Hairstylist Habib booked for spitting on woman’s hair; NCW issues summons

Hairstylist Habib booked for spitting on woman’s hair; NCW issues summons


The police in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar registered an offence against famous hairstylist Jawed Habib for spitting on a woman’s hair while styling it, officials said on Friday.

IMAGE: In a viral video, Habib is seen spitting on the woman’s hair while she sits with her back to him and is heard saying “if there is scarcity of water, then use saliva”.. Photograph: Twitter

Apart from this, the National Commission for Women issued a summons to him asking to appear before it on January 11 in-peron. 

A purported video of the incident, which took place during a hair-styling workshop held here on January 3, went viral on social media on Thursday.

In the video, Habib is heard telling the audience, “If there is a shortage of water, use saliva”.

The audience can be heard laughing and applauding in the background in the video which has now gone viral with Habib being criticised by netizens for his action.

 

The FIR was lodged at Mansurpur police station in Muzaffarnagar on a complaint filed by Pooja Gupta, a resident of Baraut town, on whose hair Habib spat during the workshop, the police said.

Habib has been booked under Section 355 (assault or criminal force with intent to dishonour person, otherwise than on grave provocation) of the Indian Penal Code and the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, they said.

The celebrity hairstylist apologised for the act on Friday.

“Some people have got offended due to some words during my seminar. I just want to say that our seminars are for professionals working in our field (hair-styling) and such seminars are often lengthy and we are required to make them humorous. But what do I say now, there is only one thing which I say from my heart, if you are really hurt, then I seek your forgiveness. I am sorry,” Habib said in a video.

The National Commission for Women has asked the Uttar Pradesh police to probe the veracity of the purported video.

“The commission has taken this incident very seriously and not only condemns this in strongest possible words, but also seeks your urgent intervention in the matter to investigate the veracity of this viral video for immediate action as per law/procedure.

“This incident also attracts violation of guidelines issued by the Union home ministry under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, whereby spitting in public is a punishable offence in the wake of the Covid pandemic,” the NCW said in a letter to the state police.

“You are, therefore, required to immediately investigate the matter for appropriate action. The action taken/status report must be apprised to the commission at the earliest,” it said.

Officials said the National Commission for Women will also sent a notice to the hairstylist for a hearing.

In a summon to Habib issued on Friday, the NCW said it has taken serious note of his action.

“Therefore, you are directed to appear before the commission in-person on 11.01.2022 at 12.30 pm for deposition of your statement,” the NCW said.

Separately, the Hindu activists held a protest against Habib and demanded action against him.

Many people on social media hit out at Habib over the incident.

“When hair stylist Jawed Habib spat on a woman’s hair, the audience cheered Habib’s action. Not a single person objected to the shameful act by Habib. The woman has been identified as Pooja Gupta and she didn’t expect such a humiliating experience,” Anshul Saxena said on Twitter.

Another video of the woman recounting the experience has also been posted on social media.

“Yesterday, I attended a workshop of Jawed Habib. He invited me on the stage to give me a haircut. He said if there is no water, you can use saliva. From now onwards, I will go to my streetside barber for a haircut, but will not go to Habib,” said Gupta, who owns a beauty parlour.

Later speaking to news channels, Gupta said she attended the workshop to learn from Habib and was delighted when she was called on stage by him.

“He was not answering my questions. Then he pushed my head, I objected and said I have cervical issues. Then he spat twice on my hair and said that if you do not have water in your parlour, then you can spit. My husband was making the video. After I came down from the stage, Habib’s assistant told me he was joking,” she added.

Meanwhile, Hindu activists held a protest against Habib.

They demanded action against the hairstylist.



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3.2 million Indians may have died from Covid: Study

3.2 million Indians may have died from Covid: Study


About 3.2 million people could have died from Covid in India by September last year, six-seven times higher than reported officially, according to a study based on one independent and two government data sources.

IMAGE: Bodies buried in the sand on the banks of Ganga in Unnao district in Uttar Pradesh in 2020. Photograph: PTI Photo

The research, published in the journal Science on Thursday, used an independent nationally representative survey of 137,289 adults in all states and union territories interviewed from March 2020 to July 2021.

An international team of researchers led by Prabhat Jha, a professor at the University of Toronto in Canada, found that COVID-19 constituted 29 per cent of deaths from June 2020 to July 2021, corresponding to 3.2 million (32 lakh) deaths, of which 2.7 million (27 lakh) occurred in April-July 2021.

 

A sub-survey of 57,000 adults showed similar increases in mortality with COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 deaths peaking similarly, they said.

Two government data sources found that, when compared to pre-pandemic periods, all-cause mortality – or death from any cause — was 27 per cent higher in 0.2 million health facilities and 26 per cent higher in civil registration deaths in 10 states, the researchers said.

Both increases occurred mostly in 2021, according to the study.

“The analyses find that India’s cumulative COVID deaths by September 2021 were 6-7 times higher than reported officially,” the authors of the study said.

The researchers noted that India’s reported COVID-19 death totals are widely believed to be under-reported because of factors like incomplete certification of COVID deaths and misattribution to chronic diseases.

