Rupani steps down ahead of Assembly polls in Gujarat
Whether it was a sign of the BJP national leadership’s increasing dissatisfaction with the Gujarat Chief Minister or the practical necessities of a State that will be facing Assembly elections next year, Vijay Rupani has stepped down paving the way for a change of guard in the state. His replacement will be in place soon. BJP general secretary B L Santosh is understood to have held meetings at the State party headquarters during the day. Rupani met the Governor Acharya Devrat and submitted his resignation. I have resigned after conveying my wishes to the party leadership to let me work in the organisation, Rupani said. For quite some time now speculative theories have been doing the rounds of a possible change of guard in the state. A journalist even faces the sedition charge for a news item suggesting CM Rupani could be asked to step down! The ruling party had been contemplating to effect a change of guard in Gujarat given the apparent lacklustre administration of C M Rupani, whose performance was not as per the expectations of the party high command. Some political observers have also pointed out to the manner in which the chief minister handled the Covid-19 pandemic leading to many deaths in the state. Rupani took over the reins of the state in August 2016 after the sudden resignation of the then chief minister Anandiben Patel who stepped down following her inept handling of the Patidar agitation that rocked the state. Patel is currently the Governor of Uttar Pradesh.
Editors Guild expresses concern on attacks on press freedom
The Editors Guild of India (EGI) on Saturday expressed concern over Income Tax department officials seizing journalists’ data from the offices of news websites Newslaundry and NewsClick and passing them off as surveys conducted by the agency. The IT raid on NewsClick comes close on the heels of a recent directive from the Delhi HC asking the Enforcement Directorate to act with caution. In a statement, the EGI said it was disturbed by what were called ‘surveys’ by the I-T officials. Newslaundry co-founder Abhinandan Sekhri, however, said in a statement the visit was an attack on press freedom. It is learnt that the I-T team made clones of Sekhri’s mobile and laptop, as well as some other office machines, and no hash value was given to them. This is clearly beyond the mandate of surveys as defined under Section 133A of the Income Tax Act, which only allows data pertaining to the investigation to be copied, and certainly not personal and professional data of journalists, the EGI said. It said the seized data could include information about sources and ongoing reporting. The EGI also raised the issue of raids by the Enforcement Directorate at the office of NewsClick recently. Both NewsClick and Newslaundry have been critical of policies and functioning of the Union government. The dangerous trend of government agencies harassing and intimidating independent media must stop as it undermines our constitutional democracy, it said. The EGI said such investigations should be handled with great care and sensitivity so as not to undermine the rights of journalists and the media.
I have been placed under house arrest in Srinagar, says Mehbooba Mufti
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday claimed that she had been put under house arrest in Srinagar, a day after she alleged that the police had shown disrespect to the body of Syed Ali Shah Geelani. GOI [Government of India] expresses concern for the rights of Afghan people but willfully denies the same to Kashmiris. I’ve been placed under house arrest today because according to administration the situation is far from normal in Kashmir. This exposes their fake claims of normalcy, she said in a tweet. The former Chief Minister after a party meeting in Srinagar alleged ‘maltreatment’ of the body of Geelani on September 2. Meanwhile, mobile Internet was restored in Srinagar and Budgam districts on Tuesday, six days after Geelani’s death. Train services also resumed.
