Morning Digest | Pulwama attack mastermind killed in J&K encounter; Centre urges curbs in 46 high positivity districts, and more


A Supreme Court Bench led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana will on August 5 hear a petition filed by senior journalists N. Ram and Sashi Kumar for an independent probe headed by a former or sitting top court judge into the mass surveillance of over 142 potential “targets”, including journalists, lawyers, ministers, Opposition politicians, constitutional functionaries and civil society activists, using military-grade Israeli spyware Pegasus.

With the daily tally of new coronavirus cases touching a 24-day high at 41,649 cases on Saturday, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has written to several States that all districts reporting a positivity rate of more than 10% in the last few weeks, ought to consider strict restrictions. According to a statement from the Health Ministry the curbs must aim to “prevent/curtail movement of people, formation of crowds and intermingling of people to prevent spread of infection.”

Two Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) militants, including one of the masterminds of the 2019 Pulwama attack and an expert in making improvised explosive devices (IEDs), were killed during an encounter in the upper reaches of the Dachigam National Park in the Kashmir Valley on Saturday.

Mushrooming outbreaks of the Delta variant prompted China and Australia to impose stricter COVID-19 curbs on Saturday, as the WHO urged the world to contain the mutation before it turns into something deadlier and draws out the pandemic.

After months of strain over a number of issues including the cancelled port project in Colombo , Sri Lanka is preparing to send its High Commissioner designate to Delhi, along with a ‘roadmap’ to restore ties that includes resolving fishermen’s issues, building connectivity, trade and investment, as well as promoting religious links, Buddhist exchanges and handing over a sacred “Sita temple stone” from Sri Lanka for the proposed Ram temple in Ayodhya.

A delegation of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the Nationalist Congress Party and the National Conference met President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday and urged him to direct the Narendra Modi government to set up a Joint Parliamentary Committee on the death of hundreds of farmers in the nine-month long agitation against the three controversial farm laws. The delegation also demanded a debate on the Pegasus cyberattack.

Nineteen locals remain untraced for the third consecutive day on Saturday under the mounds of rubble caused by the cloudburst in remote Honzar village of the Chenab Valley’s Kishtwar area, according to the relief organisations.

The Janata Dal (United) saw a change in leadership with Munger MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh, popularly known as Lalan Singh, taking over as the national president, replacing R.C.P. Singh, who recently was inducted in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Cabinet. At a meeting of the party’s national executive in Delhi on Saturday, the JD(U) took key decisions that could put it on a collision course with its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Supreme Court found a Karnataka trial court’s order directing a convict to spend another 10 years in jail after he completes his life sentence rather “irrational”. The top court pondered on what the trial judge meant. A Bench, led by Justice U.U. Lalit, said life imprisonment normally means prison till death. A human being, like all other loving beings, has but one life. How is it possible for a person to serve 10 years of jail after life?

Defending champion Elaine Thompson-Herah stole the thunder from Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and emerged as the fastest woman at the Tokyo Olympics as Jamaica swept the 100m medals on Saturday.

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