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Punjab and Haryana high court notice to MHA, Centre on plea against digging, barricading by Delhi police | India News – Times of India

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CHANDIGARH: The Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday issued notice to the central government through ministry of home affairs (MHA) and the secretary, department of road transport and highways on a plea against the digging of roads and national highways by Delhi police in view of the ongoing farmers protest. The Haryana government and National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) have also been asked to file its reply on the issue.
Justice G S Sandhawalia of the HC has issued the notice while hearing a petition filed by Ravinder Singh Bassi, former president of district bar association Chandigarh.
The counsel for the petitioner contended that the National Highways cannot be blocked while referring to the provisions of the National Highways Act, 1956, which has caused a lot of inconvenience to the general public.
The petitioner has sought directions to the MHA and the department of road transport and highways to open the national Highways which are blocked/obstructed by the Delhi police on the directions of MHA and to take action against the persons who had dig out the national highways and other roads and have intentionally blocked by putting nails and other ironic allied items and barricades.
Further directions have also been sought to remove all the obstacles being created by Delhi police and order a judicial probe into the construction of such obstacles/barricading from a retired high court judge for fair disposal.
The matter would now come up for further hearing on March 15.



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Two members of PFI arrested with huge quantity of explosives in Uttar Pradesh | India News – Times of India

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LUCKNOW: Two members of the Popular Front of India (PFI), planning a series of terrorist attacks at various places in the country, were arrested by the Special Task Forces in the state capital on Friday with a huge quantity of high quality explosives, a senior official said here.
“Ansad Badruddin and Firoz Khan have been arrested from Kukrail trisection in Gudamba area here. With their arrest, the STF has foiled a series of terrorist attacks in various parts of the country on Basant Panchmi. Huge quantity of high quality explosives has been recovered from them,” Additional Director General of Police (ADG), Law and Order, Prashant Kumar told reporters here.
The Uttar Pradesh government has earlier sought a ban on the PFI accusing it of inciting violence.



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Pujara, Pandya train with pink ball after India’s big win in Chennai | Cricket News – Times of India

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CHENNAI: Cheteshwar Pujara and Hardik Pandya got down to working with the pink ball right after India’s thumping win in the second Test against England on Tuesday, preparing for the upcoming day/night game in earnest.
India’s 317-run hammering of England meant they have restored parity after the loss in the series opener and the hosts would like to consolidate their position in the third Test, starting in Ahmedabad from February 24.

The two were seen batting inside the M A Chidambaram Stadium.
All-rounder Pandya, who has not played a Test since the one against England in 2018, batted against the likes of Rahul Chahar, K Gowtham and Shahbaz Nadeem, who were on stand-by for the first two matches.

While Test specialist Pujara occasionally took on the spinners by going down the wicket, Pandya went for the big hits after some defensive play.
Pujara made 21 and 7 in the two innings of the second Test.

They faced the pink ball for about 45 minutes with batting coach Vikram Rathour and fielding coach R Sridhar keeping an eye on the two players.
Pandya also did a few laps of the ground.

Pace ace Jasprit Bumrah, who was rested for the second Test, bowled with the pink ball.

01:172nd Test: Ashwin stars as India thrash England to level Test series 1-1

2nd Test: Ashwin stars as India thrash England to level Test series 1-1

All-rounder Washington Sundar, who too missed the series-levelling victory, was also seen practicing with the coloured ball during a break at Chepauk.



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Ahmedabad pink ball Test sold out, will take decision on crowds in IPL shortly: Ganguly | Cricket News – Times of India

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KOLKATA: A delighted BCCI president Sourav Ganguly on Tuesday announced that all tickets for the pink ball Day/Night Test between India and England in Ahmedabad have been “sold out”, adding that a call on entry of spectators in the upcoming IPL will also be taken shortly.
The pink ball Test between India and England is slated to begin at the Motera, the world’s biggest cricket stadium, in Ahmedabad from February 24 and the authorities have decided to allow 50 per cent spectators.
“Ahmedabad is completely sold out. Happy to see normalcy back,” Ganguly told Star Sports in an interview.

“I spoke to Jay Shah and he’s very keen on these Test matches. Just for him also cricket is coming back to Ahmedabad after six-seven years because they built the new stadium,” former India captain said.
The fixture will be the second time India host a Day/Night Test. The first was played in Kolkata against Bangladesh in 2019.

