Wed, 29 September 2021
Cong slams Shah for meeting Amarinder

Timeline  Refresh

23:22   Cong slams Shah for meeting Amarinder
Soon after former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh met Home Minister Amit Shah, the Congress hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party leader, alleging his residence has become the 'new centre of anti-Dalit politics'.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged that the arrogance of those sitting in power has been hurt ever since a Dalit has been made the chief minister of Punjab.

'The arrogance of the those sitting in power has been hurt. Because if a Dalit is made the chief minister, they ask who is taking the decisions in the Congress,' he asked.

His remark came after Kapil Sibal, a leader of the G-23 dissident group, said there is no elected president in the party and wondered who was making the decisions.

'The centre of anti-Dalit politics is nowhere else but Amit Shah's residence,' Surjewala alleged, though he did not mention the Shah-Amarinder Singh meeting.

'Amit Shah ji and Modi ji are burning in the fire of vengeance from Punjab. They want to take revenge on Punjab as they have so far failed to serve the interests of their capitalist friends with the black anti-farmer laws. BJP's anti-farmer conspiracy will not succeed,' he said in a tweet in Hindi, using the hashtag 'NoFarmersNoFood'.

The Congress had hand-picked Charanjit Singh Channi, a member of the scheduled caste community, as the chief minister of Punjab after Amarinder Singh resigned from the post alleging that he has been humiliated following an open revolt by the faction led by Navjot Singh Sidhu.

After meeting Shah, Amarinder Singh said he discussed the prolonged farmers stir with him.

However, the politically significant meeting raised speculation over Singh's future plans ahead of the polls in Punjab with some political analysts viewing it as an indication that he may be seeking the support of the BJP. - PTI
22:48   Mumbai schools to reopen for classes 8 to 12
Schools in Mumbai will reopen for classes 8 to 12 with effect from October 4, in adherence with the COVID-19 Standard Procedure Protocols (SOP) issued by the Maharashtra government, informed Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation Commissioner on Wednesday.

The decision regarding the reopening of schools for the rest of the classes would be taken in November, added BMC.

"We are reopening schools of class 8th to 12 in Mumbai with effect from 4th Oct and for the rest of the classes we will make a decision in November, all the SoPs issued by the government will be implemented, " BMC Commissioner Iqbal Chahal told ANI.

A few days back, Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar hinted at the reopening of schools for classes eight to twelve in the state.

Regarding the reopening of schools, Pednekar on Friday said that the state government is planning to provide vaccinations to students below the age of 18.

Earlier on Friday, Maharashtra Minister for School Education Varsha Gaikwad said that the schools in Maharashtra will reopen from October 4.

"Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has approved this, the task force and health department have also approved the decision of reopening schools in the state," added Gaikwad.   -- ANI
21:55   Punjab govt waives off some pending power bills
The Punjab government on Wednesday announced to waive power bills of those having electricity connection of up to 2 kW, a move that will put a burden of Rs 1,200 crore on the state exchequer.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the state Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi in Chandigarh.

The Punjab cabinet also decided that disconnected electricity connections of consumers who could not pay their bills will also be restored without any penalty.

Addressing the media, Channi said, "We today decided that consumers having up to 2 kw load, who constitute 80 per cent of total consumers, their arrears will be waived and the government will bear this."

He said after touring villages and towns, he came to know that the biggest grievance of people was related to power bills.

He said power connections of many people have been snapped as they could not pay bills.

There are between 55,000 and one lakh consumers whose power connections were cut because of non-payment of bills.

"We discussed this issue in detail in our Cabinet meeting," he said.

He said there are a total 72 lakh consumers in the state.

There are 53 lakh consumers who have up to 2 kW load in the state, the CM said.

Their arrears till their last bill will be waived, he said.

The arrears may be of months or years that will be borne by the state government, he said in a reply to a question.

He said the government will pay arrears of the consumers to the power utility PSPCL.

Channi said it will put a financial burden of Rs 1,200 crore on the state exchequer.

He further said his government will come down heavily on the sand mafia.

"We are working round the clock on this. It is an old nexus, which has to be broken. We will come out with a policy soon in this regard," he said.  -- PTI
Representative image only
Representative image only
21:42   Dalit students made to queue up separately, principal booked
An first information report (FIR) was registered against the principal of a government school in Amethi on Wednesday for allegedly forming a separate queue of Dalit children while serving them midday meal.

The FIR was registered against Kusum Soni, Principal of primary school in Gaderi in Sangrampur area, under relevant sections of the SC/ST Atrocities Prevention Act after the matter was reported to District Magistrate (DM) Arun Kumar.

When the matter came to his knowledge, he ordered a probe by Basic Siksha Adhikari (BSA), who suspended the principal.

The DM had received a complaint against Soni for discriminating against kids on the basis of their caste during mealtime by making them stand in separate queues.

A detailed probe is on in the matter.  -- PTI
21:01   Cong workers protest outside Sibal's house
Hours after he raised questions over the functioning of the Congress, senior party leader Kapil Sibal on Wednesday came under attacks from several quarters with party workers also protesting outside his house in New Delhi.

