19 November 2020

India Will Be Worst-Hit Among Major Economies Long After Covid: Report. NPR, Census-2021 date ‘still not finalised but questionnaire is being finalised: RGI. Newly inducted Bihar minister resigns over corruption case. US to label Israel boycott movement as ‘anti-Semitic’ says Pompeo, adds he will visit Golan Heights



19-11-2020 ,20:20 IST


·     India Will Be Worst-Hit Among Major Economies Long After Covid: Report

·     NPR, Census-2021 date ‘still not finalised but questionnaire is being finalised: Registrar General of India

·     HC asks Centre to respond to plea to recognise same sex marriages under Hindu, and Special acts

·     Newly inducted Bihar minister resigns over corruption case, leaves Nitish govt red-faced

·     Random Covid tests at Delhi-Noida border in UP: TOI ground report

·     ₹ 2,000 Fine For Not Wearing Mask In Delhi, Up From 500, To Tackle Covid

·     US to label Israel boycott movement as ‘anti-Semitic’ says Pompeo, adds he will visit Golan Heights after visiting settlement in occupied West Bank




India Will Be Worst-Hit Among Major Economies Long After Covid: Report

India will be worst-affected among the world's major economies even after the pandemic wanes, with output 12% below pre-virus levels through the middle of the decade, according to Oxford Economics.Balance sheet stress that had been building before the coronavirus outbreak will probably worsen, Priyanka Kishore, head of economics for South Asia and South-East Asia, wrote in the report. She projects potential growth for India at 4.5% over the next five years, lower than 6.5% before the virus."It's likely that headwinds already hampering growth prior to 2020 -- such as stressed corporate balance sheets, elevated non-performing assets of banks, the fallout in non-bank financial companies, and labor market weakness -- will worsen," she said. "The resulting long-term scars, probably among the worst globally, would push India's trend growth substantially lower from pre-Covid levels."



Moody’s revises India’s FY21 GDP contraction to (-)10.6%

Moody's Investor Service on Thursday revised the contraction rate of India's FY21 GDP to (-) 10.6 per cent from an earlier estimate of (-) 11.5 per cent.The revision comes days after the Centre announced new stimulus measures.Besides, Moody's revised the forecast for the next financial year ending March 2022.It now estimates a growth of 10.8 per cent from a rise of 10.6 per cent, which was predicted earlier.



Banking Sector Cannot Bear Any Further Financial Strain,Centre Tells Top Court

The banking sector cannot bear any further financial strain, the centre told the Supreme Court on Thursday, in a key hearing to decide whether borrowers should be charged additional interest for choosing to defer their EMIs due during the coronavirus pandemic-related lockdown. The top court is hearing a batch of petitions regarding charging of interest on interest - or compound interest - by banks on EMIs delayed by borrowers for the March-August 31 period under a scheme approved by RBI that would provide relief to millions of people.This is a fiscal policy matter and the government is on top of it, the centre asserted in its submission to the top court.



NPR, Census-2021 date ‘still not finalised but questionnaire is being finalised: Registrar General of India

Office of Registrar General of India(RGI) has said the schedule or the questionnaire of National Population Register (NPR) is “being finalised” and the information about the expected date of first phase of Census 2021 is “not available.” RGI response came in reply to a question filed by The Hindu under RTI seeking information on the expected date of the first phase of Census 2021 and an update of NPR that was earlier scheduled to begin April 1, 2020. The exercise was postponed indefinitely until further orders on March 25 due to COVID-19 pandemic. NPR update and the first phase of Census-House listing & Housing Census were to be conducted simultaneously from April-Sept. Even though the twin exercise was to be rolled out first in Meghalaya, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep and New Delhi Municipal Council area on April 1, RGI said in RTI reply on Nov.17 that “the schedule of NPR is being finalized.”As many as 13 States and Union Territories have opposed the update of NPR due to its link with the proposed NRC and the CAA. According to the Citizenship Rules framed in 2003, NPR is the first step towards compilation of National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) or NRC.  NPR was first collected in 2010 and then updated in 2015. Some States such as West Bengal and Rajasthan have objected to additional questions to be asked in the fresh NPR such as “date and place of birth of father and mother, last place of residence and mother tongue”.