“I have told him we have set an example with the pink-ball Test last year in Kolkata, so it cannot go beyond that and we want to see every seat and stand full. And that’s what it is, the tickets have gone, as well as for the T20s which will follow the Tests,” Ganguly said.
The second Test between India and England in Chennai marked the return of spectators for an international match in India after COVID-19 outbreak forced a complete shutdown of sporting activity in March last year.

01:172nd Test: Ashwin stars as India thrash England to level Test series 1-1

The BCCI is also contemplating allowing spectators in the IPL, which is slated to begin in the second week of April.
“This year is going to be big as well because of what it is. We’ll see whether we can get the crowd back into the IPL, it’s a decision we’ll have to take very shortly. But it’s going to be another great tournament,” Ganguly said.
Talking about the IPL mini-auction, to be held on Thursday, Ganguly said: “It is not a big auction but a lot of teams will have a lot to fill. Specially Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings will have a lot of work to do in the auction.

The former Indian skipper added that a pink ball Test will be a permanent fixture in every home series.
“Absolutely. One pink-ball Test in a series is ideal. Every generation goes through changes, pink ball is one of the main changes for Test match cricket, and to keep Test match cricket alive.
“I think the packed Ahmedabad stadium next week will be another great sight for everyone.”
On the personal front, Ganguly, who underwent two rounds of angioplasty last month, said he is feeling ‘fit and fine.’
“I’m feeling absolutely fine. Yes, there was a bit of scare but luckily it wasn’t as scary as everyone thought. I’m fit and fine and I’m back to work.”



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Adverse event cases after Covid-19 vaccination just one in 2,000: Govt | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Just one out of 2,000 beneficiaries report minor effects post vaccination against Covid-19, the Centre on Tuesday said, noting that the rate of adverse event following immunisation has been recorded at 0.05 per cent.
Dispelling rumours, NITI Aayog member (Health) V K Paul said the vaccination will not impact fertility in any manner.
“The AEFI is 0.05 per cent, it is 1 in 2000 there is slight pain or fever. Spreading rumours like it will impact fertility are not true. The vaccines are eminently safe. I will appeal anganwadi workers and nurses to get vaccinated,” he said.
ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava further added that those taking aspirin and blood thinner can also be given these vaccines.
“There is no contraindication,” he said.
Paul further said 24 countries have been sent vaccinations from India.
He urged people to maintain vigil and keep following Covid appropriate behaviour.
“70 per cent Indian population is still vulnerable. Vigil to contain this virus must continue. We still don’t fully understand the virus so we have to be serious about vaccination and Covid-19’s appropriate behaviour,” he said.



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‘If you take this game away from me, I am literally lost’: Ashwin tells Kohli | Cricket News – Times of India

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CHENNAI: For off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, the game of cricket is everything, without which he says he feels literally lost.
On Tuesday Ashwin revealed how he worked on his skills during the Covid-19 induced lockdown and he also touched upon how he was not desperate to succeed in the recent tour of Australia where India managed to win the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against-all-odds.

“Look, I think, the whole pandemic thing and the way we were shut off, I was thinking what is going to happen? If you take this game away from me, I am literally lost. Even when I am not playing some formats of the game, I am always switching the TV on like watching the preview and what is happening. I thought the game is not on anymore, I was reflecting upon myself and how I can learn from people. In the past when I have toured abroad, it was more of desperation to prove others wrong. But this time when I went to Australia, it was about proving to myself what I am capable of,” Ashwin told Kohli in a video posted on the official website of BCCI.

The off-spinner also highlighted how the likes of Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane have never been desperate to perform overseas, and how the duo always looks to better their skills.”Over the years, I have noticed how some players are really balanced when they perform, the likes of you and Jinx (Ajinkya Rahane). When you (Kohli) went back to England in 2018, you wanted to do well but really within yourself and that was what I wanted to embrace,” said Ashwin.

Ashwin’s remarks came as India achieved an emphatic 317-run win against England in the second Test of the ongoing four-match series. As a result, the series stands levelled at 1-1 and Virat Kohli-led side has also reached the second spot in World Test Championship (WTC) standings. The off-spinner took an eight-wicket haul in the second Test, along with his 106-run knock in the second innings here at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
In the second innings, Ashwin shared a crucial 96-run partnership with Kohli and this helped the hosts to post a healthy target in front of England.

