Tue, 13 April 2021
Biden set to withdraw troops from Afghanistan

Timeline  Refresh

21:52   Biden set to withdraw troops from Afghanistan
US President Joe Biden is set to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan before the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.

Biden will announce his decision on Wednesday to withdraw the military from the country over the coming months, The Washington Post quoted a person familiar with the matter as saying. 

On September 11, 2001, the United States faced the deadliest terrorist attack in its history. More than 3,000 people were killed in the terror attack.

In a span of just 102 minutes, both towers of New York's World Trade Center collapsed after planes hijacked by Al Qaeda operatives crashed into them.

The Trump administration had previously set a May 1 deadline for the withdrawal in negotiations with the Taliban.

While the Taliban has vowed to renew attacks on US and NATO personnel if foreign troops are not out by the deadline, it is not clear if the militants will follow through with those threats given Biden's plan for a phased withdrawal between now and September, reported The Washington Post.

Officially, there are 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan, although the number fluctuates and is currently about 1,000 more than that. There are also up to an additional 7,000 foreign forces in the coalition there, the majority of them are NATO troops.

-- ANI
21:24   I'm a street fighter: Mamata to BJP after EC ban
After the ban imposed on her by the Election Commission ended on Tuesday evening, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee challenged the rival Bharatiya Janata Party, saying that she is a street fighter and fights from the battleground.

Speaking at a public rally in Barasat after her 24-hour campaigning ban ended, Banerjee said: "They have crores of money and have come to elections. You have money, you have mediators, you have hotels, you have all agencies of India. But even then do you know why you will lose? Because I am a street fighter, I fight from the battleground. I do not fight by giving instructions from above." 

She also questioned why the BJP was rigorously trying to stop her with the help of all central institutions and agencies.

"From Delhi to entire India, BJP is taking all institutions to ensure I am stopped, Bengal is being humiliated and captured. I say clearly, we will not allow Bengal to become Gujarat; Bengal can't become Gujarat. There is no benefit in stopping me. If I am attacked, I can attack in reply as well," she added.

"During the last 24 hours, I could not campaign for elections and cannot campaign for 72 hours before the fifth phase. This means for four days, on one side, BJP will campaign, and I won't be able to do the same for Trinamool Congress. I leave the thinking to the public."

Challenging Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the chief minister said that he is claiming that she has not done anything for the Matua community.
21:05   Maha CM addresses state on lockdown curbs
The Maharashtra CM also announced that 3 kg wheat and 2 kg rice will be provided for one month to 7 crore people. 
21:01   Janta curfew from 8 pm tomorrow: Maha CM
Not a complete lockdown, but stricter guidelines coming, states Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. 

Announcing a 'Janta Curfew' in the state, the CM said, "Only essential services allowed from 8 pm tomorrow."

He also stated that public transport will be available for only those involved in essential services. 

Only home deliveries from restaurants allowed from 8 pm tomorrow in Maharashtra.

He added that these restrictions will be in place for 15 days. 
20:53   It's an emergency-like situation: Uddhav
Appealing to doctors from outside to join state's fight against Covid-19, Maharashtra Chief Minister said that it is an "emergency-like" situation.

CM Uddhav Thackeray also appealed to the opposition parties to cooperate in the fight against coronavirus.
20:38   We're going through tough time: Maha CM to state
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is addressing people via social media on the prevailing Covid-19 situation in the state.

He is expected to announce new SOPs and guidelines that are likely to come into force from tomorrow.

Speaking on the situation, he says that there are over 500 testing labs functioning at present in Maharashtra and that "we are testing much more now".

In his address, he says, "We are going through a tough time."
20:29   Mumbai reports 7,898 new Covid cases
Mumbai reported 7,898 cases, 26 deaths in last 24 hours. 

Today's caseload takes the city's tally to 5,35,017 cases and 12,086 deaths.

The doubling rate in Mumbai now stands at 38 days.
20:06   Delhi reports 13,468 new Covid-19 infections
Delhi reports 13,468 new Covid-19 cases, 7,972 discharges and 81 deaths on Tuesday. 

Active cases stand at 43,510.

