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Delhi The Buzz

Only 5 people had Balakot info, must probe who leaked it to Arnab: Rahul Gandhi


Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 19

In the first official reaction to the explosive Arnab Goswami chats, the Congress on Tuesday demanded a probe into the leakage of sensitive Balakot strike information to the Republic TV editor and said both the source and recipient of the official secret must be booked.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi led the offensive on the issue and said only five people knew of the strike and one of them shared it with Goswami.

“Both the person who gave the secret information and the one who received it must be booked. Sensitive defence information before Balakot was given to a journalist. Even the pilots get such information at the last moment. Top five people (the prime minister, the defence minister, the home minister, the IAF chief and the NSA) had this information. Someone out of them gave him this information. This is criminal. We must find out who gave and the process of the probe should begin but it will not because the PM must have given the information,” alleged Gandhi.

He also attacked Goswami for saying after the Pulwama attack that “it is good for us.”

“I do not like that language. It is the reflection of the PM’s thought process that 40 people have died and we will now win the elections,” said the former Congress chief.

Adding that the law would take its course, Gandhi said: “People in the government call themselves patriotic but there is nothing patriotic about giving out official secret information about our Air Force striking Pakistan. If Arnab Goswami knew, I believe Pakistan also knew.”

Gandhi’s remarks can trigger a massive political backlash from the BJP that is yet to react to leaked Goswami’s chats with the ex BARC chief Partho Dasgupta.





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Rahul Gandhi attacks PM on reports of Chinese village in Arunachal


New Delhi, January 19

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue of national security after reports that China has built a village in Arunachal Pradesh.

“Remember his promise – Mai desh jhukne nahi dunga (Will not let the country bow),” Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi as he posted a link of a news report about the alleged “Chinese village”.

Congress leaders Randeep Surjewala and Manish Tewari also attacked the prime minister on the matter.

“Modiji where is that 56-inch chest,” Surjewala tweeted.

Taking to Twitter, Tewari said, “This is very very serious. Not troops but a whole village ! For God sake”‘.

 “‘@PMOIndia or @rajnathsingh Ji must tell the nation as to whether this is true or false?” he said.

In a cautious reaction to the reports, India had on Monday said it keeps a constant watch on all developments having a bearing on the country’s security, and takes necessary measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Congress leader P Chidambaram had on Monday demanded answers from the government on the issue, alleging that BJP MP Tapir Gao has claimed that China has built a 100-house village in the “disputed area” deep into Arunachal Pradesh.

He said if the allegation made out by the BJP MP is true, will the government again give a clean chit to China or will blame the previous governments for it.

“Mr Tapir Gao MP, belonging to BJP, has alleged that deep into Arunachal Pradesh, in a  ‘disputed area’ within Indian territory, the Chinese have built  a 100-house village, a bazaar and a two-lane road in the last year.

“If this is true, it is clear that the Chinese have altered the status quo by converting a disputed area into a permanent settlement of Chinese nationals. What has the government to say about these startling facts,” he had said on Twitter.

The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC). China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet, while India contests it.

India and China are locked in a bitter border standoff in eastern Ladakh for over eight months.

India and China have held several rounds of military and diplomatic talks in order to resolve the eastern Ladakh standoff, but no significant headway has been made for its resolution. PTI

 





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Delhi The Buzz

Buzz over key role for PM’s ‘trusted’ ex-IAS officer in UP


Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 18

The entry of former IAS officer AK Sharma into the ruling BJP in UP has led to turbulence in the state unit with many speculating the man “trusted” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi would get a key portfolio, if not the deputy CM’s post, in the Yogi Adityanath government.

After opting for voluntary retirement, Sharma last week joined the BJP and was a day later named candidate for the upcoming legislative council polls in UP. He filed his nomination today.

Adityanath, however, has so far remained non-committal on any Cabinet reshuffle even as sources said Sharma was unlikely to remain a mere legislator. The sources cited the examples of Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar and top bureaucrats RK Singh, Hardeep Puri and S Jaishankar, all Modi confidants who got key posts.

Ever since he joined the BJP, there has been a lot of buzz on what role would be given to Sharma. A Gujarat cadre officer belonging to UP, Sharma has been among Modi’s trusted bureaucrats since he was the CM.

Seen as low profile, Sharma is known for delivering time-bound results, said sources. His last posting at the Centre was Secretary, Union Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

Besides Sharma, the BJP has named Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma, its state president Swatantra Dev Singh and Lakshman Prasad Acharya as candidates for the council polls. Currently, there are two Deputy CMs in UP–Keshav Prasad Maurya being the other. The polling for 12 legislative council seats in UP is due on January 28.





