Fri, 11 June 2021
'Moved mountains' to contain Covid 2nd wave: EAM

Timeline  Refresh

23:18   'Moved mountains' to contain Covid 2nd wave: EAM
Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday assured the worried diaspora in Kuwait that the second wave of COVID-19 was receding in India and the government 'really moved mountains' to contain the pandemic.

Jaishankar, who arrived here on his first bilateral visit to the oil-rich Gulf nation early on Thursday, addressed the Indian community in  Kuwait City at the conclusion of his meetings in the country.

"The second wave of the COVID-19 has started to recede. The daily number of new infections is less than what it was in early May. The positivity rate has also come down dramatically," he said.

"A large part of it has been made possible by very very vigorous government response to the second wave. The kind of effort and energy that I saw, the long hours that people put in. People really moved mountains to respond to what was an unprecedented situation," he said.

The minister said the government ran hundreds of oxygen trains to ferry oxygen from the production centres to the major cities.

"All our planes were mobilised, including the Air Force planes for the oxygen cylinder tanks to be moved, both within the country and from abroad to India," Jaishankar said.

"We procured medicines which were essential for COVID treatment. Many of them came from abroad. We also ensured the domestic production of the medicines was enhanced," he said.

On the vaccination programme, the minister acknowledged that it was a 'big issue' and 3 million people were being vaccinated daily and its pace will pick up in the coming days.

"As the production of the vaccines scales up, as the year progresses, we will be able to vaccinate all our people," he said.

Jaishankar said the economy has started to make a strong recovery, asserting that there is a sense that the economic impact of the second wave would be less than what happened in the last year.

"The belief we have is that India will pick up. India will recover rapidly, a lot of what we have seen in the past -- the steady rise of India and its economy and influence in the world -- and that will continue," he said.

Jaishankar lauded the contributions of the Indian community, saying it in many ways defines India abroad.

"The contribution you make, the respect you earn, the support that you provide and the bridge you constitute is what makes India's interaction with the world unique... Keep the Indian flag flying high here in Kuwait," he said.

Earlier, Jaishankar held a meeting with India's envoys to the Gulf nations to discuss a host of issues, including encouraging speedy resumption of flights to this region and facilitating reuniting families separated by COVID disruption.

He said the Indian missions in the crucial Gulf region have been told to do whatever they could to help the Indian community during the pandemic.

He said the government attached high importance to the region not only because it was one of the main sources of oil and gas for the country but also due to the presence of a large number of Indian nationals living in countries in the region.

Jaishankar said he held 'productive discussions' with his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah on Thursday during which the two sides discussed a range of issues including health, food, education, energy, digital and business cooperation.

During the visit, India and Kuwait also signed an MoU that brings Indian domestic workers in the Gulf nation within the ambit of a legal framework that streamlines their recruitment and provides them with the protection of the law.

The MoU brings the Indian domestic workers in Kuwait within the ambit of a legal framework that streamlines their recruitment and provides them with the protection of the law.

Around one million (ten lakh) Indians reside in Kuwait.  -- PTI
22:55   Covid data: Centre asks states to follow SOPs
The health ministry on Friday said it has regularly emphasised on the need for a robust reporting mechanism to monitor district-wise Covid cases and deaths on a daily basis, two days after Bihar revised its COVID-19 death toll by including 3,951 unreported fatalities.

The COVID-19 death toll in Bihar was on Wednesday revised drastically upwards by the state health department which put the total number of fatalities caused by the pandemic at 9,429.

In a statement, the ministry said states and union territories have been advised to report Covid deaths in accordance with the prescribed guidelines.

This spike in deaths was on account of the 3,971 fatalities reported in Bihar after data reconciliation by the state government, the ministry said.

"States and UTs have been advised repeatedly through formal communications, multiple video conferences and through deployment of Central teams for recording of deaths in accordance with laid down guidelines," the ministry said.

The Union government has written to Bihar to provide a detailed date and district wise break-up of the reconciled number of deaths to the health ministry.   -- PTI
22:40   Farmers announce dharnas at governor houses on Jun 26
Protesting farmer unions on Friday announced they will organise dharnas at governor houses across the country on June 26 to mark the completion of seven months of their agitation against the three new Central agri-marketing laws.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of over 40 farmer unions, said they will show black flags during their June 26 protest and send memorandums to President Ram Nath Kovind.

Farmer leader Inderjit Singh of SKM told a press conference that the day will be observed as 'Kheti Bachao, Loktantra Bachao Diwas (save farming, save democracy day)'.

"We will protest by showing black flags at Raj Bhavans and giving memorandum to the President through the governor of each state, who is the President's representative.

"It (June 26) is also the day when Emergency was declared in 1975 and we will complete seven months of our protest. Along with farming, democratic rights of the people have also been attacked in this environment of dictatorship. This is an undeclared emergency," Singh said.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at Delhi's borders for more than six months now in protest against the three laws that they say will leave them at the mercy of big corporates and end the minimum support price regime.

The government has said all these concerns are baseless and that the new laws are pro-farmer.

The Supreme Court has put on hold the implementation of the laws till further orders and set up a committee to examine the issues.

Addressing the concerns of women protestors, farmer leader Suman Hooda said special committees will be formed by Saturday evening which will be dedicated to the women at the protest sites.

"We received some complaints from our women protesters. I want to assure them that these committees will only work to address any problems faced by them. Their contact numbers will also be shared by Sunday," he said.  -- PTI
22:04   JNU asks students to vacate library 'unrightfully occupied' by them
The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Friday instructed students to vacate the library they have 'unrightfully occupied', a day after a first information report was lodged by the varsity against them for alleging breaking into the facility and clashing with the staff there.

The varsity had alleged that the students have been occupying the Dr BR Ambedkar Central library.

