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LIVE! Law recognises each community can have own rules: Ex-VP on Sharia courts

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July 12, 2018

23:51  Law recognises each community can have own rules: Ex-VP on Sharia courts:  
Amid opposition over suggestions to set up Sharia courts, former Vice President Hamid Ansari has said that law recognises that each community can have its own rules.
He also said that people are confusing social practices with legal systems.
"People are confusing social practices with legal systems. The legal system is there but our law also recognises that each community can have its own rules. Personal law in India covers four subjects -- marriage, divorce, inheritance and adoption. Each community in India has got the right to practice it as per our law," Ansari told television channel India Today.
Last week, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board had said it plans to open Darul-Qaza (Sharia courts) to resolve issues in line with Islamic laws. However, the proposal has been opposed by the government. -- PTI  
23:41  Extradition request of Zakir Naik under consideration of Malaysia: MEA:  
India today said its request to Malaysia to extradite controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik was under active consideration of that country.
In January, the ministry of external affairs made a formal request to Malaysia to deport Naik, wanted by India for allegedly inciting youngsters for terror activities through his hate speeches.
"At this stage, our extradition request is under consideration of the Malaysian authorities. We do maintain through the ministry and our High Commission in Malaysia regular touch with the Malaysian authorities in this regard," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a press briefing.
He was asked about the status of India's request to Malaysia to extradite Naik. India has an extradition treaty with Malaysia.
Naik is being probed under terror and money laundering charges by the National Investigation Agency. He had left India in July, 2016.
There were also reports of the the Malaysian government giving him land for his studio. Reacting to a question in this regard, Kumar said it was difficult to verify this.
On a question on the status of the Red Corner Notice issued by the Interpol against diamond trader Nirav Modi, wanted for alleged financial irregularities amounting several thousand crores of rupees in Punjab National Bank, Kumar said the ministry has written to all its missions that they should bring it to the notice of the governments of the country concerned and seek their support in the implementation of the notice.
"As far as further action is concerned, we will do whatever our agencies advice us to do," he said.
On Vijay Mallya's extradition from the United Kingdom, Kumar said that hearing for final argument on the matter has been postponed to July 31 by the Westminster magistrate on a request of defence lawyers. -- PTI 
23:15  Hima Das scripts history, becomes first woman to win gold in World Junior Athletics:  
Hima Das today scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman to win a gold at the IAAF World Under-20 Athletics Championships as she clinched to top spot in the women's 400m final race on the third day of competitions in Tampere, Finland.
The 18-year-old Das, a pre-tournament favourite favourite, clocked 51.46s to win the gold. 
She now joins the illustrious company of star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, who won a gold in Poland in the last edition in 2016 in a world record effort. In fact, Das is the first Indian track athlete to have won a medal in the history of this competition.
The previous medal winners at the World Junior Championships were Seema Punia (bronze in discus in 2002) and Navjeet Kaur Dhillon (bronze in discus in 2014).
Das was a favourite to win gold as she is the U-20 season leader in this quarter-mile event. Das clocked an Indian U-20 record of 51.32 seconds to finish sixth in the Commonwealth Games 400m final in Gold Coast in April. 
Since then, she has gone onto improving her timings. She lowered the Indian U-20 record in 400m to 51.13 seconds while winning gold in the recent National Inter State Championships in Guwahati. -- PTI
22:44  It's our 'majboori' to hold talks with parties like RJD, JD-U: Cong's Gehlot :  
Senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot today said it was a "majboori" (compulsion) for the party to hold talks with parties like the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Janata Dal-United for an alliance in Bihar and batted for strengthening the party so that it can win elections on its own.
The RJD hit back saying they were themselves worried about the "bad shape in which the Congress is".
Gehlot, Congress general secretary in-charge of organisation and training, made the remark at a meeting at the Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee headquarters in Patna, where a vociferous demand was made by some leaders, most notably Rajya Sabha MP Akhilesh Singh, that the party insists on a respectable seat-sharing formula in Bihar and not remain content with whatever is left over by Lalu Prasad's RJD.
"All know under what type of circumstances alliances are formed. It has become a 'majboori' (compulsion) for us to hold talks with parties like the RJD or the JD(U). Our Bihar unit has many senior leaders. We should not waste time on quarrels but work to strengthen the party and so that fighting elections on our own and forming our own government become a possibility," Gehlot said.
Breaking away from the grand alliance with the RJD and the Congress last year in Bihar, the JD(U) teamed up with the BJP to head a NDA government in the state.
The Congress had fought with the RJD and the NCP in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in Bihar and bagged two seats.
Reacting to Gehlot's comments, RJD national vice-president Shivanand Tiwary said, "Why only Bihar, the Congress is faced with a similar situation in many other states. In Madhya Pradesh, it is desperately trying to have a truck with Mayawati. In the Lok Sabha, it does not have adequate numbers to get the main opposition party status. We hold the view that the Congress decimation is not good for Indian democracy. But the use of a word like compulsion by a seasoned leader like Gehlot is going to do no good to his workers."
Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi tweeted "After all, the Congress had to give up its dream of bringing back Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to the grand alliance and acknowledge the compulsion to stay on in an alliance with a party mired in corruption. Both RJD and Congress are on the same page when it comes to corruption, dynasty rule and seeking power for amassing wealth instead of serving the poor. Both parties are envious of rapport the ruling JD (U) and BJP share."
State Congress working president Kaukab Qadri, however, sought to downplay Gehlot's comments saying these have been misunderstood.

