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Blast near Israel embassy in Delhi; states, airports on alert

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expresses ‘full confidence’ in the Indian authorities in ensuring the safety of Israelis and Jews in India; EAM Jaishankar assures Israeli Foreign Minister of ‘fullest protection’.

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A low-intensity IED (improvised explosive device) was detonated near the Israeli Embassy in the heart of central Delhi on Friday evening, the police said, adding that no injuries or property damage, apart from shattered windscreens of nearby cars, had been reported.

According to Delhi Police, the blast occurred at 5.05 pm not far from Vijay Chowk where several VVIPS including President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, among other dignitaries, were in attendance during the “Beating Retreat” ceremony.

External affairs minister S. Jaishankar took to Twitter to say that he spoke to his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi and said that the Indian government has taken the blasts “very seriously” and that “no effort will be spared to find the culprits”.

“Spoke just now to Israeli FM @Gabi_Ashkenazi about the explosion outside the Israeli Embassy. We take this very seriously. Assured him of the fullest protection for the Embassy and Israeli diplomats. The matter is under investigation and no effort will be spared to find the culprits,” he said in a tweet.

Reacting to the news of blast in New Delhi, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed “full confidence” in the Indian authorities in ensuring the safety of Israelis and Jews in India. Meanwhile, quoting an unnamed Israeli official, Reuters reported that Israel is treating the blast near its embassy in New Delhi as a “terrorist incident”.

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah is in touch with senior Delhi police officials and is constantly monitoring the situation. An alert has also been issued at all airports, important installations and government buildings in view of the blast. Enhanced security measures have been put in place, the Central Industrial Security Force said.

Alert has also been sounded in Haridwar in Uttarakhand after the blast in Delhi. As per SSP Haridwar, the security agency has been alerted as the blast in Delhi took place just ahead of Mahakumbh, which will be held in Haridwar soon. In neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, the administration has issued alerts in major cities, including Ayodhya, following the blast.

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Kerala NCP president TP Peethambaran has no authority to suspend me, says Jayan Puthenpurackal

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Kochi (Kerala) [India], February 28 (ANI): Suspended member of National Committee of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Jayan Puthenpurackal on Sunday said that the leadership of NCP must be changed.
Kerala state president TP Peethambaran’s action is dictatorial and should step down from his post, he said.
“There must be a change in leadership. The state president’s action is dictatorial. TP Peethambaran should step down as President. The Chief Minister informed Praful Patel that NCP will not get an assembly seat of Pala and a Rajya Sabha seat. But still, the President is not telling the total seats for the NCP in the assembly election. He continues to deceive party workers and the people,” said Puthenpurackal.
Puthenpurackal claimed that the state president has no authority to suspends him and he has sent his complaint to the in-charge Praful Patel along with NCP president Sharad Pawar and Supriya Sule.
“The state president has no authority to suspend me. I sent complaints on this to Praful Patel, who is in charge of Kerala, and also sent them to Sharad Pawar and Supriya Sule. I got a reply from them. Praful Patel has already told the state president that my suspension should be withdrawn immediately,” he added.
The election for 140-member Kerala Assembly in 14 districts will be held in a single phase on April 6. The counting of votes will be held on May 2. (ANI)

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NCB arrests 3 drug peddlers in Mumbai, drugs worth Rs 15 lakh recovered

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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], February 28 (ANI): The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) arrested three drug peddlers during raids in Dongri, Wadi Bunder and Nagpada areas on Saturday night.
According to NCB officials, one of the three drug peddlers arrested yesterday was identified as Ejaz Psycho, who is an associate of Chinku Pathan and Arif Bhujwal.
Ejaz was arrested from Dongri area and MDMA drugs worth Rs 15 lakh and 25 mobile phones were recovered from him.
Chinku Pathan was arrested by the NCB on January 20 with a huge quantity of drugs from the Dongri area of the city. Pathan is currently under the custody of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad as NCB found a Dawood connection while investigating the drugs case.
Pathan is the grandson of gangster Karim Lala and is a close aide of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. (ANI)

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He proudly calls himself ‘chaiwala’, doesn’t hide true self: Ghulam Nabi Azad praises PM Modi

