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New Delhi, Mar 20 (PTI) Following are the top stories at 9 PM: NATION: DEL58 LDALL VIRUS COVID trajectory rising in 8 states as India records over 40k new cases, fresh surge highest in 111 days New Delhi: Eight states including Maharashtra and Delhi are reporting a rising trajectory of new COVID-19 cases as India recorded one lakh infections in just three days including the latest spike of over 40,000 cases in the biggest daily increase in nearly four months.

DEL45 2NDLD INDOUS India, US resolve to further consolidate defence and security cooperation New Delhi: India and the US on Saturday resolved to further expand their robust defence ties through deeper military-to-military engagement and logistic support, with the US describing the partnership as a 'stronghold' of a free and open Indo-Pacific amidst China's growing assertiveness in the region.

CAL28 WB-LD MODI-MAMATA Modi-Mamata clash over 'tolabaji', PM says CM's 'bhaipo' only single window in industry scarce Bengal Kharagpur/Haldia: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday alleged TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee presided over an administration full of 'tolabaj' and corrupt people, provoking an angry riposte from the Bengal leader who branded the BJP the 'biggest extortionist' in the world.

CAL36 AS-LD PM-RALLY Modi rakes up toolkit row, claims Congress backing those trying to finish Assam tea Chabua: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday accused the Congress of openly supporting forces that are out to finish the identity of Assam tea and destroy its tea industry.

CAL19 MZ-LD CM-MYANMARESE Mizoram CM writes to Modi, wants asylum for Myanmar refugees Aizawl: Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga has called 'not acceptable' the Centre's order to prevent illegal immigration from Myanmar and ensure speedy deportation of refugees, and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide them asylum on humanitarian grounds, an official said on Saturday.

DEL5 BIZ-PAR-ESSENTIAL-COMMODITIES ACT Par panel asks govt to implement Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act in letter & spirit New Delhi: A Parliamentary Panel has asked the government to implement in 'letter and spirit' the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act -- one of the laws against which farmers are protesting at Delhi borders for more than 100 days now.

DEL56 DL-FARMER-PAR PANEL Farmers' body seeks withdrawal of par panel's recommendation on implementing one of 3 agri laws New Delhi: The Samyukta Kisan Morcha on Saturday sought the withdrawal of a parliamentary panel's recommendation asking the Centre to implement the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, one of the three agri laws against which the farmers have been protesting at Delhi borders for over 100 days.

DEL34 ASHOKA-ACADEMICIANS Academicians write open letter to Ashoka University over Pratap Bhanu Mehta's resignation New Delhi: Over 150 academicians from prestigious universities across the globe like Harvard, Yale, Columbia, London School of Economics and MIT, have written an open letter to trustees of Ashoka University, expressing distress over political commentator Pratap Bhanu Mehta's resignation from the varsity under 'political pressure'.

CAL29 AS-POLL-CONG-MANIFESTO Assam polls: Rs 2,000 per month for housewives, free power in Congress manifesto Guwahati: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday released his party's election manifesto for Assam, making 'five guarantees' that included Rs 2,000 per month for every housewife and law to nullify the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

MDS19 KL-POLL-UDF-LD MANIFESTO UDF releases manifesto, promises Rs 2,000 pension for homemakers, homes for the poor Thiruvananthapuram: The Opposition Congress led UDF on Saturday releaseditsmanifesto for the April 6 assembly polls, promising Rs 2000 'pension' for homemakers, Rs 72,000 annually to the poor under 'Nyay Yojana' and five lakh homes for the underprivileged.

LEGAL LGD1 SC-COMPENSATION SC nod to disbursal of Rs 50,000 to widow of man who died due to negligence of AAI New Delhi: The Supreme Court has given its nod for disbursal of Rs 50,000 deposited in its 'suitors fund' by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to the widow of a man who had died of cardiac arrest owing to negligence in shifting him to the nearest hospital in Kolkata in 2012.

LGD2 DL-COURT-BHARTI Delhi court closes defamation case against Somnath Bharti after complainant accepts his apology New Delhi: A Delhi court on Saturday closed a criminal defamation case against Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Somnath Bharti filed by a woman journalist in 2018 after she accepted his apology before the judge.

FOREIGN: FGN25 PAK-HINDU-LD JOURNALIST Hindu journalist killed in Pakistan's Sindh province Karachi: A 31-year-old Hindu journalist in Pakistan has been shot dead by some unidentified assailants while getting a haircut at a barber shop in the country’s Sindh province, the police said on Saturday.

FGN41 VIRUS-PAK-LDALL IMRAN Pakistan PM Imran Khan tests positive for COVID-19 Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday tested positive for the COVID-19 and is self-isolating at home, his top aide on health announced, two days after he got the first shot of a vaccine. By Sajjad Hussain PTI TDS TDS