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Will have to take firm steps if govt does not take decision in January 4 meeting: Farmer unions


They said that only five per cent of the issues raised by them have so far been discussed in meetings with the government.

Resolute in their demands for the repeal of three new farm laws and a legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP) for crops, protesting farmer unions on Friday said they will have to take firm steps if the government does not take a decision in their favour in the next meeting scheduled for January 4.

Addressing a press conference at the Singhu border protest site, farmer leaders warned of multiple actions if their main demands are not met.

They said that only five per cent of the issues raised by them have so far been discussed in meetings with the government.

“If the January 4 meeting with the government fails to end the deadlock, we will announce dates for shutting all malls, petrol pumps in Haryana,” farmer leader Vikas told reporters.

Farmers protesting at Shahjahanpur on the Haryana-Rajasthan border will also move towards the national capital, Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav said.

Another leader Yudhveer Singh said that a tractor march will be held on January 6 if no concrete decision is taken in the next round of talks.

After the sixth round of formal negotiations on Wednesday, the government and farm unions reached some common ground to resolve protesting farmers’ concerns over rise in power tariff and penalties for stubble burning, but the two sides remained deadlocked over the main contentious issues of the repeal of three farm laws and a legal guarantee for MSP.

After the talks between three union ministers and a 41-member representative group of thousands of farmers protesting on Delhi borders, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said at least 50 per cent resolution has been reached with mutual agreement on two out of four items on the agenda and discussions would continue on the remaining two on January 4 at 2 PM.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, are protesting at various borders of the national capital for more than a month against these three new laws.

The government has presented these laws as major agriculture reforms aimed at helping farmers and increasing their income, but the protesting unions fear that the new legislations have left them at the mercy of big corporates by weakening the MSP and mandi systems.




New Delhi pursuing with Beijing case of 39 stranded sailors


The Indian Ambassador in Beijing has personally taken up this issue with the Chinese vice foreign minister.

India today said it was “pursuing vigorously” with the Chinese authorities the plight of 39 Indians sailors stuck in China on board two cargo vessels for the past several months and hoped the matter would be resolved.

“Our Embassy in Beijing continues to remain in close and continuous touch with the Chinese authorities in Beijing, Hebei and Tianjin. The (External Affairs) Ministry is also following up through the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi for an early resolution,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.

The Indian bulk cargo vessel MV Jag Anand of Great Eastern Shipping company has been on anchorage near Jingtang port in Hebei province of China since 13 June with 23 Indian nationals as crew on board.

Another vessel, MV Anastasia, which has 16 Indian nationals as its crew, has been on anchorage near Caofeidian port in China since 20 September. Both these vessels have been waiting for discharge of their cargo.

There is a growing stress on the crew members on account of the long delay. Noting that there were several other ships from other countries also awaiting their turn for unloading their cargo, the spokesperson said India has repeatedly taken up the matter both with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also the local provincial authorities, requesting that the ships be allowed to dock and/or the crew be allowed to be changed.

The Indian Ambassador in Beijing has personally taken up this issue with the Chinese vice foreign minister. The Chinese authorities have conveyed to India that on account of various Covid19 related restrictions imposed by the local authorities, crew change was not being permitted from these ports.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry conveyed in late November 2020 that while crew change from Jingtang port would not be feasible, the shipping company/agent might apply for crew rotation from Tianjin port in China, and that the local authorities would examine after receiving requests for the same.

The concerned shipping companies have been asked to make crew change applications expeditiously. “While the shipping companies are examining the logistics of sailing the ships away from their current points of anchorage, our embassy is liaising with relevant authorities in Tianjin for berthing approvals to facilitate the crew change,” the spokesperson added.




Several states announce restrictions, night curfew ahead of New Year celebrations


West Bengal has called for peaceful, disciplined celebrations, saying extremes like night curfews not perceived to be required.

Ahead of the New Year celebrations, three metros — Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai — and several states including Punjab and Kerala have announced restrictions and night curfew.

