Morning Digest | Dozens of U.S. lawmakers ask Biden to raise democracy, rights concerns with Modi; Assam Rifles secures threatened supply route to Manipur’s hill districts, and more

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June 21, 2023 08:14 am | Updated 08:14 am IST

U.S. President Joe Biden is honouring PM Modi with a state visit this week. File

U.S. President Joe Biden is honouring PM Modi with a state visit this week. File | Photo Credit: AP

Dozens of U.S. lawmakers ask Biden to raise democracy, rights concerns with Modi

More than 70 American Senators and Representatives have written to U.S. President Joe Biden on the eve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s arrival in Washington DC for a state visit, asking Mr. Biden to raise concerns around democratic norms and human rights in India with Mr. Modi.

“A series of independent, credible reports reflect troubling signs in India toward the shrinking of political space, the rise of religious intolerance, the targeting of civil society organizations and journalists, and growing restrictions on press freedoms and internet access,” the lawmakers wrote, citing a number of reports and statistics such as rankings for press and religious freedoms.

Assam Rifles secures threatened supply route to Manipur’s hill districts

The Assam Rifles has moved additional troops to secure a bridge on a national highway in south Manipur that is the only route for essential supplies to the tribal district of Churachandpur district in the violence-hit State. A source said that additional columns were moved after security forces picked up chatter from Valley-based Meitei insurgent groups who were planning to damage the bridge at Sinzawl on NH102 B, which connects Manipur with neighbouring Mizoram.

PM Modi’s stoic silence sends a message of indifference to Manipur’s people: Opposition

Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh is the “architect” of the ethnic violence in his State, leaders of 10 like-minded Opposition parties of Manipur said in a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in which they also questioned the PM’s “stoic silence”.

The leaders said that they submitted the three-page memorandum to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) as they were unable to get an appointment to meet Mr. Modi before he left for the United States on Tuesday morning.

Indian Railways to make travel easier for unreserved passengers

Travelling in unreserved coaches, especially on long distance routes, can be a nightmarish experience for many passengers due to the congestion caused by overcrowding and lack of basic amenities. Indian Railways has embarked on a mission to bring about a change in the experience by extending adequate facilities for passengers travelling in unreserved coaches.

China blocks proposal at U.N. to blacklist Pak-based LeT terrorist and 26/11 accused Sajid Mir

China on June 20 blocked a proposal by India and the U.S. at the United Nations to designate Pakistan-based LeT terrorist Sajid Mir, wanted for his involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, as a global terrorist.

NIA arrests two CPI (Maoist) operatives

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested two persons, including a woman, for the July 2019 attack on security forces by the Communist Party of India (Maoist) elements near Tiriya village in Chhattisgarh.

Six CPI (Maoist) operatives and one civilian were killed in the incident. The NIA took over the case on March 18, 2021, along with several other cases related to the allegation against the banned outfit that it carried out terrorist activities in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

Central teams to visit States reeling under heat stress, says Mandaviya

A team of experts from the Union Health Ministry will visit States such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to support them in public health response measures to address heat-related illnesses, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Tuesday.

Childline to be merged with Emergency Response Support System in nine States and UTs

In a first, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has decided to do away with NGOs collaborating to run the successful Childline emergency counselling and distress helpline for children, established in 1995. According to Ministry officials, the merger is a part of the broader ‘One Nation One Helpline’ initiative.

Flood-like situation in Rajasthan’s five districts; Gehlot makes aerial survey of affected areas

A flood-like situation has arisen in five districts of southern Rajasthan following excessive rainfall under the impact of cyclone Biparjoy, which has created a depression in the sky after entering the State from neighbouring Gujarat. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot made an aerial survey of the affected areas in Jalore, Sirohi and Barmer districts on Tuesday to take stock of the situation.

Regulator approves first Omicron-specific mRNA vaccine from India

India’s first indigenous mRNA vaccine for the Omicron variant, GEMCOVAC-OM, developed by Pune-based Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd, was approved under emergency use guidelines by the Drug Controller General of India late Monday. This comes a year after the company got approval for GEMCOVAC-19, the country’s first m-RNA vaccine against COVID-19.

U.S. urges China military dialogue despite rebuff to Blinken

The United States on Tuesday (June 20) pressed its call for military communication channels with China despite that request being rebuffed during Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to Beijing over the weekend.

The Ashes 2023 | Cummins leads Australia to thrilling victory over England

Australia won a thrilling Ashes opener by two wickets at Edgbaston on June 20 as captain Pat Cummins’ six-smashing 44 not out and Usman Khawaja’s patient 65 combined to give England’s “Bazball” cricket revolution a lesson from Down Under.

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