"He did not at all mean to suggest that we consider the RJD as a liability and not a valuable ally. Just before the meeting at the BPCC headquarters, we had met Lalu Prasad at his residence," he said. -- PTI

Image: Former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot meets with RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav at his residence in Patna on Thursday, July 12, 2018. Photograph: PTI Photo
22:35  Within hours, AI reverses decision to serve only vegetarian 'special meals' to pilots:  
Air India pilots were a ruffled lot on Tuesday after the airline asked its caterers to serve only vegetarian 'special meals' to them but within hours, reversed the decision following a furore, officials said.
An Air India spokesperson said a "typo-error" in the communication sent out to the caterers had created confusion among the pilots.
The national carrier provides meals to its pilots from different kitchens. One set of meals -- both vegetarian and non-vegetarian -- is the same as that served to the passengers and cabin crew members. Another set of meals, generally called 'special meals', is supplied from a different kitchen.
An airline official said two sets of meals from two different kitchens are provided for the pilots in line with international practice to safeguard against the possibility of both commander and co-pilot falling sick in the event of food poisoning.
While both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes are provided under 'special meals', the communication had directed caterers only to serve vegetarian, according to an airline crew.
Within hours of issuing it, the airline withdrew the communication as it had triggered a furore among the pilots, officials said.
The controversy over the communication on July 10 happened at a time when there is a simmering discontent among a section of pilots following the airline's decision to cut down on certain entitlements for them.
In July last year, Air India decided to stop serving non-vegetarian meals to economy class passengers on domestic flights as part of cost cutting measures. -- PTI   
22:14  Days after Bajrangi's murder, another don fears for his safety in UP jail:  
Days after the killing of gangster Munna Bajrangi in Baghpat jail, the family of another jailed don Mukhtar Ansari has expressed concern over his safety.
The don-turned politician's brother Afzal Ansari said he has "virtually no expectation" from the government, suggesting there was no point in demanding more security for Mukhtar Ansari.
"Who is demanding this and from whom? Is there any hope from this government? Afzal Ansari told PTI over the phone today.
"When Mukhtar Ansari attended the UP Assembly he had said there itself (about a possible threat to his life), but the question is from whom should we demand security and with what expectation, he said.
He accused Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath of using terms like "thok diya jayega" (will be shot) in the state assembly and the police of conducting fake encounters.
The law and order situation in the state has deteriorated with rapes and murders being reported on a daily basis, and the police were conducting encounters to divert attention from this, he alleged.
Mukhtar Ansari is in jail since 2005 for his alleged role in the murder of BJP legislator Krishnanand Rai.
Afzal Ansari said it was the government responsibility to ensure the security of anyone in judicial custody
Before Munna Bajrangi's murder, his wife Seema Singh had claimed at a press conference in Lucknow that his life was in danger.
Last year, Adityanath had ordered the transfer of 48 criminals from the jails where they were lodged to other prisons across the state. Bajrangi and Ansari were among them.
Bajrangi was allegedly killed by Sunil Rathi, who is also a gangster and had been in Baghpat jail since July 31 last year, officials said.
Officials today confirmed reports that a child specialist had accompanied Bajrangi during the 12-hour road journey while he was being shifted to Baghpat prison. But they gave no reason for this.
Bajrangi (51) was listed as an accused in 40 criminal cases, including those of murder and extortion.
Baghpat jail is among the two prisons in the state which do not have CCTV cameras. -- PTI
21:41  UK-Ireland style open border best solution for Kashmir: Farooq Abdullah:  
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah has proposed an Ireland-style solution of an open border between the United Kingdom-governed Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic's adjacent territory as the best option to resolve the Kashmir issue.
The National Conference leader, who is in London on a visit, said India and Pakistan must realise that there is no military solution to the problem.
"Like Ireland, the only roadmap forward is two Kashmirs with an easy border and autonomy," he said, during a discussion organised by South Asia Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London yesterday.
"Kashmir can be solved if both these nations, now nuclear powers, realise that whatever solution has to emerge, everybody will not accept it. But at least 70-80 per cent of people of India, Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh should accept it," he said.
The Ireland-style solution refers to the Common Travel Area shared between the UK and neighbouring Ireland, dating back to the 1920s. Under the arrangement, citizens of either country require minimal identity documents to travel through each other's territories. 
At the UK launch of 'The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace', co-authored by former RAW chief A S Dulat and former ISI chief Lt Gen (retd.) Asad Durrani, the Kashmiri leader reiterated that "hard methods" will not win over the hearts of the people in the region.
"Let's stop fooling each other neither side is going to give up any ground. The only way forward is talks," he said, adding that leaders on both sides must work to counter the "vested interests" for whom the region is a "money-spinner" through the sale of guns and ammunition.
Describing Abdullah as "the best foreign minister India never had", Dulat reflected on the book's key tenets, which include working towards a Kashmir which is a "bridge between India and Pakistan".
"Let's hope Kashmir becomes an area of cooperation, rather than conflict," he said.
The former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing and former Special Director of the Intelligence Bureau, also put forward the prospect of greater intelligence cooperation between the two countries as a way forward. -- PTI 
21:00  Serena Williams reaches Wimbledon final:  Serena Williams beats Julia Gorges 6-2, 6-4 to enter women's singles final. She will face Angelique Kerber in the final.
20:51  Returning to Pak 'whether I'm taken to prison or gallows': Sharif:  
A defiant former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has declared that he was leaving behind his ailing wife in London in Allah's protection and returning to Pakistan regardless of whether he was "taken to prison or gallows".
Sharif, who is in London to tend to his ailing wife Kulsoom, is expected to return to Pakistan tomorrow, days after being sentenced to 11 years in prison by an anti-corruption court in the Avenfield properties case, one of the three corruption cases against him following the Panama Papers scandal.
Addressing a news conference alongwith his daughter Maryam Nawaz yesteday, the supremo of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party said that he wished to see his wife opening her eyes again, requesting the nation to pray for her speedy recovery.
He said that he was returning "despite seeing a prison cell in front of him" and was saddened that he was leaving his wife behind on ventilator.
"I am returning to fulfill the promise of giving respect to vote," the 68-year-old three-time premier said.
Sharif said he would not stop now regardless of whether he was "taken to prison or gallows."
Sharif was sentenced to 11 years in prison for corrupt practices linked to his family's purchase of four posh London flats, in a major blow to his PML-Nawaz party ahead of general elections on July 25.
The Sharif family is now facing two more corruption cases in the accountability court Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investments in which they are accused of money laundering, tax evasion and hiding offshore assets.
Commenting on the Avenfield case judgement, Sharif said that it was written in the verdict that he had been absolved of corruption charges. 
"It had to be written in the verdict that no evidence of corruption could be found against me," he said. "Is there any Pakistani whose three generations had to face such sort of accountability?"
Sharif said the Pakistani people once again saw the "real face" of justice. "Having searched in several countries of the world, it had to be written that there was no evidence of corruption [against me]."
He maintained that he respected every institution of Pakistan, noting that he made the country a nuclear-capable state in 1998.
Sharif also took a jibe at former Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and others who said that he will not return from London.
"Those putting me on the Exit Control List should know that I am coming back, there are those who said that I will not be coming back to Pakistan, some said I will be taking political asylum but all of them were wrong, I and Maryam are coming back. This is my message to them that I am not the one who runs away," he said.
Sharif said that former dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who abrogated the constitution of Pakistan twice, remains at large and no one has the power to bring him back.
"I'm coming to pay off the debt of the nation that thrice elected me the prime minister," he said. -- PTI
20:32  There can be no grand alliance before 2019 polls: Yechury:  
Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary Sitaram Yechury today ruled out the possibility of formation of a grand opposition alliance at the national level before 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Yechury said that such a formation can only be made after the results of the Lok Sabha elections are announced.
"It is my feeling that in India it is not possible for any grand alliance (Mahagathbandhan) to be formed before the elections. Because we are country of diversity", he told a press conference.
"This time also you will see the same thing as had happened in 1996 when United Front government was formed and in 2004 when the UPA-1 government was installed," he said. 
Yechury said the people of the country want to get rid of the "anti-people government" at the Center but an "alternative secular democratic government" can be formed after the Lok Sabha poll.
The CPI-M Politburo member said the regional secular forces too will come together after the general election and added that he will not spell out the name of the alternative secular formation.
"It is not just opposition leaders talking about an alliance. It is the demand of their followers and the masses who want this anti-people government to go and that is forcing parties to come together", he said.
When asked whether CPI-M would be part of the alternative secular front, he said "Our party had provided outside support to the central government. We have done that before in 1989, 1996 and 2004".
On whether CPI-M would be a part of an opposition front if Trinamool Congress is included in it, he said, "The TMC and the BJP have a covert understanding and the TMC doesn't have the credibility to fight the BJP".
The slogan of the Left is 'Oust Modi government to save India, oust TMC government to save Bengal', he said adding the Mamata Banerjee party is "solely responsibe for the saffron brigade gaining ground in Bengal".
Referring to Banerjee's announcement of convening a meeting of opposition leaders in Kolkata this year, he said, "Nobody trusts a party which itself has murdered democracy in the state". -- PTI
19:55  Funeral of Indian student killed in US performed at Telangana :  
The funeral of an Indian student who was killed during an attempted robbery in Kansas City in the United States last week, took place at Warangal in Telangana today.
The mortal remains of Sharath Koppu arrived at the Rajiv Gandhi International airport in Hyderabad late last night. 

