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LIVE! Railway station where Modi sold tea gets Rs 8 cr for facelift

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April 21, 2017


23:17  Railway station where Modi sold tea gets Rs 8 cr for facelift:  
The Vadnagar railway station in Gujarat where Prime Minister Narendra Modi used to sell tea during his childhood, is to get a facelift worth Rs 8 crore, Union minister Manoj Sinha said in Ahmedabad on Friday.

"(A sum of) Rs 8 crore has been sanctioned for the development of Vadnagar railway station in Mehsana district," the minister of state for railways told reporters.
Sinha was in Sachana village today to inaugurate the Inland Container Depot, built by the Continental Warehousing Corporation (Nhava Seva) Ltd.

Ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Modi had often mentioned that he used to sell tea during his childhood at the Vadnagar railway station along with his father.
Vadnagar town is also the birthplace of Modi.
Giving further details about the project, Divisional Railway Manager of Ahmedabad division, Dinesh Kumar said the entire project of developing Vadnagar and adjoining places in Mehsana district would cost over Rs 100 crore.
"The development of Vadnagar railway station is one of the components of the Rs 100 crore project to develop Vadnagar, Modhera and Patan as tourist destinations. As of now, the Ministry of Tourism has given Rs 8 crore to the state tourism department to develop the railway station," Kumar said.
22:18  Not Advani, I incited kar sevaks to raze Babri: Ex-BJP MP:  
Ram Vilas Vedanti, a former Bharatiya Janata Party MP and an accused in the Babri mosque demolition case, on Friday claimed that it was he and not the BJP patriarch Lal Krishna Advani who incited the frenzied  karsevaks to pull down the disputed shrine.
"I demolished and got demolished the disputed structure, the ruin that stood there. The accusations against L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia are wrong," he said.
Vedanti's remarks came two days after the Supreme Court resurrected the conspiracy charge against Advani, Joshi and union minister Uma Bharti in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
Vedanti said, in fact, Advani, Joshi and Scindia even took the microphone from him and tried to persuade the karsevaks to come down from atop the structure and leave. They even made the plea in English, he later told a TV news channel.
Vedanti said he, Mahant Avaidyanath, also a former BJP MP, and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal exhorted the karsevaks to raze the disputed structrue. Both Avaidyanath and Singhal are now dead.
21:26  Soon, you may get delivery of petrol, diesel at your doorstep :  
Petrol and diesel may soon be home delivered as the oil ministry mulls options of door-to-door delivery on pre-booking to cut long queues at petrol pumps.
As many as 3.5 crore people currently visit 59,595 petrol pumps in the country for buying auto fuel. Often, long queues are witnessed at petrol pumps during peak hours, leading to congestion on roads.
Annually, Rs 2,500 crore of fuel is bought at petrol pumps and now a part of it being talked of being home delivered.
"Options being explored where petro products may be door delivered to consumers on pre-booking," the ministry said in a series of tweets.
Home delivery of fuel is being mulled as the world's third biggest oil consumer experiments with daily price revision of petrol and diesel at select towns beginning May 1.
In another tweet, the ministry said home delivery of fuel "would help consumers avoid spending excessive time and long queues at fuel stations."
"About 3.5 cr people come to fuel stations every day; Rs 2500 cr worth of transactions every year," it said in another tweet.
India consumed 23.8 million tons of petrol and 76 million tons of diesel in 2016-17 fiscal. This was higher than 21.8 million tons of petrol and 74.6 million tons of diesel consumed in the previous 2015-16 financial year.
20:37  15 people killed in fire at kerosene distribution centre in MP:  
At least 15 people were killed and several injured after a major fire broke out at a kerosene distribution centre at Harrai village in Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh on Friday evening.

According to reports, the fire has been controlled.   

Initial reports suggest the kerosene, which was stored at the PDS shop for public distribution, caught fire and it suddenly spread to all directions.

The charred bodies of several victims have been recovered.

Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan has announced an ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the kin of those killed and Rs 50,000 to those who are seriously injured.
19:41   Salman to appear in Rajasthan court on July 6 in Arms Act case:  
Bollywood actor Salman Khan will have to appear in the District and Session Court in Jodhapur on July 6 when the arguments begin on an appeal against his acquittal by a trail court in an Arms Act case, according
to the public prosecutor. 
His counsels appeared in the court today, after which the judge Bhagwan Das Agarwal listed the matter for July 6 to start the arguments on the appeal filed by the State.
Public Prosecutor Pokar Ram Bishnoi said that before commencement of the arguments, Khan will have to submit a bail bond of Rs. 20000 in the court along with his appearance.
The court has ordered (Khan) to submit a bail bond of Rs. 20000 in the court on July 6 and has also directed Khan to appear in the court for the hearing of our appeal, said Bishnoi.
The trial court had acquitted Khan of all the charges against him under the Arms Act on January 18 this year, citing technical grounds pertaining to framing of the charges and prosecution permission against him by the then district magistrate.
The Rajasthan government had challenged his acquittal in the District and Session court on March 7.
Admitting the government petition, judge Agarwal had issued notice to Khan listing the matter for hearing today.
19:39  Air India lowers age limit for elderly travel concession:  
National carrier Air India has lowered the age limit to 60 for availing travel concession under its scheme for senior citizens.
As per the scheme, an Indian citizen who has attained the age of 60 on the date of commencement of journey is entitled to a 50 per cent discount on the basic fare of an economy class seat, an Air India spokesperson confirmed.
Earlier, the age limit for this offer was 63 years.
This offer, however, is only valid for domestic travel.
Those seeking to avail this scheme will have to produce a valid identity proof like voter identity card, passport, driving licence, or senior citizen card issued by Air India, among others. 
19:26  At least 15 perish in major fire at Bargi village in Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh, Press Trust of India reports quoting police. 

