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Gunshots, blast heard again inside Pathankot air base

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Gunshots and a blast were heard from the Indian Air Force (IAF) frontier base near Pathankot town on Sunday morning leading to speculation that one more terrorist could still be holed up inside.

While four terrorists, who carried out a Fidayeen attack at the IAF base on Saturday, were killed by security agencies during a gunfight that lasted for 15-hours. There were confusing reports about the fifth terrorist being killed.

The gunshots and blast were heard on Sunday morning during search and combing operation inside the base, the IAF and Punjab Police sources told IANS.

The technical area, where the IAF’s MIG-21 fighter jets, MI-35 attack helicopters and other critical assets were stationed, was secure, they said.

A thorough search and combing operation continued at the Indian Air Force (IAF) frontier base near Pathankot town on Sunday following Saturday’s terror attack.

Security agencies, including the Army, National Security Guards (NSG), Indian Air Force, para-military forces and Punjab Police were involved in the massive search operation inside the IAF base and nearby areas.

IAF helicopters could be seen flying over the base and nearby areas through the night and since early Sunday to assist ground forces in the operations.

“The search ops are continuing. Everything is being looked at minutely. The operation will end only after this is completed,” a senior Punjab Police official told IANS.

Security agencies were particularly investigating the local support that the terrorists got in the area after entering Indian territory from the border belt with Pakistan on December 30-31. The border is about 30 km from here.

At least four terrorists, suspected to be from Pakistan, were killed in a gunfight that lasted over 15 hours after they breached a high-security perimeter and entered the IAF base in northern Punjab early on Saturday to carry out a Fidayeen attack.

Uncertainty prevailed on the number of terrorists being killed in the attack on the Pathankot air base, with Home Minister Rajnath Singh withdrawing a tweet putting the number at five.

“I congratulate our armed forces and security forces on successfully neutralising all the five terrorists in ‘Pathankot Operation’,” Rajnath Singh had tweeted on Saturday evening.

Disaster

ITAT resolves to donate one-day salary to PM’s relief fund

The tribunal also urged its other stakeholders to contribute generously to the PM CARES fund.

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New Delhi, March 30 : Officers and staff of Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) have resolved to contribute one day’s salary to PM CARES Fund in order to help the Central government contain coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund, a public charitable trust, has been set up to provide emergency relief.

Income Tax Appellate Tribunal President P.P. Bhatt said that the institution recognizes its social and national responsibilities.

“It has been decided in consultation with all the Vice Presidents of ITAT to contribute one day’s salary to the PM CARES Fund in respect of all officers and staff of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal,” he said.

President, Vice Presidents, Members, Registry Officers and other staff will help the nation in fighting the ongoing pandemic, he added.

The tribunal also urged its other stakeholders to contribute generously to the PM CARES fund.

“The donations to this fund have been made exempt from income tax under Section 80 (G) of the Income-tax Act, 1961,” the ITAT president clarified.

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Cities

Returning migrants pose huge challenge to Bihar govt

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Patna, March 30 : The migrant labourers returning to Bihar has posed a big challenge to the state government — to keep them in 14-day isolation to contain coronavirus spread.

Over 45,000 people had reached the UP towns bordering Bihar and more than 100,000 were expected by evening, said a Bihar Disaster Management Department official, here on Monday.

Pratyam Amrit, Principal Secretary of the Disaster Management Department, said, “Six camps have been set up along the Bihar-UP border. By Monday, we are expecting 1.30 lakh people to reach the borders. We are looking to provide them food and make arrangements for their stay during the quarantine period.”

The state government, he said was taking all precautionary measures even before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the 21-day lockdown on March 24. After emergence of Covid-19 cases in the state, the government had made arrangements even in the rural areas to provide food and shelter and screen villagers for infection, he added.

But the influx of workers from Delhi has created serious problem the state government. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has expressed displeasure at the migrant workers being sent back to Bihar.

“People from other states are being registered at the disaster border relief camps. Their health is being checked. After food and rest, they are being provided buses by the Transport Department in the district headquarters. Arrangements have been made to send them, ” said another official.

The process could continue for two-three days, he added.

Principal Secretary Deepak Kumar said arrangements were being made to send Biharis coming from outside to their villages. “All the Block Development Officers, Head of panchayats and sarpanches have been asked to monitor the situation and follow quarantine and social distancing norms,” Kumar said.

Those who had returned from abroad after March 10 were being investigated. The government has a list of 1,790 such people.

The Chief Minister after high-level meetings have ordered one-month’s ration free to 1.68 crore cardholders and payment of three months’ pension to all pensioners.

A control room has also been set up at Bihar Bhawan in Delhi to help people.

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Cities

Two Tablighi Jammat participants die of suspected coronavirus

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New Delhi, March 30 : Two persons have died of suspected COVID-19 in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area from a group of people who had come from various parts of the country and abroad to take part in Tablighi Jammat, a religious gathering of the Muslim community.

Of the two elderly persons who died, one was from Tamil Nadu and the other belonged to Kashmir. All the participants aged over 60 had been admitted to various hospitals in Delhi. Out of them six people have been found to be coronavirus positive.

Shoaib Ali, the spokesman of Tablighi Jamaat, however, said, “We have no information of anybody testing positive for coronavirus.”

Admitting that two persons have died, Ali said that one of them Masgir, 63, complained of fever and cough and was taken to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital on Saturday. He was from Tamil Nadu.

“But they have not given us any report whether he died of coronavirus or not,” he said.

Shoaib Ali also denied that the death of the second person was due to coronavirus.

“On March 6, an elderly person, 65, from Sopore, Kashmir, had come to participate in Tablighi Jamaat in the Nizamuddin area. He died of a heart attack in Kashmir last week,” Ali said. However, according to reports in the Kashmir media, he was coronavirus positive.

However, Ali confirmed that the entire area has been cordoned off and about 2000 people have been quarantined and are being tested for coronavirus in this thickly populated area of South Delhi.

This is the largest single group being tested for the highly contagious COVID-19, which is transmitted easily from person to person.

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