News capsule: J&K to cover 28L in 3 phases of covid vaccine drive, Boat ambulance service begin in Dal Lake + More Top News


Boat ambulance service to begin operations on J&K’s Dal Lake

Srinagar: The first-ever boat ambulance service, equipped with health facilities, will start on Dal Lake in Jammu and Kashmir Valley soon and is expected to benefit thousands of people living in the area.

Tariq Ahmad Patloo, a houseboat owner thought of the concept of floating ambulance service when he tested positive for Covid-19 two months back and needed help to visit a hospital.

Talking to ANI Patloo said, “At that time when I tested positive for coronavirus, nobody came forward to help me except my friend who provided me a boat to reach the hospital. It hurt me a lot and I decided to make the special floating ambulance on boat aimed to help thousands of dwellers who are living in houseboats.”

“People of Dal Lake are facing dozens of problems including health-related issues and they are not getting proper treatment at the time of emergency. So this floating ambulance which is under process will play a vital role to save the life of dwellers of Dal Lake ever in future,” he said.

Patloo added that the service was for the benefit of people living along Dal Lake. “The ambulance will provide proper health services to people during an emergency. I will try my best to keep all basic facilities including oxygen cylinder, ECG, Oximeter, wheelchair and stretcher and a toll-free number written on it so that people can contact easily,” he added.

Riyaz Ahmad a mechanic of the ambulance boat informed ANI that the vessel was made up of wood and iron sheets and it will be 35 feet long and will have six feet space in middle.

“There are many incidents on the Dal Lake in which doctors say that if the patients come before 3 to 4 minutes, he could have saved his life. This facility will save time to reach a hospital. It will be helpful to tourists as well. Because during peak tourist season thousands of people from across the world visit the Valley. If they fall sick they need treatment. Now we can provide them timely treatment through this facility,” Bilal Ahmad a boat dweller said.

CII Partnership Summit 2020: L-G calls for unlocking J&K’s potential in multi-dimensional way

Jammu: Lt governor Manoj Sinha on Thursday called for unlocking the potential of Jammu and Kashmir in a multi-dimensional fashion, through systemic interventions at individual and community levels. The purpose of such interventions is to effectively support and encourage young individuals to achieve their true potential, he said.

He was addressing the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Partnership Summit-2020 organised through the virtual mode.

During his address, Sinha underscored the significance of the summit and observed that its theme, ‘Partnership for Lives, Livelihood & Growth’ was very important because a country cannot exist as an island, and each and every sector of our economy is interwoven.

“Since we are pulling ourselves together to restart the engine of economic growth that was partially disrupted due to the global pandemic, we cannot live and grow alone. We have to be together to multiply comprehensive development in every sector,” he said.

He further called for joint efforts by the government, private enterprises, and civil society groups to overcome social, ecological, and economic challenges for a post-Covid world.

He also congratulated CII on its 125th anniversary and commended the organisation for growing new business and being the voice of change and leadership for the existing ones.

“I am greatly enthused with the idea that CII and its members have incubated and led centres of excellence in various states/UTs,” said Sinha.

He called upon the CII and its members to partner with J&K. “We’re open for business. And we’re set for growth, which is sustainable and builds businesses with purpose. Come and partner with us. And enrich this summit with your ideas and your inputs,” the L-G remarked.

Srinagar’s Amar Singh College conservation project recognised with UNESCO award

Srinagar: The Srinagar-based Amar Singh College”s building, built nearly 80 years ago, is one of the seven conservation projects to be recognised with the 2020 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.

The award was announced on Wednesday by a jury, comprising nine international conservation experts, and it was convened from November 20 to 22 to deliberate on the project entries. The deliberations were held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, INTACH”s Jammu and Kashmir chapter said.

The Amar Singh College was recognised with the ”Award of Merit” in the 2020 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation, it said.

This year, the jury awarded two Special Recognition for Sustainable Development awards, one Award of Excellence, one Award of Distinction, one Award for New Design in Heritage Contexts and three Awards of Merit, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Jammu and Kashmir chapter said.

