With the state’s Covid positivity rate sliding to 0.4%, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday ordered the lifting of weekend and night curfew, and allowed gatherings of 100 persons indoors and 200 outdoors from Monday, while directing the DGP to challan all political leaders violating the Covid rules while holding rallies and protest meetings.
Even as he hoped that better sense will prevail on the political parties and leaders brazenly violating Covid-19 curbs by holding massive protests, he asked DGP Dinkar Gupta to issue challans against those indulging in anti-Covid behaviour.
The Chief Minister also ordered the opening of bars, cinema halls, restaurants, spas, swimming pools, gyms, malls, sports complexes, museums, zoos etc., subject to all eligible staff members and visitors having taken at least one dose each of the vaccine.
Though schools will continue to remain closed, colleges, coaching centres and all other institutions of higher learning shall be allowed to open by the Deputy Commissioner concerned, subject to a certificate having been submitted, that all teaching, non-teaching staff and students have been given at least one dose of vaccination, at least 2 weeks ago.
The Chief Minister, while reviewing the Covid situation virtually, said the situation will again be reviewed on July 20. Strict use of masks must be ensured at all times, the Chief Minister directed, while announcing the easing of restrictions.
Heath Secretary Hussan Lal said four districts had shown positivity of 1 or less than 1%, but the districts that still needed vigilance were Ludhiana, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Firozpur and Roop Nagar.
Referring to the cases of Mucormycosis, which has been reported in 623 patients as of July 8, the Chief Minister asked the Health Department to work out a proposal for supporting and helping in the treatment of such patients. Of the 623 cases, 67 are from outside the state, the Health Secretary informed the meeting, adding that 337 cases were under treatment and 154 had been discharged while 51 patients had died. The maximum cases reported in day was 34 on May 27, while the average of daily cases in the first week of July stood at 5.
With the state running out of Covishield and left with only one day’s stock of Covaxin, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday again stressed the need for an increase in vaccine supplies from the Centre.
An increase in supplies was critical given the gradual opening of sectors conditional to stakeholders having taken at least one dose, said the Chief Minister, directing the officials to continue pursuing aggressively the Centre for enhancement of the state’s quota.
Pointing out that Punjab had already vaccinated nearly 83 lakh eligible persons (approximately 27% of the population), the Chief Minister said that the stock was being utilised in the state without any wastage. Punjab was able to utilise more than 6 lakh doses in a single day when adequate supply was received, he said at the Covid review meeting. While the 1st dose has been administered to 70 lakh people, 13 lakh people have received the second dose, he added.
Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan said during the meeting that the administration was following up with the Government of India for more doses.
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Naxals using drones for recce on security forces
Nagpur: Naxals are using small drones for surveillance of security forces near the Chhattisgarh borders, said Maharashtra Police on Friday.
Speaking to ANI, Sandip Patil, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Gadchiroli said, “Naxals are using small drones for surveillance of our posts near the Chhattisgarh border. In the last 4-5 months we have reported 7-8 incidents. Considering all the possibilities we are taking anti-drone measures.” “These small drones are generally used in wedding ceremonies for photography. They use these drones to check the locations of police parties and security parties from the mountains,” said Patil.
He said considering the drone incident that happened in Jammu, the Maharshtra Police has increased the vigilance and been adopting anti-drone measures. Asked about if there is any coordination with Chattishgarh, the DIG said, “Drones were used in Chattishgarh 7-8 months back. We are working in coordination with IG Bastar and SPs and CRPF. We have made a counter-drone strategy with coordination with them.”
Patil further said that the prima facie information suggests that Naxals procured the drones from Hyderabad.
STUDENTS REACT AS CBSE DECLARES CLASS 12 BOARD EXAM RESULTS
As the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) released the much-awaited class 12 results on Friday, mixed reactions were received from students. This year, the pass percentage stands at 99.37 per cent.
Some expressed their happiness calling the decision perfect while the others felt the entire year along with their preparations was wasted. Speaking to ANI, Vanshikha Gupta, a Commerce student said, “Did not expect to get 98.4 per cent, I’m very happy. Keeping pandemic and safety of students in mind, the government took a good decision,” Vanshikha Gupta, a Commerce student.
Abhishek Chaudhary, another student from Delhi said, “Results were not what we were expecting. I was expecting over 80 per cent score but I am disappointed. I wanted to get into a government college but it seems difficult now.”
“I’m extremely happy, was not expecting to score over 90 per cent,” said Khushi, a humanities student in Ludhiana.
The exam was scheduled to be held in May but was cancelled due to a surge in Covid-19 cases. This year, the CBSE 12th results have been prepared in an alternative way as board exams could not be held this year due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The board had adopted an alternative assessment scheme to finalise the result.
WITH ANI INPUTS
ASSAM ISSUES ADVISORY AGAINST TRAVEL TO MIZORAM
The Assam government on Thursday issued a travel advisory asking people not to travel to Mizoram and advised people from the state working or staying there to “exercise utmost caution.”
Assam and Mizoram also traded accusations over deployment of security forces along the interstate border on Thursday, three days after both sides were locked in a fierce gun battle near the boundary that left six policemen and a civilian dead.
Amidst the ongoing border dispute between the two states Assam and Mizoram, Assam Minister Ashok Singhal on Thursday informed that Mizoram civilians are threatening the people of Assam.
While speaking to ANI, Ashok Singhal said, “In the video footage, Mizoram civilians are threatening us and they are carrying weapons too. So we have issued an advisory for the people of Assam not to visit Mizoram. If somebody still goes there, we will not take his/her responsibility.” “Provocative statements are still being issued from the other side.
