HIGHLIGHTS AT 5.30 PM

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New Delhi, Dec 18 (PTI) These are the top stories at 5.30 pm: NATION BOM21 MP-LD FARMERS-PM Farm laws was long-pending demand; MSP will continue: PM Bhopal: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday that political parties, experts and even farmers had been demanding new farm laws for long, and assured that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) mechanism for crops will continue.

DEL38 FARMERS-LD TOMAR INTERVIEW Farm protests: Tomar says informal talks on, hopeful to reach solution before year ends New Delhi: The government is hopeful of resolving farmers' agitation against three new farm laws before the new year and is continuing its informal dialogue with various groups to diffuse the crisis, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has said amid formal talks remaining deadlocked with protesting unions refusing to accept anything less than the repeal of the Acts. By Laxmi Devi and Manvendra Jha DEL24 CBI-LD HATHRAS Hathras case: CBI files charge sheet against four accused New Delhi: The CBI on Friday filed its charge sheet against four accused in the alleged gangrape and murder case of a 19-year-old Dalit woman in Hathras, officials said.

DEL27 RAIL-SERVICES Not possible to give definite date for resumption of normal train services: Railway Board chairman New Delhi: The railways on Friday said it is not possible to provide a definite date for the resumption of normal train services and pointed out that it has seen an 87-per cent drop in the earnings from the passenger segment so far this year, compared to the last year.

DEL13 VIRUS-VACCINE-HEALTH MINISTRY Vaccination for COVID-19 will be voluntary: Health ministry New Delhi: Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 will be voluntary, the Union Health Ministry has said while underlining that the vaccine introduced in India will be as effective as any vaccine developed by other countries.

DEL9 VIRUS-LD CASES With 22,890 fresh cases, India's COVID-19 tally rises to 99.79 lakh New Delhi: India's COVID-19 caseload rose to 99.79 lakh with 22,890 new infections being reported in a day, while total recoveries crossed the 95 lakh-mark, according to the Union Health Ministry's data updated on Friday.

CAL7 WB-SUVENDU-SPEAKER Adhikari's resignation does not conform to rules of House, not accepted: Bengal Speaker Kolkata: West Bengal Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee on Friday said he has not accepted TMC MLA Suvendu Adhikari's resignation as it does not conform to the provisions of the Constitution and the rules of the House.

DEL16 MHA-BENGAL-MEET Union Home secy may hold video conference with WB’s chief secy, DGP on Friday evening New Delhi: Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla may have a video conference with West Bengal’s Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay and Director General of Police Virendra on Friday evening after they conveyed their inability to travel to the national capital, officials said.

DEL31 UP-PM-OFFICE-OLX PM Modi's Varanasi office listed on OLX for 'sale'; 4 arrested Varanasi (UP): Four people have been arrested for allegedly posting an online advertisement listing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Varanasi office for 'sale', police said on Friday.

DEL2 DL-KEJRIWAL-WB POLICE Centre encroaching on rights of states: Kejriwal on transfer of three IPS officers from WB New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal on Friday accused the Centre of blatantly interfering in the West Bengal administration, saying its move to transfer police officers in the state was an 'assault' on federalism.

LEGAL LGD13 SC-CONTEMPT-LD ARTISTS SC notice to Kunal Kamra, Rachita Taneja in contempt cases New Delhi: The Supreme Court issued show-cause notices to stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra and cartoonist Rachita Taneja on Friday for their alleged scandalous tweets against the apex court.

LGD32 UP-HC-LOVE JIHAD HC seeks UP govt reply on plea against anti-conversion law Allahabad: The Allahabad High Court asked the Uttar Pradesh government on Friday to respond to a petition challenging its recent ordinance on religious conversions.

FOREIGN FGN17 UK-BREXIT-PM Post-Brexit deal in 'serious situation', warns UK PM as talks go on London: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that a no-deal Brexit is now a 'very likely' outcome as a trade agreement with the European Union (EU) remained in a “serious situation” just under two weeks before the December 31 deadline for the end of the transition period.

FGN8 US-LAWMAKERS-H1B-SPOUSES 60 US lawmakers urge Biden to extend work authorisations to spouses of H-1B visa holders Washington: A group of 60 US lawmakers have urged President-elect Joe Biden to revoke a Trump administration policy and extend the validity of work authorisation documents for H4 visa holders, who are spouses of those possessing H-1B visas, with majority being highly-skilled Indian women. By Lalit K Jha.

SPORTS SPF26 SPO-CRI-2NDLD IND Australia's 'Ash nightmare': Bowlers led by Ashwin put India in control on Day 2 Adelaide: Senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin produced one of his most memorable overseas performances as Indian bowlers collectively terrorised Australia into submission, bowling them out for 191 on the second day of the opening Day/Night Test here on Friday. PTI HDA