prescribed process.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde passed the order on a plea seeking immediate release of detained Rohingya refugees in Jammu and a direction to restrain the Centre from deporting them to Myanmar.

The Centre had earlier opposed the plea saying that the country cannot be the 'capital' for illegal immigrants.  

During the arguments, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, had said that Rohingya children were subjected to killing, maiming and sexual exploitation by the Myanmar military which has failed to respect international humanitarian law.

Violent attacks allegedly by Myanmar army have led to an exodus of Rohingya tribals from the western Rakhine state in that country to India and Bangladesh.
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15:45   Former cop Pradeep Sharma appears before NIA for 2nd day
Former police officer Pradeep Sharma on Thursday appeared before the National Investigation Agency for the second day in connection with the case of an explosives-laden SUV found near industrialist's Mukesh Ambani residence and the death of businessman Mansukh Hiran, an official said.

The NIA had summoned the 'encounter specialist' cop to record his statement.

Sharma reached the NIA office in south Mumbai around 1pm, the official said.

He is likely to be confronted with suspended police officer Sachin Waze and two other persons who were earlier arrested by the NIA in connection with its probe into the case, sources said.

On Wednesday, Sharma was questioned by the NIA for over seven hours.

Sharma used to be a trusted officer of former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh when the latter headed the Thane police.

Before taking voluntary retirement, Sharma had headed the anti-extortion cell of the Thane crime branch.

He unsuccessfully contested the 2019 assembly election from Nalasopara in Palghar district of Maharashtra.

An SUV laden with explosives was found parked near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's residence in Mumbai on February 25.

Businessman Mansukh Hiran, who was in possession of the SUV, was found dead in a creek in neighbouring Thane district on March 5.   -- PTI
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15:20   Mithun's roadshow disallowed, workers protest
The Bharatiya Janata Party was denied permission to hold a roadshow of Bollywood superstar Mithun Chakraborty, who had recently joined the saffron camp, in Behala area of Kolkata on Thursday, following which a group of party activists held a demonstration in front of a police station.

The agitation was led by actor-turned-politician Srabanti Chatterjee, who is contesting from the Behala Paschim assembly constituency on a BJP ticket, party sources said.

"The Kolkata Police did not allow our leader Mithun Chakraborty to campaign for me in the constituency without citing any reason.

"The Trinamool Congress cannot avert its imminent loss by such an undemocratic act of preventing us from campaigning. Is the state government scared of losing power?" the popular Bengali actor said.

The saffron party activists shouted slogans against the ruling TMC in front of the Parnasree Police Station.

BJP sources said the party sought permission to hold a door-to-door campaign by the Bollywood superstar in the Behala area after the Kolkata police had cancelled its roadshow plea on Wednesday night.

"The door-to-door campaign by him was also not granted at the last minute," they claimed.

The Kolkata Police declined to make any comment on the issue.

The BJP candidate later took out a roadshow in the constituency where the National Award-winning actor was not present.

The actor-turned-BJP candidate is pitted against TMC heavyweight and West Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee who is seeking re-election from the Behala Paschim constituency.

"We have nothing to do with any programme of Mithun Chakraborty. We know that the TMC has support of the people of Behala. The BJP candidate is doing drama," a leader of the ruling party said.

Chakraborty, however, led a roadshow in Tollygunj constituency for Union minister and BJP's candidate Babul Supriyo.   -- PTI

IMAGE: BJP leader Mithun Chakraborty during a roadshow in support of his party candidates, at Mahamaya Tala in South 24 Parganas, on Wednesday. Photograph: Swapan Mahapatra/PTI Photo
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15:00   Waze taken to Mumbai hospital for check-up
The National Investigation Agency on Thursday took suspended police officer Sachin Waze to thegovernment-run J J Hospital in Mumbai for a medical check-up, anofficial said.

Waze, 49, was arrested last month by the NIA in the case of an explosives-laden SUV found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's residence insouth Mumbai and the death of businessman Mansukh Hiran.

The NIA took him to the hospital around Thursday noon,the official said.

Hospital sources later said Waze was examined and thensent back.

"Report given to authorities concerned," a source said.

This was second time that Waze was taken for themedical-check up to the J J Hospital since his arrest.

Waze in a letter on Wednesday claimed former state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had demanded Rs 2 crore from him to continue his service in the Mumbai police and another minister Anil Parab asked him to collect money from some contractors in Mumbai.

Parab, a Shiv Sena leader, has rubbished Waze's claim.

Deshmukh, a senior Nationalist Congress Party leader, resigned as home minister on Monday after the Bombay high court ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into corruption allegations levelled against him by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh.

