Sun, 05 December 2021
Nagaland killings boost demand to repeal AFSPA

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Photograph: PTI Photo
Photograph: PTI Photo
22:03   Nagaland killings boost demand to repeal AFSPA
The gunning down of 14 civilians by security forces in Nagaland led to the demand for the withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 from the Northeast with a renewed vigour on Sunday.

Civil society groups and rights activists and political leaders of the region have been demanding the withdrawal of the 'draconian' law for years, alleging excesses by security forces with impunity under the cover of the Act.

The AFSPA is in force in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur (excluding Imphal Municipal Council Area), Changlang, Longding and Tirap districts of Arunachal Pradesh, and areas falling within the jurisdiction of eight police stations of districts in Arunachal Pradesh bordering Assam.

The North East Students' Organisation (NESO), an umbrella body of students' unions of the region, said the Centre should repeal the law if it is concerned about the welfare and well-being of the people of the Northeast.

"...otherwise it will only further alienate the people of the region," NESO chairman Samuel B Jyrwa said.

"The armed forces have been operating in the Northeast with impunity and they are further emboldened with the imposition of a draconian law known as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 (AFSPA)," he added.

The incident in Nagaland's Mon brings back horrific memories of the past where on numerous occasions the security forces 'massacred, tortured the innocent villagers and raped women' in the name of fighting insurgency, he claimed.

TIPRA chairman Pradyot Deb Barma said that those responsible should be held accountable and laws like AFSPA have to be repealed.

Rajya Sabha member from Assam and senior journalist Ajit Kumar Bhuyan said the killing of the villagers should be an eye-opener for all.

"Incidents like this are the reason we have been constantly protesting against renewal of draconian AFSPA. This is not the first incident, but I hope this is the last."

All Assam Students' Union (AASU) chief Advisor Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharjya, said, "The action of the security forces is an unpardonable and heinous crime."

He alleged that the incident showed the government's unwillingness for peace and stability in the region, and said that the 'draconian and undemocratic' AFSPA should be revoked for the protection of the citizens.

Binalakshmi Nepram, the founder of Manipur Women Gun Survivors' Network and Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples, hit out at the government, alleging that no security forces involved in killing civilians and indigenous people of the region have ever been charged or put behind bars for the wrongs done.

Terming the AFSPA a 'colonial law', Nepram maintained that it gives security forces a 'licence to kill'.

National Award-winning filmmaker Utpal Borpujari said even as civilians were killed on the basis of 'false intelligence' but AFSPA will give immunity to the perpetrators.

At least 14 civilians were gunned down by security forces in Nagaland's Mon district and a soldier killed in rioting that followed, police said, adding that it is investigating whether the incident was a case of mistaken identity.

The incident had taken place between Oting and Tiru villages when some daily-wage labourers were returning home in a pick-up van from a coal mine on Saturday evening, police said.  -- PTI
21:18   Look out notice against Jacqueline, offloaded
Actor Jacqueline Fernandez on Sunday was offloaded from a flight at the Mumbai Airport by immigration officials due to a LOC (Look Out Circular) issued by Enforcement Directorate (ED) against her in connection with a Rs 200 crore extortion case involving conman Sukesh Chandrashekar, said sources.

The actor was supposed to fly to Muscat, added the sources.

According to the sources, she left the Mumbai airport from terminal-2 through departure gate no 3 at 5.30 pm.

It is learnt that the LOC was issued with directions that she should not be permitted to leave India, as per the sources.

The ED has issued a lookout notice against actor Jacqueline Fernandez in connection with a Rs 200 crore extortion case involving conman Sukesh.

The ED is likely to file a charge sheet this week in the Rs 200 crore extortion case against conman Sukesh Chandrashekar who allegedly duped the wife of the former promoter of Ranbaxy Shivinder Mohan Singh, sources in the agency told ANI on Thursday.

ED has registered two cases of money laundering against Chandrasekhar, his wife Leena Maria Paul, his aides Deepak Ramdani, Pradeep Ramdani and others for duping Aditi Singh, wife of Shivinder Mohan Singh and Japna Singh wife of Malvinder Singh.

Conman Chandrasekhar has cheated Rs 200 crore from Aditi Singh by posing as a Law Ministry official who promised to help with her husband's cases.

