U’khand Reports 88 New COVID-19 Cases In Last 24 Hrs

Uttarakhand reported 88 new cases of COVID-19 during the last 24 hours, said the state health department on Friday.

As per the data provided by the bulletin, the daily positivity rate stands at 0.65 per cent. There are currently 302 active COVID-19 cases in the state.
The total count of COVID-19 cases in the state has gone up to 3,45,087.

A total of 16,708 samples were tested on Friday.

During the last 24 hours, 32 people recovered from the infection, taking the total recoveries in the state to 3,31,150. The recovery rate currently stands at 95.96 per cent.

Only one death was reported during the last 24 hours. The death toll in the state due to COVID-19 stands at 7,418. (ANI)

Nod To Narcotics, Election Amendment Bills In Parliament’s Winter Session

President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 which were passed during the recently concluded Winter Session of Parliament amid the unprecedented uproar.

With President’s approval, the two Bills have been turned into Acts. The President gave his assent to both the Bills on Wednesday.
As per a gazette notification, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Act,2021 and Elections Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 have received the assent of the President.

Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Act, 2021 amends the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 and rectifies a drafting “anomaly” created by a 2014 amendment to the parent legislation. It replaces the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021. The Act regulates certain operations (such as manufacture, transport, and consumption) related to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

The 2021 amendment contains a legislative declaration about what one section refers to. It says Section 2 clause (viii a) corresponds to clause (viii b) in Section 27, since 2014 when the provision was first brought in. Section 27A of the NDPS Act, 1985, prescribes the punishment for financing illicit traffic and harbouring offenders.

Under the Act, financing certain illicit activities (such as cultivating cannabis or manufacturing narcotic drugs) or harbouring persons engaged in them is an offence. Persons found guilty of this offence will be punished with rigorous imprisonment of at least ten years (extendable up to 20 years) and a fine of at least one lakh rupees.

However, the Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 allow electoral registration officers to seek the Aadhaar number of people who want to register as voters for the purpose of establishing identity. it allows the electoral registration officers to ask for Aadhaar numbers from “persons already included in the electoral roll for the purposes of authentication of entries in the electoral roll, and to identify registration of the name of the same person in the electoral roll of more than one constituency or more than once in the same constituency.”

The amendment makes it clear that “no application for inclusion of name in the electoral roll shall be denied and no entries in the electoral roll shall be deleted for the inability of an individual to furnish or intimate Aadhaar number due to such sufficient cause as may be prescribed.” Such people will be allowed to furnish other alternative documents as may be prescribed.

In the Bill, it was notified that various sections of the Representation of the People Act will be amended. The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill states that Section 23 of the RP Act will be amended to allow linking of electoral roll data with the Aadhaar ecosystem “to curb the menace of multiple enrolments of the same person in different places.”

As per the amendment to Section 14 of the RP Act, it will allow having four “qualifying” dates for eligible people to register as voters. As of now, January 1 of every year is the sole qualifying date. People who turn 18 on or before January 1 can register as voters. Those turning 18 after that have to wait for one whole year to register as voters.

Now, “the 1st day of January, 1st day of April, 1st day of July and 1st day of October in a calendar year” will be the qualifying dates in relation to the preparation or revision of electoral rolls.

Amendment to Section 20 of the RP Act, 1950 and Section 60 of the RP Act, 1951 will allow the elections to become gender-neutral for service voters. The amendment will also help replace the word “wife” with the word “spouse” making the statutes “gender-neutral.” While, an Armyman’s wife is entitled to be enrolled as a service voter, but a woman Army officer’s husband is not, according to provisions in the electoral law. With “wife” being replaced by the term “spouse,” this will change. (ANI)

COVID-19: 44 New Omicron Cases Reported In Kerala

Kerala reported 44 new cases of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus, informed the State Health Minister Veena George on Friday.

