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Thu, 24 June 2021
Cong to hold nationwide agitation from July 7-17

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22:42   Cong to hold nationwide agitation from July 7-17
The Congress decided on Thursday to hold a countrywide agitational programme from July 7 to 17 against the rising inflation and the increase in the fuel prices.

This was decided at a meeting of the party general secretaries and various state in-charges convened by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary K C Venugopal, in a statement, said led by the party chief, the AICC team discussed and deliberated upon the important and urgent issues of high inflation, price rise, the skyrocketing rates of pulses, edible oil and other household products as also the unprecedented everyday hike in the petrol and diesel prices.

He said since May 2, the government has raised the fuel rates 29 times and the price of petrol has crossed Rs 100 per litre in more than 150 cities.

The Bharatiya Janata Party government has earned Rs 22 lakh crore in the last seven years by imposing excise duty on petrol and diesel, Venugopal claimed.

The prices of edible oils have also nearly doubled in the last six months and that of pulses have seen an unprecedented rise, he said, adding that the increase in the wholesale price index in May 2021 has been 12.94 per cent, which is the highest in 11 years.

"Moved by the plight of the people already suffering on account of the corona pandemic, unemployment and salary cuts, the Congress party has decided to launch nationwide agitation programmes at the block, district and state levels," Venugopal said.

These programmes, he said, will be implemented by the state units of the party between July 7 and July 17 and shall comprise leaders and members of the party as well as the All India Congress Committee's frontal organisations, including the Mahila Congress, aided by scores of ordinary party workers all over the country.

Giving details, Venugopal said, the party would launch a countrywide agitation of women involving the Mahila Congress, the Youth Congress and other frontal organisations of the AICC at the block level, and Congress leaders and workers would also take out cycle rallies at the district level.

"Congress leaders and workers will take out marches and processions at the state level. A signature campaign will also be run at all petrol pumps across the country, demanding a reduction in the prices of petrol and diesel," the AICC general secretary said.

Through these programmes, he said the party aims to build a mass movement, which would put pressure on the government to roll back the excessive excise duty on fuel and gas, and provide relief to the already suffering consumers in the times of the pandemic, economic slowdown and unprecedented unemployment.   -- PTI
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21:57   Priority remains utilising vax for India: MEA
India on Thursday said its stand on COVID-19 vaccine exports has been that it would depend on its domestic needs and asserted that right now the priority remains utilising made-in-India jabs for its own inoculation drive.

The assertion by Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi came at an online media briefing in response to queries on media reports on possible exports of vaccines from India to Bangladesh.

"Our position on the issue of vaccine exports has been consistent and clear. We have always stated that overseas supply of vaccines from India would depend on vaccine availability and our domestic vaccination programme," Bagchi said.

"For the moment our priority remains on utilising made-in-India vaccines for our own vaccination programme which as you know has received a boost with the new phase of vaccination that was launched earlier this week on June 21," he said.

Bagchi said India is also making efforts to further increase its domestic vaccine production.

Asked when would Pfizer's vaccine be available in India, the MEA spokesperson emphasised that the government of India is making all efforts to augment vaccine availability in the country be it through domestic production or imports.

"As regards the specific vaccines and the status of their imports into India, this is a matter for the concerned regulatory authorities," he added.

Bagchi also said India hopes that as the Covid situation in the country continues to improve, other nations would take steps to normalize travel with India.

"We have seen some initial steps in this regard. The government will continue to prioritise this issue," he said.

Asked which countries have shown interest in using or adapting CoWin application, the digital platform that helped India launch and implement a nationwide COVID-19 vaccination programme, Bagchi pointed out that during his intervention at the recent G-7 meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had offered to share India's experience and expertise in the successful use of open source digital tools in contact tracing and vaccine management.

"In pursuance of this, the National Health Authority proposes to organise an event with partner countries across the world to share details of the indigenously developed CoWin App, which has been at the centre of our vaccination drive," he said.

"We will provide further updates once the details of the event have been firmed up," Bagchi added.   -- PTI
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21:54   200 terrorists active in Kashmir: Lt Gen Pandey
Chinar Corps Commander Lieutenant General D P Pandey on Thursday said that there are around 200 active terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir and hoped that the security forces will be able to eliminate most of them by the end of this year.

Lt Gen Pandey while speaking to the media personnel in Handwara said, "There are around 200 terrorists in the Valley. I hope we will reduce the number by the end of the year."

"Ceasefire happens only because of the requirement to ensure that our people along the Line of Control (LoC) remain peaceful. Whenever a ceasefire violation happened along the LoC, people used to suffer. People used to be the main target during the ceasefire violation," the Lt Gen said.

On the issue of the ceasefire, he said,  "It is contingent on the behaviour. For the last 3-4 months we are holding. I am sure, we will hold but in case something goes wrong, a suitable reaction will be taken care of."

Earlier on June 22, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said that ceasefire is holding along the Line of Control (LoC) so far but the internal peace process is being disrupted by 'infiltration of weapons and drugs using drones'.

"Ceasefire so far along LoC is holding, which is a positive sign. At the same time, we're also witnessing infiltration of weapons and ammunition, using drones. It doesn't augur well for peace as these drugs and weapons are meant to disrupt the internal peace process," Rawat said.  -- ANI
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21:45   Farmers at Delhi borders to mark 7 months of agitation on Jun 26
A large number of farmers, including from Uttar Pradesh, is expected to join protesters at Delhi's border points on June 26 to mark seven months of their agitation against the three agri laws enacted last year, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) said on Thursday.

Farmers at the Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur border points are gearing up for June 26 and they will observe it  as 'Save Agriculture, Save Democracy Day', it said in a statement.

"Preparations are underway for marking June 26 as 'Save Agriculture, Save Democracy Day' all over the country," said the umbrella body of 40 farmer unions which is spearheading the stir against the central laws enacted in September last year.

Farmers have been camping at Delhi's borders since November demanding that the legislations be rolled back and a new law made to guarantee minimum support price for crops.

