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Saturday, 21 March 2020

21 MARCH NEWS: Centre all set to put off Census, NPR exercise as India gears up for ‘Janta Curfew' but experts say it won’t stop spread of Infections. Protesters say They Will Protest From Balconies Against NRC, NPR, CAA During Janta Curfew.


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21 March 2020: 25 Rajjab 1441: Vol: 12, No: 161

*Coronavirus - INDIA*

Centre all set to put off Census, NPR exercise amid Coronavirus outbreak

Centre looks all set to postpone the house-listing Census and updating of the National Population Register (NPR), which was scheduled to kick off in certain States on April 1, owing to COVID-19 pandemic.Two government sources confirmed to The Hindu that Census and NPR exercises will not go ahead, given the Union Health Ministry’s own guidelines limiting mass contact on account of the coronavirus. A formal announcement from the Centre is, however, awaited.In line with Odisha, Delhi Government has also written to the Centre asking that the Census-NPR operations may be deferred by “at least one month” and the rescheduling of this exercise may be “reviewed in the last week of the deferment”. President Ram Nath Kovind was supposed to be the first Indian to be enumerated in the census and NPR exercise, but the President’s schedule has been cleared and he is not meeting members of the public due to the growing threat of coronavirus.In a letter to Vivek Joshi, Census Commissioner of India, the Delhi Government on March 18 pointed out that a “high state” of alert had been declared in the capital territory and the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, invoked. The letter to Joshi also pointed out that since enumerators will have to go house-to-house to collect details for Census-NPR, the “spread of COVID-19 may be exacerbated”. Earlier in the week, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that mobilisation for Census-NPR would pose a great risk for field functionaries and a decision to postpone 2 exercises be taken immediately. Lakhs of people had taken to the streets across the country protesting the Centre’s decision to update NPR, which is considered the basis for preparation of a national register of citizens that could potentially exclude millions of people born in India. These protests have happened across India and continue in many cities despite the threat of the Coronavirus.As The Hindu reported recently, at least 13 States, and Delhi, covering nearly 60 percent of the total population of India, are opposed to the updating of NPR in the format being prepared by the Centre. Many State Assemblies have passed resolutions against the NPR and NRC. Thehindu

India gears up for ‘Janta Curfew’: All you need to know

New Delhi:In an all-out effort to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country, people across India will observe isolation in their homes on Sunday in keeping with the clarion call of ‘Janta Curfew’ given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a televised address on Thursday.Requesting people to maintain maximum restraint, the Prime Minister said the world had never witnessed a danger as grave as the current one and advised people to stay indoors from 7.00 am to 9.00 pm to mitigate chances of transmission of the disease.Janta Curfew is a self quarantine measure as advised by Prime Minister Modi. It is a move aimed at stopping any possibility of community transmission of the coronavirus. All citizens barring those working for essential services will be required to stay indoors on March 22. Janta Curfew will be in place from 7.00 am to 9.00 pm on Sunday, March 22.It literally means ‘public curfew’. It is primarily a precautionary measure. It is an attempt to lessen the chances of the coronavirus disease from spreading to more people. India, currently, is at Stage 2 of transmission. The administration and health officials are working round-the-clock to ensure that the country does not slip into Stage 3—that of community transmission. Prime Minister in his televised address to the nation has asked people to stay in the safety of their own homes as much as possible during the duration of the Janta Curfew. However, people can step out for absolutely essential services like an emergency situation or necessary healthcare.Apart from pharmacies and medical outlets, most shops will remain closed on March 22.In the national capital, Delhi Metro has suspended all services for Sunday. Metro services in Noida and Gurgaon will also remain suspended for the day. Buses, feeder buses, auto rickshaws and private taxis will remain off the roads in most cities nationwide. According to the Indian Railways, no passenger trains will originate from any junction in the country from midnight on Saturday to 10.00 pm on Sunday as part of the Janta Curfew.HT

Coronavirus,: Experts Say Janata Curfew Won’t Stop Spread of Infections

Public health sector experts believe that the voluntary, 14-hour ‘Janata Curfew’ that Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested be observed on Sunday, may work as a public drill for a longer shutdown, but will not stop the spread of the coronavirus infection.Anant Bhan, a researcher of public health and bioethics, told The Printthat the ‘janata curfew’ is a symbolic move. Staying home for half a day is not expected to bring down the transmission of the disease, he said.“A curfew of 14 hours is not going to make much of an impact, the move is to prepare people for staying at home, maintaining distance, which may be needed in the future,” Bhan said. “In case, we do need more mandatory lockdowns in the future, India being a liberal democracy would have to figure out how to implement them.”The objective for India is to now ‘flatten the curve’ or ensure that precautions such as social distancing are followed to keep the daily number of new cases at a manageable level for medical workers. While the Janata curfew will not ensure the curve is flattened, it may help people mentally prepare for a longer curfew.The single-day curfew does not also necessarily mean that no new cases of the disease will be reported on Sunday. Infected people, who have yet not been identified, could infect other members of the household.THE WIRE

 No. of people allowed to assemble in Delhi down to 5, govt announces free, increased rations for poor affected by COVID-19 restrictions

New Delhi: In his first ‘digital’ press conference held in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday reduced the number of people allowed to assemble in the national capital to five, down from 20.Noting that the problems being faced by the poor due to the COVID-19 are immense, he also increased the amount of ration from the earlier 4 kg to 7.5 kg, as well as waived off the nominal rate of ₹2 per kg. “There are 72 lakh people who get ration... this will be free now,” he said.Kejriwal was flanked by Deputy CM Manish Sisodia and Health Minister Satyendar Jain at about a 1 metre distance from each other.He said the government has also decided to double the pension benefits of widows and the economically backward to help alleviate some effect of the coronavirus epidemic. For the poor who sleep on the streets, lunch and dinner will be provided at the night shelters. “We have also decided to do away with GST charge that those seeking to quarantine themselves at hotels need to pay,” he said.Kejriwal reiterated his appeal to senior citizens and those aged above 60 years to not step out of their homes. “I request you please suspend your morning walks; it’s just a matter of a few days. Do yoga at home and try to isolate yourself at home also,” he added.About the Janata Curfew on Sunday, he said the option to suspend public transport was discussed, “but realised that may affect people needing to travel for emergencies. So, half the number of public buses will be on the roads tomorrow.”thehindu

