Aryan Khan case transferred to Delhi NCB, Wankhede says 'combined investigation'

News Network
November 5, 2021

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Mumbai, Nov 5: Facing allegations of corruption, forging caste certificates and extravagant lifestyles, the high-profile NCB Mumbai zonal director Sameer Wankhede has been removed from the Cordelia drugs-on-cruise case.

Soon after NCB's announcement, NCB Zonal Dir Sameer Wankhede told ANI that he has not been removed from the investigation but the case would be now probed by Delhi and Mumbai teams combined. "I've not been removed from the investigation. It was my writ petition in court that the matter is probed by a central agency. So Aryan case & Sameer Khan case are being probed by Delhi NCB's SIT. It's a coordination b/w NCB teams of Delhi & Mumbai," he said.

NCP chief spokesperson and Maharashtra minority affairs minister Nawab Malik, reacting to the transfer, said that this was just the beginning. He said, "Sameer Wankhede removed from 5 cases including the Aryan Khan case. There are 26 cases in all that needs to be probed. This is just the beginning... a lot more has to be done to clean this system and we will do it."

 A total of 20 persons were arrested in the case including Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan Khan. Fifteen accused have been granted in the case.

A team of Delhi NCB would be arriving in Mumbai tomorrow after the decision to start the investigation in the case. 

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News Network
November 25,2021

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Lucknow, Nov 25: A minister in Uttar Pradesh government today termed the madrasas (Islamic Schools) as "terrorist dens" and demanded that they be closed immediately.

"The madrasas are dens of terrorists.....they churn out terrorists.....those passing out of the madrasas become terrorists," UP minister of state for labour Raghuraj Singh said in Aligarh.

Speaking to reporters, Singh said that there were only 250 madrasas in UP till a few decades back. "Now there are more than 22 thousand madrasas in the state," the minister said.

Singh, while referring to Burhan Wani, who was a top commander of the terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen and was killed in a gun battle with security forces in Jammu & Kashmir in 2016, said that he was also a 'product' of a madrasa in the state.

The minister added that he would order the closure of all the madrasas if he got a chance.

Singh's remarks came amid announcement by the Yogi Adityanath government to renovate and modernise the madrasas in the state.

The Muslim clerics and opposition parties slammed the minister for the remarks. "Many, who studied in the madrasas, had fought for the freedom of the country....the minister should read history before making such a statement....he must be sacked immediately," said a Muslim cleric here.

"The remarks reflect the anti-Muslim mindset of the BJP....the minister is not alone in saying so...there are many MLAs in the BJP, who have also made objectionable comments on the Muslims," said a senior Samajwadi Party leader here. 

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News Network
December 1,2021

Bengaluru, Dec 1: Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai today said that he would seek the Union Government's opinion and the status of scientific progress made in the issue of administering the booster dose of anti-Covid vaccine to health and frontline workers as experts in the State have expressed a favourable opinion in this regard.

"I am going to Delhi on December 2 (Thursday), and I will meet Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya. I will seek the Centre's views and recommendation about giving the booster dose to health and frontline workers, and scientific progress related to it. Experts here have opined that it is good to administer the booster dose to at least health workers, who were administered the second dose of the vaccine several months ago," he said.

To prevent the spread of Covid infection, instructions are given to keep strict vigil on international travellers arriving in the State and also those who come from other states especially Kerala. Based on the experience of the last year, strict measures including mandatory testing for international and inter-state arrivals have to be taken at the initial stage itself, he noted.

Reiterating that lockdown would not be imposed, Bommai stated that vaccination drives would be intensified, and there is no plan to link the vaccination with facilities offered by the government. Decision about the new year celebrations is not yet taken, and people need not panic unnecessarily, he said.

Commenting on the possibility of Omicron variant entering the State, he said, a sample is sent to National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) for testing, as experts noted that it is of a different strain. 

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News Network
December 1,2021

The World Health Organization has warned blanket travel bans will not prevent the spread of Omicron, as more countries rushed to impose curbs and the first cases of the new Covid strain were detected in Latin America.

In the week since the new virus strain was reported by South Africa, dozens of countries around the world have responded with travel restrictions -- most targeting southern African nations.

But the World Health Organization warned Tuesday that "blanket" travel bans risked doing more harm than good, just as Canada expanded its restrictions.

In a travel advisory, the WHO warned the bans could ultimately dissuade countries from sharing data about the evolving virus.

But it did advise that unvaccinated people vulnerable to Covid-19, including over-60s, should avoid travel to areas with community transmission of the virus.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was understandable for countries to seek to protect their citizens "against a variant we don't yet fully understand".

But he called for the global response to be "calm, coordinated and coherent", urging nations to "take rational, proportional risk-reduction measures".

The likely futility of broad travel restrictions was underscored as Dutch authorities reported that Omicron was present in the country before South Africa officially reported its first cases on November 25.

The new variant -- whose high number of mutations the WHO believes may make it more transmissible or resistant to vaccines -- was found in two Dutch test samples from November 19 and 23, with one having no travel history.

So far, well over a dozen countries and territories have detected cases, including Australia, Britain, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy and Portugal.

Latin America reported its first two cases Tuesday -- in people who travelled from South Africa to Brazil -- and a first case was confirmed in Japan, one day after it barred all foreign arrivals.

However, US President Joe Biden said the travel bans on just the southern African nations would stay in place, without referencing the other places where Omicron has been detected.

Asked how long travel restrictions that took effect Monday on South Africa and seven other southern African countries would remain, Biden said it "kind of depends".

"We're going to learn a lot more in the next couple weeks about the lethality of this virus, about how much it spreads, what we have to control it, etcetera," he told reporters.

Asked if any expansion of the travel restrictions to other countries could be made suddenly, as happened under former president Donald Trump, Biden said: "Unlike Trump I don't shock our allies."

In Asia, governments continued Wednesday to expand restrictions, including with Indonesia adding Hong Kong to its travel ban list alongside various African nations.

Hong Kong also added three more countries - Japan, Portugal and Sweden -- to its highest travel restriction category after Omicron cases were discovered in those nations.

While much is still unknown about the Omicron variant -- it could take weeks to determine whether and to what extent it is vaccine-resistant -- it has highlighted that the global fight against Covid-19 is far from over.

Omicron has emerged as much of the northern hemisphere was already bracing for a new winter wave of the pandemic -- leaving even nations with high vaccination rates struggling to contain rising infection numbers and prevent health services from being overwhelmed.

Governments, particularly in Western Europe, have already reintroduced mandatory mask-wearing, social-distancing measures, curfews or lockdowns -- leaving businesses fearing another grim Christmas.

Greece went ahead Tuesday in making vaccines compulsory for over-60s, while Norway will offer booster shots to all adults before Easter, as preferable to a lockdown.

Britain has set a target of delivering third jabs to all adults within two months.

While the European summer of fleeting Covid freedoms may be over, in the southern hemisphere, the Pacific island of Fiji ended 615 days of international isolation on Wednesday and reopened to tourists.

Traditional dancers in grass skirts welcomed waving holidaymakers from Sydney, the first of an expected flood of desperately needed tourists in the coming weeks.

Fiji Airways chief executive Andre Viljoen said it was a "momentous" occasion, where tourism accounts for about 40 percent of the economy.

"The international border reopening will reignite Fiji's economy," he told reporters.

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