After extorting Rs 200 cr from Aditi Singh conman cheated Japna Singh.  -- ANI
20:54   9 Omicron cases found in Jaipur
A total of nine cases of COVID19 Omicron variant have been reported in Rajasthan's Jaipur, said the state health department.

Samples of 34 people (of the family that came from South Africa and the people they came in contact with) were sent for genome sequencing and nine were found to be positive for Omicron, said the health department.

The remaining 25 people tested negative.

Medical Secretary Vaibhav Galriya said, "The department had already got the family from South Africa admitted to Rajasthan University of Health Sciences, Jaipur (RUHS). Five other people who came in contact with him have also been found infected. They are being admitted to RUHS."

He said, "A family of Ajitgarh in Sikar district had also come in contact with the family. The department also traced all those eight people in Sikar. All of them have been found corona negative. All the people who came in contact are being sampled after doing contact tracing on a large scale."

Galriya said the department has been fully active since the arrival of the family from South Africa in Jaipur and their monitoring was being done continuously.

"Intensive contact tracing is being done by the department and treatment will be started after identifying all the people who came in contact.

"The Medical Secretary has appealed to the general public to strictly follow the Corona-compliant behaviour. Everyone should wear masks while leaving the house, follow social distancing, wash their hands with soap and not forget to take the dose of corona vaccine. Only by behaving with restraint, can we avoid the epidemic."   -- ANI
20:35   NTAGI mulls extra jab for immunocompromised
The issue of administering 'additional' dose of COVID-19 vaccine to immunocompromised individuals will be deliberated upon in the meeting of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation scheduled to be held on December 6, official sources said.

According to officials, an additional dose of vaccine is different from a booster dose.

A booster dose is given to an individual after a predefined period when the immune response due to primary vaccination is presumed to have declined, while additional dose is given to immunocompromised and immunosuppressed individuals when primary schedule of vaccination does not provide adequate protection from the infection and disease, they explained.

Recently, the Serum Institute of India (SII) sought from the drug regulator an approval for Covishield as a booster dose against the novel coronavirus infection.

In an application to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), Prakash Kumar Singh, Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at SII, said UK-MHRA has already approved the booster dose for AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine, while citing there is no shortage of Covishield in India and that there is a demand for booster dose from those who have already taken two doses in view of the ongoing pandemic and emergence of new strains.

In its bulletin dated November 29, the  Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG) recommended booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines for those above 40 years with preference to high-risk and high-exposure population.

However, on Saturday it said its recommendation was not for the national immunisation programme as many more scientific experiments are required to assess its impact.

Regarding the administration of booster doses, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had recently informed the Lok Sabha that the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) and the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) were deliberating and considering scientific evidences related to this aspect.

"For now the issue of booster dose is not on the agenda as studies are being conducted to ascertain its need and value.

"The issue of administering additional dose of COVID-19 to immunocompromised and immunosuppressed individuals will be deliberated upon in the meeting of NTAGI which will be held on December 6," an official source said.

Basically, cancer patients on therapy, transplants patients, AIDS patients, among others, fall in such categories and need additional dose (third dose) vaccine to improve their protection.

Even amid emergence of new variants like Omircron, vaccination remains one of the strongest pillars of protection against disease and infection, experts said.

While there is no evidence to suggest that existing vaccines do not work on the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, some of the mutations reported may decrease the efficacy of the jabs, the Union health ministry said while underscoring definitive evidence for the new variant's increased remission and immune evasion, is awaited.

"While, there is no evidence to suggest that existing vaccines do not work on Omicron, some of the mutations reported on Spike gene may decrease the efficacy of existing vaccines.

"However, vaccine protection is also by antibodies as well as by cellular immunity, which is expected to be relatively better preserved. Hence, vaccines are expected to still offer protection against severe disease and, vaccination with the available vaccines is crucial. If eligible, but not vaccinated, one should get vaccinated," the ministry said in a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs).

It is important to highlight that Omicron has been declared variant of concern' (VoC) based on the observed mutations, their predicted features of increased transmission and immune evasion, and preliminary evidence of detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology, such as increased reinfections.

The definitive evidence for increased remission and immune evasion is awaited, according to the WHO.    -- PTI
19:36   Rahul Gandhi in Prayagraj on private visit
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday arrived in Prayagraj at his ancestral home Swaraj Bhawan on a private visit.

