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LIVE! Pak attempting to 'mainstream' Saeed's acivities: India

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March 09, 2018


23:31  Pak attempting to 'mainstream' Saeed's acivities: India :  
India today termed as "very shocking" a Pakistani court's order to the country's election commission to hear the case of Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed's political party for registration and said it was an attempt to "mainstream" his activities.
 
Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar also said that the order "exposes Pakistan's duplicity" in taking action against terrorists and terror groups operating out of its soil.
 
Yesterday, the Islamabad high court set aside a decision by the Election Commission of Pakistan to reject the application of Jamaat-ud-Dawah's political front Milli Muslim League for registration as a political party.
 
It sent the case back to the ECP asking it to proceed further on the application by giving the party an opportunity of hearing.
 
Responding to a question on the issue, Kumar said, "It seems, this is an attempt by Pakistani establishment to mainstream him, his system as a political party. And this is a way of shielding the activities he earlier indulged in."
"It is a very shocking development which completely exposes Pakistan's duplicity in taking action against terrorists and terror groups  operating out of Pakistani soil," he said.
 
He said that Saeed is a UN proscribed terrorist and the prime organiser of the Mumbai terror attack, who has has "blood on his hand of not only several innocent Indian citizens but also from any other countries across the world".
Last month, a decision was taken at a plenary session of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international task force mandated to combat terror funding and money laundering, to put Pakistan in the grey list.
 
It will be placed in the grey list in June.
 
Kumar said Pakistan is mandated under the UN law to take action against Saeed.
 
"I think, the true face of Hafiz Saeed and true face of Pakistan is for all to see. Not only India but also the international community feels that the action which should be taken against Hafiz Saeed has not been taken," he said. -- PTI
23:29  Former Maharashtra minister and senior Congress leader Patangrao Kadam dies at a Mumbai hospital, PTI says quoting family sources.
23:23  Will go on hunger strike if sealing issue not resolved by March 31: Kejriwal:  Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today threatened that he would go on hunger strike if the issue of the ongoing sealing drive against commercial establishments in the national capital is not resolved by the end of this month. 

Kejriwal said that he would meet Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri over the issue and also write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow, and request him to take immediate steps in this regard. 

Meeting the traders in Amar Colony against whom police had yesterday allegedly used force while they were protesting against sealing, he demanded that the Centre bring an ordinance to stop the drive. 

"If there is no solution to the sealing drive by March 31, I will sit on hunger strike. We will put pressure on the Centre together," the chief minister told the traders. 

The Delhi Assembly will pass a resolution over the issue in its budget session, slated to begin from March 16, and send it to the Centre for bringing the ordinance, he said, adding AAP MPs would hold consultations with parliamentarians of other parties to raise the issue in both the houses of parliament. 

"If MPs of all parties unite and stall parliament for two days, I believe sealing will stop within 24 hours. Sealing is going on all over Delhi and, traders, whether close to the BJP, Congress or AAP, are being affected. It is not an issue of a single party," Kejriwal said.  -- PTI
22:58  Trump threatens to impose "reciprocal tax" on India, China:  
United States President Donald Trump today threatened to impose "reciprocal tax" on countries like China and India if they do not match America's tariff.
Trump has, in recent days, spoken a number of times about the 50 per cent duty that India levies on high-end motorbikes that Harley-Davidson, an American company, sells in India. He has repeatedly insisted that the US  levies "zero" duty -- or "nothing" -- on motorbikes imported from India.
"We're going to be doing a reciprocal tax programme, at some point so that if China is going to charge us 25 per cent or if India is going to charge us 75 per cent and we charge them nothing," he said as he imposed a 25 per cent tariff on steel and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminium from all countries except Canada and Mexico.
"They are 50, they are 75 or they are 25, we are going to be doing the same numbers. It's called reciprocal. It's a mirror of tags. So they charge us 50, we would charge them 50," Trump said.
The US President said the stage for the imposition of reciprocal tax has been set in the first year of his administration.
He said American companies had not been treated fairly by other countries.
Referring to a tweet by Tesla chief Elan Musk, Trump said China charges 25 per cent duty on American cars whereas it is just 2.5 per cent on import of Chinese cars into the US.
Trump said the "reciprocal tax" programme would ensure "fair trade deals" for the US.
The US president mentioned China several times as he signed two proclamations to impose import duties on steel and aluminium.
"China says it's got two per cent, but it sends much more. We're going to have a great relationship, hopefully, with China, but we have to do something. We're losing with China USD 500 billion a year. We have to do something," Trump told reporters during the signing ceremony. -- PTI
22:32  Handshakes and hugs :  Macron begins his India visit with handshakes and hugs from PM Modi.
22:30  French Prez arrives in India, PM Modi welcomes him at airport :  
French President Emmanuel Macron tonight arrives India on a four-day India visit.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally received Macron and his wife at Delhi airport.

After arriving at the airport, Macron and Modi exchanged greetings and hugged each other.

During Macron's state visit, the two countries would look to boost ties, especially in the areas of maritime security and counter-terrorism. 

An agreement on the Jaitapur nuclear power plant, which is being built with French assistance, is expected to be signed during the visit.

Stepping up cooperation in the Indian Ocean will be one of the top issues that will be discussed by Macron and Modi during delegation-level talks tomorrow.

Besides defence, cooperation in the areas of nuclear energy and space are the other pillars of the strategic partnership between India and France.
22:16  There should be more women in armed forces: Sitharaman:  There should be more women in the armed forces, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said today, noting that women have achieved great heights in all spheres of life. 

Speaking at an event organised by women officers of the Armed Forces Medical Services in New Delhi, Sitharaman called upon them to grab every opportunity coming their way saying "blanket rejection" of males or females should be completely avoided. 

"I think there should be more women in the armed forces," she said. 

Women achievers in India have a very different environment, she said, pointing out that a number of women have achieved great heights in their area of specialisation but such examples were not sustained. 

Three distinguished veterans of the AFMS, including the first woman Air Marshal, Padmavathy Bandopadhyay, Vice Admiral Punita Arora and Lt Colonel Farida Rehman were felicitated by the minister at the event organised to celebrate the International Women's Day. 

In her inspiring tale, Air Marshal Bandopadhyay, retired Director General of the AFMS, narrated her evolution from a Tamil-speaking arts student to a doctor and her subsequent rise to the highest rank of the Indian Air Force. 