The first study is mortality reported in a nationally representative telephone survey conducted by CVoter, an independent, private polling agency.

In addition, the researchers studied the Government of India’s administrative data on national facility-based deaths and civil registration system (CRS) deaths in 10 states.

As of January 1, 2022, India has reported over 35 million cases of SARS-CoV-2, second only to the US, while its official cumulative Covid death count stands at 0.48 million (4.8 lakh).

“If our findings are confirmed, this may require substantial upward revision of the World Health Organization’s estimates of cumulative global COVID mortality, which as of January 1, 2022, stood at 5.4 million,” the authors said.

The researchers said model-based estimates of cumulative COVID deaths through June 2021 in India range from a few hundred thousand to over four million, with most suggesting a substantial official undercount.

In order to better estimate India’s COVID deaths, alternative approaches to model-based estimates are needed, they said.

The World Health Organization has recognised counts of recorded increases in all-cause mortality during peak pandemic transmission — which are likely nearly all caused by COVID infection — as a crude but useful method to track the pandemic.

To fill the gaps in India’s national-level COVID death estimates, the researchers quantified COVID mortality in India using one independent and two government data sources.

The results show consistency between the size of viral waves and Covid deaths.

“Our study finds that Indian COVID deaths are substantially greater than estimated from official reports,’ the authors added.

The team includes researchers from the Center For Voting Opinions and Trends in Election Research, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Development Data Lab, Washington, US, and Department of Economics, Dartmouth College.



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PM security breach: MHA panel at Ferozepur; Punjab submits report to Centre

PM security breach: MHA panel at Ferozepur; Punjab submits report to Centre


A central team probing the “serious lapses” in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security during his Ferozepur visit reached the town Friday, while the Punjab government submitted a report to Centre saying an FIR has been registered in the matter. 

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cavalcade stuck on a flyover in Ferozepur on January 5, 2022. Photograph: ANI Photo

The three-member committee, constituted by the Union Home Ministry on Thursday, is seeking full details about the sequence of events that unfolded during Modi’s January 5 visit, sources said.

Amid foggy weather conditions, the team visited the Pyarayana flyover near Ferozepur in the morning and interacted with senior Punjab Police and civil administration officials.

The panel is led by Sudhir Kumar Saxena, Secretary (Security), Cabinet Secretariat, and has Balbir Singh, Joint Director of the Intelligence Bureau; and S Suresh, IG, Special Protection Group as two other members.

The Centre has advised the committee to submit its report at the earliest.

 

The team has started its enquiry into the security breach and look into the lapses which caused the prime minister’s cavalcade to remain stranded at the flyover for almost 15-20 minutes on Wednesday, the sources said.

The Centre had on Thursday formed a three-member committee to enquire into “serious lapses” in security arrangements during Modi’s visit to Punjab which led to the exposure of the VVIP to “grave risk”.

The team spent around 45 minutes at the flyover before heading to the BSF sector headquarters for further questioning and investigation into the matter.

At the BSF sector headquarters in Ferozepur, which is around 10 km from where the incident took place on National Highway 5, the Central team remained closeted with the senior civil and police officers who were directly responsible to ensure the smooth passage of the prime minister’s convoy and its foolproof security.

According to the sources, the Central team has summoned several senior police and civil officials including those who were deployed for the prime minister’s security during his visit to Ferozepur to appear in person before them on Friday.

Meanwhile, Punjab government’s Chief Secretary Anirudh Tewari’s wrote to the Union Home Ministry regarding the security breach, informing that an FIR has been lodged in the incident.

The state government has mentioned that it has formed its own two-member panel to investigate the alleged lapses.

Tewari is learnt to have shared details pertaining to the sequence of events that unfolded on Wednesday, official sources in the state said.

The Punjab government had on Thursday announced the two-member panel to investigate the lapses. The panel has been asked to submit its report in three days.

The Punjab police has also registered an FIR against unidentified protesters who blocked Modi’s cavalcade on Wednesday.

The prime minister’s convoy was stranded on the flyover due to a blockade by protesters in Ferozepur on Wednesday after which he returned from the poll-bound state without attending any event, including a rally.

The Union Home Ministry had directed the state government to file an immediate report, saying it did not ensure the required deployment, while Home Minister Amit Shah had said that such dereliction of the security procedure during the prime minister’s visit was totally unacceptable and accountability would be fixed.

The incident triggered a major political row with the BJP alleging that the ruling Congress in Punjab “tried to physically harm” the prime minister, while other parties too attacked the state government over the law and order issue.



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Covid or no, kid will be kids

Covid or no, kid will be kids


Please click on the images for glimpses of how Indians are coping with the pandemic.