Senior party leader Pramod Tiwari said he will be attending a marriage party  of Kamala Nehru Trust CEO's son.

This is a personal visit and he won't be meeting party workers, to whom he will be interacting some other day, Tiwari said.

Gandhi will leave for Delhi today for the Parliament session tomorrow, Tiwari added.

The trust is linked to the Nehru-Gandhi family and the former Congress president is one of its trustees.

Tiwari said there are many trusts of the Nehru Gandhi family working in the field of medicine and education.   -- PTI

IMAGE: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi arrives at the airpot in Prayagraj, Sunday, December 5, 2021. Photograph: PTI Photo
19:12   7 more Omicron cases reported in Maharashtra
Seven more people have tested positive for the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in Maharashtra, the state health department said.

"Four persons who returned from foreign tours and three of their close contacts have test positive for Omicron variant in Pune," a health official said.

With these, the total cases of Omicron variant reported in Maharashtra have increased to eight.

More details awaited.  -- ANI/PTI
18:59   BJP will never topple Raj govt: Shah in Jaipur
Hitting out at Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot for accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party of trying to bring down his government last year, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday said the party will never topple the government and will come to power in the state with a strong mandate in 2023.

He exuded confidence that the BJP will win the 2023 assembly elections in Rajasthan with two-thirds majority.

"They are always in fear that their government will collapse. Who is going to topple the government? BJP will never topple your government. The party will go among the people and will come to power with a strong mandate in 2023," Shah said while addressing a meeting of BJP MPs and MLAs in Jaipur.

Targeting the Congress, he said that former prime minister Indira Gandhi had given the slogan of 'Garibi Hatao', but the work to remove poverty was started after the Narendra Modi government was formed in 2014.

The Congress worked only to remove the poor instead of poverty, he charged.   -- PTI
18:16   UP polls: Mamata likely to support Akhilesh
Trinamool Congress president Mamata Banerjee is expected to visit Varanasi next month amid indication that her party will support Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.

"Didi has already said in Delhi that if Akhilesh Yadav needs our help, we are ready to extend help. The gesture of senior SP leader Jaya Bachchan seeking votes for the TMC during the West Bengal Assembly elections will be reciprocated in Uttar Pradesh," said Laliteshpati Tripathi, who recently joined the TMC.

"The target is the same and we have to leave no stone unturned to ensure that these forces (led by the BJP) are defeated. We are also with SP chief Akhilesh ji in his fight," Tripathi told PTI on Sunday.

He said Banerjee would visit Varanasi probably around the second week of January.

"The TMC is holding meetings and deliberating how to strengthen itself in Uttar Pradesh. As far as party chief Mamata Banerjee's visit to Varanasi is concerned, we have not finalised the dates. We were planning to organise her visit in December, but owing to her previous engagements, we could not get the dates," Tripathi said.

Uttar Pradesh is not the immediate focus of the TMC, he said.

For the TMC, Goa and Tripura are the states of immediate focus, Tripathi said, adding his party is not in the fray in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election due early next year.

Asked whether Banerjee is visiting Varanasi since it is represented by PM Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha, and possibly because she wants to send across a message, Tripathi said, "No. According to the initial roadmap of the TMC, the party's Purvanchal unit office was to be based in Varanasi, and Mamata ji wanted to have a darshan (of temples)."

Tripathi also reasoned that she chose Varanasi as the first phase of the joining of new members in the TMC was to be held in the holy city.

Laliteshpati Tripathi, ex-vice president of the state Congress and great-grandson of former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kamlapati Tripathi, and his father Rajeshpathi joined the TMC in the presence of Banerjee in Siliguri on October 25.

Asked what made him and his father join the TMC, the 43-year-old-leader said Banerjee has the capacity to fight Prime Minister Modi.

Meanwhile, SP's national vice-president Kiranmoy Nanda told PTI Sunday, "We have supported her (Mamata Banerjee) in the West Bengal Assembly elections. I myself have campaigned for her in the elections.

"We welcome the gesture (of offering support) by Didi. We want to defeat the BJP, and Didi also wants to defeat the BJP. If Didi supports us, we are happy, and we welcome it."