She asserted that there was no gender discrimination in the IAF and termed it the best place for women to work at. Lt General Bipin Puri, Director General of AFMS, said women officers and staff were its "extremely important assets". -- PTI
21:23  Rahul to meet Macron, but not to raise Rafale deal:  
Congress President Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to meet French President Emmanuel Macron during his four-day India visit.
According to sources, the meeting is slated for Sunday after Gandhi returns from his two-nation visit to Thailand and Singapore that is part of his overseas Indians outreach plan.
 
The Congress, which has launched a tirade against the government over the Rafale deal that Prime Minister Narendra Modi struck during his visit to France in April 2015, however, said that the issue would not be raised during the meeting.
 
"The Congress party will not discuss India's defence deal with the head of state of a foreign country. This is our internal matter and this discussion the government has to do with France and not the Congress.
 
"We are demanding answers from our government and not from the French government," Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said.
 
Alluding to the Rafale deal, he said that when one goes to buy something, the buyer has to ensure whether the product is good or not, as the seller will obviously say his product is good.
The buyer has to decide looking at his pocket, Surjewala said.
"The government has to ensure that its money is not wasted and gets the best deal in the least money. There should be no loss to the state exchequer.
"It is not the responsibility of Mr Macron, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Defence minister, on which they have failed," he alleged.
The Congress has been attacking the government on the Rafale deal and demanding answers from it over the price of the aircraft.
 
The Congress today alleged that the government has caused a loss of Rs 12,612 crore to the state exchequer by buying the aircraft from Dassault Aviation, the French manufacturer of Rafale fighter jets.
 
The party alleged that the company sold each jet to India at Rs 351 crore more than those sold to Qatar and Egypt 11 months ago.
 
The government has refused to divulge details of the purchase price of Rafale jets due to the "secrecy clause" in the agreement signed with the French government.
Surjewala said if a president or prime minister of any country come to India, "He is our guest and there are no differences between the government and the opposition".
 
The heads of state formally meet the opposition leaders, as they had been meeting Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley in the past, he said.
Gandhi, who is the leader of the principal opposition party in the country, has been meeting visiting heads of state and government after he took over as party chief.
 
Gandhi recently met visiting Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen and Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau.
He was in Italy during Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang's visit, who met UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. -- PTI 
21:03  Rajasthan passes bill for death penalty for rape of girls aged 12 & below:  
The Rajasthan Legislative Assembly today passed a bill approving death penalty to those convicted of raping or gang-raping a girl upto 12 years of age.
 
With this, Rajasthan has become the second state in the country after Madhya Pradesh approving death sentence for those convicted of such rapes .
 
State Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria introduced The Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2018 today in the assembly, which was passed in the House by a voice vote following a debate.
 
The state government aimed to introduce the bill noting the cases of rape and gang-rape of young girls. Accordingly, sections 376-AA and 376-DD were added in the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
 
They provide, that whoever commits rape/gang-rape on a girl upto twelve years of age shall be punishable with death or a rigorous imprisonment which shall not be less than fourteen years and 20 years respectively for the sections and which may extend to imprisonment for life, which means imprisonment for the remainder of the offender's whole life, and with fine. 
 
According to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) 2016 report, the cases of crimes against children have shown a steady rise in Rajasthan.
 
The state recorded 4,034 such cases in 2016, which is 3.8 per cent of the crimes against children (98,344) registered across the country. It stands fourth in the crime against women category.
 
In 2015, the state had registered 3,689 cases of crime against children, which increased by 345 in the year under review.
 
As per the NCRB data, state police registered 728 cases of child rape in 2015, which increased to 858 in 2016. -- PTI
20:45  Defer SC decision on Ram Temple till after LS poll in 2019: Owaisi:  
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi today demanded deferment of the Supreme Court's verdict on the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi title suit till after the Lok Sabha polls in 2019 as the issue will get "heavily politicised".
Speaking during a panel discussion on 'Ayodhya: The Politics of Hate' at the India Today conclave in Mumbai, Owaisi said the Ayodhya dispute was over land and had nothing to do with religious faith.
"The Ram temple issue is a land title case. It has nothing to do with faith. It is about the rule of justice and secularism. Each one has to accept the Supreme Court's decision. However, the issue should not be decided before the parliamentary elections as it will be heavily politicised," Owaisi said.
The discussion also involved Congress spokesperson Sanjay Nirupam and his BJP counterpart Sambit Patra.
Nirupam, while slamming the BJP said the party was not interested in actually constructing the temple but only in politicising the issue.
"I am 100 per cent sure the verdict will be out before the 2019 elections because the BJP wants it so. Lord Ram is the life of this country. However, faith and feeling do not stand in court. The BJP should not worry about the Ram temple. It should be left to the Nirmohi Akhara (one of the parties to the title dispute)," he said.
Patra questioned that if the Ram temple was only a land title issue, why would the Supreme Court suggest an out of court settlement.
"If Ram temple is only an issue of land, why are the Congress and others worried about 2019? The Congress is now hiding behind the judiciary because they are unable to fight Narendra Modi," Patra said.
Slamming spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar over his comments on the issue, Owaisi sought to know how could he preach peace the world over when he did not even understand the Indian Constitution.
"Who is he to say India will become Syria if the issue is not resolved?" Owaisi asked.
Nirupam asked how had the government allowed a spiritual guru to "threaten" the Constitution and why it had not taken action against him.
Patra, however, questioned as to why no critic of the Art of Living founder had as yet filed an FIR against him over his statements.
"As a devout Hindu, I will not talk ill about a guru. But to say that he is trying to break the ethos of this country would be an overstatement," Patra said. -- PTI
20:35  No proposal to hike retirement age of HC judges: Govt:  
Amid an ongoing debate on vacancies in the higher judiciary, the government today said there was no proposal to increase the retirement age of high court judges from 62 to 65 years.
Responding to a question in the Rajya Sabha on whether any proposal for extension of retirement age of high court judges was under consideration by the government, Minister of State for Law P P Chaudhary said no such proposal was under consideration.
A bill brought by the previous UPA government in 2010 to increase the retirement age of high court judges from 62 to 65 years had  lapsed after the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2014.
The Constitution (114th Amendment) Bill, 2010, which provided for increasing the retirement age of high court judges from 62 to 65 years was introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 25.

