Tue, 14 September 2021
Ayodhya seers to Yogi: Ban actors from Ram Leela

Timeline  Refresh

23:27   British Indian novelist Sunjeev Sahota misses out from the Booker Prize shortlist
The 2021 Booker Prize shortlist, unveiled at a virtual event in London on Tuesday, includes six finalists for the prestigious award for works of fiction, with an equal male-female author split.

Indian-origin British novelist Sunjeev Sahot a, who had made the longlist with his acclaimed immigrant tale 'China Room', missed out in the final running.

Sri Lankan Tamil author Anuk Arudpragasam made the cut with 'A Passage North'; South African author Damon Galgut for 'The Promise'; Americans Patricia Lockdwood for 'No One is Talking About this', Richard Powers for 'Bewilderment', and Maggie Shipstead for 'Great Circle'; and British-Somali author Nadifa Mohamed 'The Fortune Men'.

"With so many ambitious and intelligent books before us, the judges engaged in rich discussions not only about the qualities of any given title, but often about the purpose of fiction itself. We are pleased to present a shortlist that delivers as wide a range of original stories as it does voices and styles," said historian Maya Jasanoff, Chair of the 2021 Booker judges.
23:17   Ayodhya seers to Yogi: Ban actors from Ram Leela
Seers of Ayodhya on Tuesday demanded from Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath to immediately ban shows of Ram Leela to be performed by Bollywood actors here next month.

The seers alleged that Bollywood artistes consume alcohol, eat meat and involve in immoral activities due to which they can never represent pious characters of the Ramayana.

The seers said the artistes who perform traditional Ram Leela follow a strict moral and religious discipline in their life.

The demand was made at a meeting of about 100 saints of Ayodhya at 'Bada Bhakt Maal', a temple and seat of Hindu religious studies in Ayodhya.

There is a special tradition of Ram Leela in Ayodhya and they seek blessings from people performing characters of Lord Rama, Sita and others, said Mahant Dharam Das, a priest at the local Hanumangarhi temple.

We cannot take blessings from Bollywood actors who don't follow religious discipline, he said.

Mahant Awadhesh Das Shastri, chief priest of the "Bada Bhakt Maal" temple, said, "We cannot tolerate unscrupulous performance in the name of Ram Leela.

Bollywood actress Bhagyashree will be performing the role of Sita in the multi-starrer Ram Leela. Actors Shakti Kapoor, Arbaaz Khan, Raza Muraad, Asrani, Avatar Gill, Bindu Dara Singh and others will also be part of it.
Representational pic
Representational pic
22:24   Naxal with Rs 20 lakh bounty arrested in Odisha
A top Maoist leader has been arrested in Odisha's Koraput district during a search operation by security forces, and cash and arms were seized from his possession, the police said on Tuesday.

The Odisha government had announced a reward of Rs 20 lakh for any information leading to his arrest.

Dubashi Sankar, a leader of the state military commission (SMC) of the outlawed CPI (Maoist), was apprehended on Monday morning from a forest area adjoining Noaro village by jawans of the district voluntary force, special operations group and the BSF, DGP Abhay said.

"This is the first time a Maoist leader of such high rank has been arrested in Odisha," the DGP stated.

One Insas Rifle, 10 rounds of ammunition, a mobile phone, radio and cash of Rs 35,500 were recovered from Sankar's possession among other items.

The Maoist leader went by multiple names such as Mahender, Ramesh and Mahesh.

Amitabh Thakur, Inspector General (operations), when contacted by PTI, said Sankar, during interrogation, admitted that he was involved in multiple criminal cases, including a landmine blast in Koraput in 2010 that claimed lives of 11 police personnel.

Sankar had joined the Maoist organisation in 1987. He was promoted to the rank of special zonal committee member (SZCM) in 2003. He looked after the outfit's operations along  the Andhra-Odisha border, Thakur said.

He joined the state military commission of the CPI (Maoist) in 2010, Thakur added.

In a related development, a Maoist cadre surrendered before the police in Koraput district on Tuesday.

He will get assistance in accordance with the Surrender and Rehabilitation Scheme of the Odisha government.

Sonal Madvi alias Kiran, an area committee member of the CPI (Maoist), claimed that he was not in favour of the "unnecessary civilian killings" by the outfit, a police officer in Koraput said.

Madvi also stated that Odiya cadres of the banned organisation are "looked down upon by their Telugu and Chhattishgarhi counterparts", the officer added.
Representational pic
Representational pic
21:59   PM chairs meeting of Union Council of Ministers
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday chaired a meeting of the Union Council of Ministers where some presentations were made on various policies.

Sources aware of the development said discussions on broader governance and policy issues were held during the physical meeting.

The meeting also discussed ways to make delivery of government welfare schemes more efficient and effective, they said.

The meet at the auditorium of the Rashtrapati Bhavan lasted for nearly five hours.

The prime minister holds regular meetings of the Council of Ministers where various ministries make presentations on important issues.

The meetings also help ministers to keep themselves updated with various welfare schemes being carried out by the government. 
21:29   At 73.68 Indian rupee closes flat against dollar
The rupee pared its early gains to close flat at 73.68 against the US currency on Tuesday due to inflationary concerns and a muted trend in domestic equities.

The US dollar regaining strength ahead of the release of US inflation data and high crude oil prices also restricted gains in the rupee, analysts said.

At the interbank foreign exchange market, the local currency opened higher at 73.62 and touched an intra-day high of 73.57. However, the unit gave up gains later to hit a low of 73.70 before settling flat at 73.68 against the greenback.
Representational pic
Representational pic
21:14   4 DRDO temps held for defence info leak to Pak
Four contractual employees of DRDO's integrated test range in Odisha's Balasore district were arrested on Tuesday for allegedly passing classified information to suspected Pakistani agents, the police said.

The four were initially detained for questioning, said Himansu Kumar Lal, Inspector General, Eastern Range.

They were arrested following the interrogation, he stated.

The action came in the wake of intelligence inputs which suggested that some persons are "wrongfully and wilfully communicating classified defence secrets to foreign agents, appearing to be Pakistani agents, being contacted through various ISD phone numbers", the Balasore Police said in a release.

Multiple police teams, comprising four DSPs and as many inspector-rank officers, were formed and the contractual employees of the Defence Research and Development Organisation's (DRDO's) test range in Chandipur detained following raids.

They have been accused of leaking classified information to the foreign agents and getting "wrongful monetary benefits" in return, the release said.

Several incriminating materials were also recovered, according to the police.

A case has been lodged at Chandipur police station under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Official Secrets Act "for committing offence of causing serious harm to the security, sovereignty and integrity of our nation", the release said.

