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October 12, 2018

23:55  Nana Patekar distances himself from Housefull 4:  
Amid allegations of sexual harassment against him, actor Nana Patekar on Friday distanced himself from Housefull 4, saying he did not want to cause inconvenience to the people involved with the project.

The development came hours after Housefull 4 director Sajid Khan stepped aside following allegations of sexual harassment.

'Nanasaheb do not want any inconvenience caused to anyone and hence in the backdrop of false accusations levelled against him he thought it fit to distance himself with the ongoing project of 'Housefull 4',' Malhar, son of Patekar, said in a statement issued in Mumbai.

Actor Tanushree Dutta has accused Patekar of sexual misconduct on the sets of the film Horn Ok Pleassss in 2008.

She has filed a case of sexual harassment against Patekar, choreographer Ganesh Acharya, producer Samee Siddiqui and director Rakesh Sarang.

Patekar has denied the allegations levelled by Dutta.  -- PTI
23:40  Facebook says hackers accessed data of 29mn users:  
Facebook said on Friday that hackers accessed personal data of 29 million users in a breach at the world's leading social network disclosed late last month.

The company had originally said up to 50 million accounts were affected in a cyberattack that exploited a trio of software flaws to steal 'access tokens' that enable people to automatically log back onto the platform.

'We now know that fewer people were impacted than we originally thought,' Facebook vice president of product management Guy Rosen said in an online post.

The hackers accessed the names, phone numbers, and email addresses of 15 million users, he said.

For another 14 million people, the attack was potentially more damaging.

Cyberattackers accessed that data plus additional information including gender, religion, hometown, birth date, and places they had recently 'checked in' to as visiting, according to Facebook.

No data was accessed in the accounts of the remaining one million people whose 'access tokens' were stolen, according to Rosen.

The attack did not affect Facebook-owned Messenger, Messenger Kids, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, Workplace, Pages, payments, third-party apps, or advertising or developer accounts, the company says.

Facebook said engineers discovered a breach on September 25 and had it patched two days later.

That breach allegedly related to a 'view as' feature -- described as a privacy tool to let users see how their profiles look to other people.

That function has been disabled for the time being as a precaution.  -- Agencies
23:10  18 more Zika virus cases detected in Jaipur; total 50:  
18 more people in Rajasthan's Jaipur district have tested positive for Zika virus, taking the total number of such cases to 50, a Union Health Ministry official said on Friday.

At least 10 of the news cases were reported from Jaipur's Shashtri Nagar locality.

The figures were issued after a review meeting chaired by Rajasthan Health department's Additional Chief Secretary, Medical and Health, Veenu Gupta on Friday.

The first case had surfaced on September 22.

Fogging and other anti-larvae activities are being carried out in the Shastri Nagar area to prevent the spread of the virus.

Earlier, a department official had said that 30 of the total cases were doing fine after treatment.

At the review meeting, measures taken to contain the situation were discussed.

The department has also issued an advisory for pregnant women staying outside Shastri Nagar not to visit the area.

A control room has been activated at the National Centre for Disease Control to monitor the situation.

The number of monitoring teams in Jaipur has been increased from 50 to 170 and a special isolation ward has been created at the Hira Bagh Training Centre to treat the Zika virus-affected patients.

A team from the National Institute of Malaria Research recently found Zika virus in some mosquitoes taken as samples from Shastri Nagar, leading to suspicion they are behind the infection.

Dr Neena Valecha, the NIMR director, had earlier said the virus appears to be locally transmitted.

The state government has been provided information, education and communication (IEC) material prepared to create awareness about Zika virus and prevention strategies.

The Zika virus, transmitted through Aedes aegypti mosquito, causes fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain.

It is harmful to pregnant women, as it can lead to microcephaly, a condition in which a baby's head is significantly smaller than expected, in newborn children.

In India, the first outbreak was reported in Ahmedabad in January 2017 and the second was reported in Tamil Nadu's Krishnagiri district in July that year.

Both these outbreaks were successfully contained through intensive surveillance and vector management, the ministry had said earlier.

The disease continues to be on surveillance radars of the Union Health Ministry although it is no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern under WHO notification since November 18, 2016.  -- PTI
22:44  16 IAF personnel airlifted from Arunachal Pradesh:  
All the 16 air force personnel on on board the helicopter that made an emergency landing at West Tuting on Thursday were airlifted from there and brought to the IAF station in Jorhat Friday, IAF sources said.

The 16 Indian Air Force personnel arrived at their Jorhat base this afternoon, the sources said.

The MI-17 chopper which had taken off on routine mission from Jorhat to West Tuting and back to Jorhat had to make the emergency landing due to a technical snag on Thursday, said Shillong based IAF PRO Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh.

He said all the 16 IAF personnel on board the chopper were safe.

The technical snag occurred when the chopper was returning from West Tuting and had to stay back there, Singh said.  -- PTI
22:18  Rahul Gandhi enquires about Parrikar's health:  Congress president Rahul Gandhi enquired about the health of ailing Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar during a meeting on Friday in New Delhi with a senior party leader from the state, and wished him a speedy recovery.

Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Girish Chodankar met Gandhi in New Delhi on Friday.

Parrikar, 62, is admitted in the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi since mid-September.

