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The Modi government on Wednesday said that it has not taken any decision on the nationwide rollout of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Union Minister of State (MoS) for Home Nityanand Rai was replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha on whether the Centre had any plans to implement the NRC throughout the country.

“Till now, the government has not taken any decision to prepare the National Register of Indian Citizens at the national level,” the MoS Home said in a written reply.

The NRC was updated in Assam under the supervision of the Supreme Court. When the final NRC was published on 31 August 2019, a total of 19.06 lakh people were excluded out of the total 3,30,27,661 applicants, which created a disquiet across India.

Replying to another question, MoS Rai said there is no provision of detention centres under the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the National Register of Indian Citizens. He said the Supreme Court on 28 February 2012 had directed that foreign nationals who completed their sentence shall be released from jail immediately and be kept in an appropriate place with restricted movement pending their deportation or repatriation.

Following that directive, Rai said, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued instructions on 7 March 2012 to state governments and UT administrations to comply with the directions of the Supreme Court.

The minister said detention centres are set up by the state governments and UT administrations as per their local requirements to detain illegal immigrants and foreigners, some of whom may have completed their sentence and their deportation to their native country may be pending for want of proper travel documents.

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Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday urged migrant workers to not return to their native places in fear of lockdown. He said that the government would take care of them.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addresses media over imposing a weeklong lockdown in the national capital, in New Delhi on Monday. (ANI Photo)A view of the overcrowded Anand Vihar Bus Terminal as migrants line up to return to their respective home states after the announcement of a week-long lockdown, in New Delhi on Monday. (ANI Photo)

“With folded hands, I request you to not leave the city, this is a small lockdown of six days, these days will be wasted in your travel journey only, stay here. The government will take care of you, I am here, believe me,” the Chief Minister said. “This decision has been taken when we were left out of option, I understand due to lockdown people face losses in business, especially for poor people this period is very difficult, it is extremely difficult for daily wage workers,” he added.

The Chief Minister further said that he has been against lockdown earlier. “I think lockdown will not end coronavirus but it will stop its spread.”

CM Kejriwal assured that in this lockdown period the government will arrange more hospital beds to treat the patients. “The six days that we are taking from you, in this period we will arrange more beds,” he added.

Assuring the citizens of Delhi that the Delhi government is proving right data of Covid-19 new cases, deaths, testing and number of beds in the hospitals, the Chief Minister said, “We have not reduced the number of testing, Delhi is conducting a large number of Covid-19 test, I saw that some have reduced the number of testing and it reduced the number of new cases, this is how they tried to manipulate facts, but we haven’t done it.”

Raising the concern over shortage of beds in hospital he said, “In the last 24 hours, around 23,500 cases were reported. In the last 3-4 days, around 25,000 cases have been reported. Positivity rate and infection have increased. If 25,000 patients come every day then the system will crumble, there is a shortage of beds.”

Delhi is left with less than 100 ICU (Intensive Care Unit) beds, there is a shortage of oxygen as well, we have written a letter to the Centre on this matter, he added.

The Chief Minister also pointed out the scarcity of Remdesivir anti-viral drug which is being in the treatment of Covid-19 patients. “I am telling this not to scare people but to make them aware of the current situation, which very serious now.”

Delhi is facing the fourth wave of the deadly virus, he said.

“After reviewing the Covid-19 situation with Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal it has been decided that it is important to impose a lockdown in Delhi, tonight from 10 pm tonight to 5 am next Monday (26 April), for six days, a lockdown has been imposed,” Kejriwal said.

The health system is not collapsed but in a state of exertion, he mentioned adding that if the government will not take strict action it will fall down. Elaborating on the guidelines of lockdown, the Chief Minister said that the essential services, food services, medical services will continue. Weddings can be held with a gathering of only 50 people, passes will be issued separately for it, he added.

A detailed order of what activity will continue or banned in this lockdown will be issued later, he said. “I am thankful to Centre for the support our government is getting, we will arrange oxygen and medicines from them, will use this lockdown period for all this,” CM Kejriwal said.

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LUCKNOW: Even as the state is recording a big spike in daily coronavirus cases, the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) Monday informed that there will not be any lockdown in the state.

“There is no need to impose a complete lockdown. Weekend lockdowns will continue to curb the spread of COVID-19”,” CMO informed. The CMO also informed a new consignment of 20,000-30,000 Remdesivir vials will reach the state today.

Quoting the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, CMO stated, “20,000-30,000 Remdesivir vials will reach here today. A new consignment of Remedisvir will be received within the next three days. Except for special circumstances, total oxygen produced by all industrial units should be used for medical purposes only.”

The Chief Minister said 3 new oxygen plants will also be set up at different places in state each week. “With DRDO’s help, a new oxygen plant with a capacity of 220 cylinders will be installed and made operational in the next 2-3 days. The government of India has allocated 750 MT oxygen,” he said.

