rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 

LIVE! IAS officers to adopt martyrs' families

Write a comment

April 28, 2017


23:51  IAS officers to adopt martyrs' families:   In a unique initiative, Indian Administrative Service officers will adopt families of security personnel, who lost their lives in Maoist combat, anti-terror operations or maintaining law and order.

The bureaucrats will approach such families within their area of posting and offer themselves as facilitators to help them (families) get their dues like pension, gratuity or allotment of services like petrol pump, jobs etc, an association representing them said on Friday.

The officers, however, would not be providing any direct financial help to such families, it said.

"Their job would be to help the families get their dues from respective governments. They may also help the children in such families to get admission in a school," Sanjay Bhoosreddy, honorary secretary of Indian Civil and Administrative Service (Central) Association, said.

The association represents all members of IAS.

Initially, about 700 young officers, of past four batches -- 2012 to 2015 -- will be asked to adopt at least one family in the area of their posting.

"Senior officers, or those from state civil services, can also adopt such families voluntarily," Bhoosreddy, a Joint-Secretary level IAS officer, said.

The officers will oversee whether the support (both in cash and kind) pledged by the state or local governments have been provided to the family concerned.

They will ensure that the children of the martyred soldiers continue getting good education and mentor them so that they can pursue the career of their choice based on their aptitude and talent, the association said.

The officers will also see whether any benefits can be provided to them based on various schemes being run by the government like Skill India, Start-up India, Digital India etc.

Bhoosreddy said the support system will cater to the families of central armed police forces like Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force, those in Army and all others working with local police.

"The state governments have been asked to share with the association the details of such families," he said.

The official noted that the IAS officers, who work as Sub Divisional Magistrates, district magistrate and at other senior positions in state and Central governments, have immense influence on the local administrative machinery.

He added that such an influence can be positively channelised to support and help the families of martyred soldiers in an effective and sustained manner. -- PTI
23:14  ED registers PMLA case in Narada sting involving TMC leaders:  The Enforcement Directorate has registered a money laundering case in the Narada 'sting' where a number of Trinamool Congress leaders, including MPs and ministers, were allegedly seen on camera taking money.

The agency, officials said, has registered the case under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act after studying a Central Bureau of Investigation FIR.

It will probe the 'proceeds of crime' generated in this case and soon summonses would be issued to the accused for questioning, they said.

While the CBI's criminal FIR had been registered against12 TMC leaders and an IPS officer, the ED's FIR, called Enforcement Case Information Report, has been booked against 14 entities that includes a category of unknown persons apart from the 13 in the CBI compliant, they said.

The sting operation pertains to the secret filming of the TMC leaders and the IPS officer while they allegedly accepted money from the representatives of a fictitious company for extending favours to it.

The TMC leaders against whom the CBI has registered the FIR, now also booked by the ED, include Rajya Sabha MP Mukul Roy, Lok Sabha MPs -- Saugata Roy, Aparupa Poddar, Sultan Ahmed,Prasun Banerjee and Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar.

West Bengal ministers including Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim, Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari,Environment Minister Sovan Chatterjee, Panchayati Raj andRural Development Minister Subrata Mukherjee have also been named in the FIR.

Former Minister Madan Mitra, MLA Iqbal Ahmed and IPS officer Saiyaad Mustafa Hussain Mirza have also been made accused in the case.

The Calcutta high court today directed the CBI to continue with its probe into the sting operation case.  -- PTI
21:47  Mission 2019: Shah to target seats BJP lost in 2014:  Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah has already sounded the poll bugle for 2019 general election.

He will be visiting five states as part of a Vistaar Yatra (Expansion Tour).

The aim of the Vistaar Yatra is to expand party's reach in those 120 Lok Sabha seats wherein the BJP lost in 2014 general elections.

Shah will start his two-day Jammu and Kashmir tour from Saturday. The BJP is a coalition partner in J&K government led by People's Democratic Party. The BJP has three Members of Parliament and 26 members of legislative assembly from J&K.

The by poll for Anantnag Lok Sabha seat has been deferred by the Election Commission. The seat is vacated by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.

Shah's state visit also assumes importance as the state has been witnessing unrest reminiscent of 2008 and 2010.

He will be meeting intelligentsia during his visit. After Jammu and Kashmir, Shah will be touring four states- Odhisa, Lakshadweep, Telangana, and Gujarat. His each state visit will be of 15 days.

In Odisha, Shah will be camping at Kalahandi district. The BJP has created 19 departments to ensure that the party runs equally from the district level to the national level.

The party will also be listing its 11 crore members up to the booth level. -- ANI
21:43  Gold bars worth Rs 34 lakh seized from AI flight in Goa:  Goa Customs today seized eleven gold bars worth Rs 34 lakh, which were found concealed in a packet hidden beneath a seat, from an Air India aircraft after it landed at the airport in Panaji, an official said.