State govts close borders, restaurants, call for lockdowns

A number of states and union territories announced measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus. Delhi: Concerned for the poor, CM Kejriwal announced that those receiving ration from fair-price shops would get 50 per cent extra for next month. Pension for elderly, widows and differently-abled will be doubled.Goa: Section 144 has been imposed across the state. An order has been issued banning inter-state transport, except for the supply of essential commodities, from Saturday night.Bihar: Bus services, restaurants and banquet halls have been shut till March 31.Odisha: "Near-total lockdown" in five districts and eight towns for a week, starting Sunday.West Bengal: All restaurants, bars, pubs, nightclubs, amusement parks, museums and zoos to remain shut till March 31.Chhattisgarh: All offices, except those providing essential and emergency services, have been closed till March 31. Puducherry: Section 144 have been imposed till March 31. indianexpress

Coronavirus updates : India number reaches 300

Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Saturday said a total of 298 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the country so far. Of the total number, four people have died and 22 others have recovered. The numbers indicate 98 new cases over 24 hours, with the growth rate almost doubling since over the same period on the last instance when 50 new cases were reported on Friday. Taking lead in the number of cases is Maharashtra totalling to 64, followed by Kerala where 12 new cases were confirmed positive taking the number up to 52. New COVID-19 cases were witnessed in Puducherry and Chhattisgarh. news18/ the hindu

Coronavirus: Maharashtra – worst-hit state – reports 11 new cases, total count now at 63

The number of COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra – the state worst hit by the outbreak in India – rose to 63 on Saturday after 11 new infections were reported, according to ANI. State Health Minister Rajesh Tope said eight out of the 11 patients had travel history and 3 were infected after coming into contact with them. The state has also reported one coronavirus-linked death.The state has ordered the closure of public places as it scrambles to contain a worsening health crisis. On Friday, Mumbai Municipal Commissioner Pravin Pardeshi had ordered schools and other non-essential establishments to remain closed and announced measures to regulate overcrowding in hospitals. scroll

CAA Protests Will Continue On Janata Curfew Day: Shaheen Bagh Protesters

New Delhi: The protest against CAA, NRC and NPR will continue even on Sunday, Shaheen Bagh protesters said today. Prime Minister Narenra Modi has given a call for a 'janata curfew' on Sunday to tackle the outbreak of novel coronavirus."If PM Modi wants us to be safe from coronavirus, then he should have withdrawn CAA, NPR and NRC. We will hold our protest tomorrow too," Salima, one of the protesters at Shaheen Bagh, said.She also said that the protesters are following all precautionary measures at the protest site."Here, the women are maintaining the social distance of more than 1 metre and using hand sanitisers and phenyl to maintain cleanliness at the protest site," said one woman, who is a member of the Indian Federation of Trade Union.She said: "In Delhi, there are one-room quarters where about 8 people live together. Also, in the RainBasera outside AIIMS, there are 70 beds with almost zero space between them. In such situations, the concept of social distancing is not possible for these people.""Having Janata curfew for one day will not stop the spread of coronavirus as the government failed to take necessary precautions like closing airports much before," she added.Echoing the same sentiments, Ritu Kaushik, another protester, said: "If the government was serious enough to stop the spread of coronavirus, then it should have intensified its checking at the airports.""While announcing that people should refrain from going outside so as to avoid the spread of coronavirus, the government should also have said that ration would be sent to the daily wage labourers as they are completely dependent on their daily earnings."The Supreme Court will hear on Monday petitions seeking the removal of anti-CAA protesters from Shaheen Bagh to prevent the spread of coronavirus, along with other pleas pending before it in the matter.ANI

Shaheen Bagh Protest to Continue on 'Janata Curfew'; PIL Filed in SC

Protesters Say They Will Protest From Balconies Against NRC, NPR, CAA During Janta Curfew

As government advises citizens to stay home to prevent coronavirus spread, people ask what would happen to those who lost homes during Delhi riots On Sunday, when people will thank health care providers and emergency responders, many in the national capital will clap, ring bells, and raise slogans from their homes demanding the government to rescind its decision to update NPR in view of the new coronavirus pandemic.Civil society group United Against Hate has urged people to protest against NRC, NPR and CAA at 5pm on Sunday from their balconies, windows and gates."First we will thank our sisters and brothers who are at ground zero taking care of the infected, supplying essentials...and then we will hold anti-NRC, anti-CAA placards in our balconies and windows and demand the govt to roll back its decision to start the NPR exercise from April 1," Nadeem Khan from United Against Hate said.Khan said the government's priority should be countering the virus threat and "we are all in this together".He said while the prime minister has urged people to remain inside their homes from 7 am to 9 pm on Sunday, "we urge him to rehabilitate people who have lost their homes in the riots in northeast Delhi and are putting up in relief camps".Irkan Chaudhary, who will also be a part of the protest, complained that around 1,200 people who lost their homes in the riots have been living in unhygienic conditions at a shelter in Mustafabad. "The prime minister has asked people to remain inside their homes. What about those whose houses have been burnt and looted? They have no option but to live in cramped, unhygienic relief camps where social distancing goes for a toss and the risk of infection is high," he said.Parwez Alam, a social worker, said the entire world is battling a health emergency and the government should focus on it first. "I welcome the prime minister's initiative and will follow the 'Janta Curfew'. But we will also protest against NPR and CAA by beating utensils," he said.PTI