Former Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and other leaders offered tributes to the slain student at the airport.
The body was taken to Koppu's residence at Kareemabad in Warangal from the airport, police sources said.
Deputy Chief Minister Kadiam Srihari and other leaders paid homage to the departed soul at Warangal.
According to authorities in Kansas,US, Koppu (25) was fatally shot during a suspected incident of robbery at a restaurant where he worked.
He died shortly after being taken to a hospital on Friday.
Kansas City police announced a USD 10,000 reward for information leading to the suspect and released a brief video of the suspect inside the restaurant moments before the shooting. -- PTI  
19:46  Stung by 'disgust' remark, Jayant Sinha dares Rahul Gandhi for debate:  
Union minister Jayant Sinha today challenged Congress president Rahul Gandhi for a debate after the latter criticised him for felicitating eight men convicted of lynching.

Sinha said that the Congress chief's criticism was a personal attack on him. 

"Let him (Rahul) not hide behind his social media handles and practice shoot-and-scoot politics," Sinha said in a statement.

"He  has questioned and criticised my education, my values, and my humanity. I challenge him for a live debate either in Hindi or English," he added.

Earlier, Rahul had supported a petition seeking the removal of Sinha's Harvard alumni status.

"If the sight of a highly educated MP and Central Minister, Jayant Sinha, garlanding and honouring criminals convicted of lynching an innocent man, fills you with disgust, click on the link & support this petition," Rahul said in a tweet on Tuesday as he tagged a link to the petition.

The petition -- urged the President of Harvard University to revoke Sinha's alumni status -- was floated after the minister of civil aviation was seen welcoming a group of eight men who were convicted of a lynching an innocent man by a fast-track court. 

They were later granted bail by Jharkhand high court.
19:34  'PM a paper tiger': Cong slams govt over decline in oil imports from Iran:  
The Congress today slammed the government over the decline in India's oil imports from Iran in June, saying it shows that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a "paper tiger" who has given in to United States pressure.
India's oil imports from Iran showed a decline of over 25 per cent in June, but some shipments loaded last month are expected to arrive this month, government and industry officials had said yesterday.
Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill alleged the reduction in oil import from Iran once again proves that Prime Minister Modi's foreign policy is "confusing and circular".
The prime minister has "once again prioritised" the US' interests over India's national interests when it comes to controlling fuel prices, he told reporters here.
The reduction in import of oil from Iran will directly squeeze the pockets of the common man, reduce the supply, increase the fuel prices and bloat the current account deficit, he claimed.
"As far as oil goes, the Indian Government has a unique policy that profit is mine and loss is yours," Shergill said.
After scaling to around 770,000 barrels per day in May, imports from Iran were down to 570,000 bpd in June, as India considers acquiescing to US President Donald Trump's demands for ending oil imports from Iran by November 4.
Officials had said that the actual shipment reaching Indian shores has shown a decline but some of the oil that was loaded in June arrived this month and has not been accounted for in the June numbers.
Hitting out at the government for the decline, Shergill said the prime minister should clarify why when it comes to oil, "the Indian government is always at a win-win position and the Indian consumer is always at a loss-loss position".
"India is in a unique situation that instead of providing a healing touch to the Indian consumer due to falling international prices (of oil), the Indian Government provides a 'stealing touch' to the Indian citizens," he said.
"The reduction in import of oil from Iran, shows that PM Modi is a paper tiger who has crumbled and given in to the pressure of US," Shergill said.
He stressed that the UPA Government under Manmohan Singh had "balanced the interests" between Iran and the US, protected consumer interest, and stood up against America, while Prime Minister Modi has "buckled under" the US pressure. -- PTI
19:03  Law should be allowed to take its own course in Missionaries of Charity case:  
CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury today said that law should be allowed to take its own course in the case of alleged child racket by
Missionaries of Charity.

