News and views across the globe.

Friday, 29 May 2020

29 May: Coronavirus lockdown | Centre likely to retain limited role and allow States have more say after May 31. GDP growth slows to 3.1% in Q4; fiscal deficit widens to 4.59% of GDP in 2019-20. Police Probe "Seems Targeted To One End Only", "Fail To Investigate The Rival Faction's Role" In Delhi Riots: Delhi Court

NEWS DIGEST EVENING
29 May 2020: 05 Shawwal 1441: Vol: 12, No: 218
*INDIA- CORONAVIRUS- LOCKDOWN*
Coronavirus lockdown | Centre likely to retain limited role and allow States have more say after May 31
The Centre is likely to retain a limited role and allow states and union territories to take decisions on whether to tighten or give additional relaxations in the nationwide lockdown in their respective jurisdictions from June 1, officials said on Friday.The central government may, however, advise state authorities to continue with strict curbs in COVID-19 containment zones in the worst-affected 30 municipal areas that account for 80% of the positive cases in the country.These 30 municipal areas are from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Odisha.“There is every possibility that the Centre will have very limited role with regards to imposing restrictions or giving relaxations from June 1. The states and UTs will take decisions on such issues depending on the situation locally,” a senior government official told PTI.The central government may continue with the suspension on operation of international flights and political gatherings as well as closure of malls and cinema halls, besides ordering mandatory wearing of face mask by people in public places and maintenance of social distancing norms everywhere.On reopening of schools or restarting metro train services, the States may be allowed to take a call.“From now onwards, lockdown measures will be reviewed every fortnight where States will have major say in every decision related to their respective jurisdictions,” the official said.The States may also be allowed to take a decision on allowing religious places, which have been shut since March 25, when the lockdown had begun.thehindu
What Lockdown 5.0 will likely look like: Restrictions to end, focus on 13 Covid districts

West Bengal allows places of worship to open from June 1 with maximum 10 persons; public, private employees to join work from June 8
Ahead of the lifting of the fourth phase of lockdown on May 31, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday announced easing of curbs starting June 1, allowing places of worship to open with maximum 10 persons present at a time, and prohibiting any major gathering or celebration of festivals.All offices in private and public sector will also be allowed to operate with a 100 per cent strength from June 8, Chief Minister said, adding that social distancing has to be followed in all cases. She also said that schools in the state will remain closed as their buildings are being used as quarantine centres for migrant workers. She also said buses will be allowed to carry passengers to their full seating capacity from June 8 but no one will be allowed to stand.The number of coronavirus cases in the state have crossed 4,500, including 295 deaths and 1,668 recoveries. The state was recently ravaged with Cyclone Amphan that killed over 70 people in the state. indian express

Maharashtra to ease lockdown from June onwards
MUMBAI : Come June, Maharashtra will, begin lifting the lockdown, that the state has been under for over 60 days. The lockdown however, will be lifted in a calibrated manner, allowing only a few establishments to function, according to officials from the Brihanmumbai municipal corporation and state government.The officials said the government is cognizant of not only saving lives but livelihoods too."There will be gradual easing of the lockdown, which would include allowing essential and non-essential goods and service providers, except those in shopping complexes and malls, to open their shops," said a BMC official on the condition of anonymity.livemint

People with serious ailments, pregnant women must avoid travelling on Shramik Special trains: Piyush Goyal
Following a number of passenger deaths on Shramik Special trains, Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said that the “few unfortunate cases” were related to pre-existing medical conditions.Mr. Goyal put up a Twitter post appealing to people “suffering from serious ailments, pregnant women and those above 65 years and below 10 years of age” to travel on Shramik Special trains only if necessary.The Railways started running the trains from May 1 to ferry migrants stranded due to the nationwide lockdown. As per reported data, at least nine migrants have lost their lives while travelling on them.