But it could not be taken up for consideration and passage, and it lapsed.
The UPA proposal had sought to bring at par the retirement age of high court judges with that of Supreme Court judges at 65 years.
The 24 high courts face a shortage of 406 judges, according to latest law ministry data.
Nearly 3 crore cases are pending in courts across India. -- PTI
20:07  False news travels faster than true stories on Twitter: Study:  
False news on politics travels farther, faster, deeper and more broadly than the truth on Twitter, a study claims.
 
Researchers found that the spread of false information is essentially not due to robots that are programmed to disseminate inaccurate stories.
 
Instead, false news speeds faster around Twitter due to people retweeting inaccurate news items.
 
"Twitter became our main source of news. But in the aftermath of the tragic events, I realised that a good chunk of what I was reading on social media was rumours; it was false news," said Soroush Vosoughi from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US.
 
For the study, published in the journal Science, the researchers tracked roughly 126,000 cascades of news stories spreading on Twitter, which were cumulatively tweeted over 4.5 million times by about 3 million people, from the years 2006 to 2017.
 
"We found that falsehood defuses significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth, in all categories of information, and in many cases by an order of magnitude," said Sinan Aral from MIT.
 
According to the study, false news stories are 70 per cent more likely to be retweeted than true stories are.
It also takes true stories about six times as long to reach 1,500 people as it does for false stories to reach the same number of people.
 
When it comes to Twitter's "cascades," or unbroken retweet chains, falsehoods reach a cascade depth of 10 about 20 times faster than facts. And falsehoods are retweeted by unique users more broadly than true statements at every depth of cascade.
 
"False news is more novel, and people are more likely to share novel information," said Aral.
 
"And on social networks, people can gain attention by being the first to share previously unknown (but possibly false) information. Thus, people who share novel information are seen as being in the know," Aral said.
19:53  RBI slaps Rs 5 cr penalty on Airtel Payments Bank for violation of norms:  
The Reserve Bank has imposed a penalty of Rs 5 crore on Airtel Payments Bank for violating operating guidelines and Know Your Customer norms.
 
The fine was imposed after RBI scrutinised the bank's documents relating to opening of accounts without any specific or clear consent from the customers.
"The Reserve Bank of India has imposed, on March 7, 2018, a monetary penalty of Rs 50 million on Airtel Payments Bank Limited (the bank) for contravening the Operating Guidelines for Payments Banks' and directions issued by RBI on Know Your Customer norms," the central bank said in a statement.
 
Based on the complaints and adverse media reports alleging that the bank had opened customer accounts without a clear/specific consent of the customers, RBI conducted a supervisory visit to the bank from November 20-22, 2017.
 
According to reports, more than 23 lakh customers had reportedly received as many as Rs 47 crore in their Airtel bank accounts, which they did not know had been opened.
 
The supervisory visit report and other relevant documents, revealed contravention of Operating Guidelines for Payments Banks' and the directions issued by RBI on KYC norms, RBI said.
 
Subsequently, RBI issued a show cause notice to the bank on January 15 saying why penalty should not be imposed for non-compliance with guidelines and directions issued by the central bank.
"After considering the bank's reply and oral submissions made in the personal hearing, RBI came to the conclusion that the aforesaid charges of non-compliance with RBI guidelines/directions were substantiated and warranted imposition of monetary penalty," RBI said.
 
It further said that the action was based on deficiencies in regulatory compliance and was not intended to pronounce upon the validity of any transaction or agreement entered into by the bank with its customers.
 
Airtel Payments Bank had commenced operations in January last year. -- PTI
19:21  Full pay pension for those killed, injured while guarding China border:  
Eight months after the Doklam standoff, the government has extended the ambit of an "exclusive" pension scheme to cover the armed forces personnel killed or injured while guarding the Sino-India border but did not heed to a long-standing demand of the army to implement it with retrospective effect.
 
The 'liberalised family pension' was applicable to those security personnel deployed along the Line of Control and International Border with Pakistan.
It provides for 100 per cent of the last "reckonable" emoluments in comparison to normal family pension of 30 per cent of the last emoluments, officials said.
According to a defence ministry notification, the family pension scheme will come into effect from March 7, adding cases which were settled prior to the issue of the notification will not be "reopened".
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman On December 20 had accorded in-principle approval to extend the liberalised family pension to those guarding the nearly 4,000-km-long Line of Control with China.
Official sources said the army was pressing for implementing the scheme with retrospective effect, at least from June last year, when the Doklam standoff between Indian and Chinese armies had begun.
They said it is an exclusive family pension and the armed forces were demanding that those deployed along the border with China be included under it.
There are indications that the army was going take up the matter with the defence ministry as it feels implementing the scheme with retrospective effect from middle of last year will benefit a sizeable number of army men.
Troops of India and China were locked in a 73-day-long standoff in Doklam from June 16, 2017, after the Indian side stopped the building of a road in the disputed area by the Chinese army. The face-off ended on August 28.
The sources said since 2011, the defence forces had been demanding inclusion of those deployed along the Sino-India border under the pension scheme. -- PTI
19:06  Army soldier injured in ceasefire violation by Pak at LoC :  Pakistani troops today violated the ceasefire along the Line of Control in the Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir and a soldier was injured in their unprovoked firing, a defence spokesman said. 

The spokesman said the injured soldier was evacuated to Army's 92 Base Hospital in Badamibagh cantonment here for treatment.

"Indian Army has retaliated to the unprovoked firing appropriately," he said. -- PTI
18:53  1,261 stone pelting incidents in J&K in 2017:  
Jammu and Kashmir witnessed 1,261 incidents of stone-pelting last year, with the native town of slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, Pulwama recording the maximum number of cases against stone pelters followed by Hurriyat leader Syed Geelani's bastion of Sopore.
 