Delhi recorded 11,491 COVID-19 cases on Monday. 
19:46   Panic buying in Mumbai ahead of Maharashtra CM's announcement
The announcement of a public address by Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray amid speculation of a lockdown led to panic buying by people on the streets of the financial capital on Tuesday evening.

Thackeray is scheduled to address the state, reeling under a fresh spike of coronavirus cases, at 8.30 pm.

Vegetable vendors and general stores selling fast-moving consumer goods saw higher buying from around 5.30 pm when the CM's office informed of Thackeray's virtual address on Tuesday over social media platforms.

Over the past fortnight, Maharashtra has been witnessing a massive growth in daily infections with cities like Mumbai and Pune, and also some districts like Aurangabad witnessing a surge in cases.

The state, which is contributing over half of the daily infections to the national tally, implemented limited restrictions earlier this month, which involved night and weekend curfews.

"There is no certainty about the length of a lockdown or how strictly will it be implemented. It is better to buy essentials," said a harried shopper in the suburb of Thane.

A shopkeeper, however, said that the panic buying is not as high as the one seen in March last year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a four-hour window for a nationwide lockdown.

Another shopper said the likelihood of some strict measures, if not a lockdown, have been internalised by the consumers over the last ten days due to which essential supplies have already been purchased.

There was increased vehicular movement as the people got out of their homes for shopping. There was an increased police presence as well on the roads.

-- PTI
19:20   UP CM isolates after staff tests positive
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has gone into self-isolation after some of his officers tested Covid positive. 

He tweeted, "Some officers of my office have tested positive for #COVID19. As a precaution, I have been isolated myself."

Uttar Pradesh logged the highest-ever single-day spike of 18,021 coronavirus cases and 85 fatalities, a senior official said.
18:59   UK expands COVID-19 vaccine programme to over-45s
The National Health Service in England on Tuesday expanded the COVID-19 vaccination programme to the next cohort on its age-based priority list to all above 45 years of age, after it announced that the target to cover over-50s had been met ahead of the April 15 deadline.

The government had set a target to offer a COVID-19 jab to all over-50s, the clinically vulnerable and health and social care workers -- about 32 million people -- by this Thursday. The NHS confirmed that nearly 40 million vaccine doses have now been administered across the UK.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed "another hugely significant milestone", adding that the focus would now be on completing essential second doses as well as to meet the target of offering all adults a vaccine by the end of July.

"More than 32 million people have been given the precious protection vaccines provide against COVID-19. I want to thank everyone involved in the vaccine rollout which has already saved many thousands of lives," he said.

Speaking at 10 Downing Street on Tuesday, he reiterated his plea for caution as he flagged that the fall in COVID-related hospitalisations and deaths was largely the result of lockdown.
-- PTI
18:28   India 2nd wave has crossed previous spike: Govt
India has crossed the previous highest surge of Covid-19 cases and the trend is going upward, which is a cause for worry for the country, said Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday.

"India has 89.51 per cent people who have been cured of Covid-19 infection, 1.25 per cent deaths related to the viral infection and 9.24 per cent active cases currently. If we look at new cases, we will find that the previous highest surge has already been crossed and the trend is going upward. That is a cause for worry," said Bhushan during the weekly health ministry briefing on the Covid-19 situation in the country. 

Giving figures of states where the infection is showing rapid growth despite low testing through RTPCR, the Health Secretary said that there the ministry has a reason to believe that if RT-PCR tests proportion goes up, then positivity may show a corresponding increase.

"In Maharashtra, you'll find that average daily cases, week on week, have grown significantly and reached a level of 57,000 plus. Tests per million are also growing but not keeping pace with the growth of average daily cases. If you look at the share of RT-PCR tests, it's progressively coming down," he said.

Bhushan said that the weekly positivity rate in Chattisgarh is also increasing from one and a half per cent, it has increased to 27.9 per cent, and added that this is another cause for concern.

"Chhattisgarh was reporting hardly 200 cases per day in mid-February, but today it reported 11,504 cases. The average test per million has increased but has not kept pace with the change in case. The average daily RT-PCR share is roughly 28-30 per cent and ramping up of test capacity is needed," he said.

