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NASA rover sends 1st colour images of Mars, a selfie too

In the following weeks, Perseverance will test its robotic arm and take its first, short drive.

NASAs Perseverance rover has sent some stunning photos of the Red Planet, including a high-resolution colour selfie taken during its landing.

The selfie is part of a video taken by several cameras as NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on Mars on February 18.

“While NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover sent back a stop-motion movie of its descent, Perseverance’s cameras are intended to capture video of its touchdown and this new still image was taken from that footage, which is still being relayed to Earth and processed,” the US space agency said in a statement on Friday.

A camera aboard the descent stage captured the shot.

Unlike with past rovers, the majority of Perseverance’s cameras capture images in colour.

After landing, two of the Hazard Cameras (Hazcams) captured views from the front and rear of the rover, showing one of its wheels in the Martian dirt.

A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life.

The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (the European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these cached samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

In the days to come, engineers will pore over the rover’s system data, updating its software and beginning to test its various instruments.

In the following weeks, Perseverance will test its robotic arm and take its first, short drive.

It will be at least one or two months until Perseverance will find a flat location to drop off Ingenuity, the mini-helicopter attached to the rover’s belly, and even longer before it finally hits the road, beginning its science mission and searching for its first sample of Martian rock and sediment.

PM Modi asks VBU to help farmers, artisans access global market

Modi said some highly educated and skilled people were spreading terror and violence in the world, while others were toiling day and night to free people from a global epidemic like Covid-19.

Addressing the annual convocation of Visva-Bharati University through video conferencing today, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who is the Chancellor of this Central University, said that the new ‘National Education Policy’ is a significant step towards a selfreliant India.

In order to find solutions to the ongoing problems, Modi appealed to the students’ community to adopt a “nation first” approach instead of being a part of the crisis

Praising the world view of poet-philosopher Rabindranath Tagore, Modi asked VisvaBharati students to help farmers and artisans of nearby villages find global markets. He said Guru Rabindranath Tagore had not envisioned the university as a typical educational institution but one that will help Indian culture realise its full potential globally.

He asked the institution’s students to prepare a 25-point vision document for the next 25 years that will lead all education establishments in the country to emulate it and enhance India’s image globally.

“A starting point could be that the students under mentorship of teachers of this inspirational institution begin helping farmers, artisans living in villages nearby to find global markets for their products. That will be a step towards building an ‘Atmanirbhar’ (self-reliant) Bharat,” he said.

He said Bengal can become an example of how unity can boost national growth and progress. “Bengal is an inspiration for Ek Bharat-Shreshth Bharat campaign. Visva Bharati will play a big role in the 21st-century knowledge economy, taking Indian knowledge and identity to every corner of the world. Students should prepare a vision document for the next 25 years about the 25 biggest goals of Visva Bharati in 2047,” he said.

He told the gathering that with knowledge comes responsibility and the knowledge attained by the students was not theirs alone but a legacy for future generations. “Your knowledge is not only yours but society’s… it is the heritage of the country. Your knowledge and skill can make a nation proud or push society into the darkness of slander and ruin,” he said.

Modi said some highly educated and skilled people were spreading terror and violence in the world, while others were toiling day and night to free people from a global epidemic like Covid-19. “It is not about ideology but the mindset, whether it is positive or negative,” he said.

Visva-Bharati University, situated at Birbhum’s Santiniketan was founded by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore in 1921. It is one of the oldest Central Universities in the country. In May 1951, Visva-Bharati University was declared to be a Central University and ‘an Institution of National Importance’ by an Act of Parliament. The PM is the Chancellor of this university.

More than 2,500 students received their degrees in the convocation. Bengal Governor and Rector of Visva-Bharati, Jagdeep Dhankhar, Union Education Minister Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and VBU vice-chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty were present on this occasion.

(With input from PTI)

Amit Shah summoned by court in defamation case filed by TMC MP

Reacting on the development, Bengal BJP spokesman Samik Bhattacharjee said that the matter would be looked into by the lawyer of Amit Shah.

A court in West Bengal on Friday issued summons to Union Home Minister Amit Shah to appear either personally or through a lawyer before it on February 22 in connection with a defamation case lodged against him by Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee.

