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Rajinikanth quits poll politics, cites health issues

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Chennai: Superstar Rajinikanth announced on Tuesday that he would not enter into electoral politics due to his health issues. In a statement issued on twitter at 11:50 am, Rajinikanth stated that his recent health condition is a God’s warning to him.

In the three-page statement, Rajinikanth explained that even after all precautions were taken and Covid guidelines were followed in the Annaa, the movie sets in Hyderabad, four of the crew were tested positive and because of that he had severe blood pressure fluctuation and being a renal transplant patient following the testing negative for Covid.

Rajinikanth has stated in the statement that he cannot bring up the change he wanted to see in society and get the victory he wanted in the Assembly elections. He also added that he cannot risk facing crores of people through public meetings and that will lead to loss and embarrassment of his followers, both mentally and physically. “With great grief, I am informing that I’ll not enter politics or start a political party. Only I know the pain of making this decision,” said Rajinikanth.

He also asked his fans and followers to forgive him for his decision and said that all the members of Rajinikanth Makkal Mandram followed his instructions and served the people during the Covid time and all that will come as a blessing to his families. He added that the Rajinikanth Makkal Mandram will function as usual.

Right after Rajinikanth making public his announcement, several political party leaders and AIADMK ministers urged that Rajinikanth should extend their support to them in the upcoming Assembly elections. Minister Foi Pandiya Rajan urged that “as Rajinikanth wants to offer MGR governance, so request him to extend his support to AIADMK which is giving MGR governance”.

Tamil Manila Katchi leader G.K. Vasan requested Rajinikanth to lend his support to AIADMK as it does “good to the people of Tamil Nadu”.

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SAUDI ARABIA BARS FOREIGN PILGRIMS FROM HAJJ DUE TO COVID-19

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Amid the raging Covid-19 pandemic, Saudi Arabia has once again barred foreigners to perform the Hajj, and set a limit of maximum of 60,000 pilgrims inside the Kingdom.

“Only 60,000 vaccinated residents and citizens living in the Kingdom will be allowed to perform this year’s Haj pilgrimage due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” the Ministry of Haj and Umrah announced in a statement cited by Gulf News on Saturday. The Hajj is one of Islam’s five pillars. Every able-bodied Muslim who has affordability tries to visit it at least once in a lifetime.

“Against the backdrop of what the world is witnessing and due to the continuous developments of the coronavirus pandemic as well as the emergence of new mutations, Haj registration will be limited to residents and citizens from inside the Kingdom only,” the ministry also Twitted.

“Muslims between the ages of 18-65 and are fully vaccinated, or those who received their first dose at least 14 days prior, those who are vaccinated and have recovered from a Covid-19 infection are allowed to register,” the ministry added.

This is the second year in a row that Saudi Arabia limits the Haj pilgrimage to Muslims inside the Kingdom. However, only 10,000 Muslims were allowed to perform Hajj last year.

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US AND JAPAN DEEPEN TIES WITH TAIWAN, DRAGON FINDS ITSELF IN TIGHT SPOT

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The US and Japan have been deepening their engagement with Taiwan to help guard it against a growing threat from China. The move has out Beijing in tight spot.

J. Michael Cole, writing in The National Interest said that the regime in Beijing, which continues its effort to isolate Taiwan internationally, is now in the difficult position of having to express its discontent over coronavirus response while avoiding overreaction that could create the rationale for even closer relations between Taiwan and other countries. Taiwan has had a fairly positive past month in terms of its engagement with, and support by, regional partners.

Beijing’s setbacks began back in April, with the joint statement between US President Joe Biden and his Japanese counterpart, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, which “underscore[d] the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.”

Such direct reference to Taiwan by a Japanese prime minister had not been heard for more than half a century, reported The National Interest. This was followed the next month by a similar statement, this one by President Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, which again “emphasise[d] the importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”.

The unprecedented reference to Taiwan by a South Korean leader also signalled those countries within the region were becoming increasingly alarmed with China’s destabilising behaviour—particularly the high number of intrusions by aircraft from the People’s Liberation Army Air Force and Navy into Taiwan’s southern Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), wrote Cole.

Four days before the Biden-Suga joint statement, a total of twenty-five PLA aircraft–14 J-16 multi-role fighters, four J-10 multi-role fighters, four H-6K bombers, 2 Y-8 anti-submarine planes, and one KJ-500 airborne early warning and control plane–entered Taiwan’s ADIZ, a new high since the PLA began intensifying its military activity in the region in 2020, reported The National Interest.

But now, China is in a tight spot as Taiwan is receiving more attention from allies. One strategic mistake Beijing may have committed earlier this year was its refusal to reduce its military activity around the Taiwan Strait during the transition period in Washington, wrote Cole.

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WHO chief asks China to cooperate with probe into Covid-19 origins

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Ghebreyesus has called on China to cooperate with the ongoing investigation into the origins of the Covid-19 amid renewed call to further probe the virus.

Dr Tedros made these remarks after taking part in the Group of Seven (G7) summit by video conference on Saturday, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.

The WHO Director-General hoped there would be better cooperation and transparency when the next phase of the probe into the virus’s origin is underway. “As you know we will need cooperation from the Chinese side,” he said. “We need transparency to understand or know or find the origin of this virus…after the report was released there were difficulties in the data sharing, especially in the raw data.”

