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LIVE! Pope calls on international community to help Kerala

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August 19, 2018


19:33  Pope calls on international community to help Kerala:  
Pope Francis today called on the international community to provide 'concrete support' to the victims in flood-battered Kerala.

Pope Francis prayed for the victims of the flooding at St Peter's Square, the Vatican News reported.

'The inhabitants of Kerala have been harshly struck by intense rains, which have caused flooding and landslides, with heavy loss of human life, with many people missing and displaced, with extensive damage to crops and homes,' he said.

He voiced his hopes that 'these brothers and sisters' would be supported by 'our solidarity, and by concrete support from the international community'.

He expressed his closeness to the Church in Kerala, 'which is at the forefront of efforts to bring aid to the population'.

Pope Francis than led the crowds gathered at St Peter's Square in prayer for those suffering from 'this great calamity'.

Nearly 200 people have been killed since August 8 in the state's worst floods in a century while over 3.14 lakh people have been moved to relief camps.  -- PTI
19:26  Bengal school book depicts Farhan Akhtar as Milkha Singh:  
A photograph of a school textbook in West Bengal depicting Farhan Akhtar as veteran athlete Milkha Singh has gone viral on the social media and the actor has urged the state government to rectify the 'glaring error'.

The 44-year-old actor, who essayed the role of Singh, in 2013's biopic in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, took to Twitter to point out that a still from the film had been incorrectly used in the book instead of the real athlete's photo.

'To the Minister of School Education, West Bengal. There is a glaring error with the image used in one of the school text books to depict Milkha Singh-ji.

'Could you please request the publisher to recall and replace this book? Sincerely,' Akhtar wrote while retweeting the image shared by a Twitter user.

The actor-director also tagged Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien to draw his attention to the post.

Singh, known as The Flying Sikh, became the first Indian to win an individual athletics gold medal at a Commonwealth Games (1958).

Akhtar received critical acclaim and accolades for his performance and "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" bagged two National Awards in Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment and Best Choreography categories. -- PTI
18:52  Rainfall intensity over Kerala decreasing: IMD:  
The rainfall intensity over Kerala has decreased over the past two days, the meteorology department said today, adding that there is no alert of heavy precipitation for the next four days in the state.

India Meteorological Department's Additional Director General Mritunjay Mohapatra said, yesterday the state recorded 9 cm of rainfall.

On August 16 and 17, the state recorded 19 cm and 11 cm of rainfall respectively, he said.

"Over the past three days, we have seen a gradual decrease in rainfall in the state," Mohapatra said.

The IMD said it is expecting 'heavy rainfall' only in Kozhikode, Kannur and Idduki districts.

Kerala has been battered by 'exceptionally high seasonal rainfall' since August 1, leading to nearly half of the state submerged.

Idukki has reported the maximum number of deaths, with 43 people losing their lives since August 8, according to official estimates.

The total number of deaths has touched 197 in the state during the second spell of monsoon fury.

Many people are stranded in their homes and other shelters in Alapuzha, Thrissur and Ernakulam districts.

Mohapatra said, "There is no red or amber colour code warning for any district today. For tomorrow, the colour warning is green."

The IMD has four colour codes to signify the intensity of weather. Red means authorities need to take action and one could expect extreme weather conditions, amber means government agencies need to be prepared to handle exigencies.

Yellow colour code means situation needs to be watched while green signals the weather would be normal.

The IMD said rainfall recorded by the state was 2,346.6 cm, against the normal precipitation of 1,649.5 cm.

Idukki district has recorded 92 per cent above normal rainfall while Palakkad recorded 72 per cent more rain than normal.  -- PTI
18:49  Mullaperiyar dam 'safe' to store water upto 142 ft: OPS:  
Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam has said rumours were being spread over the stability of Mullaperiyar dam with an aim to create a wedge between the people of the state and Kerala, asserting that the reservoir was 'safe' to store water up to 142 feet.

"Experts have opined that water could be stored upto 142 ft.. There is no need to fear.. The dam is strong.. the dam will not be affected even if there is a tremor or quake," Panneerselvam told reporters in Theni last night, after visiting the Kumuli road, which got damaged due to a landslide

"People of Kerala are our brothers and sisters.. Some people are trying to create misunderstanding between us," he said referring to the rumours doing rounds on social media platforms that the Mullaperiyar dam has developed some cracks.