"While performing the necessary checking after arrival of the Air India flight AI-994 today morning, the officers of the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of Goa Customs found a packet containing eleven gold bars, which was stuck beneath a passenger seat with an adhesive tape, in the aircraft," he said, adding that the gold bars weighed 1,280 grams.

The official said that nobody came forward to claim ownership of the package.

"The value of the seized gold is Rs 34 lakh. The seizure was made under sections 110 and 111 of Customs Act," the department stated in a note.

This is the seventh such seizure of unclaimed gold made by the AIU this month, it said.  -- PTI
20:38  Government has made jawans puppets: Martyr's wife:  The wife of a Central Reserve Police Force jawan, who lost his life in a Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district, on Friday demanded that paramilitary personnel be given shoot at sight orders to tackle left wing extremism.

Kiren, the wife of late CRPF personnel Surender, told ANI that the government should give shoot at sight orders for those deployed in Naxal and terror prone areas.

"When they (Maoists and terrorists) will be killed, then their families will realise the pain which I am going through," said Kiren.

Referring to an incident in Kashmir wherein a CRPF personnel didn't use his gun despite being slapped by Kashmiri miscreants, Kiren said, "The jawans have been made puppets. The government should give jawans the powers to use the guns. They have been provided guns, but if they can't use it then what is use of giving them guns. It would have been better if they were not provided guns."

She thanked cricketer Gautam Gambhir who announced that he would to bear the educational expenses of the children of CRPF soldiers who were killed in Sukma attack.  -- ANI
19:27  Raj: Upper caste men attack Dalit groom for riding a mare:  A Dalit man riding a mare during his wedding procession was forcibly made to dismount, attacked with beer bottles and dragged along the road allegedly by a group of upper caste men in Rajasthan's Udaipur district.

The assailants were apparently infuriated to see the Dalit man riding the mare, a practice which is still considered an exclusive privilege of the upper castes.

The groom lodged a police complaint following which one of the accused has been detained. A hunt for the others is on, police said today.

Police booked a case against four people under sections of the SC/ST Act late last night.

The incident happened in Jhalo Ka Dhana village in Udaipur where Kailash Meghwal, 25, was taking out his marriage procession.

According to the Ghasa police station Station House Officer Ramesh Kavia, the complainant claimed that around five to six people, armed with beer bottles, rods and other sharp-edged weapons, attacked the people in procession.

Meghwal suffered injuries to his body and head, and had to get stitches.

"We have booked a case against four people under sections of the SC/ST Act and investigation is on. To provide protection to the victim family, we have deployed policemen to avoid any untoward incident," Kavia said.  -- PTI
18:54  Bank robbery bid foiled in Anantnag, one terrorist arrested:  Alert security forces on Friday foiled a bid by two terrorists to loot a branch of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank in Anantnag.

One terrorist was arrested, while the other managed to flee. The incident happened when the bank's Mehandi Kadal branch employees had gone to offer Friday prayers and the branch appeared to be closed.

A Central Reserve Police Force personnel deployed at the branch told ANI that when he, along with a head constable of J&K Police, was guarding the bank, the two terrorists approached the bank, and asked, "Is the bank closed?"

"When we answered that it would be opened soon, one of the terrorists pulled out a pistol and fired a single shot at the constable but missed as the alert constable pushed him and he fell down. While I caught the other, the terrorist who had opened the fire managed to flee," said the CRPF official.

The JKP constable sustained bullet injury on his right hand. Nearby stationed CRPF personnel immediately secured the area. -- ANI

Representative image.
18:39  After UP, Delhi decides to cancel holidays marking birth, death anniversaries:  Taking a cue from Uttar Pradesh, the Delhi government has decided to cancel public holidays marking the birth or death anniversary of eminent personalities, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Friday.

'The Delhi government will cancel holidays on birth or death anniversary of eminent personalities. I have issued instruction to the chief secretary in this regard,' he tweeted.

Sisodia lauded the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh for cancelling 15 public holidays on birth or death anniversary of eminent personalities.

'The Uttar Pradesh government has taken a good initiative in this matter. We should always be ready to learn from other states,' he said.

The UP cabinet had on April 25 decided to cancel 15 public holidays in educational institutions.

'Instead, students in schools and colleges would now be taught about the great personalities on these days,' it had said. -- PTI
18:15  Hello! This is Adityanath. CM will keep tabs on truant babus on landline:  Uttar Pradesh government 'babus' used to playing truant for an afternoon siesta or meeting an old friend will now risk getting caught as Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has decided to dial up officers' on their office landlines to check if they are present.

