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Palghar Sadhu lynchings: Subramanian Swamy looks to file PIL for CBI inquiry

BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy on Wednesday said that he will file a PIL for a CBI inquiry into the Palghar mob lynching case.

Swamy said that he is consulting his colleagues after which he will file a PIL into the pre-meditated murders in Palghar. He also said that he hopes that Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in the meantime will order CBI inquiry.

Taking to Twitter, Subramanian Swamy wrote: "I am consulting my colleagues and after will file a PIL for a CBI inquiry into the pre-meditated murders in Palghar district recently. I hope the CM will in the meantime will himself order it."

Subramanian Swamy

I am consulting my colleagues and after will file a PIL for a CBI inquiry into the pre-meditated  murders in Palghar district recently. I hope the CM will in the meantime will himself order it.

6:03 PM - Apr 28, 2020
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The Palghar lynching in Maharashtra, where two 'sadhus' and their driver, were cornered and lynched by a 200-strong mob outside Gadchinchle village on April 16. Police had rushed to stop it but failed.

The incident occurred on April 16 night when three men from Kandivali in Mumbai were headed towards Surat in a car to attend a funeral. Their vehicle was stopped near a village in Palghar district.

The trio were dragged out of their car and beaten to death with sticks by a mob on suspicion that they were thieves. The deceased were identified as Chikne Maharaj Kalpavrukshagiri (70), Sushilgiri Maharaj (35), and their car driver Nilesh Telgade (30).

(Inputs from Agencies)

State cases inch close to 10,000 mark, 25 dead in Mumbai, double in 2 weeks

Mumbai: With 25 new fatalities on Tuesday, Mum bai reported the highest number of Covid deaths in a single day. The toll is now 244 and the mortality rate is four per cent. The BMC also recorded 393 new cases, pushing the tally to 5,982.

So far, 1,234 have recovered and been discharged from hospital after treatment. For the second consecutive day, Maharashtra recorded 31 COVID deaths on Tuesday, which is the highest single day count so far in the state.

Meanwhile, with 729 cases being reported, the state tally crossed the 9,000-mark, with the total number of positive cases at 9,318, and 400 deaths until now. The number of deaths has doubled in a span of two weeks. The second highest single -day death toll of 16 was recorded on April 12.


Of the 25 deaths, five had occurred between April 23 and April 25, which was confirmed on Tuesday, said a civic official. According to BMC officials, 13 of the 25 deceased were male and 12 were female.

In 17 cases, comorbidities like diabetes, hypertension and asthma were involved while 14 of those dead were aged above 60 years, 10 deceased were in the 40-60 age group and one was below 40. State health officials said out of 31 deaths, 25 deaths were in Mumbai, four in Jalgaon, and two in Pune city.

However, the deaths in Jalgaon occurred four days ago which was confirmed on Tuesday. Twenty of the 31 patients (65%) had high-risk comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, heart disease, TB etc, informed an official.

Officials from the state health department said the Covid audit committee had submitted its preliminary findings and was currently working on a detailed report. In the preliminary report, the ordeal of the victims being shunted from one hospital to another has been highlighted.

Civic officials said of the total discharged, 105 were patients residing outside Mumbai but admitted to Mumbai hospitals for treatment. 102 patients tested positive at various laboratories between April 25 and April 26, as per lab reports received on Tuesday.

Of the 1,29,931 laboratory samples, 1,20,136 were negative and 9,318 had tested positive until Monday. So far, 1,388 patients have been discharged after full recovery. Currently, 1,55,170 people are in home quarantine and 9,917 people are in institutional quarantine.


From Mehul Choksi to Vijay Mallya: RBI writes off over Rs 68K cr loans of 50 top defaulters

Indian banks have technically written off a staggering amount of Rs 68,607 crore due from 50 top wilful defaulters, including absconding diamantaire Mehul Choksi, according to a reply under RTI from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Prominent RTI activist Saket Gokhale had filed an RTI query with the RBI seeking details of the 50 top wilful defaulters and their current loan status till February 16.

Saket Gokhale
After @nsitharaman refused to answer Wayanad MP @RahulGandhi's question on top 50 willful defaulters in the Lok Sabha, I'd filed an RTI asking the same question.

The RBI responded to my RTI with a list of willful defaulters (and the amount owed) as of 30th Sep, 2019.