The Deputy Chief Minister's statement comes following a plea made by flood-hit Kerala on August 15, for reducing the water level in the Mullaperiyar reservoir to 139 feet over safety concerns in view of heavy inflows.

The Tamil Nadu government had turned down the request saying the century-old reservoir was 'safe' enough to store water up to 142 feet.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had also sought the Centre's intervention as he raised concerns about safety of the dam in view of the swelling inflows following torrential rains lashing the state.

The Supreme Court had on August 16 directed the Disaster Management sub-committee of Mullaperiyar Dam to consider reducing water level up to 139 feet from the present 142 feet, considering the 'grave' flood situation in all the 14 districts of Kerala.

The two states are locked in a dispute over the storage level in the dam, situated in high-range Idukki district of Kerala, which has been raising concerns about safety of people living downstream.  -- PTI
18:17  UAE-based Indian-origin tycoons pledge Rs 125m for Kerala:  
Indian-origin billionaire businessmen based in the United Arab Emirates have announced Rs 125 million donation for flood relief operations in the deluge-hit Kerala, according to a media report.

Nearly 200 people have lost their lives in Kerala since August 8 due to floods caused by rains and landslides, while over 3.14 lakh people have been moved to relief camps.

The southern Indian state is facing its worst flood in 100 years with 80 dams opened and all rivers in spate.

A body blow has been dealt to the scenic state, with its infrastructure, standing crops and tourism facilities severely hit.

Kerala-born businessman Yusuff Ali MA, chairman and managing director of Lulu Group, has announced a Rs 50 million donation for rain-battered Kerala, Khaleej Times reported today.

K P Hussain, chairman of Fathima Healthcare Group, has donated Rs 50 million. He said that Rs 10 million out of Rs 50 million will directly go to the Kerala Chief Minister's relief fund, while the rest will be allocated for medical relief aid, the Gulf paper added.

Hussain said that his group has coordinated with the state's health secretary to send volunteers from its medical faculty. This includes doctors and paramedics being sent to relief camps.

"As per our geological studies and today's condition in Kerala, the stagnant water will be drained much later than expected. Hence, there is a high possibility of more deaths in the event of spread of various diseases like fever, dysentery, gastric issues, skin disorders etc," he was quoted as saying by the paper.

"This situation needs to be handled very seriously and emergency treatment has to be provided with immediate effect. As recommended by the public health secretary, we have received the list of medicines which will be supplied to the relief camps."

Other UAE-based businessmen had pledged amounts to help in flood relief operations.

India-born billionaire B R Shetty, chairman of Unimoni and UAE Exchange, had pledged Rs 20 million.

Azad Moopen, Indian physician and philanthropist, and founder chairman and managing director of Aster DM Healthcare, pledged Rs 5 million. The group also announced that it had mobilised a disaster support team of over 300 volunteers.

Yesterday, the United Arab Emirates prime minister and Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum came out in support for deluge-hit Kerala and ordered the formation of an emergency committee to provide relief to the victims hit by devastating rains and floods in the state.

The Indian community in the UAE, numbering 2.6 million, constitutes 30 per cent of the total population. It is the largest expatriate community in the country.  -- PTI
17:31  Amarinder disapproves of Sidhu embracing Pak army chief:  
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday criticised his cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for embracing Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa during Imran Khan's swearing-in as Pakistan Prime Minister.

"As far as hugging the Pakistan Army Chief is concerned I am not in its favour. It was wrong for him to have shown the affection towards the Pakistan Army Chief at a time when our soldiers are being martyred," said Singh.

He further added that his own regiment lost one Major and two Jawans a few months ago. Singh also questioned casualties due to firing from the Pakistani side of the border, "Whether the man who pulled the trigger is to be blamed or the man who gives the order? Which is the chief, and the chief is General Bajwa."

Amarinder Singh also distanced himself from Sidhu's decision to attend the ceremony in Pakistan, stating that the visit was made in his personal capacity.

