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Amarinder Singh Writes To PM Modi For 50 Metric Tonnes Of Additional Oxygen



Amarinder Singh Writes To PM Modi For 50 Metric Tonnes Of Additional Oxygen

Amarinder Singh Writes To PM Modi For 50 Metric Tonnes Of Additional Oxygen

The Chief Minister sent out separate letters to the Prime Minister and the Home Minister (File)


In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday requested for allocation of an additional 50 metric tonnes (MT) liquid medical oxygen (LMO) to the state, amid the oxygen crisis due to surge in COVID-19.

He also sought their immediate intervention for 20 additional tankers (preferably conducive to rail travel) for timely evacuation of LMO from Bokaro.

The Chief Minister sent out separate letters to the prime minister and the home minister, as the number of COVID patients on varying levels of oxygen support in the state went up to 10,000, stated a media release.

Expressing deep concern over the imminent loss of lives due to oxygen shortage across the state, Amarinder Singh said with the mounting caseload, he was unable to increase Level 2 and Level 3 beds due to oxygen availability constraints. The state was facing the prospect of a shortage of oxygen beds, he said, pointing out that the Government of India had expressed its inability to even allow Punjab’s local industry to undertake commercial import of LMO from Pakistan through the Wagah-Attari border, which is geographically proximate.

Further, despite the assurance that “adequate supply would be ensured to us from alternate sources, I regret to point out that this has not happened,” said Amarinder Singh.

The total allocation of LMO from outside the state is currently 195 MT, of which 90 MT is from Bokaro in eastern India. The balance 105 MT comes from LMO facilities in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.

However, Punjab is not getting its daily allocated quota, said the Chief Minister.

The existing backlog for Punjab from these LMO facilities is 5.6 MT from Panipat, Haryana, 100 MT from Sela Qui, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, and 10 MT from Roorkee, he added.

Pointing out that Punjab had now been given to understand by the Centre that there would be likely disruption of LMO supply from today from Panipat and Barotiwala, the Chief Minister said this would cause great stress on the already limited oxygen availability in the state, thus causing a medical emergency, including the risk of loss of life for the large number of patients who are in critical condition and on regular oxygen support. The disruption should be avoided, he said, adding that, if necessary, the state must be compensated immediately from a nearby additional source.

Referring to the shortage of tankers, the Chief Minister said the state was airlifting two empty tankers daily to Ranchi, with the filled tankers returning by road from Bokaro on a 48-50 hours journey. The Chief Minister said that the state government had already requested the GoI to allocate 20 additional tankers (conducive to rail travel) to allow for the regular evacuation of 90 MT LMO from Bokaro on a daily basis but had been told that only two would be provided, and even those were yet to come.

He urged the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to step in immediately to help resolve the major crisis, said the press release. 

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Why East Jerusalem has become a flashpoint in the decades-old Israel-Palestine conflict



Why East Jerusalem has become a flashpoint in the decades-old Israel-Palestine conflict

Weeks of tensions between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces in East Jerusalem have boiled over in recent days, unleashing some of the worst violence between Israel and the Palestinians in years.

Israeli airstrikes in Gaza have left 30 Palestinians dead, including ten children, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promising not to ease up anytime soon. Palestinians militants, meanwhile, have launched hundreds of missiles into Israel, killing three people.

Ostensibly, the rocket launches by Hamas were a response to Israeli police storming the al-Aqsa mosque compound in East Jerusalem on Laylat al-Qadr, the Night of Power, one of the holiest nights of the year for Muslims. The incident injured hundreds over the weekend.

Hamas then issued an ultimatum demanding Israeli forces withdraw from the compound – the third holiest site in Islam, part of which comprises the Wailing Wall – by a specific deadline. When Israel refused, Hamas’s military wing followed through on its threat by firing rockets toward Jerusalem, forcing Israeli lawmakers to flee parliament.

Jerusalem divided

Beyond the mosque confrontation, though, there are broader historical and political factors at work.

Monday’s airstrikes fell on Jerusalem Day, when Israeli Jews celebrate the “reunification” of Jerusalem following the Six-Day War of 1967. As the ongoing unrest demonstrates, the city is far from unified.

Adding to the tensions, thousands of Jewish ultra-nationalists had planned to march through Palestinian-dominated East Jerusalem on Jerusalem Day as a demonstration of Jewish sovereignty over the entire city.

Israeli police changed the route at the last moment, partly due to the increasingly violent clashes between security forces and Palestinian demonstrators during Ramadan.

There were also concerns of unrest if the Israeli Supreme Court handed down its decision on whether four Palestinian families should be evicted from their homes in the Shiekh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, to be replaced by Jewish settlers. This is the culmination of a decades-long legal battle dismissed as “a real estate dispute” by Israeli officials.