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11:40 PM - Apr 26, 2020
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"I filed this RTI because Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur had refused to reply to this starred question asked in the Parliament by Congress MP Rahul Gandhi in the last Budget Session on February 16," Gokhale told IANS.

Disclosing what the government didn't, the RBI's Central Public Information Officer Abhay Kumar provided the replies on Saturday (April 24), with several startling revelations in the 'diamond-studded list', said Gokhale.

The RBI said that this amount (Rs 68,607 crore) comprising outstanding and the amounts technically/prudentially written off till September 30, 2019.

An inadvertent error had crept in a previous version of the report, which has now been now corrected.

"The apex bank also declined to provide the relevant information on overseas borrowers citing a Supreme Court judgement of December 16, 2015," Gokhale told IANS.

Topping the list is Choksi's scam-hit company, Gitanjali Gems Limited, which owed Rs.5,492 crore, besides other group companies, Gili India Ltd and Nakshatra Brands Ltd, which had taken loans of Rs 1,447 crore and Rs 1,109 crore, respectively.

Choksi is currently a citizen of Antigua & Barbados Isles, while his nephew and another absconder diamond trader Nirav Modi is in London.

The second in the list is REI Agro Ltd., with an amount of Rs 4,314 crore, and its directors Sandip Jhujhunwala and Sanjay Jhunjhunwala who are already under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) since over a year.

The next on the list in the Rs 4,000-crore bracket is absconding diamantaire Jatin Mehta's Winsome Diamonds & Jewellery owing Rs 4,076 crore and which is being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation for various bank frands.

In the Rs 2,000-crore category, there is the Kanpur-based writing instruments giant, Rotomac Global Pvt. Ltd., part of the famed Kothari group, which owed Rs 2,850 crore.

The others in this category include: Kudos Chemie, Punjab (Rs.2,326 crore), Baba Ramdev and Balkrishna's group company Ruchi Soya Industries Ltd., Indore (Rs.2,212 crore), and Zoom Developers Pvt. Ltd., Gwalior (Rs.2,012 crore).

There are 18 companies in the Rs.1K-segment with some prominent names like Harish R. Mehta's Ahmedabad-based Forever Precious Jewellery & Diamonds Pvt. Ltd. (Rs.,1962 crore), and absconder liquor baron Vijay Mallya's defunct Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. (Rs 1,943 crore).

Another 25 companies fall in the sub-1K-crore category with outstandings ranging from Rs 605 crore to Rs 984 crore, either individually or as group companies.

Six among the 50 top wilful defaulters are connected with the glittering diamond and/or gold jewellery industries.

"A majority of them have defaulted prominent nationalist banks over the past several years and many of them are either absconding or facing action by various probe agencies and some are under litigation," Gokhale said.

No industry is sacrosanct as the top 50 willful defaulters are spread across various sectors of the economy including IT, infrastructure, power, gold-diamond jewellery, pharma, etc.

Lockdown easing in Maharashtra depend on hotspots, says medical education minister Amit Deshmukh

MUMBAI: The state government hinted that the lockdown could be relaxed in those districts or cities where there were no corona hotspots and containment zones. Further, the state has clearly hinted that chances of any relaxation in Mumbai and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region are bleak, but Pune City may get some respite.

If most parts of a city are corona free, the lockdown can be relaxed in those areas, said Medical Education Minister Amit Deshmukh.

The state will take a final decision on the relaxation of lockdown based on the hotspots and containment zones in the city and districts, said Deshmukh, in a press conference organised on social media.

“It is clear that the lockdown in the state cannot be lifted as long as there are fresh cases of corona. But the number of hotspots will decide the extent to which this lockdown can be eased. If Mumbai has more than 50 hotspots, the lockdown cannot be relaxed in Mumbai.


But in Pune city, there are no hotspots in 80 per cent part of the city. So, the lockdown can be relaxed in 80 per cent of the city. In many cities, there are hardly any hotspots, so, in these areas too, the lockdown can be eased.

“If a patient is found in a colony, areas falling within a 1.5km radius of the colony can be sealed. If more patients are found, then a 3km radius of the colony can be sealed and the area should be made a containment zone.

After 14 days of quarantine, if there is no positive case, the area can be opened. The number of such containment zones will play a major role in deciding where lockdown restrictions can be curtailed,” he said.