Uttar Pradesh's Power Minister Shrikant Sharma said that Adityanath would make these surprise calls on office landlines of officers between 9 am to 6 pm. If the officials are not able to justify their absence and explain the reasons for not being able to take the chief minister's call, there could be penalties, Sharma told a press conference today.

However, officers on field jobs will be given some relaxation, said Sharma, who is also a spokesman of the state government. "The idea is that if the top bosses are present in office, juniors will follow their example," he explained.

In another significant decision, senior officers in the state have been ordered to immediately close their home-offices, Sharma said. The priest-turned-politician, Adityanath, after he became the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh had made it clear that he expects the administration to put in long hours.

After he took over in March, Adityanath had warned that anyone who had problems working at least 18-20 hours per day should take a different path.

The 44-year-old chief minister had told the officials that only those who were ready to work up to 20 hours will be able to work with him. He has also taken measures to ensure presence of the government staff by direction that biometric attendance systems be put in place to deter late-comers.

Surprise attendance checks have been carried out in various departments to check punctuality. The state Cabinet chaired by the chief minister had recently cancelled 15 holidays ordered by the previous governments to commemorate the birth or death anniversary of famous Indian leaders as part of an attempt to change the state's work culture.

Sharma said that after completing a marathon round of departmental presentations, the chief minister will follow up after 100 days to see whether his directions were followed or not.

He said that after every review, each department had been asked to release a 'white paper' on its functioning and a report card on completion of 100 days of the government.
17:42  When the Minister became a Bollywood heart-throb again:  '"I have heard so much about Bollywood, Excellency... Oh, I am so excited to meet you," said the woman guest from Morocco. ''We had entered another world. Someone asked what was distinctive about the Method style. The minister sprung up, with his face and features aglow. He began demonstrating how a simple act, say, discarding your shoes is performed differently in Hollywood, under the Stravinsky model, by Brando and in Bollywood."

Ambassador B S Prakash has fond memories of Vinod Khanna, his minister. Do read
17:29  Sensex ends below 30,000, rings in biggest gain in six weeks:  Market benchmark Sensex hit a soft patch for the second day running as it retreated from record highs to close below the 30,000 mark today after investors pocketed gains ahead of an extended weekend.

However, indices still registered their biggest gain in six weeks on widespread buying and improving risk appetite. The Nifty managed to stay above the psychologically- crucial 9,300. The 30-share Sensex opened higher, but failed to hold on to the 30,000-level, touching an intra-day low of 29,848.21 as investors booked profits in recent gainers.
17:07  The truth Rishi Kapoor forgot:  Rishi Kapoor slammed the 'actors of this generation' in a series of tweets for not attending Vinod Khanna's funeral, yesterday. Khanna passed away early on Thursday morning, after battling cancer.

Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com, says there's a reason why only the older generation went to pay their last respects yesterday. Do read 
16:26  Baahubali deserves its place in history:  Baahubali: The Conclusion continues its tradition of grandiloquence and magnitude. Except this time, high drama, more than spectacle, is what lends its riveting tale of revenge and glory all its wallop and wizardry, writes Sukanya Verma. Read the Rediff.com review here.
16:24  Akhilesh meets Kupwara braveheart's kin, pledges Rs 30 lakh :   Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Friday announced financial assistance of Rs 30 lakh for the kin of Captain Ayush, who died fighting terrorists on Thursday in Kupwara.

"My heartfelt condolences to each family who lost their loved ones, adding that I don't give any political comment on this moment," Akhilesh Yadav said in Kanpur.

Captain Ayush Yadav, Subedar Bhoop Singh Gujjar and Naik B Venkata Ramanna were killed in the attack on the Army camp yesterday.

Condemning the Kupwara attack, deputy Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Nirmal Singh assured that India would give a befitting reply to 'desperate' Pakistan for trying to ruin the atmosphere in the Valley.

"We condemn this strongly. We pay our tributes to the jawans. Pakistan is trying to mess the situation as much as possible, but that would not be possible. Our jawans are doing their best and will not let them be successful. Their actions will be answered," Singh told ANI.

Dubbing it as a coward action, Singh said that Pakistan is desperate to create problems in Kashmir and warned it of severe action.

"Pakistan is going to suffer. We are going to reply in the same way. The Union government is well prepared," he added.

Two terrorists were also neutralised in the attack.

Also read: Govt must do something or our sons will keep dying: Father of slain army captain


Image: Akhilesh Yadav at Capt Ayush's house.
15:43   Ready to talk to recognised political parties in Kashmir, not separatists: Govt to SC:  The Centre today told the Supreme Court it was ready to talk to recognised political parties in Jammu and Kashmir to resolve the crisis there, but not with the separatists.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi made it clear that the government would come to the negotiating table only if the recognised parties participate in the dialogue and not the separatist elements.

