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Daily briefing: Govt invites farmers for talks; urgent meeting on new Covid strain in UK

The big story today is the government's latest attempt to resolve the impasse with farmer unions over the farm laws. The Centre has invited farmers for a new round of talks and urged them to choose a date according to their convenience.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | December 21, 2020 8:07:47 am
A look at the top news today, December 21, 2020.

Good morning,

The Big Story

In a bid to resolve the impasse over the farm laws, the government has invited farmer unions for a new round of talks, and urged them to choose a date according to their convenience. The last round of talks was held on December 8, after which farmers rejected a written proposal with significant concessions. They are demanding a repeal of the laws.

From the Front Page

The chargesheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Hathras case reveals the victim, a 19-year-old Dalit woman, had a relationship/affair with one of the accused. The “change in their relationship” “aggravated his feelings” and “frustrated him”. The victim was allegedly gangraped by four upper-caste men on September 14. She died a fortnight later.

Nepal’s Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli dissolved the country’s lower house of Parliament, two years short of its five-year tenure, following months of bickering among factions within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP). The move triggered protests and the resignations of at least seven Cabinet-rank ministers.

The new strain of Covid-19 detected in the UK will be discussed today by the Health Ministry’s top advisory body at an urgently convened meeting. The variant shows alterations in the spike protein that could theoretically make it more infectious. Several European countries have already banned flights from the UK as a precaution.

BJP leader Amit Shah during a road show at Bolpur, West Bengal. (Express Photo: Shashi Ghosh)

Only in Express

“I went to prison, got beaten up, was kept hungry, lost my job… But the most pain that the Yogi Adityanath-led government gave me was depriving me of my children’s growing up years,” said Dr Kafeel Khan in a chat with The Indian Express.

Ahead of the Union Budget, one of India’s top capital markets experts Nilesh Shah writes an open letter to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, listing a dozen ways to raise funds to finance India’s recovery from the pandemic.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren said if the Opposition were to defeat the BJP, it must examine “politics in small pockets and then strategise… The Opposition has to first accept the ground reality of the country.” He was speaking at an Idea Exchange on completing a year in office.

Must Read

“The accident occurred due to fracture of the tongue rail.” Three years after the NIA said in an FIR that it suspected sabotage by Maoists as the reason behind the derailment of the Hirakhand Express that led to 40 deaths, the Commissioner of Railway Safety has concluded that the accident was caused by a “fractured” part of the track.

Home Minister Amit Shah said his government would consider implementing the Citizenship Amendment Act after the inoculation of Covid-19 vaccines gets underway and the coronavirus cycle ends. “The Rules of CAA are yet to be framed, and such a big exercise cannot proceed in the middle of the pandemic… You will be informed when that happens.”

A 51-year-old has built a “shikara ambulance” for those residing around Srinagar’s Dal lake, to help them reach the hospital. The idea was conceived after he struggled to cross the lake in August after testing positive for Covid-19. He plans to build a “mini hospital” inside a houseboat as well.

ICYMI

A couple who fled Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur fearing vigilantism in the name of ‘love jihad’, applied for registration of their marriage under the Special Marriage Act in Delhi on Saturday. They do not plan to return anytime soon.

A Facebook page set up by farmer organisations’ to “counter misinformation”, was taken down by the company on Sunday for a few hours, causing outrage on social media.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said the dispute over the metro car shed at Kanjurmarg was “not an issue of (my) ego”, and urged the Centre to resolve the issue through dialogue.

US Senators struck a late-night deal over a $900 billion coronavirus air package, clearing the decks for the US Congress to vote on it. The package includes $600 direct payments to individuals and a $300 per week unemployment compensation supplement.

And Finally…

Beds, blankets, music system, mosquito repellents, inverters — as the protest at Singhu border crosses three weeks, farmers have converted their tractors-trolleys into mini-homes. “This is our home now. We have made all arrangements so we can stay here for long.”

Delhi Confidential: Randeep Surjewala’s absence at the key Congress meeting on Saturday was interesting as his remarks a day before — that all issues in the party stood resolved with the announcement of the next election to the Congress president post — had not gone down well with many of the letter writers.

In the latest episode of Our Own Devices, we speak to Josh Giegel, co-founder of Virgin Hyperloop, about the company’s future, the challenges ahead for it, and what it is like travelling in a Hyperloop Pod.

Until tomorrow,

Aaron Pereira and Leela Murali

Business As Usual by E P Unny

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