'A large convoy of protestors has left Ganganagar in Rajasthan today for the Shahjahanpur border, led by Grameen Kisan Mazdoor Samiti (GKS). Similarly, farmers from Bagpat and Saharanpur are expected at Ghazipur border, led by BKU (Tikait),' the statement said.

On June 26, farmers led by unions across the country will hold demonstrations against the laws, it said.

On Thursday, farmers at different protest sites celebrated the birth anniversary of 15th-century Indian mystic poet and saint Kabir Das.

'Communal harmony is a hallmark of this movement, and Sant Kabir's birth anniversary was celebrated with great respect today,' the SKM statement said.

It also said that the farmers are continuing their 'social boycott and black flag protests against leaders of BJP and allied parties in different places'.

Recently, Haryana Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sonali Phogat faced black flag protest and sloganeering from local villagers in Hisar where the farmers have been protesting for months.

'It shows the obdurate and provocative attitude of the BJP that it continues to do public programmes that too after accusing farmers of being (Covid) super-spreaders, instead of resolving the legitimate demands of farmers, said protesting Haryana farmer unions,' according to the statement.

Framers are protesting against the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

However, the central government has maintained the laws are pro-farmer. -- PTI
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20:55   Cong put 5 'big' demands at PM's all-party meet
Congress put up five demands at the all-party meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with leaders of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday including early statehood, conducting polls to restore democracy and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits.

Talking to media persons after the meeting held at the Prime Minister's residence, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said they also demanded the release of political detainees and a bill concerning domicile rules.

"In today's meeting, from Congress's side, we informed the Prime Minister why the state should have not been dissolved. The move was done without consulting the elected representatives. But in the end, after saying all this, we have put up five big demands in front of the government," Azad said.

"Statehood should be restored at the earliest was our first demand. We have told them that in Parliament, Home Minister had assured us that the statehood will be restored after some time.

"We said that the time has come as all elections are concluded including BDC and DDC and the border is also at peace," Azad added.

The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said the second demand was to conduct the legislative assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir at the earliest.

"They said they are doing everything to strengthen the democracy. We also want this and assembly elections should be conducted at the earliest. You did panchayat election, and there should also be legislative elections," he said.

Congress also called upon the government to bring a bill giving guarantee regarding domicile and employment in the state to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

"We had historic domicile rules and also rules regarding employments. The government should give a guarantee that they will bring bills on land and employment," Azad said.

The Congress leader said his party also demanded rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits and promised the government to help in the process.

"We asked the government to release all the political prisoners, not the militants, but political prisoners, at the earliest," Azad said.

The Congress leader said that Home Minister Amit Shah spoke before the Prime Minister and said the Centre is committed to restoring the statehood and conduct assembly elections there," he added.

The Congress leader said that the Centre assured them that their demands will be met.

Asked if there were discussion regarding the abrogation of Article 370, Azad said almost 80 per cent of parties spoke on Art 370 but the matter is sub judice in court.  -- ANI
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20:42   All showed loyalty towards Constitution: Jitendra
Union Minister Jitendra Singh said that the prime minister's meeting with leaders of Jammu and Kashmir was a 'positive effort towards giving development and strengthening democracy' in the Union Territory.

"The meeting was held in a conducive atmosphere. Everyone showed their loyalty towards India's democracy and constitution," Singh said.

"The PM laid special emphasis on two main issues in the meet. He said we'll have to work together to take democracy to grassroots in J-K.

"Secondly, for all-round development in J-K that reaches all communities and areas, there should be cooperation..." he said.

He said, "The next important step in democratic process in J-K is assembly polls and we've to move to it together.

"For this, delimitation process will have to be completed swiftly so that all sections get proper political representation in assembly.."   -- ANI
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20:10   Centre's duty to restore trust with J-K: Omar Abdullah
"We told the prime minister that we don't stand with what was done on August 5, 2019. We're not ready to accept it," National Conference leader Omar Abdullah told the media after the prime minister's all-party meeting on Jammu-Kashmir ended on Thursday evening. 

"But we won't take the law into our hands. We will fight this in court. 

"We also told the PM that there's been breach of trust between the state and Centre. It's the Centre's duty to restore it," Abdullah said. 

"We requested the PM that our fight will continue but it's essential to reverse some decisions that aren't at all in the interests of J-K. 

"It was given the status of a Union territory, and the people don't like it. They want full statehood for J-K with J-K cadre restored," Abdullah said. 

"All leaders in the meeting demanded full statehood for J-K. Both PM and the home minister said the work for elections and restoring statehood should start soon. Ghulam Nabi Azad sahib said that first statehood should be restored and then elections should be held. On this the PM didn't say anything," Abdullah said.
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20:03   Will restore Art 370 even if it takes years: Mufti
Speaking to the media after the prime minister's all-party meeting, Mehbooba Mufti, president of the Peoples Democratic Party, said, "The people of J&K are in a lot of difficulties after August 5, 2019, when Article 370 was rescinded. They're angry, upset and emotionally shattered. They feel humiliated. 

"I told the PM that the people of J&K don't accept the manner in which Article 370 was abrogated unconstitutionally, illegally and immorally." 

"The people of J-K will struggle constitutionally, democratically, peacefully. Be it months or years, we'll restore Article 370 in J-K as it's a matter of our identity. We didn't get it from Pakistan, it was given to us by our country, by Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel," Mufti said. 

"I congratulated the PM that they talked to Pakistan and it led to a ceasefire, less infiltration. For the peace of J-K if they've to talk to Pakistan again, they should. They should also talk to Pakistan about trade with them that has halted, it's a source of employment for many," she told the media.
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19:52   Restore statehood to J-K, says Farooq post-meet
National Conference president and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to work towards building trust in Jammu and Kashmir by ensuring that its full statehood is restored. 

Talking to PTI immediately after a crucial meeting chaired by the prime minister in New Delhi, Abdullah said his National Conference would continue to challenge through legal and constitutional means the abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution. 

