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PM Modi to reach Kerala over CM Chandy invitation row



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Prime minister Narendra Modi will begin his two-day visit to Kerala today and will arrive in Kerala’s port city of Kochi in afternoon amid a raging controversy over chief minister Oommen Chandy’s name being omitted from the ceremonies. This will be his first to the state after assuming office as in May last year.

During his two-day visit, the first to the state as prime minister, Modi is expected to clear the air about the omission that the Congress has blamed the BJP central leadership and Prime Minister’s Office for.

Modi will travel to the temple town of Thrissur on Monday to address a workers meet that state BJP leaders say will have nearly two lakh workers in attendance. Prominent religious leaders like the Thrissur Arch Bishop and the Maulavi of Kodungaloor Cheraman Masjid, one of the oldest mosques in the country, have also been invited.

Chandy, who was invited as one of the main the guests initially, was apparently asked to skip the unveiling of the statue of former chief minister R Shankar that the prime minister will preside over, citing it was a private function. The unveiling will take place in south Kollam district on Tuesday.

Chandy’s name was initially inscribed on a marble plaque for the event. But the plaque was replaced with another carrying the name of the backward Ezhava leader, Vellapally Natesan, and the general secretary of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP).

With the change in guests and subsequent boycott of MPs, Modi, who was earlier slotted for 15 minutes, will address the function for up to 35 minutes.

Taking potshots at critics, Natesan said, “If the prime minister speaks more, it is better for the state and backward communities.”

However, the Congress is hoping to corner the BJP over the issue, and will observe a prayer meeting in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday, blaming the prime minister for “slighting the state”.

Kollam MP, N K Premachandran and MLA P K Gurudasan and mayor V Rajendra Babu are among those boycotting the function.

The Congress’ main concern at the moment is the BJP hijacking the legacy of R Shankar who was a prominent leader of the party, hailing from the backward Ezhava community.

With four months left for crucial assembly elections in Kerala, the state BJP is counting on PM Modi to set the tone for its campaign and hopes to give a tough three-cornered contest in at least 30 seats.

The prime minister will also visit the Sivagiri Mutt, birthplace of social reformer Sree Narayana Guru.

According to the police, about 2,000 officers headed by five superintendents have been deployed to ensure security.

Modi will also attend a commanders’ meet off the coast of Kochi on Tuesday before he leaves Kerala.

Wefornews Bureau


India’s Covid cases cross 9L-mark with over 28K new cases





India recorded a spike of more than 28,000 cases for the second consecutive day in the last 24 hours, pushing the tally to 9,06,752 cases with a death total of 23,727, the Health Ministry’s data stated on Tuesday.

India crossed nine lakh mark from eight lakh within three days. India had crossed the 8 lakh COVID-19 cases on July 11.

According to data, India witnessed a spike of 28,498 fresh cases taking the total number of cases to 9,06,752 and with 553 deaths in the last 24 hours the total number of fatalities crossed 23,727.

According to Health Ministry data, as many as 5,71,459 patients have recovered, over twice the number of active patients which stand at 3,11,565.

The rate of recovery has touched 63.02 per cent. India, however, remains the third worst-affected country after the US and Brazil.

During the last 24 hours, 2,86,247 samples were tested, as the testing lab network continues to expand. As on date, more than 1,194 labs have enabled people to undergo coronavirus tests.

Maharashtra remained the worst-hit state, with 2,60,924 cases and 10,482 casualties followed by Tamil Nadu with total 1,42,798 cases, including 2,032 deaths.

With 1,246 new coronavirus cases and 40 deaths in the last 24 hours, the national capital recorded a total tally of 1,13,740 cases and 3,411 deaths.

States with more than 10,000 cases included Gujarat (42,722), Uttar Pradesh (38,130), Rajasthan (24,936), Madhya Pradesh (18,207), West Bengal (31,448), Haryana (21,894), Karnataka (41,581), Andhra Pradesh (31,103), Telangana (36,221), Assam (16,806), and Bihar (17,959).