GDP growth slows to 3.1% in Q4; fiscal deficit widens to 4.59% of GDP in 2019-20
GDP 4th Quarter Data: Offering the first glimpse of the extent to which Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdown could impact the economy, GDP for the January-March quarter (Q4) grew by 3.1 per cent, as per provisional estimates released by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) on Friday. GDP had expanded by 5.7 per cent in the corresponding quarter of 2018-19.The growth in GDP during 2019-20 is estimated at 4.2 per cent, slowing to an 11-year low, as compared to 6.1 per cent in 2018-19, the statement said. The RBI had pegged GDP growth for 2019-20 at 5 per cent as projected by National Statistical Office in its first and second advance estimates released earlier this year in Jan.and Feb.respectively. However, it should be noted that the full impact of the lockdown will not be reflected fully in the January-March quarter as the shutdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 25.In the third quarter of FY20, GDP growth slipped to a nearly seven-year low of 4.7 per cent. In Q1 and Q2 of FY20, GDP growth was 5.1 per cent and 5.6 per cent, respectively.“GDP at Constant (2011-12) prices in Q4 of 2019-20 is estimated at Rs. 38.04 lakh crore, as against Rs 36.90 lakh crore in Q4 of 2018-19, showing a growth of 3.1 percent,”Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation statement said. This comes even as the Ministry of Commerce & Industry said the output of eight infrastructure sectors contracted by 38.1 per cent in April against 5.2 per cent growth year-on-year. 8 core industries comprise 40.27 per cent of the weight of items included in Index of Industrial Production (IIP).indianexpress

Survey Shows Over 50% of Bihar Migrants Eat Once a Day, 70% Debt Ridden & Less Than 1% Have Savings
A first-of-its-kind survey on the state of migrant workers who have returned to their homes in Bihar has revealed some worrying facts about their worsening situation. More than 50 per cent of those surveyed are only having one meal a day, the deb​t situation has worsened for around 70 per cent of the workers and less than 1 per cent of the workers feel that their savings are enough.Also, none of the workers reported receiving any kind of cash assistance during the lockdown while they were stranded.The survey, which was conducted on 177 workers who had returned from various parts of the country to 15 districts of Bihar, is by the NGO ActionAid India. The research done on the residents of Bihar who had gone out to other states for work, is part of a larger pan-India study that organisation, which has been working with informal workers and on issue of urban homelessness, has been carrying out for some time now. Migrant workers reported being stranded on an average for 18 days before they could even begin their journey back home.

Migrant crisis: Patna HC takes note of video of child trying to wake dead mother, calls it shocking
Patna High Court on Thursday took note of a widely-shared video of a child trying to wake up his dead mother at Bihar’s Muzaffarpur railway station and described the episode as “shocking and unfortunate”, reported The Hindu.The video that went viral earlier this week showed the child playing with a cloth covering his mother’s body as announcements of train arrivals and departures continued in the background. The woman, identified as Arbeena, had reportedly died of extreme heat, hunger and dehydration. They had arrived in Bihar from Gujarat in a special train for migrant labourers and her family claimed she had fallen sick on the train due to lack of food and water.

Labourers or hostages? Yogi Government’s bizarre response to the crisis faced by migrants
The unplanned lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has revealed an overabundance of agonizing issues vis-à-vis our transportation, health, employment, finance and public distribution systems. However, the current migrant crisis being witnessed by the country takes precedence over any other anguishing phenomenon that the country might have since we gained our independence. Whether we look at daily reports of migrants piling up at the Delhi-U.P. border, labourers dying inside Shramik special trains owing to lack of food or visuals like that of a child trying to wake up his dead mother at a railway station in Bihar, all of it adds up to make us realize the hollowness of Modi’s promises of Acche Din.While there are states trying to rise to the occasion and help the migrant labourers, there are some like Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh which are taking bizarre actions against them, thereby violating their fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

Telangana Waqf Board Raps Graveyard Committees for Turning Away Muslim Man's Body over Covid-19 Fears
After reports about a man being denied burial in Muslim graveyards over Covid-19 fears and his last rites being performed in a Hindu resting place in Hyderabad, Telangana State Waqf Board has taken cognisance of the incident and said it will issue notices to caretakers of graveyards.Board’s chairman Mohammed Saleem has warned of strict action against the caretakers, i.e., mutavallis of graveyards committees if they deny any body a respectful burial as per the norms. “The graveyard is not anyone’s personal property," he said. "We will not tolerate if anyone turns away the family members of the deceased when they come to seek land for burial.”Saleem said that across the state, except for a nominal fee, graveyard committees can’t collect any substantial amount from the family members of the deceased on the pretext of allocating land.Based on News18 Urdu report, Tehreek Muslim Shabban has lodged a complaint with Telangana State Waqf Board against management committees of 5 graveyards for allegedly denying land for burial to a Muslim man.President of the organisation, Mohd Mustaq Malik, also demanded framing of guidelines for the management committees of graveyards and permission to bury in any of them. While Majlis Bachao Tahreek also took interest in this matter, Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM is asking people not to behave in such an inhumane manner, while spreading awareness about precautionary measures to tackle coronavirus threat. NEWS18