China Sees Rising India As Rival, Wants To Curb Its Ties With US, Allies: Report

Washington: China perceives a rising India as a "rival" and wants to constrain its strategic partnership with the US, its allies, and with other democracies, the US State Department said in a report, emphasising that Beijing intends to displace America as the world's foremost power.Coming ahead of the transition of power from Donald Trump's administration to President-elect Joe Biden's administration after the November 3 US presidential election, the detailed policy document highlights that China is undermining the security, autonomy and economic interests of many nations in the region."China perceives rising India as a rival and seeks to impel it to accommodate Beijing's ambitions by engaging economically while constraining New Delhi's strategic partnership with US, Japan, Australia and its relations with other democracies," the report said."China is undermining the security, autonomy, and economic interests of many others in the region such as member states of the ASEAN, including those in the vital Mekong Region, as well as the nations of the Pacific Islands," the report added.The 70-page report states that awareness has been growing in US - and in nations around the world - that the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has triggered a new era of great-power competition.PTI



“Protected candidates” cry foul as Kashmir sees subdued campaign in phase-1 district polls

Nine days to go, J&K government’s decision to shift and huddle scores of candidates in guarded accommodations is being blamed for the subdued and lacklustre campaigning in the maiden District Development Council (DDC) polls in central and south Kashmir.There is no visible door-to-door canvassing or any publicity carried out by most of the candidates in the villages, which will go to polls in the first phase on November 28. It’s also the first elections since the Centre ended J&K’s special status last year.“Immediately after I filed my nomination from a Pulwama block, I was shifted from my home to the Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) building in Pampore. Now, I am not allowed to campaign. My opponent was allowed to campaign though even today,” Mansha Jan, an independent candidate contesting the DDC polls, told The Hindu.



Gupkar parties allege non-BJP candidates not allowed to campaign freely for J&K DDC polls

Srinagar:Member parties of the People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration in Jammu and Kashmir have alleged that their candidates for the upcoming District Development Council (DDC) elections are being kept at "secure locations" by the administration to keep them from campaigning freely.They have also alleged that the BJP and its allies have been given security and facilities to campaign. They said this was an attempt to deny the level-playing field to anti-BJP parties."They are denying our candidates a chance to campaign. They keep them in hotels or other accommodations, while the BJP and its allies get all facilities and security," said Nasir Aslam Wani of the National Conference.Rayees Ahmad, associated with the National Conference and a candidate for the DDC polls from Khag, said he couldn't go to campaigning as he was kept in a hotel in Srinagar. "Today, they told us we can go around noon. I have to go to my area and be back by 4 pm. How will I campaign?" he asked.Security forces, however, said the decision of keeping DDC candidates at "secure locations" was based on threat perception.



After Demolition Drive to Evict Nomadic Groups, J&K Govt to Implement FRA

New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir government will implement the Forest Rights Act, 2006, which was not applicable in the union territory for the last 14 years, to grant and safeguard the rights of forest dwellers, an official spokesperson said on Wednesday. Forest Rights Act provides for the granting of rights over forest lands to forest dwellers. However, the rights conferred under this act shall be “heritable but not alienable or transferable”, he said.This announcement came less than a week after the Jammu and Kashmir administration razed the temporary houses of Gujjar and Bakarwal nomadic groups in the Pahalgam area of Kashmir’s Anantnag district. The shelters were razed at the start of winter – when nomadic communities need it the most. The authorities claimed that the nomadic groups had “illegally occupied” the land.



SC takes note of Centre’s affidavit saying that Sudarshan TVs ‘Bindas Bol’ breached programme code;  defers hearing by 2 weeks

New Delhi :The Supreme Court on Thursday took note of Centre’s affidavit in which it has found that Sudarshan TV, through 4 episodes of its “Bindas Bol” programme on alleged infiltration of Muslims in the bureaucracy, has breached the programme code.In the affidavit which was filed Wednesday, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has annexed its November 4 order by which it has cautioned the channel of “stricter penal action” in case of future violations.When the matter came up for hearing today, the top court deferred the hearing by two weeks while asking the contesting parties to go through the Centre’s reply for filing the rejoinder.A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra noted that Centre’s affidavit has been filed indicating the steps which have been taken in terms of earlier order of the top court.It said that the batch of petitions will be taken up for hearing after 2 weeks.At the outset, advocate Rajat Nair, appearing for Centre, informed the bench that Union Ministry of I&B has filed the affidavit in which it has placed on record Nov.4 order passed by it in the proceedings pertaining to show-cause notice issued to the channel over the controversial programme.PTI




HC asks Centre to respond to plea to recognise same sex marriages under Hindu, and Special acts

Delhi High Court on Thursday issued notice to the Centre on a petition seeking a direction to the government to recognise same-sex marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) and the Special Marriage Act (SMA). A Bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon asked the Centre to submit its response within 4 weeks and listed the case for hearing along with other 2 petitions seeking similar relief. The petition was filed by members of LGBT group and activists Abhijit Iyer Mitra, Gopi Shankar M., Giti Thadani and G. Oorvasi.The plea argued that the Supreme Court had in 2018 decriminalised consensual homosexual sex in India. It added that there was nothing in HMA that mandated that marriage should take place only between a Hindu man and a Hindu woman.



