Around 130 dead in rain-related incidents in Maharashtra

News Network
July 23, 2021

Mumbai, July 23: Around 130 people have died in rain-related incidents including landslides in Maharashtra in the last 48 hours, a senior official from the state disaster management department said on Friday evening. 

This included 38 deaths in a landslide in a village in the coastal Raigad district''s Mahad tehsil on Thursday, he said 

"The death toll in Maharashtra in the last 48 hours has reached 129. Most of the deaths are from Raigad and Satara districts," the official said. Besides landslides, several people were swept away in floodwaters. The official put the death toll in various incidents in Western Maharashtra''s Satara district at 27. 

Other fatalities included those reported from eastern districts such as Gondia and Chandrapur, he said. The landslide in Raigad district took place near Talai village in Mahad tehsil on Thursday evening. 

"Thirty-six bodies have been recovered from the spot so far," a senior police official had said earlier in the day, adding that NDRF teams and local officials were engaged in rescue work. Landslides also hit Ambeghar and Mirgaon villages in Satara''s Patan tehsil during Thursday night, burying a total of eight houses, said Ajay Kumar Bansal, Superintendent of Police, Satara rural. 

But no deaths have been confirmed in the two incidents by local officials so far. Besides, 10 persons were feared trapped after a landslide in the coastal Ratnagiri district.

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News Network
September 15,2021

New Delhi, Sept 15: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday attacked the BJP and RSS, alleging that they were "fake Hindus" who use religion for their benefit.

Addressing the foundation day of the All India Mahila Congress here, Gandhi said that the ideology of the Congress was completely opposite of the BJP and RSS and only one of the two ideologies can rule the country.

Asserting that Goddess Lakshmi stands for the power that helps one attain one's goals and Goddess Durga stands for the power that protects, the former Congress chief said while his party had strengthened these powers when in government, the ruling BJP dispensation has diminished these powers.

"Ye kis prakar ke Hindu hain. Ye jhoote Hindu hain. Ye Hindu dharm ka prayog karte hain, ye dharm ki dalali karte hain, magar ye Hindu nahin hain (What kind of Hindus are they? They are fake Hindus. They use Hindu religion, they are brokers of religion, but they are not Hindus," Gandhi said, attacking the BJP and RSS. 

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News Network
September 20,2021

Charanjit Singh Channi on Monday took oath as 16th chief minister of Punjab and he will be the first Dalit leader to head the state. The swearing-in ceremony was held at Governor's house in Chandigarh, Navjot Singh Sidhu and other leaders in attendance.

Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who was earlier tipped to be the Chief Minister, was also sworn in Channi's cabinet. Randhawa will be the Deputy CM. OP Soni, will be the second Deputy CM.

Channi, earlier today, offered prayers at a Gurudwara in Rupnagar before his oath-taking ceremony. Just hours before the event, Congress leader Sunil Jakhar questioned Punjab Congress in-charge Harish Rawat's statement that the party will fight elections under Sidhu.

"On the swearing-in day of Charnjit_channi as Chief Minister, Mr Rawats’s statement that “elections will be fought under Sidhu", is baffling. It’s likely to undermine CM’s authority but also negate the very ‘raison d’être’ of his selection for this position," Jakhar tweeted.

On Sunday, Channi was elected as the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) of Punjab.

"It gives me immense pleasure to announce that Charanjit Singh Channi has been unanimously elected as the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party of Punjab," tweeted Congress in-charge of Punjab Harish Rawat. Soon after the announcement, Channi met the Punjab Governor and staked claim to form government. Amarinder Singh congratulated Channi on his appointment.

With barely months to go for Assembly polls, Congress' pick assumes significance as Dalits constitute around 30 per cent of the state’s population.

Channi, the three-time legislator from Chamkaur Sahib assembly constituency in Rupnagar district, had joined the Congress in 2012. He held several portfolios in the outgoing Amarinder Singh-led cabinet including technical education.

