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Parrikar rules out withdrawing troops from Siachen

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Terming the recent death of 10 soldiers in an avalanche on the Siachen glacier “painful”, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said today that withdrawing troops from the world’s highest battlefield could not be a solution.

“This incident is painful to me personally, but the solution that is suggested is not a proper analysis,” he said, referring to demands that Indian soldiers be withdrawn from the glacier.

Asked if the proposal to convert Siachen into a “peace mountain” still exists, the minister said: “The decision (on deploying troops) on Siachen is based on the security of the nation.”

He said the loss of human lives on the Siachen had come down in recent years due to improved facilities.

“We have lost thousands of soldiers to get control (of the glacier)… The loss of life is less in the last few years,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an International Maritime Conference in Visakhaptnam.

He said the incident had nothing to do with preparedness. “I don’t find any loose ends. It’s an avalanche… These are unpredictable in nature.”

Mr Parrikar said the search operation was on though there was little hope of survival of the soldiers.

“The hope of any survival is nil. They are covered in tonnes of ice,” he said.

Then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh suggested in 2005 that the world’s highest battlefield be converted into a “peace mountain” without redrawing the boundaries between India and Pakistan.

India and Pakistan maintain permanent military presence at heights of over 6,000 metres or 20,000 feet. Both have lost many men to extreme cold in the area where temperature can dip to minus 50 degrees Celsius.

The army has meanwhile deployed advanced equipment to search for its men. These include wall penetrating radars.

Ten soldiers, including a Junior Commissioned Officer, were buried on Wednesday after an avalanche hit their post located 19,000 feet above the sea level on the southern side of the glacier.

India

Tablighi attendees should self-report to officials: MMK

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coronavirus cases

Chennai, April 1 (IANS) Manithaneya Makkal Katchi on Tuesday urged Muslims who had returned to Tamil Nadu from Tablighi Jamaat headquarters in Delhi to self-report to the Health Department, even as 50 such persons from the southern state have so far tested positive for coronavirus infection.

“We and the leaders of the community have appealed to the people who have returned from Delhi to report and get themselves screened,” MMK leader M.H. Jawahirullah told IANS.

He said that a majority of those who had already reported themselves to the health officials for tests had tested negative.

Jawahirullah said those who tested coronavirus positive have been admitted in isolation wards in hospitals.

He said about 1,100 persons from Tamil Nadu had attended the Tablighi conference in Delhi, of which about 600 returned.

“About 500 persons stayed back in Delhi and are now under the Delhi government care,” Jawahirullah said.

On Tuesday, Revenue Commissioner J. Radhakrishan appealed to Nizamuddin Markaz attendees to self-declare for tests and other necessary steps.

Similarly, officials in several districts have appealed to the attendees to report themselves to health officials for screening.

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Rahul Gandhi sends aid to Amethi, helps people in lockdown

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Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi, April 1 (IANS) After his electoral loss from Amethi, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s love for his constituency has not diminished. He has sent truckload of wheat and other supplies to Amethi to be distributed among the poor who are facing the brunt of lockdown.

Congress MLC Deepak Singh said, “Rahul ji has not forgotten his responsibility for Amethi as it has special place in his heart.”

Congress leaders of the constituency said that a truckload of wheat has arrived and will be distributed amongst the people in the area.

Rahul Gandhi lost from Amethi in the last general election to BJP’s Smriti’s Irani. However, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Wayanad in Kerala.

Rahul Gandhi has sanctioned Rs 2.66 crore from his Members of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund for his Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency.

Under the MPLAD, the lawmakers can recommend the district collector on which project they want to spend the money in their respective constituencies.

Rahul Gandhi had been warning the government that India will pay “extremely heavy price” for the Centre’s inability to act decisively against the spread of coronavirus.

Even on February 12, he had made a similar statement when he said, “coronavirus was an extremely serious threat to the people and the economy.”

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Americans should be prepared for 1-2 lakh death toll: White House

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New York, April 1 The Donald Trump administration revealed for the first time multiple predictive models that are being used to estimate its grim assessment of a 100,000-200,000 coronavirus death toll in the country and stressed that community adherence to social distancing guidelines will be the game changer that will flatten the curve.

“There’s no magic bullet. There’s no magic vaccine or therapy. It’s just behaviours. Each of our behaviours, translating into something that changes the course of this viral pandemic over the next 30 days,” Dr Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response co-ordinator, said at a briefing on Tuesday.

“Americans should be prepared for that (death toll). Yes, it is a projection but that’s what it is and we have to be prepared for that,” America’s top infectious diseases doctor Dr. Anthony Fauci said at the same briefing headlining charts that have guided Trump administration’s decision to extend social distancing guidelines until April 30. The first phase of the 15-day stay-at-home guidelines came on March 16.

“This is the thing that we must anticipate,” Fauci said pointing to the peak death toll projections, “but we don’t want to accept that is what will happen.”

“We can influence this to the maximum degree.”

In all of the graphs, New York and New Jersey are the standout lines, inching sharply upwards as the rest of the states cluster closer to the X-axis.

Projections by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle are closest to the White House take on the situation.

The IHME graph is heavily laden with data from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, said Birx, because that is where caseload is highest.

As of Tuesday morning, the IHME forecast predicted about 84,000 US deaths through early August, with the highest number of daily deaths occurring April 15. That would be three days after Easter.

The 100,000-200,000 death toll projection “assumes full mitigation measures” currently in place, according to Birx and Fauci. Those guidelines stop short of a complete lockdown, still allowing people to go outside the home for solitary activities and for essential tasks.

“We trust the American people to keep that six feet distance when they go out, meet people. That is why we have not issued a complete lockdown”, Birx said. She said that if people maintain “that six feet distance”, they have controlled the virus.

Dr. Deborah Birx said data coming from Italy offers hope for the US experience.

“You can see that they’re beginning to turn the corner in new cases. They’re entering their fourth week of full mitigation and showing what is possible when we work together as a community, as a country, to change the course of this pandemic together.”

The US government is calling on “every American in every state” to follow the mitigation guidelines for the next 30 days. The guidelines are not mandatory.

Responding to questions on the alarming numbers on the charts, Fauci said, “Everytime we get more data, we put it back into the model and see if the model is making sense.”

The models use statistical analysis to predict the outbreak’s ferocity and impact in terms of infections, hospital caseload and death toll.

Fauci remains confident that mitigation “is going to be doing the trick for us”. The effects, he said, would come in a series of steps and therefore won’t show on the charts in real time.

“When the increase in new cases begin to level off, a secondary effect is less hospitalisations. The next effect is less intensive care. And the next effect is less deaths. I don’t want to jump the gun on it, we’re seeing little inklings of this right now in New York,” Fauci said.

Fauci and Birx have cautioned that cases will continue to go up in the “next several days to a week or so” reflecting caseload that came in before states issued stay-at-home orders.

“We cannot be discouraged by that because the mitigation is actually working, and will work.”

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