Wed, 19 January 2022
Chinese army abducts boy from Arunachal Pradesh
23:50 Former Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal tests Covid positive
Former Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Wednesday tested positive for COVID-19.
The 94-year-old Shiromani Akali Dal patriarch was admitted to Ludhiana's Dayanand Medical College and Hospital in the afternoon.
DMCH medical superintendent Dr Sandeep Sharma said Badal tested positive for coronavirus.
"He is stable," Sharma said.
Hospital's COVID section in-charge Rajesh Mahajan said the report of Badal's rapid antigen test was positive while the report of the RT-PCR test is yet to come.
He said Badal has been admitted to a private room and all necessary investigations for complete evaluation have been conducted on him.
Badal's son and Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal visited the hospital and enquired about his health through a video call.
"Visited DMCH Ludhiana to enquire about Badal Sahib's health. Spoke to him on video call. Felt good to see him in high spirits by the grace of Guru Sahib. I'm flooded with calls from his well-wishers. He is doing well, thanks to all your prayers," said Sukhbir in a tweet. -- PTI
23:16 CRPF headquarters in Delhi receives hoax bomb threat call
A bomb threat call was reported from the Central Reserve Police Force headquarters in Delhi on Wednesday evening which was later declared a hoax, officials said.
They said the call was made to the fire authorities around 6:30 pm about a 'suspect bomb like object' in the headquarters of the paramilitary force located inside the CGO complex on Lodhi Road in the national capital.
Two fire tenders and some Delhi police teams were rushed to the spot but no bomb or lethal item has been found till now, they said.
Officials said the call has been declared a 'hoax.'
They said the CRPF head office reportedly received a phone call from Telangana, following which paramilitary force officials informed the police control room.
The security apparatus in the national capital is on a high alert in view of the upcoming Republic Day celebrations on January 26.
This comes hours after two unattended bags created a bomb scare in East Delhi's Trilokpuri, but officials said nothing suspicious was found in them except for a laptop and personal belongings. -- PTI
23:11 Chinese army abducts boy from Arunachal Pradesh
China's People's Liberation Army reportedly abducted a 17-year-old boy from inside the Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh's Upper Siang district, said Arunachal Pradesh MP Tapir Gao.
Gao said that another boy escaped from the clutches of the Chinese army and reported about kidnapping to local authorities.
"Informed the ministry of state for home N Pramanik about kidnapping of the boy by China's PLA and urge the government agencies to ensure his early release,' said Gao. -- PTI
22:37 Ahmedabad airport to remain partially closed for 9 hours till May 31
Ahmedabad airport will partially remain shut for at least nine hours till May 31 due to runway re-carpeting work.
"Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport has started scheduled runway re-carpeting work from January 17 to May 31, 2022. Except on public holidays and Sundays, this work will be carried out from 9 am to 6 pm," said the airport authorities.
The work will include runway overlaying, runway strip grading and slope assessment, runway end safety area grading and slope assessment, along with stormwater drain construction and reinstallation of signages in the maneuvering area.
"Runway maintenance closures are mandatory procedures in line with international safety standards to ensure aircraft safety and increase the runway life. Under the guidance of the safety regulator, all relevant stakeholders have been consulted and given ample notice to revise schedules to minimise passenger inconvenience during the period," it added. -- ANI
22:30 5G scare: Air India cancels 14 US flights
Air India cancelled 14 flights on India-US routes from Wednesday onwards due to deployment of 5G internet in North America which could interfere with aircraft's navigation systems.
Meanwhile, Directorate General of Civil Aviation chief Arun Kumar told PTI that the Indian aviation regulator was working 'in close coordination with our carriers to overcome the situation' that has arisen due to 5G internet's deployment in the US.
US aviation regulator Federal Aviation Administration had on January 14 said that "5G interference with the aircraft's radio altimeter could prevent engine and braking systems from transitioning to landing mode, which could prevent an aircraft from stopping on the runway."
Altimeter measures height of the aircraft above the ground.
The band on which altimeter works is close to that on which 5G system works.
Total three carriers -- American Airlines, Delta Airlines and Air India -- currently operate direct flights between India and the US.
American Airlines and Delta Airlines did not respond to PTI's queries regarding this matter. Air India cancelled eight flights and six flights that were scheduled to operate on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. -- PTI
21:58 Republic Day: Red Fort to remain shut for visitors from Jan 22-26
In view of Republic Day, the historic Red Fort will remain closed for people for five days from January 22-26 due to security reasons, police said on Wednesday.
The Delhi Police took to Twitter to inform the citizens.
"In view of Republic Day, the Red Fort shall remain closed for public and general visitors from January 22, 2022 to January 26, 2022, due to security reasons," it tweeted.
There is a three-layered security system in place for the Republic Day celebration and the force is always alert and undertakes anti-terror measures especially ahead of any event of national importance, the Delhi police said.
Citing the recent security breach of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's convoy in Punjab, the Delhi Police officers said that the force is extra vigilant to ensure no such incident happens in the national capital.
The Republic Day celebrations will now begin every year from January 23 instead of January 24 to include the birth anniversary of freedom fighter Subash Chandra Bose. -- PTI
21:31 At 6032 new Covid cases, Mumbai sees a slight dip
Mumbai on Wednesday reported 6,032 new coronavirus positive cases, 117 less as compared to the previous day, and 12 fresh fatalities, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said.
With this, the city's infection tally rose to 10,17,999 and death toll to 16,488, while the recovery count rose to 9,66,985, it said in a bulletin.
The city witnessed a dip in the number of cases, after reporting 6,149 cases on Tuesday.
The daily fatality count, however, climbed to 12 after seven on Tuesday. In the last 24 hours, 60,291 tests were conducted in the city as against the over 47,700 tests on Tuesday.
he positivity rate dipped to 10 per cent from 21.89 per cent.
The overall test count has reached 1,47,78,095, the BMC said. Mumbai has 31,856 active Covid-19 cases, while the case doubling rate is 66 days.
A total of 18,241 patients recovered in the last 24-hours and Mumbai's recovery rate stands at 95 per cent.
Out of the total number of new cases, nearly 84 per cent, means 5,067 cases, are asymptomatic. Only 538 new patients have been hospitalised, while just 103 are on oxygen support, the bulletin added.
It also said that 5,058 of the total 38,109 hospital beds, which is around 13.3 per cent of the total hospital beds, are occupied in the city.
The overall growth rate of Covid-19 cases in Mumbai is 1.03 per cent for the period between January 12 and 18, it said.
As per the bulletin, Mumbai has 54 sealed buildings, but zero containment zones in slums and chawls.
Mumbai had logged 20,971 daily Covid-19 cases on January 7, 2022, the highest since the pandemic broke out in March 2020.
Last year, Mumbai had reported the highest 11,163 daily cases on April 4, while the highest 90 fatalities were witnessed on May 1.