"As far as attending the swearing-in ceremony is concerned, he went there in his personal capacity so it has nothing to do with us. About him being seated next to the PoK President, maybe he (Sidhu) didn't know who he was," added the chief minister.  -- ANI
17:28  Centre could opt for legislative route for construction of Ram temple: UP Deputy CM:  
Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya today said he was hopeful that if the need arose and there was no way out, the Centre could opt for the legislative route in Parliament for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, when it has adequate numbers in both Houses.

"When such a need arises that there is no way out except bringing a Bill, I am fully confident that in such a situation and when we have adequate strength (in both Houses of Parliament), remember these two things", he said without elaborating.

"At present, in Parliament, we do not have adequate strength. Because even if we bring the matter in Lok Sabha, our strength in the Rajya Sabha is less, and it will definitely be defeated. Every devotee of Lord Ram knows this. The court will soon give its judgement.

"The day we have the strength, it will be constructively used and not misused," Maurya told PTI. He said the matter was being heard in the Supreme Court.

Maurya said if the grand Ram temple was built, it will be a 'true tribute' to VHP stalwart Ashok Singhal, Mahant Sri Ramchandra Das Paramhans (former head of the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas in Ayodhya) and karsewaks who sacrificed their lives.

The deputy chief minister was also asked whether the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill will anger BJP's core vote bank.

Maurya said: "The intention of the government is to not cause any harassment to anyone by bringing in the bill. As a deputy CM of the state, I can say that in UP, no fake case will be registered and no one will be harassed unnecessarily. But, anyone doing any wrong to SC/ST people will not be spared."   -- PTI
16:10  Ex-Sena corporator detained in Dabholkar killing case:  
A former Shiv Sena corporator has been detained in connection with the killing of anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar in Maharashtra's Jalna district, Central Bureau of Investigation sources said today.

Shrikant Pangarkar, a former member of the Jalna Municipal Corporation, was detained last night by the CBI after interrogation of Sachin Prakasrao Andure, the alleged main shooter in the Dabholkar murder case, they said.

Andure, a resident of Aurangabad in Central Maharashtra, was arrested in Pune last evening, said a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) spokesperson yesterday.

Pangarkar, aged around 40, was taken into custody after Andure told the CBI that he was with him at the time of Dabholkar's murder, the sources said.

The former corporator was allegedly riding pillion on the motorcycle driven by Andure, they said. Dabholkar, 67, was shot dead by two motorcycle-borne assailants on August 20, 2013, when he was on a morning walk near his home in Pune.

Andure, who works as a salesman in a garment shop in the Nirala Bazaar area of Aurangabad, is believed to be one of the shooters who fired at Dabholkar, the CBI spokesperson had said yesterday.

He was arrested on a tip-off from the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which had last week arrested three persons for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to carry out blasts in the state.

One of the arrested accused gave the input about Andure's involvement in Dabholkar's murder, which the ATS shared with the CBI, the spokesperson said. The murder case was transferred to the CBI from the Pune Police in 2014.  -- PTI
15:26   Indian Naval Ship Deepak disembarked rations and drinking water at Southern Navy Command earlier today. Photograph: ANI
14:50  Goa may go Kerala way, warns ecologist:  
Noted ecologist Madhav Gadgil has warned Goa may face the same fate as the flood-battered Kerala if it does not take precautions on the environmental front.

Like in some other states, Goa, too, is witnessing activities which are driven by greed for unlimited profits, said Gadgil, who headed a committee that authored a widely debated study on the Western Ghats a few years ago.

"Certainly all sorts of problems are beginning to surface on the environmental front in the Western Ghats. Goa, of course, does not have Western Ghats which are so high as in Kerala, but I am sure Goa will also experience all sorts of problems," he said, reacting to the worst-ever floods in the southern state.

He said thereason for not taking any environmental precaution (in general) is purely greed for unlimited profits.

"You have seen it in Goa too. The Union government- constituted Justice M B Shah commission has estimated illegal profits of Rs 35,000 crore from illegal mining," he said.

"There is also enormous profit in the business of stone quarrying while there is very little investment," he added while talking about rampant hill in the Western Ghats.

"The greed for enormous profits has been allowed to go on unchecked, which has actually worsened economic disparity in the society.

"So now those who are making money through these means are even more effective in getting the government allow this kind of rampant illegal behaviour," Gadgil said.

The ecologist said governments have been lax on implementing environmental norms.