The Delhi government has announced night curfew and restricted the public gatherings tonight and tomorrow between 11 PM and 6 AM.

“No New Year celebratory events, congregations and gatherings at public places shall be permitted from 11 pm of December 31 to 6 am of January 1 and 11 pm of January 1 and 6 am of January 2,” the Delhi Disaster Management Authority said in a statement.

However, the traffic movement for the aforesaid period will not be restricted.

Night curfew with similar hours has been announced in Mumbai also ahead of the celebrations.

The Bengaluru police commissioner has said prohibitory orders banning large gatherings will be imposed from noon today.

Chennai has barred large gatherings, especially on beaches and roads. Marina beach, Elliots beach and other beaches have been shut.

However, West Bengal has called for peaceful, disciplined celebrations, saying extremes like night curfews not perceived to be required.

“No need for extreme steps but urge caution over new year celebrations… Best to maintain a careful middle path,” the Chief Secretary has said.

In Punjab, the Amarinder Singh government has decided to lift it from January 1, and advised the public to follow Covid appropriate behaviour.




Night curfew imposed in Delhi ahead of New Year celebrations, no gatherings allowed between 11 PM-6 AM


However, the traffic movement during this period will not be restricted. 

In order to contain the spread of coronavirus during the celebrations of New Year, the Delhi government has announced night curfew and restricted the public gatherings tonight and tomorrow between 11 PM and 6 AM.

“No New Year celebratory events, congregations and gatherings at public places shall be permitted from 11 pm of December 31 to 6 am of January 1 and 11 pm of January 1 and 6 am of January 2,” the Delhi Disaster Management Authority said in a statement.

However, the traffic movement for the aforesaid period will not be restricted.

India has reported 20 cases of the new mutant coronavirus, as of now.

Earlier, the Union Home Ministry had asked the states to keep vigil at the time of celebrations saying, “The number of Covid 19 active cases is declining steadily in the country for the last three-and-half months. Keeping in view the fresh surge of Covid-19 cases in Europe and Americas, there is still a need for maintaining comprehensive precaution and strict surveillance within our country.”




Family of terrorists, who were shot dead on outskirts of Srinagar, claimed they were ‘innocent’


The encounter was jointly carried out by the police and the army. The police said that all the three were terrorists, but were not listed as terrorists in police records.

The family of the terrorists, who were shot dead on the outskirts of Srinagar, claimed that they were innocent. One of the dead was a Class 11 student, the family claimed. Another alleged terrorist was the son of a police officer.

Jammu and Kashmir Police have killed three terrorists on the outskirts of Srinagar.

The encounter was jointly carried out by the police and the army. The police said that all the three were terrorists, but were not listed as terrorists in police records.

“Although the three killed terrorists in encounter were not mentioned in our list of terrorists, yet two of them are hardcore associates of terrorists (OGWs),” the police said in the statement.

OGW or “over-ground worker” is used by the police for any person they suspect to have links with terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir.

The police said one of the dead was a relative of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Rayees Kachroo, who was killed in 2017.

The three killed on Wednesday’s encounter have been identified as Ajaz Maqbool Ganie and Ather Mushtaq, residents of Pulwama, and Zubair Lone, a resident of Shopian.

As per the relatives, Ajaz Maqbool Ganie is the son of a head constable posted in Ganderbal district.




Kapil Gujjar, who fired gun at demonstration in Shaheen Bagh, expelled from BJP hours after joining


The BJP unit in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad said they did not know of his antecedents when he joined the party.

The man named Kapil Gujjar, who fired a gun at the demonstration against the citizenship law in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh last year, has been expelled from the BJP hours after joining the party.

The BJP unit in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad said they did not know of his antecedents when he joined the party.

“Kapil Gujjar was among some people who were inducted into the party from the Bahujan Samaj Party. We had no idea of his involvement in the controversial Shaheen Bagh incident. On finding out, his joining has been cancelled with immediate effect,” the BJP’s Ghaziabad chief Sanjeev Sharma said in a statement.