20:58 Britain says goodbye to Covid face mask, curbs
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday announced his government's decision to lift all the additional restrictions imposed to contain the spread of Omicron, including mandatory wearing of face masks anywhere, from next Thursday after analysis showed that the new variant of Covid-19 has now most likely peaked in the country.
This means people in England will no longer be told to work from home where possible and mandatory Covid-19 vaccine certification required for large venues will also come to an end.
The government will also no longer mandate the wearing of face masks anywhere, relying on the judgment of the public instead, while compulsory face masks in school classrooms will be scrapped sooner, from this week itself.
Johnson told the House of Commons that the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) analysis shows that Omicron has now most likely peaked in the country, allowing for a move back to so-called Plan A or minimum Covid restrictions.
Today's latest ONS data show clearly that infection levels are falling in England and while there are some places where cases are likely to continue rising, including in primary schools, our scientists believe it is likely that the Omicron wave has now peaked nationally,' Johnson said.
"So, this morning, the Cabinet concluded that because of the extraordinary booster campaign, together with the way the public have responded to the Plan B measures, we can return to Plan A in England and allow Plan B regulations to expire. As a result, from the start of Thursday next week mandatory certification will end. Organisations can, of course, choose to use the NHS Covid pass voluntarily but we will end the compulsory use of COVID status certification in England, he said.
20:48 UP dy speaker Agarwal quits post, resigns from SP
Uttar Pradesh assembly deputy Speaker Nitin Agarwal, a Samajwadi Party MLA who had been elected to the post with the Bharatiya Janata Party support, on Wednesday quit his post and resigned from the party.
The SP MLA from Hardoi Sadar assembly seat said he has also quit as the MLA and deputy speaker of the House.
"I have sent my resignation from the SP to its national president Akhilesh Yadav. I have also resigned from the assembly membership and the post of its deputy speaker," Nitin Agarwal told reporters in Lucknow.
Agarwal, who was elected as the assembly's deputy speaker with the BJP support, had not formally joined the party and technically was still an SP MLA.
Agarwal, who earlier shared the dais with Union home minister Amit Shah during the BJP's Jan Vishwas rally, is likely to contest the assembly polls from his Hardoi Sadar seat on a BJP ticket.
Political observers say his resignation is a mere formality as he was already supporting the BJP. -- PTI
20:38 Rupee logs first gain in 4 days, up 14 paise against US dollar
The Indian rupee snapped its three-day losing streak to settle 14 paise higher at 74.44 against the US dollar on Wednesday, in line with positive Asian peers against the greenback.
The rupee gain, however, was restricted by a host of factors including weak domestic equities, surging crude oil prices and sustained selling by FIIs in domestic markets.
At the interbank foreign exchange market, the rupee opened lower at 74.70 a dollar, registering a decline of 12 paise from the last close.
During the day, it pared losses and witnessed an intra-day high of 74.32.
The domestic unit finally settled at 74.44 against the American currency, up 14 paise over its last close. -- PTI
20:12 Bihar plans to relax prohibition law
Amid allegations of 'ineffective implementation' of the prohibition law and recent hooch tragedies in Bihar, the state government is planning to amend the legislation to make it less stringent, a senior official said on Wednesday.
A person who is caught drunk for the first time may not be arrested but let off after payment of a fine on the spot, said the official privy to the matter. An amendment bill is likely to be tabled in the next session of the assembly in February.
The government may bring certain changes in the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016.
It is considering introducing a provision of financial penalty to relax the norms.
"People who are caught in a drunken state can be let off after paying a penalty on the spot. However, it will not be applicable to repeat offenders. Failure to pay the penalty will invite simple imprisonment of one month, but repeat offences may invite additional penalty or imprisonment or both," the official said.
A person repeatedly violating the norms of liquor prohibition law would be liable to face a jail term.
The Nitish Kumar government is also considering a proposal to release a vehicle found involved in liquor violation by paying a penalty, said the official on condition of anonymity.
A proposal is also there to increase the number of courts in districts to deal with pending cases related to prohibition.
Additional chief secretary (home) Chaitanya Prasad said, "The issue was discussed during inter-departmental consultations." -- PTI
20:04 Cong, NCP emerge victorious in 3 nagar panchayats in Maha
The Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress on Wednesday emerged victorious in three out of five nagar panchayats, while the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena claimed majority in one local body each in Maharashtra's Jalna district.
Out of 17 seats, the NCP bagged 10 seats, while the Sena retained seven in Ghansawangi nagar panchayat, an official said.
In Tirathpuri, the NCP won 11 seats, Sena got three, BJP two and one seat went to an Independent candidate, he said.
The Ghansawnagi and Tirathpuri nagar panchayats fall in the Ghansawangi assembly segment, which is represented by state health minister Rajesh Tope.
The elections were a test for Tope and his arch-rival the Sena's Hikmat Udhan, who gave him a tough fight in the last assembly election.
The BJP received a jolt in Jafrabad, where the NCP and Congress won seats six each, while the saffron party could only bag one seat and four seats were won by Independent candidates, the official said.
Jafrabad falls in the Bhokardan assembly segment, which is represented by Union minister Raosaheb Danve's son Santosh Danve.
The Sena emerged triumphant in Mantha nagar panchayat, which comes in the bastion of BJP leader Babanrao Lonikar, by winning 12 seats.
The BJP and Congress bagged two seats each and the NCP got only one seat, the official said.
The BJP bagged nine seats in Badnapur nagar panchayat, controlled by party MLA Narayan Kuche, while the NCP got five, Congress one and two seats went to Independents, he said.
The AIMIM and Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi, who had tried their luck in the elections, did not open accounts.
Meanwhile, the Sena has won 11 out of 17 seats in Soyegaon in Maharashtra's Aurangabad district, while the remaining seats were bagged by the BJP. -- PTI
19:29 Former CM Trivendra Rawat not to contest U'khand polls
Former Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat has offered not to contest the upcoming assembly polls in Uttarakhand.
In a letter to Bharatiya Janata Party president JP Nadda, the former chief minister asked him to accept his request for not contesting the polls so he could devote all his time towards working to ensure the party's victory.
Trivendra Singh Rawat, who represents the Doiwala constituency in Uttarakhand assembly, said due to the changed political circumstances in the state, he should not contest the polls.
"There has been a change of guard in the state. It has got a young leader in Pushkar Dhami. In the changed political circumstances, I think I should not contest the 2022 assembly polls. I had apprised the party with my feelings earlier," he said.
Trivendra Singh Rawat was replaced as the chief minister by Tirath Singh Rawat in March last year just a few days ahead of completing four years in office.
Dhami succeeded Tirath Singh Rawat, who resigned after nearly four months in office. -- PTI
19:13 Kerala logs 34,199 fresh Covid cases, 134 deaths
COVID-19 infections in Kerala continued to witness a steep rise as the state on Wednesday logged 34,199 fresh positive cases, taking the infection count to 54,41,511.
