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NEW DELHI: India’s Covid-19 case count went past the 75-lakh mark on Sunday, 33 days after the tally had crossed 50 lakh. India is the second country after the US to reach the grim milestone. However, the slowdown in the pandemic was evident as the previous rise of 25 lakh cases had taken just 32 days.

The slowdown was evident in the daily numbers as well. On Sunday, India reported 57,174 fresh cases and 590 deaths, the first time in 90 days that the daily death toll had fallen below 600, as per data collated from state governments.

This was also the first time since August 5 that the daily tally had fallen below 60,000 on a day other than Monday (when numbers drop sharply due to low testing and processing on weekends).

India’s Covid-19 caseload had hit 50 lakh on September 15, when the pandemic was at its peak in the country. India recorded its highest count of daily cases on September 17, when 98,795 infections were reported, as per TOI’s database.

The country also reported its highest daily death toll around the same time — 1,275 on September 15. Since then, both cases and fatalities have been steadily dropping despite a further loosening up of restrictions related to the pandemic.

Covid-19 cases as well as deaths from the virus in India had been continuously rising till mid-September. This implies that the country has yet seen just one peak of the pandemic, unlike the US which appears to be in the midst of a third phase of rise in cases. Most of Europe too is witnessing a second Covid wave.

India is in the company of Brazil among countries that haven’t yet witnessed a second wave.

While daily cases have been generally falling across Indian states over the past month, Bengal has bucked the trend. The state reported 3,983 fresh infections on Sunday, its highest single-day count so far.

The pandemic in Kerala, which had seen a big surge this month, too appears to be slowing. The state reported 7,631 cases on Sunday, down from 9,106 on the previous day. Kerala had recorded a high of 11,755 fresh cases on October 10. Delhi, the other state that had seen a rise in cases in recent days recorded 3,299 new infections, around the same as on Saturday.

Fresh cases dropped below 10,000 in Maharashtra after five days. The state registered 9,060 cases and 150 deaths on Sunday, with Mumbai’s share being 1,600 cases and 46 deaths.

Gujarat added 1,091 cases, taking the total to 1.6 lakh. It was the lowest daily tally for the state in 55 days as the cases went below 1,100 after 54 days. New Covid cases in Gujarat include 239 from Surat, 183 from Ahmedabad, 119 from Vadodara, 107 from Rajkot, and 84 from Jamnagar.

Odisha recorded a further dip in Covid-19 cases on Sunday with a fresh single-day infection count of 2,019 in the last 24 hours. This is the lowest one-day rise in Covid cases in the state in one-and-a-half months. Fourteen more persons died of Covid, taking the death toll to 1,135 in the state.

Andhra Pradesh reported 3,986 new Covid-19 cases, taking the cumulative caseload to 7,83,132, even as the toll increased to 6,429 with 23 more people succumbing to the virus.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

Modi didn’t accept even tea during 9-hour questioning by Gujarat riots SIT: Raghavan

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NEW DELHI: Without parrying a single question out of the 100-odd ones put to him by the 2002 Gujarat riots SIT, Narendra Modi as the then Gujarat chief minister “kept his cool” throughout the marathon 9-hour questioning and did not accept even a cup of tea from investigators, the probe team’s chief at that time R K Raghavan has said in a new book.

Modi had also readily agreed to come to the SIT office in Gandhinagar for the questioning and brought his own bottle of water, Raghavan has written in his autobiography, ‘A Road Well Travelled’.

Before being asked to head the Supreme Court-appointed SIT that probed the 2002 Gujarat riots, Raghavan had also served as head of premier probe agency CBI. He was also involved in several other high-profile investigations over years, including those relating to the Bofors scam, the 2000 South Africa cricket-match fixing case and the fodder scam.

Talking about the time the SIT had called Modi for questioning as the then Gujarat chief minister, Raghavan writes in the book, “We had it conveyed to his staff that he had to come in person to the SIT office for this purpose and that meeting him elsewhere would be misconstrued as a favour.”

“He (Modi) understood the spirit of our stand and readily agreed to come to the SIT office within the government complex in Gandhinagar,” Raghvan said.

The former police officer further said he took the “unusual step” of asking Ashok Malhotra, an SIT member, to do the questioning, mainly to avoid any “mischievous allegation” later that Modi and he had struck a deal.

“This stand was endorsed months later by no less a person than amicus curiae Harish Salve. He told me that my presence would have vitiated Modi’s statement and would have robbed it of its credibility,” Raghavan said, adding that he had never consulted Salve prior to the event.

It was my personal decision flowing from sheer intuition, said the retired IPS officer of Tamil Nadu cadre, who was also appointed as High Commissioner to Cyprus in 2017.

“Modi’s questioning lasted nine hours in my own chamber at the SIT office. Malhotra told me later that Modi kept his cool right through the marathon session which ended late at night,” Raghavan said.

