Lalu Prasad Yadav finally gets bail in fodder scam case

News Network
April 17, 2021

Ranchi, Apr 17: The Jharkhand High Court on Saturday granted bail to RJD president Lalu Prasad in Dumka treasury case of the multi-crore rupees fodder scam, paving way for his release from jail.

The bail was allowed to Prasad by Justice Aparesh Kumar Singh. The court directed him neither to leave the country without permission nor change his address and mobile number during the bail period.

Prasad had acquired bail in three other cases of the fodder scam and was waiting for judgement in the instant case related to illegal withdrawal of Rs 3.13 crore from the Dumka treasury in 90s to come out of the jail. The septuagenarian RJD supremo was airlifted to AIIMS New Delhi in January last in view of his bad health.  

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Sunday, 25 Apr 2021

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News Network
April 27,2021

New Delhi, Apr 27: Under the high tin roof, 50 funeral pyres burned fiercely on Tuesday, the hot air filled with smoke, fine ash and muted sobs of shell-shocked famlies.  

Nearby, lying unattended on the floor, and in scores of parked vehicles, more corpses awaited their turn, which relatives were told would come 16 to 20 hours later. 

Shaking Delhi's spirit and soul, an unimaginable tragedy is unfolding at New Delhi's crematoriums struggling to cope with the deluge of the dead arriving at frightening pace.  

"I have not seen such a bad situation ever before in my life. People are moving with the dead bodies of their loved ones from pillar to post ... almost all Delhi crematoriums are flooded with dead bodies," Vineeta Massey, the owner of Massey Funerals, told PTI.   

By official count, 3,601 people have died this month, of them 2,267 in the last seven days alone in the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic which is terrorising and tormenting the city. In all of February, the death toll was 57, and in March 117. 

As if the trauma of losing a loved one to the virus so suddenly is not enough, there is more grief in store for relatives who are not even able to give them a proper send-off.

They arrive at crematoriums with bodies, only to be turned away. They drive to another facility, and yet another, traversing the city with the mortal remains in personal cars or ambulances, desperately seeking a graceful exit for their father, mother, son or daughter from the material world.

The trauma is no less for the relatives of those who died of non-Covid causes but are being swept up in the collective national tragedy driven by the pandemic.  

Aman Arora, a young entrepreneur from West Delhi's Ashok Nagar, lost his father M.L. Arora to a heart attack on Monday afternoon. 

"We rushed him to many private hospitals when he started feeling discomfort in his chest but he was not even checked by the medical staff there. They demanded that we produce a Covid-negative report. He eventually passed away," said Aman.  

On Monday afternoon, Aman was told by the staff in west Delhi’s Subhash Nagar crematorium to wait until Tuesday morning to perform the last rites.   

When Aman realised there was no point in pleading, he arranged for a refrigerator to prevent his father's dead body from decaying.  

"What could I have done when there was no space? We kept the body in a rented fridge and have come early today (Tuesday)," said Aman, waiting for his turn as many other people milled around silently with dead bodies lying on the floor.  

Outside, ambulances and  cars honked and competed for parking space but inside all one could hear was the crackling of dry wood from the burning pyres -- all 50 of them roaring simultaneously.  

A few sobs arose over the sound of the fires,  and one could hear the unemotional intonations of instructions being given by the crematorium staff.  

"Apna dead body uthao aur udhar line mein ja ke khade ho jao (Pick up your dead body and go stand in line)," said a young staffer.  

A woman in her 40s was so stunned she couldn't make out what was 'nabhi' (navel) or 'chhati' (chest) when a staff member asked her to place sandalwood sticks on the body of her father who had died of Covid.

The body was still packed in a white sack, which was placed on the pyre without opening.

Holding the sandalwood sticks in trembling hands, she moved around the body before being helped by someone.

"I didn't even see the face of my father," wailed the woman, who was alone.      

Manmeet Singh, a 40-year-old assistant professor, also carried his father Gurpal Singh's dead body in his car to the Subhash Nagar crematorium on Monday afternoon.

But the staff politely told him his father couldn't be cremated because the pyre chambers were already full and the CNG crematorium at the centre could only accommodate two bodies at one time.

It takes about 90 minutes to dispose of one body in a CNG chamber and a PTI correspondent counted 24 bodies waiting in queue for a slot.  

With no option left, Manmeet left for the MCD crematorium in Pashchim Vihar about six kilometres away and luckily got space with the help of an MCD inspector.

"If you can't provide oxygen to the patients in hospitals, then at least provide some space in the cremation ground so that people leave the world comfortably," said Manmeet.  

The ground at the crematorium was full of filth and covered with leftovers of the previous cremation. It was muddy and rotten fruits were scattered all over. Plastic bags, sacks, buckets, mugs littered the ground. But none of that mattered to the relatives. What mattered was enough space to light  a pyre.

According to rules, said a senior official at the Delhi Health Department, if somebody dies of Covid-19 in hospital, the district administration has to arrange a hearse van, and the hospital is supposed to deploy staff for the disposal of the dead body at the crematorium and graveyard.

But the crush of the dead has made it impossible for hospitals to provide hearses. So relatives are simply taking the bodies in their vehicles. 