DRDO officials, when contacted, refused to comment on the matter, and said that the police were looking into the allegations.

In a similar case in Balasore in 2014, a contractual photographer, Iswar Behera , was apprehended after he was found leaking sensitive information about the test range.

A sessions court sentenced him to life imprisonment on February 11.
21:02   Defence ministry's 27 offices to move into new building
Over 7,000 employees belonging to 27 different offices of the defence ministry and the three services will move from their current workplaces in and around the Raisina Hills area to two new swanky buildings, officials said on Tuesday. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to inaugurate the two office complexes on Thursday, they said. 

The two new multi-storey buildings, one at the Kasturba Gandhi Marg area and another at Africa Avenue, have been constructed at a cost of Rs 775 crore by the defence ministry, the officials said. 

The two buildings have a total space of 9.60 lakhs sq feet as against 9.22 lakh sq feet vacated by the 27 offices in various hutments and office complexes, they said. 

Fourteen offices are being relocated to the KG Marg complex having a built-up area of 4.52 lakh sq feet while 13 offices are being relocated to the Africa Avenue building that has a total built-up area of 5.08 lakh sq feet, the officials said. 

The process to shifting the existing offices to the new buildings will start in the next few days. 

The new buildings, constructed by the ministry of housing and urban development as part of its Central Vista project, provide a modern eco-friendly, green building environment, the officials said. 

The total land parcel required for the new office complexes is 13 acres as against 50 acres where the existing offices are spread across. 

"The location and space of these buildings have been so designed that pre-existing trees have not been disturbed," said an official. 

In addition to the office space, the two buildings have provisions for multi-level car parking for a total of over 1500 cars. 

The defence ministry had constituted a joint coordination committee under a joint secretary to coordinate various requirements of specific organisations, space allocation and common amenities. The committee included representatives of the department of military affairs, department of defence production, department of ex-servicemen welfare (ESW), department of defence R and D, and three services.
20:40   Citing Godhra, Delhi court orders trial separation
Taking a cue from judicial precedent of Gujarat's Godhra riots cases, a Delhi court on Tuesday ordered separation of trial of accused on the ground of their faith in a murder of a 24-year-old man during the north-east Delhi communal riots, saying there was an "assortment" of undertrials and one trial would prejudice their defence as they belong to Hindu and Muslim religions.

Three Hindus and two Muslims were to face joint trial in case emanating from one FIR and they were charged with the offences of rioting, arson and murder of one Salman who had succumbed to gunshot injury allegedly inflicted upon him by a riotous mob in Delhi's Shiv Vihar area on Febryary 24, 2020.

A peculiar situation has arisen whether the trial can be permitted to proceed with assortment of accused persons from different religions purportedly acting under "two different conspiracies and unlawful assemblies," Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav said, adding that joint trial will definitely prejudice the defence of accused persons as they belong to different religions.

The trial judge directed Joy N Tirkey, DCP (Crime Branch), to furnish a complete set of charge sheet in physical form to the court within two weeks.

Taking the precedent from the trial in the Godhra communal riots case, the judge said that he deems it appropriate to separate the trial of the accused persons "so that their defence does not get prejudiced."

"Similar situation had arisen before a Gujarat Court conducting the trial of Godhra Communal Riots...wherein the High Court was pleased to authorize separation of trial of the accused persons from two different communities," he said.

He added, "Thereafter, Ahlmad (court official) of the court is directed to put up a separate Sessions Case number in the FIR and the existing charge sheet shall be treated as charge sheet for three accused persons namely, Kuldeep, Deepak Thakur and Deepak Yadav."

Meanwhile, the other charge sheet shall be treated as charge sheet for accused persons Mohd. Furkan and Mohd. Irshad, the judge added.

The decision on separation of the trial came after the court framed charges in the case.

The judge stated that there is enough material on record to frame charges against the five accused under the requisite sections.

They have been charged under sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 153-A (vilification or attacks upon the religion), 302 (murder), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance), 505 (intent to incite), 120-B (conspiracy), 34 (common intention) of the IPC.

All the accused have pleaded not guilty and claimed trial in the case.
20:25   Total Covid-19 vaccinations cross 75-crore mark
As per the data released by the Union ministry of health and family welfare, India crossed the 75 crore mark in administering COVID-19 vaccines.

This makes 13% of India's total population.  
Representational pic
Representational pic
19:59   Delhi Police busts Pak terror module, 6 arrested
Delhi Police Special Cell has busted a Pakistan organised terror module and arrested six people including two Pakistani-trained terrorists.

The arrested suspects were planning to carry out targeted killings and blasts across the country, as per the police.

Explosives and firearms recovered were recovered from the arrested persons in a multi-state operation, Deputy Commissioner of Police Special Cell Pramod Kushwaha said on Tuesday.