Mylab testing kits soon

“The Mylab testing kits being produced in Maharashtra will be available to the state by May 1,” Deshmukh said, in answer to a question. Mylab, based in Lonavala, Pune district, has devised a testing kit which can detect corona in a short time, which has been approved by the Centre Currently, the state has the capacity to carry out 2.10 lakh tests in a month, he said.

“Though there are complaints from Gujarat about the flaws in the rapid tests kits imported from China, in Maharashtra, state government has not received any such complaint,” he mentioned. He also made it clear that the authority of buying and supplying these kits rests with the Centre, and not with the state government. -P


The coronavirus gender gap: Are men more prone to COVID-19 than women?

On Tuesday morning, an article by The New York Times asked the question: ‘Can oestrogen, other sex hormones produced by women help men survive coronavirus?’

Scientists on the Eastern and Western coast of the United States are now conducting clinical trials where they will dose men with hormones predominantly found in women. Of course, men have traces of the hormones in them, as do women have minute traces of testosterone, but that amount, it is assumed, is not enough for fight the virus.

However, while this debate continues, there are other studies that show that gender does not have a role to play. According to GlobalHealth5050, an independent research initiative that tracks gender and health, barring India and Pakistan that saw more men contract the disease than women, other countries saw an almost equal distribution of the virus, while South Korea has recorded more women patients than men.

On April 6, the Ministry of Health said that 76 per cent of men and 24 per cent of women patients in India had contracted coronavirus. However, the study failed to note the gender gap in India and Pakistan. India, according to a Niti Aayog report in 2015, recorded 900 women to 1,000 men, while Pakistan has, according to World Bank data, 919 women to 1,000 males. Iceland, which has recorded the highest gender gap in the world, meanwhile, recorded 1,792 cases of coronavirus has an almost equal division of coronavirus cases by gender in the country.


On April 19, Iceland reported 880 men and 893 women had been affected by coronavirus
Furthermore, the gender gap in essential services in India is also a factor. 7.5 per cent women are in the police force; medical facilities have also shown a lack of women in the workspace. Only 17% of all allopathic doctors and 6% of those in rural India are women, despite more women medical students.

Another factor that needs to be taken into consideration in these two countries that have recorded high cases of coronavirus is that men tend to be an integral part of the workforce – whether it’s a white collared worker or a daily-wage labourer. This means that men will be in close proximity to someone who has an infection and in the process, contract it.

Data that has been collected so far from across the world shows that those who have suffered from COVID-19 had underlying health conditions such as blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease and other lifestyle-induced conditions.

According to a study in Harvard Health, men die younger than women, and are burdened by illness during life. They end up having more chronic illnesses than women. Other factors like biological factors play a role, but social factors such as work stress and behavioural factors such as aggression, smoking and excessive drinking, make men more susceptible to lifestyle disease and in the process, to coronavirus.

While men in India are prone to develop lifestyle diseases in their 30s, women tend to develop them a couple of decades later - in their 50s, says a study.

Indian men between the ages of 30-44 years have a high incidence of high LDL --low density lipoprotein, or the so called "bad cholesterol" -- one of the major causes for a variety of lifestyle diseases, showed the findings from the survey by home diagnostic service provider Healthians in 2019.

However, for women this high risk becomes a reality once they cross the age of 50 -- the risk being highest between the ages of 50-59.

And the older people are more prone to the coronavirus, as the WHO has said in a study. And senior citizens with lifestyle diseases are even more prone to the disease, given what the Harvard study suggests.

While there is no conclusive evidence that men are more prone to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, one thing is for certain, at least from the data collected: the greater the lifestyle risk and the more exposure you have to people with infectious disease, the more prone you are to the coronavirus.

’City not yet ready to be free of curbs’, says Aslam Shaikh

MUMBAI: Guardian Minister Aslam Shaikh, who is also a cabinet rank minister of textile, port and fisheries in Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's government, in a telephonic interview with the Free Press Journal correspondent Sweety Adimulam hints that the city is not yet ready to uplift the lockdown given its number of hotspots. However, he asserts that the government’s stand on it would be clear by April 30.

The entire city is reporting a rise in the number of cases. Being a guardian minister of the city, how are you monitoring the situation?

