Umar Khalid tells court he’s in sort of solitary confinement

Agencies
October 22, 2020

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New Delhi, Oct 22: Former JNU student leader Umar Khalid, arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with north-east Delhi riots in February, told a court on Thursday that he was not allowed to step out of his cell and it was sort of a "solitary confinement".

Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat directed Tihar Jail Superintendent to be present before the court on Friday to hear the matter.

Khalid made his submissions directly to the court through video conferencing when he was produced before it on expiry of his judicial custody in the case.

The court also pulled up the Assistant Jail Superintendent of Tihar prisons for not unmuting the microphone when Khalid told him that he wanted to speak to the judge.

Khalid said the official told him the microphone will be unmuted if the judge gave the permission for it.

If an undertrial wants to say something, then unmute and let him speak or you tell us that he wants to say something, the judge told the jail official.

Khalid alleged that he was alone in his cell and not allowed to step out of his cell or talk to anyone.

I have not been allowed to step outside at all. I am alone in my cell. No one is allowed to meet me. It is practically sort of a solitary confinement. I am not well for the last three days. I am feeling discomfort. This is like a punishment. Why am I given this punishment? I reiterate that I need security but it cannot be that I have to be in my cell all day, he claimed.

He further said that on Wednesday he was shown an order passed by Additional Superintendent Pradeep Sharma of Jail number 2, in which it was stated that Khalid should not be allowed out of his cell for 24 hours a day.

I request a recall of that order. In the morning, the Jail Superintendent came and asked the jail staff to allow me to go outside. I was allowed to step out for 10 minutes and then after he left, I was not allowed to go outside since then, Khalid alleged.

When his counsel, advocate Trideep Pais, told the court that no adverse steps should be taken against him by the jail authorities for putting forward his grievances, the judge said, Khalid should not be punished for putting forward his grievances. You should take care of it.

The court had on October 17 directed the Tihar Jail Superintendent to provide adequate and security in judicial custody.

The directions came on an application filed by Khalid seeking adequate security in prison so that he was not harmed by anyone in judicial custody.

Communal clashes had broken out in northeast Delhi on February 24 after violence between citizenship law supporters and protesters spiralled out of control leaving at least 53 people dead and around 200 injured.

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Agencies
November 18,2020

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New Delhi, Nov 18: After the Diwali weekend and Bhai Dooj celebrations came to an end, India recorded more than 30 per cent jump in new cases of COVID-19 with 38,617 new cases reported in past 24 hours pushing the cumulative the tally to 89,12,907, data from the Union Health Ministry showed on Wednesday.

The toll rose to 1,30,993 with 474 more deaths in one day. The number of active cases stood at 4,46,805.

As many as 83,35,109 people have recovered from the disease so far.

On Tuesday, India reported 29,164 new COVID-19 cases and 449 deaths. The figure of Wednesday is almost 32 per cent more in the single-day spike.

However, the reason could be a rise in the testing as total 9,37,279 samples were tested on Tuesday after a long weekend of testing eight lakh samples on an average, testing data from the Indian Council of Medical Research showed.

The situation of COVID-19 in Delhi-NCR remained grim. The latest surge has left the healthcare system gasping for relief. The hospital, both government and private hospitals have 10 per cent ICU beds with ventilators, which are extremely crucial for patients with severity.

Apart from severe patients, the patients with moderate symptoms are made to wait hours before admission in the hospitals. Besides, non-Covid patients are running from pillar to post just to acquire a single hospital bed in the capital city.

The situation has forced the Delhi government to reconsider imposing restrictions it lifted months ago. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has sent a proposal to Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and the Centre to consider allowing only 50 people to attend weddings and imposing lockdown in market areas which may emerge as hotspots.

Besides, the district administration of Gautam Budh Nagar decided to randomly test commuters going to Noida from Delhi for the coronavirus from Wednesday. The decision has come amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the capital.

Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 5.55 crore people and killed 13,36,892, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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News Network
November 26,2020

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Pfizer Inc with partner BioNTech SE, Moderna Inc and AstraZeneca Plc have released trial data this month showing their experimental vaccines are effective in preventing the disease.

If regulators approve any of the vaccines in coming weeks, the companies have said distribution could begin almost immediately with governments around the world.

But many Asian countries do not expect to receive big amounts initially, and below are estimated distribution timelines, supply deals announced so far and clinical trials underway in the region.

Australia

It has agreed to buy 135 million doses: 34 million from AstraZeneca, 40 million from Novavax Inc, 10 million from Pfizer and 51 million from CSL Ltd.

It expects delivery of 3.8 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine in January and February next year.

China

China has not announced supply deals with Western drugmakers, which instead have partnered with private companies.