"If family members move with the body of their loved ones in their personal vehicles, there are chances of being infected," another government official said.   

Ajeet, a staff member at the MCD crematorium, told PTI they have created more than 100 extra makeshift chambers in an adjacent space to accommodate the increasing number of dead people -- both Covid-19 and natural deaths.  

"I can't move my arms, I am dead tired. The whole day we arrange for cremation and then in the night we have to take care of the pyres, so that the fire consumes the bodies properly," said Ajeet.

The chaos at the crematoriums has raised questions about the Delhi government's preparedness for the second wave, which Chief Minister Arvind Kerjriwal said, had left the healthcare system on the brink of collapse. Many deaths have also been attributed to a severe oxygen shortage for the last 10 days.  

The fixing of responsibility will happen later.

But for now, "this is the time for us to build solidarity and enough compassion for the poor people fighting the pandemic," said Harsh Mander, a former IAS bureaucrat who is now a civil rights activist. 

"The wealthy and the influential thought that they have an escape route to all this but this pandemic told us that we are all in this together," he said.

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News Network
May 1,2021

Bengaluru, May 1: Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr K Sudhakar said an order will be issued today directing all private hospitals to charge a fixed fee for conducting CT scan as advised by a team of experts to know Covid-19 status accurately.

Speaking to media persons on Saturday, Sudhakar stated that CT scans are conducted for free at government hospitals, and private hospitals should not fleece patients for the same.

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa flagged off the vaccination drive for the 18-45 age group at Atal Bihari Vajapeyee Medical College. Public will be informed about the commencing based on the production of the vaccines. There are about 6,000 vaccination centres that require 3 lakh doses of Covid vaccines per day. If the 18-plus drive begins, as many as six lakh doses are needed, the minister explained.

The results of the 14-day curfew can't be achieved in just four days of its imposition, Sudhakar said, invoking Mumbai's example as the situation in Maharashtra has come under control after lockdown-like curbs. Stricter measures will be taken if the scourge of Covid-19 didn't come down, Sudhakar stated.

A total of 15 per cent beds have been reserved in Bengaluru's hospitals for the people of Chikkaballapur district to save the lives. As Chikkamagaluru, Ramanagara, Bengaluru rural, Kolar and Yadgir districts have no medical colleges, serious Covid patients are being sent to the nearest hospitals attached to the medical colleges and other hospitals. The same was done last year. The minister who raised this question has lacked information, he taunted. 

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News Network
April 24,2021

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Newsroom, Apr 24: Hit hard by the second wave of the covid-19, India is almost isolated by its prominent global allies. While countries such as Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, UAE, Indonesia, Kuwait and Australia have banned flights from India. France has imposed mandatory quarantine for Indian passengers and the United States’ Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has advised against travel to India.

Daily cases in India have gone past the 300,000 mark and industry experts are doubtful that the flight bans will be lifted soon.

Who banned flights from India?

1) Kuwait: Kuwait's directorate general of civil aviation said early on Saturday in a tweet that it had suspended all direct commercial flights coming from India, effective April 24 and until further notice.

All passengers arriving from India either directly or via another country will be banned from entering unless they have spent at least 14 days out of India, the statement said. Kuwaiti citizens, their first degree relatives and their domestic workers will be allowed to enter. Cargo is unaffected.

2) Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia said that a halt to international flights will be lifted as of May 17, but will not apply to the countries with which travel is banned by a state committee tasked with tackling COVID-19 due to the outbreak of the virus, local media reported. The 20 countries on the ban list are Argentina, the UAE, France, Germany, the US, Indonesia, India, Japan, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan, Brazil, Portugal, the UK, Turkey, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Lebanon, and Egypt.

3) UAE: “In short, the near collapse of India’s ability to deal with the COVID fallout almost certainly means that this temporary UAE ban will be extended if things do not improve,” said Saj Ahmad, chief analyst, StrategicAero Research.com.

“Further, it hampers the movement of labour between the UAE and India and further limits travellers from India using the UAE to transit to Africa, Europe and the USA,” he added.

4) US: US has issued a travel advisory for its people travelling to and from India. The body has asked citizens to avoid travelling to India. However, it has said that if anyone has to travel to India then he or she must get fully vaccinated.

5) UK: India was added to UK's travel red list on April 23rd, effectively banning travel. UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock Hancock said reason for this was the new ‘double-mutant’ strain of virus found in the country dubbed the ‘Indian variant." British and Irish nationals can travel to the UK from India, but they must now isolate in a government-approved hotel.

6) Australia: Prime Minister Scott Morrison said flights from India will be scaled back by 30 per cent. He said India was now a “high risk” country and only those with the most urgent needs would be allowed to travel to and from India.

7) Canada: Canada on Thursday said it was banning all flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days due to the growing wave of COVID-19 cases in that region. The ban took effect on Friday.

8) Hong Kong: On Tuesday last week, Hong Kong suspended all flights from India till May 3. The country has also suspended flights to and from Pakistan and the Philippines and made it mandatory for passengers to have a COVID-negative RTPCR result with them from a test done 72 hours before the journey.

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