Jamia temporarily calls off anti-CAA protest amid Covid-19 outbreak

Jamia Coordination Committee and Alumnus Association has temporarily called off their anti-CAA protest, which entered its 100th day on Saturday, in view of coronavirus outbreak. The announcement was made by the Jamia Coordination Committee, a group comprising JMI students and alumni. The group was formed after alleged police brutality on the campus on December 15."We temporarily suspend the ongoing 24-hour sit-in protest at Gate no. 7, JMI and appeal to all protesters to kindly take the situation with utmost seriousness and save themselves and others from this fatal illness," the Jamia Coordination Committee said in a statement.The protest by students of Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia University entered its 100th day on Saturday.The Jamia Coordination Committee on Saturday distributed face masks and sanitisers to all the protesters followed by a briefing on the Covid-19 pandemic. "On 100th day of Jamia Protest, distribution of Face mask and sanitizers to all the protesters was done with a briefing of COVID19. We appeal to all protestors to kindly take the situation with utmost seriousness and save themselves and others from this fatal illness," a tweet by the Jamia Coordination Committee said.indiatoday

English paper editorials raise questions about lack of details in PM’s COVID address

New Delhi: Most English newspapers commended Prime Minister Narendra Modi for exhorting the Indian public to take coronavirus pandemic seriously, but also noted that his address was lacking in specifics on the govt’s role in combating its spread in the country.Nearly all the major English newspapers ran editorials on the Modi’s speech in their Saturday editions.In its edit titled ‘What Janata can do, but don’t neglect what government must do for it”, TOI appreciated the Indian PM’s ability to distil complex information into effective mass communication.But, the editorial also noted that the coronavirus pandemic will have a serious economic fallout, which has led to other countries and states like Kerala to announce expansive economic packages. This was the missing note in the PM’s speech. Their Delhi rival, Hindustan Times, also prefaced their mild criticism with praise for speech as being “correct in its tone and messaging” and hoped that Modi will continue communicating with citizens, transparently.Titled “The Missing Notes”, The Hindu wrote that PM Modi’s speech was timely and communicated a sense of urgency, “but beyond that it did not achieve much”.“The States are at the forefront of the fight against the virus, and their capacity is frustratingly uneven across the country. Marshalling all resources available, and launching a complete spectrum defence against the virus is the need of the hour. There are measures that the governments, at the Centre and the State levels, have been taking. For those who expected to hear some reassuring words from the Prime Minister on this, the address was a tad disappointing,” stated paper’s editorial.The Indian Express said that PM's  message “could be said to lack specifics” on the economic aspect. “He did not talk of waivers and relief proposals and programmes, safety nets and transfers, interventions that could soften the virus’s disruptive blow to the most vulnerable, who make up a vast section of the economy, and who are already affected by its slowdown”.The Deccan Herald’s editorial pointed out that while Modi’s words are welcome, his silence on India‘s strategy, which has come under fire from WHO as well as public health experts in the country, is worrying”.Kolkata-based The Telegraph said, “The prime minister told the people what to do, how to look after the old and the poor, how not to overburden hospitals, but was rather reticent about the steps the government is taking”.thewire

Delhi:Coronavirus threat looms over Idgah relief camp

 The looming threat of a coronavirus outbreak at northeast Delhi’s Idgah relief camp has officials in a bind.The camp, an initiative of the Delhi Wakf Board aimed at helping those displaced during last month’s violence in the city, would be badly hit if the pandemic reached the community transmission stage.Earlier this week, the camp management restricted visitor access and began a sensitisation drive. On Thursday evening, health volunteers could be seen working in the camp even as announcements were made reminding people to wash their hands regularly.In the cramped spaces under the tents, people could be seen huddled together and children playing around. In one corner, doctors and medical staff could be seen wearing masks and giving medicines to people.But the relief camp with temporary tents houses more than 800 people living in close quarters.Most of the families at the camp have come from Shiv Vihar, one of the areas worst affected by violence. While only a few families have moved back, most people are still afraid to return to their homes.In Shiv Vihar’s Phase 7, people regularly gather outside their gutted homes and shops and spend the entire day there before leaving for the camp as it turns dark. telegraphindia

Jamaat Islami Hind appeals people to take precautions against Covid-19

New Delhi: Jamaat-e-Islami Hind has appealed people to take necessary precautions and follow the government’s guidelines against Coronavirus pandemic.JIH President Syed Sadatullah Hussaini in a statement said: “The global Coronavirus pandemic is a challenge and a test for the entire world. The increasing number of those infected with the virus in our country and the expected spread of the pandemic in the future is a matter of great concern. All the citizens of the country should remain alert in these conditions. The communique and instructions published by the government, various departments and concerned health-experts should be strictly followed –The biggest reason for the spread of the pandemic is the gathering of people. Hence, big ijtemas, meetings and functions should be avoided in the present conditions. If it is indispensable to conduct a small meeting then all the necessary precautions should be exercised while conducting the same.Try to avoid travelling as far as possible. People should remain in their own places. This is the guidance of the Prophet Muhammad in these conditions.The Friday prayer and sermon should be brief; people should disperse after the prayer and offer the “Sunnat” prayers at home. The protest movement that is going on against the CAA-NRC-NPR should continue but keeping in mind the local conditions, it should be organized in such a way that people’s lives are not endangered and the instructions issued by the Department of Health are not violated.theindianawaaz

In Kerala, Friday prayers cut short; mosque panel booked for allowing 500 odd crowd

There was lesser attendance than usual at mosques for Friday congregational prayers following sermons by top clerics urging people to offer only obligatory prayers in mosques and rest in their homes.In Kerala, police registered a case against a mosque committee in Kannur for allowing mass prayers attended by over 500 people. Mass prayer was also held in Pilathara Juma masjid flouting the directive of the district administration, police said. Elsewhere in the state, most mosques were deserted as people offered prayers from their homes following the Kerala government holding a meeting with many religious bodies requesting them not to hold gatherings in the wake of the Covid-19 virus.HT

