Tue, 21 September 2021
Af crisis, China to figure in Modi-Biden talks
23:43 Five-time Congress MLA Mainul Haque joins TMC
All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary and former MLA Mainul Haque on Tuesday resigned from the party.
According to sources, he will join Trinamool Congress (TMC) on September 23.
Mainul Haque was a five-time MLA from Farakka in West Bengal's Murshidabad district. He submitted his resignation to AICC president Sonia Gandhi.
Expressing his gratitude to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, he wrote that he is grateful for his appointment as a secretary in AICC. He also thanked them for nominating him as an MLA from Farakka.
Earlier, on September 18, former Union Minister and former BJP MP Babul Supriyo joined TMC. Abhishek Banerjee on Saturday had said it is just the beginning, many more leaders to join the party.
TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh on Saturday had said that more leaders will join the party in the coming days as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is "just a gas balloon with no ideology".
Earlier, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader Supriyo had announced he was leaving politics and will also resign as an MP. He had stated that he would not join any political party and neither have the parties including the Trinamool Congress, CPI(M) or Congress had called him.
Babul Supriyo had resigned in August as minister of state for Environment, Forest and Climate Change. In a Facebook post, he said that there was a difference of opinion between him and the state BJP leaders and that the difference of opinion among senior leaders was "harming the party".
23:25 Af crisis, China to figure in Modi-Biden talks
The Afghan crisis and its implications, China's growing assertiveness, ways to stem radicalism and cross-border terrorism and further expansion of India-US global partnership are expected to be the central focus of the first in-person meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden in Washington on September 24.
The prime minister's other engagements during his September 22-25 visit to the US include his participation at the Quad summit, address at the UN General Assembly, separate bilateral talks with his counterparts from Japan and Australia and a meeting with US Vice President Kamala Harris.
At a media briefing on the prime minister's visit to the US, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the developments in Afghanistan will be extensively discussed in the bilateral talks between Modi and Biden and the Indian side will convey that Washington needs to continue focus on that country.
People familiar with the visit said China's aggressive behaviour, Pakistan's support to various terrorist groups including those operating in Afghanistan and implications of the Afghan crisis on the regional security are expected to figure in the Mod-Biden meeting, Quad summit and almost all other key meetings that the prime minister will have in the US.
In the bilateral talks between Modi and Biden, the Indian side is expected to discuss extensively the future of Afghanistan and ways for the two countries to work together in dealing with various challenges emanating from the Taliban-ruled country including the threat of terrorism, they said.
The Modi-Biden bilateral talks will be followed by the first in-person summit of the Quad which is comprised of India, the US, Japan and Australia.
Shringla said Modi and Biden, in their meeting, are expected to focus on further bolstering bilateral trade and investment ties, strengthening defence and security collaboration and boosting the strategic clean energy partnership.
23:17 Made in Bihar goods to be exported soon to more than 75 countries: Shahnawaz
Bihar industries minister Shahnawaz Hussain on Tuesday said the state will soon export made in Bihar' products to more than 75 countries.
While inaugurating Vanijya Utsav' here, Shahnawaz said Bihar is committed to support the Prime Minister's mission of Local Goes Global' and has developed the framework to develop export hubs in each districts of the State.
"The Directorate of Industries (Bihar) will ensure that products from Bihar are exported to more than 75 Countries," the minister said.
The three-day Vanijya Utsav, is being organised by the Union Commerce ministry as part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' celebrations.
"Bihar has already been manufacturing the best products with international standard and our aim is to take those products to the international markets." he said.
The state Industry Department has approved investment proposals worth 35,019 crore in the last 6 months, he added.
"Bihar has been in the forefront in the tender introduced by the Oil Marketing Companies, to buy ethanol", said Shahnawaz. The minister also inaugurated an exhibition of the products made in different parts of Bihar and interacted with entrepreneurs.
22:56 IMD issues warning for bad weather in Delhi on Wednesday
The meteorological department has issued a warning for bad weather in Delhi on Wednesday with the possibility of waterlogging and disruption of traffic.
It was a warm Tuesday in Delhi with some parts of the national capital witnessing rain in the latter part of the day, leading to waterlogging and traffic snarls in a few areas.
The Safdarjung Observatory recorded 3.6 mm of rainfall till 5.30 pm. Lodhi Road, the Ridge area, Noida and Pitampura recorded 1 mm, 17.6 mm, 2 mm and 7 mm of rainfall respectively between 8.30 am and 5.30 pm.
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the Safdarjung Observatory, which is considered the official marker for the city, has received 1161.1 mm of rainfall this season. It had gauged 1,155.6 mm of rainfall in 1975 and 1190.9 mm in 1964.
The all-time record is 1,420.3 mm rainfall in 1933.
There was a massive traffic jam on Rohtak Road owing to waterlogging on the Mundka underpass. Commuters also experienced traffic snarls in central Delhi and Lutyens' Delhi.
The maximum temperature was recorded at 35.6 degrees Celsius, a notch above the season's average, while the minimum settled at 25.8 degrees Celsius, a degree above normal.
Humidity levels oscillated between 89 per cent and 55 per cent.
The IMD has issued an "orange" alert for Wednesday and a "yellow" alert for Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. For Friday, it has issued a "green" alert.
The IMD uses four colour codes -- "green" means all is well, "yellow" indicates severely bad weather and that the weather could change for the worse, causing disruptions in the day-to-day activities, an "orange" alert is issued as a warning for extremely bad weather with the potential of disruption in commute with road and drain closures and interruption of power supply and "red" is when extremely bad weather conditions are certainly going to disrupt travel and power and pose significant risk to life.