The police had on Thursday said a case has been registered based on the complaint of the varsity.

'The students who have unrightfully occupied the reading rooms are advised and instructed to vacate the place immediately. This will facilitate and speed up the reopening and resumption of library services,' the varsity said in a statement.

It said, 'After due deliberations, keeping in line with government orders and the academic interests of the student community, the university administration has decided to take appropriate steps to open the Dr BR Ambedkar Central Library soon.'

'This will comply with the expected announcement of the government regarding further unlocking measures in Delhi,' the varsity said in a statement.

The statement also added that the library, throughout the lockdown period, has 'been committed' to serving the user community through remote access services and now intends to resume the book issue/ return facility as well.

The JNU students' union had on Thursday alleged that JNU E-Library and Remote Access, accessible through its library website, has been non-functional for months.

'At such a time, some students made use of the Central Library Reading Rooms for studying, which is the intended purpose of the said rooms,' the students' union had said.

While stating that the bonafide students will be welcome to use the reading rooms and avail of other services in strict adherence to the Covid guidelines and library rules, the varsity said the reading rooms need to be sanitised and seating arrangements changed as per the Covid protocols.  -- PTI
21:27   Don't panic over gap in Covishield jabs: Govt
The government on Friday said there is no need to panic on the need for an immediate change in the dosage interval of Covishield vaccine, underlining that reducing the time gap requires proper scientific study in the Indian scenario.

In the context of some media reports quoting recent studies that it would be better to shorten the gap between two doses of Covishield vaccine, in light of the variants in circulation, Dr V K Paul, member (Health) at NITI Aayog, said there is a need to balance such concerns.

Addressing a media briefing on COVID-19, he said, "There is no need for any panic, suggesting need for immediate switchover or change in the gap between the doses.

"All these decisions must be taken very carefully. We must remember that when we increased the gap, we had to consider the risk posed by the virus to those who have received only one dose.

"But the counterpoint was that more people will then be able to get the first dose, thereby giving a reasonable degree of immunity to more people."

"We need to balance these concerns. So, please remember, that we need to necessarily have this debate and discourse in the public domain; however, the decision has to be taken by appropriate fora comprising eminent people who are knowledgeable about this," he said.

Paul said in the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), there are quite a few people who have been a part of World Health Organisation panels and committees and are globally renowned and recognised for their eminence.

Moreover, NTAGI is regarded as a standard when it comes to global and national immunisation programmes.

"So, please respect their decisions," he said.

Welcoming a discourse on this topic, Paul highlighted the need for due scientific process in arriving at such decisions.

He appealed to the public to respect the decision taken by NTAGI, a body of globally renowned experts.

Let the decision regarding dose interval be examined by NTAGI, according to due process. The United Kingdom must have adopted due process and examined data scientifically, to revise their previous decision regarding the gap. The UK had earlier kept the gap at 12 weeks, but as per data available to us, we did not consider it safe at that point, he said.

"So, let us entrust this to our scientific fora, they must be addressing it already. They will review it based on the pandemic situation in our country, depending on the extent of prevalence of the delta variant in our country and then take a comprehensive view. Whichever decision is taken by our scientific community, we will honour it," Paul stated.   -- PTI
20:45   Mumbai reports 696 new Covid cases, 24 deaths
Mumbai reported 696 new coronavirus infections and 24 fatalities on Friday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said.

The financial capital of the country recorded fewer than 1,000 cases for the 12th day in a row, though the daily spike and death figure rose slightly compared to Thursday.

The tally of COVID-19 cases in the city thus rose to 7,15,146, while the death toll reached 15,146.

On Thursday the city had reported 660 new cases and 22 deaths.                

There are 15,819 active COVID-19 cases now, after 658 patients were discharged from hospitals.

So far 6,81,946 patients have recovered in the city, taking the recovery rate to 95 per cent.

With 26,228 coronavirus tests conducted since Thursday evening, the total of tests rose to 65,61,197.

Mumbai's average growth rate of COVID-19 cases between June 4 to June 10 dipped to 0.11 per cent, while the caseload doubling rate is now 598 days, the BMC said.

There are 24 active containment zones, and 92 buildings have been currently sealed after coronavirus patients were found there.

Mumbai had reported its highest daily spike of 11,163 cases on April 4, 2021 and the highest daily death toll of 90 on May 1, 2021, during the second wave of the pandemic.   -- PTI

IMAGE: A medic collects nasal sample from a passenger at Dadar station to curb COVID-19 spread in Mumbai, on Friday. Photograph: PTI Photo
20:29   Filmmaker Aisha Sulthana says she will 'keep fighting' for her native land
Filmmaker Aisha Sulthana, who was booked under sedition charges by Lakshadweep police on June 10, said on Friday that she will 'keep fighting' for her native land and her voice will 'grow louder' from now on.

Lakshadweep Police had on Thursday booked Sulthana on sedition charges on a complaint by a BJP leader that she spread false news about the spread of COVID-19 in the union territory during a TV debate.

The complaint was filed by the BJP's Lakshadweep unit president, Abdul Khader.

'I did not raise my voice for the land just so that I will lose my strength when they attempt to weaken me. From now my voice will only grow louder,' she wrote on Facebook.

According to the first information report lodged by Kavaratti police, a case under sections 124 A (sedition) and 153 B (hate speech) of the Indian Penal code has been registered against the filmmaker.

'The BJP leader who filed the case hails from Lakshadweep. While he betrays his native land, I will keep fighting for it. It is the betrayers who will find themselves alone tomorrow,' she said in her post.

Khader, in his complaint, said that Sulthana, during a debate in a Malayalam TV channel, had alleged that the central government used biological weapons for the spread of COVID-19 in Lakshadweep.