There should not, however, be any harassment of the nuns or prosecution before the charge is proved, he said.

"Mother Teresa's (Missionaries of Charity) is a renowned and respected organisation. Despite our differences, we have the highest respect for them. It (the charge) is unbelievable. Let the law take its own course," he told a
press conference.

"But there should not be any harassment of the nuns or prosecution just on the basis of heresay. Let the matter be investigated," Yechury said.

A sister of the religious order and a woman staffer of 'Nirmal Hriday', a shelter home run by it, in Ranchi last week for allegedly selling a child born to a minor inmate to a couple from Uttar Pradesh.

-- PTI
18:42  Trump arrives in London on his maiden visit to UK:  
US President Donald Trump arrived in London today on his maiden visit to the UK during which he will hold bilateral talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May over closer post-Brexit ties, amid mass protests planned around Britain against his controversial policies.

Protests are expected against Trump, whose policies - including a travel ban on a number of predominantly Muslim countries, the detention of child migrants on the US-Mexico border and the imposition of tariffs on EU steel and aluminium exports - have all been criticised by the UK.

Trump and US First Lady Melania Trump touched down in their Air Force One at Stansted Airport in the east of England from the NATO summit in Brussels.

Trump's visit to the UK, the 12th US President to make such a tour, comes amid what he described as "turmoil" for the UK government, as Prime Minister May faces down rebellion from within her own party over her Brexit strategy.

Earlier this week, Trump said it was "up to the people" whether the prime minister stayed on after two senior Cabinet ministers resigned within hours over her Brexit policy. The visit is seen as crucial at setting the course for a closer trading relationship between the two countries. 

-- PTI
18:28  Retail inflation at five month high of 5 pc in June:  
Retail inflation rose to 5 per cent in June, a five-month high, despite easing food prices, government data showed today.
The retail inflation based on Consumer Price Index was 4.87 per cent in May. It was 1.46 per cent in June 2017.

The earlier high was in January this year at 5.07 per cent.

As per the data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the inflation in the food basket was 2.91 per cent, compared to 3.1 per cent in May.

The inflation in fuel and light category, however, went up to 7.14 per cent as against 5.8 per cent in May.

The government has mandated the Reserve Bank to keep inflation at 4 per cent, with a margin of 2 per cent on either side.
The RBI Governor headed Monetary Policy Committee will be meeting later this month to review interest rate regime.

-- PTI
18:02  Cong asks leader to choose words carefully after Tharoor's 'Hindu-Pak' remark:  
The Congress today disapproved of remarks by its MP Shashi Tharoor that if the BJP is voted to power, it will pave the way for creation of a "Hindu Pakistan", and cautioned its leaders to choose words carefully while rejecting the saffron party's "hatred".
Tharoor kicked up a huge row with his remarks yesterday that if voted to power again, the BJP will rewrite the Constitution and pave the way for creation of a "Hindu Pakistan".

Congress' communication in-charge Randeep Surjewala, in a series of tweets, said, "India's values and fundamentals are an unequivocal guarantee of our civilisational role & set us apart from the divisive idea of Pakistan."

"All Congress leaders must realise this historic responsibility bestowed upon us while choosing words and phraseology to reject BJP's hatred," he said.

Surjewala attacked the Modi government, alleging that it thrives upon "an unprecedented atmosphere of division, bigotry, hatred, intolerance and polarisation" for the last four years.

He asserted that the Congress represents India's civilisational values of pluralism, diversity, compassion and  harmony between faiths and ethnicities.
Responding to a question, Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill told reporters that irrespective of the government that comes to power, Indian democracy will never allow the country to become Pakistan.

"Congress advises each of its leaders and workers to exercise restraint, caution and choose their words and statements wisely. And remember that the Indian National Congress stands for a pluralistic multi-cultural, multi-faith society," Shergill said.

"Every worker of the Congress should not be provoked by the BJP's polarising and dividing statements and that is the basic difference between us and them," he said.

The BJP today demanded an apology from Congress president Rahul Gandhi over Tharoor's remarks and said the MP had insulted India's democracy and Hindus.

"It is an abuse and highly objectionable statement to compare the world's sixth largest economy with Pakistan. It is an insult to our democracy and Hindus," BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said at a press conference at the party office.

Tharoor, the Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram, who made the remarks yesterday, today said in a Facebook post that a state with a dominant majority religion that seeks to put its minorities in a subordinate place would be a Hindu Pakistan. 

-- PTI
17:39  Ansari stays away from Tharoor controversy:  
Former vice president Hamid Ansari on Thursday chose to stay away from the controversy surrounding Congress leader Shashi Tharoor's 'Hindu Pakistan' remark.

Speaking to ANI, Ansari said, "I haven't read what Shashi Tharoor has said. But he is a well-educated man, a writer, Member of Parliament (MP) and the Chairman of the external affairs committee of the Parliament. He makes thoughtful considerations.."

Earlier, Tharoor had said that if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wins 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it will create a condition leading to the formation of a 'Hindu Pakistan'.

Addressing an event in Thiruvananthapuram, Tharoor further stated that the BJP will write a new Constitution which will pave the way for a nation, much like Pakistan, where rights of minorities are not respected.

"If they (BJP) win a repeat in the Lok Sabha our democratic constitution as we understand it will not survive as they will have all the elements they need to tear apart the constitution of India and write a new one," he said.

-- ANI
17:16  FIFA slams broadcasters zooming in on 'hot women' during World Cup:  
FIFA wants to crack down on broadcasters picking out "hot women" in the crowd at games as part of its efforts to tackle sexism in football.

Pre-tournament concerns that Russia 2018 would be tarnished by homophobia and racism have not materialised but sexism has been an issue.

The anti-discrimination group Fare Network has been working with FIFA to monitor behaviour at and around World Cup games and its executive director Piara Powar said sexism had been the biggest problem at Russia 2018.

Powar said his team have "documented more than 30 cases" of mainly Russian women being "accosted in the streets" by male fans but believes the real number of incidents is likely to be "10 times this".

He also said there have been several cases of female reporters being grabbed or kissed whilst on air.