The INTACH chapter in the Union Territory had carried out the conservation work at the Amar Singh College.

“The restoration of the Amar Singh College brought back one of the most prominent institutional buildings in Kashmir to its former glory. Undertaken with a high level of technical proficiency, the project reversed major deterioration resulting from years of inappropriate additions, poor maintenance, and catastrophic events such as the unprecedented flooding in 2014,” the jury said in its comments about the work done one the project.

“The project team”s meticulous attention to original building design and materials involved training a new generation of building artisans in brick and stone masonry,” it said.

The project serves as a noteworthy model for safeguarding a unique 20th-century architectural asset in the Victorian neighborhood of the old city of Srinagar, the jury said.

J&K govt to cover 28 lakh heath care workers, frontline workers in COVID vaccination drive           

JAMMU: The maiden meeting of UT level Task Force for implementation of various preparatory activities related to introduction of COVID-19 vaccine was held here today under the chairmanship of Atal Dulloo, Financial Commissioner, Health & Medical Education Department.

Dr Renu Sharma, Director Family Welfare gave an overview of measures that have been taken in J&K to control the spread of COVID-19 through better awareness, diagnosis and treatment. She also informed that as per Government of India guidelines, the COVID-19 vaccine in UT shall be introduced in a phased manner.

In phase-I, approximately one lakh health care workers shall be covered followed by phase II, wherein approximately seven lakh frontline workers shall be covered. The phase III will cover twenty lakh beneficiaries of high risk population.

It was informed that the COVID -19 vaccine shall be administered through COWIN Dashboard platform. Once introduced, the vaccination shall be done through pre-registration and as such no on-spot registration for vaccination shall be allowed.

Financial Commissioner impressed upon all the concerned departments in the meeting to gear up the resources and be prepared for administering introduction of COVID-19 vaccine rollout any time in near future.

He directed concerned officers to get vaccination teams, constituted in their respective districts, with the provision of reserve teams.

He directed them to immediately make management for assessment of logistic items including cold boxes, vaccine carriers, AEFI kits etc. required for vaccination process and undertake process for procurement.

He reiterated that preparation for COVID-19 Vaccine introduction including training of manpower, IEC activities should be done on the analogy of Measeals Rubella Campaign, which has already been successfully completed in the UT of J&K.

The meeting was also attended by Director General (Planning) H&ME Department, Mission Director, National Health Mission J&K, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Jammu & Srinagar, Principal of Medical Colleges, Director of Health Services, Jammu/Kashmir  Director ISM J&K, Drug Controller J&K and Directors of Social Welfare, Jammu and Kashmir.

COVID-19: J&K reports 385 cases, 9 deaths     

JAMMU:  The Government on Thursday informed that385 new positive cases of novel Corona virus (COVID-19), 152 from Jammu division and 233 from Kashmir division, have been reported today thus taking the total number of positive cases in Jammu and Kashmir to 117317. Also 09 COVID-19 deaths have been reported; 05 from Jammu division and 04 from Kashmir Division.

Moreover,395 more COVID-19 patients have recovered and discharged from various hospitals including 216 from Jammu Division and 179 from Kashmir Division.

According to the daily Media Bulletin on novel Corona virus (Covid-19), out of 117317 positive cases, 4327 are Active Positive, 111164 have recovered and 1826 have died; 665 in Jammu division and 1161 in Kashmir division.

The Bulletin further said that out of 3448733 test results available, 3331416 samples have been tested as negative till December17, 2020.

Till date 837563 persons have been enlisted for observation which included 20087 persons in home quarantine including facilities operated by government, 4327 in isolation and 27414 in home surveillance. Besides, 783909 persons have completed their surveillance period.