Two months on, Ranchi’s ‘Saheen Bagh’ stir suspended till April 5

Ranchi: 2-month long Ranchi’s Saheen Bagh like protest at Kadru area was suspended on Saturday till April 5 in view of the spreading Corona Virus scare across the country. The women protesters took the decision following a meeting with 3 Jharkhand ministers on Friday evening. Parliamentary affairs minister Alamgir Alam, finance minister Ramehswar Oraon and agriculture minister Badal Patralekh had called a delegation of protesting women on Friday evening at Alam’s office.Saheen Parween, a member of the delegation, said, “We have decided to suspend ongoing dharna at Kadru till April 5 on request of the ministers.”HT

Prayers shortened in Karnataka mosques, faithful exempt from Sunday mass in Mangaluru

Bengaluru: In the face of Covid-19 threat, Karnataka State Board of Wakf has issued instructions to mosques and dargah to impose restrictions on prayer gatherings. Similarly the bishop of Mangaluru has exempted the laity in his diocese from obligation to attend Sunday Mass till March 31.In a circular, Wakf Board advised all masjids and dargahs in Karnataka to maintain cleanliness around prayer halls and keep sanitizers available to the faithful. At a meeting of religious leaders two days ago, the Board advised shorter sermons at mosques. The usual timing of Friday prayer was of one and a half hour was shortened to ten minutes, as has been done in several Middle East countries. Even Jamath Salah will be conducted in minimum time and the gathering dispersed at the earliest.The duration of the Salah prayer has also been minimized to not more than ten minutes. The Ijtema and Urus may be celebrated with minimum attendance, the Wakf Board religious leaders.Churches too have adopted social distancing as a precaution to arrest the spread of the coronavirus. Gatherings for Sunday prayers are likely to be minimal on account of this.deccanchronicle

Meerut's iconic Nauchandi fair may not be held this year, a first in 1,000 years

Meerut: Iconic Nauchandi fair of Meerut may not be held this time in a bid to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, a first such departure in its 1,000 years old history which withstood several events, including 1857 mutiny and post-Independence communal riots. Known to have started in 11th century, this annual fair never took a break.“Even major events like 1857 mutiny and communal riots at the time of partition in 1947 could not stop this month-long fair that starts a fortnight after Holi every year. But this year, circumstances might lead to its cancellation,” says Mufti Mohammad Ashraf, trustee of Hazrat Bale Mian dargah and 23rd generation descendant of Hazrat Bale Mian’s brother. Hazrat Bale Mian was a Sufi saint who was killed at a young age of 19 years. A shrine, Bale Miya Dargah, was built in his memory.The saint was killed on new moon night, which means ‘naya chand' in Urdu. After that,a congregation began attending his death anniversary at the shrine which is adjacent to Meerut’s Nauchandi Ground. Later, it transformed into an annual fair.The administration too is not keen on holding the fair this year. TOI

COVID-19: Some mosques in Delhi skip Friday prayers as preventive measure

New Delhi: "There would be no Friday prayers on two consecutive Fridays as a precautionary measure due to the outbreak of Coronavirus," reads the notice at Babul Ilm Mosque at Okhla Vihar in Jamia Nagar popularly known as 'Shia Masjid'. The three-storey mosque which has never skipped a Friday prayer untill March 20, finally decided to take a break from religious obligation due to the spread of the deadly disease."We have taken into consideration, the outbreak of Corona and decided that we would not be holding Friday prayers for two consecutive weeks. In the third week we will analyse the situation and if the situation is favourable we can go ahead with the Friday prayer but if things worsen we might extend the date," said Maulana Iqbal Haider, Imam e Juma, Babul Ilm Mosque in Okhla Vihar. Some mosques of Jafrabad also skipped the Friday prayers while some went ahead with it.

Coronavirus scare: In Odisha, mosques cancel Friday prayers, Jagannath temple wears deserted look

People in Bhubaneswar refrained from visiting religious places on Friday following a state government advisory asking temples, mosques and other places of worship to shut doors for devotes in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in India.The advisory was issued as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of the viral infection after Odisha reported its first Covid-19 case earlier this week.12th century Jagannath temple in Puri too wore a deserted look on Friday. Normally, thousands visit the temple of a daily basis, with the footfall increasing in the run-up to the famous Rath Yatra.However, taking note of the coronavirus outbreak, the temple administration has decided to suspend darshan of deities at the shrine. The closure started today and will continue till March 31. Meanwhile, mosques in state capital Bhubaneswar too saw a thin attendance for the Friday prayers as people preferred to stay indoors. The few who weren't aware of the advisory reached the mosque but returned seeing the gates closed. indiatoday

Nagpur: Masjids adopt Covid-19 measures with Friday prayer

NAGPUR: Masjids across the city curtailed the Friday prayer ‘Jumma’ and Khudba (sermon) duration from 45 minutes to just 10-15 besides shutting waduhkhana (abulation taps), removing carpets and towels in their bid to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus .Though many turned up in large numbers for the Jumma, many reached masjids only at the start of prayers and left soon after. As per Islamic tenets, offering prayers 5 times a day is must for Muslims with mouzen giving calls (Azaan) as many times in the day. While rest of the prayers can be offered at home or as per convenience, Jumma congregation is a must mainly because of sermon and weekly advisory (bayaan) which takes over 45 minutes.At some places, volunteers requested Namaazis to maintain social distancing guidelines and not to crowd the premises. Mominpura-based Hafiz Sohel Athar said Muslims were already cooperating the government and administration in keeping hotels and shops closed. “ The khudba and bayaan were cut short and it took just 15 minutes to complete the Jumma prayers,” he said.

