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Nine terrorists killed in an encounter with Indian Army at LoC

In a major encounter, nine terrorists were killed by Indian Army in last 24 hours in Kashmir valley, said Army sources.

Army sources further added that while four terrorists were killed on Saturday in Batpura district in South Kashmir, five other terrorists were killed along Line of Control (LoC) in the Keran sector.

At least four terrorists were killed by security forces here and four weapons were recovered from them on Saturday, said army sources.

"We have neutralised four terrorists and recovered four weapons from them. Search for the fifth is underway. We appeal to the people in Kulgam district to not provide shelter to terrorists as they may spread COVID-19 infection," Jammu and Kashmir General Operation Commanding (GOC) Victor Force, A Sengupta, said.

Apparently, the terrorists killed in Keran sector were trying to infiltrate from across the Line of Control.

In this operation, one Indian Army soldier has lost his life while two more are critically injured, said Army sources.

Now, while the operations to evacuate the injured were underway, it has now been hampered by heavy snow and rough terrain conditions. However, operation is still remain in progress, said Army sources.

Weapons and warlike stores were recovered from the possession of the killed terrorists.


Unity amid a pandemic: Tajinder Bagga goes out of his way to help bete noire Prashant Bhushan's cousin-in-law

There are things we never thought we would see in our lifetime. US President Donald Trump meeting North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi hugging PM Modi in Lok Sabha is another thing that comes to mind. However, Delhi BJP member Tajinder Bagga offering help to former AAP leader Prashant Bhushan is something we would never expect, given their previous animosity. And it proves one thing: when there is a global pandemic, everyone puts their differences aside and works together to help.

It all began when Bhushan shared a tweet about his cousin’s brother-in-law. “A highly acclaimed cardiologist in the US who is on a ventilator due to COVID-19. He needs a plasma donor from among recovered COVID patients immediately. If there is any such donor, it would be great if you could contact the numbers below.”

Bagga was the first to respond asking Dr Vijay Chauthaiwale if he could help. Chauthiwale is the in-charge, Foreign Affairs Dept in the BJP.

Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga

. @vijai63 ji can you help …

Prashant Bhushan

This is my cousin's brother in law. A highly acclaimed cardiologist in the US who is on a ventilator due to Covid-19. He needs a plasma donor from among recovered Covid patients immediately. If there is any donor of that kind, would be great if you could contact the numbers below

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9:21 PM - Apr 4, 2020
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Notably, Bagga and Bhushan have had an acrimonious past. In 2011, before he was officially part of the BJP, he led an organisation called the Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena and attacked SC advocate Prashant Bhushan tweeting proudly: "We hit Prashant Bhushan hard in his chamber in Supreme Court. If u will try to break my nation, I will break ur heads.”

He had been detained for the incident. The incident had been condemned by a host of senior BJP leaders including LK Advani and Rajnath Singh and Bagga even claimed he had left the BJP’s youth wing to foment trouble from outside.

Over 30% of coronavirus positive patients in India attended Tablighi Jamaat event in Nizamuddin: Report

The Tablighi Jamaat gathering at Nizamuddin has accounted for a little over 30 per cent of the total number of COVID-19 cases in India, according to an Indian Express report.

So far, India has recorded 3,500-plus cases, with over 1,000 of them coming from the gathering at Nizamuddin.

The cases have come from 17 states and Union Territories — Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Assam, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

On Thursday, 544 people were tested positive for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Of these, 65 per cent belonged to the Tablighi Jamaat group.

The Tabhighi Jamaat was event held in Delhi's Nizamuddin earlier this month, even as officials asked people to avoid mass congregations, has had a problematic ending. Many of the attendees have since tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and some of them have passed away.

On Wednesday an undated audio clip emerged, purportedly of Tablighi Jamaat chief Maulana Saad Khandhlawi encouraging people to gather in mosques.

"If you think you will die if you assemble in a masjid, let me tell you, there is no better place to die," he had said at the time. Lamenting the fact that people "can't even pray", he had added that "they" wanted people to stop praying so that it wouldn't add to their difficulties.