All the officials are in constant touch with each other to keep a track of the entire situation. We have video conference calls to discuss strategies and plans to tackle this pandemic. Simultaneously, we are also increasing the number of beds in hospitals, quarantine and isolation centre facilities. In Mumbai, the cases are largely asymptomatic. So far, we have been able to manage the situation.

What is the reason for the rise in the number of cases in Mumbai?

Several reasons could be attributed to it. First, we have slum pockets that have toilets shared by a large population. Second, we have markets where people gather in large numbers.

These were the two places where maximum transmission of the virus took place. For instance, in Dharavi, one toilet is used by 150 odd families.

Obviously, an infected person can spread the virus to countless others. However, the best part is that a lot of asymptomatic people are coming forward, are getting treated and are also quarantining themselves.

So, we are on the right track. Even the mortality rate has declined from 9 per cent to 4.5 per cent now. 70 to 85 per cent of the deaths reported now have a history of sickness before getting infected.

Do we have adequate medical facilities to tackle the virus? Are we seeking money from state/centre separately for Mumbai?

Definitely, we have made all the required provisions to handle the situation. Currently, we have a capacity of around 600 beds in the civic run Seven Hills Hospital. In the next 15 days, it will go up to 1400 beds.

In other hospitals also, we are doubling the capacity of beds. We are not seeking separate funds for Mumbai, as the civic body has sufficient money and we are managing through it. However, we are asking the centre for funds for the state.

Worli is declared as one of the containment zones and has been completely sealed for the past few weeks. Is there any sign of easing the restrictions?

For another 10 to 15 days, we cannot remove the restrictions. The situation in Worli has barely come under control. Until everything is neutralised completely, we cannot unseal the place.

The nation-wide lockdown will continue till May 3. What has the government planned to do after that?

Right now, the city is not ready for the lockdown to be eased, as there are so many hotspots. I don't see any visible chance of lifting the lockdown in Mumbai. We are still monitoring the situation closely.


Coronavirus in Mumbai: 5 Mantralaya staff members test positive; state govt quiet about making it a containment zone

Mumbai: The coronavirus has finally found its way to the seat of power in Maharashtra, Mantralaya. On Monday, the first working day at the headquarters of the state government, five people are reported to have tested positive. One of them is a doctor in the ambulance stationed at Mantralaya for medical emergencies. State government officials were tight-lipped about this development.

According to reliable sources in Mantralaya, five persons were found positive in the afternoon. One of the infected is an employee in the public works department, another is the ambulance doctor, while the remaining three are workers engaged in the cleaning of Mantralaya. They have been shifted to quarantine facilities, according to the source.

Will Mantralaya now be a containment zone? As per the current norm, if three or more patients are found in a building or society, the state government announces that a 3km area in the radius of the affected building becomes a containment zone.

Once an area is declared thus, it is sealed, and nobody can enter or leave the building. Contact-tracing of all those found positive is undertaken. The family members too are checked and asked to quarantine. Generally, the area is sealed for at least 14 days. The question is whether the same guidelines will apply in this case.

Will the government take a dose of its own medicine? Last week also, a worker engaged in cleaning was found positive. But the discovery of five positive patients in one day, has jolted the state government and health machinery.

Since one of the patients is an employee working in Mantralaya, he is likely to have come in contact with many people in Mantralaya, though it is currently working at 50 per cent staff strength. The doctor is also likely to have checked and treated many people in and outside Mantralaya.

Coronavirus lockdown: PM Modi interacts with CMs to take stock COVID-19 situation

On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with the Chief Ministers of all States to take stock of coronavirus situation.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds video conference with the Chief Ministers of all States on COVID19 situation.

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10:27 PM - Apr 26, 2020
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The Prime Minister has held two such interactions earlier with the Chief Ministers over the COVID-19 situation and lockdown imposed to prevent its spread. Modi had on March 24 announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of COVID-19. The lockdown was later extended till May 3.

Before the lockdown was announced, the Prime Minister had interacted with the Chief Ministers on March 20 to discuss the means to check the spread of the virus. In his last interaction with the Chief Ministers on April 11, Modi had thanked the states for supporting the decision of the 21-day nationwide lockdown and praised how all the states have worked together as a team to check the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that the only mantra (formula) to fight against COVID-19 is to maintain two-yard distance between two persons.