More details are awaited. 
19:24  Consular access to Jadhav to be decided on basis of merit: Pak:  Pakistan has asserted that a decision on India's request for consular access to its national Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has been sentenced to death by a military court, would be taken on "the basis of merit".

Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said Pakistan and India have a bilateral agreement on consular access but all cases have to be decided on merit.

"In all such cases...the request of this nature would be decided on the basis of merit," he said at a media briefing.

Zakaria said India had summoned Pakistan's deputy high commissioner over consular access to Jadhav but this was not something new.

It was a reaction after the death sentence awarded to Jadhav, he said. 

Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale after meeting Pakistan Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua earlier this week had said that he had asked for consular access to Jadhav for the 14th time. 

In response, Pakistan had said in a statement that India, in several cases, had denied consular access to Pakistani prisoners for years.

Separately, army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor had ruled out consular access to Jadhav.  
19:17  Jet Airways Amsterdam-Toronto flight suffers tail strike :  
A Jet Airways flight from Amsterdam to Toronto with 352 people on board today suffered tail strike, forcing the pilot to return to the Dutch capital. 

The airline said the passengers and the crew landed safely. It was operating a Boeing 777-300ER plane.

Sources said the flight suffered a tail strike while taking off from Amsterdam to Toronto and later faced pressurisation problems. 

Following the issues, the pilot decided to return to Amsterdam, they added. 

A Jet Airways spokesperson said the flight 9W 234 returned to Amsterdam due to a "suspected tail scrape during take-off".

"The aircraft, with 337 guests and 15 crew, landed safely and is currently being inspected by Jet Airways' engineering team," he said in a statement. 

The airline also regretted the inconvenience caused to its passengers. In January this year, a Jet Airways plane's tail had touched the runway during landing at the Dhaka airport. The flight was from Mumbai.
18:43  You'll be risking your children's lives if you vote for BJP: Kejriwal:  
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today attacked the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the three civic bodies,saying it had become synonymous with chikhungunya, malaria, dengue and garbage and the people of Delhi would be risking their children's lives if they voted for the party in the April 23 MCD polls.
"If you vote for the BJP and if your child falls prey to chikunngya or dengue, you are responsible for it. I can offer free treatment to your child in (the Delhi government) hospitals, but what led to him contracting dengue.
"If someone in your home falls ill then you are responsible because you voted for the party which is synonymous to chikhungunya, malaria, dengue and garbage," he said in a stinging attack on the BJP as the city goes to the
polls on Sunday.
The BJP is in power in the three municipal corporations of Delhi since 2007.
Making a fervent appeal to vote for an "honest Aam Aadmi Party", the chief minister said his party will clean Delhi in a year and eradicate vector-borne diseases in the next three years.
He said that the Congress is "dead" in Delhi and at the national level, and voting for them would mean "wasting your vote."
Kejriwal also alleged that with just two days left for the MCD polls, the BJP and the Congress are resorting to the "cheap politics" by engineering the water and power shortages.

"The BJP and the Congress are stealing oil from the power transformers and ensuring that there is power shortage. They are doing it deliberately and resorting to cheap politics by disrupting water and power supply," he alleged.
18:39  Red, blue beacons removed from all EC vehicles:  Red and blue beacons were today removed from all vehicles of the Election Commission days after the Union Cabinet decided to end the practice, a perceived symbol of VIP culture.

A commission spokesperson said all beacons have been removed from all poll panel vehicles. The Union Cabinet had on Wednesday decided to do away with red beacons atop officials cars. 

The decision would formally come into force from May 1.
17:40  Paris attack: Cop killed in ISIS attack escaped death in Bataclan massacre:  The police officer killed by a gunman in Paris has been identified as a man who responded to Isis' previous attacks in November 2015, reports the Independent.


Xavier Jugel, 37, was one of hundreds of officers deployed to the Bataclan as militants massacred 90 people with guns and suicide vests.


He returned to the concert hall for a commemorative concert almost a year later, telling journalists he was happy to be part of the "symbolic' reopening.