"Party chief Rahul Gandhi inquired about the health of Parrikar during my meeting with him," Chodankar told PTI over the phone from the national capital.

He said Gandhi wished the Bharatiya Janata Party chief minister a speedy recovery.

Chodankar said his meeting with Gandhi was a courtesy visit during which they discussed organisational matters.

"He told me to be with party workers and connect to the people of the state," the GPCC president said.

The Congress is the main opposition party in Goa, where it emerged as the single largest political formation after polls in early 2017 but could not form its government.

Chodankar's meeting with Gandhi comes in the backdrop of the Congress seeking dismissal of the BJP-led government in Goa, claiming it has lost its majority in the assembly.

The Congress has 16 MLAs in the 40-member House.

The BJP, which has 14 MLAs, is ruling the state with the help of Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and the Goa Forward Party (which have three MLAs each), Independents, 3, and the Nationalist Congress Party, 1.

However, the BJP and its allies have said the Parrikar government is stable and enjoys majority in the assembly.  -- PTI
21:53  India wins election to UN Human Rights Council:  
India was elected to the United Nations' top human rights body on Friday for a period of three years beginning January 1, 2019, getting 188 votes in the Asia-Pacific category.

The 193-member UN General Assembly held elections for new members to the UN Human Rights Council.

The 18 new members were elected by absolute majority through a secret ballot.

Countries needed a minimum of 97 votes to get elected to the Council.

India was vying for a seat in the Asia Pacific category.

Along with India, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Fiji and Philippines had also staked a claim in the same regional group.

Given that there were five nations vying for five seats in the Asia Pacific category, India's election to the Council was all but certain.  -- PTI
21:47  Lord Ayyappa women devotees take vow to abide by tradition:  
Woman devotees of Lord Ayyappa Friday took a vow here to undertake pilgrimage to the Sabarimala hill shrine only in keeping with age old traditionsand avoid visiting it notwithstanding a favourable Supreme Court verdict.

Woman devotees, under the auspices of the Sabarimala Ayyappa Seva Samajam, took the vow at Valluvar Kottam hereafter a puja-ceremony to the accompaniment of 'chenda melam,' a traditional percussion instrument of Kerala.

Devotees held banners and placards like 'save the tradition', and said Ayyappa is a 'Naishtika Brahmachari' (celibate) and hence upholding the tradition they would visit the shrine only after crossing the menstrual cycle.

Male devotees also attended the programme, christened 'sathyapramanam yerkum nigazchi (an event to take vow)'.

Speakers at the event spoke on the hoary tradition of the shrine and the importance of abiding by it.

Recently, the apex court had paved the way for women of all age groups to visit the Sabarimala temple where women between 10 and 50 were not allowed.  -- PTI
20:51  Rahul, Pawar discussed seat-sharing for LS polls: NCP:  
Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Nationalist Congress Party supremo Sharad Pawar held discussions about a seat-sharing arrangement in Maharashtra for the next year's Lok Sabha elections, the NCP said on Friday.

The discussions were held in Delhi on Thursday, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said in Mumbai.

Senior Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Ashok Gehlot and NCP's Praful Patel were also present at the meeting.

The NCP proposed a 50:50 seat-sharing arrangement in the state, Malik said, adding that both the parties want to finalise it at the earliest.

He said Gandhi told Pawar that the Congress will discuss the proposal 'at the local (state) level'.

The Congress had contested 26 seats in the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and won two, while the NCP had fielded candidates in 22 seats and won four.

There are 48 Lok Sabha constituencies in Maharashtra.

On Friday, Pawar held a meeting of the NCP's core committee here to discuss the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

"Pawar informed the core committee about yesterday's meeting....We discussed the seats we may contest and the shortlisted candidates," Malik said.

The core committee also discussed issues such as power cuts and the drought situation in Maharashtra, he said, adding that the NCP will soon launch a protest over these.  -- PTI
20:06  Retail inflation up marginally to 3.77%:  
India's retail inflation rose marginally to 3.77 per cent in September owing to higher fuel and food prices, showed the government data released on Friday.

The inflation based on consume price index (CPI) had declined to a 10-month low of 3.69 per cent in the previous month.

In September 2017, it was at 3.28 per cent.

However, the inflation rate has remained well within the Reserve Bank of India's target of 4 per cent.

In categories such as cereals, meat and fish, eggs, milk products, retail inflation showed an upward trend.

In fruits, however, the inflation rate moderated in September.

The overall inflation in consumer food basket increased to 0.51 per cent as against 0.29 per cent in August, showed the data.

In fuel and light category, the rate of price rise was at 8.47 per cent in September.  -- PTI
19:49  Officials reject reports of possible Internet shutdown over next 2 days:  
Hours after a report suggested that Internet users across the globe may experience widespread network failures over the next 48 hours, a top government cyber security official clarified that there will not be any Internet shutdown in India.

"All arrangements are in place and there will be no internet shutdown in India as is being circulated in the media," Gulshan Rai, National Cyber Security Coordinator, was quoted as saying by NDTV.

Earlier, a report in ANI had suggested that key domain servers would be down because of routine maintenance work over the next two days, which could result in Internet users facing difficulties in accessing web pages or making any transactions in the next 48 hours.