The designated MP/MLA court at Bidhannagar asked Shah to appear in person or through a lawyer at 10 a.m. next Monday.

The judge ordered that Shah’s presence either personally or through a lawyer is required to respond to a charge of defamation under section 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) (Punishment for defamation).

In a release, Sanjay Basu, lawyer of Banerjee, nephew of Chief Minister and ruling Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, claimed that Shah had passed certain defamatory comments against the Lok Sabha member at a BJP rally in Kolkata on August 11, 2018.

Reacting on the development, Bengal BJP spokesman Samik Bhattacharjee said that the matter would be looked into by the lawyer of Amit Shah.

“However, we are both in the ground and in the court. Legal action would be deal with legally. As the TMC leaders are unable to deal the issues raised by the BJP, they are trying to take shelter of the court.”

PM suggests spl visas for doctors & nurses to tackle emergencies

Modi lauded the way the health systems of the countries cooperated during the pandemic and for meeting the challenge in the most densely populated region with coordinated response.

Addressing a meeting of experts and health officials from neighbouring countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today suggested creating a special visa scheme for doctors and nurses within the region so that they can travel quickly during health emergencies, on the request of the receiving country.

Apart from India, representatives of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, Seychelles and Sri Lanka attended the meeting on ‘Covid- 19 Management: Experience, Good Practices and Way Forward’.

Modi lauded the way the health systems of the countries cooperated during the pandemic and for meeting the challenge in the most densely populated region with coordinated response.

He recalled the creation of the Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund to meet the immediate costs of fighting the pandemic and sharing of resources ~ medicines, PPE, and testing equipment.

The PM also noted sharing of experiences and learning from each other’s best practices in testing, infection control and medical waste management. “This spirit of collaboration is a valuable take-away from this pandemic. Through our openness and determination, we have managed to achieve one of the lowest fatality rates in the world. This deserves to be applauded. Today, the hopes of our region and the world are focused on rapid deployment of vaccines. In this too, we must maintain the same collaborative spirit” he said.

He also asked whether the Civil Aviation Ministries of the countries in the region could coordinate a regional air ambulance agreement for medical contingencies. He suggested that the regional countries could create a platform for collating, compiling and studying data about the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines among their populations. He wondered if the regional countries could create a regional network for promoting technology-assisted epidemiology, for preventing future pandemics.

The PM suggested sharing of successful public health policies and schemes. He said from India, Ayushman Bharat and Jan Arogya schemes might be useful case-studies for the region.

Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha briefs foreign diplomats about attempts of Pakistan to destabilise J&K

The envoys interacted with political leaders and members of the civil society before flying back to Delhi in the evening.

Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha on Thursday briefed the visiting foreign envoys about the attempts of Pakistan to destabilize J&K and said the years of suffering for people of Jammu and Kashmir ended on 5 August 2019 when the Article 370 was abrogated and the state split into two union territories (UTs).

Referring to the attempts of Pakistan to destabilize J&K, the LG made it clear; “We do not want to lose sight of holistic development, despite relentless attempts by our neighbor to destabilize the security situation and trigger social disharmony by exporting terror”.

The diplomats arrived here from Srinagar where they spent a day interacting with cross-section of the society to ascertain the situation after abrogation of the special status of J&K.

Impressed with the situation, Eritrea ambassador Alem Tsehaye Woldermariam remarked that change is visible in Jammu and Kashmir and said that the envoy’s visit to J&K is an eye opener and improves the understanding of important issues.

Sinha interacted with the diplomats who halted here for couple of hours on their flight back to New Delhi. He said; “Years of suffering for J&K people ended on 5th August 2019. Efforts of PM Narendra Modi ushered the UT in a new era of socio-economic development and empowerment of the people”. He thanked the envoys for making this trip to see reality on the ground.

“We have developed an ecosystem of democratic values, welfare principles and economic development in J&K. Peace, progress, prosperity and people first is my vision for development of Jammu and Kashmir”, the LG told the diplomats.

Referring to infrastructure development, Sinha said; “We are investing more than ever before in infrastructure, industries, education, healthcare, skill development, sustainable livelihood so that every citizen of Jammu & Kashmir has a safe future and earn recognition”.

