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LIVE! Trump asks New York Times to get rid of 'phony' journalists

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January 02, 2018

23:25  No plan at present to have all electric car fleet by 2030: Govt:  
There is no plan under consideration at present to have all vehicles electric powered in the country by 2030, Parliament was informed today.

"There are, at present, no plans under consideration of the Department of Heavy Industry to make all vehicles in the country powered by electricity by 2030," Minister of State for Heavy Industries Babul Supriyo said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.
His reply was in response to a question on whether the government plans to make all vehicles in the country powered by electricity by 2030.
Union Minister Piyush Goyal had earlier said the world is moving towards electric vehicles and the government is working on a road map to ensure all-electric car fleet in the country.
"Only electric car by 2030...existing cars may take a little longer to replace. But the government is working on a framework to see what we can do on promoting electric vehicle. Niti Aayog is currently tasked with preparing futuristic vision for electric vehicles," Goyal had said. 

-- PTI
22:48  Trump asks New York Times to get rid of 'phony' journalists:  
US President Donald Trump today congratulated the new publisher of The New York Times and suggested him to get rid of "phony" journalists and start treating him "fairly".

Trump has been at loggerheads with many media houses since his election campaign in 2016. He had accused The Times of being a fake media house and criticised it for publishing an investigative report on how he treated women in his private life, alleging that the daily did not carry his version.

A G Sulzberger, 37, recently became publisher of The New York Times after his father Arthur O Sulzberger stepped down.

"The failing New York Times has a new publisher, A G Sulzberger, 37. Congratulations! Here is a last chance for the Times to fulfil the vision of its founder Adolph Ochs 'to give the news impartially, without fear or FAVOR, regardless of party, sect or interests involved'," Trump said in a tweet.

"Get impartial journalists of a much higher standard, lose all of your phony and non-existent 'sources' and treat the President of the United States FAIRLY, so that the next time I (and the people) win, you won't have to write an apology to your readers for a job poorly done! GL," he said in another tweet.

-- PTI
22:41  Mayawati hits out at BJP-RSS over Pune violence:  
BSP chief Mayawati today targeted the BJP and RSS over the violence in Maharashtra claiming that it seemed "casteist forces" were behind the clashes while also blaming the state government for not making adequate
arrangements to prevent them.

"The incident which occurred could have been prevented. The government should have made adequate security arrangements. There is a BJP government in the state, they let violence take place. It seems casteist forces like the BJP and RSS are behind the violence," Mayawati said.

Several towns and cities in Maharashtra were on the edge today as Dalit protests against yesterday's violence in Pune spilled over to Mumbai, with agitators damaging scores of buses, and disrupting road and rail traffic, officials said.

Clashes between Dalit groups and supporters of right-wing Hindu organisations during the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in Pune district had left a man dead yesterday.
22:21  Former RAW chief Rajinder Khanna appointed deputy NSA:  
Rajinder Khanna, former chief of the country's external intelligence agency RAW, was today appointed as Deputy National Security Adviser, according to an official order.

The post was lying vacant since Arvind Gupta, a former Indian Foreign Service officer, completed his tenure in August last year. Gupta was in August 2014 appointed to the post.

Khanna, a 1978 batch Research and Analysis Wing Service officer, has supervised several counter-terrorism operations and is considered an expert on Pakistan and Islamic terrorism.

Khanna is at present Officer on Special Duty (Neighbourhood Studies) in the National Security Council Secretariat.

Neighbourhood Studies prepares policy papers of neighbouring countries including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.

-- PTI 
22:21  Amit Shah's maiden speech in Parliament likely to be on GST:  
BJP chief Amit Shah is likely to deliver his maiden speech in Parliament when the Rajya Sabha debates a GST bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha last week.

A party leader said Shah would deliver his speech in the Upper House on the proposed legislation, which sought to replace an ordinance issued in September to give effect to certain decisions of the GST Council.

The bill may come up for a discussion in a day or two, the BJP leader, who did not wish to be named, said.

The ongoing Winter Session of Parliament is scheduled to conclude on Friday. Shah had made his maiden entry to Parliament during the session as a Rajya Sabha member.

The introduction of the Goods and Services Tax is projected by the BJP as a major tax reform. Shah had earlier said the new tax regime had led to an "economic integration" of the country. 

-- PTI
22:03  China acknowledges Pak's 'outstanding contributions' to combat terrorism:  
China on Tuesday threw its weight behind Pakistan and said that its key regional ally has "made outstanding contributions to the international anti-terrorism cause," countering the heavy criticism that Islamabad had copped a day earlier from US President Donald Trump.

In a clear disagreement with the American president's scathing assessment that Pakistan has given Washington "nothing but lies and deceit" Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said: "Pakistan has made tremendous efforts and sacrifices in combating terrorism and made outstanding contributions to the international anti-terrorism cause. The international community should fully acknowledge it."

With Pak-US relations teetering on the verge of a catastrophe, China assured that at least its own alliance with Pakistan will only keep on growing.