State govt’s consent mandatory for CBI investigation in its jurisdiction: SC

State govt’s consent is mandatory for a CBI investigation in its jurisdiction and the agency cannot conduct probe without its nod, the Supreme Court has said. A bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and BR Gavai said the provisions are in tune with the federal character of the Constitution, which has been held to be one of its basic structures. The SC referred to Sections 5 and 6 of Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, which deal with extension of powers and jurisdiction of special police establishment to other areas and consent of state government to exercise of powers and jurisdiction.PTI



SC restores dismissed PIL challenging validity of Centre’s farm laws

The Supreme Court on Thursday restored a PIL, which was dismissed earlier, challenging the constitutional validity of Centre’s newly enacted three farm laws on a ground that Parliament lacked power to make legislations on the subject as ‘agriculture’ is a state subject in the Constitution.A Bench headed by CJI SA Bobde, on October 12, had issued a notice to the Centre on a batch of petitions against the 3 contentious farm laws and had sought its reply in four weeks.PTI



Mathura court defers hearing in Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi case to Dec 10

Mathura: The hearing of the civil suit filed in Mathura court seeking ownership of entire 13.37 acres of land has been adjourned till December 10 after the plaintiff in the case Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Trust failed to appear before the court on Wednesday.The Mathura court on October 16 had admitted the plea seeking to remove the mosque, situated adjacent to Krishna Janmabhoomi. The hearing for the same was scheduled for today.On September 30, a Mathura civil court had refused to admit a suit to remove an Idgah "built on Krishna Janmabhoomi".ANI



Remove 4 illegal religious structures in Haridwar by May 2021: SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday gave Uttarakhand government time till May 31, 2021 to demolish four religious structures constructed illegally on public land in Haridwar.Acting on a petition filed by the state government, a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan declined to entertain an intervention application preferred by Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad against the demolition of these structures.The bench said that it cannot accept the contention that the structures cannot be demolished, as they have been classified as "unauthorised structures".Justice Bhushan said that these structures are unauthorised as these were constructed without permission.IANS



JNU January 5 violence: Police give themselves a clean chit

New Delhi :A Delhi Police fact-finding committee formed to “probe the sequence of events” and “negligence on part of local police” in connection with the violence inside JNU campus on January 5, has given a clean chit to the force, it is learnt. Around 100 masked persons had gone on a rampage with sticks and rods inside the university for around four hours on January 5, leaving 36 students, teachers and staff injured. An FIR was registered and the case was transferred to the Crime Branch, though no arrest has been made so far.At the time, questions were raised as to why police had remained outside the campus even as violence raged inside. This was in contrast to police action at Jamia Millia Islamia weeks earlier, in December, when police had barged into the campus and allegedly beaten up students inside the library. Police have maintained that while they had entered Jamia to chase down rioters, they couldn’t enter JNU without the assent of the university authorities.



Anti-CAA protests are back, one staged in Guwahati

Guwahati: Anti-CAA protests are back in the city. A protest demanding immediate withdrawal of the Act was held in Guwahati on Wednesday. The protest organized by Anti-CAA Coordination Committee (CAA Virodhi Samanvay Samiti), highlighted the ill-effects of the legislation and said that CAA would ruin the heritage, culture, language, and identity of Assamese people. For Rs 9000, Guwahati school disallows student from sitting in exam The protesters demanded NRC in place of CAA and said that the government has been functioning in the most undemocratic way. "Next year, 2021 will be the last year BJP will rule because of the way it has troubled and created problems for the people of the state and the region. People will not choose BJP government again," protesters said.Sentinel



Newly inducted Bihar minister resigns over corruption case, leaves Nitish govt red-faced

Bihar Education Minister Mewalal Choudhary Thursday resigned three days after taking oath amid allegations of corruption. He submitted his resignation after meeting CM Nitish Kumar.“An accusation is proven only when a chargesheet is filed or a court gives an order and neither of the 2 is there to prove the allegations against me,” Choudhary said.Bihar’s main Opposition RJD has been attacking Chief Minister for appointing Choudhary as the Education Minister.Targeting CM Nitish over the development, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said, “You are the real culprit. Why did you make (him) a minister? Your duplicity and gimmick will no longer be tolerated.”



Jitan Ram Manjhi sworn in as pro-tem Speaker of Bihar assembly

Patna :Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi was on Thursday sworn in as the pro-tem Speaker of the state assembly, according to a communication issued by the Raj Bhavan.Manjhi, a multiple-term MLA and founding president of the Hindustani Awam Morcha, was administered oath of office by Governor Fagu Chauhan.PTI



For the first time since Independence, no Muslim minister or elected MLA in Bihar govt

Patna: Nitish Kumar Cabinet, which was sworn in for a fresh term on Monday, is without a Muslim face. In fact, ruling NDA in Bihar does not have a single MLA from the Muslim community.It is perhaps for the first time since Independence that a ruling Bihar coalition will sit on treasury benches in the Legislative Assembly without a single Muslim minister or MLA.NDA in Bihar constitutes of BJP, JDU, HAM(Secular) and Vikassheel Insaan Party. However, none of the ruling coalition parties managed to get even a single Muslim elected to the Assembly. This in a state where Muslims constitute more than 16 per cent of the state's population.In the recently-concluded Bihar Legislative Assembly Elections, CM Nitish Kumar's JD(U) had put up 11 Muslim candidates. However, all lost the election.