"The central government is actually bending over backwards to make sure the National Green Tribunal does not function properly," he said.

Gadgil had done extensive study on Goa's environment based on the data provided by iron ore mining companies in their Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) reports in 2011.

He had then said the mining companies submitted false information in their EIA reports.

"In Goa, they had asked me to look into the impact of mining on environment. Every EIA suppressed fact about hydrological impact of mining," the 73-year-old expert said.

"On 'sadas' (plains) of Goa there are a lot of streams which are originating but they dont mention about them in their EIA reports. All kind of false statements are made in these reports," he said.

Gadgil had headed the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) set up by the government.

The WGEEP, in its 2011 report, had recommended that several areas in Kerala which come under the Western Ghats be classified as ecologically sensitive.

The panel had recommended strict curbs on mining and quarrying and on use of land for non-forest purposes.  -- PTI
14:06  Railways announces free transportation of relief material to Kerala:  
The railways has issued a set of guidelines allowing all government organisations as well as private bodies to transport relief material to flood-ravaged Kerala for free.

However, non-government organisations have to be vetted by divisional railway managers in order to avail this provision, said the guidelines issued yesterday.

'No freight is to be charged for transportation of relief material to Kerala. That is to all stations in Kerala as of now,' the railways said.

All consignments in passenger-carrying trains through parcel vans as well as intra-state coaching trains carrying relief material shall be covered under these guidelines so as to ensure faster transit, the Railway Board said in a letter to all zonal general managers.

"All government organisations across the country can book relief material free of cost to Kerala. Other organisations, as deemed fit by divisional railway managers (DRM) may also avail of this provision," it said.

The DRMs have also been empowered to take decisions on attaching additional bogies/vans to various Kerala-bound trains.

The railways also said that no ancillary charges like demurrage, wharfage and others are to be charged on such relief material. These guidelines will be in effect till August 31 or till further orders, it added.  -- PTI
13:38  Vajpayee's ashes immersed in Ganga:  
Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee's ashes immersed in Ganga at Haridwar.

Vajpayee's daughter Namita immersed his ashes at Har-ki-Pauri.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP president Amit Shah were also present. -- ANI
13:11  Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee's daughter Namita, granddaughter Niharika, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat reach Har-ki-Pauri in Haridwar with his ashes.
13:05  Bengal government to give Rs 10cr for Kerala flood relief: Mamata:  
West Bengal government will contribute Rs 10 crore to the Kerala Chief Ministers relief fund in the wake of the recent rain-fed floods in the southern state, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said.

'My heart goes out to the people of Kerala battling #KeralaFloods In this hour of crisis, to stand beside the flood-affected people of Kerala, we have decided to make a contribution of Rs Ten Crore to the Chief Ministers Distress Relief Fund,' Banerjee wrote on Twitter.

She said that the state was willing to extend all form of assistance and support to the Kerala government to deal with the current flood situation there.

'We are also ready to extend all other assistance and support that may be needed to tackle the calamity. We pray that our brothers and sisters of Kerala resume normal life soon,' Banerjee added.  -- PTI
12:10  Kerala floods: Andhra IAS officers donate a day's salary for victims:  
The IAS Officers Association of Andhra Pradesh on Sunday decided to contribute one day's salary of its members to support the flood-ravaged victims of Kerala.

In a statement, the association took note of the 'unprecedented havoc and hardship being faced by people of Kerala in the wake of the worst ever floods facing the state', adding that they stood 'as one with the people of Kerala and the countless members of Civil and Military Administrations as well as Civil Society who are working tirelessly to provide rescue, relief and rehabilitation to the flood affected people'.

'As a token of our shared pain with the flood ravaged people of Kerala and as a mark of our heartfelt wish for their quick recovery, the IAS Officers Association of AP resolves to contribute one day salary of its members to the CM Relief Funds of Kerala,' the statement added.

On Sunday, red alerts that were issued earlier by the Kerala authorities have also been withdrawn from all districts in the state, with an orange alert issued in ten districts and yellow alert in two districts.

Also, the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) is set to resume all its services to Kerala's Ernakulam, Kottayam, Thrissur, Palghat, Kozhikode, Kannur and Trivandrum.

The first service will start at 4 pm from Bengaluru to Trivandrum, while the services to Kasaragod have not been restored so far.