"China and Pakistan maintain an all-weather strategic partnership," the spokesperson said. "China is willing to further deepen its cooperation with Pakistan in all fields and further benefit the two peoples."
21:29  It is my desire to start a political revolution: Rajinikanth:  
Top actor Rajinikanth today said it was his desire to create a political revolution in Tamil Nadu, a "historic" state that facilitated major changes.

"Tamil Nadu is a very historic place... be it Gandhiji discarding his usual attire and going in for a loin cloth... everything had a start from here...many things," he said.

In a brief four-minute informal address to the media, two days after declaring his political entry, he said "it is my desire to start from here a political revolution."

Future generations will live better if a change was facilitated now, the actor said.

Everybody has a responsibility in the initiative which was like the struggle for independence, he said and added that the present one was a "democractic struggle."

To a question on "spiritual" politics interpreted by some as communal politics, Rajinikanth told reporters earlier at his residence that what he meant was politics based on truthfulness and honesty devoid of caste, creed and religion.

-- PTI
20:59  'Trump can hire US-based audit firm to verify $33 bn aid figure':  
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Tuesday challenged US President Donald Trump's claim that the US has given Pakistan "more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years", saying verification by an audit firm would prove the US president wrong.

Even as the Pakistani government is yet to issue an official response to Trump's accusatory tweet that sparked a war of words between the two countries, the foreign minister offered that Trump could hire a US-based audit firm "on our expense" to verify the $33 billion aid figure and "let the world know who is lying & deceiving".

Asif's tweet came after Pakistan's Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss Trump's recent accusations against Pakistan.

In his first tweet of the new year, Trump had accused Pakistan of basing its relationship with the US on nothing but lies and deceit.

"The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years," he had said.

They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!
20:52  After Nitin Patel, another Gujarat minister expresses displeasure over portfolio:  
In yet another headache for the Chief Minister Vijay Rupani-led Gujarat government, five-term MLA Parshottam Solanki on Tuesday expressed his displeasure on the allocation of portfolios. 

Solanki, who is a Koli, said the inadequate representation of the community in the council of ministers had hurt its sentiments. After deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, Solanki is the second minister to have voiced his resentment at the allocation of portfolios in the cabinet.

Solanki, 56, MLA from Bhavnagar, has been allocated the Fisheries Department and has been conspicious by his absence from Swarnim Sankul 1 & 2 in Gandhinagar, which houses the offices of the CM, deputy CM and state ministers. However, the MLA called upon Rupani on Tuesday and expressed his displeasure over being allocated just one portfolio.

I have been elected as an MLA for the fifth term and yet I have been given just one portfolio of fisheries. This has hurt the sentiments of the Koli community. The Koli community should be given adequate representation in the government. Either I should be given some more portfolio(s) or some other Koli leader should be included in the cabinet, Solanki said. 

Just two days back, Deputy CM Nitin Patel had stayed away from taking charge of his office in the new government while expressing his resentment over the portfolios alloted to him. Following Patels displeasure, BJP president Amit Shah had intervened and gave Patel the charge of the finance ministry.
20:46  JUST IN: Former Special Secretary (RAW) AB Mathur appointed as government interlocutor for talks with ULFA, Assam.
20:38  Pakistan's top civil-military leaders join heads over Trump's tweet:  
A high level meeting of National Security Committee to discuss US President Donald Trumps latest statement alleging Pakistan of lies and deceit was held in Islamabad on Tuesday.

Senior civil-military leaders, including Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, and services chiefs were present in the huddle.

In a 50 word tweet, the US President stated: The US has foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!
20:24  JUST IN: Government appoints former RAW chief Rajinder Khanna as Deputy National Security Advisor.
20:19  AAP Rajya Sabha hopefuls list to be out tomorrow, consensus on Sanjay Singh:  
A day before the Aam Aadmi Party announces its three Rajya Sabha nominees, Sanjay Singh has emerged as the sole consensus candidate while a number of prominent names within the party are vying for the other two slots.

A senior party functionary confirmed city-based chartered
accountant N D Gupta and businessman Sushil Gupta's names are
in the reckoning as well while emphasising that a final call
will be taken by the party's Political Affairs Committee

"There are capable leaders like Ashutosh, Atishi (Marlena), Pankaj Gupta, Meera Sanyal, Ashish Khetan even Raghav Chadha in the party. It is but natural that there will be some heart burn if one name is picked over the others. So nothing can be said for sure even at this point," the AAP functionary said, on condition of anonymity.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia, who came back from the Andamans today after a short break, are likely to meet party MLAs before the PAC meeting.

Singh, Marlena, Ashutosh are full-time members of the PAC while Gupta and Chadha are its ex-officio members.

Meanwhile, Gujarat Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel gave a curious twist to the issue by publicly batting for disgruntled AAP founder Kumar Vishwas's candidature, saying he was best suited to take on "fake nationalists".

-- PTI
19:55  Maharashtra government announces CID investigation into Pune violence:  
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the Crime Investigation Department would investigate into the death of a youth in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence.

Clashes broke between two groups on Monday during an event to mark 200 years of Bhima Koregaon battle near Pune leaving one person dead. Several vehicles were also set on fire.