In the wake of several Congress leaders quitting the party and its Punjab unit in turmoil, Sibal demanded that an immediate meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) be convened and wondered who in the party was taking decisions in the absence of a full-time president.

Sibal, a member of the 'Group of 23' which last year had written to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, said at a press conference that the grouping is 'not a Jee Huzur 23' and will continue to put forth the views and will continue to repeat the demands.

Carrying 'Get Well Soon' placards and raising slogans against Sibal, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) workers protested outside his house, saying they were 'hurt' by his remarks.

"The workers went there on their own accord as they felt hurt by Sibal's remarks. They just expressed their disappointment over the remarks," a senior DPCC functionary said on condition of anonymity.

Several leaders hit out at Sibal for what they said was questioning the leadership from which he had earlier 'benefitted'.

Youth Congress chief Srinivas B V said on Twitter, 'Listen 'Ji-Huzoor' :- The 'President' and 'Leadership' of the party are the same, who always ensured your entry in Parliament, made you a 'minister' during the good times of the party, when in opposition, ensured your entry into Rajya Sabha, always rewarded with responsibilities in good and bad times. And when the 'time' came for struggle, then...'

Congress general secretary Ajay Maken and Chhattisgarh minister T S Singhdeo also hit out at Sibal for his remarks.   -- PTI
20:08   Gulab to intensify into another cyclone: IMD
The remnants of Cyclone Gulab are likely to enter the Arabian Sea on September 30 and intensify into a cyclonic storm a day later and then move towards Pakistan, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Wednesday.

Many areas in Gujarat are likely to receive rainfall due to the remnants of Cyclone Gulab.

The IMD said a low pressure area -- a remnant of Cyclone Gulab -- was formed over south Gujarat region and adjoining Gulf of Khambhat on Wednesday morning.

'It is very likely to move west-northwestwards, emerge into northeast Arabian Sea and intensify into a depression by tomorrow (September 30).   

'Then it is very likely to move further west-northwestwards and intensify into a cyclonic storm during the subsequent 24 hours (October 1).

'Thereafter, it is likely to continue to move west-northwestwards towards Pakistan Makran coasts, moving away from the Indian coast,' the IMD said.

The IMD said light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at a few places and extremely heavy falls at isolated places are very likely over Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat.

Heavy to very heavy and extremely heavy falls at isolated places are likely over Gujarat region, Daman, Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and heavy to very heavy falls at isolated places over north Konkan.

Light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at isolated places are very likely over Saurashtra and Kutch and heavy falls at isolated places over Gujarat region and north Konkan, the IMD added.   -- PTI
19:48   Cong needs to shed 'armchair politics': Abhishek Banerjee
Trinamool Congress general secretary Abhishek Banerjee on Wednesday advised the Congress to hit the streets against the Bharatiya Janata Party, instead of indulging in 'armchair politics'.

The advice comes days after the young TMC Turk criticised the Congress for allegedly failing to put up a credible fight against the saffron camp. If the Congress cannot fight the Bharatiya Janata Party, the TMC will do it and defeat the saffron party, Banerjee said.

"The Congress has to leave its armchair politics and social media politics and hit the streets," he said.

The bonhomie between the Congress and the TMC was strained recently after the latter's mouthpiece 'Jago Bangla' claimed that party supremo Mamata Banerjee, and not Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, has emerged as the face of the opposition against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.   -- PTI
19:25   Sachin Waze's plea for house custody rejected
A court in  Mumbai on Wednesday rejected former police officer Sachin Waze's request that he be put under house custody instead of being sent back to jail following a heart surgery.

Waze, the prime accused in the case of an SUV with explosives found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's residence 'Antilia' and the subsequent murder of businessman Mansukh Hiran, recently underwent open heart surgery at a city hospital.

Last week his lawyer had applied to the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court that Waze be allowed to recover at home.

But the NIA opposed the plea, saying he might abscond if put under house custody.

Judge A T Wankhede rejected Waze's plea on Wednesday.

He will now be shifted to the Taloja jail hospital, prosecution sources said.

The court has allowed him home food and also directed that he should be taken to the government-run J J hospital for a check-up when needed.

Waze and nine other accused in the case are currently in judicial custody. -- PTI
18:54   Amarinder at Amit Shah's residence in Delhi
Former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh reached the residence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on Wednesday amid a fresh crisis in the ruling Congress in the state.

Amarinder Singh, who stepped down as chief minister earlier this month, had reached Delhi on Tuesday.

The Congress leader had told reporters on his arrival in the national capital that he had come to Delhi to vacate Kapurthala House.

He had also said that he was not going to meet any political leader.

"I am here to vacate Kapurthala House (the official residence of Punjab Chief Minister in New Delhi). I am not going to meet any politician here," he had told reporters.

