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The New Indian Express – Nation – http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/Former Vasundhara Raje government got distracted over 'useless issues': Rajasthan governor Kalyan SinghA scholar made of stardust: Why we must never forget Rohith VemulaBombay HC asks investigating agencies to conduct independent probe of Dabholkar, Pansare murdersFormer BJP MP Savitri Phule meets Akhilesh Yadav, says talking to strengthen allianceGrenade attack on security picket in Srinagar, three traffic cops injured MLA Hanuman Beniwal disrupts governor address in Rajasthan AssemblyArun Jaitley slams critics of Modi government, calls them 'compulsive contrarians'IS-inspired module amassed rocket launcher, 25 kg explosives, 12 pistols, 120 alarm clocks, 100 mobiles to carry out terror attacksProbe against ISIS-inspired group: NIA raids in Punjab and Western UP; Ludhiana-based maulvi detainedRecommend names for Lokpal by February end: Supreme Court to search panelIT raids at residences, hospitals of renowned doctors in Uttar PradeshUttar Pradesh police remove woman's body from pyre to probe cause of death; husband bookedPM Modi to interact with BJP's booth-level workers in Goa on January 20Manipur to oppose Citizenship Bill if clause to protect natives not included: CM Biren SinghDoes Gillette's new 'The best men can be' campaign have anything to do with Hardik Pandya?Mizoram bans import of pigs to prevent swine fluAmit Shah doing well, will be discharged in a day or two: BJPNo CCTV; liquor and dance can go together: SC relaxes Maharashtra dance bar normsPresident summons Rajya Sabha to meet from January 31 to February 13India to launch imaging satellite Microsat-R on January 24Elephants killed, tusk missing in JharkhandNavy recovers one body from Meghalaya coal mine after one monthBJP fully committed to fulfilling youngsters' aspirations: PM ModiJournalist murder case: Sentencing of Dera Sacha Sauda chief, three others Thursday; security stepped upIndia, Pakistan trade fire on LoCThree labourers choke to death in sewage treatment plant in ThaneBru refugees seek Lok Sabha polling stations in Tripura relief campsMagnitude 6 quake jolts Nicobar Islands region25 per cent increase in university seats will take years, say officialsBJP leaders trying to destabilize Madhya Pradesh government: CongressKolkata diaryIgnoring elevation row, Centre appoints Justice Sanjiv Khanna of Delhi HC as SC judgeJNU case: Invoking sedition law against Kanhaiya Kumar and others travesty of free speechBEST workers call off 9-day strike in Mumbai after interim pay hike approvalCongress willing to give few seats to other players in UP: Ghulam Nabi Azad on 2019 Lok Sabha pollsTMC rally to see participation of political leaders from Kashmir to Kanyakumari: Mamata BanerjeeLessons for Yogi? 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http://www.newindianexpress.com/ RSS Feed from The New Indian Express en-us Copyright 2016 The New Indian Express. All rights reserved. 1926359 Nation PTI PTI Thursday, January 17, 2019 06:06 PM +0530

In his address at the first session of the new state assembly, Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh Thursday accused the former BJP government of getting ‘distracted’ from more important issues as it tried to find flaws with the Congress-led regime before it.

The customary address – in which the government of the day lays out its agenda – was marred by disruptions by Rashtriya Loktantrik Party chief Hanuman Beniwal who climbed on to a platform near the assembly secretary’s desk.

Speaking for the recently elected Congress government led by Ashok Gehlot, the governor said economic growth rate dropped during Vasundhara Raje government’s term.

“The former government got distracted over useless issues like finding flaws of its previous government,” Kalyan Singh said.

“As a result of which the annual average economic growth rate, which was 8. 16 per cent in 2009-10 to 2013-14 reduced to 7.19 per cent in 2014-15 to 2017-18.

The average increase in per capita income was 14.95 per cent from 2009-10 to 2013-14 but it reduced to 9.68 per cent during 2014-15 to 2017-18,” he said in his address, which was tabled in the House.

Similarly, the growth rate in the agriculture sector which was 4.19 per cent in 2008-09 increased to 8.94 per cent in 2013-14,” he said.

But with the ‘wrong policies’ of the Vasundhara Raje government, which followed, the growth rate in the sector dropped to 3.95 per cent in 2017-18, according to the address.

There was no immediate reaction from the BJP, now the main opposition in the state, on the Congress government’s charge.

The governor also targeted the previous Raje government on rising debt.

“The total debt and liabilities on the state in 2013-14 was Rs 1.29 lakh crore. This is estimated to be Rs 3.08 lakh crore in 2018-19 due to financial mismanagement and the short-sighted vision of the former government,” he said.

Singh said the fiscal deficit was over 3 per cent during the tenure of the former government.

The governor also highlighted the priorities of the new state government for the next 100 days.

He said the government dedicated its first decision on coming to power to the farmers, waiving their short-term loans of up to Rs 2 lakh taken from all nationalised banks, scheduled banks and regional rural banks.

The governor said the state government will work towards making farmers economically empowered.

It will create employment in the animal husbandry and dairy sector, constitute a farmers’ commission and tackle problems related to cow shelters, he said.

The government will also work on an integrated scheme for urban and industrial development in areas near the Barmer refinery.

He said over the next five years, the state government will strengthen panchayati raj institutions and create more jobs under the rural employment generation law MGNREGA.

In the education sector, the government will review opening schools closed during the previous BJP government’s term, encourage Sanskrit education, develop skills in youths through technical and professional education and establish a nodal centre in Jaipur for industrial training and placement.

The government also promised to provide quality healthcare, including the implementation of a free medicines scheme that was introduced during the earlier Congress term.

As Kalyan Singh began his address, Rashtriya Loktantrik Party chief Hanuman Beniwal and two other MLAs from his party rushed into the well of the House, disrupting the speech.

Beniwal also climbed on to a platform near the assembly secretary’s desk, continuing to interrupt the speech.

After reading out a few lines, the governor tabled the address and left the House, following protocol.

When the sitting resumed later, RLTP MLAs again disrupted the proceedings.

This time several BJP MLAs also rushed into the well of the House, countering them with slogans.

Kalyan Singh, Rajasthan Governor address, Vasundhara Raje http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/Raje_PTI.jpg Rajasthan’s former CM Vasundhara Raje (Photo: File / PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/vasundhara-raje-government-got-distracted-over-useless-issues-rajasthan-governor-kalyan-singh-1926359.html 1926334 Nation Johanna Deeksha Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 06:00 PM +0530

Senthil Kumar. 

Ankita Veghda. 

S Amravati. 

Balmukund Bharati. 

Manish Kumar. 

Dinesh Mohan Gawle. 

Rohith Vemula. 


Bhim Singh. 

Rohith Vemula was not the first to person to be ‘institutionally murdered’, there were hundreds before him and there have been several after him. But in history, there will always be a pre-Rohith Vemula and post-Rohith Vemula period. Many say it is because of the letter he left behind, the letter that spoke about an unappreciated child from his past, how his birth was a fatal accident and how he hoped to travel to the stars. “It was such a beautifully written letter that shook the ‘liberal’ upper castes too. So almost everyone sat up and took notice. It has to be one of the reasons why his death became so symbolic,” Sreerag Poickadan, a friend of his said.

It has been three years since Rohith passed away after hanging himself in a friend’s room. On his third anniversary, we speak to his friends and associates, mostly from the Ambedkar Students Association who knew him and loved him.   

The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing. Never was a man treated as a mind. As a glorious thing made up of stardust. In every field, in studies, in streets, in politics, and in dying and living.  

When Rohith joined the University of Hyderabad, he was a part of the Student Federation of India before moving to the Ambedkar Students Association. His friends say he moved away after finding out that the SFI was just as classist and casteist as any other political group. One of his friends, Dontha Prashanth, who was also one of the students who was suspended along with him, says that Rohith once confided in him that people constantly questioned how he got into UoH. Rohith, was one of those rare Dalit students, who had gotten an admission through the general category, “People would pass comments saying that he must have gotten through some recommendation or there was no way that he could have got admission without using reservation quota,” he recalls. 

Rohith Vemula

After he joined the ASA, he quickly became one of the campus’ emerging leaders. Prashanth said he, like many others on campus, would follow stuff that Rohit posted on Facebook, “He was a brilliant writer and he posted about every issue that plagued the country. When I saw that he was so articulate and well- informed I began to hope that he would join our association. And he did,” Prashanth said. He had an in-depth insight into the matters that concerned him and he would write with such passion that it would influence all those who read it, Prashanth said. When Prashanth became the President of ASA, Rohith was the Vice President. 

In all their memories, friends remember him as being someone who was constantly planning programmes for the ASA. From hunger strikes to posters to demonstrations, he was constantly working. “He was a visionary leader. He strived for a democratic campus and he could feel the pulse of the campus. He formulated policies keeping that pulse in mind,” said Kavya Shree, a PhD student, who credits Rohith for bringing her into the ASA.

You read that right. He read everything 

For this story, we spoke to about 7-8 of his friends and there are many things that they said that were similar. But the one thing that no one failed to mention was what a voracious reader was. “Even if there was a small piece of paper fallen on the ground, he would pick it up and read it,” said Rupi Murala, another member of the ASA. Every time somebody saw him, they always saw him with a book in his hand, “Even as he protested at Velivada in the days leading up to his death, he always held a book in his hand,” Sreerag said.

Seshu Chemudugunta, another student who was suspended along with Rohith said there was no specific kind of book that Rohith would limit himself to, he read everything he could get his hands on. And anyone who so vigorously consumed literature is only bound to be bursting with ideas. From what his friends say, Rohit never spoke of frivolous things – he didn’t have the time to. All the conversations that they had with him were heavily loaded, “We always had discussions and debates, as he had an opinion on everything that happened. And he would always recommend books to us, encourage us to keep reading. He would tell me to not just read economics, which I was studying, he would tell us to read everything,” Rupa said.

He would also narrate stories from the books that he had read, Sreerag said. “Everything that he said, had a point. He loved talking about the things that he read about and he said them so beautifully that you would sit up and listen to him. He never said anything that was unnecessary, everything he said was balanced and articulate. You would never get tired of listening to him,” he explained.

I loved Science, Stars, Nature, but then I loved people without knowing that people have long since divorced from nature. Our feelings are second handed. Our love is constructed. Our beliefs

I always wanted to be a writer. A writer of science, like Carl Sagan colored. Our originality valid through artificial art. It has become truly difficult to love without getting hurt.

That nagging scientific feeling 

Rohith was a student of science. He loved science and embraced it. “I would ask him why he didn’t get into a more mainstream science course but he would say because of his difficult circumstances, he had to do a PhD here. He would tell me that he wanted to research about the stars – they always enamored him,” recalled Kakani Madhav, his longtime friend. 

Kavya remembered how even when it came to designing posters for a protest or a demonstration, Rohith would always link science to the message of the posters. “He read so much of Ambedkar and other anti-caste literature and sociology books. But he was always a lover of science and he would connect the poster’s message to science stuff that he had read in Carl Sagan’s books for instance,” she said. Rohith had also once written about caste that existed in the labs he had worked in.

Radhika Vemula mother of Rohith Vemula paid floral tribute to Rohith’s bust inside the campus in University of Hyderabad. (Photo|  S Senbagapandiyan/EPS)

His friends say that Rohith was completely dedicated to academics, a very serious and studious person. “He was completely engaged in whatever he did. From the time he was in school, through his undergraduate years, postgraduate years and towards the end, during his PhD days, he always excelled in his studies no matter what troubles he had,” she added.

I am writing this kind of letter for the first time. My first time of a final letter. Forgive me if I fail to make sense.

My birth is my fatal accident. I can never recover from my childhood loneliness. The unappreciated child from my past.

Those last days – and the aftershock 

Many of his friends had gone home for the Sankranti vacations. When they left, Rohith showed no signs of depression even though everyone knew the suspended students were going through hell. But no one had the slightest clue.

Madhav recalled how Rohith had asked him for his room keys before he left home for the holidays, “I said I would pack up my stuff and then meet at ‘shop com’ on campus and give him the keys but when I went there, I couldn’t find him. So I left,” he said.

“I asked him if I should stay back but he told me to go and spend some time with my family. He said when I come back we should launch a hunger strike. I came back on the 17th and I was waiting at Velivada when people told me that they could not find Rohit anywhere. His mother called us and said she wasn’t able to reach him.” Rupa remembered, “We looked for him everywhere and then the boys went into the hostel and then one of them called me and told me.”

Rohith had hung himself in Uma Mahesh’s room. In his suicide note, he also asked for forgiveness from his ‘Uma anna’ for doing so. “He was always in my room. My room was like the unofficial office of the ASA. We always met here and discussed our association work here. I don’t know why he chose this room, I have no idea. He always had a key.” Uma said, he was also home on Sankranti vacation those few days. 

Radhika Vemula Son rohith vemula

Maybe I was wrong, all the while, in the understanding world. In understanding love, pain, life, death. There was no urgency. But I always was rushing. Desperate to start a life.  

Do not go silent into the good night 

Rohith did not go without a fight. “He was a fighter. He had always been one. Which was why it surprised us that he took the step. He was so bold. When I saw him hanging there too, I could not believe my eyes. When I called up other friends to tell them, they refused to believe me. They kept asking if I was joking,” Rupa said.

Uma said that Rohith did everything he could to bring about some sort of solution, “He wrote to every political leader, every activist. He wrote to Modi, Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Arundhati Roy, Aruna Roy. Everyone. He was begging for someone to take notice of the atrocity that was taking place on campus. Not a single person responded.” 

He was keen to finish his PhD and start a job. He wanted to provide a home for his mother and siblings — they had never had a home of their own. He had dreams. “Imagine, having to suffer constant caste discrimination and then coming in through the gates of one of India’s best universities hoping for a liberal inclusive environment and the atrocities start all over again. And to put up with it, to be pushed to the very edge, over and over again,” Prashanth said. 

Prashanth said all the suspended students, himself included, were going through absolute hell. “What we were asking for was not unconstitutional. We were asking for basic fundamental rights on campus. But we were suspended, we had no career and we all come from small hamlets, where could we go for help? Our families relied on us, how could we look to them for help? We were subjected to extreme humiliation. All this pushed him to do what he did,” Prashanth said. Madhav added that Rohith would give his entire JRF stipend to his family and losing out on that meant his family went through extreme struggles.

His friends also recall that the one thing he kept mentioning over and over again was this — we should do something, we should do something. “He kept saying to me “Anna, we have to do something, let’s do something” and I would tell him there’s nothing we can do alone. We have to until together and take a step,” Madhav remembered. “He would say the same thing to me too. He wanted someone to take notice. He would say if some student goes home, we should tell them he’s disappeared then maybe someone would see what we’re going through,” Uma also said.

Let my funeral be silent and smooth. Behave like I just appeared and gone. Do not shed tears for me. Know that I am happy dead than being alive.

“From shadows to the stars.”

Rohith’s funeral was not silent, definitely not smooth. It changed the landscape of India — from the way student politics functioned to the Ambedkarite movement itself.  But some things with regard to Rohith’s case itself has remained unchanged. 

The movement that Rohith’s passing launched was also hijacked in many ways by the JNU protests that followed the next month. “The question of caste was completely diluted by the different protests that were set off right after. It became lost in the chaos. Then it became about nationalism and anti-nationalism. The JNU protest was orchestrated by the RSS and the BJP and the media jumped on the sedition controversy,” Sreerag said. 

rohith vemula

A matter of legacy 

But the word ‘caste’ began to become a part of the national dialogue finally. “Many of the young middle upper caste crowd woke up to caste. So many institutional murders in the past had not affected them, but this one altered their consciousness. They realised that caste was a real thing. it was alive and kicking and killing students. On the other hand, young Dalits were also proudly proclaiming their identities,” Prashanth said. As unfortunate as it may seem, Rohith’s death, his friends think have strengthened the Dalit movement in India.

Despite the hundreds of such murders that had taken place, Rohith’s managed to become symbolic of the Dalit movement. 

However, the campus itself has not changed much, “The case is still in court and Appa Rao is still the VC,” Kavya points out. The students say that things are more strict now and restricted, “The media isn’t allowed on campus, we can’t hold protests. We are always served notices, we are suspended. We get cornered if we raise our voices against anything. There is absolutely no scope from dialogue,” she adds.

Many of the students who protested in the Rohith Vemula protest continue to have cases slapped against them but no one will look into the cases that they’ve filed against the administration. Even though there have been several Ambedkarite movements that have happened in the country in the last three years, the UoH campus continues to be restricted.

People may dub me as a coward. And selfish, or stupid once I am gone. I am not bothered about what I am called. I don’t believe in after-death stories, ghosts, or spirits. If there is anything at all I believe, I believe that I can travel to the stars.  

“In his letter, he said that he did not believe in an afterlife. But I wish there was one, so he could have looked down at the large scale resistance that he had caused. If only he knew what a mass movement against caste and discrimination he had managed to set off,” Prashanth said.

rohith vemula

Of beef, birds and the promise of a normal life 

Even though the anti-caste discourse consumed him, there were things that Rohith did that were just what a person in their 20s would do. He loves trekking, loved cricket and he loved beef! He and Uma were the ones behind the beef festival on campus that was conducted to protest against the beef ban. He would watch movies and take walks around their 3000 acres campus, he would birdwatch and bring back fruit from the forests for his friend’s. “We miss him. We always will. Every time an issue breaks out, I think of how he would have immediately called for a meeting. Immediately come up with ways to show solidarity or take a stand,” Rupa said. 

“He had left some books in my room, some of my clothes that he used, I still have. He wore my slippers before he took his life. Whenever his close group of friends meets, we always talk about him and remember him. He will always be a part of our lives,” Madhav said.

Sreerag says that he always knew Rohith was destined for greatness,” Sometimes you know. You know when the people around you are meant to do something historic and change the course of history. I always knew Rohith would make history and he did.”

In posterity, though he never knew it, Rohith was truly a glorious thing made up of stardust.”

(This story originally appeared on edexlive.com)

Rohith Vemula, Dalits, UoH, University of Hyderabad, SFI, Ambedkar Students Association, Caste discrimination, Carl Sagan, Ambedkar, Caste Violence, Rohith Vemula death anniversary http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/RohithVemula_EPS4656.jpg University of Hyderabad students demonstrated a protest in Main gate of University on 3rd death anniversary of Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad on Thursday. (Photo| S Senbagapandiyan/EPS) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/a-scholar-made-of-stardust-why-we-must-never-forget-rohith-vemula-1926334.html 1926365 Nation PTI PTI Thursday, January 17, 2019 05:47 PM +0530

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court Thursday told the CBI and the Maharashtra CID not to completely rely on the revelations made in the Gauri Lankesh case and conduct an independent probe into the killings of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and Left leader Govind Pansare.

A bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and M S Karnik asked both the probe agencies to make a “sincere effort” towards tracing the absconding accused in Pansare and Dabholkar cases.

The directions came after the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the state CID submitted its progress report before the bench.

The bench noted that the SIT had said, among other things, that it was questioning those arrested by the authorities in Karnataka in the murder case of journalist Gauri Lankesh, to help trace the absconding accused in Pansare case.

The bench noted that on the previous hearings too, both the CBI and the SIT had submitted that they were questioning the accused in Lankesh case to get information on the killings of Dabholkar and Pansare respectively.

“You are questioning the accused in another case in Karnataka but the report (SIT’s progress report) doesn’t reveal what the actual measures you are taking to arrest the absconding accused,” the bench said.

“You cannot rely completely on the revelations made by the accused in another case. How long will this go on? You have to conduct an independent probe, gather some independent material, especially since these crimes in Maharashtra (killings of Pansare and Dabholkar) took place before the crime in Karnataka,” the bench said.

The CBI, however, argued through its counsel Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, that its officers were doing their best to trace the absconding accused.

“It is not as if our officers are not doing anything. They are taking all possible steps and only very capable officers have been chosen to take part in these two operations (CBI’s and the CID’s),” Singh submitted.

The bench also said that it seemed as if the probe machinery in Karnataka was making much headway, but the agencies in Maharashtra had failed to do so, especially due to bureaucratic hassles and lack of coordination with each other.

“The unfortunate part is that in one state the machinery gets full assistance, while in our state, either the machinery is not working or not getting cooperation,” the bench said.

ASG Singh, however, submitted that the probe authorities in Maharashtra worked “better than anyone else.”

“Some arrests have been made in both the cases (Pansare and Dabholkar) and we will file a charge sheet soon in the Dabholkar case,” Singh said.

The bench has now directed both the CBI and the CID to submit their respective further progress reports by February 6.

Dabholkar was shot dead on August 20, 2013 in Pune while on his morning walk.

Pansare was shot at on February 16, 2015 in Kolhapur and succumbed to his injuries a few days later on February 20.

The CBI and the state CID are probing the killings of Dabholkar and Pansare, respectively.

The high court has been hearing a plea filed by the family members of Dabholkar and Pansare seeking a court-monitored probe in both the cases.

As per the probe agencies, some accused persons, including one Sharad Kalaskar, arrested in Lankesh case have revealed that they also had links to the killings of Dabholkar and Pansare.

Gauri Lankesh , Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/Gauri_Lankesh_purotests2.jpeg Activists and thinkers, Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi and journalist Gauri Lankesh. (Photo | File/EPS) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/bombay-hc-asks-investigating-agencies-to-conduct-independent-probe-of-dabholkar-pansare-murders-1926365.html 1926361 Nation PTI PTI Thursday, January 17, 2019 05:36 PM +0530

LUCKNOW: Former BJP lawmaker Savitri Phule, who resigned from the saffron party last month, Thursday met Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav.

“I am only talking to strengthen the alliance,” Phule told PTI without giving any details.

She said that nothing concrete has so far happened.

“I will inform you, if things take shape,” she told PTI.

The meeting comes days after once arch-rivals Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party announced their tie-up in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, sharing 38 seats each.

The meeting, which was also confirmed by SP’s chief spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary, lasted for about 15 minutes.

He said both the leaders have met earlier as well.

Phule, who has often been critical of the BJP leadership, resigned from the party last month, saying it was dividing society.

However, she said she will complete her tenure as a Member of Parliament and won’t quit the post.

The opposition alliance for Uttar Pradesh, which also includes Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal, has taken shape after consecutive successes in last year’s by-elections.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the SP had won five seats, while the BSP failed to win any seat.

The BJP bagged 73 along with its allies of the total 80 seats.

In the 2017 assembly polls, the SP and the BSP got 22 per cent votes each.

Come to 2019, if both the parties continue to have a say in their traditional vote bank, the combine can create hurdles for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In the politically-crucial Uttar Pradesh, there are about 22 per cent Dalits, 45 per cent OBCs and 19 per cent Muslims, whose vote share will be decisive in the general elections this year.

Savitri Phule, Akhilesh Yadav http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/Savitribai_Phule_PTI.JPG Former BJP lawmaker Savitri Phule (Photo: File / PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/former-bjp-mp-savitri-phule-meets-akhilesh-yadav-says-talking-to-strengthen-alliance-1926361.html 1926358 Nation PTI PTI Thursday, January 17, 2019 05:24 PM +0530

SRINAGAR: Militants carried out a grenade attack on a security picket at Zero Bridge in the city on Thursday, leaving at least three traffic policemen injured, police said.

The attack took place less than 100 metres from the National Conference headquarters and the local office of All India Radio.

“Militants hurled a grenade at a security forces picket near Zero Bridge on Rajbagh side.

At least three personnel were hurt in the attack,” a police official said.

The injured including an Assistant Sub Inspector of the traffic police, the official said.

He said security forces have cordoned off the area and a manhunt has been launched to nab the attackers.

http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2017/10/2/w600X390/ta4.jpg AP file image of a grenade used for representational purpose only. http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/grenade-attack-on-security-picket-in-srinagar-three-traffic-cops-injured-1926358.html 1926355 Nation PTI PTI Thursday, January 17, 2019 05:16 PM +0530

JAIPUR: Unruly scenes were witnessed in the Rajasthan Assembly Thursday, with Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLTP) chief Hanuman Beniwal disrupting the governor’s address.

Beniwal along with his party MLAs stormed the well of the House and the RLTP chief also climbed on to a platform near the assembly secretary’s chair and continued making remarks against Governor Kalyan Singh.

His behaviour invited sharp criticism from the opposition members who demanded action against him.

Beniwal raised the demand for procurement of moong beans when the House assembled at 11 am.

Even as he continued raising the demand, the governor began his address.

Singh congratulated the newly elected MLAs and carried on with the address, but Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shanti Dhariwal requested him to table the speech.

The governor continued addressing the House for some more time, but he tabled the speech after reading a few lines.

After the house reassembled, Speaker C P Joshi condemned the behaviour of the MLAs and warned them of stern action.

He said that the matter raised by the MLAs may have significance but there are proper rules for raising the issues and the members of the House must follow them.

Objecting to the behaviour of Beniwal, Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria said the sanctity of the House was hurt and demanded action against him.

Kataria also said that if needed, the Opposition will not let the House run for even five years if strict action was not taken against such behaviour.

This led to a heated argument between Kataria and Beniwal.

The RLTP chief along with BSP MLA Rajendra Gudha and a few others again stormed the well of the House.

On the other hand, a few BJP MLAs also rushed to the well of the House, shouting slogans.

After a brief protest, they returned to their seats after repeated requests by the Speaker.

BJP legislator Rajendra Rathore claimed that Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot was smiling during the protests in the assembly.

Reacting to which, Gehlot said he strongly condemns the behaviour of Beniwal.

The Speaker then intervened in the matter and asked to start a fresh.

“Let us forget the past and start afresh,” he said, while taking up the listed business.

Cooperative Minister Udai Lal Anjana tabled the Rajasthan cooperative society (amendment) ordinance 2018.

The Speaker then made obituary remarks and the House paid tribute to former Rajasthan governor Madan Lal Khurana, former Andhra Pradesh governor ND Tiwari, former MPs Kunji lal Meena and Ram kumar Meena, former MLAs Jagannath Verma, Ramakant Sharma, Ghasilal Chaupra, Ranjit Singh Rathore and Mukut Bihari Lal Goyal.