Providing district-wise breakup, the Bulletin said that Srinagar has 24538 positive cases (including 94cases reported today) with 1072 Active Positive, 23027 recovered (including76 cases recovered today), 439 deaths; Baramulla has 7793 positive cases (including 20 cases reported today) with 185 Active Positive, 7438 recovered (including 09 cases recovered today), 170deaths; Pulwama reported 5359 positive cases (including 35cases reported today) with 192 active positive cases, 5079 recovered (including 14 cases recovered today), 88 deaths; Kulgam has 2633 positive cases (including 03 case reported today) with 62 Active Positive, 2518 recoveries (including 05 cases recovered today), 53 deaths; Shopian has 2441 positive cases (including 08 case reported today) with 75 Active Positive, 2329 recovered (including 09 cases recovered today)and 37 deaths; Anantnag district has 4693positive cases (including 07 cases reported today) with 115 Active Positive, 4496 recovered (including 03cases recovered today), 82 deaths;  Budgam has 7386 positive cases (including 24 cases reported today) with 256 Active Positive and 7025 recovered (including 40 cases recovered today), 105 deaths; Kupwara has 5413 positive cases (including 13 cases reported today) with 175 Active Positive, 5150 recovered (including 12cases recovered today), 88 deaths; Bandipora has 4584 positive cases (including 20 cases reported today) with 93 Active Positive, 4434 recovered (including 08 cases recovered today), 57 deaths and Ganderbal has 4384 positive cases (including 09 cases reported today) with 111 active positive cases, 4231recoveries (including 03 cases recovered today and 42 deaths.

Similarly, Jammu has 22568positive cases (including 98 cases reported today) with 832 active positive cases, 21397 recoveries (including 82 cases recovered today), 339 deaths; Rajouri has 3748 positive cases (including 09 cases reported today) with 242 active positive cases, 3452 recovered (including 11 cases recovered today), 54 deaths; Ramban has 2055 positive cases (including 06 cases reported today) with 68 active positive, 1966 recoveries(including 21 cases recovered today) and 21 deaths; Kathua has 3062 positive cases (including 12 cases reported today) with 109 Active positive, 2906 recovered (including 10 cases recovered today), 47 deaths; Udhampur has 3992 positive cases (including 10 cases reported today) with 194 active positive cases, 3744 recovered (including 45 cases recovered today) and 54 deaths; Samba has 2652 positive cases (including 05 cases reported today) with 189 Active Positive, 2429 recoveriesand 34 deaths; Doda has 3323 positive cases (including 08 cases reported today) with 108 active positive cases, 3155 recoveries (including 21 cases recovered today), 60 deaths; Poonch has 2424 positive cases with 30 active positive, 2372 recoveriesand 22 deaths; Reasi has 1577 positive cases with 118 active positive, 1446recoveries  and 13 deaths while Kishtwar has 2692 positive cases (including 02 cases reported today) with 101 active positive cases and 2570 recoveries (including 26 cases recovered today) and 21 deaths.

According to the bulletin, among the total 117317 positive cases, 11053 have been reported as travelers while 106264 as others.

The Bulletin said that the breakup represents districts from which the patients have been traced or are ordinarily residing.

The bulletin added that there are 1321 COVID dedicated beds, 1185 Isolation beds with 1047 vacant beds and 136 ICU beds where 86 beds are vacant in Jammu division while there are 2345 COVID dedicated beds, 2197 Isolation beds where 1896 beds are vacant and 148 ICU beds where 119 are vacant beds in Kashmir division. There are total of 3666 COVID dedicated beds, 3382 Isolation beds with 2943 beds vacant and 284 ICU beds with 205 vacant beds in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Central Government is continuously monitoring the evolving situation of Covid-19 in the Union Territory and is providing all necessary support towards effective containment of the spread of Covid-19 and better clinical management of positive cases.

The government has also started free tele-consultation general OPD services by Specialists/MBBS Doctors for the residents of J&K under National Tele-consultation Service. People can avail these services from Home by registering online on web portal  https://esanjeevaniopd.in/. The services are available on Monday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. People can also download and install e-sanjeevani OPD app from google play store.

Besides, 24×7 Rapid Antigen Testing facility for COVID-19 has been started outside the emergency of GMC Hospital Jammu. The facility will be very useful for segregation of patients in emergency wing of GMC Jammu.