Further investigation into the case is underway.
19:10   Staffers at presidential house in HP test Covid +ve
President Ram Nath Kovind will stay at a private hotel in Shimla instead of the presidential retreat, where he normally stays, during his visit beginning Thursday to Himachal Pradesh, where he will address a special session of the state assembly.
The choice of venue follows after four staff members of the retreat tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, an official said.
The President during his four-day visit to Himachal Pradesh will address a special session of the state assembly and will be the chief guest at the Valedictory Ceremony of the Indian Audit and Accounts Service at the National Academy of Audit and Accounts at Shimla, the  official added.
He said the President will stay at Cecil hotel at Chaura Maidan in Shimla instead of The Retreat -- the President's residence at Chharabra on the outskirts of Shimla.
All those who come in close contact with the President will have to carry a COVID-19 RT-PCR negative report even if they have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, he added.
Earlier, Speaker Vipin Singh Parmar told the media here on Tuesday that President Kovind would address the special session of the state assembly on Friday at 11 am to mark the golden jubilee of Himachal Pradesh's statehood.
Kovind will be the third President to address the Himachal Pradesh Assembly. Then presidents APJ Abdul Kalam and Pranab Mukherjee addressed the state Assembly in 2003 and 2013 respectively, he said.
Apart from the sitting MLAs, all the former MLAs including former chief ministers Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal have been invited to attend the special session, he added.
Nitety-three former MLAs, including Kumar and Dhumal, have given their consent to attend the special session, the Speaker said.
Five MPs from the state and seven former MPs will also attend the session, he said.
A group photo of the President with the current and former legislators will also be taken as a memory at the Assembly, he added.
According to the schedule, the President will reach Annadale Helipad in Shimla on September 16 at 12 noon via Chandigarh from Palam airport Delhi. Subsequently, he will reach Cecil hotel at Chaura Maidan here at around 12.25 pm, the state government official said.
President Kovind will address the special session of the Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha on Friday from 11 am to 12 noon, the official said.
In the evening on Friday, he will attend a cultural programme at 7.30 pm and banquet hosted by the state governor at 8 pm, he added.
On September 18, the President will be the chief guest at the Valedictory Ceremony of the Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IAAS Officer Trainees of 2018 and 2019 batches) at the National Academy of Audit and Accounts at Shimla from 11 am to 12 noon, the official said.
On September 19, he will reach the Annadale Helipad at 11.15 am to leave for Palam airport in Delhi via Chandigarh. He will reach Rashtrapati Bhavan at 1.35 pm on Sunday, he said. -- PTI 
18:55   SII to supply Inactivated Polio Vaccine to Centre
Serum Institute of India will start supplying Inactivated Polio Vaccine to the Union government for the Universal Immunisation Programme from this month, becoming the first indigenous company to do so, official sources said on Tuesday.
The Union Health Ministry has recently placed a purchase order with SII for 54 lakh doses of IPV vaccine. So far, the government was dependent on Sanofi, a foreign pharmaceutical company for supplying IPV to the universal immunisation programme.
"I wish to inform you that our firm, Serum Institute of India has become the first Indian manufacturer to supply Inactivated Poliomyelitis Vaccine (IPV) to MoHFW which will protect children of our country from Poliomyelitis disease," Prakash Kumar Singh, Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at SII  communicated to the Health Ministry recently.
The IPV of SII is World Health Organisation pre-qualified for supplies to various countries worldwide also. The Union Health Ministry has also placed an order with Sanofi for the supply of 36 lakh doses of IPV.
"It is a matter of pride for all of us that in addition to many other life-saving vaccines as well as COVID-19 vaccines, our country is now 'Atmanirbar' (self-reliant) for Inactivated Poliomyelitis Vaccine (IPV) also and we are moving ahead on the lines of the clarion call of our Prime Minister 'ATMANIRBHAR BHARAT'," Singh said in his letter. 
The first lot of IPV will be supplied to GMSD (Government Medical Stores Depot) this month shortly for the vaccination programme as per the requirement of the Health Ministry.
"The supply of IPV from first Indian company i.e. Serum Institute of India has become possible because of your kind guidance, support of Team MoHFW, farsighted vision of our CEO, Dr Adar C Poonawalla along with relentless efforts of team SIIPL during COVID-19 pandemic," Singh stated in the communication.
India was officially declared polio-free in 2014, but the immunisation programme continues in the country.
IPV has been introduced in the Universal Immunisation Programme as part of the Global Polio end-game strategy, to mitigate the risk associated with the trivalent oral polio vaccine to bivalent oral polio vaccine switch. 
IPV was introduced in November 2015 initially in six states, which was expanded across the country by April 2016. -- PTI
18:48   Akhilesh contests Modi's claim over crime in UP
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Tuesday challenged Prime Minister Narerndra Modi's claim about the crime situation in Uttar Pradesh, asking him to check data of the Home Department and other central agencies.
At a function after laying the stone of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh State University in Aligarh, PM Modi earlier in the day said UP was run by gangsters and mafias before 2017. The Samajwadi Party was ruling the state then.
In a scathing attack at the BJP, Yadav told reporters at a press conference in Lucknow that it is good to set up a university but the party "runs the best training centre of telling lies".
He asked the BJP to pick "bulldozer" as its election symbol, referring to the alleged demolition of houses of some Ayodhya residents.
Yadav also asked Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to get his eyesight tested, replying to the CM's assertion that the Opposition leader lacked vision.
Yadav told reporters that the UP government is not working according to the law and warned officials that his party is preparing a list of those who violated the law, stressing that they won't be spared once his party's government comes to power.
When his attention was drawn to the PM's comment over the law and order, Yadav said, "He should ask for the data of the Home Department or Dial 100 to see who is increasing the crime."
He asked the PM to go through the NCRB report and also see which state has been served maximum notices by the National Human Rights Commission.
Yadav said the PM should also ask the Uttar Pradesh CM who are the top 10 mafia in the state.
All are aware how the CM withdrew cases against himself, he said.
He also accused the ruling party of failing to honour its own leaders, referring to the foundation laying of a university after former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Lucknow in 2019 and asked about its status.
He alleged that the government uses the work of other governments to honour its own leaders and assured that if his party came to power, they will set up a university or college at Vajpayee's native Bateshwar village in Agra .
"Even after over four years, this government is changing names and colours, claiming the work done by the SP government as its own. As they know that their government is on its way out, the language of its head has changed," the SP chief said, apparently referring to CM Yogi's "Abba Jaan" jibe in Kushinagar recently.
He said a few years ago when the CM had gone to Kushinagar, children and the poor were given soaps and shampoos to first take a bath and then meet him.
Such a person cannot develop the state, he said. -- PTI
18:27   Lasith Malinga retires from T20Is
Sri Lanka pace veteran Lasith Malinga, who terrorised the world's best batsmen with his toe-crushing yorkers delivered from a low and sling-arm action, on Tuesday announced his retirement from all forms of cricket.
The 38-year-old, who was captain of Sri Lanka's 2014 T20 World Cup winning team, posted a message on his social media account announcing his decision.
"Hanging up my T20 shoes and retiring from all forms of cricket! Thankful to all those who supported me in my journey, and looking forward to sharing my experience with young cricketers in the years to come," Malinga tweeted.
Malinga had retired from Test and ODI cricket in January this year but was yet to call it quits from T20 internationals.
Last year, he had expressed his desire to lead Sri Lanka in the T20 World Cup, which was originally scheduled to be held in Australia in October-November 2020 but will be held next month after a COVID-forced postponement.
"I am looking forward to help youngsters and guide them in the coming years," he said as he thanked his national team and all the franchises that he has played for, including IPL team Mumbai Indians.
"I want to give 100 per cent rest to my T20 shoes. While my shoes will rest, my love for the game will never ask for rest," a smiling Malinga added in the video.
Malinga, who has played a staggering 122 IPL matches, has 170 wickets to his credit, the highest in the cash-rich league, with the best bowling figures of 5/13.
He picked up 107 wickets in 84 T20 Internationals, 338 scalps in 226 ODIs and 101 wickets in 30 Tests. -- PTI
18:08   Viral video shows dogs gnawing at corpse
A video of dogs gnawing at a dead body on the banks of Ganga in Ballia, UP, went viral, prompting police to take the custody of the corpses in order to perform last rites. 