The special NIA court in Mumbai on Wednesday allowed the CBI to question Waze inconnection with its preliminary enquiry (PE) into the allegations of corruption against Deshmukh.   -- PTI
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14:10   Mamata to skip meeting called by PM on Covid
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will not attend the virtual meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the COVID-19 situation with CMs, sources in the state government said on Thursday.

Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay will be present in the meeting, they said.

Banerjeee will be busy campaigning for the ongoing assembly elections in the state, the sources said.

India registered a record single-day spike of 1,26,789 new COVID-19 cases, pushing its infection tally to 1,29,28,574, while the number of active cases too went upwards to breach the nine lakh-mark again, Union Health Ministry data showed.   -- PTI
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14:07   R-Day violence: Deep Sidhu denies leading mob to Red Fort
Actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu, accused in the case of Republic day violence in Delhi, did not call for the protest, and there is no evidence that he mobilised the crowd to Red Fort, said Sidhu's layer during his bail plea hearing in Delhi court on Thursday.

During the bail hearing, Advocate Abhishek Gupta, appearing on behalf of Sidhu, said the call for protest was by farmer leaders, and his client is not a member of any farmers' union.

"The call for protest was by farmer leaders, I'm not a member of farmer union, no call was given by me to go to Red Fort. There is no evidence that I have mobilised the crowd," Sidhu's lawyer told the court on his behalf.

"He has not indulged in a single act of violence. He left even before violence erupted. He was even helping the police, he hasn't been a part of violence.

"Only people who have indulged in violence can be prosecuted. Mere presence does not make him a part of unlawful assembly," argued Sidhu's lawyer.

Advocate Gupta submitted that Delhi Police has two videos showing Sidhu was actually helping to pacify the crowd.

"We are carrying that video if my Lords wanted to see. He was a practicing lawyer and is also a Punjabi actor. He is being made a scapegoat as he is a known face," Gupta told the court.

"This is a media trial going on. Deep Sandhu was at the wrong place at the wrong time. FIR says that people broke the gates and climbed the rampart at 12.30 pm. He reached there after 2 pm," the lawyer submitted.

The public prosecutor appearing for Delhi Police argued that fundamental rights don't mean that one can harm the police officials.

"Do the policemen don't have any fundamental rights?" asked the Public Prosecutor.

Later, the court adjourned the matter for Monday and asked for transcripts of Sidhu's speeches.

Delhi Police had arrested actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu on February 9 for his alleged involvement in January 26 violence in the national capital.

"The names of Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu and others were included in the FIR registered in connection with the violence at Red Fort in Delhi on Republic Day," Delhi Police said earlier while adding that Sidhu was involved in the incident.

"On January 26 some people hoisted the flag at Red Fort. Some of them have been identified out of which Deep Sidhu is the prime accused," Delhi Police had said.

On Republic Day, protestors allegedly did not follow the pre-arranged route and broke barricades to enter Delhi, clashed with police and vandalised property in several parts of the national capital during the farmers' tractor rally.

They also entered the Red Fort and unfurled their flags from its ramparts.   -- ANI
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13:37   Covid: MP CM announces 60-hr weekend lockdown
A lockdown will be enforced in all cities of Madhya Pradesh from 6 pm on Friday to 6 am on Monday to check the spread of the coronavirus infection, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said on Thursday.

Talking to reporters in  Bhopal after chairing a meeting to review the COVID-19 situation in MP, Chouhan said his government aims to increase the number of beds for COVID-19 patients in the state to one lakh.

"A lockdown will be enforced in all cities of the state from 6 pm on Friday to 6 am on Monday," Chouhan said.

In the past three weeks, the state government imposed lockdowns in Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur and Gwalior on Sundays and extended the curbs to some other cities last Sunday.

Chouhan said various crisis management groups will hold meetings to review the situation in cities where there has been a spurt in COVID-19 cases and will decide the course of action to contain it.

Besides increasing the number of beds for the viral infection patients, the state government has also decided to set up one COVID-19 care centre in each district, he said.

There are total 52 districts in MP.

Private hospitals are also being roped in to increase number of beds for COVID-19 patients, Chouhan said.

On Wednesday, MP reported 4,043 new cases of coronavirus, taking its tally to 3,18,014, while 13 fatalities pushed the death toll to 4,086, as per official data.   -- PTI
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13:17   Maharashtra CM takes 2nd dose of Covid vaccine
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday took his second dose of Covid-19 vaccine. 

"CM Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray took his second dose of Covid-19 vaccine today," tweeted Office of Uddhav Thackeray. 

He took the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on March 11. 