Uttar Pradesh: Monkey snatches blood samples of Covid-19 patients in Meerut
Noida:In a bizarre incident in UP’s Meerut, a monkey snatched blood samples of Covid-19 patients from a lab technician of Meerut Medical College on Friday. The video doing rounds on social media shows, the monkey perched atop a tree and chewing on a white packet on what appears to be a sample. “The incident was brought to our notice and we enquired the lab technician. As per our information, the samples that had been snatched are not the testing samples which consist of the throat and tongue swab. These were blood samples that are taken from Covid-19 patients during routine treatment. Covid-19 samples are kept in a box while these samples are not,” said SK Garg, Principal, Lala Lajpat Rai Medical College, Meerut. According to officials, the blood samples are routinely tested. indian express

Surat textile industry seeks govt help to stop migrant exodus
Surat textile industry, which relies a lot on migrant workforce, has requested the state government to set up a committee to convince the labourers not to return to their home state. They also requested the government to waive their electricity bills for 6 months starting from the lockdown. At least 60 per cent of the workforce is estimated to have left Surat since the Shramik Special trains started. According to Surat railway officials, over 6.80 lakh labourers have left Surat in 431 trains.

UP: Cops, health workers attacked during cremation of migrant, 9 held
Lucknow : 9 persons were arrested and several others booked in Gopiganj area of Bhadohi on Thursday, a day after a group of villagers allegedly pelted stones and attacked health workers and policemen when they had gone to help with cremation of a migrant worker. 42-year-old had returned from Surat in a truck on Tuesday and died the same day at a hospital after his family members took him there. His Covid test report is awaited.Bhadohi SP Ram Badan Singh said, “There were rumours in Rampur Ghat that coronavirus may spread in the area if the body is cremated there. The attack happened around 6 pm on Wednesday. Stones and bricks were pelted at the police vehicle and ambulance.”

Priest sacrifices man to end coronavirus in Odisha
Bhubaneswar: A 70-year-old priest was arrested for allegedly sacrificing a 52-year-old man inside a temple in Odisha’s Cuttack to appease the goddess and end the coronavirus pandemic. Priest Sansari Ojha engaged at Brahmani Devi Temple in Bandhahuda under Narasinghpur police station allegedly beheaded a man inside the shrine on Wednesday night, said police on Thursday. Later, the priest surrendered. The deceased has been identified as Saroj Pradhan. The priest claimed he was ordered by the goddess in his dream to sacrifice a human to bring an end to the pandemic, the police said. “The priest claimed he saw Goddess in his dream and was asked to sacrifice a human’s life to bring to an end to corona­virus. Hence, to appease the goddess, he decapitated the man,” said Alok Ranjan Ray, Sub-Divisional Police Officer of Athagarh.

*SOUTH ASIA*
Sino-India border standoff: Don’t need intervention of third party, says China on Trump’s offer
In its first comments on US President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate between India and China to end their border standoff, Beijing on Friday said the two countries did not want the “intervention” from a third party.Rejecting Trump’s mediation offer, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said India and China were capable of properly resolving issues through dialogue and consultation. “Between China and India, we have existing border-related mechanisms and communication channels,” Zhao told a media briefing. “We are capable of properly resolving the issues between us through dialogue and consultation. We do not need the intervention of the third party,” he further said. India and China last week activated their “working mechanism” at level of diplomats to reduce military tensions.

PM Modi not in ‘good mood’ over border standoff with China: Trump
Washington:Reiterating his offer to mediate on the border dispute between India and China, US President Donald Trump has said that he spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is not in a “good mood” over the “big conflict” between the two countries.Interacting with journalists in the Oval Office of the White House on Thursday, Trump said a “big conflict” was going on between India and China.“They have a big conflict – India and China. Two countries with 1.4 billion people (each). 2 countries with very powerful militaries. India is not happy and probably China is not happy,” the president said when asked if he was worried about the border situation between India and China.“I can tell you; I did speak to PM Modi. He is not in a good mood about what is going on with China,” Trump said.PTI