He also said FIFA has told its broadcast service to stop zooming in on "hot women" in the crowd and has been monitoring what the various national rights-holders have been doing, too.
16:55  Obama 'best' US president, says Pew survey:  
Former US president Barack Obama may no longer be in the Oval Office, but a majority (44 per cent) of Americans believe he was the best president in their lifetime, according to a Pew Research Center survey which puts current President Donald Trump at the fourth position.
Obama, who served two terms as president, was chosen by  more than four-in-ten (44 per cent) of the respondents as the best or second-best president of their lifetime, usurping  Bill Clinton (33 per cent) and Ronald Reagan (32 per cent).

Not yet halfway through his first term, 19 per cent believed Trump had done the best or second-best job as president, the survey noted.

The percentage, however, is comparable to Obama's during his first term in 2011, with only 20 per cent viewing him as one of the best presidents, it said.

The survey was conducted between June 5-12 among 2,002 adults and asked people in an open-ended format which president had done the best job in their lifetimes. The analysis is based on their first and second choices.
Obama was rated the best president with 31 per cent and second choice by 13 per cent, giving him a grand total of 44 per cent.
A total of 10 per cent of respondents said Trump was the best president of their lifetime, followed by 9 per cent of people who said he was their runner-up, bringing him to 19 per cent.

-- PTI
16:38  RSS-affiliated weekly tears into 'Sanju':  
The RSS-affiliated weekly Panchajanya is the latest to hit out at Ranbir Kapoor-starrer Sanju, saying the biopic on Sanjay Dutts life glorifies the underworld and the actors vices.

Comparing the Hindi film industry with Hollywood, the editorial said, How ironical it is, on one hand Hollywood has made films like The Man Who Knew Infinity based on Ramanujan, and on the other hand Bollywood celebrates underworld.

It also brought up Dutts conviction under the Arms Act, his arrest following the 1993 Mumbai blasts and his strenuous equation with his daughter from his first marriage. 
16:08  BJP targeting Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity: Mamata:  
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of targeting the Mother Teresa-founded Missionaries of Charity and maligning it.

Banerjee's accusation of the BJP followed the arrests of a sister of the religious order and a woman staffer of Nirmal Hriday, a shelter home run by it, in Ranchi last week for allegedly selling a child born to a minor inmate to a couple from Uttar Pradesh.

'Mother Teresa herself set up Missionaries of Charity. And now they are also not being spared. Malicious attempts to malign their name. The Sisters are being targeted. #BJP want to spare no one. Highly condemnable. Let MOC continue to do their work for the poorest of the poor (sic),' she tweeted.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das has ordered a probe by the Jharkhand State Child Protection Commission into the alleged selling of a baby by the staff of the shelter home.

Police yesterday rescued one more child, also allegedly sold by the Ranchi shelter home, from Jharkhand's Simdega district taking the total number of rescued children to three.

"Of the four children allegedly sold (by the shelter home), the third child was rescued today from Simdega. A few people have been detained for questioning in this regard," Ranchi Senior Superintendent of Police Anis Gupta earlier said.

He said search for the fourth child was on.

The chairperson of Ranchi unit of Child Welfare Committee, Rupa Verma, had filed a complaint against Nirmal Hriday staffer Anima Indwar for allegedly selling an infant boy to the couple from UP.

Nirmal Hriday provides shelter to girls rescued through the CWC. Following this, the CWC shifted 22 children from Nirmal Hriday and Shishu Niketan, also run by the order.

The shelter home was also sealed. The Missionaries of Charity headquarters in Kolkata had issued a statement last week, saying it would take necessary action to find out the truth.

"We are shocked at such news, which totally goes against the value and ethics espoused by the Missionaries of Charity (MOC), the nuns and its founder. The MoC is looking into the allegations against the accused employees in Jharkhand with all seriousness," Sunita Kumar, a spokesperson of the foundation, had said.

Kumar had also said that the Missionaries of Charity had stopped putting up children for adoption three years ago.  -- PTI
15:38  HC to hear on July 16 plea against Netflix series Sacred Games:  
The Delhi high court today said it will hear on July 16 a plea seeking removal of certain scenes from the Netflix series Sacred Games, claiming that some of its content was derogatory to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

The matter came up before a bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar which said it will go through the petition and CD and listed it for Monday.

The plea, which alleged that certain scenes and dialogues in the show defamed the late Congress leader, yesterday came up before a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar, which said it be listed before another bench.

The acting chief justice had recused from hearing it without assigning any reason.

Petitioner advocate Nikhil Bhalla, in the petition filed through advocate Shashank Garg, contended that the show, starring Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, 'incorrectly depicts historical events of the country like Bofors case, Shah Bano case, Babri Masjid case and communal riots'.

The plea has sought directions to Netflix Entertainment, the show's producer -- Phantom Films Production Ltd -- and the Centre to ensure 'in toto' removal of the allegedly offensive scenes and derogatory remarks made directly or indirectly against the former prime minister or his family.

The first season of the show, comprising eight episodes, was released on July 6 and is available in 190 countries in four languages, the petition has said.  -- PTI
15:26  100 NDRF teams deployed in 71 locations across country to deal with floods:  
Nearly 100 teams comprising about 4,500 personnel of the National Disaster Response Force have been deployed in 71 locations across the country to deal with floods and heavy rains.

Additional teams are also on standby in all NDRF battalions and will be mobilised as per demand.

The NDRF has deployed 97 teams at 71 locations in at least 14 states across the country for rescue and relief operations of flood affected people, a home ministry official said.

A team of NDRF comprises 45 personnel. The force is in constant touch with the India Metrological Department (IMD), the Central Water Commission (CWC) and other agencies.

Battalion commanders are in touch with state authorities to render all possible assistance in time of crisis, the official said.

A 24x7, NDRF control room in Delhi is closely monitoring the situation round-the-clock.

The disaster emergency force is fully geared up to face any eventuality arising due to floods and has mobilised its resources at vulnerable locations across the country.

To mitigate the impact of the disasters which may be triggered due to heavy rains during the monsoon season, the NDRF has deployed its rescue and relief teams in vulnerable areas across the country, the official said.

The deployment has been made with keeping in view the vulnerability profile and in consultation with the state and local administration.

