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LIVE! 'Bomb cyclone' brings travel chaos and deaths to US north-east

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January 04, 2018


23:37  Man kills niece, fiance for chatting in Pakistan:  
A Pakistani man today shot dead his niece and her fiance after catching them chatting with each other in Pakistan's Sindh province, in an apparent case of honour killing.

The incident occurred in Nayi Waha village in Ghotki district when the woman's maternal uncle saw her chatting with her fiance.

He and two other relatives chased the couple - Nazreen and Shahid - and shot them dead, police said.

"It is a most tragic case of honour killing. Normally such killings are carried out if a girl or boy have an affair, elope or get married against the wishes of their families. But in this case families of the boy and girl had got them engaged recently," Daud Bhutto, a senior police official in Ghotki
said.

Their bodies have been handed over to the family.

The two suspects, both of whom happen to be the girl's uncles, have been arrested, the police said, adding that further investigations into the matter was underway.

-- PTI
23:14  'Bomb cyclone' brings travel chaos and deaths to US north-east:  
A winter storm has caused travel chaos on the US north-east and is being blamed for up to 17 deaths.

More than 3,300 US flights were cancelled on Thursday as snow blanketed parts of New York and New England, as well as eastern Canada.

Boston could get up to 18 inches of snow, while New York City is bracing for up 1ft, say forecasters.

The storm, known as a "bomb cyclone", is expected to continue to affect eastern North America into the weekend.

Nearly 60 million people are in the path of the storm, with weather warnings in effect from the Maine to parts of Georgia in the US.
22:28  Swaraj meets Thai foreign minister, discusses security, connectivity:  
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday met with Foreign Minister of Thailand Don Pramudwinai and discussed issues of connectivity, security and cultural cooperation.

"Keeping up with the growing momentum of bilateral relationship, EAM @SushmaSwaraj discussed issues of connectivity, security and cultural cooperation with Don Pramudwinai, Foreign Minister of Thailand. #ActEastPolicy," external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

The Thai minister also hosted dinner in the honour of Swaraj.

Earlier in the day, Swaraj, arrived in Bangkok on the first leg of a three-nation tour that will also take her to Indonesia and Singapore.

The minister got a "warm welcome" in Thailand - "our geographic, historic and cultural neighbour," Kumar had tweeted.

Thailand will assume the role of coordinator country for India-ASEAN relations later this year.

Swaraj has embarked on her first visit of the year 2018 to three South East Asian countries - Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore.

The visit is aimed at giving a further boost to bilateral relations to the South East Asian countries within the framework of India's Act East Policy.

--ANI
22:00  Pak on US Special Watch List for violations of religious freedom:  
The US has placed Pakistan on a special watch list for "severe violations" of religious freedom, the State Department said.

The announcement came as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson decided to re-designate about 10 countries as 'Countries of Particular Concern'.

"The secretary also placed Pakistan on a Special Watch List for severe violations of religious freedom," State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said.

No other explanation on Pakistan was available immediately.

"Too many places around the globe, people continue to be persecuted, unjustly prosecuted, or imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief," Nauert said in a statement.

"Today, a number of governments infringe upon individuals' ability to adopt, change, or renounce their religion or belief, worship in accordance with their religion or beliefs, or be free from coercion to practice a particular religion or belief," she said.

In accordance with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, she said the secretary of state annually designates governments that have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom as 'Countries of Particular Concern'.

"Today, the Department of State announces that the Secretary of State re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan as Countries of Particular Concern on December 22, 2017," she said.

-- PTI
21:35  Bhima Koregaon clash: Cops make little progress in man's death:  
The district police are yet to make any headway into the death of a 28-year-old man during the violence that erupted near Bhima Koregaon village on January 1 during the bicentennial event to commemorate a war.

Rahul Phatangale, a resident of Kanur Mesai village, was the lone casualty in the Monday's violence that sparked angry protests by Dalit groups across Maharashtra for the next two days.

"We are investigating the case (death of Phatangale) and there is a little progress in the investigation. We have received some conclusive clues. However, to come to a conclusion, we need to strengthen the evidence as well as (understand) the circumstances," said Suvez Haque, Superintendent of Police, Pune Rural Police.

However, the circumstances surrounding Phatangale's death are not clear yet.

-- PTI
21:04  Trump's lawyers seek to stop release of tell-all book about his presidency:  
A lawyer for US President Donald Trump has sought to halt the publication of an explosive new book claiming to have insider information on the Trump White House.

Attorney Charles J Harder instructed the book's author and publisher to immediately cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination of the book," in a letter seen by the Washington Post.

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, a purported tell-all book about Trump's presidency penned by veteran journalist Michael Wolff, set off a flurry of condemnation from the White House after excerpts were published yesterday. 

