‘Sample of 1 person who came from South Africa different from Delta’

News Network
November 29, 2021

Bengaluru, Nov 29: Amid the Omicron variant of Covid-19 creating concern globally, Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar on Monday said the sample of one of the two persons who arrived in Bengaluru recently from South Africa is 'different from the Delta variant'.

The minister said he was not supposed to say anything officially as he was still in touch with the union health ministry and the Indian Council for Medical Research officials.

"There is a delta variant for the past nine months only, but you are saying that one of the samples is Omicron. I cannot say about it officially. I am in touch with the ICMR and central government officials," Sudhakar told reporters here.

The sample has been sent to ICMR, he said. Refusing to divulge the identity of the man, the minister said his Covid report shows that he has contracted a different variant of the novel coronavirus.

"There is a 63-year-old man whose name I should not disclose. His report is a bit different. It appears different from the delta variant. We will discuss with the ICMR officials and will let people know by the evening what it is," the minister said.

The minister said he would chair a marathon meeting on Tuesday with the officers of his department, from the Principal Secretary to the Primary Health Centre level doctors, regarding the steps to be taken.

He added that the members of the Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 have also been invited to the meeting.

Sudhakar also said that he has sought a detailed report on the Omicron variant. "We will get clear information on December 1 about how the Omicron behaves after the genomic sequencing. Accordingly, we will initiate all measures," he explained.

Underlining the fact that the new variant is visible in at least 12 nations, Sudhakar said the international travellers will be tested carefully and those tested positive will be hospitalised compulsorily.

"We are tracking and closely watching all those who came from South Africa in the past 14 days. We have started tracing and testing their primary and secondary contacts since Saturday," the minister said.

Speaking about Omicron, Sudhakar, who himself is a medical professional, said he has also spoken to his classmate doctors working in South Africa, who told him that the new variant is not as dangerous as the delta variant.

"The satisfying thing I came across after talking to my classmates in South Africa is that this (Omicron variant) spreads rapidly, but it is not as dangerous as Delta. People feel nausea and vomiting and sometimes the pulse rate goes up, but the loss of taste and smell is not there. There is less hospitalisation because its intensity is not severe," Sudhakar explained.

To a query on the possibility of a lockdown, Sudhakar said there was no such proposal before the government and there was no need to panic as people have already suffered losses due to the earlier lockdown in terms of loss of lives and livelihood.

According to health department officials, the two persons who flew into Bengaluru from South Africa tested positive for Covid-19 on November 11 and 20. Both were hospitalised, they added. 

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News Network
January 9,2022

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The Congress in Karnataka on Sunday began its 10 days 'padayatra' (march), demanding implementation of the Mekedatu project across the Cauvery river, despite the government's COVID-19 restrictions. Led by Congress' state president D K Shivakumar and Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Siddaramaiah, the padayatra with the theme 'Namma Neeru Namma Hakku' (Our water, Our right) began at the Sangama, the confluence of Cauvery and Arkavathi rivers in Kanakapura here, which will be spanning a distance of over 100 km.

With participation from hundreds of workers, leaders and cultural groups, the principal opposition party in the state is going ahead with the march, as planned, unfazed by the government's warning of action in case of violation of COVID restrictions and rules.

It now remains to be seen what action will the government take, with a large number of people gathering in violation of rules and orders.

The Karnataka government has imposed a curfew on weekends and restricted public gatherings to fight the third wave of COVID-19, till January 19. It has also imposed night curfew, and has prohibited all rallies, dharnas, protests, among others.

Congress has maintained that it will hold the padayatra following COVID rules and guidelines

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Shivakumar, Siddaramaiah, former Chief Minister Veerappa Moily, and almost all the senior party leaders and legislators were present at the inaugural of the padayatra, that is likely to cove a distance of about 15 km on the day one.

Some religious leaders and film personalities like actor Duniya Vijay, actor and music director Sadhu Kokila, were among others seen at the inaugural.

Projecting it as an apolitical "Walk for Water," the Congress has invited seers of various mutts, organisations, leaders of various political parties, film personalities, Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, among others to take part in the march.

Accusing the BJP government of trying to scuttle the padayatra, Siddaramaiah accused the ruling BJP of colluding with Tamil Nadu in delaying the implementation of Mekedatu project.

Claiming that the project was initiated by the Congress government led by him, he alleged that the ruling BJP has betrayed the people of the state by not getting environmental clearance despite being in power for last 2.5 years, and even accused the central government of not giving clearance, as the saffron party wants to expand its base in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

"This padayatra is for getting water to Bengaluru and surrounding areas by implementing Mekedatu project, there is no stay for the project by courts or tribunals or Cauvery Water Management Authority.....Our padayatra will not stop, let how much ever the BJP try to stop it," he added.

Shivakumar, who is also MLA from Kanakapura, hitting out at Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai for trying to "thwart" the padayatra by asking the district administration to issue prohibitory orders, he dared him to arrest them if he could.

"This march is not for the Congress party or for the sake of power, it is for the sake of the people.... Like Congress fought against the British then for India's freedom, today we are fighting against BJP and Janata Dal.... SP (Superintendent of Police), Home Minister- you have issued orders against the law, we will not fear it....we will peacefully march following COVID rules," he added.

