HIGHLIGHTS AT 9.50 PM

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New Delhi, Dec 18 (PTI) These are the top stories at 9.50 pm: NATION DEL59 LD SINOINDIA Ladakh standoff: India, China agree to continue work towards complete disengagement at earliest New Delhi: India and China on Friday agreed to continue work towards ensuring complete disengagement of troops in all friction points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh at the 'earliest' as the two sides held a fresh round of diplomatic talks on the over seven-month long border standoff.

BOM28 MP-3RD LD FARMERS-PM PM defends farm laws, blasts opposition for misleading farmers Bhopal: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday stoutly defended the new farm laws, saying they were in the works for decades and those who are opposing these laws now for gaining lost political ground were once votaries of the same reforms.

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 defuse 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 DEL55 HATHRAS-2ND LD CBI Hathras case: CBI files chargesheet against 4 for gangrape, murder New Delhi: The CBI on Friday filed a chargesheet against the four men accused of the gangrape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit woman in a village in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh, 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.

DEL68 CONG-MEET On eve of Sonia's meeting with 'letter writers', Cong asserts Rahul best suited to lead party New Delhi: Ahead of a crucial meeting of Sonia Gandhi with a section of senior leaders who had written to her in August demanding an overhaul of the organisation, the Congress on Friday downplayed any internal dissensions and said Rahul Gandhi was the 'right person' to lead the party.

DEL69 MHA-BENGAL-LD MEET Union home secy holds video-conference with WB's chief secy, DGP; discusses law and order New Delhi: Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla discussed the law-and-order situation in West Bengal with two top civil and police officers of the state through a video-conference on Friday, after their refusal to come to New Delhi despite two repeated summonses, 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.

LEGAL LGD50 SC-CONTEMPT-2NDLD 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.

LGD45 SC-LEADERS-2NDLD PROTECTION SC directs West Bengal police not to take coercive action against BJP leaders in criminal cases New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday granted interim protection from any coercive action to five BJP leaders, including Mukul Roy and MPs Kailash Vijayvargiya and Arjun Singh, in criminal cases lodged against them in West Bengal.

LGD49 SC-2NDLD JHARKHAND ELECTION Vote cast by lawmaker prior to his conviction on same day cannot be termed as invalid: SC New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday in a landmark ruling held that a vote cast by a lawmaker prior to his conviction in a criminal case on the same day cannot be termed as invalid saying holding him disqualified even before he was convicted 'would grossly violate his substantive right to be treated as innocent until proven guilty'.

FOREIGN 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. PTI HDA