A total of 91 cases were registered against stone pelters in Pulwama in 2017, while 71 such cases were registered in Sopore, a document accessed by the state home department said.
In 2016, Sopore had recorded nearly 500 incidents of stone pelting, the highest during the Kashmir unrest following the killing of Burhan Wani that year.
Giving further details, the home department said 1,261 incidents of stone-pelting took place in the state in 2017 as compared to 2,808 such incidents in 2016 and 730 incidents in 2015.
The district-wise number of stone pelting incidents in the state in 2017 include the highest (230 incidents) in Srinagar followed by 131 incidents in Pulwama district, 129 in Baramulla, 98 in Budgam, 67 in Shopian, 63 in Anantnag, 50 in Kulgam,  47 in Kupwara, 36 in Ganderbal and 34 in Bandipora district, it said.
Of the total 855 cases registered against stone-pelting incidents in Jammu and Kashmir last year, Central Kashmir accounted for the highest i.e. 364 cases in 40 police station areas followed by 311 cases in South Kashmir in 23 police station areas and 210 cases in North Kashmir in 28 police stations areas, it said.
Burhan Wani's neighbouring Shopian district registered 40 cases in stone-pelting incidents in 2017 followed by 39 in Safa Kafdal police station area (Srinagar), 30 in Budgam, 27 in Parimpora (Srinagar) and 26 in MR Gunj (Srinagar), it said.
In these cases, 2,720 people were arrested against 8,570 people in 2016, the department said.
"As many as 11,566 security personnel were injured in 4,736 stone-pelting incidents in the Kashmir valley during the last three years from 2015 to 2017," the department added. -- PTI
18:05  Mukerjeas won't be brought face-to-face with Karti:  CBI application seeking permission to bring Indrani Mukerjea and Peter Mukerjea to Delhi for confrontation and for identification of some locations in Delhi in the presence of Karti Chidambaram is dismissed as not pressed: CBI Special Court
18:00  Gauri Lankesh murder: SIT gets custody of accused :  A Special Investigation Team has been granted custody of suspected accused K T Naveen Kumar today in connection with the murder of journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh.


On March 3, the Karnataka Police had taken Naveen Kumar into police custody for questioning in connection with the case.


According to media reports, Naveen was caught by the crime wing of the state police's central crime branch on February 18.


A reward of Rs. 10 lakh had also been announced for leads that lead to the arrest of the murderers. Gauri was shot dead by unknown assailants outside her residence in Bengaluru on September 5, 2017.
17:48  'No provision for or against states having a separate flag':  There is no precedent of any state in India having a separate flag, barring Jammu and Kashmir which enjoys a special status, but the Constitution does not provide for or against it, a government official said today.


Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had yesterday unveiled the proposed official flag of the state and said his government would send the proposal for Centre's approval.


The Flag Code of India and the State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act refer only to the tricolour and there is no mention of any other flag, the official said requesting anonymity. Jammu and Kashmir has a separate flag because of the special status it enjoys under Article 370 of the Constitution.


The official insisted India as a nation has only one flag, and there will be "chaos" if tomorrow some states or some districts or some villages start seeking separate flags. When asked for a comment, a Home Ministry spokesperson said. -- PTI
17:34  Destruction of Lenin and Periyar statues shows intolerant approach of BJP: Karat:  The first response of the CPM after the demolition of the Lenin statue in Tripura.

CPI(M) leader Prakash Karat said today that Lenin's statue in Tripura and disfiguring a statute of Periyar EV Ramasamy in Tamil Nadu showed the intolerant approach of the BJP towards any other ideology other than Hindutva,


Seven Left parties -- the CPI, CPI(M), AIFB, RSP, CPI(ML), SUCI and CGPI -- took out a march towards Parliament today, protesting against the demolition of statutes, but were stopped by the police.


Addressing the Left workers and supporters at Parliament Street in Delhi, former CPI(M) general secretary Karat alleged that after winning the Tripura polls, the BJP was trying to use violence against those, who had voted for the Left Front in the state.


"After destroying Lenin's statues, BJP workers in Tamil Nadu destroyed Periyar's statue. In Uttar Pradesh, they damaged a statue of (BR) Ambedkar. It shows the intolerant approach of the BJP. They are not ready to tolerate any other ideology other than Hindutva," he said.


CPI(ML) leader Kavita Krishnan, who also addressed the Left supporters, said the social media campaign of the BJP-RSS against Lenin, calling him a foreigner, was not justified at all.


"People from all over the world take inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi's teachings. There are statues of Gandhi all over the world. Are those going to be removed from those countries just because he was a foreigner to them?


"If Bhagat Singh took inspiration from Lenin during the freedom movement, then his struggle was also influenced by Lenin. During the same time, Savarkar was taking inspiration from Hitler and Mussolini. Are Ambedkar and Periyar also foreigners,?" she asked.


Krishnan claimed that the statutes of Lenin were attacked not because he was a foreigner, but because his values stood for the struggle against inequality, the struggle of the oppressed. Those who feared the struggle for equality attacked Lenin's statutes, she said.


Asserting that the issue was not only about statues being attacked, but the "attack on all kinds of dissent", the Left leaders appealed to the newly-formed BJP government in Tripura to restore peace and normalcy in the north-eastern state at the earliest. -- PTI
17:14  RBI may hike repo rate by 0.25% in 2018: Report:  The Reserve Bank is likely to increase its key rates by 0.25 per cent this year as inflation is expected to be at a higher range due to wide fiscal deficit and high prices of oil and farm produce, a report said today. The headline consumer price inflation will not breach the 6 per cent mark which is the upper end of the target band for RBI, but a moderation towards the 4 per cent target is also "unlikely", Care Ratings said in a report.
16:59  CBI gets Karti Chidambaram's custody for 3 more days :  
A court in Delhi today extended Karti Chidambaram's CBI custody by another three days. 

Karti, who is being investigated in connection to the INX Media case, has already been in CBI remand for the last nine days out of the 15 days prescribed under law.

The agency had sought Karti's custody for six additional days, citing "new incriminating materials" as grounds to interrogate him further.

While seeking extension of his custodial interrogation for six more days, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, said that a CD has been recovered in connection with the case which needed to be sent to Central Forensic Science Laboratory for examination. 

The ASG said that new incriminating materials have been found and he has to be confronted with them. However, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is the party colleague of P Chidambaram, opposed any further custodial interrogation of Karti. 
16:32  Netflix to produce new TV show with Barack-Michelle Obama:  
Former US president Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, are in negotiations with streaming giant Netflix to produce an original series.

According to The New York Times, the show would provide the couple with a platform to tell "inspirational stories" to the millions of subscribers of Netflix.

The report said that a deal has not yet been struck between the Obamas and Netflix.

A possible idea for the new show would feature Obama moderating conversations on topics that dominated his presidency such as health care, immigration and climate change.

"President and Mrs Obama have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire," Eric Schultz, Obama's senior advisor, told the Times.
"As they consider their future personal plans, they continue to explore new ways to help others tell and share their stories," he added.