Friday prayers go on as usual in Hyderabad despite coronavirus advisories, some Imams cut short sermons

Hyderabad: Friday congregations at mosques in Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana were held as usual but at some places imams cut short their Urdu speeches.There was no impact on the turnout of the worshippers at historic Mecca Masjid or other major mosques across Hyderabad. At some mosques, the managing committees did not make arrangements for prayers on abutting road or open places to avoid large gatherings.The in-charge for Mecca Masjid had appealed to people to offer prayers at the mosques in their neighbourhoods but there was no apparent fall in the number of worshippers at Mecca Masjid located near Charminar.The turnout was normal at Shahi Masjid at Public Gardens, Azizia Masjid in Mehdipatnam, Jamia Masjid Secunderabad and other mosques in the city. IANS

No protests until COVID-19 is under control: Madras High Court

Chennai:Hearing a batch of petitions that sought to stall protests and anti-CAA agitations, a division bench of Justice MM Sundresh and Justice Krishnan Ramaswamy at the Madras High Court in Chennai passed an interim order stating that mass gatherings, protests, anti-CAA agitations can’t be permitted across Tamil Nadu until the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control. The court also adjourned the hearing of the pleas to prevent a larger crowd of lawyers from gathering in the court hall, given the precautionary measures that are in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus.Besides the pending pleas, an advocate had filed a petition seeking action against a non-political Islamic organization, Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath, for staging an anti-CAA ‘jail -bharo’ protest in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday. dnaindia

 A Shia Mosque in UP cancels Friday prayers, others witness thin attendance

Bijnor: A Shia mosque in Amroha cancelled the Friday prayers while most other mosques in western UP witnessed a thin attendance of believers as the fear of novel coronavirus loomed large. It comes against the backdrop of similar moves by mosques in Kerala and Odisha. Churches have already cancelled Sunday prayers in UP and Uttarakhand.TOI

Lucknow: Avoid burying Muslims dying of coronavirus, says Shia Board chief Waseem Rizvi

LUCKNOW: UP Shia Central Waqf Board chief Waseem Rizvi said that Muslims who die of coronavirus should not be buried, but cremated in electronic crematoriums as this would burn the virus and help contain its spread. “If a Muslim patient dies of coronavirus, the patient’s family should not bury the deceased but perform last rites in an electric crematorium. This way not just the deceased but the virus in such a body will burn and get eradicated fully,” Rizvi said in a video appeal.TOI

Farooq Abdullah Releases Rs 1 Crore To Combat Coronavirus In J&K

Srinagar: NC president Farooq Abdullah and party leader Hasnain Masoodi released an amount of Rs one crore each from their MPLAD funds on Saturday to combat the spread of the coronavirus in Jammu and Kashmir."The party president and Srinagar MP released an amount of Rs one crore from his MPLAD funds today to combat the COVID-19 threat in Jammu and Kashmir," a National Conference (NC) spokesperson said.He added that of the said amount, Rs 50 lakh have been earmarked for SKIMS, Srinagar while Rs 25 lakh each for Budgam and Ganderbal districts in central Kashmir. ndtv

Coronavirus fears spark riots in Kolkata jail, prisoners demand release on bail

 In an unusual turn of events, clashes broke out in the Dum Dum Central Jail in the northern fringes of Kolkata on Saturday afternoon possibly over the outbreak of the contagious Novel Coronavirus.A jail official on condition of anonymity told The Wire that prisoners “suddenly attacked” jail officials with bricks, ransacked furniture and set fire in some places. “We then called the higher authority for deployment of extra force,” the official said.thewire

*Coronavirus - WORLD*

More countries impose lockdowns as global death toll surges past 11,000, Europe surpasses 5000

The death toll from the new coronavirus has surpassed 5,000 in Europe, with Italy, Spain and Germany reporting a steep rise in infections. Worldwide fatalities surged past 11,000 on Saturday, according to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University in US. More than 277,000 people have been infected, while some 88,000 have recovered.Italy announced another 627 deaths on Friday, the biggest day-to-day increase in the country's 4-week epidemic, a day after surpassing China's death toll. The total number of deaths in Italy has now reached 4,032. Spain's death toll has also increased to more than 1,300, while in Iran, the number on fatalities hit another grim milestone of more than 1,500, as the country marks the beginning of the Persian New Year. aljazeera

Death toll rises to 1556 in Iran: Rouhani says COVID-19 measures may be eased within weeks

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has said he expects measures taken to combat the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus, including social distancing, to be eased within the next 2 to 3 weeks. Accusing "counter-revolutionaries" of attempting to shut down economic production, Rouhani said in a televised address on Saturday his country "has to do everything" to return economic activity back to normal. Iran is one of the hardest-hit countries worldwide by the virus, with an official death toll only behind Italy and China. On Saturday, the health ministry's latest tally said the death toll had risen by more than 100 to 1,556, while the number of infected people stood at 20,610. A total of 7,635 people have recovered in Iran. Al Jazeera's Zein Basravi, reporting from the capital, Tehran, said Rouhani tried to "strike a balance" between addressing the public health crisis and maintaining the country's economic and sociopolitical stability going forward.aljazeera

New York City Now Epicentre of Coronavirus Crisis in US as Infections Cross 5,000

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has said that the metropolitan city is the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in the United States, as government officials announced some of the most stringent measures to slow the spread of the pandemic that has claimed over 200 lives in the country.The Mayor on Friday said that there were 5,151 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the city. And to give you perspective that is now about one-third of all the coronavirus cases in the United States of America. It is about two-thirds of the cases in the state of New York. I hate to say this, but it's true we are now the epicenter of this crisis right here in the nation's largest city, the Mayor said.However, the number of cases and deaths continue to rise at an alarming rate in the city and across the nation.news18

No New Local Coronavirus Cases for Third Day Straight in China, But Sharp Rise in Imported Ones

China has not reported any local coronavirus cases for the third consecutive day but the country is facing a sharp increase of COVID-19 cases from abroad, a health official said on Saturday.Seven more fatalities reported from the virus' epicentre of Hubei province, taking the death toll in the country to 3,255, China's National Health Commission (NHC) said on Saturday.The coronavirus death toll has gone up to 11,397 with more than 275,427 cases reported in over 160 countries and territories, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.Italy has overtaken China as the worst-hit with over over 4,000 deaths reported so far.news18

Saudi bans prayers at mosques over coronavirus fears: aljazeera

Saudi Arabia has suspended the holding of daily prayers and the weekly Friday prayers inside and outside the walls of the two mosques in Mecca and Medina to limit the spread of coronavirus.Earlier, Saudi had suspended congregational prayers in other mosques in the country except Masjid al-Haram and Masjid an-Nabawi, in Mecca and Medina respectively.