A Rapid Action Force team in Palakkad district recovered bodies from the landslides-hit Nemmara area, with the Deputy Commandant of the RAF Coimbatore unit saying, "We have recovered total 10 bodies from the area. Landslides are still occurring in the area, it is a tough task to recover the bodies."

Kerala is experiencing the worst floods in over a century, with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan confirming on Saturday that the death toll has climbed to 357.

He further informed that the state has suffered a loss of Rs 19,512 crores due to the floods.Rescue efforts are in full swing in the state, with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) deploying personnel with boats and helicopters to bolster relief operations.

Also, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with the Chief Ministers of several states, extended financial aid to the southern state to help cope with the large-scale devastation.  -- ANI
12:08  UK government distances itself from Khalistan issue:  
The United Kingdom government has distanced itself from the issue of a pro-Khalistan rally organised by Sikh separatist groups at London's Trafalgar Square earlier this month.

The so-called 'London Declaration on Referendum 2020' rally, organised by Sikhs for Justice on August 12, triggered a diplomatic row as India had warned the UK to take bilateral ties into consideration before allowing groups that 'propagate violence, secessionism and hatred' to demonstrate.

"Although we allowed the protest to take place, this should not be taken as expressing a view either in support or against. We are clear that this is a question for the people and government of India," a UK government source said.

The comment followed reports of letters exchanged between Sikhs for Justice and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on the 'campaign for Sikh self-determination'.

Turning down the prospect of a 'short meeting' sought by Sikhs for Justice with UK government representatives to raise concerns of the Sikh community, the FCO said it 'encouraged all involved parties to resolve any differences through dialogue'.

"The UK is rightly proud of the long-standing tradition in this country that people are free to gather together and demonstrate their views," the letter dated August 17 from the unnamed 'Desk Officer for India' at the FCO states.

"The British government acknowledges the strength of feeling in the Sikh community regarding the events of 1984, including events at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. We encourage all states to ensure that their domestic laws meet international human rights standards," it adds.

Sikhs for Justice, which hailed its announcement of a global non-binding referendum on so-called 'Punjab Independence' in November 2020 at the rally, described the FCO response as 'very encouraging'.

"The response of the UK's Foreign Office on pro-Khalistan rally is very encouraging and we will continue to engage foreign governments on the issue of Sikhs right of self-determination and demand to hold referendum to determine the status of Punjab," said Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal adviser to the group.  -- PTI
11:45  Vajpyee's 'asthi kalash yatra' begins; Shah, Rajnath, Yogi take part:  
Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's 'Asthi Kalash Yatra' begins from Panna Lal Bhalla Municipal Inter College in Haridwar.

The ashes will be taken from the college to Prem Ashram, then to Har-ki-Pauri in Haridwar for immersion.

Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat and Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath take part in the 'Asthi Kalash Yatra'.

Vajpyee died on Thursday at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, after prolonged illness. His last rites were performed on Friday.  -- ANI
11:36  No ATM to be replenished with cash after 9 pm from next year:  
No ATM will be replenished with cash after 9 pm in cities and 6 pm in rural areas from next year even as two armed guards will accompany crisp notes in transit as per a new directive issued by the home ministry.

The deadline for putting money in the ATMs located in Naxal-hit areas is 4 pm while private cash handling agencies must collect money from the banks in the first half of the day and transport notes only in armoured vehicles.

In a notification, the Home Ministry said the new Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) would come into effect from February 8, 2019 in view of the spurt in incidents of attacks on cash vans, cash vaults, ATM frauds and other internal frauds leading to increased sense of insecurity.

There are over 8,000 privately owned cash vans plying across the country, operated by non-bank private agencies, and they handle over Rs 15,000 crore daily on behalf of banks.

Some times, the private agencies keep currency overnight at their cash vaults.

'No cash loading of the ATMs or cash transportation activities shall be done after 9 pm in urban areas, after 6 pm in rural areas and before 9 am or after 4 pm in the districts notified by the central government as Left Wing Extremism affected areas,' the notification said.

The agencies shall provide private security for the cash transportation with the requisite number of trained staff, every cash van shall have one driver, two armed security guards, two ATM officers or custodians.

One armed guard must sit in the front along with the driver and another in the rear portion of the van while in transit.