-- ANI
18:13   West Bengal phase-V: Touch and Go seats
A look at the seats in phase V of the Bengal polls which will go down to the wire. 
18:07   Maha CM's lockdown address today at 8 pm
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to address the state at 8 pm to 8.30 pm tonight. 

He is likely to make an announcement on lockdown in view of unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases.

The strict restrictions are likely to be imposed for 15 days from tomorrow night till April 30. 

Maharashtra reported 258 Covid-19 deaths and 51,751 fresh cases on Monday. At present, the case fatality in the state stands at 1.68%.
17:43   Kumbh mela returnees may exacerbate COVID-19 pandemic: Raut
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Tuesday expressed apprehension that the people returning from Kumbh mela in Haridwar will turn out to be potential carriers of COVID-19 infection which will "cause havoc".

Raut's comments came a day after lakhs of devotees took the holy dip at various ghats of the Ganga river in Haridwar.

Also, thousands of saffron-clad seers and ash-smeared Nagas had flouted COVID-19 norms and converged at Har Ki Pairi in the holy town in Uttarakhand for a holy dip during the second royal bath of the Kumbh Mela on Monday.

"It is painful for the Shiv Sena to put restrictions on our festivals and religious celebrations but the party dares to do so to save the lives of people. Our priority is to save as many lives as possible. I believe that people coming from the Kumbh mela will cause further spread of COVID-19 cases, which will cause havoc," he said.

-- PTI
17:05   US regulator recommends pause on Johnson & Johnson shot
The United States has "paused" the use of Johnson&Johnson vaccine after the discovery of a  "rare and severe type of blood clot" in six people who had received the anti-coronavirus jab.

16:44   Maha min blames celebs for lack of Covid beds
Maharashtra minister Aslam Shaikh on Tuesday accused celebrities and cricketers of allegedly occupying beds in major hospitals despite having no serious symptoms of coronavirus infection.

Shaikh, who is the guardian minister of Mumbai, said personalities from the film industry and cricketers have occupied beds in major private hospitals for longer periods of time.

"Some celebrities from the film industry and cricketers had mild symptoms or were asymptomatic, but they got themselves admitted to major private hospitals and
occupied beds for longer periods," the state textile minister said.

If they had avoided getting admitted to hospitals, the state could have accommodated needy COVID-19 patients, he said.

With the rise in coronavirus cases, the Maharashtra government has been working to increase the bed capacity at treatment facilities and has announced the setting up of three jumbo field hospitals in Mumbai in the next five-six weeks.

-- PTI
16:14   UP records highest-ever daily spike of 18,021 coronavirus cases
Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday reported the highest-ever single-day spike of 18,021 coronavirus cases while 85 fatalities took the death toll in the state to 9,309, a senior official said here.
The total number of cases in the state stands at 7,23,582 and the active caseload is 95,980.
"In the past 24 hours, 18,021 fresh cases were reported while 3,474 people were discharged in this period. There are 95,980 active cases while 6,18,293 were treated and discharged. The state reported a total of 9,309 deaths till now since the start of the pandemic," Additional Chief Secretary of Health Amit Mohan Prasad told reporters.
The state recorded 85 deaths in the past 24 hours, the highest single-day toll this month, according to official figures.
On April 11, the state recorded a daily spike of 15,353 cases.
Over 80 lakh persons have been administered COVID-19 vaccine in the state.
On Monday, 2.18 lakh samples were tested and the total number of samples tested so far rose to over 3.71 crore.
Prasad said that 12 new RT-PCR laboratories are being opened in the state to augment testing capacity. 

-- PTI
15:54   Sharad Pawar to be discharged in 2 days
NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who underwent gall bladder surgery at a hospital here on Monday, will be discharged in the next two days, his nephew and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said on Tuesday.

Ajit Pawar and his wife met the Pawar senior at the Breach Candy hospital.

"Sharad Pawarji is recuperating after the surgery. He will be discharged in the next two days," he told reporters outside the hospital.

On Monday, a laparoscopy surgery was conducted successfully on the gall bladder of Pawar, 80, NCP leader and state minister Nawab Malik had said.

Laparoscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure.

Earlier, the NCP president had undergone an emergency endoscopy for the removal of a stone from his bile duct at the hospital on March 30.

