Delhi government has decided to deploy senior nursing officers from state government-run hospitals as nodal officers in the private healthcare facilities to monitor the Covid situation and vaccination at private facilities.
The government-run hospitals have been asked to find suitable replacement for retired and transferred nursing personnel.
"The competent authority is pleased to deploy senior nursing officers as nodal officers in various private health care facilities from Delhi government hospitals to monitor management of Covid-19 patients along with monitoring of Covid vaccination," read an order issued by the Delhi health department on Tuesday late night.
The letter states that these senior nursing officers stand relieved from their respective hospitals with immediate effect, with the directions to report to their place of posting in private hospitals without waiting for any formal relieving orders form their hospitals. The order has been directed to all medical directors and medical superintendent of state government-run hospitals.
Meanwhile, the national capital on Tuesday reported 11,684 fresh Covid cases in the last 24 hours. The fresh Covid infection has pushed the total tally at 17,34,181. In the same time, 38 deaths have also been reported in the city, pushing the death toll at 25,425.
Delhi's positivity rate has also declined to 22.47 per cent, a substantial downward from Monday's 27.99 per cent. Reporting a decline of over 5,000 cases, the active caseload in the city stands at 78,112 as per the Delhi health department on Tuesday.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said on Tuesday that his country does not want to get caught up between powerful nations.
He made the remarks while addressing the second session of the ninth Parliament, during which he also presented his government's policy statement.
The session was attended by a large number of guests, including Ambassadors and High Commissioners.
"While giving priority to the country's sovereignty and independence we are ready to response positively to the international observations. We are an independent and sovereign nation. We do not want to get caught up between the powerful nations," President Rajapaksas said.
"While we respect our neighbours what we need is to maintain a friendly and cordial relationship with every nation."
President Rajapaksa's remarks came in the backdrop where opposition parties and critics have complained that amidst the ongoing financial crisis, his government has been selling its lands and resources to powerful countries like China, India and the US and making the island-nation a hunting ground for super powers.
During his hour-long speech, President Rajapaksa also invited the representatives of the minority Tamil and Muslim political parties from the North and the East to join him in promoting the lives of the people ravaged by three-decades long Civil War.
"I urge all the representatives from the North and the East to set aside their political ideologies temporarily and help the government's efforts to promote lives of the people in the war affected areas."
Rajapaksa also assured that he would release all the lands of the civilians taken over by the military in the North and the East.
"We released 90 per cent of the civilian land occupied by the military during the period when I was the Defence Secretary. Since there is peace, we would be able to release the rest of the civilian lands taken for military purposes in the area."
While ensuring justice for all the war-affected sections, Rajapaksa also said that the issue of disappearance during the war was not limited to one party.
"We condemn racism and we want to ensure the rights and respect of all parties... I urge this from all the politicians who continue to incite communal disharmony among different races and ethnic groups. We are ready to introduce timely changes to the Prevention of Terrorism Act which was introduced as far back as 1978."
The President also said he had given Presidential pardon to a group of former LTTE members.
Rajapaksa further stressed that the people from the war battered North and East need economic security more than anything else and said that investments have been made to develop the peninsular predominantly occupied by the Tamils.
The Aam Aadmi Party on Tuesday declared Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann as its chief ministerial candidate in the Punjab Assembly polls.
Announcing Mann's candidature, AAP convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said: "Some people have put forward my name for CM's face, 93.3 per cent favoured Mann as Chief Minister's candidate, while three per cent preferred Navjot Singh Sidhu."
Last week, Kejriwal had announced that the party will elect the Chief Ministerial candidate based on people's suggestions. The party had issued a mobile number and conducted a phone-in poll.
Earlier also the AAP chief had said he wanted the party's state unit chief Mann as the chief ministerial candidate.
In the last five years, the party faced many troubles and protests. The party saw the exit of leaders like H.S. Phoolka, Sucha Singh Chhotepur and Sukhpal Singh Khaira, but Mann remained loyal to Kejriwal.
Prior to getting declared as the AAP's chief ministerial face, Mann said: "I am a loyal soldier of the party. I will do whatever duty is assigned to me. If I am asked to paste posters on walls or wave party symbol, I will gladly do that. Punjab is very important to me. Kejriwal has placed a lot of faith in me."
Mann is the only party leader who got elected to the Lok Sabha twice after winning polls. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he was the only AAP leader who won for the second time. Mann has so far not opposed the party's leadership.
Before entering the world of politics, Mann was a big comedian. He is the only leader in the Punjab's AAP unit who has a strong fan base and is a crowd puller.
Experts are of the view that AAP in Punjab has an image of a party of Delhi and non-Punjabis. Because of this image, Kejriwal lost the polls in 2017 in the state and this time selected a 'Sardar' for the Chief Minister's post.