 The in-charge of Narhi police station, Raj Kumar Singh, confirmed that two bodies were found on the riverbank in the Jaddupur Sarayan area but eyewitnesses claimed that there was one more. The video of dogs gnawing at a body in the Narhi police station area, adjacent to the Bihar border, went viral on social media on Tuesday and a police team rushed to the spot and took two bodies into custody. 

 They were cremated, the officer said, adding the condition of the dead bodies suggested that they were immersed into the river. It appeared that the bodies dumped in the river somewhere in Bihar, drifted to Ballia in Uttar Pradesh, police said. PTI 
18:06   Kejriwal meets Prez Kovind
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal called on President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan today.
17:55   Woman who accused Prince Paswan of rape demanded Rs 1 cr, claims his lawyer
The woman, who accused Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Prince Raj Paswan, of rape demanded Rs 1 crore from Lok Sabha MP from Bihar's Samastipur, claimed Paswan's lawyer Nitesh Rana on Tuesday.

Prince, who is also the president of the Bihar unit of the party, was booked in the national capital on September 9 for allegedly raping a former party member. 

While speaking to ANI, Rana said, "The rape case against my client is a frivolous case. My client is innocent. The complainant and her friend have been extorting him since 2020 and my client lodged an FIR of extortion in the Parliament Street Police Station on February 10 this year. She threatened to malign his reputation if he did not pay the extortion amount. He gave her Rs 2 Lakh but the extortion still continued. After the filing of FIR by my client, both the complainant and her friend had to take an anticipatory bail from the court."
17:40   Owaisi upset over allegations he likes Taliban
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Tuesday took umbrage over suspicions that he had a soft corner for the Taliban and dared the Narendra Modi government at the Centre to declare the militant group a terrorist organisation. 

 Addressing a press conference, the firebrand Hyderabad MP also demanded that the government, given the fact that India currently headed the UN committee on sanctions, give an assurance that none of the Taliban leaders will be delisted from the list of terrorists. 

"Why do you raise suspicions (shaq) over me with regard to Taliban? Was it Asaduddin Owaisi who had handed over jailed terrorists to secure the release of passengers of the hijacked plane in Kandahar," said Owaisi in response to questions about some BJP leaders having dubbed him as a man of Talibani soch (mindset). 

 Owaisi said he has made his stance clear about the Taliban on the floor of Parliament but his words of caution were not heeded. 

"During the debate on CAA, I had requested the government to consider making the Act religion-neutral, warning them of a possible takeover by the Taliban. But for that strategic blunder, we would have been in a position to grant safe asylum to Tajiks, Uzbeks, and members of other minority tribes," said Owaisi. 

He also said that the Taliban takeover would strengthen Pakistan and China while giving India a lot to worry about which was regrettable since India had invested a lot in Afghanistan. 

"What the Modi government is doing is only sending emissaries to hold talks with Taliban representatives and it must have left the diplomats in the restive country to fend for themselves," he alleged. 

" Let the Modi government declare Taliban a terrorist organisation, if it means business. Let it also announce that no Talibani leader will be given legitimacy by being delisted from the list of global terrorists. I would like to see if it has the courage to do so," Owaisi fumed. -- PTI 
17:32   Agra hospitals flooded with patients who are children
Hospitals in Agra witness a rise of patients who are children. All are suffering from dengue and viral fever.  

"The situation is bad. 40-50% patients suffer from dengue and viral fever. 60% of the patients are children," says Rajeev Upadhaya, President, IMA Agra.

Arun Kumar Srivastava, Chief Medical Officer, Agra, says, "We have 35 dengue cases, of which 14 are active. Hospitals have been instructed to inform us immediately about the arrival of any patient. Fogging activities being done in medical colleges and hospitals."
17:08   Top gainers in the markets today
IndusInd Bank gained 4.07 per cent. 
Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel meets Deputy CM Nitin Patel
Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel meets Deputy CM Nitin Patel
17:06   Gujarat development model sham: Sena on new CM
The Shiv Sena on Tuesday said the sudden change of guard in Gandhinagar, where first-time BJP MLA Bhupendra Patel has been appointed the new chief minister, reflected the style of functioning generally associated with the Congress and claimed the move shows the 'balloon' of Gujarat's development model has burst.

 An editorial in Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' said the people of Gujarat were extremely angry over the "collapse" of healthcare system during the second wave of COVID-19, when Vijay Rupani was the chief minister, and the BJP also realized that the influential Patidar community, to which Patel belongs, is miffed with the party, leading to the change at the top in the adjoining state. 

 "The same thing takes place in the Congress and we have to call it democracy," quipped the Sena, a former BJP ally which now shares power with the Congress and the NCP in Maharashtra. 

 With the sudden leadership change, the editorial claimed the "balloon' of Gujarat's model of development, governance and democracy has now burst. "Patel was not even made a minister in the last four years, but he was directly made the chief minister. If Gujarat was truly on path of progress, then why did the BJP change its chief minister overnight?" the Marathi daily sought to know.

 Amid the cacophony of 'vikas' (development), if leadership is suddenly changed, people raise doubts, it said. "Is this the Gujarat model where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will actually have to call the shots by keeping Patel at the forefront ahead of the state polls (due in December next year)?" the editorial asked. 

 Patel is a staunch supporter of former Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel while Rupani had the backing of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and this would make the coming days "chaotic as well as interesting," the publication said. 

 "Replacing Rupani with Patel was a facile act. The BJP is convinced that it would face a backlash due to unemployment, closure of major factories, including carmaker Ford's plant near Ahmedabad," it said.
16:47   Mapped: Inflation over the last 6 months
Food prices have gone down considerably.
16:38   70 babies hospitalised with fever in Siliguri
In West Bengal's Siliguri town, several babies suffering from fever and respiratory problems have been admitted to the Siliguri District Hospital.  "About 70 babies have been admitted in pediatric wards. Most of them are below 5 months old," Dr Subir Bhowmick, Pediatrician, Siliguri Dist Hospital said. 

In Uttar Pradesh, Firozabad, around 50 km from Agra and 320 km from Lucknow, has been battling an outbreak of dengue and deadly viral fever for the past three weeks now, with most of the victims being children. 
16:29   Politics overrode science during India's deadly 2nd Covid wave
The country's top science agency tailored its findings to fit Prime Minister Narendra Modi's optimistic narrative despite a looming crisis, researchers say. Read the report here. 
16:22   HAL, Rolls-Royce sign pact for Make-in-India Adour engine parts
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Rolls-Royce on Tuesday signed an agreement for Make-in-India Adour engine parts to support the latter's international defence customer base. 

 Through this partnership, Rolls-Royce aims to strengthen the ecosystem for Adour engines in India by building on HAL's existing capabilities for manufacturing and supporting the Adour engines for Indian customers over several decades, Bengaluru-headquartered HAL said in a statement. 