The weatherman has forecast a generally cloudy sky for Wednesday with the possibility of light rain or thundershowers. The maximum and minimum temperatures are likely to settle around 32 and 25 degrees Celsius respectively. The minimum temperature was 26.5 degrees Celsius on Monday, while the maximum was 35.8 degrees Celsius.
22:48 Lightning strikes kill 5 in MPs Morena and Betul districts
Five men were killed and a woman injured in lightning strikes amid heavy rains in Madhya Pradesh's Morena and Betul districts on Tuesday, officials said.
The incidents occurred in Ambah town in Morena district and Bochanwadi village of Betul district, they said.
Three men, one of them a senior citizen, were killed when lightning struck at Porsa Square of Ambah, as heavy rains lashed the region in the afternoon, said Ravindra Singh, the in-charge of Ambah police station.
The deceased, who were stone sellers, were sitting in a hut at the time of the incident, he said, adding that some pigeons were also electrocuted.
The men were taken to the civil hospital in town, where doctors declared them dead, the official said.
Similarly, two men were killed and a woman sustained injuries when lightning struck in Bochanwadi village under Amla block, about 30 km from the district headquarters, an official said.
The trio were struck by lightning amid heavy rains and thunderstorm in the village, Block Medical Officer (BMO) Ashok Narware said.
The two men, aged 39 and 40 years, were rushed to a hospital, where they died during treatment, while the 20-year-old woman is currently undergoing treatment, he said.
22:08 Lookout notice issued for 2 in Kundra porn case
The crime branch of Mumbai Police has issued a lookout notice against two absconding accused in the pornography case allegedly involving businessman Raj Kundra.
The notice was issued against Yash Thakur alias Arvind Srivastava and Pardeep Bakshi on Sunday, a police official said.
Bakshi was allegedly connected directly to Kundra, while Thakur was also wanted in the case, he said.
The charge sheet filed in the case names the duo, the official added.
Kundra, who is accused of producing and distributing porn films, got bail on Monday after spending over two months in prison.
21:35 Scotland Yard charges third Russian spy for UK nerve agent poisoning
In a development expected to further strain UK-Russia relations, Scotland Yard on Tuesday named and charged a third Russian military intelligence officer in the murder conspiracy case involving nerve agent poisonings in the UK town of Salisbury back in March 2018.
The Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism officers said Denis Sergeev -- under the alias Sergey Fedotov -- is wanted in connection with the attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with a Novichok nerve agent, along with two other Russian suspects.
"This marks another significant development in our investigation. Ever since these terrible incidents occurred, we were clear that we would be relentless in our investigation and our pursuit of justice for the victims of the attacks and their families," said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, who has been leading the Counter Terrorism Police investigation into the Salisbury and linked Amesbury attacks three years ago.
"Whilst public attention gradually moved away from what happened in Salisbury and Amesbury, the investigation team has remained absolutely focused, meticulously poring over the evidence and building our case. This has been one of the most complex investigations ever undertaken in Counter Terrorism policing and the skill, professionalism and dedication shown by everyone involved has been remarkable," he said.
21:31 Hindu Sena men held for vandalising Owaisi home
The Delhi Police on Tuesday detained five members of Hindu Sena for allegedly vandalising the official residence of AIMIM chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi here at Ashoka Road.
The incident took place on Tuesday evening.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Deepak Yadav said five people were detained for their alleged involvement in the incident.
20:26 Over 150 media outlets shut down in Af after Taliban takeover
Over 150 media outlets in Afghanistan have shut down their operations in the last one month as they struggled to carry out their day to day functions after the Taliban takeover.
In addition to the economic crisis, the Taliban are restricting the right to information to the journalists, which has hampered the work of scribe organisations, Tolo News reported.
"Previously, we had projects from government and NGOs and ads from various companies, but now our financial situation is not good," Abdul Salam Zahid who is the Head of Afghan-based 'Bost Radio' station informed.
In addition to this, the media also face a lack of professional journalists as many experienced reporters have left the country, Tolo News reported.
"Media's situation is not good, and it has many reasons. One reason is that professional reporters have left the country," another reporter from a renowned media house informed.
"Media are dependent on advertisements but there is no advertisement right now. They will face financial problems in absence of ads," a journalist informed.
Recently, the Taliban-appointed Deputy Minister of information and culture, Zabihullah Mujahid has said, "No restriction has been imposed on the free media in the country."
Meanwhile, Afghanistan's private sector has also warned that the country would plunge into an economic crisis and called on the US to release its frozen assets.
The officials also said that so far, they have lost hundreds of millions of dollars due to the freezing of Afghanistan assets and the disruption in the banking system.
"We call on the United States and the world to solve the issue with the frozen assets because that money belongs to the people of Afghanistan. If you have political issues with the government or some people, you should not take people's money hostage," ACCI acting Director Yunus Mohmand said.
These assets have been freezed by the US after the Taliban's takeover of the country.
Moreover, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank have also stopped loans, and the Financial Action Task Force warned its 39 member nations to block Taliban assets.
20:06 Don't use 'Dalit' word, says Punjab SC panel
Taking note of the use of the word 'Dalit' for new Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi by the media, the state's Schedule Caste Commission on Tuesday ordered against using the word for the members of the SC community.
