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Internet, call facility snapped in Valley

Riyaz NaikooANIANI

Terror group Hizbul Mujahideen’s “operational commander” Riyaz Naikoo, who was on the run for eight years, was among the three militants killed by security forces in south Kashmir in the past 12 hours.

“In an operation in Pulwama’s Beigpora village, Naikoo and his associate were trapped. The operation was launched on Tuesday evening and a contact was established with the hiding terrorists on Wednesday morning. Naikoo was the chief operational commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen,” said a Srinagar-based police spokesman.

Naikoo’s killing sparked violent protests by locals in Pulwama and parts of Srinagar, forcing the authorities to snap Internet and calling facility in the Valley as “a precautionary measure”. Several checkpoints were attacked with stones. The police did not confirm any injuries in these protests.

Naikoo joined the militant ranks in May 2012 and was a close associate of Burhan Wani, who was killed in 2016.

After Zakir Musa’s defection from the Hizb to form his own outfit, Naikoo took the command of the outfit, the police said.

Developers of virus tracking app say no personal information is at risk

Ethical hacker Robert Baptiste on Wednesday alleged that security flaws in the coronavirus tracking app Aarogya Setu enabled him to see that five people at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and two at the Army headquarters were unwell.

Mr. Baptise, who goes by Elliot Alderson on Twitter, also claimed that there was “one infected person at the Indian Parliament and three at the Home office”.

On Tuesday, he tweeted that there were security issues with the app. Tagging the official account of Aarogya Setu, he said, “A security issue has been found in your app. The privacy of 90 million Indians is at stake. Can you contact me in private?”

‘Rahul was right’

He went on to add that former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who had termed the app “a sophisticated surveillance system”, was right.

In response to the issues raised by Mr. Baptise, the team of Aarogya Setu, in a statement, said no personal information of any user was proven to be at risk.

“We were alerted by an ethical hacker of a potential security issue of Aarogya Setu… No personal information of any user has been proven to be at risk by this ethical hacker. We are continuously testing and upgrading our systems. Team Aarogya Setu assures everyone that no data or security breach has been identified,” the statement said.

Following this statement, Mr. Baptise tweeted that he was able to “... know who is infected, unwell, made a self-assessment in the area of his choice. Basically, I was able to see if someone was sick at the PMO or the Indian Parliament. I was able to see if someone was sick in a specific house if I wanted… This is the issue.”

Centre says more than 33 crore people have received cash under relief scheme

On a day when the Centre said more than 33 crore people had received cash benefits under its COVID-19 relief scheme, a survey of rural households in six States cautioned that difficulty in accessing bank accounts meant that the impact of these benefits is more limited for the rural poor.

Forty days after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a COVID-19 relief package, including extra grain allocations and cash transfers for the poor, Finance Ministry data showed that ₹34,800 crore has been transferred so far.

Beneficiaries include 20 crore poor women who received the first instalment of ₹500 in their Jan Dhan bank accounts, indicating more than 98% coverage of the target group. More than 5.5 crore have got the second instalment as well.

Almost 3 crore pensioners, 8.2 crore farmers, 2.2 crore construction workers and 45 lakh salaried workers also received benefits, the Ministry said. It is important to note that some of these groups overlap with each other, and some of the funds are prior existing benefits anyway.

A survey of 130 rural families in Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, conducted by students and volunteers under the guidance of development economists Reetika Khera and Jean Dreze at the end of April, showed that only a third of the households had been able to go to the bank last month.

Of those who did go to the bank, 80% were able to successfully withdraw cash. One in five returned without any money; reasons included that the bank was shut or their accounts showed zero balance.

Only five respondents were able to access money outside their banks through ATMs, banking correspondents or customer service centres.

Only 23% of surveyed households said they had received ₹500 in their Jan Dhan bank accounts or received an SMS notification about it. About a third of households did not get any money, but more than 40% said they simply did not know if the money had been received.

“The problem with the government’s decision to give female Jan Dhan account holders ₹500 is that many poor women have non-JDY accounts,” said Dr. Khera.

The survey showed that the foodgrain portion of the relief scheme may have had better reach among intended beneficiaries, with 96% of surveyed households having received their ration for April.

Only ‘general medicine’ category sees jump under Ayushman Bharat, show data

Cardiology treatments offered under the Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) declined 45% ; ‘general surgeries’ plummeted 23% and procedures related to gynaecology and obstetrics nosedived 25% from February to April, according to data from the official National Health Authority viewed by The Hindu.

The only category of treatment that showed an increase, and in fact accounted for the largest number of treatments and procedures offered overall was ‘general medicine’. In February, there were 54,179 procedures offered under this category. It increased to 65,336 in March and 68,519 in April, the data show.

There were 1,98,734 treatments offered under various AB-PMJAY packages in January, which slightly dipped to 1,93,679 in February; 1,88,116 in March and 1,51,672 in April. In the first month after lockdown, March 24 - April 24, 1,59,755 treatments were offered.

The AB-PMJAY, according to the Centre, offers health insurance to 10.74 crore poor, rural families and identified occupational categories of urban workers’ families. The government-backed project offers an annual cover of ₹5,00,000 per family (on a family floater basis). It covers medical and hospitalisation expenses for several secondary care and tertiary care procedures.

These services can be accessed at several private hospitals also. With the lockdown, private hospitals largely shut down with the government itself encouraging people to visit hospitals only for essential treatments. However, with several reports of COVID-19 infections in healthcare workers and doctors, the number of visits to hospitals in general saw a decline, as evidenced by the PMJAY data.

“People are hesitant and afraid to go to hospitals. However, general medicine [that has shown an increase] could be because it covers a range of conditions from fever, respiratory illness and even COVID-19. I expect an increase in demand for other services in about two weeks,” Indu Bhushan, CEO, AB-PMJAY, told The Hindu.

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