Talking to reporters, Fadnavis said, "The state government will also request the Supreme Court for judicial inquiry into Koregaon violence."

The chief minister also announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the victim's kin.

Earlier, Union Minister Ramdas Athawale also talked to Fadanavis and demanded an action over the Koregaon violence.
19:32  China's advanced hypersonic missile threat to India, US, Japan: Report:  
China's new "hypersonic" ballistic missiles will not only challenge the defences of the US but also be able to more accurately hit military targets in Japan and India, a media report said today.

The report in the South China Morning Post comes after Tokyo-based The Diplomat magazine reported that Chinas rocket forces conducted two tests late last year of a new hypersonic glide vehicle or HGV, known as the DF-17.

Citing US intelligence sources, The Diplomat last month reported that the Peoples Liberation Army Rocket Force carried out the first test on November 1 and the second one two weeks later.

Both tests were successful and the DF-17 could be operational by around 2020, the US intelligence sources were quoted as saying.

Asked about the two tests, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang today declined to react saying the Defence Ministry should be approached for information on this.

Both tests were successful and the DF-17 could be operational by around 2020, the US intelligence sources were quoted as saying.

HGVs are unmanned, rocket-launched, manoeuvrable aircraft that glide and "skip" through the earths atmosphere at incredibly fast speeds.

Compared to conventional ballistic systems, HGV warheads can travel at much higher speeds, lower altitudes and less-trackable trajectories. The approach leaves defence systems less time to intercept the warhead before it drops its payload.

The DF-17 test missiles were launched from the Jiuquan launch centre in Inner Mongolia and flew about 1,400 km during the trial, The Diplomat reported.

Chinese state media first reported on the country's HGV technology in October, with footage of the system in a hypersonic wind tunnel in various arrays.

-- PTI
19:08  Decomposed body found hanging from tree at JNU:  
A decomposed body has been found hanging from a tree in the jungles of the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.

The body, of a man, has not been identified yet.

The police is at the spot.
18:30  Maharashtra Dalit protests: Rahul Gandhi slams 'fascist' BJP:  Congress president Rahul Gandhi slammed the fascist BJP-RSS after protests in Maharashtra, including Mumbai, turned violent. 

On Twitter, the Congress chief wrote, "A central pillar of the RSS/BJPs fascist vision for India is that Dalits should remain at the bottom of Indian society. Una, Rohith Vemula and now Bhima-Koregaon are potent symbols of the resistance."

The anger over marking the 200th anniversary of Bhima Koregaon battle in Pune district of Maharashtra continued on Tuesday as protestors disrupted suburbs and local train services on the Harbour Line. 

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut said: "The incident has not happened suddenly. There is a political conspiracy behind this. Some force wants to break Maharashtra. The government needs to ponder why these incidents have increased. Since the time this govt has come into existence,,these things have been happening."
18:17  Govt suggests Congress not to press amendments to triple talaq bill in RS:  
The government today urged the Congress not to press for amendments to the triple talaq bill, which seeks to criminalise the practice of instant divorce among Muslims, when it comes up for consideration in the Rajya Sabha likely tomorrow.

The Lok Sabha has already cleared the 'Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill and it is likely to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha tomorrow.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said that the government would like the Congress to maintain the stand it took in the Lok Sabha by not pressing for amendments.

"We are having continuous talks with the opposition parties including Congress. We have told Congress that since they have not pressed for any amendments in the Lok Sabha, they should do the same in the Rajya Sabha," Kumar told reporters.

The Congress had moved amendments to certain provisions of the bill in the Lok Sabha but did not press for a vote.

The parliamentary affairs minister said the government may table the bill in Rajya Sabha tomorrow.

Renuka Chowdhury, a Rajya Sabha member of the Congress, said her party always stood for empowerment of women, right since Independence, but the party needs to see what has been actually included in the bill.

"There is no question of us not standing by anything that empowers women. There is no black and white solution to this, We have to see how the debate evolves... what is actually included and how is it implementable.... and until it is equitable for all women under all clauses of talaq. This is only talaq-e-biddat (triple talaq)", Chowdhury said.

-- PTI
17:48  Over 250 parties supporting Maharashtra bandh: Ambedkar:  Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar has called for Maharashtra bandh tomorrow to protest the state government's "failure" to stop the violence at Bhima Koregaon village in Pune district yesterday.

Ambedkar alleged that Hindu Ekta Aghadi was responsible for the violence. He said Maharashtra Democratic Front, Maharashtra Left Front, besides 250 organisations, have supported tomorrow's shutdown.

Ambedkar, the grandson of Dalit icon B R Ambedkar, has appealed for peace during the bandh period. Referring to the caste clashes in Bhima Koregaon, Ambedkar ruled out any conflict between Marathas and Dalits.

"If there was any tension, the 200th anniversary commemoration of the Bhima Koregaon battle would not have taken place. Yesterday's programme was organised by Sambhaji Brigade (a Maratha organisation)," he said while addressing a press conference.