PM Modi said in a video message, "At a time when there is no vaccine to fight against COVID-19, when we do not know when the vaccine will be developed, then there is only one mantra of being healthy and fight against COVID-19 -- maintain two-yard distance between two persons. We should follow this and motivate others to follow the same."

Punjab Police start #MeinBhiHarjeetSingh drive to stand in solidarity with all cops and doctors who are attacked

The Punjab Police on Monday launched a campaign to condemn attack on doctors and policemen at the time of the novel coronavirus, COVID19.

Taking to Twitter, the DGP of Punjab Police, Dinkar Gupta, said, “Let’s show everyone that any attack on policemen & doctors, fighting COVID-19 on the frontlines,like SI Harjeet Singh, will unite India together as One. In solidarity with SI Harjeet& all warriors, I urge you all to wear his name proudly on your chests today. #MainBhiHarjeetSingh (Sic).”

DGP Punjab Police

Let’s show everyone that any attack on policemen & doctors, fighting COVID-19 on the frontlines,like SI Harjeet Singh, will unite India together as One.
In solidarity with SI Harjeet& all warriors, I urge you all to wear his name proudly on your chests today.#MainBhiHarjeetSingh

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9:31 PM - Apr 26, 2020
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Notably, Harjeet Singh, the cop whose name has been used, was attacked by a gang of miscreants during the lockdown. His hand was chopped when a group of Nihangs attacked him when he asked the group members show curfew passes at a vegetable market in Patiala district, police said.

Seven people, including five attackers, were arrested hours later after an exchange of fire at a gurdwara where the group fled after the 6.15 am incident in Sanaur town.

One of the arrested men suffered gunshot wound, police said. A `mandi' official was also hurt earlier.

The Nihangs -- members of a Sikh sect whose adherents carry traditional arms and wear blue robes -- arrived in an SUV and were told to stop by 'mandi' officials, police said "They were asked to show passes. But they rammed the vehicle against the gate and the barricades," Patiala's Senior Superintendent of Police Mandeep Singh Sidhu said.

Singh’s hand was successfully stitched back. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had said that the severed wrist of the assistant sub-inspector was stitched back after a 7.5-hour-long surgery.

"I am happy to share that a 7.5-hour long surgery has been successfully completed at PGIMER to repair the severed wrist of ASI Harjeet Singh. I thank the entire team of doctors and support staff for their painstaking effort. Wishing ASI Harjeet Singh a speedy recovery," said Chief Minister Singh.

Will local trains run in Mumbai during lockdown? Central Railways issues notice

For the last few days, news of local trains resuming in Mumbai has been doing the rounds on social media. And, in a bid to curb such news, Central Railway, on Monday, issued a statement on Twitter refuting these reports. There will be no trains till May 3.

Divisional Railway Manager (Mumbai) wrote: "It is once again reiterated that no passenger train, no suburban train will run till 3.5.2020."

It is once again reiterated that no passenger train, no suburban train will run till 3.5.2020.

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The detailed statement reads: “Assistance of dear media colleagues is urgently sought to display wrong news/fake news doing rounds about any possibility of running of trains. You are all aware that all passenger trains services have been suspended till 3rd May 2020. However, some irresponsible reporting on different media platforms (especially social media) by uninformed individuals is apparently leading to notice that some trains may start soon. This is totally wrong and needs to nipped in the bud before it misguides more.”

Prior to this, on April 14, Central Railway has tweeted saying no stations will be open and no trains will running till May 3, 2020.

“Passenger train services cancelled till 3rd May 2020. All ticket counters will remain closed. Advance online ticket booking stopped completely. The online cancellation facility will remain functional. Full refund for all cancelled tickets,” the tweet read.

Central Railway

Passenger train services cancelled till 3rd May 2020.
All ticket counters will remain closed.
Advance online ticket booking stopped completely.
Online cancellation facility will remain functional.
Full refund for all cancelled tickets.#COVID19 #IndiaFightsCorona

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2:01 AM - Apr 14, 2020
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With the increase in number of coronavirus cases in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had extended the lockdown till May 3. After which, railway authorities suspended the Mumbai local and outstation trains.

Local trains are the lifeline of Mumbai as over 80 lakh people travel use the public transport every day. The Central and the Western Railway operate over 3,000 services on suburban routes daily.