India-China border dispute: Govt must come clean and tell exactly what’s happening, says Rahul Gandhi
New Delhi :Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday urged the government to come clean on border standoff with China, saying there should be transparency on the issue. He added that the government’s silence on the issue is only fueling speculations.“The government’s silence about the border situation with China is fueling massive speculation and uncertainty at a time of crisis. GOI must come clean and tell India exactly what’s happening”. indian express

Not far from the LAC, satellite picks up Chinese armour, artillery
As Delhi and Beijing turn to their working mechanism at the level of diplomats to reduce military tensions along LAC in eastern Ladakh, there’s evidence of the Chinese having deployed towed artillery and mechanised elements on their side of LAC opposite the Galwan valley.Highly placed sources said that a detailed analysis of satellite images has shown extensive deployment of towed artillery and mechanised elements on Chinese side, bringing Indian deployments within striking distance.Satellite images also show the presence of at least 16 tanks with a mix of infantry combat vehicles, though camouflaged. Flatbed trucks, excavator machines, dumper trucks too have been identified in the imagery, sources said, adding that these suggest permanent defences are being prepared by the Chinese in the area.“Bunkers, troops on ground and machine gun emplacements can also be seen which may also show that Chinese have been anticipating an offensive and have made defensive positions too,” sources said. indianexpress

Govt officials deny Trump’s claim of talk with Modi on LAC situation
NEW DELHI :The govt on Friday forcefully rejected US President Donald Trump’s claim that he had spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the situation on Line of Actual Control with China, or that the two leaders spoke at all. “There has been no recent contact between PM Modi and President Trump. The last conversation between them was on 4 April 2020 on subject of Hydroxychloroquine,” said government sources, who did not wish to be identified. Government officials told The Hindu they were taken by surprise by US President’s comments, particularly his reference to PM Modi’s “mood” when Trump claimed to have spoken to him.“I can tell you, I did speak to Prime Minister Modi. He's not – he's not in a good mood about what's going on with China,”  Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday (Friday morning India time). The sources also dismissed Trump’s repeated offer of mediation, saying that India and China were in touch directly. Earlier on Thursday, Trump said on Twitter that he was willing to “mediate or arbitrate” over what he called the “raging border dispute” between India and China. The Hindu

Prove You 'Shunned Separatist Ideology': J&K HC Upholds Senior Lawyer's PSA Detention
Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir high court has upheld the detention of High Court Bar Association president Mian Abdul Qayoom under the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA), accepting the argument that the senior lawyer should “declare and establish” by his conduct that he has “shunned his separatist ideology”.In its 57-page judgment, the division bench comprising Justice Vinod Chatterjee Koul and Justice Ali Muhammad Magray while rejecting the appeal against the single bench’s order referred to the argument of Jammu and Kashmir advocate general D.C. Raina that the “ideology nourished and nurtured by the detainee cannot be confined or limited to time to qualify it to be called stale or fresh, unless the person concerned declares and establishes by conduct, and expression that he has shunned the ideology.”

*INDIA- ISLAMOPHOBIA, HUMAN RIGHTS & OTHERS*
Police Probe "Seems Targeted To One End Only", "Fail To Investigate Rival Faction's Role" In Delhi Riots: Delhi Court
New Delhi:A judge of the Patiala House Court has remarked that the investigation in northeast Delhi violence “seemed to be targeted only towards one end”.The remark was made by Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana while hearing a case about the arrest of Jamia Millia Islamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha on May 27.“The perusal of the case diary reveals a disturbing fact. The investigation seems to be targeted only towards one end”, judge said in a hand-written order while sending Asif to judicial custody till June 25.  24-year-old Asif was arrested by Delhi Police Special Cell on May 17 under Section 13 of UAPA in connection with the northeast Delhi violence. The police have accused him of making speeches in Delhi localities where anti-CAA agitation was going on and instigating the people for violence. While he was called by police several times to Jamia Nagar Police station for questioning and Asif fully cooperated in the investigation, he was arrested on May 17.In his order, the judge wrote: “It is informed by Inspector Lokesh that there was a communal riot in Delhi and accused was actively involved in that. My attention has been drawn to the statement of one witness recorded under Section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code where there are specific allegations against the accused. In view of material available on record, accused be remanded to judicial custody till 25/6/2020”. The order further stated: “Upon inquiry from Inspector Lokesh and Anil, they have failed to point out what investigation has been carried out so far regarding the involvement of the rival faction. In view of the same, concerned DCP is requested to monitor the investigation and ensure fair investigation”. The remarks of the judge are a big question mark on the impartiality of the police investigation. In fact, social and political activists had been questioning the way the Delhi police was going ahead with arrest in northeast Delhi violence case. While the entire country has been under strict lockdown with some relaxation having been allowed in the last one week, the Delhi police went ahead with arresting Muslim and some left-leaning youths on the pretext of action against those involved in the riots without bothering about coronavirus infection they might get in lock-ups at police stations and crowded jails. Several cases of policemen with corona positive have been reported in Delhi. indiatomorrow
Jamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha case: Delhi court says probe seems ‘targeted’