-- PTI
15:40   EC warns Suvendu Adhikari for March 29 speech
Election Commission of India has warned BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari over a speech delivered by him on March 29, for which he had filed a reply on April 9.

The Election Commission has advised him to desist from using such statements while making public utterances when Model Code of Conduct is in force. 

An order from the EC stated, "Whereas, the Commission has issued a notice dated April 8 to Suvendu Adhikari, candidate of BJP from 210-Nandigram Assembly Constituency for violation of provisions contained in clause (2) and (3) of Part 1 of 'General Conduct of Model Code of Conduct for the guidance of political parties and candidates' during ongoing General Election to Legislative Assembly of West Bengal."

Whereas the Commission has received a reply from Suvendu Adhikari to the aforesaid Notice on April 9 and whereas Suvendu Adhikari in the aforesaid reply, has inter-alia submitted the following:-
He firmly believes in free, fair and impartial election where there is no ill will between candidates and no personal attack is made while criticism the political opponents.

He respectfully states that he had no malafide intention to criticise anyone personally or make any offensive or derogatory statement against anyone. he has always remained cautious and refrained from making any statements which would hurt anyone. In addition, he has never appealed to the citizens in caste or communal lines for securing votes.

He reiterates that he has not violated any provision of MCC, however, he will be more careful in future. His party and himself have firm belief and respects democracy and democratic institutions like Election Commission of India and would abide by any directives of ECI.
Whereas, the Commission has carefully considered the reply and is of the considered view that Suvendu Adhikari has violated Para 2 and 3 of Part 1 'General Conduct of Model Code of Conduct for the guidance of political parties and candidates.

Now therefore the Commission hereby warns Suvendu Adhikari and advises him to desist from using such statement while making public utterances during the period when the Model Code of Conduct is in force.

-- ANI
15:17   Covid effect: Grills melt at Surat crematoriums
Metal structures of furnaces at some crematoriums in Surat have started melting or breaking as they are being used round-the-clock due to the rush of bodies
amid the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said on Tuesday.

Since the past one week, around 16 gas-based furnaces at the Kurukshetra Crematorium and Ashvini Kumar Crematorium in Gujarat are operating 24X7 to cremate bodies, hence maintenance issues are cropping up, they said.

The metal frames of gas furnaces, on which the bodies are kept, and chimneys are melting or breaking because of overheating and excessive use, the official said.

In the last couple of days, Surat city reported 18 to 19 deaths due to COVID-19 every day.
14:58   Sushil Chandra assumes charge as Chief Election Commissioner
Sushil Chandra assumed charge as the 24th Chief Election Commissioner on Tuesday.
Chandra was appointed as the CEC on Monday, the day Sunil Arora demitted office.
Chandra was appointed as an election commissioner on February 14, 2019, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. He would demit office on May 14, 2022.

Under him, the Election Commission will hold assembly polls in Goa, Manipur, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
The term of the assemblies of Goa, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Punjab ends on various dates in March next year.
The term of the Uttar Pradesh assembly ends on May 14 next year.

Chandra belongs to the 1980 batch of the Indian Revenue Service.
He is also an ex-officio member of the Delimitation Commission since February 18, 2020 looking after the process in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Having held several posts in the Income Tax Department for nearly 39 years,  Chandra was appointed the Central Board of Direct Taxes Chairman on November 1, 2016.
He spent considerable time as Director of Investigation and Director General of Investigation, Mumbai and Gujarat, respectively followed by his stint as Member (Investigation), CBDT and thereafter assuming the post of Chairman of this apex body.
"Transparency and purity of political finance are of vital importance for free and fair electoral process and the creation of a level playing field. Continuing the crusade that he started as CBDT Chairman against the menace of black money,  Chandra was proactive as the erstwhile Election Commissioner in curbing the use of money power that vitiates the electoral process," the Commission said on Tuesday.

He has constantly emphasised the concept of "inducement-free" elections and it has become an integral dimension of monitoring the electoral process in all ongoing and forthcoming elections, the EC said. 

-- PTI
14:43   Monsoon likely to be normal in India: Skymet
Skymet, a private weather forecasting agency, said on Tuesday the southwest monsoon in 2021 that will start from June is expected to be normal at 103 per cent of the Long Period Average.