He made the submissions before a bench, comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul, while rubbishing the claim of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association that the Centre was not coming forward for discussion and dialogue to resolve the crisis. Rohatgi said recently the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister of the state held a meeting to discuss the situation.

The bench asked the Association to come with suggestions to resolve the crisis, including stone-pelting and violent agitation on the streets of the Kashmir Valley.

The apex court made it clear to the bar body that it would have to come out with suggestions after talking to all stakeholders and cannot shy away by saying that they do not represent everybody in Kashmir.

It said there was need for a positive start and the bar body could play an important role by coming out with a gameplan and a roadmap for restoring normalcy in the Valley.

The bench also made it clear to the Centre that the court would involve itself in the matter only if there was a view that it can play a role and there was no jurisdictional issue.

"If you feel the court has no role and if you feel we have no jurisdiction, we will close the file at this moment," the bench told the AG who, at the fag end of the hearing, objected to some of the suggestions made by the bar body including that the separatists were being ignored.

The bench also said both the parties have to take a joint step but the first step has to come from the lawyers' body which has approached the apex court.

It also said it was aware that the situation in Kashmir Valley was not very palatable, while posting the matter for further hearing on May 9. The apex court was hearing hearing an appeal filed by Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association against the High Court order seeking stay on the use of pellet guns as a large number of people had been killed or injured due to their use.

During the last hearing on April 10, the Centre had told the Supreme Court it was exploring a crowd control option that is akin to rubber bullets but not as lethal as pellet guns that are being used currently as a last resort to quell violence in the Valley.

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court had on September 22 rejected the plea seeking a ban on use of pellet guns on the ground that the Centre had already constituted a Committee of Experts through its memorandum of July 26, 2016 for exploring alternatives to pellet guns.
15:10  Shocker! No farmer committed suicide over drought, TN govt tells SC:   In a development bound to anger the protesting Tamil farmers in the national capital, the Tamil Nadu Government on Friday conveyed to the Supreme Court that drought is not the reason for farmer suicides in the state.

The Tamil Nadu government filed a reply in the Supreme Court today stating that no farmer had committed suicide in the state, and clarified that those who have, took the extreme step due to personal reasons.

This comes after the Supreme Court on April 13th ordered the Tamil Nadu Government to file a detailed reply in the farmers' suicide issue in two weeks.

Expressing displeasure on inaction on farmers' suicide issue, the apex court lashed out at the government for not taking enough measures to prevent the farmers' suicides in the state.

An apex court headed by Justice Dipak Misra said, "It is very painful to hear it that farmers are committing suicide and the state government is not taking enough steps."

An NGO had moved the apex court, pointing to the increasing cases of farmers' suicides.

Earlier, the Madras High Court had directed the Tamil Nadu Government to waive loans of all drought-hit farmers and restrained cooperative societies and banks from recovering their dues.
14:45  Terrorists try to snatch rifles from CRPF men guarding Anantnag bank:   Just in: Two militants try to snatch rifles from CRPF jawans guarding a bank in Anantnag, Kashmir. One jawan has been injured. One of the militants escaped, while the other one has been nabbed. 

Instances of locals nabbing guns from security men have emerged over the last couple of months.

Last month, militants attacked the ancestral home of a ruling PDP minister in Anantnag district and decamped with four weapons of security guards.

In October 2016, suspected militants fled with at least five guns taken from security men guarding a TV tower in Anantnag district. The armed men barged into the guardroom of the tower, overpowered the securitymen and snatched the weapons before fleeing.

Last month, youth attacked a CRPF trooper in Tral area of south Kashmir's Pulwama district and snatched his service rifle.

A police official said that youth armed with sticks attacked the trooper at Bus Stand Tral and snatched his rifle.


Representational image.
14:45  CJI Khehar could be India's 1st Lokpal:  Chief Justice of India Jagdish Singh Khehar is likely to be India's first Lokpal, according to a highly placed source in the government. Justice Khehar will be demitting office on August 28, 2017 and in all probability, by early September, the government will announce Khehar as the Lokpal. That's the buzz in the corridors of the Supreme Court as well.

The Supreme Court has pushed for an early appointment of lokpal, rejecting the Centre's argument that the process for appointment of the ombudsman mandated to check corruption in high places had been delayed because of the absence of a leader of Opposition who, under the existing law, ought to be part of the selection committee.

Under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, which came into force on January 16, 2014, Lokpal was to be selected by a panel comprising the PM, the Chief Justice of India or an SC judge nominated by him, Lok Sabha Speaker, LoP and an eminent jurist to be selected by the first four members of the selection panel.
14:33  Indian man shot dead in crossfire outside US motel:  A 56-year-old Indian man has been killed after getting caught in a crossfire outside a motel in the US state of Tennessee, becoming the fifth from the community to be killed in the country since February.