When asked as to how he views Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is trying to mobilise the party cadre (ahead of the polls), Laliteshpati Tripathi said, "Politics is not a game, which is started two-three months before the elections. If I take the example of Mamata Banerjee, she fought the Communists in the state continuously for three-four years by being there. The Congress, too, needs the same thing."

"The Congress seems to be fighting now, and for the candidates it is good that the star campaigners are active. Whosoever can take advantage of it, will do so. But, as far as the revival of the party is concerned, it should have been started in 2019," he said.

Commenting on the announcement made by Priyanka Gandhi that the Congress will give 40 per cent of tickets in Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls to women, and whether it could be possibly a game changer, Tripathi said, "If this was to be made a game changer, this should have been introduced in states like Uttarakhand, Goa and Punjab, where they could have guaranteed the win of their candidates, and it could have been a strong initiative towards women empowerment."

"This is a welcome move, but based on it alone, you cannot win the polls as there are a host of other factors," he said.

"Didi has shown that she can take on Narendra Modi and defeat him as well," Tripathi said and added that the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly election has become Akhilesh Yadav versus Yogi Adityanath.

"If Akhilesh is seen on a strong footing, then the prime minister would have to come here and lead the (BJP's poll) campaign," Tripathi said.

Tripathi claimed that BJP's tally of seats in the 2022 Assembly elections will decrease from its 2017 total of 312, as there is 'anger in the society, farmers are worried in absence of proper purchase of paddy and due to non-availability of fertilisers'.

He also claimed that the BJP will lose seats in the rural areas of Varanasi in the Assembly polls.

Tripathi said that he and his father have not taken any designation in the TMC and are working to strengthen it in the state.   -- PTI
18:11   AAP MP claims senior BJP leader offered money to join party
Punjab Aam Aadmi Party president Bhagwant Mann on Sunday claimed a senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader offered him money and a place in the Union cabinet to join the saffron party ahead of the state assembly polls next year.

Addressing the media in Chandigarh, the Sangrur MP asserted that he could not be bought with money or anything else.

Without naming anyone, Mann claimed the senior BJP leader contacted him four days ago and asked him, "Mann sahab, what would you take to join the BJP?"

He alleged that he was also asked if 'you need money'.

The AAP leader further claimed that he was told that if he joined the BJP, he would be made a Union cabinet minister.

"I told him (BJP leader) that I am on a mission not on commission," said Mann, the AAP's lone MP from Punjab.

He said he told the BJP leader that there might be others 'whom you could buy'.

Mann said he could not be bought with money or anything else.

When asked to name the BJP leader, he said he would disclose it when the time comes.

The AAP leader claimed the BJP has no base in Punjab.

BJP leaders were not allowed to enter villages and faced anger from farmers over the farm laws that were repealed by the government last week. -- PTI
Image only for representation
Image only for representation
17:13   69 test Covid positive at Karnataka school
As many as 69 people including 59 students of the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya in Chikkamagaluru have tested positive for COVID-19 and all are asymptomatic, a health officer said.

"We had conducted tests on 457 people in the JNV here, of which 59 students and 10 staff tested positive for COVID-19. They are asymptomatic but we have isolated them," District Health Officer Dr S N Umesh told PTI.

The officer said the test reports of all the people who were tested have arrived and only 69 were found infected.

Umesh also said the teaching and other staff in the JNV have been vaccinated.

According to sources in the district authorities, the school has been sealed temporarily and doctors and paramedical staff have been deployed there.

Rooms are also being sanitised, they added.

The schools and colleges, especially residential ones in the state, are witnessing a spurt in COVID-19 cases. However, the severity of the infection and fatality are almost nil in these places as most of the students and staff are asymptomatic.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had recently said that the COVID-19 cases are appearing in two types of clusters -- one is the schools and colleges, and second one is the residential apartments.   -- PTI
16:55   ED records statement of Param Bir Singh
The Enforcement Directorate has recorded the statement of suspended Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh in connection with its money laundering probe into alleged irregularities in the Maharashtra police establishment, official sources said on Sunday.

The statement was recorded on December 3 at the agency's office in south Mumbai under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

They said the 59-year-old was quizzed for about five hours with questions on different aspects of the case including the allegations he made against his then boss, former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh.

Singh was summoned at least three times in the past by the ED but he never deposed. He may be summoned again.