During loading or unloading, nature's call, tea or lunch break, at least one armed security guard shall remain present with the cash van all the time.

The ex-serviceman, otherwise eligible, may preferably be appointed for providing security for cash transportation.

Every cash transportation shall be carried out only in secured cash vans fitted with GPS tracking device and it must be ensured that no cash van carries cash of more than Rs 5 crore per trip.

No private security agency shall appoint anyone for the cash transportation unless the person has undergone thorough antecedent check like police, Aadhaar and residence verifications, previous employer check, credit history check and fidelity insurance.

Each of the cash boxes shall be secured to the floor with separate chains and locks that can be opened only by using separate keys kept with different custodians.

The cash van shall be provided with a small CCTV system with at least five days recording facility and three cameras installed in front, rear and inside of the cabin.

A security alarm with GSM based auto-dialer shall be provided with a motorised siren.

The cash van shall be equipped with hooter, fire extinguishers and emergency lights to ensure quick reaction in case of an attack.

The private security agency will ensure that all cash handling, including counting, sorting, and bundling activities shall be carried out in secured premises in accordance with specific guidelines.

The premises shall be designed to include two physically independent areas, one for general office purpose and other for secured cash processing and handling activities and it shall accommodate space for cash deposit, collection, sorting, counting and delivery and dispatch of cash on secured cash vans.  -- PTI
10:40  Imran's new cabinet packed with Musharraf's ministers:  Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced his cabinet comprising 21 members, the majority of whom previously held key posts in the regime of former military dictator General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. 

Out of the 21 names announced, 16 will be ministers while five others will perform their duties as advisers to the prime minister, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said. 

According to the list shared by Chaudhry on his Twitter account, Shah Mahmood Qureshi has been appointed as foreign minister, Pervaiz Khattak as defence minister and Asad Umer as finance minister.  

Qureshi, the vice president of the party, was the foreign minister from 2008 to 2011 under the Pakistan Peoples Party government. 

Asad Umar is the son of former Lt Gen Mohammad Umer who was part of the Pakistan Army during 1971 war with India. Khattak served as the chief minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province from 2013-18.  

The newly-announced cabinet is expected to take oath tomorrow at the President's House.  

At least 12 members of Khan's Cabinet served under General (retd) Musharraf, The News reported.  

The new cabinet includes a former spokesperson of Musharraf, his attorney and several members of his cabinet and core team, the paper said. 

It said that five of the new cabinet members, including Khattak and Qureshi, had served as ministers in past Pakistan Peoples Party governments. 
09:33  Koffee With Karan's new season premieres on Oct 21:  Filmmaker Karan Johar took to Twitter to announce the next season of his popular chat show, Koffee With Karan.

'And here it is!!! #KoffeeWithKaran , premieres 21 Oct, Sundays 9 PM. @StarWorldIndia,' he tweeted late on Saturday night.

Image courtesy: Karan Johar on Twitter.
09:10  J-K police foil infiltration bid, kill 3 militants:  Just In: Three militants killed while trying to infiltrate in Tangdhar sector in Kupwara, says the J-Kpolice.

Details soon.
09:02  Alleged main shooter in Dabholkar murder case to face court today:  The CBI has arrested the alleged main shooter in the murder case of anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar in Maharashtra, the agency said. 

Sachin Prakasrao Andure, a resident of Aurangabad, was nabbed from Pune late on Saturday evening, a Central Bureau of Investigation spokesperson said.  

He will be produced before a Pune court today, he added.  

Andure was believed to be one of the shooters who fired at Dabholkar while he was on a morning walk on the Onkareshwar Bridge in Pune on August 20, 2013, the CBI spokesperson said.  

Earlier, the CBI chargesheet had named Sarang Akolkar and Vinay Pawar, both absconding, as the shooters. 

Asked about this and the agency's latest claim that Andure was one of the shooters, the spokesperson said the probe was going on.  

Andure was arrested on a tip-off from the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, which had last week arrested three persons for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to carry out blasts in the state. 

One of the arrested accused gave the input about Andure's involvement in Dabholkar's murder, which the ATS shared with the CBI, the spokesperson said. 

During the questioning of the accused in police custody, one of them revealed about his direct participation in Dabhoikar's murder, the ATS said in a statement. 

