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COVID-19 cases in North East rise to 30

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Guwahati/Agartala, April 5 With a 57-year-old ex-BSF jawan tested positive for coronavirus from northeast on Sunday, the total number of cases in this region went up to 30, including 26 in Assam, ministers and officials said.

“One more Covid-19 positive case from Cachar District (in southern Assam) has been confirmed, taking the total count in Assam to 26. The patient took part in the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Nizamuddin in Delhi,” Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in a tweet.

Of the 30 positive cases in four northeastern states – Assam (26), Manipur (2), Mizoram (1) and Arunachal Pradesh (1) — 27, took part in Delhi congregation, while a Manipuri girl and a Mizoram man had tested positive last month after they returned from the UK and the Netherlands, respectively.

Another 52-year-old Assam trader of Kamrup (Metro) district also infected with the nCoV as his swab samples tested positive.The latest positive case for nCoV in Assam is that of the former BSF jawan, who voluntarily retired from service in 2007 to do the religious activity, now being treated in Silchar Medical College and Hospital.

Besides, 30 positive cases in the northeastern region, four persons from Assam and two people from Tripura, who attended the congregation, have tested positive for COVID-19 and they are in northern India hospitals.

Sarma told the media in Guwahati that out of the 1,529 people’s swab samples, including 812 Nizamuddin attendees, collected so far — 1,308 have tested negative, 26 tested positive and remaining test reports are awaited.

Quoting central government communications, Sarma had earlier said that over 550 to 600 people from Assam had attended the Tablighi meet.

“I am very angry and frustrated as despite our repeated appeals, none of the participants reported to the authority. Why are you hiding your cases?” Sarma told the reporters.

The minister along with other ministers met Tablighi Jamaat leaders in Guwahati on Saturday and requested them to share the complete list of attendees to test their samples or to provide quarantine.

In Agartala, Tripura Health Secretary Debashish Basu said that two people from Tripura, who had participated in the Tablighi Jamaat congregation, have tested positive for novel coronavirus and now they are in a quarantine center at Bikaner in Rajasthan.

“Eleven people from Tripura’s Boxanagar areas (western Tripura) attended the Tablighi Jamaat event. After attending the meet all the eleven people went to Rajasthan. The officials of Rajasthan government verbally informed us that two of the eleven people have tested positive for novel coronavirus,” Basu told the media.

According to different official sources, at least 800 people from several northeastern states, mostly from Assam, had either attended or were in vicinity of the Tablighi congregation, forcing all seven states to launch an all-out search to identify and test these persons. The attendees’ family members and the people they came in close contact with are also being examined or sent to quarantine.

Tripura Health Secretary also said that swab samples of 50 people who attended the Tablighi meet or went to the Nizamuddin area, have tested negative.Three northeastern states — Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura — are yet to report any positive coronavirus case.

Cities

Kerala: 15 dead, over 60 missing in Idukki landslide

The landslide occurred after heavy rains over the last few days in the area mostly inhabited by tea estate workers

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Kerala Landslide

Heavy rain followed by a landslide at Rajamalai in Idukki district on Thursday night has left at least 15 persons dead, including a child, and more than 60 others are reported missing, a police official said on Friday.

The latest reports indicate that there were nearly 100 people in the locality, most of whom had returned to the area following the Covid scare. The landslide occurred after heavy rains over the last few days in the area mostly inhabited by tea estate workers.

The place where the tragedy occurred is nearly 30 km from the popular tourist destination Munnar.

A police official taking part in the rescue operations said 15 bodies had been recovered and nearly 67 people were missing.

Incessant rains for the last four days have hampered rescue operations, added the police official.

Meanwhile, the state government has appointed IGP Gopesh Agarwal as special officer to coordinate the rescue and relief operations in the locality.

A 200-member team of Kerala police and other teams from the NDRF, fire brigade, local people and volunteers have reached the spot for rescue work. By the time of filing this report, 16 persons had been rescued.

Meanwhile, a larger tragedy was averted when a bridge connecting the accident site to the main road, which was partially damaged, was quickly made motorable enabling numerous ambulances to take the injured to the hospital.

The women of the locality work in tea estates of the area while most men work as jeep drivers. The authorities got to know of the tragedy after two residents reached a nearby forest station and informed officials late Thursday night.

Deepan, one of the four survivors admitted to a hospital in Munnar said he had no clue about his father and his wife who were with him in the house when the landslide occurred. His mother has, however, been moved to the Kottayam Medical College hospital in a serious condition.

“For the past 10 days, it has been pouring. The landslide occurred around 10.30 pm on Thursday. I do not know about my father, wife, and my brother’s family. There are three rows of houses in the cluster where nearly 80 people live. Do not know what has happened to them. Nearly 30 jeeps were buried in the landslide,” Deepan said.

