Category Archive : Top Stories

High Court stays FIR against BJP chief Nadda

The Rajasthan High Court has stayed a first information report registered against Bharatiya Janata Party president J.P. Nadda in connection with a social media post made by the party’s IT department in-charge Amit Malviya allegedly disparaging Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over the fight against COVID-19 pandemic in Bhilwara.

The FIR was registered in Hanumangarh on the complaint of a Congress worker, Manoj Kumar Saini, who had taken exception to a tweet by Mr. Malviya. The tweet said: “Sonia Gandhi claims Bhilwara tested 22 lakh people due to Rahul’s warning! Wherever there is Rahul [Gandhi], can exaggeration and maths blunder be behind?”

‘No role in tweet’

Mr. Nadda had filed a criminal miscellaneous petition in the High Court, seeking directions for quashing of the FIR with the contention that he had no role in Mr. Malviya’s tweet and he had falsely been accused of controlling the office of the IT department in-charge.

Mr. Nadda’s counsel told the court that the tweet had been made from the private account of Mr. Malviya and not from the official handle of the organisation headed by his client.

 

Justice Pushpendra Singh Bhati at the High Court’s principal seat in Jodhpur on Tuesday observed that it had been prima facie found that the petitioner had no role in tweeting the information in question and the tweet was made by Mr. Malviya. “No role at this stage seems to be made out against the petitioner,” the court said.

The court directed that the effect and operation of the FIR, along with the entire proceedings pursuant thereto in respect of Mr. Nadda, shall remain stayed. The court also issued notices to the State government and complainant Mr. Saini, asking them to file their replies within six weeks. 

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Only one bottle per person, says High Court

The Madras High Court on Wednesday refused to stay the State government’s decision to re-open liquor shops in the State from Thursday. It, however, ordered that only one bottle (750 ml) of any kind of liquor should be sold to a purchaser and that no customer should be permitted to purchase more than twice in a week with a minimum gap of three days.

Justices Vineet Kothari and Pushpa Sathyanarayana directed the government to encourage online booking of tokens (to be issued depending upon age group for collecting liquor from retail shops at different hours of the day) after making payments through digital mode and ordered that the online consumers alone could be allowed to purchase two bottles at a time.

They also directed Tasmac to discourage payment of cash for purchase of liquor since it leads to complaints of overpricing and use e-wallet payment system at the retail shops as far as possible. It was also made clear that sales bills should be issued to every customer with his/her name, address and Aadhaar number.

If any of the shops fails to issue bills, it shall be closed forthwith and not allowed to be open without further orders from the court, the judges said. They said that steps such as barricading, insisting upon masks, maintaining physical distance, avoiding crowd outside liquor shops and ban on consuming liquor in public places should also be followed scrupulously.

The interim orders were passed on a batch of public interest litigation petitions filed against the government’s move to reopen the liquor shops despite the lockdown to fight COVID-19. The judges pointed out that they had already dismissed a similar PIL petition early this week on the ground that it could not interfere with policy decisions taken by the government.

“We feel that the balance of revival of economic activity and management of COVID-19 related disease has to be maintained by the State authorities and it is not within the domain of the court to interfere with the same,” the Bench said and directed the High Court Registry to list the batch of cases once again on May 14 for further hearing.

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Fact check | Centre’s beneficiary count for COVID-19 relief is faulty

The Centre has wrongly claimed that 39.28 crore poor people have received financial assistance of ₹34,800 under its Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan package so far. A fact check shows that the correct figure is 33.71 crore beneficiaries.

A Finance Ministry statement explaining the break-up of the assistance showed that the figure included 20.05 crore women who hold the Jan Dhan Yojana bank accounts and have received the first instalment of ₹500 each, as well as 5.57 crore who have received the second instalment as well.

When The Hindu pointed out that the women who received the second instalment also received the first and cannot be counted as a separate set of beneficiaries, a Finance Ministry spokesperson confirmed that the calculation was faulty, and that the correct figure should be 33.7 crore. However, the Ministry’s official statement was left uncorrected, at least until the time of publication of this report.