Gujjar fired three bullets in the air after warning protesters to vacate the spot. He also raised communal slogans. According to the police, the accused was annoyed over the protest at Shaheen Bagh and the ensuing road blockade for nearly 50 days now.

Gujjar chanted Jai Shri Ram and said, “Humare desh me aur kisi ki nahi chalegi, sirf Hindu ki chalegi (only Hindus shall have a say in our country, no one else),” as he was taken into custody by the Delhi Police.

Delhi Police had claimed that Kapil Gujjar is learnt to be a member of the ruling Aam Aadmi Party.

The revelation has been made by the Crime Branch which is interrogating Gujjar, a resident of Dallupura village in east Delhi, who fired shots at Shaheen Bagh on February 1.

Clarifying on the photographs released, Kapil’s father had told ANI: “Neither me nor my family has anything to do with AAP. They came to campaign during the Lok Sabha election (last year) and made us all wear AAP caps and that is what the photo is.”




Keeping with spirit of ‘Shramev Jayate’, Government committed to welfare of labour: PM Modi


In his message, the Prime Minister, while congratulating Bureau on the release of the special stamp in its centenary year, also highlighted that for the last hundred years, Bureau has been generating labour, price and employment statistics with great allegiance and dedication.

Minister of State for Labour & Employment Santosh Kumar Gangwar released a special stamp on Labour Bureau on the occasion of centenary year celebrations of the Labour Bureau in an event held here today.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a special message to Labour Bureau on this occasion.

In his message, the Prime Minister, while congratulating Bureau on the release of the special stamp in its centenary year, also highlighted that for the last hundred years, Bureau has been generating labour, price and employment statistics with great allegiance and dedication.

The message also stated that in keeping with the spirit of the mantra of “Shramev Jayate”, the Government committed to the welfare of labour has taken continuous and integrated steps for labour.

The Prime Minister also opined that the three historic labour codes will not only protect the interests of hardworking workers but will also form the basis for increasing productivity to higher levels.

The Prime Minister also stated in his message that the availability of reliable statistics on labour and labourers are vital for effective policymaking and planning for the welfare of labour.

Given the significance of data and its increasing usage in various fields, the Bureau’s rich legacy of data generation needs to be fully capitalized for better policymaking in the field of labour and employment.

He also expressed firm belief that Bureau will continue to upgrade its working by embracing the latest technologies in the field of data collection, analysis and dissemination. The Prime Minister also conveyed his best wishes for all the future endeavours of the Bureau.

The Minister of State for Labour & Employment Gangwar, while addressing the participants said that besides its mandate of generating various price and labour related statistics.

“The Bureau has also earned appreciation for successfully undertaking in record time, all the surveys & studies entrusted to it by the Governments from time to time. When employment data used to be available in our country only once in five years, Bureau became the first-ever Government organization in the country to produce annual data on employment and unemployment through its annual All India Household Surveys on Employment Unemployment. The Bureau also conducted first of its kind Quarterly Employment Surveys (QES) of enterprises which will be relaunched in a new format very soon. Bureau was also entrusted with the task of estimating employment generated under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) which it carried out in record time,” he said.




Seven US lawmakers write to Mike Pompeo urging him to raise issue of farmers protest in India


This is an issue of particular concern to Sikh Americans linked to Punjab, although it also heavily impacts the Indian Americans belonging to other Indian states, the lawmakers said in their letter to Pompeo.

A group of seven influential US lawmakers, including Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, have written to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging him to raise the issue of farmers” protest in India with his Indian counterpart.

India has called the remarks by foreign leaders and politicians on protests by farmers as “ill-informed” and “unwarranted”, asserting that the matter pertains to the internal affairs of a democratic country.

“We have seen some ill-informed comments…relating to farmers in India. Such comments are unwarranted, especially when pertaining to the internal affairs of a democratic country,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said earlier this month.