Certain excepts claim Melania Trump was devastated when her husband won the election, and former presidential adviser Steve Bannon found some Trump campaign actions "treasonous".

Harder also sent a cease and desist letter to Bannon, claiming he breached a confidentiality agreement by making "disparaging statements" about the US President to Wolff.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement claiming the book was "filled with false and misleading accounts from individuals who have no access or influence with the White House". 

A spokesperson for the First Lady said Melania Trump was "very happy" when her husband won.
20:40  Trump talking in the language of India, says Pakistan foreign minister:  
Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif today alleged that US President Donald Trump's recent remarks against his country showed that he was "talking in the language of India".

Briefing the Parliamentary Committee on National Security about tension between Pakistan and the US following Trump's remarks, Asif said the US is making Islamabad a scapegoat for its failure in Afghanistan.

Trump had accused Pakistan of giving nothing to the US but "lies and deceit" in return for $33 billion aid. 

Sources privy to the discussion in the meeting said Asif told lawmakers, "Trump was speaking in the language of India.

"The statements from the US leaders are contrary to the facts," Asif said.

National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, who heads the body, told the media after the meeting that there should be "balanced response" to the statements from the US.

"The country's dignity should be maintained, while engaging with the US," he said.

He said the committee has decided to reconvene next week for a briefing by security agencies.

The closed-door meeting came at the heels of a high-level National Security Committee meet and the cabinet meeting earlier this week.

-- PTI
20:17  After PM Modi, Piyush Goyal is the most 'liked' leader:  
A Facebook survey has revealed that Piyush Goyal, the Union railway minister, is the most "liked" member of the Cabinet after Prime Minister Narendra Modi .

His personal page followed Modi's in the "government and politics" category in India in terms of the number of "likes" garnered, according to a recent Facebook survey.

Modi's FB page topped the list with more than 4 crore "likes", while Goyal's was second with 45 lakh "likes" so far.

A photograph of Piyush Goyal with his wife on Karva Chauth has also drawn the maximum number of "likes" on the personal Facebook page of the railway minister. 

The Karva Chauth photograph -- captured to mark the ritual when women fast for the health of their husbands -- drew 79,000 likes, 1,800 comments and over 1,700 shares.

The survey looked at the popularity of these accounts from January 1, 2017, to December 31, 2017, and was based on interactions such as the number of reactions, shares and comments.

Image: Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and his wife on Karva Chauth. Photograph: Piyush Goyal/Facebook
19:44  Netanyahu's special gift for "friend" PM Modi on India visit:  
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will present a special gift - the Gal-Mobile water desalinisation and purification jeep - to his friend Narendra Modi during his visit to India starting January 14, according to sources here.

Israeli PM Netanyahu and PM Modi waded into the Mediterranean Sea and rode the "buggy" jeep on the coast during the latter's visit to Israel in July last year.

Now Israeli PM Netanyahu is going to gift the same jeep to PM Modi, informed sources said.

As Israeli PM Netanyahu prepares for his four day visit to India, sources confirmed that the jeep has "indeed" left for India and "would be arriving on time" to be presented by the Israeli Prime Minister to PM Modi.

The jeep is said to cost around 390,000 shekels (approximately $111,000).

Gal-Mobile is an independent, integrated water purification vehicle, designed to produce high-quality drinking water. It can be useful in natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, military use in difficult terrain and rural areas to provide drinkable water.

It can purify up to 20,000 litres per day of sea water and 80,000 litres per day of brackish/muddy or contaminated river water and bring it to WHO standards.
19:15  JUST IN: Gautam Gambhir released by Kolkata Knight Riders
19:09  IPL teams: Hardik Pandya, Rohit Sharma retained by Mumbai Indians:  JUST IN: Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah have been retained by Mumbai Indians. 

Virat Kohli, AB De Villers and Sarfaraz Khan have been retained by Royal Challengers Bengaluru.

MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina retained by CSK. Rishabh Pant, Chris Morris and Shreyas Iyer retained by Delhi Daredevils
18:54  'Happy that you stand vindicated in 2G case': Manmohan Singh to A Raja:  
Life came full circle for ex-telecom minister A Raja on December 26, 2017 when he penned an emotional letter to Manmohan Singh seeking his support, 10 years after he wrote to the then Prime Minister regarding the allocation of 2G spectrum.

Now, in light of Raja's acquittal in the 2G spectrum case, Manmohan Singh wrote back expressing his happiness at the DMK leader's vindication.

"You will recall that I assured you several times that I had done nothing wrong but rather acted in national interest and that I would prove this," Raja said in a letter adressed to Manmohan Singh.

Raja said he understood why Singh couldn't openly defend him when he was charged with corruption in the controversial "2G scam case", but now that his name has been cleared, he hoped that the former PM could acknowledge that he'd remained "loyal and faithful" throughout.

