Morning digest: States weigh options on IAS cadre rule changes; pro-Khalistan elements attempting to revive terrorism in Punjab, say probe agencies, and more

The Union government is planning to acquire for itself overriding powers to transfer IAS and IPS officers through Central deputation, doing away with therequirement of taking the approval of the State governments. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) wrote to the States on January 12 that the Union government proposes to amend Rule 6 (deputation of cadre officers) of the Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules 1954.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Maharashtra government to submit its data collected on the Other Backward Classes (OBC) to the State Backward Classes Commission (SBCC) and directed the commission to submit an interim report to the State on the same within two weeks.

For the first time in the ongoing COVID-19 wave, the number of cases in India crossed the 3 lakh mark. The country recorded 3,13,603 new COVID-19 cases on January 19, a 27% increase from a week ago. The total number of infections has reached 3.8 crore, and the active cases have crossed the 18.9 lakh mark.

At least nine people allegedly associated with pro-Khalistan activities, including Jaswinder Singh Multani, the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) operative who was recently booked by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on the charge of attempting to revive terrorism in Punjab, have been operating from Germany for the past several years.

Late Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat’s younger brother, Colonel (retired) Vijay Rawat, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) here on Wednesday, ahead of the party’s decision on candidates for the February 14 Uttarakhand Assembly elections.

The politics surrounding the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raids on the premises of Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi’s nephew on Wednesday escalated as the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and the BJP were embroiled in verbal attacks.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday formally announced its alliance with the Apna Dal and Nishad Party for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, with party president J. P. Nadda declaring that the alliance will fight all 403 seats in the Assembly together but declined to spell out the exact contours of the seat sharing agreement.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Shiv Sena on Wednesday officially announced their alliance ahead of the upcoming Goa Assembly election, with leaders of both parties underscoring that the NCP and the Sena would have a substantial role in forming a government after the polls.

The Indian Railways is in the process of devising a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for operating trains immediately after an earthquake. The Railway Board has written to General Managers of Zonal Railways to share their views on the safe operation of trains after the occurrence of an earthquake.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to consider listing a PIL challenging the constitutional validity of a provision of the Representation of People Act which had led to the introduction of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in elections.

In a late evening development, Air India has decided to cancel eight flights to and from the U.S. for Thursday over concerns that the rollout of 5G wireless services there could intervene with critical aircraft functions, according to airline sources.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has signed a contract with the Government of Mauritius (GoM) for export of one Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH)-MkIII for the Mauritius Police Force, it said on Wednesday.

The Taliban’s Prime Minister called on Wednesday on Muslim nations to be the first to officially recognise their government, as aid-dependent Afghanistan faces economic collapse. No country has yet recognised the Taliban, with most watching to see how the hardline Islamists — notorious for human rights abuses during their first stint in power — restrict freedoms.

India Under-19 skipper Yash Dhull, his deputy Sheikh Rasheed and four of their teammates have tested positive for COVID-19, forcing them out of the Group B World Cup game against Ireland and seriously jeopardising the side’s campaign here on Wednesday.

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