Top news of the day: 78 Opposition MPs suspended from Parliament; ASI submits Gyanvapi mosque survey report before Varanasi court, and more

The major news headlines of the day and more.

December 18, 2023 07:06 pm | Updated 07:06 pm IST

Suspended Opposition MPs protest during the Winter session of Parliament, in New Delhi, on December 18, 2023.

Suspended Opposition MPs protest during the Winter session of Parliament, in New Delhi, on December 18, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

Parliament Winter Session | 45 MPs from Rajya Sabha, 33 from Lok Sabha suspended

As many as 78 members of Parliament, including 33 Opposition members from Lok Sabha, and at least 45 members from the Rajya Sabha were suspended on December 18. The latest round of suspension comes days after 14 MPs were suspended for raising slogans demanding a statement from Home Minister Amit Shah over the Parliament security breach. Congress floor leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, was among the 33 Lok Sabha members suspended today. The total number of Lok Sabha MPs under suspension in the Winter Session now stands at 46.

ASI submits Gyanvapi mosque survey report before Varanasi court in a sealed cover

The Archaeological Survey of India submitted its report on the scientific survey of Gyanvapi mosque premises in Varanasi district court on December 18. The document, over a 1,000 pages, was submitted in the court in a sealed cover. Advocate Madan Mohan Yadav, who is representing the Hindu petitioners, said, “The report in sealed cover was placed before the court by the ASI’s standing counsel Amit Srivastava.” Four senior officials of the ASI were also present in the court. The counsel of Gyanvapi mosque asked the court to not to make the report public, whereas the Hindu side urged the court to make the report public.

Delhi Excise policy case | ED issues fresh summons to Arvind Kejriwal for questioning on December 21

The ED on December 18 issued fresh summons to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for recording statement on December 21 in the Delhi Excise policy case. He was first called by the federal agency to appear on November 2, but he did not depose alleging that the notice was “vague, motivated and unsustainable in law”.

Centre writes to States, advises them to maintain vigil amid uptick in COVID-19 cases

The Centre has issued an advisory to States in view of the recent upsurge in COVID-19 cases across the country and detection of the first case of JN.1 variant in India. In a letter addressed to Health Secretaries of all the States and Union Territories, the Centre has urged them to maintain a state of constant vigil over the COVID situation. In addition, States have been directed to report and monitor district-wise SARI and ILI cases on a regular basis.

Tamil Nadu rains | CM Stalin seeks appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on December 18 wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking a meeting with him on December 19 to discuss the impact of the unprecedented rainfall and floods in Chennai and its surrounding districts earlier this month and the floods wreaking havoc in the southern districts at present.

NIA searches 19 locations in multiple States against ‘highly radicalised jihadi terror group’

The National Investigation Agency carried out searches at 19 locations in south India by busting a “highly radicalised jihadi terror group,” sources said. The searches were underway since the morning on December 18 and in close coordination with the State police. The sources privy to the development, however, did not share inputs about the exact location and about the jihadi group due to operational reasons.

Day after blast, opposition alleges safety lapses at Nagpur factory; exploitation of workers

Opposition legislators in Maharashtra on December 18 alleged lapses by Solar Industries India, where a blast claimed nine lives a day before, in ensuring the safety of workers and demanded action against Industrial Safety Department officials. Raising the issue in the Legislative Council, they also said workers at the factory have been exploited for long and not paid minimum wages as per norms.

Congress launches crowdfunding campaign, seeks help of common people to build country

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on December 18 launched the party’s crowdfunding campaign in Delhi, asking people to join the fight against unemployment and rising costs. Mr. Kharge donated a sum of ₹1,38,000 from his salary to launch the “Donate for Desh” campaign in the presence of party leaders and general secretaries K. C. Venugopal and Jairam Ramesh and treasurer Ajay Maken.

Kerala Governor renounces police protection, ventures into crowded Kozhikode street amid stand-off with State government

In an unprecedented move, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan ventured into Kozhikode city and mingled with the crowd in the busy S.M. Street on December 18, marking a novel chapter in the ongoing stand-off between him and the State government. The Governor spent around 45 minutes on the street, walking from one end to the other, waving to the crowd and stopping to talk to them occasionally.

Opposition stages protest over drug menace, claims Maharashtra ministers shielding racketeer Lalit Patil

Leaders from the Opposition parties staged a protest against the Maharashtra Government over the drug menace in the State, and alleged that some Ministers were shielding drug racketeer Lalit Patil. Leaders from the Maha Vikas Aghadi, comprising the Shiv Sena (UBT), Nationalist Congress Party’s Sharad Pawar faction and the Congress, gathered on the steps of the Vidhan Bhavan in Nagpur and raised slogans against the government.

16 killed in Christmas-season shootings in central Mexico state of Guanajuato

Gunmen attacked a Christmas season party early on December 17, killing a dozen people in the town of Salvatierra in Mexico’s north-central State of Guanajuato, prosecutors said. State prosecutors also reported that four other people died in a shooting in the city of Salamanca, but did not describe the circumstances of that attack. Local media said the victims in Salvatierra were leaving an event hall following a Christmas party known as a “posada” when they were gunned down.

More than 300 rescued from floodwaters in northeast Australia

More than 300 people were rescued overnight from floodwaters in northeast Australia, with dozens of residents clinging to roofs, officials said on December 18. Cairns Airport was closed on Monday due to flooding and authorities were concerned that the city of 160,000 people will lose drinking water. While rain was easing in Cairns, severe weather warnings were in place in nearby Port Douglas, Daintree, Cooktown, Wujal Wujal and Hope Vale, with more rain forecast.

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai’s Hong Kong trial starts as U.S., U.K. urge his release

Pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai went on trial in Hong Kong on December 18 for national security charges that could see him jailed for life, with the United States and Britain demanding his release. Lai, 76, stands accused of “collusion” with foreign forces under a sweeping national security law that Beijing imposed on the finance hub in 2020. The trial - scheduled to be heard in open court over the next 80 working days - will be closely watched as a barometer for Hong Kong’s political freedoms and judicial independence.

EU opens proceedings against X in first probe under new rules

The European Union on December 18 said it would launch an investigation of social media company X, formerly known as Twitter, over a suspected breach of obligations in its first such probe under the Digital Services Act. The DSA, which entered into force in November last year, requires very large online platforms and search engines to do more to tackle illegal content and risks to public security, and to protect their services against manipulative techniques.

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