The Congress' march from Mekedatu to Bengaluru, covering about 15 of the 224 Assembly constituencies in the state, is demanding implementation of the Mekedatu project, which is being opposed by neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

Beginning at Sangama the padayatra is scheduled to pass through Kanakapura, Ramanagara and Bidadi, before culminating at Basavanagudi in Bengaluru on January 19.

Though the padayatra is being projected as apolitical, demanding the implementation of Mekedatu project, it is also seen as Congress' attempt to mobilise its cadres and consolidate its voter base in the old Mysuru region, which is a Vokkaliga bastion, where JD(S) is its traditional rival and the ruling BJP is attempting to make inroads, ahead of 2023 assembly polls.

Much is at stake for Shivakumar, the man behind this march, as several Congress functionaries believe that it is an attempt by the KPCC chief, ahead of assembly polls, to assert his Chief Ministerial ambitions, for which Siddaramaiah is also a strong contender. The party has seen several incidents of political one-upmanship between the two leaders last year.

Shivakumar took a dip in the river and performed pooja at the Sangam ahead of the padayatra's inaugural.

Both ruling BJP and JD(S) have hit out Congress calling its march as a "political stunt" ahead of assembly election next year, and has questioned its morality, accusing the grand old party of not putting any efforts to take the project forward while in power.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has maintained that his government was committed to implement the project.

Karnataka government submitted a Detailed Project Report (DPR) to the Central Water Commission (CWC) in 2019, which was then referred to the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA), where it is stuck currently as Tamil Nadu which is the lower riparian state, has opposed the project tooth and nail.

Karnataka has maintained that the project within its territory will benefit both states as the surplus water stored can be managed between the two during the distress year, and its implementation will in no way affect the interests of Tamil Nadu's farming communities, as there will be no impact on its share of water.

While the neighbouring state is of the view that the project would "impound and divert" the uncontrolled water flow due to Tamil Nadu from Kabini sub- basin, the catchment area below Krishnarajasagara, and also from Simsha, Arkavathy and Suvarnavathi sub-basins besides other small streams.

The Mekedatu multipurpose (drinking and power) project, which involves building a balancing reservoir, near Kanakapura in Ramanagara district of Karnataka.

The project once completed is aimed at ensuring drinking water to Bengaluru and neighbouring areas (4.75 TMC) and also can generate 400 MW power, and the estimated cost of the project is Rs 9,000 crore.

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News Network
January 9,2022

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Delhi Police today arrested a Madhya Pradesh man who is the alleged creator of the application 'Sulli Deals'. This is the first arrest made in the "Sulli Deals" app case.

The app, which was launched last year, had listed Muslim women for 'auction' with photographs sourced without permission and doctored.

'Sulli Deals' and the recently created 'Bulli Bai' applications allegedly uploaded photos of Muslim women without their consent and inappropriate remarks were passed against them. Both the apps used the hosting platform 'GitHub' to auction the stolen photos.

The accused, Aumkareshwar Thakur, was apprehended by the Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations (IFSO) of Delhi Police in Madhya Pradesh's Indore.

"Om Thakur has been arrested from Indore. He is the main mastermind behind the Sulli deal app case," said KPS Malhotra, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations Unit, Delhi Police Special Cell.

Thakur, 26, did his BCA from IPS Academy in Indore and is a resident of Newyork City Township, they said.

Police said that Thakur developed the code for the 'Sulli Deals' on GitHub and shared the app on Twitter.

In January 2020, Thakur had joined a group called 'Trade Mahasabha' using the Twitter handle 'gangescion'. The group members would often discuss how to troll Muslim women, police said.

After the application 'Sulli Deals' was created, the members from this Twitter group allegedly uploaded photos of several Muslim women, including prominent personalities. 

Thakur had deleted all his social media accounts after the app hit the headlines recently. Police are questioning him and scanning through the gadgets they found on him.

Police identified and arrested Thakur on the basis of the inputs they received during the questioning of 'Bulli Bai' app creator Niraj Bishnoi. Other than Bishnoi, three other accused have also been arrested in the Bulli Bai app case.

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News Network
January 9,2022

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Google is celebrating the 191st birth anniversary of Indian educator and feminist icon Fatima Sheikh, who is widely considered to be India’s first Muslim woman teacher, by featuring a doodle for her. Alongside fellow pioneers and social reformers Jyotirao and Savitribai Phule, Sheikh co-founded the Indigenous Library in 1848, one of India’s first schools for girls.

Fatima was born on this day in 1831 in Pune. She lived with her brother Usman, and the siblings opened their home to the Phules after the couple was evicted for attempting to educate people in lower castes. The Indigenous Library opened under the Sheikhs’ roof.

Here, Savitribai Phule and Fatima Sheikh taught communities of marginalized Dalit and Muslim women and children who were denied education based on class, religion, or gender.

The Phules’ efforts to provide educational opportunities to those born into lower castes became known as the Satyashodhak Samaj (Truthseekers’ Society) movement. As a lifelong champion of this movement for equality, Sheikh went door-to-door to invite the downtrodden in her community to learn at the Indigenous Library and escape the rigidity of the caste system.

She met great resistance from the dominant classes who attempted to humiliate those involved in the Satyashodhak movement, but Sheikh and her allies persisted.

Although Sheikh’s story has been historically overlooked, the Indian government shone new light on her achievements in 2014 by featuring her profile in Urdu textbooks alongside other trailblazing Indian educators.

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