"We're here tonight as witnesses," Jugel told People magazine. "Here to defend our civic values. This concert's to celebrate life. To say no to terrorists."
17:31  Thank you and hope to see you soon: Afridi responds to retirement gift :  If only Indo-Pak relations were this warm.

Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi who announced his retirement from T20 cricket posts the Indian team's farewell gift to him, saying, "Thank you to you and the entire Indian team for a wonderful farewell gift @imVkohli. Respect superstar, hope to see you soon."


The signed jersey was the Indian cricket team's retirement gift to Shahid Afridi -- a Virat Kohli jersey signed by all the players.

Pakistani journalist Faizan Lakhani uploaded the shirt on which Kohli wrote: "Shahid Bhai, best wishes, always a pleasure playing against you".

The jersey -- number 18 and VIRAT on it -- had the signatures of Kohli, Ashish Nehra, Suresh Raina, Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Hardik Pandya, among others.

The 37-year-old Afridi bid adieu to his 21-year-old international career in February when he announced his retirement from the T20 version of cricket. He had already retired from Test and One-Day formats of the game.
17:25  Mukesh Kumar @14mukeshkumar posts this picture from Nariman Point. Plumes of black smoke emanate from behind the red tiled roof of the Bombay High Court. The tall white building is the Tata Communications building. 
17:17  Fire in Bank of India building in Mumbai, 4 fire engines at the spot :  Just in: Fire in Bank of India building in Fort, Mumbai. Four fire engines have been rushed to the spot. Tweets suggest that the top floor of the heritage building is on fire. The building is near the Bombay High Court. Details awaited.


Image: The Bank of India building on fire. The picture was tweeted by Sanjeev Shukla.
16:56  BJPs message to AIADMK factions: Come together, be our pal:  For those wondering why the AIADMKs two warring factions have been showing such haste for a merger, the BJPs national executive meeting in Bhubaneswar last weekend had a terse message for the two groups in Tamil Nadu: Merge, and be friendly with the Centre.


The BJP also decided to entrust the task of coordinating with the two groups to Arun Jaitley and M Venkaiah Naidu, while party president Amit Shah will tour Tamil Nadu in the first week of June, after his north-eastern programmes are over.


From the AIADMKs OPS faction, Dr V Maitreyan is the key person to liaise with the BJP. According to him, three meetings have already taken place with the BJP at various levels.


Dr Maitreyan is likely to visit New Delhi on Sunday to meet the BJPs central leadership. 
16:34  Regional parties have to come together to defeat BJP in 2019: Mamata:   Accusing the BJP of dividing the people based on religious identities , West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday urged all regional parties to come together for the sake of the nation while stating it is the 'need of the hour'.

Addressing her party workers in Kolkata, the Trinamool Congress chief said Hinduism means tolerance but the saffron party is dividing the people based on religious identities.


"It is the need of the hour for all regional parties to come together for the sake of the nation. The BJP is dividing the people on religious backgrounds. We respect all religions but Hinduism is our biggest identity. I am proud of my religion. I am proud of all religions. Hinduism means tolerance. The BJP is defaming Hinduism. Riots cannot be religion," she added.


Meanwhile, the leaders of various political parties also echoed Mamata's assertion that the BJP was not a threat and said there would be no scope for the saffron party to form the next government if all regional parties unite.

"This is hundred percent true. The BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot do anything, if the regional parties unite together. If the regional parties of West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh come together then there will be no scope for the BJP to form the next government," Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Ashok Sinha told ANI.


Janata Dal (United) leader Rajeev Ranjan said the BJP has its existence in politics courtesy the regional parties. "Regional parties are very important and to underestimate them or to ignore them is disrespect to federal structure," Ranjan told ANI.


National Congress Party leader Nawab Malik also backed Mamata's statement, saying the regional parties need to unite and form a grand alliance to defeat the BJP.


"What Mamata Banerjee has said is true. There is strong hold of regional parties in many states. If they believe to defeat the BJP, they should join a grand alliance to defeat the NDA's 33 party alliance," Malik told ANI.


The West Bengal Chief Minister yesterday asserted that the BJP was not a threat as the regional parties were enough to tackle it.


Mamata's assertion came post her meeting with Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) supremo Naveen Patnaik.


Accusing the BJP of playing politics of division, Mamata said the saffron party also resorted to buying the ministers and MLAs of other parties. "They divide caste, parties. They divide Hindu-Muslims. They also purchase ministers, MLAs. We don't do that. We believe in unity," she told the media.

Mamata also stated that the secular parties were always together.

Responding to a poser on having discussions on forming an alliance to stand against the BJP, Patnaik said they did not have any talks regarding the same. "We had no such discussions today," Patnaik said


Image: WB CM Mamata Banerjee met Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar yesterday.
15:48  Sensex falls 57.09 points to end at 29,365.30; Nifty down 17 points to 9,119.40.
15:46  Less than 30% water in reservoirs to survive brutal summer :  The water level in 91 major reservoirs in the country stood at 29 per cent of their total storage capacity, the government said today. According to the Union Water Resources Ministry, 46.02 billion cubic metres of water was available in these reservoirs in the week ending yesterday. Last week, the stock was 31 per cent (or 48.42 BCM) of the total storage capacity of the dams.