A private company in 2005 came up with an offer to start a bouquet of multimedia and telecom services and got into an agreement with Antrix Corporation, the commercial wing of state space agency, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and made a deal of leasing out two of ISRO's satellites, GSLV-6 & GSLA-6A, for private services at a throw-away price.
It took six years for the then Congress-led UPA government to sense this fraud and later the agreement was cancelled, but then the arbitration started as the private company claimed millions of dollars from the government of India, which was a brazen act of corruption, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Tuesday on the apex court verdict on the Antrix-Devas deal.
The Antrix-Devas agreement was signed in 2005, and after years of controversies, it was cancelled in 2011. Serious objections were raised by various state agencies and departments on this agreement, as it authorised Devas Multimedia Pvt Ltd to use S-band, a very rare bandwidth, mostly used by the arm forces for their communications, and thus it was directly related to national security, said Sitharaman, as she accused the Congress of putting national security on stake for its ‘crony capitalism'.
But the brazenness of corruption didn't stop there only, as an arbitrator was not even appointed by the then UPA government to put forward the government's side, even after repeated requests, she said.
It shows the half-hearty participation of the UPA government, which indirectly supported Devas Multimedia's strategy to come to India on the pretext of investment, she added.
The company siphoned off as much as Rs 488 crore in the name of starting a US-based subsidiary, IT support services and contesting off-shore legal battles in international courts.
Interestingly, the company claimed to provide the said services through Devas Device, Devas Services and Devas Technologies, which were not existing then, said Sitharaman quoting the SC ruling on the Antrix-Devas agreement, upholding the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLAT) order, which earlier had upheld the earlier order of the Bengaluru bench of NCLT that last year directed winding up of Devas Multimedia and appointed a provisional liquidator for the purpose.
Later the company went to international courts and legal fora to claim $1.13 billion as compensation for its losses. Devas then moved the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on the basis of India- Mauritius bilateral investment protection agreement, which later directed the Indian government to pay $111 million with interest and legal cost.
Devas Multimedia also won before the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) to get an award of $1.3 billion against Antrix. On the other side, the CBI and the ED also started investigating the Antrix- Devas deal and filed FIRs. Even the Ministry of Corporate Affairs had initiated an investigation.
Facing criticism over poor implementation of the liquor ban, the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar is likely to give some relaxation to the violators.
According to a top official of the JDU, the state government is ready to review this issue and a proposal is likely to be put on table in the upcoming budget session of the Bihar Vidhan Sabha.
As per the proposal, the violators who are caught in drunken state can be let off after paying penalty on the spot. Though, it is not applicable on repeat offenders. A person repeatedly violating the norms of liquor prohibition law would be liable to face jail term.
Such a relaxation would allow liquor consumption at home and would also promote the home delivery concept, which is already popular among habitual drinkers in Bihar.
The JDU official further said that the vehicle used for smuggling of liquor could be released after paying a fine.
He said that the Chief Minister is under huge political pressure after a series of spurious liquor tragedies in different districts in the last four months that have taken the lives of more than 80 persons and many others have lost their eyesight.
Reacting to it, Danish Rizwan, the chief spokesperson of HAM said: "Chief minister Nitish Kumar, instead of bringing amendment or review of liquor prohibition law, should do a survey on this issue. If common people of the state are satisfied with the amendment or review, our party will not go against it. If people of Bihar are in favour of withdrawal of the liquor ban, we also respect that decision."
The liquor tragedies occurred in Muzaffarpur, Gopalganj, Bettiah, Samastipur, Vaishali, Nawada and now CM's district Nalanda.
This issue is severely affecting Nitish Kumar government especially after its alliance partners BJP and HAM are extremely vocal. They want a review of the liquor prohibition law. The liquor ban was enforced in Bihar in April 2016.
The government also came under criticism by the Patna High Court recently. The court said a large number of liquor related cases are pending which has led to a huge burden on the judicial system. Keeping this in view, the Nitish Kumar government should establish more courts in all 38 districts for speedy trials of liquor related cases.
Though, this would not be the first case of amendment in liquor prohibition act. In 2018, the state government made a provision to grant bail to normal offenders at the police station level. The offenders have to pay Rs 50,000 as fine. In case of offenders unable to give a penalty, they would be liable to face jail term. Under the liquor prohibition law, the maximum jail term is 10 years.
Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, on Monday, said that when his party comes to power, he would ensure minimum support price for all crops for farmers.
He said that he would create a farmers' revolving fund to ensure payment of cane dues besides making adequate arrangements for ensuring free irrigation, loan, pension and insurance for them. He also said that he would withdraw all cases lodged against farmers and the families of those who had died during the agitation would be given Rs 25 lakhs each.