Meanwhile, NDRF teams have evacuated 68 people from Manikpur and 411 from Nalasopara, Palghar in Maharashtra to safer places, another official said. Water level had risen in low lying areas in Palghar due to incessant rains. -- PTI
15:03  If BJP doesn't believe in Hindu Rashtra, it should say so: Tharoor:  
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Bharatiya Janata Party's reaction to his 'Hindu Pakistan' remark.

Saying that his comments were 'bizarrely misconstrued', he offered 'a short explanation of what the term means'.

'I have said this before and I will say it again. Pakistan was created as a state with a dominant religion, that discriminates against its minorities and denies them equal rights.

'India never accepted the logic that had partitioned the country. But the BJP/RSS idea of a Hindu Rashtra is the mirror image of Pakistan -- a state with a dominant majority religion that seeks to put its minorities in a subordinate place.

'That would be a Hindu Pakistan, and it is not what our freedom movement fought for, nor the idea of India enshrined in our Constitution, Tharoor wrote on Facebook.

'Many proud Hindus like myself cherish the inclusive nature of our faith and have no desire to live, as our Pakistani neighbours are forced to, in an intolerant theocratic state. We want to preserve India and not turn our beloved country into a Hindu version of Pakistan,' he wrote.

Hitting back at the BJP, he said if the party 'does not believe in Hindu Rashtra concept then they should say it on record that we do not believe in a Hindu Rashtra but in a secular republic. This would end the debate'.   -- with ANI inputs
14:45  Tharoor needs medical help: Swamy:  
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy on Thursday opined that Prime Minister Narendra Modi must check if Congress leader Shashi Tharoor needs 'medical help'.

"The prime minister should take pity on Mr Tharoor, find out whether he needs medical help, and send him to a mental hospital if needed," he told ANI.

Swamy's suggestion came a day after Tharoor's said India would become a 'Hindu Pakistan' if BJP is re-elected in 2019.

"I don't know if he overdosed on something. His comments clearly exhibit frustration. What is the definition of Hindu Pakistan? What does he mean? Is he against Pakistan? He appeases Pakistanis so much and asks Pakistan prime minister to help remove Prime Minister Modi from power. He has also got Pakistani girlfriends. They are ISI people," he added.

The senior BJP leader further sought the Congress' stance on Tharoor's remark.

"They (Congress) spoke about Hindu terror earlier, but that turned out to be a fiasco. The Congress leadership should disown it (Tharoor's comments), otherwise it'll mean they are in a state of frustration," he explained.

Addressing an event in Thiruvananthapuram, Tharoor, on Wednesday, stated that the BJP will write a new Constitution, which will pave the way for a nation, much like Pakistan, where rights of minorities are not respected.

He said that if re-elected, the BJP will 'tear apart' the Constitution and will write a new one 'which will enshrine principles of Hindu Rashtra, that will remove equality for minorities and create a Hindu Pakistan'.   -- ANI
14:41  Kejriwal visits school where KG kids were confined for not paying fee:  
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia today visited the school where 16 kindergarten students were allegedly confined in the basement for non-payment of fee.

Kejriwal said they interacted with the principal of Rabia Public School, Naheed Usmani, and warned her that this kind of treatment towards children would not be tolerated and the Delhi government and the police will take action.

He said an inquiry would be conducted into the matter.

Kejriwal and Sisodia also interacted with students and teachers there. They were accompanied by Environment Minister Imran Hussain, the MLA from Ballimaran constituency under which the school comes.

Kejriwal yesterday sought a report from the education department about the alleged confinement of the students in the basement of the school for non-payment of fee.

The matter came to light after police was informed by some parents that 16 children were confined in the basement by their teachers between 7 am to 12 noon in central Delhi's Hauz Qazi area.

A case was registered against the school authorities, police said, adding that they were looking for the person responsible for the incident.  -- PTI

Photograph: Courtesy @AamAadmiParty/Twitter
13:47  Thai cave rescue site to become a museum:  
Rescuers who pulled a young Thai football team from deep inside a flooded cave were dismantling their worksite today, as plans emerged to turn the spot into a museum in tribute to the daring operation.

Rescue chief Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters the site would ultimately be converted into a museum showcasing the clothes and equipment used during the dramatic rescue.

"I believe it will become another highlight in Thailand," he said. "Tourists will come visit."

The rescue of the 'Wild Boars' team was still being celebrated in Thailand as the 12 boys and their 25-year-old coach recovered in a local hospital.

The Nation newspaper called the operation a 'Triumph of global cooperation' on its front page on Thursday while the Bangkok Post published a collage of images of those involved under the heading 'You Are Heroes'.    -- Agencies
13:28  Kerala sexual abuse case: Priest surrenders:  
One of the three Malankara Syrian Orthodox priests, accused of sexually abusing a woman, today surrendered before the police in Kollam.

Father Job Mathew, the second accused in the case, surrendered before the Crime Branch office here and is being questioned, police sources said.

The surrender comes a day after the Kerala high court dismissed anticipatory bail pleas of three priests, observing they acted as 'predators' and took 'undue advantage' of the woman.

The priests-- Abraham Varghese alias Sony, Job Mathew and Jaise K George had approached the court soon after the Crime Branch of Kerala Police slapped rape charges against four of the five church priests.

The crime branch has registered an FIR against the priests after recording the victim's statement.

Last month, the woman's husband had accused the five priests of using his wife's confession to 'blackmail' and 'sexually abuse' her.

The incident had come to light after an audio clip containing the man's purported conversation with a church official alleging sexual abuse of his wife by the priests was widely circulated on social media.

Veteran Communist Party of India-Marxist leader and chairman of Kerala Administrative Reforms Commission V S Achuthanandan and the National Commission for Women had written to State Director General of Police Loknath Behara, demanding a probe into the charges.  -- PTI
13:10  Two IndiGo planes avert mid-air collision over Bengaluru:  
Nearly 330 passengers had a narrow escape after two IndiGo planes averted a mid-air collision over the Bengaluru airspace on Tuesday, prompting authorities to launch a probe into the incident, industry sources said.

The aircraft involved in the incident were operating on Coimbatore-Hyderabad and Bangalore-Cochin routes.

An IndiGo spokesperson confirmed the incident.

