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Covid-19: Serum Institute of India dispatches first dose of Covishield vaccine ahead of January 16 roll-out

Four days before mass inoculation drive against Covid-19, three trucks from Pune’s Serum Institute left with the first batch of Covishield vaccine for 13 cities in the wee hours of Tuesday.

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Serum Institute of India

Four days before mass inoculation drive against Covid-19, three trucks from Pune’s Serum Institute left with the first batch of Covishield vaccine for 13 cities in the wee hours of Tuesday.

Amid tight security, all three trucks containing vaccines were temperature controlled which left for Pune airport, where the special cargo plane was waiting to transport them across the nation. A short puja was also performed before the vehicles left the facility.

From the airport, the Covid-19 vaccines will be dispatched to 13 cities. The first consignment contained 478 boxes of the vaccines, each box weighing 32kg, reported news agency PTI.

Sharing the news, Pune Airport tweeted, Ready get set go! Stand by India!.The vaccine to kill the disease is being loaded into the aircraft for distribution all over the country now, read the post.

The first consignment of the vaccine has been dispatched from the facility of Serum Institute of India here. We have made elaborate security arrangements, said Namrata Patil, DCP (Zone 5) Pune.

The vaccines will be flown from Pune in nine commercial flights.Today, Air India, IndiGo Airlines and Spicejet will operated nine flights from Pune with 56.5 doses to Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Shillong, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Patna, Bhubaneswar, Lucknow, Chandigarh and Bengaluru, tweeted Hardeep Singh, Civil Aviation Minister on Monday.

Around 8am, a SpiceJet flight carrying the vaccines left for the national capital.The Chairman and Managing director of the airline, Ajay Singh said the multiple consignments to different cities will be carried out through the day and the Spicejet is proud to assist the biggest vaccination drive in the history of mankind. The airline is fully committed and prepared to transport the vaccine both outside and within the country.

The Centre had signed the contract with Serum Institute of India(SII) for the supply of 11 million doses of Covishield vaccine developed by Oxford University and pharma major AstraZeneca and planned to buy a total of 5.60 crore doses by April, at Rs 200 per dose.The country will begin its mass vaccination drive against the deadly virus on January 16. 

The government has said that 30 crore people starting with around 3 crore healthcare and frontline workers will be the first in line to receive the shot.After them, the people who are over the age of 50 and people who suffer from comorbidities including diabetes and hypertension, will be administered the vaccine.

Also Read: Don’t jump queue for Covid-19 vaccine, PM tells politicians

Besides Covisheild, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin has also received the emergency use approval from the Drug Controller of India earlier this month. Both the vaccines will have to be administered at a 28-day gap.

India News

Calcutta High Court suggests changing name of Sita, Akbar lions

Justice Saugata Bhattacharyya asked AAG whether he had any pets and if they were named after national heroes.

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The Calcutta High Court on Thursday suggested to the Bengal government that the names of lioness Sita and lion Akbar, who were placed in the same enclosure at the Bengal Safari Park in Siliguri, could be changed.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had filed a petition in the High Court to change the name of the lioness Sita, who was recently brought to West Bengal from Tripura.

Hearing a petition, the Single-Judge Bench of Justice Saugata Bhattacharyya orally directed the State to avoid controversy and consider renaming the big cats.

Questioning the intention of the State, Justice Bhattacharyya asked the government if it would name a lion after a Hindu deity, a Muslim prophet or Christian god, a freedom fighter or a Nobel laureate. Generally, anyone who has been revered or respected by the people of our country, Justice Bhattacharyya further asked.

On this occasion, the Additional Advocate General (AAG), appearing for the State, submitted that the naming of the lions took place in Tripura, and it was the responsibility of the Tripura Zoo authorities. Counsel further told the Court that the State itself was already considering changing the name of lions.

Upon hearing the arguments, the Bench also questioned the logic behind naming the lions after a god, freedom fighter or Nobel laureate and further asked why the State did not challenge the names given by Tripura.