The LPA for June to September rainfall is estimated to 880.6 mm, meaning that if the forecast come true, the actual rainfall in the country is expected to be around 907 millimetres.

If actual rainfall across the country is on par with Skymets initial forecast released today, it will mean that for the third consecutive year, India will have a normal to above normal rainfall during the monsoon months.

In 2020, actual rainfall across India was 109 per cent of LPA, while in 2019, it was 110 per cent of the LPA.
14:38   Bhuvneshwar wins ICC Player of the Month award
Experienced India seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar on Tuesday won the ICC Player of the Month award for his superlative show in the limited overs series against England in March.
The 31-year-old Indian took six wickets at an economy rate of 4.65 in the three ODIs, while capturing four wickets at a fantastic economy rate of 6.38 in the five T20Is to emerge as the standout bowler on either side in the white ball series.
"After what seemed like a really long and painful gap, I was delighted to be playing for India again. I used the time away to work on my fitness and skill and I am happy to be back taking wickets for my country," Bhuvneshwar said in an ICC release.
"I would like to thank each and every person who helped me in this journey starting from my family and friends and my teammates. Also, a special thank you to the ICC voting academy and all the fans who voted for me and made me the ICC Men's Player of the Month for March."
-- PTI
14:15   Govt fast-tracks approvals for Covid vaccines
With an aim to expand the basket of COVID-19 vaccines and enhance the pace of inoculation in India, the central government on Tuesday said it has fast-tracked emergency approval for foreign-produced jabs that have been granted similar clearances in other countries.
The first 100 beneficiaries of such foreign vaccines shall be assessed for seven days for safety outcomes before it is rolled out for further immunization programme within the country, the Union health ministry said.
The Centre's decision came after an expert panel recommended that COVID-19 vaccines which have been developed and are being manufactured in foreign countries and which have been granted emergency approval for restricted use by authorities in the US, Europe, the UK, Japan or which are listed in the WHO Emergency Use Listing may be granted emergency use approval in India.

The expert panel also mandated the requirement of post-approval parallel bridging clinical trial in place of conduct of local clinical trial.

"This decision will facilitate quicker access to such foreign vaccines by India and would encourage imports including import of bulk drug material, optimal utilization of domestic fill and finish capacity, etc., which will in turn provide a fillip to vaccine manufacturing capacity and total vaccine availability for domestic (use)," the ministry said.
-- PTI
14:09   Kerala minister K T Jaleel resigns
Kerala Higher Education  minister K T Jaleel on Tuesday resigned from the Pinarayi Vijayan cabinet days after the state Lokayukta held that he had 'abused' his position as a public servant to obtain a favour for a relative.
Jaleel has sent his resignation to the CM and it has been forwarded to the Governor, sources in the Chief Minister's office said.
The development was also confirmed by the minister in a Facebook post.
The resignation comes a day after he moved the Kerala high court seeking a stay on the Lokayukta order.
A division bench of the Lokayukta had on Friday submitted the report against Jaleel to the CM and had said the minister should not continue in the post.
The bench had held that the allegation of abuse of power, favouritism and nepotism against the minister was proved.

-- PTI
13:26   No question of lockdown in K'taka: Yediyurappa
Ruling out the possibility of a lockdown in Karnataka to contain the spread of coronavirus, Chief Minister B S Yediyurapa on Tuesday said he has convened
an all party meeting on April 18 to decide the future course of action.
"There is no question of lockdown," Yediyurappa told reporters in Bidar.
The CM clarified that the Technical Advisory Committee has not recommended any lockdown.
"I am in the TAC. No one has recommended a lockdown," Yediyurappa said.
Besides former chief ministers Siddaramaiah and H D Kumaraswamy and Congress state chief D K Shivakumar, the members of Technical Advisory Committee members will attend the meeting on April 18.
Emphasising on public support to contain the spread of the pandemic, he said the night curfew from 10 pm to 5 am has already been imposed.
"People have to cooperate by wearing masks, maintaining hand hygiene and physical distancing. There is no other way... With folded hands I want to ask the people to cooperate," Yediyurappa said.
-- PTI
13:06   EC notice to Bengal BJP chief Dilip Ghosh for 'there will be Sitalkuchi in several places' remarks
The Election Commission on Tuesday issued a notice to West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh for his alleged remarks that there would be "Sitalkuchi in several places", after four people were killed when central forces opened fire during polling in Cooch Behar district.
He has been asked to respond to the notice and make his stand clear on his remarks by Wednesday morning.
The Trinamool Congress had approached the Commission against Ghosh.
The notice cited Ghosh's alleged remarks that "if someone crosses his limits then you have seen what happened in Sitalkuchi. There will be Sitalkuchi in several places." 