Hanuman Beniwal, Rajasthan assembly, Rajasthan assembly Governor address, Governor Kalyan Singh, Rajasthan politics http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/Hanuman_Beniwal.jpg Hanuman Beniwal (Photo: Twitter / Hanuman Beniwal) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/mla-hanuman-beniwal-disrupts-governor-address-in-rajasthan-assembly-1926355.html 1926348 Nation PTI PTI Thursday, January 17, 2019 04:40 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: Terming the critics of the Modi dispensation as ‘compulsive contrarians’, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Thursday accused them of manufacturing falsehood and subverting democracy by weakening a sovereign elected government.

Jaitley, who is in the US for a medical check-up, in a Facebook post said while free speech and the right to dissent are critical components of a democracy but falsehood, subversion and institutional destruction are not.

Attacking those who believed that “this government could do no good”, the minister said nations are built by those with positive mindsets and a national vigor, not by the compulsive contrarians.

“The compulsive contrarians had no qualms about manufacturing falsehood. They could concoct arguments even if they went against the general interest of the country. They could masquerade corruption as crusade. They could adopt double standards whenever it suited them,” said the blog titled ‘The Compulsive Contrarian and his Manufactured Logic’.

Citing the tirade mounted by political parties on a host of issues including 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker sections, the Rafale jet deal, Jaitley said the compulsive contrarians believe that every act of the Narendra Modi-led government must be opposed.

READ | Rahul Gandhi should ask who killed Sohrabuddin investigation: Arun Jaitley 

He also listed out other key issues concerning Justice Loya case, the CBI issue, RBI debate, judicial activism while highlighting how the critics have launched a crusade against the government.

Without naming the Congress or other opposition parties, Jaitley said “There are some in the political system who thought that they were born to rule. Some who were part of the ideological left and the ultra-left obviously found the NDA government wholly unacceptable. Hence emerged a new class of compulsive contrarians, who run perpetual propaganda”.

They picked holes in every proposal that empowered people or strengthened country, be it 10 per cent reservation for the poor, Aadhaar, Demonetisation, GST, CBI issues, RBI and government relation, Rafale fighter aircraft, or no issues in Supreme Court or Judge Loya case, the minister said.

ALSO READ | Don’t need RBI’s reserves to meet fiscal deficit: Arun Jaitley

“These actions reveal the mindset of the compulsive contrarians. Weakening a sovereign elected government and strengthening the unelectable is only a subversion of democracy,” he wrote.

The senior BJP leader questioned, “Didn’t left-liberals find fault with the various actions that Gandhiji took during the freedom movement?” Referring to the controversy over untimely death of Justice Loya, Jaitley said that every fact alleged in the public space by the compulsive contrarians was “manufactured”.

“The Judge died a natural death due to a cardiac stroke,” he said.


Accusing critics of concocting falsehood in the Rafale jet deal, the minister said, “This is a deal where Prime Minister Modi should be credited with saving thousands of crores of the country.”

On the issue of infighting in the CBI and the subsequent transfer of its chief, Jaitley said it is the duty of the sovereign government to ensure the cleaning-up of each of the investigative agencies and the government was only concerned with their accountability and integrity.

“The contrarians chose to side with the questionable.” He said Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge as a petitioner in the CBI chief’s case before the Supreme Court should have recused himself from sitting on the committee, which took a decision regarding the transfer of CBI chief.

Referring to the press conference by the four judges of the Supreme Court last year, Jaitley said it has done “more damage to India’s judicial institutions than many would have envisaged. It brought judges into public gaze as factionalised and battling for their own turf space”.

ALSO READ | Congress policies hurt Kashmir for decades, says Arun Jaitley

On the recent rift with the Reserve Bank, he said there have been many instances when the government has differed with the Reserve Bank.

“The government in recent months have strongly felt that certain sectors of the economy needed credit and liquidity support. Squeezing out both would eventually hurt this sector as also hurt growth,” the finance minister noted.

Every stakeholder in the market was in agreement with the government position but the contrarians deflected the credit and liquidity issue to the issue of autonomy, he said, adding that the government after all was only addressing the autonomous RBI and asking it to resolve the issues which lay in its domain.

Arun Jaitley, Justice Loya, Rafale deal, CBI row, RBI http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/ARUNJAITLEY_EPS554445.jpg Union Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley. ( Photo | Shekhar Yadav/ EPS) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/jaitley-lashes-out-at-critics-of-nda-govt-calls-them-compulsive-contrarians-1926348.html 1916800 Nation IANS IANS Thursday, January 17, 2019 04:12 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: The NIA on Wednesday claimed to have busted an Islamic State module by arresting 10 people, including the group leader, who were allegedly planning terror attacks targeting some political personalities and security establishments as well as crowded places in Delhi and the national capital region.

The arrest of the members of the module, “Harkat-ul-Harb-e-Islam”, was made after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) carried out searches at 17 places, including six places in East Delhi’s Jafarabad area, six places in Uttar Pradesh’s Amroha, two places each in Lucknow and Hapur and one place in Meerut. 

Six others, who are suspected to be members of the group, have also been detained and they are being questioned.

The agency had registered a case on December 20 under several sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Explosive Substances Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Addressing a press conference, NIA spokesperson and Inspector General of Police (NIA) Alok Mittal said that the suspects were planning attacks in Delhi but he refused to share when they were planning those attacks.

He said the agency arrested the head of the Harkat-ul-Harb-e-Islam, Mufti Suhail, a resident of Amroha from his house, who is also a Maulvi in a mosque.

The official said the module was planning attacks on important political and security offices in Delhi as well as crowded places.

“They were planning to detonate a remote-controlled bomb or a fidayeen kind of attack,” he said.

Asked about the handler of the Harkat-ul-Harb-e-Islam, Mittal said the agency was trying to ascertain his identity and his country.

He said the arrested suspects also tried making a bullet-proof fidayeen vest. It was recovered from Amroha. A country-made rocket launcher, 12 pistols, 112 alarm clocks, 100 mobile phones, 135 SIM cards, many laptops and various electronic gadgets, besides 150 rounds of ammunition were also recovered during the searches. 

The NIA also seized 25 kg of explosive material, such as potassium nitrate, ammonium nitrate, sulphur, sugar material paste, mobile phone circuits, batteries, 51 pipes, remote control car triggering switch, wireless digital doorbell for remote switch, steel containers, electric wires, knife, sword, IS-related literature and Rs 7.5 lakh in cash. 

READ HERE | Intel agencies on alert as Islamic State modules in Kerala switch to Wickr app

The official said the group was a self-funded one and a few of the members stole gold ornaments from their homes and sold them to fund their activities. “During questioning two brothers confessed that they sold gold jewellery worth Rs 5 to 6 lakh,” the official said.

He said that the group came on the NIA’s radar after credible information that a group of pro-IS individuals have formed a terrorist gang and are preparing to carry out terrorist attacks targeting vital installations, sensitive locations and crowded places in and around Delhi and the national capital region (NCR).

“The inputs were further developed and field verifications were done. It was ascertained that Suhail alias Hazrath and his associates have mobilized funds and have procured weapons, ammunition and explosive material to prepare IEDs and bombs and they plan to carry out explosions and fidayeen attacks at places of importance in and around Delhi and also target crowded places,” the IG said.

Mittal said that all the arrested people are in the age group of 20 to 29 years. Besides Suhail, the agency arrested Saeed, 28, Raees Ahmed, Saqib Iftekar, 26 and Mohammad Irshad from Amroha. 

It arrested Anas Yunus, 24, a B. Tech student of Amity University in Noida, Rashid Zafar Raq, 23, Zubair Malik, 20 and his brother Zaid Malik, 22 and Mohammad Azam, 35, from Delhi’s Jafarabad area.

According to NIA officials, Yunus was instrumental in procuring electrical items, alarm clocks and batteries etc. in furtherance of their terror conspiracy. The two brothers Saeed and Raees arrested from Amroha had procured a huge quantity of explosive material for preparing IEDs and pipe bombs and were instrumental in fabricating a rocket launcher to carry out terrorist attacks.

Mittal also said that Azam, who runs a medical shop in Seelampur area of Delhi and Saqib Iftekar in Amroha helped Suhail in arranging the weapons.

He said that the two brothers Zaid and Zubair were also part of the terror conspiracy and were instrumental in procuring batteries, connectors, SIM cards on fake documents and mobilising funds for buying bomb-making material.

Asked how these people made bombs and the rocket launcher, the officer said that they took the help of the Internet to make bombs and the rocket launcher. 

He said that after the questioning of the six other accused more arrests will be made in the case. 

All the arrested people will be produced in a Special NIA court in Delhi on Thursday.

(With Express News Service inputs)

ISIS terror plot, ISIS, Islamic State, NIA, ISIS module in India, IS inspired module http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2018/12/26/w600X390/PTI12_26_2018_000062B.jpg NIA and Delhi Police during a search operation in connection with a probe into a new ISIS module called ‘Harkat ul Harb e Islam’ at Jaffrabad North East district in Delhi. (Photo |PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/dec/26/isis-amassed-rocket-launcher-25-kg-explosives-12-pistols-120-alarm-clocks-100-mobile-phone-to-ca-1916800.html 1926282 Nation Harpreet Singh Bajwa Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 04:11 PM +0530

CHANDIGARH: In order to bust an ISIS-inspired module, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) carried out raids in Punjab and Western Uttar Pradesh on Thursday and also detained a ‘maulvi’ of a mosque from near Ludhiana.

Sources said that the NIA teams carried out searches at two places in Punjab and at six places in Western Uttar Pradesh — Ludhiana and Amritsar in Punjab and Athsaini and Badarkha villages of Garhmukteshwar in Hapur, Kaloli village in Bulandshahr, Battkheri village of Amroha and Jasora and Ajnera villages of Meerut — in connection with the investigation regarding a case of a terror module inspired by the Islamic State group.

READ | ISIS-inspired module amassed rocket launcher, 25 kg explosives, 12 pistols, 120 alarm clocks, 100 mobile phone to carry out terror attacks

The agency raided at least six locations in four districts of western Uttar Pradesh and detained four men for interrogation. The raids were also conducted in the house of Zubair in Batt Kheri village of Amroha but he gave the agency a slip before the officials could start the search.

The NIA team arrested a ‘maulvi’ at a mosque from Meharbaan village on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh road. He has been identified as Mohammad Ovesh Pasha. The raid on the mosque was carried out in the
wee hours of Thursday by a team of NIA along with Punjab Police. The man is suspected to be part of the ISIS module, busted in Uttar Pradesh.  He had come to Ludhiana seven months ago and had earlier studied at a madrasa in UP, where he got in touch with ISIS operatives. Some literature was seized from him but no weapon was recovered from Pasha. He was taken by the NIA team to Delhi.

READ | Western Uttar Pradesh a safe haven for terror suspects

Raids were also conducted in Amritsar.

The alleged accused has been booked in Uttar Pradesh under Sections 17/18/20/39 of UAP Act, Sections 120-A, 121-B and 122 of the IPC and Sections 4/5 of the Explosives Act.

As per mosque president Jamil Ahmed, Pasha has been teaching in the madrasa in which seventy-five children study. “If Pasha has any connection with ISIS, then strict action should be taken against
him,’’ said Ahmed.

ALSO READ | After Amroha searches, NIA teams raid scrap yard for terror links

The group was allegedly planning attacks and serial blasts, targeting politicians and government buildings in Delhi and other parts of the country. The NIA has arrested twelve people in this connection since December 26 last year.  The searches were being conducted based on inputs from interrogation of the people arrested for allegedly being part of ”Harkat-ul-Harb-e-Islam” (which loosely translates into war for the cause of Islam) module of global terror group ISIS.

ISIS module, NIA, Islamic State, IS inspired module, NIA raids http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/1/w600X390/NIA_PTI.jpg National Investigation Agency. (Photo | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/probe-against-isis-inspired-group-nia-carries-out-searches-in-western-up-punjab-1926282.html 1926343 Nation PTI PTI Thursday, January 17, 2019 03:52 PM +0530

NEW DELHI:  The Supreme Court Thursday fixed a February-end deadline for the search committee on Lokpal to recommend a panel of names for appointment of the country’s first anti-graft ombudsman.

The search committee is headed by former apex court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi directed the Centre to provide the search committee requisite infrastructure and manpower to enable it to complete its work.

The bench, also comprising justices L N Rao and S K Kaul, said it would hear the matter again on March 7.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, told the bench there were certain problems like lack of infrastructure and manpower due to which the search committee was not able to hold deliberations on the issue.

The apex court had on January 4 directed the Centre to place on affidavit steps taken till date for Lokpal’s appointment and expressed its displeasure over the tardy progress made in this regard.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause, which has been pursuing the issue of Lokpal, had said the government has not even made public the members of the search committee on its website.

The search committee will forward the names to the selection committee members comprising the prime minister, the leader of the single largest opposition party, the Lok Sabha speaker and an eminent jurist.

The top court had on July 24 last year rejected as “wholly unsatisfactory” the Centre’s submission on the issue of setting up of a search committee for the Lokpal and demanded a “better affidavit”.

ALSO READ | Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge boycotts Lokpal selection panel meet again, sixth time this year

The apex court was also told that the selection committee members comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the then CJI Dipak Misra, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and eminent jurist Mukul Rohatgi had met on July 19 last year to deliberate upon names for members of the search committee.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who is the leader of the largest opposition party, has been giving a go by to the meetings of the selection panel.

The top court on July 24 last year was told that the selection panel also took note that the search committee is to comprise a minimum of seven people, including chairperson, with experience in anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, policy making, finance including insurance and banking, law and management, etc.

READ HERE | Anna Hazare warns of fast from January 30 if Lokpal not appointed

The Centre on September 27, 2018 had constituted an eight-member search committee headed by Justice Desai to recommend names to the selection panel for appointment of a Lokpal.

Other members of the search committee are former chief of State Bank of India Arundhati Bhattacharya, Prasar Bharati chairperson A Surya Prakash, Indian Space Research Organisation head A S Kiran Kumar, former judge of Allahabad High Court Sakha Ram Singh Yadav, former Gujarat Police head Shabbirhusein S Khandwawala, retired IAS officer of Rajasthan cadre Lalit K Panwar, and former Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar.

corruption, Lokpal, anti corruption body, Anna Hazare, Supreme Court http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/SupremeCoaurtPTI12121_PT12I12r.jpg Supreme Court (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/recommend-names-for-lokpal-by-february-end-supreme-court-to-search-panel-1926343.html 1926342 Nation UNI UNI Thursday, January 17, 2019 03:45 PM +0530

LUCKNOW: Sleuths of the Income Tax (IT) department raided 12 places across Uttar Pradesh at residences and private hospitals of renowned doctors on Thursday morning.

Sources said that the raids were conducted simultaneously in Lucknow, Meerut, Moradabad, Kanpur, Noida and Hapur.

During the raids, the IT sleuths have seized several documents about undeclared assets of the medicos.

The raids are being conducted at the residence of Dr Mahesh Chandra Sharma of SPM Hospital & Trauma Centre, Kanpur and SIPS Hospital in Lucknow.

The raids were also conducted at the residence and other places of Dr Ratan Kumar Singh, owner of Charak Hospital in Lucknow, Dr Prem Kumar Khanna , owner of JPMC Hospital & Path Lab, Moradabad, Dr Bhupendra Chaudhury, Neurophysician in Meerut, Dr Rajiv Motiani and Dr Gulab Gupta Neo Hospital, Noida and Dr Ankit Sharma of GS Medical College & Hospital, Pilakhua, Hapur.

Sources said that the raids were conducted on the complaints of unaccounted cash receipts, unaccounted investments and manipulation of accounts.

IT raids, income tax raids, Uttar Pradesh doctor raids http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/13/w600X390/Doctors_EPS_Photo.jpg For representational purposes (File | EPS) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/it-raids-at-residences-hospitals-of-renowned-doctors-in-uttar-pradesh-1926342.html 1926320 Nation PTI PTI Thursday, January 17, 2019 01:20 PM +0530

MUZAFFARNAGAR: Police have pulled out the body of a 50-year-old woman from the funeral pyre at a village here and booked the husband and four others suspecting a foul play behind her death.

The incident took place at Godhna village in the district Wednesday evening, police said.

Police reached the spot on the basis of information received from a villager and pulled out the body from the funeral pyre that had already been lit, allegedly by the woman’s in-laws, Station House Officer Amardeep Lal said.

The woman’s brother lodged a complaint, alleging that her in-laws had killed her and were secretly trying to cremate the body in order to destroy evidence, he said.

The body was sent for post-mortem and five people, including the woman’s husband, identified as Vijaypal, were booked, the SHO said, adding that all the accused have gone absconding.

The complainant alleged that the in-laws used to harass the woman and she was killed over domestic dispute. A case has been registered and efforts are on to nab the accused, the SHO said.

Uttar Pradesh http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/funeral-pyre-232504_1920.jpg Image used for representational purpose only. http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/uttar-pradesh-police-remove-womans-body-from-pyre-to-probe-cause-of-death-husband-booked-1926320.html 1926318 Nation PTI PTI Thursday, January 17, 2019 01:14 PM +0530

PANAJI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with BJP’s booth-level workers from South Goa parliamentary constituency through tele-conferencing on January 20.

Around 4,000 booth-level workers would attend the interaction to be held at a school ground in Margao town of South Goa, located around 35 km from Panaji, BJP Lok Sabha member Narendra Sawaikar told reporters on Wednesday.

Sawaikar, who represents South Goa constituency in the Lok Sabha, expressed confidence that the BJP will retain both the parliamentary constituencies (the other being North Goa) from the state in the forthcoming general elections.

“Goa has witnessed a big development push as the BJP has been at the helm at the Centre and in the state,” he said.

Various infrastructure works, including the construction of bridges, are among the highlights of the Union government’s performance, he added.

Goa, BJP, Modi http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/15/w600X390/Narendra_Modi_PTI.jpg PM Narendra Modi (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/pm-modi-to-interact-with-bjps-booth-level-workers-in-goa-on-january-20-1926318.html 1926316 Nation PTI PTI Thursday, January 17, 2019 01:10 PM +0530

IMPHAL: Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh has said that the BJP-led government in the state would not support the passage of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill unless there was a provision for protecting the indigenous people of the northeast.

Singh also stressed that his government would want President’s assent to Manipur People’s (Protection) Bill, 2018 before passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

The Manipur People’s (Protection) Bill, passed unanimously by the Assembly last July, aims to grant the status of “natives” to Meiteis, Pangal Muslims, scheduled tribes and others who moved to the state before 1951.

The rest, categorised as “non-Manipuris”, will have to register themselves within one month of the notification of the law.

“Unless there is a provision for protecting the indigenous people of Manipur as well as the other northeast states, the state government would not support the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill,” the chief minister said after inaugurating several development projects in Chandel district on Wednesday.

He had earlier sent a memorandum to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, seeking President’s nod for Manipur Peoples’ (Protection) Bill.

“The stand of the Manipur government is very clear. Before the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is passed by the Rajya Sabha, the President should give his assent to the Manipur People’s Bill,” he asserted.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which was passed in the Lok Sabha last week, provides for according Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12 years, which is the norm currently, even if they do not possess any document.

Protests against the Citizenship Bill have rocked the entire northeast region, with several indigenous organisations raising voice against the legislation, citing threat to their identity and culture.

N Biren Singh, Manipur Chief Minister, Manipur http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2018/11/2/w600X390/Biren_Singh_PTI.jpg Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/manipur-to-oppose-citizenship-bill-if-clause-to-protect-natives-not-included-cm-biren-singh-1926316.html 1926299 Nation Online Desk Online Desk Thursday, January 17, 2019 01:07 PM +0530

Recently, Gillette launched its ‘The best men can be‘ campaign and also snapped ties with Hardik Pandya following his controversial appearance on the talk show ‘Koffee with Karan’ along with KL Rahul.

Now, we wonder if the two events are connected. While the endorsement deal with Pandya was snapped a week after the episode went on air on January 6, the new advertisement promoting ‘#TheBestMenCanBe’ campaign on social media was put out on January 14.

Whether the Hardik controversy acted as the inspiration for Gillette’s new campaign, or the campaign prompted the snapping of the endorsement deal remains unclear. 

ALSO READ: Razor burn: Gillette ad ‘The best men can be’ stirs online uproar

Since its debut on Monday, the Internet-only ad has gained nearly 19 million views on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Taking on bullying, sexual harassment and toxic masculinity, the advertisement echoes the MeToo movement.

Toxic masculinity and sexism were exactly what Indian cricketer Hardik Pandya was criticised for. His comments on the show, boasting about hooking up with multiple women and saying how open he is with his parents, even telling them after losing his virginity, “aaj mai kar ke aaya”, were received with a barrage of criticism.

Even though Pandya has rendered an apology and vowed never to repeat the behaviour, the backlash refuses to die down and has resulted in a number of repercussions, with the latest being the loss of his honorary membership of Mumbai’s Khar Gymkhana.

Now, we aren’t deducing any conclusions, just wondering if there might be a link.

(With inputs from agencies)

Hardik Pandya, Gillette , The best men can be, Koffee With Karan http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/15/w600X390/AP19011449178670.jpg India’s Hardik Pandya. (Photo | AP) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/gillette-launches-the-best-men-can-be-campaign-and-we-wonder-what-that-has-got-to-do-with-hardik-p-1926299.html 1926315 Nation PTI PTI Thursday, January 17, 2019 01:04 PM +0530

AIZWAL: Mizoram government has banned the import of pigs and piglets to prevent the outbreak of a disease that has cost the lives of thousands of swine in the state.

The Mizoram government has instructed deputy commissioners of all the eight districts to issue prohibitory orders banning the import from other countries to stop, Animal Husbandry and veterinary Minister Dr K Beichhua said Thursday.

The porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) has cost the lives of over 10,000 swine in Mizoram since 2013 and it is believed that it happened due to the import of pigs and piglets from Myanmar where the disease was known to be prevalent, officials said.

Beichhua said the ban of import of pigs from other countries was the only way to prevent the outbreak of the PRRS in the state.

The PRRS is a disease affecting domestic pigs. The symptoms include reproductive failure, pneumonia and increased susceptibility to secondary bacterial infection, the sources said.

Mizoram , Ban on pig imports http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/Pig.jpeg Image used for representational purpose only. http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/mizoram-bans-import-of-pigs-to-prevent-swine-flu-1926315.html 1926313 Nation PTI PTI Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:57 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: BJP president Amit Shah, who was admitted to AIIMS Wednesday for swine flu treatment, is doing well and will be discharged in a day or two, the party said Thursday.

ALSO READ: BJP forms election manifesto panel; Amit Shah to visit Kadapa tomorrow 

“National President of BJP, Amit Shah ji, is doing well. He will be discharged in a day or two. Thanks, everyone for your good wishes!” the party’s media head and Rajya Sabha member Anil Baluni said. 

Shah had informed people about his illness Wednesday in a tweet. He was diagnosed with swine flu.

The tweet roughly translates to – I have got swine flu and I am under treatment. With lord’s mercy and your prayers I will be well again.

A team of doctors are monitoring his condition under the supervision of AIIMS director Randeep Guleria, the hospital had said.

AIIMS , Amit Shah, BJP http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2018/12/23/w600X390/Amit_SHah1.jpg BJP president Amit Shah, file photo. (PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/amit-shah-doing-well-will-be-discharged-in-a-day-or-two-bjp-1926313.html 1926312 Nation Online Desk Online Desk Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:54 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday modified some provisions of 2016 Maharashtra law imposing restrictions on licensing and functioning of dance bars in the state.

In its ruling, the apex court has set aside condition to mandatorily install CCTVs in Maharashtra dance bars, citing a violation of privacy.

Further, it has also allowed payment of tips to performers. However, it has said no to the showering of currency notes. 

The apex court also quashed the rule mandating that bars should be within the distance of
1 km from religious places and educational institutions. 

It also upheld the condition fixing the timing of dance bars in the state from 6 pm to 11.30 pm.

On March 28, 2018, the apex court had directed the state government to apprise it about the status of applications by hoteliers for licences to open dance bars in the state and sought its reply on plea by bar girls challenging some of the provisions of a new law regulating the functioning of these niteries.

The top court said it will hear the matter in detail and listed it for final hearing.

The apex court had earlier asked the state government to file an affidavit on the plea of bar girls and the status of applications for opening of new dance bars.

On January 11, last year, the apex court had directed the Maharashtra government to expeditiously decide the pending applications for licences to open dance bars under the old rules and the directions issued by the court from time to time.

The court had asked the authorities to keep in mind an order of November 24, 2016, in which it had asked the applicants, who have not been granted licence, to submit their applications to the authority to get the licence, and said the licences should be given to them on grounds of parity with those who have already been given.

The Maharashtra government, in an affidavit filed before the court, had earlier defended the operation of a new law meant to regulate licensing and functioning of dance bars in the state.

Maharasthra dance bars , Mumbai Dance Bars, dance bars norms , Supreme Court http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/dance_bars_EPS.jpg Image used for representational purpose. (Photo | EPS) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/no-cctv-liquor-and-dance-can-go-together-sc-relaxes-maharashtra-dance-bar-norms-1926312.html 1926307 Nation UNI UNI Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:36 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: President Ram Nath Kovind has summoned the Rajya Sabha to meet on January 31.

“Subject to exigencies of business, the Session is scheduled to conclude on February 13,” a press communique said.

This session, before May general elections, is crucial as the government prepares for vote-on-account in the possible absence of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who is abroad for treatment.

Also, it might want to give the last push to the ‘Triple Talaq’ and other important Bills that are pending.

Ram Nath Kovind, Rajya Sabha , Triple Talaq, Arun Jaitley http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/PTI8_1x4_2017_00014d3B.jpg President Ramnath Kovind | File photo http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/president-summons-rajya-sabha-to-meet-from-january-31-to-february-13-1926307.html 1926303 Nation IANS IANS Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:28 PM +0530

Hoisting of PSLV-C44 second stage during vehicle integration. (Photo | ISRO official website)

BENGALURU: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch an imaging satellite Microsat-R along with a student payload ‘Kalamsat’ from its spaceport in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, on January 24, it announced on Thursday.