When Kohli asked Ashwin about giving such a performance in front of his home crowd, he replied: “I do not know, for the first time in my career, I feel blank. When I went out to bat yesterday, I was feeling blank, I came and asked you can I start sweeping? That’s exactly how I am feeling, zero emotions and feelings inside, rarely I find myself like this. You know me very well, my mind is always ticking. For a change, it is really blank. That partnership between us really set the tone and I am so pleased for us. I had asked you about wanting to sweep, if you had asked me to take some time, then I might have acted differently.”

01:172nd Test: Ashwin stars as India thrash England to level Test series 1-1

2nd Test: Ashwin stars as India thrash England to level Test series 1-1

Kohli also touched upon the partnership with Ashwin and he said: “We had a special partnership in the second innings, the game was tentatively poised, Ash came out and he changed the momentum of the whole game.”
India remains in contention to make the final of the ICC World Test Championship after completing an impressive victory over England in the second Test to draw level in the four-match series.
The victory in Chennai on Tuesday has lifted India to the second position with 69.7 percentage points on the points table but they cannot afford to lose another match as they need to win 2-1 or 3-1 to qualify for the final of the maiden edition of the championship.
England, who led the table after winning the opening Test, has slipped to the fourth spot with 67.0 percentage points. They can still qualify, but for that, they must win both remaining matches of the series against India.





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Follow Covid-19 norms or face fresh lockdown, warns Maharashtra CM | India News – Times of India

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MUMBAI: Concerned over the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday asked citizens to strictly follow government-mandated guidelines on masks and social distancing or be prepared to face another round of lockdown.
After reporting 4,092 Covid-19 cases on last Sunday, highest single-day tally in more than a month, Maharashtra registered 3,663 new cases on Tuesday, 461 of them in Mumbai.
This was the seventh straight day when the state’s daily count remained above the 3,000-mark, indicating a steady rise in infections as compared to the previous few weeks.
Expressing concern over the lackadaisical attitude in following Covid-19-related safety protocols in the wake of phase-wise lifting of restrictions, he said it was up to citizens to decide if they want to go into a complete lockdown again to curb the spread of the infection.
“It is up to the people of the state to decide if they want a lockdown or live freely with some restrictions. Wear face masks and avoid crowds or else (you) will need to go into a lockdown again,” Thackeray said.
Alarmed over the surge in Covid-19 cases in the last few days in some districts, Thackeray held a review meeting with divisional commissioners and collectors through video conferencing to take stock of the situation.
Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar was among those present on the occasion.
The CM asked the administration to ensure safety norms like wearing face masks in public and social distancing are followed and authorised officials to take action against offenders.
“People may have become complacent but the authorities should not (drop guard),” Thackeray said and asked the administration to regularly sanitise and disinfect public places.
Mobile vans should be used in rural areas to increase the number of Covid-19 tests, the chief minister said.
Speaking at the meeting, Thackeray said non-implementation of Covid-19 safety SoPs is a serious matters.
“The administration should contact commercial establishments and organisations and check if they are following SoPs. Wherever necessary, declare containment zones.”
He stressed on the need for contact tracing of each patient in areas where Covid-19 cases are rising.
“Contact tracing must be done in a targeted manner. At least 20 contacts of each patient should be traced and tested,” the CM suggested.
Police permission will be required for organising marriage functions, Thackeray said.
“Marriage ceremonies held up for the last one year have resumed…social gatherings and parties have also begun without any safety rules.
“Timings of hotels and restaurants have been extended but safety norms have been neglected,” Thackeray said, adding local authorities should keep a vigil on crowding and take immediate action wherever necessary.
Banquet hall owners should be punished if anybody is found moving in the premises without a face mask, he said.
The chief minister said agitations, public meetings and processions should not be permitted given the present Covid-19 situation.
He said the authorities should cancel permits and licences of halls and auditoriums where safety SoPs are not followed during marriages and other social functions.
The CM directed that field hospitals should be monitored to check if all facilities are functional.
Till February 16, the state has recorded 20,71,306 Covid-19 cases and 51,591 deaths.