-- PTI
12:34   Cancel CBSE Board exams: Kejriwal to Centre
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has asked the Centre government to cancel the CBSE Board exams 2021. Kejriwal suggested that instead of board exams, an alternative method of assessment needs to be thought of to promote students. He suggested conducting online exams or promoting students based on internal assessment.

Six lakh children in Delhi are going to write CBSE exams. Nearly 1 lakh teachers will be a part of it. These can become major hotspots leading to the large-scale spreading of Corona. Childrens lives & health is very important to us. I request the Centre to cancel CBSE exams, Kejriwal said.

The ministry of education is mulling to postpone the CBSE class 10 and 12 board exams. The Central Board of Secondary Education and the ministry of education held a meeting yesterday in which several aspects regarding conducting board exams were discussed. The ministry is considering postponing board exams, however, cancellation is not on cards, sources informed.

12:27   Mamata stages dharna to protest EC ban
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sat on a dharna on Tuesday at Gandhi Murti in Kolkata, as a mark of protest against what she called the Election Commission of India's "unconstitutional decision" to bar her from campaigning for 24 hours in the ongoing state assembly polls.

Yesterday, she had said that she will stage the dharna at 12 noon on Tuesday at Gandhi Murti in the city. The poll panel's order had come after Banerjee's remarks against central forces and a statement which had alleged religious overtones.
12:21   EC bans BJP's Rahul Sinha from campaigning
The Election Commission of India barred Bharatiya Janata Party leader Rahul Sinha over the "highly provocative" statements during a speech that was telecast on a news channel. 

The ECI said Sinha made "highly provocative statements mocking the human life, inciting the forces that could have serious law and order implications thereby adversely affecting the election process."

The BJP leader had made "inflammatory" remarks over the Cooch Behar firing incident that claimed the lives of four unarmed civilians. Not four, but eight people should have been shot by the central forces in Cooch Behar, he allegedly said.

11:31   10 states account for 80% of new Covid cases
Ten states -- Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Kerala have shown a rise in the COVID-19 daily cases accounting for 80.80 per cent of the new infections reported in a day, the Union health ministry said on Tuesday.
India's daily new cases continue to rise. A total of 1,61,736 new cases were registered in a span of 24 hours.

Maharashtra has reported the highest daily new cases at 51,751. It is followed by Uttar Pradesh with 13,604 while Chhattisgarh reported 13,576 new cases.

India's total active caseload has reached 12,64,698 which now comprises 9.24 per cent of the country's total infections. A net increase of 63,689 cases recorded in the total active caseload in a span of 24 hours.

The five states of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala cumulatively account for 68.85 per cent of India's total Active Cases. Maharashtra alone accounts for 44.78 per cent of the total active caseload of the country.

-- PTI
11:16   EC's decision to ban Mamata at behest of BJP: Raut
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Tuesday alleged that the Election Commission's decision to bar West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee from campaigning for 24 hours was taken at the behest of the Bharatiya Janata party.
This was a "direct attack on democracy" and sovereignty of independent institutions of the country, Raut claimed in a tweet.
The Sena's chief spokesperson expressed solidarity with Banerjee, while terming as the "Bengal Tigress".

Assembly elections are currently underway in West Bengal.
The Shiv Sena, which is not contesting the polls, has extended its support to Banerjee, who heads the Trinamool Congress.
The Election Commission on Monday barred Banerjee from campaigning for 24 hours over her remarks against central forces and a statement which had alleged religious overtones.
Reacting to it, Raut in a tweet said, "ECI has imposed a ban on Mamta didi for 24 hours. This is clearly done at the behest of BJP, ruling party in India."
"It is a direct attack on democracy and sovereignty of independent institutions of India. solidarity with Bengal Tigress, @MamataOfficial @derekobrienmp," the Rajya Sabha member added.
Banerjee on Monday said she would stage a dharna in Kolkata on Tuesday to protest against the poll panel's "unconstitutional decision". -- PTI 
11:15   Fearing lockdown, migrants start leaving Delhi
Amidst the rising number of COVID cases in the national capital, some of the migrant workers have started returning to their native places in fear of imposition of lockdown.