2 arrested in murder case of Bihar Muslim girl, Police not allowing victim’s family to go outside

Bihar police have arrested 2 main accused involved in burning alive a young Muslim women in Rasoolpur village under Desari Police Station of Vaishali district more than a fortnight ago.The arrest of the accused was done only after the issue was raised by Opposition leaders-Rahul Gandhi and Tejashwi Yadav. A senior official of Vaishali district police said that the main accused involved in the case-Satish Rai and Chandan Rai-have been arrested while the hunt for the third accused is on. Meanwhile, Chandpura police outpost in-charge VD Dubey, under whose jurisdiction the village comes, has been placed under suspension.While the incident took place on October 30 and an FIR was lodged on November 2, the arrest was made on November 17 & 18. The girl identified as 20-year-old Gulnaz, who was set afire after pouring kerosene over her, had sustained 75 per cent burn injuries and expired in Patna Medical College Hospital on October 15. The accused persons set her ablaze after she spurned the offer of Satish Rai to marry her.India Tomorrow



UP’s former Shia Waqf Board chief booked for forgery & extortion in Bijnor

Bijnor: Former chairman of UP Shia Waqf Board, Waseem Rizvi, and 2 others have been booked in Bijnor district on charges of extortion and threatening the caretaker of a shrine. FIR was registered on Tuesday evening after the direction of the local additional chief judicial magistrate (ACJM). The complainant, Syed Qaisar Ali Baakri, has said that Rizvi had appointed him as administrator of the Bijnor’s famous Jogirampura shire during his tenure as chief of Shia Waqf board in 2018. But days after the appointment, Rizvi and his aides started demanding money from him, Baakri alleged. The shrine, where lakhs of people from across the country come to offer prayers every year, receives huge amounts of donations, sources said.Baakri claimed that he deposited lakhs of rupees received in donation into the bank accounts of Rizvi and his aides.Their demands grew and in June 2019, Rizvi and two others, including a member of the board, demanded Rs 10 lakh. “They threatened to sack me if I didn’t pay the money,” Baakri said.Shaukat Bharti, a Shia leader and president of Asar Foundation said, “Earlier, Rizvi was loyal to Azam Khan. And now, after the change of the government, there is a change of heart. He is trying to please BJP dispensation now. The government should understand all his tricks.”



FAKE NEWS: UP Police Registers FIR Against 2 Journalists

Fatehpur:An FIR has been lodged against two journalists in Fatehpur district for allegedly spreading fake news on Twitter about the alleged rape and murder of two minor Dalit girls. FIR has been lodged against one Dhara Singh Yadav and a journalist of a news channel. The complaint was lodged by station officer of Asothar, Ranjeet Bahadur Singh.Singh, in his FIR, alleged that he was on patrol duty in Chichni village when he came to know that a private channel journalist and Dhara Singh Yadav were spreading fake news on Twitter about the killing of two minor girls in the area.India Tomorrow/IANS



Editors Guild writes to Assam CM, urges ‘urgent intervention’ on attacks against journalists

New Delhi: The Editors Guild of India has written a letter to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal expressing concern over “growing incidence” of violence against journalists in the state. “They have been subjected to mob attacks, intimidation, and threats, which is vitiating the environment necessary for the functioning of an independent and vibrant media,” the Editors Guild said in the letter dated 19 November, before citing last week’s assault on journalist Milan Mahanta.



Espionage Case: Delhi Court Dismisses Bail Plea of Freelance Journalist Rajeev Sharma

New Delhi: A Delhi court has denied bail to freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma arrested under stringent Official Secrets Act on espionage charge.He has been accused of passing sensitive information about India’s border strategy, army’s deployment and procurement, and foreign policy to Chinese intelligence agencies. Metropolitan magistrate Vasundhra Chhaunkar dismissed the bail application of the accused who had sought release on the ground that police did not file the charge sheet within the mandatory 60 days.PTI



False Viral Message Claims JNU, Jamia Offer ‘Free’ Hostel Accommodation to J&K Muslim Students

