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Shimla’s NRI Family Recalls Cruel Joke Played by KLM Airlines Amid Corona Crisis   

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Shimla NRI Family stopped fro boarding flight

Shimla-With his wife and his three-year-old-daughter Arvind, an NRI, had to travel to Delhi from Shimla and then back from Delhi to Shimla, risking their lives by traveling amid COVID-19 crisis. The family has permanent residency of Norway and, was to catch their flight (KLM Airlines) on May 5, 2020. It was a special flight to Europe and the family had the permission of the Norwegian embassy. They had booked the flight after receiving written permission issued by the embassy informing them about the special flight.

However, on reaching the Indira Gandhi International Airport, the staff of KLM Airlines did not let the family board the flight. Alongiwth this family, several other Indians were prohibited from boarding the same flight despite all permissions. They were not shown any directions or orders prohibiting their travel to Europe.

But that was not all. What happened after the family returned to Shimla was the real joke.

While speaking to Himachal Watcher telephonically, Arvind termed it mental and physical harassment and racial discrimination they faced at the hands of the KLM staff. He had also recorded a video at the Airport, which he shared with HW.

Here is the whole story in Arvind’s Own Words:

‘’My heart laments to share what happened with us on the night of 4th May. I along with my family (wife and 3 years daughter) had a KLM flight( KL872) from Delhi to Amsterdam at 3.00 am on 5th May. We travelled almost 400 KM from Shimla to Delhi on 3rd May in the lockdown period to board the aforesaid flight. However, to our surprise, we were not allowed to board the KLM flight KL872 despite I being Permanent Residency holder of Norway.

The reason given to us was that due to some changes in regulations it is not allowed for us to board the flight as we don’t have EU passports, neither do we have someone in our blood relation who has an EU passport. While I booked a flight from the KLM website on 27th April, no such information or regulation was there. Neither were we informed by the KLM authorities by phone about the changes regulation. The KLM staff was not at all friendly especially Duty Station Manager Mr Ajay Goel did not help us in any way, rather he created unnecessary hassles. When we asked Mr. Ajay Goel to show us the regulation which he was referring to, he did not show it to us saying it was confidential.

Thus, violating the Right to Information (RTI) act 2005. Although the Norwegian Embassy representative also intervened and told Mr. Ajay Goel that the embassy had special permission for us from Ministry of External Affairs to board the flight, but still we were refuted by Mr. Ajay Goel to board the flight.

Shimla NRI Family 2

In response to Mr. Ajay Goel’s aberrant behaviour of not providing us any written documentation for not allowing us to board the flight, I had to film a small video as evidence for my future reference. We risked our lives during Covid-19 to reach Delhi from Shimla all for nothing. On top of that, we were told to leave the airport at 3.00 am without any assistance from KLM.

Thereafter we had to book a taxi back to the hotel and also back to Shimla (400km back). Furthermore, now we are home quarantined deprived of our freedom for 14 days and constantly under the fear of being a COVID carrier, due to irresponsible behaviour and attitude of KLM employees on duty.

To further aggravate the situation, I received a call from KLM customer care on 07th May, stating that the rule has now changed, hence we can now travel on the next flight scheduled on 10th May. However, I still doubt the verity of the statement made by KLM customer care.

This entire incident has affected me and my family, mentally, physically and financially, hence , I demand justice from the authorities and concerned people especially KLM India.

Arvind has also filed a complaint against the KLM staff and claimed damages on account of mental agonies and physical harassment/abuses/ racial discrimination.

HW Community

Farmers Welcome SC Order to Stay Implementation of Farm Laws But Suspicious About Formation of Committee

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stay on farm laws

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the implementation of three contentious farm laws passed by the Centre Government, which has led to huge protest from hundreds of farmer groups. The stay implies that the Centre Government can’t take any executive actions based on these laws till further order. 

“The implementation of the three farm laws (1) Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; (2) Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020; and (3) Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, shall stand stayed until further orders,”

said the order passed by a panel headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad A Bobde on Tuesday.