IMAGE: COVID-19 infected children dance at the Commonwealth Games Village COVID-19 care centre in New Delhi, January 6, 2022. Photograph: ANI Photo

 

IMAGE: COVID-19 infected children watch cartoons at the CWG COVID-19 care centre in New Delhi. Photograph: ANI Photo

 

IMAGE: Ignoring the spread of the pandemic, visitors click selfies in front of a replica of the Taj Mahal at the Waste to Wonder Theme Park at Sarai Kale Khan in New Delhi. Photograph: ANI Photo

 

IMAGE: Entry of visitors is restricted at the Bhowanipur police station in Kolkata because of the coronavirus. Photograph: ANI Photo

 

IMAGE: Ratna Mitra and Ajay Mitra flash victory signs after recovering from COVID-19 at the Sambhunath Pandit Hospital in Kolkata. Photograph: ANI Photo

 

IMAGE: A social activist helps a rickshaw puller wear a protective face mask as he distributes masks for free in Ahmedabad. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters

Photographs curated by Manisha Kotian/Rediff.com
Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com

X

 



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IT firm Atos plans to hire 15K people in India by mid-2023

IT firm Atos plans to hire 15K people in India by mid-2023


French IT firm Atos is planning to hire 15,000 people in the next 12-18 months in India, including climate experts, as it moves towards decarbonisation by 2028, chief operating officer (COO) Nourdine Bihmane said.

“India is a strategic market for Atos.

“We have been present here for the last 30 years, and we have grown organically since.

“People and innovation are our two key drivers to build momentum.

“India represents one-third of our total workforce,” Bihmane said.

 

Atos has around 40,000 employees in India.

The company had a total revenue of Euro 11 billion for the 2020 calendar year (CY).

The company’s workforce operates mainly from Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Delhi-NCR and serves its customers across markets like Europe, North America, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle-East.

“We want to reinforce this commitment, that’s why Atos plans to hire those 15,000 additional employees,” the COO pointed out.

In terms of business priorities, he said that the company is shifting to four growth pillar strategy: digital services, cloud, cybersecurity and decarbonisation.

“These four sectors now represent more than half of our total revenue,” he added.

“Atos is opening a new Centre of Excellence dedicated to net-zero transformation in India that will support our local clients in their journey,” the COO said.

In India, to offset its CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions from all its activities, Atos supports three wind farms located in Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra, promoting the use of renewable energy and eradicating the emission of greenhouse gases.

With 137 turbines, the three wind farms have a total capacity generation of 109.6 megawatts and power approximately 40,000 households in rural areas.

From reducing their carbon footprint to helping them assess if they’re overbuying their technology and data centre requirements, technology firms are increasingly working on sustainability as a service.

According to some estimates, the global Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector emits 1.4 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions.

In Gartner’s survey of Chief Executive Officers (CEO) last year, 5 per cent said sustainability was part of their top five priorities.

This year, it was around 9 per cent, and nine out of ten organisations want to increase investment on sustainability.

Bihmane said several stakeholders are already showing their commitment towards a new way of using digital equipment, compatible with the requirements of climate change and the circular economy.

He cited examples of Paris and Stockholm for the same.

The former has set up a data centre, where part of the energy is utilised locally to supply hot water and the latter has proposed data centre parks that offer an optimised cooling system that allows it to meet its carbon footprint reduction targets.

“Artificial intelligence and machine learning can also be critical in our fight against global warming.

“Through the computational power it offers, it can speed up the physical simulations needed for predictions and therefore the capacity of societies to adapt (climate models and energy management models for instance).

“Going digital should be considered a tool to accelerate the transition to a decarbonised and net-zero world and not an end in itself,” he added.

With the government’s push for the digitalisation of the economy, data will play a significant role in India, believes Bihmane.

Here, Atos is up and running as it works with customers on bigdata, artificial intelligence, machine learning and supercomputing, cybersecurity, cloud, and enterprise solutions and IT infrastructure management.

“These are our core offerings for customers.

“As a global leader in cybersecurity, Atos’ 15 next-generation Security Operations Centres (SOCs) are strategically placed across the globe and four of these are in India.

“Atos also has a hardware design and development centre for supercomputers, edge computers, and high-end AI servers in India,” he elaborated.

With Covid-19 pandemic having changed the world, work culture at Atos has evolved too.

“In the digital world, we have seen large-scale adoption of cloud while cybersecurity has also gained momentum as remote working has become the new normal.

“This hybrid work model is here to stay, and not only for us, but also for the rest of the IT industry.

“It will possibly be adopted by multiple sectors,” Bihmane said.

Photograph: Courtesy Atos India



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IT firm Atos plans to hire 15K people in India by mid-2023

IT firm Atos plans to hire 15K people in India by mid-2023


French IT firm Atos is planning to hire 15,000 people in the next 12-18 months in India, including climate experts, as it moves towards decarbonisation by 2028, chief operating officer (COO) Nourdine Bihmane said.

“India is a strategic market for Atos.

“We have been present here for the last 30 years, and we have grown organically since.

“People and innovation are our two key drivers to build momentum.

“India represents one-third of our total workforce,” Bihmane said.

 

Atos has around 40,000 employees in India.

The company had a total revenue of Euro 11 billion for the 2020 calendar year (CY).

The company’s workforce operates mainly from Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Delhi-NCR and serves its customers across markets like Europe, North America, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle-East.