The state had reported 28,481 cases on Tuesday.
The State health department said the state had tested 91,983 samples in the last 24 hours and there are 1.68 lakh active COVID-19 cases.
On Wednesday, Kerala recorded 134 deaths, taking the toll to 51,160.
Among Wednesday's fatalities, 49 were recorded over the last few days and 85 designated as COVID-19 deaths after receiving appeals based on the new guidelines of the Centre and the directions of the Supreme Court.
"Currently, there are 1,68,383 active COVID-19 cases in the state out of which only 3.2 per cent are admitted to hospitals," the health department said in a release.
Among the districts, Ernakulam reported 5,953 new cases, followed by Thiruvananthapuram with 5,684 and Kozhikode with 3,386.
Of those found infected on Wednesday, 125 reached the state from outside while 33,195 contracted the disease from their contacts.
The source of infection of 596 is yet to be traced.
As many as 283 health workers are also among the infected.
Meanwhile, 8,193 people recovered from the infection on Wednesday, taking the total cured to 52,44,206. -- PTI
18:23 Baghel meets Sonia, Rahul, Priyanka; discusses strategy for UP polls
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel met Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former party chief Rahul Gandhi and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra here on Wednesday, and discussed the strategy for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.
Baghel, who has been appointed as the senior observer for the Uttar Pradesh polls by the Congress, met Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi at the former's 10, Janpath residence, while he called on Rahul Gandhi at his 12, Tughlaq Lane house, sources said.
During the meeting with the top Congress leaders, Baghel apprised them of the feedback he received during his recent Uttar Pradesh tour and also discussed the flagship schemes of Chhattisgarh that could be included in the party manifestoes for the upcoming Assembly polls in five states.
Schemes related to affordable generic medicines and relief to farmers and the Godhan Nyay Yojana have been highly appreciated at the national level, the sources close to the Chhattisgarh chief minister said.
They added that Baghel has also invited the Gandhis to his son's wedding ceremony.
The Congress believes that awareness has increased among people after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the government or the political party that takes better initiatives on this front stands a chance to get more political benefits, the sources said.
Baghel was on a tour of Uttar Pradesh recently, during which he took part in door-to-door campaigning for the Congress. -- PTI
18:01 Gen Bipin Rawat's brother joins BJP in Delhi
Colonel Vijay Rawat (retired), younger brother of the late CDS, General Bipin Rawat, joined the BJP in Delhi on Wednesday.
"I'm grateful to have been given the opportunity to join BJP. My father was with BJP after retiring and now I've gotten a chance. PM Modi's vision and thinking is very wise and futuristic,' Colonel Rawat (retired), said soon after joining the party.
17:32 Refrain from publishing paid news, violating RP Act during polls: PCI
Ahead of the upcoming Assembly polls in five states, the Press Council of India asked the print media on Wednesday to follow the norms of journalistic conduct set by it and refrain from publishing paid news.
It also asked the print media not to publish any news items or other contents in violation of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
The assembly polls are scheduled to be held in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur between February 10 and March 7 and the counting of votes will be taken up on March 10.
"Elections in India are the backbone of our democracy and the responsibility on the media for bringing all related information to the public is heavy," the PCI said in a statement.
"The Press Council of India advises media not to violate section 126 of the RP (Representation of the People) Act, 1951 and Norms of Journalistic Conduct-2020 on paid news," it said in a nine-point advisory to the print media with regard to the coverage of the elections.
In its advisory, the PCI asked the print media to observe all the directions, orders and instructions of the Election Commission (EC), the returning officers and the chief electoral officer, issued from time to time.
"The print media is advised to take note of section 126 of the RP Act, 1951 that prohibits publishing any election matter by means, inter alia, of newspaper or any apparatus, during the period of 48 hours before the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in a constituency," the PCI said, taking note of the EC's advisory issued to the media in this connection on January 14.
An 'election matter,' as defined under section 126 of the RP Act, is any matter intended or calculated to influence or affect the result of an election.
A violation of the aforesaid provisions of the section 126 is punishable with imprisonment up to two years, or with fine or both. -- PTI
17:10 SP-RLD candidate, 59 others booked in UP
An Uttar Pradesh assembly poll candidate and 59 others were booked for alleged breaches of the Election Commission's Model Code of Conduct and coronavirus norms on Wednesday, police said.
Samajwadi Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance candidate from Shamli, Prasann Choudhary, held a public meeting in Kuwana village in the district without taking permission, they said.
A case was registered against 60 people, including Choudhary, under sections 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 and 270 (spread infection of any disease) of the IPC and the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 at Kandhla Police Station, they said.
The Election Commission has banned physical rallies and assembly of people in the state till January 22 due to the spike in coronavirus cases. -- PTI
16:30 Lata Mangeshkar is stable, says spokesperson
Singing legend Lata Mangeshkar, who was admitted in the ICU of a city hospital in Mumbai, is stable, her spokesperson said on Wednesday.
The 92-year-old singer tested positive for coronavirus with mild symptoms and was admitted to the Breach Candy Hospital in south Mumbai on January 9.
"Lata Di is stable. Will come home after the doctors give the nod," Anusha Srinivsan Iyer, the spokesperson for Mangeshkar, said in a statement.
Two days ago, Mangeshkar's condition was reportedly said to be deteriorating and the spokesperson had then dubbed the news as false.
"It is disturbing to see false news being circulated. Please note that Lata didi is stable. Continues to be in ICU under treatment of able doctors. Please pray for her quick return home," Iyer had said.
Known as the Queen of Melody and the Nightingale of India, Mangeshkar started her career at the age of 13 in 1942 and has sung over 30,000 songs in different languages. -- PTI
16:13 Hope Aparna Yadav will strengthen BJP: Yogi
Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath holds forth on the upcoming Assembly polls: "One thing is clear that 'Samajwadi Party is on the back foot' after releasing their first list. Now they are apprehensive over releasing the second list. They have given tickets to criminals...be it Kairana, Bulandshahar (or other regions)... this shows their criminals mentality. They want to bring in 'Maafiavad' in the state once again. We hope that Aparna Yadav will strengthen BJP with her work."
Meanwhile, Aparna Bisht Yadav had this to say about the Bulli Bai app that 'auctioned' Muslim women. This was on January 5, before she joined the BJP, which has remained silent about this outrage. She tweets, "Complete ban should be imposed on such nuisance creators and they should be punished #BulliBaiApp."
If you're late to the party, Aparna Yadav, daughter-in-law of former UP chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party today.
15:59 Talks with Cong for Goa in vain: NCP, Sena
NCP leader Praful Patel on the Goa polls: "We made an offer to Congress to jointly contest Goa polls, but in vain. They neither said yes nor no ... NCP & Shiv Sena will jointly fight Goa polls, not all 40 seats, but a substantial number. First list may be released tomorrow followed by other lists."