The spokesperson later said “approximately 7 crore beneficiaries” under the Ujjwala scheme have not been included in the statement, claiming that the count could be somewhat higher. However, none of these changes have been made in the official statement.

The Finance Ministry count of 39 crore poor people also fails to take into account the fact there are likely overlaps between the groups of beneficiaries. The women Jan Dhan account holders may also be pensioners, construction workers or farmers, who have all benefited under the cash transfer scheme, but are being counted separately for the purposes of the Ministry’s beneficiary count.

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Chief Minister urged to include hamalis under relief package

Welcoming the Chief Minister’s ₹ 1,610-crore relief package for workers in the unorganised sector, Karnataka State Headload Workers Federation has urged Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa to include them also under the package.

In a press release issued here on Wednesday, State general secretary of the federation Mahesh Pattar has said that in the wake of further extension of lockdown to fight the pandemic, crores of workers in the unorganised sector have been left in the lurch as they have their lost their sources of livelihood.

Terming the Chief Minister’s package as a welcome move, he, however, pointed out that the package had left out several sections of unorganised sector, including headload workers (hamalis), tailors, mechanics, domestic maids, beedi workers and roadside vendors.

Mr. Pattar has said that among the workers of the unorganised sector, the life of the hamalis was full of hardships and their work required more physical strength.

“They play an important role in commodity trade but are still backward economically and socially. Barring those working at APMC yards and government warehouses, the others are struggling to make ends meet,” he has said.

As there was no work for them, nearly four to five lakh hamalis were struggling in the State. The Chief Minister should immediately take steps to include these workers under the relief package, Mr. Pattar has urged.

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Public transport may resume soon with guidelines: Nitin Gadkari

NEW DELHI: Public transport services may resume operations soon and the government is formulating guidelines for safe usage adhering to social distancing norms to check the spread of coronavirus, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said on Wednesday.
“Public transport is likely to resume soon… Guidelines will be there,” road transport, highways and MSME minister Gadkari said addressing members of Bus and Car Operators Confederation of India through video conference.
He said opening of transport and highways will go a long way in instilling confidence among the public and cautioned towards maintaining social distance and adopting all safety measures like hand wash, sanitizing, face masks, etc while operating buses and cars.
Coronavirus outbreak: Live updates
On demand of a bailout for passenger transport industry, Gadkari said the government is fully aware of their problems, and will support them to mitigate their issues.
He said that he is in regular touch with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who are working overtime to uplift the economy during these difficult days of COVID-19 pandemic.
The minister also asked investors and the industry to convert the coronavirus-induced crisis into an opportunity by occupying larger global market.
“Economy is facing crisis due to coronavirus outbreak … We should treat it as blessing in disguise as no one wants to deal with China. Japan’s PM is facilitating industry there to do investment out of China … It is a chance to boost Indian economy,” the minister said.
More on Covid-19

He said, Indian industry should grasp this opportunity to invite those foreign companies to invest with them in India. He expressed confidence that the country and its industry will together win both the battles – the one with coronavirus, and the one with economic slowdown.
Responding to concerns raised by the operators, the minister informed that his ministry is looking at adopting the London model of public transport, where government funding is minimal and private investment is promoted.
He also pointed out towards the poor standards of Indian bus and truck bodies which he said, are functional for only 5-7 years, whereas the European models last for up to 15 years.
Gadkari emphasised upon adopting good practices from European operators, which will also be economically viable for indigenous industry in the longer run.
The minister said, he is aware of the tight financial condition of the Indian market during the ongoing pandemic. But, he said, all stakeholders will have to work together to combat it.
Members of the confederation made suggestions for improving the condition of public transport which include extending interest payment exemptions, restarting public transport, extending age life limit, deferring state taxes, extending Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) benefits, extending insurance policy validity, etc.
The minister also said that the insurance sector should come forward to help as it has benefitted due to less accidents during the lockdown.
He further said work on many highway projects has resumed.