Earlier today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi received the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi. 

India, in a landmark achievement, has administered over 9 crore Covid-19 vaccine doses till now.
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13:13   Centre has assured help to Maha govt: Pawar
Nationalist Congress Parrty president Sharad Pawar on Thursday said the Centre has assured to help Maharashtra where the COVID-19 situation is currently 'grim'.

In a live address on Facebook, Pawar, whose party shares power in Maharashtra with the Shiv Sena and Congress, said he spoke to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday and the latter assured to support Maharashtra and other states to tackle the situation.

Pawar said the rapid spread of the viral infection and the rising number of active cases was a cause of concern, and the state government had no option but to impose curbs as the gravity of the situation cannot be ignored.

"The situation in Maharashtra is grim. I appeal to all stakeholders to cooperate by realising the seriousness of the situation. To protect the lives of citizens, some stringent measures are required," the NCP chief said.

"The Centre is also helping. I spoke to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan yesterday regarding the situation in Maharashtra," the NCP chief said.

Pawar said Vardhan assured that the Centre will stand by the Maharashtra government and all other states to tackle the situation.

On Wednesday, Vardhan lashed out at Maharashtra and some other states, accusing them of trying to cover their 'failures' in containing the pandemic by making 'deplorable' attempts through 'irresponsible' statements to distract attention and spreading panic among people.

Pawar said health workers in Maharashtra were doing their best to control the spread of the viral infection.

He said the state government has taken some steps, like imposing strict curbs to break the virus chain, on the advice of experts.

The 80-year-old leader's comments came in the wake of protests from traders and small businessmen against restrictions imposed by the state government.

As per the state government's 'Break the Chain' order, all shops under the non-essential category will remain closed till April 30.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party in Maharashtra has criticised the curbs after initially supporting the government's efforts.   -- PTI
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13:07   At 34 lakh jabs a day India leads the world: Govt
With an average of 34,30,502 anti-coronavirus doses being given per day, India has topped globally in terms of the number of jabs administered daily, the Union health ministry said on Thursday. 

Cumulatively, 9,01,98,673 vaccine doses have been given so far through 13,77,304 sessions, according to a provisional report till 7 am. 

These include 89,68,151 healthcare workers (HCWs) and 97,67,538 frontline workers (FLWs) who have taken the first dose and 54,18,084 HCWs and 44,11,609 FLWs who have taken the second dose. 

Besides, 3,63,32,851 and 11,39,291 beneficiaries above 60 years have been administered the first and second dose respectively. 

According to the ministry's data, 2,36,94,487 and 4,66,662 beneficiaries aged 45 to 60 years have been given the first and second dose respectively. 

"In terms of the number of daily doses administered globally, India stands at the top with an average of 34,30,502 doses administered per day," the ministry said. 

Eight states -- Maharashtra, Rajastha, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala -- account for 60 per cent of the total doses given so far in the country. 

"In its collective and collaborative fight against the global pandemic, India has crossed a landmark milestone under the world's largest vaccination drive, which was launched on January 16 this year," the ministry said. 

"The cumulative number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country has crossed 9 crore," it said. 

Nearly 30 lakh vaccination doses were given in a span of 24 hours. As on day-82 of the vaccination drive (April 7, 2021), 29,79,292 vaccine doses were given. Out of which 26,90,031 beneficiaries were vaccinated across 38,760 sessions for the first dose and 2,89,261 beneficiaries received the second dose of vaccine.
Sanjay Raut
Sanjay Raut
12:32   'Dirty politics' on to destabilise Maha govt: Raut
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Thursday claimed "dirty politics" was being played out to destabilise the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra and asserted that such attempts will not succeed. 

Raut's remarks came a day after suspended cop Sachin Waze in a letter claimed former state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had demanded Rs 2 crore from him to continue his service in the Mumbai police and another minister Anil Parab asked him to collect money from contractors. 

Waze was arrested last month by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the case of an explosives-laden SUV found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's residence in south Mumbai and the death of businessman Mansukh Hiran. 

Parab, a Shiv Sena leader, rejected Waze's claims on Wednesday and said he was ready to face any probe into the allegations. He swore in the name of Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray and asserted that he has not done anything wrong. 

Talking to reporters on Thursday, Raut said there was a new trend of getting letters written from the accused locked up in jail. 

"Never before has the country seen dirty politics being played out in such a manner, like indulging in character assassination using investigation agencies and IT cells of political parties, and letters from accused locked up in jail," the Rajya Sabha member said. 

Raut said attempts to weaken and destabilise the MVA government "will not be successful". 