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Delhi Politics The Buzz

PM Modi new head of Somnath temple trust, Shah hails development


Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 18

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on Monday unanimously named chairman of the Somnath Trust which manages the globally famous Somnath Temple located in Gujarat’s Gir Somnath district.

The position had fallen vacant in October 2020 after the demise of veteran BJP leader and former Gujarat chief minister Keshubhai Patel.

“The decision to appoint PM Narendra Modi as the Temple Trust chairman was unanimous,” said Trust Secretary P K Laheri.

This could well be the first time in the history of independent India that a sitting prime minister would head a famous temple trust.

Home Minister Amit Shah, one of the temple trustees, hailed the development saying, “I congratulate PM Narendra Modi on becoming the chairman of the Somnath Temple Trust. Mr Modi’s commitment towards the development of the Somnath shrine area has been unparalleled. I have full faith that the prestige and honour of Somnath Temple would be enhanced under PM Modi’s chairman-ship.”

Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani said, “Congratulations to PM Modi on becoming chairman of the trust for the Somnath Temple – a temple which was resurrected on the sacrifices of several people, a temple which was revived by Rani Ahilyabai and later by Sardar Patel.”

The Somnath Temple, believed to be one of the jyotirlinga shrines of Lord Shiva, was the subject of intense disagreement between India’s first President Rajendra Prasad and first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, as historical records reveal.

Nehru disapproved of then President Prasad inaugurating the newly revived Somnath Temple in 1951 and also of his ministerial colleagues’ participation in the process of resurrection of the temple. 

Former Congress leader from Gujarat KM Munshi who initiated the Somnath Temple revival after India’s independence records Nehru’s disapproval of his ministers’ participation in the temple rebuilding process in his book “Pilgrimage to Freedom.”

The trust meeting was held virtually. Some of the past Chairpersons of the Trust include Jamsaheb Digvijaya Singh, Kanaiyalal Munshi, Former Prime Minister Morarji Desai, Jay Krishna Hari Vallabh, Dineshbhai Shah, Prasanvadan Mehta and Keshubhai Patel.





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Delhi The Buzz

Ratings must remain suspended till BARC takes action to address concerns: NBA


New Delhi, January 18

In the wake of purported WhatsApp conversations between Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) head Partho Dasgupta emerging in the public domain, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) on Monday said ratings of television news channels should remain suspended till the TV ratings agency takes action to address concerns and shares details of it with the stakeholders.

In a statement, the Rajat Sharma-headed NBA said it is “shocked to see hundreds of WhatsApp messages that have been exchanged between BARC India’s former CEO—Partho Dasgupta—and Arnab Goswami, Managing Director, ARG Outlier Media Pvt. Ltd”.

It demanded that the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) membership of Republic TV should be suspended with immediate effect till the case related to manipulation of ratings is pending in court.

According to the statement, the NBA urged the BARC to come up with a clear statement about the veracity of its ratings in the period during the audit and also conduct an audit of the Hindi news segment.

“Expunge the data of the erring broadcaster and restate the real position of rankings of all news channels from the beginning,” it demanded from the ratings agency.

The BARC should explain the concrete steps taken by it in the last three months to secure the ratings and bring transparency to the process as well as create a system, whereby any change to the ratings that impacts the news ecosystem is done only after due consultation with a BARC sub-committee of NBA nominees, it said.

The NBA also asked the BARC to explain what penal actions are provided for in its constitution against broadcasters who have indulged in manipulation of ratings of this magnitude and what action will be taken in the current case.

The ratings of news channels must remain suspended till the time all details of such actions taken by the BARC are shared with the stakeholders, it said.

The NBA’s board also wants to place on record that the “corrupt data released month after month” has not only led to reputation loss, but has also caused huge financial losses to news broadcasters, for which the BARC is duty-bound to give an explanation, the statement said.

Dasgupta, who was arrested in the fake Television Rating Point (TRP) case, is now in the ICU of the state-run JJ hospital in central Mumbai.

A diabetic, he was rushed to the hospital from the Taloja Central Prison in Navi Mumbai on Saturday after his blood sugar levels went up on Friday midnight.

As the controversy surrounding the alleged TRP scam grew, the BARC, which provides TRP data, announced a temporary suspension of the weekly ratings of news channels across languages in October last year.

The NBA is the largest organisation of news broadcasters, consisting of almost all major news networks of the country. Republic TV, however, is not a member of the NBA. PTI





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Coronavirus COVID-19 Delhi The Buzz

Over 3.8 lakh beneficiaries receive COVID vaccine, 580 adverse events reported: Health ministry


New Delhi, January 18

A total of 3,81,305 beneficiaries have so far been vaccinated for coronavirus, even as 580 adverse events following immunisation were reported in the country, the Union health ministry said on Monday.