“We want to reinforce this commitment, that’s why Atos plans to hire those 15,000 additional employees,” the COO pointed out.

In terms of business priorities, he said that the company is shifting to four growth pillar strategy: digital services, cloud, cybersecurity and decarbonisation.

“These four sectors now represent more than half of our total revenue,” he added.

“Atos is opening a new Centre of Excellence dedicated to net-zero transformation in India that will support our local clients in their journey,” the COO said.

In India, to offset its CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions from all its activities, Atos supports three wind farms located in Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra, promoting the use of renewable energy and eradicating the emission of greenhouse gases.

With 137 turbines, the three wind farms have a total capacity generation of 109.6 megawatts and power approximately 40,000 households in rural areas.

From reducing their carbon footprint to helping them assess if they’re overbuying their technology and data centre requirements, technology firms are increasingly working on sustainability as a service.

According to some estimates, the global Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector emits 1.4 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions.

In Gartner’s survey of Chief Executive Officers (CEO) last year, 5 per cent said sustainability was part of their top five priorities.

This year, it was around 9 per cent, and nine out of ten organisations want to increase investment on sustainability.

Bihmane said several stakeholders are already showing their commitment towards a new way of using digital equipment, compatible with the requirements of climate change and the circular economy.

He cited examples of Paris and Stockholm for the same.

The former has set up a data centre, where part of the energy is utilised locally to supply hot water and the latter has proposed data centre parks that offer an optimised cooling system that allows it to meet its carbon footprint reduction targets.

“Artificial intelligence and machine learning can also be critical in our fight against global warming.

“Through the computational power it offers, it can speed up the physical simulations needed for predictions and therefore the capacity of societies to adapt (climate models and energy management models for instance).

“Going digital should be considered a tool to accelerate the transition to a decarbonised and net-zero world and not an end in itself,” he added.

With the government’s push for the digitalisation of the economy, data will play a significant role in India, believes Bihmane.

Here, Atos is up and running as it works with customers on bigdata, artificial intelligence, machine learning and supercomputing, cybersecurity, cloud, and enterprise solutions and IT infrastructure management.

“These are our core offerings for customers.

“As a global leader in cybersecurity, Atos’ 15 next-generation Security Operations Centres (SOCs) are strategically placed across the globe and four of these are in India.

“Atos also has a hardware design and development centre for supercomputers, edge computers, and high-end AI servers in India,” he elaborated.

With Covid-19 pandemic having changed the world, work culture at Atos has evolved too.

“In the digital world, we have seen large-scale adoption of cloud while cybersecurity has also gained momentum as remote working has become the new normal.

“This hybrid work model is here to stay, and not only for us, but also for the rest of the IT industry.

“It will possibly be adopted by multiple sectors,” Bihmane said.

Photograph: Courtesy Atos India



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LIC IPO: Govt to review & simplify FDI policy

LIC IPO: Govt to review & simplify FDI policy


The government is working towards further review and simplification of the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy to facilitate the proposed initial public offering (IPO) of the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) secretary Anurag Jain said on Thursday.

The final decision will be taken by the Cabinet.

The industry department is working together with the finance ministry’s department of financial services (DFS) and department of investment and public asset management (DIPAM) towards a successful listing of the life insurer on the domestic bourses, which is expected to be the largest in India.

 

Both departments have pointed out that the FDI policy in its current form may not be conducive for proposed investors.

“We are working on further simplification of the FDI policy, which is needed urgently as we need to do LIC divestment…

“We have had two rounds of discussions and we are on the same page. We are in the process of drafting those changes in the FDI policy. Will go to the Cabinet after that,” Jain told reporters.

Currently, 74 per cent FDI is permitted in most Indian insurers.

However, the rules don’t apply to LIC because it is a special entity created by an act of Parliament.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) defines FDI as purchase of a stake in a listed company that’s 10 per cent or larger by an individual or entity based abroad, or any foreign investment in an unlisted firm.

The clearance for FDI in LIC will not just allow global funds to participate in the IPO but will also open doors for a significant stake purchase after the listing.

E-commerce policy

Jain further said DPIIT has almost finalised the much-awaited e-commerce policy and it has been circulated to other departments for consultation.

Apart from that, the government will not come up with any further clarification on the FDI policy on e-commerce.

“Our stand on e-commerce is clear.

“FDI is allowed in the marketplace model and not in the inventory model. There will be no change in that,” he said, adding that the department is also working towards finalising a national retail trade policy.

Startups

Going ahead, the government is focused on creating 20,000 jobs in the start-up space by registering 50,000 new start-ups in the system over the next four financial years.

As many as 60,000 government-registered start-ups have created 650,000 jobs in the country.

The figure comes to 11 jobs per start-up, Jain said.

“The start-up movement is taking deep roots. What is interesting is that 45 per cent of all registered start-ups are from tier-II and tier-III towns,” he added.

WPI base year

DPIIT will also launch a new wholesale price index, with a base year of 2017-18. The current base year is 2011-12.

“WPI reflects a particular basket of consumption that has changed over a period of time.

“We need to tweak it in consultation with relevant stakeholders so that it reflects the reality,” Jain said.