The ANI report said the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) would carry out the maintenance work by changing the cryptographic key that helps protect the internet's address book or the Domain Name System (DNS).

This has been necessitated to counter rising incidents of cyberattacks, ICANN was quoted as saying.

However, the NDTV report quoted ICANN as saying that the ANI report's headline was 'click bait', and that there would be minimum impact to users.

'Unfortunately, that story carries a headline that is a click bait. There will be minimal impact to users. Note that data analysis suggests that more than 99 per cent of users whose resolvers are validating will be unaffected,' an ICANN spokesperson from Singapore was quoted as saying by NDTV.  -- Agencies
19:39  It is for PM to take a call on Akbar: Swamy:  
Describing the #MeToo movement as a 'good development', Bharatiya Janata Party MP Subramanian Swamy on Friday said it was for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a call on the fate of Union minister M J Akbar, who has been accused by multiple women of sexual harassment.

"Since the prime minister has appointed him, it is the prime minister's call. I won't make a public statement on this. It is his (Modi's) call," Swamy said.

The Rajya Sabha member, however, added that allegations being levelled against Akbar date back to a time when he was an editor and before he became a minister.

"Whether to make him pay for it with his ministership, only the prime minister can decide. He is in charge of all the ministers, and he has to fix accountability," Swamy said.

Supporting the #MeToo movement, which has encouraged countless women to share their stories of sexual harassment from men, he said he saw it as a good development.

There can be a few cases of somebody being deliberately framed, but that happens with everything, he said, adding that people are falsely accused of murder as well.

"We should encourage women to speak up," he said.

On a visit abroad, Akbar has so far not made any public comment on the charges against him.  -- ANI
19:27  NIA court orders attachment of four properties of Zakir Naik:  
A special National Investigation Agency court in Mumbai has ordered the attachment of four properties in Mumbai belonging to absconding Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, booked under an anti-terror law.

Charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act two years ago, Naik was declared a proclaimed offender by the court in June 2017.

Following the same, the NIA had attached two flats and a commercial establishment in the city belonging to the 52- year-old televangelist.      

The central agency's application seeking permission to attach four properties in the Mazgaon area that were owned by Naik was allowed Thursday by the special court.

The court accepted the plea after the NIA submitted that Naik, staying overseas, was trying to sell these properties since his funding from various sources has been stopped after the central agency filed a case against him.

Advocate Anand Sukhdev, who appeared for the NIA, told the court that Naik was trying to obtain citizenship in several foreign nations and therefore, was trying to raise money for the same by selling these Mazgaon properties.

In November 2016, the central government had declared Naik's Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation as an 'unlawful' association under the UAPA.

Soon after, the NIA had registered a case against Naik, accusing him of having incited many persons to take up terror activities, and promoting enmity between different religious groups in India through his public speeches and lectures.  -- PTI
18:46  Modi to visit Japan on October 28-29:  
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay an official visit to Japan on October 28-29 to hold the annual India-Japan summit with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe which will focus on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interests, the External Affairs Ministry said on Friday.

It will be the fifth annual summit meeting between Modi and Abe and their 12 meeting overall since 2014.

Besides bilateral issues, the two leaders are expected to deliberate on a range of regional and global issues including the situation in the Indo-Pacific region.

"Under the framework of the Special Strategic and Global Partnership between India and Japan, the two leaders will have wide-ranging discussions over two days on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest," the MEA said.

It said the prime minister's visit will reaffirm the traditional bonds of friendship between the two countries and strengthen their multi-faceted cooperation in diverse fields.

"It will also advance the vision of India and Japan working together to promote peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond," the MEA said.  -- PTI
18:17  In democracy, information overload preferable to deficit: Prez:  
Calling the Right to Information a 'pedestal for transparent and participatory governance', President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday said that in a democracy there is no such thing as 'too much information' and 'information overload' is always preferable to its deficit.

Inaugurating the 13th annual convention of the Central Information Commission, the highest appellate authority in RTI matters, the President also made a strong pitch for modernisation of declassification protocols and maintenance of archives.

"There is also need to look at our declassification protocols for government and archival documents, and see how we can modernise these," he said.

The President said India has appointed half-a-million public information officers under the RTI Act with the estimated requests for information touching as high as six million a year which are astounding numbers.

He said open government and the pursuit of legitimate public oversight are a desirable and a dynamic process.

"We can never do enough; we can never aim too high," the President said.

He said people have a right to know how they are being governed, how public money is being spent, how public and national resources are being deployed, how public services are being delivered, and how public works and welfare programmes are being carried out.

"In a democracy, there is no such thing as too much information. Information overload is always preferable to information deficit," Kovind said.

He said the Right to Information Act, that came into force on October 12, 2005, builds on these principles creating a 'pedestal for transparent and participatory governance'.

"Free flow of information is the essence of a democracy. And for the people of a free and free-spirited country, information is power," said Kovind, who was part of Standing Committee deliberations when the law was being framed.

He said the RTI Act is not just a stand alone legislation but is a part of the larger narrative of strengthening Indian democracy, of ensuring transparency across systems of governance, and of building capacities of the common citizen to enable him or her to take informed decisions and make informed choices.