Commission chairperson Tejinder Kaur said the nomenclature 'Dalit' does not find mention in the Constitution or any statute.
Moreover, the Union Ministry of Social Justice and empowerment, of India has already directed chief secretaries of all the states and Union Territories regarding the same, she said in a statement.
She also referred to a 2018 order of the Madhya Pradesh High court that directed the central and state governments and their functionaries to refrain from using the 'Dalit' word for the members belonging to the SC and ST communities.
The high court had sought to ban the use of the word because the same does not figure anywhere in the Constitution or any statute, she pointed out.
Kaur added that following the high court direction, the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had also directed all the states and Union Territories to use the word "Scheduled Caste" instead of "Dalit" for the persons belonging to Schedule Castes.
Channi was sworn in as the Punjab chief minister on Monday.
19:37 Busy day for Jaishankar, to hold nearly 15 bilateral meetings at UNGA today
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will hold around 15 bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Tuesday including those with Iran, Australia, Egypt and Indonesia.
Jaishankar is in the US as the high-level segment of the UNGA is scheduled to begin on Tuesday (local time) in New York.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave for the US on Wednesday morning where he will address the UNGA session and participate in the Quad leaders' summit.
The theme of this year's general debate is "Building resilience through hope to recover from COVID19, rebuild sustainably, respond to planet's needs, respect people's rights and revitalise UN".
Top leaders from across the world have already started converging in New York for UNGA high-level debate week. The UNGA meeting this year is in a hybrid format but a large number of leaders are expected to arrive in New York.
18:57 Day before US visit, Modi dials French president
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday discussed the recent developments in Afghanistan and shared their concerns about possible spread of terrorism, narcotics, illicit weapons and human trafficking.
During their telephonic conversation, the two leaders reviewed the increasing bilateral collaboration in the Indo-Pacific region, and the important role that the India-France partnership plays in promoting stability and security in the region, a statement released by the Prime Minister's Office here said.
President Macron and Prime Minister Modi agreed to act jointly and with Europe in the Indo-Pacific, to keep the region stable, rules-based and free of any hegemony, French Ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain said on Twitter.
After his conversation with Macron, Modi tweeted, "Spoke with my friend President @EmmanuelMacron on the situation in Afghanistan. We also discussed closer collaboration between India and France in the Indo-Pacific."
"We place great value on our strategic partnership with France, including in the UNSC," Modi said.
The PMO said the two leaders discussed regional issues, including recent developments in Afghanistan.
"In this context, they shared their concerns about possible spread of terrorism, narcotics, illicit weapons and human trafficking, as well as the need to ensure human rights, rights of women and minorities," the statement said.
The leaders agreed to maintain close and regular consultations, in the spirit of the India-France Strategic Partnership, which both countries cherish deeply, it said.
18:34 Taliban bans broadcast of IPL 2021 league in Afghanistan
The Taliban government in Afghanistan has banned the broadcasting of the Indian Premier League (IPL), currently being held in the UAE.
The IPL 2021 season resumed in Dubai on Sunday with a game between Chennai Super Kings and defending champions Mumbai Indians. The ban was placed on the Indian cricket league reportedly due to girls dancing and the presence of female audience and spectators in stadiums.
Fawad Aman, an Afghan journalist who has been working with Tolo News and is a former spokesperson of Afghan defence ministry, took to Twitter and wrote: "Ridiculous: Taliban have banned the broadcasting of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in Afghanistan. Taliban have warned that Afghan media outlets should not broadcast the Indian Cricket League due to girls dancing and the presence of female audience and spectators in stadiums."
Earlier on Monday, Naseeb Khan was appointed as new Chief Executive of Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), days after the removal of Hamid Shinwari from the post. The ACB made the announcement through its Facebook page, Pajhwok News reported.
"We are happy someone who has good understanding of cricket has joined us. He has been appointed as chief executive after consultation with the board," ACB informed.
18:05 SII to supply 20-cr doses of Covishield to govt
The Serum Institute of India has informed the Centre that it will be able to supply around 22 crore doses of Covishield in October as the Union government has announced resuming export of surplus Covid vaccines in the coming fourth quarter under the 'Vaccine Maitri' programme, official sources said.
In a communication to the Centre on Monday, Prakash Kumar Singh, Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at Serum Institute of India (SII), said the firm has enhanced its production capacity of Covishield and it will be able to supply 21.90 crore doses in October to Government of India and private hospitals.
The Pune-based pharmaceutical company has enhanced the manufacturing capacity of Covishield to more than 20 crore doses per month.
"Starting from January 2021, we have supplied 66.33 crore doses of Covishield to MoHFW, Government of India in addition to supply of more than 7.77 crore doses to state governments and private hospitals till 19th September 2021 evening.
"All this has become possible under the dynamic leadership and kind direction of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji, continuous support from team Ministry of Health and GoI, visionary leadership of our CEO, Dr Adar C Poonawalla, along with untiring efforts of Team SIIPL," a source quoted Singh as having communicated.
Singh futher assured that by December 31, keeping with the timeline, the firm will complete the recent supply order of 66 crore doses.
17:44 Vegan foods get a logo
Vegan foods products will soon have a logo launched by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on its packaging.
It is a part of FSSAI's draft rules for vegan food products. For the first time ever, FSSAI has come up with draft rules for such products.
The Government of India has outlined vegan foods and has mentioned the compliance requirement.