Omicron threat and oxygen

As far as resurgence in Covid-19 cases is concerned, Jain said it may not have a major impact on the economy, barring a small blip in growth, with people being more prepared to deal with the pandemic, as well as a large chunk of population getting vaccinated.

The government has also been able to ramp up the oxygen production capacity, amid a surge in cases.

“If required, we can have 19,000 MT oxygen per day… we will be in a position to meet the demand (if the need arises),” he said.

Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters



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LIC IPO: Govt to review & simplify FDI policy

LIC IPO: Govt to review & simplify FDI policy


The government is working towards further review and simplification of the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy to facilitate the proposed initial public offering (IPO) of the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) secretary Anurag Jain said on Thursday.

The final decision will be taken by the Cabinet.

The industry department is working together with the finance ministry’s department of financial services (DFS) and department of investment and public asset management (DIPAM) towards a successful listing of the life insurer on the domestic bourses, which is expected to be the largest in India.

 

Both departments have pointed out that the FDI policy in its current form may not be conducive for proposed investors.

“We are working on further simplification of the FDI policy, which is needed urgently as we need to do LIC divestment…

“We have had two rounds of discussions and we are on the same page. We are in the process of drafting those changes in the FDI policy. Will go to the Cabinet after that,” Jain told reporters.

Currently, 74 per cent FDI is permitted in most Indian insurers.

However, the rules don’t apply to LIC because it is a special entity created by an act of Parliament.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) defines FDI as purchase of a stake in a listed company that’s 10 per cent or larger by an individual or entity based abroad, or any foreign investment in an unlisted firm.

The clearance for FDI in LIC will not just allow global funds to participate in the IPO but will also open doors for a significant stake purchase after the listing.

E-commerce policy

Jain further said DPIIT has almost finalised the much-awaited e-commerce policy and it has been circulated to other departments for consultation.

Apart from that, the government will not come up with any further clarification on the FDI policy on e-commerce.

“Our stand on e-commerce is clear.

“FDI is allowed in the marketplace model and not in the inventory model. There will be no change in that,” he said, adding that the department is also working towards finalising a national retail trade policy.

Startups

Going ahead, the government is focused on creating 20,000 jobs in the start-up space by registering 50,000 new start-ups in the system over the next four financial years.

As many as 60,000 government-registered start-ups have created 650,000 jobs in the country.

The figure comes to 11 jobs per start-up, Jain said.

“The start-up movement is taking deep roots. What is interesting is that 45 per cent of all registered start-ups are from tier-II and tier-III towns,” he added.

WPI base year

DPIIT will also launch a new wholesale price index, with a base year of 2017-18. The current base year is 2011-12.

“WPI reflects a particular basket of consumption that has changed over a period of time.

“We need to tweak it in consultation with relevant stakeholders so that it reflects the reality,” Jain said.

Omicron threat and oxygen

As far as resurgence in Covid-19 cases is concerned, Jain said it may not have a major impact on the economy, barring a small blip in growth, with people being more prepared to deal with the pandemic, as well as a large chunk of population getting vaccinated.

The government has also been able to ramp up the oxygen production capacity, amid a surge in cases.

“If required, we can have 19,000 MT oxygen per day… we will be in a position to meet the demand (if the need arises),” he said.

Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters



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SC asks to preserve PM’s travel records in Punjab

SC asks to preserve PM’s travel records in Punjab


The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Registrar General of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to “forthwith” secure the records pertaining to security arrangements made for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent Punjab visit from the state government, its police and central agencies. 

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s convoy is stranded in Ferozepur, Punjab, January 5, 2022. Photograph: ANI Photo

A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana also asked the counsel representing the Punjab and the central governments to ask the committees set up by them separately to probe the lapses during the visit of the prime minister to “hold their hands till Monday” when it will hear the plea next.

“Heard counsel for parties. Taking into consideration the arguments advanced, keeping in view that it pertained to the security of the prime minister and other issues… as first step, we deem it appropriate to direct Registrar General of Punjab and Haryana High Court to secure records forthwith,” the bench, also comprising justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, said in the order.

It also directed the Punjab government, its police authorities and other Central and state agencies to cooperate and provide the entire relevant records immediately to the Registrar General.

The bench has now posted the case for further hearing on January 10.

 

The top court was hearing the plea of an organisation ‘Lawyer’s Voice’ seeking a thorough investigation into the breach in Prime Minister Modi’s security in Punjab and ensuring there is no such event in the future.

On Wednesday, the prime minister’s convoy was stranded on a flyover due to a blockade by protesters in Ferozepur after which he returned from poll-bound Punjab without attending any event, including a rally.

On Thursday, the bench led by the CJI had agreed to hear the plea on Friday.

The petition has sought preservation of evidence on security arrangements, court-monitored probe and action against “erring” officials of the Punjab government responsible for the alleged lapse.

The petition filed by Bijan Kumar Singh, vice president, Lawyer’s Voice, termed Wednesday’s incident as “pre-meditated conspiracy to breach the security of the prime minister and bring national security in jeopardy”.