'Now to the people of Lakshadweep: The sea protects you and you protect it in return.What the betrayers have and what we don't is fear,' Sulthana said in the post.

The BJP leader, in his complaint, has alleged that Sulthana's was an anti-national act, which tarnished the 'patriotic image' of the central government and and sought action against her.

The Lakshadweep-based model and actor Sulthana has worked with several Malayalam filmmakers.

An archipelago located in the Arabian Sea, Lakshadweep has been witnessing protests by locals over the recent actions and administrative reforms being implemented byisland administrator, Praful Khoda Patel.

The residents are seeking repeal of the proposed Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation, the Lakshadweep Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation (PASA or the Goondas Act) and the Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation (LAPR).

Since then, social media has been flooded with #SaveLakshadweep, with thousands of others trending the hashtag.

Expressing solidarity with the people of Lakshadweep, the Kerala Assembly had unanimously passed a resolution on May 31, demanding the recall of the administrator and requesting that the Centre immediately intervene to protect the lives and livelihood of the islanders. -- PTI
19:56   Army top brass to discuss Chinese actions at LAC
Amid heightened military activities by the Chinese military opposite eastern Ladakh on its side on the Line of Actual Control, top Indian Army leadership would be briefed about the force's operational preparedness at a high-level meeting to be held here next week.

"The preparedness of the Indian Amy to deal with any situation would be discussed at the meeting to be attended by all commander-in-chief rank officers," a source told ANI.

The sources said that the meeting is scheduled to be held from June 16 for two days where other security issues faced by the country would also come up for discussion.

Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane has been monitoring the preparedness of the force all along the LAC and has personally visited the Ladakh sector seven-eight times to take stock of the situation there.

The Chinese military is holding large-scale military exercises in its traditional training areas including the locations from where they had diverted towards the Indian front in an aggressive manner last summer.

The Indian Army is hopeful of resolving the issue soon as they have been holding talks with the Chinese military.

The military and diplomatic parleys have helped in the withdrawal of troops from the Pangong lake area but the stalemate in the other friction points still continues.

India and China have been engaged in a military standoff for more than a year now after the Chinese showed aggression along the Indian areas.

The Indian side retaliated heavily and deployed more than 50,000 troops and heavy weaponry to check the Chinese aggression. -- ANI
19:52   Assam CM Himanta Sarma meets Bhagwat at RSS hq
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma met Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh supremo Mohan Bhagwat at the organisation's headquarters in Nagpur on Friday.

This was Sarma's first visit to the RSS headquarters after becoming chief minister of Assam a month ago.

Sarma spent more than an hour at the RSS headquarters and met Bhagwat, Sangh sources said, without revealing what transpired at the meeting. 
19:18   Virbhadra Singh tests Covid positive for 2nd time in 2 months
Former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh has tested positive for Covid-19 for the second time in two months, a health official said on Friday. 

The veteran Congress leader had earlier tested positive for the disease on April 12. 

He is being treated at Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC) hospital, Shimla, and his condition is stable, Special Secretary (Health) Nipun Jindal said. 

Nine-time MLA and five-time MP, Singh was Himachal Pradesh's chief minister for six terms. 

The 86-year-old veteran Congress leader is currently the MLA from Arki in Solan district. 

Earlier, he was admitted to a hospital in Chandigarh after he tested positive for coronavirus on April 12. Singh returned home in Holly Lodge in Shimla on April 30 from the Chandigarh hospital after recovering from Covid-19. 

However, within hours after reaching home, he was admitted to IGMC when he complained of cardiac and breathing problems. Since then he is being treated at the hospital.
18:51   Modi, Shah, Nadda meeting at PM's residence
JUST IN: A meeting is underway between Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Bharatiya Janata Party national president J P Nadda and PM Narendra Modi at the Prime Minister's residence.
MK Stalin
MK Stalin
18:33   Tamil Nadu CM Stalin to meet Modi on June 17
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Thursday, June 17. 

On his first visit to the national capital since assuming office on May 7, Stalin will seek the Centre's intervention in releasing the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, as well as demand more grants for the state. 

While in Delhi Stalin will meet Home Minister Amit Shah and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, apart from calling on allies, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, and CPM's Sitharam Yechury, before returning to Chennai on June 19. 

Stalin's meeting with the prime minister comes just ahead of the Tamil Nadu assembly convening on June 21 under the new DMK government.
A 300-bed Covid hospital in Guwahati
A 300-bed Covid hospital in Guwahati
18:00   Soon, national sero survey to assess Covid spread
The ICMR will start national-level sero surveys to assess the spread of COVID-19 and all states/UTs should also be encouraged to conduct them so that information from all geographies can be collected, the Union health ministry said on Friday. 

 The ministry also said that the Covid situation in the country appears to be stabilising, but urged people to continue following the appropriate behaviour and social distancing norms. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will conduct national sero surveys to assess the Covid spread and states/UTs should also conduct them to get all geographies' information, it said. 

 The ministry said almost 78 per cent decline in daily new COVID-19 cases has been noted in India since the highest reported peak in daily cases on May 7.

 It also said that there has been 74 per cent decrease in weekly COVID-19 positivity rate since the highest such rate was reported between April 30-May 6 at 21.6 per cent. The Centre underlined that breaking the chain of transmission ensures lesser strain on the health infrastructure and better quality of care.
17:54   Forex reserves cross USD 600 bn mark for first time
The country's foreign exchange reserves crossed the USD 600 billion mark for the first time after increasing by $6.842 billion in the week ended June 4, RBI data showed on Friday. The reserves surged to a record $605.008 billion in the reporting week, helped by a rise in foreign currency assets (FCA), a major component of the overall reserves, as per weekly data by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

 In the previous week ended May 28, 2021, the reserves had swelled by USD 5.271 billion to USD 598.165 billion. In the reporting week, FCA jumped by USD 7.362 billion to USD 560.890 billion, the data showed. Expressed in dollar terms, the foreign currency assets include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US units like the euro, pound and yen held in the foreign exchange reserves.

