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Sabarimala row: Amit Shah warns of ‘throwing out’ Vijayan government

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Amit Shah

Kannur(Kerala), Oct 27: Attacking Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, BJP national president Amit Shah on Saturday asked him not to play with the Sabarimala issue and warned him that BJP would not mind throwing out the Kerala government if it tries to tinker with the issues of faith.

Criticizing the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all ages to the temple, he said the court should not pass verdicts that go against the religious faith of the people and “can’t be implemented” on the ground.

Speaking at a public meeting in Kannur, Shah said: “The BJP will take over the protest of the Ayyappa devotees. We will not mind throwing out the government If the Kerala government tries to steamroll the traditions of the Sabarimala temple,” said Shah.

In a hard-hitting speech after inaugurating the new Kannur district BJP office, he flayed the Vijayan government’s handling of the situation following the apex court verdict, saying BJP would go to any extent to protect the Sabarimala traditions.

“What’s happening now is Ayyappa devotees are being taken to task and this will not be allowed at all,” said Shah.

Targeting the ruling LDF government for allegedly committing atrocities on Hindutva activists on the pretext of implementing SC judgements, Shah said there were judgments banning Jallikattu, using loudspeakers in mosques and curbing the ‘dahi-handi’ event in Maharashtra which could not be implemented on the ground.

Defending the practice of prohibiting the entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 years in the Sabarimala temple, Shah said Hindus have reformed their practices, referring to permitting widow remarriage and curbing child marriage.

He said Hindu faith has never undermined woman and respected her as mother and goddess.

Criticizing Vijayan for not doing enough for relief and rehabilitation of the people affected by floods, Shah said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sanctioned a number of projects for Kerala, included setting up of an IIT, and a Super Speciality Hospital, but the state government failed to acquire land for these projects.

Asking Vijayan to resign for his “failures”, Shah said that instead of committing atrocities on those opposing the entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 years in the Sabarimala temple, the Chief Minister should focus on state’s development.

India

Malegaon Blast Case: MP Pragya Thakur Fails To Appear In NIA Court

The court has directed all the accused, including Pragya Thakur, to be present before it on December 19.

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Pragya Singh Thakur

A special NIA court here on Thursday said the trial in 2008 Malegaon blast case will resume from Friday and directed all the seven accused to remain present in the court on December 19.

Special NIA court judge P R Sitre had earlier directed all the accused in the case, including BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur and Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, to remain present in the court on Thursday.

However, Pragya Thakur, Ramesh Upadhayay, Sudhakar Diwedi and Sudhakar Chaturvedi did not appear in the court.

Thakur had appeared before the court in June last year after it ordered the seven accused to remain present once a week. She later sought exemption from appearance on various occasions since then.

Lt Col Purohit, Sameer Kulkarni and Ajay Rahikar were present before the judge on Thursday.

The lawyers of the other four accused told the court that their clients were absent due to the Covid-19 situation.

The court then directed all the accused to be present before it on December 19.

It said the trial in the case, which is being probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), will resume from Friday.

Six people were killed and over 100 others injured when an explosive device strapped on a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon, a town about 200 km from Mumbai in north Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008.

The court had framed terror charges against Purohit, Thakur and five other accused in October 2018.

The trial in the case could not proceed since March this year as the normal functioning of the courts was hampered due to the Covid-19 situation.

Responding to a plea seeking day-to-day trial in the case, the probe agency had earlier told the court that it was making all efforts to expedite the case.

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Varavara Rao To Stay At Private Hospital Till December 14: Bombay High Court

The 81-year-old activist was admitted to Nanavati hospital on November 18.

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Varavara Rao

The Bombay High Court on Thursday said the condition of poet-activist Varavara Rao, arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, had improved but he will continue to remain at a private hospital till December 14.

A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik perused a medical report submitted by the Nanavati hospital here where Rao was admitted on November 18.

“There is some slight improvement. He shall continue to remain admitted there till December 14,” the court said.

The HC will hear the petition filed by Rao seeking bail on medical grounds and another filed by his wife Hemalata seeking that he be shifted to Nanavati hospital from jail for medical treatment on December 14.

On November 18, the High Court had noted that Rao was 81 years old, suffered from neurological ailments and also needed post-Covid-19 care after recovering from the viral infection.

A person was on death bed and in such circumstances, the state government cannot say that he should be treated in the jail, the Court had said.

Following the court’s observations, the Maharashtra government had on November 18 agreed to shift Rao from Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai to the Nanavati hospital and also to bear the expenses of his treatment.

The HC on Thursday said that the lawyers of the petitioners as well as the National Investigation Agency (NIA) — which is probing the case — shall go through the medical report, and posted the matter for further hearing on December 14.

Rao had been in and out of the state-run JJ hospital in the city and the Taloja prison hospital since his arrest in June 2018.

On July 16 this year, he tested positive for coronavirus and was shifted to the Nanavati hospital. He was discharged on July 30 and sent back to the prison.

His and his wife’s petitions claimed that he was suffering from several ailments.

Rao and a few other left-leaning activists were arrested for alleged links with Naxals following the Elgar Parishad conclave in Pune on December 31, 2017.

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Health

AIIMS Director Pins Hopes On Five Covid-19 Vaccine Candidates

At least one locally-tested vaccine could get emergency use authorisation by the end of this month or early 2021, Dr Guleria says.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria on Thursday pinned his hopes on the five Covid-19 vaccine candidates which are in advanced stages of clinical trial in India, stating they are logistically feasible for distribution in both urban and rural areas.

His assertion comes amid Pfizer-BioNTech’s anti-coronavirus vaccine getting emergency clearance in the UK, paving the way for mass vaccinations against the deadly novel coronavirus from as early as next week.

Dr Guleria expressed hope that by the end of this month or early next month, at least one of the five vaccines being locally-tested should get emergency use authorisation from the drug regulator to be administered to the public starting with priority groups.

According to sources, global pharma giant Pfizer had talks with the Indian government late August, but since then there has been no development.

During a briefing last month, NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr V K Paul, who also heads the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration, said that sufficient doses of the Pfizer vaccine as required for the Indian population will not be available but the government is examining the possibilities and will work out a strategy (for its procurement and distribution) in case the vaccine gets regulatory approvals.

The requirement of extremely low temperature of -70 degree Celsius for storing the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer poses a big challenge for its delivery in a developing nation like India, especially in its smaller towns and rural areas where maintaining such cold chain facilities would be very difficult, Guleria said.

“Five vaccine candidates are in advanced stages of clinical trial in India and no significant serious adverse effects have been seen so far. Also, they are logistically feasible for distribution in a large country like India, both in its urban and rural parts.

“Hopefully, by the end of this month or early next month, at least one of them should get emergency authorisation from the Indian drug regulator for its distribution among Indian population,” he said.

The five vaccines are under different phases of clinical trials in India with the Serum Institute of India conducting phase-3 trial of the Oxford-Astrazeneca Covid-19 vaccine, while the indigenously developed vaccine by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR has already started the phase-3 clinical trial.

Another indigenously-developed vaccine by Zydus Cadila has also completed phase -2 clinical trial in the country.

Dr Reddy’s Laboratories and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) on Tuesday announced the start of adaptive phase 2 and 3 clinical trials for Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V in India.

Also, Biological E. Ltd has started early phase 1 and 2 human trials of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate.

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