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Wednesday announced that Sena will contest polls in alliance with NCP.
Claiming that Sena and NCP will be there in the 'khichdi', he also claimed that talks with its ally Congress did not fructify.
Sena, NCP and Congress are currently uneasy allies in the Maharashtra government. Goa, along with Uttarakhand will go to polls in a single-phase on February 14. Results to be announced on March 10.
15:22 No chief guest for this year's R-Day
This year there will be no foreign head of state or government as the chief guest for the Republic Day event, sources said on Wednesday.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic continuing and the cases rising, this would be the second year in a row when there would be no foreign leader as the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations.
"This year there will not be a Foreign Head of State or Head of Government as the chief guest for our Republic Day event," a source said. There would be no foreign leader as the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations, but a day later Prime Minister Narendra Modi will host the first India-Central Asia Summit in a virtual format on January 27.
The summit will be held with the participation of the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. PTI
15:17 No relaxation on COVID norms in Delhi
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Wednesday said that even though the Covid-19 positivity rate in the national capital has declined from 30 per cent to 22.5 per cent with a decrease in the number of infections as well, the Covid norms in the city will not be relaxed as the positivity rate is still not "low enough".
While addressing media persons, Satyendar Jain said, "The positivity rate has come down from 30 per cent to 22.5 per cent and the total number of cases in Delhi has also decreased. However, the positivity rate is not low enough that we can relax the COVID restrictions."
According to the health minister, Delhi is likely to record 13,000 new Covid-19 cases today with a positivity rate of 24 per cent.
"Today, a positivity rate24 of per cent is likely to be reported along with around 13,000 fresh infections. There is not much occupancy in hospitals and beds are also vacant. We are doing more testing in Delhi," he said.
Meanwhile, Delhi on Tuesday continued to report a dip in the number of daily COVID-19 cases with 11,684 fresh infections.
The positivity rate for the day also declined to 22.47 per cent. As per yesterday's Covid-19 bulletin, there are 78,112 active Covid-19 cases in Delhi, out of which, 63,432 are currently in home isolation.
Sania Mirza with her son Izhaan
14:59 My body is beat: Sania Mirza to retire this year
India's first women's tennis superstar, Sania Mirza on Wednesday announced her retirement plans, confirming that the 2022 season will be her last.
The Indian tennis player has won six Grand Slams and has reached the summit of the WTA doubles ranking. Mirza is also the first Indian to break into the top 30 in the WTA singles ranking.
Mirza announced her retirement plans after her opening-round loss in women's doubles event at the ongoing Australian Open.
The 35-year-old after her match said: "There's a few reasons for it. It's not as simple as 'okay I'm not going to play'. I do feel my recovery is taking longer, I'm putting my 3-year-old son at risk by travelling so much with him, that's something I have to take into account. I think my body is wearing down. My knee was really hurting today and I'm not saying that's the reason we lost but I do think that it is taking time to recover as I'm getting older."
"Also for me to find that motivation every day to come out. The energy is not the same anymore. There are more days than there used to be where I don't feel like doing that. I've always said that I will play until I enjoy that grind, the process which I'm not sure I'm enjoying as much any more."
"Having said that, I still want to play the season because I'm enjoying it enough to play the year. I've worked very hard to come back, get fit, lose the weight and try to set a good example for mothers, new mothers to follow their dreams as much as they can. Beyond this season, I don't feel my body doing it. It's beat," Mirza added.
14:53 Should politics be rusticated from campuses?
College is where the manicured view of the world provided by one's family, encounters new trends.
It is the dawn of exploration.
Wishing for a sanitised bubble on campus appears hypocritical.
The correct strategy, one would assume, is to weed out the violence while retaining the right to political debate, argues Shyam G Menon.
Read the column here
14:47 Mulayam told Aparna not to join BJP: Akhilesh
Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav tried hard to dissuade his daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav from joining the BJP, party chief Akhilesh Yadav said on Wednesday and expressed happiness that the SP's socialist ideology is expanding.
Akhilesh Yadav also said he would take a decision on contesting the assembly elections after consulting the people of Azamgarh who had sent him to the Lok Sabha.
"First of all I would like to congratulate and extend best wishes. I am also happy that our socialist ideology is expanding. I hope that our ideology will reach there and work to save the constitution and democracy," the SP president told reporters in his first response on Aparna Yadav joining the BJP.
"Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav) tried very hard to convince her," he said when asked if efforts were made to stop Aparna Yadav from joining the ruling party.
Aparna Yadav is married to Prateek Yadav, the son of Mulayam Singh Yadav's second wife, while Akhilesh Yadav is his son from the first marriage.
She joined the BJP in the presence of Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya and its state chief Swatantra Dev Singh.
Expressing her admiration for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she said the nation's interest has always been a priority for her and praised several schemes of the BJP government for cleanliness, woman empowerment and employment. PTI
14:41 SC reserves order on Maha BJP MLAs suspension
The Supreme Court Wednesday reserved order on the pleas filed by 12 Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs who challenged their one-year suspension from Maharashtra Legislative Assembly for allegedly misbehaving with the presiding officer.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar asked the parties to file their written submissions within a week.
At the outset, senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for one of the MLAs, submitted that prolonged suspension is worse than expulsion as the rights of the constituents are affected.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the other MLAs, said the decision for one year suspension was grossly irrational.
The apex court had on Tuesday said suspension from Legislative Assembly for one year should be linked with some purpose and there has to be an 'overpowering' reason that the member should not be allowed to even attend the next session.
The 12 BJP MLAs have filed petitions challenging the resolution passed by the Assembly to suspend them for one year.
They were suspended on July 5 last year from the Assembly after the state government had accused them of 'misbehaving' with presiding officer Bhaskar Jadhav in the Speaker's chamber.
The 12 suspended members are Sanjay Kute, Ashish Shelar, Abhimanyu Pawar, Girish Mahajan, Atul Bhatkhalkar, Parag Alavani, Harish Pimpale, Yogesh Sagar, Jay Kumar Rawat, Narayan Kuche, Ram Satpute and Bunty Bhangdia.
The motion to suspend these MLAs was moved by state Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anil Parab and passed by a voice vote. -- PTI
14:33 Allu Arjun's 'Pushpa' dialogue becomes Covid meme for I&B ministry
The ministry of information and broadcasting on Wednesday shared a cheeky meme modelled on superstar Allu Arjun's Telugu blockbuster Pushpa: The Rise to reiterate Covid-19 appropriate behaviour.
The picture, posted by the ministry's Twitter page '@COVIDNewsByMIB', which shares updates on Covid-19, featured Arjun's titular character wearing a photoshopped mask in a still from the movie.