 Gold reserves declined by USD 502 million to USD 37.604 billion. The special drawing rights (SDRs) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) dipped USD 1 million to USD 1.513 billion. The country's reserve position with the IMF also dropped by USD 16 million to USD 5 billion in the reporting week, the data showed. PTI
17:35   Those who quit ahead of polls can't return: WB CM
In a blow to the saffron brigade, senior BJP leader Mukul Roy along with son Subranshu rejoined the TMC on Friday, with Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and other leaders of the state's ruling party welcoming him back to the fold. Roy, who held the position of the national vice president in the saffron party, said he was "happy to see all known faces again". 

 Addressing a press meet, Banerjee said Roy was threatened in the BJP, and that, in turn, affected his health. "Mukul's return proves that the BJP does not let anyone in peace and puts undue pressure on everyone," the chief minister said. Both Banerjee and Roy claimed that there never had any differences. Asked if her party would be taking back other turncoats, too, Banerjee clarified that the ones who left the TMC to join the BJP just ahead of the April-May assembly elections will not be taken back. 

 Roy, once the second-in-command of the TMC, was removed from the post of the party's national general secretary in February, 2015. He had joined the BJP in November, 2017. Speculation had been rife about Roy's possible homecoming after Banerjee's nephew and TMC MP Abhishek recently visited his wife at a city hospital. PTI
Mukul Roy with his son Subhranshu at TMC Bhavan
Mukul Roy with his son Subhranshu at TMC Bhavan
16:50   Mukul Roy returns to TMC: Couldn't work with BJP
Mukul Roy returns to his former party, the Trinamool Congress. He is sharing the stage with the West Bengal CM.  "I could not work in BJP, which is why I have returned to the TMC," Mukul Roy said. His son has also returned to the TMC. Mamata Banerjee said Mukul Roy's health was failing him in the BJP. 
Abhijit Mukherjee
Abhijit Mukherjee
16:03   Not joining TMC: Pranab Mukherjee's son
Dispelling rumours, late President Pranab Mukherjee's son, Abhijit Mukherjee, on Friday made it clear that he is not leaving the Congress unlike his friend Jitin Prasada. Television channels and a few newspapers had reported he would be joining the Trinamool Congress on Friday afternoon.

"I remain in the Congress and reports that I am joining Trinamool or any other party are not correct," Mukherjee, a former Lok Sabha MP and Congress Campaign Committee chairman during the assembly elections, told PTI over phone. 

Mukherjee had good relations with Jitin Prasada, who recently joined the BJP, when they were colleagues in the Congress Parliamentary Party, and the Late President was also known to be fond of him and his father Jitendra Prasada. 

 Mukherjee, an engineer-turned politician who won twice from Jangipur constituency, said in a lighter vein: "I am nearly 300 km away from the Trinamool Bhavan right now, sitting in Jangipur House... so, unless someone can teleport me, it would be impossible for me to join any party this afternoon." 

 He said the rumours probably arose after some of his father's former Congress colleagues "who are now in Trinamool" had come to have tea with him. "They included MP Khalilur Rahman from Jangipur, MP Abu Taher Khan from Murshidabad and TMC ministers Akhrruzzaman and Sabina Yesmin. 

 "But, I have known them for long, as they were close to my father... to speculate that just because friends came to meet me, I will join TMC, is stretching it too far," Mukherjee said. 
15:41   Political strategist Prashant Kishor meets Sharad Pawar
Political strategist Prashant Kishor on Friday called on NCP president Sharad Pawar at the latter's residence in Mumbai and held talks with him for around three hours, setting tongues wagging in political circles. 

NCP sources said apart from discussing the prevailing political situation, Pawar hosted lunch for Kishor. The meeting got over by around 2 pm, but neither Kishor nor Pawar spoke to the mediapersons gathered outside 'Silver Oak' (NCP chief's residence). 

 This is Kishor's first meeting with Pawar after the victory of the DMK and the TMC in the assembly elections in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal respectively. He had helped craft the election strategy for these parties in the assembly elections. After the assembly poll results, the election strategist had said that he was "quitting this space". 

 Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar downplayed the meeting, saying that Kishor has already said he will not be a political strategist any more. 

 Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said many leaders are in touch with Kishor, while NCP's Chhagan Bhujbal said he was no aware of the agenda of the meeting. Stating that Kishor was a successful political strategist, Bhujbal said he was sure that Pawar will take into account Kishor's suggestions. Kishor had met Uddhav Thackeray in 2019 before the latter became chief minister. PTI
15:38   Cong MLA who quit Raj Assembly meets Sachin Pilot
Congress MLA Hemaram Choudhary, who had sent his resignation to the Rajasthan assembly speaker, met former deputy CM Sachin Pilot at the latter's residence in Jaipur on Friday. The MLA from Barmer's Gudhamalani constituency was among 19 legislators who had rebelled against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot under Pilot's leadership last year.

Choudhary, considered close to Pilot, said he has listened to his heart and decided to resign. 

"I resigned after listening to my heart. People may appeal to me to withdraw the decision, but it is for me to decide," he told reporters. 

It was his first visit to Jaipur after sending his resignation letter to assembly Speaker C P Joshi on May 18. Choudhary had said that he was anguished over some issues, therefore, sent the resignation letter. He is said to be dissatisfied with the Ashok Gehlot government over the alleged stoppage of the developmental work in his constituency. -- PTI
15:15   Mamata, Mukul hold talks at Trinamool Bhavan
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and BJP national vice president Mukul Roy have both reached the Trinamool Congress headquarters in Kolkata and are likely to hold discussions amid speculations of the saffron party leader's possible return to the ruling party in the state.