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Digital warfare: Myanmar’s cyber crackdown explained – Times of India

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BANGKOK: Since a military coup earlier this month, Myanmar has endured internet blackouts and blocks on some social media sites, while a draft cybersecurity bill has been floated.
These lightning-quick moves by the new junta have tech experts, rights groups, and citizens worried that internet-hungry Myanmar will soon be as cut-off as during the previous military regime.
The military has so far ordered four temporary internet shutdowns, starting on February 1 — the day of the putsch — when civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was detained.
In recent days, information has twice been throttled for eight hours overnight, which monitoring group NetBlocks said brought internet connectivity down to 15 percent of normal levels.
Also blocked are social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, where an online campaign to oppose the coup was gaining steam.
The blackouts bring back memories for Myo Naing, 46, who remembers the pre-internet days under the junta.
“People had to gather on the street and share the information,” the car rental salesman told AFP.
Myanmar did not have easily available internet until about 2013, when international communication companies entered the market, offering affordable sim cards.
That is unclear.
One possible explanation is that the regime is using the time to analyse data to track down targets for arrest, Australian cybersecurity expert Damien Manuel from Deakin University told AFP.
But Matt Warren of Melbourne’s RMIT University said the regime could be borrowing from China’s playbook on creating a state-monitored firewall to control information flows.
“The Chinese model is an example of how a (government) can control a population online,” he told AFP, adding that Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Vietnam have similar but less sophisticated measures.
Whatever the reason, the military’s internet shutdowns could be characterised as “ad hoc”.
“They’re reacting to the situation. They didn’t have a plan to control the internet as soon as the (coup) happened,” he told AFP.
It has certainly been successful in striking fear into people’s hearts.
“They can do anything they want (during the shutdown) so we have to protect our streets,” said Yangon resident Win Tun, 44.
But in terms of getting online, Myanmar netizens have managed to skirt the social media blocks by using virtual private networks.
Top10VPN, a UK-based digital security advocacy group, reported a 7,200-percent increase in local demand for VPNs in the immediate aftermath of Facebook being banned on February 4.
“As VPNs provide a means for citizens to bypass restrictions, authorities will often restrict them to ensure their internet shutdowns are effective,” Samuel Woodhams of Top10VPN told AFP.
He added that there had been reports of VPN services being blocked in Myanmar, although it was unclear exactly how many had been affected.
“It shows the determination of the government to restrict citizens’ access to information and freedom of expression,” he said.
The military junta has proposed draconian new laws that give it sweeping powers to block websites, order internet shutdowns, and restrict the dissemination of what it deems to be false news.
It has also called for all internet service providers to keep users’ data for up to three years, and provide it “for the sake of national security”.
Norway-based Telenor — which in recent weeks has had to comply with temporary internet shutdowns at the regime’s direction — expressed alarm over the draft law’s “broad scope”.
Myanmar-based civil society groups, private companies and even its manufacturing and industrial association have denounced the bill.
Their concerns range from human rights to worries that it could stifle a business-friendly environment.
“Myanmar’s proposed cybersecurity law is the dream of despots everywhere,” said Human Rights Watch‘s legal advisor Linda Lakhdhir.
“It would consolidate the junta’s ability to conduct pervasive surveillance, curtail online expression, and cut off access to essential services.”
Asia Internet Coalition — a group of the world’s largest internet companies, including Facebook, Twitter and Apple — says the law grants leaders unprecedented power to censor citizens.
“This would significantly undermine freedom of expression and represents a regressive step after years of progress,” the coalition said.



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Myanmar’s Suu Kyi faces new charge as crackdown intensifies – Times of India