Meanwhile, a 24×7 COVID Control Room has been set up for redressal of the grievances related to COVID-19 positive patients admitted in the Associated Hospitals of Government Medical College, Jammu and Government Hospital, Gandhi Nagar, Jammu. Patients or attendants can call at 0191– 258 5444 (Control Room), Exchange: 0191-258 2626 / 258 5542 / 258 4290 /258 4291 / 258 4292 / 258 4293/ 258 4294 for assistance.

The bulletin has informed the people that, the best way to protect themselves from COVID-19 is by maintaining physical distance of at least 2 meter from others, frequently cleaning hands with an alcohol based hand sanitizer or washing them with soap and water and following good respiratory etiquette and hygiene.

As a measure for social distancing in public places and workplaces wearing a face cover is compulsory.

The bulletin again explained that early detection of COVID-19 can prevent the spread of disease so we need to be responsible for the well-being of ourselves and everyone around us. “Not disclosing symptoms could put life of individuals and their families at risk. In case of symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty in breathing report early. Do not fear, call COVID-19 helpline numbers and seek medical advice”.

Advisory has further exhorted upon the people not to step out of home, unless absolutely necessary. “If you have to move out for unavoidable reasons, ensure that you wear a mask and practice social distancing, personal hygiene and frequent hand washing with soap and water.”

In case of any emergency people can avail free ambulance services 24×7 at their doorsteps by calling on toll-free number 108 while as pregnant women and sick infants can avail free ambulance services by dialing toll-free number 102.

People can also call on toll-free national helpline number 1075; J&K COVID-19 Helpline Numbers 0191- 2549676 (UT level Cell), 0191-2520982, 0191-2674444, 0191-2674115 (For Jammu Division), 0194-2440283 & 0194-2430581 (For Kashmir Division) for support, guidance, and response to health-related queries on Novel Corona virus Disease (COVID-19).

The bulletin has informed that the Directorate of Indian Systems of Medicine, J&K is distributing AYUSH Medicines having immunity boosting, immuno-modulator, anti-oxidant, rejuvenator, anti-stress, metabolism regulator, anti-allergic, anti-pyretic, anti-tussives, bronchodilator, etc properties during the COVID-19 pandemic. The department so far has provided medicine to 11.82 lakh people that include various frontline workers, senior citizens, PRIs, police/paramilitary personals and general masses. Moreover, preventive measures and Yoga therapies are also being advised to the people to take care of lifestyle/mental disorders so that physical and mental health is ensured during this pandemic.

Public is advised to strictly follow the advisories issued by the government from time to time and rely only on the information released by the government through the daily media bulletin to print and electronic media.

People are also advised to refrain from spreading rumors and pay no heed to them at the same time.

68.43 pc, 58.64 pc voter turnout in 7th phase of panch and sarpanch bypolls

Jammu: The seventh phase of panch and sarpanch by-elections in Jammu and Kashmir recorded 68.43 per cent and 58.64 per cent voter turnout respectively, poll officials said on Thursday.

Udhampur district in the Jammu division had the highest poll percentage in the Union Territory at 81.38 in the sarpanch bypolls, while Bandipora district had the highest turnout at 68.82 per cent in the Kashmir division.

For panch by-elections, Jammu division’s Rajouri district registered the highest voter turnout in Jammu and Kashmir at 84.85 per cent, while Bandipora had the highest voting percentage at 75.66 in the Kashmir division.

“There was 68.43 per cent and 58.64 per cent polling recorded in the seventh phase of vacant panch and sarpanch bypolls, respectively, held the other day (Wednesday),” State Election Commissioner (SEC) K K Sharma told reporters here.

Bypolls were held for 438 vacant panch seats in the seventh phase and out of a total of 78,866 electors, including 39,727 men and 37,139 women, 52,599 voted, he said, adding that there were 1,000 candidates in the fray.

Giving details of overall voter turnout percentage, Sharma said that it was 72.95 in the Jammu division and 68.22in the Kashmir division for this phase of the panch by-elections.

On the sarpanch bypolls, he said that 58.64 per cent voting was registered in 69 vacant constituencies. In this phase, there were 1,12,856 electors, including 59,114 men and 53,742 women, out of which 66,175 exercised their franchise, Sharma said.