A widespread WhatsApp forward carries a picture of a hostel building claiming that the Congress government had constructed a 400-room hostel for Jammu and Kashmir students at JNU in 2012. “In this hostel, no Hindus or other religions can stay.” The message claimed that Muslim students from J&K are accommodated in the college hostel for “free”.The message was viral on Facebook as well, but the content isn’t available now on the social media platform.The claim was also viral in May however suggesting that the hostel is in Jamia Millia Islamia.The picture does not show ‘J&K hostel’ at JNU. The board in front, faintly visible in the picture, reads ‘Jamia Millia Islamia.’Union minister Rajnath Singh and then Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti were invited to inaugurate a girls’ hostel at Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) in 2017. “The hostel will cater to female students from J&K pursuing any course at Central University. The hostel has 135 rooms,” reported The Hindu on November 17, 2017.The inauguration was postponed amid protests, however, 400-bed facility was made accessible to students in the following months.Alt News.




CT Ravi: Karnataka’s Controversial Hindutva Man to Guide BJP in TN

Even at the peak of the anti-Emergency wave across India, Chikmagaluru elected Indira Gandhi to the Lok Sabha in 1977. The seat stayed a Congress bastion till 1998 when BJP wrested power. The saffron party has won all subsequent general elections here, except for one. BJP’s gains in this hill town are attributed to the communal politics over Baba Budangiri, which was often referred to as South India’s Ayodhya. This hilltop shrine has been a pilgrimage spot for both Hindus and Muslims. Hindus consider the hill to be the final resting place of Lord Dattatreya, while the Muslim community believe the dargah is one of the earliest centres of Sufism in south India.  But over the years, BJP, Bajrang Dal, VHP and other saffron outfits have been demanding that the shrine be declared a Hindu temple. At the forefront of this fight has been BJP and RSS leader CT Ravi.



Bengaluru riots: NIA conducts searches at 43 locations

2 days after former Bengaluru mayor Sampath Raj was arrested in a case related to communal riots in the city, NIA carried out searched at 43 locations, including at 4 offices of SDPI, political wing of PFI. The violence took place on August 11. “The cases pertain to large scale rioting armed with lethal weapons causing injuries to police personnel, destruction of public and private property including DJ Halli and KG Halli police stations buildings and public and private vehicles. The riot led to fear and panic in the nearby areas and was intended to cause terror in the society,” NIA said in a statement.So far, 124 accused have been arrested in DJ Halli police station case and 169 in the KG Halli police station case.



Waqf officers to be deployed to check rents of properties in Maharashtra

MUMBAI: Less than a week after the state Waqf Board increased a property's rent from Rs 2,500 to Rs 2.55 lakh per month, the Waqf Board recruitment rule has been gazetted to recruit Waqf district officers to regularise the rents of all Waqf properties in the state, as per Waqf Properties Lease Rules 2014 (Amendment-2020)."Waqf Board Recruitment Rule has been gazetted. We are going to recruit district officers. Their main job will be meeting trustees of all the trusts that come under the Waqf Board, inquire about the properties given on rent and find out whether the rent is as per Waqf Properties Lease Rules and also take measures to increase the rent if it is not as per the rules," said Nawab Malik, minister, Minorities Development and Awqaf.There have been thousands of Waqf properties given on rent, but most of the properties fetch less than the market rent. TOI



MANUU Joins Hands with UN Body to Empower Bihar Madrassa Students

HYDERABAD — Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) has joined hands with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to empower madrassa students in Bihar.Under the Adolescent Education Programme (AEP), students of madrassas in Bihar will be helped to acquire scientific, technical and social skills. Jamia Millia Islamia and the Bihar State Madrassa Board are the other partners in the programme.The inauguration of the state-level training for the AEP was held in Patna on Wednesday. More than 84 master trainers and facilitators from 12 districts of Bihar attended the programme.The pilot was launched last year in two districts of Purnia and Katihar and following its successful implementation, the Bihar government decided to expand AEP to the entire state. The selected master trainers and facilitators are undergoing training from November 18 to 24 at the Youth Hostel in Patna.Abdul Qayyum Ansari, Chairman, Bihar State Madrassa Board said that AEP is an ideal programme that will pave the way for the young generation to develop critical thinking and become responsible citizens. The programme will also help them to adapt to modern requirements.