“The 46th flight of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C44) will launch Microsat-R and Kalamsat from the first launch pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota on January 24,” the state-run space agency said in a statement on its website.

The country’s only spaceport is located at Sriharikota, about 90 km northeast of Chennai.

The four-stage launch vehicle which has alternating solid and liquid stages, with two strap-on configuration has been identified for the mission and configuration designated as PSLV-DL, the statement said.

“PSLV-C44 is the first mission of PSLV-DL and is a new variant of PSLV,” the agency said.

The fourth stage (PS4) of the vehicle will be moved to a higher circular orbit so as to establish an orbital platform for carrying out experiments, it added.

The student payload ‘Kalamsat’ will be the first to use PS4 as an orbital platform.

Microsat-R , Kalamsat , ISRO , Satish Dhawan Space Centre http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/11/w600X390/K_Sivan_PTI.jpg ISRO Chairman K Sivan (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/india-to-launch-imaging-satellite-microsat-r-on-january-24-1926303.html 1926298 Nation IANS IANS Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:01 PM +0530

RANCHI: An elephant was shot dead by the suspected poacher and took away the tusk in Jharkhand’s Palamau district.

According to forest department officials, the railway staffs informed about the death of the elephants. The forest department team reached to spot on Wednesday morning. The carcass of the elephant was found near Jawa river situated near Chippadohar railway station.

“We got information about dead body of the elephant. The forest department visited the spot and examined the dead body. Bullet injuries have been found on chest of the elephant. The tusk is also missing” said Dr. Mohan Lal, Field Director of Palamau Tiger Reserve Area.

The forest department officials say that the elephant could have been killed by the villagers or poachers.

Last year, villagers had killed an elephant who had damaged the crops and houses of the village. The role poachers are also not ignored as elephant was shot dead.

The PTR region situated on Jawa river is know for Elephant corridor.

Jharkhand elephant death http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/9/w600X390/rail.jpg Image used for representation. http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/elephants-killed-tusk-missing-in-jharkhand-1926298.html 1926273 Nation Prasanta Mazumdar Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 11:56 AM +0530

NEW DELHI/SHILLONG: Thirty-four days since at least 15 miners got trapped inside an illegal rat-hole coalmine in Meghalaya due to flooding, Indian Navy divers detected the body of a victim by using a sophisticated camera on Wednesday.

“One body detected by Indian Navy divers using underwater ROV at a depth of approx 60 feet and 210 feet inside a rat-hole mine,” a naval spokesperson tweeted.

Government officials in the state have remained tight-lipped though despite news about the detection of the body doing the rounds since Wednesday evening. It was learnt that efforts were being made to retrieve the body at the earliest.

The Meghalaya Cabinet on Wednesday discussed the ongoing rescue operations to trace the 15 miners, who are trapped inside an illegal flooded coal mine for more than a month now.

Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, who also handles the mining and geology department, and Home Minister James Sangma apprised the Cabinet about the latest rescue situation at Ksan village in State’s East Jaintia Hills district.

READ: Meghalaya government orders implementation of SC order banning coal transportation

Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynosng on the possibility of calling off the rescue operation said, “Till this moment the experts are still on the job. Until and unless we get their views, we cannot say anything. Once that is done, then we will accordingly file an affidavit in the Supreme Court.”

The Supreme Court-monitored rescue operation is aimed at taking out the trapped miners “dead or alive”.

On the expenditure incurred in the rescue operation, the Deputy Chief Minister said, “We are yet to know the details. This has been handled by the district administration.”

Meanwhile, the Coal India Limited has informed the district administration that the water level at the main shaft, where the 15 miners are trapped, and the abandoned shafts remained the same despite several million gallons of water being pumped out.

The Indian Navy lowered the underwater remotely operated vehicle at the main shaft, but failed to capture any of the trapped miners.

READ: No light at the end of the tunnel for trapped ones

The mine tragedy occurred on December 13 last year when the 15 miners had gone down 380-ft into the coal pit. Five others had managed to survive. One Saheb Ali, who is among the survivors, claimed 22 miners, not 20, had entered the mine that day. 

Multiple agencies such as National Disaster Response Force, Coal India Limited, Kirloskar Brothers Limited, Odisha Fire Service besides the Navy have been engaged for a month in the rescue operation.

(With IANS inputs)

Meghalaya miners, trapped meghalaya coal miners , East jaintia hills http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/Meghalaya_miners_ANI.jpg Search operations for the trapped miners continue in East Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya. (Photo | ANI/Twitter) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/navy-recovers-one-body-from-meghalaya-coal-mine-after-one-month-1926273.html 1926292 Nation PTI PTI Thursday, January 17, 2019 11:39 AM +0530

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday said the BJP is fully committed to fulfilling the dreams and aspirations of the country’s talented youngsters, as the party’s youth wing launched its campaign for his return to power in the Lok Sabha polls.

“I commend the energetic BJYM team for their #VijayLaksh2019 movement that will mobilise Yuva Shakti from all over India on a large scale for a strong mandate for the BJP. Our Party is fully committed to fulfilling the dreams and aspirations of our talented youngsters. #NaMoYuva,” Modi tweeted.

The prime minister’s tweet came after Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) chief Poonam Mahajan launched a campaign of 17 different programmes aimed at connecting with young voters with the slogan ‘Laksh hamara,  Modi dobara” (Our aim, Modi again).

The BJYM has named the exercise “Vijay Laksh 2019”.

Modi, BJP , Lok Sabha polls, Lok Sabha election http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/15/w600X390/PM_Modi_PTI.jpg Prime Minister Narendra Modi (File Photo | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/bjp-fully-committed-to-fulfilling-youngsters-aspirations-pm-modi-1926292.html 1926289 Nation PTI PTI Thursday, January 17, 2019 11:22 AM +0530

CHANDIGARH: Security has been reinforced in Haryana ahead of the pronouncement of quantum of sentence for Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and three others convicted in the murder of journalist Ramchander Chhatrapati.

A special court in Panchkula will pronounce the quantum of a sentence through video conference on Thursday.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made in Panchkula and Sirsa — headquarters of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect headed by self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh — and other parts of Haryana to maintain law and order situation, officials said.

Security has also been stepped up outside the Panchkula court complex with Haryana police putting up barricades on roads leading to the court.

The convicts — Ram Rahim and three others — will appear through video conference when the quantum of punishment will be pronounced.

The court had Wednesday accepted the Haryana government’s plea seeking appearance of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect head through video conference during the pronouncement of quantum of sentence in the journalist murder case.

The state government had said the movement of the Dera chief could lead to a law and order situation.

The 51-year-old Sirsa-based sect head is currently serving a 20-year-prison term in Rohtak’s Sunaria jail for raping two of his women followers. The three other convicts —  Kuldeep Singh, Nirmal Singh and Krishan Lal — are lodged in Ambala jail.

On January 11, Special CBI Court judge Jagdeep Singh had convicted Ram Rahim and three others in the 2002 journalist murder case. Ram Rahim and the three others had appeared through video conference when the court convicted them.

All the four were convicted under section 302 (murder) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

Nirmal Singh and Krishan Lal were also convicted under the Arms Act. The minimum punishment under section 302 is life imprisonment and the maximum is death sentence.

The family of the slain journalist had demanded capital punishment for the guilty. The journalist was shot dead outside his house in October 2002 in Haryana’s Sirsa after his newspaper published a letter alleging sexual exploitation of women by Ram Rahim.

Ram Rahim was named as the main conspirator in the case. Chhatrapati’s family had approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2003, seeking transfer of the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The investigation was later handed over to the CBI which filed the charge sheet in July 2007.

Ram Rahim Singh, Dera Sacha Sauda , Journalist murder http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/11/w600X390/Gurmeet_Ram_Rahim_PTI.jpg Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh (File | EPS) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/journalist-murder-case-sentencing-of-dera-sacha-sauda-chief-three-others-thursday-security-steppe-1926289.html 1926288 Nation IANS IANS Thursday, January 17, 2019 11:20 AM +0530

JAMMU: Indian and Pakistani troops traded gunfire along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district on Thursday, defence sources said.

Pakistan troopers used small arms and automatics to target Indian positions in Khari Karmara area.

“Our troops effectively retaliated to the unprovoked ceasefire violation. Firing exchanges started at around 4.30 a.m. and continued till 6.30 a.m. No casualty or damage was reported from our side,” the sources said.

Ceasefire violations by Pakistan Army have been intermittently continuing on the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts since earlier this month.

LoC , ceasefire violation , Khari Karmara http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/15/w600X390/Indian_Army_PTI12.jpg For representational purposes (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/india-pakistan-trade-fire-on-loc-1926288.html 1926286 Nation PTI PTI Thursday, January 17, 2019 11:09 AM +0530

THANE: Three labourers died after inhaling toxic gas while cleaning a sewage treatment plant of a local civic body in Thane district of Maharashtra, a police official said Thursday.

The deceased were daily wage labourers and had no formal training in sewage cleaning, he said.

The incident took place on Wednesday when the labourers were cleaning a chocked valve in a chamber of the non-operational sewage treatment plant located in Mira Road area, an official at Thane rural police’s control room said.

One of the labourers climbed down into the sewage treatment plant to clean it, but felt suffocated and collapsed, he said.

Two more labourers later went inside to check their colleague but they also inhaled toxic gas and died, he said.

Another 17-year-old labourer, who also inhaled the toxic fumes, was admitted to a hospital where he was undergoing treatment, the official said.

The labourers were hired by a civic contractor from near the Mira Road railway station for the cleaning work but they were not given any protective gear like masks, he said.

They were also not trained in such cleaning operations, he said. The deceased were identified as Muzaffar Moulik (24), Rafique Mandal (50) and Mofjum (18).

The bodies were sent to a local hospital for post mortem, the official said, adding that a probe was underway.

Sewage, Manual scavengers, sewage treatment plant http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/RECYCLING.jpg Image of a sewage treatment plant is used for representational purpose only. (Photo | Martin Louis) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/three-labourers-choke-to-death-in-sewage-treatment-plant-in-thane-1926286.html 1926280 Nation PTI PTI Thursday, January 17, 2019 10:58 AM +0530

AIZAWL: An umbrella organisation of the thousands of Bru refugees living in Tripura has appealed to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora to set up polling stations for the Lok Sabha election in their relief camps.

ALSO READ: Bru refugees in Tripura camps to get free ration, allowance till March 31

Many of the refugees could not vote during the election to the Mizoram assembly held on November 28 last as polling stations for them was erected 70 kilometres away near the state border, the organisation said in a letter to Arora.

Around 35,000 Bru refugees living in six relief camps at Kanchanpur sub-division of North Tripura district are originally from Mizoram.

Elderly and ailing people, pregnant women and even many able-bodied persons could not vote as they had to travel 70 km by vehicles to reach Kanhmun village to vote, leading to the low poll percentage at those temporary polling stations, MBDPF president A Sawibunga, vice-president R Laldawngliana and general secretary Bruno Msha said in the letter.

The state election department had set up 15 temporary polling stations at Mizoram-Tripura border village of Kanhmun to facilitate over 12,000 Bru voters lodged in the relief camps to cast their votes.

The letter submitted to Arora in Delhi on Tuesday also claimed that the Bru voters were provided lunch at the polling stations only after casting their votes, leaving many of them extremely hungry while standing in the queue to exercise their franchise.

The MBDPF also claimed that no revision of voters’ lists has been conducted in the relief camps. They appealed to Arora to give directions to the state election department to expedite the conduct of electoral roll revision in the relief camps.

The Mizoram election department had conducted a revision of voters lists of Bru refugees in their camps before the repatriation last year, despite opposition from the civil societies.

However, enlistment forms duly filled in by inmates of the relief camps were stolen at the election office of Mizoram’s Mamit district on August 23, two days before the month-long repatriation of Bru families from Tripura to Mizoram was to start from August 25.

However, out of 5,000 odd refugee families, only 150 members of 42 families returned to Mizoram during the exercise. Thousands of Bru refugees from Mizoram fled to Tripura during ethnic violence in 1997.

The clashes broke out after a forest official was killed by Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) militants. The Centre, in association with the governments of Mizoram and Tripura, was repatriating the displaced Brus in phases.

Though several Bru families have returned to Mizoram over the years, many refused to leave Tripura citing security reasons and inadequate package.

Bru refugees, Lok Sabha election, 2019 Lok Sabha election, Lok Sabha polls http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/EVM_.jpg Image used for representational purpose only. http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/bru-refugees-seek-lok-sabha-polling-stations-in-tripura-relief-camps-1926280.html 1926279 Nation PTI PTI Thursday, January 17, 2019 10:33 AM +0530

PORT BLAIR: A strong earthquake of magnitude 6 hit the seismologically prone Andaman and Nicobar Islands Thursday, National Centre for Seismology (NCS) said.

There was no tsunami alert issued as sea levels around the Andaman Nicobar archipelago showed no major rise, said SPS Shenoi, Director INCOIS.

The earthquake hit the region at 8.43 am and its epicentre was Nicobar Islands region.

There were no immediate reports of loss of life or damage to property, officials said.

earthquake , Nicobar islands http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2018/10/22/w600X390/earthquake.jpg Image used for representational purpose only. http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/magnitude-6-quake-jolts-nicobar-islands-region-1926279.html 1926130 Nation Sumi Sukanya dutta Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 05:22 AM +0530

NEW DELHI: A day after Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar said the number of seats in higher educational institutions would be increased by 25 per cent — to implement the new 10 per cent quota for the economically weaker sections (EWS) — sources in the government conceded that this would only be introduced in a phased manner.

There can only be a 10-15 per cent rise this year, officials in the Ministry said. Javadekar had announced that the new reservation policy would be applicable from the upcoming academic session.

“The minister didn’t specify that the entire increase in seats would be implemented in the first year itself. Moreover, provisions for additional infrastructure and faculty cannot be made in a jiffy,” a senior official told this newspaper.

“Increasing the number of seats at Central universities and Centrally-funded technical institutes by even 10-15 per cent won’t be easy, let alone trying this at state universities.”

Another official in the Higher Education Department recalled how implementing the OBC quota had led to “quite some chaos for several years”. The situation will take three-four years to stabilise, he added.

The Centre recently prompted an amendment to the Constitution, paving the way for 10 per cent reservation for people from EWS in jobs and educational institutes.

UHRD Ministry, Prakash Javadekar, university seats , Universities seat rise, higher education http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2018/10/29/w600X390/Capture.JPG Union minister Prakash Javadekar. (File Photo | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/25-increase-in-univ-seats-will-take-years-say-officials-1926130.html 1926146 Nation Express News Service Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 05:21 AM +0530

BHOPAL: Amid a political crisis in Congress-JD(S)-ruled Karnataka, murmurs of a similar crisis are being heard in Madhya Pradesh, where the Kamal Nath-led Congress government completes a month in office with the support of four independents, two BSP MLAs, and one SP MLA on Thursday.

READ | Union Minister terms MP government’s farm loan waiver as charity

Senior BJP leaders, including ex-CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargava, the party’s national general secretary, Kailash Vijayvargiya, and ex-minister Vishwas Sarang have been often making statements about the “lame” Kamal Nath government functioning with crutches and not being likely to survive long.

Vijayvargiya, a former MP minister and ex-MLA from Mhow (Indore) recently claimed that the new government in MP is running at the “mercy” of his party and a mere “sneeze” of the BJP’s central leadership could bring it back to power in the state.

READ | Kamal Nath orders physical verification of MISA beneficiaries, dependents in MP

Eight-time MLA Gopal Bhargava, who was recently elected the LoP in MP Assembly also dropped enough hints in this regard recently, saying, “The government won’t last long, it won’t be surprising if by the time the bungalows of the new ministers are painted, they might be out of it.”

Leaders of Congress as well as its allies have been alleging that BJP leaders in the state are luring MLAs from the Congress and its supporting parties with offers to pull down the government. BSP MLA Rambai Thakur recently said that “senior BJP leaders from Bhopal and Bundelkhand are in contact with her husband and making big money offers to convince me to pull down the government.” 

Madhya Pradesh government, MP government , MPCC, Kamal Nath, Gopal Bhargava http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/MAYPTI870_01-07-2017_19_38_48.jpg Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath (File Photo | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/murmurs-of-instability-being-heard-in-mp-1926146.html 1926138 Nation Aishik Chanda Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 05:12 AM +0530

City revels in harvest festivals

Cosmopolitan Kolkata revelled in the harvest festivals of communities across the country, including Bhogali Bihu of Assam, Lohri of Punjab, Pongal of Tamil Nadu and Uttarayan of Gujarat, besides the state’’s own Makar Sankranti. Though being an urban agglomeration of nearly 1.5 crore people from across the country, the migrants were joined by city residents as they celebrated each other’s festivals. The celebration also gave them an opportunity to share each other’s special delicacies.

13 transgenders become medical reps

It is a happy New Year for 13 transgenders of the city, who got jobs as medical representatives after being trained by a pharmaceutical firm. The transgenders would be assigned the task of holding health camps, which would also serve to sensitise residents on the third gender. Though transgender people have landed government jobs in the state, stigma prevents many private firms in the city to hire them as staffers. The Association for Transgender/Hijra in Bengal will act as a bridge between the transgenders and the pharma company. West Bengal Transgender Board has welcomed the move. A college in West Bengal Nadia’s district had appointed a transgender principal, in what was a first of its kind move in the state.

Rising mercury takes toll on Kolkatans
The sudden spurt in mercury levels after a fortnight of below normal temperatures has led to rise in viral and bacterial infections among city residents. While thousands complained of fever accompanied by cough, cold and breathing problems, several asthma patients have complained of breathlessness and were hospitalised. Experts said that due to sudden rise in temperatures, many city residents shunned warm clothes exposing them to temperature fluctuations. Doctors said that viruses that were inactive during the chilly fortnight got activated by the temperature fluctuations .

Puppies’ killing raises questions humanity of city 
The brutal killing of 16 puppies at the state-run Nil Ratan Sircar Hospital, allegedly by two nursing students, has hurt the city’s collective conscience while also raising a big question mark on its human face. Netizens have also questioned how could trainee nurses, who are taught to serve the helpless, be so cruel to tiny harmless puppies. Several Tollywood stars have also spoken out against the brutal killings and city residents have taken to the social media to express their anger in the form of posts and memes.

Aishik Chanda
Our correspondent in West Bengal

http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/KOLKATA.jpg http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/kolkata-diary-1926138.html 1925928 Nation PTI PTI Thursday, January 17, 2019 05:01 AM +0530

NEW DELHI: Ignoring objections from the legal fraternity, President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday accepted the recommendation of the Supreme Court collegium to appoint justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dinesh Maheshwari as judges in the highest court of the land. Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi will administer the oath of office and secrecy to the newcomers on Friday.

Justice Sanjiv Khanna’s elevation was recommended by the collegium on January 10 overlooking seniority, which sparked a controversy.

Supreme Court judge Sanjay Kishan Kaul had already written to Justice Gogoi not to ignore the seniority of the chief justices of the high courts of Rajasthan and Delhi, Pradeep Nandrajog and Rajendra Menon, respectively. And retired Delhi High Court judge Kailash Gambhir wrote to the President saying Justice Khanna’s elevation will create problems in the bar and disquiet among the judiciary. 
However, there have been previous instances of judges being promoted to the SC ignoring seniority. Justice Khanna is at number 33 in the combined seniority of high court judges on an all-India basis. But seniority is not the only criterion, so on this basis alone, the collegium cannot be faulted for suggesting his promotion.

Justice Khanna is being directly elevated from his parent high court – the Delhi High Court – a rare occurance. He is the nephew of Justice H R Khanna, an upright former Supreme Court judge who was overlooked for the post of CJI by then prime minister Indira Gandhi during Emergency.
Only six judges have been elevated directly from their parent high court since 1997 – Justices S Abdul Nazeer, Ranjana Prakash Desai, Lokeshwar Singh Panta, G P Mathur, Ruma Pal and S S Quadri.

Regarding Justice Maheshwari, he was superseded when Justice Ajay Rastogi was elevated to the Supreme Court. The parent high court of both is the Rajasthan HC, where they were appointed as judges on the same day. Maheshwari took oath in the HC before Rastogi, so he became senior.

Bar body fumes

  • Bar Council of India chairman Manan Kumar Mishra on Wednesday criticised the supersession as also the revocation of elevation of justices Nandrajog and Menon
  • They are men of integrity and judicial competence; nobody can raise a finger against these judges on any ground, he said

not the first to jump the queue
In 2017, two current SC judges, Abdul Nazeer and M Shantanagoudar, were elevated from Karnataka High Court although they were never chief justices of any high court. In fact, there were 20 judges who were senior to them. Justice Nazeer became the first judge in two decades to be promoted to the Supreme Court without being first elevated to the post of either a chief justice or an acting ghief justice of a high court

Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, Supreme Court, Manan Kumar Mishra http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/SupremeCoaurtPTI121_PT12I12r.jpg Supreme Court (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/ignoring-elevation-row-centre-appoints-justice-sanjiv-khanna-of-delhi-hc-as-sc-judge-1925928.html 1925876 Nation Fayaz Wani Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:45 AM +0530

SRINAGAR: Former IAS officer from Jammu and Kashmir Shah Faesal on Wednesday came down heavily on the Centre for charging former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student leaders with sedition, calling it as a travesty of free speech.

“Invoking sedition law against Kanhaiya Kumar and eight others is a travesty of free speech,” 35-year-old Faesal tweeted.

According to him, Section Sec 124A of IPC is at odds with the spirit of the times.

“The world has moved on. India has evolved. It is time for our governments to grow up,” said Faesal, who recently resigned from a cushy civil service job to protest against ‘unabated killings’ in the restive Valley.

Faesal, who topped the IAS topper in 2010, is tipped to embrace politics and could also contest the forthcoming Parliamentary elections. The Delhi Police on Monday filed a 1,200-page chargesheet against Kanhaiya Kumar and nine others, including seven Kashmiris, for allegedly shouting anti-India slogans during an event on JNU campus on February 9, 2016, to commemorate the hanging of Parliament-attack convict Mohammad Afzal Guru.

Former chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti also questioned the timing of invoking sedition law against ex-JNU student leaders.

“No surprises here. We are months away from the 2019 general election and like always, using Kashmiris to score extra political points with the Indian electorate has become somewhat of a prerequisite,” Mehoboba tweeted.

She said the timing of the charge sheet could not be any more suspicious.

“When the UPA was in power, it decided to send Afzal Guru to the gallows and to this day, J&K is paying the price. Wonder how many more Kashmiris along with their families will have to pay a price to secure the political fortunes of national parties,” Mehbooba said.

JNU, JNU sedition case, Kanhaiya Kumar http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Kanhaiya_Kumar_PTI.jpg Former JNU president Kanhaiya Kumar (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/jnu-case-invoking-sedition-law-against-kanhaiya-kumar-and-others-travesty-of-free-speech-1925876.html 1925823 Nation Abhijit Mulye Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:44 AM +0530

MUMBAI: In a big relief for over 25 lakh daily commuters in Mumbai, members of the BrihanMumbai Electric Supply and Transport Employees Union resumed duties after Nine-day strike on Wednesday.

After hearing the Union’s side in the morning, the division bench of Bombay High Court presided by Chief Justice N H Patil directed the BEST employees union to withdraw the strike and continue negotiations with the administration.

The court appointed high powered committee while agreeing to most of the demands of the employee union, had prepared a plan for settling workers’ dues in 10 instalments. While the union agreed to the plan, they also demanded the appointment of an independent mediator for monitoring execution of the proposed plan as well as for further negotiations.

After the court’s nod over the demands, the union withdrew the strike. Union leader Shahshank Rao announced the withdrawal of strike at the workers’ meeting at Wadala depot after which the bus services were resumed from most of the 27 deports across the city.

While speaking at the workers’ meeting Rao hit hard at the Shiv Sena and its chief Uddhav Thackeray for delay n the negotiations to end the strike. “It was Thackeray who prevented Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, else with his intervention the strike would have ended very soon,” Rao said.

Rao also blamed Thackeray for the mess in the civic transport undertaking. He accused the Shiv Sena of eyeing the huge bus depots of the BEST and said that they “want to sell them off for their own benefit”.

According to the plan proposed by the high-powered committee, implementation of interim pay-hike for about 15,000 out of total 32,000 employees, which had been pending since 2007 would be immediately initiated while the ’10-step increment’ too shall begin this month. For rest of their demands, the union would continue talks with the administration.

While upholding the union’s demand of an independent mediator, the High Court appointed retired high court justice F.I. Rebello as the mediator and said that the “mediator shall, within a period of three months discuss demands put forth by the employees, like 20-step pay hike, merger of BEST and BMC budgets, and so on.”

BEST strike, BEST workers strike, Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking, BEST workers union, BEST bus strike http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/15/w600X390/Mumbai_Bus_Strike_PTI.jpg Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) buses parked at the Wadala depot during the 8th consecutive day of the strike in Mumbai Tuesday Jan 15 2019. | PTI http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/best-workers-union-agree-to-end-strike-after-9-days-1925823.html 1925909 Nation Namita Bajpai Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:43 AM +0530

LUCKNOW: After being dumped by the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress on Wednesday reiterated that it was ready to put up a fight and give the BJP a run for its money in all 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, which is considered the most crucial politically and electorally.

The party, however, left a window open for last minute allies in the battle for the Lok Sabha.

“We are willing to leave a few seats here and there if any like-minded party reaches out to us and we feel that it has what it takes to fight the BJP,” Ghulam Nabi Azad, AICC general secretary and party’s in-charge for UP, told reporters here on Wednesday. He, however, denied being in talks with any political party for an electoral tie-up.

ALSO READ: Left with little room in SP-BSP alliance, RLD leader Jayant Chaudhury discusses seat-sharing with Akhilesh Yadav

“Our preparation for all 80 seats is complete,” he added. Asked if the Congress’ week presence on the ground in UP is the reason why the SP and BSP kept it out of the alliance, Azad, who held a brainstorming session with party mandarins in Lucknow on Wednesday, said, “The forthcoming general elections will prove which party stands where beyond any reasonable doubt.”

