Hello, this is your daily dose of news from Onmanorama. I'm your host, Deepa Soman, and these are the major news stories of the day:
1. Maharashtra Assembly dissolution on the cards
2. Nearly 280 killed as earthquake shatters Eastern Afghanistan
3. High Court grants anticipatory bail to Vijay Babu subject to stringent riders
4. Kerala reports 4,224 Covid-19 cases, India's active tally rises to 81.6K
5. Sonia Gandhi Requests Enforcement Directorate To Postpone Questioning
Let's get into the details....
1. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday called a meeting of all Shiv Sena MLAs at 5 pm in Mumbai, amid a revolt within the party. Eknath Shinde, who triggered the crisis, has claimed the support of 46 MLAs. The CM chaired a crucial meeting of his cabinet virtually after he tested positive for Covid, earlier on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut tweeted that the ongoing political crisis in Maharashtra is heading towards the dissolution of Vidhan Sabha. Eknath Shinde needs the support of 37 MLAs to split the party without facing disqualification under the anti-defection law. Shinde has challenged Uddhav's order to summon MLAs as illegal.
2. An earthquake of magnitude 6.1 killed at least 280 people in Afghanistan early on Wednesday. Hundreds of people were injured and the toll was likely to rise as information trickled in from remote mountain villages.
The quake struck about 44 km from the city of Khost, near the Pakistani border, the U.S. Geological Survey aka USGS said. Photographs on Afghan media showed houses reduced to rubble and bodies covered in blankets on the ground. The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre put the magnitude at 6.1, though the USGS said it was 5.9. Most of the confirmed deaths were in the eastern Afghan province of Paktika, where 255 people had been killed and more than 200 injured, said interior ministry official Salahuddin Ayubi.
3. Film personality Vijay Babu has been granted anticipatory bail by the Kerala High Court on Wednesday over the sexual assault case filed by an actress.
The court ordered him to appear for questioning by the police from June 27 to July 3. He also has to present himself before investigating officers every Monday. As per the bail conditions, Babu has to deposit a Rs 5 lakh bond. The court has also barred him from leaving Kerala and ordered the accused to refrain from defaming the complainant or her family members, especially through social media. In April, after the actress filed the police complaint and posted her ordeal on social media, Vijay Babu had responded on social media saying his side of the story and naming the survivor, against the law.
The Division Bench headed by Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas heard the anticipatory bail plea.
An in-camera hearing was held to protect the privacy of the complainant. Additional Director General (Prosecution) represented the government.
A few days ago, the High Court had rejected his plea to avert arrest in the case over revealing the identity of the complainant via his social media response.
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Now, back to Daily News Dose.
4. Kerala reported 4,224 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. This is for the first time after the third wave of andemic that such an unusual increase in the number of cases was reported. It was on February 14 that Covid cases went above 4,000-mark last time.
On Tuesday, Ernakulam district reported the maximum number of cases --1,170 -- followed by Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Kozhikode. As many as seven deaths due to the pandemic were confirmed on Tuesday, taking the total COVID death toll in the State to 69,904.The number of fever cases is also on the rise. On Tuesday alone, 15,923 such cases were reported. As many as 104 persons were admitted to hospital with high fever.
5. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has sought more time to appear before the Enforcement Directorate for questioning in the alleged money laundering case connected to the National Herald newspaper. Sonia Gandhi had contracted Covid and was in the hospital. Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi said he was not concerned about the Enforcement Directorate questioning him for five days over his alleged role in the case. He was questioned for around 12 hours straight, on day 5.
Addressing party leaders and workers at the Congress headquarters on Wednesday, Rahul also suggested that the party should focus more on the Agnipath issue rather than the “small affair” of the ED questioning him.
That brings us to the end of this episode. Be sure to come back tomorrow. As always, thanks for listening to Daily News Dose.