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Manmohan Singh under CRPF’s Z+ security cover from Monday

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, however, continued to get SPG cover from 2004 when he demitted office till his death in 2018.

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New Delhi, Sep 16 : Days after his Special Protection Group (SPG) cover was withdrawn, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday got protective cover from CRPF commandos in the downgraded Z+ category.

Singh, along with his wife Gursharan Kaur, will have 35 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) security cover round-the-clock at his 3, Motilal Nehru Road residence and during their movement across the country.

Altogether, over 50 armed commandos will be available for their security and they will be deployed in shifts.

An anti-sabotage team, including a dog squad, will be the part of the Z+ cover, an official in know of the arrangements told IANS, adding this team makes three minimum rounds in 24-hours of the vicinity where the person under Z+ protection stays.

The place where Singh and his wife would stay during their visit outside Delhi will be guarded by the CRPF commandos in “three layers”.

As per Z+ rule, the CRPF would coordinate with the state police concerned, the intelligence team, the event organisers and the Public Works Department (PWD) before the visit of Singh, who served as Prime Minister for 10 years between 2004 and 2014.

The CRPF would also take man support from its 23 Z+ units across the country, if needed, said the official, requesting anonymity.

After a routine assessment of the inputs received from all agencies, the Ministry of Home Affairs in August took the decision to curtail Manmohan Singh’s SPG security and provide him a Z+ security cover.

Government sources said it was observed that the former Prime Minister is not concerned about the level of security he has.

The Ministry had taken the decision as per security cover review, which is a periodical and professional exercise based on threat perception and was “purely” based on professional assessment by security agencies.

The SPG, which comprises an elite force personnel of 3,000 officers, is meant to provide security cover to Prime Ministers, former Prime Ministers and their families. The force would now be tasked with protecting only Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

The SPG was set up in 1985 after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her security guards in 1984. After the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, the SPG Act was amended to provide security to former Prime Ministers and their families for 10 years.

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, however, continued to get SPG cover from 2004 when he demitted office till his death in 2018.

During its full tenure that began in 1999, the Vajpayee government conducted a major review of the SPG’s operations in 2003. After the review, the SPG cover of former Prime Ministers P.V. Narasimha Rao, H.D. Deve Gowda, I.K. Gujral and V.P. Singh was withdrawn.

(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at [email protected])

Cities

Delhi Schools Unlikely To Reopen Until Covid Vaccine Is Available: Manish Sisodia

While several restrictions have been eased in different ‘unlock’ phases, educational institutions continue to remain closed.

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Manish Sisodia

Schools in the national capital which are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic are unlikely to reopen until a vaccine is available, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Tuesday.

Universities and schools across the country were closed on March 16, when the Centre announced a countrywide classroom shutdown as part of measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Until we get some vaccine, schools (in Delhi) are not likely to open,” Sisodia, who is also Delhi’s Education Minister, told reporters.

He had announced on October 30 that schools will remain closed until further orders, saying parents were not in favour of sending their ward to schools yet.

“We keep getting feedback from parents that they are really concerned about whether it is safe to reopen schools. It is not. Wherever schools have reopened, COVID-19 cases among children have risen. So we have decided that as of now schools in the national capital will not reopen. They will continue to be closed till further orders,” Sisodia had said then.

A nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 25.

While several restrictions have been eased in different ‘unlock’ phases, educational institutions continue to remain closed.

According to ‘Unlock 5’ guidelines, states can take a call on reopening schools in phases. Several states also began the process of reopening schools. While some of them announced closure again due to rise in coronavirus cases.

Earlier, schools were allowed to call students from Class 9 to 12 to school on voluntary basis from September 21. However, the Delhi government decided against it.

Delhi recorded 4,454 fresh COVID-19 cases on Monday and a positivity rate of 11.94 per cent while 121 more fatalities pushed the death toll to 8,512, authorities said.

These relatively low number of fresh cases came out of the 37,307 tests conducted on Sunday, including 18,046 RT-PCR tests, according to the latest bulletin issued by the Delhi health department.

On last Friday, authorities had said that 23,507 RT-PCR tests, the highest till date, were conducted a day before.

The highest single-day spike till date here — 8,593 cases — was recorded on November 11 when 85 fatalities were recorded.

As many as 121 fatalities were recorded on Monday, same as the previous day.

This is the sixth time in the last 12 days that the daily number of deaths has crossed the 100-mark.

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Uttar Pradesh okays ordinance against conversion for marriage, violators face up to 10 yrs in jail

He said punishment under the new law is a jail term from one and five years, and a fine of Rs 15,000.

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Yogi Adityanth

Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday approved a draft ordinance to deal with religious conversion for the sake of marriage, which could land violators in jail for up to 10 years.

An official spokesperson said the state Cabinet gave its nod to the ordinance at its meeting chaired here by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

In recent weeks, BJP-run states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh have revealed plans to enact laws to counter alleged attempts to convert Hindu women to Islam in the guise of marriage, which Hindu activists refer to as love jihad .

“The way in which religious conversions are done using deceit, lies, force and dishonesty is heart wrenching, and it was necessary to have a law in this regard, Cabinet minister and UP government spokesperson Sidharth Nath Singh said.

He said punishment under the new law is a jail term from one and five years, and a fine of Rs 15,000.

But if the woman involved is a minor or belongs to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, the jail term would range from three to 10 years, he said. The fine would increase to Rs 25,000.

In the case of mass conversions, the punishment is from three years to 10 years and a fine of Rs 50,000 on the organisations which indulge in it,” the minister told reporters.

Singh said if anyone wants to change religion after marriage, then he or she can do so.

But the district magistrate has to be informed two months in advance in a prescribed form, and the person can convert once permission is granted.

He claimed that this will resolve law and order problems.

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S Jaishankar To Begin 6-Day Tour Of Bahrain, UAE And Seychelles

The external affairs minister will also hold talks on bilateral issues as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest with Bahraini leaders.

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eam jaishankar european parliament

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will embark on a six-day tour of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Seychelles beginning today, in a visit seen as important as it comes in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Jaishankar’s first destination will be Bahrain from where he will travel to the United Arab Emirates. He will travel to Seychelles in the third and final leg of his visit.

In his two-day visit to Bahrain from November 24 to 25, Jaishankar will personally convey condolences on behalf of the government and people of India to the Bahraini leadership on the sad demise of Prime Minister of Bahrain Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa on November 11, the MEA said.

The external affairs minister will also hold talks on bilateral issues as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest with Bahraini leaders.

“Bahrain hosts more than 350,000 Indians and both countries have worked together to face the Covid-19 pandemic. Flights are operational between both countries under an air bubble arrangement,” it said in a statement.

On November 25 and 26, Jaishankar will visit the UAE where he is scheduled to meet his counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“Both leaders will take forward the excellent cooperation between India and the UAE under our comprehensive strategic partnership and exchange views on various regional and international issues,” the MEA said.

Jaishankar will also discuss ways for Indian workers to resume their jobs in UAE in the post-COVID scenario. More than 3 million Indians live and work in the UAE.

India and UAE have maintained high-level contacts in the last few months.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in the midst of the pandemic.

Jaishankar has also spoken to the UAE foreign minister several times in the past few months.

In the last leg of his tour, the external affairs minister will travel to Seychelles on November 27 and 28.

In Seychelles, Jaishankar will call-on the newly elected President, Wavel Ramkalawan, to present greetings of Prime Minister Modi and will discuss with him the priorities of the new government and avenues for further strengthening of bilateral relations, the MEA said.

Jaishankar will also hold bilateral consultations with the newly appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism Sylvestre Radegonde, it said.

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