Egypt shuts mosques and churches over coronavirus fears

Egypt on Saturday ordered its mosques and churches to shut their doors to worshippers in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, after calls for the government to follow other neighbouring Muslim countries.Egypt has so far registered 285 confirmed coronavirus cases including eight deaths. Many on social media had criticised the government for not cancelling weekly Friday prayers and masses for which hundreds gather inside mosques and churches. Ministry of Islamic Endowments said it will shut all mosques for two weeks “for the necessity of preserving souls”, but will allow them to broadcast prayer calls through loudspeakers.Egypt has more than a hundred thousand mosques across country.MEMO

Israel's coronavirus cases climb to 883

Israel reported 178 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Saturday, taking the country’s total infections to 883, according to the country’s health ministry.A ministry statement said 15 patients are in critical condition, while 36 have recovered from the virus.On Friday, Israel confirmed its first death from the disease.middleeastmonitor

*DELHI VIOLENCE*

Delhi Riots: Amid Reports of 'Haphazard' Detentions, Minorities Panel Seeks Police Report

 Delhi Minorities Commission has intervened in the process of detentions, arrests and grant of compensation in matters related to the violence that took place in North East Delhi over 3 days beginning Feb.24. The panel has directed DCP(North East District) to provide the details of those detained or arrested and the district magistrate to furnish the complete SDM area-wise list of compensation forms filed.In a series of letters to DCP (NE) on March 18, the panel’s chairperson Zafarul Islam Khan mentioned “haphazard arrests” in which people have been picked up and later forced to admit to crimes they did not commit and individual cases of violence against Muslims, for which the perpetrators were not proceeded against.In one of these letters, he wrote: “We are getting reports of haphazard arrests of youth in the age group of 20-30 years. They are arrested in your area in dozens every single day without any charges or warrants.”Khan also insisted that the Commission was “getting information that arrested youth are being pressurised to own up or to implicate others in crimes they apparently did not commit”. Also, he charged that there was “information that in some cases such arrested youth are forced to pay huge bribes and if they do, they are let off.”Terming this “a serious violation of human and civil rights”, he directed DCP to issue clear instructions to all the SHOs under his jurisdiction to desist from such illegal practices. He also urged the DCP, through a separate letter, to provide a police station-wise list of all detainees, copies of all the FIRs lodged, and copies of all complaints not converted into FIRs. Exercising his powers under Section 10(h) of Delhi Minorities Commission Act, 1999, the panel chairperson, Zafarul Islam Khan wrote to the DM(North East) on March 18 seeking “complete SDM area-wise lists of compensation forms filed by victims of violence”.The notice directed that “these lists should clearly indicate cases which the paid amounts where part or full compensation has been paid”. It also said that the information should be furnished by March 23 and warned that in case of failure to comply action would be initiated by the Commission which is a statutory body with quasi-judicial powers and which functions as a civil court.thewire

Delhi HC directs Centre, state to set up 3 additional relief camps for riot victims

Delhi high court on Friday directed the Centre, Delhi government and municipal corporations of Delhi to set up three additional relief camps for those affected in February’s riots. The additional camps would provide relief to the victims, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing being advised to avoid the spread of the virus. The court ordered those concerned to provide medical and humanitarian aid to those affected in the February riots, in which 50 died and 200 were injured. Hundreds of families were also displaced due to the riots. The court was hearing a plea by Shaikh Mujtaba Farooq, who had sought rehabilitation and compensation for the victims. The next hearing has been fixed for March 24.  Petitioner Mujtaba Farooq requested that the permission granted by DCP North East for four additional relief camps to be established in the riot-affected area be restored and the authority running the relief camps be given all assistance by the government and Corporation in setting up and running the additional relief camps as the Waqf Board may deem necessary. He also requested a fire engine, ambulance, upgraded sanitation facility and beds at the relief camps.Central and Delhi governments’ standing counsels, Amit Mahajan and Rahul Mehra (criminal counsel), respectively, assured the bench that they will take steps to secure the health of riot victims and ensure provisions of a fire engine, ambulance, mobile toilets and counsellors at the camps.They also told the court that upkeep of cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation, as well as providing beds and linen in the camps, would be taken care of. This assurance gains importance in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed 10,544 lives worldwide, including four Indians.At present, there are two operational relief camps in the city — one at Mustafabad Idgah and the other, at Sriram Colony — in which around 1,000 persons are staying. The bench asked the authorities to take care of the physical and mental health of the victims, while building three additional camps at Bapu Nagar, Santosh Marriage Home in Mustafabad and Madrasa Babul Ulloom in Jaffarabad.HT/ANI

Delhi riots: Court sends suspended Tahir Hussain to 1-day police custody

A Delhi court Friday sent suspended AAP councillor, Tahir Hussain, to one-day police custody in connection with the recent communal violence in northeast Delhi.Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pawan Singh Rajawat sent Hussain to police remand for custodial interrogation after he was arrested by the police in a separate case, said his counsel Javed Ali.This is the third case for which he has been arrested related to the violence.The police had sought his custody for one day on the ground that it was to confront him with co-accused in the case and unearth the entire conspiracy related to rioting and communal violence. Earlier, Hussain was sent to police custody for 5 days in connection with the alleged killing of IB official Ankit Sharma during the communal violence in Delhi.PTI

