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Seeking Apology: Kejriwal, AAP leaders visit Golden Temple

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Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal

In a bid to seek apologies from God, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal cleaned utensils at a community kitchen as he and other Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders performed ‘sewa’ (voluntary religious service) inside the Golden Temple complex here on Monday.

Accompanied by senior party leaders, including Ashish Khetan, lawyer H.S.Phoolka, AAP MPs Bhagwant Mann and Sadhu Singh, actors and AAP members Gul Panag and Gurpreet Ghuggi and others, Kejriwal arrived at the Golden Temple complex, where the holiest of Sikh shrines ‘Harmandar Sahib’ is situated.

The move by Kejriwal to visit ‘Golden temple’ was to seek forgiveness for AAP’s political howler after the party’s ‘Youth manifesto’ carried a picture of ‘Harmandar Sahib’, popularly known as the Golden Temple, along with AAP election symbol of ‘broom’.

“While releasing the ‘Youth Manifesto’ of the party, we had committed some mistakes unintentionally. To seek forgiveness, we have done sewa at Darbar Sahib,” Kejriwal, who remained inside the shrine complex for nearly one hour, told media after performing service at the shrine.

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Sporting a white handkerchief to cover his head and with folded hands, Kejriwal went around the shrine complex, offered prayers and later cleaned utensils at the ‘Langar’ hall, the community kitchen which serves food to over one lakh people in a single day.

Kejriwal and others also partook of langar (community food).

The AAP, and Kejriwal, faced criticism from the Sikh community, Punjab’s ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and radical Sikh organisations for the goof-up. Protests were held against the AAP.

This was Kejriwal’s second visit to the Sikh shrine within 15 days. He had begun his three-day Punjab tour on July 3 by offering prayers at the same shrine. It was immediately after his visit that Kejriwal released the party’s controversial ‘Youth manifesto’ here, 250 km from Chandigarh.

AAP leader Ashish Khetan was also booked by the Punjab Police on charge of hurting religious sentiments of the Sikhs by equating the manifesto with Guru Granth Sahib, the Bible and the Gita. Apologies by Khetan and the AAP over both controversies were rejected by the Akali Dal, opposition Congress and the SGPC.

Read More: Amritsar Police booked AAP’s Ashish Khetan for hurting religious belief

However, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his deputy and son Sukhbir Singh Badal had accused the AAP leaders of “hurting the religious sentiments of the Sikhs” through their actions.

The Chief Minister had said the “atrocious act” of displaying a picture of the temple on the cover of the AAP ‘Youth manifesto’ along with a picture of broom was “blasphemy”.

Akali Dal President Sukhbir Badal too said that the AAP and its leadership was a “bunch of outsiders who don’t have any inkling of the culture and traditions of Punjab.”

Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh had questioned Kejriwal for seeking forgiveness 15 days after committing the mistake.

Wefornews Bureau

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CRPF’s CoBRA Officer Killed in IED Blast Triggered by Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma

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Indian Army CRPF Jammu And Kashmir encounter

An Assistant Commandant of the CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action) unit, Nitin P Balerao, succumbed to his injuries from an IED blast triggered by naxals near Tadmetla area in Sukma district on Saturday night.

Ten personnel of the CRPF’s CoBRA unit were injured in an IED blast triggered by naxals in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district on late Saturday evening. The Improvised Explosive Device went off in the forest near Tadmetla village when a team of security forces was out on an anti-naxal operation, Inspector General of Police (Bastar range) Sundarraj P said.

From among the injured, 8 personnel were lifted from a helicopter to Raipur during the midnight for further treatment. Two injured personnel are getting treatment at the CRPF Hospital in Chintalnar.

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We’ve resources to undertake coronavirus vaccination within 3-4 weeks: Delhi govt

Health and Family Welfare Minister Satyendar Jain made this announcement in at a press conference called to update Delhi’s daily health bulletin.

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Vaccine Covid

The Delhi government on Saturday said it has infrastructure to undertake coronavirus vaccination among all city residents within three-four weeks, adding that it was only waiting for the vaccine to be made available.

Health and Family Welfare Minister Satyendar Jain made this announcement in at a press conference called to update Delhi’s daily health bulletin. He gave the updates on Covid-19, decreasing positivity rate, availability of beds, and preparations for vaccination.