The fresh level is 133 per cent of the storage reported during the corresponding period last year. It is 106 per cent of the decadal average, the ministry said in a statement.


States which have recorded less water stock vis--vis last year are Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Telangana have reported better water reserves as compared to last year.


File pic
15:36  Navy successfully test-fires Brahmos supersonic missile:  Indian Navy successfully test- fired the land-attack version of Brahmos supersonic cruise missile today. A top navy official said the test-firing yielded desired results. The test-firing of the missile took place in the Bay of Bengal and it was very successful, he said.

File pic.
15:33  Sessions Court in Mumbai cancels non-bailable warrant against Subrata Roy in one of the SEBI cases. The court will hear case next on May 18.
15:07  India will pay dearly if it plays Dalai Lama card: China :  China said today that it was its "lawful right" to standardise official names for six places in Arunachal Pradesh, while its state-run media warned that India will pay "dearly" if it continues to play the Dalai Lama card.


"China's position on the eastern section of the India- China boundary is clear and consistent," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said here reacting to India's assertion that Arunachal Pradesh is integral part of India.


"Relevant names have been used by ethnic Momba and Tibetan Chinese who have lived here for generations. So it is a fact that cannot be changed. To standardise these names and publicise them is a legitimate measure based on our lawful right," he said.


Lu also countered India's charge that China is inventing names to make its territorial claims over the area legal. India yesterday hit out at China for giving Chinese names to six areas of Arunachal Pradesh, saying assigning invented names to towns of the neighbour does not make illegal territorial claims legal.


External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Gopal Baglay also asserted that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India. However, Lu did not react to Union Minister Venkiah Naidu's remarks that Arunachal Pradesh has got an elected government.
14:52  Amul's take on Sonu Nigam's tonsure.
14:49  Mamata Banerjee re-elected chairperson of All India Trinamool Congress for six years.
14:47  TN court summons Kamal Haasan for remarks on Mahabharata:  TN court summons actor Kamal Haasan on Hindu Makkal Katchi plea that he had defamed the Hindu religion by making remarks about the Mahabharata.

A PIL was filed against the veteran actor for allegedly hurting Hindu sentiments and causing enmity between groups and cause disturbance to public tranquility.

It was filed after Haasan made certain comments about the Mahabharata to a Tamil news channel. Haasan had expressed shock that Indians celebrated a book in which a woman (Draupadi) was depicted as an object and men (the Pandvas), as gambling her away.

India Today reported that it was a religious group, Hindu Makkal Katchi (HMK) of the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, that filed the PIL against Haasan. They also dubbed him as an anti-Hindu.


Image: A painting depicting Draupadi's vastraharan.
14:38  2 ISIS suspects sentenced to jail :  Just in: A Special Court sentences 2 ISIS suspects to 7-year jail term. Suspects were deported to India from Abu Dhabi in 2016. The suspects admitted to recruiting and training people for terror attacks. Details awaited.
14:31  EU wants it pound of flesh from Britain: Pay divorce bill in Euros :  Britain may be leaving the EU but it will still have to settle the divorce bill in euros, not pounds, according to an EU document on the upcoming negotiations.

"An orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union requires settling the financial obligations undertaken before the withdrawal date," said the European Commission document seen by AFP yesterday. "The agreement should define the precise way in which these obligations will be calculated... the obligations should be defined in euro," it added.

The document did not say how much the Brexit settlement might cost but EU officials have previously said it could be as much as 60 billion euros, sparking howls of outrage in London, which puts the figure nearer 20 billion. Titled "Non Paper on key elements likely to feature in the draft negotiating directives," the document was drawn up for the European Commission, which will conduct the Brexit negotiations with Britain.

It covers in more detail the same ground outlined last month by EU president Donald Tusk in response to Prime Minister Theresa May's official March 29 notification that Britain was leaving the bloc. 
14:26  Fish at subsidised rates, promises Goa govt :  The Goa government would soon start providing fish to the people at subsidised rates, Fisheries Minister Vinod Palyekar said today. The Goa Fisheries Corporation would be set up for this purpose, he said.

The minister said that 'fish curry and rice' is the staple diet of Goan people, and his party (Goa Forward Party) was fulfilling its election promise of providing fish at affordable prices. He and GFP leader Vijai Sardesai would soon meet the Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar to seek his guidance on this scheme, he said.

There was a proposal to set up fish stalls alongside the vegetable kiosks of Goa Horticulture Corporation (to sell at subsidised rates) but it was feared that this won't go down well with "pure vegetarian" customers who buy veggies at these kiosks, said the minister.

The annual ban on fishing during the monsoon will be enforced strictly, the minister said.
14:11  I do not lack political will, PM tells bureaucrats :  Prime Minister Narendra Modi today asserted that he did not lack the political will needed to carry out reforms as he asked the civil servants to break silos and work together as a team to perform and transform.