-- PTI
16:29  JUST IN: KT Naveen Kumar, an accused in Gauri Lankesh murder case, granted Special Investigation Team custody for 5 days by Bengaluru Magistrate Court
16:10  Destruction of Lenin and Periyar statues shows intolerant approach of BJP: Karat:  
The demolition of communist icon Lenin's statues in Tripura and disfiguring a statute of Periyar EV Ramasamy in Tamil Nadu showed the intolerant approach of the BJP towards any other ideology other than Hindutva, CPI-M leader Prakash Karat said today.

Seven Left parties -- the CPI, CPI-M, AIFB, RSP, CPI-ML, SUCI and CGPI -- took out a march towards Parliament today, protesting against the demolition of statutes, but were stopped by the police.

Addressing the Left workers and supporters at Parliament Street here, former CPI-M general secretary Karat alleged that after winning the Tripura polls, the BJP was trying to use violence against those, who had voted for the Left Front in the state.

"After destroying Lenin's statues, BJP workers in Tamil Nadu destroyed Periyar's statue. In Uttar Pradesh, they damaged a statue of (BR) Ambedkar. It shows the intolerant approach of the BJP. They are not ready to tolerate any other ideology other than Hindutva," he said.

CPI-ML leader Kavita Krishnan, who also addressed the Left supporters, said the social media campaign of the BJP-RSS against Lenin, calling him a foreigner, was not justified at all.

"People from all over the world take inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi's teachings. There are statues of Gandhi all over the world. Are those going to be removed from those countries just because he was a foreigner to them?

"If Bhagat Singh took inspiration from Lenin during the freedom movement, then his struggle was also influenced by Lenin. During the same time, Savarkar was taking inspiration from Hitler and Mussolini. Are Ambedkar and Periyar also foreigners,?" she asked.

-- PTI
16:00  Nothing suspicious in Sridevi's death: MEA :  This should finally silence the rumours surrounding actress and superstar Sridevi's death.


At the briefing to the media today, MEA spokesperson Ravish Kumar responds to a question on Sridevi's death.


"As far as I know, the paperwork from UAE govt were handed over to us and on the basis of that the mortal remains were brought to India. Had there been something suspicious, it would have come out by now,"  Ravish Kumar said.


The Dubai Public Prosecutors Office had closed the investigation into Sridevis death on February 24 and cited the forensic report to say she had accidentally drowned following loss of consciousness.


Following this the body was released for embalming and brought back to Mumbai. She was cremated on February 28 in Mumbai.  
15:43  CBI seeks custodial interrogation of Karti for 6 more days:   The CBI today produced Karti Chidamabaram, son of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, before a Delhi court in the INX Media corruption case and sought his custody for six more days to interrogate him, saying "new incriminating materials" have been found against him.


Karti, who has been in CBI custody since February 28, was produced before special judge Sunil Rana on the expiry of his three-day custody.


The CBI has already taken nine days police custody of Karti out of the 15 days prescribed under law. While seeking extension of his custodial interrogation for six more days, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, said that a CD has been recovered in connection with the case which needed to be sent to Central Forensic Science Laboratory for examination.


The ASG said that new incriminating materials have been found and he has to be confronted with them. However, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is the party colleague of P Chidambaram, opposed any further custodial interrogation of Karti.


"It's tragic for me (Karti). They have no new reason for my remand. They are inventing one. CBI has to justify remand every day and every minute," Singhvi said on behalf of Karti. It is a 10-year-old case and all the documents are available with them and "they need my custody to harass me", Karti said through his counsel. -- PTI
15:20  Mohammed Shami booked on wife's complaint:  An FIR has been registered against cricketer Mohammed Shami and four other members of his family on the basis of a complaint filed by his wife Hasin Jahan who filed a complaint alleging adultery, torture and threat to her life.


Jahan had on Thursday lodged a police complaint against him and his family members at a Kolkata police station.


She had earlier posted screenshots of alleged conversations between Shami and several women. Jahan had also shared some photos of the bowler as "evidence" to support her allegations.


The cricketer has been booked under sections 498A (Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty), 323 (Causing hurt), 307 (Attempt to murder), 376 (Punishment for rape), 506 (Criminal intimidation),  328 (Causing hurt by means of poison, etc., with intent to commit an offence.), 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of IPC.

Shami said all the accusations are baseless.
15:10  BJP lighting lamp of progress in Tripura: PM :  Terming the victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Tripura as a 'historic one', Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that his party has lightened a lamp of progress and prosperity in the state.


While addressing a gathering at the oath-taking ceremony of Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, the Prime Minister said, "Today is a historic day for Tripura. It feels like the state is celebrating Diwali. We are lighting the lamp of progress and prosperity. There is new vigour and enthusiasm here".


"In the history of India, there are some elections that will always be discussed. The 2018 Tripura elections will be one such example. People will continue to discuss these polls," he added.


Terming BJP a people-friendly party, the Prime Minister said they will ensure development in the state. "Those in the opposition in Tripura today have been in power for long. They surely have a lot of experience. Ours is a new and fresh team. In the age too, our team is younger," Prime Minister Modi said.


"They have Anubhav (experience) we have Umang and Utsah (enthusiasm). We have to work together for the progress of Tripura," he added.


The Prime Minister further assured complete support to the new Government of Tripura and said, "Tripura's dreams are the BJP's dreams as well."


"Good governance, Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas, people's participation, we hold these principles in high regard," he added.


He also expressed gratitude to the people of the North Eastern state for giving the mandate to the party in the assembly election.


Apart from the Prime Minister, former chief minister of Tripura Manik Sarkar, Senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh were also present at the oath ceremony in Agartala. -- ANI
14:50  ED cannot arrest Karti: HC:   Karti Chidambaram, son of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, cannot be arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in the INX Media money laundering case till March 20, the next hearing of the case, the Delhi High Court today said.


Justice S Ravindra Bhat also made it clear that in case the special court grants Karti bail in the CBI case which has registered a corruption case against him, the ED will not arrest him till the next hearing before it.


The court also issued a notice and sought a response of the Centre and the ED on Karti's plea challenging the issuance of summons and proceedings initiated against him in the money laundering case.