"There is a loss of trust which needs to be restored immediately and for that, to begin with, the Centre should work for restoration of complete statehood to Jammu and Kashmir," Abdullah, who is a Lok Sabha member, said. 

"I conveyed to the prime minister that the statehood means reverting even the IAS and IPS cadres of Jammu and Kashmir. The state has to be in totality," he said after the meeting that lasted for over three hours. 

The NC chief, who was accompanied by his son and former chief minister Omar Abdullah, said it was vital for the Centre to restore the identity of Jammu and Kashmir at the earliest so that other democratic exercises could be carried forward.
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18:47   PM's meeting with J-K leaders ends after 3.5 hours
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's all-party meeting with Jammu and Kashmir leaders concludes after three-and-a-half hours of deliberations. 

This is the government's first outreach to Jammu and Kashmir's political leadership in almost two years.

The prime minister, accompanied by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha, received the leaders from eight parties, including the National Conference, the Peoples Democratic Party, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress, at his residence.

With no agenda announced for the meeting, the leaders from Jammu and Kashmir said they have come with an open mind.
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18:28   China deleted Covid data gold mine in possible cover-up: Study
China deleted early data on novel coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 in a possible attempt to conceal its existence and, therefore, impeding the investigation into its origins, a researcher has claimed in a new study. According to a scientific paper, over a dozen coronavirus test sequences that were taken during the early months of the coronavirus disease pandemic were removed from an international database used to track the virus' evolution.

"The fact that such an informative data set was deleted has implications beyond those gleaned directly from the recovered sequences. Samples from early outpatients in Wuhan are a gold mine for anyone seeking to understand the spread of the virus," the author said.

Jesse Bloom, a virologist and evolutionary biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, said in the report that he identified a data set containing Sars-CoV-2 sequences that had been deleted from the National Institutes of Health's Sequence Read Archive. For the study, Bloom recovered the deleted files from the Google Cloud and reconstructed partial sequences of 13 viruses from the initial outbreak.

The report suggests that the sequences from Huanan Seafood Market that were the focus of the joint report prepared by the World Health Organization and China are not fully representative of the viruses in Wuhan early in the epidemic. According to Bloom's research, Sars-Cov-2 was circulating in Wuhan before it was detected at local wet markets, including the Huanan Seafood Market.
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17:55   PM 'toying' with country's future: Rahul
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday of distracting the present with theatrics and "toying" with the future of the country. 

 His reaction came after Modi interacted with the participants of Toycathon-2021 through video-conferencing and said the world wants to understand India's capabilities, art, culture and society.

 "Today, MSME sector employers are themselves facing unemployment. PM is distracting India's present with theatrics and 'toying' with the future," Gandhi wrote on Twitter. The prime minister, in his address, called upon young innovators and startups to be mindful of their responsibility of projecting the true picture of the country's capabilities and ideas to the world. PTI
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17:51   EAM Jaishankar heads to Greece, Italy
EAM S Jaishankar to travel to Greece and Italy this week, will attend G-20 ministerial in Rome.

Jaishankar will be leaving tomorrow for a visit to Greece and Italy. In Greece, he would make a bilateral visit on June 25 & 26 for talks with his Greek counterpart apart from other engagements. This is the first EAM level visit in 18 years. From Greece he will travel to Italy to attend the G20 Ministerial Meetings.
Artist's impression of the Navi Mumbai airport
Artist's impression of the Navi Mumbai airport
17:44   Hardeep Puri on Navi Mumbai airport
 Civil Aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri seemingly has a funny bone. Puri tweeted, "Ministry of Civil Aviation receives many requests for naming & renaming of existing & under construction airports. To lighten the mood a bit, I want to inform my friend Banta that his formal proposal has not yet been received by us! @MoCA_GoI."

The quip refers to a joke on social media that goes:

Banta sent a a letter to the Aviation Minister.

Sir,
It is my humble request tha the new airport at Navi Mumbai be named Bantacruz since my brother already has one airport named after him.

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17:19   Twitter MD can be questioned virtually: HC
Update: Karnataka High Court grants interim relief to Twitter MD Manish Maheshwari, directs Ghaziabad Police not to take any coercive steps against him. Karnataka High Court says that if Ghaziabad Police wants to examine Twitter MD then it can do so through virtual mode. 
Twitter India MD Manish Maheshwari
Twitter India MD Manish Maheshwari
16:57   Have nothing to do with offence: Twitter India head
Karnataka High Court begins hearing Twitter India Managing Director Manish Maheshwari's petition against notice issued by Ghaziabad, UP Police under Sec 41A CrPC. The  Ghaziabad Police had issued a notice in connection with the case where a man was thrashed and his beard chopped off in Loni, UP.

Maheshwari's counsel tells the Karnataka High Court that he is an employee of the organisation and has nothing to do with the offence. 

The counsel also informs the HC that his client is living in Bengaluru. The counsel says that the Supreme Court and the High Court have said that his statement can be recorded through video-conferencing but Ghaziabad Police wants his personal presence.
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16:38   India's Covid story in a single map
This is what the Covid situation is in India today.
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16:29   Vaccines to states allocated transparently: Govt
The allocation of Covid-19 vaccines to States and Union territories has been done in a completely transparent manner, the Union Health Ministry said on Thursday.

The Centre's clarification comes against the backdrop of news reports alleging non-transparent allocation of COVID-19 vaccines to States/UTS. The central government said the allegations are "completely without any basis".

"Government of India continues to allocate COVID-19 vaccines to States/UTs in a transparent manner. Information about the vaccine supply by the Government of India, consumption by the States/UTs, balance and unutilised vaccine doses available with States/UTs, along with vaccine supply in the pipeline is regularly shared through press releases made by Press Information Bureau, and also through other forums," according to an official statement.

The Union Health Ministry said distribution of COVID19 vaccine is done based on the population of a state, caseload or disease burden and State's utilisation efficiency. The Union Health Ministry also clarified that allocation is negatively affected by vaccine wastage. -- ANI
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16:24   PM with Kashmir's leaders
One for the album: Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the meeting with Jammu and Kashmir leaders in Delhi.