The 1988-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer was suspended by the Maharashtra government few days back following registration of police FIRs against him and some other police personnel on charges of extortion.

Sources said his statement was 'vital' to take the investigation in the case forward.

Former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh and his aides have been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in this case.

Singh had in March levelled allegations of corruption and misuse of official position against Deshmukh after he was shunted from the post of the Mumbai police commissioner in the aftermath of Antilia bomb scare incident.

He had accused Deshmukh of asking police officers to collect Rs 100 crore a month from restaurants and bars in Mumbai, a charge which the NCP leader denied.

Singh, declared absconding by courts in Mumbai and Thane, surfaced in public late last month after being underground for over six months.

After he moved the Supreme Court, he was granted temporary protection from arrest.

The IPS officer is facing at least five extortion cases in Maharashtra and has similarly deposed various state police investigation units over the last few days.   -- PTI
16:05   Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi quits Sansad TV show
Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi, who is among the 12 Rajya Sabha suspended recently for their 'unruly' conduct in the House, on Sunday said she has stepped down as the anchor of the Sansad TV's show 'Meri Kahaani'.

Chaturvedi, in a letter, dated December 5, to Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu, said, 'After my arbitrary suspension, that has totally disgraced established parliamentary norms and rules, to stifle my voice, my party's voice inside the chamber, I am unwilling to continue taking space on Sansad TV when my primary oath to the Constitution is being denied to me.'

The 12 Opposition MPs -- six from the Congress, two each from the Trinamool Congress and the Shiv Sena, and one each from the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India-Marxist -- were suspended from the Rajya Sabha on Monday for the entire Winter Session of Parliament for their 'unruly' conduct in the previous session in August.

The Opposition has termed the suspension as 'undemocratic and in violation of all the Rules of Procedure' of the Upper House.

In her letter to Naidu, Chaturvedi said, 'That this suspension also chose to disregard my parliamentary track record and my contribution beyond the call of duty so as to give a platform to women parliamentarians to share their journey, I believe injustice has been done but as it is considered valid in the eyes of the Chair, I must respect it.'

'I believe it is my duty that when today the highest number of women MPs have been suspended in the recorded history of the Rajya Sabha for an entire session for speaking up for the people of this country, then I need to speak up for them and stand in solidarity for them,' she said.

Also, not to forget that 12 MPs being suspended for an entire session for their conduct in the previous session has  'never happened in Parliament's history', the Sena leader said.   -- PTI
15:55   Imran calls Gotabaya, assures justice to lynched Lankan national
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has assured Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa that there will be no mercy to the mob which lynched Sri Lankan national Priyantha Kumara Diyawadana over allegations of blasphemy, the President's office in Colombo said on Sunday.

Khan telephoned Rajapaksa and said that 113 people have been arrested so far, it said.

All the videos and information related to the incident have been obtained by the Pakistani security forces, a statement from the President's office said.

Prime Minister Khan informed President Rajapaksa that Diyawadana, who had served in Pakistan for a long time, had shown a high level of professionalism as a manager.

In a shocking incident on Friday, angry supporters of the hardline Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) attacked a garment factory and lynched its general manager Diyawadana, who was in his 40s, before setting his body on fire over allegations of blasphemy.

As pressure mounted on the Pakistani government to bring the guilty to justice, over 800 people have been booked under terrorism charges while 13 prime suspects are among 118 arrested so far in the horrific lynching of the Sri Lankan national in Punjab province.

Diyawadana, a graduate from the University of Peradeniya, is survived by his wife and two children.

He left for Pakistan for employment in 2010 and has been working as the manager of the Sialkot factory since 2012.

He was working as the general manager in the Rajko industries (dealing in garments sportswear) in Sialkot district, some 100 kilometres from Lahore.

Sri Lankan Parliament and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Saturday condemned the lynching and hoped that Prime Minister Khan will keep his commitment to bring all those involved to justice and ensure the safety of the rest of the island nation's expat workers.

A mob of over 800 men gathered at the factory at 10 am Friday on reports that Kumara had torn a sticker/poster (inscribed with Islamic verses) and committed blasphemy.

They looked out for him and found him (from the rooftop). They dragged him, beat him severely and by 11.28 am he was dead and the body was set on fire by the violent mob, Inspector General of Police (Punjab) Rao Sardar Ali Khan said.