This case is emblematic of the systematic appropriation of Palestinian homes and land in East Jerusalem since 1967. The seizure of Palestinian property is so common here, an Israeli settler was captured on video recently telling a Palestinian, “If I do not steal your home, someone else will steal it.”

The recent evictions in Shiekh Jarrah have been described by Hamas officials – and Palestinian supporters elsewhere – as a form of ethnic cleansing.

The Biden administration has also said it is “deeply concerned” about the potential evictions while urging leaders across the spectrum to “denounce all violent acts”.

Decades of dispossession

Israeli settlement building and expansion, especially in and around East Jerusalem, is a deliberate strategy. This is not only being done to appropriate Palestinian land, but to alter the demographics of the area and prevent the establishment of a sovereign Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Israel exclusively claims Jerusalem – home of the ancient Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism – as its eternal undivided capital.

The dispossession of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank is not new. Indeed, the expulsion of Palestinians in the areas now largely recognised as the official borders of the self-defined Jewish state of Israel was required to establish a Jewish majority.

On May 14, 1948, Zionist leaders unilaterally declared the independence of the state of Israel, sparking the first Arab-Israeli War. During the war, over 400 Palestinian villages and towns were depopulated and obliterated to make way for modern Jewish towns and cities.

This Saturday marks al-Nakba, or the “Catastrophe”, for Palestinians. It is the day of mourning for the loss of historical Palestine and the expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinians from their ancestral homeland.

This process has continued throughout East Jerusalem and the West Bank since their occupation in 1967. There are now more than 5 million Palestinian refugees registered with the UN, nearly a third of whom live in refugee camps.

The plight of Palestinian refugees remains a particularly contentious issue for the two sides. A UN General Assembly resolution in 1948 asserted the right of refugees to return to the areas captured by Israel in 1948-’49.

And in 1967, a UN Security Council resolution demanded Israeli forces withdraw from territories captured during the Six-Day War.

International law

The Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem and its ongoing settler activities in the West Bank contravene international humanitarian law. They are also not recognised by the vast majority of the international community, with the notable exception of the United States under the Trump administration.

Yet, Palestinian dispossession continues today with over 600,000 Israeli settlers now living across the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The continued Israeli occupation of these territories, coupled with the appropriation of Palestinian land, are among the primary causes of conflict between the two sides.

But there are also domestic political factors at play. Hamas is a militant group, which is also responsible for administering the Gaza Strip. Its legitimacy largely rests on its resistance credentials, which means the movement routinely feels obligated to demonstrate its capacity to confront perceived Israeli aggression.

This is in stark contrast to the inaction of the Hamas’ rival party, Fatah, and its leader, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has remained largely silent in recent weeks despite the loss of Palestinian lives.

Israel’s political system is also in crisis, with no party able to form a stable government after four inconclusive elections in the past two years (and now a fifth potentially in the offing).

With the government in flux, pro-settler parties – namely Naftali Bennett’s New Right Party – have become the kingmakers in the Knesset. Any aspiring government will likely need their backing to form a majority, which requires the support of pro-settler policies.

With all of this in mind, we can expect more violence, regardless of who eventually wins power in Israel. Unless the international community – in particular, the Biden administration – intervenes to find a meaningful solution to the conflict.

Tristan Dunning is a Sessional Lecturer at The University of Queensland and Martin Kear is Sessional Lecturer Dept Govt & Int Rel at the University of Sydney.

This article first appeared on The Conversation.

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Bhima Koregaon Case: Supreme Court Dismisses Activist Gautam Navlakha’s Bail Plea



Bhima Koregaon Case: Supreme Court Dismisses Activist Gautam Navlakha’s Bail Plea

Bhima Koregaon Case: Supreme Court Dismisses Activist Gautam Navlakha’s Bail Plea

Gautam Navlakha had surrendered before the NIA on April 14 last year. (File Photo)

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea of activist Gautam Navlakha, seeking bail in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist link case of Bhima Koregaon in Maharashtra.

A bench of justices UU Lalit and KM Joseph dismissed the appeal of Gautam Navlakha against the Bombay High Court order denying him bail in the case.

Justice Joseph, who pronounced the verdict for the bench, said the court is dismissing the appeal of Gautam Navlakha.

On March 26, the top court had reserved its verdict on a plea of Mr Navlakha.

The Supreme Court had on March 3 sought response from the NIA on Gautam Navlakha’s plea in which he has claimed that the charge sheet was not filed within the stipulated time period and hence, he was entitled for default bail.