"I know Anil Parab. He is a staunch Shiv Sainik and will never swear wrongly in the name of Balasaheb Thackeray," Raut said. 

The Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress share power in Maharashtra. 
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12:23   New financial provisions applicable from April 2021
Dr Raj Chawla, CA, has send this graphic on new financial provisions that are applicable from April 2021. You can see them in the image alongside.
Pic: Seema Pant/Rediff.com
Pic: Seema Pant/Rediff.com
12:03   Doon School reports 12 Covid cases
Doon School in Uttarakhand's Dehradun has been declared as a restricted zone after it reported 12 Covid-19 cases. 

District Magistrate of Dehradun Ashish Srivastav on Thursday said the entry and exit to and from the school are restricted and essential goods will be supplied to them. 

He further said that the coronavirus testing will be enhanced and besides Doon School, four more areas have been declared as restricted zones. 

Uttarakhand reported 1,109 new Covid-19 positive cases on Wednesday, taking the cumulative count to 1,04,711.
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11:48   HC seeks Govt, EC reply on mask during rallies
The Delhi high court on Thursday sought response of the Centre and the Election Commission on a plea seeking to ensure that masks are worn mandatorily by everyone involved in poll campaigns during the ongoing elections in various states and union territories.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh issued notice to the Centre and the EC and sought their response to the application by Vikram Singh, the former Director General of Police of Uttar Pradesh and also the chairman of think tank Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC).

The court listed the application for further hearing on April 30 along with Singh's main petition seeking to debar campaigners and candidates from campaigning in the assembly elections for repeatedly violating the mandatory guidelines issued by the poll panel in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Advocate Virag Gupta, appearing for Singh, told the bench that the poll body should 'create awareness through digital, print and electronic media for compulsory masking and social distancing during assembly elections'.

"When all the authorities are unanimous on mandatory masking, it defies logic as to why the rule should not be enforced in election campaigns," Gupta argued.

The Central government's standing counsel Anurag Ahluwalia accepted notice on behalf of the Centre.   -- PTI
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11:04   Covid: New Zealand suspends travel from India
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday announced that New Zealand will temporarily suspend the entry for all travellers, including its citizens, from India for about two weeks from April 11 due to a surge in COVID-19 cases among visitors to this country.

The ban will begin on Sunday and will remain in place until April 28, she said.

While arrivals from India had triggered the risk assessment, Prime Minister Ardern said the Government would be looking at risks posed by other COVID-19 hotspot countries, the New Zealand Herald reported.

The travel restriction comes after New Zealand recorded 23 new positive coronavirus cases in managed isolation on Thursday, of which 17 came from India, the report added.

"This is not a permanent arrangement but rather a temporary measure," Ardern said, adding that the temporary hold would also help reduce the risk that travellers themselves faced.

The ban covers all travellers, including New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.

While there have been previous travel bans on travellers from some countries, New Zealand has never suspended travel to New Zealand citizens and residents, Ardern said, adding that she absolutely understands the difficulty that this temporary suspension will cause for Kiwis in India.

But I also feel a sense of responsibility and obligation to find ways to reduce risks that travellers are experiencing, she said.

Health teams would use the time until April 28 to try and plan safer ways to accept travellers from India.

But there were no guarantees officials would come up with a better solution, she said.

"We haven't identified anything obvious ... but we have to try and do better," Ardern said.

She wanted to look at the quality of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 testing in other countries and whether tests were being taken in the 72 hours before departure.

New Zealand has not reported any community transmission locally for about 40 days.

COVID-19 cases were spiking again, particularly in India and Brazil, and New Zealand was not immune, Ardern said.

The government had been reviewing its border settings in recent weeks, Ardern said, adding that ultimately New Zealand wanted to see fewer cases arriving in the country.

COVID-19 cases in India hit a record high.

India recorded 1,12,389 new cases on Wednesday, according to a PTI tally, taking the overall count to 1,29,14,174.

The single-day rise in coronavirus cases breached the one-lakh mark for the third time in four days.

India saw a record daily rise on Tuesday, with over 1.15 lakh new infections.  -- PTI
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10:11   India sees 1.26 lakh new Covid cases in 24 hrs
India reports 1,26,789 new COVID-19 cases, 59,258 discharges, and 685 deaths in the last 24 hours, as per the Union health ministry.

Total cases: 1,29,28,574
Total recoveries: 1,18,51,393
Active cases: 9,10,319
Death toll: 1,66,862
Total vaccination: 9,01,98,673

IMAGE: A passenger gives a sample for COVID-19 test, at Vashi Railway Station in Navi Mumbai, on Wednesday. Photograph: PTI Photo
Sister Nisha Sharma
Sister Nisha Sharma
09:41   Punjab nurse administered 2nd Covid jab to PM
Sister Nisha Sharma, the nurse who administered the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said it was a memorable moment for her to meet the PM and vaccinate him.