The mob after burning the body of the Sri Lankan national had blocked the Wazirabad road. Police from different stations reached there to control the situation, he said.

The incident sparked widespread condemnation from all walks of life.

Police were also chided for reaching the crime scene after the incident.

Only a couple of policemen can be seen in one video asking the people to stay back while the body was burning. Mob killings over allegations of blasphemy have been very common in Pakistan, where the crime can carry the death sentence.

In April 2017, an angry mob lynched university student Mashal Khan when he was accused of posting blasphemous content online.

A Christian couple was lynched and then set ablaze in a kiln in Punjab in 2014 after being accused of desecrating the Quran.   -- PTI
15:28   Kejri promises Rs 1,000/month to every Goa woman
Aam Aadmi Party national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday promised cash assistance of Rs 1,000 per month for every woman above the age of 18 years if his party came to power in the State in the 2022 Assembly elections.

Addressing an event here, Kejriwal said, "Griha Aadhar benefit for women will be increased from Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,500 per month. Rs 1,000 per month will be given to every female over 18 years. This is the biggest and the most effective women empowerment program in the world."

"They say Kejriwal is giving 'freebies'. Till date, only Ministers used to get freebies on taxpayers' money. What leaders are getting is a freebie, what people are getting is their right," he added.

The AAP has announced to contest all 40 seats in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Goa, where elections are due in next year.

Apart from the ruling BJP and opposition Congress, Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC), the Shiv Sena and other parties will also be in the fray.

The AAP has promised cash assistance of Rs 1,000 per month for every woman above the age of 18 years in Punjab as well. Punjab Assembly polls are also scheduled to be held early next year.   -- ANI
Photograph: Manash Das/ANI Photo
Photograph: Manash Das/ANI Photo
13:55   Rahul slams Centre over Nagaland incident
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday attacked the Centre over the killing of civilians during an anti-insurgency operation in Mon district of Nagaland, saying the government must give a 'real reply' as to what is the home ministry doing when 'neither civilians nor security personnel are safe in our own land'.

Police in Nagaland said at least 11 civilians were killed by security forces and that it is investigating whether the incident was a case of mistaken identity.

Reacting to the incident, Gandhi tweeted, 'This is heart wrenching. GOI must give a real reply. What exactly is the home ministry doing when neither civilians nor security personnel are safe in our own land?'

The Army on Sunday ordered a Court of Inquiry into the killing of civilians and expressed deep regret over the incident.

Army officials said the operation in Mon district that borders Myanmar was carried out based on credible intelligence inputs about the likely movement of insurgents in the area.

It said the security forces suffered severe injuries in the operation and one soldier succumbed to injuries.   -- PTI
13:17   Katrina, Vicky wedding to be 'private affair'
Bollywood actors Katrina Kaif and Vicky Kaushal will be getting married in an intimate ceremony in Rajasthan next week, a source said.

Reports of Kaif, 38, and Kaushal, 33, dating have been doing the rounds since over a year, but the two actors never went public with their relationship.

According to the source close to the development, the wedding festivities starting with sangeet, mehendi followed by the marriage ceremony -- will be held from December 7 to 9 in Rajasthan.

Their wedding is going to be a private, intimate affair with only immediate family and close friends in attendance. The couple is excited to share their joy with their friends and well-wishers in the industry too. They (couple) will be hosting a celebration for the industry at a much later date, the source said.

The wedding will reportedly be held at Six Senses Fort Barwara in Chauth Ka Barwara town of Sawai Madhopur.

Sawai Madhopur district collector Rajendra Kishan on Friday said a meeting of the district administration officials was organised to discuss the law-and-order arrangements for four days during the celebrity wedding.

Keeping in view the coronavirus pandemic situation, Kishan also said directions have been given that all guests should have got both the doses of vaccination.

As far as we have been informed, there will be 120 guests for four days from December 7 to 10. RT-PCR test is compulsory for those who have not taken vaccine doses, he had said.  --  PTI
12:21   Puducherry makes Covid vaccination compulsory
The Union Territory of Puducherry has made it mandatory for all persons to get the COVID-19 vaccine with an aim to achieve cent per cent coverage and said those skipping it would face penal action under law.

The Director of Health and Family Welfare Services G Sriramulu stated this in an order on Saturday night and said it woud come into immediate effect.