Singh's visit to Delhi has coincided with Congress in Punjab reeling under fresh crisis following resignation of Punjab Congress Committee chief Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday.   -- ANI
18:32   Nipah antibodies detected in two varieties of bats: Kerala Health Minister
Kerala Health Minister Veena George on Wednesday said antibodies against Nipah virus were found in the samples of two varieties of bats by National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune, giving credence to the speculation that bats were the spreaders of the deadly infection.

The minister, speaking to reporters, said NIV Pune had collected samples of various varieties of bats from Kozhikode, where a single instance of Nipah infection was reported this year with the 12-year-old patient succumbing to the virus on September 5.

She said tests of two varieties of the mammal indicated the presence of IgG antibodies against Nipah.

The remaining samples were also being tested by the lab and its results would be available soon, the minister added.

The health department was on high alert since September 4 when the 12-year-old boy was found infected with the Nipah virus.

The three-km-radius from his house was cordoned off and house-to-house surveillance was conducted and samples were tested.

The first Nipah virus disease outbreak in South India was reported from Kozhikode district in Kerala on May 19, 2018 and there were 17 deaths and 18 confirmed cases as of June 1, 2018.

The outbreak was contained and declared over by June 10, 2018.

Thereafter, in June 2019, a new case of Nipah was reported from Kochi and the sole patient was a 23-year-old student, who later recovered.

With this year's reporting of a case, it is the fifth time the virus has been detected in India and the third in Kerala.   -- PTI
18:02   75% Covid patients were overcharged by hospitals: Survey
As many as 75 per cent of COVID-19 patients were overcharged by private hospitals, a survey carried out in Maharashtra has found.

Nearly half of these patients died during treatment, said Dr Abahy Shukla of the Jan Aarogya Abhiyan, an umbrella group of activists working in the healthcare sector.

"We surveyed the cases of 2,579 patients, spoke to their relatives and audited the hospital bills. Ninety-five per cent of them were admitted to private hospitals," he said.

"We found that 75 per cent were overcharged. On average, the amount that was overcharged ranged between Rs 10,000 to Rs 1 lakh," said Dr Shukla. Most of these patients were hospitalized during the second wave of the pandemic.

There were at least 220 women among these patients who shelled out between Rs 1 lakh to 2 lakh more than the actual bill, while in 212 cases, the patients or their relatives paid more than Rs two lakh in excess, Dr Shukla claimed.

Though the Maharashtra government had announced that the rates of treatment of COVID-19 at private hospitals will be regulated, the official instructions were not heeded, he said.

Many of these patients or their families faced a financial crisis, were forced to sell off jewelry, borrow from relatives or even take out loans from money lenders to settle the bills, he said.

As many as 1,460 (56 per cent) of the patients or their relatives faced this situation, as per the survey.

Seema Bhagwat, who lost her husband to mucormycosis, a fungal infection which some COVID-19 patients contracted, said he was in hospital for 38 days and they were presented a bill of Rs 16 lakh.

"Still, I paid three EMIs of the bank. There was insurance cover for the bank loan, but because I approached them late, they are denying my claim. How can they expect me to submit my husband's death certificate the day after he died?" she asked.

I am not begging for help. But the hospital bill should be audited and if I have been overcharged, the difference should be refunded to me, she said.

Shakuntala Bhalerao, convenor of the Abhiyan, said what is lacking is a law to regulate hospitals.

A draft of the clinical establishment bill which seeks to create a regulatory mechanism is gathering dust, she added.

"We fought two cases in Pune recently and the hospitals returned Rs 83,000 and Rs 90,000. They even admitted that they had overcharged. But we can not fight each and every such case. There has to be some state mechanism to protect patients," Bhalerao said.

Mukund Dikshit, a senior activist, recounted that a police complaint had to be filed in Nashik because a hospital refused to hand over a patient's body over unpaid bill.

"After intervention by the police and some activists, the body was handed over, but the hospital faced no action," he said.   -- PTI
17:38   Rain, thundershowers in WB ahead of bypolls
It will be a wet day in Bengal tomorrow when the bypolls will take place. 

IMD Kolkata says rain/thundershowers likely to continue over parts Purulia, Bankura, Murshidabad, Nadia, East and West Burdwan, Kolkata, Howrah, Hooghly, North & South 24 Parganas, East & West Medinipur and Jhargram district in the next few hours.  
17:36   Jail, not house arrest, for Sachin Waze
The NIA court has rejected dismissed Mumbai Police officer Sachin Waze's appeal to be kept under house arrest. 

Waze will be shifted to Taloja Jail Hospital. Waze had appealed for house arrest for 3 months for recovery post his heart surgery
17:30   Ghulam Nabi Azad writes to Sonia for CWC meet
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has written a letter to Congress Interim President Sonia Gandhi, asking her to convene an urgent meeting of Congress Working Committee (CWC). 

 Congress leader Kapil Sibal while addressing a press conference in Delhi on the Punjab fiasco mentioned without naming Azad that feelers had been sent to Sonia Gandhi. 