Khandu Patel, father of two, worked as a housekeeper at Americas Best Value Inn and Suites in Whitehaven, a report in Fox13Memphis said.

The incident occurred on Monday when about 30 shots went off.

Khandu had worked at the inn for about eight months. His wife and children lived at the motel with him.

"He finished his days' work and was out walking around the property. Next thing you know he hears some gunshots flying around and one caught him in the chest," Jay Patel, the victim's nephew, was quoted as saying by the report. "He didn't even make it to the hospital to be saved."

He added that the family was ready to shift to another location for a new job.The report added that Patel's nephew is asking anyone with information to come forward help the family get justice.
14:12  Sushma Swaraj's husband wins it with this tweet:  Cuteness personified.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj's husband, a Supreme Court lawyer, tweets: "...........bad times ahead."

Swaraj Kaushal's tweet is in response to Sushma Swaraj's statement at the Group of Ministers meeting yesterday held to review the national policy for women. She said men should be encouraged to study home science in college and hone their culinary skills, while women should be motivated to take up physical education, especially martial arts, as an effort to banish gender bias from society.

Swaraj, one of the top woman politicians in the country, heads the GoM.

Much like the EAM, Kaushal also has hilarious replies to tweets, for instance when someone wondered why he doesn't follow his wife on Twitter. "Because I am not stranded in Libya or Yemen," he replied late on February 17.
13:47  Mumbai model sentenced to 3 years in jail for plot to kill Madhur Bhandarkar:  Mumbai-based model Preeti Jain was on Friday sentenced to three years in jail for plotting to kill film-maker Madhur Bhandarkar, against whom she had earlier registered a rape case. The prosecution said Jain gave a contract to gangster Arun Gawlis aide Naresh Pardeshi to kill Bhandarkar in September 2005, almost a year after she filed a rape case against the filmmaker.

She was found guilty of conspiracy, aiding and abetting crime.

Jain allegedly paid Rs75,000 for the hit job. When the task was not completed, she asked for her money back. When the news reached Gawli, he sent his men to alert the police.

The trial first began in the fast-track court in Sewree, but was later transferred to the sessions court.

13:27  News updates :  Khandu Patel, 56, killed in the #US state of Tennessee after getting caught in a crossfire outside a motel.


Model Preeti Jain convicted by a Mumbai session court for conspiring to kill director @imbhandarkar, reports @aritra_h


Centre will stop the use of pellet guns for two weeks if violence in Kashmir stops.
13:24  Vinod Khanna: An actor with a touch of sadness:  "Vinod Khanna's death -- something that seemed imminent after a picture of his emaciated self was leaked to the media -- has chipped away a part of my teenage years. I am deeply saddened by the loss of an actor who enriched my life for many years. It happens each time a star who I grew up with dies. And no matter how many films I watch with Ranbir Kapoor or Ranveer Singh, the stars of an earlier era have an edge that these young actors cannot replicate."

Do read Aseem Chhabria's column on Rediff.com here
13:11  'Saw our 48 year relationship going up in flames':  "... he a big star .. but always most humble with selfless concern for others .. the rides he would take me on, in his recently acquired Beetle VolksWagen, yellow in color .. his generosity in smuggling me into the only Disco Club in the city at the Taj, where he was a member, and I not even remotely in any state to become one .. his marriage to Geetanjali, whom he and we all fondly called Gitly .. the birth of his sons, Rahul and Akshay, whom he often brought on to the sets of AAA .."

Amitabh Bachchan remembers his friend and colleague Vinod Khanna who passed away yesterday. He was at the funeral yesterday with son Abhishek.  Read more
12:55  Amul's tribute to actor Vinod Khanna who passed away yesterday.
12:45  For the thuggish Naxalites, revolution is a pretence:   "The Naxalite strategy is to periodically attack police forces to provoke a reaction. Once the security forces over-react and cause suffering to innocents by high-handed actions, the people will be alienated and support the revolution. This appears to be the Naxalites' strategy and hence, their recent brutal killings of policemen," says Colonel Anil A Athale (retd).

Do read
12:45  For the thuggish Naxalites, revolution is a pretence:   "The Naxalite strategy is to periodically attack police forces to provoke a reaction. Once the security forces over-react and cause suffering to innocents by high-handed actions, the people will be alienated and support the revolution. This appears to be the Naxalites' strategy and hence, their recent brutal killings of policemen," says Colonel Anil A Athale (retd).

Do read
12:40  Nation bids farewell to Kupwara martyrs :  Srinagar: Wreath laying ceremony of Captain Ayush Yadav, Naik Venkata Ramanna and Subedar Bhup Singh who lost their lives in the Kupwara attack.


Three heavily-armed terrorists on Thursday stormed an army camp in Kupwara district of Kashmir, killing three before two of the assailants were gunned down in a fierce 35-minute encounter.