Senior Congress leaders had huddled in the state capital to thrash out the party’s strategy and evaluate its preparedness ahead of the elections. They also firmed up plans for over a dozen rallies being planned to be addressed by party chief Rahul Gandhi across UP in February.

According to sources, the Congress chief is likely to address his first mega rally in Lucknow on February 2. Congress leaders discussed the venue and time of the rally on Wednesday.

The AICC general secretary, flanked by UPCC chief Raj Babbar and Pramod Tiwari, claimed that they discussed the candidates to be fielded in all 80 seats across the state.

In this connection, they met leaders from other parts of the state, including Gorakhpur, Allahabad and Kannauj regions for ground-level feedback.

Apart from Lucknow, other venues identified for the rallies to be addressed by the party chief include Gorakhpur, Kannauj, Varanasi, Sitapur, Hapur, Moradabad, Saharanpur, Aligarh, Bareilly and Agra, sources said.

Rahul Gandhi may also address a rally in Banda in the Bundelkhand region.

The party intends to field BSP turncoat Naseemuddin Siddiqui from Banda.

One of the reasons for Mayawati’s chagrin towards Congress was Siddiqui, who was inducted into the party despite her reservations.

The party chief will attack the ruling BJP in his rallies on issues ranging from unemployment, farm distress, women’s security and alleged lawlessness in the state.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, congress, Samajwadi Party, BSP, 2019 Lok Sabha elections, 2019 Lok Sabha polls http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Ghulam_Nabi_Azad_PTI12.jpg Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/congress-willing-to-give-few-seats-to-other-players-in-up-ghulam-nabi-azad-on-2019-lok-sabha-polls-1925909.html 1925510 Nation Aishik Chanda Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:41 AM +0530

KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee said that the January 19 Federal Front rally at Brigade Parade Grounds in Kolkata would be the biggest in 41 years since Jyoti Basu-led Left Front rode to power in the state in 1977 and would see the participation of leaders from across India from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. 

Speaking at a press conference after an administrative and security meeting for the rally at state secretariat Nabanna here late on Tuesday evening, the West Bengal Chief Minister said: “Although Sonia Gandhi would not be present in the rally due to ill health, Opposition leader Mallikarjun Kharge would represent Congress.”

“Besides, leaders from Kashmir to Kanyakumari would be present at the mega event including former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and his Telangana counterpart K Chandrasekhar Rao and Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal, former defence minister Sharad Pawar, former Bihar deputy Chief Minister Tejaswi Yadav, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah and Gujarat Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani,” she added.

ALSO READ: KCR against sharing stage with Rahul Gandhi, to skip Mamata Banerjee’s January 19 rally

Security measures have been tightened for the Federal Front rally in which a total of five platforms would be erected of which the main platform will have a map of India and a cut out of Mamata Banerjee in the background. Metal detectors would be installed at the four entrance gates to the rally grounds.

A total of 1000 loudspeakers, 200 sound systems and 20 giant screens would be installed. The entire area would be monitored through drones and CCTV cameras, sources revealed. The rally is expected to begin at around 12 pm. 

The Federal Front rally is seen as the culmination of the TMC supremo’s efforts to build up a coalition of regional and national parties to oust Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP government from power in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. 

The West Bengal Chief Minister has been sharpening her attacks against BJP government’s policies since demonetisation in 2016 and has been hitting out at the Centre over Goods and Services Tax (GST), National Register of Citizenship (NRC) and other issues.

Trinamool Congress, Mamata Banerjee http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/15/w600X390/mamata_PTI1.jpg TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/15/tmc-rally-to-see-participation-of-political-leaders-from-kashmir-to-kanyakumari-mamata-banerjee-1925510.html 1925767 Nation Express News Service Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:40 AM +0530

JAIPUR: The new Congress government in Rajasthan has taken a leaf out of the former BJP government and in a move to showcase its ” love for cow ” has incorporated the protection and welfare of cows in its agenda.

Along with religious leaders and social workers the Gehlot government is all set to make a cow policy . Government through a circular has announced to honour the civilians on Republic day and Independence day, who will adopt the stray cows and bear the costs of their food & shelter.

BJP’s terming it as a political move before the Lok Sabha elections. But the government says that this policy will help take off the stray cows of the road and society can be brought closer . Congress had already set the agenda of cow in their election manifesto before the assembly elections and is now following up quickly before the national polls.

This circular has been issued by the Gopalan Directorate.

“People have been doing charity in the name of cow before too. We want to bring together the society for the welfare of the cows and to ensure that there are no stray cows on the road”, said Vishram Meena, Director, Gopalan Directorate.

The new Gopalan Minister, Pramod Jain Bhaya, says that he has been protecting the cows since his childhood.

“These orders are being given because this will help to honour those individuals who have been taking care of the cows. This will inspire other to do the same and will generate a spirit of ‘Gau sewa’,” he said.

Bhaya also mentions that the stray cows cause accidents on the road, harms the crops of the farmers and people adopting cows will eliminate these problems. He added that the government will form a policy on the issue with the help of religious leaders and social workers. According to him the ancient texts have talked about gods residing in cows and cow slaughter being the worst of the evils.

“My priority will be to invite the experienced religious leaders, saints and cattle owners and plan with them a policy to protect the ‘gauvansh’ that needs immediate attention. We will then present the policy to the CM and it will be implemented all throughout the state”, he said. Rajasthan has 9 lakh ‘ gauvansh’ and also has large number of stray cows.

BJP feels that it is just a political stunt before the Loksabha elections.

“These are strange orders being given to honour individuals who protect stray animals. India is a land where Krishna is worshipped and he was cattle owner. Instead of these, orders should have been given to promote the animal camps or double the money to the registered “Gaushalas” started by BJP government. This is just a stunt to promote themselves before the national polls and they will fail in doing so”, said Rajendra Rathod, Deputy leader of opposition in the assembly.

stray cows, Rajasthan Government, stray cow caretakers to be honoured http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2018/12/30/w600X390/stray_cows_EPS.jpg Image used for representational purpose only (File photo | EPS) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/lessons-for-yogi-rajasthan-government-to-honour-caretakers-of-stray-cows-on-january-26-august-15-1925767.html 1926032 Nation Anuraag Singh Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:38 AM +0530

BHOPAL: A day after Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath launched the Rs 50,000 farm loan waiver scheme in the state, union minister of state for agriculture and farmers’ welfare Krishna Raj said whenever Congress comes to power, it doles out khairat (charity).

The union minister when queried about whether the Narendra Modi government too was planning to announce national farm loan waiver ahead of Lok Sabha polls on the lines of Congress governments in MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, told journalists in Bhopal on Wednesday, “Congress ki sarkar jab bhi aayi hai, usne khairat batne ka kaam kiya hai, swavlambi banane ka kaam nahi kiya (whenever Congress has come to power it has only doled out charity and never done anything to make people self-sufficient).”

While maintaining that the Congress governments in the country in the past had done nothing for the weaker and deprived sections, except treating them as a vote bank for political capital, the minister, however, couldn’t list five schemes initiated by Narendra Modi government for the uplift of poor and socially deprived sections.

Raj, the BJP MP from Shahjahanpur Lok Sabha seat of UP, also couldn’t render details about the income of farmers in the country, when questioned by journalists about figures of average or per capita income of farmers in the country and states, particularly her home state UP. She, however, reiterated the Modi government’s resolve to double farmers’ income by 2022.

Reacting to the union minister’s statements on the farm loan waiver scheme initiated by Congress governments in MP and two other states, the MP Congress media in-charge expressed shock.

“It’s shocking that the union minister of state for agriculture and farmers welfare is making such statements on farm loan waiver. Such statements expose the real face of BJP, whose previous government in MP believed in killing farmers with bullets when they demanded their rights.”

On Tuesday, the MP CM Kamal Nath had launched the Rs 50,000 crore farm loan waiver scheme for farmers, which will benefit around 55 lakh small and marginal farmers.

http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/ICAR.jpg Image for representational purpose only http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/union-minister-terms-madhya-pradesh-governments-farm-loan-waiver-as-charity-1926032.html 1926029 Nation Anuraag Singh Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:34 AM +0530

BHOPAL: A fortnight after putting the monthly pension of the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) detainees in Madhya Pradesh on hold, the Kamal Nath government has now ordered a physical verification of the detainees.

Till the physical verification of the surviving detainees and widows or dependents of the detainees is not completed, the distribution of pension will be on hold.

The state government order, issued by the General Administration Department (GAD), was signed by GAD deputy secretary DK Jain. The order, issued on Tuesday, also mentions enquiring about MISA detainees or their dependents from locals where the detainees or dependents are residing.

While former MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan dubbed the order as a “U-turn” while tweeting the copy of the order, another senior BJP leader Tapan Bhowmick, the head of Loktantra Senani Sangathan – the umbrella outfit of MISA detainees – in MP described the new order as vague.

“We don’t oppose physical verification of surviving detainees or dependents/widows of dead detainees, but the order lacks clarity on at least two counts. No time frame has been mentioned for the completion of physical verification. Also, ideally the physical verification should be carried out by the district collector, police superintendent or the jail superintendent of jails where the MISA detainees were lodged during the Emergency,” said Bhowmick.

On December 29, 2018, the state government had ordered divisional commissioners and district collectors to put the monthly pension of MISA detainees (those arrested during the Emergency period 1975 to 1977) on hold. The order said that the Accountant General’s reports in the previous years have revealed that expenditure on MISA detainees’ pension was exceeding the budgetary allocation.

http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/Kamal_Nath_PTI.jpg Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/kamal-nath-orders-physical-verification-of-misa-beneficiaries-dependents-in-madhya-pradesh-1926029.html 1926028 Nation Anuraag Singh Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:32 AM +0530

BHOPAL: While the ongoing political crisis in Congress-JD(S) ruled Karnataka gets bigger with every passing day, murmurs of a similar political crisis are being heard in Madhya Pradesh, where the Kamal Nath-led Congress government completes a month in office with the support of four independents, two BSP and one SP MLAs on Thursday.

The political situation remains volatile despite seasoned political campaigner Kamal Nath being in the saddle, amid claims by senior BJP leaders about strong possibility of the newly formed government collapsing much before the Lok Sabha polls.

Senior BJP leaders, including ex-CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargava, party’s national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and ex-minister Vishwas Sarang have been often making statements about the “lame” Kamal Nath government functioning with crutches (allies) not likely to survive long.

Vijayvargiya, a former MP minister and ex-MLA from Mhow (Indore) recently claimed that the new government in MP is running at the “mercy” of his party and a mere “sneeze” of the BJP’s central leadership can bring it back to power in the state.

Eight-time MLA Gopal Bhargava, who was recently elected the LoP in MP Assembly also dropped enough hints in this regard recently, saying, “The government won’t last long, it won’t be surprising if by the time the bungalows of the new ministers are painted, they might be out of it.

“These statements assume significance, particularly as the leaders of Congress, as well as its allies, have been alleging that senior BJP leaders in the state (all members of previous state government) are luring the Congress and supporting party MLAs with offers to pull down the government.

One of the two BSP MLAs, the Pathariya (Damoh) MLA Rambai Thakur recently said that “senior BJP leaders from Bhopal and Bundelkhand are in contact with her husband and making big money offers to convince me to pull down the government.”

Importantly, the other BSP MLA Sanjeev Singh ‘Sanju,’ who is the legislator from Bhind seat comes from BJP background. He was the Bhind district panchayat president as BJP candidate and is the son of four-time former BJP MP Ramlakhan Singh.

Informed sources said the lone SP MLA, the Bijawar legislator Rajesh Shukla too has been contacted by BJP leaders.

And it’s not only the allies, but even Congress MLAs who are being reportedly lured by BJP camp. Recently ex-CM Digvijaya Singh claimed that senior BJP leaders, including ex-ministers Narottam Mishra and Vishwas Sarang were trying to dislodge the Congress government by luring Congress MLAs with big offers.

“I can present before you all those MLAs of our party, who are being lured by BJP leaders with offers to take Rs 5 crores to Rs 10 crores and join the opposition party ranks, just to pull down the government,” Singh had said while saying one of the Congress MLAs being lured by BJP with Rs 100-crore offer was Sabalgarh (Morena) legislator Baijnath Kushwah.

Newly appointed PWD and Environment minister Sajjan Singh Verma (Kamal Nath loyalist) had gone a step further, claiming that attempts were even made to kidnap one MLA to win him over to BJP camp.

In the 230-strong MP Vidhan Sabha, Congress won 114 seats (two less than a simple majority), while BJP won 109 seats, 7 less than the mark to stake a claim for forming a government.

The Kamal Nath government’s survival is hinging on support from four independents, two BSP MLAs and a lone SP legislator.

Also, reports of Congress MLAs, including ex-minister Adal Singh Kansana, KP Singh, Rajvardhan Singh Dattigaw and Hiralal Alawa dejected over not being included in a 28-strong council of ministers, has further fuelled speculations about BJP camp trying to woo Congress MLAs.The Congress Response.

While launching the Rs 50,000 crore farm loan waiver scheme in Bhopal on Tuesday, CM Kamal Nath said “let them make all kinds baits, but I’ve full faith in Congress legislators and allies. I have been reading in newspapers about BJP leaders forecasting the life of my government, but what can those people do, who didn’t even have the courage to face us on the ground during the recent election of state assembly speaker.”

While expressing confidence that his government will complete full five years, Nath warned the BJP against any misadventure, clearly indicating that even the saffron camp shaky.

“Let me tell the BJP people that before worrying about our flock, they should be worried about their own house. I hope the BJP understands what I mean.”

Just a few hours before Nath’s statements in Bhopal, the labour minister Mahendra Sisodiya told journalists in native Guna district that the day Kamal Nath, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Digvijaya Singh become active collectively, at least 10 BJP MLAs will break away from BJP ranks and be with Congress.

The Congress leaders’ confidence about all BJP legislators not being rock solid with the saffron party stems from the fact that four of the 109 BJP MLAs had won 2013 polls as independents or joined the BJP from the Congress.

However, when contacted by the New Indian Express, the state BJP spokesperson Rajnish Agrawal said ,”there are no plans in BJP to destabilise the Congress government in MP, all talk which is doing rounds of media circles is the figment of Congress’ leaders’ imagination. But if an opportunity arises for the BJP to form a government in MP, the party will not shy away.”

http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/Kamal_Nath_PTI-.jpg Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath (File photo | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/amid-political-crisis-in-karnataka-kamal-nath-government-in-mp-too-faces-horse-trading-threat-1926028.html 1926023 Nation Harpreet Singh Bajwa Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:27 AM +0530

CHANDIGARH: While it’s likely that Congress will field cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu’s wife, Navjot Kaur Sidhu, in the prestigious Amritsar seat in the Lok Sabha elections, rival BJP is also on the lookout for a suitable candidate.

Those in the running to bag the BJP’s Amritsar ticket include Rajinder Mohan Singh Chhina, state party chief Shawet Malik and former minister Anil Joshi.

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the BJP’s alliance partner in the state, had, over the last three months, tried to book the Amritsar seat. However, the BJP high command stepped in, making it amply clear that the party isn’t open to giving up the prestigious constituency for its ally.

Lobbying for the prized ticket has already begun in the BJP ranks and buzz is that the party, this time, might pick a local face in a bid to wrest the seat from the Congress. Party heavyweight and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley contested the seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls but lost.

History favours Congress, as the party has kept its hold on the seat for the longest time.

In 1977, the BJP scripted rare success in the constituency as Dr Baldev Parkash trumped his rivals in the fray. However, it turned out to be a de-facto Congress fief in the later years, as Raghunandan Bhatia was elected MP from Amritsar a record four times before he was dethroned by Sidhu, then a BJP nominee, in 2007. The cricketer-turned-politician later won two bypolls from the seat, emerging as a prominent Sikh leader. However, he had to sep aside for Jaitley in 2014.

However, Jaitley lost to Captain Amarinder Singh, the present chief minister.

In 2017, the Captain had to resign his Lok Sabha seat after being made the chief minister. In the by-election that followed, the BJP pitted Jat leader Chhina against Congress’s Gurjeet Singh Aujla. However, faced with a strong anti-incumbency against the SAD-BJP combine, which ruled the state for 10 years, Chhina was up against it and eventually lost to Aujla.

However, he has his eyes on the ticket for a second time, this year. He is considered close to PM Modi and Jaitley and has emerged as a frontrunner.

Chinna was recently made a member of the BJP’s manifesto committee, headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

State BJP chief and Rajya Sabha member Shawet Malki is also willing to throw his hat into the ring. Sources close to him revealed that he is keen to be elected to the Lower House.

Joshi, who lost the last state elections, wants to try his luck again in the Lok Sabha polls. Local

orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Avtar Singh and former minister Dr Baldev Raj Chawla are also in the race for the Amritsar ticket.

http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/Sidhu_wife-Navjot_kaur.jpg Navjot Kaur Sidhu. (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/bjp-looking-for-suitable-face-for-amritsar-lok-sabha-seat-as-sidhus-wife-may-be-fielded-by-congress-1926023.html 1926020 Nation Aishik Chanda Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:23 AM +0530

KOLKATA: A few days after Alipurduar District Magistrate Nikhil Nirmal was transferred for thrashing a person, accused of sending lewd messages to his wife, at Falakata police station, the wife of a joint block development officer in the district’s Kalchini block has been arrested for allegedly hitting her minor maid’s head with a sarashi (forceps-like device) and beating her up for not waking her on time.

It was alleged that Kalchini block joint BDO Angshuman Dutta’s wife Shubhra had asked her minor maid to wake her up on time on Wednesday morning at her residence in Dakshin Khagrabari in the neighbouring Cooch Behar district in north Bengal. However, the maid failed to do so.

Irked, the accused allegedly beat her up and threw a sarashi at the minor, hitting her head and leaving her bleeding profusely. As the maid screamed in pain, some locals rushed to the house. Finding the maid injured, they informed the police. A police team soon arrived at the spot and arrested her.

She was admitted to a hospital where the doctors found several other bruises and injury marks on her body. The police said an investigation is underway into the incident.

Earlier, this month, Alipurduar DM Nirmal was first sent on forced leave and then transferred as Managing Director of West Bengal Tribal Development Cooperative Corporation after a video went viral in which he was seen hitting and kicking a person named Binod Kumar Sarkar in Falakata police station, in the presence of the Station House Officer, for allegedly sending lewd messages to his wife Nandini Krishnan.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/joint-bdos-wife-breaks-minor-maids-head-in-bengal-for-not-waking-her-up-on-time-1926020.html 1926016 Nation Namita Bajpai Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:21 AM +0530

LUCKNOW: Shifting its focus to Uttar Pradesh after tasting defeat in three heartland states of MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and wary of the challenged posed by newly sewn SP-BSP alliance, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has sent a battery of senior leaders to the state to fine-tune preparations for upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

While Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj registered her presence in Lucknow on Wednesday by holding a joint press conference, but taking only a single question on preparations for the upcoming Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas, Union Health Minister and the party’s in-charge in the state for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Jagat Prakash Nadda also interacted with mediapersons sharing party’s plans for the polls.

The three-day Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas extravaganza, this year, will be organised in PM Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency Varanasi from January 21 to 23.

Nadda claimed that despite the alliance between Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, the BJP would fare better this time than the 2014 polls by bagging over 50% of the state’s vote share.

“We are going to improve our tally, as 2019 Lok Sabha elections will be all about strategy and chemistry. I’m sure the people of Uttar Pradesh and across the country will once again shower their blessings on the BJP and bring Modiji back to power at the Centre,” said Nadda on his maiden visit to the state after being made the state-in-charge.

Nadda also held a closed-door meeting with the party’s state leadership, led by state party chief Dr Mahendra Nath Pandey. He was accompanied by senior party leaders Narottam Mishra, Dushyant and Sunil Ojha. Interestingly, his co-in charge, Gordhan Zadafia, did not turn up for Wednesday’s meeting.

Taking a dig at newly cobbled SP-BSP alliance, Nadda said it was anticipated and had taken shape out of fear of the BJP’s might.

“It is an alliance of commission and corruption. It is the strength of our party which has forced SP-BSP to forge an alliance,” Nadda said, adding that before sitting in judgment the of BJP, SP and BSP leaders should present their administrative records.

On sulking allies in UP, Nadda, said there were some issues which would be addressed soon.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections, BJP bagged 71 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats, accounting for 43% of the state’s vote share.

http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/BJP_flags_EPS12.jpg For representational purposes (File | EPS) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/bjp-shifts-focus-to-up-eyes-50-per-cent-vote-share-in-state-in-2019-lok-sabha-polls-1926016.html 1926012 Nation Abhijit Mulye Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:19 AM +0530

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government will request the Supreme Court to withdraw the stay on the construction of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial (CSMM) in the Arabian Sea, Vinayak Mete, Chairman of the committee to oversee the construction of memorial said.

While PWD minister Chandrakant Patil said that the Supreme Court will not take contrarian view once the Bombay High Court has ruled that the government has secured all due permissions and approvals for the construction of the memorial.

On Wednesday, the SC sought responses from the Centre and state government on a plea challenging the Bombay High Court order which had refused to restrain authorities from taking steps regarding the project.

While Mete had blamed PWD officials for the stay order on the construction, Patil argued that it was because of the groundwork was done by the PWD officials the petitioners’ case could not stand before the High Court.

According to Mete, the Supreme Court stayed the construction as a public hearing wasn’t conducted before starting the construction work. He also said that whenever there are no ‘project affected people’ involved, the work can be initiated without conducting a public hearing.

“The state government shall pit across its views before the SC in about a week’s time and request them to withdraw the stay,” Mete said while pointing out that the SC has only given oral instructions and there are no written directives.

http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/Chandrakant_Patil-PTI.JPG Maharashtra Public Works Minister Chandrakant Patil | PTI File Photo http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/maharashtra-government-to-request-sc-to-withdraw-stay-on-shivaji-memorial-1926012.html 1926003 Nation Abhijit Mulye Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:12 AM +0530

MUMBAI: Anil Ambani, who had always been a prime guest at the Vibrant Gujarat summits ever since the biennial event began in 2003, has been purposefully left out of the event this year to avoid row over Rafael deal, the Congress has said.

“Anil Ambani has always been the most preferred guest at the Vibrant Gujarat. He is a very close friend of Narendra Modi ever since he had described Modi as the potential Prime minister of India in 2005.”

Gujarat Congress Chief Arjun Modwada said and added, “However, it appears as if since the problems surrendering Ambani, the government has dropped his name from the invitees.”

The list of 19 top corporate CEOs invited to participate in the two-day Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors’ Summit 2019 scheduled to begin on January 18 at Ahmedabad was released by the state government on Tuesday.

Though the list includes names of Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani, Anil Ambani’s name has been missing from the list. Other invitees for the event include Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrashekhran, Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, Godrej Group Chairman Adi Godrej, Suzlon Energy CMD Tulsi Tanti, Cadila Health Care Chairman Pankaj Patel, Vice Chairman and CEO of Kotak Mahindra Bank Uday Kotak, ITC MD Sanjiv Puri, Bharati Enterprises Vice Chairman Rakesh Bharati Mittal, HDFC Chairman Dipak Parekh, SBI Chairman Rajneesh Kumar, to name a few.

Taking a potshot at the Modi government over dropping the name, Modwadia said, “Both the Ambani brother and Adani had been attending the event since very beginning. However, since Anil Ambani’s reliance defence has gone bankrupt and there are also agitations going on against him, he might have been dropped out of the list this year”.

The government has avoided all industry leaders who could draw even the slightest negative perception, a senior officer in the state government is learnt to have said.

http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/AnilAmbaniPhotoPTI.jpg Anil Ambani (Photo | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/anil-ambani-out-of-vibrant-gujarat-to-avoid-row-over-rafael-deal-says-congress-1926003.html 1926002 Nation Anand ST Das Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:09 AM +0530

PATNA: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s revelation that he inducted poll strategist Prashant Kishor into JD(U) on BJP chief Amit Shah’s recommendation has not gone down well with the Opposition.

The RJD and Congress dubbed JD(U) as an “advanced version of BJP” masquerading as an independent regional party.

Kishor, 41, joined JD(U) in September last and was elevated to the post of the party’s national vice president a month later. He was instrumental in formulating BJP’s winning campaign strategy in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and that of Bihar’s erstwhile JD(U)-RJD-Congress alliance in the 2015 Assembly polls.

With Kishor reportedly having played a critical role recently in Bihar NDA’s seat-sharing exercise that saw BJP concede an equal number of seats to JD(U), speculation was rife that there was bitterness between BJP and JD(U) over Kishor choosing to join Kumar’s party. But the CM, who is also JD(U) national president, dispelled it.

“I would like to make it public that giving a party post to Prashant Kishor was not entirely my decision. I got calls from Amit Shah twice asking me to give him (Kishor) a post in my party,” said Kumar on Tuesday. The revelation came as a surprise to many even in the JD(U) and BJP.

Criticising Kumar, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav tweeted on Wednesday: “Finally Nitish Kumar admits that JDU is an advanced version of BJP, therefore, he is giving all important organisational posts except him to the people chosen by Sh. Amit Shah. (sic) Hope now you understand, Why Mob Lynchings & State-Sponsored Crimes have become a routine practice in Bihar?”

“Since he (Nitish Kumar) gives key positions in JD(U) to people on the advice of BJP, he should not pretend to have an independent stand on issues like Ram Temple and triple talaq,” said senior Congress leader and MLC Prem Chand Mishra.

JD(U) leaders chose to ignore the barbs, but senior BJP leader and health minister Mangal Pandey attacked Tejashwi.

“If Tejashwi can explain what he has written in the tweet, I will quit politics. He is a person who does not understand English, yet he continues to tweet,” said Pandey.

http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/Prashant_Kishor_PTI_Photo.JPG Election strategist Prashant Kishor. | (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/congress-rjd-attack-nitish-after-revelation-on-prashant-kishor-selection-in-jdu-1926002.html 1926001 Nation Mukesh Ranjan Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:03 AM +0530

RANCHI: In order to give red ultras a befitting defeat, senior police officials on Tuesday conducted an aerial survey of the jungles spread over Dumka and adjoining districts of West Bengal so that topography of the region could be well understood on the basis of which future strategy for the region could be chalked out.