Except for two leaders, none with masks, even as Covid Delta Plus looms as does the 3rd wave. 
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15:48   5G 'JioPhone Next' to be out in September: Ambani
Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani on Thursday announced 'JioPhone Next', a power-packed affordable smartphone that has been jointly developed by Jio and tech titan Google. 

JioPhone Next will be available from September 10, and will be the most affordable smartphone globally, Ambani said while addressing RIL's annual general meeting.

The "extremely affordable" smartphone will have cutting-edge features, including voice assistant and language translation, among others, he said. He further said Reliance Jio will use Google Cloud for 5G. 

Last year, Google had announced an investment of Rs 33,737 crore for a 7.7 per cent stake in Reliance Industries' technology venture Jio Platforms. The tech giant had also teamed up on technology initiatives, including development of affordable smartphones for the price-sensitive, tech-savvy Indian market. PTI
RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani
RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani
15:40   RIL to launch Jiophone Next in September
Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani at their 44th AGM

-- Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Chairman of Saudi Aramco and Governor of PIF, will join the Board of Reliance Industries as Independent Director. 

-- Google and Jio teams have jointly developed a truly breakthrough smartphone -- JIOPHONE NEXT. It is a fully featured smartphone supporting the entire suite of applications from both Google and Jio.  JIOPHONE NEXT is powered by an optimized version of Android OS jointly developed by Jio and Google. It is ultra-affordable and packs cutting-edge features. It will be available in market from Ganesh Chaturthi, 10th September.

-- RIL will vaccinate 20 lakh people -- employees and their families, including retired employees, partner company employees, and their families free of cost. 
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15:32   PM's meeting with J-K leaders begins
PM Narendra Modi's meeting with J-K leaders begins.

Just ahead, Jammu & Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha arrived at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg, the Prime Minister's official residence. 

Modi has called an all-party meeting of J&K's political parties. Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ghulam Ahmad Mir and Tara Chand have already reached the PM's home. This is the PM's first outreach towards parties that have denounced what is possibly his biggest political decision -- Jammu and Kashmir losing its special status and being made into two Union Territories.

Four former J&K Chief Ministers are among the 14 leaders invited to the meeting. Three of them, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, were jailed for six months to one year from August 5, 2019, when the changes were enforced.

The fourth former CM is of course, Ghulam Nabi Azad. 

With no agenda announced for the meeting, the leaders from Jammu and Kashmir said they have come with an open mind.
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15:14   Rajnath surveys Karwar naval base
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh conducted an aerial survey of the Indian Navy's Project Seabird in Karnataka's Karwar. He is being accompanied by Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh. 

 The Indian Navy is expanding the strategically crucial naval base in Karnataka's Karwar. Once the base is fully developed, it will be one of the largest naval bases in Asia. In Kochi, Singh will review progress in the construction of India's first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-I) Vikrant.
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14:59   2053 Mumbaiites fell victim to fake vaccine drives
More than 2,000 people have fallen victim to fake COVID-19 vaccination camps in Mumbai so far, the Maharashtra government told the Bombay high court on Thursday.
          
The state government's counsel, chief public prosecutor Deepak Thakare told the court that at least nine fake camps had been held in the city till now, and four separate FIRs registered in this connection.
        
The state government also submitted before a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni, a status report on the ongoing probe.
        
The state also said that the police had recorded the statements of 400 witnesses so far and the investigators were in the process of finding the whereabouts of a doctor, who was an accused in the incident that took place at a housing society in suburban Kandivali, where one such camp was held.
        
"At least 2,053 people fell victim to these fake vaccination camps. Four FIRs have been registered in relation to these camps. While some accused persons have been identified, several unknown persons, too, have been booked in these FIRs," Thakare said.
        
While the bench accepted the state's report, it said that the state and municipal authorities must, in the meanwhile, take measures to get the victims tested for any ill-effects caused by fake vaccines.
        
"Our anxiety is, what happens to these people who were vaccinated? What were they administered and what is the effect of this fake vaccine?" the court asked, questioning the contents of the fake vaccines. 
        
The bench also took exception to the fact that the state government was yet to come up with specific guidelines for vaccination camps organised by private housing societies, offices, etc, despite an order of the court passed earlier this month.
        
"This is very very urgent. We had expected the state would come up with SOPs immediately. Time is of essence here, you (state) can't delay," the court said.
        
The bench also asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to inform the court about what it proposed to do to check the adverse effects on the health of victims of the nine fake vaccination camps. -- PTI
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14:21   NSA Doval meets Russian counterpart in Tajikistan
National Security Adviser Ajit Doval has met his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev on the sidelines of the SCO meeting in Tajikistan during which they discussed plans for the Russia-India interaction in the security sphere and cooperation among the security and law-enforcement agencies, according to a media report. 

 The two leaders also exchanged their opinions on the evolving situation in Afghanistan and the Asia-Pacific region during the meeting, Russian news agency TASS reported on Tuesday. 

 Doval is in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting of national security chiefs. Patrushev, the Secretary of Russia's Security Council, and Doval discussed in detail "further plans of the Russia-India interaction in the security sphere, cooperation among the security and law-enforcement agencies," the report quoted Patrushev's office as saying.

 Tajikistan, the current president of the SCO, is hosting the meeting of the top national security officials of the eight-nation grouping on June 23 and 24. According to the press service of the Russian Security Council's office, the annual meeting of secretaries of SCO on Wednesday focused on the COVID-19 pandemic aftermath. -- PTI
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14:16   Judge reserves order on Mamata's recusal petition accusing him of BJP links
The Kolkata High Court Thursday reserved its order on a plea by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that the judge assigned to hear her election petition against BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari recuse himself from the case as he was an "active member" of the BJP like her Nandigram rival.

 Banerjee appeared before the court of Justice Kaushik Chanda through teleconference, as directed by him on June 18. Justice Chanda, against whom the recusal petition has been filed, heard the matter and reserved his order. 

The judge did not specify the date for pronouncement of the verdict. Banerjee had moved the high court claiming she apprehended that she may not get justice from the judge due to his alleged BJP links. 

