India’s Covid-19 Tally Crosses 62-Lakh Mark

With a spike of 80,472 new cases and 1,179 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, India’s COVID-19 tally has crossed the 62-lakh mark on Wednesday, according to the Union Health Ministry.

According to the Union Health Ministry, the COVID-19 count stands at 62,25,764 including 9,40,441 active cases. It also includes 51,87,826 cured and discharged or migrated patients and 97,497 deaths.

Maharashtra is the worst-affected state which reported 18,317 new COVID-19 cases, 481 deaths and 19,163 discharges on Wednesday. The total cases in the state rose to 13,84,446, including 36,662 deaths and 10,88,322 discharges. Active cases stand at 2,59,033, said the Public Health Department.

Karnataka reported 8,856 new COVID-19 cases, 8,890 discharges and 87 deaths, taking total cases to 6,01,767 including 4,85,268 discharges and 8,864 deaths. The number of active cases stands at 1,07,616, said the State Health Department on Wednesday.

As many as 8,830 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Kerala on Wednesday, taking the total number of active cases to 67,061 so far. As many as 1,28,224 patients have recovered till date in the state, said the Kerala Government.

As many as 6,133 new COVID-19 cases, 7,075 recoveries and 48 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours in Andhra Pradesh, said the State Health Department. With this the total positive cases increased to 6,93,484, including 6,29,211 recoveries, 58,445 active cases and 5,828 deaths.

Tamil Nadu reported 5,659 new COVID-19 cases, 5,610 recoveries and 67 deaths today, taking total positive cases to 5,97,602, including 5,41,819 recoveries, 9,520 deaths and 46,263 active cases, said the State Health Department

Delhi reported 3,390 new COVID-19 cases, 3,965 recoveries/discharges/migrations and 41 deaths on Wednesday. The total cases in the state rose to 2,79,715, including 2,47,446 recoveries/discharges/migrations cases and 5,361 deaths. Active cases stand at 26,908, said the Delhi Government.

Jammu and Kashmir reported 975 new COVID-19 cases and 1,355 recoveries on Wednesday, taking the total tally in the Union Territory to 75,070, including 56,872 recoveries and 1,181 deaths. Active cases stand at 17,017, said the Government of Jammu and Kashmir.

Haryana reported 1,625 new coronavirus positive cases, 2,063 recoveries and 26 deaths on Wednesday, taking the total cases to 1,28,599 including 1,12,877 recoveries, 1,382 deaths and 14,340 active cases, said the State Health Department.

Manipur reported 237 new COVID-19 cases, 421 recoveries and two deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of positive cases to 10,983, including 8,460 recovered cases, 2,456 active cases and 67 deaths. The recovery rate is 77.02 per cent, said the State Health Department.

West Bengal recorded 3,281 new coronavirus cases, 2,954 recoveries and 59 deaths on Wednesday, taking total cases to 2,57,049 including 2,25,759 recoveries, 4,958 deaths and 26,332 active cases, said the State Health Department.

A total of 1,435 new COVID-19 cases and 47 deaths were reported in Punjab on Wednesday, taking the total number of cases to 1,13,886 including 16,814 active cases and 3,406 deaths, said the State Government.

Meanwhile, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 7,41,96,729 samples have been tested up to September 29 for COVID-19. Out of these 10,86,688 samples were tested on Tuesday. (ANI)

Pakistan A Death Trap For Journalists: India Tells UNHRC

Slamming the “fabricated words” presented by Pakistan, India on Wednesday at the United Nations Human Rights Council highlighted that incessant efforts on its part to malign India in all international forums is not going to change the fact that hundreds of journalists and human rights defenders die each year in Pakistan due to systematic killings including extrajudicial ones.

Pawan Badhe, First Secretary at Permanent Mission of India to UN said: “No fabricated words against India is going to change the fact that Pakistan and territories under its control are deathtraps for journalists, human rights defenders, social activists and religious and ethnic minorities.”

Addressing the vice president of United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Badhe exercising India’s ‘Right of Reply’ at United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), said, “Perennial India bashing project of Pakistan in the UN system is also not going to change the fact that hundreds of journalists and human rights defenders die each year in Pakistan due to systematic killings including extrajudicial ones.”

“Incessant attempts to maligning India in all international forums is not going to change the fact that tens of thousands of minorities would not stop fleeing Pakistan,” he added.

Referring to Pakistan’s single-minded focus to malign India in the international forums, Badhe said that it demonstrates its “own hollowness when it comes to accountability and justice for oppressing those standing for their rights”.