Just like logos for vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods, vegan foods will have a logo that will be green in colour and the letter 'V' will help consumers identify a food product as vegan. -- ANI
17:22 Law on population control at right time: UP CM
The state government will bring a law for population control "at the right time", Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said on Tuesday.
The government had in July unveiled a policy aimed at stabilising the population in Uttar Pradesh and reducing maternal and infant deaths in a time-bound manner, with Adityanath terming rising population a "hurdle in development".
"Everything is done at an appropriate time. The media earlier used to question the BJP on when it would announce a date for the Ram temple's construction, but the prime minister (Narendra Modi), despite the COVID-19 pandemic, laid the foundation stone of the temple in Ayodhya on August 5 last year, and all need to be happy now," Adityanath said at a conclave.
"Similarly, Article 370 was also scrapped by the prime minister and Union Home Minister Amit Shah," he said.
At the 'News 24' conclave, when asked about his recent 'abba jaan' remark, the chief minister said, "They (opposition) want the vote of Muslims but are getting irritated with 'abba jaan'."
In Kushinagar, Adityanath, in an apparent attack against the Samajwadi Party had said people who say "abba jaan" used to digest all the ration earlier. On the population law for Uttar Pradesh, the chief minister said, "Everything has a right time and has to be done at the right place."
"When the population law is brought, it will be done with fanfare, in the knowledge of the media as we do not believe in doing anything silently," Adityanath said.
In July, a draft bill on population control was put up on the website of the Uttar Pradesh Law Commission, inviting suggestions from the public till the 19th of the month.
It states that people having more than two children in Uttar Pradesh will be debarred from contesting local bodies polls, applying for government jobs or receiving any kind of subsidy. The draft bill also seeks to prohibit promotions in government jobs for such people, while offering incentives to those limiting their children to two.
16:50 Covishield row: India warns UK of reciprocity
India will take reciprocal measures against UK's "discriminatory" move to recognise AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine but not Covishield, said Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Tuesday.
Speaking at a news conference, Shringla said External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has raised the issue strongly with the new UK foreign secretary.
"Have raised the discriminatory nature of UK vaccine recognition for AstraZeneca but not Covishield. Discussions on, but if they do not satisfy us, we would be well within our rights to take reciprocal action," Shringla said.
"Non-recognition of Covishield is a discriminating policy and impacts Indian citizens travelling to the UK," he added.
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee
16:24 Centre allows IAS, IPS officers to retain gifts received from foreign dignitaries
The Centre has amended over a 50-year-old rule to allow IAS, IPS and IFoS officers to retain gifts received from foreign dignitaries while being members of the Indian delegation, according to an official order.
Existing rules allowed these officers to accept gifts from their near relatives or from personal friends having no official dealings with them, on occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, funerals and religious functions when the making of gifts is in conformity with the prevailing religious and social practice. But they shall make a report to the government if the value of such gift exceeds Rs 25,000, the rules say.
Gifts include free transport, free boarding, free lodging or any other service or pecuniary advantage when provided by a person other than a near relative or personal friend having no official dealings with the officer but does not include a casual meal, casual lift or other social hospitality.
16:19 Rajasthan govt to distribute free sanitary napkins from Nov 19
The Rajasthan government will start an ambitious scheme to provide free sanitary napkins to all women who need them in the state from November 19, the birth anniversary of former PM Indira Gandhi.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has approved a proposal of Rs 200 crore for the Udan scheme.
Under the initiative, free sanitary napkins will be given through schools, colleges and anganwadis in a phased manner, a statement said. Special awareness campaigns focusing on women's health will be run through women self-help groups, social and non-government organisations.
The Department of Women and Child Development will be the nodal agency for the scheme announced by Chief Minister Gehlot in the state budget for the current fiscal. The state government has launched the scheme to make all women of the state aware of personal hygiene and prevent various diseases, the statement said.
16:17 Sensex rebounds 514 pts; Nifty reclaims 17,500-mark
Equity benchmark Sensex rallied 514 points on Tuesday, led by gains in Infosys, Bajaj Finance and ITC amid a supportive trend in global markets.
The 30-share Sensex ended 514.34 points or 0.88 per cent higher at 59,005.27. Similarly, the NSE Nifty surged 165.10 points or 0.95 per cent to 17,562. Bajaj Finance was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, rising around 5 per cent, followed by IndusInd Bank, Tata Steel, ITC, Bajaj Finserv, Tech Mahindra and Infosys.
On the other hand, Maruti, Bajaj Auto, Nestle India, PowerGrid and Axis Bank were among the laggards.
15:53 I-T dept bound to maintain confidentiality of material seized from Newslaundry: HC
The Delhi High Court Tuesday said the Income Tax department is bound by its assurance to maintain confidentiality of the material seized during a survey operation at news portal Newslaundry's premises and to ensure that it is not leaked.
The court, which was hearing a petition by the news portal and its co-founder Abhinandan Sekhri, said the grievances related to a challenge to the survey operation can be agitated by them at a subsequent stage, if required.
Rights and contention of parties are kept open, the bench stated. Counsel for the I-T department assured a bench of Justices Manmohan and Navin Chawla that the material seized by the authorities will be used only in accordance with the law, which may include sharing it with other government agencies, and will not be leaked to third parties. Seized material is in safe custody of the Income Tax department.
Seized material shall not be leaked. It will be illegal to leak such material, said lawyer Ajit Sharma for the department.
The respondent assures and undertakes before the court that the seized material shall not be leaked and the concept of confidentially as enshrined in the Income Tax Act shall be abided. The said undertaking given by the respondent is accepted by the court and respondent is held bound by it, the court recorded.