“Targeted solutions have been devised to address the issues like poverty, health, Skill development of youth, job opportunities and concrete steps are being taken to ensure that benefits of government schemes reach the last mile”, he said.

“With the vision of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, we seek to work together as a team for the prosperity and well being of Jammu Kashmir and global community as a whole”, he told the visiting envoys.

My effort is to create bliss and seeds for flowering of each and every citizen of the UT. You can see blooming of development in UT for yourself and fragrance spreading on the winds, I am sure, will be carried to every corner of the earth, Sinha said.

Soon after their arrival, the envoys met chief justice Pankaj Mittal and other judges of the high court before having a luncheon meeting with lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha.

The envoys interacted with political leaders and members of the civil society before flying back to Delhi in the evening.

The group includes European Union ambassador Ugo Astuto, and envoys of some 10 European countries, including French ambassador Emmanuel Lenain. Envoys and senior diplomats of Bangladesh are also part of the group.
Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was quick in reacting to their visit and said in a rally; “Government of India is busy wooing foreign envoys through guided tours to seek “all is well” certificate. People of J&K have been robbed of their constitutional rights, dissent has been muzzled and hundreds put in prisons without rhyme or reason”.

Reacting to the visit of diplomats, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted; “Thank you for visiting Kashmir. Now please send some real tourists from your countries to visit J&K”.

Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari reacted that foreigners can go to Kashmir but a Joint Parliamentary Committee and opposition leaders can’t go.

Panthers Party chief Bhim Singh expressed concern over the centre allowing foreign diplomats to visit Kashmir to look into the emerging situation after abrogation of the Article 370.

“India is a sovereign country and J&K is an integral part of the union and as such foreign diplomats cannot be sent here to assess the internal situation”, he claimed.

He appealed to all the nationalist political parties in the country to ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the reason to allow foreign diplomats to visit here particularly at a time when J&K is passing through a political crisis.

Maha districts face stricter Covid curbs

More than 5,000 new Covid-19 cases in the state after a gap of 75 days

On a day that the state of Maharashtra reported over 5,400 new Covid-19 cases, the state administration announced a ten-day lockdown in Yavatmal district in the Vidarbha region, while a weekend lockdown was announced in neighbouring Amravati district.

After a gap of 75 days, Maharashtra on Thursday reported more than 5,000 new Covid-19 cases, a sizable number of them coming from Akola and Nagpur divisions.

The state recorded 5,427 new cases on Thursday, the highest one-day count this year, along with 38 fatalities.It had reported 4,787 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday. The state had reported 5,229 infections on December 4, which had been followed by a gradual drop in cases.

The decline had prompted the state government to relax restrictions on movement and gatherings further, including the restrictions on travel by local trains in Mumbai.

But since the last week, the state is reporting increase in the daily numbers of infections, setting alarm bells ringing.

With the spurt in cases, the administration in Yavatmal district ordered a ten day lockdown from Thursday night, including curbs on gatherings and the closure of schools, while a weekend lockdown was announced in Amravati district from 8 p.m. on Saturday to 7 a.m. on Monday, a period during which markets and other establishments will remain shut, but essential services will remain unaffected.

State chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had on Tuesday warned that if Covid-19 norms are not followed, people should be prepared for a fresh round of strict lockdown.

The country’s tally of Covid-19 cases, meanwhile, reached 1,09,50,201 as of 8 a.m. on Thursday, with 12,881 new infections being reported in the previous 24 hours, while recoveries have reached 1,06,56,845, according to the Union health ministry. The death toll increased to 1,56,014 with 101 daily new fatalities over the same period. The active caseload stands at 1,37,342.

Delhi logs 130 cases, 2 deaths: The national capital today reported 130 fresh Covid-19 cases and 2 coronavirus-linked deaths, according to the Delhi government’s latest health bulletin.

These fresh cases came to light following 60,441 tests. The positivity rate stood at 0.22 per cent.

Delhi’s Covid caseload mounted to 6,37,445, the health bulletin said. The cumulative figure of Covid fatalities climbed to 10,896.