The Hyderabad-bound plane had 162 passengers while the other aircraft was carrying 166 passengers.

Sources told PTI that the vertical separation between the two aircraft was only about 200 feet and a mid-air collision was averted after the Traffic Collision Avoidance System alarms went off.

Sources said Aircraft Accident Investigation Board has started an investigation into the incident that happened on July 10.

"The TCAS-Resolution Advisory system was triggered on two of our aircraft operating Coimbatore-Hyderabad and Bangalore-Cochin routes, respectively, on July 10, 2018.

"Following normal procedure this has been reported to the regulator," the airline spokesperson said in a statement.   -- PTI

Image only for representation.
12:41  Sharif, daughter will be taken to jail in copters on reaching Pak:  
The National Accountability Bureau has made arrangements to transport former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam to the Adiala jail upon their arrival at the Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore on Friday.

According to Geo News, the Cabinet Division allocated two helicopters to the NAB for Friday, the day on which the father-daughter duo is slated to be arrested upon their landing at the Lahore Airport.

Nawaz and Maryam will then be directly transported to the Adiala jail in Rawalpindi.

As many as 22 NAB officials and around 100 elite commandos will be presented at the airport to oversee the transport, as reported by Dunya TV.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has made preparations of their own to welcome the former premier and his daughter.

According to Geo News, the party has organised a rally which will be led by PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and will begin from the Muslim Masjid in Lohari Gate after Friday prayers.

Other senior party leaders, including Hamza Shehbaz, will also join the rally.

The party has also arranged a bulletproof vehicle to transport senior leaders to the Lahore airport.   -- ANI
12:27  LGBT community lives in fear due to societal pressure: SC on Sec 377:  
Hearing on pleas against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code continues in the Supreme Court:

Justice Indu Malhotra says, "LGBT community feels inhibited to go for medical aid due to prejudices involved against them."

"...because of family and societal pressures, they (LGBT community) are forced to marry the opposite sex and it leads to bi-sexuality and mental trauma," she said.

Justice D Y Chandrachud says, "There is deep rooted trauma involved in the society, which forces the LGBT community to be in fear."  -- ANI
12:07  Financial independence must for women empowerment: Modi:  
Financially empowered women are a 'bulwark against societal evils', Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said while interacting with more than one crore women associated with various self-help groups across the country.

"For women empowerment financial independence is necessary. Women are enterprising, they don't need to be taught, only need to be given opportunities to perform," he said during the interaction through the 'Narendra Modi Mobile App.

Underlining the importance of women empowerment especially in rural areas for overall development of the society, Modi said women in the country have huge potential in them and need to realise their capabilities.

"Financial independence makes a woman assertive and empowered. Financially empowered women are a bulwark against societal evils," he said.

The prime minister appreciated the role of women self help groups in development of rural areas.

Since 2014 the government has created 20 lakh self-help groups on priority, and over 2.25 crore families have been brought into their fold, he said.

"So far 45 lakh women self help groups have been created with 5 crore active women participants... in fact these groups have added one more earning member in these five crore families in rural areas," he said.

Modi also noted that agriculture and animal husbandry sectors, which are vital for rural economy cannot run without the participation of women.

During the interaction, women also shared their inspiring and touching stories and how the self-help groups have helped them improve their lives.

Modi said women self help groups are laying the foundation of financial prosperity in rural areas and added that women in the country have potential to transform the society.  -- PTI
11:27  Spiritual leader Dada Vaswani dead:  
Spiritual leader Dada J P Vaswani, head of the Sadhu Vaswani Mission, died today due to old age- related ailments, a mission member said.

He was 99.

"He had been admitted to a private hospital in the city (Pune) for the past a few days and was discharged last night," the mission member said.

Vaswami died in the mission premises this morning, she said.

The mission was planning a big celebration on his 100th birthday next month, she added.

Born on August 2, 1918 in Pakistan's Hyderabad city in a Sindhi family, Dada Vaswani, as he was popularly known, was the head of the Pune-based Sadhu Vaswani Mission, a non-profit organisation involved in social work and charity.

The organisation runs educational institutions and hospitals in the city.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had addressed the spiritual leader's 99th birthday celebrations last year through a video link.

Modi had then said Vaswani's blessings will help in accomplishing goals for a new India.

In May this year, President Ram Nath Kovind had a visit to the mission to inaugurate the Sadhu Vaswani International School.

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Lal Krishna Advani is a frequent visitor to the mission.

Acclaimed as a humanitarian, philosopher, educator, orator and non-sectarian spiritual leader, Dada Vaswani had captivated the hearts of millions of people worldwide.

He was also into promoting vegetarianism.

His regular discourses at the mission premises attracted people from different walks of life.

Vaswani was a brilliant student, but he later gave up a career in academics to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious uncle and guru, Sadhu T L Vaswani, who had set up the charity organisation.

His mortal remains have been kept at the mission to enable people to pay their last respects.  -- PTI
11:02  Shah meets Nitish over breakfast, seat sharing talks likely:  
M I Khan reports from Patna:

Bharatiya Janata Party president Amish Shah meets Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over breakfast in Patna on Thursday.

Shah arrived in Patna earlier on Thursday. He was given a grand welcome by hundreds of party workers at the airport.

He was received by senior BJP leaders including Union Ministers from Bihar, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi and several party workers, who thronged the Patna airport with garlands to welcome him.

Soon after his arrival, Shah, along with senior party leaders, went to the state guest house near Raj Bhawan to have breakfast with Nitish Kumar and other senior Janata Dal-United leaders.

Shah will also meet Kumar at a dinner tonight.

Shah is in Patna to discuss strategy of 2019 Lok Sabha polls with party leaders and workers.

But, all eyes are on his meeting with Kumar in view of a likely discussion on seat sharing for 2019 polls.
10:52  Kerala CPM to hold Ramayan seminars, RSS outfit to recite Quran at Saryu:  The Kerala unit of the Communist Party of India-Marxist plans to conduct seminars and lectures as part of the 'Ramayana observance month', to explain the social moorings of the Ramayana. The party will also hold meetings with various temple committee members to prevent the "Bharatiya Janata Party taking control of temple trusts'.   