He alleged the trouble occurred because of Hindu Ekta Aghadi and Shivraj Pratishthan, headed by Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide, respectively. "Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Sabha (ABHS), Peshwa heirs, had opposed the event. We held talks with ABHS after which they decided against opposing," he said.

The event to mark 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle in Pune district, in which forces of the East India Company defeated Peshwa's army, was marred by incidents of violence yesterday, with at least one person was killed. -- PTI
17:30  Data shows NDA better at cracking down on terrorism:  As Pakistan continues to violate ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, the ruling-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Opposition-led by the Congress party spar over each other's handling of the situation.

According to latest official data accessed by ANI, there seems to be a huge disparity between the number of terror incidents under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) rule and the predecessor United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

There were 1,094 terror-related incidents under the NDA regime (2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017), while under the UPA Government, the figure was 1,218 from 2010 to 2013.

These figures stand in stark contrast with the ones tweeted by Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, according to whom the UPA accounted for 86, and BJP for 203 incidents in the last 43 months of their respective tenures.

Official figures further reveal that more terrorists were killed by the security forces during the BJP's tenure than under the UPA.580 terrorists were gunned down under the BJP-led government, while 471 were killed when the Congress-led alliance was in power.

The number of civilians killed under the current government, however, stands at 100 as compared to 108 under the UPA.Contary to the above-mentioned official data, Surjewala had, on December 29, claimed in a tweet that as many as 134 civilians were killed under the NDA rule, whereas 71 were killed when the UPA was in power.
17:10  Trading in Bitcoin, Ethereum illegal: Jaitley:   Bitcoins or such crypto-currencies are not legal tender and those indulging in such transactions are doing it at their own risk, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today as MPs expressed concern over trading on these platforms. During the Question Hour in Rajya Sabha, DMK member Kanimozhi sought to know whether the government was considering regulating crypto-currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, as India "accounts for more than 11 per cent" of such trade globally.
17:02  Dalit protests in Thane, roads blocked :  Republican Party of India workers protest in Thane. The anger over marking the 200th anniversary of the Bhima Koregaon battle in Pune district of Maharashtra continued today as protestors disrupted suburbs and local train services on the Harbour Line in Mumbai. The protesters blocked roads in several areas of Mumbai, forced shops to shut down and also attacked a journalist of a television news channel.
16:42  More on the Dalit protests in Mumbai: Angered over the death of a person at the event organised to mark the anniversary in Pune yesterday, several groups of people had come out in protest this morning in the eastern suburbs of Chembur, Vikhroli, Mankhurd and Govandi, and forced shops and establishments to shut down, an official said.

A news channel journalist was attacked by a group of protesters in the Amar Mahal area. However, he escaped unhurt, eyewitnesses said. Hundreds of protesters gathered in Priyadarshini, Kurla, Sidharth Colony and Amar Mahal areas on the Eastern Express Highway, took out processions and raised slogans against the government and the administration, he said.
16:41  Maharashtra bandh tomorrow? :  Dr BR Ambedkar's grandson and leader of the BBM party had called for a Maharashtra bandh tomorrow.

Protests have rocked Mumbai today as Dalits took to the streets against Monday's violence linked to a Dalit rally near Pune.

Section 144 has been imposed to stop the gathering of more than four people were imposed in parts of the country's financial capital, several schools and colleges were shut, and traffic was hit on Eastern Express Highway near Mumbai. Incidents of stone-pelting were reported from several areas and a protester who was trying to set himself on fire was saved just in time.

The protesters blocked roads in several areas of Mumbai, forced shops to shut down and also attacked a journalist of a television news channel.
In a latest development, the central railway suspended suburban services between Kurla and Vashi on its harbour corridor and is running special services between CSMT-Kurla and Vashi-Panvel section.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has ordered a judicial inquiry into Monday's clash, in which a man died.

On Monday, groups of Dalits, who were on way to an event to mark 200 years of the Bhima Koregaon battle were attacked and their vehicles were damaged.

Image: Stones were pelted on BEST buses in Mumbai this morning. Picture: Sahil Salvi.
16:17  All bus services from Pune to Ahmednagar have resumed.
15:26  China rushes to Pak rescue after Trump's outburst:  China today defended Pakistan saying the world community should acknowledge its all-weather ally's "outstanding contribution" to counter terrorism, a day after US President Donald Trump lashed out at Islamabad for providing safe havens to terrorists.

In a scathing attack on Pakistan, Trump had accused it of "lies and deceit" and of fooling US leaders while sheltering terrorists.

"The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools," Trump had tweeted yesterday.

"They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!", he said in a scathing criticism of Pakistan. Today China, on expected lines, praised Pakistan's counter terrorism record.

"Pakistan has made enormous efforts and sacrifice for the fight against terrorism and has made very outstanding contribution to the global cause of counter terrorism. The international community should acknowledge that," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said here when asked about Trump's criticism of Pakistan. -- PTI
15:11  Will Arvind Kejriwal resign as Delhi CM?:  New Delhi is agog with speculation that Arvind Kejriwal will be resigning as the chief minister of Delhi to enter the Rajya Sabha. Kejriwal will vacate the top job for Manish Sisodia, who is now the deputy CM. The CPM and the Congress want Kejriwal in the Rajya Sabha to shore up defences against the BJP.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has spoken to Kejriwal on the matter yesterday.