In the Jammu division, 74.92 per cent polling was recorded whereas it was 52.72 per cent in the Kashmir division in the sarpanch bypolls, he said.

The SEC said that in the Jammu division in the sarpanch bypolls, Udhampur district recorded the highest voter turnout at 81.38 per cent, followed by Reasi with 80.16 per cent and Rajouri by 77.68 per cent turnout. In the Kashmir division, Bandipora district topped with 68.82 per cent voter turnout followed by Budgam with 54.54 per cent and Baramulla with 53.02 per cent turnout, Sharma said.

On division-wise voter turnout break up for panch bypolls, he said in the Kashmir division, Bandipora district recorded the highest turnout at 75.66 per cent followed by Ganderbal with 75.06 per cent and Kupwara with 71.22 per cent turnout.

In the Jammu division, Rajouri district had the highest polling percentage at 84.85, followed by Reasi with 83.98 per cent turnout and Doda with 78.38 percent turnout, he said.

The SEC said that polling was peaceful and smooth at all polling stations

Defence Ministry approves acquisition of military hardware worth Rs 28,000cr

File Photo

New Delhi: The defence ministry on Thursday approved procurement of weapons and military equipment worth Rs 28,000 crore for the three services, officials said.

The procurement proposals were cleared at a time India and China are locked in a bitter border standoff in eastern Ladakh.

The officials said almost all the weapons and military hardware approved for procurement will be acquired from domestic industry.

“The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh approved proposals to procure equipment worth Rs 27,000 crore from domestic industry,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

Officials said a total of seven acquisition proposals were approved by the DAC, the defence ministry’s highest decision-making body on procurement.

“Six of the seven proposals, that is, Rs 27,000 crore out of Rs 28,000 crore for which AoNs (Acceptance of Necessity) were granted will be sourced from the Indian industry to give a boost to the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiatives,” the ministry said.

Acquisition proposals approved include procurement of the DRDO-designed and developed airborne early warning and control systems for the Indian Air Force, next generation offshore patrol vessels for the Indian Navy and modular bridges for the Indian Army.

J&K man arrested in Goa for drug possession

Panaji: A 25-year-old man from Jammu and Kashmir working in Goa has been arrested on charges of drug possession, police said on Thursday.

Police Inspector Jivba Dalvi told reporters that a raid was conducted on Wednesday night on getting information about drugs being peddled at Arambol beach village in North Goa.

During the raid, one Faizal Ahmed, originally from Baramulla in J&K and currently working in the coastal state, was found in possession of charas worth Rs 5,000, he said.

Ahmed was arrested and booked under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, the police inspector added.

Not satisfied with work done by Commission for Air Quality Management, says SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday said it is not satisfied with the work done by the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas, which has been constituted by the Centre to tackle air pollution.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said that even people in Delhi are not satisfied with the work done by the Commission on the issue of pollution.

We don’t know what your commission is doing. People in Delhi are not satisfied with your work. We are also not satisfied, said the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said the Commission is working on war footing and several steps have been taken to deal with pollution.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, also appearing for the Centre, apprised the bench that they have already filed a comprehensive affidavit as directed by the court earlier.

The apex court said it would hear in second week of January the petition filed by Aditya Dubey who has raised the issue of pollution caused due to stubble burning in neighbouring states of Delhi.

The top court had on Monday asked the Centre to apprise it about the steps taken so far by the Commission to tackle the problem of air pollution.

The Centre had informed the bench that the government was readying a comprehensive affidavit which would be filed in the apex court in the matter.

On November 6, the apex court had asked the Centre to ensure there is no smog in Delhi as it was informed that the Commission has started functioning from that day.

It had said that pollution problem has to be dealt with by the executive as it has the power, money and resources for this.

The Centre, which has appointed former Chief Secretary of Delhi M M Kutty as the chairperson of the Commission, had apprised the court that there were experts from the field besides members from NGOs in the newly created Commission.

On October 29, the top court was informed by the Centre that it has come out with an ordinance on curbing pollution and it has been promulgated already.