“The pathetic state of affairs for journalists and human rights defenders is well known when the deep state could make prominent journalists disappear in broad daylight at the heart of Pakistan. We only could imagine the fate for those journalists and human rights defenders in territories under its control,” he said.

The First Secretary said that silence is the apt word for those effected through enforced disappearances, murders, detentions, custodial deaths and torture in Baluchistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Pakistan occupied parts of Indian Union Territories of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.

In his UNHRC address, Badhe said that Pakistan is yet to understand the “real meaning” of modern laws, democracy and human rights.

“While the world has progressed well, Pakistan is still at the crossroads to understand the real meaning of modern laws, democracy and human rights. The language of accountability, civic space, fundamental freedoms, public participation is yet to find resonance with the authorities of Pakistan,” he said.

While concluding, the First Secretary urged Pakistan not to make a mockery of the UNHRC.

“Pakistan should not make a mockery of this august forum when it attempts to self-crown as an ardent supporter of political dissidents, journalists, social activists, minorities and human rights defenders. For that Pakistan has miles to go,” he said. (ANI)

Andhra Cops Bust Gang Behind Hindu Idols Desecration

The Andhra Pradesh Police on Wednesday said it arrested eight people of an interstate treasure trove gang and cracked within 72 hours, the case of desecration of the ‘Nandi’ idol outside ‘Abhaya Anjaneya Temple’ in Chittoor district.

As per the official statement by state police, upon receiving credible information that certain members of the gang were hiding in the Kanipakam Mandal, one of the three teams formed by police to investigate the matter rushed to the location and successfully nabbed the entire gang of eight members.

“Five out of the eight accused who were arrested belong to the neighbouring state of Karnataka, which makes this an inter-state gang. Keeping this in mind, the police investigated further into the modus operandi of the gang in order to unravel the entire plot,” it said.

The police said that upon being questioned, the accused revealed that the gang first obtained information about a lot of temples in the state, then spoke to the locals to find out if any of them have a treasure hidden underneath.

“In the meantime, those who came in from Karnataka found local partners to collaborate with them. The accused went to the extent of going on a recce before finalising the plan and executing the same,” it stated.

Police’s statement added that the investigation, along with certain photographs recovered during the process of making the arrests, revealed that the accused also readied plans for carrying out similar acts in temples in Chittoor’s Kanipakam, SR Puram, Tirupati, Kurnool district’s, Kurnool, Mahanandi, Patthikonda and Mantralayam and a few temples spread across Ananthapur and Guntur districts as well.

“Names of the accused are Kuruvu Somasekhar, MS Manikanta ( Karnataka), JL Naveen ( Karnataka ), R Saravanan, S Kiran Kumar ( Karnataka), M Vikas ( Karnataka ), Ashok Kumar ( Karnataka ), and P. Peddababu,” police added.

Speaking about the arrests, S Senthil Kumar, Superintendent of Police (SP) Chittoor said that people tried to project this incident as a targeted attack due to the negligence of the police which is entirely false.

“In this case, we traced the accused within two days of registering the case. We have also taken up a massive drive to ensure the safety of religious places. Have asked all the management’s to install CCTVs. Had the management of this temple taken that initiative, this incident could’ve been prevented,” he said.

Police said that on September 27, a local from the Abhayamangalam region of the Chittoor district reported the fact that the auspicious ‘Nandi’ outside the ‘Abhaya Anjaneya Temple’ was desecrated, and GD Nellore police immediately registered an FIR and started investigating. (ANI)

Pompeo Cautions Italy Of Risks In Trade With China

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Wednesday warned Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte the risks associated with doing business with China.

During talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Rome, Pompeo highlighted the substantial business and investment ties between the United States and Italy and noted the risks associated with doing business with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), according to an official statement issued by the State Department.

Urging Italy to work together against the security threats, Pompeo said that China must be held responsible for the COVID-19 crisis.

He said that the United States advocates for a vibrant digital economy worldwide that benefits from the promise of 5G networks, adding that countries must take action now to safeguard their emerging 5G networks against untrusted suppliers because the “stakes could not be higher”.

The US Secretary of State urged the Italian government to consider the possible threats that businesses with China might have in the future.

“The United States urges the Italian government to consider the threats to its national security and the security and privacy of its citizens posed by giving companies beholden to the Chinese Communist Party access to data transmissions across Italian networks,” he said.