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In captaincy, I still feel Virat Kohli is a work in progress: Nehra | Cricket News

NEW DELHI: Former India pacer Ashish Nehra believes young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, who was initially said to be MS Dhoni‘s successor, needs backing of the team management for a longer duration.

“There are a lot of talented players but they should be backed for a longer duration. Today also when we talk about the number 5 and 6 slots in Indian ODI side, then we are not sure about it,” Nehra said while speaking to former Indian cricketer Aakash Chopra on his show ‘Aakash Vani’.

KL Rahul is playing on the 5th position and Pant, the person you were preparing to succeed M.S. Dhoni, is serving water,” he added.

Before cricket was stopped due to coronavirus, Pant had lost his place in the Indian team in white-ball cricket to Rahul. Pant’s inconsistencies cost him as the Indian team management handed over the wicket-keeping gloves to Rahul, who took over the role with great ease.

“I know he has missed his chances and there is no doubt about it but then you have kept him in the team because you saw the potential in him at 22-23 years,” Nehra said.

The former left-arm pacer also gave his views on Virat Kohli‘s captaincy, saying the latter is still a work in progress when it comes to him in the role of a skipper.

“Virat Kohli as a player needs no recognition as his career graph tells the entire story. Kohli as a player has done amazingly well, in captaincy I still feel he is a work in progress. I can say he is a little bit impulsive captain,” said the 41-year-old.

Nehra, who played 17 Tests, 120 ODIs and 27 T20Is, also said that the current Indian team is far from that of Australia of the 2000s.

“This Indian team is far from the Australia team. You are talking about an Australian team which won 3 consecutive World Cups, reached the final in 1996, won 18-19 Test matches in home and away conditions,” said Nehra, who still holds the record for best figures by an Indian bowler in a World Cup.

“It’s not like this Indian team can not reach there but I believe the core group is very important. A person gets confused after watching many dishes on the table and so it’s important to have fewer but better dishes,” he added.

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Riyaz Naikoo: Top Hizbul Mujahideen chief Riyaz Naikoo killed in Awantipora encounter | India News

PULWAMA: In a major success for India, security forces have eliminated Hizbul Mujahideen‘s top leader and Jammu and Kashmir commander Riyaz Naikoo. He was active in the Valley for almost eight years.
Top officials involved in the operation claim that after eliminating Naikoo, south Kashmir is almost free from terrorism.
Naikoo was eliminated in the hours-long operation carried out by Indian Army, CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir Police in Beighpora area in Pulwama. At least two more terrorists were also killed by security forces in the encounter in Sharshali Khrew area of Awantipora.
The operation started late night on Tuesday after the forces got a tip-off about Naikoo hiding in the area. The security forces kept a larger base of “target” so that he couldn’t escape.
When the operation was about to end, Jammu and Kashmir Police asked all forces to stop convoy movements with immediate effect. The police said that all vehicles should be restricted across the Valley, adding that the movement of isolated vehicles should be avoided.
Cops also advised that the movement of Army and CRPF vehicles should not be allowed in the interiors, inter-district and intra-district.
Naikoo had 12 lakh rupees bounty on his head and was in the hit list of security forces. He was the brain behind major terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir and was a high-value target for Indian forces after he took charge of Hizbul Mujahideen.
“Contact established in the third operation at Beighpor in Awantipur. Top terrorist commander is trapped. Exchange of fire on. Details shall follow,” Jammu and Kashmir Police had tweeted when operations were going on.
According to sources, Riyaz Naikoo was also involved in killings of jawans and planned attack on security forces and was the successor of Zakir Musa, who was eliminated by security forces in May last year.
“He planned massive activities in Kashmir during Ramzan so that he can raise more terrorists from local villages. In a conversation, which was recorded by security forces, a terrorist had said that Naikoo will be doing some operations directly, which became first tip-off of his location,” a senior intelligence officer told ANI.
Naikoo, a teacher by profession during his old days, was also famous for doing things on the ground as well as off ground.
According to a senior police officer of the Union Territory, Naikoo also planned anti-India campaigns after abrogation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir. “He used youths in spreading lies on social media to disturb law and order situation in the valley,” the source said.
Naikoo also started a campaign to promote terrorists killed in operations. He tried to make commander Zakir Musa famous in South Kashmir and started gun salutes to terrorists killed by security forces.
Forces are claiming that after his death, Hizbul has no face or leader left in Jammu and Kashmir and it is unlikely to get a commander due to fraction after a new terror outfit, called The Resistance Front (TRF), was launched by Pakistan.