"Above all, it is about nurturing the social contract of trust between the citizen and the State '" where both must have faith in each other," he said.

The President said a related and parallel implication is to ensure a rational use of public resources to check instances of corruption or waste.

He said to inform, trust and ultimately empower ordinary citizens are admirable goals but they are not ends in themselves.

"It is only when we link this process to the realisation of definite objectives that engage, enable and ensure efficiency -- and so serve to make life that much better for the citizen -- that we complete the narrative of democracy. RTI is part of such a wider theme," Kovind said.

The President also asked the gathering to maintain a fine balance between Right to Information and Right to Privacy and cautioned against 'fringe cases' that try to use the RTI mechanism to settle personal scores.

"Especially in an age when privacy has become a matter of such intense debate, it is crucial to maintain this balance," he said.

Earlier speaking on the occasion, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh requested the gathering of information commissioners, activists, information officers and people to find out if 'unnecessary RTI applications' can be reduced as much of the information is readily available on government websites.

The Right to Information Act came into force on October 12, 2005.

The first application was filed by Shahid Raza Burney before the Pune Police the same day.  -- PTI
17:54  Did not happen on govt's watch: Uma Bharti on MJ Akbar :  Union Minister Uma Bharti on sexual harassment complaints against her colleague, MoS (External Affairs) MJ Akbar: "The matter is of the times when he was not a part of the central government. So, it is a matter between MJ Akbar and the women. Government can say nothing on this."

Several women, including a girl who was just 18 and intern at the Asian Age, have accused MJ Akbar of sexually harassing them when he worked as the editor of the newspaper. The Minister of State has not made any comment in his defence till now, nor is he in India. He is expected back this weekend from Nigeria.

Akbar may be asked to quit his position as a minister and work for the party as continuing to hold the portfolio has become untenable.

Union Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister for Woman and Child Development have also refrained from making any comment on the issue.

Textiles minister Smriti Irani came out in support of the #MeToo movement saying, "I think the gentleman concerned would be in a better position to speak. I appreciate that the media is accosting his female colleagues, but I think that it is for the gentleman concerned to issue a statement, not for me as I was not present there."

The only other minister to come out in support of the movement is her colleague Maneka Gandhi, the Union Minister for Women and Child Development. "There should be an investigation... Now that women have started speaking out, we should take it seriously," Maneka said.
17:28  SC refuses to stay WB decision to grant Rs 28 cr to Durga puja committees:  The Supreme Court Friday refused to stay the West Bengal government's decision to grant Rs 28 crore to 28,000 'Durga puja' committees in the state.

A bench comprising Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta agreed however to examine the issue whether a state, by exercising its discretionary powers, can grant money to 'puja' committees or clubs for religious activities. It issued a notice to the Mamta Banerjee government and sought its reply within six weeks.

"Issue notice. The counsel for the West Bengal government accepts notice. The reply be filed in six weeks and in the meantime, there will be no stay", the bench said, adding that the grant of money be distributed through state police to 'puja' committees.

Seeking a stay on the government's decision, the counsel for petitioner Sourav Dutta said it was against the principle of secularism, which is the basic structure of Constitution and the action of the government was "alarming" and may encourage communal passion.

At the outset, the bench asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the state government, as to how can the government grant such kind of gifts. -- PTI
16:51  #MeToo: Now, Calcutta Times editior under scanner :  Rituparna Chatterjee @MasalaBai Satadru Ojha, Calcutta Times editor named in sexual harassment case "is being relieved of his current duties and relocated to a different role and city to facilitate an unbiased investigation.": Official statement from TOI. 
16:26  '... He has a lot to atone for'. Farah on allegations against Sajid Khan:   Bollywood reacts to allegations of sexual harassment against Sajid Khan. 

Sister Farah took to Twitter to say, "This is a heartbreaking time for my family. We have to work through some very difficult issues. If my brother has behaved in this manner he has a lot to atone for. I don't in any way endorse this behaviour and stand in solidarity with any woman who has been hurt."

Farhan Akhtar writes on Twitter: "I cannot adequately stress how shocked, disappointed and heartbroken I am to read the stories about Sajid's behaviour. I don't know how but he will have to find a way to atone for his alleged actions."
16:09  Man shot dead in Mumbai's Dadar area, shooter flees:  
A 35-year-old man was on Friday shot at in Dadar in central Mumbai and he succumbed to injuries after being rushed to hospital, police said.

Manoj Mourya was shot from behind by an unidentified person on Senapati Bapat Road in Dadar West on Friday morning.

He was rushed to KEM Hospital in Parel where he died of bullet wounds, the official added.

The shooter managed to escape from the scene of incident and a hunt was on to nab him, he said.

CCTV footage from the busy area was being scoured by police teams, the official said.

A case of murder has been registered under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and further probe was underway, the official informed.

-- PTI
15:47  Tanushree to revive sexual harassment complaint against Nana:  Tanushree Dutta will send another letter to the Cine And TV Artistes' Association (CINTAA) requesting it to revive her 2008 complaint of sexual harassment against Nana Patekar, Ganesh Acharya, Samee Siddiqui and Rakesh Sarang.