"I believe that one of my senior colleagues has perhaps written or is about to write to Congress president to immediately convene a CWC so that a dialogue can take place as to why we are in this state," Sibal had said. 

Sibal asked, ""Why are people leaving? Maybe we should see whether it is our fault? We have to immediately call a CWC, at least so a dialogue can take place. We won't leave the ideology of the party and go anywhere else. The irony of the Congress is that those who are close to them (leadership) have left and those who they think are not close to them are still there." 
17:09   Mamata BJP's Trojan Horse, must be kept out of oppn platform: Adhir
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was the Trojan Horse of the BJP and should be kept out of all efforts to cobble up an opposition platform ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, senior Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury alleged on Wednesday. 

In an interview to PTI, Chowdhury said Banerjee was an "untrustworthy ally", trying to grow nationally at the cost of the Congress. 

"Mamata Banerjee has always tried to bite the hand that fed her. She should be kept out of the efforts to form opposition unity. She is the Trojan Horse of the BJP, who can never be trusted in the fight against the BJP," he said.

"She is desperately trying to please Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP to protect her family and party leaders from the clutches of the CBI and ED. In return, she is helping the BJP achieve its target of Congress-mukt Bharat (Congress-free India). The TMC is trying to sabotage the opposition unity," claimed Chowdhury, the state president of the Congress.

 He said that TMC has always grown at the cost of Congress. "First, they did it in Bengal, and now they are trying to do it nationally. The TMC is known for backstabbing its allies," he claimed. 

 His comments came as the Trinamool Congress has been inducting Congress leaders to bolster its national presence. Among the heavyweight Congress leaders who joined the TMC are Sushmita Dev and former Goa chief minister Luizinho Faleiro. 

 "Mamata Banerjee is dreaming of becoming the next prime minister of the country, and Congress seems to be their biggest roadblock. As long as the Congress is there, she can never be the leader of the opposition front, and that is why she is trying to tarnish the image of the Congress and undermine its leadership," Chowdhury said.
17:04   G-23 not 'Ji Huzoor-23': Sibal raises questions
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal followed in his colleague Manish Tewari's footsteps raising questions on the Punjab debacle. 

Sibal criticised the functioning of the Congress leadership but stopped short of naming the Gandhis. 

"In Congress, there is no elected president now. We don't know who is taking decisions," he said. "We know and yet we don't know," he added cryptcally.

Speaking to the media in Delhi, he said the presser was on behalf of those Congressmen who wrote a letter in August last year and are waiting for the actions to be taken by the leadership in respect of the election of the office of the president, to CWC and central election committee..

Sibal said, "We (leaders of G-23) are not the ones who will leave the party and go anywhere else. It is ironic. Those who were close to them (party leadership) have left and those whom they don't consider to be close to them are still standing with them.

"We are not "Jee Huzoor 23'. It is very clear. We will keep talking. We will continue to reiterate our demands."

Sibal, one of the 23 party leaders who wrote a letter to Congress president last year, demanding a slew of organizational reforms.

He said the problems in Punjab, a border state, will be an advantage to ISI and Pakistan. "We know the history of Punjab and the rise of extremism there... Congress should ensure that they remain united. I believe that one of my senior colleagues has perhaps written or is about to write to Congress president to immediately convene a CWC so that a dialogue can take place as to why we are in this state."
17:02   Mapped: The big losers in the markets today
HDFC was down 1.96 points. 
HDFC was the top loser
HDFC was the top loser
16:20   HDFC twins weighs down Sensex, drops 254 points
Equity benchmark Sensex dropped 254 points on Wednesday following losses in index majors HDFC twins, Reliance Industries and ICICI Bank.

The 30-share BSE benchmark closed 254.33 points or 0.43 per cent lower at 59,413.27. 

Similarly, the NSE Nifty declined 37.30 points or 0.21 per cent to 17,711.30. 

 HDFC was the top loser in the Sensex pack, shedding nearly 2 per cent, followed by Kotak Bank, Asian Paints, UltraTech Cement, HDFC Bank, HUL and Tech Mahindra. 

 On the other hand, NTPC, PowerGrid, Sun Pharma, SBI and Titan were among the gainers. -- PTI
Mumbai police raise awareness on Covid last year
Mumbai police raise awareness on Covid last year
16:08   Maha govt approves Rs 138 cr aid for kin of police Covid martyrs: RTI
The Maharashtra government has approved a financial assistance of over Rs 138 crore for the families of state police officers and other staff members who died while on COVID-19 duty, the government's response to an RTI query has revealed. 

 Nagpur resident Sanjay Thul had sought details under the Right to Information (RTI) Act about the total number of deaths in the police force due to the coronavirus and assistance provided by the government to the families of the deceased. 

 As per documents obtained by him, 370 Maharashtra police officers/staff members (excluding Mumbai) and 123 of Mumbai police died while on COVID-19 duty till September 14 this year. 