To this, Manmohan Singh replied: "I'm very happy that you stand vindicated in the 2G case."

On December 21, a special CBI court had acquitted all accused, including former telecom minister A Raja, in the Rs 30,000 crore 2G spectrum allocation scam cases. Special CBI judge O P Saini said in his judgment that the prosecution had "miserably failed to prove any of its charge" against the accused.

In his letter to Manmohan Singh, Raja ruminated on the vagaries of fate. The 2G case, Raja said, played a vital role in the UPA's defeat in the 2015. It also took its toll on Raja, who had to spend 15 months in jail, besides the arbitrary summons to court for seven years of his life.

Image: Manmohan Singh's letter to A Raja. Photograph: ANI/Twitter
18:29  'Game of Thrones' characters to get postage stamps:  
"Game of Thrones" fans can now own a postage stamp of their favourite characters from the global hit fantasy show.

UK's postal service, The Royal Mail, has issued a cool line-up with 10 characters from the HBO show - Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, Jaime Lannister, Arya Stark, Cersei Lannister, Sansa Stark, Eddard Stark, Olenna Tyrell and Tywin Lannister - immortalised through stamps.

Other stamps also feature the Night King, the giants, direwolves, dragons and the Iron Throne. 

-- PTI
18:14  'Thesaurus' Tharoor shows why he's such a charmer :   Congress MP Shashi Tharoor shares a moment with Apna Dal MP Anupriya Patel at Parliament house, today, a day before the truncated winter session of parliament ends. Apna Dal had allied with the BJP during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.


The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day after opposition's motion on the Triple Talaq Bill. The opposition has demanded the bill be sent to a select committee. If the bill is sent to a select committee of the Rajya Sabha, it can now only be passed in the next session of Parliament. Which means the panel will have to be constituted and then it will scrutinise the bill and suggest changes. Which therefore mans that bill is unlikely to be passed in the RS in this session.

But back to Tharoor. The MP from Thiruvananthapuram's vocabulary is legendary and has pushed people to reach for a dictionary or a thesaurus. For instance the time he tried to explain his choice of words in his tweets, Tharoor said, "To all the well-meaning folks who send me parodies of my supposed speaking/writing style: The purpose of speaking or writing is to communicate w/ precision. I choose my words because they are the best ones for the idea i want to convey, not the most obscure or rodomontade ones!"

It leaves us floored all the time. And we await more.


Picture courtesy: PTI
17:21  Sushma Swaraj reaches Thailand :  @MEAIndia tweets: Warm welcome for EAM @SushmaSwaraj in Thailand '" our geographic, historical and cultural neighbour! #ActEastPolicy.


The External Affairs minister is on a three-nation tour -- Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore -- her first foreign tour this year.
17:12  Student gets fatwa for reciting the Gita :   "Islam is not so weak that we will be dismissed from it just for reciting Bhagwad Gita or wearing a particular kind of costume," said 15-year-old student, Alia Khan, on Thursday, after she was issued a fatwa (religious decree) by Dar-ul-uloom of Deoband.

The Islamic seminary issued the fatwa to Khan on January 2 for reciting the verses of the Hindu holy book at an event in her school recently.

Speaking to ANI, she said: "I dressed up as Krishna and recited Gita as a part of a competition. They issued the fatwa."

The Class 10 student won the second prize for her performance and was also given a cash prize of Rs. 25,000. However, she was later issued the decree by the Ulemas or Islamic scholars, who termed her action unIslamic. The function was organised by the Uttar Pradesh government to mark the 101 years of the historic Lucknow Pact of Freedom Struggle.

The event was based on famous freedom fighter, Bal Gangadhar Tilak's interpretation of the Bhagwad Gita.

The programme was attended by state Governor Ram Naik, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his Maharashtra counterpart Devendra Fadnavis, as well as some kin of Tilak.More than 150 students from 11 different regions participated in the competition. -- ANI
17:03  Salman Khan arrives at the Jodhpur Court for hearing in the blackbuck poaching case.
16:38  Delhi court declares Vijay Mallya proclaimed offender:  A Delhi court today declared absconding businessman Vijay Mallya a proclaimed offender for evading summons in a FERA violation case. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Deepak Shehrawat passed the order after noting that Mallya failed to appear before it despite repeated summonses.


"In view that Vijay Mallya failed to appear before this court within 30 days, and no representation was made on his behalf, he is declared as proclaimed offender," the court said.


The court had on April 12 last year issued an open-ended non-bailable warrant against the liquor baron. Unlike a non-bailable warrant, 'open-ended NBW' does not carry a time limit for execution.


On November 4, 2016, while issuing non-bailable warrant against Mallya, the court had observed he had no inclination to return and had scant regard for the law of the land. It had said that coercive process has to be initiated against Mallya as he was facing proceedings in several cases and avoiding appearance in those matters.