With eye-banking services badly hit by Covid-19, AIIMS study to ascertain its presence in various parts of eye
The R. P. Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences at AIIMS is conducting a study to ascertain the presence of the coronavirus in various parts of the eye of those who have died due to the infection, the centre’s chief J. S. Titiyal said on Tuesday. Addressing a press conference on the 36th Eye Donation Fortnight celebration by the National Eye Bank (NEB), he said that five eye balls have been collected for carrying out the study. The research study will help ascertain the presence of the coronavirus in the cornea, optic nerve and retina of Covid-19 infected deceased, Titiyal said. These eye balls will be subjected to various molecular tests to detect presence of the coronavirus in these tissues and also look for genetic evidence, he said. Namrata Sharma of the R. P. Centre said that there is no proven evidence so far which establishes any direct link between Covid-19 leading to blindness. Because of Covid-19, cases of conjunctivitis have been reported but that does not lead to vision loss. Covid-19 leads to mucormycosis and there have been cases where it has impacted vision and lead to blindness, she said. There have been isolated cases of retinal and Venus blocks which may lead to sudden diminishing of vision due to thromboembolism . But there has been no proven cause and effect relationship between them so far, Sharma said. Tissue retrieval is performed only from presumed Covid-19 negative donors, according to established eye banking guidelines, she said. To ensure maximum safety we perform a post-mortem nasopharyngeal swab RT-PCR testing for all our potential donors. Of the tissues retrieved by us between July 2020 and July 2021, we found that 5.5 per cent of the presumed Covid-19 negative donors tested RT-PCR positive for SARS-CoV2, Sharma said. The tissues from these donors were not used for corneal transplantation and were subjected to further microbiological analysis, she said. Eye banking services have been one of the worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, Titiyal said. Corneal tissue retrieval activities by the NEB, which remained suspended from April 2020 to June 2020 during the nationwide lockdown, were restarted through the hospital cornea retrieval program (HCRP) from July 2020 onwards.
Remembering 9/11, 20 years on
Twenty years after the world was upended, the day marking the grim anniversary of 9/11 was observed in the U.S.. The anniversary comes at a particularly difficult time for President Joe Biden, who has been criticised in recent for the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, which ended a U.S. presence that began less than a month after the September 11 attacks; left the country in chaos and achieved little. The Taliban captured Kabul even before the withdrawal of U.S. from the country. In a video released on the eve of the 20th anniversary, the President paid tribute all those who who lost their lives. We honour all those who risked and gave their lives in the minutes, hours, months and years afterwards, Mr Biden added, speaking of the emergency workers who responded to the attacks. In his address on Friday, he said: No matter how much time has passed, these commemorations bring everything painfully back as if you just got the news a few seconds ago. President Joe Biden (C) waves as he is joined by (L-R) former President Bill Clinton, former First Lady Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, former First Lady Michelle Obama, First Lady Jill Biden and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, during the annual 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum on September 11, 2021 in New York. The attacks, which were planned by al-Qaeda from Afghanistan, saw four U.S. passenger jets hijacked by suicide attackers — two of which were rammed into the Twin Towers. Another plane struck the Pentagon, just outside the U.S. capital, Washington D.C., and a fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after passengers fought back. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said pn Friday that the perpetrators of the attack had failed to destroy Western values. We can now say with the perspective of 20 years that they (the jihadists) failed to shake our belief in freedom and democracy, he said in the message delivered ahead of the anniversary on Saturday. They failed to drive our nations apart, or cause us to abandon our values, or to live in permanent fear, Johnson said as reported by the BBC.
Pakistan resumes flights to Kabul
After the visit of Pakistan’s intelligence chief Faiz Hameed’s to Kabul, a day marked by protests in the country, and after the Taliban announced a news government and invited China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Qatar to the inaugural, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) announced that it will resume flights from Islamabad to Kabul next week, becoming the first foreign commercial service since the Taliban seized power last month. Kabul airport was severely damaged during a chaotic evacuation of over 1,20,000 people that ended with the withdrawal of U.S. forces on August 30. The Taliban have been scrambling to get it operating again with Qatari technical assistance. We have got all technical clearances for flight operations, PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez Khan told AFP. Our first commercial plane… is scheduled to fly from Islamabad to Kabul on September 13, Khan said adding that the service would depend on demand. We have received 73 requests which is very encouraging… from humanitarian relief agencies and journalists, he said. In the last two days Qatar Airways has operated two charter flights out of Kabul, carrying mostly foreigners and Afghans who missed being taken out during the evacuation. An Afghan airline resumed domestic flights last week.