Yadav said that all this would be included in the Samajwadi manifesto which would be released after the BJP released its manifesto.
Farmer leader Tajinder Virk, who was among those injured in the October 3, 2021 Lakhimpur incident, administered a pledge with fistful of wheat and rice to defeat 'those who had heaped atrocities on farmers.'
Comparing the Lakhimpur incident with the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Akhilesh Yadav said that by mowing down innocent farmers, the BJP had committed an unpardonable crime.
He said that it was the unity of farmers that had forced the BJP to take back the farm laws.
The SP president further said that the BJP and its leaders had been openly violating the model code of conduct. He said that he would soon lodge a formal complaint with the Election Commission and hoped that they would take action accordingly.
Replying to a question on failure of alliance talks with Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar, Akhilesh Yadav said that he had offered two seats but does not know why the same was turned down.
"Chandra Shekhar should know that Dr Ambedkar and Dr Lohia worked together and he should also work together in a positive spirit with us and as a brother," he said.
Amid speculation that he was likely to rejoin the Congress, Uttarakhand minister Harak Singh Rawat was on Sunday sacked from the government and expelled from the BJP for "anti-party activities" for six years.
BJP sources said that Rawat was asking for tickets for three of his family members including his wife in the assembly polls, but had been told that the party had made it a rule that only one member of a family would be fielded.
"He has been dropped from the Dhami cabinet and expelled from the party for six years," a source said.
The development came barely a month before the Assembly election in the hill state, slated for February 14.
It is learnt that Rawat, present in the national capital, is likely to join Congress on Monday. "Rawat is in touch with the Congress leadership and is likely to join the party. His daughter-in-law may also join the party with him on Monday," sources said.
Rawat had switched over from the Congress to the BJP before the 2017 Assembly polls.
Rawat was said to be nursing a grouse against the BJP leadership for quite some time, and even expressing his resentment publicly.
He had skipped the party meeting to select candidates in Dehradun on Saturday. As he met a senior Congress leader on Sunday and indicated that he would join the party on Monday, the BJP took action against him.
Similarly, last month, Rawat had left a cabinet meeting and announced his resignation. He threatened to resign demanding a budget for a medical college in assembly constituency Kotdwar and said that Rs 5 crore has been sanctioned for the medical college but with that fund,only the boundary can be constructed.
Two days later, after a dinner meeting between Dhami and Rawat, the Uttarakhand BJP had claimed the crisis created after the latter's threat to resign from the state cabinet had been resolved.
After the meeting, Rawat had said that Dhami is like his "younger brother" and they had a "long relationship."
With an aim to derail the electioneering process in the state and to increase the Khalistani footprints in Punjab, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has activated its terror outfits to execute more terror activities in the state and also in some parts of Uttar Pradesh, the Intelligence agencies have warned.
The sources in the security setup, quoting the intelligence inputs, said that the ISI sponsored Sikh terror outfits may target the election rallies and may attempt to hit some important leaders or VVIP during the electioneering process in Punjab, parts of UP, and Uttarkhand.
Considering Punjab election as an apt opportunity to reactivate the Khalistani movement in the state and also in other poll-bound states wherein the Sikh voters are in large numbers, the ISI has activated all small or big terror groups which have been tasked to derail the poll process in the state, the sources further said.
The inputs have been shared by the Punjab, UP and Uttrakhand administrations which disclosed that these outfits may try to make inroads among Sikh population in other states too to gain their supports for their cause. The ISI has also conveyed to these proscribed Sikh Militant organizations that this is a time of 'Now or Never' for Khalistan.
Accordingly, the UP and Uttarakhand governments have been asked to keep a vigil on these activities and to keep in touch with the Sikh religious leaders and prominent persons in these states.
The ISI has instructed the Sikh militant groups which are active abroad to channelize the supply of weapons and explosives in Punjab and organizations like the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) to arrange the supply of weapons through Pakistani handlers.
The sources, quoting the intelligence input, also said that Sikh militant Wadhava Singh Babbar of BKI, Parmjit Singh Panjawar of Khalistan Commando Force and Ranjeet Singh Neeta of Khalistan Zindabad Force are in constant touch with ISI and executing the instructions while Gurpatwant Singh Pannu of Sikh for Justice who have already been declared terrorist by Indian authorities, is also active in the UK, the US and Germany to support his men in Punjab by all means.
They also said that Lakhveer Singh-led ISYF has a substantial influence in the villages at the international border with Pakistan and many of his henchmen are experts in making bombs and other explosive devices. Singh has been tasked to arrange safe passage in Punjab of these explosive materials once it is smuggled into Indian Territory, the sources revealed.
The use of drones for transporting weapons and explosives across the border has become a major challenge for the security forces in recent times along the Punjab border. According to the officials, over 60 incidents of drones have been spotted on the Indo-Pakistan border in the Punjab sector. Many of them have been shot down by the Border Security Force.