Addressing the bureaucrats on the civil services day, Modi said that time has come for out of the box thinking and from being a regulator, the government needs to become an enabler.

"Political will can reform but bureaucracy performs and public participation transforms. We have to bring them in one wavelength," he said. "To reform, political will is needed. I do not lack it and may be having a bit extra," the Prime Minister said.

Modi said that senior officers should introspect if their experience is becoming a burden. He said hierarchy in bureaucracy remains an issue which has been inherited from colonial rulers and "was not left behind in Mussoorie (where civil service academy is located)".

The Prime Minister said the role of the government was very strong but things have changed since the last 15 years. He also asked the civil servants to use social media, e- governance and mobile governance for the welfare of the people by reaching out to them.
13:27  PM, Amit Shah to meet BJP CMs on Sunday:  BJP President Amit Shah has convened a meeting of 13 BJP Chief Ministers on Sunday, April 23. The meeting will be held at the party's national headquarters at Ashoka Road in New Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also participate in the day-long meeting.

Sources tell us, that on the agenda is a discussion on building the Ram Mandir by mid 2018. By then, the Uttar Pradesh Assembly would have also enacted a law facilitating the building of the temple.

The Prime Minister and Amit Shah are likely to spend 10 minutes with each of chief minister after the meeting. Shah is hosting a lunch where Union Ministers are invited.
13:23  A FIR has been filed against a fringe group leader for threatening Kashmiris in Uttar Pradesh.
12:55  Just in: AIADMK's 'two leaves' symbol is frozen by the Election Commission. 
12:50  China launches revamped green cards for foreigners:  While on ID cards, China launches a new card which will have a chip embedded so it can be used for tasks such as buying air tickets and is part of efforts to lure more overseas talent to the mainland. Read
12:48  Next hearing on Aadhar-linked tax returns on April 25:  The Supreme Court today questioned the Centre for making Aadhaar mandatory for procuring a Permanent Account Number (PAN) card.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre, told a bench headed by Justice A K Sikri that they have found that people were giving details of PAN cards which have been procured on the basis of fake documents. Rohatgi said there were instances that one person was having a number of PAN cards and these fake cards were being used to divert funds to shell companies.

To this, the bench asked the Attorney General, "Is this the remedy that you need to have Aadhaar for having PAN? Why has it been made mandatory?"

Responding to this, Rohatgi said that earlier too they have found people procuring SIM cards for mobile phones on fake identity cards and the apex court had asked the government to have a check on it.

The bench said it would hear arguments on the plea challenging the government's move making Aadhaar mandatory for PAN cards on April 25.

Through an amendment to the tax proposals in the Finance Bill of the Budget for 2017-18, the government has made Aadhaar mandatory for filing income tax returns and provided for linking of PAN with Aadhaar to curb tax evasion through use of multiple PAN cards.
12:38  'Katappa' apologises for anti-Kannada comments :  "Katappa" says sorry.  "I would like to apologise for the statement I had made 9 years back. Don't stall Baahubali 2 release in Karnataka," actor Sathyaraj said today.

SS Rajmoulis Baahubali: The Conclusion  release is facing a threat in Karnataka due to a remark made by actor Sathyaraj, who plays Katappa in the film, nine years ago over the Cauvery River row between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

The video where Sathyaraj made the alleged anti-Kannada comments in the context of the Cauvery river water dispute surfaced about a week ago and went viral.

With just a week left before Baahubali 2s release, Kannada outfits have called for a Bengaluru Bandh on April 28, the date of the release of the much-anticipated film. They will only call off their protest if Sathyaraj says sorry. Despite director SS Rajamouli trying to distance himself and his Baahubali 2 team from the comments, the protesters have refused to back down.


Sathyaraj, who is from Tamil Nadu, attended a meeting in solidarity with Tamil farmers in 2008 who were seeking water from Karnataka. The actor urged Tamils to stand up for their rights and not be passive like a tree every dog would urinate on, according to a report in The Telegraph.

Pro-Kannada activists expressed their anger at the dog remark which they decided was a reference to Karnataka residents for opposing the release of Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu. He had also reportedly called Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj a comedy character.


Image: Actor Sathyaraj as Katappa in the film Baahubali
12:03  Hearing begins. The SC questions the Centre over making Aadhaar mandatory for procuring Permanent Account Number (PAN) cards.
12:02  Court can't order UK to return Kohinoor: SC :  The Supreme Court said today that the country's judiciary cannot monitor any diplomatic efforts by the government to reclaim the famed Kohinoor diamond from Britain.

In saying this, the SC's 3-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar also dismissed two petitions on the issue, calling them "frivolous."

The Court said it accepts the Centre's submission that it is exploring ways to bring back the Kohinoor diamond from the United Kingdom. Disposing of a plea seeking a direction to the Centre to ensure that the diamond is brought back, the court said it cannot pass a direction with regard to auctioning of a property which is outside India.