“Dedicated COVID hospital with capacity of 225 beds has been operationalized at Lucknow’s Balrampur Hospital. 700 more beds will be added. KGMU, RML, Era, Hind, Integral and Mayo Medical Colleges to be run as dedicated COVID hospitals,” he said.

The Chief Minister said before any medical college is recognized in state, it should be ensured that the respective college has its own oxygen plant. “50 per cent of 108 ambulances will be dedicated for Covid only. Rapid testing to begin at airports, bus & railway stations of inter-state passengers,” he said. ANI

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Maharashtra mandates Covid test for train passengers from 6 states



In view of the surge in Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra, the state authorities have taken stringent steps to contain the spread of infection. Train passengers from Kerala, Goa, Rajasthan, Delhi-NCR, Gujarat, and Uttarakhand will now be required to produce a negative RT-PCR test report taken at most 48 hours before travelling to Maharashtra. As per the order, no unreserved ticket for Maharashtra should be issued for trains plying from these six states.

A new SOP has been put in place for train travelling from these states to curb the Covid-19 spread across Maharashtra. The state government has categorised these six states as ‘places of sensitive origin’ amid the recent surge in Covid-19 cases.

“All passengers shall be compulsorily screened and only asymptomatic passengers shall be allowed to board the trains for Maharashtra. Social distancing should be ensured during boarding/deboarding and travel,” said Sitaram Kunte, Chief Secretary of Maharashtra. As some passengers will not carry RT-PCR reports, local government authorities in the state have been asked to set up antigen test facilities at railway stations. All passengers without symptoms will have to undergo fifteen days of home quarantine and those with symptoms or the positive result will be sent to institutional quarantine facilities. The state government has also urged the railway ministry to provide thermal scanners at all exit gates in stations and keep a stern check on much needed Covid-19 appropriate behaviour in the trains.

The railway has ensured compliance with various Covid-19 protocols issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Affairs to restrict the spread of the virus.

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Preeti Sompura



The health department here has emphasised on conducting a “six-minute walk test” at home to check whether your lungs are in good health. The move is also meant to make citizens aware about the test, principal secretary of the health department, Dr Pradeep Vyas, has said.

In a recent meeting to review the health system in the state, Dr Vyas said the district health system needs to create more awareness about the six-minute walk test. This will make the citizens aware of the hidden lack of oxygen in the blood so that needy patients can be admitted to hospitals on time, Dr Vyas said.


Individuals experiencing symptoms of fever, chills, cough or Covid-19, as well as patients in home isolation may be tested.


Before doing this test, put a pulse oximeter in the finger and record the oxygen level on it. Then, keeping the finger in the oximeter for six minutes, walk moderately. Do not walk on the steps; also do not walk too fast or too slowly, but walk moderately. After walking for six minutes, note the oxygen level again. If the oxygen level does not decrease even after walking for six minutes, then it should be considered as good health. Suppose oxygen level is reduced by 1-2 per cent, repeat the same test twice a day without worrying to see if there is any change.


 If the oxygen level drops below 93% after six minutes of walking, drops by more than 3% after the start of walking, or after six minutes of walking, one feels short of breath, the person should be admitted to hospital on the understanding that they are deficient in oxygen. People who have shortness of breath while sitting should not do this test. People above 60 years of age can do this test by walking for three minutes instead of six minutes.

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Mumbai man in search of oxygen dies: Who is to be blamed?

Urvashi Khona



I was out on my daily assignment on Sunday, checking the ground reality and bringing the bitter truth about the Covid crisis to the world. While checking on Mumbai hospitals and their plight, I reached Bhabha Hospital in Bandra around 11:30 am. I saw a man in his 50s, suffering from breathlessness, sitting on a wheelchair. He was trying to breathe with a portable oxygen bottle, helped by one of his relatives.

Immediately, I asked video journalist Raju Sharma to capture his plight. It looked like he was not being admitted because oxygen was not available. I tried to speak to the relatives who were continuously on their phones, trying their best to find an oxygen bed in other hospitals. I got to know that the man, Deepak Abhijeet Mhatre, was 57 years old, from Khar Danda, and had been waiting for more than an hour.

He had reported malaria-like symptoms, and his breathlessness had increased that day, after which he had been brought to Bhabha Hospital. His oxygen level was around 45 or 50. The portable oxygen increased it to just 55. But they were being denied admission as oxygen was not available at the hospital. The relatives were trying their luck with the BMC War Room but were not receiving much response. The man, struggling to breathe, looked at me with hopeful eyes, but if only he knew how helpless we are, in this healthcare system that has collapsed and needs some oxygen itself.

