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Daily Briefing: Centre asks states to follow UK’s containment, vaccination model; Delhi imposes weekend curfew

In the first official confirmation of the United Arab Emirates playing a role in bringing Delhi and Islamabad to the talks table, the UAE’s envoy to the US has said that his country is mediating to help them reach a “healthy and functional” relationship.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
April 16, 2021 8:39:05 am
A look at the top news today, April 29, 2021.

Good morning,

The Second Wave 

As India reported a record 2 lakh fresh cases in 24 hours, the Centre asked the states to take inspiration from the United Kingdom’s fight against the virus and accordingly focus on restricting local movement, vaccinating aggressively, and roping in doctors from other states to ease the pressure on the stretched local healthcare workforce. 

If you’re in Delhi and are hoping to go out this weekend, it is better you drop the plans as the Arvind Kejriwal government has imposed a weekend curfew, among a host of other restrictions, after the city recorded over 17,000 new cases on Thursday. Shopping malls, auditoriums, gyms, spas, bars and dine-in services at restaurants will remain closed, while cinema halls will be operating at 30% of its capacity.

With Maharashtra being the worst-hit by the current wave of the coronavirus, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “press in” the National Disaster Management Authority and make use of all options, including the airlift of medical oxygen, for rapid movement. He also requested the PM to grant compulsory licences to units exporting remdesivir to produce and sell them in the domestic market.

The Gujarat High Court slammed the state government over its handling of the Covid-19 situation in the state, saying it was not utilising resources properly and asked it to issue an “open statement” on the “myths of remdesivir”. The High Court, while questioning official Covid-19 figures, asked the government to act fast to tackle the situation as it was “very much conscious of the worsening situation”. 

Only in the Express 

In the remote forests of Odisha’s Malkangiri district, fires have only been sporadic and more or less under control. However, for foresters engaged in the Chitrakonda range, fire-fighting has been challenging, to say the least. From trekking with machines on their backs to scaling altitudes as high as 1,000 metres, these firefighters undertake an arduous journey before even starting to douse the fire.

From the Front Page 

The Supreme Court told the Centre that it must set itself a timeline to respond to recommendations made by the Collegium to fill up vacancies in posts of judges. It said the government must let the Court know about the timeline at the next date of hearing.

More than 21 months after Mohammad Shareeq and Oniba Qureshi were wrongfully sentenced to 10 years in prison for a drug offence in Qatar, the nightmare has finally ended for the couple. They returned to their home in Mumbai on Thursday, after spending a year and nine months behind bars in Qatar. Still traumatised, they rued having trusted an aunt who had tried to use them as a courier for drugs.

In the first official confirmation of the United Arab Emirates playing a role in bringing Delhi and Islamabad to the talks table, the UAE’s envoy to the US has said that his country is mediating between India and Pakistan to help them reach a “healthy and functional” relationship. The statement comes in the backdrop of a Reuters report stating that top intelligence officers from India’s R&AW and Pakistan’s ISI had held secret talks in Dubai in January. 

Must Read 

Battling a surge in coronavirus cases, the Uttarakhand government restricted gatherings at religious, social and political events to 200 people. However, the Kumbh Mela was exempted from this rule. The exemption was given despite more than 1,700 people testing positive for Covid-19 at the religious gathering between April 1 and 15. 

Over two decades after former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan was framed in an espionage case, the Supreme Court has asked the CBI to probe the alleged incident. Welcoming the probe, Narayanan said, “It was a fabricated case. CBI closure report had already stated it. The Supreme Court and the National Human Rights Commission had attested that the case was fabricated.”

Decision 2021 

In Nadia district’s Santipur, where the BJP took a massive lead in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the aim of the TMC is clear: bring the elections to local issues. In 2016, Nadia district voted decisively for the TMC. But by 2019, it was the BJP that led in 11 of the Assembly seats with the TMC reduced to six. Given how strongly the BJP’s top brass  campaigned across the state, underlining the difference between national and assembly elections is key to the TMC strategy here.

Concerned about a rise in coronavirus cases across the state, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee urged the Election Commission to conduct the remaining four phases of the Assembly Elections in one go. But the EC turned down her request, citing legal difficulties. 

The Election Commission (EC) imposed a 24-hour campaigning ban on BJP’s West Bengal unit president Dilip Ghosh over his “highly provocative” and “inciteful” remarks about the CISF firing in Cooch Behar district during the fourth phase of polling on April 10.

And Finally 

Over the last few weeks, hoards of people have been making their way to a village called Bahoranpur in Jharkhand, where the remains of a sprawling Buddhist monastery, at least 900 years old, were found earlier this year. Among the archaeological discoveries were four statues of Taras, the “saviouresses” of the Thunderbolt Vehicle, six statues of the Buddha in the Bhumisparsha mudra, as well as remnants of a statue of the Shaivite goddess Maheswari. 

Delhi Confidential: The Covid-19 situation in the Supreme Court continued to be grim with Justice M R Shah announcing in the middle of a hearing on Thursday that he had been intimated that his entire staff, who were handling his virtual hearings, had tested positive. 

 In today’s episode of ‘3 Things’, we look at the government’s decision on board examinations, how Gujarat is handling the second wave of the pandemic, and finally, we take a quick look at Covid developments from around the world.  

Until tomorrow, 

Rahel Philipose and Rounak Bagchi

Express Cartoon by EP Unny.

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