"We will only accept that doctor's advice who follows the path of Allah and fears the almighty," he declared. However, even such a doctor would be ignored if he gave them similar advice, he had declared.

But with thousands of followers in quarantine, and many others testing positive for the virus, Saad appears to have had a change of heart.

In a new video he asks followers to listen to officials and self-quarantine themselves. Not only that, he now appears to believe that staying at home is the "only way to calm God's wrath".

"One should follow the advice of doctors and cooperate with the administration. Wherever our members are, they should follow the administration's orders," he said.


9 Baje 9 Minute: PM Modi's call to turn off lights can lead to failure of power grid, says Maharashtra Energy Minister

On Friday, Maharashtra Energy Minister Nitin Raut said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call to switch off lights at 9 pm on Sunday might lead to failure of power grid.

News agency ANI reported, Nitin Raut in video message said, "If all lights are switched off at once it might lead to failure of grid. All our emergency services will fail and it might take a week's time to restore power."

Sudhir Suryawanshi
Energy minister @NitinRaut_INC requested @PMOIndia not to ask shutting down power rather ask to light only candles or lamps on April 5. He said, shutting down light will create problem at power grid & once power grid is trip down, it takes 16 hours to restore @NewIndianXpress

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8:54 PM - Apr 3, 2020
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The Minister urged people to light candles and lamps without switching off lights at their homes. "Putting off the lights together at the same time can lead to a huge difference in demand and supply. As there is lockdown, the demand has already decreased from 23,000 megawatt to 13,000 megawatt as factory units are not operating," he said. "Switching off the lights at the time will lead to a blackout that is likely to affect emergency services. It would take us at least 12-16 hours to restore services. Electricity is a major tool during this COVID-19 crisis," he said.

In a video message on Friday, the Prime Minister asked citizens to turn all lights off in their houses at 9 pm on Sunday (April 5) and to stand at their doors or windows with a candle, diya and torch for nine minutes in a battle against the COVID-19.In his address to the nation on March 24, the Prime Minister had announced a 21-day lockdown in the country to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, which has infected over 2,000 people in the country.

(Inputs from Agencies)

Donnie say, Donnie no do: Trump refuses to wear a mask during coronavirus pandemic

President Donald Trump has recommended Americans to cover their faces with scarves or homemade cloth masks while going outside to curb the spread of the coronavirus though he would not wear one himself.

Well, not only did he decide to not follow his own guidelines, he also seems to have dared to ignore his wife Melania Trump's advice to wear a mask and practise social distancing amid the coronavirus outbreak.

"As the weekend approaches I ask that everyone take social distancing & wearing a mask/face covering seriously. #COVID19 is a virus that can spread to anyone - we can stop this together," Melania tweeted.

Melania Trump

As the weekend approaches I ask that everyone take social distancing & wearing a mask/face covering seriously. #COVID19 is a virus that can spread to anyone - we can stop this together.

2:45 PM - Apr 3, 2020
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Earlier, citing the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Trump urged people to wear face coverings like scarves or homemade cloth masks, and to keep medical-grade masks available for the health workers.

"The CDC is advising the use of non-medical cloth face covering as an additional voluntary public health measure," Trump said on Friday.

"The CDC is not recommending the use of medical-grade or surgical-grade masks. Those needs to be used for medical people working to save lives of Americans. Medical protective gear must be reserved for the front-line healthcare workers who are performing those vital services," he said.

CDC has recommended that Americans wear a basic cloth or fabric masks that can be either purchased online or simply made at home.

However, Trump said that he will not follow that guidance.

"I just don't want to wear one myself, it's a recommendation," he said.

"Somehow sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute Desk, the great Resolute Desk, I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, dictators, kings, queens, I don't know, I don't see it for myself," he said.

"Maybe I’ll change my mind, but this will pass, and hopefully it will pass very quickly," he added.