He said that the government had enough resources like Mohalla Clinics, polyclinics, dispensaries and hospitals to administer coronavirus vaccine across Delhi. Jain asserted that there will be no issues about the optimal storage of the vaccine as well.

“We are only waiting for the vaccine to be made available. Delhi has the infrastructure to roll it out and make it accessible to all city residents within 3-4 weeks. Delhi is equipped with the latest infrastructure to facilitate the rollout of the vaccine to Delhi’s population.

“For application, there are Mohalla Clinics, hospitals etc. It depends on how soon we get it from the central government. As far as storage is concerned, all amenities have been taken care of,” Jain said.

The Delhi government’s response comes amid Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Saturday visit to Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Pune where vaccine development process is going on.

Modi had recently held discussions with states and union territories on vaccine distribution once it is formulated.

Pointing out that there were 5,482 new cases in Delhi on Friday, the Minister said that the positivity rate had however come down to 8.51 per cent from 15.26 per cent. It has become less than half since November 7, 2020.

The Minister said that more than 50 per cent beds for coronavirus patients are available in Delhi hospitals at present. “Total bed available is more than 9,500. The occupancy rate is therefore steadily decreasing. In terms of ICU beds, more than 1,200 are available.”

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Normal classes not to resume in schools in most NE states

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Children wearing mask

Aizawl/Shillong/Agartala: Most of the northeastern states took varied decisions on the resumption of classes in schools on a regular basis even as Assam had reopened educational institutions on November 2 after more than seven months, officials said on Saturday.

According to the officials, Tripura and Manipur have yet to decide on the reopening of schools on a regular basis while the Mizoram government has announced that schools will remain shut till the year end to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The Meghalaya government has allowed schools in the rural areas to reopen from December 1 for students of class VI onwards but with the consent of their parents while schools in urban areas would resume normal classes for students of Class IX to XII.

However, no northeastern state including Assam has yet decided on resumption of classes below the fifth standard.

Tripura Education Department Director Uttam Kumar Chakma said that 50 per cent teachers and staff are coming to schools across the state since October 15. Students of Class IX to XII are allowed to come to school for counselling by the teachers with the permission of their parents.

“The high level committee constituted by the state government has recommended resuming the classes of X to XII and in degree colleges on a regular basis from December 1. The state government on its own has not yet issued any notification to reopen the regular classes of schools,” Chakma told IANS.

He said that students of classes VI to VIII can come to school with the consent of their parents or guardians for counselling by the teachers.

In Shillong, Meghalaya Education Minister Lahkmen Rymbui said that for the schools to reopen and resume teaching, parents or guardians have to give their consent for their children and attendance by students was not mandatory.

In Imphal, officials said that there is no government plan as yet to reopen educational institutions in Manipur. “Both government and private schools shall remain closed in Manipur until the state government issues the specific notification in this regard,” a senior education department official said.

He said that the Union Home Ministry had suggested partial reopening of educational institutions with SOPs (Standard Operating Procedure) in place.

In Aizawl, Mizoram Education Minister Lalchandama Ralte said that all schools in Mizoram would remain closed till December. He said classes for students up to Class XII would be suspended as Covid-19 infections are likely to spike in winter.

Schools and other educational institutions here have been closed since March due to Covid-19. Though regular classes resumed for students of classes X and XII on October 16, they were suspended after around a week following the detection of Covid-19 disease among several students.

“Though the resumption of regular classes in schools has been tentatively scheduled from January 15 next year, the final decision would be taken by the state executive committee,” Ralte told the media. He said that online classes would continue till December 18 in the current year and from January 5 to 14 next year.

The Assam government’s Education Department officials said that classes for students from Class VI to XII have been resumed in small batches from November 2 following all Covid-19 protocols and the SOPs issued by the department on October 30. The students, teachers and staff are screened at the entry point of each school.

“Attendance of students is not mandatory and it is purely based on parental consent. The hostels of all educational institutions would remain closed till further orders of the government,” a senior official said.

The officials said the students of Class VI, VIII and XII would attend classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday while the other three days will be reserved for Classes VII, IX and XI. Schools for the students of Class V and below would remain closed until further orders.

“All the students will not come at the same time, they will attend school in different batches in the morning and afternoon,” an official said.

The school authorities have been asked to follow social distancing and other precautionary measures. The SOPs also include a staggered timetable for general colleges, engineering colleges, polytechnic institutions and IITs.

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