The court had also held that Mallya's plea that he wanted to return to India but was "incapacitated" to travel as his passport had been revoked by Indian authorities, was "malafide" and "abuse of the process of law". -- PTI
16:24  JUST IN: Patiala House Court declares Vijay Mallya a "proclaimed offender" on charge of evading ED's summons in a FERA violation case
16:20  Propagandistic exercises carry no credibility: India on new Jadhav video:  
Minutes after Pakistan released another video of Indian death row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav, the ministry of external affairs said that it is not surprised by the new video.

The MEA said that Pakistan is simply continuing its practice of putting out coerced statements on video.

"It is time for Pakistan to realise that such propagandistic exercises simply carry no credibility. Pakistan best advised to fulfil its international obligations, whether it pertains to consular relations or UNSC resolutions 1267 and 1373 on terrorism and to desist from continuing violations of human rights of an Indian national." it added. 

The ministry further said, "The absurdity of a captive under duress certifying his own welfare while mouthing allegations of his captors clearly merits no comment."

In the video, Jadhav says he is a commissioned officer of the Indian Navy and that his commission has not gone. He also asked India why it was "lying" that he was not working for an intelligence agency.

He also said that the Indian diplomat who accompanied his family for the meeting yelled at his mother. 
15:53  Age proof now a must for women to offer worship in Sabarimala:  
An authentic age proof document is now a must for women visiting the famed Lord Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala in Kerala, where the entry of female devotees in the age group of 10-50 is banned.
    
The Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the shrine, has decided to make the age proof mandatory during the ongoing pilgrim season in view of the increasing instances of women devotees trying to trek to the hillock shrine defying the restrictions.
 
The final leg of the three-month-long annual pilgrim season will end on January 14, with the Makaravilakku festival.
     
Women in the menstruating age group are restricted from offering prayers at Sabarimala because the presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa is considered to be a 'naishtika brahmachari' (perennial celibate).
     
TDB President A Padmakumar said any authentic document or certificate including Aadhaar card is acceptable during the routine checks at the foothills of Sabarimala temple.      

"The decision was taken in view of a number of women belonging to the banned age group trying to visit the shrine recently," he told PTI today.
     
"Carrying an authentic age proof document will help avoid unnecessary arguments between women pilgrims and the police and Devaswom officials who carry out checks," he said.
     
Justifying the decision, Padmakumar said a girl from neighbouring Tamil Nadu had tried to visit the shrine along with her father and other relatives recently.
     
"Those who carry out checks had expressed doubts about her age. Though her father argued that she did not belong to the banned age group, the security personnel did not allow her," he said.
     
"Finally, the ID card was produced, which said she was 11 years of age...We cannot compromise with the traditions of the shrine," he added. -- PTI
15:27  BSF strikes Pak posts in retaliation for jawan's death :  The Border Security Force on Thursday said they responded effectively to the ceasefire violation by Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir's Samba sector, in which Islamabad suffered a major loss.

"Our BSF soldier was deployed on forward duty point when Pakistan's siphon shot hit him yesterday. Border Security Force gave a solid response in which Pakistan's infrastructure, solar panel and weapons were damaged. Their posts suffered major loss", Inspector General (IG) BSF Jammu Ramawtar told the media.


Yesterday, a BSF head constable lost his life after Pakistan violated ceasefire in Samba sector.The BSF personnel of the 173rd Battalion was killed on his birthday.


The constable, identified as RP Hazra (pictured), is survived by his wife, 18-year-old son and 21-year-old daughter. This comes days after terrorists stormed a CRPF training centre in Pulwama district killing five jawans. -- ANI
14:56  Jignesh Mevani, Umar Khalid will speak in Mumbai: Student leader:   Chhatra Bharti, the independent student organisation that had arranged Jignesh Mevani and Umar Khalid's lectures in Mumbai's Bhaidas Hall in suburban Vile Parle today, claims that two leaders will deliver speeches in the city soon.

Speaking to Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com, Chhatra Bharti's Mumbai president, Sachin Bansode, said the student organisation will announce the details later this evening at a press conference.
 
Khalid, a student activist from Jawaharlal Nehru University and, Mevani, an elected legislator from Gujarat's Vadgam were scheduled to speak at 11 am and 2 pm today respectively at Bhaidas Hall.
 
Bansode said that the Mumbai police denied permission to both the leaders, who have now been booked for spreading 'communal disharmony' by the Pune police in the wake of the violence at Bhima-Koregaon in Pune on January 1.
 
"The police were informed four days ago about this event and Mevani and Umar Khalid's presence at the event. We had permission from the officials of Bhaidas Hall and it was going to be a private meeting. This was not organised at some public ground. But just when they were all set to deliver their speeches today, the police served me a notice under Section 149," Bansode said.
 