 This follows the MoU signed by Rolls-Royce and HAL during the Aero India 2021 to establish an authorised maintenance centre for Adour at HAL to support international military customers and operators.
16:11   Sensex rises 69 points; Nifty inches up to record 17,380
Equity benchmark Sensex rose 69 points on Tuesday following gains in IT, bank and engineering stocks amid mixed global cues. 

 The 30-share BSE index ended 69.33 points or 0.12 per cent higher at 58,247.09. The broader NSE Nifty advanced 24.70 points or 0.14 per cent to its fresh closing record of 17,380. 

 IndusInd Bank was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, rising over 4 per cent, followed by HCL Tech, Bajaj Auto, Tech Mahindra, L&T and Kotak Bank. 

 On the other hand, Nestle India, UltraTech Cement, HUL, HDFC, Tata Steel and Bajaj Finserv were among the laggards. 
16:04   TMC nominates Sushmita Dev to RS
Trinamool Congress nominates Sushmita Dev to Rajya Sabha. "Mamata Banerjee's vision to empower women and ensure their maximum participation in politics shall help our society to achieve much more!" tweets TMC.
16:02   Zomato Co-Founder Gaurav Gupta quits
 Food delivery platform Zomato's Co-Founder and Head of supply Gaurav Gupta has quit, a few days after the company said it will soon stop the in-house grocery delivery service as there were gaps in order fulfilment leading to poor customer service.

Zomato had made its initial public offering (IPO) on the bourses in July. It had decided to enter the online grocery delivery segment in April 2020 during the first wave of Covid-19 pandemic. 

"I am taking a new turn in my life and will be starting a new chapter, taking a lot from this defining chapter of my life -- the last six years at Zomato," said Gupta in an email to employees earlier on Tuesday.

"We have a great team now to take Zomato forward and it is time for me to take an alternate path in my journey. I am very emotional as I write this and don't think any words can do justice to how I am feeling right now," he wrote.

CEO Deepinder Goyal confirmd Gupta's exit. "Thank you GG for everything you have helped Zomato achieve over the last few years," he wrote in a blog.
15:59   Shah to inaugurate longest bridge in Andamans by Sept end
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, accompanied by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, will visit the Andaman and Nicobar Islands by September-end and inaugurate the longest bridge in the archipelago, the NHIDCL said on Tuesday. 

 The 1.45-km-long Humfrey Strait Bridge connecting South and Middle Andaman between Gandhi and Uttara ferry ghats was constructed by the National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) at a cost of Rs 202 crore within two years, its DGM Sunil said. Despite COVID-induced restrictions, steady progress in the execution of the project was made in the last few months and over 99 per cent of the work has been completed, he said.
15:54   CMs don't know how long they will stay: Gadkari
Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday referring to full cycle of appointments of ministers said no one is happy with their position and want to do better, adding that politics is an instrument to bring about a social and economic change.

While addressing a seminar on 'Parliamentary System and People's Expectations' in Rajasthan Assembly on Monday, Gadkari said, "The MLAs are sad as they could not become a minister. The ministers are sad as they did not get a good department and those who got a good department, are sad because they could not become the chief minister. And the chief ministers are sad as they are not sure how long they will stay in office."

"Poet Sharad Joshi once wrote that those who were not suitable for states were sent to Delhi and those who were not suitable for Delhi were made governors, those who were not appointed as governors were made ambassadors.

"This happens in every political party," he added.

"When I was the BJP president, I have not found anyone who was not sad. Once a journalist asked me that how to stay happy, in reply I told him that those who do not worry about the future, those are ones who stay happy," he added.

Further, Gadkari said that the responsibility of the legislature is to bring about a qualitative change leading to the social and economic upliftment of the society, even though there is plenty of problems.

"There are problems everywhere. There are problems within the party, in the constituency, but to overcome the problem and bring a qualitative change is the quality of a successful leader," he said.

The Union minister further mentioned that politics is an instrument of socio-economic reform.

"Politics is an instrument to bring about a social and economic change. To reform the life of those standing at the extremist of social thrives. It is an effective tool to bring about socio-economic change through the welfare of the last person in society.

"The real purpose of democracy is to make the people standing at the last in the queue of the society prosperous and improve their lives.

"This should be the purpose of politics as well. But, unfortunately nowadays the meaning of politics is understood only to get into power," he added.  -- ANI
15:09   Jeff Bridges says cancer is in remission
Hollywood veteran Jeff Bridges, who was diagnosed with lymphoma last October, has revealed that his cancer is in "remission". 

 In a handwritten note on his website, the 70-year-old actor on Monday also shared that he contracted COVID-19 while in treatment. 

 "My cancer is in remission the 9x12 (inches) mass has shrunk down to the size of a marble. My Covid is in the rear view mirror," Bridges wrote. 

 In a previous unpublished entry, the Oscar winner said that the chemotherapy severely weakened him at the worst possible time as he and his wife Susan Geston contracted the virus. The actor spent five weeks in the hospital due to all his health issues. 

 "COVID kicking my a** good, but I am double vaccinated and feeling much better now. I heard that the vaccine can help folks with long haulers. Maybe that's the cause of my quick improvement," he wrote in the blog dated September 13. -- PTI
15:04   BJP objects to Mamata's nomination for by-polls
The BJP on Tuesday lodged a complaint with the Election Commission, alleging that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee did not make a mention about pending criminal cases in her nomination papers for the Bhabanipur by-poll. 

Sajal Ghosh, the chief election agent of the saffron party's candidate for the constituency, Priyanka Tibrewal, wrote to the EC, raising objections to Banerjee's declaration. 

 "I beg to object to the nomination/declaration filed by Mamata Banerjee on the ground that the candidate has failed to disclose particulars of the pending criminal proceedings against her," he said. 

 Ghosh, in his letter, also made a note of the number of cases filed at different police stations in Assam against Banerjee. PTI
15:01   Modi needs more Gujarat-like stunts to fight Adityanaths growing clout
Modi's charisma has taken a hit post the second COVID-wave and the growing power of chief ministers like UP's Adityanath and Assam's Himanta Biswa Sarma. Read the column here. 
14:48   Mapped: WPI inflation
The wholesale price-based inflation rose marginally to 11.39 per cent in August, mainly due to higher prices of manufactured goods, even as prices of food articles softened.
14:46   Putin to self-isolate after Covid among ranks
Russia President Vladimir Putin to self-isolate over coronavirus cases in inner circle, Kremlin states. 