Sister Sharma is from Punjab's Sangroor.

P Niveda, who had administered the first jab to the PM, assisted Sharma with the second one.

"I am the vaccinator who gave the first dose of the vaccine to the PM. Today, I got another opportunity to meet him and vaccinate him for the second time. I was elated," Niveda said.

"He spoke to us and we even clicked pictures with him," she added.

PM Modi took his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi on Thursday morning.

'Got my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at AIIMS today. Vaccination is among the few ways we have, to defeat the virus. If you are eligible for the vaccine, get your shot soon,' tweeted PM Modi.

The prime minister took his first dose of Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN on March 1.   -- ANI
Image only for representation.
Image only for representation.
09:08   Fearing lockdown, several migrant workers in Delhi head for native places
Amidst lockdown fears triggered by the imposition of night curfew in the national capital following a surge in COVID-19 cases, several migrant workers were seen leaving Delhi and heading towards their native places.

Speaking to ANI, Pintu, a dry fruits seller at Anand Vihar Bus Terminal said, "Delhi is witnessing a sharp rise in COVID cases. Due to this, a night curfew has been imposed in the city.

"It is very likely that the government will impose a lockdown soon. Hence, I along with my family are going back to Jharkhand."

Parmila Devi, another tea-seller told ANI, "My family and I are going back to our village in Jharkhand. We want to avoid a situation like the previous lockdown. It is very likely that a lockdown will be put due to COVID. We will come back when the situation normalises."

Another woman who was planning to go to Bihar said, "Had got stuck here during the lockdown, want to avoid any such situation again. It's better to go home for now."

Malti Devi said, "Last time, a few people in my family were forced to stay back in Delhi (including me) as there was no transport available. We all wanted to go back to our village in Jharkhand. The buses were all occupied. To avoid such a situation now, it is better for us to go back."

Sunil Gupta, a student who came to study in Delhi for his exams said, "I am planning to go back to my hometown now. It is likely that a lockdown will be imposed in Delhi."

The Delhi government of Tuesday imposed a night curfew in the national capital from 10 pm to 5 am.

The order will be imposed with immediate effect till April 30.

Delhi reported 5,506 new COVID-19 cases and 20 deaths in the last 24 hours.

This is the highest single-day spike of coronavirus infections in the national capital this year.

A total of 220 cases were registered in the national capital against the violators of the night curfew guidelines on the first night of curfew which started on Tuesday night from 10 pm and ended at 5 am on Wednesday.

In view of rising COVID-19 cases, the Delhi government of Tuesday imposed a night curfew in the national capital from 10 pm to 5 am.

The order was imposed with immediate effect till April 30. -- ANI
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08:25   Modi takes second dose of Covid vaccine at AIIMS
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday took second dose of COVID-19 vaccine at All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, and asked those eligible for the shot to take it soon to defeat the virus.

He had taken his first jab on March 1 at the hospital.

'Got my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at AIIMS today. Vaccination is among the few ways we have, to defeat the virus. If you are eligible for the vaccine, get your shot soon. Register on CoWin.gov.in,' he tweeted.

The prime minister also posted a picture of his receiving the jab.

Modi has taken Covaxin, India's homegrown vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech.

Official sources said the two nurses who administered the vaccine to the prime minister on Thursday are P Niveda from Puducherry and Nisha Sharma from Punjab.

Niveda was also involved in administering him the first shot on March 1. -- PTI
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00:25   Over 8.83cr Covid vaccine doses given in India
Over 8.83 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses have so far been administered in the country with more than 13 lakh jabs given on Wednesday, the health ministry said.
 
In a statement, it said the total number of 8,83,72,277 doses includes 89,65,839 given to healthcare workers who got the first dose and 54,04,837 to HCWs who took the second dose.
A total of 97,40,281 frontline workers (FLWs) were given the first dose, while 43,35,473 FLWs have received the second dose.
As many as 2,26,42,318 jabs were given to those in the 45-59 age group (first dose), 4,47,060 in the 45-59 age group (second dose), 3,57,78,684 to those above 60 years of age (first dose) and 10,57,785 to those above 60 years of age (second dose).
A total of 13,14,623 vaccine doses were given till 8 pm on Wednesday, the 82nd day of the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive, of which 12,04,551 beneficiaries were vaccinated for the first dose and 1,10,072 received the second dose, according to a provisional report. -- PTI