The Court further noted that the petition filed by VHP espoused the rights of a large section of people and said that naming a lion after Sita, a largely worshipped by Hindus would hurt their religious sentiments.

During the exchange with AAG, Justice Bhattacharyya also stated that the animals could not be named after respected figures. He further asked AAG whether he had any pets and if they were named after national heroes.

The Bench had directed the petition by VHP to be reclassified as a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and redirected it to a regular Bench that can hear the same.

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Farmer who died in protest, survived by mentally ill father, unwed sister

Farmer Leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal has asked the Punjab Government to declare Shubhkaran Singh a martyr and provide benefits accordingly. 

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The 21-year-old farmer, Shubhkaran Singh who died during the clashes between the police and the protesting farmers on Khanauri border left behind his mentally ill father and an unwed sister. His mother died years ago.

The 21 years old, a resident of Balloch village of Bathinda in Punjab, left his home on February 13 to join the Delhi Chalo march. Reports stated that Shubhkaran Singh was the youngest among the group of 15 people who left to join the protest from the village.

Reportedly, Shubhkaran was the only son and sole breadwinner of the family. The 21-year-old farmer has about two acres of land. Shubhkaran, who has two sisters, also took a loan for the marriage of his one sister.

The farmers who halted their protest for two days after the death of the youth, have blocked the autopsy. Farmer Leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal has asked the AAP led Punjab Government to declare Shubhkaran a martyr and provide benefits accordingly. The leader further said that the government should create a five member board to conduct the post-mortem examination.

Meanwhile, farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said that the police took action when the farmers were peacefully trying to cross over into Haryana. He added that more than 100 farmers have been injured and demanded the treatment of injured farmers.

Haryana police while appealing for peace said that farmers escalated the violence by attacking the police personnels with sticks and maces and that the police were only trying to restrain them.

Issuing a statement, Additional Inspector General, Manisha Chaudhary said that farmers surrounded the police from all sides, burned stubble by pouring chilli powder in it. She added that around 12 policemen were seriously injured because of the attacks by protestors at Datta Singh Wala-Khanauri border.

Meanwhile, farmer’s leader Pandher said that farmer leaders will discuss future actions and until then, all farmers will remain camped at the borders.

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Congress slams Govt over X blocking accounts linked to farmers protest on Centre’s order, says democracy is being murdered

X disagreed with these actions and maintain that freedom of expression should extend to these posts.

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The Congress party on Thursday slammed the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government over the action of microblogging platform X blocking accounts and posts linked to the ongoing farmers’ protest and called it a murder of democracy.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh, taking to X, said that the action taken by the social media platform on the Centre’s order was a murder of democracy in India.

The Elon Musk-led X, sharing a post on its platform in response to the IT ministry’s order asking it to temporarily block 177 accounts linked to the farmers’ protest, said that the Indian government has issued executive orders requiring it to act on specific accounts and posts, subject to potential penalties, including significant fines and imprisonment.

The X’s Global Government Affairs team further stated that it complied with the orders and they would withhold these accounts and posts in India alone, however, they disagreed with these actions and maintained that freedom of expression should extend to these posts.

Consistent with their position, a writ appeal challenging the Indian government’s blocking orders remains pending. X has also provided the impacted users with notice of these actions following their policies.

Due to legal restrictions, they were unable to publish the executive orders, but they thought that making them public was essential for transparency. This lack of disclosure can lead to a lack of accountability and arbitrary decision-making, the X’s Global Government Affairs said in a post on its platform.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also hit out at the Modi government and termed it a murder of democracy. Taking to X, he raised several questions and said if farmers ask for MSP, shoot them. Is this the Mother of Democracy? Gandhi further said that when the youth ask for the appointment, the Centre refuse to even listen to them, if the former governor tells the truth, then they send CBI to his house.

He also attacked the Modi government for freezing the bank accounts of the most prominent opposition party. He added, saying that Section 144, internet ban, sharp wires, and tear gas shells on farmers are not justified in the democracy. He further attacked the Centre for suppressing the voice of the people. He charged on Centre, saying Modi ji public knows that the government have murdered democracy and they will answer it.

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