With this, the total tally of Omicron cases in the state has risen to 107, stated George.
Speaking about the vaccination drive against COVID-19 in Kerala, the State Health Minister said that 98 per cent and 79 per cent of the eligible population has been inoculated with the first dose and second dose respectively in the state so far.

Speaking to ANI here today, George said, “Total 44 new #Omicron cases reported in Kerala today, taking the total tally to 107. Genomic sequencing samples are being sent, sentinel surveillance is underway. So far, 98 per cent eligible population has been inoculated with 1st dose, 79 per cent with 2nd dose.”

As per the Union Health Ministry’s data, Kerala reported 620 fresh COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours taking the total number of active cases to 20,525 in the state.

As many 2,879 people recovered from the disease in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of recoveries in the state to 51,76,535.

So far, 47,441 people have died from the infection in the state including 164 deaths in the last 24 hours. (ANI)

GST On Textiles Will Not Be Increased To 12%: Sitharaman

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council has decided to defer the decision to increase tax on textiles from 5 per cent to 12 per cent.

The decision to maintain a status quo on the GST rate on textiles was taken in an “emergency meeting” of the GST Council held in the national capital under the chairmanship of the Union Finance Minister.
“We retain the status quo. We have decided don’t go from 5 per cent to 12 per cent,” Sitharaman said in a media briefing after the GST Council meeting.

Sitharaman said the issue of GST on textiles will be sent to the tax rate rationalisation committee, which will submit the report by February.

“Textile was the only issue in this meeting,” the finance minister said adding the issue of the increase in GST on footwear was not discussed during the meeting.

The GST Council in a meeting held on September 17 in Lucknow had decided to hike GST on textiles and footwear items from 5 per cent to 12 per cent effective from January 1, 2022. (ANI)

India Is Inviting The Third COVID-19 Wave: Dr Nayar

The way COVID-19 cases are increasing and people are flouting COVID-19 norms, we are inviting the third wave, warned Dr Sandeep Nayar, Director of Chest and Respiratory Department.

According to Dr Nayar, people should be explained to drive away their misconception about COVID-19 Omicron. It will stop them from visiting markets or crowded places. “There is no mask, sanitising hands, or social distancing. We are inviting COVID-19 in this way. If we are not careful now, Omicron would spread like wildfire making it very difficult to control it”, added Dr Nayar.
“Since the beginning of Omicron, we know that it spreads three times faster than Delta. A few days back, there were only nominal cases and suddenly it has increased”, said Dr Nayar. According to him, Delhi and Mumbai have the highest number of cases because there are more international flights in the two cities. “Taking note of Delhi Health Minister, the community spread of COVID-19 Omicron variant has already begun. It is evident from the fast increasing cases and high positivity rate”, added the Director of Chest and Respiratory Department. (ANI)

Puducherry: Night Curfew Till Jan 31 Amid Omicron Scare

As the Omicron cases are rising in the Union Territory of Puducherry, the government has imposed night curfew with immediate effect from 11:00 pm till 5:00 am till January 31, 2022, except on the occasion of Vaikunta Ekadashi.

As per the official order, the government has resorted to night curfew to contain the spread of COVID-19 virus.
The government in a notification said that though the number of fresh positive cases has come down, there is detection of the Variant of Concern (VoC), “Omicron” in the samples from Puducherry.

Hence, it is necessary to keep the vigil on COVID-19 transmission, the official said. (ANI)

NIA Registers Case Against ‘Khalistani Elements’, SFJ’s Multani

National Investigation Agency (NIA) has registered a case against some “Khalistani elements” and member of Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) Jaswinder Singh Multani, sources said on Friday.
The anti-terror agency registered the case late on Thursday following orders received from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The move comes following a series of reports that allegedly exposes the Khalistani terrorists plans to cause large-scale disturbance in poll-bound Punjab in cahoots with Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI.

Multani, a prominent member of the designated terror group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), has allegedly been linked to the Ludhiana court blast case.