*OTHERS*

Gandhi's Vision Threatened by Violence, Divisive Rhetoric in India: Ban Ki Moon

Former Secretary-General of UN Ban Ki Moon, in an essay, has expressed concern over the violence that erupted in north east Delhi in the month of Feb.and has said “that Gandhi’s vision is now threatened by sectarian violence and divisive political rhetoric”.In an article for the Indian Express, Moon who is the deputy chair of The Elders – a group founded by Nelson Mandela to work for peace and justice across the world – said that he was “profoundly disappointed and alarmed by the communal violence that disfigured Delhi in recent weeks.”Referring to India’s credentials as a democracy that had made its mark in global business, academia, IT, entertainment and sport, Moon said that India could teach the world “its traditions of democracy and ahimsa (non-violence)” Moon held that the attacks on poor and working people, mainly Muslims, could not be seen in isolation from Prime Minister Modi’s attempts to redefine Indian CAA, NPR and NRC. all of which were incompatible with Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. These developments, Moon said, raised questions about India’s democratic future. Noting that the denial of citizenship based on religion “prompts memories of some of the darkest periods in recent human history,” Moon said that India could not overcome its developmental challenges by pitting religious groups against one other and turning some Indians into second-class citizens.thewire

22 MLAs, Whose Exit Sank Congress In Madhya Pradesh, Join BJP

22 former Congress MLAs who had resigned from the party following Jyotiraditya Scindia's resignation, have now formally joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.The resignation of these MLAs played a critical role in the eventual fall of Kamal Nath-led Congress govt in Madhya Pradesh."With a pledge of Madhya Pradesh's development and progress, 22 ex-legislators and my former colleagues from Congress, who are a part of my family, met BJP President JP Nadda today, and joined the party," Mr Scindia said in a tweet in Hindi.22 MLAs, all loyalists to former Congress leader and Madhya Pradesh royal Jyotiraditya Scindia, resigned from the party on March 9, bringing the Kamal Nath government on brink of collapse.The resignations, however, were not immediately accepted by Assembly Speaker NP Prajapati.MLAs were later taken to a resort in Bengaluru by BJP to avoid any horse-trading attempts. After weeks of political drama, the resignations of all MLAs were accepted on Thursday following a Supreme Court judgment. CM Kamal Nath resigned the next day.ndtv

Amanatullah Khan No Longer Delhi Waqf Board Chairman: Delhi Govt

New Delhi: The revenue department of the Delhi government has said AAP leader Amanatullah Khan ceased to be the chairman of the Waqf Board after the legislative assembly was dissolved in Feb.Mr Khan was an MLA from Okhla in the sixth Delhi Assembly, which was dissolved on Feb.11. He was re-elected from the same seat in the election for the seventh Assembly.The office of the Principle Secretary (revenue) stated in a letter on Friday that Mr Khan ceased to be a member and chairman of the board with the dissolution of the Assembly on Feb.11, according to section 14(1) of the Waqf Act, 1995."I enjoyed my journey as the Waqf Board chairman from Sept, 2018 to March 20, 2020. I am happy that I could help the needy and poor," Khan said in a tweet in Hindi.As an MLA, AAP leader was nominated to 7-member Waqf Board and subsequently, unanimously elected as its chairman in Sept. 2018. A senior Delhi government officer denied Khan was removed from his post, saying the panel was to be reconstituted by the new government. Khan was actively leading the Waqf Board in welfare activities, including for the relief and rehabilitation of the victims of last month''s communal violence in northeast Delhi.PTI

Delay in punishing convicted rapists affects justice:Jamaat Vice President

New Delhi;Vice-President of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Muhammad Salim Engineer has expressed concern over the delay made in punishment awarded to those convicted in the Nirbhaya rape case.“It is a matter of relief that the government and the judiciary were finally able to award the highest punishment to those convicted in the Nirbhaya rape case. Justice was delivered after more than 7 years with the hanging of the four convicted of gang-raping Nirbhaya in Dec.2012. We are concerned about such a long delay to punish convicted rapists,” said Salim Engineer in a media statement on Saturday.He said that delay in executing punishment in such cases affects justice.He demanded fast execution of justice in the Kathua and Unnao cases also, saying that “those who have political connections (in these cases) can influence and delay their imminent punishment.”indiatomorrow

Gujarat: 3 held in 1992 riots case in Surat get bail

The Surat district court Friday gave conditional bail to three accused in a post-Babri Masjid demolition riots case, noting that no summons had been issued to them, just directly a warrant, and that the case had been pending for long. Ikbal Belim, 65, Rahim Rana alias Pratapsinh Rana, 72, and Shakil Ansari, 55, had been arrested separately by the Udhna police, Surat, almost a week ago. All are charged under TADA, apart from sections of the IPC. The other 23 accused in the 28-year-old case remain untraceable.Giving them bail, Surat District Principal Court also noted that most of the accused remain missing. The three have been told to submit their house documents, with photographs, to the trial court and Udhna police station, and to be present during hearings. They can’t leave Gujarat without court permission.Ansari’s wife Salima, 50, said she had begged police not to arrest him. “I told them our son had just had an accident. I told them my husband is the only breadwinner of the family. I offered them Rs 2,000 as bribe, the only money I could afford, told them to wait a few days. But they took my husband away.”indianexpress

RBI extends regulatory restrictions on PMC Bank by 3 months

RBI today extended regulatory restrictions on Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank for three more months. The regulatory restrictions have been imposed till June 22, 2020. RBI is also directly and through the administrator, discussing with various authorities on expeditious sale of securities and the recoveries of loans.Earlier, RBI had put a six-month regulatory restriction on PMC Bank. The restrictions were put on PMC Bank after finding out certain financial irregularities, hiding and misreporting of loans given to real estate developer HDIL."It is hereby notified for the information of the public that the validity of the directive dated Sept.23, 2019, as modified from time to time, has been extended for a further period of three months from March 23, 2020 to June 22, 2020, subject to review," the RBI said in a release.indiatoday

Hate up, happiness down; India way behind Pak, Nepal in happiness index

Ranked 144, India is way behind Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh.India has dropped down four spots in the happiness rankings as compared to its 2019 ranking. In 2019, India was placed on 140 position while in in 2018, India was placed on 133 position. The position went up to 122 in 2017 but again it saw a steep fall.According to the report, Nepal is ranked 15, Pakistan is at the 29, Bangladesh at 107 and Sri Lanka at 130.Finland is the happiest country, according to the report that was released by the United Nations.nationalheraldindia

*WORLD*

Clashes erupt between Saudi and UAE in Aden

Violent clashes have erupted between allies of Saudi Arabia and UAE in the temporary Yemeni capital of Aden in the south of the country. Eyewitnesses informed Anadolu Agency that different weapons were used in the clashes which erupted after an attempt by the Storm Brigades, affiliate with the Southern Transitional Council which is backed by the UAE, to break into Camp 20 which is backed by Saudi Arabia.According to eyewitnesses, the troops of Camp 20 defended their base and damaged the military equipment used by the Storm Brigades.The clashes stopped for several hours, but the eyewitnesses notified Anadolu Agency that they were renewed and continued until the time the report was written.Camp 20 forces are stationed in the city of Crater in the middle of Aden and led by Imam Al-Nobi, who was once one of the prominent allies of UAE.