"We don't understand what the violence in Bhima-Koregaon has got to do with an event in Mumbai?" Bansode added, who, along with scores of Chhatra Bharati students were detained at various police stations this afternoon.
 
Bansode said that Chhatra Bharti members staged protests at the Juhu police station after he and Dutta Dhage, Chhatra Bharti's President, were detained.  "We were beaten up inside the police station and my left hand has suffered injuries," Bansode said.
 

Image: Chhatra Bharti's Mumbai president, Sachin Bansode.
14:56  RK Nagar bypoll win was a "purchased" one: Kamal Haasan:  Actor Kamal Haasan today alleged that money power was behind TTV Dinakaran's win in the December 21 RK Nagar bypoll, drawing sharp rebuke from the sidelined AIADMK leader who accused the star of maligning voters.


In a stinging article as part of his weekly series in the latest issue of Tamil magazine 'Ananda Vikatan,' the veteran star described the bypoll, held due to the demise of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, as a "stain" on Indian democracy.


Responding to Haasan's salvo, Dinakaran hit back saying the actor was making such allegations as he could not digest his win in the bypoll.
14:28  Lalu sentencing tomorrow:  Ranchi Special CBI Court to pronounce quantum of sentence for Lalu Prasad Yadav in the fodder scam case tomorrow.
14:26  In new video Jadhav says, Pakistan is taking care of him:  The Pakistan Foreign Office released a new video of Kulbhushan Jadhav on Thursday where he can be purportedly seen thanking the Pakistan government for its gesture in allowing him to meet his wife and mother, last month.

In the video, Jadhav appears to be saying that his mother and wife were happy to meet him. "She was satisfied with my health. I am okay here and they don't harm me," Jadhav is heard saying.

"I said don't worry Mummy. They (Pakistan) are taking care of me, they have not touched me. She believed me once she saw me personally," he said in the video.

Almost as an afterthought, Jadhav added, "I have to say one very important thing to the Indian public and Indian govt, and for people in the Navy that my commission has not gone, I am a commissioned officer of the Indian."

On Jadhav's meeting with his family, the Ministry of External Affairs has accused Pakistan of violating mutual understandings and said the Indian national appeared coerced and under considerable stress during the tightly-controlled interaction.
14:10  UIDAI rejects media report on getting Aadhaar data in minutes:  The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has denied the media report published in The Tribune titled "Rs 500, 10 minutes, and you have access to billion Aadhaar details" and has said that it is a case of misreporting.


The UIDAI assured that there has not been any Aadhaar data breach. The Aadhaar data including biometric information is fully safe and secure.


In a statement issued today, the UIDAI said that UIDAI has given the said search facility for the purpose of grievance redressal to the designated personnel and state government officials to help residents only by entering their Aadhaar number/EID.


The UIDAI maintains complete log and traceability of the facility and any misuse can be traced and appropriate action taken. The reported case appears to be instance of misuse of the grievance redressal search facility.


As UIDAI maintains a complete log and traceability of the facility, the legal action including lodging of FIR against the persons involved in the instant case is being done.


The UIDAI reiterates that the grievance redressal search facility gives only limited access to name and other details and has no access to biometric details. UIDAI reassures that there has not been any data breach of biometric database which remains fully safe and secure with highest encryption at UIDAI and mere display of demographic information cannot be misused without biometrics. Further, the Aadhaar number is not a secret number. It is to be shared with authorized agencies whenever an Aadhaar holder wishes to avail certain service or benefit of government welfare scheme/s or other services. But that does not mean that the proper use of Aadhaar number poses a security or financial threat.

Also, mere availability of Aadhaar number will not be a security threat or will not lead to financial/other fraud, as for a successful authentication fingerprint or iris of individual is also required.

Claims of bypassing or duping the Aadhaar enrolment system are totally unfounded. -- ANI
14:02  Lalu arrives in court, quantum of punishment in fodder scam case today:  Former Bihar CM Lalu Prasad Yadav arrives at the Ranchi Special CBI Court for the quantum of sentence to be announced in the fodder scam case.

The special CBI court will pronounce the quantum of sentence in the second fodder scam on Thursday. Lalu Yadav was convicted on December 23 last year along with 15 others in the scam.

The court had acquitted another former chief minister of Bihar Jagganath Mishra who was also one of the accused in the case which involved fradulent withdrawal of Rs 84.5 lakhs from the Deoghar treasury.

CBI judge Shiv Pal Singh directed senior RJD leaders Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Shivanand Tiwari and Lalu Prasad's son Tejashwi Yadav and Congress leader Manish Tewari to personally appear before the court on January 23.

Tejashwi Yadav is leader of opposition in the Bihar Assembly.