Random Covid tests at Delhi-Noida border in UP: How to do right thing wrong way: TOI ground report

NOIDA: Commuters seated on pavements, on chairs placed on the road or in the boot space of their cars, surrounded by cops and health workers in PPE suits – such were the scenes on Wednesday at Delhi-Noida border, which has had a knack of throwing up unusual sights through the course of the pandemic.Noida administration had posted health and police teams at the two border points with the national capital – at DND and Mayur Vihar (Chilla) – to conduct random rapid antigen tests on incoming commuters, citing the high incidence of Covid cases in Delhi.Random tests are important to gauge the extent of the outbreak. But they should not be coercive in nature while pretending to be voluntary. Voluntary tests must be truly voluntary. Though the exercise was meant to be a voluntary one, policemen fanned out across lanes to wave down motorists and ‘escort’ them to the health teams for swab tests. Most motorists objected, voicing concerns that ranged from getting late for their destinations to compromising social distancing by getting out of the insulated space of their cars.A man in a white Fortuner rolled down his window and shouted he “won’t stop my car for junior-level cops”. Barricades were not placed because of instructions not to disrupt the flow of traffic, which had become a daily affair earlier this year when Noida sealed its border with Delhi. While the events of the day – which ended with 165 antigen tests (target was 200) being conducted and three testing positive, including a cop – led to questions about the efficacy of the exercise, Noida DM Suhas LY said it would be discussed at a meeting. Noida told TOI, “govt has instructed that we continue such random sampling from November 19 to 30, especially at the border with Delhi where lakhs of people cross over. We will, however, take a call on it as per the results of the drive in the next couple of days."At the Chilla border too, policemen admitted it was difficult to stop vehicles passing at high speed and later left it to those who wanted to get voluntarily tested.



₹ 2,000 Fine For Not Wearing Mask In Delhi, Up From 500, To Tackle Covid

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced a steep ₹ 2,000 fine -- up from the current ₹ 500 -- for those caught without masks, to help control the coronavirus surge that's in its third week. Chief Minister also appealed to all political parties and social organisations to distribute masks at public places in Delhi.The hard line by the government came after days of pleas. As the virus rampaged across a city weakened by sliding mercury and an envelope of smoke, Mr Kejriwal had repeatedly appealed to people with folded hands to wear masks and maintain safety norms.But the mad rush of the festive season had prevailed, pushing the daily tally of fresh cases and fatalities to record highs each week since the beginning of Nov.



Ahmedabad Imposes Night Curfew From 9 pm To 6 am Amid Rising Covid Cases

Ahmedabad has imposed night curfew from 9 pm to 6 am after coronavirus cases kept rising in the city. The curfew will come into effect from Friday and will stay on indefinitely. The city in Gujarat reported a total of 46,022 till yesterday.Officials have attributed the spike in coronavirus cases to the festival season. They said hospitals in the city have enough beds to accommodate new COVID-19 patients. Some 40 per cent beds in hospitals are still available for coronavirus patients, said Additional Chief Secretary Rajiv Kumar Gupta, who has been appointed officer on special duty for COVID-19 in Ahmedabad.



Coronavirus vaccine will be ready in 3-4 months: Health Minister Vardhan

Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has said that he is 'confident' that coronavirus vaccine will be ready in next 3 to 4 months. Minister Harsh Vardhan was addressing FICCI FLO webinar on 'The Shifting Healthcare Paradigm During and Post-Covid' when he made the statement."I am confident that COVID-19 vaccine will be ready in the next three-four months. Priority for the vaccine will be designed on the basis of scientific data. Health care workers and corona warriors will naturally be prioritised followed by elderly and disease-prone people. Very detailed planning is underway for vaccine dissemination. An e-vaccine intelligence platform has been created to discuss the blueprint for the same. Tracking and tracing of the vaccine would be neck-deep once it's available for the public. Hopefully, 2021 should be a better year for all of us," ANI quoted Health Minister as saying.Vardhan further estimated that by July-August 2021, 400-500 million doses will be made available for 25-30 crore people.







US to label Israel boycott movement as ‘anti-Semitic’ says Pompeo, adds he will visit Golan Heights

US will label the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which seeks to isolate Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians, as “anti-Semitic”, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, calling the movement “a cancer”. Washington “will regard the global anti-Israel BDS campaign as anti-Semitic … We want to stand with all other nations that recognise the BDS movement for the cancer that it is,” Pompeo said in a joint appearance with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday. BDS campaign is a non-violent people-led movement that aims to economically pressure Israel into providing equal rights and a right of return to Palestinians.Modelled on the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, it has inspired people from around the world to boycott businesses and academic and cultural institutions that have either a direct or indirect affiliation with Israel. UN human rights office has identified more than 200 companies linked directly or indirectly to illegal settlements, mostly from Israel and US but also Germany and the Netherlands. Pompeo, who is in Israel as part of his last Middle East tour as US secretary of state, also said he would visit the Golan Heights, a territory Israel captured from Syria and occupied in the 1967 war.



Pompeo visits Israeli settlement in occupied West Bank

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has visited the Israeli settlement of Psagot in the illegally occupied West Bank, becoming the first top diplomat from the United States to do so.Pompeo arrived at the Psagot winery outside Jerusalem on Thursday. Earlier, he said he would also pay a visit to the Golan Heights, a territory Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 war.



