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The Hindu Morning Digest, December 25, 2023

J&K Police file murder case over death of three civilians in Army custody

The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Sunday registered a murder case against unidentified persons after three men picked up by the Army for questioning were found dead with multiple injuries on December 22. Eight men were detained following the ambush on an Army convoy on December 21 in Poonch-Rajouri area where four soldiers were killed and three others were injured. The terrorists involved in the ambush are yet to be identified or arrested. 

Plane carrying 303 passengers, mostly Indians, allowed to leave France

A Nicaragua-bound flight carrying 303 passengers, mostly Indians, was allowed to resume its journey on Monday, three days after they were detained by the French authorities at an airport near Paris over suspected “human trafficking”, according to local media reports on Sunday. After authorising the A340 aircraft, operated by Romanian company Legend Airlines, to leave, the French judges chose to cancel the hearings of the over 300 passengers due to irregularities in the procedure, BFM TV, a French news broadcast television and radio network, reported.

As COVID-19 cases rise, WHO asks countries to strengthen surveillance

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged countries in Southeast Asia to strengthen surveillance in view of the increasing cases of respiratory diseases, including due to COVID-19 and its new sub-variant JN.1, and influenza. The WHO also urged people to take protective measures. “The COVID-19 virus continues to evolve, change, and circulate in all countries globally. While current evidence suggests the additional public health risk posed by JN.1 is low, we must continue to track the evolution of these viruses to tailor our response.

Virat Kohli rejoins team India ahead of first Test against South Africa

Stalwart batter Virat Kohli has rejoined the Indian red-ball squad in South Africa ahead of the Boxing Day Test at Centurion against the Proteas, according to sources .Earlier this week, a BCCI source revealed that Kohli returned to India due to personal reasons and now is in contention to make his first on-field appearance on December 26, after the World Cup final heartbreak last month. The two-match Test series will be a part of the World Test Championship 2023-25 cycle. As of now, India are at the top of the WTC table, with a win and a draw, giving them a total of 66.67 points percentage.

External Affairs Minister Jaishankar to visit Russia

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar will visit Russia from December 25-28. During the year-end visit, he will interact with Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on December 24. During the visit, Dr. Jaishankar is expected meet his counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, who visited Delhi during the G-20 summit, when he led the Russian delegation to the event. 

UK to send naval ship to Guyana amid Venezuela border dispute

Britain will deploy a naval ship off Guyana later this month, its ministry of defence said on Sunday, as the South American nation faces a border dispute with neighbour Venezuela over the oil-rich Essequibo region. The deployment follows a visit by a British junior foreign minister to Guyana earlier this month, intended to offer the UK’s support for the country, an ally and former British colony. Guyana and Venezuela agreed earlier this month to avoid any use of force and not to escalate tensions in the long-running dispute.

Maharashtra government tries to dissuade Jarange-Patil from staging rally in Mumbai

While lauding the Supreme Court’s decision to hear a curative petition on Maratha reservation on January 24, the Maharashtra government on Sunday urged quota activist Manoj Jarange-Patil to cancel his protest rally in Mumbai, scheduled for January 2024. However, the activist refused to yield, warning the government that all doors for discussion would be shut after January 20, when he plans to hold a mega rally of the Maratha community in the State capital. Speaking in Mumbai, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde thanked the Supreme Court for the chance to hear the curative petition on the Maratha reservation issue. 

Prioritising international cricket has helped my game: Starc on turning down multiple IPL fortunes

Senior Australian seamer Mitchell Starc has admitted that he had in the past turned down multiple lucrative offers from the Indian Premier League (IPL) to prioritise his international career, which has “helped” him in improving his game .Starc has been roped in by two-time winners Kolkata Knight Riders for a record Rs 24.75 crore during the auction last week, and it would be his first stint in the tournament since 2015. Starc said that the break during the IPL allowed him to recharge himself and stay fit for the international assignments.

J&K: Retired SSP shot dead by terrorists while offering ‘azaan’

A 72-year-old retired police officer, who was the local “muezzin”, was shot dead by terrorists while he was giving “azaan” – the call for prayer – from a mosque in Jammu and Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Sunday, police said. Recalling the moments before Mohammad Shafi Mir was killed, his cousin Mohammad Mustafa, who was at home, said the call for the pre-dawn prayers was being given by a loudspeaker and suddenly it stopped. Mir’s last words were “reham” (mercy), he said.

After poll debacle, Congress drags its feet on key Rajasthan posts

The Congress was quick to make changes in the State leadership in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh after the recent poll debacle, but in Rajasthan the party continues to drag its feet.  On Saturday, the party announced its long awaited organisational reshuffle. It promoted Rajasthan’s former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot to the position of general secretary. Last week, the party had nominated former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot as a member of the National Alliance Committee. The two appointments indicate that it will be looking for a fresh face for the post of leader of the Congress Legislature Party. The other question looming over is whether the party will retain State chief Govind Singh Dotasra.  

Decision to suspend WFI taken under pressure: Opposition leaders

Opposition leaders on Sunday said the government’s decision to suspend the newly-elected WFI was not enough to give justice to protesting wrestlers and questioned why a loyalist of former WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh was allowed to contest the election to the sports body in the first place. The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) elections were held on December 21 with Sanjay Singh and his panel winning the polls by big margins.

Security is stepped up around Christmas celebrations in Germany and Austria over attack concerns

Sightseeing visits were barred at Germany’s landmark cathedral in Cologne and Christmas Eve worshippers faced security checks to get into midnight Mass there Sunday as police responded to indications of a potential attack. However a top security official urged people not to shy away from holiday celebrations out of fear. Churchgoers attended multiple services at the cathedral despite the ban on visits purely for sightseeing, a day after police descended on the cathedral and searched it with sniffer dogs. With several dozen officers on duty outside, Auxiliary Bishop Rolf Steinhaeuser greeted those attending what he said was “probably the most secure church service in all of Germany.”

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