 Her counsel had earlier written to Acting Chief Justice of the high court Rajesh Bindal seeking reassignment of her election petition. Banerjee has claimed in her recusal petition that she has been made aware that Justice Chanda was an "active member" of the BJP. 

She said since the matter related to adjudication of an election petition where the election of a BJP candidate has been contested, it will have political ramifications. So, she prayed that the acting chief justice, who is the master of roster, assign the matter to another bench.

 Banerjee has accused Adhikari, her former confidante- turned-rival, of committing corrupt practices in violation of Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. She also alleged irregularities were committed in the counting exercise.
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14:12   Defamation case: Rahul denies charges before court
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi appeared before a magistrate's court in Surat on Thursday to record his statement in a criminal defamation suit filed by a Gujarat MLA, and denied making any defamatory remarks on people with 'Modi' surname. 

The suit was filed by Surat BJP MLA Purnesh Modi over Gandhi's alleged remark on the 'Modi' surname. In his statement before Surat's Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) A N Dave, Gandhi denied making any defamatory remarks on people with Modi surname during a rally at Kolar in Karnataka ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. 

 When the magistrate asked Gandhi if he had said Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave Rs 30 crore to an industrialist, Gandhi told the court that being a national leader, he keeps raising issues of corruption and unemployment in his addresses in the interest of the nation, and it is his right to raise do so.

 When the court asked if he had said all people with Modi surname are thieves, Gandhi claimed he never said such words. Besides, to most of the remaining questions related to the evidence and statements of witnesses in the case, Gandhi said "I don't know". 

 After recording the statement, the magistrate kept the case for next hearing on July 12. Earlier, Rahul Gandhi had appeared before the court in October 2019 and pleaded not guilty for his comment.
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13:56   BJP protests Navi Mumbai airport name
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi today told her party general secretaries to step up and urge people to get vaccinated. India has to triple the vaccinations per day to be able to vaccinate 75 per cent of the population. 

Meanwhile, a large group of protesters including BJP workers held a demonstration in Navi Mumbai over the name of the international airport being built in the city. Heavy security was deployed at the spot, even as people left Covid safety protocol to the Gods. 

The BJP wants the airport to be named after a local politician DB Patil while the ruling Shiv Sena wants it named after the party's founder Bal Thackeray
Manish Maheshwari. Pic courtesy: Facebook
Manish Maheshwari. Pic courtesy: Facebook
13:46   Twitter India head applies for anticipatory bail
Twitter's India head - Manish Maheshwari - seeks anticipatory bail ahead of his questioning today at the Loni police station on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border.

Maheshwari is to be questioned in connection with tweets about the assault of a Muslim man in Ghaziabad.

Maheshwari had said he would be available for questioning via a video call, but was instead summoned for physical questioning at 10.30 am.

Atul Kumar Sonkar, the Circle Officer (Loni), said, "He did not reach the police station at the given time and is expected to reach here by noon."

An FIR was filed last week against Twitter India, several journalists and Congress leaders after an elderly man - Abdul Samad - alleged he was thrashed by some others and forced to chant "Jai Sri Ram" and "Vande Mataram". 

A video of the incident was widely shared on social media.

Those named - who include journalists Rana Ayyub and Saba Naqvi, and Congress leaders Salman Nizami, Shama Mohamed and Maskoor Usmani - were accused of posting and sharing "misleading" tweets, and the video, and "provoking communal sentiments".
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13:25   Sangma saves trees
Sometimes it takes real intervention from the very top of the pecking order. Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma has asked that felling of trees be stopped immediately. The trees were cut to widen the road by the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation.

"These images are indeed disturbing. I have asked NHIDCL to stop it immediately till we can find a better solution. We need to balance between development and environment," Sangma tweeted.
Can Mamata be the face of the 3rd front?
Can Mamata be the face of the 3rd front?
13:19   To defeat Modi, an idea, ideology or joint show of hands isnt enough. A face is needed
A third front that focuses just on being anti-Modi without any vision or consensus on a leader will be a non-starter. Read the column here. 
Lakshadweep Administrator Praful K Patel with the PM
Lakshadweep Administrator Praful K Patel with the PM
13:14   Lakshadweep scientists approach Prez against LDAR
The proposed Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation of 2021 (LDAR) is highly problematic and will work against existing legal provisions that safeguard the resilience of Lakshadweep's ecology, livelihood and culture, say a group of scientists from different institutions who have worked on the islands for years. 

 In a statement issued on Thursday, the Lakshadweep Research Collective said it along with60 other signatories from the scientific community have written to President Ram Nath Kovind seeking his intervention to withdraw the "incautious draft" Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation of 2021. 

 A collective of scientists and citizens, the Lakshadweep Research Collective, said they have done a thorough review of the implications of the LDAR.

"In enabling take-over of local land, we find this draft regulation is not in consonance with existing laws, such as the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, the Biological Diversity Act 2002, The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986," the statement said.

 It is also against the suggestions of the Justice Raveendran Committee recommendations set up by the Supreme Court (as approved and notified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, in its Notification No.19011/16/91-IA. III dated 23 October 2015, and the Lakshadweep Panchayats Regulation 1994), the collective said.
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13:10   Lord Jagannath's bathing rituals held amid Covid restrictions, tight security
The annual bathing rituals of the trinity of Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath were held here on Thursday without devotees and amid strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols, officials said. The 'Snana Yatra' is held on the full-moon day in 'Jyestha' month of the Hindu calendar, considered to be the birthday of Lord Jagannath, ahead of the Rath Yatra.
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12:59   WB touches 2 crore vaccinations
West Bengal touches the milestone of vaccination of 2 crore doses. Vaccination drive is being conducted from around 1800 sites across the state, with over 1550 government vaccination centres.
JP Nadda pays homage to Shyama Prasad Mookerjee
JP Nadda pays homage to Shyama Prasad Mookerjee
12:52   The BJP and West Bengal Day
For the past decade or so, maybe longer, a small group of people attached to the ideological ecosystem of the Bharatiya Janata Party have attempted to popularize the commemoration of June 20 as West Bengal Day (Pashchim Bongo Dibas). 