US lawmakers grill Pompeo on complicity in Israel's 'serious violation of international law'

US lawmakers have joined in the near global condemnation of the "brutal and violent" Israeli home demolitions. Some 41 Democratic Congress members signed a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, over Zionist state's "serious violation of international law" as he took the unprecedented step of visiting an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank.The letter, led by the Wisconsin member of the House of Representative, Mark Pocan, expressed "grave concern about the Israeli government's recent demolitions in thePalestinian Bedouin community of Homsa al-Baquia (Khierbet Humsah) in the Jordan Valley"."These acts," said the letter, "are a serious violation of international law that destroyed homes and displaced 73 people, including 41 children." Warning against the Trump administration's tacit approval of Israeli land theft, the letter added:"Creeping annexation cannot be a policy that the U.S. government supports if we wish to see peace in the region. This single act was the largest Israeli displacement of Palestinians in four years, behavior only made possible by continued silence from the American government."




Bahrain, UAE vote against Israel sponsored UN entrepreneurship resolution

UAE and Bahrain voted against an Israeli sponsored resolution on entrepreneurship for sustainable development yesterday at UN General Assembly's Second Committee.This comes despite the countries being quick to act on new business partnerships with Israel following the signing of normalisation deals with the occupation, including by establishing direct flights and the opening of embassies before the end of the year.Gulf nations became the third and fourth Arab countries to establish diplomatic relations with Israel after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.The deals have drawn widespread condemnation from Palestinians, who say the accords ignore their rights and do not serve the Palestinian cause.



Israel groups call on UAE to recognise Jewish right to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque

An Israeli Jewish organisation has sent a letter to UAE Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Zayed calling on him to recognise the Jewish right to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque, Quds Press reported.The letter, which was published by the Hebrew news website Makor Rishon, was signed by a number of Jewish groups, including the Middle East Forum – Israel. "Perhaps it is time to exercise the faith of both sides," the organisations wrote in the letter. "By allowing Jews and Muslims to pray on the Temple Mount [Al-Aqsa Mosque] in harmony and consent, without trampling on each other's rights and freedoms."



Russia slams Israel's settlement expansion as obstacle to reaching fair solution

Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned Israel's decision to build 1,257 new settlement units in the illegal settlement of Givat HaMatos, which divides occupied East Jerusalem from the West Bank.In a statement reported by Sputnik, the ministry said: "This decision contradicts the international legal foundation for a settlement in the Middle East.""The construction of new housing in this area will separate East Jerusalem from Bethlehem, thereby interrupting the territorial continuity of the Palestinian state, which is envisaged by UN resolutions and is indispensable for viability."



UK 'condemns' Israel's settlement move in Givat Hamatos

Britain on Wednesday "condemned" Israel's decision to advance construction of more than 1,000 settlement buildings in an area of occupied West Bank, Anadolu reports."Israel's decision to advance the construction of 1,257 settlement buildings in the Givat HaMatos area of the occupied West Bank, would violate international law, and risks causing serious damage to the prospects for a viable Palestinian State," James Cleverly, minister for the Middle East and North Africa, said.Cleverly said the UK "condemn this decision, which is incompatible with Israel's declared goal of peace, and call for both the tender process and the advancement of other settlements in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank to be suspended immediately."



UN envoy: Gaza 'ill-equipped to face a major spike' in covid cases

US Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, said yesterday that Gaza's "crumbling infrastructure, poor living conditions and fragile healthcare system make it ill-equipped to face a major spike in [COVID-19] cases."In a briefing he made to the Security Council, Mladenov said: "We meet today as Palestinians and Israelis continue their efforts to prevent and control the spread of the deadly covid-19 virus. After weeks of declining numbers, however, active cases are again on the rise.""Gaza remains the most immediate and pressing concern. Its crumbling infrastructure, poor living conditions and fragile healthcare system make it ill-equipped to face a major spike in cases," he continued.




US imposes fresh Iran-related sanctions, targets Khamenei-linked foundation

United States on Wednesday imposed sweeping new sanctions targeting Iran, blacklisting a foundation controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and taking aim at what Washington called Iran's human rights abuses a year after a deadly crackdown on anti-government demonstrators, Reuters reports. The sanctions announced by US Treasury Department, which also targeted Iran's intelligence minister, marked the latest action to reinforce the "maximum pressure" campaign on Iran pursued by President Donald Trump's administration. They came just over two months before Trump is due to leave office following his Nov. 3 election loss.



Ethiopian army accuses WHO chief of supporting Tigray forces

Ethiopia’s military has accused the WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of supporting and trying to procure arms and diplomatic support for Tigray state’s dominant political party, which is fighting the federal troops.“This man is a member of that group and he has been doing everything to support them,” the army chief of staff, General Berhanu Jula, said in a televised statement on Thursday.“He has worked in neighbouring countries to condemn the war. He has worked for them to get weapons,” Berhanu said.Berhanu said Tedros had “left no stone unturned” to help the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), the party Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said it is targeting in a military offensive in the region.“What do you expect from him [Tedros]? We don’t expect he will side with the Ethiopian people and condemn them,” Berhanu said.Tedros – an Ethiopian of Tigrayan descent who served as health minister in a former government coalition led by the TPLF – and WHO are yet to respond to the accusation.