Other senior party leaders, including minister Subrata Mukherjee, were also present at the Trinamool Bhavan off the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass.

 Roy, the former second-in-command of the TMC who joined the saffron party in November 2017, has been distancing himself from the BJP for the last several days.

He was the first Trinamool leader, as far back as 2017, to join the BJP, but has been sidelined by the saffron party especially in the run up to the Bengal polls when Suvendu Adhikari was the de facto chief of the party. 
14:53   Delhi court extends judicial custody of Sushil Kumar till June 25
A Delhi court on Friday extended the judicial custody of Olympic medallist wrestler Sushil Kumar till June 25 in connection with the alleged brawl at Chhatrasal Stadium in which a young wrestler died. Sushil Kumar was produced before Metropolitan Magistrate Reetika Jain at the end of the nine-days judicial custody. 

 The international wrestler is facing charges of murder, cupable homicide and kidnapping. He, along with his associates, allegedly assaulted Sagar Dhankar and two of his friends at the stadium on the intervening night of May 4 and 5 over an alleged property dispute. 

 Dhankar, 23, succumbed to the injuries later. Police has alleged Sushil Kumar the main culprit and mastermind of the murder and said that there is electronic evidence wherein he and his associates could be seen beating Dhankar. 

 Sushil Kumar was nabbed on May 23, along with co-accused Ajay Kumar Sehrawat. He has already undergone custodial interrogation of 10 days. A total of 10 people, including Sushil Kumar, have been arrested so far in connection with the incident. PTI
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Mukul Roy arrives at Trinamool Bhawan.
14:31   Mukul Roy likely to return to TMC: Report
Bharatiya Janata Party national vice-president Mukul Roy is likely to return to Trinamool Congress, news agency ANI reported. 

The final decision regarding Roy's joining will only be taken after his meeting today with the TMC top brass in Kolkata, the agency added.

Roy, who was once considered the number two in the TMC, defected to the BJP in 2017.
Sachin Pilot
Sachin Pilot
14:08   Bahuguna doesn't have guts to speak to me: Pilot
Former Rajasthan deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot on Friday refuted claims made by BJP leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi that she had spoken to him about joining the saffron camp. 

 "Rita Bahuguna Joshi claimed that she had spoken to Sachin. She might have spoken to Sachin Tendulkar. She does not have the courage to speak to me," Pilot told reporters during a protest organised by the Congress in Jaipur against fuel price hike. 

 Joshi told a TV channel that she had spoken to Pilot about joining the BJP. Pilot's statement came amid reports of his discontentment with the Congress leadership. 

 The Congress leader had openly revolted against the leadership of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in July last year, and after a month-long political crisis, the party high command assured him of resolving the issues raised by him and formed a committee. 

 The Pilot camp, however, says that the issues are unresolved and nothing was done by the committee. In the protest outside a petrol pump in the Sanganer area, Pilot targeted the central government over inflation and hike in fuel prices. "Economic slowdown, inflation and unemployment have hit the country hard during the coronavirus pandemic. People have lost jobs and labourers are not getting wages," he said. 

 "It is very sad that lakhs of people died, dead bodies were thrown in rivers and every family struggled with the coronavirus, and in such a situation, the government is not taking any step to control inflation and instead, increasing fuel prices," Pilot added. He said the prime minister had to roll back his decision on vaccination and announce free inoculation for all under pressure from the Congress.
Jab we met
Jab we met
13:42   US FDA seeks more data for Covaxin launch
In setback that could potentially delay the launch of Bharat Biotech's Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin in USA, the Food and Drug Administration there has "recommended" Ocugen Inc, the US partner of the Indian vaccine maker, to go for Biologics Licence Application (BLA) route with additional data, nixing hopes of Emergency Use Authorisation. 

Ocugen in a statement on Thursday announced that as recommended by the FDA, it will pursue submission of a biologics licence application (BLA) for Covaxin. 

 BLA is a "full approval" mechanism by the FDA for drugs and vaccines. The development may delay the Covaxin launch in the US, Ocugen said.

 "The company will no longer pursue an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Covaxin. The FDA provided feedback to Ocugen regarding the Master File. The company had previously submitted and recommended that Ocugen pursue a BLA submission instead of an EUA application for its vaccine candidate and requested additional information and data," Ocugen said. Ocugen is in discussions with the FDA to understand the additional information required to support a BLA submission. 

 The company anticipates that data from an additional clinical trial will be required to support the submission. "Although we were close to finalising our EUA application for submission, we received a recommendation from the FDA to pursue a BLA path. While this will extend our timelines, we are committed to bringing Covaxin to the US," Dr. Shankar Musunuri, Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Ocugen said.

 "This differentiated vaccine is a critical tool to include in our national arsenal given its potential to address the SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the delta variant, and given the unknowns about what will be needed to protect US population in the long term," he added. 

 Reacting to the FDA's "recommendation", Bharat Biotech said with good herd immunity and significant percentage of the population vaccinated, the pandemic is reducing in the United States, the US regulator had earlier communicated that no new EUAs will be approved for COVID-19 vaccines.
13:07   Car sales dropped 66% in May's Covid 2nd wave peak
Passenger vehicle wholesales in India declined by 66 per cent to 88,045 units in May as compared to April this year as lockdowns across various states impacted dispatches to dealers, auto industry body SIAM said on Friday. 

 Passenger vehicle wholesales in April stood at 2,61,633 units. As per the latest data by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), two-wheeler dispatches to dealers dropped by 65 per cent to 3,52,717 units, compared to 9,95,097 units in April.