The apex court had on October 26 kept in abeyance its earlier order appointing one-man panel of retired apex court judge Justice Madan B Lokur to monitor the steps taken by neighbouring states to prevent stubble burning which is a major cause of pollution in the Delhi-national capital region (NCR).

The apex court had kept in abeyance its order appointing Justice (retd) Lokur panel while considering the Centre’s stand that it was coming out with a comprehensive legislation to deal with air pollution, including the aspect of stubble burning.

During his tenure as an apex court judge, Justice Lokur who headed social-justice bench had dealt with pollution matters which included the aspect of stubble burning.

The top court is also hearing a separate plea on air pollution and had last year even taken a suo motu note of alarming rise in air pollution in Delhi-NCR where several directions have been passed with regard to stubble burning.

DDC polls: Farooq Abdullah seeks repolling in Garoora-Bandipora

Srinagar: NC president Farooq Abdullah on Thursday demanded repolling in Garoora District Development Council constituency in Jammu and Kashmir’s Bandipora in view of allegations of booth capturing and other malpractices.

Polling for the sixth phase of the District Development Council (DDC) elections was held on December 13.

In a letter to state Election Commissioner K K Sharma, Abdullah expressed concern over an incident of booth capturing and subsequent bogus voting in the recently held DDC polls in Garoora Bandipora.

A very sad state of affairs has been brought to my notice. At a number of places, real voters and supporters of People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) candidates were disallowed to vote. Apart from wanton capturing of polling booths at Garoora, Bandipora A on December 13, incidents of unwarranted interference were reported from a number of areas which went to polls on December 16. In Chitragam Shopian, voters were forcefully stopped from casting their votes, he said in the letter.

Abdullah, who is also PAGD chief, sought repolling in these areas “in the interest of justice and fair play”.

Five officers among 8 JAKFED employees booked for embezzlement

Jammu: Eight employees, including five officers, were booked by the crime branch of police on Thursday for allegedly misappropriating funds and manipulating records in J&K Cooperative Supply and Marketing Federation Ltd (JAKFED), officials said.

The criminal case has been registered against employees Sanjeev Bhagat, the then Senior Manager Transport, Sanjeev Sachdeva, the then Senior Manager Accounts, Sudesh Gupta, the then Senior Manager Accounts, Harbans Kour, Junior Assistant, Zubair Ahmed Tak, Junior Assistant, Sanjeev Mishra, Store Officer, Arvinder Singh, Potato Development Officer, Uttam Chand, Store Keeper and others, they said.

A primary probe was carried out on a written complaint received in the crime branch. The complainant, Uday Chand, had alleged embezzlement of freights by officials with respect to transportation of seeds.

A preliminary verification of the complaint was conducted and relevant records from the concerned quarters were obtained.

The examination of the witnesses substantiated the allegations that the accused have done dishonest, intentional, deliberate, manipulations and falsification in the records of freights of transportation of seeds from agricultural department to various destinations of Jammu division thus have embezzled public money, the officials said.

A formal case in this connection was registered at Crime Branch police station against the eight accused, they added.

-6.4 degree C, Srinagar records year’s

lowest temperature, 3rd lowest in decade

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar, on Thursday, recorded the coldest night of the season, the third lowest December temperature in the past one decade, a weather official said.

The mercury dipped to minus 6.4 degrees Celsius in Srinagar on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday from minus 4.8 degrees on the earlier night.

“Lowest minimum temperatures in last 10 years in the month of December were -6.5°c on Dec 21, 2016 and Dec 30, 2019, -7.7 °c on December 25,2018 and -6.4 °c on December 17 ,2020,” said deputy director of Srinagar based meteorological department, Mukhtar Ahmad.

Kashmir will get the next spell of snow with the onset of Chillai Kalan, the harsh 40-day winter period starting on December 21.

On Wednesday, Srinagar-based meteorological department director Sonam Lotus said that precipitation will be of moderate intensity next week. “There is a possibility of light to moderate snowfall on December 21 and 22 at isolated places of Kashmir and Kargil district of Ladakh. No major snowfall is expected till the month-end in both the Union Territories,” he said.