To fit the context of the meme, the popular dialogue of the film, 'Pushpa, Pushpa Raj... Main jhukega nahi (I am Pushpa, Pushpa Raj... I won't back down)' was changed to, 'Delta ho ya Omicron, main mask utaarega nahi (whether it is the Delta variant or Omicron, I won't remove the mask'.
The tweet further stated that the country's fight against Covid-19 was ongoing and people should continue wearing their masks, sanitise their hands, maintain social distance and get fully vaccinated.
The action thriller opened theatrically in December to a thunderous response and was also released in dubbed versions including Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil and Kannada.
Written and directed by Sukumar, Pushpa: The Rise also features Rashmika Mandanna and Malayalam star Fahadh Faasil in his Telugu debut.
13:49 Here's BJP's list of 30 star campaigners for UP
BJP releases a list of 30 leaders who will campaign for the party's candidates in the first phase of the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Election. These include, and no surprises here, PM Modi, party chief JP Nadda, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, HM Amit Shah, CM Yogi Adityanath, MP Hema Malini among others.
Amid the ongoing ban on physical rallies and roadshows in the five poll-bound states in view of a surge in Covid-19 cases, the BJP is going to hold rallies in these states in a hybrid mode which is expected to be joined by more and more people through different social media platforms, informed party sources.
A healthworker with a swab sample
13:40 OmiSure: Odisha begins trials on Omicron test kit
The Odisha government has received 30,000 'OmiSure' RT-PCR test kits for early detection of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, a senior health department official said.
Odisha's Director of Health Services Bijay Mohapatra said: "The trial run of the Omisure kits are in progress. It will be first used for internal study and the kits will then be dispatched to districts reporting a higher number of cases," he said.
Official sources said the state has received 30,000 'OmiSure' kits in the first phase out of its order of 5 lakh such kits.
He said the kits will first be used in four cities - Berhampur, Cuttack, Rourkela and Bhubaneswar. Odisha was the first state in the country to place an order for 'Omisure' kits after
Tata Medical and Diagnostics Ltd (TATA MD) in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) developed it, the official said.
The 'OmiSure' kits can detect the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV2 in nasopharyngeal/oropharyngeal specimens during the RT-PCR tests. Odisha has so far detected 202 Omicron cases after the detection of the first two cases on December 21. The kits will be used in districts recording high positivity rates in the state. -- ANI
13:32 Neglecting cultural czar Munshis efforts
A massive effort of rewriting Indian history from our traditional perspective was done between 1951 and 2003. This was by the doyen of cultural renaissance, the late Dr KM Munshi, who was also a noted litterateur, educationist, historian, freedom fighter and close associate of Patel. In 1938, Munshi founded the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, which has done much to spread awareness of our culture.
Read the column here.
13:31 India extends ban on international commercial flights till Feb 28
Amid rising concerns over the Omicron variant of COVID-19, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday extended the ban on commercial international passenger flights till February 28.
In a circular issued by DGCA, it said that the competent authority has decided to extend the suspension of Scheduled International commercial passenger services to/from India till 23.59 hrs IST of February 28, 2022.
It further reads this restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA.
However, flights under air bubble arrangement will not be affected.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, international passenger services have been suspended in India since March 23, 2020.
Aparna Yadav with JP Nadda and Yogi Adityanath
13:10 Unsuccessful in his own family: BJP taunts Akhilesh
Even as Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav's daughter-in-law Aparna Yadav joined the BJP, the party added insult to injury, taunting the Yadavs for their well-known infighting.
Aparna Yadav joined the party in the presence of Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya and and its state chief Swatantra Dev Singh. She is married to Prateek Yadav, son of Mulayam Singh Yadav's second wife while SP president Akhilesh Yadav is his son from the first marriage.
Maurya tweeted, "He (Akhilesh) used to claim that his government had started several developmental works. But now he does not have the courage to fight elections from any of these constituencies. I am surprised.
"The former Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav is not successful in his own family. He has also been unsuccessful in being the Chief Minister of the state. He is unsuccessful as a member of parliament too."
12:41 PM may inaugurate China's bridge over Pangong Lake, quips Rahul
Rahul Gandhi tweets on the bridge China is building on the Pangong Lake in Ladakh.
"China is building a strategic bridge in our country.
The PLA's confidence is increasing due to the silence of the PM.
Now, it is feared that the PM will inaugurate this bridge too," Rahul tweeted.
Satellite imagery accessed by geo-intelligence expert Damien Symon indicates that China may be constructing a bridge across Pangong lake in eastern Ladakh.
The bridge, which is being constructed across a part of the lake that falls within Chinese territory, connects both banks of the lake and gives China the ability of quickly move soldiers and heavy weaponry.
Arvind Kejriwal with Amit Palekar
12:22 Lawyer Amit Palekar is AAP's Goa CM face
Lawyer Amit Palekar is AAP's Goa Chief Minister candidate, says Arvind Kejriwal. Palekar will be contesting his first election.
Kejriwal had held a door-to-door campaign on Sunday in Cortalim village of Goa, which is scheduled to go to polls this February.
As a part of the campaign, Kejriwal along with other party members was seen interacting with voters in Cortalim.
Pamphlets were distributed to the voters during the campaign. Goa will go to the assembly polls on February 14. The counting of votes will take place on March 10.
4,87,202 people died of Covid in India
12:11 SC pulls up states on Covid death claim disbursals
The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up state governments for failing to disburse claims to the next of kin of COVID-19 victims, and issued a show cause notice to the Andhra Pradesh chief secretary as to why contempt action be not initiated against him.
The top court asked the chief secretaries of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar government to remain present virtually at 2 pm and explain why the disbursals of ex-gratia amount of Rs 50,000 for COVID-19 death are less in their states.
A bench of Justices MR Shah and Sanjiv Khanna said that it will pass orders at 2 pm and asked the state legal service authorities to reach to the families who have lost their near and dear ones to COVID-19 to facilitate registration and disbursal of claims like it was done during the 2001 Gujarat earthquake.
The top court said that it rejects the COVID-19 death toll given by Bihar, and said that these are not actual figures but government figures.
"We are not going to believe that only 12,000 people died in the state of Bihar due to Covid. We want your chief secretary to be here virtually at 2 pm," the bench told the counsel appearing for the Bihar government.
The top court was hearing a batch of pleas by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal and intervenors represented by advocate Sumeer Sodhi seeking ex-gratia assistance to family members of COVID-19 victims. PTI
11:58 See Sonar Bangla shine and leave behind India
With a per capita income at a whopping $2554, poverty is down; exports are up and GDP is fueled by both agriculture and manufacturing; but the downside is a growing nexus between politics and business.
Read Mani Shankar Aiyar's column here.
11:44 Crime syndicate behind 1993 blasts enjoyed 5-star hospitality in Pak: India
The crime syndicate responsible for the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts was not just given state protection but it also enjoyed five-star hospitality, said India said at United Nations, in a veiled reference to Dawood Ibrahim believed to be hiding in Pakistan.