With China on mind, Quad FMs call for freedom of navigation

The four ‘Quad’ members ~ India, Japan, Australia and the US, emphasised their commitment to upholding a rulesbased international order, underpinned by respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty

The four ‘Quad’ members ~ India, Japan, Australia and the United States ~ today held their third ministerial dialogue to discuss rising challenges in the Indo-Pacific region in the wake of aggressive posturing by China on maritime issues.

External Affairs minister S Jaishankar represented India at the virtual meeting which was attended by America’s new Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the ministers highlighted their shared attributes as political democracies, market economies and pluralistic societies. They recognised that the changes under way in the world makes a strong case for their countries working closely together. It was important for the international community that the direction of changes remains positive and beneficial to all.

The ministers emphasised their commitment to upholding a rules-based international order, underpinned by respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, rule of law, transparency, freedom of navigation in the international seas and peaceful resolution of disputes. “Their productive exchange of views on regional issues included a reiteration of their common vision for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, with clear support for ASEAN cohesion and centrality. It was noted that the Indo-Pacific concept had gathered growing international support, including in Europe,” the MEA said.

The ministers discussed ongoing efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, including vaccination programmes. They expressed their commitment to cooperate in addressing this challenge, enhancing access to affordable vaccines, medicines and medical equipment. India’s efforts at providing vaccines to 74 countries was recognised and appreciated.

They exchanged views on responding to climate change and furthering cooperation in areas such as maritime security, HADR, supply chain resilience and counter-terrorism.

In the discussion pertaining to recent developments in Myanmar, the upholding of rule of law and the democratic transition was reiterated by India. Noting that regular “Quad” consultations hold value, the ministers agreed to continue these useful discussions.

Pawan Jallad to execute ‘first woman’ convict in independent India who butchered 7 members of her own family

Shockingly for him, Shabnam was accused of hacking 7 members of her family along with her lover Saleem in village Bawankheri of Amroha district.

Twelve-year-old Taj does not know when he would be meeting his biological mother Shabnam of Amroha for the last time who has been given capital punishment along with her accomplice Saleem for hacking to death 7 members of her family in 2008.

Taj had visited Shabnam on January 20 this year in the Rampur jail where he doesn’t like to go, says Usman Saifi, who had got the custody of Taj in 2015. Saifi and Shabnam, who studied together in JS Hindu Postgraduate College of Amroha, often used to travel on the same bus and were known to each other.

“That was in 2003 when we were studying, after graduating from college I became a journalist and Shabnam took up the job as a ‘Shiksha Mitra’ in a village school,” said Saifi adding that he came to know about Shabnam through the news about the murder of 7 of her family members on April 14, 2008.

Shockingly for him, Shabnam was accused of hacking 7 members of her family along with her lover Saleem in village Bawankheri of Amroha district.

Saleem was a labourer in a sawmill in the same village. Shabnam fell in love with him, but this relationship was not approved by the girl’s family. Due to this reason the duo committed this heinous crime.

The couple was arrested and sent to Moradabad jail. The trial started and later was moved to different jails. Shabnam is now in Rampur jail while Saleem is in Mathura jail. After a trial of 13 years, the duo has been sentenced to death by the court. The President of India has rejected their mercy petition.

“I wanted to write a book on Shabnam but she refused to meet me whenever I tried. Meanwhile, her son Taj, who was born in the jail turned 6 years of age and as per the jail manual he had to be moved out,” said Usman Saifi.

Jail Kalyan Samiti in 2015 had published a notice to give him in the custody of an appropriate couple. “It was then I decided to take custody of Taj and my wife too agreed to it,” said Saifi adding that he just thought of taking the child away from jail environment and give him a better life.

Dr BD Pandey, the then jailor of Moradabad Jail informed that the Jail Manual says that a child can stay in jail with mother or father or a guardian only up to the age of 6 years. After 6 years he or she had to be given in the custody of a couple through District Baal Kalyaan Samiti after following a set procedure of verification.

Dr Pandey said that out of interested couple we found Usman and his teacher wife Vandana Singh most appropriate and hence gave the custody of Taj to them.

