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India now third worst-hit Covid country after U.S. and Brazil

In Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana, coronavirus cases are now growing at a faster rate than the national growth rate.

Aishwarya Jain

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With the record spike of 24,000 Covid cases on Sunday, India surpassed Russia to become the third worsthit nation, with the number of cases standing at 6,90,396. India is now behind the US and Brazil, which have recorded 28,41,124 and 15,77,004 cases respectively. India also recorded 600 deaths on Sunday.

Maharashtra continues to contribute the maximum number of new cases every day, its rate of growth is still low. At 3.40 per cent, it is well below the seven-day compounded daily growth rate of 3.54 per cent. The state remains the country’s worst-affected state which recorded 6,555 fresh Covid-19 cases in the last twenty-four hours, taking the total count to 2,06,619 with 151 died due to the disease which took tally to 8,822. With 1,287 new cases, Mumbai now has 84,524 cases. The city recorded 69 deaths due to the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, taking its death toll to 4,899.

Meanwhile, Delhi recorded 2,244 fresh coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, taking the tally in the city to over 99,000, while the death toll from the pandemic mounted to 3,067. Sixty-Three fatalities have been recorded in the last 24 hours. The total number of cases mounted to 99,444 while 3,038 people got discharged from hospital which took the recovery rate to a record 71.74%. The Principal Secretary of Delhi’s Health and Family Welfare department held a meeting with top officials for strengthening Covid-19 surveillance response in the national capital.

Gujarat, which usually ranks fourth in the worst-affected Covid state in the country, has reported its highest single-day spike of 725 new coronavirus positive cases, pushing the state’s overall tally to 36,123. Covid-19 claimed the lives of 18 more patients, taking the death toll in the state to 1,945. With 486 patients getting discharged, the number of recovered cases in the state grew to 25,900. The state now has 8,278 active cases.

For the last few days India’s coronavirus numbers have been powered mainly by the surge in the four southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. These four states are now in the top ten list of states with maximum cases in the country, and at the moment these are the only four in the top ten where the coronavirus cases are growing at a rate faster than the national growth rate.

Tamil Nadu reported with over 4,000 fresh cases for the fourth straight day, taking the tally to 1,11,151. The state added 4,150 cases while 60 people succumbed to the virus, pushing the toll to 1,510. While Karnataka also saw its biggest 24- hour jump with 1,925 new Covid-19 cases taking the total case count to 23,474. The death toll in the state also increased to 372 after 37 more virus-related fatalities were reported. There are 13,251 active cases in the state, while 9,847 patients have been discharged after recovering from the highly contagious disease.

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POSTERS SURFACE IN BASIRHAT, RESIDENTS DECLARE ACTRESS-TURNED TMC MP NUSRAT JAHAN ‘MISSING’

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When the residents of Basirhat Lok Sabha constituency woke up on Wednesday, they saw posters screaming “MP of Basirhat Missing” pasted all around, leaving them wondering whose handiwork it could be. Though, few would have disagreed with the contents of the posters. For, the Bengali actress-turned-politician has been more visible for controversies of late than for working for the people of her constituency.

The Trinamool Congress MP is rather inaccessible to the residents of her own constituency. When they try to approach MP Nusrat to relate their problems and seek redress to them, sometimes four to five times, they are turned down, say locals. The posters are an expression of popular anger and disillusionment with the MP, they say, which is only growing with time. One such poster could be seen in Champatla panchayat area of Chaylap Haroa assembly segment.

“Basirhat MP Nusrat Jahan is missing, I want to find her,” read the poster.

Sources say the posters have been put up by Trinamool Congress workers of the constituency, showing the disaffection and anger among them for which the MP has to blame none other than herself.

The local party leaders, though, would blame the opposition parties for running such slanderous poster campaign against their MP.

Humayun Reza Chowdhury, head of the Degangar Champatla Panchayat, said, “Haji Nurul Islam was the MP of Basirhat from 2009 to 2014. The grassroots activists got him elected from among the common people and all the development work in the area was done by him. But now the Trinamool MP is not available. That’s why people in the area have put out such posters.”

Apart from her absence from and inaccessibility to the people of her constituency, there some more reasons behind the growing popular dissent against her. She was not a popular choice when she was declared a candidate by TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee. Yet Nusrat Jahan was voted to become their MP in 2019 parliamentary elections. Then, Nusrat Jahan has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. She hit the headlines when she married Nikhil Jain in Turkey in June 2019. The marriage did not last and they parted ways in 2021. It turned out that Jahan had married under Turkish law and did not register her marriage under the Special Marriage Act in India and the marriage was, in fact, a live-in relationship, according to her own admission last year.

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Tension in Punjab over ‘conversion’ of Guru’s inn into mosque

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The case of converting Guru ki Sarai into a mosque in Gujjara locality in Rajpura, Punjab, has gained momentum and police force has been deployed in the tehsil premises.