This year -- and despite the inability to secure political power in the state -- they managed a significant breakthrough. 

Having secured recognition as the official Opposition in the assembly, they observed West Bengal Day at the gates of the assembly in the presence of MLAs and the leader of Opposition. 

There, the demand was made to have West Bengal Day put on the official calendar. Additionally, it was suggested that the names of all those MLAs who had voted for the creation of West Bengal in 1947 be inscribed on a tablet on the assembly premises

Read Swapan Dasgupta's column for the Telegraph here. 
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12:35   Stop fooling us: U'khand HC slams Covid readiness
The Uttarakhand High Court reprimanded the state government for the manner, in which it was preparing to deal with the third wave of Covid-19 and asked it to gear up for the Delta Plus variant.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice RS Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma hearing a PIL related to the Uttarakhand government's handling of Covid-19, reprimanding Health Secretary Amit Negi and said that "you cannot leave the children to die, your arrangements are insufficient". 

The court said that, "The Delta variant was spread across the country in a month, the Delta Plus variant will not take even three months. What are you doing to save our children? You must be thinking that Delta Plus variant will say let the government prepare first then it will attack."

"Stop fooling us and we know the reality. Don't tell the Chief Justice that there is Ram Rajya in Uttarakhand and that we live in heaven," the high court said.

The Court further commented that while there is a need to work on a war footing during the pandemic, bureaucratic hurdles are being created to delay processes.

It also questioned the government on its claim of having adequate ambulances.

"You have enough ambulance. The claim is false, you talk about enough ambulances in the state, while there are frequent reports that pregnant women in the hills do not get ambulances, they have to be taken by palanquins," the court added.

The court posted the matter for the next hearing on July 7, by that time the Chief Secretary and the Health Secretary will have to file an affidavit with details. -- ANI
Sivan was the was also the still photographer of the classic Malayalam movie 'Chemmeen'
Sivan was the was also the still photographer of the classic Malayalam movie 'Chemmeen'
12:28   Kerala's 1st press photographer passes away
Veteran still photographer and film-maker Sivan died on Thursday, family sources said. He was 89. Noted film-makers Sangeeth Sivan, Santhosh Sivan and Sanjeev Sivan are his sons. 

 "It's with great sadness that I share with you all d tragic news that my father, Mr. Sivan, breathed his last today," Sangeeth Sivan, his son and noted film director, posted on Facebook. 

Sivan was the first press photographer in Kerala. He was also the still photographer of the classic Malayalam movie 'Chemmeen' which was released in 1965.
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12:25   Sonia asks gen secys to address vaccine hesitancy
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi tells party general secretaries to work to address vaccine hesitancy, ensure vaccine wastage is minimised. She says the daily vaccination rate has to treble so that 75% of the population gets fully vaccinated by year-end. 

The Union Health Ministry today said more than 30 crores (30,33,27,440) vaccine doses have been provided by the Centre to States/UTs so far. Of this, the total consumption, including wastages is 28,43,40,936 doses as per data available at 8 am today. 

"No doubt, this is dependent entirely on the adequacy of vaccine supply. We must continue to put pressure on the Union government which has, at our party's insistence, finally taken on the responsibility for this," Gandhi said. "At the same time, we have to ensure that registration takes place, that vaccine hesitancy wherever evident is overcome and vaccine wastage is minimised," she said addressing the party leaders virtually. 
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12:19   J-K Cong leaders meet ahead of PM's meeting
J&K Congress leaders met senior Congress leader and former chief minister of J&K, Ghulam Nabi Azad at his residence ahead of the all-party meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi Modi today.
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11:48   Rahul appears before Guj court in defamation case
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi appeared before a magistrate's court in Surat on Thursday to record his final statement in a criminal defamation suit filed by a Gujarat MLA over the former's remark on the "Modi surname".
          
Bharatiya Janata Party legislator from Surat Purnesh Modi had filed a complaint against Gandhi in April 2019 under IPC Ssections 499 and 500, that deal with defamation.
        
A week back, Surat's Chief Judicial Magistrate A N Dave directed Gandhi to remain present in the court on June 24 to record his final statement in the case.
        
In his complaint, the MLA had alleged that Gandhi defamed the entire Modi community by saying "How come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?" while addressing a poll rally in 2019.
        
During the election rally held at Kolar in Karnataka on April 13, 2019, Gandhi had reportedly asked, "Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi...how come they all have Modi as the common surname. How come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?"  
        
Rahul Gandhi was the Congress president when he had made this remark.
        
Gandhi earlier appeared before the court in October 2019 and pleaded not guilty for his comment. -- PTI 
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11:16   Nothing was gained from Pawar's Oppn meet: Sena
Taking a swipe at the high-profile political meeting at Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar's Delhi residence, Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana on Thursday said that nothing was gained from the meeting corresponding to the hype media had given it.

The Shiv Sena had given the meeting a miss which was convened by Pawar reportedly to form a united opposition front against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government.

"A meeting of a group of opposition parties called 'Rashtra Manch' was held at the residence of Sharad Pawar at his 6 Janpath residence in Delhi. Nothing was gained from the meeting in correspondence with the hype media had given it," read the editorial.

It added that some people joined the meeting only for the sake of BJP's and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's opposition.

"Javed Akhtar, National Congress' Omar Abdullah, Rashtriya Lok Dal's Jayant Chaudhary Binoy Viswam of Communist Party of India, Nilotpal Basu of Marxist Communist Party, former judge AP Shah, Pawan Verma, Aam Aadmi Party's Sushil Gupta and Sudhindra Kulkarni were some of the people present in the meeting...Was a coalition against Modi and BJP the only goal to make a nexus of the opposition?" it asked.

The editorial further said that this is also a fact that there is a mountain of problems in front of the country today because of the present government.