He further said that the preparations for the probe’s next steps were underway and that the issue of the origin of the virus was discussed by G7 leaders on Saturday, WSJ reported.

Earlier this week, the US and the UK had extended support to a “timely, transparent and evidence-based independent process” for the next phase of the WHO-convened study of Covid-19 origins. “We will also support a timely, transparent and evidence-based independent process for the next phase of the WHO-convened COVID-19 origins study, including in China, and for investigating outbreaks of unknown origin in the future,” a joint statement said after US President Joe Biden met British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday.

This comes amid growing calls for a timely, transparent, and evidence-based independent process for the next phase of the WHO-convened origin study.

Recently, the calls to investigate further the origins of the virus have intensified. President Biden has also ordered a fresh US intelligence inquiry into the origins of the pandemic.

The origin of novel coronavirus that caused havoc around the world has remained a mystery even after 1.5 years the first case of infection was reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Now, scientists and world leaders are calling for further investigations to figure out whether the virus originated naturally or leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

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G7 NATIONS CALL OUT CHINA OVER XINJIANG, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

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In a veiled criticism of the Dragon, Group of Seven (G&) leaders called on China to respect human rights in its Xinjiang region, allow Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy, and refrain from any unilateral action that could destabilise the East and South China Seas, Reuters reported quoted a draft version of the G7 summit communique.

“We will promote our values, including by calling on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially in relation to Xinjiang and those rights, freedoms and high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration,” the G7 said in a communique that was almost finalised.

Before the G7 criticism emerged, China cautioned G7 leaders that the days when “small” groups of countries decided the fate of the world were long gone.

The G7 also said they underscored “the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues”.

“We remain seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas and strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo and increase tensions.”

“We also call for a timely, transparent, expert-led, and science-based WHO-convened Phase 2 Covid-19 origins study including, as recommended by the experts’ report, in China,” the communique, which is almost finalised, said.

“The days when global decisions were dictated by a small group of countries are long gone,” a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in London said.

“We always believe that countries, big or small, strong or weak, poor or rich, are equals, and that world affairs should be handled through consultation by all countries.”

Beijing has repeatedly hit back against what it perceives as attempts by Western powers to contain China, and says many major powers are still gripped by an outdated imperial mindset after years of humiliating China.

UN experts and rights groups estimate over a million people, mainly Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, have been detained in recent years in a vast system of camps in Xinjiang.

China denies all accusations of forced labour or abuse. It initially denied the camps existed, but has since said they are vocational centres and are designed to combat extremism. In late 2019, China said all people in the camps had “graduated”.

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Won’t comment before studying matter: Ram Janmbhoomi Trust on corruption charges

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Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust General Secretary Champat Rai on Sunday said he will not make any comment without studying the matter. This came hours after SP leader Tej Narayan Pandey made corruption allegations against the trust.

“They keep making allegations on us. It has been like this for the last 100 years. They blamed us also for the death of Mahatma Gandhi. I will not say anything in the matter without a study,” Rai said. Rai was speaking after participating on the first day of a two-day meeting between trustees and engineers, chaired by Ram Temple construction committee chairman Nripendra Misra. The next meeting is scheduled to be held at 10:30 am on Monday in the Circuit House here.

Earlier in the day, Pandey accused the Trust of committing corruption in a land deal and sought a CBI probe into the matter.

“The Trust purchased a piece of land, which had been bought in Rs 2 crores just 10 minutes before, in Rs 18.5 crores on March 18,” he alleged. He also said that Trust member Anil Mishra and Mayor of Ayodhya Rishikesh Upadhyay are witnesses in both the sale agreements.

Taking to Twitter, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sanjay Singh, attaching several documents, said: “Ravi Mohan Tiwari and Sultan Ansari bought land worth Rs 2 crores at 7:10 pm. At 7:15 pm, Champat Rai of Ram Janmabhoomi Trust bought this land from them for Rs 18.5 crore.”

SP leader Tej Narayan Pandey accused Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust of committing corruption in a land deal and sought a CBI probe into the matter. Holding a press conference on Sunday, Pandey said that “The piece of land was earlier purchased for Rs 2 crore by Ravi Mohan Tiwari and Sultan Ansari. 10 minutes later, the Trust bought the land for Rs 18.5 crore on 18 March.”

The SP leader also claimed that Rs 17 crore was sent to the bank account of Ravi Mohan Tiwari and Sultan Ansari through RTGS mode of payment and demanded a probe into the RTGS money transfer.

With ANI inputs

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MILKHA SINGH’S WIFE NIRMAL KAUR SUCCUMBS TO COVID

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Track legend Milkha Singh’s wife Nirmal Kaur passed away at the age of 85 after battling with Covid-19 on Sunday. She had tested Covid positive in May. “We are deeply saddened to inform you that Nirmal Milkha Singh passed away after a valiant battle against Covid-19 at 4 pm today,” read a family statement. Nirmal was a former Director of Sports for Women in the Punjab Government and was also a former captain of the Indian women’s national volleyball team.

Punjab Sports Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi condoled the demise of Nirmal Milkha Singh. In a condolence message, the Sports Minister said, “I am deeply saddened to learn about the death of Nirmal Milkha Singh, which is extremely shocking and unfortunate.”

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