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Monday,02-August-2021

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Punjab CM Amarinder Singh bans political gatherings, violators to be booked

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As Covid cases continue to remain high in the state, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday ordered a total ban on political gatherings till April 30 and said that violators, including political leaders, will be booked under the DMA and Epidemics Act.

The Chief Minister also announced extension of night curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., which hitherto was imposed in 12 districts, to the entire state and reduced the number of attendees at funerals, cremations and weddings to 50 people indoors and 100 for outdoors.

Wearing of masks has been made mandatory for all government employees while in office.

These restrictions, coupled with the ones imposed earlier, which include closure of schools and educational institutions, will remain effective till April 30.

However, there was some respite for shop owners in malls, as the Chief Minister allowed entry of 10 people per shop at any given time, as against the earlier order of not allowing more than 100 people in a mall at one time.

This would imply that 200 people will be allowed in a mall with 20 shops at any given time.

Amarinder Singh, in his weekly review of the Covid situation, expressed concern at the high positivity and mortality rates in the state.

He said it was a matter of concern that over 85 per cent of cases in Punjab are of the UK strain, which is more contagious and virulent.

He said he had no option but to go in for stricter measures to further control the ongoing surge, even though the number of positive cases had somewhat stabilized in the last few days due to curbs imposed earlier.

He said he had been forced to order a ban on political gatherings, as his pleas to all political parties to refrain from organising such events had been ignored, despite the fact that the Congress party had unilaterally announced its decision of not holding any rallies or public meetings last month.

Expressing surprise at the behaviour of certain political leaders, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, and SAD’s Sukhbir Badal, who had been attending political rallies without following safety protocols, the Chief Minister said such irresponsible conduct doesn’t behove them.

“How do you expect people to be serious about the spread of the disease if senior political leaders behave like this,” he said, adding that his government would need to be tough to tackle such violations and political leaders would also need to be booked.

He ordered the police and the districts administrations to register cases against the political leaders, organizers and participants of political gatherings under the DMA and Epidemics Act, besides booking the owners of the tent houses, who provide the infrastructure for such gatherings.

He said even the venue owners, who would provide space for such events, will not be spared and they too would be booked and their venues sealed for three months.

He further said that no social, cultural or sports gatherings and related functions will be allowed till April 30.

In-person public dealing will be restricted in all government offices and online and virtual modes for grievance redressal will be encouraged, he said, while adding that all government employees will need to compulsorily wear a mask while attending office.

Amarinder Singh said citizens should be encouraged to visit public offices only for essential services and the departments concerned should issue instructions for limiting daily appointments for works like registries, etc.

He said restrictions on running cinema houses at 50 per cent of their capacity and closure of schools and educational institutions, except medical and nursing colleges will continue till April 30.

The Chief Minister also directed Punjab DGP, Dinkar Gupta, to ensure strict implementation of the night curfew.

National News

Amit Shah visits Kalyan Singh in hospital

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Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday visited former Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, who is undergoing treatment at the Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGIMS).

Shah, accompanied by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, inquired about the veteran leader’s health form senior doctors and spoke to his family members.

Prof R.K. Dhiman, director SGPGIMS, said that the condition of Kalyan Singh was stable though critical.

He has been undergoing dialysis since the past 72 hours and is on ventilator support, Dhiman said.

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Babul Supriyo announces to quit politics

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Former Union minister and BJP Lok Sabha MP from Asansol, Babul Supriyo, on Saturday announced that he has decided to quit politics.

In a Facebook post in Bengali, the singer-turned-politician clarified that he is neither joining any other party, nor has he been contacted by any political party, adding that he has always been a “one team player”.

Beginning the Facebook post with ‘Alvida’ (goodbye) – the two-time MP from Asansol wrote, “I listened to everybody – father, (mother), wife, daughter, a couple of dear friends .. after hearing everything, I say that I am not going to any other party – #TMC, #Congress, #CPIM, nowhere – Confirm, no one called me, I am not going anywhere. I am a one Team Player! Have always supported one team #MohunBagan – Have done only party — BJP West Bengal .. That’s it!. Lets go.”