There are three seats from Delhi to the Rajya Sabha. One seat will go to Sanjay Singh (former Punjab in-charge), but for the other two, there are possibilities like Meera Sanyal (AAP), Gopal Subramanian (Supreme Court advocate) and  Raghuram Rajan (former RBI GOvernor, who is likely to refuse).

Tomorrow, there will be a meeting of the AAP central Committee which will decide the names of the three candidates.

AAP's victory in the 2015 Delhi election guarantees that all the three seats in the upper house that fall vacant in January-end will accrue to the party.
14:54   The Dalit-Maratha agitation extends to Govandi and Chembur stations on the harbour line. Train services will be delayed, says Sunil Udasi, CPRO Central Railway.

14:34  Bombs recovered in Chhattisgarh:  That's what death looks like. In Chhattisgarh, security forces recovered a 10 kilo and a 18 kilo bomb planted by Naxals near new Tarrem village.
14:28  Pune Dalit protests spill over in Mumbai, suburbs affected:   The Mumbai police has asked citizens not to believe in rumours after reports that the Eastern Express highway in Mumbai was affected due to protests over the Dalit clashes in Pune.

@MumbaiPolice tweeted, "Don't believe in rumours. Traffic on Eastern expressway was affected due to protests. It's moving now. Traffic at Chembur Naka is still affected. There is nothing to panic.  Verify facts with police officers and men before posting anything on social media."

Tension gripped Chembur in suburban Mumbai today a day after clashes between Dalit and Maratha groups broke out in Bhima Koregaon near Pune.

Demonstrators from Dalit communities in Mumbai on Tuesday called for 'rasta roko' protest a day after one person was killed in clashes during celebrations to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, near Pune in Maharashtra.

The protestors reportedly stopped traffic on the Sion-Panvel highway near Chembur and were marching towards Ambedkar Garden when the police stopped them. Protests were also held at Amar Mahal Junction in Chembur.Reports say stones were pelted at a bus during the protests.

Reports of tension were also reported from Powai, Mankhurd, Bhandup, Govandi and Sion.

Image: @deepz73 tweets this picture of protests at Chembur this afternoon.
14:07  Dutch tourist dies after falling off train:  A 54-year-old Dutch tourist died today after he jumped off a moving train in Rajasthan's Sawai Madhopur district after realising that he had boarded a wrong train, police said.

Erik Johannes from the Netherlands and his friend from Britain jumped off the moving New Delhi-bound Jan Shatabdi Express soon after it left the platform after finding that they had boarded a wrong train, they said.

Johannes suffered fatal head injuries, SHO GRP, Sawai Madhopur, Giga Ram said, adding his British friend was unhurt. Both the tourists had come to Sawai Madhopur yesterday and had to catch a train for Agra but mistakenly boarded a train for New Delhi.

The matter has been registered and the body kept in a mortuary for post mortem, he added. -- PTI
13:38  Cong worried about Sidhu's meeting with Jaitley:  
Navjot Singh Sidhu, the Punjab tourism miniser and yesteryear cricketer made a sudden appearance at the Finance Ministry in North Block yesterday to meet finance minister Arun Jaitley.

Sidhu entered Jaitley's office and touched his feet, a gesture, which Jaitley reciprocated with a pat on the back.

What transpired nobody knows, but we wouldn't be far off the mark if we said that the two ministers sorted out and settled a simmering animosity that goes back decades.

But the Congress party is concerned about the meeting because Sidhu has changed parties often and has played a spoiler during many elections.

After Sidhu defeated Jaitley in Amritsar during the 2014 general elections, Captain Amarinder Singh asked had Rahul Gandhi not to admit him in the Congress.

Singh, who is now the Punjab chief minister told Rahul that Sidhu was a joker and could not be taken seriously.  On this meeting with Jaitley, the captain is believed to have said that Rahul Gandhi needs jokers like this in the Congress only if he wants to bring the party down.

Sidhu had resigned from the BJP in 2016 , as a member of the Rajya Sabha. He was upset by the party's decision to fight the next elections in an alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal.
12:36  Anti-Pak slogans in LS:  Anti-Pakistan slogans were raised in the Lok Sabha today by some BJP members as the House paid homage to the CRPF personnel killed in a terror strike in Jammu and Kashmir on December 31.

Just as Speaker Sumitra Mahajan entered the Lok Sabha chamber, some BJP members raised "Pakistan murdabad (Down with Pakistan)" slogans.

The Speaker then read out obituary reference related to the killing of five CRPF personnel in Pulwama in a terror attack on the last day of 2017. She termed the attack as a cowardly act. The members then stood in silence for a few minutes in the memory of the slain security personnel.

A few days ago, some Shiv Sena members joined by a few BJP MPs had raised similar slogans referring to the treatment meted out to the kin of Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistani authorities in Islamabad. -- PTI

Image: The mortal remains of CRPF jawan Rajinder Nain brought to his residence in Rajasthan's Churu. He lost his life in the Pulwama terror attack on Sunday.
12:33  Plea filed seeking CBI probe into Kamala Mills fire:  A plea has been filed in the Bombay High Court on Tuesday demanding a CBI probe into the Kamala Mills fire tragedy.