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Jammu (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], February 28 (ANI): Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who hails from a village in Jammu and Kashmir and served three years as Chief Minister, drew parallels between himself and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, stating that he has not forgotten his roots and proudly calls himself a “chaiwala” as well as he does not hide his true self.
Speaking at a public event in Jammu, Ghulam Nabi said, “I like a lot of things about many leaders. I am from the village and feel proud… Even our Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) hails from the village and used to sell tea. We are political rivals but I appreciate that he does not hide his true self.”
“I have travelled the whole world. I have stayed in 5-star and 7-star hotels. But the scent of the people who belong to my village is unmatched,” the Congress leader said after he was felicitated with the ‘Sher-e-Gurjar award’ by Gurjar Desh Charitable Trust.
Earlier this month, Azad, who served as Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Rajya Sabha, retired from the House. An emotional Prime Minister Modi bid adieu to him by recalling his long association with the senior leader.
“The person who will replace Ghulam Nabi ji (as Leader of Opposition) will have difficulty matching his work because he was not only concerned about his party but also about the country and the House,” PM Modi had said.
On Saturday, the groups of 23 dissenting leaders of Congress, including Azad, who has been calling for leadership and organisational change in the Congress, had said the party “getting weaker” and are raising their voice for the betterment of the party.
Senior Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and Anand Sharma were also present. (ANI)

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Delhi logs 197 new COVID-19 cases, 168 recoveries

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New Delhi [India], February 28 (ANI): Delhi reported 197 fresh COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the cumulative count of cases in Delhi to 6,39,289.
According to the Delhi government, the total number of recoveries in the national capital rose to 6,27,044 with 168 new recoveries in the last 24 hours.
Witnessing one new fatality in the last 24 hours, Delhi’s COVID-19 death toll reached 10,910.
At present, Delhi has a total of 1,335 active cases.
The national capital currently has a cumulative positivity rate of 5.16 per cent.
As many as 16,752 new COVID-19 cases and 113 deaths were reported in India during the last 24 hours, informed the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on Sunday.
With this, the total coronavirus caseload in the country has gone up to 1,10,96,731, including 1,64,511 active cases, 1,07,75,169 discharges, along with 1,57,051 deaths. (ANI)

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Centre turned farming, education, healthcare into financial commodities: Rahul Gandhi

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Tirunelveli (Tamil Nadu) [India], February 28 (ANI): In a renewed attack on the Centre, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said that the Government of India has turned noble professions like farming, education and healthcare into financial commodities.
During an interaction titled ‘Educators Meet’ at Tirunelveli’s St Xavier College, Gandhi said, “I personally do not believe that education is a financial commodity. I believe that education should be available to everyone.”
Gandhi, who is touring Tamil Nadu for the second day as part of his campaign for the April 6 assembly polls, hit out at the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)-led union government and said, “It is duty of a nation to give education and healthcare to its people. What is happening here is that everything is being seen as a financial commodity,” he remarked.
“Agriculture is being seen as a financial commodity, education is being seen as a financial commodity, healthcare is being seen as a financial commodity. Basically, if you have money, you can get anything. If you do not have money, you get nothing,” the Congress leader said.
Gandhi also took to Twitter to slam the Central government.
“GOI has turned noble professions like farming, education & healthcare into financial commodities for the benefit of a few cronies. We’re fighting this without any anger, hatred or violence. And non-violence always wins,” he tweeted.
This comes ahead of the 234-member Tamil Nadu assembly elections will be held in a single phase on April 6 and the counting of votes will take place on May 2.
The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) is contesting the polls in a pre-poll alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). MK Stalin’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has joined hands with the Congress party.
Actor-turned-politician Kamal Hassan’s party Makkal Neethi Maiam (MNM) is also in the fray this time. (ANI)
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JKSSB conducts Phase 1 of examination for Class IV posts

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Rajouri (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], February 28 (ANI): The Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection Board (JKSSB) on Saturday conducted the phase first of objective type written examination for the Class IV posts across the Union Territory.
The examination took place from 12 pm to 2 pm.
Huge gatherings of youth were seen on the first day of examination at different centres in the Rajouri district. All types of arrangements were in place for the smooth conduction of the examination.
“Every job seeker wants a government job. They want to serve in the government sector. There is obvious enthusiasm in the job seekers and parents as well,” Arif Lone, an observer at Government Boys Higher Secondary school examination centre.
“All the COVID-19 protocols have been properly followed and all the teams are meticulously executing their job. We are maintaining total transparency in the examination. The screening system is very strict. Only meritorious aspirants will come out successfully,” he added.
Shafiq Ahmed, Centre Superintendent at Government Boys Higher Secondary school examination centre said the administration has made sure there is no problem with water, electricity, and invigilators at the examination centres.
“Observers, District Magistrate, nodal officer, all teams were there. I would particularly like to thank the district administration for the way they ensured we didn’t have any problem,” he added. (ANI)

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