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ISI wanted to infiltrate Pune Army command: Headley

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Pakistani-American Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist-turned-approver David Coleman Headley told Special TADA Court Judge G.A. Sanap that post-26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, he had surveyed sensitive military establishments in Pune, here on Saturday.

When asked by Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam what military establishments he referred to, Headley readily said it was the (Indian Army’s) Southern Command Headquarters.

“The intentions here were similar to the nuclear establishments (BARC). The ISI wanted to recruit military officers and get ‘classified information’ from them,” Headley told during his deposition on the sixth day.

He surveyed and videographed the Southern Command HQ Building between March 16-17, 2009, preceded by recce of Chabad Houses in Goa on March 15 and earlier Pushkar between March 11-13 that year – nearly four months after the terror attacks were executed in Mumbai on November 26-28, 2008.

The Pune assignment was carried out at the behest of Major Iqbal of the ISI, to whom the videos were later handed over.

Headley has been giving his deposition from a jail in the US at an undisclosed location via video-conferencing continuously since last Monday, barring February 10 when it was adjourned owing to certain technical uplinking issues on the US side.

India

Ensure last-mile outreach through regional languages: PMO

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New Delhi, April 10 The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Friday directed the Empowered Groups to ensure last-mile outreach through communication in regional languages amid the Union government’s ongoing efforts to fight the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Steps taken to ensure timely information dissemination throughout the country were also stressed by the PMO, which reviewed the preparations to counter the impact of the pandemic.

The issues related to supply chain and logistics management for availability of necessary items, efforts undertaken for the benefit of stakeholders involved, steps to assist farmers harvest their produce while maintaining social distancing, necessary confidence building measures required, and need to ensure percolation of guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs to the ground level were discussed.

Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary P.K. Mishra discussed these issues while chairing a meeting of the Empowered Groups of Officers to tackle the challenges emerging as a result of the spread of COVID-19 in India.

The meeting was the latest in a series of periodic reviews at various levels by the PMO to monitor the situation in which the Principal Secretary reviewed the efforts undertaken by the Empowered Groups.

The participants reviewed and expressed satisfaction on the detailed testing protocol and procedure, under which (as on date) 1,45,916 samples have been tested.

Noting that the production of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) is being ramped up and capacity building for healthcare personnel ensured and that NGOs and civil society groups are also being mobilized, Mishra suggested that coordination with NGOs at district level be done to avoid overlaps and ensure efficacious utilization of resources.

The meeting was told that all state Chief Secretaries were instructed to arrange for shelters for vulnerable groups like migrants and homeless.

The progress of the welfare measures rolled out through an economic relief package under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana was also reviewed.

The Principal Secretary underlined that data sanctity was important to ensure that the benefits reach to all intended beneficiaries.

On the technology and data management front, he expressed satisfaction on the rollout of Aarogya Setu app and said that the user engagement with the app needs to be enhanced.

The Centre on March 29 constituted 11 empowered groups for planning and ensuring implementation of Covid-19 response activities.

Each group will be handled by a group of senior government officials empowered to identify the problem areas and provide effective solutions, delineate policy, formulate plans, strategise operations and take necessary steps for effective and time-bound implementation of these plans, policies, strategies, decisions in their respective areas.

A total of 80 senior civil servants have been deputed in the 11 groups which may seek the guidance of the Cabinet Secretary.

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Let’s fight corona jointly, Modi tells Netanyahu, Bolsonaro

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New Delhi, April 10 Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday told President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu that the country is committed to jointly fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The PM’s remark came after the two leaders thanked him for clearing the export of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), a drug said to be effective against the deadly disease.

“Thank you, my dear friend @narendramodi, Prime Minister of India, for sending Chloroquine to Israel. All the citizens of Israel thank you!” Netanyahu tweeted on Thursday.

In response, PM Modi said, “We have to jointly fight this pandemic. India is ready to do whatever is possible to help our friends. Praying for the well-being and good health of the people of Israel.”

Similarly, Bolsonaro also thanked PM Modi for timely help to Brazil, adding that the raw material will help to continue production of hydroxychloroquine to treat patients of COVID-19 as well as of lupus, malaria, and arthritis.

“Thank you, President Jair Bolsonaro. The India-Brazil partnership is stronger than ever in these challenging times. India is committed to contribute to humanity’s fight against this pandemic,” PM Modi said.

The drug has been identified by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as potential treatment for the coronavirus and was touted repeatedly by President Trump as a “game changer”. India had earlier put a hold on its export, but later allowed it on Trump’s request.

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Four more corona cases in Odisha

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Bhubaneswar, April 10 (IANS) Odisha has reported four more COVID-19 positive cases, taking the total number of coronavirus patients to 48, officials said on Friday.

The Health Department has shared the development on its website.

However, it has not shared the details of the fresh cases.

The department said that 408 samples were tested on April 9, out of which six tested positive for COVID-19.

While the active cases stand at 45, one person has succumbed. Meanwhile, two have been discharged from hospital.

The Odisha government on Thursday extended the lockdown period till April 30 to contain the spread of coronavirus.

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