Australia finds evidence of war crimes in Afghanistan inquiry

Australia said on Thursday that its special forces were suspected of being responsible for 39 unlawful killings in Afghanistan, as it released a long-awaited report into alleged war crimes committed in the South Asian nation.Australia launched the inquiry in 2016, amid reports from whistle-blowers and in the local media of the alleged killing of unarmed men and children that the government initially tried to suppress.The report “found there to be credible information to substantiate 23 incidents of alleged unlawful killing of 39 people by 25 Australian special forces personnel predominantly from the Special Air Service Regiment,” Campbell told reporters.



UK will likely follow US in cutting Afghan troops: Minister

UK will likely follow the US in reducing troops in Afghanistan but it will continue to work with its government and the US to protect the country’s security, UK’s defence secretary Ben Wallace said on Thursday. On Tuesday, the US announced it would be sharply reducing the number of US troops in Afghanistan from 4,500 to 2,500 before current President Donald Trump leaves office in mid-January, accelerating the country’s military disengagement.Wallace said the Americans were not totally pulling out at this stage, and neither was UK, which has about 1,000 troops stationed in the war-torn country.But he said: “I expect if they (the US) are reducing at some stage, we will come down.”



Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan in ‘historic’ first visit to Afghanistan

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan met with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani on his first official visit to Kabul on Thursday, focussing on the ongoing peace talks with the Taliban as well as on building trust and strengthening relations between the two often acrimonious neighbours.Mr. Ghani called Mr. Khan’s visit “historic” while the Pakistani Prime Minister assured the Afghan leader that his government would do “everything possible” to help reduce violence in the war-torn country.AP



Saudi jails Salman Ouda's brother for 5 years

Dr Khaled Al-Ouda, brother of prominent Saudi preacher Dr Salman Al-Ouda, was sentenced by a Saudi court to five years in prison over claims of "inciting sedition and destabilising security", Anadolu reported.The news agency reported Dr Abdullah Al-Ouda, son of Dr Salman Al-Ouda, wrote on Twitter: "The [Saudi] authorities have sentenced my uncle Khaled to five years in prison and imposed travel ban on him over charges of seeking to employ the arrest of his brother to incite sedition and destabilise security."According to Abdullah, the verdict came three and a half years after his uncle was arrested over tweets he posted in support of his brother.



G20 leaders must urge Saudi to release prisoners: Amnesty

Member states of the Group of 20 (G20) meeting during this week’s virtual summit hosted by Saudi Arabia must call on the kingdom to release its jailed women’s rights activists, Amnesty International has said.In a statement released on Thursday, UK-based rights group said activists who led campaigns for women’s rights in the Gulf country continue to be imprisoned or are facing trial, despite the fact that women’s empowerment is on Saudi Arabia’s G20 agenda.The group has called on G20 members to urge the kingdom to release Loujain al-Hathloul, Nassima al-Sada, Samar Badawi, Nouf Abdulaziz and Maya’a al-Zahrani, who were arrested in 2018, shortly before Saudi lifted its ban on female drivers.




Austria: Anti-Muslim rhetoric rises after Vienna attack

When Gözde Taşkaya remembers the November 2 attack in Vienna, it is the sense of panic that is so vivid.People running to the subway station, people falling to the ground, on broken glass, the sound of gunshots.As the attacker killed four people and injured 20 more, Taşkaya, a 32-year-old multimedia designer and her two friends hid in the basement of the coffee house they had been meeting in. For hours, they waited and followed the developments on social media.



Spain roadworks run into ancient Muslim burial site

Roadworks near the Spanish city of Zaragoza have uncovered an ancient Muslim burial site, the Times reported.The burial site was noticed by workers who were widening Obispo Conget avenue in north eastern town of Tauste.Archaeologists have uncovered 300 tombs, some of which date back to the 8th century, and are expecting to find more.The find, according to the Times report, is one of the oldest and best-preserved Islamic-era burial sites in the country.




Corporate giants are falling down on human rights, says study

When it comes to protecting and upholding human rights, some of the most powerful corporations on the planet are falling down.That’s the conclusion of a report out this week by the World Benchmarking Alliance that compiles data to compare and rank companies’ performance on achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).The 2020 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (PDF) surveyed 229 major global corporations and found that nearly half of them had at least one allegation of a serious human rights issue levied against them, but only 4 percent of companies adequately remedied the situation with the victim.






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