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COVID-19 death toll touches 1,694; cases rise to 49,391

The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 1,694 and the number of cases climbed to 49,391 in the country on Wednesday, registering an increase of 126 deaths and 2,958 cases in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry said.

Also read: India registers highest surge in COVID cases and deaths in 24-hours

The Health Ministry on Tuesday evening said that the nationwide case status will be updated on its website only once a day in the morning, instead of twice a day as was being done previously.

Coronavirus India lockdown Day 43 live updates

“In the last 24 hours, 1,457 patients recovered, taking the total of recovered people to 14,183. This takes the total recovery rate to 28.72 per cent,” a senior health ministry official said.

The number of active COVID-19 cases is 33,514 and one patient has migrated, it said.

The total number of cases include 111 foreign nationals.

A total of 111 deaths were reported since Tuesday evening, of which 49 fatalities were reported from Gujarat, 34 from Maharashtra, 12 from Rajasthan, seven from West Bengal, three from Uttar Pradesh, two each from Punjab and Tamil Nadu and one each from Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh, the ministry said.

Of the 1,694 fatalities, Maharashtra tops the tally with 617 fatalities. Gujarat comes second with 368 deaths, followed by Madhya Pradesh at 176, West Bengal at 140, Rajasthan at 89, Delhi at 64, Uttar Pradesh at 56 and Andhra Pradesh at 36.

Also read: Koyambedu as COVID-19 hotspot: Did authorities fail to read the signs?

The death toll reached 33 in Tamil Nadu, 29 in Telengana, while Karnataka has reported 29 fatalities.

Punjab has registered 25 COVID-19 deaths, Jammu and Kashmir eight, Haryana six and Kerala and Bihar four deaths each.

Jharkhand has recorded three COVID-19 fatalities.

Meghalaya, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Assam and Uttarakhand have reported one fatality each, according to the ministry data.

According to the health ministry data updated in the morning, the highest number of confirmed cases in the country are from Maharashtra at 15, 525, followed by Gujarat at 6,245, Delhi at 5,104, Tamil Nadu at 4,058, Rajasthan at 3,158, Madhya Pradesh at 3,049 and Uttar Pradesh at 2,880.

The number of COVID-19 cases has gone up to 1,717 in Andhra Pradesh and 1,451 in Punjab.

It has risen to 1,344 in West Bengal, 1,096 in Telengana, 741 in Jammu and Kashmir, 671 in Karnataka, 548 in Haryana and 536 in Bihar.

Kerala has reported 502 coronavirus cases so far, while Odisha has 175 cases. A total of 125 people have been infected with the virus in Jharkhand and 111 in Chandigarh.

Uttarakhand has reported 61 cases, Chhattisgarh 59 cases, Assam 43, Himachal Pradesh 42 and Ladakh 41.

Thirty-three COVID-19 cases have been reported from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Tripura has registered 43 cases, Meghalaya has reported 12 and Puducherry nine, while Goa has seven COVID-19 cases.

Manipur has two cases. Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Dadar and Nagar Haveli have reported a case each.

“Our figures are being reconciled with the ICMR,” the ministry said on its website.

State-wise distribution is subject to further verification and reconciliation, it said.