Some alone, with backpacks, while some with their families, migrant workers can be seen leaving for their home at ISBT, Anand Vihar and other key transit points in the city. 

With increasing COVID numbers the fear of imposition of lockdown has been making migrant workers anxious.

Gouri Shankar Sharma, who hails from Lucknow said, "The way COVID numbers are rising, there are chances of lockdown. There is no work. So I am leaving."

"The current situation, pushing Delhi towards another lockdown. I have no choice. I am leaving for home," Sunil Gupta, a migrant worker from Uttar Pradesh's Bareilly said.

"The leaders do not have any problem. They travel in air-conditioned cars. If lockdown is imposed, the transportation will be closed. So I am leaving now," a migrant worker who was heading for Kanauj in Uttar Pradesh said.

"The rate at which the cases are rising makes it obvious that lockdown would be imposed. That is why I am going home," a labourer said.

The country had last year witnessed a major movement of migrants labourers and workers after the imposition of a nationwide lockdown in the last week of March.

The nationwide lockdown resulted in an exodus of migrant workers from cities to their native places.

Delhi reported 11,491 new COVID-19 cases and 72 related deaths on Monday. 

This is Delhi's highest single-day spike since the start of the pandemic.
10:40   Sensex rises over 200 pts in early trade
Equity benchmark Sensex jumped over 200 points in early trade on Tuesday, tracking gains in index majors Reliance Industries, ICICI Bank and HDFC twins amid largely positive cues from Asian peers.
The 30-share BSE index was trading 236.71 points or 0.49 per cent higher at 48,120.09.
Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty advanced 68.55 points or 0.48 per cent to 14,379.35.
ONGC was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, rising over 3 per cent, followed by M&M, PowerGrid, Bajaj Finance, L&T, ICICI Bank and Bajaj Finserv.
On the other hand, TCS, Tech Mahindra, Infosys, Dr Reddy's and HCL Tech were among the laggards.
In the previous session, Sensex sank 1,707.94 points or 3.44 per cent to end at 47,883.38, and Nifty plunged 524.05 points or 3.53 per cent to finish at 14,310.80.
Foreign institutional investors were net sellers in the capital market as they offloaded shares worth Rs 1,746.43 crore on Monday, according to provisional exchange data.
Domestic equities look to be modestly good at the moment, said Binod Modi Head-Strategy at Reliance Securities.
"While a sharp increase in COVID-19 daily cases in the country and possibility of larger economic restrictions has dented investors' sentiments, 4QFY21 earnings began on a strong note with TCS delivering strong earnings performance with encouraging management commentaries.
"This should help IT stocks to remain in focus in the near term," he noted.
US equities finished with moderate losses overnight ahead of March inflation data and quarterly earnings of key lenders.
Elsewhere in Asia, bourses in Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo were trading on a positive note in mid-session deals, while Shanghai was in the red.
Meanwhile, international oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 0.49 per cent higher at USD 63.59 per barrel. -- PTI 
10:16   India to produce 850 mn Sputnik doses annually
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has said that India has become the 60th country to approve the use of Sputnik V against coronavirus and more than 850 million doses of the vaccine are going to be produced in the country annually.
The Drug Controller General of India has registered the vaccine under the emergency use authorisation procedure. 