“Take cognisance of the serious and deliberate lapse on part of the Respondent No 1, 2 and 3 (state government, chief secretary and DGP) concerning the security and the movement of the prime minister of the country,” the plea filed through lawyer Sandeep Singh said.

It also sought direction to the district judge, Bhatinda to collect “all official documents and materials from all possible sources” pertaining to the movements and deployment of Punjab Police in connection with the visit at the earliest and produce the same before this court.

The plea has also sought a direction to the Union Home Ministry to initiate departmental action against the state chief secretary and the Director General of Police.

“Issue a writ …or direction fixing responsibility of the Respondent No 2 and Respondent No 3 (Chief Secretary and DGP) and place them under suspension..,” it said.

“The petitioner is seeking urgent intervention… raising an imminent and issues of national importance impinging upon the national security and for protection of the fundamental right to movement across the country and liberty of citizens in the country,” it said.

The plea urged the court to take cognisance of the matter and ensure that official records are not tampered with and presented before it at the earliest.

“The petitioner… is seeking to highlight the said incident and raise an important question as if the Prime Minister of the country can face such a situation, then the fundamental rights of citizens which has been guaranteed …are in serious jeopardy in Punjab and beyond,” it said.

It is shocking that an overwhelming section of the blockage of the road was consisting of police personnel on the spot which made “the complicity of the State authorities apparent”, the plea alleged.



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‘How can Varavara Rao be sent to jail during Covid surge?’: HC extends surrender date

‘How can Varavara Rao be sent to jail during Covid surge?’: HC extends surrender date


The Bombay high court on Friday extended till February 5, the date of surrender for poet Varavara Rao, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case who is currently on medical bail, before Taloja prison authorities in Maharashtra.

IMAGE: Poet-activist Varavara Rao. Photograph: PTI Photo.

A bench of Justices SS Shinde and NR Borkar dismissed the National Investigating Agency’s request for extending such date of surrender only by a week.

The bench said in view of the rising cases of coronavirus across the state, it would not be wise to send the 83-year-old poet-activist back to prison.

 

Rao, who was lodged in the Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai as an undertrial, was granted temporary medical bail for six months in February 2021 by another bench of the HC that was led by Justice Shinde.

He was admitted to the private Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai at the time for treatment of multiple ailments.

His date of surrender was scheduled for September 5, 2021, but Rao filed a new application through advocate R Sathyanarayanan and senior counsel Anand Grover seeking an extension of medical bail.

The date of Rao’s surrender has been extended since then by the HC on several accounts, including further time sought by the NIA, which is investigating the case, for filing replies to the new application and getting the octogenarian medically examined again, among others.

The NIA, however, has been opposing extension of Rao’s medical bail, saying his treatment at Nanavati Hospital is now complete and as per doctors there, he does not need continued medical care at the private hospital currently.

On Friday, NIA counsel Sandesh Patil told the HC that additional solicitor general Anil Singh had not been briefed in the matter and sought a week’s time to complete the process.

He urged the HC to grant the next date of hearing in a week’s time.

The bench, however, said there was no point posting the matter for hearing next week and extending Rao’s date of surrender only till then, considering the coronavirus pandemic.

“Mr Patil, there is no point in keeping (the plea for hearing) next week. Experts say third wave (of coronavirus) may last for 50 to 60 days. This time, the police, health workers are testing positive very rapidly. The situation wasn’t as bad the last time. So in such a situation, is it proper to send him (Rao) back to jail?” the judges asked.

“Of course, we are aware of the seriousness of allegations (against Rao), and the point of law involved. We will hear you (all parties) on the next date on merits,” the bench said.

Grover then told the HC that considering Rao’s health condition, his old age and chronic ailments, the Telegu poet had also filed a fresh application before the HC seeking “permanent bail on health grounds.”

“We have also challenged some of the findings and medical report conclusions of Nanavati Hospital,” Grover told the HC.

He referred to some reports, including a conclusion submitted in the HC by Nanavati Hospital doctors last month stating that Rao’s vital parameters were stable and he did not need further medical care.

The NIA had cited this particular report to argue earlier that Rao be sent back to prison while the high court continued to hear on merits his applications for further medical bail.

On Friday, the bench of Justices Shinde and Borkar said it will consider all contentions raised, including those in the new applications filed by Rao, on February 4, the next date of hearing.

It, accordingly, extended the date of surrender for Rao till February 5.

The bench also advised lawyers to stay safe and follow Covid-19 safety protocols.

“This is high time to take full care. The spread is very rapid this time. We are seriously concerned about all stakeholders in the judicial system…advocates, staff, clerks, their families. Here (in HC) also some of our colleagues have tested positive,” the bench said.

“But fortunately, in Maharashtra and Mumbai, the central and the state governments, the BMC, local bodies are all doing a wonderful job. We have to respect their work,” it said.

The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the ‘Elgar Parishad’ conclave, held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial located on the city’s outskirts.

The Pune police had claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists.

The probe in the case, in which more than a dozen activists and academicians have been named accused, was later transferred to the NIA.