15:40 Covid's death toll in America has topped the 1918 pandemic
The per-capita cost of COVID-19 is not as great as the 1918 pandemic because there are now more than three times as many people in America. But the total number of Americans who have died of COVID-19 has topped the 670,000 who died in the 1918 flu pandemic. Read more
15:36 QUAD, UNGA meets: Modi to leave for US tomorrow
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave for the United States tomorrow morning and return to India on September 26.
The main elements of the program will be the first in-person meeting with US President Joe Biden, QUAD leaders meet and United Nations General Assembly session, said Foreign Secretary HV Shringla at a press conference.
PM Modi will be accompanied by a high-level delegation including the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
"At their bilateral meeting on September 24, PM Modi and US President Biden will review India-US relations. They are expected to discuss how to bolster trade and investment ties, strengthen defence and security collaborations and boost clean energy partnership among others," said Shringla.
15:07 Need lots of courage to rise back: Shilpa Shetty
Actor Shilpa Shetty Kundra on Tuesday posted a motivational message on bouncing back in life as her husband, businessman Raj Kundra, walked out of a Mumbai jail after getting bail in a pornographic films case.
Taking to Instagram, Shetty posted a picture of herself along with a quote from Chinese philosopher Confucius.
The quote read: 'Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall'.
In the caption, the 46-year-old actor wrote, 'There are always going to be moments that push you to the ground. In times like these, I truly believe that if you fall seven times, make yourself strong enough to be able to stand back up eight times.'
It takes a 'lot of courage, grit, will-power, and strength' to get back up during the 'difficult moments', Shetty added.
'But, these qualities will only make you more resilient and robust in this journey called life. Every time that you rise back up, you will come back with renewed determination and motivation to make even the impossible possible,' she concluded her post.
Kundra, 46, was released from the Arthur Road jail shortly after 11.30 am, a jail official said.
He was granted bail by Chief Metropolitan Magistrate S B Bhajipale on Monday on furnishing a bond of Rs 50,000.
The businessman, who was lodged in Arthur Road Jail in central Mumbai under judicial custody, was arrested on July in the case pertaining to alleged creation of pornographic films and publishing them through some apps. -- PTI
14:39 Sidhu tags along to Punjab Cabinet meet in Delhi
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, his two deputies and state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu took a chartered flight to Delhi on Tuesday to discuss the expansion of the new Cabinet with the party's central leadership, sources said.
The team will meet AICC general secretary Harish Rawat, who is the Punjab affairs in-charge, in Delhi, they said. Sidhu uploaded a photo on Twitter showing him with Channi and Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, one of the two deputy chief ministers, beside a chartered plane. "In line of duty !!" he tweeted.
Channi, Randhawa and the other deputy chief minister, O P Soni, were sworn in on Monday, two days after Amarinder Singh resigned as chief minister of the poll-bound state.
After hectic consultations, the party had picked Channi as the leader of the Congress Legislature Party. Randhawa, a Jat Sikh, and Soni, a Hindu, were apparently chosen to balance the caste equations.
Sources said the cabinet is likely to see the induction of fresh faces after the Delhi meeting, where the probable candidates will be discussed.
There are indications that those who rallied behind Navjot Sidhu in the power tussle with Amarinder Singh will find a place in the new cabinet. The names of Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, Madan Lal Jalalpur, Inderbir Singh Bolaria, Gurkirat Singh Kotli, Pargat Singh and Sangat Singh Gilzian are doing the rounds.
14:11 Adani defends India's Covid handling
Amid talk of his infrastructure conglomerate venturing into the media space, billionaire Gautam Adani on Tuesday said media coverage cannot be biased under the garb of press freedom and criticism should not be at the cost of national dignity.
Addressing the JP Morgan India Investor Summit, the head of the port-to-energy Adani Group defended India's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying in a rush to lay blame and find fault, it was ignored how well a nation with people more than Europe, North America and Oceania handled the crisis.
"Perhaps we could have done some things better and, of course, every life lost is a tragedy. But the sheer size of our population arguably makes the challenge posed by COVID in India greater than in any other major nation," he said.
Stating he wasn't implying that there cannot be any criticism, he said in democracy accountability has to be fixed.
"But in the rush to lay blame and find fault, it is possible that we failed to acknowledge another, more positive side to the story of how we handled and continue to handle the COVID crisis," he said, adding "criticism cannot be at the cost of national dignity. It cannot be at the cost of degrading a nation."
Adani, who a couple of days back hired a senior journalist to head his group's media venture, said media coverage cannot be biased under the garb of press freedom.
"There is always another side of the story which unfortunately was not told," he said.
Adani Group appointed Sanjay Pugalia, who previously worked with BBC radio, Navbharat Times, Zee News, Star News, CNBC and Quint, as the chief executive officer and Editor in Chief. The appointment has triggered speculations of the Adani group's possible launch of a TV and digital media venture. The Group has so far not commented on the speculations.
14:04 Culprit won't be spared: Yogi on seer's death
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya on Tuesday paid their last respects to the chief of Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad, Mahant Narendra Giri, who was found dead at the Baghambari Math in Prayagraj.
"Postmortem would be conducted tomorrow. The culprit will not be spared," CM Adityanath said after paying floral tributes to the mahant.
The chief minister said that a team of senior police officials including ADG Zone, IG Range and DIG Prayagraj was formed to investigate the case.