Speaking at the International Counter Terrorism Conference 2022 organized by the Global Counter Terrorism Council on Tuesday (local time), India's Permanent Representative TS Tirumurti said that linkages between terrorism and transnational organized crime must be fully recognized and addressed vigorously.
"Linkages between terrorism and transnational organized crime must be fully recognized and addressed vigorously. We have seen the crime syndicate responsible for the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts not just given state protection but enjoying 5-star hospitality," Tirumurti said in a statement.
These remarks were a veiled reference Dawood Ibrahim, believed to be hiding in Pakistan.
On March 12, 1993, a series of 13 bomb explosions took place in Mumbai killing 257 people and injuring over 713 others. The attacks were planned by Dawood Ibrahim, underworld don and India's 'most wanted' fugitive.
Tirumurti said that the UN sanctions regimes, including the 1267 Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee, are pivotal to the international efforts in preventing terror-financing, terrorist-travel and access to arms by the terrorist organizations. -- PTI
11:30 499 police personnel in Maha Covid+ve in a day
As many as 499 police personnel were found infected with coronavirus in Maharashtra in the last 24 hours, an official said on Wednesday.
The infected personnel include 95 police officers.
He said 821 police officers and 3,269 police personnel (total 4,090) currently remain admitted at various facilities, including home isolation, in Maharashtra.
The total number of infected police officers in Maharashtra is 5,854 since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020.
A total of 40,959 police personnel, ranging from the rank of the constable to assistant sub-inspector, were found infected in the state, he added.
"Until now, 46 officers and 459 personnel of the Maharashtra police force have succumbed to COVID-19," he said.
In Mumbai, a total of 10,666 police personnel were infected with coronavirus so far, of whom 126 died. Currently, the number of active cases in the Mumbai Police force stands at 1,273. -- PTI
11:28 WEF: Explanations come up on why Narendra Modi stopped speaking
Fact-checking website AltNews concludes that the 'interruption was because of a technical glitch, and not a teleprompter snafu'. Read the report here.
11:18 Air India curtails US operations over 5G issue
After several international airlines curtailed their operations to the United States due to deployment of 5G communications in the US, Air India on Wednesday also suspended four of its flights scheduled to the US.
Air India announced the suspension of flight operations between Delhi Airport and San Francisco, Chicago and John F Kennedy. It will also suspend a Mumbai to Newark flight.
It will continue to fly into Washington DC's Dulles International Airport.
Air India in a tweet said, "Due to deployment of 5G communications in the USA, our operations to the USA from India stand curtailed/revised with change in aircraft type from 19th January 2022. Update in this regard will be informed shortly."
In another tweet, Air India informed, "Due to deployment of the 5G communications in the USA, we will not be able to operate the following flights of 19th Jan'22: AI101/102 DEL/JFK/DEL, AI173/174 DEL/SFO/DEL, AI127/126 DEL/ORD/DEL and AI191/144 BOM/EWR/BOM."
Arvind Kejriwal campaigning in Goa
11:01 Kejriwal to announce AAP's Goa CM face today
Aam Aadmi Party national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will be announcing the party's CM candidate for Goa during a press conference in Panaji on Wednesday at 11 am.
"AAP National Convenor and CM of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal will announce the CM Face of AAP Goa in a Press Conference today at 11 AM from Goa," AAP said in a tweet.
Kejriwal had held door-to-door campaigning on Sunday in Cortalim village of Goa, which is scheduled to go to the polls this February.
As a part of the campaign, Kejriwal along with other party members was seen interacting with voters in Cortalim. Pamphlets were distributed to the voters during the campaign.
10:55 Akhilesh Yadav's sister-in-law joins BJP
Aparna Yadav, former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav's daughter-in-law joins the BJP in the presence of deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya and BJP State president Swatantra Dev Singh.
"I am very thankful to BJP. The nation always comes first for me. I admire PM Modi's work," Aparna Yadav said after joining the party.
According to the sources, Aparna Yadav has sought a ticket from the Lucknow Cantt assembly seat. Aparna is the wife of Mulayam Singh Yadav's younger son Pratik.In 2011, Aparna Yadav married Pratik Yadav.
In 2017 assembly elections, she had contested from Lucknow Cantt but was defeated by BJP's Rita Bahuguna Joshi. She had secured nearly 63,000 votes.
Notably, she also runs and organisation named 'bAware' for the welfare of women. She also runs a shelter for cows in Lucknow.
In the past, she has praised BJP's initiatives in the state and had also donated Rs 11 lakh for the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
Elections to the 403 assembly constituencies in Uttar Pradesh will be held in seven phases starting February 10.
The polling in Uttar Pradesh will be held on February 10, 14, 20, 23, 27, and March 3 and 7 in seven phases. The counting of votes will take place on March 10.
10:46 Reliance Jio topples BSNL as largest fixed line broadband provider
In about two years of commercial roll out of its fixed-line broadband services, Reliance Jio has toppled 20 -year-old state-run telecom company BSNL as top service provider in the segment.
According to a monthly telecom subscribers report released by the telecom regulator Trai on Tuesday, Jio now leads the fixed-line broadband segment with 4.34 million customers.
The segment had been dominated by the state-run telecom since its inception about 20 years ago.
Reliance Jio fixed-line broadband customer base increased to 4.34 million in November from 4.16 million in October.
BSNL's customer base declined to 4.2 million in November from 4.72 million in October. Bharti Airtel fixed line broadband customer base stood at 4.08 million in November.
Jio started commercial roll out of fixed line broadband service, JioFibre, in September 2019. While Jio started from scratch, BSNL had 8.69 million wired broadband customers in September 2019 which reduced to less than half in November 2021.
Bharti Airtel's wired broadband subscriber base has grown by about 70 per cent to 4.08 million in November 2021 from 2.41 million in September 2019 and at a similar growth pace it is expected to overtake BSNL soon.
10:29 158.46 crore Covid vax doses with states
The Union Health Ministry says more than 158.46 crore Covid-19 vaccine doses have been provided to states/UTs. Over 12.84 crore balance and unutilized vaccine doses are still available with States/UTs to be administered.
With 2,82,970 new coronavirus infections being reported in a day, India's total tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 3,79,01,241, which includes 8,961 cases of the Omicron variant, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday.
The active cases have increased to 18,31,000, the highest in 232 days. The active cases stood at 18,95,520 on May 31 last year. The death toll has climbed to 4,87,202 with 441 fresh fatalities, the data updated at 8 am stated. There has been an 0.79 per cent increase in Omicron cases since Tuesday, the ministry said.
Billy Ellish at the 2020 Grammy Awards
10:24 Grammys 2022 will now be held in Las Vegas
The 64th edition of the Grammy Awards will be broadcast live from Las Vegas on April 3, the Recording Academy has announced.