Karti had yesterday moved the high court after the Supreme Court had allowed him to withdraw his writ petition against the ED summons with a liberty to take urgent redressal before the high court. -- PTI
14:29  BJD fields three RS candidates:  BJD candidates Prashanta Nanda, Soumya Ranjan Patnaik and Achyuta Samanta today filed their nomination papers for the Rajya Sabha elections from Odisha in Bhubaneshwar. The three nominees filed their papers before the returning officer in the presence of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Bikram Keshari Arukha and other senior party leaders.
14:27  Explained: Why Akhilesh, Mayawati joined hands:  Realpolitik can make political parties do the unthinkable, and that is what the BJP has forced upon the two arch rivals of UP politics.The coming together of Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav for the March 11 by-election in Uttar Pradesh marks a big shift in the politics of the Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party, two bitter enemies in UP politics.


Twenty-three years after the BSP-SP alliance ended bitterly, the two parties have come together to counter the BJP in the Lok Sabha by-election in Gorakhpur and Phulpur.


The Gorakhpur seat was represented by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from 1998 to 2017.Phulpur, represented once by Jawaharlal Nehru, was won by Keshav Prasad Maurya, now UP's deputy CM by a record margin in 2014.


"Akhilesh and Mayawati head major parties and will have to play a lead role in collecting all the anti-BJP forces," Dr Prashant Trivedi of the Lucknow-based Giri Institute of Social Studies, tells  Rediff.com's Archana Masih. Read the interview here.
14:12  HC grants interim protection to Karti against ED arrest in INX Media case:  The Delhi High Court today granted interim protection from arrest to Karti Chidambaram, son of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, till March 20 in the INX Media money laundering case registered by the Enforcement Directorate. Justice S Ravindra Bhat also made it clear that in case the special court grants Karti bail in the CBI case which has registered a corruption case against him, the ED will not arrest him till the next hearing before it.


The court also issued a notice and sought a response of the Centre and the ED on Karti's plea challenging the issuance of summons and proceedings initiated against him in the money laundering case. Karti had yesterday moved the high court after the Supreme Court had allowed him to withdraw his writ petition against the ED summons with a liberty to take urgent redressal before the high court. -- PTI
13:44  Jaya files nomination for Rajya Sabha:  Lucknow: Samajwadi Party candidate Jaya Bachchan files her nomination for the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh. Sahara Group Chairman Subrata Roy & SP MP Dimple Yadav are to her left. 
13:40  Not fully satisfied, say couple seeking euthanasia :  Mr & Mrs Lavate, who had asked for euthanasia: We're not fully satisfied with SC's judgement. People above the age of 75 should be given this right. They can verify the details of these people from the police and  doctors. Govt should come up with a policy. 
13:31  We have hope now, says patient seeking euthanasia :  Reactions to the landmark judgment by the Supreme Court today. The court recognised 'living will' made by terminally-ill patients for passive euthanasia. A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said passive euthanasia and advance living will are "permissible".

First reactions: Anamika Mishra, patient of Muscular Dystrophy: "I had requested for mercy killing in 2014 and PM Modi took cognizance of the same and had told local officers to look into the matter. SC has taken a good decision, we've hope now.
13:23  JuD chief Saeed's political party to get recognition in Pak?:  Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed's political ambitions have received a boost after a top Pakistani court ordered the election commission to hear his party's case for registration ahead of this year's election.


The Islamabad High Court yesterday set aside a decision by the Election Commission of Pakistan to reject the application of Jamaat-ud-Dawah's political front Milli Muslim League for registration as a political party.


The order came days after a Pakistani court extended a stay against the "possible arrest" of the JuD chief till April 4. Justice Aamer Farooq sent the case back to the ECP asking it to proceed further on the application by giving the party an opportunity of hearing, Dawn newspaper reported.
12:51  LS proceedings washed out for entire week:  The Lok Sabha proceedings were washed out for the fifth straight day, as members from parties including the TDP and the AIADMK, continued their protests on various issues.


This was the first week of Parliament's second leg of the Budget session, in which the Finance Bill 2018 and Demands for Grants are needed to be passed.


However, the Lok Sabha continued to witness ruckus and failed to transact any business during the entire week. Opposition Congress and TMC were up in arms against the government over the Rs 12,700 crore fraud at country's second largest PSU lender PNB and continued with their vociferous protests in the House. Andhra Pradesh parties -- TDP and YSR Congress -- pressed for special status to be granted to the state. Disappointed over the Centre not granting the status, the TDP pulled out its two ministers -- Raju and Y S Chowdary -- from the central government. The party continues to be an NDA ally. -- PTI
12:50  Karti Chidambaram produced before Delhi court:  The CBI today produced Karti Chidamabaram, son of senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, before a Delhi court in the INX Media money laundering case, and sought his custody for six more days. The three-day custody granted to Karti by the court ended today.


The court also extended the judicial custody of Karti's CA S Bhaskararaman, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in the case, till March 22.


Special CBI Judge Sunil Rana is likely to hear the bail plea of Karti Chidambaram today.


In his plea, Karti, who was arrested by the CBI at Chennai Airport on February 28, claimed that he had never attempted to influence witnesses, tamper with documentary evidence, pollute or obstruct the judicial process as was alleged by the probe agency.


Earlier, he sought bail from the court alleging that the CBI was acting at the behest of the Centre to malign the reputation of his father during whose tenure Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance was granted to the INX Media group. 
12:36   Supreme Court dismisses PIL for mandatory two-child policy. The apex court said it is a policy matter and court cannot intervene.
12:31  We were out-marketed: Sonia on BJP's successive wins:  In a deeply introspective speech, Congress leader Sonia Gandhi today spoke on a wide range of topics, including her children, her own shortcomings and the role of democracy in India, the first time she has opened up since relinquishing the party president post.


Addressing the India Today Conclave in New Delhi, Gandhi said democracy allows dissent and debate and not monologues in an apparent barb at Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She also lamented that nation builders are being slandered, and that there was cynical running down of past achievements referring to the constant criticism by the ruling party of the post Independence achievements of the Congress and its prime ministers.


However, Gandhi noted that the Congress also needs to develop a new style of connecting with people at the organisational level.


She asked, "Was India really a giant black hole before 26th May 2014? Did India march to progress, prosperity & greatness just 4 years ago? Is this claim not an insult to the intelligence of our people?"


When asked for the reasons for the Congress losing one election after another, she said, "We were out-marketed. We have to really develop a new style of connecting with people. We have to look how we project our programs and policies."


Speaking about her own role in leadership after Congress came to power in 2004, she said that she knew Manmohan Singh would be better a prime minister than her, and that she was aware of her limitations. "Public speaking does not come naturally to me, that is why I was called a reader than a leader," the Congress leader said.