"But what is the idea of  alternative leadership? No one can tell this. Opposition parties should unite. This is the need for parliamentary democracy. But in the last seven years, there has been an absolute absence of Opposition at the national level," it added.

It also suggested that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi should join Pawar's effort to unite the Opposition, only then can a consolidated front gain real strength.

"The Congress should take the lead for this task but the party itself has been struggling for the past several months without a national president. To be honest, a major opposition party like Congress should approach this entire development with equality. A prominent Congress leader like Rahul Gandhi must join Pawar's effort to unite the Opposition. Only then will the consolidated front of the Opposition parties get the real strength," it added. -- ANI
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11:03   Harrison 'Indiana Jones' Ford hurts shoulder on film set
Hollywood veteran Harrison Ford has suffered a shoulder injury while rehearsing a fight scene for the latest chapter of the Indiana Jones film franchise. 

The 78-year-old actor is returning to the role of legendary hero archaeologist for the fifth time with the movie, being directed by James Mangold. 

Disney did not disclose the details of Ford's injury, but said the filming schedule would be adjusted over "the coming weeks", reported Deadline

"In the course of rehearsing for a fight scene, Harrison Ford sustained an injury involving his shoulder. Production will continue while the appropriate course of treatment is evaluated, and the filming schedule will be reconfigured as needed in the coming weeks," the studio said in a statement. 

Indiana Jones 5 started production earlier this month in Pinewood and other locations in the UK. The film will also feature Mads Mikkelsen, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Boyd Holbrook, Shaunette Renee Wilson and Thomas Kretschmann. 

It will be produced by Steven Spielberg, who helmed the first four Indiana Jones movies, along with Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Simon Emanuel.
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com
10:55   S&P cuts India's FY22 growth forecast to 9.5%
S&P Global Ratings on Thursday cut India's growth forecast for the current fiscal to 9.5 per cent, from 11 per cent earlier, and warned of risk to the outlook from further waves of COVID pandemic. 
   
The agency lowered the growth outlook saying that a severe second COVID-19 outbreak in April and May led to lockdowns imposed by states and sharp contraction in economic activity. 
 
"We forecast growth of 9.5 per cent this fiscal year from our March forecast of 11 per cent," S&P said. 
 
Stating that permanent damage to private and public sector balance sheets will constrain growth over the next couple of years, it projected India's growth at 7.8 per cent in the next fiscal ending March 31, 2023. 
 
"Further pandemic waves are a risk to the outlook given that only about 15 per cent of the population has received at least one vaccine dose so far, although vaccine supplies are expected to ramp up," S&P said. 
 
Indian economy contracted by 7.3 per cent in fiscal 2020-21 as the country battled the first wave of COVID, as against a 4 per cent growth in 2019-20.
 
GDP growth in the current fiscal was estimated to be in double digits initially, but a severe second wave of pandemic has led to various agencies cut growth projections. 
 
Earlier this month, RBI too cut India's growth forecast to 9.5 per cent for this fiscal, from 10.5 per cent estimated earlier. 
 
It said manufacturing and exports were less severely affected compared with 2020, but services were acutely disrupted. Consumption indicators such as vehicle sales fell sharply in May 2021 and consumer confidence remains downbeat.
 
"The economy has turned a corner now. New COVID-19 cases have been falling consistently and mobility is recovering. We expect this recovery to be less steep compared with the bounce in late 2020 and early 2021," it said.
 
S&P said households are running down saving buffers to support consumption and a desire to rebuild saving could hold back spending even as the economy reopens.
 
"Monetary and fiscal policies will remain accommodative but new stimulus will not be forthcoming," it added. -- PTI
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10:51   8 Armymen booked for beating up 3 people in J-K's Ramban
A case was registered against eight Army personnel on Wednesday for allegedly roughing up three people in Ramban district of Jammu and Kashmir, police said.
   
The case under various sections of the Indian Penal Code was registered at Banihal police station against a column of eight personnel of a Rashtriya Rifles unit on the complaint of a sarpanch, a police official said.
 
The sarpanch, Panchayat Mahoo-Khari, came at Police Post Khari along with the injured -- Mohammad Rafiq, Bilal Ahmad and Abdul Rasheed -- and alleged that they were beaten up by the troops without any provocation when they were going to Upper Trana forest area for buying sheep and goats.
 
The complainant also alleged that the troops also snatched their mobile phones and some cash from them at Gadha Nala, the official said, adding police have taken cognizance of the matter and accordingly registered a case against the army personnel.
 
He said the injured have been admitted to Public Health Centre Khari and are undergoing treatment. -- PTI 
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10:34   Sensex jumps over 200 pts in early trade
Equity benchmark Sensex jumped over 200 points in early trade on Thursday, tracking gains in index majors Infosys, TCS and HDFC Bank amid heavy foreign fund inflow.
   
The 30-share BSE index was trading 216.23 points or 0.41 per cent higher at 52,522.31 in initial deals. Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty advanced 59.95 points or 0.38 per cent to 15,746.90.
 
TCS was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, rising over 1 per cent, followed by Tata Steel, L&T, Infosys, UltraTech Cement, ICICI Bank, SBI and Axis Bank.
 
On the other hand, Titan, NTPC, Bajaj Auto and Reliance Industries were among the laggards.
 
In the previous session, Sensex index ended 282.63 points or 0.54 per cent lower at 52,306.08, while Nifty declined 85.80 points or 0.54 per cent to 15,686.95.
 
Foreign institutional investors were net buyers in the capital market as they purchased shares worth Rs 3,156.53 crore on Wednesday, as per provisional exchange data.
 
According to Binod Modi Head-Strategy at Reliance Securities, domestic equities look to be modestly good as of now. Sharp contraction in daily caseload and ramp-up in vaccination programmes offer comfort to the market.
 
"We believe expectations of a sharp improvement in high-frequency key economic indicators from the current month supported by ease in business curbs in various states should continue to offer support to corporate earnings," he added.
 