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SC allows NEET-PG medical counselling with 27% quota for OBCs, 10% for EWS

SC allows NEET-PG medical counselling with 27% quota for OBCs, 10% for EWS


The Supreme Court on Friday, in an interim order, allowed resumption of medical counselling for NEET-PG admissions for the year 2021-22, and upheld the validity of 27 per cent OBC and 10 per cent EWS quotas.

A bench of justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna said that detailed reasons for the interim order will follow and the counselling for the NEET-PG for the academic year 2021-22 will proceed as per the criteria already notified.

 

The bench said that validity of criteria of Rs 8 lakh for determination of EWS for future years will be subject to final adjudication of the batch of petitions and listed the pleas for final hearing on March 5.



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3 JeM terrorists killed in JK; 16 so far in 2022

3 JeM terrorists killed in JK; 16 so far in 2022


Three Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists were killed in an overnight encounter with security forces in Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir, police said on Friday.

IMAGE: Security personnel at the encounter site where they killed Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorist Salim Parray in Harwan area near Srinagar on January 3, 2022. Photograph: Umar Ganie for Rediff.com

The encounter broke out in Budgam’s Zolwa village late on Thursday, a police official said.

Three terrorists were killed in the exchange of fire with the security forces, the official said.

 

“All three slain terrorists were affiliated with JeM terror outfit. Three AK 56 rifles and other incriminating material were recovered from the site of the encounter,” said Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar.

While one of the terrorists has been identified as Waseem from Srinagar, the identities of the other two are being ascertained, he said.

The security forces have eliminated 16 terrorists in the first week of this year.



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Sabarimala Woman Activist Bindu Ammini Attacked

Sabarimala Woman Activist Bindu Ammini Attacked


Activist Bindu Ammini was assaulted at Kozhikode beach in north Kerala on Thursday, January 6, 2022.

Bindu Ammini was one of the two women who entered the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala in January 2019 after the Supreme Court vedict permitted the entry of women of all ages into the shrine.

Previously, women between the ages of 10 and 50 were not allowed to enter the temple.

Please click on the images for a look at the cowardly attack on Bindu Ammini.

All photographs: ANI Photo

 

 

 

Photographs curated by Anant Salvi/Rediff.com
Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com

 

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Reddit learns you can shoot down Skyrim’s beehives to get honey

Reddit learns you can shoot down Skyrim’s beehives to get honey



The long-running webcomic xkcd did a strip I think about a lot. It’s about why we shouldn’t make fun of people for admitting they didn’t know something. As the strip says, for everything you know “every day there are, on average, 10,000 people in the US hearing about it for the first time.” Earlier this week, most of those 10,000 people seem to have been on the Skyrim subreddit.

“I must be stupid,” a user called Skyrim_For_Everyone posted, “been playing for a while and never realized you could shoot beehives from trees.” It’s true. There are beehives in Skyrim and you can knock them down with arrows or spells to get at the honey inside. (As well as husk and bees.) And yet, I’ve never seen a mod that lets you play as Yogi Bear.



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Beware Of Long Covid! – Rediff.com India News

Beware Of Long Covid! – Rediff.com India News


‘We know, from our experience of this virus, that there’s something known as long COVID-19, where you have this persistent fatigue and some people have lost their neurological acuteness and they are not as sharp as they used to be.’

IMAGE: Teenagers gesture after receiving a dose of Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine, Covaxin, in Mumbai, January 3, 2022. Photograph: Niharika Kulkarni/Reuters

 

Dr Zaheer Virani, member of the Maharashtra COVID-19 Task Force since early 2020, in Part II of his interview to Vaihayasi Pande Daniel/Rediff.com addresses doubts that must be top-most on all our minds.

Will Mumbai get locked down?

Is a lockdown required?

What happens if the spread of Omicron is uncontrollable in the city?

The Mumbai interventional nephrologist and transplant physician methodically sorts through these worries and misgivings and offers calm words of reassurance.

IMAGE: Passengers at the Dadar railway station, north central Mumbai, December 31, 2021. Photograph: Kunal Patil/PTI Photo

Won’t controlling the spread of Omicron be a much greater public health challenge because everyone’s guard is down?
It would seem like people are much more careless about protecting themselves from COVID-19 in December 2021 than they were in December 2020.

You’re absolutely right. But this is this is basically COVID-19 fatigue.

It’s happening to the general public; It is happening to us as doctors. We are also tired.

I’m sure you know how it is — cycle after cycle after cycle keeps hitting us; wave after wave.

We have to just keep on reinforcing the fact that people have to mask up, get vaccinated, physically distance and events that are not absolutely essential should be curtailed when we’re going through a wave like this.

Eventually, I’m quite optimistic that vaccines are the way forward and we will come to the end of this pandemic.

It’s just a matter of time. So, we have to hold on for that.

IMAGE: A teenager reacts while receiving a dose in Mumbai, January 5, 2022. Photograph: ANI Photo

Is the Mumbai administration reacting quickly enough to the outspread of Omicron?

Schools are shut. They are shut till January 31.