CBI initiates inquiry into financial affairs of Tablighi Jamaat over ‘dubious cash transactions’
New Delhi :CBI has initiated a preliminary inquiry into the financial affairs of the religious organisation Tablighi Jamaat and is being probed for “dubious cash transactions” and for concealing foreign funding from the government.Sources said a case has been registered on the basis of a complaint from the Foreigners Division of Ministry of Home Affairs alleging that the organisation has violated FCRA.“CBI has registered a PE against the organisers of Tablighi Jamaat and other unknown persons. On a complaint alleging that the organisers and trustees were indulging into dubious cash transactions by using illegal and unfair means and also in non-disclosure of receipt of foreign funds to competent authority,” CBI spokesperson RK Gaur said.The development comes days after the Delhi police filed multiple chargesheets against Tablighi Jamaat, its members and its chief Maulana Saad Kandhalvi. Sources said the CBI has already taken all chargesheets filed by Delhi Police in the case and also copies of case papers and other related details which include Delhi Police’s probe into Jamaat’s financial dealings through multiple bank accounts.CBI is the third agency after Delhi Police and ED to register a case in the matter.

SC to hear on June 2 plea seeking replacement of word India with ‘Bharat’
The Supreme Court will hear on June 2 a plea which has sought a direction to the Centre to amend the Constitution and replace the word India with ‘Bharat’ or ‘Hindustan’, claiming it will “instill a sense of pride in our own nationality.” The plea has sought a direction to the government to take appropriate steps to bring amendment in Article 1 of the Constitution, which deals with name and territory of the Union, to the effect that “the same refers to the country as Bharat/Hindustan, to the exclusion of India”.The petition was listed for hearing on Friday before the apex court but it got deleted from the list as CJI S A Bobde was not available.PTI

Mumbai court rejects bail to Sudha Bharadwaj arrested in Elgar Parishad case
Mumbai:A special court in Mumbai on Friday rejected the interim bail application of activist Sudha Bharadwaj arrested in the Elgar Parishad case. Bharadwaj (58) is lodged in Byculla women’s jail where earlier this month an inmate had tested positive for Covid-19. In her interim bail plea filed on medical grounds, Bharadwaj had said that she is at a high risk of contracting the virus in prison and in her present medical condition, it would be ‘life-threatening’. Her lawyers had submitted before the court that she has pre-existing medical conditions including diabetes and high blood pressure.“The applicant (Bharadwaj) belongs to the most vulnerable category facing high fataility rate should she contract coronoavirus. If she continues to remain in incarceration, there is grave danger to her life,” the bail plea said. She had also submitted that no social distancing was possible in the jail given its space constraints.indianexpress

UP Sunni Waqf Board takes over land under Mohammad Ali Jauhar Trust
Lucknow: UP Sunni Waqf Board has taken direct control of Waqf number 157, commonly known as the land belonging to Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar Trust headed by Samajwadi Party MP Azam Khan. The Board’s chairman using his special powers has put the Waqf under an administrator-executive officer Junaid Khan, who will now be managing the over 5 acres of Waqf property for a period of 5 years until further notice. While the decision was taken in March, it could not be delivered due to the lockdown. Junaid Khan received the Board’s letter recently. As per official document, Sunni Waqf Board had an “apprehension of the Waqf property being encroached upon and present mutawwali being unable to manage the Waqf and there being no other person fit to be recognised as mutawwali.” This formed the premise to take over the property. “Land was given to the Trust which was its mutawwali. Now, Waqf number 157 is under direct management of the board and nobody else,” said UP Sunni Central Waqf Board  CEO SM Shoeb. Junaid Khan said, “The land was enlisted as Waqf by Nawab Raza Ali Khan of Rampur as an orphanage in 1900s. Some 40-42 descendants of those orphans were living on the land. In 2016, they were removed and Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar Trust took over the property.”TOI