AstraZeneca's vaccine may be approved in China by mid-2021 and its Chinese partner Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products plans to have annual production capacity of at least 100 million doses of the vaccine by end-2020.

For the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, a unit of Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group plans a Phase 2 trial.

Tibet Rhodiola Pharmaceutical Holding is bringing in Russian vaccine candidate Sputnik V and plans early and mid-stage trials of the shot in China.

China has also approved three vaccine candidates developed by Sinovac and state-owned Sinopharm for emergency use programme, and Sinopharm is hopeful of its two candidates receiving conditional approval for general public use within this year.

Japan

Japan has deals to purchase 120 million doses from Pfizer/BioNTech in the first half of next year, 120 million from AstraZeneca, of which first 30 million will be shipped by March 2021, and 250 million from Novavax.

It is also in talks with Johnson & Johnson and has a deal with Shionogi & Co.

Experts said vaccine makers would need to conduct at least Phase 1-2 trials in Japan before seeking approval.

South Korea

It aims to secure vaccines for 10 million people from COVAX and 20 million people from separate deals with drugmakers by the end of this year.

It has the "Optional Purchase" arrangement with COVAX that allows it to select vaccines from specific vaccine makers.

The timing of the procurement and the amount depend on the production schedule of those vaccines, according to health officials.

Inoculation is likely to start in the second quarter of next year to allow more time to observe potential side effects.

India

The head of the Serum Institute of India, which makes the AstraZeneca vaccine, said on November 23 the positive late-state trial result of the candidate will allow it to seek emergency use authorisation by year-end, before gaining approval for a full rollout by February or March next year.

India also expects a government-backed vaccine to be launched as early as February, while it is conducting a late-stage trial of Sputnik V.

Taiwan

Taiwan aims to secure around 15 million doses initially, both via the COVAX scheme and by directly purchasing from vaccine makers, and may buy additional 15 million doses.

The government has said it hopes to begin vaccinations in the first quarter of next year.

The Philippines

It is in talks with AstraZeneca for the supply of at least 20 million doses, which may arrive in the country in the second quarter of next year. It hopes to lock in 60 million doses in total and also is in talks with Pfizer and Sinovac.

Vaccine makers can apply for approval with the country's regulators even if no clinical trial is done in the Philippines.

Indonesia

It is one of the countries listed as 92 low and middle-income economies, which means it is entitled to have access to vaccines through COVAX for 20% of its population, or approximately 106-107 million doses if each person gets two injections.

Indonesia is testing Sinovac vaccine and preparing to start mass vaccination for medical staff and other frontline workers as early as late January.

Vietnam

A government official says vaccines from COVAX would cover only 20% of its population and the country is likely to have a chance to secure separate deals soon as overall demand is very high.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh signed a deal with India's Serum to buy 30 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

It also expects to receive 68 million doses from GAVI at a subsidized rate, a senior health ministry official said.

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News Network
November 29,2020

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Kabul, Nov 29: Afghan officials said Sunday at least 34 people were killed in two separate suicide bombings that targeted a military base and a provincial chief.

In eastern Ghazni province, 31 soldiers were killed and 24 others wounded when the attacker drove a military humvee full of explosives onto an army commando base before detonating the car bomb, according to an official in Afghanistan’s national security council, who spoke anonymously because he was not permitted to speak directly to the media.

The attack was also confirmed by Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian, though he did not provide details on casualties.

In southern Afghanistan, a suicide car bomber targeted the convoy of a provincial council chief in Zubal, killing at least three people and wounding 12 others, including children.

The provincial council chief, Attajan Haqbayat, survived the Sunday attack with minor injuries, though one of his bodyguards was among those killed, said provincial police spokesman Hikmatullah Kochai.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks.

The bombings come as Afghan government representatives and the Taliban hold face-to-face talks in Qatar for the first time to end the country’s decades-long war.

There has been a sharp rise in violence this year and a surge of attacks by the Taliban against Afghanistan’s beleaguered security forces since the start of peace talks in September. There have also been deadly attacks this month claimed by Islamic State militants in Afghanistan, including a horrific attack on Kabul University that killed 22 people, most of them students.

The U.S., meanwhile, plans to withdraw another estimated 2,500 troops before the middle of January, leaving about 2,000 soldiers in Afghanistan as part of America’s longest war. Afghan officials, however, have expressed concerns that a rapid reduction in American troops could strengthen the negotiating hand of the Taliban.

The United States has been pressing in recent weeks for a reduction in violence, while the Afghan government has been demanding a cease-fire. The Taliban have refused, saying a cease-fire will be part of negotiations, though the group have held to their promise not to attack U.S. and NATO troops.

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