He will therefore not travel to Tajikistan this week for regional security meetings, the Kremlin said.
14:39   Ganpati Visarjan: 80 idols immersed in Mumbai water bodies
At least 80 Ganesh idols were immersed in water bodies across Mumbai on the fifth day of Ganesh Chaturthi festival till Tuesday afternoon, an official from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said. 

 According to the civic body, no "sarvajanik" (public) Ganpati idols were immersed till afternoon and no untoward incidents have been reported from any part of the city. 

 As many as 41 domestic idols were immersed in artificial ponds built for the purpose, the official said, adding that six idols of goddess Gauri were also immersed on the occasion. 

 The 10-day Ganesh Chaturthi festival, which usually sees millions crowding the city streets, is being celebrated in a low-key manner with several curbs in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic. PTI
14:18   Bengal AG Kishore Datta resigns citing 'personal reasons'
West Bengal Advocate General Kishore Datta on Tuesday resigned from his post citing 'personal reasons', and it was accepted by Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar with immediate effect, according to the Raj Bhavan.

'In terms of Article 165 of the Constitution have accepted with immediate effect resignation submitted by Shri Kishore Datta, Senior Advocate, as Advocate General of State of West Bengal @MamataOfficial with immediate effect,' Dhankhar tweeted.

Datta, who took charge in February 2017, is the fourth advocate general of West Bengal in a row to have resigned from the post during the Mamata Banerjee regime.

Anindya Mitra, the first advocate general to have taken charge after the Trinamool Congress government came to power in 2011, and his successors Bimal Chatterjee and Jayanta Mitra had also resigned from the post.   -- PTI
13:58   Bombs thrown again at Bengal BJP MP's home
Bombs explode near BJP MP Arjun Singh's residence in Bengal, 24 hours after NIA takes over probe into similar incident a week ago. 

The state police have called in the bomb squad and CCTV footages of the bombing are being examined.

Singh has alleged that the ruling Trinamool Congress has sheltered goons responsible for the attack. The Trinamool has denied the allegation, saying the MP stage-managed the blasts to stay politically relevant.
13:31   PM praises Yogi govt, development hub UP
Uttar Pradesh leads the way in development campaigns, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today - months ahead of the state elections - as he launched a university named after a Jat icon in Aligarh.

"It gives me tremendous satisfaction that UP, which was once seen as a hindrance to the country's development, is today leading the biggest development campaigns of the country," the Prime Minister said at an event to mark the launch of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh State University in Aligarh. 

"The Central government and the Yogi government is working together for the development of Uttar Pradesh. We have to fight forces that are against development in the state.

"There was a time when the administration was run by goons, governance was in the hands of the corrupt, but now such people are behind the bars.

"Today, Uttar Pradesh is becoming an attractive place every small and big investor of the country and the world. This happens when the right environment is created for development. Yogi govt is working towards development in the state" PM Modi added while praising Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and taking a swipe at rivals who have used the "double-engine" dig in the past to attack the BJP. 

"Today, not only the country, but world is also seeing that from modern grenades and rifles to fighter aircraft, drones, warships are being manufactured in India itself. India is moving towards making a new identity of a defence exporter," Modi said.
13:23   Mapped: Food inflation
The wholesale price-based inflation rose marginally to 11.39 per cent in August, mainly due to higher prices of manufactured goods, even as prices of food articles softened.
13:20   Nipah suspected in patient in Mangaluru, samples sent for test
More than a week after a 12-year-old boy succumbed to the Nipah virus in Kerala's Kozhikode district, a person being treated at a hospital in Mangaluru  is suspected to have the infection and his samples have been sent for test. 

 Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner Dr K V Rajendra told reporters here Tuesday that it was only a suspected case, but cannot be neglected.

 The person is a native of Karwar and is working at Goa in an RT-PCR test kit manufacturing unit, he said. The DC said his samples are sent for test to National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune and the result is awaited. The person's family members have been kept in isolation.
Irina Shayk
Irina Shayk
13:01   Naked hues, sheer dresses dominate Met Gala
The annual Met Gala, usually held on the first Monday of May, was delayed this year due to the pandemic. Held now on the first Monday of September, at New York City's famed Metropolitan Museum of Art, the theme was In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.

12:55   Freight train derails
A freight train from Firoz Nagar to Khurda Road left Angul Station in Odisha derailed between Angul and Talcher Road. Nine wagons of the train have  capsized and one wagon derailed at about 2.35 am. No casualty was reported: East Coast Railway
Italian marines Salvatore Girone and Latorre Massimiliano
Italian marines Salvatore Girone and Latorre Massimiliano
12:45   Italian marines case: Fisherman's mother moves HC
The Kerala High Court on Tuesday sought the Centre's response on a plea for compensation by the mother of a fisherman, who was aboard the St Antony fishing vessel, which was fired upon by two Italian marines in 2012 killing two persons, and later died by suicide allegedly due to the trauma of the incident. 

 The high court directed the central government counsel to file a statement in response to the plea and listed the matter for hearing after two weeks.

 The woman, in her plea, has contended that the boat owner did not forward her son's name as one of the persons who was also onboard the vessel and therefore, he neither received any counselling for the trauma suffered nor was considered for compensation. Subsequently, as a result of the trauma suffered during the incident, the petitioner's son committed suicide, her lawyer told the court. 

The lawyer said that the petitioner's son's name ought to have been sent to the Italian authorities for consideration of appropriate compensation.

 Last month around 10 fishermen, who were also onboard the fishing vessel and had survived the firing incident, had moved the Supreme Court seeking compensation. The apex court had, thereafter, directed the Kerala High Court not to disburse any amount from the Rs 2 crore earmarked for the owner of the fishing vessel.
12:29   The importance of having been pluralist
The ascendancy of majoritarianism in several parts of the world calls into question the historical significance of India's experiment with pluralism. 

This broad popularity of majoritarian parties and leaders can be taken to mean that the ideal of representing diversity isn't just a local failure brought about by the success of the Bharatiya Janata Party, it also represents a more general defeat of the idea that nations ought to do better than suffer minorities.

If this is true, it is a world-historical defeat.

Read Mukul Kesavan's column here. 
12:22   Mapped: Covid cases across states
Covid cases rise in Maharashtra. Quite expected with the Ganpati festival being celebrated across the state. Stay masked when you visit homes for Ganpati.  
File pic
File pic
12:11   Odisha orders evacuation from low-lying areas
With heavy rain pounding Odisha for the last 36 hours leading to a rise in water levels in most rivers, the state government on Tuesday asked all the district collectors to evacuate people from low-lying areas as three persons were killed in incidents related to the downpour, officials said. 

As many as 17 areas in the state received more than 200 mm rainfall each in the last 24 hours till 8.30 am on Tuesday, the India Meteorological Centre said. 