Further, the MSP system would continue as it was before the enactment of the laws.

“As a consequence, the Minimum Support Price System in existence before the enactment of the Farm Laws shall be maintained until further orders. In addition, the farmers’ land holdings shall be protected, i.e., no farmer shall be dispossessed or deprived of his title as a result of any action taken under the Farm Laws,”

the order said.

With this order, the SC hoped to end the ongoing impasse over the contentious farm laws.

The farmers who have been protesting for over the last 45 days, welcomed the SC’s order.

However, at the same time, the Apex Court ordered the formation of a committee to listen to both sides and make recommendations to the court. The committee, which would comprise of Agriculture economist Ashok Gulati, Bhupinder Singh Mann, Dr Prmod Kumar Joshi, former director of National Academy of Agricultural Research Management), and Anil Ghanwat from Shetkari Sangathan, was asked to submit its report in the court within two months.

The CJI, in its order, speaking about the purpose of this “extraordinary” order, said,

“While we may not stifle a peaceful protest, we think that this extraordinary order of stay of implementation of the farm laws will be perceived as an achievement of the purpose of such protest at least for the present and will encourage the farmers’ bodies to convince their members to get back to their livelihood, both in order to protect their own lives and health and in order to protect the lives and properties of others.”

Though a stay on the implementation of laws was welcomed by protesting farmers, several unions said that they would not accept this committee and the protest will continue. They said the Government is trying to form this committee through the Supreme Court. This committee, they said, included persons who have already been justifying the farm laws. They said the purpose of this committee is nothing more than creating a diversion. The protest would be armed up and only a repeal of laws would be accepted, the unions said. 

At the same time, the SC was undeterred with these statements and said there is nothing that can stop it from forming a committee. The SC asked the farmers to cooperate with the committee.

On the other hand, the Government was more concerned about that other political parties would think of the stay as a “political victory”.

Further, the Government has also expressed apprehension about security breach due to the tractor rally planned by protesting farmers on the Republic Day.

K.K. Venugopal, Attorney General, told the court that there are reports that the farmers’ bodies may take out a tractor rally on January 26, 2021, disrupting the Republic Day Parade and celebrations However, the same was stoutly denied by Dushyant Dave, learned senior counsel appearing for a few of the farmers’ bodies on the ground that at least one member of the family of each of the farmers from Punjab is in the Army and that they would not disrupt the Republic Day celebrations.

The Court, in its order, said that several rounds of talked between farmers and the Government have failed and there was no solution in sight.

“The situation on ground is: (i) that senior citizens, women and children are at site, exposing themselves to serious health hazards posed by cold and covid; (ii) that a few deaths have taken place, though not out of any violence, but either out of illness or by way of suicide,”

the order said.

The court also lauded the farmers for carrying on the agitation peacefully without any unwanted incident.

Further, the Court orders also mentioned separate petitions filed by individuals/residents of the NCR complaining of blockade of roads/highways leading to Delhi and terming it an infringement of the fundamental rights of other citizens to move freely and to carry out trade and business.

Stay on 3 Farm Laws and Formation of Committee: Read Full Order of Supreme Court

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Misc News/Press Release

New Corona Variant More Transmissible and Affecting Younger Population, Indian Govt Issues SOPs

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Indian Govt SOPS for new COVID-19 variant

Delhi-A new variant of SARS- CoV 2 virus has been reported by the Government of the United Kingdom (UK) to the World Health Organization (WHO). This variant is estimated by the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) to be more transmissible and affecting the younger population, the government informed. This variant is defined by a set of 17 changes or mutations. One of the most significant is an N501Y mutation in the spike protein that the virus uses to bind to the human ACE2 receptor. Changes in this part of the spike protein may result in the virus becoming more infectious and spreading more easily between people.

The new VUI-202012/01 variant has been identified in several countries including Australia, Denmark, Italy, Iceland and the Netherlands.

