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Preparations to start soon for Haj 2021, says Centre

Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that Haj 2021 will depend on national-international protocol guidelines in view of the pandemic

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Mecca Haj

The Centre on Monday said that Haj 2021 will depend on the national and international protocol guidelines in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the government said it will soon start the preparations for the Haj and receive applications.

Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said this after chairing a virtual meeting attended by Haj Committee of India CEO Maqsood Ahmad, Secretary, Ministry of Minority Affairs P.K. Das, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs Vipul, Ambassador of India to Saudi Arabia Ausaf Saeed and other officials. Many important decisions regarding Haj were taken in this meeting.

Naqvi said after the meeting that Haj 2021 will depend on national-international protocol guidelines in view of the pandemic. Haj 2021 is to take place in the month of July. But a final decision will be taken after a thorough review of the coronavirus spread and the health guidelines of Saudi Arabia and the Government of India, he said.

The Haj Committee of India and other Indian agencies will soon start preparations for Haj 2021 and start receiving applications. A formal announcement regarding the applications and other procedures will be made after the decision in respect of Haj 2021 by the Saudi Arabian government, the government said.

The Minister said due to the epidemic, the arrangements for the pilgrimage will see changes in a big way keeping in mind the guidelines. The health of the Haj pilgrims is the priority of the government, he added.

India and Saudi Arabia are in touch on this issue, he said.

According to information, Rs 2,100 crore of 1.23 lakh pilgrims, who were unable to go on Haj this year because of the pandemic, have been returned without any deduction.

The three-year pending amount of about Rs 514 crore of the Haj pilgrims has also been returned during this corona period.

The result of the 100 per cent digital system in India is that money was sent directly into the accounts even during the ongoing pandemic, which has happened for the first time in the history of the Haj pilgrimage.

India

Ahead of talks with Centre, farmers demand special Parliament session to repeal farm laws

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Farmers on Protest

Ahead of the second round of talks with the Centre, the protesting farmers Wednesday demanded that the government call a special session of the Parliament to repeal the contentious farm laws even as Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar assured that all their objections would be addressed.

The fear relating to the weakening of APMC mandis and minimum support price (MSP) regime are among the main factors behind the ongoing protests, as part of which thousands of farmers, primarily from Punjab, have gathered at the capital’s doorstep. Emphasising that their demand for repeal of the new farm laws was “non-negotiable”, the farmers also threatened to block other roads leading to Delhi if their demands are not met.

Addressing a press conference, president of Krantikari Kisan Union Darshan Pal accused the Centre of dividing farmer organisations. “Centre should call a special session of Parliament to repeal the three farm laws,” PTI quoted Singh as saying.

He also called for burning of effigies throughout the country to protest against the Modi government and corporate houses on December 5. Gurnam Singh Chadoni, another farmer leader, said they would take further steps in the coming days to press their demand if the Centre does not withdraw the new laws.

The leaders of around 32 farmer organisations also held a meeting that was also attended by Bhartiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait at the Singhu border. “We held talks with Tikait Ji and he told us that he is with us. We are together in this struggle,” ANI quoted Darshan Pal as saying.

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah held deliberations with Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday on ways to dispel concerns over the new farm laws.

Tomar and Goyal, along with Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, had met representatives of over 35 farmer organisations on Tuesday. Though the over three-hour-long meeting had failed to yield any result, the two sides had agreed to meet on Thursday.

Ahead of the meeting, Tomar said the government was ready to address the concerns of farmers regarding the farm laws. “We will hold discussions with farmers’ leaders tomorrow. Let’s see to what extent issues can be resolved,” ANI quoted Tomar as saying.

“I appeal to the farmers that the laws are in their interest and the reforms have been done after a long wait, but if they have any objection to it then we are ready to address their concerns,” he added.

The farmers have expressed apprehension that the Centre’s farm laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporates. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has maintained that the new laws would provide farmers with better opportunities and accused the opposition parties of misleading farmers.

Cong workers try to march to Haryana CM’s home, face water cannons
Workers of the Punjab Youth Congress faced water cannons as they tried to march to Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s home in Chandigarh. The police also detained Punjab Youth Congress president Barinder Dhillon and several others.

The activists wanted to ‘gherao’ Khattar’s home to protest against the use of water cannons and teargas against Punjab farmers last week by the Haryana Police, who had tried to stop them from entering the state.

Water Cannon used on members of Punjab Youth Congress while they are going to gherao Haryana CM Khattar’s residence in Chandigarh on farmers’ issue on Wednesday, December 2 2020. (Express photo by Jaipal Singh)

“We came here to wake up the Khattar government,” PTI quoted Dhillon as saying. “We will continue to fight till the farmers get justice,? he added. The roads leading to CM Khattar’s home were sealed and there was heavy police deployment near it.

Transporters threaten to halt operations in North India from Dec 8

The All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), which is the apex body of transporters representing about 95 lakh truckers and other entities, has threatened to halt operations in northern India from December 8 if the government fails to address concerns of the farmers.

“AIMTC has already extended its support to the farmer agitation from day one. We have decided on stopping our operations strategically starting from North India and if the government does not address the issue of the farmers then we may decide to go for shutting down of transport operations nationwide in their support,” AIMTC President Kultaran Singh Atwal told PTI.

Atwal said the road transport fraternity of the country has extended its full support to farmers who are ‘ann daata’ (food providers).

AIMTC Core Committee Chairman Bal Malkit Singh told PTI, “Starting December 8, we will halt the movement of supplies in entire North India including Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. We will then escalate it to entire country if the government fails to address their issues.”

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Cities

Kerala on high alert for Cyclone Burevi: Vijayan

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Pinarayi Vijayan

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 2 : Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday said that the state is on a high alert in view of Cyclone Burevi.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi called to find out about the state’s preparedness. We informed him that all possible steps have been taken… we are waiting for more weather updates and accordingly the necessary action would be taken,” he said.

Vijayan said that according to the present updates, it is expected to enter Kerala by Friday noon.

“Districts like Thiruvananthapuruam, Kollam, Pathanamthittta, Kottayam, Alappuzha Ernakulam and Idukki districts could have the impact of very heavy rains besides heavy winds also. People should not venture out at all. The seas also would turn very rough. Winds with speed ranging from 30 kms to 60 kms are also expected,” he added.

Vijayan said that eight teams of the National Disaster Rescue Force have already arrived, besides the Air Force base at Sulu, near Kovai is already on high alert, while the Indian Navy also is ready.

“In case of a need, we have identified 2,849 relief camps and by now 13 are already functional. If the situation warrants, depending on the weather updates, people will be evacuated. All the district authorities have been told to take appropriate action depending on the needs and none need to wait for clearance. The ongoing Sabarimala pilgrimage will be regulated, if a situation arises,” he said.

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India

Will block other Delhi roads if laws not scrapped, farmers say

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Farmers and Traffic

New Delhi: Will block other roads of Delhi if govt does not withdraw new three farm laws, say leaders of protesting farmers at press conference.

If govt does not fulfil our demands, we will have to take more steps, says farmer leader Gurnam Singh Chadoni (PTI)

Chilla border on Noida link road has been closed for traffic, Delhi police said on Wednesday. Amid the ongoing farmers protests, the Congress on Wednesday asked the Centre to convene the Winter Session of Parliament. This comes a day after the talks remained inconclusive. Next round of talks will be held tomorrow.

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