"Several pieces of evidence have been collected regarding the incident (death of President of Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad, Mahant Narendra Giri). A team of senior police officials incl ADG Zone, IG Range, DIG Prayagraj is investing the case," CM Adityanath said.
Deputy Chief Minister KP Maurya also said that the state government will facilitate the investigation and is even ready for a probe by the CBI.
14:01 Two pilots injured as Army chopper crash lands in Udhampur
Two pilots were injured when an Army helicopter crash-landed in a dense forested area in Jammu and Kashmir's Udhampur district on Tuesday, officials said.
"Today, during a training sortie in Patnitop area, Indian Army's Cheetah helicopter crash- landed in Shiv Garh Dhar area in the district," a Jammu-based defence spokesman said.
He said that two pilots were injured in the incident and they were evacuated to a hospital.
"Further update follows," the spokesman said. The incident reportedly occurred between 10.30 am to 10.45 am, officials said, adding the chopper belonged to the Army Aviation Corps.
13:58 First Biden-Modi bilateral meet will strengthen ties: White House
The maiden bilateral meeting between President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday will further strengthen the US-India strategic ties and allow the leaders to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and how the two countries can work together to fight terrorism, a senior White House official has said.
The first in-person meeting at the White House will also provide added momentum to the Quad grouping, the official said.
Biden will host Modi at the White House for their first bilateral meeting on September 24.
Later on that day, Biden will host the first-ever in-person Quad Leaders' Summit with Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Both Biden and Prime Minister Modi have spoken virtually on multiple occasions after the former, a Democrat, became US president in January.
The last telephone conversation between them took place on April 26.
"The leaders will be focused on strengthening the deep ties between their people and shared democratic values that have underpinned the special bond between the United States and India for more than seven decades," the White House official said.
13:32 What Gautam Adani said on going green
At an address to the JP Morgan India Investor Summit today, Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani said over 75% of the group's planned capital expenditure until 2025 will be in green technology.
The group will triple its renewable power generation capacity over the next four years, from 21% to 63%.
"No other company in the world is building on this scale and by 2030 Adani will be the first Indian company to power all its data centres
with renewable energy," the group chairman said.
13:23 80% jobs for locals: AAP's poll promise to Goa
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said if voted to power in Goa in the 2022 polls, his party will ensure that 80 per cent of jobs, including in the private sector, will be reserved for local people.
He also assured a monthly remuneration of Rs 5,000 to families dependent on the mining and tourism industries till these sectors are normalised.
Speaking to reporters in Mapusa town, Kejriwal further said that at least one unemployed person from each family in Goa would be given a government job and jobless youths will get a monthly allowance of Rs 3,000 till they find jobs.
Assembly elections are due in Goa, currently ruled by the BJP, in February next year.
This is the second visit of Kejriwal to Goa in the last two months.
In his earlier visit in July, the Delhi chief minister had assured free electricity up to 300 units per month to people in Goa if his party forms the government after polls.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Kejriwal said, "80 per cent of jobs, including in the private sector, will be reserved for Goan youths. We will pass a law making it mandatory for private industries to employ 80 per cent of workers from local people."
Kejriwal also tried to woo the people dependent on the mining and tourism sectors, the major recruiters in Goa. While mining came to a standstill after the Supreme Court ban, the COVID-19 induced lockdown has adversely affected the tourism industry.
"Families dependent on the mining and tourism industries will get a monthly remuneration of Rs 5,000 till these sectors are resumed," he said.
In another promise, Kejriwal said a Skills University will be set up in Goa on the lines of Delhi where youth would be skilled and made employment-ready. He said if the AAP comes to power only the deserving people will get jobs in the state government only on merit.
Journalist Nadia Momand
13:16 An Afghan journalist writes...
Nadia Momand, a journalist with Afghanistan's Enikass TV Nangarhar, writes, "Today my Father told me to stop using social media, because he cant afford my internet bills, since it has been more then three months i didn't get my Salary. Also he said no one is here to Listen to your voice instead of spending money on social, i'll buy some food for My Family."
The Taliban has asked Afghan women not to come to work.
Afghans sell blankets at a street
12:33 Rising unemployment force Afghans on to streets
Rising unemployment in Afghanistan has forced many people to drive their own cars as taxis and sell goods on the country's streets.
Akramuddin, who used to work in a military organization says he has not received his salary for seven months and has been living in rented accommodation.
"They did not pay my salary. I am living in a rented house, paying Afs 5,000 as rent and 2,000 for electricity expenses. I do not even earn Afs 10 as income these days," he was cited as saying in TOLOnews .
Mohammad Nasir, a teacher who is only the bread earner for a nine-member family said, "I was spending 10,000 Afs before, but now there is no salary and the prices are very high."
Kabul residents have expressed their concerns about unemployment and called it a tragic situation.
"People have a lot of problems. We ask the current government to pay attention. These people who work on the streets are those without daily food," said Ghulam Nabi, reports TOLOnews.
Around 43,000 people were working as Civil servants in the Afghanistan government, said the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission. -- ANI
Pic: Pradeep Bandekar
12:03 Raj Kundra walks out of jail
Businessman Raj Kundra, 46, has been released from Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai. He was granted bail by a Mumbai court yesterday in connection with pornography case.
Kundra, the husband of Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty, was on Monday granted bail by a magistrate court in Mumbai, two months after his arrest over allegations of creating and distributing porn films.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate SB Bhajipale allowed Kundra's bail application on furnishing a bond of Rs 50,000.