The Cine and TV Artists Association this week apologised to the actress for not addressing her complaint of sexual harassment and intimidation appropriately in 2008. The association, which aims to protect the interests of film and television actors, said "no apologies can suffice' and resolved to ensure that such lapses do not repeat. 
15:44  DCW Chief urges PM Modi to oust MJ Akbar :  The chairman of the Delhi Commission for Women, Swati Maliwal, on Friday penned a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to oust Minister of State External Affairs MJ Akbar from the government on grounds of alleged sexual misconduct.

"Please remove MJ Akbar immediately from the government. It is not right that a man holding such a significant post continues to be in office even after facing flak from several women for alleged sexual misconduct," she said.

In her letter, Maliwal urged the Prime Minister to set up an investigation committee at the earliest and initiate a probe against the people who have been accused of sexual misconduct.

She also urged the Centre to set up more fast tracks courts and deploy more police across the country so that the women victims can get speedy justice.

Upset with the government for not taking any stringent action against the alleged accused, Maliwal said that this campaign has started in India because of poor working atmosphere for women and the tendency to oppress women for raising their voices against the men who misbehaved with them.

"I urge you (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) to not to let this movement get suppressed and help women victims to fight their battles for justice," she added.  -- ANI
15:37  Committee for public hearing of MeToo cases: Maneka:  Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi, a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement that is sweeping across urban India said that the government would form a four-member committee of retired judges to conduct public hearings of #MeToo cases.

The minister also proposed a committee with senior judicial, legal persons to look into all issues emanating from #MeToo.

Immediately after sexual harassemnt accusations against Mos Home MJ Akbar broke three days ago, Maneka Gandhi called for an investigation into the allegations, becoming the first union minister to lend her voice against Akbar.  

There must be an investigation. Men in position of power often indulge in such acts, Maneka told a news channel, reacting to allegations levelled on the editor-turned-politician by at nearly 10 women journalists.

Maneka noted that women in India have so far been scared to speak up against such behaviour. Now when women have gathered the courage to speak up, the allegations must be taken seriously, she said.

But so far, she has stopped short of calling for Akbars resignation.

She also reiterated her earlier stand that all sort of allegations of sexual misconduct must be investigated whenever they come to light, no matter how dated they are. I even wrote to the Law Ministry to scrap the time frame clause in the law as far as sexual harassment allegations are concerned, said Maneka.

15:37  Committee for public hearing of MeToo cases: Maneka:  Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi, a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement that is sweeping across urban India said that the government would form a four-member committee of retired judges to conduct public hearings of #MeToo cases.

The minister also proposed a committee with senior judicial, legal persons to look into all issues emanating from #MeToo.

Immediately after sexual harassemnt accusations against Mos Home MJ Akbar broke three days ago, Maneka Gandhi called for an investigation into the allegations, becoming the first union minister to lend her voice against Akbar.  

There must be an investigation. Men in position of power often indulge in such acts, Maneka told a news channel, reacting to allegations levelled on the editor-turned-politician by at nearly 10 women journalists.

Maneka noted that women in India have so far been scared to speak up against such behaviour. Now when women have gathered the courage to speak up, the allegations must be taken seriously, she said.

But so far, she has stopped short of calling for Akbars resignation.

She also reiterated her earlier stand that all sort of allegations of sexual misconduct must be investigated whenever they come to light, no matter how dated they are. I even wrote to the Law Ministry to scrap the time frame clause in the law as far as sexual harassment allegations are concerned, said Maneka.

15:29  Terrorism overwhelming threat to prosperity: Swaraj at SCO council meet:  External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday urged the SCO members including Pakistan to assume their national responsibility and cooperate with each other, saying terrorism remains the most overwhelming threat to development and prosperity.

In an apparent reference to the USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Swaraj said that all connectivity initiatives must be based on the principles of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, consultations, good governance, transparency, viability and sustainability.

India has opposed the CPEC projects and protested to China as it is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir Swaraj, who is in Tajikistan's capital to attend a two-day conclave of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's Council of Heads of Government, said: "terrorism remains the most overwhelming threat to our common goals of development and prosperity". -- PTI
15:13  Shocked, heartbroken, Farhan Akhtar says on Sajid Khan:  Farhan Akhtar @FarOutAkhtar I cannot adequately stress how shocked, disappointed and heartbroken I am to read the stories about Sajid's behaviour. I don't know how but he will have to find a way to atone for his alleged actions.
15:12  Sabarimala row: Protests against SC verdict continue:   Members of the Opposition Congress and BJP in Kerala Friday staged demonstrations to express solidarity with Ayyappa devotees even as the CPI, the key partner in the CPI-M led LDF, said there was an attempt to "politicise" the Supreme Court order on Sabarimala.

The BJP said its protest would not be confined to Kerala and would expand to other South Indian states. CPI state secretary Kannam Rajendran said, "LDF was not against believers. The government was bound to implement the Supreme Court order and it was doing only that."

"There was an attempt to politicse the issue," he added. A group of Congress activists including several women held a dharna in front of an office of the Travancore Devaswom Board, that manages the hill shrine with the slogan of 'Protect Sabarimala Temple'.  -- PTI
14:55  Black Money case: HC extends relief to Chidambaram's kin till Nov 2:  The Madras High Court Friday extended an interim order dispensing with the appearance of former Union minister P Chidambaram's family members before a special court in Chennai till November 2 in a case of 'non-disclosure' of foreign assets filed against them by the I-T department.