"Diplomatic measures cannot be under any supervision and can a court in India pass any order asking any country to return something? And all the more at a time when the government in its counter affidavit says they are taking steps to bring it back," Chief Justice J S Khehar-led bench asked lawyers for the petitioners in two PILs.

The Centres affidavit clearly says though it is not possible to make them return the diamond, but will continue to explore it. They say it is not possible but through diplomatic channels it may be possible. What kind of petitions are you filing? Khehar asked.

The Centre in its affidavit said Kohinoor diamond is Indias property but international conventions as well as the laws restrain it from making a rightful claim for its return from Britain.

Also read: How the British stole the Kohinoor from a child
11:45  Former nurse tells of Hitler's last days :  Many people have tried and failed to accurately portray or document the final hours of Adolf Hitler. Acclaimed attempts such as the recent successful German film "Der Untergang" (The Downfall) have made the most of the knowledge which is available and have mixed established facts and speculation to great effect.

But there have been very few corroborative first hand accounts that have revealed the true inner workings of the Fuhrer's bunker and his mindset as his master plan came crashing down around him. Read more
11:33  Colleges remain closed for 4th day in Kashmir:  Classes in colleges across Kashmir remained suspended for the fourth day today and authorities discontinued teaching in higher secondary institutions for a day as a precautionary measure in the wake of students' protest against alleged highhandedness of security forces.

Teaching in all colleges across the Kashmir Valley remained suspended for the fourth day on the trot following orders of Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Baseer Khan, officials said.

The administration had on Monday issued orders for the closure of Kashmir University, all colleges and higher secondary schools on Tuesday after students protested the alleged highhandedness of security forces against students of Degree College, Pulwama, last week.

The suspension of classes in the colleges was later extended by another day.
11:24  Supreme Court to hear plea challenging the making of Aadhar card mandatory for filing income tax on April 26.
11:21  Pakistan looks for survivable second strike capability: former envoy:  Pakistan does not want to match the Indian nuclear arsenal, but will do all it can to keep its deterrence credible, says a nuclear expert. "We are not talking of parity, we are looking for proportionality, we are looking for survivable second strike capability," Pakistan's former ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva Zamir Akram said. Read the report in the Dawn.
11:19  Ensure safety of Kashmiri students, they are family: Rajnath tells states :  Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday called upon all states to ensure the safety of all Kashmiris everywhere in the country, saying they were equal citizens of India. His appeal comes a day after six Kashmiri students studying in Mewar University, Rajasthan were injured following a scuffle with locals at a market in Chittorgarh district.

Banners calling for boycott of Kashmiris and asking people from the Valley to leave Uttar Pradesh have also come up in Meerut in the wake of incidents of stonepelting on security forces in Kashmir.

The Home Minister said today, "I have asked the Home Secretary to immediately issue an advisory to all the states to ensure the safety and security of Kashmiri students.

"The Kashmiri youth also contribute in the progress of India. Action should be taken by the states against those who target them."

Stating that Kashmiris were a part of the family, he appealed to everyone to ensure the safety of Kashmiri students living in other parts of the country.

Meanwhile, a meeting of Ram Madhav, J&K minister Haseeb Drabu, BJP leaders Avinash Rai Khanna and Satpal Sharma underway at BJP office in Jammu.


Image: Kashmir University students protests in the aftermath of the Uri attack in 2016, when they were targetted across the country.
11:01  You can now literally smell the coffee.

The @IndiaPostOffice will be releasing a cofffee-flavoured postal stamp on April 23 to celebrate the Indian Coffee Board. 
10:59  Now, Deepa's husband launches political party :  This is what Tamil Nadu politics has been waiting for.
Madhavan, husband of Jayalalithaa's niece Deepa Jayakumar, launches his political party MJDMK. 
10:46  Banners asking Kashmiris to leave UP come up in Meerut:  Banners calling for boycott of Kashmiris and asking people from the Valley to leave Uttar Pradesh have come up in the district in the wake of incidents of stonepelting on security forces in Kashmir.


The banners have been put up by a little-known outfit, Uttar Pradesh Nav Nirman Sena. Its chief Amit Jani said that they have put up these banners and hoardings along the Partapur bypass outside the colleges where Kashmiri students study.


Police said that action will be taken against those putting up such hoardings. But the outfit said it is only the first step and it will launch a "halla bol" campaign from April 30 to "banish" the Kashmiris who do not leave the state on their own.


A video clip of some youths assaulting soldiers on their way to poll duty in Kralpora area in central Kashmir's Budgam district had gone viral on social media recently, drawing nationwide outrage.
10:33  Modi's mantri plans Project Cow like Project Tiger :  Cow is the new tiger.

After a ban on cow slaughter and rising incidents of violence by gau rakshaks, Minister of State (Home) Hansraj Ahir has said the government is considering a proposal to set up cow sanctuaries and start a Project Cow on the lines of Project Tiger.