Addressing a press briefing, Manohar Agnani, Additional Secretary in the ministry, said 1,48,266 beneficiaries were vaccinated across 25 states and Union territories till 5 pm on Monday.

“A total of 3,81,305 beneficiaries have so far been vaccinated (till 5 pm on Monday) as per provisional reports,” he said.

Of the 1,48,266 beneficiaries who were administered the vaccine on Monday, 8,656 were from Bihar, 1,822 from Assam, 36,888 from Karnataka, 7,070 from Kerala, 6,665 from Madhya Pradesh, 7,628 from Tamil Nadu, 10,352 from Telangana, 11,588 from West Bengal and 311 were from Delhi.

Agnani said a cumulative 580 adverse events following immunization (AEFIs) and seven hospitalizations have so far been reported in the country since the nationwide COVID inoculation drive which began on January 16.

In Delhi, three hospitalisations were reported, out of which, two have been discharged, and one with fainting is under observation at Max Hospital, Patparganj.

In Uttarakhand, one of the beneficiaries is stable and under observation at AIIMS Rishikesh, the official stated.

In Chhattisgarh, one beneficiary is under observation, while in Karnataka, two cases of hospitalisations were reported, he said.

“No case of serious/severe AEFI attributable to vaccination till date,” the additional secretary added. PTI





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Khalsa Aid nominated for Nobel Peace Prize


Sukhmeet Bhasin
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 18

The United Kingdom-based non-government organisation Khalsa Aid has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for its humanitarian work.

Canadian MP Tim Uppal, Mayor of Brampton Patrick Brown and the MPP for Brampton South Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria have officially nominated Khalsa Aid for the Nobel Peace Prize.

In a letter written to Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair, The Norwegian Nobel Committee, Tim Uppal has stated that Khalsa Aid is an international NGO with an aim to provide humanitarian aid in disaster areas and civil conflict zones around the world.

It also stated that Khalsa Aid has become the first ever cross-border international humanitarian aid organisation based on the Sikh principle of recognising the whole human race as one.

Further, it states that it was founded by Ravinder (Ravi) Singh, who was stuck by the plight of the refugees in Kosovo in 1999, the charity has been providing support around the world to victims of natural and manmade disasters such as floods, earthquakes, famine and war for over 20 years.

Uppal also writes that Khalsa Aid, inspired by the Sikh ideology of “Sarbat Da Bhalla” meaning well-being for all, has been helping all those in need regardless of race, religion and borders.

It is also stated that Khalsa Aid represents exactly the kind of international cooperation and commitment the world is in dire need of today.

This year alone, they have assisted hundreds of thousands of people experiencing hardship. They have been providing protesters from across India shelter, clothing, food, first aid, hygiene products, water at the decampment site by the Delhi border in India.

Tim Uppal tweeted, “For over 20 years  @Khalsa_Aid has been helping people in desperate situations around the world. In my capacity as a federal Member of Parliament and with the support of @PrabSarkaria and  @patrickbrownont , I am nominating Khalsa Aid for a Nobel Peace Prize.”

Ravi Singh on social media said, “We are deeply humbled by this nomination. Everything we do is thanks to our amazing teams and volunteers all around the globe. We are grateful to the above for this historical nomination.”

It is worth mentioning that Khalsa Aid has been actively serving the farmers who have been protesting at Delhi borders for 53 days. It has set up a Kisan Mall at Tikri border.

On January 16, National Investigation Agency (NIA) had issued summons to Khalsa Aid’s India Director Amanpreet Singh and other Trustees and asked them to depose before the agency.





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Coronavirus COVID-19 Delhi The Buzz

Smiles, flowers, sanitizers welcome students as schools reopen in Delhi


New Delhi, January 18

Balloons, flowers, sanitisers and smiling faces welcomed class 10 and 12 students in schools in the national capital on Monday as they returned to campuses after over 10 months.

The students who were elated to be able to attend the first offline class of the academic session wore masks and queued up outside schools maintaining social distance.

“It was optional to come but I was sure I have to. It is the last year of my school life and I haven’t come to school even one day,” said Pragati Diwan, an excited class 12 student.

For another student at Geeta Bal Bharti School, the feeling was similar to that of attending first day at school.

“It does not feel like I am coming to school after ten months, it feels like I have come to school for the first time. I am looking forward to the preparations for board exams here,” she said.

The school put up posters of “welcome back” in corridors where teachers stood with sanitisers and checked the temperature of each student before letting them in.

Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya in Mandawali decorated the premises with balloons and the teachers showered flower petals on students, welcoming them.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia is also visiting a school in Chirag Enclave on Monday to assess the readiness of schools to welcome class 10 and 12 students.

Calling students in different slots, shorter school hours, frequent sanitisation and staggered entry and exit are among the plans of various schools in the national capital as they gear to welcome class 10 and 12 students on Monday for the first time in the academic session.

The schools are reopening in Delhi after 10 months, after being shut last year to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, and they have been instructed by the Directorate of Education (DoE) to follow all COVID-19 guidelines when classroom studies resume.

The Delhi government has allowed all schools outside COVID-19 containment zones here to reopen for classes 10 and 12 from January 18 in view of board exams. However, it made clear that physical attendance is not compulsory and students will attend schools only with the consent of parents.

Allowing 15 students at a time in a classroom, placing handwashing consoles and sanitisers in corridors, volunteers to ensure social distancing is maintained, temperature checks and medical facilities on standby if any student is not feeling well, are among various other initiatives planned by schools.

Schools are also working out plans to ensure that students who choose not to come to campus, do not miss out anything.

The Union Education Ministry has already announced that board exams for Classes 10 and 12 will be conducted from May 4 to June 10, even though the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is yet to release an examination date-sheet.

Over 3 lakh students have registered from the Delhi region for the Class 10 CBSE board exam, while over 2.5 lakh candidates have registered for the Class 12 exam. The Delhi government has suggested that schools conduct pre-board exams for Class 12 from March 20 to April 15 and Class 10 pre-board exams from April 1 to April 15. PTI





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Arnab leaks require serious inquiry: Shashi Tharoor


Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 17

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has said the leaked Arnab messages demand serious inquiry.

“The leaked WhatsApp chats reveal three reprehensible things requiring serious inquiry: leaking of military secrets to a TV channel for its commercial purposes; a “nationalist” gloating over the death of 40 jawans as an “attack we have won like crazy”, and a fraudulent manipulation of TRPs. But if the Government won’t conduct such an inquiry (& we all expect it won’t, given the evidence of its complicity in the betrayals revealed), who will? Is this one more thing we will have to take a PIL to the Supreme Court for?” Tharoor asked.

Meanwile, the Pakistan Foreign Office has sought to capitalise on the transcripts included in the Mumbai Police charge-sheet against Republic TV anchor Arnab Goswami by alleging they represent “irrefutable evidence of India’s state-sponsorship of terrorism”.

In a statement, it claimed the latest revelations confirm Pakistan’s allegations that the BJP government stages “false flag” operations, maligns Pakistan with terrorism-related allegations and “manipulates national sentiment in its bid to win elections”.

The transcripts, it said, also illustrate the nexus between the ‘Hindutva’ regime and a section of the media.

“We hope that the international community would take full cognisance of the situation and hold India accountable for its actions vitiating the regional environment and endangering peace and security in South Asia,” said the statement.





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Over 2.24 lakh beneficiaries given COVID-19 vaccine so far; 447 cases of adverse effect reported: Govt


New Delhi, January 17

A total of 2,24,301 beneficiaries have been inoculated with COVID-19 vaccine so far, out of which only 447 adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) were reported, the Union Health Ministry said on day two of the nationwide vaccination drive on Sunday.

Addressing a press briefing, the ministry’s Additional Secretary Manohar Agnani said out of the 447 adverse events following immunisation, only three required hospitalisation.

“Today being Sunday, only six states conducted vaccination drive and in 553 sessions a total of 17,072 beneficiaries were vaccinated,” he said.

The six states where the vaccination drive was carried out on Sunday are Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur and Tamil Nadu, he added.

Agnani said a total of 2,24,301 beneficiaries have been vaccinated till January 17 as per provisional reports, adding that 2,07,229 of them received the jabs on day one of the drive.

“A total of 447 AEFI have been reported on January 16 and 17, out of which only three required hospitalisation. Most of the AEFI reported so far are minor like fever, headache, nausea,” he said.

He said a meeting was held with all states and union territories on Sunday to review the progress of the drive, identify bottlenecks and plan corrective actions.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi rolled out the world’s largest inoculation drive against COVID-19 on Saturday and said the two vaccines being deployed will ensure a “decisive victory” for India against the pandemic.

India has approved two vaccines—Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech and Covishield from the Oxford/AstraZeneca stable being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India—for emergency use in the country.

According to the government, the shots will be offered first to an estimated one crore healthcare workers and around two crore frontline workers, and then to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities. PTI





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