'Eid means happiness and happiness is Pakistan': Facebook post lands 2 AMU students in trouble
Aligarh: 2 students of AMU have been booked by police for allegedly posting "inappropriate content" on social media on the occasion of Eid. AMU spokesperson, Shafey Kidwai said strict action will be taken against the students as per university rules.In their Facebook post, the students wrote, "Eid means happiness and happiness is Pak."Meanwhile, AMU student leader Farhan Zuberi was arrested on Thursday for his alleged involvement in Dec.15 violence on the varsity campus during anti-CAA protest.SP city, Abhishek, said, "Zuberi was a wanted criminal and been remanded to judicial custody. Eleven cases are lodged against Zuberi at the Civil Lines police station."IANS

Ajit Jogi, first chief minister of Chhatisgarh, passes away
Raipur : 20 days after being admitted to a private hospital in Raipur, first Chief minister of Chhattisgarh Ajit Jogi passed away on Friday after suffering two cardiac arrests. Jogi had suffered multiple arrests in the past 20 days, was comatose and on ventilator support as doctors were trying to revive his brain activity.
Govt Was Warned about Swarms, Should Expect More Waves of Migration in July: UN’s Locust Forecasting Officer
Swarms of desert locusts arrived in India earlier than their usual migration cycle. This, however, is not the last swarm and more waves of migration will occur in July as hopper bands from East Africa are expected to move northwards and cross over the Arabian Sea into Sindh (Pakistan), Gujarat and Rajasthan.Keith Cressman, senior locust forecasting officer of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said that the next swarms of desert locusts will fly with aid of southwest monsoon winds to cross the Arabian Sea to once again come into drier areas of Rajasthan. The senior officer of UNO said that the movement of swarms was expected since late last year due to developments in East Africa and the Indian government was given warnings on the locust invasions. “Last year there was very good breeding in India, Iran and Pakistan. At the moment, populations are moving out of spring breeding areas, from southwest Pakistan and Iran. Normally, they invade at the end of June. But, they are here a month in advance due to drier conditions in Iran and southwest Pakistan,” Cressman said during a Centre for Science and Environment webinar on desert locusts.news18

*CORONA-WORLD*
Europe moves ahead with lockdown easing, but caution in Asia
Several European countries including France and Britain on Thursday moved to further lift crippling coronavirus lockdown measures, but fresh restrictions in parts of Asia signalled the crisis is far from over.As much of the world grapples to find the path forward, with the deadly virus still spreading in some places and a vaccine at best a distant reality, Europe is slowly emerging from isolation.France is set to reopen its bars, restaurants and museums next week -- when Britain will send some children back to school and shops throw open their doors.On the sporting front, the English Premier League and Italy's Serie A unveiled plans to resume play in mid-June."Freedom will be the rule and restriction the exception," French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said.But of course, there was sombre news as well.The death toll mounted to more than 357,000 around the world. More than 5.7 million have been confirmed as infected since virus emerged in China late last year. British carrier EasyJet said it would axe up to 30 percent of its staff, and Japanese car manufacturer Nissan reported a huge $6.2 billion annual net loss.And in Asia, restrictions were reimposed in South Korea and Sri Lanka after a spate of new infections sparked fears of a second wave of contagion.AFP
UK: Lockdown easing to allow groups of six to meet
Coronavirus: Scotland begins to ease out of lockdown

Saudi sanitizes over 90,000 mosques for reopening on Sunday
Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs has sanitized over 90,000 mosques in the Kingdom ahead of their reopening on Sunday, state news agency SPA reported.However, mosques in Makkah will remain closed in accordance with orders from Minister of Islamic Affairs Abdullatif Al-Sheikh. The authority also carried out an extensive media campaign in several languages to educate worshippers on safety measures and procedures in mosques, such as performing ablution at home and sanitizing hands before entering the places of worship.Individuals were advised to read electronic copies of the Quran from their own phones, bring prayer mats from home and maintain a two-meter distance between each other.Elderly people, persons with chronic illnesses and children under 15 years were advised to perform prayers at home, the report added.The Kingdom has eased coronavirus restrictions after over two months of lockdowns, with domestic flights to resume on Sunday.