Humne yeh socha tha, aur kaafi din se hum is pe kaam bhi kar rahe hai Gau hatya ko rok lagana hai, usme sabse bada adanga yeh aata hai ki inko paaley kaun Iske liye ek gau abhyaaranya banane ki zaroorat hai aur chara uska bhi collection karna padega. Har state mein honi chahiye hum gau hatya par rok lagana sambhav hoga (We have been considering a proposal, and have been working on it for some days now We need to stop cow slaughter, but the biggest stumbling block is who will take care of these cows We need to make cow sanctuaries for this, and need to make arrangements for fodder also. Each state should have cow sanctuaries Then we will be successful in stopping cow slaughter), said Ahir, in an interview to The Indian Express on Thursday.

Isse hoga yeh ki kisan budhi gai ko bechne nahi jayega Yeh ek paryay ho sakta hai, jaise Tiger Projectek Cow Project bana sakte hain (This will stop farmers from selling old cows A Project Cow, on the lines of Project Tiger, can be started This can be an option), said Ahir, a BJP MP from Chandrapur in Maharashtra.

I have discussed the matter with the environment ministry and we plan to expedite this proposal, he said, adding that a chara (food) bank can also be set up.
10:26  Mr Modi, please heed loss of morale in armed forces:  "The non-implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission, almost a year after it was implemented for civilians, is gradually beginning to hurt morale in the armed forces," says Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal (retd). Read the column here.


10:20  Are Adivasis being driven out to save the tiger?:  "Why do you want the tribal communities to come out of the jungles?
''For development?
"Why cannot their development take place over there?
''The Modi government is diluting the Forest Rights Act in the name of industrialisation and Project Tiger."
To save the tiger, India's national animal, the central government recently issued a circular stating that tribal communities living in forest areas or tiger reserves will have no right to stay there -- in effect, asking them to leave.
Alok Shukla, convenor of the NGO Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, tells Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf how this circular will hit the lives of tribal communities hard. Read the interview here.
10:13  The Mosul violinist who defied Islamic State:  Yes, we care more about Sonu Nigam's tonsure than the thousands dying in Mosul. Amid the horror and stench of death and dying, this man shines light on the hope of a better tomorrow. Meet the violinist of Mosul. Listen in.
09:57  Update: Passenger train derails in Karnataka, none hurt:  Three coaches and the engine of Aurangabad-Hyderabad passenger train derailed in Karnataka in the early hours today, an official of the South Central Railway (SCR) said. No one was injured in the mishap, he said.


The train derailed between Kalagapur and Bhalki stations in Karnataka on the Parli-Vikarabad section of Secunderabad division at around 1.50 am today, SCR's Chief Public Relations Officer M Uma Shankar Kumar said.


All the train passengers are safe, he said. Restoration measures have been taken up on a war footing, he said.
09:41  Barkha Singh 'loyal soldier of Cong' expelled day after she criticised Rahul :  Barkha Shukla Singh, who described herself as a 'loyal soldier of the Congress' has just been expelled from the party.

Singh, who quit as chief of the women's wing, yesterday ahead of the Delhi civic polls, hit out at Vice President Rahul Gandhi and the party's Delhi unit chief Ajay Maken.

Singh who is the former Delhi Commission for Women chief said: "Congress party under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi and Ajay Maken have only used the issue of empowerment of women and women security to gather votes. The issue means nothing to them."

Singh said: "In the current organisation where I myself am unsafe, how will I empower women in that organisation. That is why I hereby resign from the post of President of Delhi Mahila Congress."

Singh even quoted other senior party leaders questioning her party's Vice President's capabilities, saying "Rahul Gandhi is unfit to lead the party".

"The one pertinent question we need to ask today is why is Rahul Gandhi in hiding? Why is he scared of meeting his own party members?" Singh said in a statement.

Several senior leaders have quit the party because of that very reason, she said.

"Rahul Gandhi is reluctant to address issues that exist within the organisation. Why does Rahul Gandhi shy away from meeting party leaders who ask him questions," she said.

She further added: "He (Rahul) is only interested in meeting sycophants and not leaders who reason, question and ask."

Describing herself as a loyal soldier of the Congress, she said she will continue to remain that.


Image: Barkha Singh holds up pictures of Rahul Gandhi and Ajay Maken at the press conference yesterday. She said Rahul was unfit to lead the party.
09:30  Kiran Bedi removes lal batti :  Kiran Bedi tweets: Lt Governor Puducherry's vehicle without the Lal (Image of Batti) Thanku @PMOIndia

Almost immediately after the Union cabinet decided to do away with the red beacon, several Union ministers and chief ministers removed the beacons from their vehicles. That's even before the notification came into effect.

Seeking to end VIP culture, the cabinet on April 19 decided that beacon would be removed from all vehicles, including that of the prime minister, from May 1.

Pictures of VIPs who did away with the light.
09:06  Sonu Nigam Azaan row: 2 stabbed in MP for backing singer's remarks:  
Two man were stabbed in Gopalpura, Madhya Pradesh, after one of them took to Facebook in support of Sonu Nigam's comments on the use of loudspeakers for Azaan, the Muslim call for prayer. 