 While two locations received more than 300 mm of rain -- Talcher (394 mm) and Birmaharajpur (372 mm) 15 other stations received downpour of 200-300 mm. 

 Fearing that more low-lying areas might get inundated, Special Relief Commissioner P K Jena asked the collectors to ensure prompt evacuation of the vulnerable population. 

 "In case water enters villages and habitations, there is a need to evacuate people from such areas and provide them with cooked or dry food and other basic necessities as per the relief code," Jena told collectors, adding that any damage to communication be restored at the earliest. 

 The state government, which had by Monday evening evacuated 3,819 people, issued the fresh instruction as rain continued throughout the night. Baitarani River was flowing at 17.84 m against the danger level of 17.83 m at Akhuapada, while Vansadhara was gushing at 53.92 m against the danger level of 54.6 m, and Jalaka was flowing at 6.22 m against the danger mark of 5.5 m at Mathani, Water Resources Department officials said. -- PTI
11:56   India won't forget Kashmiri Pandits: Rahul
 Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said that the county will never forget the sufferings of the Kashmiri Pandit families.

The Congress leader in a Facebook post said, "Goodwill to my Kashmiri Pandit brothers and sisters. The country will never forget the pain of your families' sufferings. Humble tribute!" 

Rahul Gandhi had been to Mata Vaishno Devi Temple during his visit to Jammu and Kashmir in September earlier.

It was his second visit to the region since the abrogation of Article 370. Earlier, he visited the union territory on August 9.During his last visit, Rahul Gandhi inaugurated the new party office in Srinagar. He also visited Kheer Bhawani temple and Hazrat Dargah Sharif.  -- ANI
11:41   Landslide en route to Gangotri
The Gangotri highway has been closed near Sukhi Top area due to landslide amid the incessant rainfall in Uttarkashi district. Border Roads Organisation is working to reopen the highway.
BJP president JP Nadda
BJP president JP Nadda
11:16   BJP leaders to meet morcha chiefs ahead of polls
 Bharatiya Janata Party National President JP Nadda, party's General Secretary BL Santosh and other key office-bearers of the party will meet the presidents of all morchas of the organisation on September 26 with an eye on the upcoming Assembly elections in five states, sources stated.

After appointing the election in-charges of the poll-bound states, the party now aims to meet its various morcha chiefs and brief them to prepare for upcoming Assembly elections. 

Discussion regarding the expansion of the organisation can also be held, sources said.

The responsibilities and works assigned to the fronts earlier will also be reviewed during the meeting.

The party has given the responsibility for Uttar Pradesh elections to Union Education minister Dharmendra Pradhan. 

In Punjab, BJP has made Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat the election in-charge.

Union Minister Bhupendra Yadav has been made in-charge of Manipur. In Uttarakhand, the party has given responsibility as election in-charge to Union Minister Pralhad Joshi, who also oversaw elections in Kerala.

In Goa, the BJP has decided to make former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis the election in-charge. -- ANI
10:57   India has vaccinated 75 crore people so far
 With the administration of 78,66,950 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the last 24 hours, the country's Covid-19 vaccination coverage has surpassed the cumulative figure of 75.22 crores, the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

According to the ministry, 75,22,38,324 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered so far as per provisional reports till 7 am on Tuesday. 

Of the total, 1,03,64,718 health care workers have received the first dose and 86,13,207 doses have been administered as the second dose to them.

As many as 1,83,38,867 frontline workers were administered the first dose and 1,41,07,030 vaccine doses were given as the second dose to them.
10:55   LJP MP Prince Paswan booked for rape
Lok Janshakti Party MP Prince Paswan has been booked under rape charges by the Delhi Police, officials said on Tuesday. A senior police officer said the case was registered on the direction of court.
Representational image
Representational image
10:43   After 15 year wait, labourers find Rs 40-lakh-worth diamond
After a wait of 15 years, a labourer and his three partners had a shower of good luck when they found an 8.22 carat diamond in a mine in Madhya Pradesh's Panna district, an official said. 

Local experts say the diamond may fetch up to Rs 40 lakh and as per officials, the proceeds from the auction of such raw diamonds would be given to the respective miners after the deduction of government royalty and taxes. 

Ratanlal Prajapati and his partners unearthed the 8.22 carat diamond from a leased land in Hirapur Tapariyan area of the district and deposited it at the diamond office on Monday, Panna Collector Sanjay Kumar Mishra told reporters. 

The diamond will be put up for auction on September 21 along with other gems, he said. After depositing the precious stone at the government office, Raghuvir Prajapati, one of the partners of Ratanlal Prajapati, told reporters that they had spent the last 15 years quarrying in various mines in their quest to find diamonds, but fortune smiled on them for the first time on Monday. 

"We leased small mines in different areas for the past 15 years, but did not find any diamond. This year, we have been mining on a leased land at Hirapur Tapariyan for the past six months and were pleasantly surprised to find a diamond weighing 8.22 carat," he said. 

 The miner said he and his partners will use the money received from the auction of the diamond for providing a better life and education to their children -- PTI
Representative image only.
Representative image only.
10:22   Several children die of high fever in Haryana
Health Department teams were rushed to Chilli village in Hathin city of Palwal district on Monday after several children fell ill and deaths were reported due to high fever.

Dr Vijay Kumar, Senior Medical Officer, Hathin, said that the efforts to contain the spread of fever are in full swing.

"We got news of some cases of fever and 1-2 deaths. Taking notice of that, our health teams have come here. We are doing surveys. Medicines are being provided and an Out Patient Department (OPD) is being run. Spraying is being done. Testing for COVID-19, Dengue, Malaria has been started. We are also testing for other causes of fever. We have taken samples of 80 people who are having fever. No malaria cases have been reported. 4-5 children have died due to dengue and several children are ill," Kumar said.

Kumar added that people were being made aware of Dengue and Malaria and ways to control them.

He requested people to ensure that water does not stagnate anywhere, their surroundings are clean and they wear full-sleeved clothing.

Though the actual cause of fever has not been confirmed by the health department yet, the prevalence of fever over the last few days in the village has caused fear within the residents of the village and some parents have lost their children.

"Doctors are telling that deaths are happening due to Dengue. Even my child passed away at 6 am in morning. He was seven years old. He had a fever from August 27. There are some children here who are ill, some are admitted to the hospital while some have died. There must be 30 cases of Dengue at least. No health workers, teams from the health department have visited here," said Salamuddin, a local resident on Monday.

Another local resident named Khurshid said, "At least 12 have died from dengue. Deaths are being reported since August 25. Most of the deceased are children aged 3-12 years. There are children and some adults in every house of this village who are suffering from illness. No one from the health department visited this village earlier except for a few very recent visits. Everyone in the village is terrified."

