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Mediators meet Shaheen Bagh protesters again, make no headway

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Shaheen Bagh

New Delhi, Feb 20 : Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde and lawyer Sadhana Ramachandran on Thursday met the Shaheen Bagh protesters for the second consecutive day on Thursday, though no headway seemed in sight to break the deadlock over reopening of the blocked stretch in south Delhi.

Both lawyers — who along with former top bureaucrat Wajahat Habibullah were appointed by the Supreme Court to talk to the protesters — told the women protesters in clear terms that a peaceful solution would have to be arrived at through talks or else the government could take steps.

Hegde said the protesters fear that if they moved out from the spot, nobody would hear them out on the CAA. However, he assured them that nobody will be able to suppress their voice till the Supreme Court was there.

The protesters reiterated their stand that they would disperse if the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act was withdrawn by the Modi government. They said they would appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to either include all religions in the ambit of the new law or scrap it altogether.

They insisted that the Shaheen Bagh protest should not be viewed in isolation, but symbolic of all the protests occurring across the country on the CAA, National Register of Citizens and National Population Register.

The protesters said they had been forced to come out on the streets to protect the rights of the people.

Accusing the government of trying to remove them from the protest site through legal and illegal methods, the women protesters pointed out to the police action against those who had raised their voice against the controversial law.

Asserting that both sides have to come up with a solution to the road blockade through cooperation, Ramachandran told the protesters that the dialogue had to be taken forward sincerely and that the apex court was already seized of the CAA issue.

She pointed out that the panel had already been blessed by the grandmothers or ‘dadis’ leading the protest on the spot since December 15, 2019.

She cautioned that if the talks did not lead to any solution, they will report back to the Supreme Court, and the buck will then pass on to the government thereafter.

However, she insisted, there was not issue which could not be resolved.

Sanjay Hegde, on his part, tried to reason that the court was of the view that the protest should be held at such a place which does not inconvenience the public.

Ramachandran told the protesters that given the noise levels at the protest site, talks with them could not be held in a proper manner. She asked the protesters to make small groups so that both interlocutors could talk to them.

Both mediators later told the protesters that they would proceed to inspect the area, asking two-three protesters to accompany them to tell them which roads were currently closed to traffic and which all could be reopened.

The interlocutors had met the protesters for over two hours on Wednesday also, but the meeting remained inconclusive. The mediators had then said that they would return for more talks on Thursday.

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Delhi violence: Jamia researcher’s police custody extended

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New Delhi, April 6 (IANS) The police custody of a 35-year-old Jamia Millia Islamia research scholar was extended by nine days by a Delhi court on Monday.

Meeran Haider was arrested for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to incite violence in the northeast Delhi in February. He is president of Delhi’s youth wing of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sudhir Kumar Sirohi allowed Haider’s custodial interrogation after Delhi Police contended that he needed to be confronted with other accused and unearth the larger conspiracy.

He was presented in the court at the end of his three-day remand. Widespread violence between groups supporting the changed citizenship law and opposing it had spiraled out of control in February, leaving 53 people dead and scores injured in its wake.

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Covid-19: One more dies in TN, 50 more test positive; total cases 621

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New Delhi, With one more person succumbing to COVID-19, the death toll in Tamil Nadu due to coronavirus increased to six while 50 more positive cases reported on Monday took the total such cases in the state to 621, the Health Secretary said on Monday.

Speaking to reporters here, Beela Rajesh said a 57-year-old women died at the government hospital here. Her contacts are being traced. As for people who attended a Tablighi Jamaat meet in Delhi in mid-March, she said 1,475 persons were tested, of which around 570 tested positive.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister K. Palanswami said orders have been placed for 1 lakh rapid testing kits from China to hasten the testing process. He said Rs 500 crore financial assistance has been received from the central government in this regard.

Palaniswami said permission has been sought from the central government to set up 21 more coronavirus sample testing centres. Currently, the state has 17 centres — 11 government and six in private sector.

According to him, the rapid test kits are expected to reach the state on April 8 and will be put to use from the next day onwards.

Stressing that isolation is the only solution to check coronavirus spread, he said the hospitals in Tamil Nadu have 3,371 ventilators.

He said about 2.10 lakh passengers have been screened at the airports in the state. According to Palaniswami, the government is planning to introduce mobile vegetable shops in Chennai.

A total of 94,873 cases were registered for violation of prohibitory orders and 94,152 persons arrested and let out on bail. The Chief Minister said based on the impact of coronavirus in the state a decision on holding the 10th standard exams will be taken.

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India-Australia ready to share COVID-19 research efforts

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New Delhi, April 6 (IANS) As the number of COVID-19 patients has swelled past a million in just over three months across the globe, India and Australia on Monday agreed to share “collaborative research efforts” in the context of the health crisis.

Both the countries agreed on the “importance of bilateral experience sharing” amid the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 crisis in a telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on Monday morning.

The two leaders discussed the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the domestic response strategies being adopted by their respective governments. “They agreed on the importance of bilateral experience-sharing in the context of this health crisis, including through collaborative research efforts,” a Prime Minister’s Office statement said.

Modi conveyed that the government of India stands ready to provide necessary facilitation and support to any Australian citizens stranded in India due to travel restrictions. Morrison similarly assured that the Indian community in Australia, including Indian students, would continue to be valued as a vibrant part of Australian society, the statement said.

“Both leaders agreed to remain attentive to the wider significance of the India-Australia partnership, including in the Indo-Pacific region, even as they focus on solving the present health crisis.”

The talks took place between the two leaders when 109 deaths were reported in India with over 4,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases A total of 39 deaths and over 5,000 confirmed cases have been reported in Australia.

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