Shivam Rai, who posted a comment on Facebook regarding the issue, was allegedly threatened on the phone by two men and told to come to the Freeganj area. Rai and his friend Ayush Shreewas were attacked on arrival with knives. The two were later admitted to a district hospital; Shreewas was reportedly seriously injured.

A case of attempted murder under Section 307 of the IPC has been filed against the accused, Mohammad Nagori and Faizan Khan, the Madhavnagar police station in-charge MS Parmar, according to a report in the Hindustan Times. 

Earlier this week, Sonu Nigam stirred controversy after going on a Twitter rant against the use of loudspeakers at Mosques, calling it 'forced religiousness' and 'gundagardi'. 
08:36  Mulayam served with a fine of Rs 4 lakh by UP power department:  
The 'No VIP' emphasis of Yogi Adityanath's new government in Uttar Pradesh extended to former Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav -- one of his homes failed a surprise inspection and was found to be guilty of using way more electricity than allowed.

An inspection conducted by a team of electricity officials revealed that former chief minister had unpaid electricity bills worth Rs 4 lakh.

The team upon arriving at his residence found that the permissible limit of 5 kW a day was being busted by as many as eight times. He has been given a time period till the end of the month to pay up.

The Samajwadi Party patriarch's sprawling residence in the Civil Lines area of his constituency Etawah is one of the biggest in the city with more than a dozen rooms, its own air-conditioning plant, a temperature-controlled swimming pool and several elevators.

Officials had changed the configurations to allow him 40 kW against a payment in lieu of the additional power supply.
08:29  US prepares charges to seek arrest of WikiLeaks' Assange:  
US authorities have prepared charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, US officials said. 

The Justice Department investigation of Assange and WikiLeaks dates to at least 2010, when the site first gained wide attention for posting thousands of files stolen by the former US Army intelligence analyst now known as Chelsea Manning.

Prosecutors have struggled with whether the First Amendment precluded the prosecution of Assange, but now believe they have found a way to move forward.

During Obama's administration, Attorney General Eric Holder and officials at the Justice Department determined it would be difficult to bring charges against Assange because WikiLeaks wasn't alone in publishing documents stolen by Manning. 

Several newspapers, including The New York Times, did as well. The investigation continued, but any possible charges were put on hold, according to US officials involved in the process then.

The US view of WikiLeaks and Assange began to change after investigators found what they believe was proof that WikiLeaks played an active role in helping Edward Snowden, a former NSA analyst, disclose a massive cache of classified documents.

Assange remains holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, seeking to avoid an arrest warrant on rape allegations in Sweden. In recent months, US officials had focused on the possibility that a new government in Ecuador would expel Assange and he could be arrested. But the left-leaning presidential candidate who won the recent election in the South American nation has promised to continue to harbor Assange.
08:08  JUST IN: Aurangabad-Hyderabad passenger train derailed between Khalgapur and Bhalki stations in Karnataka. No casualties reported
08:01  Jaitley takes up H-1B visa issue with US Commerce Secretary:  
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has "strongly raised" the H-1B visa issue with US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, highlighting the important role played by highly skilled Indian professionals in America, officials said.


During the meeting in Washington, DC -- the first cabinet-level
interaction between the two countries under the Trump administration -- Ross is believed to have said that US has started the process of reviewing H1B visas issues and no decision has been taken on it yet, sources said.

Taking up the case of Indian IT companies and professionals, Jaitley told Ross about the contribution of highly skilled Indians in the economic development of the United States and India and stressed that they should continue to do so, which is in the best interest of the two countries, an Indian official said.

Ross is understood to have said that whatever the outcome of the review process, the Trump administration's objective is to have a merit-based immigration policy that gives preference to highly skilled professionals.

The executive order signed by Trump early this week calls for a review of H-1B visas by the departments of State, Labour, Homeland Security and Justice.
00:23  Video of BJP MLA thrashing toll plaza staff surfaces:  A video has surfaced purportedly showing a Bharatiya Janata Party legislator and his supporters thrashing toll plaza staff after he was asked to pay the money for the vehicles in his cavalcade in Fatehganj area of Bareilly.

"Mahendra Yadav, the BJP MLA from Biswan in Sitapur, andhis supporters beat up the employees of Fatehganj west tollplaza on April 17 after he was asked to deposit toll whilegoing to Delhi," manager of the toll plaza, Vaibhav Sharma, alleged.

The video of the incident has gone viral on electronicand social media.

A case has been registered in this connection at theFatehganj police station.

Later the MLA regretted the behaviour of his supporters, Sharma said.

SP Dehat Yamuna Prasad said an FIR against three to four unknown persons has been registered for thrashing toll plaza workers and investigations are on.

The video is being checked to ascertain the registration numbers of the vehicles and other details and Circle Officer Mirganj has been asked to conduct the probe in this connection, he said. -- PTI

IMAGE: A screengrab from the video.

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