The investigations into the recent Ludhiana blast have also revealed how these Sikh Militant groups are trying to execute their terror attacks in the state with their overground workers.
A senior official in the Punjab security grid said that the ISI has also activated the old terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e Mohammed, Indian Mujahideen and Hizbul Mujahideen and asked them to recreate their sleeper cell network in Punjab and other parts of UP too. These Pakistan Occupied Kashmir based terror wings have been more active in Jammu and Kashmir through overground workers especially after the Taliban took over the reign in Afghanistan in August last year. He also said that extending the jurisdiction of BSF up to 50 km from the border to the hinterland in Punjab will help the security forces to prevent terror activities in forthcoming elections.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said the BJP's politics of "hatred" is very harmful for the country and is also responsible for unemployment.
The former Congress chief said this a day after he attacked the BJP government by putting out an online quiz.
"I also believe that the hate politics of the BJP is very harmful for the country. And this hatred is also responsible for the unemployment," he said in a tweet in Hindi.
"Domestic and foreign industries cannot run without peace in the society. Will defeat this growing hatred around you everyday with brotherhood. Are you with me? #NoHate," Gandhi added.
The Congress leader had put out an online quiz on Saturday, asking people about the "biggest shortcoming" of the BJP government. The options he gave were "unemployment", "tax extortion", "price rise" and an "atmosphere of hatred".
As the elections are nearing in five states the Congress is witnessing internal rifts on the issue of who would be the chief ministerial face in the upcoming polls in Punjab and Uttarakhand. The party has, however, categorically stated that it is unlikely to project anyone as the CM face of the party and will go with collective leadership of the state. The issue will be settled after the results are out.
The Congress is wary of Punjab State President Navjot Singh Sidhu asserting himself for the top post ahead of the polls, while colliding with party colleagues. Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi too is trying to impress the party high command while in Uttarakhand Harish Rawat wants to be the captain of the ship and is saying that it all depends on the party whether he will contest or not contest the polls. The Central Election Committee is meeting virtually on Saturday to decide on the poll tickets.
The party is trying to balance the warring factions and pacify the leaders like Harish Rawat in Uttarakhand who has been opposing the induction of BJP turncoats but the Congress leadership is eyeing the winnability factor in the state.
Sidhu on Thursday had questioned his own government and had said "A system which could not give justice to our Guru and could not punish the big fish involved in the drug trade needs to be demolished. I categorically state that I'm not running for any post and it's either this system will stay or Navjot Singh Sidhu," he tweeted.
"The fight is to change this system which has eroded Punjab like termites and is being run by mafias in connivance with mischievous politicians. This system cries for a change & reforms as the glory of Punjab has been annihilated by the nexus of a few political leaders and mafia," Sidhu said in another tweet.
The Congress, so far, has not named anyone as the chief ministerial face for the Assembly elections in the five states, as the party feels that it might lead to infighting and internal rifts which could damage its prospects in the polls.
It seemed more like a crime investigation thriller when the Directorate General of GST Intelligence (DGGI) busted a planned all-India tax evasion racket and unearthed Rs 4,521 crore of tax evasion.
A series of raids and investigations landed the DDGI to Kolkata finally, once infamous as den of fake companies' racket, in the post-demonetization period.
The DGGI found out that a syndicate was involved in operating about 636 firms, based out of various cities and duping the government through fake tax invoices.
It all started with a case, booked by the DGGI against some fake firms, which were found non-existing at their principal place of business.
To trace the real persons behind these fake firms, the physical address from where GST returns were actually filed was ascertained.
A search was conducted on January 6 at that premises in Delhi. During the search, it was found that the proprietor is engaged in providing services of 'Cloud Storage' on his servers to various customers for maintaining their financial accounts.
On the scrutiny of one of the suspicious servers, details of certain firms were found in Tally data. It was informed by the proprietor that this Tally data is being maintained by one syndicate based in Kolkata.
The address details of these persons were obtained from Proprietor and then searches were conducted at various premises in Kolkata on January 10.
During the search, a huge amount of incriminating documents including mobiles phones, various cheque books, stamps of various firms and SIM cards have were recovered. On analysis of electronic devices, documents, mobiles and e-mail of these persons, it has been found that these persons are remotely maintaining data on the server found at the premises in Delhi.
Scrutiny of Tally data has shown that there are 636 firms being operated by this syndicate. The mastermind of the syndicate has accepted that they have issued only invoices in these firms and not supplied any goods against them.
They have issued invoices involving the taxable value of approximately Rs 4,521 crore having ITC implication of approx Rs 741 crore.
The mastermind behind the whole racket has been arrested and further investigation into the case is in progress.