At around 4 am, three terrorists, dressed in black Pathani suit and combat jackets, entered from the rear side the artillery unit of the army garrison at Panzgam in Kupwara, about 100 kms from Srinagar, and started indiscriminate firing, army officials said.

They managed to cross the second security layer of the camp located in a mountainous terrain and spread over an area of 400 x 800 meters, the officials said.

Firing indiscriminately, the terrorists then advanced towards the officers' complex of the camp which houses about 1000 army personnel and is situated about 10 kms from the Line of Control with Pakistan.

Soldiers took on the attackers and forced them back towards one of the gates of the camp, the officials said.


12:27  Another appointment: BB Vyas to be J&K government's chief secretary
12:19  After 38 deaths in 2 months headless CRPF gets new chief :  It took a tragic 25 deaths for the government to act. The Central Reserve Police Force has finally got a new head: Rajiv Rai Bhatnagar took charge as Director General of the countrys largest paramilitary force.

The CRPF has remained headless for over two months. It lost 38 personnel in the line of duty in two major ambushes during the period.

After K Durga Prasads retirement as the last full-time chief of the CRPF on February 28, the Union home ministry had appointed Additional DG Sudeep Lakhtakia to hold the charge in additional capacity.

A senior home ministry official said a panel of eligible IPS officers has already been prepared but there has been no finality on the name of the next DG for the nearly 3-lakh-strong force till now.

While the day-to-day operations and work of CRPF is being conducted, the absence of a regular chief hits when big and important policy decisions are to be taken, the official said.

A senior CRPF official said while the acting CRPF DG and senior Security Advisor in the Home Ministry K Vijay Kumar rushed to the spot and met the troops the very next day, the absence of a regular chief at such crucial moments is felt.

In the first week of April, 168 recruits of the force suffered food poisoning at their camp in Pallipuram in Kerala and had to be hospitalised.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh had taken strong exception of the incident and also convened a meeting of all paramilitary chiefs asking them to keep a check on such instances.

It is always good to have a full-time chief who is empowered to take confident policy decisions. It is surprising to see that the 3-lakh personnel force, which is also the largest paramilitary across the globe, is kept headless and without a regular DG for well about two months, another officer said.

The CRPF is not only the lead anti-Naxal operations force of the country but also heavily deployed for rendering law and order duties in various states in assistance to local police and for conducting anti-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the North East.
12:05  2019: Has Modi peaked too early?:  Paradoxical it may seem, but the landslide victories of the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party, first in the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand assembly elections, and now in the politically important Municipal Corporation of Delhi may not hold Modi and the BJP in good stead when it comes to the most important electoral battle -- the next general election which is due in exactly two years from now.

The reasons are many. First of all, the Modi-led BJP is peaking too early, to use a cricketing term. Read the incisive column by Rajeev Sharma on Rediff.com.
11:24  Naxalite's body recovered from site of ambush in Sukma:  
The body of a Naxalite has been recovered from the site where 25 CRPF personnel were killed earlier this week in an ambush by the rebels in Burkapal area of Chhattisgarh's Sukma district.

"The body of a Naxalite was recovered last night from the forest, just 500 metres away from the spot where the gun battle had taken place between the CRPF and the rebels on April 24," Special Director General of Police (anti-Naxal operations) D M Awasthi said. 

Acting on reports of the movement of Naxals in the area after the ambush, the security forces were carrying out the combing operations, he said.

While cordoning off a forested patch in Burkapal area last night, the patrolling team recovered the body of the Maoist who was reported to be killed in the ambush, Awasthi said.
11:06  Sonia Gandhi spent 2-3 hours at office, Rahul should too: Sheila Dikshit:  
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, widely expected to step into party chief and mother Sonia Gandhi's shoes, has the leadership qualities but needs to be more accessible to party workers, senior Congress leader Sheila Dikshit said on NDTV. 

"I would like Rahul Gandhi to be more accessible," Dikshit, 79, who served three consecutive terms as chief minister of the national capital said.

In this, she recalled, that Sonia Gandhi too - when she took charge of the party's reins 19 years ago - would spend about two or three hours in the party headquarters every morning.  "Rahul must do the same," she said. If he does take her advice, she was sure that the Congress headquarters "start buzzing" again and not wear the desolate look it has after the party's performance in the recent assembly elections. "The whole place would start buzzing".
10:48  JUST IN: Malegaon blast accused Lt Colonel Shrikant Purohit approaches Supreme Court seeking bail
10:44  Heartbreak for Tamil Nadu - early shows of Baahubali cancelled:  
Baahubali: The Conclusion steamrolled its way into theatres across the country this morning - but not entirely unopposed. 

In Tamil Nadu, disappointed fans found the film's early morning shows cancelled - Andhra Pradesh watched the film at 7.30 am - because of what was explained away first as permission problems. 