A bomb blast had occurred at the Ludhiana court complex on December 23 that killed one and injured two others.

Multani was held by police in Germany on December 27. He has been residing in Erfurt, Germany.

A police officer said that during the investigation names of two suspects residing in Pakistan and Germany, both from banned Sikh organizations, have emerged. Sikhs For Justice is a designated terror group in India.

Intelligence agencies had earlier raised an alert about Harvinder Singh Sandhu, a Babbar Khalsa terrorist who is currently in Pakistan, and Multani, a close associate of SFJ’s Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, residing in Germany, about their involvement in the Ludhiana blast.

Multani recently came to notice for allegedly arranging and sending weapons consignments comprising explosives, hand grenades from across the border to Punjab. These weapons were sent with the help of his Pakistan-based operatives and arms smugglers.

He has been allegedly planning to carry out terrorist activities in Punjab by using the smuggled consignments through gangsters and extremists in the state.

Multani is also learnt to be closely connected with Khalistani leaders like Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Paramjit Singh Pamma, Sabi Singh, Kulwant Singh Mothada and others. (ANI)

16,764 New COVID-19 Cases, Omicron Tally 1,270

India on Friday reported 16,764 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 days, a surge for the third day which has pushed the country’s coronavirus tally to 34,838,804.

The total cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 cases has gone up to 1,270 with Maharashtra and Delhi reporting 450 and 320 cases respectively, according to the Union health ministry.
The health ministry informed that the active caseload in the country stands at 91,361 constituting 0.26 per cent of the total cases.

With this, the country’s COVID-19 tally has risen to 34,838,804 and with 220 deaths reported over the past 24 hours, the death toll has mounted to 4,81,080.

As many as 7,585 patients recovered in the last 24 hours taking the total number of recoveries to 3,42,66,363.

The recovery rate in the country currently stands at 98.36 per cent.

The weekly positivity rate in the country is 0.89 per cent which remains lesser than 1 per cent for the last 47 days.

The daily positivity rate is 1.34 per cent which remains lesser than 2 per cent for the last 88 days.

The country has conducted as many as 67.78 crore COVID-19 tests so far.

India has administered around 144.54 crore vaccines so far under a nationwide vaccination drive.(ANI)

Assam To Vaccinate 15-18 Age Group From Jan 3

Assam government has announced that the COVID-19 vaccination drive for students aged between 15 to 18 years will start from January 3, 2022.

Speaking to ANI, the Assam health minister said the vaccination drive for children will begin with educational institutions.
“We are starting from January 3 to vaccinate children under the 15-18 age group. It will begin with educational institutions,” Mahanta said.

Earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the COVID-19 vaccination for children aged 15-18 years will start from January 3.

In his address to the nation, PM Modi said, “Vaccination for children aged between 15-18 years will begin from January 3, 2022.”

This comes after Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin has received approval from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for emergency use for kids aged between 12-18 years, said official sources. (ANI)

Mumbai On High Alert, Terror Attack Possible By Pro-Khalistan Groups

A high alert has been sounded in Mumbai after intelligence agencies received inputs regarding terror activities planned by pro-Khalistan groups.

A senior officer said that after Jaswinder Singh Multani, a member of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) who was allegedly linked to Ludhiana court blast, was detained and questioned in Germany, they have received inputs regarding planned terror activities in Mumbai and other big cities.
“We have received inputs that apart from SJF, other banned pro-Khalistan groups are in contact with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to execute terror activity in Mumbai, Delhi and other cities,” he said.

Sikhs For Justice is a designated terror group in India.

An alert has been issued to Mumbai Police and has been asked to remain vigilant and take note of any suspicious activity.

Mumbai Police have instructed all police stations to be on alert. Quick Reaction teams and bomb squads have been instructed to be on toes on New Year’s eve.

Mumbai Police have already prohibited New Year celebrations and gatherings in any closed or open space, including hotels and restaurants. (ANI)