A huge fire had broken out at Kamla Mills compound in Lower Parel area of Mumbai in the early hours of Friday killing 14 people and injuring 21.
The plea also sought a proper compensation to the kin of deceased and injured people.

Meanwhile, the BMC issued an appeal in news papers to assist it in ongoing inquiry into the fire tragedy. The civic body also requested eyewitnesses and general public to submit whatever evidence they have in this case, may be video or any document or anything which can help in the inquiry.

Earlier, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also directed the BMC Commissioner to conduct an in-depth enquiry into the tragedy.Earlier, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis directed the BMC Commissioner to conduct an in-depth enquiry into the tragedy. -- PTI
12:13  Mumbai pub inferno: Cops record statement of Mojo co-owner :  Police have recorded the statement of a co-owner of Mojo's Bistro in connection with the fire at '1 Above' pub in Mumbai, an official said today. Yug Pathak, the co-owner of the Mojo's Bistro pub and son of a retired IPS officer, was questioned by a team of the N M Joshi Marg police.

"On Sunday, we recorded Pathak's statement which is part of our investigation," Additional Commissioner of Police (central region) S Jayakumar told PTI. He said action will be taken after a thorough investigation. As of now, the probe is underway, he added.

Fourteen people were killed and 21 others injured when the fire broke out in the upscale '1 Above' pub and spread to Mojo's Bistro a storey below in the Kamala Mills compound in Mumbai on December 29.

The police yesterday arrested two managers of the '1 Above' pub over allegations that they fled without helping the guests.

The two were produced in a local court, which remanded them in police custody till January 9. However, the main accused of the case -- the pub owners -- are still at large.

Police have sent their teams to various places in Maharashtra and also outside the state to nab the main accused, an official earlier said. Police had booked the pub owners, Hitesh Sanghvi and Jigar Sanghvi, co-owner Abhijeet Manka and others on various charges, including culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

According to the official, police have also issued lookout notice against the main accused. On Sunday, the police had arrested two persons for allegedly providing shelter to the pub owners. They were later produced before a court which granted them bail on a bond of Rs 25,000 each. --  PTI
12:01  US-based firm's CEO held for hoax bomb call at Mumbai airport:  The CEO of a US-based company has been arrested for allegedly making a hoax bomb call at the Mumbai International Airport after apparently being miffed over flight delays, an official said today.

Vinod Moorjani, who was scheduled to travel from Mumbai to Delhi, was arrested at the airport in Mumbai on Sunday, he said.

The 45-year-old was later supposed to take a connecting flight from Delhi to Rome en route to Virginia along with his wife and children, the official said.

Apparently annoyed with the flight delays at the airport, Moorjani called a toll free number of the Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd (MIAL) and told the woman operator that a bomb exploded ('bomb fata hai') in flight, an investigation officer in the case said. Before the operator could hear more from Moorjani, he quickly hung up the call. The operator then alerted her seniors who in-turn informed the police, he said.

After an investigation, the Sahar police arrested Moorjani, who was spotted at a telephone booth in the CCTV footage of the airport, the official said. The CEO of the US-based IT firm made the call to disrupt the Delhi flight schedules so that he could get a late night flight to Rome from the New Delhi airport if his travel from Mumbai got delayed. -- PTI
11:49  'Credit goes to PM for induction of Meghalaya Cong MLAs in BJP':  BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav on Tuesday credited Prime Minister's Narendra Modi's call-'Meghalaya for Change-Mmeghalaya for BJP', for the induction of four Meghalaya Congress MLAs in the party.

"In Meghalaya today, 4 MLAs from Congress n other parties will join BJP together with other elected members n hundreds of supporters. 'Meghalaya for Change - Meghalaya for BJP' is PM's call," reads Madhav's tweet.

On December 30 last year, in a major blow to the Mukul Sangma-led Congress government in Meghalaya, five of its MLAs, including former deputy chief minister Rowell Lyngdoh, resigned from the state Assembly to join the National People's Party, an ally of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.

Three more legislators have also resigned from the Assembly to join the NPP, which include Remington Pyngrope from United Democratic Party and Independents Stephanson Mukhim and Hopeful Bamon.

The Congress MLAs, who gave up their assembly seats, are Sniawbhalang Dhar, Comingone Ymbon, Prestone Tynsong, Rowell Lyngdoh and Ngaitlang Dhar of Congress, Remington Pyngrope from UDP and Independents Stephanson Mukhim and Hopeful Bamon.

The development comes ahead of assembly elections, scheduled to be held in February.The Congress now has been left with 24 MLAs in the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly.  -- ANI
11:13  Stock market gains momentum on Day 2 of 2018 :  The stock market rebounded on Tuesday with equity benchmarks Sensex and Nifty rising more than 100 and 50 points respectively in the opening trade.