On Monday, the matter was heard in front of the SDM during which people of the Muslim-Sikh community were present. People from the Hindu community were also present.

This inn was given the form of a gurdwara. The Hindu side says that earlier people of Hindu and Sikh society used to serve here. After sometime, it was converted into a mosque without anyone’s consent and permission. The Hindu organizations have also protested against this incident.

SDM Himanshu Gupta says that the police force has been deployed to ensure that law and order situation does not deteriorate. This matter has been in discussion for many days.

The Hindu side alleges that people gather here every day at the time of Namaz. Also, the sound of loudspeaker causes trouble to the common people.

During the hearing, a large number of people including Punjab Dharmacharya, head of Gau Raksha Dal, Satish Kumar had reached. As the number of people increased, the police also increased their security arrangements to prevent any untoward incident.

On the other hand, RCFAI, a Kerala-based organization, had built three more mosques in the same district in 2019. After this the intelligence agencies were alerted. According to the report of the Ministry of Home Affairs, mosques have been built in districts adjoining Punjab with terror funding.

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IGP URGES KASHMIRI PANDITS NOT TO LEAVY VALLEY, FOIL ENEMY’S PLAN

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Kashmir Inspector General of Police (IGP) Vijay Kumar on Tuesday said that killings of Kashmiri Pandits are plans to push them out of Kashmir.

Vijay Kumar, who met the protesting Kashmiri Pandits at Sheikhpora village in Budgam, and urged them not to think of leaving Kashmir as the “same was plans of militants and their masters across” that has to be foiled by all means.

“Shortcomings in security grid will be addressed very soon and at the same time we will eradicate terrorism. I assure you (Kashmiri Pandits) of every help and better and enhanced security cover in the days ahead.”

Assuring the protesters here, he said: “Everyone including police, army and even local people will have to fight against terrorism. I urge the protesters not to do anything that will make our enemy successful. To push you out of Kashmir is the plan of militants and their masters which has to be foiled you and us collectively.”

The IGP said attacking the Kashmiri Pandit community is a ploy of the terrorists to drive them out of Kashmir which “we will never allow to succeed.”

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Police along with security forces have arrested two terrorist associates – Zahid Ahmad Sheikh and Sahil Bashir Dar – of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Budgam.

Incriminating materials of proscribed terror outfit LeT, explosive material and ammunition including one hand grenade, two pistol magazines and 15 AK-47 rounds have been recovered from their possession

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Centre to provide RFID tags to Amarnath pilgrims; drones to be deployed on yatra routes

Union Home minister Amit Shah reviews J-K security situation.

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In a bid to a hassle-free Amarnath Yatra, beginning June 30 after a gap of two years, the central government on Tuesday decided to provide Radio Frequency Identification Card (RFID) to all pilgrims. The pilgrims will also be insured with Rs 5 lakh.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah during a meeting with Jammu and Kashmir LG Manoj Sinha, central government secretaries and officials from the CRPF and Home Ministry in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah chaired two separate back-to-back marathon meetings, attended by all stakeholders including Jammu and Kashmir Governor Manoj Sinha, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Intelligence Bureau Chief Arvind Kumar, on preparations for the yatra.

Resuming Amarnath pilgrimage is a challenging task as Jammu and Kashmir which has witnessed several incidences of targeted killings in last few months by terrorists following which Ministry of Home Affairs asked security agencies operating in the state to enhance counter-terror operations.

Shah said: “Hassle-free journey for the pilgrims is a priority of the Narendra Modi government. All arrangements should be made which includes creation of additional electricity, water and telecom facilities.” The Home Minister also stressed for enhancement of mobile connectivity along the yatra route as he directed that earth-moving equipment should be placed at vantage points to clear the route in case of landslides.

The Home Minister asked for an adequate number of oxygen cylinders, medical beds at an altitude of more than 6,000 feet and deployment of ambulances and helicopters to deal with any emergency medical situation.

During the meeting, it was also decided to enable Wi-Fi hotspots to ensure connectivity

throughout the 39 km yatra route from Pahalgam in South Kashmir. The other route is through Baltal in central Kashmir where a pilgrim treks for nearly 15 km.

About 12,000 paramilitary personnel (120 companies) in addition to Jammu and

Kashmir Police are expected to be deployed along the two pilgrimage routes – one from Pahalgam and the other via Baltal, officials said.

Drone cameras will help the security forces to ensure protection of the pilgrims, sources said.

Top officials of the Ministries of Health, Telecom, Road Transport, Civil Aviation, IT took part in the meeting to discuss logistics for the annual pilgrimage to the cave shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva at an altitude of 3,888 metres.

Online registration for Amarnath Yatra 2022 started from April 11 and the Home Ministry has already sanctioned nearly 50 companies of CAPF for the purpose to provide security during the pilgrimage as Jammu and Kashmir is expecting nearly five lakh pilgrims visiting the Amarnath cave shrine this year.