"He further revealed that along with him, one more person was also directly involved and they used a motorcycle," it added.  

Considering the importance of the revelation, the ATS shared the details of the second person with the CBI, based on which the agency carried out its own preliminary investigation and arrested Andure, the statement said.
08:54  Meeting Kim, Putin 'not a bad thing', says Trump:  United States President Donald Trump on Saturday defended his recent meetings with foreign dignitaries such as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying it was "not a bad thing." 

In a video posted on Twitter, Trump said, "Many people ask why I meet foreign leaders and waste my time. It is very important that if you are the president, you should be with the foreign leaders. There is nothing to lose and there is a lot to gain." 

He recalled his summit with Kim at Singapore in June, saying that North Korea had returned the remains of the US war troops killed in the Korean War.  

"Nobody is shooting out missiles and there are no nuclear testings and other things going on that were terrible earlier," Trump stressed in reference to North Korea. 

Trump and Kim had met in Singapore and signed a joint agreement, wherein the latter agreed to work for a "complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula" in exchange for security guarantees by the US. 

Although Kim had vowed to give up developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, a confidential report by the United Nations revealed that the country is reportedly continuing to pursue its nuclear weapons programme. 

Calling his meeting with Putin at Helsinki in July "tremendous", the US president asserted that a "lot of things were accomplished." 

Trump continued, "The meeting with foreign leaders is a good thing, it is not a bad thing. Nothing bad can happen. It is only going to be positive, especially if your president knows what he is doing." 

Trump had touched off a major political controversy following his comments on the alleged meddling of the 2016 US presidential election by Russia at the joint press conference with Putin in Helsinki.  

The US president had endorsed his Russian counterpart's stance on Moscow's non-involvement in the presidential poll, insisting that he ran a clean campaign and there was zero collusion.  

Later, Trump attempted to walk back his comments and blamed Putin for the alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election. 
08:44  HC strikes down Akhilesh's plan for heritage hotel:  In a jolt to Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav's plans to construct a heritage hotel in posh Vikramaditya Marg, the Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court has put a stay on further construction on three plots owned by either Samajwadi Party, Janeshwar Mishra Trust or the Yadav family. 

The court directed the top authorities to photograph, within 24 hours, whether illegal constructions were going on these plots and furnish the report on the next date of hearing on September 5. 

It also issued notices to Samajwadi Party, Akhilesh Yadav, his wife Dimple Yadav, SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Janeshwar Mishra Trust and sought for their response by September 5. 

A bench of Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Abdul Moin passed the order on a public interest litigation moved by lawyer Shishir Chaturvedi.
08:41  India register first win in Jakarta Asian Games, women's kabaddi team scores:  The Indian contingent registered its first win at the 18th Asian Games as the country's women's Kabaddi team made mincemeat of Japan in their Group A opener in Jakarta today. 

India won 43-12 in a lop-sided encounter.  

The Indian women dominated the contest from start to end against the Japanese, recording an emphatic win in their first game on day one of competitions. 

India stayed on track to complete a hat-trick of titles in the multi-sport quadrennial extravaganza.  

Japan were never in the match and the gulf in class between the two teams was evident from the beginning. 

The men's team, also one of the favourites, start their campaign against  Bangladesh later in the day followed by a match against Sri Lanka in the evening.

Image: A file photograph of the Indian women's kabaddi team in action.
08:36  Massive earthquake rocks Fiji:  A massive earthquake measuring 8.2 on the Richter Scale struck Fiji Islands region on Sunday, reports ANI. The quake, that struck at 12:19 am (GMT) earlier measured 7.9, but the United States Geological Survey upgraded the magnitude to 8.2. 

The epicentre of the quake was located 281 km northeast of the Ndoi Island in Fiji at a depth of 560 km. The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that no tsunami was expected due to the earthquake's depth. There were no reports of casualties and damage so far. 

Fiji is located in the Ring of Fire, an area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean, which is vulnerable to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
08:34  Kochi naval base to open up for commercial flights from Monday:  The Centre has said the Cochin Naval Base will be thrown open for commercial flight operations from the morning of August 20, bringing a huge relief to people awaiting resumption of air service from Kochi.  