Bitter infighting rocked the Congress party heading into the polls. At the heart of the crisis were cricketer-turned-politician and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and former CM Captain Amarinder Singh, publicly trading barbs at each other.

The conflict in the Congress' Punjab unit came to a point where it became intenable for Amarinder singh to continue. He stepped down finally on Saturday.

In a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Amarinder Singh mentioned his personal anguish over political developments in the past five months and apprehended that the high command's move might cause instability in the state. Singh said he was resigning as he felt humiliated.

Once touted to be in driver's seat to retain power in the upcoming polls, recent developments have split analysts and they are mixed on the Congress' chances going forward. Some say the Congress' Dalit pick is aimed at keeping Sidhu in check and to nullify the impact of Amarinder Singh stepping down. Others see it as a massive jolt to the party and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) gaining at their expense.

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News Network
September 21,2021

Even after the UK announced easing of travel rules related to Covid-19, travellers who received their vaccines in the UAE, India and a few other countries will be considered ‘unvaccinated’ in the UK.

According to the rules, passengers who aren’t recognised as being fully vaccinated will have to take a pre-departure test, further PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8 of arrival, and self-isolate at their given address for 10 days upon entry.

The rules announced last week will be effective October 4. Britain said it will recognise vaccinations given in 17 more countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and South Korea. It had previously recognised only shots given in the UK, the US and the European Union.

However, James Cleverly, Minister for Middle East & North Africa in the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, said the UK government is finalising arrangements to include the UAE in the plans. “We are finalising arrangements with UAE to include their nationals and residents in our plans to open up to the fully vaccinated from other countries from 4 October,” he said in a tweet.

UK expats residing in the UAE responded angrily to the tweet.

“I hope you’re right. I’m a UK citizen and resident vaccinated while in Dubai, had to do severe rounds of unnecessary quarantine not to mention the cost. It breaks my heart that I feel unwelcome in my own country. It makes no sense!,” said Twitter handle @nataliebirkett.

@EnsOrenda replied to Cleverly: “UAE has a very high vaccine rate, low case rates & v.low death rates. We are obliged to wear face mask in all public places still. The UAE represents a much lower risk than many approved countries. So, it makes sense to recognise Pfizer and AZ vaccines administered from UAE too.”

Aviation analyst Alex Macheras also criticised the policy, saying it is unnecessarily complicated.

“Quite something for UK to take such a stance against so many countries vaccine rollouts…especially those countries administering the exact same vaccines as UK (Pfizer/AZ/Moderna/etc). As we’ve come to expect, UK’s latest travel policy is as unnecessarily complicated as ever."

Author WIlliam Dalrymple used harsh words to slam the policy. “Idiotic UK arrogance & stupidity- especially when Boris was arguing that the Indian AstraZeneca vaccine was the same as the UK one earlier in the Summer,” he said in a tweet.

Meanwhile, former Indian ministers Jairam Ramesh and Shashi Tharoor slammed the UK’s travel rules under which Indians vaccinated with Covishield would still be treated as unvaccinated.

Ramesh called it “smacks of racism” while Tharoor said that because of the restrictions he had even pulled out of a debate at The Cambridge Union debating society and from the launch events for the UK edition of his book, The Battle Of Belonging.

From October 4, the current traffic light system of red, amber and green countries based on levels of Covid-19 risk will be scrapped in the UK and replaced with one red list only.

The scrapping of an amber list, which is what India is currently on, means reduced cost burden for travellers — especially for the Indian diaspora vaccinated in the UK — related to compulsory PCR tests.

However, an expanded list of countries whose vaccines are recognised in England does not include India, which means that Indians vaccinated with Covishield — the Serum Institute of India produced Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine — would still be subjected to the restrictions mandatory for those unvaccinated.

This new two-tiered system in the UK is expected to stay in place till the end of the year, with a further review planned for early in the New Year.

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