A division bench of Justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad, has already reserved its order on the main appeals moved by Chidambaram's wife, son and daughter-in-law, challenging the prosecution initiated against them by the Income Tax department under the Black Money Act.

On September 14, the court in an interim order dispensed with the appearance of Chidambaram's wife Nalini, his son, Karti and daughter-in-law Srinidhi before the special court for economic offences cases, Egmore till October 12. With the interim order coming to an end Friday, it was extended up to November 2. The issue pertains to alleged non-disclosure of overseas assets and bank accounts held by the trio. According to the I-T department, the three had failed to disclose a property they jointly own in Cambridge in the UK, worth Rs 5.37 crore, which amounted to an offence under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act. -- PTI
14:46  Akbar harassed intern when she was just 18:  "He got up and walked around his desk to where I was sitting, so I also got up and I extended my hand."

Majlie de Puy Kamp recalled in a conversation this week. "He grabbed me right under my shoulders, on my arms, and pulled me in and kissed me on my mouth and forced his tongue into my mouth, and I just stood there."

Akbar was 55 years old at the time; de Puy Kamp was 18, and on her gap year after finishing high school.

Read the account here.
14:40  Documents in Sunanda Pushkar case go missing :  Sunanda Pushkar case: Counsel for Shashi Tharoor informs Court that of the list of the documents, some files in the hard-disk are inaccessible. Court asks Delhi police to provide all the mentioned documents to the counsel of Shashi Tharoor before the next date of hearing, on October 23.
14:38  Sonia Faleiro @soniafaleiro Now this is good acting: Akshay Kumar behaving like he's never heard the rumors about #SajidKhan. I'm not an actor & I know the guy is dirt.
14:15  India's parallel penal system:   As long as laws like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act exist, there is potential for a rogue penal system. Read more here.
14:08  Rename Mumbai Central Rly station after Ambedkar: Athawale:  Union Minister Ramdas Athawale Friday demanded that Mumbai Central railway station be renamed after Dalit icon Babasaheb Ambedkar. In a statement issued Friday, the Union minister of state for Social Justice and Empowerment said that he would soon meet Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to submit this demand.
13:48  Parrikar may return to Goa during Diwali: Union minister:  Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who is undergoing treatment at AIIMS in Delhi, is expected to return to the state during Diwali, Union minister Shripad Naik said Friday.

Naik was part of a Goa BJP core committee that met Parrikar at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences earlier in the day. BJP's Goa unit president and Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Tendulkar was also present for the meeting.

"We took a review of the governance in Goa during the meeting. The chief minister is expected to return to Goa from AIIMS during Diwali," Naik told PTI over phone from Delhi after the meeting. Naik said the issue of allocation of additional portfolios to the cabinet ministers was also discussed during the meeting. -- PTI
13:25  #MeToo: Tata Motors corp comm chief sent on leave:  After creating a ripple in the Indian media sector, the #Metoo movement has found resonance in the Indian corporate sector with Tata Motors taking cognizance of the complaint against its corporate communications chief Suresh Rangarajan.

Website reported that in a statement released on October 11, Tata Motors said: "At Tata Motors, we have always striven to ensure a respectful and safe workplace for everyone. Any allegations are investigated and appropriate action is taken immediately. This matter has already been taken up for investigation by the Internal Complaints Committee, set up as per law. Any such behaviour is against the Tata code of conduct and appropriate action will be taken as soon the enquiry is completed."

The issue came to light when screenshots were shared on Twitter alleging that Rangarajan harassed young female employees.
12:55  #MeToo: Sajid Khan steps down as director Housefull 4:   Director Sajid Khan steps down as director of Housefull 4 after allegations of sexual harassment.

Three women have spoken about the harassment they faced at the hands of Sajid. These include actor Rachel White, assistant director Saloni Chopra and a journalist.

Sajid Khan tweeted, "In the wake of the allegations against me & the pressure being put on my family, my producer and the stars of my film Houseful4, i must take the moral responsibility of stepping down from my directorial post, till the time i can allay the allegations and prove the truth. I request my friends in the media to kindly not pass judgment till the truth is out."

Just ahead of Khan stepping down, Akshay Kumar has cancelled the shoot of Housefull 4. The actor confirmed so on Twitter.

"I've just landed back in the country last night and reading a (the news has been very disturbing. I've requested the producers of Housefull 4 to cancel the shoot until further investigation. This is something that requires stringent action. I will not work with any proven offenders and all those who have been subjugated to harassment should be heard and given the justice they deserve," Akshay said.

All Sajid Khan's victims have revealed their identity to the media and spelt out details of how they were harassed by Khan, the brother of choreographer-director Farah Khan, and director of films such as Humshakals, Himmatwala and Heyy Baby.

Housefull 4 is being produced by Sajid Nadiadwala and 70% of the shooting of the film has already been done in London and Jaisalmer.
12:04  Rahul on #MeToo: Truth needs to be told loud and clear for change :  Congress president Rahul Gandhi's first response on the #MeToo movement sweeping the country and singing the government with multiple complaints of sexual harassment against Union Minister and former journalist MJ Akbar. 