The deadly coronavirus has so far claimed over 7,000 lives in the US and infected over 2,70,000 people.

During the press conference, Trump stressed that the new masks guidelines do not replace CDC's guidance on social distancing, including staying at home when possible, standing at least 6 feet apart for a period of time and also called for practicing hand hygiene.

Based on the new available data, CDC said the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity--for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing--even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.

Coronavirus update: US death toll crosses mind-boggling 1,500 people in just one day!

The US has recorded nearly 1,500 coronavirus deaths in a span of 24 hours, the highest number of fatalities registered in a day globally since the pandemic began last December, it was reported.

According to figures from the Washington-based Johns Hopkins University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE), 1,480 deaths were recorded between Thursday and Friday.

As of Saturday morning, the US has registered 7,152 coronavirus deaths, with New York, the epicentre of the pandemic in the country, accounting for 1,867 of the total count, the CSSE figures showed.

The US also has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world at 277,953.

In the wake of the increasing death toll, US President Donald Trump announced new guidelines on Friday recommending that Americans wear face coverings while in public to battle the spread of the coronavirus pandemic but made it clear that he is "choosing not to do it".

"It's a recommendation. It's voluntary. I just don't want to wear one myself", Trump said, reflecting the mood of the fairly long drawn debate on the subject at the highest levels of the US government.

The New York metro area remains the epicenter of the outbreak in the US. Its high population density, tourist traffic in the early months of the year before border controls kicked in, and surface transmission from a robust public transport system have been cited by public health experts as crucial ingredients of the virus' deadly blow.


Facing severe shortage of intensive care equipment, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is taking one of the most aggressive steps yet in the US battle against COVID-19. Cuomo said he would sign an executive order to take ventilators that aren't being used.

Cuomo has said New York could run out of ventilators next week. Louisiana's governor said New Orleans could be down to zero supply by Tuesday. Global shortages of masks, gowns and ventilators have led to intense competition among buyers from all over.

The race is on to find a vaccine, but America's leading scientists say a breakthrough is at least 12-18 months away. Social distancing guidelines are in place but compliance differs across state lines.

The new guidelines on face coverings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) come basis evolving research that indicates pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic spread of the virus.


The CDC is recommending wearing cloth face coverings in public settings like grocery stores and pharmacies where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

The guidance especially applies "in areas of significant community-based transmission."

CDC and the White House task force are underlining that home made face masks are an additional and "voluntary" measure that run in parallel with the social distancing guidelines already in place since March 16.

US guidelines currently in place recommend staying at home, keeping at least 6 feet distance from others, frequent hand washing and not touching your face.

The US surgeon general who had asked people to "stop buying masks" today explained the new guidelines are part of the "evolving" recommendations.

Trump's comments come on the same day that First lady Melania Trump tweeted endorsement for the new guidelines and urged everyone take social distancing and wearing a mask or face covering "seriously".


White House coronavirus task force co-ordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said early and effective social distancing compliance in California and Washington State have controlled the outbreak in those states. "We do see that their curve is different," she said.

"Their curve is different from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. And we really believe that the work that every citizen is doing in those states is making a difference."

Birx said Chicago, Detroit, Colorado, the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania are all floating into view as new areas of concern.

America's COVID19 hotspots New York and New Jersey, are reporting 35 percent of their tests are positive. Louisiana follows close behind with a 26 per cent positive rate. Michigan, Connecticut, Indiana, Georgia and Illinois are at 15 per cent while Colorado, Washington DC, Rhode Island and Massachusetts are all at 13 per cent.

This week, the Trump administration revealed for the first time multiple predictive models that are being used to estimate its grim assessment of a 1,00,000-2,00,000 coronavirus death toll in the country. The 1,00,000-2,00,000 death toll projection "assumes full mitigation measures" currently in place, according to America's top doctors leading the White House task force.

The world's top pandemic experts are saying the outbreak in the US is unlike anything they have seen before.

