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New Delhi, Dec 23 (PTI) Following are the top stories at 5 pm: NATION DEL34 PM-FARMERS-INSTALMENT Modi to release PM-KISAN instalment to 9 crore farmers on Dec 25 New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release the next instalment of the financial benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) on December 25 via video-conferencing, his office said on Wednesday.

DEL14 FARMERS-RAJNATH Modi govt committed to farmers' welfare, hope protesting farmers soon withdraw stir: Rajnath New Delhi: On the birth anniversary of former prime minister Charan Singh, known for espousing the cause of farmers, the government on Wednesday reiterated its commitment to their welfare and expressed hope that the farmers protesting against farm laws will soon withdraw their agitation.

DEL22 DEF-LADAKH-ARMYCHIEF Army chief Gen Naravane visits forward posts in eastern Ladakh; reviews situation amid Sino-India military standoff New Delhi: Army chief Gen MM Naravane on Wednesday visited various high-altitude forward areas in eastern Ladakh and reviewed India's overall military preparedness as the tense border standoff with China in the region prolonged for over seven months, the Army and official sources said.

DEL23 JK-DDC POLLS-MAJORITY DDC polls: PAGD gets clear majority in 6 of 20 J-K districts, BJP in 5 Jammu: The PAGD has got a clear majority in six districts, followed by the BJP in five in the maiden DDC election in Jammu and Kashmir but the alliance of seven mainstream parties has got an edge over the saffron party in six other districts as it is just short of one or two seats for the majority. By Tariq Ahmed Sofi DEL32 BJP-JK-DDC POLLS DDC poll results victory for Modi's 'larger narrative' for J&K: BJP New Delhi: Asserting that the DDC poll results in Jammu and Kashmir are a victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'larger narrative' for the union territory, the BJP on Wednesday claimed that the verdict is a 'resounding slap' by people on the face of extremists, separatists, terrorists and their patrons.

DEL29 BIZ-2NDLD CAIRN-ARBITRATION Retro Tax Arbitration: India ordered to pay up to $1.4 bn to Cairn Energy New Delhi: India has been ordered to return up to USD 1.4 billion to Cairn Energy plc of the UK after the government lost an international arbitration over the retrospective levy of taxes.

DEL15 RAHUL-VACCINE When will India's turn come: Rahul to PM on COVID-19 vaccinations New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said 23 lakh people in the world had already received the COVID-19 vaccine and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi when India's turn would come.

DEL37 CAB-DTH Cabinet nod for revised DTH service guidelines New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved revision in guidelines for providing direct to home (DTH) services in the country under which licenses would be issued for 20 years, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said.

CAL5 WB-MAMATA-LD FARMERS Mamata interacts with protesting farmers in Delhi, assures TMC's support Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday spoke to farmers protesting in Delhi against the Centre's new agriculture laws and assured them that her party stands by them, a TMC leader said.

DEL10 VIRUS-LD CASES COVID-19: India records 23,950 new cases New Delhi: India's COVID-19 caseload rose to 1,00,99,066 with 23,950 new infections being reported in a day, while the number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 96.63 lakh, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday.

LEGAL LGD6 DL-COURT-HERALD Herald case: Swamy delaying proceedings, Gandhis tells court New Delhi: Congress leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi Wednesday accused BJP MP Subramanian Swamy of delaying proceedings in the National Herald case, filed by him against them and others, by moving “totally vague' application.

LGM4 KL-COURT-LD ABHAYA Catholic priest, nun sentenced to life in Sister Abhaya murder case Thiruvananthapuram: A CBI special court here on Wednesday awarded life imprisonment to the catholic priest and nun, who were found guilty of the murder of Sister Abhaya 28 years ago in Kottayam.

FOREIGN FGN18 NEPAL-LD POLITICS Nepal: Prachanda-led faction of NCP elects him as new parliamentary leader Kathmandu: Nepal Communist Party's executive chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' was on Wednesday elected as the ruling party's new parliamentary leader, replacing Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli.

FGN13 PAK-CHINA-GUARANTEES China seeks additional guarantees before sanctioning USD 6 billion loan for rail project in Pakistan Islamabad: China has sought additional guarantees before sanctioning a USD 6-billion loan for the Main Line-1 (ML-1) railway line project in Pakistan, due to the country's weakening financial position, according to a media report on Wednesday. By Sajjad Hussain.

FGN4 VIRUS-US-TRUMP-LD STIMULUS Trump refuses to sign COVID-19 relief bill, seeks USD 2,000 stimulus payment Washington: US President Donald Trump has refused to sign the COVID-19 relief bill, saying the USD 600 stimulus payment to most Americans was not enough as he asked Congress to increase the amount to USD 2,000. By Lalit K Jha. PTI RHL