The main Kochi international airport, the seventh busiest in the country, has been rendered non-functional from August 14 due to flooding and torrential rains, and would remain closed till August 26. 

 As a result, both domestic and international flights to Kochi are being diverted to other destinations such as Trivendrum and Calicut. 

 "In view of disruption of flights from Cochin airport due to floods, a joint team sent by @MoCA_GoI has approved starting of scheduled commercial flights using ATRs by Alliance Air, a subsidiary of Air India, between Bangalore and Cochin Naval Air base," Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu has tweeted.  

In another tweet, he said, "Flight operations between Bangalore and Cochin Naval airbase will be starting from 20th August morning." He said more destinations such as Madurai were also in the pipeline and that other airlines were likely to join in. 

The Indian Commercial Pilots' Association has, in the meanwhile, written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressing their willingness to fly the planes without payment, on voluntary basis, to the cause of these operations. 

"We consider this a unique privilege that we can use to assist in such operations," the association said in a letter to the PM. 

On the other hand, private carriers such as IndiGo and GoAir said they would be operating additional flights to and from Kozhikode, Coimbatore and Thiruvananthapuram till August 25 to different parts of the country.  

"IndiGo will ensure to provide cancellation and rescheduling waiver to passengers booked to travel from August 16, 2018, to August 26, 2018," the airline said in a statement.  

GoAir said it will operate special flights to and from Trivandrum airport to Mumbai from August 20 and that all passengers booked to and from Kochi will be accommodated on these flights. It said that impacted passengers to and from Kochi are "not being charged additional fees or cancellation charges keeping in mind the current situation".  

The civil aviation minister, during the day, also appealed to the airline to cap the maximum fare at around Rs 10,000 on longer routes and Rs 8,000 on shorter routes to/from Kerala to nearby airports. 

Meanwhile, Jet Airways in a statement said that it will be operating additional domestic flights to Thiruvananthapuram from Mumbai, Bangalore, Dubai and Dammam from August 19. 

 "For guests with confirmed tickets to and out of Cochin for travel till 26th August, 2018, the Jet Airways has waived off date/ flight change from the original travel date or choosing an alternate destination which is close to Cochin airport, refund, no-show penalties and fare difference if any, due to the closure of the Cochin airport," it added. 
08:26  Dawood's Pakistani aide Jabir Moti detained in London:  The law has moved a step closer to bringing Dawood Ibrahim to justice for the 1993 Mumbai Serial Bomb blasts with the detention of his finance manager and custodian of his dark secrets, Jabir Moti from London's Hilton Hotel, reports ANI.  

In what is clearly a major achievement for the London police, Jabir was detained after meticulous work by the London police on investigating the financial links leading from Jabir Moti to Dawood, his wife and other close members of his family in Karachi and Dubai. 

Jabir, a Pakistani national, holds a 10-year visa to the UK and shares common financial interest with Dawood's wife Mahajabeen, his son Moeen Nawaz and his daughters Mahrookh, Mehreen and his sons-in-law, Junaid (son of former Pakistani cricketer Javed Miandad) and Aungazeb. Dawood's youngest daughter Mazia is unmarried.  

Jabir is involved in investment in Dawood's businesses which spans across Pakistan and areas covering the Middle East, the UK and Europe, Africa and countries of South East Asia.  

Sources reveal that Dawood's earnings from these businesses and other unlawful activities like illegal arms business, narcotics trade, extortion rackets and real estate business are used for financing terrorists to carry out anti-India operations. 

Jabir is playing a key role in actively exploring the option of movement of Dawood Ibrahim's family to the UK. He himself owns property in the residential compound owned by Dawood's family in Karachi. 

Of late, Jabir was also looking for dual nationality status in Barbados and Antigua and Dominican Republic and a Permanent Resident status in Hungary.  

Dawood is a Specially Designated International Terrorist, who masterminded the March 1993 bombings in Mumbai, killings some 250 people. He is wanted on the charges of murder, extortion, targeted killing, drug trafficking, terrorism and various other cases. 

The present round of detention of his close aide, Jabir Moti in the UK for questioning is expected to yield vital information on the activities of the D Company members in the UK hither-to kept under wraps, and the imminent danger the 'D Company' poses to the UK, in particular and Europe in general.

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