11:57 The amazing story of the Indian student killed by Nazis
Over 20 million people were either killed or imprisoned in the notorious concentration camps of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945 when it was finally conquered by the allied forces.
Among those killed was a Malayali -- Michilotte Madhavan, 28, a student from Mahe who went for his higher studies in France during the Nazi invasion of France.
Madhavan was probably the only Indian who was executed by the Nazi regime during the height of Second World War.
Read more here.
11:41 What Shabana said about Urmila Matondkar
Shabana Azmi (needs no introduction) shares this image from Shekhar Kapur's 1983 hit film Masoom. "I was just sent this still from @shekharkapur's #Masoom. Thats @UrmilaMatondkar on my right.. I had predicted then that she would become a very successful heroine in Hindi films."
The prediction, of course, was true.
11:26 QR codes for fully vaccinated buildings in Mumbai?
State Environment Minister Aditya Thackeray on Monday asked Brihanamumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to design a special logo with a QR Code to identify buildings in Mumbai where all eligible residents have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus.
Thackeray was speaking at a meeting held to review Mumbai's strategy to tackle COVID-19, increase vaccination and control vector-borne diseases in the city.
A statement issued by the minister's office said that the QR Code will be displayed at the entry gates of residential and commercial buildings and offices.
The QR Codes would help in verifying that residents of housing societies and occupants of buildings and offices are fully vaccinated, it said.
During the meeting, the issue of providing second dose due shots to university students and increasing coverage of the second vaccination shot among the working population was also discussed.
In the meeting along with Aaditya Thackeray, Collector Mumbai Suburban, Nidhi Choudhary, Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani and DMCs of Mumbai were present to review and seek inputs for drawing up a strategy to tackle Covid-19, increase vaccination and control vector-borne diseases in Mumbai.
11:02 India's active Covid cases lowest in 184 days
India added 26,115 new cases of coronavirus infection in a single day taking the total tally to 3,35,04,534, while the active cases declined to 3,09,575, the lowest in 184 days, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Tuesday.
The death toll climbed to 4,45,385 with 252 fresh fatalities, according to the data updated at 8 am.
The active cases comprise 0.92 per cent of the total infections, the lowest since March 2020, the ministry said, adding the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 97.75 per cent.
A reduction of 8,606 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours.
As many as 14,13,951 tests were conducted on Monday taking the total cumulative tests conducted so far for detection of COVID-19 in the country to 55,50,35,717.
The daily positivity rate was recorded at 1.85 per cent. It has been less than three per cent for last 22 days.
The weekly positivity rate was recorded at 2.08 per cent. It has been below three per cent for the last 88 days, it said. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 3,27,49,574, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.33 per cent.
The cumulative doses administered in the country so far under the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive has exceeded 81.85 crore with 96.46 lakh doses being given on Monday.
India's COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 2020, 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5 and 50 lakh on September 16. It went past 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, crossed 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20 and surpassed the one-crore mark on December 19.
10:58 Fully vaccinated Indians can travel to US from Nov
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has allowed fully vaccinated flyers from several countries, including India, to enter America from early November.
The US announced that strict protocols will be in place from early November to curb the spread of COVID-19 from international passengers.
According to a senior government official, once the protocol is in place, passengers from several countries, including the UK, India and Brazil and Europe would be allowed to enter the US with proof of vaccination.
10:29 IED detected in J-K, major incident averted
Security forces averted a major incident with the timely detection of an improvised explosive device in high security Gogo area of Budgam district in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said on Tuesday.
The area is close to several sensitive defence and civilian installations, including Srinagar airport, Technical airport, headquarters of Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry of the Army.
The Army and police had launched a cordon and search operation in Gogo area Monday night following information about possible subversive activities there, they said.
According to the officials, the improvised explosive device (IED) was detected during the search operation. A bomb disposal squad was summoned and the device was destroyed -- PTI
10:11 India reports 26,115 new Covid cases, 252 deaths
India reports 26,115 new COVID-19 cases, 252 deaths and 34,469 recoveries in last 24 hrs, says the Union health ministry.
Total Cases: 3,35,04,534
Total Active cases: 3,09,575
Total Recoveries: 3,27,49,574
Total Death toll: 4,45,385
Total vaccination: 81,85,13,827 (96,46,778 in 24 hrs)
IMAGE: A healthcare worker fills a syringe with a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at AIIMS vaccination centre, New Rajkumari Amrit Kaur OPD, in New Delhi on Monday. Photograph: ANI Photo
10:00 Curbs on Indians: EAM speaks to UK counterpart
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar urged for an 'early resolution' of the COVID-19 quarantine issue and discussed the situation in Afghanistan and the developments in the Indo-Pacific during his meeting with the newly appointed British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss.
Jaishankar arrived in New York on Monday to participate in the high-level 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Shortly after his arrival, he held bilateral meetings with Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein and the UK's new foreign secretary.
'Pleased to meet new UK Foreign Secretary @trussliz. Discussed the progress of Roadmap 2030. Appreciated her contribution on the trade side. Exchanged views on developments in Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific. Urged early resolution of quarantine issue in mutual interest,' Jaishankar tweeted.
The meeting in New York between Jaishankar and Truss came the same day as the UK announced new COVID-related travel restrictions that sparked sharp criticism and concerns in India.
According to new rules, Indian travellers who have received both doses of the Covishield vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) will be considered unvaccinated and will have to undergo self-isolation for 10 days.