“The US Embassy to the Holy See symposium, “Advancing and Defending International Religious Freedom through Diplomacy,” is an opportunity to highlight the US government support for persecuted religious minorities, particularly in China and the Middle East,” he added.

The symposium will also emphasise many ways the United States collaborates with the Holy See and faith-based organisations, and it will reaffirm US commitment to promoting and defending religious freedom everywhere, Pompeo said. (ANI)

Army Organises Village Games In Jammu & Kashmir

On the occasion of World Health Day, village games were organized by the Indian Army at Hardupanju in Jammu and Kashmir’s Budgam area.

According to the Army, the event was organised to promote harmony, peace and a healthy lifestyle among the youths of Khansahib, Beerwah and Khag tehsils of Budgam.

Created by the World Heart Federation, World Heart Day is celebrated every year on September 29 to inform people around the globe about Cardiovascular Diseases, including heart disease and stroke, which is the world’s leading cause of death, claiming 17.9 million lives each year. (ANI)

Govt Allows Cinemas To Open With Curbs From Oct 14

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday issued new guidelines for ‘re-opening’ of more activities in areas outside the containment zones. Lockdown has been extended and will be in force till 31 October in containment zones.

According to the guidelines, cinemas, theatres, multiplexes will be permitted to open with up to 50 per cent of their seating capacity and states can allow gathering of more than 100 people but with conditions.

These guidelines are not unlock guidelines but norms for re-opening. “Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued new guidelines today, for opening up of more activities in areas outside the Containment Zones. In these guidelines, which will come into effect from October 1, 2020, the process of re-opening of activities has been extended further. The new guidelines, issued today, are based on feedback received from States and UTs, and extensive consultations held with related Central Ministries and Departments,” a press statement said on Wednesday.

It said, “Activities permitted from 15th October 2020, in areas outside the Containment Zones–“Cinemas/ theatres/ multiplexes will be permitted to open with upto 50 per cent of their seating capacity, for which, SOP will be issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.”

Further MHA said that, Business to Business (B2B) Exhibitions will be permitted to open, for which, SOP will be issued by the Department of Commerce. Swimming pools being used for training of sportspersons will be permitted to open, for which the standard operating procedure (SOP) will be issued by Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports (MoYA&S).

The Ministry said entertainment parks and similar places will be permitted to open, for which the SOP will be issued by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW).

While giving details about social gatherings, MHA said, “Social/ academic/ sports/ entertainment/ cultural/ religious/ political functions and other congregations have already been permitted with a ceiling of 100 persons, outside Containment Zones only. Now State/ UT Governments have been given the flexibility to permit such gatherings beyond the limit of 100 persons, outside Containment Zones, after 15th October 2020.” This will be subject to the following conditions like, In closed spaces, a maximum of 50% of the hall capacity will be allowed, with a ceiling of 200 persons. Wearing of face masks, maintaining social distancing, provision for thermal scanning and use of hand wash or sanitiser will be mandatory.

“In open spaces, keeping the size of the ground/ space in view, and with strict observance of social distancing, mandatory wearing of face masks, provision for thermal scanning and hand wash or sanitizer.To ensure that such gatherings do not spread COVID-19, State/ UT Governments will issue detailed SOPs to regulate such gathering, and strictly enforce the same,” MHA said.

For re-opening of schools and coaching institutions, State/ UT Governments have been given the flexibility to take a decision after 15 October 2020 in a graded manner. The decision shall be taken in consultation with the respective school/ institution management, based on their assessment of the situation, and subject to the following conditions–Online/ distance learning shall continue to be the preferred mode of teaching and shall be encouraged. Where schools are conducting online classes, and some students prefer to attend online classes rather than physically attend school, they may be permitted to do so.

Students may attend schools/ institutions only with the written consent of parents. Attendance must not be enforced, and must depend entirely on parental consent.

States /UTs will prepare their own SOP regarding health and safety precautions for reopening of schools/ institutions based on the SOP to be issued by Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL), Ministry of Education, Government of India, keeping local requirements in view.

Schools, which are allowed to open, will have to mandatorily follow the SOP to be issued by Education Departments of States/ UTs.

Department of Higher Education (DHE), Ministry of Education may take a decision on the timing of the opening of colleges/ higher education institutions, in consultation with Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), based on the assessment of the situation. online/ distance learning shall continue to be the preferred mode of teaching and shall be encouraged.

However, higher education institutions only for research scholars (Ph.D) and post-graduate students in science and technology stream requiring laboratory/ experimental works will be permitted to open from 15 October, 2020, as under–For centrally funded higher education institutions, the head of institution will satisfy herself/ himself that there is a genuine requirement of research scholars (Ph.D) and post-graduate students in science and technology stream for laboratory/experimental works.