Kashmir’s winter pans out in three stages, starting with the 40-day intense period from December 21(Chillai Kalan) followed by 20 more days that are less intense (Chillai Khurd) and lastly 10 days of mild cold (Chille Bache).

The night temperatures continued to drop in most places of Kashmir.

The weather office said that Gulmarg in North was the coldest in Kashmir with the minimum temperature of minus 11 degrees Celsius.

The tourist resort of Pahalgam in South Kashmir recorded a low of minus 8.9 degrees Celsius, while it was minus 5.8 in Kupwara and minus 4.8 in Kokernag.

Jammu was also cold at 3 degrees, while Banihal saw a low of minus 2.6 degrees.

Leh in the Union Territory of Ladakh recorded a low of minus 14.9 degrees, while Kargil recorded a low of minus 16.4 degrees and Drass was the coldest at minus 26.5 degrees.

The night temperatures started dipping in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday after snowfall over the weekend.

Modi to be first PM at Aligarh Muslim varsity event since 1964

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the chief guest at celebrations marking 100 years of Aligarh Muslim University, one of the country’s oldest varsities, on December 22.

“A centenary is a landmark in the history of any university … The entire AMU community and I are grateful to the PM for accepting our invitation,” vice-chancellor Tariq Mansoor told TOI. “The PM’s presence at this historic event will be immensely helpful to the growth and development of the university and placement of our students.” Union HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank will also be attending, he added.

The last time a sitting PM attended an event at the university was in 1964, when Lal Bahadur Shastri delivered the convocation address. It does come with a change of plans though. AMU officials had earlier told TOI that President Ram Nath Kovind would be attending the centenary celebrations. Now, however, he has deferred his plan and will be attending in February 2021. All events will be held online, given the Covid-19 restrictions in place.

A senior AMU official told TOI that the PM’s presence would “send a strong message to BJP functionaries who keep attacking the institution.” AMU protests against CAA had led to a backlash last year. Its scholars have been vocal against cases of violence against women in UP and in favour of the ongoing farmers’ protest in Delhi.

The VC did not share the itinerary for December 22, but sources said the PM may inaugurate the newly constructed campus gate, release a postal stamp and a commemorative coffee table book, and attend the burial of a ‘time capsule’ with AMU memorabilia.

Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College was set up in 1875 by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, along the lines of what he saw at Oxford and Cambridge. In 1920, it was renamed Aligarh Muslim University and was formally inaugurated as a university on December 17 by then VC Mohammad Ali Mohammad Khan, the Raja Saheb of Mahmudabad.

Over 100 experts from friendly nations trained for clinical trials of Indian COVID-19 vaccine: Official

New Delhi: Over 100 experts from friendly neighbouring nations have so far been trained to strengthen capacities in their countries for facilitating phase-3 clinical trials of Indian COVID-19 vaccine, a senior official of the department of biotechnology said on Wednesday.

Addressing a webinar organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, Alka Sharma, an adviser with the Department of Biotechnology, said the partnership for advancing clinical trials (PACT) initiative is being carried out in association with the external affairs ministry.

“…The PACT is under the initiative of Department of Biotechnology and Ministry of External Affairs to strengthen capacities for facilitating phase-3 clinical trials of Indian COVID vaccine in friendly neighbouring countries,” she said.

Under this initiative, so far two training modules have been successfully completed.

“More than 100 participants from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Sri Lanka took part in this training programme,” she said.

The plan is to have the next round of training programme with more number of participants, she added.

She said currently 30 groups are actively involved in development of the coronavirus vaccine.

Six vaccines are in various stages of clinical trials, of which four are being indigenously developed she said.

Sharma said the clinical trails by Bharat Biotech are in phase-3, while the one which is being developed by Zydus Cadila is in phase-2 clinical trial.

Vaccine candidate of Biological E is in it phase-1 clinical trials while Gennova biopharmaceuticals is in the process of getting approvals at various levels.

Serum Institute of India (SII) is also conducting phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine.

Similarly, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories is conducting phase 2 and 3 clinical trials for Russian vaccine Sputnik V, she said.