This is based on results of clinical trials in Russia as well as positive data of additional Phase III local clinical trials in India conducted in partnership with Dr Reddy's Laboratories.
The vaccine has been approved for use in countries with a total population of 3 billion people or about 40 per cent of the global population, and India has become the 60th country to approve Sputnik V, RDIF, Russia's sovereign wealth fund, said in a statement.
India is also the most populated country to register the vaccine and also the leading production hub for Sputnik V, it added.
RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev said the approval of the vaccine is a major milestone as both countries have been developing an extensive cooperation on clinical trials of Sputnik V in India and its local production.
"The Russian vaccine has efficacy of 91.6 per cent and provides full protection against severe cases of COVID-19 as demonstrated by the data published in one of the leading medical journals -- The Lancet," he added.
Noting that India is a vaccine-manufacturing hub and a strategic partner for production of Sputnik V, he said RDIF has created partnerships with a number of India's leading pharmaceutical companies for production of Sputnik V which will provide for both vaccination of the population in India and global distribution of the vaccine.
"Over 850 million doses of Sputnik V are going to be produced in India annually sufficient to vaccinate more than 425 million people around the world," he said.
According to the release, RDIF has agreements with India's Gland Pharma, Hetero Biopharma, Panacea Biotec, Stelis Biopharma and Virchow Biotech aimed at production of more than 850 million doses per year.
Sputnik will be the third vaccine to be used in India against coronavirus. In January, DCGI had given the emergency use authorisation for two COVID-19 vaccines -- Covaxin of Bharat Biotech and Covishield of Oxford-AstraZeneca manufactured by Serum Institute of India in Pune.
As per RDIF, Sputnik V has a number of key advantages, including that there are no strong allergies caused by Sputnik V. -- PTI
09:40   India reports 1,61,736 fresh COVID-19 cases

India reports 1,61,736 fresh COVID-19 cases, 97,168 discharges and 879 deaths in the last 24 hours, according to Union health ministry data.

Total cases: 1,36,89,453
Total recoveries: 1,22,53,697    
Active cases: 12,64,698
Death toll: 1,71,058    
Total vaccination: 10,85,33,085
08:27   DCGI authorises Sputnik V vaccine
India's drug regulator has granted permission for the restricted emergency use of Russian COVID-19 vaccine 'Sputnik V' with certain conditions, paving the way for a third vaccine to be available in the country, sources said on Monday.
The approval by the Drugs Controller General of India came after the Subject Expert Committee on COVID-19 of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization on Monday recommended granting approval to Sputnik V for restricted emergency use subject to certain regulatory conditions.
The DCGI had in January given the emergency use authorisation for two COVID-19 vaccines -- Covaxin of Bharat Biotech and Covishield of Oxford-AstraZeneca manufactured by Serum Institute of India in Pune.
According to sources, around 10 crore doses of the Sputnik V vaccine  is likely to be imported for emergency use in the country in the next six to seven months.  
The SEC on Monday deliberated upon the application of Dr Reddy's Laboratories seeking emergency use authorisation for Sputnik V. 
The vaccine is indicated for active immunisation to prevent COVID-19 in individuals aged 18 years and above and is to be administered intramuscularly in two doses of 0.5 ml each with an interval of 21 days.
It has to be stored at -18 degrees Celsius.
According to recommendations by the SEC, the firm has been asked to submit revised factsheets to CDSCO after incorporating the latest safety and efficacy data and other suggestions made during the meeting, another source said.
Besides, the firm should submit the safety, efficacy and immunogenicity data from the ongoing clinical trials in India and Russia for review as and when available.
The firm also has to submit safety data, including the data on AEFI and AESI with due analysis every 15 days for the first two months and monthly thereafter till the completion of the ongoing clinical trial in the country, as per the recommendations.
The SEC had reviewed the application by Dr Reddy's in two meetings held on April 1 and February 24. -- PTI
00:15   3 Delhi HC judges test positive for Covid-19
As many as three judges of the Delhi High Court have tested positive for COVID-19 infection, court sources said.

According to sources, the three judges have mild symptoms and now they are isolating themselves at their residences. 

The Delhi High Court Bar Association has already decided to close its office in wake of rising COVID-19 cases in the national capital.

The high court has again adopted virtual hearing from April 9 to April 23 and discontinued the physical hearing.

The court had previously suspended its functioning on March 23, 2020, followed by the government's decision to impose lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, the high court continued to take up urgent matters through video conferencing and later resumed physical hearing of limited benches. 

Delhi reported 11,491 new COVID-19 cases and 72 deaths in the last 24 hours, the national capital government said on Monday. With this, the case tally in Delhi rose to 7,36,688.

-- ANI