 The Maharashtra government approved a financial assistance of Rs 138.50 crore for the families of such 277 state police officers/staff (excluding Mumbai city) and Rs 53 crore for the kin of 106 Mumbai police officers/staff, as per the response received under the RTI. -- PTI
Pak terrorist Ali Babar Patra
Pak terrorist Ali Babar Patra
16:05   Nabbed LeT terrorist says Pak lied about Kashmir
A Pakistani terrorist captured alive by the Indian Army during a live encounter in Jammu and Kashmir's Uri sector has asked his handlers in the neighbouring country to take him back to his mother. 

"I appeal to the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) area commander, the ISI and the Pakistan Army to take me back to my mother just like they sent me here (India)," Ali Babar Patra, the teenage terrorist from Pakistan, said in a video message released by the Army in Srinagar on Wednesday. 

 Patra was nabbed by the Army during a live encounter in the Uri sector on September 26, when he asked for his life to be spared. 

Another Pakistani infiltrator was killed in the nine-day operation that began on September 18. 

 In the video message, Patra said the Pakistan Army, the ISI and the LeT were spreading lies about the situation in Kashmir. 

 "We were told that the Indian Army is carrying out a bloodbath, but everything is peaceful here. I want to tell my mother that the Indian Army has taken good care of me," he said. 

 He also said the behaviour of the officers and jawans of the Indian Army with the locals who visit the camp where he was lodged was extremely good.

 "I can hear the azaan (call for prayers) on the loudspeakers five times a day. The behaviour of the Indian Army is completely opposite to that of the Pakistan Army. This makes me feel that there is peace in Kashmir," Patra said.
The Taliban has banned women from sports in Afghanistan
The Taliban has banned women from sports in Afghanistan
15:54   No cricket with Af men team till women allowed: Oz
Cricket Australia will formally announce indefinite postponement of the one-off Test against Afghanistan this week after making it clear that it won't engage with the South Asian nation if the ruling Taliban do not lift the ban on the women's game. 

According to the Australian Associated Press, Cricket Tasmania (CT) chief executive Dominic Baker told radio station Triple M that a formal announcement in this regard is expected soon. 

"It will be formally postponed indefinitely this week. It's not acceptable that they don't allow female sport. If they want to play competitive male sport, particularly in the cricket sphere, they're going to have to rethink what they do," said Baker. 

 Taliban has stated that women's cricket will not continue in the country. Baker said Cricket Australia would keep the chances of hosting the Test later, if situation improves in Afghanistan. "We'll give you an opportunity to work on how female cricket becomes a part of your program," he said.
-- PTI
15:19   Tribes in India battle to save their home from Adani
Australian photographer Brian Cassey visits Hasdeo Arand, one of the largest contiguous stretches of dense forest in central India. 

The area is rich in biodiversity, containing many threatened species including elephants, leopards and sloth bears. 

A rash of newly approved mines could further destroy swathes of the Hasdeo Arand forest -- and with it the wildlife local villagers depend on for survival.

15:17   AAP announcement on Punjab polls tomorrow
AAP national convener and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to hold a press conference on Punjab tomorrow. 

Speaking in Mohali, when asked about CM face of his party for the Punjab polls, Kejriwal said, "We will give you such a CM face that all of you will be proud, Punjab will be proud. We're holding a detailed press conference tomorrow.

"The people of Punjab are upset over the Bargari (sacrilege) case. The mastermind of the case, I don't need to say who he's, didn't get any punishment so far. Channi sahab should read Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh's report, he'll find the names. They can be arrested within 24 hours."
14:24   Spoke to Sidhu to iron out issues: Punjab CM
Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi on Navjot Singh Sidhu's resignation: "Whoever is party president, is head of the family. I had called him and told him that the party is supreme... I have spoken to him on phone and told him let's sit, talk it out and resolve the issue." 

Channi also announces ameliorative measures in the state -- payment of electricity bills. The AAP government has promised free electricity if it comes to power in Punjab. 
The Punjab government will pay the bills of 53 lakh families who cannot pay electricity bills. 

"75-80 % of consumers come under the 2 KW category. Their last bill will be taken care of by us. The disconnected electricity connections will be reinstalled.

"I have been regularly going to villages in Punjab and electricity is a major issue. Due to the nonpayment of excessive bills, many houses' meters were disconnected," the CM said. 
Mamata Banerjee is the TMC candidate from Bhabanipur
Mamata Banerjee is the TMC candidate from Bhabanipur
14:01   Heavy security for Bhabanipur bypoll tomorrow
Stringent security arrangements were in place in Bhabanipur with the deployment of 15 companies of central forces ahead of the assembly by-election, a senior police official said on Wednesday. 

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC were also imposed within 200 m of the polling centres where voting will take place on Thursday, he said. 

 Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is the Trinamool Congress candidate in the Bhabanipur by-election in south Kolkata, while the BJP has fielded Priyanka Tibrewal, and CPI(M)'s Srijib Biswas is in the fray. 

 Inside each of the 287 booths at 97 polling centres in Bhabanipur, half-a-section -- three jawans -- of the central forces will be deployed. 

