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New Delhi, Dec 30 (PTI) These are the top stories from the northern region at 8.45 pm.

DEL32 UP-CONVERSION-CIVIL SERVANTS Retd bureaucrats term UP 'epicentre of hate politics', seek withdrawal of anti-conversion ordinance New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh has become the 'epicentre of the politics of hate, division and bigotry' and the institutions of governance are 'steeped in communal poison,' alleged 104 retired civil servants in a letter to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

DES31 UP-VIRUS-STRAIN Two cases of new coronavirus strain detected in UP Lucknow: Traces of a new strain of coronavirus were found in two people who recently returned from the United Kingdom, an Uttar Pradesh official said on Wednesday.

DES19 PB-FARMERS-SAD-LD CONG Hold direct talks with PM for successful outcome: Cong, SAD to farmers Chandigarh: The Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress on Wednesday urged farmers protesting against the Centre’s farm laws to talk directly with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying otherwise the dialogue will not yield any result.

DES6 PB-SIDHU-APOLOGY Navjot Sidhu tenders apology for hurting Sikh sentinments Chandigarh: Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu on Wednesday tendered an apology after the Akal Takht Jathedar asked him to do so for allegedly hurting the sentiments of the Sikh community by wearing a shawl bearing some religious symbols.

DES34 PB-VIRUS-STRAIN Punjab govt to check 5% of positive samples per week for new coronavirus variant Chandigarh: The Punjab government will send five per cent of the total positive samples per week to premier central units of epidemiology to check the prevalence of the mutated strain of coronavirus, an official said here on Wednesday.

DES54 PB-VIRUS-CURFEW Punjab lifts night curfew from Jan 1 Chandigarh: The Punjab government on Wednesday decided to lift the night curfew from January 1 and advised people to follow coronavirus guidelines.

DES44 HR-CIVIC POLLS Haryana: Setback for BJP-JJP combine in mayoral polls Chandigarh: In a setback on Wednesday, the ruling BJP-JJP combine in Haryana could win only one of three mayoral seats for which elections were held recently.

DES39 HR-VIRUS-CASES Haryana reports 7 Covid-19 deaths, 382 fresh cases Chandigarh: Haryana on Wednesday reported seven more Covid-19 deaths, taking the fatality toll due to the infection to 2,899 even as 382 new cases pushed the state's infection tally to 2,62,054.

DES13 HR-VIJ Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij discharged from hospital Chandigarh: Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij was on Wednesday discharged from Gurgaon’s Medanta Hospital where he had undergone treatment for COVID-19.

DES28 UKD-LD INTERFAITH Interfaith couple booked for religious conversion in violation of law Dehradun: An interfaith couple who had approached the Uttarakhand High Court seeking protection has been booked here along with two others for allegedly not following the provisions of the state's anti-conversion law, police said on Wednesday.

DES47 UKD-VIRUS-CASES 449 new COVID cases, 9 deaths in Uttarakhand Dehradun: The coronavirus cases rose to 90,616 in Uttarakhand on Wednesday with 449 more people testing positive for the infection, the Health Department said.

DES8 HP-YEARENDER Himachal Pradesh 2020: Light at end of tunnel for Covid-hit state Shimla: The opening of the nine-kilometre Rohtang tunnel, the longest in the world at that altitude, was a bright spot in Himachal Pradesh’s COVID-marred year that saw tourist arrivals plummet and sittings of the state legislature cancelled.

DES18 HP-VIRUS-SHANTA Former Himachal CM Shanta Kumar taken to Mohali for COVID-19 treatment Dharamshala (HP): Former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Shanta Kumar, who is suffering from COVID-19, has been taken to Fortis Hospital Mohali for treatment, officials said on Wednesday, a day after his wife died from the virus.

DES15 HP-LD TOURISTS Himachal sees tourist influx due to snowfall, new year celebrations Shimla: After recent snowfall in several places in Himachal Pradesh, people from various parts of the country especially from neighbouring Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh are thronging its tourist hotspots to usher in the New Year.

DES53 RJ-LD AZHARUDDIN Azharuddin, three others escape unhurt in road accident near Ranthambore Jaipur: Former Indian cricket team skipper Mohammad Azharuddin escaped unhurt on Wednesday when an SUV in which he was travelling along with three other people overturned in Sawai Madhopur district, said police. RDK RDK