For all other higher education institutions e.g. state universities, private universities etc., they may open only for research scholars (Ph.D) and postgraduate students in science and technology stream requiring laboratory/experimental works as per decision to be taken by the respective State/UT governments. (ANI)

ISIS Expanding in S Asia Under Pak Patronage: Experts

After the fall of the caliphate in Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State is fast spreading its network in South Asia, the region which already has a large number of terrorist and extremist groups.

ISIS sympathisers, some of them former Taliban commanders, have begun active recruitment drives to widen the presence of the group in the region.

To discuss the emerging threat of the Islamic State in South Asia, Amsterdam-based think tank, European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) hosted a webinar on Monday titled — ‘Rise of ISIS in South Asia’ — on the sidelines of the 45th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The event was moderated by Junaid Qureshi, Director EFSAS, and human rights activists, NGO representatives and scholars in the field of terrorism and South Asian politics. They deliberated upon the origins of the Islamic State of Khorasan province, its main areas of operation and assessed its number of fighters mostly belonging to Pakistani origin.

Timothy Foxley, an independent political and military researcher, current EFSAS Research Fellow and former Senior Analyst for the British Ministry of Defence, the Swedish Ministry of Defence and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), discussed in-depth the future of the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP), in the backdrop of the US-Taliban ‘Peace Talks’ and the US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan.

He said earlier this year, the United Nations in July assessed that there might be around 2000 ISKP fighters.

“So there is some kind of consensus in the number of forces available. They are a mix of nationalities fighting within ISKP, many came originally from the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, TTP – the Pakistani Taliban. Some of these have been in Nangarhar province for several years from around 2010. According to US military sources, as many as 70 per cent of the ISKP fighters are Pakistanis,” he said..

Dr Paul Stott, EFSAS Research Fellow, writer, academic and researcher on terrorism and radicalisation, British Jihadism, Islamism and International security, discussed the jihadist triangle of Islamic State, Britain and South Asia.

He argued that ISIS aims to appeal to Sunni Muslims globally, invoking senses of perceived injustice and local grievances in various contexts, including the region of South Asia, which has resulted in the development of a non-contiguous Islamic State, at least in thought.

Stott further stated that an estimated number of 800-1000 Britons have travelled to join ISIS.

The Islamic State of Khorasan province has been accused of carrying out attacks on behalf of the Haqqani network and the Lashkar-e-Taiba in Afghanistan and India.

Various reports suggest that the Pakistani deep state is pushing the Haqqani Network to increase its stake in ISKP to retain its leverage on Afghanistan.

Researchers in the EFSAS webinar drew similarities between the modus operandi of ISIS in Pakistan and the Haqqani Network, arguing that oftentimes the two groups acquired weapons and ammunitions from similar sources, which implies that the ISI keeps ISIS as an open option to be utilised for strategic depth in the future.

Malaiz Daud, former Chief of Staff of Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, Research Fellow at the Barcelona Center for International Affairs and Research Fellow at EFSAS, deliberated upon the presence of ISIS in Pakistan and the region of Jammu and Kashmir.

He claimed that in the context of Pakistan, the number of ISIS affiliates is unknown, yet most of them are former TTP, Jama’at-ud-Da’wah (JuD) and Al-Qaeda members, while lone wolves without any affiliation to other terror groups also constitute part of their ranks.

“The problem is if you talk to the Afghan security officers, they will all point to the hallmarks of the attacks of ISIS, and say it is very similar to the attacks by Haqqani Network. They say that ISIS is totally a different face now. When Taliban or the Pakistan ISI would like to conduct an attack, just blaming it on ISIS, they say that they are not supporting but actually they are the ones doing it. We have not seen any evidence. But again, the insurgency, the landscape is so fluid, material, people, and resources are shared widely and extensively,” said Daud.

The whole discussion in Afghanistan is that the ground for all this has been made by the Pakistani ISI and they are keeping ISIS as an option against the Taliban.

Over the years, Pakistan has gained the reputation of being a terror- breeder and perpetrator and is now counted among the dreaded few for spreading mayhem across South Asia and the globe.

It not only provides resources and funds for terror proliferation but also political patronage to allow them to unleash their devious strategies in their own style. (ANI)

Special CBI Court Acquits All In Babri Demolition Case

All accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case have been acquitted by the Special CBI court in Lucknow on Wednesday.