Dr Pandey added that after much efforts Shabnam agreed to meet Saifi and his wife and the procedure of giving the boy in custody was completed. Initially she was not ready for this and wanted to give him to a fellow prisoner but later she agreed on being convinced for the betterment of her child.

Hence the couple, who got married in 2015, took the custody of the child in the same year. After every 3 months the Samiti renews custody of Taj and the last time it was renewed on January 20. It is the day when Taj went to meet his mother with the couple in jail.

This will continue till he is 18 years of age after which he will decide where he wants to stay, said Saifi who is determined to give Taj all the happiness in life.

When he came out of the jail, first Taj had put up three demands before me, said Saifi adding that he wanted to meet actor Salman Khan, eat icecream and wear a coat and pant. I fulfilled all three. Of course, we saw Salmaan Khan in his movie Bajrangi Bhaijan, he added.

Taj was admitted to a school and he is now in class 5th. “He is upset whenever he meets his mother as he does not like jail environment,” claimed Saifi who admitted that his upbringing is a challenge for him. But his wife is his biggest strength who always encourages him to face the hurdles of society.

“We always make it a point not to discuss Shabnam and jail with Taj,” he added. The couple has decided not to have their own child after taking his custody as they want to give their undivided love and attention to him.

Crime branch takes over probe of Mangolpuri murder

Para-military Forces were deployed in Mangolpuri as a precautionary measure amid the tension.

The investigation in to the murder of a lab technician a few days back in Mangolpuri has been transferred to Crime Branch, the Delhi Police said on Saturday.

The 25-year-old, Rinku Sharma, was working with a private hospital. He was stabbed to death by some men from his locality in the outer Delhi area late Wednesday.

The Delhi Police have already arrested five accused in connection with the case — Danish, Islam, Zahid, Mehtab and Tajuddin.

The family members of the victim claim that it was a hate crime and Rinku was murdered because of an old rivalry.

Rinku, who was associated with the right wing, was allegedly threatened by the same set of accused during Dussehra last year. However, the police have denied any communal angle to the case, categorically stating that a business rivalry had led to the murder.

A CCTV footage has also come to light where the accused could be seen coming to the house of the deceased on Wednesday night.

It is alleged that Rinku was stabbed soon after that. Some mobile video clips have also been handed over to police by the victims family which showed the attack on the house and the scuffle that followed.

One of the accused is also seen snatching a gas cylinder while Sharma’s mother is trying to resist the bid.

The murder has become a hot topic for debates and hashtags on social media like ‘Justice for Rinku Sharma’ is trending on Twitter. Many politicians and activists have met the family of the deceased.

Para-military Forces were deployed in Mangolpuri as a precautionary measure amid the tension.

“On February 10, some youth went to a restaurant to celebrate a birthday party. During that time, a scuffle broke out over some business rivalry related to the shutting down of a restaurant. After that some boys involved in the fight reached Rinku’s house and stabbed him,” Delhi Police PRO Chinmoy Biswal said.

On being asked about the family’s claims that it was a hate crime and Rinku was murdered for allegedly chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’, the police officer said, “We are in touch with the victim’s family, but the investigation suggests that the scuffle started during the birthday party.”

The probe is now transferred to Crime Branch.

13 dead in blast at Tamil Nadu firecracker factory

District collector R Kannan visited the spot to oversee the rescue operation. The police have registered a case and preliminary investigations are on.

Thirteen people died and over 20 seriously injured in an explosion at a firecracker unit in Achankulam village near Sattur in Virudunagar district on Friday afternoon.

Of the 13, nine bodies were recovered in a charred condition from the spot and two people died at the Sattur Government Hospital.

According to police, it was difficult to identify the bodies since they are totally charred. An officer of the Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue services department said equipment from three fire stations were deployed to bring the blaze under control. It took over three hours to put out the fire.

The blaze started on Friday afternoon at the Mariyammal firework unit. The police are still investigating the cause of the incident and are on the lookout for the owner of the factory. “Around 50 labourers had been working in the unit when the accident took place,” said District Fire Officer Ganesan.

District collector R Kannan visited the spot to oversee the rescue operation. The police have registered a case and preliminary investigations are on.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the deaths in the incident and announced compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to each of those seriously injured.