I tweeted an SOS alert, seeing how young leaders were taking advantage of social media to reach out to people and help them. Expecting the same, I tweeted about the situation. I did get some calls offering help but then became aware of more hurdles. I was informed how the man had not gotten Covid tests done, which were mandatory. He was in need of oxygen, but as per health protocols, no hospital would admit him without Covid test reports. I wondered how Covid tests had become more important than the basic requirement of oxygen—even for a man struggling to breathe.

By then it was already 1:00 pm. Somehow, I was informed that tests were being done at the Andheri Holy Family Hospital, but one had to reach the testing centre before 2:00 pm. Everyone was worried how a man in such a state could be taken from Bandra to Andheri.

The relatives opted for a basic antigen test from a private lab. The antigen test turned out to be positive and they started looking for a bed or some oxygen. It was sometime between 1:30 and 2:00 pm. Even after following the primary protocols of the system, there was no affirmative response from BMC War Room. “They say they are trying and will inform us as soon as a bed is available,” said Santosh and Shrikant Mhatre, kin of Deepak Mhatre.

In the meantime, Deepak was brought outside the hospital as he had been feeling more suffocated inside. Seeing how we were coordinating and trying our best to make him alright, Deepak seemed to feel sure he would be fine soon, and his oxygen level reached around 60 or 70. This was when I started talking to Deepak and told him not to fear anything and be strong, and reassured him that we were all taking care of things. He smiled at me and simply said, “Yes, I am fine. Just having a bit of difficulty breathing.” In fact, he seemed better than when I had first spotted him.

Around 2:00 pm, I left for another assignment but remained in continuous touch with Deepak’s relatives. Suddenly at 3.00 pm, I got a call from Santosh. He said, “Ma’am, before you left, you spoke to Deepak and he seemed fine, right? His oxygen level was also 80 outside. As soon as he was admitted at Bhabha Hospital, we were called inside. Sometime after he was taken in, we were informed that he’s no more! His oxygen had depleted.”

I had no words. The man was no more. And it all happened within five hours.

It is likely that Deepak had been well—it’s the system that is unwell. Why are there no spaces for suspected patients? Why didn’t the BMC control room give proper guidance? They could have led the patient somewhere with temporary oxygen availability and then shifted him somewhere else. What is happening to people who are not connected to the internet and cannot communicate with others fast?

Only a day before, oxygen shortage had forced the BMC to move 168 Covid-19 patients from six hospitals. One of them had been Bhabha Hospital.

While a war of words goes on between political leaders and parties every day, the lack of oxygen, Remdesivir and tocilizumab has highlighted how we have failed miserably in creating a healthy mechanism. Amid the blame game and mudslinging that politicians are involved in, who’s responsible for the death of 57-year-old Deepak Mhatre? It’s high time now—politics over this deadly virus should stop and politicians should take accountability. Take better action and make the common man believe that humanity still prevails!

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Russia hopes for Iran nuclear deal restoration by a month

Aveek Sen



At the ongoing talks by the Joint Committee of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, also known as the Iran nuclear deal) in Vienna, which involves the US, E3 (UK, Germany, France), Russia and China, Russia seems to have Iran’s back after the US exited the agreement, ratified by the US Congress and negotiated under the Obama administration. Under the Trump administration as well, the US exited a number of international agreements on arms control and climate.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said that the negotiations would have gone forward better had Washington not moved ahead with “Trump’s failed legacy” and just agreed to re-enter JCPOA and fulfilled its commitments, which includes talk by the Biden administration on who enters first and expanding the JCPOA to missile control, that had led to a severe deadlock in the recent past..

Iran, on the other hand, has incrementally increased enrichment. Meanwhile, Israel carried out a cyber attack which Iran has called “nuclear terrorism” as a blast could lead to the leaking of radioactive material in the vicinity.

The Sunday Guardian spoke to Mikhail Ulyanov, Permanent Representative of Russia at Geneva, about the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) negotiations.

 Q: What›s the Russian position on Iran›s permitted stepping away and the E3, US response?

A: We are not happy with deviations of Iran from its nuclear commitments under JCPOA, but we understand that those deviations were provoked by US maximum pressure policy. At this stage, when the negotiations on restoration of the nuclear deal are under way, we call upon all our counterparts, including Iran and E-3, as well as US, to refrain from steps which can complicate the process. All existing problems can be settled shortly through an agreement on JCPOA restoration, and we need to focus on achieving this goal.

Q: Can we expect things to smoothen out in the next few meetings?

A: Yes, we can. But the process isn’t easy. It would be good to finish negotiations successfully within a month. It seems to be doable. The Biden administration too might want to curtail Iran on missiles or regional influence but there’s international pressure on his administration. Also he would find it difficult to walk back from his own comments made during Trump’s withdrawal. This would only strengthen the Satanic image of the US in Iran, that goes to elections, and Biden would have a tough time negotiating with a hardliner government in Iran, though it was Ahmadinejad himself who had been exploring the setup of the JCPOA.

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