The government has invoked the provisions of the Puducherry Public Health Act 1973 to implement compulsory vaccination.

"Those skipping the vaccination will face penal action as per provisions of the Act", the Director said.

A senior health department official, who did not wish to be named, said the decision was taken as the government intended to achieve cent per cent coverge of all eligible people and there should be no room for spread of the virus.

The official said there is a provision in the public health act which states that in a pandemic situation, certain aggressive measures are required to be taken.   -- PTI
12:09   Half of India's adult population fully vaccinated against Covid
Over 50 per cent of India's eligible adult population is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Sunday as the cumulative vaccine doses administered in the country exceeded 127.61 crore.

According to Union Health Ministry officials, over 84.8 per cent of the adult population in India has been administered the first dose.

'Congratulations India. It is a moment of great pride as over 50% of the eligible population is now fully vaccinated. We will win the battle against COVID-19 together,' Mandaviya said in a tweet.

With the administration of 1,04,18,707 vaccine doses in a span of 24 hours, the total COVID-19 vaccine doses given in the country has exceeded 127.61 crore, according to the provisional report till 7 am.

This has been achieved through 1,32,44,514 sessions, the ministry said.

The countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on January 16 with health care workers (HCWs) getting inoculated in the first phase.

The vaccination of front line workers (FLWs) started from February 2.

The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination commenced from March 1 for people over 60 years of age and those aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions.

The country launched vaccination for all people aged more than 45 years from April 1.

The government then decided to expand its vaccination drive by allowing everyone above 18 to be vaccinated from May 1.   -- PTI
11:49   First Omicron case in Delhi; total 5 in India
Delhi reported its first case of new COVID-19 Variant Omicron on Sunday.

"First omicron case detected in Delhi. The patient admitted to the LNJP Hospital had returned from Tanzania. Till now, 17 people (who come from abroad) have tested positive for Covid and they have been admitted to the hospital," Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain told reporters.

This is the fifth case of Omicron reported in the country.

The first two cases of Omicron were reported in Karnataka.

On Saturday, the third and the fourth case of the infection were reported from Gujarat's Jamnagar and Maharashtra's Dombivli respectively.

Earlier, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop international flights in the view of Omicron variant.  -- ANI
10:35   Security forces kill 11 civilians in Nagaland
At least 11 civilians have been gunned down by security forces in Nagaland's Mon district, police said on Sunday, adding that it is investigating whether the incident was a case of mistaken identity.                         
The exact number of fatalities, however, is yet to be ascertained as 11 people died on the spot, and several others succumbed to their injuries in hospitals in neighbouring Assam, a police officer said.                         

The incident took place between Oting and Tiru villages when some daily-wage labourers were returning home in a pick-up van from a coal mine on Saturday evening, the police officer said.                         

The vehicle was allegedly fired upon by Army personnel, who were conducting an operation in the area after receiving inputs on the movement of militants of Yung Aung faction of proscribed outfit NSCN-K, he said.                         
An investigation is underway to ascertain whether the incident was a case of mistaken identity, the officer said.                         

Mon shares a porous international border with Myanmar, where the Yung Aung faction of NSCN-K is based.                         

The situation is under control and police is conducting spot verification, he said. -- PTI
10:10   1707 school staff in Kerala yet to take Covid vaccine
Kerala education minister V Sivankutty on Saturday informed that there are 1,707 school staff who have not taken the COVID-19 vaccine so far. 

Earlier, the minister has revealed that about 5,000 teaching and non-teaching staff in the state are not vaccinated. 

The minister said that the highest number of unvaccinated school staff is in Malappuram where 201 members are yet to be jabbed. 

Wayanad is at the bottom with 29 unvaccinated school staff. 

"Around 1,066 teachers have not taken the COVID-19 vaccine in lower primary, upper primary and high school levels. 189 non-teaching staff have also not taken from this section. From the higher secondary level, 200 teachers and 23 non-teaching staff are yet to receive vaccine doses. 229 teachers have not taken the vaccine in vocational higher secondary level but all not teaching staff received the vaccine," Sivankutty said on Saturday. 

The education minister has also said that those who have health issues should produce a medical certificate and while others are required to provide RT-PCR test reports each week or can take leave without pay. 