Dumka Range DIG Raj Kumar Lakra said that their team also tried to trace out the route which might have been taken by the Maoists following an encounter with security forces on Sunday.

According to Police, at least 4 Maoists, supposed to have injured bullet injuries, succeeded in escaping from the encounter site despite being cornered by the security forces from all sides. Wanted Zonal Commander of CPI Maoist Shahdeo Rai alias Tala Da was gunned down by the security forces on Sunday.

“Objective behind conducting the aerial survey was to strengthen our operational strategy and also to chalk out the future plan of action against Maoists in order to root them out from the region,” said DIG Raj Kumar Lakra.

The survey was also aimed at tracing out the possible exit points which might have been taken by the Maoists to escape from the encounter site on Sunday, he added. “All possible escape routes, drains and hamlets were marked for future reference,” said the DIG.

Meanwhile, in a separate incident, one CoBRA jawan of CRPF got injured on Wednesday during an encounter with CPI (Maoists) near Ludubera jungles under Kuchai Police Station in Saraikela. The jawan, identified as Vishram Lal Jaat, was airlifted and admitted to Medica Hospital in Ranchi for better medical assistance.

Sources in the Police department said that a joint team of State Police and 209 CoBRA Battalion of CRPF were on a search operation after getting a tip-off that squad of Maharaja Pramanik had been spotted in the region.

As soon as the security forces located them, the ultras started firing on them in which the jawan received bullet injuries on his shoulders.

When security forces started firing on ultras in retaliation, they escaped from the site taking advantage of dense forest.

An intensive search operation has been launched in the area to trace out the Maoists.

http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/Naxals.jpg Image of naxals used for representational purpose only. (File Photo) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/aerial-survey-to-trace-out-maoists-in-jharkhand-1926001.html 1926000 Nation Fayaz Wani Express News Service Thursday, January 17, 2019 12:01 AM +0530

SRINAGAR: With most of the government employees and officials staying away from the official functions of Republic Day and Independence Day in militancy-hit Valley, the Governor administration in Jammu and Kashmir has directed its employees and officials to attend the official functions on January 26 and warned them that absence would be constructed as dereliction of duty and disobedience of government instructions.

In a circular issued by Deputy Secretary to J&K Government, Chander Prakash, all the officers and officials of the State government stationed at Jammu and Srinagar were enjoined upon to attend the functions of the Republic Day celebration at the University of Jammu or Sher-i- Kashmir Cricket Stadium, Sonawar, Srinagar respectively, as a part of their official duty.

The employees were warned that failure to attend the Republic Day function by them would be constructed as dereliction of duty and disobedience of government instructions.

The official order is seen as an attempt by the government to increase attendance of official functions on January 26 and August 15.

The official R-Day and I-Day functions in the State, especially in militancy-hit Valley, has been witnessing very less presence of State government employees and officials. Most of the employees and officials stay away from the official functions at Bakshi Stadium, Srinagar on January 26 or August 15, when militant groups and separatists call for shutdown.

There have been many instances in the past when militants have tried to disrupt the functions in Srinagar. Ahead of the Republic Day or Independence Day, the security apparatus in Srinagar, especially around the venue where the main function is being held, is tightened and the area is made out of bound for civilians. The official circular has reminded the government employees and officials that Republic Day is an important national event celebrated on January 26 each year.

“It is the duty of every government servant to attend the function, which commemorates an important turning point in the history of our nation,” further reads the circular.

The government has asked all the Administrative Secretaries, Heads of the Department, Managing Directors/Chief Executives of the Public Sector Undertakings to ensure that all officers working under their administrative control, and stationed at Srinagar/Jammu, attend the function at their respective places.

http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/17/w600X390/close-up-court-courthouse-534204.jpg For representational purposes http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/17/attend-republic-day-functions-absence-will-be-constructed-as-disobedience-jk-government-tells-emp-1926000.html 1925998 Nation Fayaz Wani Express News Service Wednesday, January 16, 2019 11:53 PM +0530

SRINAGAR: Over a dozen of politicians in Jammu and Kashmir, including former deputy chief minister, ex-ministers and ex-MLAs, who get an uninterrupted power supply, owe lakhs of rupees as electricity charges to State’s Power Development Department (PDD).

The leaders ran up the power dues from the time they took office till November 30, 2018.

According to PDD, former deputy chief minister and senior BJP leader Kavinder Gupta owes Rs 14,25,821 in electricity dues to the PDD.

Gupta was deputy chief minister in the BJP-PDP coalition government led by Mehbooba Mufti.

“Former BJP minister Sukhnandan Choudhary owes Rs 19,36,849 in unpaid power bills. Similarly senior PDP leader and former minister Aasiya Naqash also owes Rs 13,66,999 in power arrears,” the official data reveals.

Influential Shia leader and ex-minister Imran Reza Ansari owes Rs 10,28,263 to PDD.

Senior PDP leader Sartaj Madni, who is also the maternal uncle of former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, owes Rs 3,78,470 in unpaid power bills to the PDD.

Former Congress MLC Abdul Gani Vakil, who has floated his own party, has an outstanding of Rs 4,26,955.

The other politicians, who owe money to PDD, include Abdul Rashid Dar of Congress (Rs 2,94,097), Mohammad Shafi Niaz of Congress (Rs 1,32,062), Mohammad Shafi Bhat, ex-PDP leader (Rs 1,84,954); Ghulam Nabi Hanjoora, ex-PDP minister (Rs 1,21,829); Fayaz Ahmad Mir, PDP MP (Rs 1,16,707); Javed Dar of National Conference (Rs 1.52 lakh); Saifullah Mir of NC (Rs 91,720); Mohammad Akbar Lone of NC (Rs 79,367); Abdul Gani Kohli, ex-BJP minister (Rs 52,566) and Bali Bhagat, ex BJP minister (Rs 50,397)

Senior National Conference leader and Deputy Speaker J&K Assembly Nazir Ahmad Gurezi is also among the defaulters. He owes R50,620 in electricity arrears to the PDD.

Top business houses, both in Jammu and Kashmir, also figure in the list of defaulters and owe cores of the rupees to the PDD in unpaid electricity charges.

The PDD has published the list of defaulters in local newspapers and has also served notice on them. The defaulters have been asked to either clear the dues within two weeks or risk getting their power connections snapped without further notice.

“The electricity supply, if disconnected, will not be restored till the defaulter clears all pending electricity dues,” reads the notice served on the leaders.

http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Kavinder_Gupta-PTI.jpg Former Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta. | (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/jk-politicians-including-former-deputy-cm-ex-ministers-owe-lakhs-of-rupees-of-power-bill-1925998.html 1925996 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 11:31 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: Two former Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad’s members, who had quit the student outfit in 2016, questioned the timing of the chargesheet in the JNU sedition row and said it is “politically motivated”.

The ABVP said the two were siding with the Congress, which had supported the accused students, and termed it a “political ploy” divert attention.

Then ABVP JNU unit joint secretary Pradeep Narwal and two others had resigned from their posts following clashes in the campus over an incident on February 9, 2016 in which “anti-national slogans” were allegedly raised.

ABVP’s JNU unit vice-president Jatin Goraya had resigned from the post in August 2016, saying he was “tired” of the ABVP’s stand on the attacks against Dalits and their handling of issues, including the sedition row.

On Wednesday, Narwal said the chargesheet is politically motivated.

“Three years ago, JNU issue had triggered a media trial and with the filing of the chargesheet, it has started again. A chargesheet is usually filed within 90 days after the FIR, but what took the police three years to file the chargesheet? It is clear that the whole thing is politically motivated,” he claimed.

Goraya alleged the entire sedition row was orchestrated to ensure that the movement which started after Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula’s death on January 17, 2016, dies down.

ALSO READ: JNU sedition case: Police says countrywide probe, voluminous records led to three years for chargesheet

“The Rohith Vemula movement had put the ruling party on the backfoot and the entire JNU row was orchestrated by the ABVP to gain attention. Hashtags like #ShutdownJNU were started on social media to divert attention. It was planned by the BJP, RSS and ABVP,” he alleged.

Goraya also raised questions about the veracity of the videos aired by certain news channels.

“After the chargesheet was filed, certain media channels showed four videos which had formed the basis for the filing of the chargesheet.  In one of the videos, some people could be seen raising slogans of ‘Pakistan Zindabad’.”

ALSO READ: JNU case: Invoking sedition law against Kanhaiya Kumar and others travesty of free speech

“From that video, we could see those raising slogans are ABVP members. If the videos are authentic as said by the CFSL, why is no action being initiated against the ABVP? If the videos are doctored, the police should try and find the original videos,” he said.

Saurabh Sharma, member of the RSS-affiliated ABVP, the then joint JNUSU joint secretary said, “They are siding with the Congress that has supported the accused. These are political moves to divert the issue. The matter is sub-judice and we are hopeful the truth will come out in the next few days.”

Nearly three years after former JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar and nine others were accused of raising anti-India slogans, the Delhi Police Monday charged them with sedition.

In the 1,200-page charge-sheet, former JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya were also arrayed as accused.

The accused were named in the chargesheet for allegedly shouting anti-India slogans during an event on the university’s campus on February 9, 2016, to commemorate the hanging of Parliament-attack mastermind Afzal Guru The other seven accused chargesheeted in the case are Kashmiri students Aquib Hussain, Mujeeb Hussain, Muneeb Hussain, Umar Gul, Rayeea Rassol, Bashir Bhat and Basharat.

Some of them were then studying in JNU, Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia As many as 36 others, including Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D Raja’s daughter Aprajitha, Shehla Rashid (then vice-JNUSU president), Rama Naga, Ashutosh Kumar and Banojyotsna Lahiri, all former students of JNU, have been named in column 12 of the chargesheet due to insufficient evidence against them.

http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/24-h-svk17.jpg Former JNU Student Union president Kanhaiya Kumar (Photo | File/EPS) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/two-former-abvp-members-question-timing-of-chargesheet-in-jnu-sedition-row-1925996.html 1925990 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 10:55 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram Wednesday wished a speedy recovery to Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, who has left for the US for medical treatment.

In a series of tweets, Chidambaram said he is “deeply disturbed” by the news that his fellow MP and advocate Jaitley has gone abroad for medical treatment.

“I wish him well and, above all, a speedy and full recovery. As one who has known Mr Jaitley as a colleague at the bar for many years, and later as a fellow MP, I think I speak for all lawyer friends and MPs in conveying our good wishes to him,” the former finance minister tweeted.

Many opposition leaders, including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, have wished a speedy recovery to Jaitley.

Jaitley, 66, who had a kidney transplant operation and follow-up check-ups at AIIMS last year, left for the US Sunday night for a “regular medical check-up”, sources said, adding that he would be back by this weekend.

This is Jaitley’s first overseas visit since his kidney ailment was confirmed in April last year.

P Chidambaram, Arun Jaitley http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Arun_Jaitley_PTI.jpg Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/chidambaram-wishes-finance-minister-arun-jaitley-speedy-recovery-1925990.html 1925988 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 10:48 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Wednesday alleged that the government is manufacturing data, producing films and creating awards in a desperate bid to hide its failures.

His remarks come a day after Congress president Rahul Gandhi took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for receiving the Philip Kotler Presidential award, saying he wanted to “congratulate” him on winning “the world famous” prize that had no jury and had never been given out before.

“Desperate to hide their own failures, the government is reduced to manufacturing its own data, producing its own films, and creating its own awards,” Patel said in a tweet.

Congress leaders have also slammed the movie ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’, starring Anupam Kher as Manmohan Singh, as BJP’s propaganda against their party.

The Congress has also been accusing the BJP of coming out with false data to present a rosy picture of the economy which they claim has been adversely affected by the government’s policies.

The government has rejected all such allegations in the past.

Later, Ahmed slammed the government over a media report on the government’s Ujjwala Yojana, which claimed that in Madhya Pradesh only about 15 per cent got a refill of their gas cylinder done due to rising costs.

“If the government’s focus had been on the scheme’s proper implementation, instead of publicity, then things would have changed. But the priority of the government was not to provide relief to the poor, but to put up posters with the prime minister’s face on petrol tanks,” he tweeted.

http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Ahmed_Patel-PTI.jpg Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/government-manufacturing-data-producing-films-creating-awards-to-hide-its-failures-ahmed-patel-1925988.html 1925986 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 10:45 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: Indian National Lok Dal leader Abhay Chautala Wednesday met BSP supremo Mayawati here to discuss poll strategy for the Jind Assembly bypoll and the Lok Sabha elections due shortly.

According to a statement issued by the INLD, Chautala met Mayawati at her residence and discussed poll strategy for the Jind bypoll to be held on January 28.

The two parties have an electoral tie up in Haryana and would together contest the Lok Sabha and the next assembly polls together.

Chautala said in the statement that the bypoll win will be the real birthday gift for Mayawati.

Her birthday was on Tuesday.

It is believed that during the week, Mayawati could meet Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Ajit Jogi.

Abhay Chautala, Mayawati http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Mayawati_EPS.jpg BSP supremo Mayawati (File | EPS) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/inld-leader-abhay-chautala-meets-mayawati-discusses-strategy-for-jind-assembly-bypoll-and-2019-lok-1925986.html 1925985 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 10:41 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: A total of 1,428 people died due to extreme weather events in 2018, which was also the sixth warmest year since 1901, a top government official said Wednesday.

The average temperature over India during 2018 was “significantly above normal”, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in a statement.

The country’s average season mean temperatures were also “above the average” with the winter season (January- February, +0.59 degree Celsius) being the fifth warmest since 1901 and the pre-monsoon season (March-May) the seventh warmest, it said.

The average mean monthly temperatures were also “warmer than the normal” during all the months of the year except December, the statement said.

Meteorologists have pointed out global warming as behind the rise in temperatures.

“During the year (2018), annual mean surface air temperature, averaged over the country, was +0.41 degree Celsius above (1981-2010 period) average. The year 2018 was the sixth warmest year on record since nationwide records commenced in 1901,” the MeT statement said.

The five warmest years on record are: 2016 (+0.72 degree Celsius), 2009 (+0.56 degree Celsius), 2017 (+0.55 degree Celsius), 2010 (+0.54 degree Celsius) and 2015 (+0.42 degree Celsius).

The MeT said 11 out of 15 warmest years were during the recent past 15 years (2004-2018).

“Extreme weather events over country during 2018. The year 2018 was the sixth warmest year on record since nationwide records commenced in 1901. The other five warmest years are 2016, 2009, 2017, 2010 and 2015, all recent years,” M Rajeevan, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, said on Twitter.

Citing media reports, he also posted a map depicting the number of deaths caused due to extreme weather patterns in the country that year.

Of the 1,428 deaths recorded last year, heavy rains and subsequent flooding, dust storms, thunderstorms and lightening claimed half the lives.

In Uttar Pradesh, 590 people died due to extreme weather events.

The state with the largest population in the country saw 158 deaths due to flood and heavy rainfall, 166 deaths due to thunderstorm, lightening (39 deaths), dust storm (92 deaths) and cold wave took 135 lives.

The casualty due to heavy rains and subsequent flooding was almost half—688 deaths—of the total number of people perished in the country in 2018.

Kerala, which saw unprecedented rain from August 8 to 23, saw 223 deaths followed by Uttar Pradesh (158), Maharashtra (139), West Bengal (116) and Gujarat 52 deaths.

Cyclonic storms ‘Titli’ and ‘Gaja’ killed 122 people, while avalanche claimed 11 lives in Jammu and Kashmir.

http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Summer.jpeg Image used for representational purpose. http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/2018-sixth-warmest-year-since-1901-nearly-1400-died-of-harsh-weather-events-that-year-imd-1925985.html 1925984 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 10:38 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Wednesday refused an urgent hearing to a plea moved by Karti Chidambaram, son of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, seeking permission to go abroad.

Karti had filed the plea in November, seeking apex court’s nod to go abroad.

He is facing prosecution in INX Media money laundering case lodged by the ED and is also an accused in INX Media corruption case lodged by the CBI.INX M

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi turned down senior advocate K V Vishwanathan’s request that Karti’s plea be listed for hearing.

“We are not interested. File an application explaining your reasons. It is 10:30 and you are out of turn,” the bench, which also comprised Justices L Nageswara Rao and S K Kaul, said.

“Who is Karti? Karti Chidambaram, you are saying? Let him stay where he is. We have more important matters to decide,” the bench said.

Karti Chidambaram, INX Media Case http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Karti_Chidambaram-PTI1.jpg Karti Chidambaram ( File | PTI ) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/sc-declines-urgent-hearing-of-karti-chidambarams-plea-seeking-permission-to-go-abroad-1925984.html 1925983 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 10:30 PM +0530

SHILLONG: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma will lead a delegation, including members from the BJP, to New Delhi on Thursday to air its opposition against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, a senior state minister said Wednesday.

The delegation will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to express their “unhappiness” over the Bill, Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong told reporters here after a cabinet meeting.

He said the team will comprise all the members of the ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA), which include the BJP, NCP and some regional parties.

“We are leaving tomorrow and will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to lodge our unhappiness with the intention of the Central government for passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill,” Tynsong said.

ALSO READ: Can I get the votes back: Singer Zubeen Garg asks Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal over Citizenship Bill

The state cabinet had passed a resolution to oppose the Bill last year.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which was passed in the Lok Sabha last week, provides for according Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12 years, which is the norm currently, even if they do not possess any document.

A large section of people and organisations in the northeast have opposed the bill saying it will nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of illegal immigrants irrespective of religion.

ALSO READ: Will drum up support against Citizenship Bill: Asom Gana Parishad

On the growing demand for the state government to come up with an official resolution in the Assembly with regards to the Citizenship Amendment Bill, Tynsong said the question of passing a resolution does not arise.

“It (official resolution) does not carry any weight as opposition (to it) has already been lodged by government as well as the Opposition parties,” he said.

The Meghalaya deputy chief minister said the state government had already submitted its letter of opposition to the Bill to the Centre through the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), which visited the state last year.

To another query, Tynsong said unlike the opposition Congress which is divided over the issue, the ruling National People’s Party has maintained a firm stand to oppose the Bill.

“I request the Congress to please be united on this issue,” he said.

Citizenship Bill, PM Modi, Conrad Sangma http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Conrad_Sangma_PTI.jpg Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/meghalaya-cm-led-delegation-to-meet-pm-modi-to-express-unhappiness-over-citizenship-bill-1925983.html 1925957 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 09:59 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: A host of country’s air defence capabilities will be showcased during the Republic Day celebrations here, including a ‘vic’ formation of An-32 aircraft, whose lead plane will be flying using a mix of traditional and biofuel for the first time during the parade, a senior IAF official Wednesday said.

The ‘vic’ formation is devised for military aircraft and comprises three or sometimes more aircraft flying in close formation with the leader at the apex and the rest of the flight en echelon to left and right, the whole resembling the letter ‘V’.

This formation will follow the swashbuckling main flypast which leaves the crowd at the ceremonial boulevard spellbound every year on January 26.

“The An-32 (Satluj) formation will also exhibit India’s quest to seek alternative sources of fuel. The lead aircraft of the formation, piloted by Sqn Ldr Mehtab Sond of the Aircraft Systems Testing Establishment, will be flying utilising Aviation Turbine Fuel blended with 10 per cent biofuel,” the senior official said.

The biofuel has been extracted from Jatropha plant seeds using a technology patented by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun, the IAF said.

“The other two aircraft in the ‘vic’ formation will be flying on traditional Aviation Turbine Fuel and captained by Sqn Ldr Gautam Bajaj and Wg Cdr Arun Chandan. The successful trials will lead to a significant reduction on India’s dependency on imported crude oil,” he said.

A media preview was Wednesday held at the Akash Air Force Officers Mess, where air force officers fronting the 144-strong Indian Air Force contingent and the leader of the IAF band, participating in the celebrations, interacted with reporters.

The IAF said its initiative is “in line with the prime minister’s vision” to reduce crude oil imports and dependency on it to the tune of 10 per cent by 2021, he said.

The main flypast will comprise 33 aircraft of the IAF and four helicopters of the Army’s aviation arm, the IAF said.

“The aircraft types include 18 fighters, eight transport aircraft and 11 helicopters. The flypast will be conducted in two phases.”

The end of the parade will be marked by a single Sukhoi aircraft Su-30 MKI of the IAF performing the signature ‘vertical charlie’ in the air.

According to the IAF, the theme for its R-Day tableau is ‘Indian Air Force: Safeguarding Indian Skies’.

The tableau will showcase scaled down models of Light Combat Aircraft, Sukhoi-30 MKI and Low Level Light Weight Radar, which have been indigenously designed and manufactured.

“The theme underlines the air defence capabilities of the IAF and its commitment to defend the airspace of our country against any threat,” the official said.

Flt Lt Srikant Sharma, who will lead the IAF marching contingent on Rajpath on the Republic Day was ecstatic and said, “It was fulfilment of another dream.”

“I have seen R-Day parade on TV and on Rajpath since childhood days and getting into the Armed Forces was a dream come true and this opportunity to lead the contingent is an icing on the cake,” he told PTI.

Flt Lt Pankaj Choudhary and Flying Officers Ragi Ramachandran and Vikas Yadav will be in the vanguard led by Sharma, the IAF said.

Ramachandran said it was a “moment of great pride” that also “inspires great humility in me” given the prestige the Republic Day celebrations hold for one and all.

Republic Day, An-32, IAF, Indian Air Force http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/An-32_Aircraft_PTI.jpg Experimental Test Pilots and Test Engineer from IAF s premier testing establishment ASTE pose for photos after flying India s first military flight using blended bio-jet fuel on the An-32 transport aircraft in New Delhi Monday Dec. 17 2018. | (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/republic-day-iaf-to-showcase-aircraft-flying-on-mix-of-jet-fuel-and-biofuel-1925957.html 1925898 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 09:57 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: The high-powered Selection Committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to meet on January 24 to appoint the new CBI director succeeding Alok Verma whose ouster has triggered a major political row.

Besides Modi, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and the Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge are other members of the panel. Kharge had demanded that the panel meeting be convened at the earliest to appoint a new director of CBI as the agency cannot be run by an interim director, whose appointment he termed as illegal.

IPS officer M Nageswara Rao was named as the interim director of the CBI following Verma’s removal. The sources said the government had proposed the meeting on January 21 earlier while Kharge wanted the meeting on January 24 or 25.

After mutual consultations, the sources said, the government has finalised January 24 as the date for the meeting to select the new CBI Director, after Kharge is reported to have given his go-ahead for the date.

The post of CBI chief is lying vacant ever since Alok Verma was removed as CBI Director and appointed as Director General Fire Service in the meeting on January 10, in which Kharge gave his dissenting note. Verma was removed within 48 hours of the Supreme Court reinstating him on the post.

Kharge had opposed the removal of Verma and instead demanded that he be compensated as the government removed him from the post for 77 days and thus be given an extension.

The Congress has been attacking the prime minister for not appointing a regular CBI Director. Kharge had also written to the prime minister demanding early holding of the meeting of the high powered committee to appoint a regular CBI Director.

CBI director selection, CBI, CBI selection committee, Mallikarjun Kharge, Narendra Modi, Chief Justice of India, Alok Verma http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/cbi-mainFF01.jpg Image of CBI Headquarters for representational purpose (File photo | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/pm-headed-panel-likely-to-meet-on-january-24-to-appoint-new-cbi-director-1925898.html 1925951 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 09:53 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: The BJP has spent over Rs 122 crore to contest assembly elections in Karnataka and another Rs 14 crore in three Northeast states, according to expenditure details submitted by the party to the Election Commission.

The party recently submitted ‘election expenditure statements’ for polls in four states and said it has spent Rs 122.68 crore during the Karnataka polls that took place in May last year.

JDS-Congress coalition formed a government in the state after the polls.

The party also sent in a similar report of expenses, made by its central office and state units, to the Commission for contesting polls in Northeast states of Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland.

The report filed by the BJP said it has spent over Rs 14.18 crore to contest polls in these states, where elections took place last year.

While in Meghalaya the party spent Rs 3.8 crore, it spent Rs 6.96 crore in Tripura and Rs 3.36 crore in Nagaland.

The expenses include cost incurred by the party on its star campaigners, media, publicity, processions, helicopter sorties, election paraphernalia and road travel of its leaders and candidates.

BJP Election Budget, Karnataka Elections, Karnataka Polls http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/BJP_flags_EPS12.jpg For representational purposes (File | EPS) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/bjp-spent-over-rs-122-crore-for-karnataka-poll-campaign-rs-14-crore-in-three-northeast-states-1925951.html 1925946 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 09:50 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Wednesday dismissed the pleas of five states seeking modification of its directions which had set out selection procedure and the two- year minimum fixed tenure for the director general of police (DGP), saying the 2006 verdict wanted to insulate police machinery from “political” and “executive” interference.

Punjab, Haryana, West Bengal, Kerala and Bihar had moved the apex court seeking modification of the 2006 verdict on police reforms and its subsequent July 3, 2018 order dealing with the selection procedure and fixed tenure of DGPs on the ground that they have enacted local laws or procedures on these aspects.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi noted that in the verdict, the court had devised the mechanism of selection and fixed tenure of DGPs “while seeking to resolve the issue of insulation of the police machinery from political/executive interference” and the directions were “wholesome” and if implemented, would subserve “public interest”.

“The practice (of selection having UPSC play a role in empanelling IPS officers for appointment as DGPs) which has been followed further fortifies our view that, for the present, the directions in Prakash Singh (judgement) read with the order of this court, dated July 3, 2018, would not require any correction or modification.

All the applications (of five states) are dismissed accordingly,” the bench, also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and S K Kaul, said.

On the selection and tenure of DGP, the apex court, in 2006, had directed that the police chief shall be selected by the state government from three senior-most police officers who have been empanelled for promotion to that rank by the UPSC on the basis of their “length of service, very good record and range of experience for heading the police force”.

It had also said that once an officer has been selected for the job, he or she should have a minimum tenure of at least two years irrespective of his date of superannuation.