Yesterday, during a presser on Rafale and allegations that there was something fishy about Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's sudden visit to Paris to the Dassault plant, Rahul steered clear of answering questions on Akbar, saying while the #MeToo movement was very important he would address the issue at a separate press conference.

A day on, Rahul tweeted his support saying, "Its about time everyone learns to treat women with respect and dignity.  Im glad the space for those who don't, is closing. The truth needs to be told loud and clear in order to bring about change." 

File pic.
11:52  Ganga activist's death: Rahul vows to take fight for clean river forward:  Congress president Rahul Gandhi Friday hailed environmental activist GD Agarwal for his contribution towards saving the Ganga and vowed to take his fight forward.

Agarwal passed away at a hospital in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, on Thursday, 111 days after he began a fast for a pollution-free Ganga. He was 86.

Describing Agarwal as "the true son of mother Ganga", Gandhi said he gave away his life to save the river. "Saving the Ganga is like saving the country. We will never forget him and will take his fight forward," Gandhi said on Twitter. It is rivers like the Ganga that have made India, the Congress chief noted.

Agarwal, who began his hunger strike on June 22 demanding government measures to save the Ganga, died of a heart attack at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Rishikesh. The activist was admitted to hospital on Wednesday after he even gave up water. PTI
11:27  SC dismisses pleas of Kamal Nath, Pilot on voters' list of MP, Rajasthan:   The Supreme Court Friday dismissed two separate petitions of senior Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Sachin Pilot seeking directions to the Election Commission to provide the draft voter list in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in text format. Polls in Madhya Pradesh will be held on November 28 and in Rajasthan December 7.

A bench of justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said "we have dismissed these petitions". The apex court had reserved its verdict on October 8 on the plea of leaders alleging duplication of voters in the list and sought a proper redressal of grievances to ensure free and fair elections. -- PTI
11:19  'District presidents are the backbone of the Congress party'.:  This is Rahul's response to complaints from Congress workers and district presidents:

"District presidents are the backbone of the Congress party. I want that we should start working with district and block presidents in a better way to strengthen the district level. District presidents should conduct meetings on a regular basis. We should raise issues of interest and try to solve the matter as Congress party works, for the welfare of people, unlike the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh.

"I want all district presidents to maintain discipline in their districts. My aim is to involve the districts or block presidents to be a part of decision making process. The district level should connect and engage with the people," Rahul Gandhi said.

He also stated that any case of indiscipline should be reported to the state unit and if things are not settled, the district heads are free to take action.

This conversation went on for almost an hour and was concluded by All India Congress Committee general secretary Ashok Gehlot with a promise that the party will take all the suggestions and complaints seriously. He added that such conversations are aimed at motivating the available workforce.

Gehlot said, "Rahul Gandhi wants Zilla Congress Committee to work for the people, reach to the people and ask them their queries. Rahulji wants to strengthen the district and block levels." -- PTI
11:13  Leaders tell Rahul, indiscipline, ego, Delhi lobby, party's biggest problems:  Expressing discontentment, district presidents of the Congress party from various states told party president Rahul Gandhi that issues such as indiscipline among the party cadre, ego and lobby of senior leaders are creating problems for the party.

Sources told ANI that as part of an organisation-building exercise Rahul Gandhi had a telephonic interaction with party members, including district heads, to get ground-level feedback.

During the interaction, district heads informed Gandhi that senior leaders of the Congress are egotistic and often don't communicate with party workers.

According to sources, they further claimed that the district level leaders are unable to maintain discipline as people are being posted on the recommendation of the senior leaders and hence those who join are not bothered about the district units.

A district member from the West Bengal's Jalpaiguri district unit stated that Congress leaders have a big ego and are uninterested in meeting people, which affects the party agenda. He also requested Gandhi to contest elections in West Bengal sans any alliance and also criticised West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for being arrogant towards Congress leaders.

Echoing similar sentiments, a leader from Odisha said that senior leaders are not accessible.

Another top official from the party's Warangal district unit in Telangana alleged that senior party leaders do not care about them because they have a lobby in Hyderabad and Delhi, and tickets distribution is decided at that level.

After listening to the conversation carefully, Gandhi, while acknowledging the lack of discipline within the Congress, said the party will make sure that the district Congress units are given priority in the decision making process.

File pic.
10:48  Statue of Unity nears completion:  In Gujarat, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's 'Statue of Unity' at the banks of the Narmada is being given the final touches. It will be inaugurated on Sardar Patel's birth anniversary on October 31 by PM Narendra Modi.The Rs 2,980 crore-project is meant to be a tribute to the man who was instrumental in the making of a united India by canvassing across the country and negotiating with princely states and others to become a part of independent India.
10:35  Sensex recovers over 600 pts ahead of key macro data :  The BSE benchmark Sensex staged a strong comeback by recovering over 600 points in opening trade Friday following fresh purchases made by domestic investors ahead of key macroeconomic data to be released later in the day, fall in global crude prices and rupee recovery.

Positive leads from most other Asian markets too fuelled the uptrend. The 30-share Sensex climbed 639.80 points, or 1.88 per cent, to 34,640.95 with all the sectoral indices trading in the positive zone.