The Kerala government’s efforts to get an air rescue team to the spot failed due to inclement weather. However, two teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were reportedly on the way to the disaster site.

All communication lines to the area have been snapped and roads to the hilly area are blocked due to uprooting of trees, officials said.

State Power minister MM Mani, who hails from the district, said the landslide had occurred at a place where tea estate workers were staying.

“I will not quote any figure as I do not have sufficient information. The place is at the top of a hill. We are awaiting a response, the local legislator is also going to the spot. All emergency services have been pressed into service,” Mani added.

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‘Politically motivated activism’: Ex-judges, CEC counter pro-Bhushan lobby

“We concerned citizens, hereby disapprove of this group in its acts of routinely producing a negative public narrative replete with disrespect to Indian democratic institutions,” wrote the group of 174.

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Prashant Bhushan Lawyer

New Delhi, Aug 7 : Trouble for prominent lawyer Prashant Bhushan seems to be far from over. After 131 “prominent personalities” urged the Supreme Court to withdraw its contempt notice against Bhushan, a group of 174 eminent citizens have countered it, including 2 former High Court Chief Justices, in a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind.

In a no holds barred attack on the first letter in support of Bhushan, the 174 people including former Rajasthan Chief Justice Anil Deo Singh, former Foreign Secretary Amar Sinha and former Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami termed the ones vouching for Bhushan, as an “odd group of persons”.

Bhushan is being tried for contempt in the Supreme Court.

“It is a matter of concern that one odd group of persons, claiming themselves to be distinguished public men of the past, has been observed to repeatedly avail of every opportunity to put Indian democracy and its sacred institutions like Parliament, Election Commission of India, and now the Supreme Court of India, in poor light before the whole world. They end up issuing ill-considered statements, and writing misconceived communications to various authorities to attract media attention,” wrote the anti-Bhushan group, in a damning counter.

This was a reference to the previous group of 131 citizens which included former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan Lokur and Swaraj India President Yogendra Yadav, expressing solidarity with Prashant Bhushan. Their statement, arguing for Bhushan read, “The initiation of contempt proceedings against Mr Bhushan, who had articulated some of these concerns in his tweets, appears to be an attempt at stifling such criticism, not just by Mr Bhushan, but by all stakeholders in the Indian democratic and constitutional set-up.”

But on Friday, in their letter to the President, the 174 others retorted, saying, “Freedom of speech is another foundation of democracy, but the freedom to speak can certainly not be misconstrued as a freedom to make a hate speech, subversive speech with the intent to shred national integrity, a diatribe undermining national sovereignty, or carrying out tirades to demolish the sacred institutions of Indian democracy.”

The counter group argued that the contempt case is “exclusively” between Prashant Bhushan and the apex court. But the group consisting of the likes of Yogendra Yadav, has “interfered with the administration of justice,” they said.

They even raked up Bhushan’s previous call for a “referendum” in Kashmir, blaming it on “gaping loopholes in the system”. Calling it “interference in the garb of politically motivated activism”, the 174 signatories say they reject the pro-Bhushan group’s “unprincipled posturing”.

“We concerned citizens, hereby disapprove of this group in its acts of routinely producing a negative public narrative replete with disrespect to Indian democratic institutions,” wrote the group of 174.

This elaborate list consists of 2 former High Court Chief Justices, 15 former High Court judges, 4 former Chief Secretaries, a former CEC, a former DG of the CISF and 12 former DGPs. It also consists of 4 former ambassadors and former Chief Commissioners of Income Tax, each. Shakti Sinha, who has been the Director of Nehru Memorial, also signed on this strongly worded petition to the President.

The Supreme Court issued a contempt notice to Prashant Bhushan earlier on July 22, for a couple of his tweets in which Bhushan had written about the “role of the Supreme Court” in the alleged “destruction” of democracy during the last 6 years.

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Congress protest at Rajnath’s residence over Ministry of Defences report

The protest was led by IYC General Secretary Harish Pawar as hundreds of IYC activists raised slogans against the government.

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Indian Youth Congress Protest

New Delhi, Aug 7 : Indian Youth Congress (IYC) activists on Friday staged a protest outside Defence Minister Rajnath Singhs residence over the disappearance of a report from the Ministry of Defences website which admitted to intrusions by Chinese troops in Indian territory in eastern Ladakh.

The protest was led by IYC General Secretary Harish Pawar as hundreds of IYC activists raised slogans against the government.

IYC’s national media co-ordinator Rahul Rao questioned why Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the all-party meeting on June 19 had claimed that there was no intrusion by Chinese troops in Indian territory.

The IYC leader said that this demonstrates a clear attempt by the Ministry of Defence to save the Prime Minister from embarrassment and questioning on account of the MoD report.

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