It was then revealed that there are payment issues between the distributors and producers that haven't yet been resolved. Baahubali: The Conclusion will now release in Tamil Nadu at 11 am, conditionally.

Exact details of what these payment issues are not clear - however, fans in Tamil Nadu have blamed actor Vijay's last film Bairavaa, which was distributed by the same firm as Baahubali: The Conclusion. 
Losses reportedly incurred by Bairavaa have allegedly prevented the distributors from completing the payment for the rights to Baahubali - none of this has been confirmed.
10:17  Gambhir to bear educational expenses of Sukma bravehearts' children:  
Veteran Indian batsman Gautam Gambhir has pledged to bear the educational expenses of the children of the 25 CRPF personnel, who were killed in an attack by the Maoists in Chhattisgarh's Sukma . 

The cricketer's media manager confirmed that the Gautam Gambhir Foundation will take care of the entire educational expenses of the children of the soldiers killed.

The initial steps in this regard have reportedly already been taken.

Backing the move, Union Minister of Urban Development and Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation M Venkaiah Naidu earlier took to his Twitter account and complimented the Kolkata Knight Riders skipper for setting an example.

"Compliments to @GautamGambhir for setting an example, pledging to bear educational expenses for kids of #SukmaMartyrs. Inspirational!," he tweeted.
10:06  Sajjan Jindal meets Sharif, Pak oppn suspects deal over Jadhav:  Indian steel magnate Sajjan Jindal, in pic alongside, has met Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a visit to Islamabad, triggering speculation in Pakistani media over revival of bilateral talks amid strains in ties.   

The meeting between Sharif and Jindal took place on Wednesday at the premier's private residence in the country's hill station Murree, about 45 km from Islamabad.   

After the opposition parties created an uproar over the "secret" meeting, Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif said there was nothing secret about the meeting.   

"Mr Jindal is an old friend of the prime minister. Nothing 'secret' about the meeting & should not be blown out of proportion. Thank you," Maryam tweeted.   

Sharif's family members received Jindal at the Islamabad airport after he landed there from Afghanistan. Jindal was later escorted to Murree in an official protocol where he had an hour-long meeting with the prime minister.   

Pakistani journalist Naila Inayat too tweeted: Indian steel magnate Sajjan Jindal met PM Nawaz Sharif in Murree today. Jindal is said to have carried a special message from the Indian PM.   

Imran Khan's Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf (PTI) alleged that "Sharif had a secret meeting in which Jindal conveyed the message of India's Prime Minister Narendera Modi to Sharif over the issue of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav who has been awarded death sentence by a Pakistani military court".   

A resolution was submitted in Pakistan's Punjab assembly on Thursday against the "secret" meeting between Sharif and Jindal.   

Opposition leader in the Punjab assembly Mian Mahmoodur Rashid submitted the resolution in the assembly which said: 'Jindal brought the message of Modi (which seems to be about Kulbhushan Jadhav). The people of Pakistan should be told as why the premier kept his meeting with Jindal secret. What was the purpose of this meeting at a time when India is bent upon isolating Pakistan in the world.'    
09:51  'Shameful!' Rishi Kapoor lets fly at stars for skipping Vinod Khanna's funeral:  Veteran star Rishi Kapoor, in a series of tweets, has slammed the "actors of this generation" for not attending superstar Vinod Khanna's funeral last evening.   

Khanna passed away at the age of 70 early on Thursday morning, after battling cancer.   

Kapoor, 64, who worked with Khanna in films like Amar Akbar Anthony, Eena Meena Deeka and Chandni, described the absence of the young generation of stars at the cremation as "shameful".   

"Shameful. Not ONE actor of this generation attended Vinod Khanna's funeral. And that too he has worked with them. Must learn to respect.   

"...Why this? Including mine and thereafter. When I die, I must be prepared. None will shoulder me. Very very angry with today's so called stars. (sic)."   

He also lashed out at the celebrities who were present at actress Priyanka Chopra's party the day before yesterday but did not bother to attend Khanna's funeral.   

"Angry. Met so many chamcha people last night at Priyanka Chopra's do last night. Few at Vinod's. So transparent. So angry with them."   

Kapoor said his actor son Ranbir Kapoor and wife Neetu Singh could not attend the funeral as they were out of India.   

Director Mahesh Bhatt, who directed Khanna in Jurm, however, said he did not attend the cremation as he thought "it was a private funeral".   

"This was one funeral, I would have wanted to attend but I couldn't because I was initially told by an insider that the family wanted a private funeral.   

"It was quite late in the evening that I got to know the press was also invited. Otherwise, nothing could ever hold me back from attending his funeral."   