Lalu was convicted in the first fodder scam in 2013 but was granted bail by the Supreme Court.
13:40  Brrrr! Sub-zero temperatures in Kashmir:   Normal life crawled at -20 degrees Celsius in Kargil in the cold desert of Ladakh even as temperatures remained several degrees below the freezing point elsewhere in the Kashmir Valley.


Light rain or snow at isolated places over the next 48 hours may add to the discomfiture, the weatherman said. Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, had a low of -3.9 degrees Celsius, a MET department official said.


The mercury in Qazigund in south Kashmir settled at a low of -4.4 degrees Celsius. The nearby town of Kokernag recorded a low of -2.5 degrees Celsius. Kupwara in north Kashmir quivered at -3.6 degrees Celsius. The world famous ski resort of Gulmarg reeled under freezing -6 degrees Celsius. The night temperature in Pahalgam, which also serves as one of the base camps for the annual Amarnath Yatra, had a minimum of -4.5 degrees Celsius. Kargil town in the Ladakh region was the coldest place in J&K at -20 degrees Celsius. Life moved at a snail's pace in nearby Leh town at -14.2 degrees Celsius. It was the coldest night of the season so far in Leh and Kargil.
13:21  Mumbai bandh: Over 30 cops injured, 300 persons detained:   Over 30 policemen sustained injuries in the city yesterday during the protest called by various Dalit groups, a senior police official said today. Most of the injuries were a result of stones pelted on police personnel, said an official. He added that Powai and Govandi in the north-eastern part of the city saw the maximum number of cases with 11 policemen sustaining injuries in areas around Powai.


Deputy Commissioner of Police Sahaji Umap of Zone VI said that 11 personnel were injured in Govandi and adjoining areas. Police officials said that 16 First Information Reports had been registered under relevant sections of the Maharashtra Police Act, the Maharashtra Prevention of Defacement of Property Act and the Indian Penal Code.


An official said that more than 300 people had been detained as part of the investigations into the incidents that occurred during the protests.


The bandh was called yesterday following violence in Pune district on January 1 when Dalit groups were celebrating the bicentenary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in which the forces of the British East India Company defeated the Peshwa's army. -- PTI
13:17  Reports coming in that between 12 and 15 Pakistani Rangers were killed by the BSF in J&K.
13:03  Will D Raja be the next general secretary of the CPI?:   D Raja, the CPI's Rajya Sabha MP from Tamil Nadu, is a serious contender for the post of General Secretary of the Communist Party of India.

The CPI meet which is scheduled for April in Kollam, Kerala, is likely to elect a new general secretary as Sudhakar Reddy the incumbent is unwell.  Reddy is also keen to retire.

Considering the waning influence of the party and the relevance of its ideology in today's India, the Left parties have decided to give the top slot to younger people, who can tour the country and organise pro-poor and pro-trade union rallies. For the 2019 general elecetions, the Left parties have decided to go against the Congress.  Raja has been trained by Indrajit Gupta and AB Bardhan, former general secretaries of the party.
12:59  Jignesh Mevani, Umar Khalid booked for 'promoting enemity' :   The Pune police have booked Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani and JNU student leader Umar Khalid for 'inciting violence and promoting enemity' during the Dalit rally at Bhima-Koregaon on January 1.

The Mumbai police also denied permission to a summit scheduled to be addressed by the two leaders and detained students gathered outside a hall in Mumbai for the event. A police official said the number of students and activists detained outside the Bhaidas Hall in suburban Vile Parle was not yet available.

The action came after police denied permission for the 'All India Students Summit 2018', which was scheduled to be held today, in which Mevani and Khalid were invited. The police denied permission in the wake of protests and bandh in the state yesterday following violence on the anniversary of a battle fought 200 years ago at Bhima Koregaon in Pune, a senior police official said. 
12:23  BSF kills Pak infiltrator :  A Pakistani infiltrator was on Thursday killed by the Border Security Force when he climbed over the fence at the Indo-Pakistan International Border to enter the Indian side in Arnia area of Jammu and Kashmir's RS Pura sector.


The intruder was neutralized at around 7 am. The complete area has been cordoned off and the search operation is underway. More details are awaited.


In September last year, two armed intruders were killed after the Indian army foiled an infiltration bid in Jammu and Kashmir's Uri sector. 
12:13  Sushma heads to south-east Asia:  External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj leaves on a five-day visit to three nations - Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore - her first foreign trip in the new year. 
12:11  Russian begging outside Jagannath temple in Puri sent to Delhi:  The Puri District Tourism Department has sent the 53-year-old Russian citizen found begging outside the Jagannath Temple, to the Russian Embassy in New Delhi.

The foreigner, Andrei Glagolev, was rescued by the Puri district administration on December 11 and rehabilitated in a shelter home in the city after he was found begging.