The judgement had further said that the DGP may, however, be relieved of his responsibilities by the state acting in consultation with the State Security Commission on grounds like “conviction in a criminal offence or in a case of corruption, or if he is otherwise incapacitated from discharging his duties”.

The directions were reiterated by the apex court on July 3, 2018, when it further directed that the states cannot appoint any acting DGP and will have to follow the selection procedure with UPSC’s role in it.

It had passed a slew of directions on police reforms and stated that the states will have to send a list of senior police officers to the UPSC at least three months prior to the retirement of the incumbent.

The commission will then prepare a panel of three officers and intimate to the states, which in turn will immediately appoint one of the persons from that list.

Modifications of these directions were sought by states like Punjab which enacted a local law in 2007.

The law provided separate selection procedures having no role of the UPSC in the empanelment of senior police officers for appointment as DGPs.

Punjab, in 2018, amended the law.

The apex court noted that a plea challenging the local law of Punjab was already pending before it and “any expression of opinion of this court on the contentions raised may have the effect of pre-judging the issues arising in the writ petition.”

“On an in-depth consideration, we are left with no doubt that the said directions, keeping in mind the spirit in which the court has proceeded to issue the same, as set out in paragraph 12 of the judgment in Prakash Singh, are wholesome and if the same are implemented, it will subserve public interest until such time that the matter is heard finally,” it said.

UPSC Secretary Rakesh Kumar Gupta, who appeared before the court, said that in pursuance of the judgement, a panel of eligible officers in the rank of DGP or the additional DGP had been drawn up by a committee of commission in as many as 12 states and panels consisted of representatives of the UPSC, the Centre and the state governments concerned.

Taking note of the prevalent practice, the court said it further “fortifies” the view that, for the present, the directions would not require any correction or modification.

The apex court, while deciding the PIL filed by two former DGPs Prakash Singh and N K Singh in 2006, had issued several directions, including setting up of a state security commission, to ensure that the government does not exercise unwarranted influence on the police.

It had said the appointment of DGPs and police officers should be merit-based and transparent and officers like DGPs and Superintendents of Police (SPs) should have a minimum fixed tenure of two years.

However, when states enacted laws providing a mechanism for DGP selection, the apex court had on July 3 last year kept the state laws in abeyance.

http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/SupremeCoaurtPTI12121_PT12I12r.jpg Supreme Court (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/sc-rejects-pleas-of-five-states-seeking-modification-of-order-on-dgps-selection-1925946.html 1925941 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 09:47 PM +0530

AHMEDABAD: No delegation from Pakistan would be attending the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said here Wednesday.

Heads of state of some countries are expected to reach Gandhinagar for the 9th edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Summit beginning January 18.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the event and hold one-on-one meetings with the leaders on the sidelines of the summit.

There was a controversy when the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), while inviting global trade bodies for the investors’ meet, had also invited the Karachi Chamber of Commerce for the mega event.

Indo-Pak diplomatic ties have been strained in recent times over the issue of terrorism.

“No delegation from Pakistan is coming for the Vibrant Gujarat Summit,” Rupani said.

The issue (of Pak participation) was discussed, he added.

He did not elaborate.

Gujarat Chief Secretary J N Singh had last week said there was nothing wrong in inviting Pakistan’s trade body for the summit.

The GCCI had decided to invite global trade bodies during the Vibrant Gujarat Summit and the state government had agreed to it.

The Karachi Chamber of Commerce was among the global trade bodies invited by GCCI.

The Gujarat government had not sent any invitation, Singh said.

The Pakistani trade body was invited to participate in the ‘Global Conclave of International Chambers’ event to be held during the Summit.

In 2013, a trade delegation from Pakistan had come to Gujarat to participate in the summit but due to tension on the border, the delegation left without attending the main event.

No Pakistani delegation was invited for the investor meets held in 2015 and 2017.

The summit was initiated in 2003 by Modi when he was the chief minister, to promote investment in Gujarat and to establish it as the preferred investment destination in India.

Vijay Rupani, Vibrant Gujarat Summit, Karachi Chamber of Commerce http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Vijay_Rupani_PTI12.jpg Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/no-pakistan-delegation-at-vibrant-gujarat-summit-cm-vijay-rupani-1925941.html 1925935 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 09:34 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has sought responses from the Centre and Maharashtra government on a plea challenging the Bombay High Court order which had refused to restrain authorities from taking steps regarding the proposed Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial project in the Arabian Sea.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S K Kaul issued notices on the plea which has challenged the November 2 last year order of the high court.

Advocate Nishant R Katneshwarkar, who appeared for Maharashtra, said that while issuing notice on the plea, the bench orally told him to ask the authorities not to proceed with the construction activity there.

The petitioner NGO, Conservation Action Trust, had moved the high court challenging the February 23, 2015 order of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) granting environmental and coastal regulation zone clearance to the Rs 3,600 crore project in Mumbai.

It had sought interim relief that stay should be granted on the order and the authorities restrained from taking further steps with regard to the project.

The petitioner had claimed in the high court that amendment in a clause of the Coastal Zone Notification 2011 by a February 17, 2015 notification of the MoEF&CC was “illegal” as it permitted the Centre to dispense with the requirement of a public hearing in such projects.

The state government had opposed the plea in the high court and had said that clearances were taken for the project from different authorities.

It had argued that final environmental and CRZ clearance of February 23, 2015 was granted by the MoEF&CC after a detailed study and after ascertaining the compliance of all requirements and after following proper procedure.

The high court, while rejecting the petitioner’s request for interim relief, had noted in its order that state has said that the memorial project does not involve rehabilitation and resettlement of public, and the site is located away from human habitation.

“It also cannot be overlooked that the project is considered by the state government to be of national importance,” the high court had noted in its order.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Supreme_Court_EPS112.jpg Supreme Court (File | EPS) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/chhatrapati-shivaji-maharaj-memorial-sc-notice-to-centre-fadnavis-government-1925935.html 1925931 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 09:18 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: Investigative agencies are looking to identify foreign and domestic assets of Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland scam, to unravel the purported kickbacks generated by him and his associates to swing the defence deal in the favour of the Anglo-Italian firm.

Officials involved in the probe said investigative agencies have detected that Michel possesses properties and bank accounts in at least four countries and they suspect that a number of them have been created during the time the deal was being inked.

They suspect some of the assets could also be in India and are held in a ‘benami’ manner where the actual owner could be linked to the British national, extradited last month to India from the UAE.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) in 2015 had attached properties worth about Rs 1.12 crore in Delhi that were linked to Michel under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

ALSO READ: Consular access granted to VVIP chopper deal middleman Christian Michel: MEA

Officials said the agencies are now looking to identify his assets so that they can be similarly attached.

This will also help the agencies to establish the money trail in the deal, they added.

The agencies are taking help of their counterparts in the UAE and the UK, among other countries, to not only obtain details of immovable properties but also information on bank accounts, they said.

Michel is among the three alleged middlemen being probed in the case by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The others are Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.

Michel was arrested in the UAE and extradited to India on December 4.

Currently, he is in judicial custody.

ALSO READ: VVIP chopper case: Court allows alleged middleman Christian Michel to make international calls

The ED, which is probing this case along with the CBI, had filed a charge sheet against Michel in 2016 and had alleged that he received 30 million euros (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland which was nothing but “kickbacks” to execute the 12-helicopter deal in favour of the firm in “guise of” of genuine transactions for performing multiple work contracts in the country.

ED investigations have detected remittances made by Michel through his Dubai-based firm Global Services, FZE to a media firm he floated in Delhi, along with two Indians.

According to the agency, the firm was nothing but a “shell company” to “launder the proceeds of crime”.

The PMLA probe found that AgustaWestland Chief Executive Officer Bruno Spagnolini was paying “kickbacks” to Michel and the two other middlemen in the guise of numerous “consultancy contracts” and Michel alone received 30 million euros in his Dubai company accounts and others under this arrangement.

The probe also found that Michel had hired a firm to provide to him from India an analysis of market publications related to manufacturing industry active in the Indian defence arena, the economic and financial trends in the country and overall views on private sector participation in Indian defence and manufacturing industry.

On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying the 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over an alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.

The CBI has alleged there was an estimated loss of about Rs 2,666 crore to the exchequer in the deal that was signed on February 8, 2010, for the supply of VVIP choppers worth 556.262 million euros.

VVIP Chopper Scam, AgustaWestland, Christian Michel http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Christian_Michel_PTI.jpg Christian Michel (Photo: File / PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/vvip-chopper-scam-to-ascertain-money-trail-probe-agencies-looking-to-identify-christian-michels-l-1925931.html 1925930 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 09:12 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: Last year’s press conference by four senior-most judges including Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has not served its purpose and instead the concerns raised at it like the functioning of the Collegium for the appointment of judges for higher judiciary have aggravated, a former CJI said Wednesday.

Justice (retd) R M Lodha, who was the CJI from April 27 to September 27, 2014, was critical of the decision of the five-member Collegium headed by CJI Gogoi to bypass senior judges and recommend the elevation of Justice Sanjeev Khanna of the Delhi High Court as a judge of the Supreme Court.

He said in the controversial media briefing of January 12, 2018, the present CJI as the second senior-most judge, had raised a litany of issues against his predecessor Justice Dipak Misra and the appointment of judges for higher judiciary was one of them.

“The concerns remain the same. Rather, they seem to have aggravated by this exercise (recent recommendations). I don’t think there is any change. At least it is not visible to the public at large. It has not served its purpose because we don’t find the changes which the press conference wanted to have really taken place,” Justice Lodha told PTI.

The other judges at the press conference — justices J Chelameswar, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph — have since retired.

When asked what could be the future course of action, Justice (retd) Lodha said if the Collegium has sent the recommendation then the ball is in the government’s court and now unless the Collegium calls its back, it seems unlikely that anything will change.

“Now the government will take its call and then it will be sent to the President of India. Looking at the overall reaction and perception, it would be better if the matter is recalled and the matter is considered threadbare but this seems to be unlikely to me,” he said.

Justice Lodha said that the only remedy is that for the future the Collegium considers other names like it happened with Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, the Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court who was from Rajasthan.

“He was superseded six weeks back and his junior Justice Ajay Rastogi was brought to the Supreme Court and now within six weeks, Justice Maheshwari is the most deserving by the Collegium. So those who have been overlooked can always be considered so there is no bar,” Justice Lodha said.

The Collegium, also comprising justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde, N V Ramana and Arun Mishra, on January 10 recommended names of justices Maheshwari and Khanna for elevation as apex court judges.

Names of chief justices of Rajasthan High Court and Delhi High Court — justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Rajendra Menon — were considered by the Collegium on December 12, 2018 for elevation but the deliberation remained inconclusive and one member of the Collegium, Justice M B Lokur, retired on December 30, 2018.

His place in the Collegium was taken by Justice Arun Mishra.

The new Collegium on January 10 ignored their prospect of elevation as apex court judges.

http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Lodha-AFP1.jpg Justice Lodha RM Lodha (File | AFP) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/january-12-2018-presser-by-judges-has-not-served-purpose-former-cji-lodha-on-collegium-1925930.html 1925926 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 09:01 PM +0530

CHANDIGARH: A special court in Panchkula will pronounce the sentence on Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and three others in the journalist murder case through video conference on Thursday.

The CBI court on Wednesday accepted the plea of Haryana government which had sought appearance of the 51-year-old sect head through video conferencing during the pronouncement of quantum of sentence for the murder of journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati, said CBI Counsel HPS Verma.

On January 11, Special CBI Court Judge Jagdeep Singh had convicted the self-styled godman and three others – Kuldeep Singh, Nirmal Singh and Krishan Lal – in the murder case. All the four were convicted under Section 302 (murder) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. Nirmal Singh and Krishan Lal were also convicted under the Arms Act.

The state government had filed the plea on Tuesday, citing that the movement of Dera chief could lead to law and order situation. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is currently serving a 20-year prison term in Rohtak’s Sunaria jail for raping two of his women followers. Verma said counsels of all the four convicts will be in present in the court when the quantum of sentence will be pronounced.

Meanwhile, security has been beefed up in Panchkula and other parts of Haryana. The journalist was killed in Haryana’s Sirsa city in 2002 after his newspaper published a letter alleging sexual exploitation of women by the self-styled godman.

Chhatrapati was shot outside his house in October 2002 after his newspaper ‘Poora Sach’ published an anonymous letter narrating the alleged sexual exploitation of women followers by Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh at the Dera headquarters in Sirsa.

The Dera chief was named as the main conspirator in the case. Chhatrapati’s family had approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2003, seeking transfer of the case to the CBI. The investigation was later handed over to the CBI which filed a charge sheet in July 2007.

Dera Sacha Sauda, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Panchkula CBI court http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Dera-top1guru_chief.jpeg Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/dss-chief-gurmeet-ram-rahim-to-appear-in-court-via-video-conference-for-murder-case-sentence-1925926.html 1925914 Nation Harpreet Singh Bajwa Express News Service Wednesday, January 16, 2019 08:49 PM +0530

CHANDIGARH: Punjab Director General of Punjab Police Suresh Arora has been given eight-month extension in service by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The orders in this regard were issued by MHA in the union government came on a day when the Supreme Court rejected pleas made by five states, including Punjab, seeking modification of its earlier order on the appointment of heads of the state police.

A 1982-batch IPS officer Arora was given three-month extension last year till December 31 as he retired on September 30 and then got one-month extension by the Supreme Court as the case was in the court. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved extension in service of Arora as the DGP for an overall period of twelve months beyond the date of his superannuation, which is September 30, 2018.

He was appointed the DGP of Punjab in 2015 by the then SAD-BJP Government and then he continued in the Congress Government. The apex court had in July last year outlined the procedures for the appointment of regular DGPs in states. Thus with this extension, he joins the police officers who were in the race for the top coveted post. They include SK Goel of 1984 batch who is presently on central deputation and is posted in RAW and retires in 2020. Mohammed Mustafa of 1985 batch who is presently posted as DGP STF, Punjab and also DGP of Punjab State Human Rights Commission who retires in 2012.

Another officer of 1985 batch Hardeep Singh Dhillon, a jat Sikh officer who is presently DGP (Law and Order) as he retires on March 31, 2019. A1986 batch officer Siddharth Chattopadhyaya who is DGP, Punjab State Power Corporation and retires in 2022. Another 1986 batch IPS officer Jasminder Singh who is DGP (IVC) retires this year and Dinkar Gupta a 1987 batch IPS officer presently posted as DGP (Intelligence) and retires in 2024.

Suresh Arora, Punjab DGP Suresh Arora http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/10/w600X390/More.jpg Image used for representational purpose only http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/punjab-dgp-suresh-arora-gets-extension-till-september-30-1925914.html 1925922 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 08:30 PM +0530

KOLKATA: The West Bengal unit of the BJP has decided to seek permission for 10 to 12-day long four-phased ‘Rath Yatras’ from the state government, a senior party leader said Wednesday. A fresh itinerary of the ‘Rath Yatras’, in accordance with the directives of the Supreme Court, will be submitted to the government.

The proposed ‘Rath Yatras’ of the BJP in West Bengal were put on hold on Tuesday by the Supreme Court, which asked the party to seek fresh approval from the Mamata Banerjee government in the state by submitting a revised proposal, saying the law-and-order apprehensions were not ‘totally unfounded’. “We have decided to submit the new 10 to 12-day schedule of four-phased ‘Rath Yatras’ to the state government. Let us see whether the state gives us permission or not,” BJP state vice president Jai Prakash Majumdar said.

According to the proposal, four chariots will begin their journey from four venues — Coochbehar, Kakdwip (South 24 Parganas), Krishnanagar (Nadia) and Birbhum district. The state BJP leadership, however, declined to give the exact dates of the ‘yatras’ they are planning to submit to the state government. “Initially, our proposal was for a 40-day long yatra. The state declined to give us permission. Then we submitted a 20-day-long schedule which too was declined permission. So now, we will submit a 10 to 12-day long yatra (schedule),” another senior BJP leader said.

The apex court had put the BJP’s proposed ‘Rath Yatras’ on hold, but allowed the West Bengal unit of the party to continue with its proposed public rallies and meetings under its ‘Ganatantra Bachao Yatra”.

The SC bench, in its verdict, asked the Trinamool Congress government in the state to consider the fresh, revised proposal of the saffron party keeping in mind the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under the Constitution.

It also said that the government should respond to the revised proposal of the BJP with “utmost expedition”, keeping in mind that with the commencement of the CBSE and other board examinations, use of loudspeakers might be banned.

WB BJP, Rath Yatras, Mamata Banerjee, Supreme Court Rath Yatra http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2018/12/20/w600X390/No_HC_greenG.jpg BJP’s preparations for Rath Yatra. (Photo: File / PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/will-seek-permission-for-10-to-12-day-long-rath-yatras-wb-bjp-vice-president-1925922.html 1925921 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 08:20 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: Dubbing the RPF as a “toothless” organisation, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha on Wednesday strongly pitched for more powers for it even as his senior ministerial colleague Piyush Goyal played down his concerns, asserting that regardless of law they should move on with their work.

Goyal also said an amendment to the existing Railways Act was only a “technicality” and urged the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and the Government Railway Police (GRP) to work together to secure railways and passengers.

Speaking at a conference on security of railways, both Sinha and RPF Director General Arun Kumar pushed for handing over the registration, enquiry and detection of passenger-related crimes on board running trains to the force.

Currently, even if a crime is detected by the RPF, the case has to be handed over to the GRP for further enquiry. “RPF is a toothless organisation. It is involved in security but has no powers. Despite ability and efforts, the RPF has not got the powers it deserves. However, it is blamed for everything that happens on railway premises. But the reality is that other than taking care (of railway property), RPF has no real powers. An amendment in the law, I personally feel, is the need of the hour,” Sinha said.

However, Goyal asserted that “whether the law is changed or not, whether the GRP does it or the RPF, these are all technicalities. We have to decide that we need to work together to secure passengers. Then law will not come in the way.”

The RPF DG also highlighted how his force can leverage its inherent advantage of having an all India jurisdiction to prevent and detect crime in moving trains.

Since the jurisdiction of an RPF posts cuts across jurisdiction of many police stations, it has an advantage of identifying a place of occurrence, quick registration of the case and subsequent detection, Kumar added. “Therefore, we may consider empowering RPF to register, investigate and detect passenger luggage thefts so that the state police can concentrate on checking serious crimes like robbery, dacoity, rape, murder and focus its efforts in the maintenance of law and order in railway premises.”

A draft bill for amendment in Railways Act to empower RPF to register, enquire and prosecute cases of passenger luggage theft and crime against women has been approved to be sent to the cabinet for further legislative action,” he said.

Kumar also said that the issue of reporting and registration of crime against passengers is a weak link in the security apparatus which affects the service delivery to the passengers. The victim has to run from pillar to post to get his FIR registered without which the criminal justice system would not set in motion, he said.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was also participating in the conference, suggested to Goyal to start a facility by which passengers can file FIRs online.

“There is no facility for a passenger to file an FIR online. If somebody is travelling by train (and something happens), he need to visit GRP station to get an FIR registered. It will then go to the state, to the district and eventually to the police station concerned. There is no guarantee that he would get justice,” the minister said.

“You (Railway Ministry official) need to discuss and decide on this (online FIR). We will provide all possible support from the Ministry of Home Affairs,” Singh said, citing the ‘crime and criminal tracking network and system’ (CCTNS) for the integration of state police work implemented by his ministry.

According to official data, the RPF have arrested 146 person for alleged crime against women and handed over to the GRP and 1,39,422 male passengers were prosecuted for travelling in ladies coaches in 2018.

Special measures were taken to ensure care and protection of distressed children in trains and on railway premises, the DG said, adding the RPF was also instrumental in the rescue of 13091 children in need of care and protection during 2018.

RPF, GRP, Manoj Sinha, MoS Railways, Piyush Goyal http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/RPF_EPS.jpg Railway Protection Force (File | EPS) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/mos-railways-dubs-rpf-as-toothless-demands-more-power-for-it-1925921.html 1925777 Nation Anand ST Das Express News Service Wednesday, January 16, 2019 08:09 PM +0530

PATNA: A gram kachhari (village court) secretary and his neighbour were shot dead in Bihar’s Jamui by the Maoists on suspicion of them being police informers, police said on Wednesday.

Nearly 25 armed cadres of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) group swooped down on Garurbad village under Chakai police station of the southern district late on Tuesday night. They shot dead the two men – village court secretary Mohammad Usman, 40, and his neighbour Mohammad Ghulam, 38 – after storming into their houses. Usman’s wife, Sabreen Khatoon, received a bullet in her hand and is currently undergoing treatment at Chakai referral hospital.

AK-47 rifles were used in the operation by the Maoists that included at least six women cadres, said police officials. The cops also stated that the team was led by four area commanders – Sidhu Kora, Arvind Yadav, Pintu Rana and his (Rana’s) wife Karuna.  

“The Maoists entered the houses of the two men and dragged them out of bed. The duo was beaten up before being shot dead,” said Chakai police station in-charge Chandeshwar Paswan. The twin murders left the residents of the village, which is close to a jungle, horrified.

The rebels left behind a poster written in Hindi with bold, red ink that read, “The punishment for being police informers is death”.

“Teams of district police and paramilitary forces are carrying out a combing operation around the village. No arrest has been made so far,” said Jamui sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) Kumar Bhaskar.

Jamui is one of four districts in Bihar which comes under the 30 districts that remain the most affected by leftwing extremism in the country. The other three districts are Aurangabad, Gaya and Lakhisarai.

Bihar, Jamui district , Maoists, Bihar Maoists http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Naxal-Maoists-AFP.jpg For representational purposes (File | AFP) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/two-villagers-killed-in-naxal-attack-in-bihars-jamui-district-1925777.html 1925916 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 08:06 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: The railways has started public announcements for Kumbh Mela in Allahabad in six languages to benefit the non-Hindi speaking passengers which is likely to continue beyond March 4 when the mela ends, a senior railway official said on Wednesday.

The system, which runs on software specially designed for this purpose, auto-records an announcement, which is then translated by the specially developed software in six languages: English, Gujarati, Marathi, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam.

“We realized very early in our preparations for the Kumbh Mela that we would be needing such a multilingual announcement system at the actual time when the Mela would be in progress,” said North Central Railway (NCR) spokesperson Gaurav Krishna Bansal. “Our Commercial department set to work on an Artificial Intelligence (AI) based system which was a success and has started working at Allahabad Junction,” he said.

Besides the languages mentioned above, work is in progress on automatic translation of Hindi announcements in Telugu, Oriya and Bengali. “In the first phase, this system has started working at Allahabad Junction at the platforms and in the passenger enclosures since January 14.

In the second phase, it is planned to extend it to Naini and Allahabad Cheoki stations as well as the Sangam area (Railway Camp) before the second main bathing day on January 21. “The system has already proven its worth and utility by helping non-Hindi-speaking passengers locate their kith and kin on the station amongst the rush,” he said.

In future, NCR is planning to develop a face to face enquiry system based on artificial intelligence which can be used by non-Hindi-speaking passengers to get answers to their unique queries from personnel manning the enquiry counters of stations, he said.

Officials say since the technology is already with the railways, this system can be replicated across the railway network at a later date.

North Central Railway, Allahabad Junction, Allahabad station announcements http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Allahabad_Jn.jpg Allahabad Junction Railway station. http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/railways-to-make-announcements-in-six-languages-for-kumbh-mela-more-to-be-added-soon-1925916.html 1925911 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 07:51 PM +0530

GANDHINAGAR: The BJP on Wednesday sounded confident about winning all the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat in the ensuing general elections, a feat it achieved in 2014.

The party’s election in-charge for Gujarat, Om Prakash Mathur, said poll preparations have already started for an encore in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also BJP chief Amit Shah.

“BJP fights every election as a challenge. No one believed us when we had said that BJP will win all the 26 seats in 2014 polls. But, we won all the seats (in Gujarat). This time too, we are fully confident that BJP will win all the 26 Lok Sabha seats,” he told reporters here.

“Gujarat BJP unit had started the preparations for the 2019 polls immediately after winning the 2014 general elections. We have already segregated 50,000-odd polling booths into clusters and started reaching out to voters,” said the BJP vice-president.

Besides achievements of the Modi-led government, development works of the BJP administration in Gujarat will be highlighted during the poll campaign, said Mathur, who visited the state for the first time after being appointed election in -charge last month.

Before leaving, Mathur would hold meetings with key Gujarat BJP leaders to take stock of the ground situation in the party-ruled state.

Om Prakash Mathur, Gujarat BJP, 2019 elections, Narendra Modi, Amit Shah http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Om_Prakash_Mathur.jpg Om Prakash Mathur (in centre) speaking to reporters on Wednesday. (Photo| Twitter/ Om Prakash Mathur) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/bjp-will-retain-all-26-lok-sabha-seats-in-gujarat-gujarat-bjp-election-in-charge-1925911.html 1925904 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 07:16 PM +0530

KOLKATA: Jadavpur University on Wednesday divested professor Kanak Sarkar of teaching duties and barred him from entering the campus with immediate effect, pending inquiries, following outrage over his Facebook post in which he likened a virgin woman to a “sealed bottle”.

“In view of the recommendation of the Department of International Relations, Prof Kanak Sarkar is divested of his teaching duties with immediate effect. Substitute arrangements will be decided in the meeting of the Board of Studies on January 18,” a university notification said.

Vice-Chancellor Suranjan Das told reporters that Sarkar won’t be allowed to “take classes or enter the varsity campus with immediate effect” till the inquiries of the university-appointed committee, the State Women’s Commission and National Women’s Commission are over.

“We took the step after talking to students and department of International Relations and the internal code of conduct committee of the institute on the issue,” he said.

Sarkar, a professor of International Relations department, had likened a virgin woman to a “sealed bottle” or “packet” in his post on Sunday. Though he had deleted the post, screenshots of it went viral.

A top university official said, “The university is taking stringent measures in consultation with legal experts against Sarkar in sync with the statute of the institute.”

Facing criticism, a defiant Sarkar had appeared to justify his comments, asserting that it was intended for “fun” among a social media group of friends and “not for public consumption”.