Amitabh Bachchan and son Abhishek, Randhir Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Jackie Shroff, Kabir Bedi and Danny Denzongpa were among those who attended the funeral along with Gulzar, Subhash Ghai, Ramesh Taurani and Ramesh Sippy, as you can see here.
09:31  Maoists release audio clip to justify killing CRPF jawans in Sukma:  
The Maoist cadre that attacked and killed 25 CRPF personnel at Burkapal in Sukma district on 24 April in an ambush, has justified its action by releasing a purported audio on Thursday, mentioning the reasons for the gruesome killing of security force personnel.

The audio clip allegedly released by the political outfit of the Maoists the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee of CPI (Maoist) has claimed that they unleashed attacks on CRPF personnel on March 11 and April 24 in order to give a befitting reply to the government, its 'fascist forces' and Operation Green Hunt. 

In the 16 minute 42 second audio clip in Hindi, the spokesperson of the banned CPI-Maoist, Vikalp has hailed the commanders of the Peoples Liberation Guerrilla Army, foot soldiers, party cadre and all those who helped in unleashing the attack in the form of ambush.

"In 2016, the government had led barbaric attacks on our cadre and killed nine of our people and villagers in Chhattisgarh and 21 in Odisha. The ambush and attacks (on CRPF) at Chintangufa should be seen in light of these barbaric killings and sexual violence against tribal women. As a mark of protest we were compelled to take action," claimed Vikalp.

09:09  Trump says he thought being president would be easier than his old life:  He misses driving, feels as if he is in a cocoon, and is surprised how hard his new job is.

US President Donald Trump reflected on his first 100 days in office with a wistful look at his life before the White House.

"I loved my previous life. I had so many things going," Trump told Reuters in an interview. "This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier."

Read the full interview HERE
08:36  Punjab Speaker's obit for MP Vinod Khanna names Rajesh Khanna instead:  In an embarrassing gaffe for the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker, a press release condoling Vinod Khanna's death on Thursday, named Rajesh Khanna in its opening line instead.

The picture of the alleged press release was shared on Twitter by a journalist named Man Aman Chhina, who claimed that the Punjab PR department copy pasted the press release of Rajesh Khanna for Vinod Khanna. As pointed out by Chhina, while the headline did mention Vinod Khanna, it was in the introduction where the error was made.

Vinod Khanna, 70, who was serving as a Member of Parliament from Gurdaspur constituency, passed away at 11:20 am on Thursday owing to cancer.

The actor is survived by wife Kavita Khanna and his four children, Rahul Khanna, Akshaye Khanna, Sakshi Khanna and Shraddha Khanna.
08:24  SC to hear plea against linking Aadhaar with PAN cards:  
The Supreme Court will on Friday hear a plea, challenging the government's decision to link Aadhaar with Permanent Account Number  card for filing of income tax returns and to apply for new PAN.

Earlier yesterday, the government clarified to the apex court that the PAN will be made invalid from July 1 and not from when a person had applied for it.

The court had asked the government to justify the notification in this regard.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Centre told the apex court that the decision taken by it was made with the intention of curbing tax evasion and to keep check on circulation of black money.

Appearing before a bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said the move was to weed out fake PANs that are being used to divert funds to shell companies.
07:55  Taliban announce start of 'spring offensive' in Afghanistan:  
Afghanistan's Taliban have announced the start of a spring offensive, promising to build their political base in the country while focusing military assaults on coalition and Afghan security forces.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid announced the launch of the offensive in an email statement.

The Taliban dubbed this year's offensive "Operation Mansour," named for the Taliban leader killed last year in a US drone strike.While they may be officially announcing their spring offensive, recent attacks including one earlier this week on an army base in northern Afghanistan that killed more than 140 Afghan soldiers would seem to warn of a tough fighting season ahead.

As well as the Taliban, Afghanistan is also battling an emerging local Islamic State affiliate known as Islamic State in Khorasan.
00:11  Trump wants to break up the court that blocked his travel ban:  

President Donald Trump is threatening to break up the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which blocked his executive order banning travel from several nations with large Muslim populations and restricted the acceptance of refugees. 

Asked by the Washington Examiner if he had considered proposals to split the court, Trump replied: "Absolutely, I have." 

"There are many people that want to break up the 9th Circuit. It's outrageous," Trump told the website. "Everybody immediately runs to the 9th Circuit. And we have a big country. We have lots of other locations. But they immediately run to the 9th Circuit. Because they know that's like, semi-automatic."

Trump claimed that those who oppose him are "shopping" for sympathetic judges by going to the 9th Circuit, where 18 of the 25 jurists were appointed by Democratic presidents.

Read more

Stars spotted!  What's this?

Spotted: Bobby Deol
Reader Rekha and Lokesh Kankaria sent us the...

More stars spotted

Met a celebrity?
Email us photos & videos