Kolkata Police officers will be in charge of the security outside the booths. "Assembly of five or more persons within the periphery of 200 m of any polling premises will not be allowed. A ban has been imposed on anybody carrying stones, weapons, firecrackers and other explosive materials," the Kolkata Police said in an order. 

 Police pickets were set up at 38 locations across Bhabanipur, the official said. 

 On the day of the polling, 22 sector mobile, nine HRFS (Heavy Radio Flying Squad) teams, 13 quick response teams (QRTs), nine teams each of the static surveillance team, flying squad, and an equal number of striking forces from surrounding police stations will be deployed, he said. 

 Besides, three sub-division striking forces will also be deployed, he added. One additional police commissioner along with four joint police commissioners, 14 deputy commissioners and an equal number of assistant commissioners have been deployed for the Bhabanipur by-election, the official said.
13:48   Mamata as Goddess Durga in Kolkata
Ahead of Durga Puja, artists in Hooghly make huge paintings depicting Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as 'Ma Durga'. "Our 'didi' is effectively fighting COVID. Her 10 hands represent the schemes of state govt," says an artist.
An IAF flight out of Kabul in August
An IAF flight out of Kabul in August
13:10   Taliban writes to DGCA to resume flights to Kabul
Taiban's Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan writes to DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) to resume commercial flights to Afghanistan (Kabul). 

The letter is under review by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. India had stopped all commercial flight operations to Kabul since August 15.

The letter, addressed to Director General of Civil Aviation Arun Kumar, has been written by Alhaj Hameedullah Akhunzada, acting minister, Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority, reports India Today. 

It is dated September 7.

India does not officially recognise the Taliban regime in Afghanistan even though a meeting did take place in Doha on August 31. The Indian Ambassador to Qatar, Deepak Mittal, met Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the head of the Taliban's political office in Doha, upon the latter's request.

The Taliban took over Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US troops on August 30. India last operated an Indian Air Force flight out of Kabul on August 21 to evacuate its citizens. They were flown to Dushanbe and then to Delhi via an Air India flight.
12:54   Indian organisation shares Alternative Nobel with 3 others
An Indian organisation is among four activists and groups which are awarded this year's Right Livelihood Award, known as the 'Alternative Nobel', on Wednesday for empowering communities in areas ranging from child protection to environmental defence. 

The Swedish Right Livelihood Foundation, which awards the prize, said that in the face of the worsening climate crisis, powerful governmental and corporate interests, and even a terrorist threat, the 2021 Laureates prove that solidarity is key to a better future for all. 

 The 2021 Right Livelihood Laureates are leaders in advancing the rights of women and girls, environmental protection and reclaiming Indigenous rights through mobilising communities and empowering grassroots initiatives. 

 "Hailing from Cameroon, Russia, Canada and India, this year's change-makers show that lasting change is built on communities banding together," it said. Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE), an organisation working to protect the environment in India through the creative use of law and legal processes, was among the winners. 

 LIFE works with communities through a grassroots approach. It assists and empowers often vulnerable populations to stand up against powerful interests and have a voice in the decision-making process, while also strengthening institutions and reforming laws. Noticing a lack of judicial access on environmental issues, 

LIFE was founded by lawyers Ritwick Dutta and Rahul Choudhary in 2005. Today, the organisation's attorneys are among India's leading public interest lawyers
12:38   Meeting to placate upset Sidhu begins
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee working president Pawan Goel arrives at Navjot Singh Sidhu's house.

 Navjot Singh Sidhu tweeted a video message this morning, a day after his shock resignation as Punjab Congress Chief. 

"I will fight for truth until my last breath," Sidhu said in an emotional statement in Punjabi.

"My fight is issue-based and I have stood by it for a long time. There can't be any compromise on a pro-Punjab agenda. I can never misguide the high command nor allow it to be misguided," Sidhu said as his move raises questions about the Gandhis' decisions and their misplaced trust in him.
12:18   Kareena's birthday message for Inaaya
Kareena Kapoor Khan pens a beautiful message for her niece Inaaya on her birthday today. 

"Happy birthday to our little princess... Inaaya! Reach for the stars always beautiful girl," Kareen wrote on Instagram.

Inaaya is the daughter of Soha Ali Khan and Kunal Kemmu.
12:15   Fumio Kishida to be Japan PM
Fumio Kishida to become Japan's next prime minister after winning the ruling party leadership election in a runoff vote.
The family in the chopper. Image courtesy: Dhiraj V Deshmukh, Latur MLA
The family in the chopper. Image courtesy: Dhiraj V Deshmukh, Latur MLA
11:46   IAF rescues family stranded in flooded Latur
A day after heavy water discharge from the Manjara dam caused flooding in some places of Maharashtra's Marathwada region, an IAF team on Wednesday rescued three people stranded at an inundated village in Latur with the help of a helicopter, a district administration official said.

 Following heavy rains in Marathwada over the last few days, the NDRF was mobilised and helicopters were deployed to rescue people stuck in some of the flooded places in the region.