My children haven’t gone to physical school since the beginning of the pandemic, truthfully. They have been homeschooling and we have it all online.

As far as the trains are concerned, they were opened for fully vaccinated people, and for Mumbai trains are the lifeline of the city, and everybody has to get to work.

So, if we cram the same people into buses, taxis and private cars, it’s going to be as bad, if not worse, because it is just going to be the same situation. Everybody is coming from distant places, or from the suburbs and there will be four people packed in a cab or around 50 or 60 people packed in a bus.

If we can divide the travel load between multiple modes of transport, that might help, instead of packing everybody into one mode of transport.

If you see the pictures from the beginning of the pandemic, you’ll see these huge lines at the bus stands, extending for metres and metres together, people standing one behind the other, all trying to get into a bus.

From a practical point of view, we need the healthcare workers to come to work, we need the ancillary workers to come to work, we need the industry to function. For this, we need people and to get people from Point A to Point B, we need transport. And these are the transportation modes that we have.

So, we have to use it in the best way — double vaccination, masking — and we should be fine.

Obviously, if you don’t double vaccinate and don’t mask, then — whatever else you do — it (Omicron) is eventually going to come for you.

IMAGE: Students queue to register themselves for vaccination in Mumbai, January 5, 2022. Photograph: ANI Photo

Mumbai has incredibly high levels of vaccination. Everybody now has at least a single vaccine. But when the more transmissible Omicron starts reaching the slums, in a much larger way, is it going to create a bigger problem than the first or second wave?

At present, it doesn’t look like that.

And I must tell you that the slums — basically Kurla-Ghatkopar, Mankhurd, Dharavi and Wadala — most of them have suffered COVID-19 in the beginning, and then they got vaccinated.

Basically, they have actually got literally three shots, the disease itself and then two shots.

Also, if you note the numbers, it seems more like COVID-19 (the Omicron variant) is not coming from the slums this time, but from multiple complexes where there are multiple buildings.

Slum dwellers are very sharp. They vaccinate themselves, and they are very conscious of the disease, because, you have to understand, if they get quarantined, they are also losing their livelihood.

They know this time that they have to protect themselves from the disease because (caution will safeguard) their livelihood and they have to go to work to make their livelihood.

IMAGE: Players wait as police personnel vacate the Shivaji Park ground amid restrictions imposed due to the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in Mumbai. Photograph: Kunal Patil/PTI Photo

Omicron is a more infectious variant of the COVID-19 virus, but it is also a much milder variant and people everywhere are confused.
It’s been said: Are we hiding in panic from just a cold?
But in America, for instance, the unvaccinated are dying, very young too in many cases.
What’s your take?

So, two points to this:

You basically answered your question yourself. If you are vaccinated, then it seems to be very mild or asymptomatic.

But if you are not vaccinated, then you are in trouble. It then might behave like a bad lower respiratory tract infection, like a viral pneumonia, which might cost you your life.

Number two, the data on Omicron has been available only from the end of November, beginning December. But we know, from our previous experience of this virus, that there’s something known as long COVID-19 as well, where you have this persistent fatigue and some people have lost their neurological acuteness and they are not as sharp as they used to be.

We are right now very early in the Omicron wave. The short-term symptoms are coming now, as a cold, cough, fever. But I’m sure in the long run, nobody wants to have persistent fatigue or lose their mental sharpness or a persistent backache.

In the initial (round of COVID-19 infections) some people have also got tinnitus, which is a buzzing sound in the ear after COVID-19.

We don’t know what’s coming down the line when it comes to all these side effects.

We should not be alarmist. It’s definitely looks at present to be milder than Delta. We should mask and vaccinate, and we should only hospitalise those for whom it’s absolutely necessary, like those who require oxygen or have an unrelenting fever or multiple comorbidities like transplant patients or the elderly with other cardiac or lung ailments.

IMAGE: Dr Zaheer Virani. Photograph: Kind courtesy Dr Zaheer Virani

To guard people’s livelihoods, we may not be headed either for a national lockdown or a state lockdown right now?

This question is difficult to answer because only time can tell. Once you say something it cannot be carved in stone.

Secondly, the decision to lock down is basically a decision which is made by multiple people.

This is what I feel: When your oxygen requirement goes above a particular limit, or your oxygen-requiring beds in the hospitals are getting exhausted, that is when you talk about a lockdown-like situation.

At present, what I would look at, is restricted activity. You don’t need to have a football game at this point. You need not have a huge marriage with 600 or 700 or 800 people. Or a birthday with so many people invited. Those are those activities should be curtailed.

But day-to day living, where a person is going out to make his bread, is not required to be curtailed at present, because, like you rightly pointed out, it’s a milder variant. If somebody falls ill with a cough, cold, fever, and is otherwise okay, s/he can isolate himself at home for five days and then get back to work.

We have in Mumbai a good capacity of oxygen at present. We have a good capacity of beds, where we can give oxygen to patients, at present. As long as we do not hit a particular (shortage) mark, which has been set by us as a group (the medical task force in the state), I think life should continue with curtailed activities. We should not do things which are not essential at present.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com



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