Raju Vernekar

Raju Vernekar

Raju Vernekar is a Media Professional based in Mumbai and is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. He had served as Chief Reporter at Free Press Journal (1996 – 2015 ). His Activities includes writing for different news papers, script writing/production for TV channels, Films Division. Writing poems in Marathi, Hindi, English, Guiding mass media students and helping people to solve their problems. Raju may be contacted at [email protected]

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Thursday, 22 October 2020 17:40

COVID-19 vaccine expected by ensuing March

IT Correspondent
New Delhi, Oct 22:

Indian experts expressed opinion that much awaited COVID-19 vaccine may be ready by ensuing March at a recent symposium organised by “HEAL-Thy Samvaad,” organised by the ‘Healthcare Advocacy Group’ of ‘HEAL Foundation’, in association with the Indian Coalition for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD).
“India may get COVID-19 vaccine by March 2021 provided the regulators signal with the processes fast as multiple manufacturers are working on it,” said Dr Suresh Jadhav, Executive Director, Serum Institute of India(SII), Pune. “India is fast heading towards vaccine development as two manufacturers are already in phase-III trial and one in the phase-II trial, while more players are joining the race. Usually, vaccine development takes 8-10 years, but this is the third time we are able to produce this one in a short time. The WHO has also taken initiative to make the process fast and easy,” he added. 
“We can produce 700-800 million vaccine dosages every year once the things are streamlined. Although 55% of the population is below 50 years of age, yet as per the availability of vaccines, healthcare workers should get the vaccines first, then people over 60 years of age with co-morbidities followed by the rest of the populace. As far as Serum Institute is concerned, we will be ready with 60-70 million dosages of vaccines by December 2020, but they will come in the market in 2021 after the clearance of licensing authorities,” Dr Jadhav stated. 
SII has signed a deal with British-Swedish company AstraZeneca to manufacture COVID-19 vaccine candidate, developed by the University of Oxford. The final stage of the clinical trial of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine has already started in India. Dubbed as AZD1222 or ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, the vaccine is a recombinant viral vector vaccine. It uses a weakened version of a chimpanzee common cold virus that encodes instructions for making proteins from the novel coronavirus to generate an immune response and prevent infection.  
The vaccine is likely to provide protection for about a year, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot had said in June this year. SII will make up to 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for poorer countries, including India, next year, as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and GAVI vaccines alliance have doubled their funding, the SII said. The collaboration takes forward an initial agreement signed in August by Serum, GAVI and the Gates Foundation for 100 million doses to be priced at a maximum of $3 each. The total funding provided is $300 million, and the expanded collaboration also has an option for the provision of additional doses as needed. 
“Of course, to have a check on the upsurge of COVID-19 infection, the vaccine is quintessential. However, the biggest challenge lies in its accessibility. The mechanism of the supply chain should also be redefined so that the distribution turns out equitably. For this, we need to prioritise the accessibility depending upon the vulnerability of the populace and take some strong action within the time limit. Effective governance is also required to carry out the judicious accessibility of the vaccine ,” Dr J L Meena, Joint Director, National Health Authority said. 
Samir Deb, Pharmaceutical Professional, Consultant Vaccine & Public Affairs Consultant, South East Asia, said, “ Worldwide, there are 40 candidates in the race of vaccination. In India, 3 vaccines are going in the phase-III clinical trial. However, COVID-19 crisis requires accelerated pathways for vaccine development. Proven success factors of H1N1 and Ebola have turned out as guiding principles in COVID-19 vaccine development. Union Health Minister has asserted that 400 million vaccines will be made available by next year and hopefully, 20-25 crore population will get a vaccine next year. Ensuring accessibility for 80% of the population is a huge task indeed.”

Thursday, 22 October 2020 17:24

Rs 20 crore Mephedrone seized

By Raju Vernekar
Pune, Oct 22:

The crime branch officials of the Pimpri-Chinchwad police arrested a few more persons  including a Nigerian national and a Chhota Rajan aide, in connection with the Rs 20 crore mephedrone (MD) racket on Wednesday. 
The accused are : Tushar Suryakant Kale (Borivali,Mumbai) (Chhota Rajan aide), Rakesh Shrikant Khanivdekar(Vasai, near Mumbai), Jubu Ukodo, Nigerian, Vasai (near Mumbai), Anandgir Madhugir Gosavi (25), Chetan Fakkad Dandavate (28), Sanjiv Kumar Bansi Raut (44)(originally from Jharkhand),  Akshay Shivaji Kale (25), Tausif Hasan Mohammad Taslim (31), Kiran Rajguru, Ashok Sankpal and Kiran Kale...from Pune. 
The accused used to manufacture drugs at a defunct factory in Ranjangaon MIDC in Pune and sell them at high prices in various markets in Pune and Mumbai. The racket was busted earlier this month and MD worth Rs 20 crore was seized. The other material worth Rs 90 lakh was confiscated and property worth Rs 75 lakh was attached on Wednesday. 
Pimpri-Chinwad Police Commissioner Krishna Prakash said that the arrested persons had planned to start the second drug manufacturing factory in Palghar district of Thane and had bought two-acre land from the proceeds, earned by selling the banned 112kg MD. “Earlier, we had arrested five persons with 20 kg MD on October 7. After that we formed six teams to further investigate the case. The teams were deployed at Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Vasai, Nasik and Palghar and the racket was unearthed,” he added. 
During the course of the investigation, it was revealed that the accused had conspired to manufacture MD at a defunct factory, Sanyog Biotech Pvt Ltd, at Ranjangaon. They had manufactured 132kg of MD in December 2019 of which they sold 112kg. The kingpin behind the drugs racket was identified as Tushar Suryakant Kale, a resident of Borivali (Mumbai).He is linked to the Chhota Rajan gang. Another accused is a notorious criminal Rakesh Shrikant Khanivdekar alias Rocky of Vasai. It is a major breakthrough and such crackdowns will continue to break the back of the criminal syndicates operating in the region, Prakash said. 
The arrested accused include a Nigerian national identified as Jubu Ukodo, a resident of Vasai (near Mumbai), who has been charged with selling the 112kg of MD. He had earlier served 10 years’ imprisonment in Kolhapur jail in a drugs case. He has also been accused of tampering with a visa document and a separate case will be filed against him, Prakash said. 
On October 7, the racket was busted after senior police inspector Shriram Pol received a tip off regarding the operations of the syndicate. Following the input, the police team nabbed Anandgir Madhugir Gosavi (25), Chetan Fakkad Dandavate (28), Sanjiv Kumar Bansi Raut (44)(originally from Jharkhand), Akshay Shivaji Kale (25), and Tausif Hasan Mohammad Taslim (31) (originally from Muzaffarpur Nagar, Uttar Pradesh), on Chakan-Shikrapur road where 20kg of MD was seized from their possession. Akshay Kale had kept the drugs at his house, which were seized while he was about to sell them in the market. 
As the investigation progressed, the police arrested Kiran Rajguru, Ashok Sankpal and Kiran Kale who admitted that the the drugs were manufactured at Sanyog Biotech Pvt Ltd.  Accordingly, the factory was raided, contraband recovered and sealed. Tushar Kale and Khanvidekar emerged as the gang leaders. 
Tushar Kale and Rocky had planned about setting up a drug factory despite being in jail and had hired Ashok Sankpal’s Sanyog Biotech company. Kiran Kale who works as a director with another company in the same area, negotiated with Sankpal. A meeting was held at his office where it was decided to produce MD at the rate of Rs 60,000 per kg. The police have frozen all their bank accounts and also attached two-acre land in Palsai village in Palghar district (near Mumbai).

Thursday, 22 October 2020 17:23

TRP Scam: names of two more channels crop up

IT Correspondent
Mumbai, Oct. 22:

The names of two more TV channels have surfaced during the investigation of alleged fake Television Rating Points (TRP) scam being investigated by Mumbai police, based on a complaint filed by a company, engaged in monitoring TV viewership. 
The allegations of inflating viewership with fake statistics against Republic TV, Fakt Marathi and  Box Cinema are being investigated and 6 persons including some former employees of the Mumbai based Hansa Research Private Limited have been arrested. The Uttar Pradesh police have registered the separate case since some of the accused are from UP.  
O the two new channels, one is a news channel and the other one is an entertainment channel, the official said. “During the investigation, it came to light that these two channels were also involved in fixing the TRP by paying money to households for watching them,” he said. While investigating the fake TRP racket, the police have added fresh sections of IPC, including 174, 179, 201, 204. 
According to the official, the police had earlier registered an offence under section 409 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating), 120(B), 34 of IPC in the case. Subsequently the crime branch submitted the letter to the court about adding new sections.  
Meanwhile the probe team on Wednesday once again recorded statements of Republic TV CFO S Sundaram and executive editor Niranjan Narayanswami. The alleged fake TRP scam came to light when ratings agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) filed a complaint with the police through Hansa Research Group, alleging that certain channels were rigging TRP numbers to lure advertisers. It was alleged that some families at whose houses meters for collecting data of viewership were installed were being bribed to tune into a particular channel.

By Raju Vernekar
Mumbai, October 18:
Acting on a complaint lodged by a casting director Sahil Sayyed, the Bandra metropolitan magistrate court directed the Bandra police to register a case against actor Kangana Ranaut and her sister Rangoli Chandel for allegedly attempting to create communal disharmony and portraying Bollywood in a negative light through their social media posts, on Friday.

Metropolitan magistrate Jaydeo Ghule said that studying the complaint and after hearing the advocate of the complainant, prima face the accused-Kangana and her sister- have committed a “cognisable offence”. The magistrate directed the police to take appropriate action under Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, since he believed that a thorough investigation was necessary. Total allegations are based upon the comments made on electronic media- Twitter and interviews- and a thorough investigation by an expert is necessary, he  said.

Sayyed, in his complaint, alleged that Ranaut, continuously defamed the Hindi film industry by portraying Bollywood as a “hub of nepotism”, “favouritism” and drug addicts, among other accusations. He further alleged that this “even created a bad image of Bollywood in the minds of people and created “communal divide and rift between the people of two communities. Ranaut has been “maliciously bringing religion in all her tweets” and that her sister, Rangoli, had also posted objectionable content that was intended to trigger a communal rift, he added.

On Saturday, Ranaut -- who has publically sparred with the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government recently, posted a tweet that spoke of “another FIR against” her and said the Shiv Sena  in Maharashtra seemed to be obsessed with her. In September, she irked the Maharashtra government by comparing Mumbai to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and criticised the Mumbai police for its handling of the case related to actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. Later in the month, another controversy erupted after BMC partially demolished her residence citing illegal construction, prompting her to approach the court.

Besides a local court in Karnataka’s Tumakuru district also directed the police to book Ranaut over another tweet that purportedly targeted farmers protesting the recently-enacted farm laws.

After the Bandra magistrate ordered an FIR to be lodged against her and sister Rangoli Chandel for allegedly inciting ‘communal hatred’,  Kangana Ranaut tweeted pictures of herself dressed up for the Navratri celebrations and said that the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra seems to be obsessed with her.

“My friends here may find my talks mostly directed at movie mafia, their antinational and Hinduphobic racket. I know my time is limited here, they can get my account suspended any minute, even though I have a lot to share but I must utilise this time to expose them,” she had on Twitter.

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