The 30-share Bombay Stock Exchange Sensex was up 147.65 points at 33,960.40 and the 50-share National Stock Exchange Nifty gained 55.60 points at 10,491.10.Mahindra & Mahindra, Dr Reddy's Labs, Cipla, Sun Pharma, GAIL, Tata Steel, Coal India, TCS, HCL Technologies, ONGC, and Infosys opened in green, giving momentum to early morning trade.The Indian Rupee opened flat at 63.69 per dollar.

Earlier on Monday, the Sensex declined 244 points, to close at 33,813.Nifty slumped 95 points, to 10,436.  - ANI
11:09  Last goodbyes for Pulwama martyr:  Mortal remains of Sepoy Jagsir Singh brought to his residence in Punjab's Firozpur; he was killed in ceasefire violation by Pakistan in Nowshera sector of Jammu & Kashmir.
11:04  Mortal remains of CRPF jawan Rajinder Nain brought to his residence in Rajasthan's Churu; he lost his life in Pulwama terror attack.
10:43  Pulwama terror attack martyr laid to rest :  Wreath laying ceremony of CRPF jawan Pradeep Kumar Panda at Recruit Training Centre, CRPF in Humhuma in Srinagar. Panda lost his life in action in the Pulwama terror attack.

Five security personnel died in Jammu and Kashmir as a group of terrorists launched a post-midnight attack on a CRPF training centre in Pulwama on New Year's eve. Two terrorists were killed in the attack.

Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed has claimed responsibility for the attack. The group had recently suffered heavy reverses in the Valley.

The terrorists had struck around 2 am on Sunday. They threw grenades and opened fire before breaching the perimeter of the training centre of the 185 Battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force in Pulwama, around 30 km from Srinagar.

An operation was launched immediately. It is not known how many CRPF personnel were posted at the station. But within minutes, reinforcements were called in. In the initial hour of shootout, a CRPF personnel, Sharief-Ud-Din Ganaie, was killed on the spot.

In the encounter that followed, three more jawans Taufail Ahmed, Rajendra Nain and PK Panda were killed and an officer Kuldeep Rai trapped inside a building died due to a heart attack.
10:37  A plea has been filed in the Bombay High Court demanding a CBI probe into the Kamala Mills fire tragedy and asking for proper compensation to the kin of the deceased and the injured. 
10:15  Trump vindicated India's stand on terrorism: Jitendra Singh :  Jitendra Singh on Monday said United States President Donald Trump's decision to end aid to Pakistan has "vindicated India's stand on terrorism".

Speaking to ANI, the Union Minister said, "The Trump administration's decision today has abundantly vindicated India's stand as far as terror is concerned and as far as Pakistan's role in perpetrating terror is concerned."

He added that those countries, who were earlier denying the role of Pakistan as the perpetrator of terrorism on the Indian soil, are also supporting India's viewpoint on terrorism.

"They are also understanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi's reiteration that the war against terrorism has to be fought collectively. There can't be good terror or bad terror, there can't be a distinction in terrorism happening, terrorism is terrorism," Singh asserted.

Earlier in the day, Trump, in a strongly-worded tweet, said America had been 'foolishly' providing military aid to Pakistan for 15 years, but in return, it has only received 'lies and deceit.'

Meanwhile, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said he would respond to the US President's tweet shortly after the latter blamed the country for providing safe havens to terrorists.

"The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!" Trump posted on Twitter. 
10:07  Triple talaq bill: BJP issues whip to MPs :  
The Bharatiya Janata Party today issued a three line whip for all its Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs.

The party wants all its MPs' presence in the Parliament on January 2 and 3 for the passage of several crucial bills during the period.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017, seeking to criminalise instant triple talaq, which was passed in the Lok Sabha last week, is set to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha today.

Lok Sabha is also expected to pass the National Medical Commission Bill 2017 today.

A BJP parliamentary party meeting is also scheduled to take place on January 3.

The winter session of Parliament ends on January 5. -- ANI
10:04  Gunmen kill 21 churchgoers in Nigeria:  
Gunmen killed at least 21 churchgoers returning from a midnight service on Monday in Nigeria's Omoku area of Rivers state.

The Anadolu Agency quoted the Pastor Dandy Bathuel as saying, "21 worshippers including women and children were killed in the firing at Krigani road at Omoku. A whole family was also wiped out by the unfortunate murder."

"Those killed include people who attended New Year vigil in various churches at Omoku. They were returning home when the gunmen opened fire on them," Bathuel added.

Confirming the incident, the Nigerian police said that they are looking for the unknown gunmen who perpetrated the dastardly act.

"But we are still putting our reports together and it will be premature to tell you the number of casualties at the moment," Rivers police spokesman Omoni Nnamdi. -- ANI
09:51  3.2 magnitude earthquake strikes Thane, Maharashtra :  A magnitude of 3.2 earthquake, struck Thane in Maharashtra earlier this morning.

According to the Indian Meteorological Department, the earthquake occurred at 2:21 am.

No one was reported hurt. 

No property damages were also recorded.

Further details are awaited. -- ANI
09:31  Thick fog blankets Delhi; flights and trains hit:  
Flight and train services have been affected in Delhi due to the thick fog in the capital and several other parts of north India. 