 On Wednesday morning, a helicopter of the Indian Air Force (IAF) rescued three people, Nagorao Kisan Tikanare (50), his wife Rukmabai (45) and son Chandrakant (11) from Poharegaon village in Renapur tehsil, where they were stranded in the flood, the official said in a release. 

 After heavy showers over the last few days, rains subsided in Latur on Wednesday. Heavy water discharge from the Manjara dam on Tuesday following heavy rains led to flooding in some villages of Beed, Latur and Osmanabad districts in Marathwada, officials earlier said. 

 On Wednesday, 12 out of the total 18 gates of the dam were closed, which reduced the water discharge from the reservoir.

 In the last two days, at least 13 people died in heavy showers, floods and lightning in parts of Maharashtra with the Marathwada region bearing the major brunt of rain fury, while more than 560 people were rescued after the National Disaster Response Force was mobilised and helicopters were deployed, officials said on Tuesday.
Representational image
Representational image
11:37   The harrowing stories of Rohingya women trafficked to Kashmir
Her baby cradled in her arms, Muskan recalls the winter night when she was duped into traveling more than 2,000 miles to be married to a man 30 years older than her. 

 Muskan can't forget the horror of being held captive in the middle of the freezing winter, locked in a room without a toilet. 

The traffickers wouldn't even let her and the other young trafficked women leave to use the bathroom. Muskan said their male captors beat them when they refused to marry complete strangers, often older men suffering from mental disabilities. Many of the marriages were arranged by families who struggled to find a caretaker for these men, she said.

Read the report here. 
11:31   Can't compromise my ethics: Sidhu's video message
Navjot Singh Sidhu on why he did what he did yesterday. 

Sidhu tweeted a video message this morning, a day after his shock resignation as Punjab Congress Chief. "I will fight for truth until my last breath," Sidhu said in Punjabi.

Sidhu says he has no personal rivalry with anyone.

"17 years of my political career has been for a purpose, to make a difference, to take a stand and to make people's lives better. This is my only religion... 

"I can't compromise with my ethics, moral authority. What I witness is a compromise with issues, agenda in Punjab. I can't disguise high command nor can I let them  be disguised...

"I fought for issues concerning Punjab for a long time... There was a system of tainted leaders, officers, now you cannot repeat the same system again... I will stand by my principles."
11:29   Punjab cabinet meet begins
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi holds a state cabinet meeting in Chandigarh.
10:55   Punjab was completely mishandled: Manish Tewari
Manish Tewari, the Congress MP from Punjab's Anandpur Sahib says Pakistan will gain from the foment in Punjab. 

"As a Punjab MP, I'm extremely distressed about happenings in Punjab. Peace in Punjab was extremely hard-won. 25,000 people, bulk of them Congress men, sacrificied themselves to bring peace back to Punjab after fighting extremism and terrorism between 1980-1995. 

"I have just returned from a regional security conference and I can tell you that the only people who are very happy with what is going on in Punjab is the deep state of Pakistan. They feel that they will get an opportunity to fish in troubled waters.

"There's a higher ideal than power, than ministers holding organisational  positions. That higher ideal is ensuring peace, tranquillity and stability of a border state like Punjab. Under those circumstances what has been playing itself out is extremely unfortunate.

"I would be dishonest if I say that the situation was not completely mishandled.

"Suffice to say, whatever Capt Amrinder had said has come true 
What Punjab needed at this time needed stability and unfortunately those who were in charge of state did not have a clue."
10:38   Punjab CM to hold cabinet meet today
Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi calls the state cabinet meeting at State Secretariat today. 
J Manjunath, Bengaluru Urban Deputy Commissioner
J Manjunath, Bengaluru Urban Deputy Commissioner
10:17   60 students test Covid +ve at boarding school
Sixty students in a boarding school in Bengaluru have tested positive for Covid-19.

J Manjunath, Bengaluru Urban Deputy Commissioner said the incident occurred at the Sri Chaitanya educational institution. 

"On Sunday evening, one student complained of vomitting and diarrhoea. We immediately sprung into action. There were 480 students, all were checked. 60 students tested positive," he said. 

Students have been boarding at the school for the last one month and when they came in nobody had symptoms. 

Out of the 60 students who tested positive, only two are symptomatic. 

"Our team is there, we have tested everyone. We'll conduct a retest on the 7th day. The school has been closed till October 20. There is no cause for worry, this is a proactive measure," Manjunath said.

Out of the 60 students who had tested positive, 14 are from Tamil Nadu and the rest of them are from various parts of the state.
Buses being sanitised in Trichy, TN
Buses being sanitised in Trichy, TN
09:58   Active Covid cases in country lowest in 194 days
India reports 18,870 new Covid-19 cases, 28,178 recoveries, and 378 deaths in the last 24 hours as per the Union Health Ministry.

The daily rise in coronavirus infections remained below 20,000 for the second consecutive day with 18,870 fresh cases recorded in a single day, while the active cases declined to 2,82,520, the lowest in 194 days, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday.