The FIR against him was re-registered in January 2020, and Gautam Navlakha had surrendered before the NIA on April 14, last year.

He had spent 11 days in the NIA’s custody till April 25, and since then he is in judicial custody.

According to the prosecution, some activists allegedly made inflammatory speeches and provocative statements at the Elgar Parishad meet in Pune on December 31, 2017, which triggered violence at Koregaon Bhima in the district the next day.

It has also alleged that the event was backed by some Maoist groups.

On February 8, the high court had dismissed Mr Navlakha’s plea saying that “it sees no reason to interfere with a special court’s order which earlier rejected his bail plea”.

Mr Navlakha had approached the high court last year, challenging the special NIA court’s order of July 12, 2020 that rejected his plea for statutory bail.

On December 16 last year, the high court bench reserved its verdict on the plea filed by Mr Navlakha, seeking statutory or default bail on the grounds that he had been in custody for over 90 days, but the prosecution failed to file a charge sheet in the case within this period.

The NIA had argued that his plea was not maintainable, and sought an extension of time to file the charge sheet.

The special court had then accepted NIA’s plea seeking extension of 90 to 180 days to file the charge sheet against Mr Navlakha and his co-accused, activist Dr Anand Teltumbde.

Mr Navlakha had earlier already argued that he has spent 93 days in custody, including 34 days of house arrest, and that the high court must count house arrest as a period of custody.

While he was under house arrest, Gautam Navlakha’s personal liberties remained curtailed, his counsel had submitted.

The NIA had earlier argued that Mr Navlakha’s house arrest could not be included in the time spent in the custody of police or NIA, or under judicial custody.

It had submitted that the Pune police arrested Mr Navlakha in August 2018, but had not taken him into custody.

It had said that Mr Navlakha remained under house arrest, and the Delhi High Court quashed his arrest and remand order in October 2018.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Could Have Saved Many Lives With Door-To-Door Covid Vaccination: High Court



Could Have Saved Many Lives With Door-To-Door Covid Vaccination: High Court

Could Have Saved Many Lives With Door-To-Door Covid Vaccination: High Court

High Court directed the Centre to file an affidavit by May 19, when it would hear the matter further


The Bombay High Court today said if the Union government had started door-to-door vaccination programme for senior citizens a few months back, then lives of many of them, including prominent persons, could have been saved.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni asked the Union government why not pro- actively start this programme when the lives of senior citizens, who are unable to go to vaccination centres to get inoculated, are concerned.

The bench was hearing a public interest litigation filed by two lawyers Dhruti Kapadia and Kunal Tiwari seeking door-to-door vaccination facility for senior citizens above the age of 75, specially-abled persons and those who are bed-ridden or wheelchair-bound.

The court reiterated its earlier order of April 22 in which it asked the Union government to re-look at its decision to not initiate a door-to-door vaccination programme.

“It has been three weeks and the government (Union) is yet to inform us of its decision. The government should have taken a decision one way or the other,” the court said.

It directed the Union government to file an affidavit by May 19, when it would hear the matter further.

The court noted that many foreign countries have already started door-to-door vaccination facilities.

“In India, we do many things late and things travel to our country very slowly,” Justice Kulkarni said.

Why not start this (door-to-door vaccination) pro- actively when the lives of senior citizens are concerned? the court asked.

“Speaking off the cuff, if we had a door-to-door vaccination programme sometime back, then so many of our senior citizens, including prominent members of society from various walks of life, who have lost their lives to COVID-19, could have been saved,” Justice Kulkarni said.

The court further said it had seen photographs of senior citizens and many wheelchair-bound persons waiting outside vaccination centres in long queues.

“This was very heart-rending and not a good sight.

They must be already suffering from so many ailments and now they face the risk of being infected with COVID-19 also (while) waiting in such crowds,” the bench said.

The court noted that senior judges of the HC had a meeting with Birhanmumbai Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Chahal on Tuesday where he said the civic body was planning to start ward-wise vaccination camps from next week, which would have the capacity to inoculate 70,000 people per day.

“If such camps are starting, then maybe senior citizens and people who cannot step out of their homes can be identified and the staff can go to their homes and vaccinate them,” Chief Justice Datta suggested.

The bench directed the BMC to file an affidavit stating details of the same and by when it would begin and what steps the corporation plans to take for the next few days with regard to the vaccination programme.

The court noted that the availability of vaccines was also a problem.

To this, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh told the court that the Covishield vaccine would be made available in a few days.

The court also sought to know from the civic body about what measures it plans to take for the vaccination of homeless people, beggars and those living on streets.

“They are also a significant population and are spreaders of the coronavirus, the high court said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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