HIGHLIGHTS

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New Delhi, Mar 19 (PTI) Following are the top stories at 1 pm: NATION DEL8 VIRUS- LD CASES Nearly 40k coronavirus cases in India: Govt New Delhi: India saw 39,726 new coronavirus infections being reported in a day, the highest single day rise recorded so far this year, taking the nationwide COVID-19 tally of cases to 1,15,14,331, according to Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday.

DEL1 RAHUL-LOCKDOWN Unplanned lockdown disaster continues to haunt country:Rahul Gandhi New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday alleged that lakhs of families have suffered pain due to the government's 'incompetence and myopia' as the unplanned lockdown continues to haunt the country.

BOM1 MH-SENA-POLICE 'Delhi lobby' was upset with Mumbai's ex-po ice chief: Sena Mumbai: Two days after Param Bir Singh was shunted out from the post of Mumbai police commissioner, the Shiv Sena on Friday defended him saying that his transfer does not make him a criminal, and alleged that a 'particular lobby in Delhi' was upset with him as the TRP scam came to light during his tenure.

MDS1 TN-SEXUAL HARASSMENT-SUSPEND DGP-rank IPS officer in TN facing sexual harassment probe suspended Chennai: A former special DGP level official, charged with sexually harassing a woman subordinate officer, has been placed under suspension, days after the Madras High Court made a recommendation in this connection, official sources said on Friday LEGAL LGD2 SC-EVM SYMBOL SC for AG and SG's views on PIL for replacing symbol with name, qualification of candidates on EVMs New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought to know the views of the attorney general and the solicitor general on a PIL which sought a direction to the Election Commission to remove symbols from ballot and EVMs and replace them with 'name, age, educational qualification and photograph' of candidates.

LGD5 DL-HC-IT RULES HC asks Centre to reply to plea challenging new IT rules New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday sought the Centre's response on a plea challenging the new Information Technology rules which seek to regulate digital news media.

LGD3 DL-HC-MEHBOOBA-SUMMONS HC refuses to stay summons issued to Mehbooba Mufti by ED in PMLA case New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday refused to stay summons issued to former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case.

BUSINESS DEL2 BIZ-STOCKS-OPEN Sensex tanks over 600 pts in early trade; Nifty slips below 14,400 Mumbai: Equity benchmark Sensex tanked over 600 points in early trade on Friday, tracking losses in HDFC Bank, L&T and Reliance Industries amid negative cues from global markets.

DEL9 BIZ-RUPEE-OPEN Rupee falls 3 paise against US dollar in early trade Mumbai: The rupee depreciated by 3 paise to 72.56 against the US dollar in opening trade on Friday, as muted opening in domestic equities weighed on investor sentiment.

FOREIGN FGN12 FGN10 US-SENATORS-LD FARMERS Two top US senators ask Blinken to raise farmers issue, say Indians will determine path ahead on new laws Washington: Two top Democratic senators have urged US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to raise with the Indian leaders the issue of treatment of peaceful farmer protesters and journalists even as they acknowledged that it is for the people and the Government of India to determine the path forward on its recently enacted farm laws. By Lalit K Jha US-H1B President Biden urged to rescind Trump-era ban on H-1B and other foreign work visas Washington: Five powerful Democratic senators on Thursday urged President Joe Biden to rescind his predecessor Donald Trump’s ban on some non-immigrant visas, including the H-1B visa which is popular among Indian IT professionals, saying this creates uncertainties for US employers, their foreign-born professional workers and their families. By Lalit K Jha FGN11 UN-INDIA-ENVOY-BIDEN President Biden virtually hosts UNSC envoys, Indian Amb Tirumurti underlines commitment to reformed multilateralism United Nations/Washington: India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti has virtually called on US President Joe Biden and underlined India’s commitment to reformed multilateralism, counterterrorism, UN peacekeeping and assistance provided to nations amid the pandemic through shipments of COVID-19 vaccines. By Yoshita Singh and Lalit K Jha FGN15 US-LD HOUSE-DREAMERS US House passes key bills providing citizenship to dreamers, farmworker immigrants Washington: The US House of Representatives has passed two key bills that would create a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, some migrant farmworkers and children whose parents immigrated legally to the country, like those under the H-1B visa programme. By Lalit K Jha FGN16 US-CHINA-DIALOGUE White House expects China dialogue to be frank, plans to raise several issues Washington: The US wants its first face-to-face meeting with China under the Biden administration to be frank and plans to cover difficult areas like Beijing's anti-democratic action in Hong Kong, its human rights violations and military tension in the region, according to the White House. By Lalit K Jha. PTI CK