Twenty domestic and international flights from the Delhi airport have been delayed, and six have been cancelled.

The visibility on the runway is reported to be 250 metres and airport officials said takeoffs and landings have been happening.

Sixty four trains headed towards the capital are late and 24 have been rescheduled. 21 have been cancelled, the Northern Railways said.

Travellers had a tough time on day one of the new year as over 500 flights were delayed and more than 20 cancelled at the Indira Gandhi International airport on Monday. 
09:08  Triple talaq bill: Congress to consult other Oppn parties before taking decision:  
The Congress would consult a larger opposition before finalising its stand on the contentious bill which proposed to ban instant triple talaq and make the practice a cognizable offence, party sources said.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, which has already been passed in the Lok Sabha last week, is likely to be taken up in the Rajya Sabha today.
According to the sources, Leader of Opposition in the Upper House Ghulam Nabi Azad has convened a meeting of the leaders of his party (Congress) as well as other parties in his Parliament chamber today, before the bill is taken up.
The sources added that while the Congress was in favour of the bill as it proposed to ban instant triple talaq, whether it would press for sending it to the Select Committee, as has been the practice in the Rajya Sabha, would only be seen today.
The party might press for amendments in the bill, including a clause for maintenance to the Muslim women and making it mandatory for the man to prove that triple talaq had not been invoked, the sources said. -- PTI 
09:02  After Trump's strong message, US blocks $255M aid to Pak:  
The United States has suspended its USD 255 million military aid to Pakistan for now, the White House has confirmed, saying the fate of such assistance will depend on Islamabad's response to terrorism on its soil.
The confirmation comes on the same day when US President Donald Trump accused Pakistan of giving nothing to the US but "lies and deceit" and providing "safe haven" to terrorists in return for USD 33 billion aid over the last 15 years.
"The United States does not plan to spend the USD 255 million in FY 2016 in Foreign Military Financing for Pakistan at this time," a senior administration official told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
"The president has made clear the US expects Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorists and militants on its soil, and that Pakistan's actions in support of the South Asia Strategy will ultimately determine the trajectory of our relationship, including future security assistance," he said.
The US administration continues to review Pakistan's level of cooperation, the official said.
On Monday, Trump, in his first tweet of the New Year, blasted the Pakistan leadership by saying that they have given America "nothing but lies and deceit" despite having received more than USD 33 billion in last 15 years.
"They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!" Trump said, clearly indicating that Pakistan would no longer receive any security aid from the US till the time it sees a change in behaviour from them in fight against terrorism.
Within hours, the Pakistani defence ministry fired back alleging that it has got "nothing but invective and mistrust" for all the actions it took in support of America's war against terrorism.
"Pak as anti-terror ally has given free to US: land & air communication, military bases & intel cooperation that decimated Al-Qaeda over last 16yrs, but they have given us nothing but invective & mistrust. They overlook cross-border safe havens of terrorists who murder Pakistanis," the Pakistan defence ministry said in a tweet. -- PTI
08:32  IndiGo exempts Indian sportspersons from paying weapon-handling charges:  
Low-cost carrier IndiGo has announced that Indian sportspersons travelling for tournaments will be exempted from paying charges for handling of their weapons such as firearms, air guns, and ammunition.
IndiGo charges a passenger an amount of Rs 5,000 for carrying a weapon as check-in baggage, according to its website.
"Effective January 1, 2018, Indian sportsperson travelling to either domestic or international destinations for a competition or representing the country, will be exempted from paying the charge levied for firearms, air guns
and/or ammunition," IndiGo said in a statement.
Air travellers are not allowed to carry weapons and ammunition in their cabin baggage or with them, but can carry them in their checked-in baggage after following certain procedures, including declaring it to the airline.
In order to avail the exemption offered by IndiGo, a passenger will have to provide a government recognised document, which identifies him or her as a sportsperson.
The player will also have to produce a licence along with a written document issued by the president or the secretary of the sports club sponsoring the player for the shooting event, which will serve as a bonafide document allowing carriage of arms and ammunition. -- PTI 
08:22  Triple talaq bill to be introduced in Rajya Sabha today:  
The contentious bill that criminalises instant triple talaq among Muslims, already passed by the Lok Sabha, is set to be introduced in the Rajya Sabha today.
The bill, which makes instant triple talaq illegal with up to three years in jail for the husband, was passed by the Lower House last week.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill is listed for introduction in the Rajya Sabha by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on January 2, according to the list of business of the Upper House.
This bill gives power to the victim to approach a magistrate seeking "subsistence allowance" for herself and minor children in the case of instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat.
A victim can also seek the custody of her minor children from the magistrate.
Under the law, instant triple talaq in any form -- spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp -- would be illegal and void.
Meanwhile, the Indian Union Muslim League has claimed that various Muslim bodies in the country would move the Supreme Court if the bill is also passed by the Rajya Sabha.
The bill could get stalled in the Rajya Sabha where government lacks a majority and it may be referred to a parliamentary committee for its review. -- PTI 

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