“Preliminary reports by the UK are that this variant is more transmissible than previous circulating viruses, with an estimated increase of between 40% and 70% in transmissibility (adding 0.4 to the basic reproduction number R0, bringing it to a range of 1.5 to 1.7). Laboratory studies are ongoing to determine whether these variant viruses have different biological properties or alter vaccine efficacy. There is not enough information at present to determine if this variant is associated with any change in the severity of the clinical disease, antibody response or vaccine efficacy,”

said WHO on Tuesday.

Indian Ministry of Health has issued SOP for Epidemiological Surveillance and Response for the same. The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) describes the activities to be undertaken at the point of entry and in the community for all International passengers who have travelled from or transited through the UK in the past 4 weeks (from 25th November to 23rd December 2020). Any reference to testing in this SOP implies RT-PCR testing only.

The flights from the UK are suspended temporarily from 23rd December till 31st December 2020 or till further orders. All the passengers travelling from or transiting through airports in the UK and disembarking in India during the intervening period from 21st to 23rd December 2020 would be subjected to RT-PCR test on arrival. In the case of a positive sample, it is recommended that spike gene-based RT-PCR test should also be performed.

 Passengers testing positive will be isolated in an institutional isolation facility in a separate (isolation) unit coordinated by the respective State Health Authorities. Necessary action to send the samples to National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune or any other appropriate lab for genomic sequencing will be initiated at the facility level. If the genomic sequencing indicates the presence of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 then the patient will be kept in the separate isolation unit and treated as per the clinical protocol.

Those who are found negative on testing with RT-PCR at the airport would be advised quarantine at home. Prior to check-in, the traveler will be explained about this SOP and In-flight announcements must also be made.

Those international travelers from the UK who arrived in India since last one month will be contacted by District Surveillance Officers and monitored in the community.

State Governments/ Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme will ensure that all the contacts of those travelers from the UK or transiting through the UK in the last four weeks will be traced and monitored. They will also be tested as per protocol and contacts of positive cases would be subjected to institutional quarantine in separate quarantine centers for effective isolation and monitoring.

Read Complete List of SOPS

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Misc News/Press Release

Amid Panic Over Spread of ‘New Coronavirus Strain’, India Suspends All Flights from UK

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India suspends uk flights

Delhi– While the world was hoping to recover from the pandemic, the spread of a new strain of coronavirus in the United Kingdom has again created panic. The UK government has termed this new strain more dangerous than the previous one. However, it hasn’t termed it as more deadlier. In this panic, several countries have imposed travel/flight restrictions. The UK has announced a series of stricter coronavirus restrictions considering the current situation.

India has also suspended all flights originating from the UK temporarily from 22nd December to 31st December 2020, informed Hardeep Singh Puri, MoS, I/C, Civil Aviation. He said that Government of India has decided to take all necessary precautions as a result of the situation arising out of the spread of a new strain of coronavirus in some countries.

It’s pertinent to mention that UK PM Boris Johnson has warned that the new strain is up to 70% “more transmissible”.

Similarly, U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned that the new strain of the coronavirus is “out of control”.

“This thing’s transmitting, it’s acquiring, it’s adapting all the time. But people don’t want to hear what we say, which is: This virus will mutate,’ Dr. Ravindra Gupta, a virologist at the University of Cambridge,

told the New York Times.

However, the Health Minister Harsh Vardhan called UK’s claim of the discovery of new strain as an imaginary situation. He said that there is no need to panic.

At the same time, considering the emerging COVID-19 situation in UK, India has decided that all flights to and from UK will be suspended till 31st December 2020 (23.59 hours). This suspension will start w.e.f. 23.59 hours, 22nd December 2020. However, this restriction will not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA.

Airlines operating flights to India from other countries will not board any passenger travelling from UK to India and will ensure that no passenger coming from UK is boarded in a flight for any destination in India either directly or indirectly, the government said.

As a measure of precaution, passengers arriving from UK in all transit flights (flights that have taken off or flights which are reaching India before 22nd December 2020 at 23.59 hrs) would be subject to mandatory RT-PCR test at the arrival port in India. The passengers found COVID-19 positive on arrival will be quarantined as per guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and would bear the medical costs incurred.

 

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