While online registration has already begun, the pilgrimage is scheduled to be held for 43 days between June 30 and August 11.

The J&K administration had cancelled the annual Amarnath pilgrimage due to the

prevailing Covid-19 situation in 2020 and 2021 after a discussion with Amarnathji

Shrine Board members.

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CM residence attack: Security stepped up, cops tell HC

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Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal

The Delhi Police on Tuesday informed the Delhi High Court that security of the Delhi Chief Minister’s residence has been beefed up and no protest will now be allowed at Civil Lines Metro station. Advocate Sanjay Lao appeared for the Delhi Police and sought adjournment in the matter stating the affidavit is yet to be verified by the Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain (who was not there due to some personal difficulty) and added that more security personnel have been deployed at the Delhi Chief Minister residence. “Proposal to curtail entry on the road nearby to Delhi CM residence is also under consideration”, he added. The bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla allowed the request for adjournment and fixed the matter for May 30 and said to let the status report be filed by the next date in a sealed cover. The Senior Advocate appearing for the petitioner submitted that imposing Section 144 around the house like Rashtrapati Bhawan and other places should also be considered. Earlier, The Delhi High Court had shown displeasure with the Delhi Police status report over the incident of violent protest and vandalism outside the Delhi Chief Minister and said what happened at the residence of a constitutional functionary is a very disturbing state of affairs. The bench had said, we are not satisfied with the status report in regards to ‘Bandobast’ made at the CM residence. The Bench while seeking a further status report from the Police, directed it to disclose reasons for the failure of the arrangement made and fixed the responsibility of the lapses in the next status report. The court during the hearing on the last date of the hearing further said that three barricades were breached by the protestors. You (Police) need to look into the functioning and bandobast. It could have been anybody, Union Minister, etc. There has been a lapse on part of the force and we want the Commissioner of Police to look into this.

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INDIA REJECTS PAKISTAN’S ‘FARCICAL’ RESOLUTION ON J&K DELIMITATION

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India on Tuesday outright and unequivocally rejected the “farcical resolution” passed by Pakistan’s National Assembly over the delimitation exercise in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. India did not stop here only, but it went beyond that and hit out at Pakistan’s leadership as well. In what is being described as a clear message to Pakistan’s premier Shehbaz Sharif, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “It is regrettable that instead of putting their own house in order, the leadership in Pakistan continues to interfere in India’s internal affairs and engage in baseless and provocative anti-India propaganda.”

The diplomatic sources told The Daily Guardian, now the message to Pakistan from India is clear that the new government under PM Shehbaz Sharif is no different from previous regimes. “So, in view of this, Sharif should not also expect that India would open any window of opportunity to restore normal diplomatic ties with Pakistan even now,” sources said. “It’s a well calculated reaction that India came up with, hitting out at Pakistan’s leadership against the backdrop of Pakistan’s National Assembly passing resolution on delimitation in J&K,” sources added. PM Sharif has already on many occasions signaled his Kashmir-centric approach. Pakistan’s National Assembly on last Thursday unanimously passed a resolution introduced by its Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari denouncing the delimitation

exercise in Jammu and Kashmir.

MEA spokesman Bagchi was quick to bring up the issue of terrorism, demanding that Pakistan immediately cease anti-India cross-border terrorism and shut down its infrastructure of terrorism. “Stop the grave and persistent human rights violations in Pakistan occupied Jammu, Kashmir & Ladakh, refrain from effecting any further material changes in the status of PoJKL, and vacate the Indian territories that are under your illegal and forcible occupation,” he said.

Sources said that the Modi government is not going to compromise on the issue of terrorism is an unambiguous message that Shehbaz should understand.  In this context, Jaishankar’s views expressed in the book “Modi@20: Dreams Meet Delivery” need to be recalled.  Jaishankar in the book wrote, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been crystal clear that he will never allow terrorism, especially of the cross-border nature, to be normalized, and this determination has shaped India’s policy towards Pakistan since 2014.” “Is there any clearer message needed by Pakistan regarding India’s policy towards cross-border terrorism and for that matter towards Islamabad,” ask diplomats. “PM Modi will neither overlook nor tolerate terrorism,” they add. “Before any bid to internationalise Kashmir, the Shehbaz government should think twice about the Modi government’s determined approach with regard to terrorism in the region,” officials say.  

On 12 May, the National Assembly of Pakistan passed a resolution rejecting the Delimitation Commission’s report which was released earlier this month. Reacting to the resolution, MEA spokesman Bagchi said, “Pakistan has no locus standi to pronounce on or interfere in matters that are internal to India, including the Indian territories under Pakistan’s illegal and forcible occupation.” Asserting that the entire territory of the UTs and Ladakh “has been, is and shall always remain an integral part of India”, Bagchi added that the delimitation exercise is a “democratic exercise based on the principles of extensive stakeholder consultation and participation”.

(WITH INPUTS FROM MAYANK KUMAR)

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