This is an issue of particular concern to Sikh Americans linked to Punjab, although it also heavily impacts the Indian Americans belonging to other Indian states, the lawmakers said in their letter to Pompeo dated December 23.

“Many Indian Americans are directly affected as they have family members and ancestral land in Punjab and are concerned for the well-being of their families in India. In view of this serious situation, we urge you to contact your Indian counterpart to reinforce the United States” commitment to the freedom of political speech abroad,” they said.

In their letter, the lawmakers said that the US as a nation that is familiar with political protests can offer counsel to India during their current period of social disturbance.

“As national legislators, we respect the right of the government of India to determine national policy, in compliance with existing law. We also acknowledge the rights of those in India and abroad who are currently protesting peacefully against agricultural laws that many Indian farmers see as an attack on their economic security,” the lawmakers said.

Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and several other states have been protesting on various borders of Delhi since November 26, seeking repeal of three farm laws enacted in September.

Dubbing these laws as “anti-farmer”, these farmers claim that the newly enacted legislations would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporations.

However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture. There have been multiple rounds of talks between representatives of the protestors and the Indian government but the logjam continues.

In addition to Jayapal, the letter has been signed by Congressmen Donald Norcross, Brendan F Boyle, Brian Fitzpatrick, Mary Gay Scanlon, Debbie Dingell and David Trone.

Over the past few weeks, more than a dozen US Congressmen have expressed their concerns on the ongoing protest by the farmers in India.

Earlier this month, Congressman John Garamendi, Co-Chair of the American Sikh Caucus, along with Congressman Jim Costa and Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee -members of the American Sikh Caucus- sent a letter to Indian Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu, expressing solidarity with the protestors and defending their right to peaceful protest.

Democratic American lawmaker David Trone on Tuesday urged the Indian government to provide safety to the protesting farmers and hailed the recent offers of dialogue and a proposal from India”s Supreme Court to set up mediation.




PM Modi to address nine crore farmers today to clarify centre’s position on farm laws


PM Modi will also release the next batch of financial aid of Rs 18,000 crore from the PM-Kisan scheme.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address nine crore farmers today and clarify the centre’s position on the farm laws.

PM’s address will coincide with former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birthday today. In order to mark the day, party chief JP Nadda has directed union ministers, MPs and MLAs to participate in the address.

PM Modi will also release the next batch of financial aid of Rs 18,000 crore from the PM-Kisan scheme.

For the event, JP Nadda has ordered big screens to be arranged for listening to PM’s address at every block development centre.

District-level programs will be held an hour before the PM’s speech.

As per the reports, these programs will consist of BJP officer-bearers and public representatives extolling the benefits of schemes started by the Modi government.

Specially-printed leaflets will also be distributed; the content is to be translated into local languages, but no editing will be allowed to info drafted by the centre.




Turkey to receive its first shipment of China’s coronavirus vaccine after tests show 91% effectiveness


Turkey will initially receive three million doses of Sinovac and have the option for 50 million more as it begins inoculations next month, starting with healthcare workers and the most vulnerable.

Turkey will receive its first shipment of China’s Sinovac coronavirus vaccine within days as preliminary domestic tests showed it was 91% effective, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Thursday.

Ankara in the next few days will also sign a deal with Pfizer/BioNTech for 4.5 million doses, with the option to buy 30 million more from the US pharmaceutical giant and its German partner, Koca said.

Turkey will initially receive three million doses of Sinovac and have the option for 50 million more as it begins inoculations next month, starting with healthcare workers and the most vulnerable.

Koca said the first shipments of the Chinese vaccine will be sent to Turkey on Sunday.

The preliminary tests on 7,371 volunteers in Turkey showed that the Chinese vaccine was 91.25 per cent effective, although phase three tests were still not complete.

Turkey “will be able to vaccinate 1.5 million or even two million people per day,” Koca said, adding that the “first stage” of vaccinations would cover nine million people.

The nation of 83 million has officially recorded 19,115 Covid-19 deaths and 2.2 million virus infections.





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