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YANGON: Police in Myanmar filed a new charge against ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, her lawyer said on Tuesday, in a move that may allow her to be held indefinitely without trial as part of an intensifying crackdown by authorities who seized power in a coup.
Suu Kyi, who was deposed and detained in the military takeover on February 1, already faced a charge of illegally possessing walkie-talkies — an apparent attempt to provide a legal veneer for her house arrest.
Under the new charge, she is accused of breaking a law that has been used to prosecute people who have violated coronavirus restrictions, lawyer Khin Maung Zaw told reporters after meeting with a judge in a court in the capital, Naypyitaw.
It carries a maximum punishment of three years in prison. But, perhaps more worryingly, because of changes to the Penal Code instituted by the junta last week, it could allow her to be detained indefinitely, even without a court’s permission. Suu Kyi’s lawyer told reporters he has not seen her since her arrest — and only arrived after an unexpected videoconference the judge said had been held with her.
The legal maneuver comes two weeks after the military seized power in a coup that shocked many in the international community who had been hopeful that Myanmar was taking steps toward democracy. Since then, the junta has ratcheted up the pressure on protesters resisting the takeover, including violently breaking up some demonstrations and blocking internet access.
On Monday, security forces pointed guns at a group of 1,000 demonstrators and attacked them with slingshots and sticks in the city of Mandalay. Local media reported that police also fired rubber bullets into a crowd and that a few people were injured.
Protests continued Tuesday in Yangon, the country’s largest city, and elsewhere. In Yangon, police blocked off the street in front of the Central Bank, which protesters have targeted amid speculation online that the military is seeking to seize money from it. Buddhist monks demonstrated outside the UN’s local office in the city.
Around 3,000 demonstrators — mainly students — returned to the streets of Mandalay, carrying posters of Suu Kyi and shouting for the return of democracy.
The protests are taking place in defiance of an order banning gatherings of five or more people. But the security presence was low-key around the march after Monday’s confrontations.
State media have been acknowledging the protest movement only indirectly. The Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported about a meeting of the State Administration Council, the new top governing body, and quoted its chief, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, saying the authorities “are handling the ongoing problems with care.”
It said the council discussed taking legal action against protesters and providing “true information” to the media. On Sunday and Monday nights, the military ordered an internet blackout — almost entirely blocking online access. Once before in recent weeks it imposed a similar blackout and has also tried less successfully to block social media platforms. It has also prepared a draft law that would criminalise many online activities.
While the military did not say why the internet was blocked, there is widespread speculation that the government is installing a firewall system to allow it to monitor or block most or all online activity.
The Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper also reported that council members discussed acting against a “parallel government” established by some elected lawmakers of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, who were prevented from taking their seats when the military stopped Parliament from opening its session February 1.
In the days following the takeover, members of Suu Kyi’s party formed a committee, declaring themselves the true representatives of Myanmar’s people and asking for international recognition. No such recognition has come, even as the United States and other governments have condemned the coup and urged the military to return power to the elected government and release Suu Kyi and other detainees.
Neighbouring China, meanwhile, has so far not condemned the takeover. Some protesters have accused Beijing — which has long been Myanmar’s main arms supplier and has major investments in the country — of propping up the junta.
China’s ambassador to the Southeast Asian country responded to those accusations, noting that Beijing has friendly relations with both Suu Kyi’s party and the military, according to the text of an interview posted on the embassy’s Facebook page Tuesday. Chen Hai said he wished the two sides could solve their differences through dialogue.
In the interview, Chen also addressed what he said were rumours that China was helping Myanmar to control its internet traffic and others that Chinese soldiers were showing up on the Myanmar’s streets.
“For the record, these are completely nonsense and even ridiculous accusations,” Chen said.
The military contends there was fraud in last year’s election, which Suu Kyi’s party won in a landslide, and says it will hold power for a year before holding new elections. The state election commission found no evidence to support the claims of fraud.



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Farmers’ protest: Sedition law cannot be invoked to quieten disquiet, says Delhi court | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: A Delhi court has said the law of sedition cannot be invoked to quieten the disquiet under the pretence of muzzling miscreants.
Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana made the observation while granting bail to two persons – Devi Lal Burdak and Swaroop Ram – arrested by Delhi police earlier this month for allegedly committing sedition and spreading rumours by posting fake video on Facebook during ongoing farmers’ protest.
The court said that the law of sedition was a powerful tool in the hands of the state to maintain peace and order in the society.
“However, it cannot be invoked to quieten the disquiet under the pretence of muzzling the miscreants. Evidently, law proscribes any act which has a tendency to create disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence,” the judge said in an order passed on February 15 .
“In the absence of any exhortation, call, incitement or instigation to create disorder or disturbance of public peace by resort to violence or any allusion or oblique remark or even any hint towards this objective, attributable to the accused, I suspect that Section 124 A (sedition) IPC can be validly invoked against the applicant,” the order said.



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