Taliban Kill 24 Afghan Troops, With Inside Help: NYT

Kabul: A Taliban ambush that appears to have had inside help killed up to 24 Afghan security forces in southern Afghanistan early Friday, officials said.It was the latest Taliban assault on govt forces since the militant group signed a peace deal with US. Taliban have so far ceased attacks against American and coalition troops, but they have continued to target Afghan govt forces.A group of Taliban fighters attacked a joint police and army outpost on Friday on the main highway to Kabul in Zabul Province, parts of which are under the militants’ control. Rahmatullah Yarmal, governor of Zabul Province, said the attackers were aided by at least 5 police officers who then escaped with the Taliban fighters. nytimes

UN: Israel is legally responsible for safety of Palestinians

Israel is legally responsible for providing health services to ensure the safety of Palestinians in the occupied territories during the fight against the coronavirus, a senior UN official said. “Legal duty, anchored in Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, requires that Israel, the occupying power, must ensure that all the necessary preventive means available to it are utilised to ‘combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics,’” according to UN special rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory, Michael Lynk.Lynk added: “At the heart of the efforts to contain and roll back this pandemic by Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas must apply an approach centred on human rights.”He continued: “The right to dignity requires that all persons under their authority should enjoy equality of access to health services and equality of treatment.”MEMO

Israel closes most gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque

On Friday Israeli occupation forces closed most of the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque and restricted the entry of Palestinian worshippers over claims of fighting the spread of coronavirus, Arabi21.com reported.As part of their restrictions, the Israeli occupation forces allowed the entry of the Palestinian worshippers to their holy site, only through three gates.The three gates were closed and reopened in light of the Palestinian warning of Israeli plans to exploit coronavirus crisis to promote a Judaisation agenda.Reports by Palestinian activists and NGOs revealed that closure of the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque coincided with the detention and deportation of Palestinian officials working at Al-Aqsa Mosque, including the director and deputy director of the holy site.middleeastmonitor

Nasrallah: Hezbollah not involved in Amer Fakhoury's release

Beirut:leader of Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah group on Friday denied involvement in the recent release of a Lebanese-American man accused of overseeing the torture of thousands of Lebanese during the Israeli occupation of Lebanon.Hezbollah Secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah said that his organisation had no prior knowledge of the military court's decision earlier this week to release Amer Fahkhoury, the commander of the notorious Khiam Prison from the 1980s until the 1990s, when he was a member of the South Lebanon Army (SLA), an Israeli proxy.Instead, the leader of the most powerful force in Lebanon said he had learned of the decision "on television, and then made calls to inquire about it".aljazeera
  

*VIEWS, ARTICLES, FEATURES*

Minorities, too, are fed up with this facade of secularism:Faizan Mustafa , Indian express

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/narendra-modi-govt-6324468/

Protecting India: Nation must stay with vision of founding fathers to fight threat to secular democracy:Ban Ki Moon, indian express

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/india-caa-protest-delhi-violence-6322781/lite/?__twitter_impression=true

 

Dipak Misra Was Reviled As CJI But Ranjan Gogoi Beguiled His Way To Power:Puneet Nicholas Yadav, outlookindia

https://www.outlookindia.com/blog/story/india-news-dipak-misra-was-reviled-as-cji-but-ranjan-gogoi-beguiled-his-way-to-p/4159

Modi's Speech Strikes Rare Universal Chord… But Sidesteps Govt Responsibility:Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta

https://thewire.in/politics/pm-narendra-modi-coronavirus-speech

An 'Anthem' for Our Troubled Times: Leonard Cohen's Music Stirs a Range of Emotions:Monobina Gupta

https://thewire.in/rights/leonard-cohen-gautam-navlakha-music-troubled-times

Epidemic Diseases Act, India's 123-Year-Old Law to Help Fight the Pandemic:Kiran Kumbhar

https://thewire.in/health/epidemic-diseases-act-india-pandemic

Tamil Nadu Dalit farmers say hydrocarbon projects snuffing out hopes of brighter future, vow to carry on fight:firstpost

https://www.firstpost.com/india/tamil-nadu-dalit-farmers-say-hydrocarbon-projects-snuffing-out-hopes-of-brighter-future-vow-to-carry-on-fight-8174051.html

Why Akbar the great remains so relevant:Karan Thapar, Hindustan Times

https://www.hindustantimes.com/columns/why-akbar-the-great-remains-so-relevant/story-cFHEpCi9EasEf3LTx58LbL.html

Modi is right to prepare India for a deeper crisis, writes Barkha Dutt : HT

https://www.hindustantimes.com/columns/modi-is-right-to-prepare-india-for-a-deeper-crisis-writes-barkha-dutt/story-GqRRDifOSmdwflwKVeHGIN.html

Not just the minorities but many Hindus battling for the ‘Idea of India’   :Saeed Naqvi, nationalheraldindia

https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/opinion/not-just-the-minorities-but-many-hindus-battling-for-the-idea-of-india

Delhi violence: Police, forensic lab under state govt delay DNA testing of bodies;Ashlin Mathew, nationalheraldindia

https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/india/delhi-violence-police-forensic-lab-under-state-govt-delay-dna-testing-of-bodies

Israeli blockade hinders Gaza waste management: Al Jazeera

 Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 8:22 PM).

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