BSF guns down two Pak intruders along IB 

JAMMU: Two Pakistani “armed intruders” were shot dead by the Border Security Force along the International Border in Punjab in the early hours of Thursday, the force said.

The two were killed near the Rajatal border post in Amritsar around 2:20 am after the troops on guard detected suspicious movement ahead of the border fence in Indian territory, a BSF spokesperson said.

An AK-56 rifle, another semi-automatic rifle, a pistol, 90 bullets, 5 magazines and two PVC pipes, usually used to push in drug packets across the border, of about ten feet each have been recovered after a search was conducted of the incident site, he said.

Encounter in J&K’s Anantnag, militant arrested

In past 30 years, over 500 PSOs among 1700 policemen killed in J&K

Srinagar: A militant was arrested in an injured condition during an encounter with security forces in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, police said.

Security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Baba Gund Khaleel area in Anantnag district following information about presence of militants there, a police official said.

He said the search operation turned into an encounter after militants opened fire on the security forces.

One militant was arrested by the security forces in an injured condition and rushed to SMHS hospital here, the official said.

He said the arrested militant, who sustained bullet injury in the abdomen, was identified as Zaheer Abbas Lone, a resident of Pulwama district.

‘Bangladesh significant pillar of India’s ‘Neighborhood First’ policy,’ PM Modi tells Sheikh Hasina

New Delhi:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that Bangladesh continues to be one of the significant pillars of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy. In a video conference with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina, Modi said that his government concentrated on keeping strong relations with Dhaka ever since it came into power.

The two leaders jointly inaugurated a Bangabandhu-Bapu digital exhibition, a pre-1965 railway link, released a commemorative stamp on Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s birth centenary and signed a pact to form an India-Bangladesh CEOs forum with IT sector as a priority area.

“It is a matter of pride for me that I am getting to release a digital exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rehman. They will continue to inspire our youths,” Modi said.

Modi also said that there was good co-operation between India and Bangladesh to tackle the challenges of coronavirus pandemic.

Bangladesh PM Hasina, meanwhile, paid homage to the martyrs of the 1971 war. “I pay my gratitude to the govt and people of India who extended wholehearted support for the cause of our liberation,” she said. Hasina also commended the Modi government over its handling of the pandemic.

The Bangabandhu-Bapu digital exhibition will be displayed in New Delhi, and subsequently in different locations in Bangladesh, the United Nations and finally culminate in Kolkata in early 2022.

India and Bangladesh have been making efforts to enhance transport and connectivity. Officials said that the leadership on both sides have been committed to reviving and operationalising the six pre-1965 rail links between India and Bangladesh. With the inauguration of the Haldibari-Chilahati rail link, five links are currently operational.

India, Bangladesh ink 7 pacts; restore cross-border rail link

New Delhi : In a reflection of their rapidly growing ties, India and Bangladesh on Thursday sealed seven agreements to expand cooperation in diverse areas, and restored a cross-border rail link which was in operation till 1965.

The restoration of the Chilahati-Haldibari railway link and signing of the pacts, providing for cooperation in areas of hydrocarbons, agriculture and textiles among others, came at a virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina.

Modi and Hasina also jointly inaugurated a digital exhibition on Bangladesh’s founder Mujibur Rahman and Mahatma Gandhi in an effort to celebrate the life and legacies of the two iconic leaders.

The inauguration of the Chilahati-Haldibari rail link is expected to enhance connectivity to Assam and West Bengal from Bangladesh. It was part of the broadgauge main route from Kolkata to Siliguri till 1965.

In his initial remarks, Modi said Bangladesh is a key pillar of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy and it has been a key priority for him to strengthen ties between the two countries.

“We feel proud to celebrate ‘Bijoy Dibosh’ with you to mark Bangladesh’s historic victory over anti-liberation forces,” he said, adding cooperation between India and Bangladesh has been good notwithstanding the coronavirus pandemic.

In her statement, Hasina described India as a “true friend”.

The ties between India and Bangladesh have witnessed a upswing in the last few years. Both sides have scaled up trade and economic engagement besides implementing a number of connectivity and infrastructure projects.


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