"There's no magic bullet. There's no magic vaccine or therapy. It's just behaviours. Each of our behaviours, translating into something that changes the course of this viral pandemic over the next 30 days", Birx has said repeatedly.

The 1,00,000-2,00,000 death toll projection "assumes full mitigation measures" currently in place, according to the White House task force. The current guidelines stop short of a complete lockdown, still allowing people to go outside the home for solitary activities and for essential tasks.

"We trust the American people to keep that six feet distance when they go out, meet people. That is why we have not issued a complete lockdown", Birx said. She said that if people maintain "that six feet distance", they have controlled the virus.


Coronavirus lockdown: Maha govt likely to extend lockdown by few more weeks in Mumbai, other urban areas

Mumbai: There may not be respite for Maharashtra just yet. Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Friday the State government may have to extend the lockdown by a few more weeks, especially in Mumbai and other urban areas. The nationwide, three-week lockdown announced by PM Modi is set to end on April 14.

“We are expecting the positive Covid-19 cases to recede by April 15, after an initial spike. We will have to extend the lockdown period by a few more weeks… Lifting it fully in a city like Mumbai is unlikely,” said Tope, adding imposing restrictions to contain the spread of coronavirus is a decision the state government can take.

As of 8.30pm on Friday, Maharashtra had the highest number of Covid-19 cases (335) and the highest fatalities (16) in the country, according to the Union health ministry website. “We had imposed a complete lockdown in Maharashtra two days before it was announced across the country.

Before that, too, we had imposed restrictions in urban areas and shut down public places. Containing the spread [of coronavirus] in a city like Mumbai is a herculean task, and the decision to end the lockdown will have to be taken cautiously and after due deliberation.

I personally feel it will have to be extended in Mumbai,” said the minister. Modi, during his videoconference with chief ministers of all states on Thursday, hinted at a staggered lifting of the lockdown in consultation with the states.


He reportedly asked states to prepare their exit plans and submit suggestions to the Centre on the withdrawal of the lockdown. Seniors leaders in the state government, however, feel lifting restrictions immediately after the completion of 21 days would jeopardise their efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Tope, meanwhile, said the containment of the virus in Mumbai is a “big task”, but they are not leaving any stone unturned. “Our health workers, police and municipal corporation workers have been working on the cluster containment action plan, with 292 teams working on it in Mumbai.

We have more than 800 employees working as part of these teams to trace suspected cases. The number of suspected cases has increased owing to the Tablighi Jamaat programme organised in (Delhi’s) Nizamuddin last month. But we are sure that we will be able to contain it,” he said.

The state government was mulling exempting auxiliary sectors, which support essential sectors in production, from the lockdown. A state government official, who did not want to be named, said manufacturing units engaged in the production of polythene or chemicals required for packaging of essential commodities are likely to be exempted from the lockdown. “The stock of material manufactured in these auxiliary sectors will last for the next eight days or so.

As per the representation made to us by these sectors, they need to be exempted from the lockdown,” the official said. Tope said the exemption of such sectors was necessary to ensure the smooth supply of essential goods.


Air India stops bookings for domestic, international flights till April 30

New Delhi: National carrier Air India has stopped bookings for domestic and international flights till April 30 as it awaits a decision from the government on the lockdown that ends on April 14, according to a spokesperson.

No-frills carriers IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir said they are taking bookings for domestic flights starting April 15. In the case of SpiceJet and GoAir, they have started selling tickets for international flights from May 1. An IndiGo spokesperson said bookings for international flights remain suspended.

Full service carrier Vistara said it has started bookings for travel from April 15. Commercial flights on domestic and international routes have been suspended till April 14 amid the nationwide lockdown to prevent spreading of coronavirus infections. The Air India spokesperson said bookings have now been closed till April 30 from Friday.

"We are awaiting a decision post April 14," he added. Spokespersons for SpiceJet and GoAir said bookings are open for travel on domestic flights from April 15 and for international flights from May 1.

"We continue to take bookings from April 15 onwards as of now. We will take action otherwise if there is any new notification from the (civil aviation) ministry," a Vistara spokesperson said.