 Motorcycle sales declined 56 per cent last month to 2,95,257 units, as against 6,67,841 units in April. Similarly, scooter sales were down 83 per cent to 50,294 units, from 3,00,462 units in April this year. 

 Three-wheeler sales declined by 91 per cent to 1,251 units, as compared to 13,728 units in April. Vehicle sales across categories witnessed a dip of 65 per cent to 4,42,013 units last month, as against 12,70,458 units in April this year. Commenting on the sales data, SIAM Director General Rajesh Menon said that many states were under lockdown due to COVID-19 cases for most part of May thus impacting overall sales and production during the month. 

 "Many members (auto cos) had also shut down their manufacturing plants to divert oxygen from industrial use for medical purposes," he added. PTI
Boys will be boys on a rainy day. Pic Sahil Salvi
Boys will be boys on a rainy day. Pic Sahil Salvi
12:40   Sun shines over Mumbai after 2 days of rain
After two days of continuous showers, the residents of Mumbai got some respite on Friday morning as rains took a break in the city and its suburbs, civic officials said.

 The transport services in the city, including the suburban trains and buses, are running as per their normal schedule, they said. 

 The south-west monsoon had arrived in the city with a bang on Wednesday as heavy rains caused flooding on roads and rail tracks, disrupting suburban train services. 

The first rains of this year's monsoon season in Mumbai had also caused water-logging in various parts of the city on that day. 

 In the last 24-hours, the eastern suburbs of Mumbai received 51.76 mm rainfall, followed by 43.42 mm in the island city and 34.33 mm in its western suburbs, an official of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said. 

 Another official said that after two days of continuous rain, showers have stopped in the city and suburbs since around 9 am and the citizens also got to see sunlight. 

 On Wednesday, India Meteorological Department (IMD) had issued an "orange alert" for Mumbai, predicting "heavy to very heavy rain" at isolated places till Sunday. The civic administration was on its toes as a high tide of 4.34 metres was expected at around 12.54 pm on Friday. But as the rain has stopped, they have heaved a sigh of relief. 

 At least 12 people, including eight children, were killed and seven others injured after two floors of a three-storey residential building collapsed on an adjoining single-storey house in Malwani in suburban Mumbai around 11.15 pm on Wednesday, when Mumbai experienced heavy rains throughout the day. Besides, one person died in a separate incident of house crash on Thursday evening at Dahisar, a western suburb of Mumbai, civic officials said. 

 Meanwhile, chief spokesperson of Western Railway, Sumit Thakur, said, "Trains are running normally on Western Railway's suburban section on Friday." Central Railway's chief spokesperson Shivaji Sutar said that suburban services on the main line were affected briefly between Thane-Mulund around 9.30 pm due to track fracture, but it had nothing to do with rain.
The UP CM and the PM this morning
The UP CM and the PM this morning
12:23   Yogi heads to Nadda's residence after meeting PM
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath arrives at the residence of BJP president JP Nadda in New Delhi.

Adityanath had called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this morning. 

 Adityanath met Modi at his residence, a day after meeting Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The chief minister is on a two-day visit to the national capital from Thursday.

 His visit comes close on the heels of the party holding a series of review meetings in Lucknow, which had fuelled speculation of a ministerial reshuffle in the state. 

 During his meeting with Shah, Adityanath presented a copy of the report 'Solution of Migrant Crisis'. His visit to the national capital started a day after Jitin Prasada quit the Congress and joined the BJP. 

 After Adityanath met Shah, Prasada called on the Uttar Pradesh chief minister here. BJP MLC A K Sharma, a former IAS officer who is seen as a trusted hand of Modi, is also in Delhi to meet party leaders and allies.

 Though there is no official word on whether there will be a Cabinet expansion in Uttar Pradesh, sources said Prasada, who comes from a noted Brahmin family of the state with political heft, and Sharma may be accommodated in such an eventuality.
Filmmaker Aisha Sultana
Filmmaker Aisha Sultana
12:17   Lakshadweep Police registers sedition case against filmmaker
Lakshadweep police registered a case against filmmaker Aisha Sultana with charges of sedition and hate speech on Thursday.

The FIR was registered against the filmmaker on the complaint of BJP Lashadweep wing president C Abdul Khader Haji. According to the complaint, Aisha Sultana during a news debate on a Malayalam channel alleged that the Centre had used COVID-19 as a "bio-weapon" against the people of Lakshadweep.

The case has been registered in the Kavaratti police station under Section 124A, 153B of IPC.The FIR against Sultana comes at a time when there is an uproar against Lakshadweep administrator Praful Khoda Patel over the new reforms introduced by him, which people allege are against the interest of the islanders.

People are protesting against the draft legislations like Lakshadweep Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation (Goonda Act), Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation and Lakshadweep Panchayat Regulation, 2021 among others.

Patel, who was appointed as the Administrator of Lakshadweep in December 2020, is facing opposition over policies introduced by him from the people of the union territory and politicians, both from within Lakshadweep and neighbouring state Kerala. -- ANI   
11:44   SC refuses transfer of Param Bir's case outside Maha
The Supreme Court refuses to entertain former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh's plea seeking transfer of all inquiries against him to an independent agency outside Maharashtra.

"You've been in the police force for 30 years. You can't now say you want your inquiries outside the state. You can't have doubts over your own force. You're part of Maharashtra cadre and now you don't trust the functioning of your own state? This is a shocking allegation," SC says.

Singh, a 1988-batch IPS officer, was removed from the post of Mumbai Police Commissioner on March 17 and was made the General Commander of Maharashtra State Home Guard after he levelled allegations of corruption and misconduct against the then Home Minister and senior NCP leader Anil Deshmukh.

The Bombay High Court had ordered a CBI probe into allegations of Singh against Deshmukh who had to resign as the minister.