“He (Modi) never parried questions. Nor did he give the impression of padding up his responses. When Malhotra asked him whether he would like to break for lunch, he initially turned down the offer. He brought his own bottle of water and did not accept even a cup of tea from the SIT during the marathon questioning comprising a hundred- odd questions,” he said.

Raghavan said it required “tremendous persuasion” to make Modi agree to a short recess. “This was possibly Modi’s concession to the need for a respite for Malhotra rather than for himself. Such was the energy of the man.”

In February 2012, the SIT filed a closure report, giving a clean chit to Modi and 63 others, including senior government officials, saying there was “no prosecutable evidence” against them.

In the book, the former CBI Director also asserted that the probe into the Gujarat riots by the Supreme Court-mandated SIT under him was “clinical and professional” and the SIT’s “unequivocal stand” on the chief minister’s role was “unpalatable to his (Modi’s) adversaries” in the state and in Delhi.

“They engineered petitions against me, accusing me of favouring the chief minister. The grapevine had it that they misused central agencies to monitor my telephonic conversations. They were, however, disappointed not to find anything incriminating,” he said.

Raghavan said false charges were aired against him on the sly to start with, and later openly.

“Fortunately, the apex court stood by me and backed me to the hilt. I was found inconvenient because I refused to buy the argument that the state administration connived with the rioters who were targeting the Muslim community. Our investigation was clinical and professional,” he asserted.

“If I displayed a measure of professional acumen and objectivity, it was not a little due to the sterling assistance of Ashok Kumar Malhotra, whom I inducted into the SIT in 2009,” said Raghvan praising Malhotra, who was asked to oversee the team’s work after the apex court allowed Raghavan to be relieved from the duty in 2017.

Without naming anyone, Raghavan said it was unfortunate that he was the target of attack by those instigated by “highly placed persons at the helm of affairs in Delhi”.

Talking about the Ehsan Jafri case, he said there was no record to establish that the Congress MP had tried to reach the chief minister by phone.

“A few others, including Sanjeev Bhat, had also alleged that the chief minister, at a late-night official meeting on 28 February 2002, had directed senior police officers present at the meeting not to intervene if Hindu emotions overflowed. Here again, there was no corroboration to the charge,” Raghvan asserted.

None whose presence at the meeting was established beyond doubt told SIT that they saw Sanjeev Bhat at the meeting, held essentially to review the law and order situation arising from the Godhra train attack, he said.

“In our report to the apex court we absolved the chief minister of the alleged illegal direction to the police,” he said.

Raghavan assumed office as head of SIT in early 2008 and carried on for nine years, until April 30, 2017.

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INDIA

Nadda calls it historic after BJP wins majority in LAHDC polls

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LEH (LADAKH): After Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) election with a complete majority on Monday, party President JP Nadda called the win historic and expressed his gratitude to the people of Ladakh for their faith in the party.

“BJP’s victory in Leh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh election is historic. BJP has won 15 out of 26 seats. I congratulate Shri Jamyang Tsering Namgyal and all karyakartas of Ladakh unit of BJP. Gratitude to the people of Ladakh for their faith in BJP,” tweeted Nadda.

Elections were held on 26 seats of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, out of which 15 were bagged by BJP. Congress won nine seats and independent candidates won from the remaining two seats.

Lakadh BJP President Jamyang Tsering Namgyal also called it a major victory for the party.

“Major victory for BJP in UT Ladakh. BJP won 15 out of 26 seats in the Leh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh elections. BJP will form LAHDC Leh once again,” tweeted Namgyal.

Voting LAHDC was done on Thursday with peaceful polling in all areas including border constituencies.

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INDIA

Congress unlikely to return to power in MP, says Uma Bharti

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BHOPAL: Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Uma Bharti said on Monday that the Congress party is unlikely to return to power in Madhya Pradesh and at the Centre for the next 15 to 20 years. Bharti said that the previous Congress government in MP was toppled by its own MLAs and not the BJP. She said the Congress was unsure about being able to form a govt in Madhya Pradesh.

“Congress has lost public confidence and failed to fulfill promises made to farmers and poor. The Congress leadership failed to prevent its flock from escaping as most of the MLAs who made tall promises to the public”, said Bharti addressing a poll rally in Surkhi assembly constituency of Sagar district.

The BJP leader also praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his firm decisions. “Nobody had ever thought that Modi would return with a thumping majority at the Centre. All opposition leaders were wiped out during the elections. The country is safe in the hands of Modi. There is no danger to the country inside and outside,” she said.

Bharti also addressed poll rallies in Sanchi and Bada Malhera assembly seats on Monday and hit out at Congress for its failures.

She said those who joined BJP and contesting the bypoll had quit their post and positions which is not any easy decision. But, the return of Jyotiraditya Scindia, she said, is like homecoming to his grandmother’s party.

The BJP leader further claimed that the saffron will win all seats in the bypolls. “The BJP will win all seats in the by-polls and several Congress candidates will lose their deposits after the results.

Uma Bharti also praised chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and said that he was doing a better job at running the BJP government than she did in 2003.

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