There was no immediate comment from budget carrier AirAsia India. On Thursday, Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola said airlines are free to take ticket bookings for any date after April 14. The 21-day nationwide lockdown began on March 25.

Turn off lights on April 5 between 9pm and 9.09pm and light candles to show solidarity against coronavirus: PM Modi's message to India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday addressed the nation at 9 am, a day after he spoke to all the chief ministers via video conferencing.

We need to move from hopelessness to hope, the PM added. “On April 5, we will all come together to give COVID-19 a message. All of us must come together at 9 pm on April 5 for nine minutes to shut their lights and come to your balconies to light a candle, torch or mobile flashlight and leave the rest of the lights off. This is our message that we are fighting COVID-19,” PM Modi said, adding that this will proof to show that nobody is alone. He, however, cautioned Indians to maintain social distancing while the lit the lamps.

“It’s been nine days since the lockdwonand I hail the nation for the way they have adhered to the rules put by the government and stayed indoors,” the PM added.

Saying that this lockdown has set an example for other countries across the world. “The country has become one and can fight COVID-19,” he added.

“With crores of people staying indoors, one point that comes to mind is what will do alone? You probably ask yourself how you will manage alone like this? True, it’s a lockdown period, but we are not alone. We are all with each other,” the PM added.

Watch the video here


Earlier, during his interaction with the CMs, PM Modi said that the States, and the Centre must form common exit strategy once lockdown ends.

PM Modi also outlined that the common goal for the country is to ensure minimum loss of life. In the next few weeks, testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine should remain the areas of focus. He highlighted the necessity of maintaining supply of essential medical products, availability of raw material for manufacture of medicines and medical equipment.

He said it is necessary to ensure availability of separate, dedicated hospital facilities for COVID-19 patients. To increase the availability of doctors, he asked the States to tap into the resource pool of AYUSH doctors, organize online training and utilize para-medical staff, NCC and NSS volunteers.


'What we expected from you today': P Chidambaram slams PM Modi for not addressing economic issues

On Friday, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said that rather than asking people to light candles and diyas Prime Minister Narendra Modi should have announced steps to tackle India's economic woes, including relief measures for poor people hit hard by the lockdown.

This came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to light candles and diyas on April 5 at 9 p.m. for nine minutes to dispel the darkness and gloom brought by the coronavirus outbreak.

Taking to Twitter, the former Union Minister wrote: "Dear Narendra Modi, We will listen to you and light diyas on April 5. But, in return, please listen to us and to the wise counsel of epidemiologists and economists."

P. Chidambaram

Dear @narendramodi,
We will listen to you and light diyas on April 5. But, in return, please listen to us and to the wise counsel of epidemiologists and economists.

9:27 PM - Apr 2, 2020
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While tagging Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Chidambaram said "we expected from you today was FAP II, a generous livelihood support package for the poor."

In a series of tweets, Chidambaram said, "Every working man and woman, from business person to daily wage earner, also expected you to announce steps to arrest the economic slide and re-start the engines of economic growth."

P. Chidambaram

 · 2h
Replying to @PChidambaram_IN
Every working man and woman, from business person to daily wage earner, also expected you to announce steps to arrest the economic slide and re-start the engines of economic growth.

P. Chidambaram

The people are disappointed on both counts.

Symbolism is important, but serious thought to ideas and measures is equally important.@PMOIndia @nsitharamanoffc

9:27 PM - Apr 2, 2020
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The senior Congress leader also said that serious thought to ideas and measures shoud be taken to tackle economic growth. "The people are disappointed on both counts. Symbolism is important, but serious thought to ideas and measures is equally important," he added.

Days after the stupendous success of the 'Janata curfew ', Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday appealed to citizens to light candles and diyas on April 5 at 9 p.m. for nine minutes to dispel the darkness and gloom brought by the outbreak of the deadly novel coronavirus. He termed it as an attempt to show coronavirus, the strength of Indian unity and 'light'.