Glagolev, who had hesitated to return to his country and wanted to stay in India with the refugee status, left for New Delhi by Purusottam Express yesterday in a sleeper class.

According to reports, Glagolev had applied for the refugee status at the UNHCR in New Delhi.Hailing from Bavly area in Russia, Glagolev claimed that he was forced flee the country in 2015. When asked about his unwillingness to return his own country, Andrei said that his family drove him out of the home after he started worshipping Lord Shiva in Russia.
-- ANI
12:08  Donald Trump Didnt Want to Be President:   One year ago: the plan to lose, and the administration's shocked first days. Read the report in the New York Times.
11:34  Intruder shot dead as BSF foils infiltration bid in J-K's Arnia:  An infiltrator was on Thursday killed by the Border Security Force when he climbed over the fence at the Indo-Pakistan International Border to enter the Indian side in Arnia area of Jammu and Kashmir's RS Pura sector. The intruder was neutralized at around 7 am.


The complete area has been cordoned off and the search operation is underway. More details are awaited.


In September last year, two armed intruders were killed after the Indian army foiled an infiltration bid in Jammu and Kashmir's Uri sector. -- ANI


Representational image.
11:22  Maha bandh: 16 FIRs registered :   A total of 16 FIRs have been registered by the Mumbai Police, relating to statewide bandh that was called yesterday by the Dalit groups against the Bhima-Koregaon violence. The police said that they detained more than 300 miscreants.

Meanwhile, after a day-long protest on Wednesday, normalcy has been restored in Mumbai.

Tension gripped many parts of Maharashtra after the death of a youth in clashes on January 1, during an event, to mark 200 years of Bhima Koregaon battle near Pune.


Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis ordered a Crime Investigation Department (CID) probe into his death and also announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the victim's kin.


In the aftermath, a day-long 'Maharashtra bandh' was called by various Dalit and other organisations.


The Battle of Koregaon was fought on January 1, 1818, between the British East India Company and the Peshwa faction of the Maratha Confederacy, at Koregaon Bhima. The Marathas ultimately withdrew, fearing the arrival of a larger British force. The Company troops of Indian origin included predominantly Mahar Dalit soldiers belonging to the Bombay Native Infantry. The Dalit activists regard the battle as a heroic episode in their history. -- ANI


Image: Protesters at Kanjurmarg in suburban Mumbai yesterday.
11:11  Umar Khalid-Jignesh Mevani event in Mumbai cancelled :  The All India Student's Summit 2018 which was to be held today at Mithibai College in Mumbai has been cancelled. The  police have taken a few students into custody.  JNU student leader Umar Khalid and Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani were supposed to deliver a lecture here, but the police have refused permission.

The  summit also called, Chhatra Bharati, was to have been held at Bhaidas Hall. Sagar Bhalerao, organiser of the Chhatra Bharati event long ago and Bhaidas Hall had been booked for the event. "But now we are being denied entry," Bhaleroa said.

FIRs have been registered against Mevani and Khalid under section 153(A), 505 & 117 at the Vishrambaug Police Station in Pune.


Image: Police at the event outside Bhaidas Hall.
10:33  13 TN fishermen arrested by SL navy, boats damaged:  
The Sri Lankan Navy today arrested 13 Tamil Nadu fishermen for allegedly fishing in their territorial waters off Katchatheevu islet.
They also damaged a few boats and fishing equipment belonging to others using iron rods, before chasing them away.     

Assistant Director of Fisheries, A Manikandan said, more than 2,000 fishermen from Thangachimadam had ventured into the sea yesterday in 523 boats and were fishing near Katchatheevu when the Lankan naval men came to the spot and arrested 13 fishermen.
 
They also snapped the fishing nets of 50 boats and damaged some boats using iron rods, he said.
     
The arrested fishermen were taken to Kangesanthurai port along with two boats.
     
On December 31, 13 fishermen from this island town were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy for allegedly fishing near Neduntheevu close to the island nation's coast.
     
A total of 89 fishermen from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry had been released by Sri Lankan authorities last year. -- PTI
10:32  3 Indian,7 Nepalese girls held captive in Kenya rescued: Swaraj:  
The government has rescued from Kenya three Indian and seven Nepalese girls, who were victims of an organised crime syndicate that indulged in human trafficking, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said today.
The girls have been flown back, the minister said.
In a series of tweets, Swaraj said, "We have rescued three Indian girls from Kenya. The girls were victims of an organised crime syndicate that indulged in trafficking of girls. Seven Nepalese girls were also rescued. Their Passports and phones were taken and they were held captive in Mombasa."
The ministry is sharing details with the Punjab government so that a case is registered against the agents and people involved, she said.
The minister also appreciated the efforts of Indian High Commissioner in Kenya Suchitra Durai and first secretary Karan Yadav in rescuing the girls.
The minister also thanked the Kenyan Police for their help. -- PTI
09:48  New Infosys CEO to be paid a salary of Rs 16.25 crore plus stock options:  
Infosys CEO Salil Parekh will be paid a fixed salary of Rs 6.5 crores and would be eligible for variable pay of Rs 9.75 crores at the end of the 2018-2019 fiscal year, according to a top company executive.