“Someone took a screenshot of the post and forwarded it, which triggered the response. I did not intend to hurt anyone’s sentiment or insult any woman,” he said.

He also said according to a Supreme Court order every individual is entitled to express his opinion.

Jadavpur University, Kanak Sarkar, Facebook post, virgin woman http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/kanak_sarkar_1547445975_725x725.jpg Kanak Sarkar, Jadavpur University professor. (Photo: Facebook) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/jadavpur-university-prof-kanak-sarkar-barred-from-teaching-entering-campus-after-facebook-post-lik-1925904.html 1925903 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 07:13 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his comments on the Kerala government over the Sabarimala issue, the CPI(M) on Wednesday said though he took an oath on the Constitution, he was speaking like a ‘pracharak’ of the RSS.

The party said the Modi’s comments on the issue were “atrocious and condemnable”. “Mr Modi forgot that he had taken oath on the Constitution of India and he spoke as an RSS pracharak, not as the Prime Minister. His statement constitutes a direct assault on the Indian Constitution and the Supreme Court,” the party said in a statement.

It said the state government was implementing the judgement of the Supreme Court, and the prime minister’s statement has “dangerous implications for the future”. “This means that any Supreme Court judgement which does not suit the interests of the BJP and RSS will be defied and the government seeking to implement it will be attacked by them. In the history of independent India, this is an unprecedented situation. All those who subscribe to the constitution and secular democratic values will condemn the stand of the PM,” the party said.

On a visit to Kerala Tuesday, Modi tore into the CPI(M)-led LDF government over the Sabarimala temple issue, saying this will go down as “one of the most shameful behaviour” by any party and government in the country.

Since the shrine opened for the Mandalam-Makaravilakku festivities on November 17, it witnessed massive protests by devotees and right-wing outfits against the state government’s decision to implement the Supreme Court’s order, allowing women of all ages to enter the temple.

Traditionally, girls and women in the menstruating age group of 10-50 years were barred from offering prayers at the shrine, the presiding deity of which is “Naishtika Brahamachari” (perennial celebate).

The hill shrine would be closed on January 20.

Violence involving BJP-RSS and the ruling CPI(M) rocked parts of Kerala during the January 3 shutdown with several houses and shops of rival leaders and workers being attacked over the entry of two women into the temple.

Sabarimala issue, CPI(M), Modi Sabarimala issue, Modi RSS, CPI(M) Sabarimala http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Modi-Pinarayi.jpg Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Photo | BP Deepu/EPS) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/pm-speaking-like-rss-pracharak-cpim-on-pm-modis-comments-over-sabarimala-1925903.html 1925902 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 07:07 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday granted approval to an expenditure of over Rs 3,600 crore for setting up of 13 new central universities within the next 36 months.

The new Central universities were established under the Central Universities Act, 2009 in Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.

While one university each is to be set up in 11 of these states, Jammu and Kashmir will get two new central varsities.

“The Cabinet has given its approval for incurring an expenditure of Rs 3,639.32 crore for the 13 central universities for recurring cost and creation of necessary infrastructure for completion of the campuses. The work will be completed within 36 months,” Union Minister Piyush Goyal said at a press conference.

“The Cabinet has also given ex-post facto approval for Rs 1,474.65 crore being the amount spent over and above the earlier cabinet approval of Rs 3,000 crore for these central universities,” he added.

The minister said the move will increase access to higher education and set exemplary standards for other universities to emulate and will help in minimising the regional imbalances in educational facilities.

central universities, Piyush Goyal http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2018/11/17/w600X390/Piyush_Goyal_PTII.jpg Piyush Goyal (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/cabinet-approves-rs-3600-crore-for-setting-up-13-central-varsities-1925902.html 1925901 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 07:03 PM +0530

CHANDIGARH: Punjab Congress on Wednesday suspended its MLA from Zira from the party on the charge of indiscipline, days after his public outburst at an event.

The state unit had earlier issued a show cause notice the legislator Kulbir Singh Zira after he had alleged inaction against contractors selling illicit liquor.

“Kulbir Singh Zira has been suspended from the primary membership of the party for indiscipline,” Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar told reporters here on Wednesday.

Jakhar said Zira should not have aired his grievance at a public function.

He could have raised his matter at party forum.

On January 12, Zira had left his party embarrassed after he boycotted a district level function in protest against alleged inaction against contractors selling illicit liquor in Ferozepur.

He had even accused some police officers including one of an IG rank of being in cahoots with such liquor contractors.

Punjab Congress, Kulbir Singh Zira http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/15/w600X390/Congress12_Flag_P12TI_Photo.jpg For representational purposes (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/congress-mla-from-zira-suspended-for-indiscipline-1925901.html 1925900 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 06:59 PM +0530

JAIPUR: The bodies of a 28-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman were found on Wednesday in a well in Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu district, police said.

The man was identified as Rajesh and the woman was his neighbour, Guda police Station House Officer Ashok Chaudhary said.

He said both of them apparently had an affair. The duo had been missing since Tuesday night and their bodies were found in the well in Sigror village on Wednesday, he added.

No suicide note was recovered and a case was registered under CrPc section 174 (unnatural death), the SHO said. The bodies were handed over to the family members after post-mortem, he said.

Rajasthan well death, Jhunjhunu couple death http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/15/w600X390/Death_Photo1111212.jpg For representational purposes http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/bodies-of-man-with-alleged-lover-found-in-well-in-rajasthan-1925900.html 1925895 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 06:33 PM +0530

KOLKATA: The West Bengal Congress is “happy” that Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi will not attend Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s mega rally here on Saturday and wants Mallikarjun Kharge, who is expected to represent the party at the event, to highlight the alleged torture faced by its workers in the state, party leaders said on Wednesday.

The West Bengal Congress wanted the party’s national president and the UPA Chairperson to stay away from the January 19 rally, being dubbed as a mega opposition event by Trinamool Congress, and send another leader as Banerjee had also skipped the swearing-in ceremony of Kamal Nath as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister last month and had instead sent party MP Dinesh Trivedi.

Banerjee had said on Tuesday that Congress will be represented by Kharge, the party’s leader in Lok Sabha, at the joint opposition rally being hosted by TMC.

ALSO READ: Former Arunachal Pradesh CM Gegong Apang to participate in TMC rally

“We are happy that the party high-command has respected our sentiments. The sentiment of the state leadership was against Soniaji or Rahulji attending the January 19 rally. So we had requested the party high-command to consider the sentiments of the state unit,” a senior state Congress leader said.

According to state Congress sources, the Bengal Congress leadership is likely to send a brief to Kharge for his speech to be delivered at the rally.

“We will brief him (Kharge) on the reign of terror in West Bengal and how our party workers are fighting against policies of the state government despite all odds,” another state Congress leader said.

ALSO READ: TMC rally to see participation of political leaders from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, says Mamata Banerjee

Congress leaders told PTI on condition of anonymity that TMC is averse to Rahul Gandhi leading the opposition front and it was evident when DMK leader M K Stalin proposed his name as the PM candidate.

“We have also seen that after Congress’ victory in three Hindi heartland states – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh due to Rahulji’s leadership, all the opposition parties had congratulated him except TMC, which didn’t want to give credit to him,” a Congress leader said, while alleging that the TMC considers Rahul Gandhi as a threat for Banerjee’s prime ministerial ambitions.

After the Congress won three assembly elections last month, its state unit had said the TMC leaders were having “sleepless nights” fearing that their dream of Banerjee becoming the prime minister may not be fulfilled.

West Bengal , TMC rally, Sonia Gandhi​ http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Rahul_SoniaGandhi_PTI.jpg Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/west-bengal-congress​-happy-over-rahul-gandhi-sonia-gandhi​-not-attending-tmc-rally-1925895.html 1925893 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 06:25 PM +0530

JAMMU: A man, wanted in a rash driving case, was arrested Wednesday after over a 12-year-long hunt in Jammu and Kashmir’s Samba district, police said.

Harmeet Singh, a resident of the Rajbagh area of Kathua district, was arrested by a police party from the Mansar Morh area in Samba, a police spokesman said.

Singh was wanted in a case registered against him in 2006 under various sections of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC), including 279 (rash driving) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by act of endangering life or personal safety of others), he said.

He was sent to sub-jail Hiranagar, the spokesman said.

Jammu and Kashmir, J&K, J&K rash driving case, J&K rash driving http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/handcuffs_Photo.jpg For representational purposes (Express Illustrations) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/jammu-and-kashmir-man-wanted-in-rash-driving-case-arrested-after-12-years-1925893.html 1925889 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 06:21 PM +0530

AGARTALA: The Left Front in Tripura today said it would launch a week-long agitation, as the BJP-led government allegedly did not release the sanctioned budgetary amount to the TTAADC run by the opposition group, though only a little time are left for the financial year to end.

The TTAADC comprises two-third of the state’s territory and is home to the tribals, who constitute a third of the state’s population.

Tripura Left Front Chairman Bijan Dhar claimed that the Biplab Kumar Deb government has launched an “economic blockade” against the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) as it is run by the Left Front.

Addressing a press conference here, Dhar said the BJP-Indigenous Front of Tripura coalition which took over power in March last year, has reduced the budgetary sanction of the TTAADC from Rs 582.47 crore to Rs 117.43 crore in the 20182019 financial year.

“But the government is not releasing that amount also with a clear intension of crippling the development works in the TTAADC. We cannot keep mum in such situation. So we have decided to launch a week-long agitation from January 27 to till February 3,” he said.

Dhar, also a central committee member of the CPI(M), said the financial year would expire in March and the state government is yet to release Rs 95.38 crore to the tribal council.

Dhar said the Left Front would organize processions, street corner meetings and sit-in demonstrations in various parts of the state demanding immediate release the allocated funds for the tribal council.

The other demands include introduction of three-tier panchayat system in the tribal council area, to increase budgetary allocation for the council and inclusion of Kokbarak, the tribal language in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.

The TTAADC came into being in 1987 under Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to protect and safeguard the interests of the tribals.

Left Front, agitation, BJP, TTAADC http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/BJP_flags_EPS.jpg For representational purposes (File | EPS) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/bjp-government-not-releasing-funds-to-ttaadc-left-front-to-agitate-1925889.html 1925878 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 06:19 PM +0530

ITANAGAR: Four years after switching from the Congress to the BJP, former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Gegong Apang has quit the saffron party, saying it has become a platform to seek power.

Apang, who was chief minister of the Northeastern state for over 22 years, sent a two-page resignation letter to BJP chief Amit Shah on Tuesday.

“I am disappointed to see that the present BJP is no longer following the principles of Raj Dharam but has turned into a platform to seek power, serves a leadership which hates decentralization of democratic decision,” he wrote in the letter.

ALSO READ: Former Arunachal Pradesh CM Gegong Apang to participate in TMC rally

In 2014, the BJP used every dirty tricks to make Kalikho Pul the chief minister of Arunchal Pradesh and a BJP government was reinstalled despite an adverse Supreme Court ruling, he said.

“Neither a proper investigation was done on Pul’s suicide nor the present BJP leadership thought of morality and ethics by installing many more BJP governments in NE India,” the hard-hitting letter read.

He said announcing Pema Khandu’s name as chief minister before the election is neither the norm nor the tradition of the cadre-based party.

“Thus, I wish Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi should try to learn Raj Dharam as the history will judge your deeds.”

The 69-year-old resigned from the Congress and joined the BJP ahead of the 2014 general election.

Welcoming Apang’s decision, state Congress chief Takam Sanjoy said it reflected true colours of the BJP.

Congress legislator Takam Pario said the BJP applies “use and throw” policy to everyone.

He alleged Apang’s resignation is a slap on the BJP’s face.

Arunachal Pradesh, Gegong Apang , BJP http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Gegong_Apang_PTI.jpg Former Arunachal Pradesh CM Gegong Apang (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/former-arunachal-pradesh-cm-gegong-apang-quits-bjp-says-it-has-become-a-platform-to-seek-power-1925878.html 1925885 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 06:13 PM +0530

NOIDA: As many as 429 tigers have been poached and killed since 2008 across the country, with the maximum of 71 in Madhya Pradesh during the period, revealed data obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Year-wise, the maximum killings took place in 2011 when 80 tigers were poached, while the minimum of 17 occurred in 2015, according to the data from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), under the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The WCCB is a statutory body formed to combat organised wildlife crime in the country.

In 2018, 22 tigers were killed, down from 25 in 2017 and 48 in 2016, it stated in a written response.

Noida-based lawyer Ranjan Tomar had sought state-wise data from the bureau on the number of tigers killed by poachers since 2008.

The maximum killings of 71 tigers have been reported from MP, followed by 46 each in Maharashtra and Karnataka, 42 each in Assam and Chhattisgarh and 35 in Uttarakhand during the period, according to the data.

Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh reported 25 such killings each, 19 in Kerala, followed by 12 in West Bengal, 11 each in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, it stated.

Six tiger killings by poachers were reported in Delhi — two each in 2011 and 2012, one each in 2013 and 2014, and one in 2008, it added.

Notably, there are 14 states and Union Territories — Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Goa, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Puducherry, Punjab, Sikkim and Tripura — from where no such killings have been reported since 2008, according to the data.

“The number of tiger killings has come down in recent years, as shown in the data, which is good news for wildlife conservationists and enthusiasts.

However, the concern still looms large over such killings and poaching continuing,” Tomar said.

  “It is essential to save wildlife if we want to protect the environment.

Animals like elephants and tigers are critical to human survival because of their position in the natural food chain and losing them could endanger our existence,” the 30-year-old social activist told PTI.

Tomar had also sought details of the tiger census of 2008 and 2018 but the bureau said no such data was maintained by it.

There was also no information with the department on the amount of tiger skin or body parts recovered from poachers during the period.

poachers , tigers http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Kanha.jpg Image used for representational purpose. http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/429-tigers-killed-by-poachers-since-2008-reveals-rti-reply-1925885.html 1925884 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 06:11 PM +0530

KOLKATA: Former Arunachal Pradesh CM Gegong Apang, who has resigned from the BJP, is likely to participate in the January 19 rally of the Trinamool Congress.

“Gegong Apang will participate in Jan 19 rally. He has confirmed it,” a TMC source said Wednesday.

However, TMC leaders declined to comment on speculations that Apang is likely to join TMC on that day.

Apang, who was chief minister of the Northeastern state for over 22 years, sent a two-page resignation letter to BJP president Amit Shah on Tuesday.

“I am disappointed to see that the present BJP is no longer following the principles of Raj Dharam but has turned into a platform to seek power, serves a leadership which hates decentralization of democratic decision,” he wrote in the letter.

In a show of strength ahead of the national polls, TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has called for a mega opposition rally in Kolkata on January 19, which is likely to see participation of lakhs of her supporters.

Leaders of all major opposition parties have been invited to the rally to be held at the Brigade Parade ground in the heart of the city.

TMC rally, Gegong Apang, Arunachal Pradesh​ http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Gegong_Apang_PTI_Photo.jpg Former Arunachal Pradesh CM Gegong Apang (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/former-arunachal-pradesh​-cm-gegong-apang-to-participate-in-tmc-rally-1925884.html 1925880 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 06:08 PM +0530

KOLKATA: Slamming Prof Kanak Sarkar’s misogynist statement, Jadavpur University Vice-Chancellor Suranjan Das said on Wednesday it has sullied the image of the institution and “stringent” action would be taken against him.

Sarkar, a professor of International Relations department, had likened a virgin woman to a “sealed bottle” or “packet” in a Facebook post on Sunday, triggering an outrage. Though he had deleted the post, screenshots of it went viral.

“He is a teacher. His comment has sullied the image of the university. It will also take stringent action against him as per rules,” Das said, adding he had also “heard” that he had had made certain objectionable comments in the class in the past.

It has to be seen what kind of step could be taken against him as the statement was made on Facebook, the vice-chancellor said.

Das said he has come to know that both the National Commission for Women (NCW) and the West Bengal Commission for Women have taken suo motu cognisance of the statement of Sarkar.

The NCW    on Tuesday tweeted that it has written to the state Director General of Police Virendra to investigate the matter and take appropriate action. An NCW team would also meet the vice-chancellor on this issue this week.

Das said the West Bengal Commission for Women (WBCW) has sought an explanation from Sarkar.

“He (Sarkar) has been asked an explanation (by the WBCW). We also received its letter,” Das told reporters on the sidelines of the convocation of St Xavier’s College here.

The students had boycotted Sarkar’s classes on Tuesday.

Asked if he would ask the students to get back to his class, the vice-chancellor said he would not.

Student unions of the university on Tuesday submitted memoranda to Das, demanding strict action against the professor.

“They (students) can come and meet me. It will be seen what can be done. I also heard that he had had made certain (objectionable) comments in the class in the past,” he said.

Sarkar, in his post, wrote: “Are you willing to buy a broken seal while purchasing a bottle of cold drink or a packet of biscuits? It is the same case with your wife.

“A girl is biologically sealed from birth until it is opened. A virgin girl means many things accompanied as values, culture, sexual hygiene. To most boys, virgin wife is like angel.”

Facing criticism, a defiant Sarkar appeared to justify his comments, asserting that it was intended for “fun” among a social media group of friends and “not for public consumption”.

“Someone took a screenshot of the post and forwarded it, which triggered the response. I did not intend to hurt anyone’s sentiment or insult any woman,” he said.

He also said according to a Supreme Court order every individual is entitled to express his opinion.

Prof Kanak Sarkar, Jadavpur University, virginity , virgin woman http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/kanak_sarkar_1547445975_725x725.jpg Kanak Sarkar, Jadavpur University professor. (Photo: Facebook) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/jadavpur-university-vc-promises-stringent-action-against-prof-who-likened-womans-virginity-to-seal-1925880.html 1925828 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 06:07 PM +0530

THANE: A large haul of weapons, including over 170 guns, swords, machetes and knives, was recovered from the shop of a local BJP functionary in Maharashtra, police said Wednesday.

Dhananjay Kulkarni, deputy chief of BJP’s Dombivli city unit in Thane district, from whose store the seizure was made, has been arrested, police said.

The weapons were recovered in a raid conducted by the Kalyan Crime Branch, police said.

Kulkarni was arrested after police raided his fashion accessories store and recovered around 170 weapons, including air guns, swords and knives, an official said.

The raid was conducted at the shop located in Tilak Nagar area in Dombivli on Monday night and Kulkarni, 49, who owns the shop, was arrested Tuesday morning, police said.

A local BJP leader said Kulkarni is the vice president of the party’s Dombivli unit.

“Following a tip-off, the raid was conducted at Tapasya House of Fashion, which sells fashion accessories and cosmetic products,” a police officer said.

“Around 170 weapons, including eight air guns, 10 swords, 38 press button knives, 25 choppers, nine kukris, nine guptis (bladed weapon concealed in a wooden case), five knives, three axes and a sickle were recovered from the shop,” he added.

These weapons were kept on sale at the shop, he said.

“The seized weapons are collectively worth Rs 1.86 lakh. The outlet has been in operation since seven months,” the official said.

“Kulkarni had procured the arms from Crawford Market in south Mumbai, and from Punjab and Rajasthan,” he said.

Kulkarni was Tuesday produced before a local court, which remanded him in judicial custody, police said.

The NCP demanded an explanation from Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis over the arms seizure from the BJP functionary’s fashion accessories store.

State NCP president Jayant Patil said the incident showed the manner in which the BJP wanted to rule.

“What kind of riots does the BJP want to incite by use of these weapons?” he said and demanded an explanation from Fadnavis on this issue.

“If the BJP office-bearers possess illegal weapons, there is no need of anti-social elements and terrorists. Looks like their work is done by the BJP office-bearers,” he said.

Thane , Dombivli , Maharashtra http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Guns.jpg For representational purposes http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/cache-of-weapons-seized-in-raid-at-shop-thane-owner-held-1925828.html 1925835 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 05:31 PM +0530

LUCKNOW: Union minister J P Nadda on Wednesday exuded confidence that the BJP will win 74 Lok Sabha seats out of 80 in Uttar Pradesh and downplayed the SP-BSP alliance in the state for the general elections.

At a meeting with senior office bearers of the party here, Nadda, who is on his first visit to the Uttar Pradesh capital after being appointed the BJP’s election in-charge for the state, said the party will register a handsome win in the Lok Sabha polls and all records will be broken.

“We shall increase our tally of Lok Sabha seats from the state by winning 74 seats, one more than last time,” he told reporters later.

In the 2014 general elections, the BJP had won 71 Lok Sabha seats in the state and two other went to its ally – the Apna Dal.

Asked about the party’s strategy for the polls this time, Nadda said, “Strategy is not meant to be disclosed and will be unveiled at the battleground only.” 

“The people of Uttar Pradesh and the country will shower tremendous blessings on the BJP and their will be an all-time record victory. Not 73, but our tally will be 74 seats (in UP).” 

“The reasons for this is the inclination and affection of the people towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the various welfare works done by the Central government in the past four-and-half years. Apart from this, BJP president Amit Shah’s strategy will also lead us to victory,” Nadda said.

ALSO READ: SP, BSP fell into BJP pattern by announcing 2019 Lok Sabha poll alliance in UP, says Congress

He asserted that the party’s electoral plank will be that of development and not caste-based politics.

Asked whether there is any threat from the newly-forged SP-BSP alliance, Nadda said, “We knew that this (SP-BSP alliance) is going to happen, and this is a recognition of the BJP. The strength of the BJP itself speaks about it.” 

“Our strategy is to get more than 50 per cent of the votes and that is how we are moving…We were anticipating that this is going to happen, and this shows the strength of the BJP.” 

On allegations by rival political parties that the BJP has been unable to fulfil its poll promises, Nadda said, “As far as Mayawati and Akhilesh are concerned, they are giving their own records. Statistics are clear, and we are ready to discuss it on any forum along with statistics.

“Their life and political culture has been of commission, corruption, lawlessness and division. They are presenting their own report card, and we should understand this. The BJP believes in Sabkaa Saath, Sabkaa Vikaas.” 

On various caste conferences organised by the BJP, Nadda said the BJP’s poll plank is development and the way to take the country forward.

ALSO READ: SP, BSP announce tie-up sans Congress for Lok Sabha polls, to contest 38 seats each in Uttar Pradesh

“We represent all the sections of the society… Our responsibility is to reach out to all the sections of the society and it is an essential aspect for us. But, our aim is not to contest elections on the basis of caste or encourage casteist feelings,” the Union minister said.

Asked to comment on the losses suffered by the BJP in the recent bypolls in the state Nadda said, “We have all the (magic) lamps (of Alladdin)… As our party president said ‘Elections is not Physics, it is Chemistry’. Under this Chemistry, the people of the country will shower their blessings on the BJP and Modiji.” 

Nadda asserted that the allies are with the BJP.

“There is no bickering (in the NDA). There is very cordial relations. Sometimes, there may be an issue of understanding, but that has been taken care of,” he said when asked to comment on the resentment among the BJP’s smaller allies like Apna Dal(S).

On a question that the Opposition claiming that there is no Modi-wave this time, Nadda said, “Why are they saying that this is not the case (this time). It is a battle of strategy. Even in 2014, they never agreed, but we did it. The grassroot reality to bring Modiji is much much more. It is a question of our strategy, which will be unfolded.” 

“The strength of Modiji has been recognised by the forging of the alliance. And, this tells that you (rival parties) do not have any thought process, ideology, agenda. The only agenda is to remove Modiji. This will not benefit UP or the country, and we will expose this agenda.”

Nadda, who holds the health portfolio, also said that there has been no technical glitches in the implementation of Ayushman Bharat, and the government’s endeavour is to stabilise this programme so that it can benefit maximum number of people.

JP Nadda, Uttar Pradesh, BJP, Lok Sabha elections, Lok Sabha polls, Lok sabha polls 2019, Lok Sabha elections 2019 http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/JP_Nadda_PTI.jpg BJP Lok Sabha election in-charge for Uttar Pradesh JP Nadda (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/bjp-will-win-74-lok-sabha-seats-in-uttar-pradesh-jp-nadda-1925835.html 1925877 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 05:26 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: The CBI has registered fresh FIRs pertaining to alleged abuse of children in two shelter homes in Bihar, officials said Thursday.

The agency has registered FIRs against Bhagalpur-based Boys’ Children Home run by Rupam Pragati Samaj Samiti and House Mother Children Home in Gaya, they said.

Officials involved in the running of these shelter homes are under the probe of the agency, they said.

ALSO READ: Government report reveals grim horrors in shelter homes for kids

There was national outrage last year following the alleged abuse of minor girls at a shelter home run by journalist Brajesh Pathak in Muzaffarpur in Bihar.

The Supreme Court had directed the CBI to probe alleged abuse of inmates at 17 shelter homes listed in a study conducted by Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

The TISS report stated that House Mother of Children Home, Gaya ill treated children by using abusive language, physical assault, forcing them to write lewd messages and taking manual labour.

ALSO READ: Cabinet clears changes in POCSO Act, wants death for child abusers

There was no proper arrangements for medical treatment, study, recreation, food, for the minor inmates at the shelter home.

The agency also alleged that the director and other officials were running Boys’ Children Home in violation of provisions of Juvenile Justice Act.

“The boys were mentally and physically abused in the shelter home. There were no educational recreational or vocational facilities…,” it said.

The observations in the TISS report have been included in the FIR as primary allegations, the officials said.

CBI , Bihar, Bihar shelter homes , Bihar shelter home crimes http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Crime-Against-Childrens-Express-Illustrations.jpg For representational purposes http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/cbi-registers-firs-against-two-shelter-homes-in-bihar-for-abuse-of-minors-1925877.html 1925875 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 05:14 PM +0530

KOLKATA: With Aadhar cards becoming ubiquitous, the country needs to marshal its defensive and offensive capabilities, former national security adviser M K Narayanan said on Wednesday.

At a seminar on cyber security organized by BCCI and CENERS-K here, he said India is listed among top five nations affected by cyber attacks.

“The country is on the threshold of a digital age. And the use of Aadhar cards is becoming more ubiquitous every day.

“It is also getting increasingly easier to mask an identity online. Once a code used in a malware comes into the open market, it could be bought and repurposed by hackers and nations across the world,” the former West Bengal governor asserted.