“If you want to do social work, you can do it without being in politics,” Supriyo said, adding: “Over the past few days, I have repeatedly taken the decision to leave politics to Hon’ble Amit Shah and Hon’ble Naddaji and I am eternally grateful to them for inspiring me in every way.”

“I will never forget their love and so I will never again show them the audacity to say the same thing again – especially when I have decided long ago what my ‘I’ wants to do. So to repeat the same thing again, somewhere they may think that I am ‘bargaining’ for a ‘position’. That’s not true at all,” he said.

Surpiyo, who is having some rough time with the state BJP leadership and had lost the ministry recently, didn’t hide his grudge in the post.

“The question is why I left politics? Does it have anything to do with leaving the ministry? Yes, there is — there must be something! I don’t want to panic, so it will be right as soon as he answers the question – it will give me peace too. There is a big difference between 2014 and 2019,” he wrote.

“I was the only BJP ticket then (with due respect to Ahluwaliaji – GJM was BJP’s ally in the Darjeeling seat), but today the BJP is the main opposition party in Bengal. There are many bright, young Turkish leaders in the party today as well as many old witty leaders,” he said.
“Needless to say, the team led by them will go a long way from here. I have no hesitation in saying that it is clear that it is not a big deal to have an individual in the party today and it is my firm belief that accepting it will be the right decision,” he added.

Keeping everyone guessing about his next move, Supriyo said, “I don’t believe I went anywhere – I was with ‘me’ – so I’m going somewhere and I won’t say that today. I did the same when I left my job at Standard Chartered Bank in 1992 and fled to Mumbai, I did it today!!!”

Surpiyo ended the post with the phrase — “Lets Go”.

Surpiyo, however, made it clear that his decision of quitting the party is the result of his differences with the state BJP leadership.

“Another thing. even before the vote, there were disagreements with the state leadership on some issues – it may have happened but some issues were coming out in public.”

“Somewhere, I am responsible for it (I put up a Facebook post which falls into the category of party discipline) and somewhere else, other leaders are also very responsible, although I don’t want to go into who is responsible today – but the disagreement and quarrel of senior leaders is hurting the party,” he said.

“Even then, the knowledge of ‘rocket science’ is not needed to understand that it was not helping the morale of the party workers in any way. At the moment, it is completely unwelcome, so I am leaving with immense gratitude and love to the people of Asansol,” he added.

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Pinarayi Vijayan, CPI-M have to respond to Custom chief’s statements: Congress

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Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan on Saturday asked Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his party CPI-M to respond to the statements made by Customs Commissioner Sumit Kumar in the infamous gold smuggling case.

Kumar, who led the investigation in the gold smuggling case, has been transferred from Kochi. In a talk with the media at Kochi on Saturday he said there was interference in the case from the state.

When asked if the office of the Chief Minister tried to influence him, he shot back, “I don’t report to the Chief Minister instead I report to the Union Finance Minister who has been providing all the support to us in all respects. We have conducted the probe in the best manner and none can influence us in any way. It’s only that I am transferred, but the other officers are here,” said Kumar.

Kumar went on to add that even when the Customs officials including he came under attack, the Kerala Police failed to act in the proper manner.

“Not a single charge sheet in these attack cases has been filed. The present judicial probe against the Customs is foolish and is unheard of in the country. How would it look if I appoint a Commission against the government,” asked Sharma.

The gold smuggling case surfaced on July 5 last year, with the arrest of P.R. Sarith, a former UAE Consulate staffer. This was followed by the arrest of another former staffer, Swapna Suresh, who afterwards worked in the Kerala IT Department’s Space Park.

Things became bad for Vijayan when the Enforcement Directorate arrested M. Sivasankar, who was the principal secretary to Vijayan, besides being a senior IAS officer. He is now out on bail after a few months in jail.

Reacting to Kumar’s statement, Satheesan said the statement has to be probed.

“It’s Vijayan and the CPI-M which should provide the answers to the revelation of Kumar, if there was any interference in the probe. Before the elections all the national agencies were involved in the probe, but all of a sudden everything has turned silent and this took place because of the political tie up between the CPI-M and the BJP. The same thing has happened in the Kodakara election fund case probe where the BJP is involved and this new found tie up between the two is the reason for all such cases involving the CPI-M and the BJP, which have come to a premature close,” said Satheesan.

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