Gandhi, 71, who was Congress president for 19 years was replaced by her son Rahul last year after internal party elections.


Image: Sonia Gandhi at the India Today Conclave.
12:15  Jishnu Dev Burman takes oath as the Deputy Chief Minister of Tripura.
12:12  Biplab Deb takes oath as the next Chief Minister of Tripura.
12:12  Biplab Kumar Deb sworn in as Tripura CM:  Biplab Kumar Deb sworn in as the chief minister of Tripura. At the ceremony were former CM of Tripura Manik Sarkar, senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Home Minster Rajnath Singh.
11:54  PM will handle aviation ministry after Raju's resignation:   Resignations of TDP MPs Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Y S Chowdary accepted by President Ram Nath Kovind. As advised by the Prime Minister, the President has directed that the work of the Ministry of Civil Aviation will be looked after by the Prime Minister.


The two ministers resigned following the decision of the Telugu Desam Party to exit the union government. Its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party withdrew its two ministers from the state cabinet of Andhra Pradesh.


The TDP however continues to be part of the BJP-led NDA.


Image: Former aviation minister Ashok Gajapati Raju
11:28  AAP MLA gets bail in chief secretary assault case :  The Delhi High Court today granted bail to AAP MLA Prakash Jarwal, who was arrested for allegedly assaulting Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash during a meeting at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's residence in New Delhi.


Justice Mukta Gupta allowed the bail plea of Jarwal who was arrested on February 20, a day after the alleged incident. The court had earlier reserved the bail plea of the Deoli legislator and said that it was a very unfortunate situation where the state and the officers feel unsafe and are being threatened by each other.


The bail plea of Okhla MLA Amanatullah Khan, who was also arrested in the case on February 21, is pending before the court. A magisterial court had earlier denied bail to both of them, saying the matter cannot be treated in "a casual and routine manner" while dubbing them as "history-sheeters".


Jarwal had then moved a sessions court and was again denied the relief with the court saying the situation could not be more alarming when lawmakers do not respect the rule of law. -- PTI
11:22  SC gives sanction for 'living will' in passive euthanasia:   Breaking: Supreme Court allowing passive euthanasia gives sanction to a living will. It also issues guidelines governing execution of living will and also passive euthanasia in the absence of living wills.


The Supreme Court pronounced the verdict on a plea seeking legal sanction for passive euthanasia under which a person suffering from a terminal disease and in his/her last stage of life with no chance of recovery is allowed not to sustain life through artificial support system.


The court says it has laid down guidelines on who would execute the will and how nod for passive euthanasia would be granted by the medical board.


A living will, is an advance written directive to physicians for end-of-life medical care. It pointed out that this may lead to the abuse and neglect of the elderly, especially if they were financially well-off.


The SC said it has laid down guidelines on who would execute the will and how the nod for passive euthanasia would be granted by the medical board. The court says its guidelines and directives will remain in force till a legislation is brought to deal with the issue. 


Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra says other members of the five-judge Constitution bench have concurred on the guidelines and directives passed by it.
10:50  Modi headed to China in April?:  The original plan was for Prime Minister Narendra D Modi to travel to China in June for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting. India became a member of the SCO only last year.


With the recent rapprochement, Modi, we hear, may travel to  Hainan to attend the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference, scheduled for April 8-11.


The Boao Forum will mark Xi Jinping's first international appearance after being officially anointed China's most powerful leader since Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, and Modi will want to engage him and put India-China relations on a surer footing.


For readers puzzled by this turn of events -- after all, the India and Chinese armies engaged in a long military standoff in Dokalam last year -- we recommend you read Alka Acharya's riveting column on what the government's snub to the Dalai Lama means and also Ambassador MK Bhadrakumar's argument that resetting India-China relations makes sense
10:33  Has Naidu misread Modi?:  In early 2017 Amit A Shah warned Nara Chandrababu Naidu that Narendra D Modi was not like Atal Bihari Vajpayee to yield to pressure tactics. Soon, Naidu was to discover this for himself, reports R Rajagopalan.  Read the column here.
10:18  Biplab Deb to be sworn in as Tripura CM today, Manik Sarkar may attend:   Biplab Kumar Deb will be sworn in as the chief minister of Tripura on Friday, officially ushering the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the Left bastion.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi and all the chief ministers of the BJP-ruled states have been invited.


"The swearing-in ceremony will be on March 9 at 10.30 am. We have sent an invitation to the Prime Minister and all the chief ministers of the BJP government. I hope Prime Minister accepts the invitation," said Deb, while addressing the media on Thursday.


Former chief minister Manik Sarkar was personally invited by Deb and BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav.


Madhav praised Sarkar and said he has qualities that other leaders should emulate. BJP's CM-elect Biplab Kumar Deb too was present in the meeting.


Madhav tweeted, "Called on former CM of Tripura Sh Manik Sarkar at d CPM office and invited him to d oath ceremony of d new govt tomorrow. True to his character he has shifted to d party office immediately after resigning as CM post the election. Something for leaders to emulate."


Hindustan Times reports that the Tripura unit of the CPI(M) said it has decided to boycott Friday's swearing-in ceremony of the state's first BJP government to protest the post-poll violence, though Sarkar might attend the event.


Yesterday, Union minister Nitin Gadkari announced Deb as the chief minister while Jishnu Kumar Deb was named as deputy chief minister.


The announcement was made at the state guesthouse in Agartala.Earlier in the month, the BJP and its ally Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT) scripted history in the assembly election by ending the 25-year reign of the Left Front-led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), with a two-thirds majority in the Tripura legislative assembly elections.


The BJP won 35 of the 59 seats that went to polls in Tripura, ousting the CPI(M) which won only in 17 assembly constituencies. -- ANI


Image: Former Tripura CM Manik Sarkar with BJP's Ram Madhav and Tripura CM-elect Biplab Kumar Deb
09:44  Biplab Deb to take oath as Tripura CM, PM Modi to attend:  
Biplab Kumar Deb, the 48-year-old Tripura BJP president, is set to take oath as the Chief Minister of the northeastern state today at a grand ceremony to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP national president Amit Shah and party leaders. 

In the new government, senior BJP leader Jishnu Debbarma will assist Deb as his deputy. 

Born in 1969 in a middle class family in Tripura's Gomati district, in a village called Rajdhar Nagar, Biplab Deb graduated from Tripura's Udaipur College in 1999 and left for Delhi soon after to join the RSS, where he was a volunteer for 16 years, training under prominent leaders Gobinda Acharya and Krishnagopal Sharma.