Further, talks will take place with the mediation of the Union Home Ministry. We have handed over the post to neutral forces but Mizoram has still not withdrawn its personnel from post”, said Cachar Guardian Minister Singhal.
Taking stock of the situation, Assam’s Cachar Superintendent of Police, Ramandeep Kaur said, “The CRPF is manning the border. Assam police have withdrawn as per directions of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) but on Mizoram’s side, the police are still out there which is making the situation tense. Assam people should abide by directions and advisory given by the government of Assam.”
Meanwhile, Assam police also issued a notification saying that in order to check trafficking of illicit drugs, all incoming vehicles from Mizoram will be thoroughly checked at all the entry points along the Assam Mizoram border.
On July 26, the border dispute between the two states peaked and a fierce gun battle between the forces of the two states resulted in the death of five Assam police personnel and one civilian.
One injured policeman succumbed to his injuries later taking the total toll of policemen to six. At least 50 people were injured in the incident. A total of six companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been deployed at the site where the policemen died.
WITH AGENCY INPUTS
Malls, multiplexes may soon reopen in Maharashtra
The Maharashtra government may soon allow malls, multiplexes, restaurants and gymnasiums to reopen and operate at 50 per cent capacity while shops and other establishments may get extended hours of operations, beyond 4 pm, in 25 districts with low Covid-19 positivity rates. State Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that a formal order on easing the restrictions will be issued in the next few days.
On Thursday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray held a meeting with the state Covid task force and senior health department officials to discuss the easing of restrictions a day after several ministers demanded relaxations in the state cabinet meeting.
Tope said on that Mumbai and 24 other districts will be in Level 2. Eleven districts, including Palghar, Raigad, Ahmednagar and Pune, which are part of MMR or share borders with it, will remain in Level 3 because of their higher test positivity rate and cases.
He also said that after the meeting that the issue would be decided by the Chief Minister regarding the resumption of the local trains.
Weekends may see some relaxations but Sunday will remain completely shut. Only fully vaccinated (2 doses) citizens will be able to travel in local trains. As of now only government employees and people involved with essential services are allowed to travel in local trains.
Cinema halls likely to be open for the public with limited capacity. Local shops, hotels, and gyms will be allowed to remain open for longer hours now.
Districts which will still see the curbs are Pune, Solapur, Sangli, Satara, Kolhapur, Palghar, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Beed, and Ahmednagar. These districts have higher positivity rates than average.
INDIA-CHINA TALKS TODAY, GOGRA, HOT SPRINGS DISENGAGEMENT ON CARDS
India and China will hold the 12th round of Corps Commander-level talks on Saturday. It will be aimed at discussing disengagement from the remaining friction points in the eastern Ladakh sector Army sources told ANI.
India and China have already disengaged from the banks of Pangong lake after extensive talks and the Gogra Heights and Hot Springs areas are left to be resolved as these friction points were created post-Chinese aggression last year. According to Army sources, the 12th round of Corps Commander level talks between India and China is scheduled to be held in Moldo on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control around 10:30 am.
“12th round of Corps Commander level talks between India and China to be held in Moldo on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control around 10:30 am. India and China expected to discuss disengagement from the Hot Springs and Gogra Heights areas,” Army sources said.
The two countries have been engaged in a military standoff for almost a year but disengaged from the most contentious Pangong lake area last month after extensive talks at both military and political levels.
The credit for the disengagement was given to all stakeholders by Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane who also talked about the country benefitting from the inputs given by the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval during the crisis.
Earlier, India and China held 11 rounds of talks at the Corps Commander level to reach the arrangement to disengage from the Pangong lake area.
With ANI inputs
IT WILL AFFECT FREEDOM OF PRESS: HC TO SHILPA SHETTY ON HER MEDIA GAG PLEA
The Bombay High Court on Friday, while hearing a defamation case filed by actress Shilpa Shetty Kundra against media outlets, said that passing a blanket gag order on the media against reporting anything against her shall impact the freedom of press, adding that there is a judicial limit on what can be construed as good or bad journalism. However, some media outlets were asked to take down a few videos and contents that were found to be defamatory by the actress.
Shilpa Shetty, wife of Raj Kundra arrested in the pornography case, on Thursday filed a defamation case against 29 media outlets.
The Bombay HC, however, directed the three videos uploaded on YouTube channels of three private persons be deleted and not uploaded again as they were malicious in nature. The court noted that the freedom of press has to be balanced with the right to privacy of an individual.
The actress, in an interim application, had sought for the media to be restrained from allegedly publishing any incorrect, false, malicious and defamatory content.
The court noted that the articles referred to by Shilpa Shetty in her suit do not seem to be defamatory. “It cannot be like if you (media) are not going to write or say anything nice about me (Shilpa Shetty) then do not say anything at all. How can this be,” it asked.
vThe court noted that most of the articles referred to in the suit, including one that claimed that “Shetty cried and fought with her husband Kundra” when he was brought to their house by the police for joint interrogation, was based on what police sources said.
Shetty had objected to news articles about the actress breaking down and confronting Raj Kundra when Mumbai Police raided their residence. Saraf said, “It was something that had happened between a husband and wife and it was private and should not have been reported.” To this, the court said that the act of Shetty happened in front of outsiders (policemen) and it was reported from “crime branch sources. Also, the act of crying was not defamatory but it shows that she’s a human”.
The HC also said that the media just can’t sing praises and that Shetty is a public figure and that such articles are not defamatory. “You (Shetty) chose a life in public life. Your life is under a microscope. It cannot be that if the media is not going to say anything nice about her (Shetty) then they will be asked to say nothing at all.”
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