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Sunday,16-January-2022

Maharashtra

Mumbai Mayor hits the streets, orders people to wear masks

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As the state apparently hurtles towards a second lockdown, Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar on Wednesday took to the streets and with folded hands, appealed to the people to follow all Covid-19 protocols in public interest.

Reiterating her warnings since Tuesday, Pednekar said that nearly 60 percent of the people are violating Covid-19 protocols like not wearing face-masks, maintaining physical distancing and cleanliness.

“I appeal to you all Do not force the government to impose another lockdown. Please maintain all protocols very strictly Its in your hands to avoid another lockdown,” the Mayor appealed.

Pednekar, accompanied by a couple of officials and security personnel, caught a suburban train from Byculla to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) and approached commuters who were not wearing face-masks to comply forthwith.

She repeated this on the foot overbridges where many people could be seen sauntering without face-masks and not adhering to physical distancing norms.

Outside Byculla and CSMT, she went to a paan shop, local street-vendors and shopkeepers urging them to wear masks and insist that customers follow suit.

“The Corona danger has not subsided yet We must all remain extremely vigilant, any let-up could lead to another lockdown in the city and state,” Pednekar warned.

In a related development, Buldhana district authorities clamped full restrictions till Feb. 28 in view of the increasing Covid-19 cases in the district.

The health and police officials in Pune, Nashik, Solapur swooped down on people roaming around without face-masks or in crowds and imposed fines on them.

Maharashtra

Maha ATS lawyers to track Malegaon-2008 blast case hearing

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Alarmed by witnesses turning hostile in the Malegaon-2008 blasts case, the Maharashtra government lawyers shall now remain in the Special NIA Court where the trial is being conducted on a daily basis, Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil said here on Saturday.

He told the media persons that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had taken over the case (from the state ATS), but the state government is perturbed at the manner in which several critical witnesses have become hostile in the Special Court.

The significant development came two days after the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) ally Congress had raised the issue and drawn the attention of the Home Ministry and the ATS.

Congress state Working President M. Arif Naseem Khan had submitted a memorandum to the Additional Director-General of Police and ATS chief Vineet Agrawal urging necessary measures to monitor the case closely.

“We are thankful to Home Minister Walse-Patil for accepting our demand for a team to keep a track on the court proceedings. The presence of the ATS lawyers will help in a free and fair trial,” Khan said in a statement.

An ex-minister, Khan reiterated that the NIA is allegedly ‘weakening’ the Malegaon-2008 case and not pursuing it with ‘honesty and sincerity’.

In his memorandum to the ATS Chief Agrawal, Khan contended that the witnesses turning hostile are invoking the names of Bharatiya Janata Party-RSS leaders to “malign the Maharashtra government and ATS” for gaining political mileage in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections.

The September 29, 2008 (Malegaon 2008) bomb blast was allegedly engineered in this minority-dominated Nashik town by Hindu fundamentalists, killing 6 and injuring over 100 others, during the Ramadan month when Muslims were breaking their fast.

The Maharashtra Police and then the ATS probed the case till 2011 when it was taken over by the NIA, and the trial is going on daily before the Special NIA Court in Mumbai.

Of the 223 witnesses examined, 16 have turned hostile, claiming that the ATS tortured them to give evidence against the accused, said Khan, urging the need for the presence of the ATS in the court to protect the image of the Maharashtra government.

Among the accused in the sensational Malegaon 2008 case are BJP MP Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Swami Amritananda Dev Teerth, Dayanand Pandey, Lt. Col. Prasad S. Purohit, and others.

Khan said that the ATS was being sought to be tarnished as an ‘anti-Hindu’ agency with the witnesses, allegedly influenced by the accused, deliberately naming BJP-RSS people ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls for political gains.

“The NIA is not prosecuting all the accused with honesty and sincerity. Out of 223 witnesses who deposed so far, 16 important ones have turned hostile and over a 100 more are still left to be examined. These witnesses are crucial and need to be protected. The NIA has not challenged any orders passed in favour of the accused which shows their intentions clearly,” Khan said.

Some of the witnesses in Malegaon 2008 case even went beyond their recorded statement mentioning names like Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, but the NIA’s Special Public Prosecutor took no objection, and another witness claimed he was tortured and threatened by the ATS to take names of Yogi and 4 RSS leaders.

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Maharashtra

Maha Congress to appoint women as ‘working chiefs’ in 60 districts

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Taking a cue from party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi, the Congress’s Maharashtra unit on Friday announced that it will appoint a woman as Working President in all the party’s districts in the state.

“The Congress has a progressive tradition of giving important responsibilities to women in politics at all levels. Women leaders of Congress have held top posts like Prime Minister, President, Speaker, Governors, Chief Ministers, ministers, and other important positions. Taking ahead this glorious tradition, we shall now appoint a woman Working President in each of the 60 District Congress Committees (DCCs) in the state,” said state Congress President Nana Patole.

The move on Makar Sakaranti day follows the decision by Priyanka Gandhi to give 40 per cent representation to women candidates in the upcoming Assembly elections with her slogan “Ladki Hoon, Lad Sakti Hoon”.

Patole added that the party has always respected women, given them equal opportunities and this measure would give a more active political participation to women in the state/

“It was during the Congress government that the revolutionary decision to reserve 50 per cent seats for women in local bodies elections and other landmark developments came,” he said.

Even now, Priyanka Gandhi has set a new standard with 40 per cent representation to women candidates for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls which is a major step towards the empowerment of the women, he said.

Though there are only 36 administrative districts in the state, the party has a total of 60 DCCs including four in Mumbai, three in Pune, two in Nanded, Parbhani, etc, said a spokesperson.

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Maharashtra

Vaccine shortage in Maharashtra not factually correct: Health Ministry

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 The Union Health Ministry on Friday clarified that there is no vaccine shortage in Maharashtra.

The ministry quoted some media reports which alleged vaccine shortage in Maharashtra, stating that such reports are incorrect.

“There have been some media reports alleging vaccine shortage in Maharashtra, further stating that due to lack of vaccine the state government is unable to increase the pace of vaccination. Such reports are ill-informed and incorrect,” the ministry said.

It further said that as per the reports available till date, Maharashtra has over 24 lakh unutilised doses of Covaxin, adding that an additional 6.35 lakh doses have been received on Friday.

The ministry said that as per the weekly consumption data available on Co-WIN, the average consumption by Maharashtra for Covaxin to cover the eligible beneficiaries in the 15-18 age bracket and for the precautionary dose is almost 2.94 lakh doses per day. Therefore, the state has adequate vaccine doses for about 10 days to cover the eligible beneficiaries with Covaxin, the ministry said.

The state has 1.24 crore unutilised and balance Covaxin doses available as on date. With an average consumption of 3.57 lakh per day, this will sustain for more than 30 days for the beneficiaries to be vaccinated using the vaccine, as per the ministry.

Earlier on Friday, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that the state is facing a shortage of doses to ramp up the vaccination drive.

“We are facing a shortage of Covaxin and Covishield. We have demanded additional 50 lakh Covishield doses and 40 lakh Covaxin doses from the Central government,” said Tope.

However, the ministry said that vaccine shortage in Maharashtra does not reflect the correct picture of the available stock of balance and unutilised vaccine doses with the state.

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