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Gathering of migrants, Jamaat event caused setback, Prez tells Guvs, LGs

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Nizamuddin Tablighi

New Delhi, April 3 In his second communication with all Governors, Lieutenant Governors (LGs) and Administrators, President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday said that gathering of migrant workers and Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi caused a setback to the efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

He was referring to the gathering of migrant workers in Anand Vihar a few days after the nationwide lockdown was imposed, and the congregation of Tablighi Jamaat in Nizamuddin on various occasions in March — both in Delhi.

Both the gatherings, specially the Tablighi Jamaat, have caused havoc across India as it could be the main cause of spread of novel coronavirus pandemic with many positive cases identified so far.

The President emphasized the need to ensure that no one remains hungry during the 21-day lockdown that will continue till April 14.

In the video conference from Rashtrapati Bhavan in which Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu also took part, ways to contribute to the measures taken by the Central government and the state governments in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 were discussed.

It was the second such conference held by the President and the Vice President within 10 days.

In a video conference on March 27, 15 Governors and Delhi LG Anil Baijal had shared with the President their experience. On Friday, the Governors, LGs and administrators of 21 remaining states and UTs briefed the President and Vice-President on COVID-19 related efforts.

There was a unanimity that there is no scope for laxity or complacency in fighting the “invisible enemy”. In this context, the President noted with concern the incidents of attacks on doctors, health workers and police personnel in some parts of the country. He wholeheartedly endorsed the Prime Minister’s appeal earlier on Friday morning to all citizens to switch off lights in homes at 9 p.m. on Sunday and instead switch on their mobile flashlights, torches or lamps in an expression of people’s solidarity to fight against Coronavirus.

He, however, cautioned people not to let their guard down and steadfastly adhere to the practice of social distancing.

Taking note of the problems faced by the homeless, the unemployed and the weaker sections of society during this crisis, the President said: “We will have to be extra sensitive towards their needs”. He invited other participants in the conference to deliberate upon the ways to ensure nobody remains hungry.

Acknowledging that this was a big challenge, he said he was confident the Governors will contribute to the efforts made by the Central and state governments and involve all sections of society.

While ensuring that food and other essential items are made available to the needy, care has to be taken that no compromise is made on the question of social distancing, he added.

The President invited suggestions to involve and encourage maximum participation of the voluntary agencies as well as the private sector in meeting the humanitarian challenge.

“In battling the pandemic, our efforts so far have been in the right direction, notwithstanding some incidents, and we are moving ahead with firm determination,” the President said in his remarks.

The President expressed appreciation of the fellow citizens for their patience and cooperation and thanked the doctors and all officers and employees who have been serving the society.

The Vice President, who conducted the conference, emphasised roping in volunteers of the Indian Red Cross Society, social organisations and private sector to mitigate the plight of the poor.

He urged the Governors, LGs and administrators to persuade leaders from different walks to life to come forward and support the most vulnerable sections of society, particularly farmers, as the lockdown coincides with the harvesting season in many states.

Intervening in the discussion, the President urged all Governors to revive units of the Red Cross Society and take their help. Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Girish Chandra Murmu pointed out that the UT administration has been keeping intensive surveillance and has identified hotspots to preempt the outbreak of disease.

“We faced problems because of the movements of Tablighi Jamaat,” Murmu said.

He, however, assured that the administration is taking care of migrant workers, students and has also set up adequate quarantine centres.

The Ladakh Lt Governor Radha Krishna Mathur expressed concern over rise in cases due to the return of pilgrims from Iran where some of them had been infected, and pointed out that inaccessibility of certain areas and tough terrain make operation difficult.

The Lt Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Admiral D.K. Joshi ((Retd.) said that 10 positive Covid-19 cases were related to Tablighi Jamaat. All those who participated in the Tablighi Jamaat event are quarantined after identifying them.

Chhattisgarh Governor Sushri Anusuiya Uikey, said that the state government had launched a comprehensive strategy to check the spread of the disease at the earliest.

Uttarakhand Governor Baby Rani Maurya said that the state had suitably augmented its capacity to meet any situation arising out of the crisis.

The other governors who gave a briefing about the initiatives in their states include the Governor of Goa, Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam, Mizoram, Manipur, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Tripura, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Kerala, and LGs of Puducherry and Delhi.

Those who briefed the President and Vice-President in the conference held on March 27 also provided the latest information from their states and UTs.

India

Kerala gold smuggling: Brother not in talking terms with accused Swapna Suresh

Speaking to a Malayalam TV channel from the US on Wednesday, her brother Bright Suresh said that was not in talking terms with Swapna.

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Kerala gold smuggling

Thiruvananthapuram, July 8 : Swapna Suresh, the high-profile lady who moved in the corridors of power, rubbing shoulders with the high and mighty in Kerala, was reportedly not in talking terms with her elder brother.