He added that the special schools will be opened from December 8 onwards. -- ANI
09:58   Nagaland CM Rio condemns killing of civilians, orders SIT probe
Nagaland CM condemns killing of civilians, orders SIT probe Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Sunday ordered a high-level probe into the reported killings of civilians by security forces in Oting village in the Mon district of the state. 

In a tweet this morning, the chief minister informed about the 'unfortunate incident' that led to the 'killing of civilians' in the village while appealing for calm. 

"The unfortunate incident leading to killing of civilians at Oting, Mon is highly condemnable. Condolences to the bereaved families & speedy recovery of those injured. High level SIT will investigate & justice delivered as per the law of the land. Appeal for peace from all sections," CM Rio said in a tweet.

Some Naga youth were reportedly killed in Oting village of Mon district on Saturday when they were allegedly fired at by security forces who suspected them to be terrorists. 

Reportedly, irked villagers torched vehicles of security forces and some people were reportedly shot when security forces opened fire to control the irate mob. 

Further details awaited. -- ANI
09:47   Cyclone Jawad to make landfall at noon
Ahead of the landfall of cyclonic storm Jawad at the Odisha coast near Puri around noon on Sunday, 18 National Disaster Response Force teams have been deployed in West Bengal as the sea at Digha has turned rough due to cyclonic circulation over the Bay of Bengal. 

Cyclone Jawad is likely to weaken further from deep depression into depression by Sunday morning, the India meteorological department said. 

"Deep depression remnant of cyclonic storm Jawad over West Central Bay of Bengal, lay centered at 23:30 hours IST of December 4, near lat 17.5 degree north, long 85.0 degree east, about 200 km south of Gopalpur. Likely to move north-north-east wards, weaken further into a depression by morning of December 5, reach Odisha coast near Puri around noon of same day,"a the weather agency said. 

According to the assistant commandant of NDRF in Digha, SD Prasad, "18 NDRF teams are deployed in West Bengal. We carried out awareness programmes and are ready for evacuations if needed. It is a matter of relief that 'Jawad' will weaken into a deep depression when it reaches Puri beach today (Sunday)." -- ANI
08:35   CNN fires anchor Cuomo for aiding brother accused of harassment
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo has been fired, confirmed CNN on Saturday. 

The termination is effective immediately. 

An outside law firm was hired to review and scrutinise information about exactly how Cuomo aided his brother, former New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, when the then-governor was accused of sexual harassment, reported CNN

"Chris Cuomo was suspended earlier this week pending further evaluation of new information that came to light about his involvement with his brother's defence. We retained a respected law firm to conduct the review, and have terminated him, effective immediately," informed CNN in a statement. 

"While in the process of that review, additional information has come to light. Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate," the statement further read. 

Departing CNN, Cuomo said, "This is not how I want my time at CNN to end but I have already told you why and how I helped my brother. So let me now say as disappointing as this is, I could not be more proud of the team at Cuomo Prime Time and the work we did as CNN's #1 show in the most competitive time slot. I owe them all and will miss that group of special people who did really important work." -- ANI
08:23   Earthquake of magnitude 3.8 hits Uttarakhand's Tehri Garhwal
An earthquake of magnitude 3.8 on the Richter scale jolted Uttarakhand's Tehri Garhwal on Sunday, the National Center for Seismology informed.   

"Earthquake of Magnitude:3.8, Occurred on 05-12-2021, 02:02:47 IST, lat: 30.61 and long: 78.82, depth: 10 km, location: Tehri Garhwal, Uttarakhand," the NCS tweeted.   

 Further details are awaited. -- PTI
08:17   Security tightened in Mathura ahead of Babri anniv
Security has been tightened in Mathura to avoid any untoward incident ahead of December 6, the date on which the Babri mosque was demolished in Ayodhya in 1992, officials said on Saturday.                 

Four right-wing groups, the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, Srikrishna Janmabhumi Nirman Nyas, Narayani Sena and the Srikrishna Mukti Dal, had earlier sought permission to hold non-traditional programmes on the day.                 

The Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha had sought permission to install a Krishna idol at the deity's 'actual birthplace,' which it claimed is in a mosque close to a prominent temple in Mathura.                 

District magistrate Navneet Singh Chahal had turned them down, saying the question of granting permission to any event that may potentially disrupt peace does not arise. -- PTI