Poor indoor ventilation may increase coronavirus spread: Study
The lack of adequate ventilation in homes and offices increases risk of airborne spread of the novel coronavirus, according to a study which says preventing such transmission should be the next front of the battle against COVID-19 pandemic. According to the study, published in the City and Environment Interaction journal, coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, like many viruses, is less than 100 microns in size. However, it said expiratory droplets from people who have coughed or sneezed contain water, salts, and other organic material, along with the virus itself.PTI
*WORLD*
Mahathir vows to challenge expulsion from his own party
Malaysia's former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and four other former members have promised to challenge their removal from the Bersatu party.Mahathir, 94, along with his son and three other senior members, were expelled from the Bersatu party on Thursday in the latest twist in a power struggle with his successor."The unilateral action by Bersatu's president to sack us without valid reason is due to his own fears in facing party elections as well as his unsafe position as the most unstable prime minister in the history of the country's administration," a joint statement by Mahathir and the four others said. The party has been split into two camps since intense political wrangling led Mahathir to resign as prime minister in February and the king to appoint fellow party member Muhyiddin Yassin as his replacement despite Mahathir's objections.

Islamic scholars, NGOs call for Makkah, Madinah to be placed under international control
A NGO named the International Commission to Monitor Saudi Administration of Two Holy Mosques – otherwise known as Al Haramain Watch – has launched an campaign and petition to establish an international administration to manage the affairs of the two holy mosques of Makkah and Madinah. The campaign, which has already resulted in the support of around 100 Muslim scholars and human rights activists, aims to target Muslim-majority and Arab countries, as well as Muslim communities in Europe and US, in order to raise awareness of policies recently enacted by Saudi Arabia with regards to the cities’ administration and pilgrimage. According to Al-Haramain Watch, kingdom is violating both international law and morals of its founders by failing to protect the unequivocal rights of Muslims’ access to the holy sites. In recent years, Saudi Arabia has enforced a number of limitations on certain groups and nations in making the Hajj pilgrimage and from visiting the country, with examples being the ongoing ban of Qatari nationals from making the pilgrimage and the ban of Iranian nationals until it was lifted in 2017. middleeastmonitor
George Floyd: Protests over deadly arrest rock US's Minneapolis
Protests erupted across the United States on Thursday night as anger over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, intensified, with some demonstrators gaining access to a police precinct in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and setting sections of the building on fire. Floyd died on Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer used his knee to pin Floyd's neck to the ground for several minutes. A video of the incident shows Floyd pleading with officers, saying "I can't breathe" before going motionless with the officer's knee still on his neck.

Afghan forces killed as gov't urges Taliban to extend ceasefire
At least 14 members of the Afghan army have been killed in a Taliban attack as Afghan govt said the Eid ceasefire was not over yet.  Ministry of Defence said on Friday members of the Afghan army were killed in the province of Paktiya. 3 others were also wounded in the attack that was also confirmed by the Taliban.A day earlier, the Taliban killed at least 14 people from the security forces in northern Parwan and western Farah provinces. Afghanistan's NSA spokesperson Javid Faisal nevertheless wrote in a tweet on Friday that the "detente" which started during Eid holiday, marking the end of Ramadan, was continuing."The ceasefire is not over yet; there have been violations because it is a complicated technical process that requires good coordination between both sides," Faisal said.Earlier, Faisal had urged the Taliban to extend 3-day ceasefire, which came into effect on Sunday to mark Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr."It is important to extend the ceasefire and, to avoid bloodshed, the Afghan government is ready to extend it,"NSA spokesman said on Tuesday.Despite the violence, a prisoner swap crucial to the start of peace talks between warring sides in Afghanistan has continued. Taliban, which launched an armed rebellion after it was toppled from power by a US-led invasion in 2001, has remained silent on govt appeals for an extension of the ceasefire. Meanwhile, a 5-member Taliban delegation arrived in Kabul on Thursday to work with a government team on the release of prisoners on both sides, spokesmen for both sides said on Twitter.So far, Kabul has freed about 3,000 Taliban inmates, while the armed group had released about 300 Afghan security forces it held captive.

Reports of Qatar leaving Gulf bloc 'incorrect and baseless'
Qatar has denied reports that it plans to quit the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as it prepares to mark three years of a blockade imposed by its neighbours Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.However, gas-rich state cautioned that the effort by three of the GCC's six members to isolate Qatar economically and politically meant people in the region were "doubting and questioning" the organisation."Reports claiming that Qatar is considering leaving the GCC are wholly incorrect and baseless," Qatar's assistant foreign minister Lolwah al-Khater told AFP on Thursday.
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Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 07:52 PM)

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