Swapna Suresh, a consultant with the Kerala IT department, is reportedly on the run after her name came up in the investigation into the gold smuggling scandal, which links her with top smugglers operating from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Speaking to a Malayalam TV channel from the US on Wednesday, her brother Bright Suresh said that was not in talking terms with Swapna.

“We are three siblings, and I am the eldest one. We were all in the UAE and when I turned 17, I left for the the US from where I graduated. Now I am settled in the US and work with a telecom company. Swapna is the second sibbling while our youngest brother is settled in India,” said Suresh.

Their parents are settled in the suburbs of the state capital.

“When I went home a few years back, she had threatened me and warned me that if I didn’t return to the US, my hands and legs will be chopped. She was upset because she felt that I would get a share of the property, which she didn’t want. Me and my brother occasionally speak, and that’s it. I interact with my mother. My parents will decide on the property. I earn my own living,” said Suresh.

On Sunday, the Air Customs attached to the Thiruvananthapuram airport had seized 30 kg gold that arrived on a cargo flight and was kept in a warehouse for release. The baggage had arrived from Dubai and is understood to have been marked to the UAE Consulate which has its office in the heart of the state capital.

The Consulate’s PRO, Sarith, has been arrested, while the prime suspect in the smuggling racket, Swapna, a woman who wears many hats, is on the run. She also happens to be close to the ruling Left Democratic Front government in the state.

She had worked in the Consulate office here for a while and was in good terms with Sarith.

It was only after the arrest of Sarith that the revelations turned murky as Swapna, who is presently a consultant with the Kerala IT department, was very close to senior IAS officer and Secretary to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, M. Sivasankar, who was also the IT Secretary.

With both the Congress and the BJP demanding that Vijayan should come clean, Sivasankar was on Tuesday removed from his office as well as from the post of IT Secretary.

Sivasankar later applied for a year”s leave, which has been sanctioned.

With the case getting huge media attention, the Union government has taken it up at the highest level, even as Vijayan on Tuesday night said that he was ready to face any probe.

“We have no say in the matter. We are ready to face any probe and the Centre can decide which agency should probe the matter,” said Vijayan.

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Tuticorin custodial deaths: CBI registers two cases, constitutes team

The CB-CID has so far arrested five policemen, including an Inspector, in connection with the alleged custodial torture of P. Jeyaraj and his son Bennicks at Sathankulam police station.

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Tuticorin custodial deaths jayraj fenix

New Delhi, July 8 : The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday took over the investigation into the Tuticorin custodial deaths case and registered two FIRs after the Centre gave nod to the agency.

The CBI has also constituted a team to visit Tamil Nadu to probe the death of a father-son duo after alleged police torture in Tuticorin district.

The agency filed the case a day after the Centre issued a notification to accept Tamil Nadu Chief Minister”s request to transfer the probe to the CBI.

“The CBI has registered two cases on the allegations of custodial death of two traders in Kovilpatti district on the request of the Tamil Nadu government and further notification from the government of India,” CBI Spokesperson R.K. Gaur said.

The agency, the official said, has taken over investigation into the case earlier registered at Police Station Kovilpatti East in Tuticorin district.

The Tamil Nadu government had last month favoured transfer of the investigation to the CBI following which the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court had directed the CB-CID to handle the case till such time the central agency stepped in.

The CB-CID has so far arrested five policemen, including an Inspector, in connection with the alleged custodial torture of P. Jeyaraj and his son Bennicks at Sathankulam police station.

The duo, who ran a cellphone shop, were arrested on June 19 for alleged violation of prohibitory orders. Bennicks died on June 22 and Jeyaraj the next day at a hospital due to alleged police brutality, leading to a nationwide outrage.

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Business

In latest attack on govt, Rahul Gandhi highlights NPAs, says was ridiculed

Rahul Gandhi has been leading his party’s sharp criticism of the central government over a host of issues, including the June 15 standoff between the Indian and Chinese soldiers.

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Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said that large companies are under severe stress in India and banks are in distress. He targeted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for ridiculing him for warning about all this months ago.

“Small & medium enterprises stand destroyed. Large companies are under severe stress. Banks are in distress. I stated months ago that an economic tsunami was coming and was ridiculed by BJP and the Media for warning the country about the truth,” Gandhi said on Twitter.

He also attached a news report which claimed that the non-performing assets (NPAs) in the country will increase.

The former Congress president had attacked the BJP on Tuesday too by accusing the government led by it of economic mismanagement. “India’s economic mismanagement is a tragedy that is going to destroy millions of families. It will no longer be accepted silently,” he had tweeted yesterday.

He tagged a report with his tweet that claimed that India’s economic growth is likely to contract 4.5 per cent in 2020-21 due to Covid-19.

Gandhi has been leading his party’s sharp criticism of the central government over a host of issues, including the June 15 standoff between the Indian and Chinese soldiers. He has criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement at all-party meeting and questioned the government’s stand on China.

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