From October 4, the current 'traffic light system' of red, amber, green countries based on levels of COVID-19 risk will be replaced by one red list of countries.
The scrapping of the amber list, which is what India is currently on, means a reduced PCR test cost burden only for some travellers.
The expanded list of countries whose vaccines are recognised in the UK does not include India.
It means Indians vaccinated with Covishield, the SII-produced Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, would be required to undergo compulsory PCR tests as well as self-isolation.
The UK has said it is engaging with India to explore how it could expand the recognition of the COVID-19 vaccine certification issued by Indian authorities amid criticism of the new British travel rules.
Asked about the concerns in India over the new rules that will come into effect next month, a British High Commission spokesperson in New Delhi has said the UK is engaged with India on the issue and is committed to opening up international travel again 'as soon as is practicable'.
"The UK is committed to opening up international travel again as soon as is practicable and this announcement is a further step to enable people to travel more freely again, in a safe and sustainable way, while protecting public health," the spokesperson said.
"We are engaging with the Government of India to explore how we could expand the UK recognition of vaccine certification to people vaccinated by a relevant public health body in India," the official added. -- PTI
09:28 Centre, NSCN-IM resume peace talks after 2 years
Talks between the Centre and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak Muivah (NSCN-IM) to find out a solution to the vexed Naga issue resumed on Monday, around two years after the deliberations stopped, a leader of the outfit said.
The new interlocutor, AK Mishra, held talks with NSCN-IM chief negotiator Thuingaleng Muivah at Dimapur in Nagaland.
Mishra replaced previous interlocutor R N Ravi who was also the Governor of Nagaland till a few days ago.
We reaffirmed the Framework Agreement in letter and spirit.
That was the basic topic in today's meeting, NSCN-IM leader R Raising told journalists after the closed-door meeting.
No comment was available from the government side on resumption of the peace talks.
The central government and the NSCN-IM signed the Framework Agreement in 2015 in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The framework agreement came after over 80 rounds of negotiations spanning 18 years, with the first breakthrough in 1997 when the ceasefire agreement was sealed after decades of insurgency in Nagaland which started soon after Independence in 1947.
The negotiations between the NSCN-IM and the Centre had stopped following the former's refusal to hold deliberations with Ravi after the October 31, 2019 talks in Dimapur.
After we parted, the government of India invited us to resume the talks.
A directive from the prime minister was sent that Mishra will be the representative of the central government to hold talks with the NSCN, Raising said.
Sources said Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is likely to talk to NSCN-IM leaders on Tuesday.
On this, Raising said, We have never had talks with political leaders.... But we have to talk to political leaders if they are assigned by the central government.
There has been not much progress in the peace talks after the Centre in 2019 rejected the outfit's demand for a separate flag and a constitution for the Nagas.
Raising said an honourable solution to the seven-decades-old problem is not possible without a Naga flag and a constitution.
The success of the peace talks would depend on the sincerity and commitment of both parties, he said.
Meanwhile, sources said Mishra is also likely to meet the Working Committee of Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) which has also signed the Agreed Position with the Centre in November 2017.
The union government has been holding two separate parleys with the Naga negotiators NSCN-IM since 1997 and the PGs comprising seven groups since 2017. -- PTI
IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with NSCN-IM general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah at the signing ceremony of the historic peace accord between the Government of India and the group in New Delhi, in 2015. Photograph: Press Information Bureau of India
Representative image only
08:37 Major combing op in Uri; mobile, internet shut
Mobile telephony and internet services were suspended in the Uri sector of Baramulla on Monday in aid of the Army's ongoing combing operations in the wake of the detection of suspicious movement along the Line of Control (LoC), officials said.
The Army also intensified its combing operation, they said.
The Army had detected the suspicious movement along the LoC in Uri Sector on the night intervening September 18 and 19 following which an operation was launched in the area.
The operation continued for the second day on Monday and it was intensified to track down the infiltrators, the officials said.
They said mobile telephony and internet services were snapped in the sector. -- PTI
00:19 HM authorised me to hold talks with ULFA: Assam CM
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Monday that Union home minister Amit Shah has authorised him to hold preliminary talks with the insurgent group ULFA.
After meeting Shah here tonight, Sarma also said that he is partly involved in the ongoing peace process with the NSCN-IM but was not officially holding any negotiation with the Naga rebel group.
"I have discussed with the home minister on the issue of holding peace talks with the ULFA. He has authorised me to initiate the preliminary talks with the ULFA," he told reporters here.
The chief minister also said that if things move in a proper direction, the central government may get involved in the peace parleys with the ULFA at a later stage.
Asked about his role in the dialogue with the NSCN-IM, Sarma said he was partly involved in it but never officially engaged in the peace talks with the Naga group.
"As convenor of the NEDA, I have sometimes talked to some political parties (in Nagaland) in the past," he said.
Sarma is the convenor of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), the Northeast version of the NDA where major parties of the region are constituents.
The chief minister said he would travel to Nagaland on Tuesday as convenor of the NEDA to assess the political situation of the state after opposition parties too became part of the government.
Referring to the National Register of Citizens (NRC), he said both central and state governments are on the same page in seeking a review of the NRC in Assam.
However, a decision in this regard will be taken only by the Supreme Court as the NRC was prepared under the direct supervision of the apex court.
Replying to another question, Sarma said he has no plans to effect a reshuffle in his ministry as of now.
Sarma assumed charge as Assam chief minister on May 10.