On the global front, the overall number of global COVID-19 cases has surpassed the 13 million mark, while the deaths have increased to more than 572,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

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Injured Inspector recounts July 3 horror by Vikas Dubey gang




Vikas Dubey.

Bithoor police inspector Kaushalendra Pratap Singh, who was injured in the July 3 ambush at Bikru village, has now been discharged and is ready to tell the ghastly story of that night when he lost eight of his colleagues in the shootout by gangster Vikas Dubey and his associates.

Singh had taken three bullet injuries on his legs and arm in the shootout. He is the first eyewitness in the case and was at Bikru village on Tuesday to help the SIT reconstruct the sequence of events that led to the incident.

Kaushalendra Pratap Singh told SIT members that his police station had received a phone call from Station Officer (SO) Chaubeypur, Vinay Tiwari — now in jail, asking them to accompany a raid team from his police station.

“We left at around 12.30 am on July 3 to conduct a raid at gangster Vikas Dubey’s residence at Bikru village. We parked our vehicles near the site and started walking towards his house. An earthmover was parked near his house in such a way that only one person could move to the other side. As soon as we crossed the earthmover, a volley of bullets was sprayed on us,” Singh later told reporters.

Singh admitted that the police team was unarmed and completely unprepared for an encounter.

“Some of us who had our weapons took positions while others ran for cover. I took position behind the wall with two other police personnel, who were unarmed. Later, our colleague Ajay Sengar told me that he was shot in the stomach. One more police personnel was shot in the hand. As the criminals were firing from the rooftop, we could not see them,” he said.

The team from three police stations — Bithoor, Bilhaur and Chaubeypur — which went to conduct the raid consisted of about 35 police personnel, he said.

Contrary to the earlier assertion that the power supply to the village had been disconnected before the police team reached Bikru, Kaushalendra Pratap Singh said, “When we reached Bikru village, lights were on and the criminals on the terrace easily spotted the locations of police personnel and took position accordingly. Soon after, the village plunged into darkness owing to a power cut.” He said that suspended SO Chaubeypur Vinay Tiwari disappeared when the criminals started firing indiscriminately.

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) and the judicial commission headed by Justice Shashikant Agarwal (retired) are visiting Bikru village to record statements of the local people and police about the July 3 massacre and the events prior to the incident.


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Covid-19 takes 93 lives in Agra in around 100 days




covid-19 test

More than the lack of medical facilities, it is the critical delay in testing samples of Covid-19 to ensure early treatment of patients, that has taken a heavy toll of lives in Agra which has recorded 93 deaths in around 100 days.

So cumbersome and time-consuming is the process of sampling that most suspected cases go unreported. “People on their own are reluctant to come forward to give samples, as they have to wait for long and go through an agonising procedural process. The patients are also scared of being sentenced to quarantine in facilities that are ill equipped, and reportedly unhygienic,” explained a health worker attached to an NGO.

So far Agra has tested only 30,510 samples. The SN Medical College, district hospital and the JALMA centre run by the ICMR, have a collective testing capacity of more than a thousand daily.

“If only people could get samples checked without fear and delay, and confined to friendly hospitalisation, the results would show a marked improvement. The private nursing homes are compounding the problem by squeezing the victims and when things get out of control, the patients are referred to government hospitals,” complained a family member of a victim.

In the last 24 hours, 14 fresh cases have been reported in Agra, while Firozabad reported 23 and Kasganj 12.

Agra district magistrate P.N. Singh said the total now stands at 1,411 cases, of which 1,154 had recovered. The number of active cases is 164.

More than 1,550 teams under the Covid Surveillance Programme, scheduled to end July 15, have surveyed over a lakh homes and collected health related data.

Health department officials collected 67 samples of the inmates of the temporary jail at the MD Jain Inter College. All those arrested are first lodged in this temporary jail for 14 days and only when the report comes, are they transferred to the district or the central jail.

On Monday markets opened in all areas, except in the buffer and the containment zones.

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