Meanwhile, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is trying to push its version of Islam in Ayodhya. The Rashtriya Muslim Manch, affiliated to the RSS, will offer namaz and organise recitation of the Quran on the banks of Saryu river, not far from the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi site. The Rashtriya Muslim Manch workers will perform ablution with Saryu river's water before offering namaz.   

-- Business Standard
10:18  Shah reaches Bihar, to meet Nitish today:  
Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah has arrived in Patna.

He will meet Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

The meeting comes in the backdrop of reports of fissures between the two allies.

However, at it's National Executive Meeting last week, the Janata Dal-United had made it clear that it will not snap ties with the BJP and will remain a part of the National Democratic Alliance.   -- with ANI inputs
10:13  13 Amarnath pilgrims injured in accident:  
Thirteen Amarnath pilgrims were injured when their vehicle rammed into a stationary truck on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway in Jammu today, a police official said.

The pilgrims were part of a convoy carrying a fresh batch of 3,419 pilgrims including 680 women and 201 sadhus from the Bhagwati Nagar base camp in Jammu to Kashmir to undertake the annual pilgrimage, the official said.

He said the accident occurred near Dherma bridge in Mallard area of Udhampur district, about 70 km from Jammu, around 5.30 am when the driver of the tempo lost control and hit the parked truck.

Thirteen pilgrims travelling in the vehicle were injured and admitted to a district hospital in Udhampur, the official said.

He said the condition of three of the injured pilgrims was stated to be 'serious' and they are being taken to the Government Medical College Hospital in Jammu.

While 10 of the injured pilgrims are residents of Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh, three others are from Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, the official said.

Amid tight security, the fresh batch of pilgrims had left in a fleet of vehicles from Jammu for the twin base camps of Baltal in Ganderbal and Pahalgam in Anantnag district in the early hours today to pay obeisance at the 3,880 metre high cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas.

Of them, 2,217 pilgrims opted for the traditional 36-km Pahalgam track, while 1,202 others are performing the yatra through the 12-km Baltal route, the official said.  -- PTI

Image only for representation.
09:33  Sensex hits all-time high in opening trade:  Just In: BSE Sensex surges 211.07 pts to hit all-time high of 36,477; Nifty breaches 11,000-mark, in opening trade.
09:17  Body of Indian student killed in Kansas arrives in Hyderabad:  
The body of Sharath Koppu, an Indian student who was killed during an attempted robbery in Kansas City in the United States last week, arrived in Hyderabad on Wednesday night.

The body arrived at the Rajiv Gandhi International airport and former Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya was among those who paid homage to the departed soul.

According to authorities in Kansas, Koppu, 25, hailing from Telangana, was fatally shot during a suspected incident of robbery at a restaurant where he worked.

He died shortly after being taken to a hospital on Friday.

Kansas City police announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the suspect and released a brief video of the suspect inside the restaurant moments before the shooting.  -- PTI
09:15  British MP denied entry into India on arrival:  
British parliamentarian Lord Alexander Carlile was on Wednesday denied entry into India on his arrival in New Delhi for not having appropriate Indian visa, the Ministry of External Affairs said.

MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said Carlile's intended activity in India was incompatible with the purpose of his visit as mentioned in his visa application.

Kumar said he arrived in New Delhi today without having obtained the appropriate Indian visa.

"His intended activity in India was incompatible with the purpose of his visit as mentioned in his visa application. It was, therefore, decided to deny him entry into India upon arrival," he said responding to a query.  -- PTI
08:17  India will become a 'Hindu Pakistan' if BJP wins 2019: Tharoor:  
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday said that if Bharatiya Janata Party wins 2019 Lok Sabha elections it will create a condition leading to the formation of a 'Hindu Pakistan'.

Addressing an event in Thiruvananthapuram, Tharoor further stated that the BJP will write a new Constitution which will pave the way for a nation, much like Pakistan, where rights of minorities are not respected.

"If they (the BJP) win a repeat in the Lok Sabha our democratic constitution as we understand it will not survive as they will have all the elements they need to tear apart the constitution of India and write a new one," he added.

"That new one will be the one which will enshrine principles of Hindu Rashtra, that will remove equality for minorities, that'll create a Hindu Pakistan and that isn't what Mahatama Gandhi, Nehru, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad and great heroes of freedom struggle fought for," he added.

Meanwhile, criticising Tharoor's statement, the BJP demanded Congress president Rahul Gandhi's apology.

Speaking to ANI, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said, "Rahul Gandhi must apologise for what Shashi Tharoor said. Congress was responsible for creation of Pakistan because of its ambitions yet again it has gone ahead to demean India and defame Hindus of India."

Patra also took to Twitter and said that the Congress doesn't lose any opportunity to demean India and defame Hindus.   -- ANI
00:15  Nitish Kumar eases liquor laws:  
The Bihar cabinet on Wednesday approved amendments to the state's stringent prohibition law, proposing a reduction in the quantum of sentence for those held guilty of violating the law.
Principal Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat department, Arun Kumar Singh said that at a meeting of the state cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, a nod has been given for the proposed amendments to be tabled in the monsoon session of the state legislature scheduled later this month.
He, however, expressed his inability to divulge the contents of the proposed amendment bill.
The state's Advocate General Lalit Kishor later told a news channel, "the proposed amendments include a reduction in the quantum of punishment awarded to those involved in sale and manufacture of liquor as well as those consuming alcohol, including first time offenders". 
"Earlier, both the owner and the occupant of a property or vehicle from where liquor was seized were liable to be punished. The amendments propose shifting the onus primarily on the occupant", he said. 

"Once these amendments come into force, these will be applicable to new as well as pending cases. In other words, those arrested under the old, stringent law may also avail of the relief granted under the amendments," the advocate general said.
Ban on sale and consumption of liquor was introduced in Bihar by the Nitish Kumar government in April, 2016.
Kumar had taken the radical step, which has cost the state exchequer about Rs 5,000 crore annually, in keeping with the promise he had made to women voters during the assembly polls of 2015.
The prohibition law has, however, been termed as draconian by opposition parties.
The chief minister himself has of late been admitting that there were complaints of misuse of its stringent provisions and assuring that suitable amendments would be brought in.
The monsoon session of the state's bicameral legislature is scheduled to begin on July 20. -- PTI

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