Naresh, the sarpanch of the village said, "It is due to contaminated water. Fever cases are being reported for the last 15 days or so. There are no malaria cases though. During testing in government hospitals, some dengue cases have been revealed. There are no healthcare centres in this village. Health teams have come here." -- ANI
09:37   CBI grills Bengal minister in ponzi scam case
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday reached Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Minister Partha Chatterjee's office in Kolkata to question him in connection with the I-Core chit fund scam.

Addressing the media, Chatterjee said that CBI came to his office and wanted to know certain things about the company (I-Core).

"I've assured them that I will share whatever knowledge I have with them," he stated.

Later in the day, speaking on the case, Bharatiya Janata Party leader and MP Raju Bista said that the CBI is an independent body and is not West Bengal police.

"Those who have cheated the West Bengal people of crores of rupees will have to give an account," he stated.

"I feel very surprised and sad that when these people get caught during a CBI or Enforcement Directorate (ED) raid, they term it as politics or revenge. People have been wronged and cheated. An investigation is going on and whoever is guilty will be punished," he added.

Earlier in April, the ED had served a notice to Chatterjee asking him to appear before it in connection with the I-Core ponzi scam.  -- ANI
09:25   India reports 25,404 new Covid cases, 339 deaths
India reports 25,404 new COVID-19 cases, 37,127 recoveries, and 339 deaths in the last 24 hours, as per health ministry.

Total cases: 3,32,89,579
Active cases: 3,62,207
Total recoveries: 3,24,84,159
Death toll: 4,43,213
Total Vaccination: 75,22,38,324 (78,66,950 in last 24 hrs)

IMAGE: People register to receive COVID-19 vaccine dose, at Moti Lal Nehru Medical College, in Prayagraj, on Monday, September 13, 2021. Photograph: PTI Photo
08:37   US to reassess ties with Pak: Secy of State
The United States is going to be looking at its ties with Pakistan in the coming weeks to formulate the role America wants Islamabad to play in the future of Afghanistan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed Congress.

During his first testimony in Congress after the Taliban seized control of Kabul, Secretary of State Blinken noted that Pakistan has 'harboured' members of the Taliban including the terrorists from the proscribed Haqqani network.

Asked by lawmakers if it is time for Washington, DC to reassess its relationship with Pakistan, Blinken said: "We are going to be looking at in the days and weeks ahead, the role that Pakistan has played over the last 20 years, but also the role that we would want to see it playing in the coming years."

Blinken made the remarks during his first testimony before Congress since the Taliban took control of Kabul.

The top US diplomat laid out the Biden administration's posture toward the Taliban in remarks to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

When asked about how the US sees Pakistan's involvement in Afghanistan, Blinken said Pakistan has a 'multiplicity of interests', including some that are in 'clear conflict' with that of the United States.

He added that India's involvement in Afghanistan has influenced some 'detrimental' actions by Pakistan.Pakistan has been accused of providing overt and covert support to the Taliban.

Early this month, former Afghan vice president Amrullah Saleh asserted that the Taliban are being micromanaged by Pakistan notorious intelligence agency -- the Inter-Services Intelligence, adding that Islamabad is in charge of the war-ravaged country effectively as a colonial power.

During the testimony, US lawmaker Bill Keating reminded Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's remarks after the Taliban seized control that 'Afghanistan had broken the shackles of slavery'.

He said that Pakistan's ISI had such strong ties in cooperation with the Haqqani Network, 'responsible for so many things including the deaths of some of our soldiers, and even recently when the Taliban took over in the last month'.

"Prime Minister Khan claimed Afghanistan had broken the shackles of slavery. So we used to always hear diplomatically that we have a complicated relationship with Pakistan. I would say it's often duplicitous," he said.

Keating asked Blinken: "How do we reassess that relationship how we, how we learn from their actions? And when we go forward. What do we do, what are some of the big issues that we should have stakes in the ground that we should have in dealing with Pakistan and the way they've acted over these decades?"

To which, Blinken said Pakistan is involved in 'hedging its bets constantly' about the future of Afghanistan.

"It's one that's involved harbouring members of the Taliban, including the Haqqanis. It's one that's also involved at different points, cooperation with us on counterterrorism, and so there are a number of things that have come into play it. It has a multiplicity of interests, some that are in conflict, clear conflict with ours," he said.

"When it comes to Afghanistan, it's focused, of course as well, on India and the role that India is playing in Afghanistan, and it looks at it through that prism as well. All of these things, I think, have influenced what it has done on many occasions detrimental to our interests. On other occasions in support of those interests," he added.   -- ANI
00:06   UK's CMO allows Covid vaccines for children
Children aged 12 to 15 should be offered a COVID vaccine, the UK's chief medical officers (CMOs) have decided on Monday.

The medical officers said their recommendation to the government was made after considering "what effect this will have on transmission in schools and effects on education".

"It's a useful tool to reduce the disruption," they said.

According to the decision, healthy children should be offered a single dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the rollout should begin "as soon as possible".

The move means around 3 million children could be eligible for the jab, which is expected to be given through schools.

It follows the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) decision against such a rollout purely on health grounds, leaving the final call in the hands of the CMOs after considering wider implications.

The CMOs note in their letter to UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid: Overall however the view of the UK CMOs is that the additional likely benefits of reducing educational disruption, and the consequent reduction in public health harm from educational disruption, on balance provide sufficient extra advantage in addition to the marginal advantage at an individual level identified by the JCVI to recommend in favour of vaccinating this group.

"They therefore recommend on public health grounds that ministers extend the offer of universal vaccination with a first dose of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to all children and young people aged 12 to 15 not already covered by existing JCVI advice."

If government ministers accept this advice, the CMOs say they would want the JCVI to give a further view on whether, and what, second doses to give to children and young people aged 12 to 15 once more data on second doses in this age group has accrued internationally.

The CMOs said the UK has benefited from having data from the US, Canada and Israel, which have already offered vaccines universally to children and young people aged 12 to 15.

It will now be up to the government in the four devolved UK nations -- England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland -- to decide whether to accept the recommendation of the four CMOs. If they agree, children will be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.

The vaccine is likely to be given in schools and parents will be asked to give consent.

The CMOs said, "on balance", the benefits in reducing disruption and the harm it caused, including to mental health, provided "sufficient extra advantage" to warrant extending vaccination to healthy children in this age group.

Their recommendation that only one dose be given for now is related to the very rare risk of a condition called myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle. The risk is tiny after one vaccine dose and slightly higher after two, with 12 to 34 cases seen for every one million second doses.