Narayanan also said that growing inter-connectivity has effectively demolished the traditional perimeters.

Cyber attackers, he noted, have made inroads into the entire spectrum of critical infrastructure like banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI), energy, shipping, power and other utilities.

“Businesses in India are among the largest victims of targeted attacks, and with the Internet of Things (IoT) coming into play, the problems would multiply,” he added.

Aadhar cards, M K Narayanan, security, BCCI http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/IEOCT147_28-11-2016_19_32_39.jpg M K Narayanan (Photo | EPS) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/india-needs-to-be-careful-about-aadhar-info-misuse-former-national-security-adviser-mk-narayanan-1925875.html 1925874 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 05:11 PM +0530

KOLKATA: The BJP will kick-start a three-day series of rallies to be addressed by party chief Amit Shah across West Bengal on January 20, a day after Mamata Banerjee’s mega-show featuring opposition leaders from across the country.

The announcement by state BJP president Dilip Ghosh comes amid an apex court directive asking the state government to allow the saffron party to hold public meetings.

In a show of strength ahead of the national polls, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has organised a massive rally in Kolkata on January 19, which is likely to see participation of lakhs of her supporters.

ALSO READ: TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee dares Amit Shah to contest LS poll from Bengal

Leaders of all major opposition parties have been invited to the rally to be held at the Brigade Parade ground in the heart of the city.

“We will start organizing our public rallies from January 20. Amit Shah will address the first rally on January 20 in Malda,” Ghosh said.

On January 21, Shah will address two rallies in Suri in Birbhum district and Jhargram.

On January 22, he will address rallies at Krishnanagar in Nadia district and Jaynagar in South 24 Parganas district, Ghosh said.

ALSO READ: Mamata Banerjee asks Narendra Modi not to teach West Bengal democracy

The BJP has identified West Bengal as a priority state for the upcoming national elections and Shah has set a target of 22 of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats.

The party is also looking to host a few rallies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well.

Ghosh had earlier said that they were talking to the central leader for the PM’s rallies but nothing was confirmed.

Over the last few years, the party has emerged as the main opposition in the state with a significant show in rural polls and by-elections.

ALSO READ: West Bengal BJP plans alternatives to Rath Yatra after SC verdict; legal battles to continue

The BJP had planned ‘Rath Yatras’ touching all Lok Sabha constituencies in the state to boost its chances in the national elections.

However, it was denied permission by the state government and has since been caught in legal tangles.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court put the programme on hold saying the state government’s law-and-order apprehensions over the event was not “totally unfounded” and asked the BJP to submit a fresh request and seek necessary approvals.

Ghosh said they are yet to decide on the ‘Rath Yatra‘ and the Bengal unit will discuss the matter with the central leaders.

However, a lawyer associated with the matter has said that the 40-day programme has been cut to 20 and the fresh ‘Yatras’ would start from Baharampur in Murshidabad district, Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas district, Medinipur and the Lok Sabha constituency of Kolkata North.

BJP, West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, Amit Shah http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Amit_Shah_PTI.jpg BJP chief Amit Shah (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/in-battleground-bengal-bjp-chief-amit-shah-rallies-to-counter-mamata-banerjees-mega-opposition-sho-1925874.html 1925873 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 05:10 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: Research scholars from across the country staged a protest outside Shastri Bhawan in central Delhi on Wednesday in support of their long-standing demand of increasing the scholarship amount.

The All India Research Scholars Association (AIRSA) and research fellows from across the country later moved to Jantar Mantar to continue their protest.

“Some of us plan to go on an indefinite hunger strike till our demands are met. We have been demanding an 80 per cent hike in our fellowships applicable from April last year,” said Nikhil Gupta, the national representative of Research Scholars of India.

“We staged a protest in front of the Ministry of HRD office first and then moved to Jantar Mantar. ​Indefinite hunger strike will now be an integral part of our protest. There have been too many fake promises made to us. No more tweets and no more trying to divide us on the basis of caste, funding agencies or examinations. We have written way too many letters to the departments but have not got any relief so far,” he said.

According to police officials, the protest was peaceful and adequate security arrangements were in place to avoid any unfortunate incident.

A group of scholars had met Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar earlier this month following which the minister had said that the “government is positive about the demand”.

However, no announcement in this regard has been made yet.

research, scholarship, Jantar Mantar, HRD ministry http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Protest-Express-Illustrations.jpg Image used for representational purpose only. http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/research-scholars-protest-outside-hrd-ministry-demanding-rise-in-fellowship-amount-1925873.html 1925865 Nation Express News Service Express News Service Wednesday, January 16, 2019 04:55 PM +0530

BENGALURU: A pilot of a private airline was nabbed at Jaipur Airport by Bengaluru City Police executing a warrant against him in connection with a dowry case, on Wednesday morning.
The accused, identified as Yudishtir Poonia, was a resident of Bengaluru for two years during which the complaint was registered against him at HAL police station on October 5 last year. Subsequently, he had shifted to his native in Jaipur and was living there for the last couple of months.

The police were executing a court warrant against the accused, after a complaint was filed against him and his mother Bimala Poonia by Yudhishtir’s wife, Peenu Singh. In the complaint, she had accused of mental and physical harassment by the two who repeatedly demanded more dowry from Peenu. 

The two had married four years ago in Jaipur and both hailed from Rajasthan. They had a girl child and were residing in Marathalli from December 2016. “Though he was given cash and ornaments during the marriage, both Yudhishtir and mother-in-law Bimala Poonia kept harassing me for dowry,” she has said in the complaint. 

HAL police told The New Indian Express said that following the complaint filed in October, the court had issued a warrant against the pilot. “We travelled to Jaipur and arrested him at the terminal of Jaipur Airport while he was on his way to work,” the police said. He is currently being brought back to Bengaluru by the police.

According to the complaint, they had married in 2014 and had lived in Delhi and Gurugram, before shifting to the city. Though she was harassed for dowry in the past, the situation exacerbated after they shifted to Bengaluru. She then filed a complaint in October, following which a warrant was issued against Yudhishtir.

pilot arrested, Jaipur airport, dowry harassment http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2018/11/18/w600X390/handcuffs_Photo.jpg Image used for representational purpose only (Express Illustrations) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/dowry-harassment-case-pilot-arrested-in-jaipur-airport-by-bengaluru-police-1925865.html 1925841 Nation Namita Bajpai Express News Service Wednesday, January 16, 2019 04:42 PM +0530

LUCKNOW: Haggling over seats with ‘smaller prospective allies’ continued within the SP-BSP
alliance on Wednesday when Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) vice-president Jayant Chaudhary met Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow, making a last-ditch effort to clinch a respectable deal to join the tie-up.

Coming out of the crucial meeting, which continued for around an hour and a half at Samajwadi Party headquarters, Jayant claimed to have had a fruitful dialogue with SP chief promising an announcement over the number of RLD seats later. “The talks went well. I feel that we will be successful in our effort and hopefully we will get a respectable number of seats. The announcement will be made at an appropriate time,” said Jayant.

Notably, without naming it, SP and BSP had cautiously pushed RLD to the category of ‘smaller prospective allies’ while leaving just two out of 80 seats for them. While announcing the alliance at a joint press conference on Saturday, Mayawati had declared that SP and BSP would fight on 38 seats each leaving Amethi and Rae Bareli for Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

ALSO READ: SP-BSP alliance for 2019 Lok Sabha elections: How sworn enemies became friends again​

The crucial meeting between RLD and SP leadership on Wednesday took place after the two leaders met in Lucknow last week and the talks on seat sharing had remained inconclusive. While RLD was seeking
six seats – Baghpat, Amroha, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Hathras and Mathura – to contest, opting out Kairana for the SP to field its candidate.

In October bypoll, Kairana was won by a combined opposition candidate Tabassum Hasan who
fought on an RLD ticket.

As per insiders, Jayant had climbed down from six to four seats in the alliance but Akhilesh was not ready to concede more than one seat from his chunk. However, it was decided that SP chief would take the final call over the number of seats to be given to RLD only after consulting Mayawati.

ALSO READ: Alliance will work as long as Akhilesh bows down before Mayawati: SP MLA Hariom Yadav

Speaking to media persons after meeting Akhilesh, Jayant took a high moral ground saying personal relations (with SP and BSP) mattered more than a few seats. “We have to fight this battle together. We
had seen a better coordination and smooth sailing during Kairana bypoll,” Jayant said.

While Mayawati is believed to have made it amply clear to SP chief that she won’t concede even a single seat from her quota, in all probability it would be expected from Akhilesh to accommodate RLD. “We
have left our claim on Hathras after coming to know that it was within the BSP share,” said a senior RLD leader seeking anonymity.

ALSO READ: Tejashwi’s meetings with Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav raise Congress’s hackles in Bihar

According to sources, Akhilesh Yadav may agree to spare one seat from the SP’s quota to the RLD or the two leaders may work out a formula under which SP candidates can contest on the RLD symbol in one or two constituencies as the two parties successfully did in the Kairana Lok Sabha by-election in May last year.

Earlier, shocked and hurt over being sidelined by the BSP and SP leadership, RLD’s Chaudhary Ajit Singh had expressed his dismay on Sunday by claiming that his party would not settle anything less than five seats in the gathbandhan. He had even indicated that RLD would look for other bigger parties for alliance if his demand was not met by SP and BSP.

Akhilesh Yadav, Jayant Chaudhary, Lok sabha polls 2019, Lok Sabha elections 2019, Lok Sabha elections, Lok Sabha polls, RLD, SP, Uttar Pradesh, Kairana bypoll http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Akhilesh_Yadav_PTI.jpg Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/rld-leader-jayant-chaudhary-meets-sp-chief-akhilesh-yadav​-on-poll-alliance-1925841.html 1925862 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 04:39 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: The government Wednesday decided to recapitalise state-owned Exim Bank to the tune of Rs 6,000 crore and double its authorised capital to Rs 20,000 crore.

The equity will be infused in two tranches — Rs 4,500 crore in 2018-19 and Rs 1,500 crore in 2019-20, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal told reporters after the Cabinet meeting here.

“Cabinet approves recapitalisation of Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) to the tune of Rs 6,000 crore and increase its authorised capital from Rs 10,000 crore to Rs 20,000 crore,” he said.

Established by the Government of India, Exim Bank commenced operations as a purveyor of export credit, mirroring global export credit agencies.

It serves as a growth engine for industries and small and medium enterprises through a wide range of products and services.

This includes import of technology and export product development, export production, export marketing, pre-shipment and post-shipment and overseas investment.

Exim Bank http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Rs_2000_Reuters.jpg For representational purposes (File | Reuters) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/government-to-infuse-rs-6000-crore-in-exim-bank-over-two-years-1925862.html 1925859 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 04:30 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: Asserting that jurisdiction issues, at times, cause harassment to people, Home Minister Rajnath Singh Wednesday asked the railway ministry to start a facility by which passengers can file FIRs online.

“There is no facility for a passenger to file an FIR online. If somebody is travelling by train (and something happens), he need to visit Government Railway Police (GRP) police station to get an FIR registered. It will then go to the state, to the district and eventually to the police station concerned. There is no guarantee that he would get the desired justice,” the minister said.

He said there has to be a provision for the passengers to file the FIR electronically.

“You (Railway Ministry official) need to discuss and decide on this (online FIR). We will provide all possible support from the Ministry of Home Affairs,” he said, citing the ‘crime and criminal tracking network and system or CCTNS’ for the integration of state police work implemented by his ministry.

Singh said he would look into whether the online filing of FIRs by railway passengers can be integrated into the CCTNS system, that allows citizens to lodge FIRs electronically.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, who was present at the event, said he would look into the home minister’s suggestion of online filing of the FIR.

According to an official data, about 24,000 cases of theft are registered by railway passengers annually.

In a veiled remark, Rajnath Singh asked the Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel to be sensitive and friendly with people.

“It is expected from all police personnel. Be it central or state police force, all police force personnel should have friendly behaviour with common people. We have been telling these to them,” the home minister said at the All India Conference on Railway Security here.

Singh said there was a need to change the way people’s luggage are frisked at railway stations or inside moving trains.

“There is a provision for frisking of passenger luggage at railway stations. There luggage are also frisked inside moving trains. Passengers feel humiliated by this. So, how can this be improved? That need to be discussed,” he said.

The home minister said there was a need to make the presence of Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel felt in the railway network.

“There has to be regular patrolling in trains. At times, it has been observed that it does not take place. So how to make RPF’s presence felt? You need to discuss it,” Singh said at the programme attended by senior railway ministry officers.

Singh suggested “theatre-specific” Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to avoid any untoward incident.

“The railway has a huge network. Trains passes through Naxal-(affected) areas. There may be a fear of terrorist attack. There should be a theatre-specific SOPs to guide police personnel on how to act in a specific situation,” he said.

Rajnath Singh, Railway Ministry, online FIR http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2018/11/1/w600X390/RailwaysH.jpg Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/make-online-fir-filing-facility-available-for-passengers-rajnath-singh-to-railway-ministry-1925859.html 1925856 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 04:21 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court Wednesday said it will hear on January 28 an appeal of National Herald publisher Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), challenging a single judge order asking it to vacate its premises here.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Rajendra Menon cited some health issues and asked whether the matter could be heard some other day.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, and senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for AJL, agreed.

The Chief Justice said he has to undergo some surgery and can take up the matter any day after January 24.

The bench also comprising Justice V K Rao listed the appeal for hearing on January 28.

A single judge had on December 21 last year dismissed AJL’s plea challenging the Centre’s order to vacate its premises and asked the publisher to vacate the ITO premises within two weeks after which eviction proceedings under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971, would be initiated.

AJL approached the high court seeking a stay on the single judge order.

The high court had dismissed AJL’s plea challenging the Centre’s order by holding that the publisher has not provided any instance to support the serious allegations of mala fide levelled against the ruling dispensation.

The Centre had ended its 56-year-old lease and asked AJL to vacate the premises, saying no printing or publishing activity was going on.

In its order, the single judge had said that AJL has been “hijacked” by Young Indian (YI), in which Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi are shareholders.

The Centre and Land and Development Office (L&DO) had said in their order that no press has functioned in the premises for at least 10 years and it was being used only for commercial purposes in violation of the lease deed.

AJL had denied the allegations in the petition filed in the high court.

The high court had said by transfer of AJL’s 99 per cent shares to YI, the beneficial interest of AJL’s property worth Rs 413.40 crore stands “clandestinely” transferred to YI.

It is pertinent to mention that the Centre had contended before the court that transfer of 99 per cent stake in AJL to YI, when the latter bought the former’s Rs 90 crore debt for a consideration of Rs 50 lakh, led to a “virtual” sale of the Herald building at ITO.

AJL had said the government kept silent till April 2018, when it again sent a notice for inspection and said it was coming to check breaches mentioned in notice of October 10, 2016.

The L&DO had ended the lease – entered into with AJL on August 2, 1962 and made perpetual on January 10, 1967 – asking the company to hand over the possession by November 15.

The L&DO’s order had also said failure to hand over possession would lead to initiation of proceedings under the Public Premises Act.

In its plea, AJL has also said the digital versions of English newspaper National Herald, Hindi’s Navjivan and Urdu’s Qaumi Awaz have commenced from 2016-17.

The weekly newspaper ‘National Herald on Sunday’ resumed on September 24, 2017, and the place of publication was the ITO premises, AJL had said, adding that the Hindi weekly newspaper Sunday Navjivan was being published since October last year from the same premises.

Delhi High Court , National Herald, Associated Journals Ltd http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2018/9/7/w600X390/download1.jpg Delhi High Court (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/national-herald-case-delhi-high-court-to-hear-ajls-appeal-against-order-to-vacate-premises-on-janu-1925856.html 1925854 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 04:18 PM +0530

PANAJI: Goa Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar has stoked a controversy by saying “ghatis” need not come to the state for work and that Goans would be given preference in jobs.

In the coastal state, “ghati” is typically used in Marathi and Konkani languages to address migrant blue collar workers, specially those from neighbouring Maharashtra.

Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, the minister was quick to add that ‘ghati’ was not a derogatory word.

Speaking about the tendering process of a beach cleaning contract being initiated by his ministry, Ajgaonkar said, “Whoever wins the main tender (for beach cleanliness), that person will do the work… preference would be given only to Goans first and outsiders – ghatis – cannot come in.”

When some mediapersons pointed out that he had used the term ghati, the minister said, “Ghati is not a bad word.

Ghati means a person staying in the ghats (mountains).”

Ajgaonkar had in 2017 stirred a row with his remarks that “lamanis”, members of a nomadic tribe from adjoining Karnataka, were creating nuisance on Goa’s beaches, evoking criticism from the tribe leaders.

Manohar Ajgaonkar, Goa Tourism Minister , ghati http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2018/10/18/w600X390/manohar-sinewstoday.png Goa Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar (File photo | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/ghatis-cant-come-goans-to-be-preferred-for-work-goa-tourism-minister-manohar-ajgaonkar-1925854.html 1925853 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 04:13 PM +0530

AIZAWL: Around 35,000 Bru refugees living in relief camps in Tripura would continue to receive free ration and cash allowance till March 31, officials said Wednesday.

A senior Mizoram government official said inmates of the six relief camps at Kanchanpur sub-division in North Tripura district were in uncertainty as the Centre was scheduled to discontinue the assistance from Tuesday.

The home ministry has conveyed to the state government that the assistance would be available to the Bru refugees till March 31, Mizoram additional secretary for home Lalbiakzama told PTI.

The Bru community in the relief camps were happy about the decision, said R Laldawngliana, vice-president of the Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), an umbrella organisation of the refugees.

Laldawngliana, who is now in Delhi along with other leaders of the MBDPF, said they were informed of the decision by officials of the home ministry.

The Centre had earlier decided to close the relief camps and stop the assistance in October last year in accordance to an agreement signed in July on repatriation of the Bru refugees to Mizoram, where they originally belong.

The agreement was inked on July 3, 2018 in Delhi among the Centre, the state governments of Mizoram and Tripura and the MBDPF.

All the stake holders had agreed to complete the repatriation of Brus to Mizoram by the end of September.

However, out of 5,000 refugee families, only 150 members of 42 families returned to Mizoram during the repatriation exercise between August 25 and September 25.

MBDPF leaders said the repatriation process could not take off as many heads of families could not obtain necessary documents like Aadhaar and ration cards and were yet to open bank accounts to fulfil the provisions of the agreement.

The Centre had stopped the assistance from October 1, but resumed it on October 22 with the condition that it would continue only till January 15.

The MBDPF recently said that it hoped that the newly-elected Mizo National Front (MNF) government in Mizoram initiate talks on the repatriation issue.

Official sources, however, said resumption of repatriation process is unlikely in the near future in view of the upcoming Parliamentary polls.

Thousands of Bru refugees from Mizoram fled to Tripura during an ethnic violence in 1997.

The clashes broke out after a forest official was killed by Bru National Liberation Front (BNLF) militants.

The Centre, in association with the governments of Mizoram and Tripura, was repatriating the displaced Brus in phases.

Though several Bru families have returned to Mizoram over the years, many refused to leave Tripura citing security reasons and inadequate package.

Bru refugees, Tripura , Laldawngliana, Tripura camps http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2018/11/9/w600X390/bru_regugees.jpg PTI file photo of Bru refugees http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/bru-refugees-in-tripura-camps-to-get-free-ration-allowance-till-march-31-1925853.html 1925850 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 04:01 PM +0530

AHMEDABAD: Chief Minister Vijay Rupani Wednesday said no delegation from Pakistan would be attending the upcoming Vibrant Gujarat Summit.

Gujarat will host the ninth edition of the annual industry summit ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ from January 18 to 20 in Gandhinagar.

Earlier, a controversy had erupted when the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), while inviting several global trade bodies for the investors’ meet, also extended invitation to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce.

India and Pakistan’s diplomatic relations have been strained in recent times over the issue of terrorism.

On Wednesday, Rupani said, “No delegation from Pakistan was coming for the Vibrant Gujarat Summit.”

“There were discussions about it, but it is not true,” he told reporters here, but did not elaborate further.

Gujarat Chief Secretary J N Singh had last week said there was nothing wrong in inviting Pakistan’s trade body for the summit.

The GCCI had decided to invite global trade bodies during the Gujarat Vibrant Summit and the state government agreed to it.

The Karachi Chamber of Commerce is also one of the global trade bodies invited by GCCI.

The Gujarat government has not sent any invitation, Singh said.

The Pakistani trade body had been invited to participate in the ‘Global Conclave of International Chambers’, one of the events to be held at the summit.

GCCI office-bearers had claimed it was only a “general circular” meant for around 285 global trade bodies, and that the final invitation was to be sent only after scrutiny.

In 2013, a trade delegation from Pakistan had come to Gujarat to take part in the biennial summit.

However, following tension on the border, the delegation left without attending the main event.

Thereafter, no Pakistani delegation was invited for the investor meets held in 2015 and 2017.

The summit was conceptualised in 2003 by Prime Minister Modi when he was the state’s chief minister to promote investment in Gujarat.

It focuses on establishing Gujarat as a preferred investment destination in India.

Over the years, the summit has evolved into a platform for brainstorming on agendas of global socio-economic development, in addition to becoming a platform for forging strategic public-private partnerships.

Gujarat Vibrant Summit, Gujarat , Vijay Rupani http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Vijay_Rupani_PTI.jpg Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/no-pakistan-delegation-coming-for-gujarat-vibrant-summit-cm-vijay-rupani-1925850.html 1925845 Nation PTI PTI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 03:49 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said democracy is India’s greatest strength and must be defended at any cost, as he cited an incident when an Afghan lawmaker had told him that arguments that take place in Indian Parliament, are carried out with guns in that country.

Narrating the incident in a Facebook post, Gandhi recalled that one day in Parliament, he saw a group of MPs from Afghanistan sitting in the visitors’ gallery.

“And, I was thinking, ‘these MPs have come from abroad and look what we are doing: we are shouting and screaming and yelling. At least when they are here why can’t this place be in order?” Gandhi said.

The Congress president said later the Afghan MPs visited him in his office and he told them that he was sorry that they were sitting in the visitors’ gallery and the lawmakers were not having a nice debate and sort of arguing.

“And, then, one of the MPs started crying! I was a bit surprised. I asked her ‘what happened?’. You know, Mr. Gandhi,’ she said, ‘in my country the arguments that you have in this building, your Parliament, are carried out with guns.

“Our democracy is our greatest strength. We must defend it at any cost,” the Congress chief said.

Rahul Gandhi​, Congress http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/Rahul_Gandhi_PTI.jpg Congress president Rahul Gandhi (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/democracy-is-our-greatest-strength-we-must-defend-it-at-any-cost-congress-chief-rahul-gandhi​-1925845.html 1925843 Nation ANI ANI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 03:44 PM +0530

BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh minister PC Sharma on Wednesday said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has gone “berserk” after losing in three states in the Assembly elections, and hence, is trying to poach Congress’ MLAs.

Sharma, the state’s Law and Legislative Affairs Minister, told ANI, “They (BJP) have gone berserk after losing 3 states. Lok Sabha elections are coming up. If they lose, they will stay out for a long time. They are trying horse trading even in Madhya Pradesh. All those with Congress are standing with them, be it SP, BSP or independent.”

Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh were held in a single phase on November 28, while results were declared on December 11.

With 114 Congress candidates elected to power, the party fell two seats short of a total majority. However, they later roped in support from the elected legislators of the BSP (2), SP (1) and four independent candidates.

The BJP had finished with 109 out of the total 230.

BJP, Madhya Pradesh, PC Sharma http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/BJP_flags_EPS.jpg For representational purposes (File | EPS) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/bjp-gone-berserk-after-losing-in-three-states-madhya-pradesh-law-minister-pc-sharma-on-horsetrading-1925843.html 1925840 Nation ANI ANI Wednesday, January 16, 2019 03:34 PM +0530

NEW DELHI: Former Chief Justice of India (CJI) RM Lodha on Wednesday said that he was surprised to know that a junior judge was recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court, superseding senior judges.

“What I always feel is that the Collegium should act in a transparent manner, and reasons must be forthcoming why the decision was an upturn. There must be transparency. I have always believed that the Collegium works as an institution. It is an institutional body; it is not an individual’s decision. If the consultation or communication between the Collegium was lacking, that could have been done. A junior judge was superseded to the Supreme Court, it surprises me,” former CJI Lodha said in an exclusive interview to ANI.

Talking about the Collegium, he said: “The Collegium is a matured body, comprising of the CJI and four senior-most judges. It is a very strong, powerful, matured and intellectual body and every decision taken by the Collegium must reflect its maturity.”

“The question is after Justice Nandrajog, there are two more judges, Justice Gita Mittal, the Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court and Justice S Ravinder Bhatt. The Karnataka High Court Judge, who is from Rajasthan, was superseded six weeks ago, was not found to be, as per reports, deserving for being elevated to the Supreme Court,” he added.

“Look, it is little disturbing,” he said while replying to a question as to how unfortunate it is for the judiciary that junior judges are being recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court prior to their seniors.

Reportedly, Supreme Court judge Justice SK Kaul wrote a letter to CJI Ranjan Gogoi against the elevation of Justice Sanjeev Khanna, ignoring the seniority of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog, the CJ of Rajasthan High Court.

As per reports, Kaul said that while he had nothing against Justice Khanna but he could wait for his turn to be elevated.

Recently, the Supreme Court Collegium recommended the elevation of Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court, and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, a judge of Delhi High Court, as judges of the apex court.

The top court is presently functioning with 26 judges as against the sanctioned strength of 31, leaving five clear vacancies.

While recommending the names of Justice Maheshwari and Justice Khanna, the Collegium took into consideration the combined seniority on an all-India basis of Chief Justices and senior puisne judges of High Courts, apart from their merit and integrity.

RM Lodha, CJI http://images.newindianexpress.com/uploads/user/imagelibrary/2019/1/16/w600X390/RM_Lodha_PTI.jpg Former CJI RM Lodha​ (File | PTI) http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/16/elevation-of-junior-judges-ignoring-seniority-left-me-surprised-former-cji-rm-lodha​-1925840.html