Harvey Mason Jr, CEO of the Recording Academy, shared the update in a statement on Grammy's official website.
The event, which was earlier scheduled to take place in Los Angeles on January 31, will be held from the MGM Grand Garden Arena on the new date. It will be aired on the CBS Television Network and will also be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount Plus.
Trevor Noah, the Emmy Award-winning host of "The Daily Show," will return as master of ceremonies for "music's biggest night".
In early January, the Recording Academy postponed the ceremony in the wake of the surge in Covid-19 cases due to the Omicron variant. This will be the first time Las Vegas will host the Grammys. The Latin Grammy awards have been held in Sin City six times since 2014. -- PTI
10:05 Reliance Jio pays Rs 30,791 cr for all spectrum acquired before Mar 2021
Telecom major Reliance Jio on Wednesday said it has paid Rs 30,791 crore, including accrued interest, to the Department of Telecom to clear entire spectrum payments liabilities that the company acquired before March 2021 auctions.
The payments include liabilities pertaining to the spectrum acquired in 2014, 2015, 2016 auctions and the spectrum acquired in 2021, through trading of right to use with Bharti Airtel Limited, the company said.
The company had acquired 585.3 MHz spectrum through these auctions and trading.
"The company estimates that the above prepayments will result in interest cost savings of around Rs 1,200 crore annually, at the current interest rates," the statement said.
With this payment, Reliance Jio has opted out of options given by the government to telecom operators to avail four years of moratorium on all spectrum-related payments under the telecom reforms package announced in September 2021.
RJIL had executed the first tranche of prepayment on the anniversary date in October 2021, pertaining to spectrum acquired in auction in 2016.
09:57 Not supporting any party in polls: Rakesh Tikait
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait has denied the reports of the Union extending support to any political party in the run-up to the assembly elections in five states.
Tikait, who arrived at Magh Mela to attend a three-day 'Chintan Shivir' of farmers at Parade Ground, on Tuesday, said, "We will not support anyone in this election."
His statement comes after BKU president Naresh Tikait had appealed for support for the Rashtriya Lok Dal-Samajwadi Party alliance in the upcoming assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.
However, after a few hours of the meeting with Bharatiya Janata Party's Sanjeev Balyan in Sisauli, the BKU chief withdrew his statement and said that he is not supporting anyone.
In the farmers' 'Chintan Shivir', Rakesh Tikait said, they deliberated on the problems of the farmers.
"Matters related to farmers and the organisation were discussed in a three-day brainstorming session," Rakesh Tikait said.
The BKU leader also expressed disappointment against the government claiming that promises were left unfulfilled.
"During the nationwide farmers' agitation, the government had promised to form a committee. That has not been done. In the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, several of our people were sent to jail and MoS Home Ajay Kumar Mishra is still on his post. This is a big issue. There are issues with the procurement of grains. These were the topics that were discussed," Rakesh Tikait said.
He also said that the 'biggest victory' of the 13-months of farmers' agitation against (now repealed) three agricultural laws is that the political parties 'now think about them'. -- ANI
09:36 Equity indices open in red, Sensex down by 291 points
Equity indices opened in red on Wednesday with Sensex down by 291.40 points and Nifty down by 81.10 points.
The 30-scrip BSE Sensex was down by 291.40 points or 0.48 per cent at 60463.46 at 9.19 am.
Similarly, 50-scrip NSE Nifty was trading at 18031.90 at 9.19 am, down by 81.10 points or 0.45 per cent.
On the Sensex, the sectors that were trading low including information technology, realty, healthcare among others. -- ANI
09:24 India reports a whopping 2,82,970 Covid cases
India reports 2,82,970 Covid cases (44,889 more than yesterday), 441 deaths, and 1,88,157 recoveries in the last 24 hours.
Active cases: 18,31,000
Daily positivity rate: 15.13%
Total Omicron cases detected so far: 8,961 which is an increase of 0.79% since yesterday.
09:20 2 unwell BSF constables killed as ambulance breaks down
Two unwell Border Security Force (BSF) personnel died after an ambulance, in which they were being taken to hospitals, rammed into a divider and overturned here, police said on Tuesday.
There may have been some fault in one of the tyres of the BSF ambulance, leading to the accident, a senior police officer said.
The deceased have been identified as constable Manoj Paswan (32), a native of Bihar and head constable Yashvir Singh (52), a resident of Shamli in Uttar Pradesh, they said.
The ambulance was carrying six BSF personnel to the government-run Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences and Safdarjung Hospital for treatment in the early hours of Monday when the accident occurred near the Shastri Park metro station, police said.
While all the six men were pulled out of the ambulance and shifted to different hospitals, Paswan and Singh sustained critical injuries. Paswan was declared brought dead at the hospital while Singh succumbed at the hospital later, they said.
The case is being investigated. A case of rash driving and causing death by negligence has been registered against unknown persons, police said. Singh's family told the media that he was a heart patient and was being taken to the hospital from his camp in Rohini. PTI
09:13 Akhilesh Yadav to contest UP polls
Samajwadi Party chief, Akhilesh Yadav, will contest the Uttar Pradesh polls. Details awaited.
Earlier this month, Akhilesh had said he will fight the upcoming assembly election from wherever the party decides to field him.
Akhilesh listed the constituencies from which his father and SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav has contested - Gunnaur in Sambhal, Etah, Mainpuri, Firozabad, Shahjahanpur and Azamgarh - and said there are a "lot of seats" from where he could contest.
Akhilesh is currently an MP from Azamgarh.
09:02 News on Covid numbers
-- Mumbai Police says 28 of its personnel tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, taking the number of active cases in the force to 1,273.
-- 21 more police personnel have tested positive for COVID19 in Pune city yesterday. The number of infected police personnel in the city rises to 504: Pune Police.
-- As many as 1,312 new COVID-19 cases and one death were reported in Mizoram during the last 24 hours.
08:54 Vijay Mallya faces eviction from luxury home in London
The fugitive Kingfisher tycoon Vijay Mallya is facing the prospect of a humiliating eviction from the luxury central London home he currently occupies after the UK High Court ruled against him in a dispute with the Swiss bank UBS.
Mallya held a mortgage obtained from UBS on the multi-million-pound property, located along Cornwall Terrace in one of the most sought after areas of the British capital, minutes from Regent's Park and attractions such as Madame Tussaud's wax museum.
It's believed that Mallya has lived in the property along with his son Siddharth and his 95-year-old mother Lalitha.
A judge sitting in the chancery division of the High Court on Tuesday refused a request by Mallya's lawyers for a stay on repaying the UBS loan after Mallya had failed to meet a previous repayment deadline in April 2020.
UBS however, were unable to evict the Mallyas due to COVID regulations. Today's ruling paves the way for UBS to repossess the property. It's believed that Mallya and his family own numerous other properties in the UK and elsewhere, including a sprawling country home in Hertfordshire, north of London.