In his plea filed in the apex court, the senior police officer has alleged that he has been made to face several inquiries by the state government and its instrumentalities and sought their transfer outside Maharashtra and a probe into them by an independent agency like the CBI.
11:33   Marines case: Rs 10 cr compensation given to SC
The Central govt tells the Supreme Court that it has deposited Rs 10 crores with the top court paid by Italy as compensation to the families of two Kerala fishermen who were shot dead by two Italian Marines in 2012, in lieu of closure of criminal cases against them in India.

The Supreme Court in April had directed the Centre to deposit in its account Rs 10 crore that Italy has agreed to pay as compensation over the February 2012 killing of two Indian fishermen by Italian marines off the Kerala coast.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta says it's up to Kerala govt to decide on the apportionment of total compensation. Advocate appearing for Italy says criminal proceedings pending before a Delhi court must be dropped in terms of international arbitral award.

Supreme Court reserves its orders for June 15 on the application filed by the Central government to quash the criminal proceedings pending in India against two Italian Marines with respect to the 2012 sea-firing incident near Kerala coast which killed two Indian fishermen

In February 2012, India had accused two Italian marines, Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, on board the MV Enrica Lexie -- an Italian flagged oil tanker -- of killing two Indian fishermen who were on a fishing vessel off Kerala coast in India's Exclusive Economic Zone.
11:04   Mumbai building collapse: Contractor arrested
The Mumbai Police has arrested Ramzan Sheikh, the contractor who constructed the building in Malvani which collapsed on Wednesday night, killing at least 11 people The police has booked building owner Rafeeq Siddiqui.Eight children were among those killed and seven others injured after two floors of a three-storey residential building collapsed on an adjoining single-storey house in Malwani in suburban Mumbai.
11:00   Yogi Adityanath meets PM at his residence
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath reaches 7 Lok Kalyan Marg, Prime Minister's official residence, to meet PM Narendra Modi. Yogi will also be meeting BJP president JP Nadda today. 

On Thursday, Yogi Adityanath held a 90-minute long meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah. With less than a year left for UP to elect its next government, the BJP has stepped up measures to iron out differences within the party. However, the party is not looking at replacing Yogi Adityanath.
10:27   Modi to address virtual meet at UN next week
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a virtual high-level dialogue on desertification, land degradation and drought at the United Nations convened by the President of the General Assembly next week.
Modi, President of the 14th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP14 President), will address the high-level event convened by President of the 75th session of General Assembly Volkan Bozkir with the support of the UNCCD on the morning of June 14, according to a media advisory issued here by the office of the General Assembly President.
The high-level event will also be addressed by Deputy UN Secretary-General Amina Mohamed, Undersecretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification Ibrahim Thiaw and Coordinator of the Association of Peul Women and Autochthonous Peoples of Chad Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim as well as Heads of State and Government, ministers and senior UN officials.
Agricultural industry leaders, representatives from international organisations and civil society groups will also address the event that aims to assess the progress made in fighting land degradation and map the way forward on global efforts to revive and restore healthy land.  
"Land is the foundation of our societies and is a cornerstone to global food security and environmental health, zero hunger, poverty eradication and affordable energy. It underpins the success of the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development," the advisory said.
Modi had inaugurated the high-level 14th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in New Delhi in September 2019. 
The Conference had adopted the Delhi Declaration in which parties encouraged the transition and increased access to energy in rural and urban communities in the context of projects aimed at combating desertification/land degradation and drought and achieving land degradation neutrality and resilience-building. 
It also encouraged a proactive approach to reduce the risks and impacts of desertification/land degradation and drought through the implementation of drought preparedness plans and increased risk mitigation for drought and sand and dust storms.
The high-level dialogue next week will put the land restoration at the centre of the entire SDG agenda and for climate, biodiversity and disaster risk reduction, along the path to the UN Biodiversity Conference 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CBD COP 15), United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP26), UNCCD COP15, and the 2021 Food Systems Summit.
"Globally, one-fifth of earth's land area more than 2 billion hectares is degraded, including more than half of all agricultural land. Unless we change how we manage soil, over 90 per cent could become degraded by 2050," the UN said.
"Land degradation negatively impacts one-fifth of the planet's land area and the livelihoods of 3.2 billion people, 40 per cent of the global population. It accelerates climate change and biodiversity loss, and contributes to droughts, wildfires, involuntary migration and the emergence of zoonotic infectious diseases," it said. -- PTI
09:43   India reports 91,702 fresh COVID-19 cases
India reports 91,702 COVID-19 cases and 3,403 deaths in last 24 hrs, as per the Union health ministry.

Total cases: 2,92,74,823
Total discharges: 2,77,90,073     
Death toll: 3,63,079
Active cases: 11,21,671      