Total cases 3,37,16,451 
Total recoveries 3,29,86,180 
Death toll 4,47,751 
 Active cases 2,82,520 
 Total vaccination 87,66,63,490 (54,13,332 in last 24 hours).

Stay home, get vaccinated, wear a double mask if stepping out and make sure your mask fits snugly above your nose.

Doctors cannot reiterate these golden rules enough. 
File pic
File pic
09:46   Intense rain likely in Mumbai, nearby areas: IMD
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted that intense to very intense spells of rain are expected to occur at isolated places in Mumbai and adjoining areas on Wednesday during the next 3-4 hours.

"Intense to very intense spells of rain very likely to occur at isolated places in the districts of Palghar, Thane, Mumbai, Nasik, Ahmednagar, Nandurbar, Dhule during next 3-4 hours," IMD said. 

"Possibility of thunder/lightning accompanied with gusty winds in some areas. Take precautions while moving out," IMD further said.
09:24   Man given anti-rabies shot instead of Covid vax; doc, nurse suspended
A man was administered an anti-rabies medicine instead of COVID-19 vaccine at a medical centre in Maharashtra's Thane district, following which a doctor and a nurse of the facility were suspended, a civic official said.
Local resident Rajkumar Yadav went to the civic-run medical centre in Kalwa area in Thane on Monday to get a jab against the coronavirus infection.
He stood in a wrong queue and after being vaccinated, he was informed that he was administered the vaccine against rabies, a spokesperson of the Thane Municipal Corporation told reporters on Tuesday.
The man panicked, but he is fine and has no complications, the official said.
He later complained to authorities and based on a preliminary enquiry, a woman doctor, who was in-charge of the medical centre, and a nurse were placed under suspension for the goof-up, the official said.
The medical centre, located in a slum colony of Kalwa, provides vaccination against various diseases to people in the area. -- PTI  
09:09   'It's just not cricket': Sunil Jakhar slams Sidhu
Congress leader Sunil Jakhar on Tuesday hit out at  Navjot Singh Sidhu over his resignation as Punjab unit chief and said "what stands compromised was the faith reposed in him by the Congress leadership".

Sidhu, a cricketer-turned-politician,  caused a surprise with his resignation as Punjab Congress chief on Tuesday.  

"It's just not cricket! What stands compromised in this entire 'episode' is the faith reposed in the (outgoing?) PCC President by the Congress Leadership. No amount of grandstanding can justify this breach of trust placing his benefactors in a peculiar predicament," Jakhar said in a tweet.

Sidhu had replaced Sunil Jhakhar as PCC chief.

A minister and three Congress leaders, considered close to Navjot Singh Sidhu, also stepped down from their posts on Tuesday.

Sidhu was appointed as Punjab Congress chief in  July this year.
08:16   Nothing to worry about: KC Venugopal on Punjab crisis
Amid the ongoing crisis in the party's Punjab unit, Congress general secretary KC Venugopal on Wednesday said the party has nothing to worry about as everything will be all right.

Navjot Singh Sidhu's resignation as state party chief has intensified the crisis in the Punjab Congress, and triggered discussions and deliberations in the party. 

A series of resignations poured in after Sidhu's resignation. 

A minister and three Congress leaders, considered close to Sidhu, stepped down from their posts delivering a big blow to the Congress high command that was hoping to resolve the tussle between Sidhu and Captain Amarinder Singh.

Asked about the situation, Venugopal told ANI, "We have nothing to worry about. Everything will be all right."

Sidhu, a cricketer-turned-politician, caused a surprise with his resignation as Punjab Congress chief on Tuesday.

"The collapse of a man's character stems from the compromise corner, I can never compromise on Punjab's future and the agenda for the welfare of Punjab. Therefore, I hereby resign as the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. Will continue to serve the Congress," Sidhu said in his resignation letter to Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

Meanwhile, the top Congress leadership has not accepted Navjot Singh Sidhu's resignation, is adopting a wait and watch policy and has asked the local party leadership to resolve the matter.
01:03   Taliban to 'temporarily' adopt 1964 Constitution
The Taliban on Tuesday said that they will temporarily adopt the Constitution from the era of Muhammad Zahir Shah which was ratified 57 years ago.

During a meeting with the Chinese ambassador to Kabul, the Taliban's acting justice minister Abdul Hakim Sharaee said that the Constitution will be implemented temporarily during their interim government, according to Khaama Press.

In a statement, he said that the Taliban will implement the Constitution from the era of Muhammad Zahir Shah which was ratified 57 years ago.

It further read that the Constitution will be implemented in a way that does not violate Sharia law and the principles of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

On the threat from Afghanistan, Sharaee said that they want to have good relations with all the countries and added that no threat will be posed to regional countries from the soil of Afghanistan.

The Constitution of King Zahir Shah was also temporarily implemented during the first years of Hamid Karzai, according to Khaama Press.  -- ANI