In its judgement pronounced today, the court said that the demolition was not pre-planned.

The counsel for Sakshi Maharaj, Prashant Singh Atal, added that the court had acquitted all accused as there was not enough evidence against them.

“Today the Special CBI judge acquitted all 32 accused, it held that the accusations by CBI were wrong, it also held that the evidence against the accused was not adequate. The court commented that the demolition was done by anti-social elements, VHP or Sangh had no hand in it. The leaders had tried to stop the incident from taking place. The involvement of the accused, direct or indirect, was not found,” Prashant Singh Atal told reporters here.

“About the photographs, the court said that the negatives were available but the CBI could not produce the negatives. Also the video recordings were fabricated and tampered with. CBI did not follow the provisions of 65 Evidence Act, that is why all accused were acquitted on the basis of lack of evidence,” he added.

Another lawyer for the defendants, further said that the court had opined that “karsewaks who had assembled in Ayodhya were there for karsewa, it was not pre-planned. Further, the BJP leaders assembled there had tried to stop it from happening.”

Earlier today, 26 of the 32 accused had arrived at the court premises to hear the court’s verdict.

While six others, including senior BJP leader LK Advani, had taken part in it through video conferencing.

There were 49 accused in the case out of which 17 have passed away. Therefore, the court pronounced its judgement on the rest 32 accused, who had been asked to be physically present in the court.

However, owing to COVID-19, senior citizens and those who are unwell among the accused are likely to be exempted from personally appearing in the court. (ANI)

Fadnavis Made BJP In-Charge Of Bihar Ahead Of Polls

Ahead of Bihar Assembly polls, former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Devendra Fadnavis has been appointed as party’s Bihar in-charge on Wednesday at a party meeting here.

The decision to appoint Fadnavis as party’s Bihar in-charge was taken at a meeting held at BJP president JP Nadda’s residence along with Home Minister Amit Shah, MoS Nityanand Rai, BJP National General Secretary BL Santosh, BJP Bihar President Sanjay Jaiswal, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi, Lok Sabha MP Bhupender Yadav and other senior leaders.

“This is a great time to learn as well. Sanjay Jaiswal and Bhupender Yadav has already set the things in Bihar. We will fight this election with full power. NDA will be in power. Nitish Kumar will lead the state,” said Fadnavis while speaking to media.

BJP leader Bhupendra Yadav said, “NDA ‘gathbandhan’ under the leadership of CM Nitesh Kumar will fight the Bihar Elections. BJP, Janata Dal (U) and Lok Janshakti Party — these three parties– will fight the elections. Even Jiten Majhi’s party has extended support to JDU. They are also with us.”

“National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will be win. Nitish Kumar will be Chief Minister again. People of Bihar are with us. The next two days are important for us. We will make a formal announcement of the alliance soon,” he added.

Bihar assembly elections will be held in three phases–October 28, November 3, and 7 and the counting of votes will take place on November 10.

In the 2015 assembly polls, JD-U, RJD, and Congress had fought the elections together under the Mahagathbandhan banner. On the other hand, the BJP-led NDA had fought the elections with Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and other allies.

RJD with 80 seats had emerged as the single largest party in the elections, followed by JD-U (71), and BJP (53). However, BJP got the largest vote share (24.42 per cent), followed by RJD with 18.35 per cent and JD-U (16.83 per cent).

Differences later emerged between the RJD and JD-U, resulting in Chief Minister Nitish Kumar returning to the NDA. (ANI)

Mumbai Police Summons Kashyap On Me-Too Charges

The Mumbai Police on Wednesday issued a summon to filmmaker Anurag Kashyap to appear before them on October 1, in connection to the sexual assault allegations by actor Payal Ghosh.

According to reports, the director is expected to appear before the Versova police by 11 am on Thursday, for questioning on the offence registered against him.

On September 20, ‘Patel Ki Punjabi Shaadi’ actor Ghosh accused Kashyap of sexual harassment. Speaking to ANI, she said, “Five years ago I met Anurag Kashyap regarding work. He called me to his house. When I went there, he took me to a separate room and tried to sexually assault me. He forced himself on me.”

“I request the authorities to kindly take action and let the country see the demon behind this creative guy. I am aware that it can harm me and my security is at risk. I am seeking action against him,” said Ghosh.

Post the allegations, Kashyap responded on Twitter in which he denied the allegations, claiming that they were ‘baseless’. “I neither behave like this nor do I ever tolerate this at any price,” he had said. (ANI)