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Major Anuj Sood cremated with military honours

The mortal remains of Major Anuj Sood, who was killed in an anti-militancy operation in Kashmir, were consigned to flames here with full military honours.

Major Sood was among the five security personnel who died in a firefight in Changimul, Handwara in Kupwara district in north Kashmir, last week.

A large number of people were present to bid adieu to Major Sood. His father, Brigadier Chandrakant Sood (retd), performed the final rites. Wrapped in tricolour, Major Sood’s body was brought to the cremation ground from his residence in Panchkula in a bedecked Army vehicle. A gun salute was given.

The mortal remains arrived from Srinagar on April 4. Born in December 1989, Major Sood was serving in the 19 Guards.

Family members of Major Anuj Sood during his cremation in Chandigarh on May 5, 2020.

Family members of Major Anuj Sood during his cremation in Chandigarh on May 5, 2020.  
| Photo Credit: Akhilesh Kumar

 

Former Haryana Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda said the country would always remain indebted to the valour and supreme sacrifice of all its brave soldiers.

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Lockdown distress: Karnataka government announces Rs 1,610 crore package | Bengaluru News

BENGALURU: The Karnataka government on Wednesday announced a Rs 1,610 crore relief package for the benefit of those in distress due to the Covid-induced lockdown.
The measures announced by the chief minister BS Yediyurappa would bring relief to farmers, flower-growers, washermen, auto rickshaw and taxi drivers, MSMEs, large industries, weavers, building workers and barbers.
The government also announced a 11 per cent excise duty hike, which is in addition to the six per cent announced in the budget.
Lockdown 3.0: Latest updates
People from all sections of society are facing financial difficulties due to lockdown of more than one and a half months, the chief minister noted.
Flower growers have destroyed their flowers following lack of demand for their produce due to the lockdown.
It is estimated that farmers cultivated flowers in about 11,687 hectares.
Realising the problems facing flower growers, the government announced a compensation of Rs 25,000 per hectare limited to a maximum extent of one hectare for the crop loss.
Farmers who have grown vegetables and fruits were not able to market their produce, and the government has decided to announce a relief package for them.
More on Covid-19

Covid-19 has also affected service professionals such as barbers and washermen (dhobis) both in urban and rural areas, and it has been decided to provide a one time compensation of Rs 5,000 each to benefit about 60,000 washermen and about 2.3 lakh barbers.
A decision has also been taken to help about 7.7 lakh auto and taxi drivers by providing one time compensation of Rs 5,000 each.
MSMEs have also suffered huge production losses due to the lockdown.
It takes some time for them to revive, Yediyurappa said.
The monthly fixed charges of electricity bills of MSMEs will be waived for two months.
Payment of fixed charges in the electricity bills of the large industries would be deferred without penalty and interest for a period of two months.
The chief minister also announced certain benefits for electricity consumers of all categories.
The state government has already announced Rs 109 crore weavers loan Waiver scheme, of which Rs 29 crore has been released during 2019-20.
Balance amount of Rs 80 crore would be released immediately.
This would help weavers get fresh loans to continue their occupation.
The chief minister also announced a new scheme, Weaver Samman Yojana (Nekarara Sammana yojane) for the benefit of the suffering weavers.
Under this scheme, the government would deposit Rs 2,000 directly into the bank account of the handloom weaver through DBT.
This will benefit about 54,000 handloom weavers in the state.
There are 15.80 lakh registered building workers in the state.
The government has already transferred Rs 2,000 to the bank account of 11.80 lakh building workers through DBT.
Action has already been initiated to transfer Rs 2,000 to the accounts of the remaining four lakh construction workers soon after verifying beneficiaries bank account details.
In addition to this, the government has decided to transfer additional amount of Rs 3,000 to building workers through DBT.
The above compensation would be provided with an estimated cost of Rs 1.6k crore, which would help those who are in distress due to lockdown, the chief minister added.

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