"Infosys CEO Salil Parekh will be paid a fixed salary of Rs 6.5 crores. He would be eligible for variable pay of Rs 9.75 crores at the end of the fiscal year," independent board member at Infosys Kiran Mazumdar Shaw told PTI.
Former CEO Vishal Sikka earned USD 6.75 million in FY17 much to disliking of Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy.
Wipro CEO Abidali Neemuchwala is getting a bit over USD 2 million.
Shaw, who is part of the Nomination and Remuneration Committee, said Parekh will also receive Rs 3.25 crores in restricted stock units.
"He will also get Rs 13 crores in annual performance equity grants," she said.
Parekh will also get a one-time equity grant of Rs 9.75 crores, Shaw said.
The stock compensation will vest at different points over Parekh's term. He has been appointed for a 5-year term,
Parekh's employment contract also comes with a non-compete clause, Shaw said.
Parekh's contract also specifies the amount he will be paid should he fail to meet minimum performance targets, company said in a postal ballot, Shaw said.
The company said in a postal ballot that Parekh will not work with named competitors for six months from the day he leaves the company.
He will also not work with or for a client to whom he has rendered service for the last 12 months, Infosys said. -- PTI 
09:41  Fodder scam: Lalu Prasad sentencing today:  
A special Central Bureau of Investigation court in Ranchi will pronounce the quantum of punishment to Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad and 15 others today.

The court deferred the matter yesterday due to a condolence meeting held during the day to mourn the death of two lawyers.

The court had on December 23 convicted Lalu Prasad and the other 15 in a fodder scam case, 21 years after it had surfaced.

Six others, including another former chief minister, Jagannath Mishra, were acquitted.

The case pertains to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 89.27 lakh from the Deoghar Treasury between 1991 and 1994. -- PTI
08:56  'He lost his mind': Trump lashes out at Bannon over Russia 'treason' claim:  
United States President Donald Trump has slammed his former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, claiming that he had "lost his mind" after being "fired".
Bannon, 64, was the top manager of the Trump campaign and the White House chief strategist in the first seven months of the Trump administration. He was fired on August 18.
"Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind," Trump said in a statement.
"Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party," he said.
"Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn't as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country," said the President.
Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn't represent my base - he's only in it for himself, Trump said in an stinging attack on his former top advisor.
Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was, Trump alleged.
It is the only thing he does well, he said.
Bannon was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with him and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books, Trump said.
"We have many great Republican members of Congress and candidates who are very supportive of the 'Make America Great Again' agenda. Like me, they love the United States of America and are helping to finally take our country back and build it up, rather than simply seeking to burn it all down," Trump said in a lengthy statement.
Trump's statement came amid a media report about a book in which Bannon has described the Trump Tower meeting between the president's son and a group of Russians during the 2016 election campaign as "treasonous" and "unpatriotic", according to the book seen by the Guardian.
The book written by Michael Wolff gives an insight into the Trump's election campaign. -- PTI
08:29  4 dead in fire at a building in Mumbai's Marol:  
At least four people have died in a fire that broke out at Maimoon residential building in Mumbai's Marol in the early hours of Thursday

The cause of the fire, that broke out around 2 am is yet to be ascertained. 

The blaze was brought under control three hours later around 5 am, police said.

This is the second major fire in Mumbai in a week. 

Last Friday, a major blaze at two eateries in Mumbai's Kamala Mills killed 14 people.
00:07  North Korea reopens cross-border communications with S Korea:  
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reopened a key cross-border communication channel with South Korea for the first time in nearly two years today as the rivals explored the possibility of sitting down and talking after months of acrimony and fears of war.

The sudden signs of easing hostilities, however, came as US President Donald Trump threatened Kim with nuclear war in response to his threat earlier this week.

In his New Year's address on Monday, Kim said he was willing to send a delegation to next month's Winter Olympics in South Korea.

But he also said he has a "nuclear button" on his desk and that all US territory is within striking distance of his nuclear weapons, comments Trump latched onto Tuesday when he boasted of a bigger and more powerful "nuclear button" than Kim's.

The two leaders exchanged crude insults last year, as the North received new UN sanctions over its sixth and most powerful nuclear test explosion and a series of intercontinental ballistic missile launches.

The recent softening of contact between the rival Koreas may show a shared interest in improved ties, but there's no guarantee tensions will ease.

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