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Tuesday,20-October-2020

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Kafeel Khan takes battle with Yogi to UN body

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Dr-Kafeel-Khan

Gorakhpur’s Dr Kafeel Khan, has taken his battle against the Yogi Adityanath government to an international level.

Khan, who was recently absolved of charges under the stringent National Security Act (NSA) and is now living in Jaipur, has written a letter to the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) informing them about “widespread violations of international human right standards in India and misuse of draconian laws like NSA and UAPA to suppress voices of dissent”.

In his letter, Khan thanked the UN rights body for urging the Indian government to protect human rights of activists arrested for “peacefully protesting against CAA” and said that the government “has not listened to their appeal”.

“Authorities continue to invoke counter-terrorism and national security legislations using procedural police powers against these human right defenders for raising issues which would affect India’s poorest and most marginalised community, violating international human right standards,” Khan wrote.

It may be recalled that on June 26, the UN body had written to the Indian government, mentioning 11 cases, among those that of Kafeel Khan and Sharjeel Imam, for “serious allegations of human rights violations, several relating to due process failings during arrest and detention, as well as allegations of torture and ill-treatment”.

Describing his days in jail, Khan wrote, “I was tortured mentally and physically and also denied food and water for many days and treated inhumanely during my 7 months of incarceration in a congested, overcrowded Mathura prison. Fortunately, I got the NSA and all 3 extensions of detention quashed by the high court, which called the whole process illegal.”

He also mentioned about the Gorakhpur tragedy on August 10, 2017 at Baba Raghav Das Medical College, in which many children lost their lives due to unavailability of liquid oxygen.

The high court categorically stated in its April 25, 2018 order that there was “no evidence of medical negligence found against him and he was not even involved in the oxygen tendering process”.

Khan has since been suspended from his job, but not relieved from the state services. Eight different inquiries were conducted by the Uttar Pradesh government and they have all absolved him of any wrongdoing in the tragedy. His suspension has not been revoked.

National News

Amid drop in daily Covid tally, Goa CM Pramod Sawant advocates caution

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Pramod Sawant.

Amid a second consecutive drop in the daily tally of new Covid-19 infections, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has urged people to not self-medicate in case of a fever and opt for testing themselves for the coronavirus infection.

Speaking to reporters late on Monday night outside the Bharatiya Janata Party state headquarters in Panaji, Sawant also said that social distancing norms and basic precautionary measures like wearing of masks and use of hand sanitiser would continue to be imposed in the coming days.

“Even though Covid cases have come down, social distancing, masks and sanitisers should be used. We need this for a lot many more days ahead,” Sawant told reporters.

The state over the last few weeks had reported a daily tally of between 300 and 500 cases. On Sunday and Monday however, the daily tally of cases dropped to 187 and 159 respectively, with doctors in the state also suggesting that the state may be finally witnessing a drop in the positivity rate.

Sawant also said that while the number of daily Covid-19 cases appeared to be dipping, people should not take the situation for granted.

“It is my earnest request to the people, get themselves tested if they have a fever. Do not self-medicate. It is a new virus. We cannot say when there can be a spike. Precaution should be 100 per cent,” the Chief Minister said.

In all, Goa has reported 40,746 Covid-19 positive cases out of which 3,283 are currently active.

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National News

Kerala local body polls likely to be held in December

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Voting-underway

The postponed local body polls in Kerala in all likelihood are going to be held during the first week of December, according to sources.

The election will be held to elect new representatives to 941 village councils, 152 block Panchayats, 14 district Panchayats, 86 municipalities and six municipal corporations.

This poll is being seen as the curtain raiser of the Assembly polls, which may be held in May 2021.

According to the earlier planned schedule, the newly elected members of the local bodies had to be in office by November 12, but following the sudden spike in the Covid cases, all the political parties agreed to postpone the polls.

According to the present scheme of things, the Kerala State Election Commission has zeroed down on likely dates. Sources say that the poll is likely to be held in two phases in the first week of December and the newly elected office bearers are likely to take charge by December 11.

The voters list, numbering 2.63 crore, is also getting finalised. The number of new voters is around 15 lakh and the poll timing would be from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The current voter list, which is getting finalised, consists of 1,25,40,302 men, 1,36,84,019 women and 180 trans genders. This includes the new voters — 6,78,147 men, 8,01,328 women and 66 trans genders.

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Punjab CM Amarinder Singh moves draft resolution to reject Centre’s farm laws

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Amarinder-Singh

In a move to protect the state’s farmers and agriculture, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday presented in the Vidhan Sabha a draft resolution rejecting outright the Centre’s “anti-farmer” laws and the proposed electricity amendment Bill, with an appeal to all parties to rise above political interests in the spirit of saving the agrarian state.

The draft resolution seeks annulment of the farm laws and the proposed Electricity Bill, as well as promulgation of “a fresh ordinance making the procurement of food grains on the minimum support price (MSP) a statutory right of the farmers and continue with procurement by the Government of India through the FCI and other such agencies”.

Regretting that several legislators indulged in frivolous activities on Monday to gain political mileage, with some coming in tractors and some spending the night in the Assembly precincts in protest against non-receipt of his government’s Bills, the Chief Minister said he had signed the same at 9.30 p.m., after extensive discussions and consultations with various experts.

Such delays in sharing copies of Bills happen in emergent session, he said, pointing to something similar happening when his government had brought in the Punjab Termination of Water Agreements Act during his last tenure in 2004.

Amarinder Singh said the Bills being presented on Tuesday, the second day of the special assembly session, would form the basis of the state’s legal battle ahead and, hence, needed to be thoroughly vetted before presentation.

The draft resolution expresses the deep regret of the state legislative assembly over the “callous and inconsiderate attitude of the Government of India in attending to the concerns of the farming community on recent allegedly farm legislation enacted by them”.

It reads that the assembly is constrained to unanimously reject the three (farm) legislations and the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

Referring to The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, the draft resolution notes that the Union Government had converted the relevant farm ordinances into Acts and notified the same on September 24 and 26 even though the concerns and sentiments of the House were conveyed to the Prime Minister through letter of September 14 by the Chief Minister.

“These three legislations along with the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020 are clearly against the interests of farmers and landless workers, and time-tested agriculture marketing system established not only in Punjab but also in original green revolution areas of Punjab, Haryana, and Western Uttar Pradesh,” it said, adding the Government of India had clearly enacted trade legislations and not farm legislations.

Further, said the draft resolution, these laws are also against the Constitution of India (Entry 14 List-II), which comprises agriculture as a subject of the state.

These legislations are a direct attack, and use of subterfuge to encroach upon the functions and the powers of the states, as enshrined in the country’s Constitution, said the draft resolution, read out by the Speaker.

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