Total vaccination: 24,60,85,649

09:11   Donating 500mn Covid vaccine not enough, US should do more: Congressman Krishnamoorthi
Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi has said that donating 500 million doses of anti-coronavirus vaccine to the world, as promised by President Joe Biden, was not enough and the United States should do more in the global fight against the pandemic.
Before attending a G-7 summit in England, Biden on Thursday promised to donate 500 million doses of vaccine to bolster the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic across the world.
Later, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the G7 nations are set to commit to providing at least 1 billion coronavirus shots to the rest of the world. 
"While I'm glad the US will purchase 500 million doses to support global inoculation efforts with 200 million doses to be given by the end of 2021, that is not enough. This must be only the first step in a larger effort to expand and accelerate production and delivery of the billions of doses we need to end the pandemic," Krishnamoorthi said.
"Expanding global vaccination efforts is imperative for national security when the greatest threat to the success of our pandemic recovery is the emergence of new COVID-19 variants in countries facing outbreaks. Fighting that threat requires that we produce and administer as many jabs as possible as quickly as possible to limit the time and opportunities for the virus to mutate into more dangerous and even vaccine-resistant forms," he said.
Biden has announced that the US is taking a major step that will supercharge the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The United States will purchase a half a billion doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to donate to nearly 100 nations that are in dire need of it in the fight against this pandemic. That's a historic step. The largest single purchase and donation of COVID-19 vaccines by any single country ever," he said.
These half a billion vaccines will be shipped starting from August. Two hundred million of these doses will be delivered this year, and 300 million more will be delivered in the first half of 2022, the US president said.
He claimed the US has contributed more than any nation to COVAX -- a collective global effort that is delivering COVID-19 vaccines across the world.
"We have supported manufacturing efforts abroad through our partnerships with Japan, India, and Australia -- known as the 'Quad'. We've shared (vaccine) doses with our neighbours Canada and Mexico," Biden said.
However, Krishnamoorthi said to fully meet the global need for vaccines and to safeguard the United States as well, not only does it needs to dramatically expand production but also ensure distribution and end-to-end delivery to vaccinate at least 60 per cent of the population of the countries struggling most in this regard, as quickly as possible.
"This week, I introduced the Nullifying Opportunities for Variants to Infect and Decimate Act to do precisely that through a USD 34 billion programme that would produce and deliver the eight billion vaccine doses we need while building the infrastructure to monitor and prevent new future strains and pandemics. -- PTI
08:20   China's aggressive behaviour can spark crisis: US
Describing China as a pacing challenge, United States Defence Secretary Llyod Austin said Beijing's "aggressive behaviour" in the Indo-Pacific could spark a crisis in the region.
Responding to questions from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing on the annual budget of the Pentagon, he stressed on having a direct line of communication between the militaries and also between government officials.  
"As we look at some of the aggressive behaviour that we have witnessed from China in the Indo-Pacific, I'm concerned about something that could happen that could spark a crisis," Austin said on Thursday.
"We need the ability to be able to talk with our allies and partners and also with our adversaries or potential adversaries. So, I think there needs to be a direct line of communication between the military and also between government officials as well," the defence secretary said.
Austin described the US' relationship with China currently as one of competition.
"They desire to be the preeminent country on the planet. Their mid to long-term goal is to do that. They look to compete with us, not only militarily but across a spectrum of activity," he said.
"What you see us doing, the military and other sectors in our government, is making sure that we remain competitive, economically; making sure that we continue to develop the best scientists in the world and the most comprehensive research. So it is a competition across a broad spectrum of activity," Austin said. 
During the Senatorial hearing, Senator Angus King said that he believed one of the "most serious risks the US faces today is an accidental conflict with China", of some kind of conflict in the South China Sea, the Strait of Taiwan, and the danger of escalation from that accidental conflict of some kind.
"It's concerning to me that we don't seem to have an effective hotline with China. I understand the Chinese are reluctant about this, but I believe this should be a national security priority," King said.
Austin described China as a pacing challenge for the United States.
"China is our pacing challenge. So we've really weighted our main effort there to the Indo-Pacific region. My first trip overseas was out to the region, along with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. We visited South Korea, Japan, and India as well," he said.
"We truly value the importance of strong relationships with our allies and partners. I think there's a great capacity that can be leveraged there. So, in some areas through those partnerships, while still strong, we will remain focused on that," he said. -- PTI
01:35   Nusrat didn't want registered marriage: Husband
A day after actor-MP Nusrat Jahan claimed that her marriage in Turkey with businessman Nikhil Jain in 2019 is not valid under Indian laws, her estranged husband alleged that she had avoided always his requests to get the marriage registered.

He claimed that Jahan's behaviour started changing towards him since August 2020 when she was shooting a film, and she left his home bag and baggage in November.

Jain said though he had initially wanted to talk about the issue only in court and not in public, he was 'dismayed with recent allegations against me and my family, regarding my married life and it has become imperative' for him to disclose some facts.

Jahan, who is reportedly dating actor-assembly poll candidate Yash Dasgupta in recent times, said in a statement on Wednesday that since her marriage ceremony with Jain had taken place in accordance with Turkish Marriage Regulation, the marriage is invalid here.

'Since it was an interfaith marriage, it requires validation under Special Marriage Act in India, which did not happen. As per law, it is not a marriage, but a relationship or a live-in relationship,' she said.

Jahan had tied the knot with Jain at a destination wedding at Bodrum in Turkey in 2019, attended by a select few.

After winning the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 on a Trinamool Congress ticket, Jahan hosted a grand wedding reception at a five-star hotel in Kolkata which was attended by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee among other dignitaries.

'Out of love, I had proposed to marry Nusrat which she gladly accepted and we went for a destination wedding in Turkey,' Jain said.

After that, he said, they lived together as husband and wife and introduced themselves as a married couple in the society.

'I devoted all my time and resources being a faithful and responsible husband. Friends, family and people close to us know everything that I did for her. My unconditional support for her is unchallenged,' Jain said.

'Since August 2020 during the shooting of a film, my wifes behaviour started changing towards me, for reasons best known to her. During our stay together I requested her on a number of occasions to get the marriage registered but she avoided my requests,' he added.

Nusrat has been cast opposite Yash Dasgupta in Bengali film 'SOS Kolkata', the shooting of which took place in August 2020.

Jain said that on November 5 last year, Nusrat left his flat along with her personal belongings and shifted to her Ballygunge flat 'and thereafter we never stayed together as husband and wife'.

Jain said he filed a civil suit against Nusrat on March 8 for annulment of their marriage 'due to certain developments'.

'The alleged marriage is not legal, valid and tenable; and thus, was not a marriage at all in the eye of law,' she has said in the statement.   -- PTI