Two years ago, he was called back home where he replaced Sudhindra Dasgupta, the longest-serving BJP chief in Tripura to become the youngest party chief in any state. A BJP assessment last year, the party said, showed that Biplab Deb was more popular than Manik Sarkar in Tripura.

The BJP's arrival in Tripura following a spectacular electoral victory is being seen as a humiliating defeat for the unchallenged 25-year rule of the Left. 
09:33  Jaspal Atwal apologises for embarrassment of his presence at Trudeau event in India:  
Jaspal Atwal, a former Sikh separatist who tried to kill an Indian cabinet minister in 1986, apologised Thursday for the "embarrassment" he caused by attending an event with Canadian officials during Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's recent trip to India.

Atwal's presence at the event in Mumbai documented in photographs that showed him with the prime minister's wife and Canada's infrastructure minister cast a pall over Trudeau's trip in February when Indian media reported that a "Khalistani terrorist" was invited to receptions with the travelling Canadian delegation.

The news came at an awkward time for Trudeau, as the prime minister had just expressed support for a "united India" at a meeting with the chief minister of Punjab, who has accused the Liberal government of harbouring sympathy for proponents of a breakaway Sikh state called Khalistan. 

After several days of silence, Atwal finally addressed the situation at his lawyer's office in Vancouver on Thursday. Reading from a prepared statement, he said he was "shocked and devastated" when controversy exploded over his attendance at the event.

"I had assumed there would be no problem. No one at any point indicated there would be any issue," said Atwal, 62.

"I am sorry for the embarrassment this matter has caused to Canada, India, my community and family and friends."

Atwal told reporters that he takes full responsibility for his past actions, which include a conviction for the attempted murder of Indian cabinet minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu during a visit to British Columbia in 1986. He said he became a supporter of Sikh separatism after the attacks on the religion's Golden Temple in Amritsar in 1984.
09:33  Supreme Court to deliver verdict on passive euthanasia today:  
The Supreme Court will pronounce its verdict on Friday on a plea seeking legal sanction for passive euthanasia under which a person suffering from a terminal disease and in his/her last stage of life with no chance of recovery is allowed not to sustain life through artificial support system.

A five-judge constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, will decide whether 'living will' of a person should be recognised in which a person can make a statement in advance that her life should not be prolonged by putting her on ventilator or artificial support system. 

The petitioner, NGO 'Common Cause', had approached the court seeking a direction for recognition of 'living will' and contended that when a medical expert said that a person afflicted with terminal disease had reached a point of no return, then she should be given the right to refuse being put on life support. 

The Centre, however, had told the court that the government had in principle decided to decriminalise attempt to suicide which at present is an offence punishable by up to one year jail term under Section 309 of Indian Penal Code. 
08:35  13 hurt in chemical factory fire in Maharashtra:  
Thirteen people are injured after a major fire broke out owing to an explosion inside a boiler at a chemicals company in Boisar-Tarapur industrial estate in Maharashtra's Palghar district around midnight, police said.

The blaze started after a massive explosion inside a boiler at a company named Ramedeo chemicals around 11.40 pm, an official said.

The impact of the boiler blast was felt in the villages around 8 km vicinity, he said.

There is a fire after boiler blast in the Boisar industrial estate. Our team has reached the spot with fire brigade, Manjunath Singe, Superintendent of Police, Palghar said.

The fire has spread to another companies adjacent to the company.

There are chemical drums inside these companies, due to which the fire is spreading, he said.

Fire tenders were rushed to the spot and fire fighting operation is on, another official said.

-- PTI
08:25  France willing to share Rafale deal details: Macron ahead of visit:  
Ahead of his visit to India on Friday, 9 March, French President Emmanuel Macron said that his country will not have any objection in disclosing information on the Rafale deal if it resolves political stalemate between the centre and the opposition. The deal between India and France involves the purchase of 36 Rafale jet fighters.

Macrons statement comes at a time when the government is facing constant flak from the opposition over the deal, with the Centre refusing to divulge details citing national security.

In an interview with India Today, Macron said that proper attention was given to the economic, industrial and strategic interests in finalising the deal. While he maintained that the deal was not signed during his tenure, he asserted that it was signed keeping in mind the interests of both the countries.

Macron further justified the secrecy clause stating that it was not advisable to give out the details of an extremely sensitive business interest.

While the earlier deal was struck with the previous French government, the Macron-led government is seeking to expand on it, sources have said. 

Macron will arrive in New Delhi on 9 March for a four-day state visit to India, during which he will hold a summit meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
07:50  Trump to meet Kim Jong-un by May after invitation from North Korea:  
US President Donald Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by May, the White House and the South Korean national security adviser said.

"President Trump greatly appreciates the nice words of the South Korean delegation and President Moon. He will accept the invitation to meet with Kim Jong Un at a place and time to be determined. We look forward to the denuclearisation of North Korea. In the meantime, all sanctions and maximum pressure must remain," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced in a statement.

Trump tweeted, "Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearisation with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze. Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time. Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!"

The stunning announcement came after Kim extended an invitation to Trump to meet through South Korean officials, who met with Trump on Thursday. Trump would be the first sitting US president to meet with his North Korean counterpart, a stunning diplomatic breakthrough with uncertain consequences.

The South Korean delegation first met with national security adviser Lt. Gen. HR McMaster and then Trump, who then delivered the news, a senior administration official official said. It all happened in about an hour.
00:18  DCP suspended in K'taka Lokayukta stabbing case:  
Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy on Thursday said a top police official had been suspended for lapse in security after Lokayukta P Vishwanatha Shetty was stabbed by a man in his office.
 
"The state cabinet has decided to suspend DCP Yogesh for lapse of security in the Lokayukta stabbing case," he told reporters in a WhatsApp message.
 
Shetty was on Wednesday stabbed multiple times by a man who went to his office with a complaint only to be told that the case had been shut.
The lokayukta had collapsed after Tejaraj Sharma attacked him with a knife in an "attempt" to kill him in his chamber in a multi-storeyed building near the Vidhana Soudha.
The incident also had prompted Home Minister Rajnath Singh to speak to Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and he had expressed concern over the attack.
 
Shetty, in his early 70s, took over as the state Lokayukta in January 2017 succeeding Y Bhaskar Rao, a former high court chief justice. 

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