The BJP's rallies in Bengal last year
08:48 BJP to hold poll rallies in hybrid mode
Amid the ongoing ban on physical rallies and roadshows in the five poll-bound states in view of a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is going to hold rallies in these states in a hybrid mode.
The rallies will be joined by more and more people through different social media platforms, informed party sources.
According to party sources, the BJP has prepared a new campaign strategy for the assembly elections in five states keeping in mind the COVID-19 guidelines, wherein small rallies will be telecast live on various social media platforms which will witness the participation of around one to two lakh people.
BJP National President JP Nadda after deliberating with several leaders on the strategy of this campaign decided that all the rallies would be held in a hybrid mode where senior leaders of the party will physically address small gatherings and these rallies will be telecast live in different regions several times and streamed on various social media platforms.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) on January 15 extended the ban on physical rallies and roadshows in the five poll-bound states till January 22.
However, the commission also granted relaxations for the political parties in Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Punjab, Manipur and Uttarakhand, where assembly elections will be held from February 10 till March 10.
08:29 Dr Faheem Younus went to a party and got Covid. And why masks work
And now, this is why you should wear masks, and wear them properly...
A top US doctor, who had contracted the Omicron variant of COVID-19 two weeks ago, has shared his personal experience to fight against the new variant on Tuesday.
In an exclusive interview to ANI, Dr Faheem Younus, Chief of Infectious Disease at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health, said that masks work and wearing them properly will save people from getting infected.
"For the past two years, I have met hundreds of COVID-19 patients, if not 1000s. However, I didn't get infected because I was wearing appropriate protective gear. Later, for two days I went for a family function and I was not wearing the mask. Soon after I got infected. So it clearly shows that (wearing) masks work," said Dr Younus.
He also spoke about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. "I am talking to you within two weeks of getting infected with the virus instead of fighting for my life. I have been vaccinated twice, and also got booster shots. It has helped to recover completely."
Dr Faheem also shared that during the treatment, he did not take monoclonal antibodies or antibiotics or Remdesivir.
"I just took regular paracetamol, Tylenol, pain medication and it worked for me," he said.
Lastly, he said that everyone has a different level of risk tolerance and needs to take care of their health accordingly.
"Everyone has to understand their own risk. Some people may be immunocompromised and don't want to have any chance of an infection. They have very different risks, and they need to protect themselves very differently to someone who is 40 years old and is vaccinated and is not of just having a cough or a cold for a few days," he added.
08:24 This minister is 'not interested' in wearing a mask
When we have leaders like this we can only blame ourselves.
Karnataka Minister Umesh Katti who was seen without a mask, not even a chin mask, has this defence: "The PM has said that no restriction will be imposed and that it (wearing face mask) is an individual responsibility. Whoever wishes to wear a mask can do so. I am not interested in wearing it so I haven't. It is my individual decision."
08:19 Mulayam's daughter-in-law set to join BJP today
In what could be a big blow to the Samajwadi Party ahead of upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Aparna Yadav, daughter-in-law of former state chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, is set to join the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday.
She is expected to meet BJP president J P Nadda after joining the party on Wednesday.
According to the sources, Aparna has sought a ticket from the Lucknow Cantt assembly seat.
Amid the talks of Aparna joining the BJP, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav had also said that BJP members are worrying more about his family than about themselves.
Aparna has in the past lauded some initiatives of the BJP government.
She also donated Rs 11 lakh to the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
Aparna contested the 2017 assembly elections from Lucknow Cantt seat and finished second.
She was defeated by BJP's Rita Bahuguna Joshi and secured about 63,000 votes.
Aparna is the wife of Prateek Yadav, son of Mulayam Singh's second wife Sadhna Gupta.
There are many contenders for Lucknow Cantt seat in the BJP.
Apart from Deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma, Rita Bahuguna Joshi is also seeking a ticket for her son from the seat. -- ANI
IMAGE: Aparna Yadav with Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and party chief Akhilesh Yadav. Photograph: ANI photo
01:09 Covid norm violation: EC advises SP to be careful in future
The Election Commission on Tuesday let off the Samajwadi Party with a light rap for violating COVID-19 norms on its office premises last week, advising it to be careful and ensure such breaches do not happen in the future.
Considering that it is the first reported violation during the current round of elections on the part of the Samajwadi Party, the commission advised it to follow all the extant guidelines diligently, according to an order.
The poll panel also asked the party to instruct its members to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines during the period of elections "without fail".
The Election Commission had on Saturday issued a notice to the Samajwadi Party for organising a public gathering in the name of virtual rally at its Lucknow office in violation of COVID-19 norms.
The Commission noted that necessary cases have already been lodged in view of the violations, which it said, "will take its own logical conclusion".
The EC order noted the Samajwadi Party's reply to the notice where the Akhilesh Yadav-led party had denied any violation.
An FIR was lodged under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Disaster Management Act against 2000-2500 political functionaries of Samajwadi Party on January 14 The party has, however, submitted that it had received several applications for grant of tickets to contest the assembly polls.
It said candidates are being interviewed and being allowed entry in office complex only if they follow-19 COVID protocols.
The procedure of interview is a part of the election process and has not been prohibited by the Election Commission under its guidelines, the party observed. -- PTI
00:27 Lawyers can attend proceedings via phone: CJI
Chief Justice of India NV Ramana has assured that lawyers can attend the proceedings through their mobile phone if they do not have a laptop or desktop, according to the Supreme Court Bar Association.
The Chief Justice of India, however, requested the members of the bar that the mobile phone should be stationed and placed in such a manner that the face of the lawyer is visible and the voice is audible.
This came a day after the CJI expressed unhappiness over disruptions during virtual hearings due to the use of mobiles.
Later, the apex court registry, through a circular, asked the advocates and litigants to use a desktop or the laptop with a stable internet connection to join proceedings conducted through video conferencing.
Earlier in the day on Tuesday, the executive committee of the Supreme Court Bar Association held a virtual meeting with the Chief Justice of India and four senior-most judges.
"During the course of the meeting, the issue of usage of mobile phone for attending the court proceeding was discussed. The Chief Justice assured the executive committee that it is only an advisory for uninterrupted court proceeding and in case any lawyer does not have a laptop/desktop, he/she can attend the proceeding through the mobile phone," the SCBA said in a press statement.
However, the Chief Justice of India has requested the members of the bar that in case of using the mobile phone for attending the court proceedings, the mobile phone shall be stationed and placed in such a manner that the face of the lawyer is visible and the voice is audible.
"The judges have assured that the issue of muting/ unmuting of the lawyers will be looked into and necessary measures will be taken to streamline the system," the statement read.
The SCBA said that the CJI also assured that the oral mentioning is already available in all courts and in case any lawyer needs to mention any matter before any Bench, they may contact the court master in the morning. -- PTI