US equities traded sideways and ended mixed on Wednesday after two days of back-to-back gains.
Elsewhere in Asia, bourses in Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo were trading with gains in mid-session deals, while Shanghai was in the red. -- PTI
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09:57   India reports 54,069 new Covid cases, ,321 deaths
India reports 54,069 new COVID-19 cases, 68,885 recoveries and 1,321 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Total cases: 3,00,82,778 
Active cases: 6,27,057
Total recoveries: 2,90,63,740
Death toll: 3,91,981

Total vaccination: 30,16,26,028
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09:48   Plea in Kerala HC seeks ban on WhatsApp
A Public Interest Litigation has been filed in the Kerala high court seeking a ban on WhatsApp, alleging it was not cooperating with the country's law-enforcement agencies.
 
In his plea, Omanakuttan K G from Idukki district alleged the instant messaging platform has a separate privacy policy for the European region which is in tune with the laws prevailing there.
"If the app is amenable to laws of European region and can change its functionality in accordance with the laws of European region; why is it hesitant to abide by the laws of our country?" the petitioner asked.
The petitioner said the app has approached the Delhi high court claiming it is not amenable to the newly introduced IT rules because it cannot trace the origin of the messages due to its end-to-end encryption policy.
The app also claims that the newly introduced IT rules are against the right to privacy as held in the Justice Puttaswamy case, the petitioner said.
Contending that WhatsApp is not free from manipulations and lacks security, the petitioner submitted the app is also used by anti-national and anti-social elements for their activities. 
He said he filed the petition in national and public interest. -- PTI 
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Representational image
09:35   Patient bitten by rat in Mumbai civic hospital dies
A 24-year-old patient, who was bitten by a rat near his eye at Mumbai civic-run Rajawadi Hospital in suburban Ghatkopar, died on Wednesday, said BMC officials.
  
They said the patient was suffering from alcohol-related liver disease and was in a very critical condition since the day of his admission in the hospital.

On Tuesday, a relative of the patient had alleged that a rat had bitten near his eye, when he was admitted to the ICU of the civic-run hospital, prompting the city Mayor Kishori Pednekar to order a probe.

The hospital management had confirmed the rat bite incident.

According to the officials, the patient was brought to the hospital in an unconscious state. -- PTI
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09:23   McAfee antivirus software creator dead in Spanish prison
John McAfee, the creator of the McAfee antivirus software, was found dead in a Spanish prison.

He was 75.

Hours earlier, a Spanish court issued a preliminary ruling in favor of the 75-year-old tycoon's extradition to the United States to face tax-related criminal charges.

According to CNN, McAfee was found dead in his cell in a prison near Barcelona on Wednesday around 1 pm ET, according to a spokesperson for the Superior Court of Catalonia.

The Catalonia regional government Justice Department said that prison medical personnel and guards attempted to perform life-saving procedures after finding McAfee, but were unsuccessful. The statement said "everything indicates" that McAfee could have died by suicide.

Earlier that day, a three-judge panel at Spain's National Court in Madrid ruled that McAfee could be extradited to the United States to face charges there, a National Court spokesman told CNN.

McAfee was arrested in Spain in October last year after he was indicted in the US for tax evasion months ago. 

He allegedly failed to file taxes for four years despite earning millions in income between 2014 and 2018 from promoting cryptocurrencies, consulting work, speaking engagements, and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary, according to court documents.

McAfee was also in March on separate fraud and money laundering charges. He was accused by the US State Department of participating with a business partner in a scheme that earned more than USD 13 million by falsely promoting cryptocurrencies to unwitting investors.

CNN reported that in 2012, McAfee briefly vanished after fleeing his home in Belize because local police tried to question him on the death of his neighbor. However, he has denied involvement in the death and claimed he fled because he feared for his life.

He ran for US president in 2016 as a Libertarian, and launched a new security product, calling it a 'game changer'. -- ANI
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08:29   Modi to meet J-K leaders in Delhi today
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir at his Delhi residence at 3 pm today

This is the first meeting between Jammu and Kashmir mainstream parties and the prime minister after the Centre revoked the erstwhile state's special status and carved two union territories out of it in August 2019.
With no agenda announced for the Thursday meeting, the J-K leaders said they will go with an open mind.
"We have not been given an agenda. We will be attending the meeting to know what the Centre is offering," said Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, who is also a spokesman for the six-party People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration.
Tarigami is among the 14 leaders invited for the all-party meeting convened by Modi. Others invited include four former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. 
The Communist leader said the PAGD will "be out there to protect the interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir."  
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00:10   Prepared to face 3rd wave of COVID-19: BMC
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said it is prepared to face a possible third wave of the coronavirus infection in the metropolis and has put in place required medical facilities to deal with a surge in cases.

In a release issued after additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani's two-day long review of preparedness (on June 22 and 23) for a fresh wave,  the BMC said beds at various hospitals, Jumbo Covid Centres, and Covid Care Centres are ready for treatment of patients.

"In addition, separate wards for children are being set up in all hospitals and medical colleges as well as Jumbo Centres," the release said, adding separate wards have been set up for pregnant women as well.

The civic body said even as the BMC administration is well prepared to face the third wave, citizens should follow all instructions and guidelines related to COVID-19 prevention. 

Various civic hospitals, Jumbo Covid Centres, Corona Care Centre 1 and Corona Care Centre 2 are equipped with beds for COVID-19 patients, the  BMC said, adding these facilities have around 2,000 ventilators.

The release said in the first phase, the civic body had set up 7,307 beds in Jumbo COVID-19 Centres and nearly 77 patients were given treatment there, while 8,350 new beds are being set up on a war footing in the second phase.

According to the BMC, of the 8,350 new beds, 2,200 each have been set up at Kanjurmarg and Malad, 1,500 at NESCO Goregaon, 1,200 at Sion, 700 at Byculla, 450 at Mahalaxmi Racecourse and 100 beds at NSCI Worli. 

"The total bed capacity of Jumbo COVID-19 Centres has been increased to 15,657. Of these, 70 per cent of the beds have oxygen supply facility and every jumbo COVID-19 Centre has liquid medical storage tanks," the release stated.

-- PTI