The gauge had plummeted over 750 points to end at a six-month low. The NSE Nifty was trading above the 10,400-mark, up 174.30 points, or 1.70 per cent, at 10,408.95.

Meanwhile, the rupee strengthened by 38 paise to 73.74 against the US dollar in early trade in the forex market after global crude prices eased. Brokers said besides rupee recovery, built-up of positions by investors ahead of index of industrial production numbers for August and inflation data for September - to be released later in the day - too impacted investor sentiment here. -- PTI
10:20  Senior RSS leader backs #MeToo movement:  
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Joint General Secretary Dattatreya Hosabale has come out in support of the #MeToo movement.

He shared a Facebook post of Ankhi Das, Public Policy Director of the social networking site, on his Twitter account. 

She had said, "You needn't have a #MeToo moment to support the woman journalists who have narrated their victimisation. You needn't even be a woman. You just need to have a sensibility of what is right and what is wrong."

Hosabale, who is seen as a moderate face of the saffron organisation, tweeted her post and said, "I liked it. She has articulated what I was feeling."
09:52  Director Sajid Khan accused of sexual harassment by 2 women:  
Director Sajid Khan, one among Bollywood's top brass, has been accused of sexual harassment by at least two women, even as the #MeToo movement gained momentum across the country.

Model-actor Saloni Chopra, in a long post on Medium, leveled allegations on Khan, apart from also naming Vikas Bahl and Zain Durrani.

According to Chopra's post, her ordeal with Khan dates back to 2011, when she was working as an assistant director. She recounted multiple instances of sexual, mental and emotional abuse by Khan, where he allegedly forced her to send him photos of herself in a bikini, also called her late into the night under the pretense of work.

The second person to accuse Khan of sexual harassment was Karishma Upadhyay, a journalist who writes for Firstpost, among other publications.

She shared an alleged incident of Khan sexually assaulting her whilst an interview. Khan allegedly exposed himself to her during an interview, forcibly kissed her and did not allow her to leave.

Sajid Khan is only the latest to join the long list of people being accused of sexual harassment in Bollywood. 
09:20  Commander Abhilash Tomys back fixed after 2-hour surgery:  
Champion sailor Commander Abhilash Tomy underwent a surgery at an army hospital on Thursday for a back injury he suffered while negotiating a deadly storm in the southern Indian Ocean that left his yacht crippled three weeks ago.

Air Commodore MS Sridhar, the militarys senior-most neurosurgeon, fixed Tomys back in a two-hour procedure, the navy said in a tweet. The 39-year-old is recovering well from the surgery, with his sense of humour intact.

This naval legend @abhilashtomy now has a back of steel. The Docs r totally floored by the resolve and determination of Abhilash. Also compliment his sense of humour. Wish you a super speedy recovery sailor boy, navy spokesperson Captain DK Sharma tweeted. Sharma met him at the hospital.

Platinum sir. My value has just gone up, Tomy responded on Twitter.

Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba met Tomy after the surgery and wished him speedy recovery.

Tomy was participating in this years Golden Globe Race, a circumnavigation challenge involving solo participants, and which bars the use of modern technology.

He suffered a debilitating back injury on September 21 after the rough seas and powerful winds pummeled his yacht Thuriya, sending it into a 360-degree spin. He was rescued three days later by French patrol vessel Osiris in a dramatic mission.

Image: Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of the Naval Staff of the Indian Navy, interacts with Commander Tomy after his surgery. Photograph: @CaptDKS/Twitter
08:56  Air India flight hit Trichy airport wall during take-off, 136 on board:  
A Dubai-bound Air India flight hit the boundary wall at Trichy Airport in Tamil Nadu late last night.

130 passengers and crew members who were on board are safe.

The Air India Express flight was diverted to Mumbai after one of its wheels hit the wall at 1:20 am.
08:01  Reliance has 10 per cent of offset in Rafael deal: Dassault CEO :  
Dassault Aviation's joint venture with Reliance represents around 10 per cent of the offset investments under the Rafale jet deal, Dassault CEO Eric Trappier has said. 
"We're in talks with about 100 Indian firms, including around 30 with which we've already confirmed partnerships," Trappier said.

Separately on Thursday, speaking at a briefing in Paris, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman reiterated the government's claim that it had no idea that Dassault Aviation would team up with Reliance Group, run by Anil Ambani.

Several reports say Dassault was forced to choose Reliance by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, despite its having almost no experience in the aviation sector.

On the eve of Sitharaman's visit, French investigative website Mediapart quoted the notes of a meeting between Dassault management and workers' representatives which described the choice of Reliance as "imperative and compulsory".

"We are very clear: With the government of France, we agreed to purchase 36 Rafale aircraft in flyaway condition," Sitharaman said.

"And in an intergovernmental agreement, there are no mentions of any individual firms," she said.

"It is more for the companies which have chosen A, B or C as their partners to answer questions if there are any," she said.

In a statement, Dassault released a transcript of what it said was Trappier's interview in which he was asked about the status of the offsets.

"Signing an offset contract is a requirement of Indian law (Defence Procurement Procedure). The implementation of offsets is an obligation and, under the Indian regulation, the choice of the partners belongs to us, Trappier was quoted as saying.

Dassault negotiated for years with  Hindustan Aeronautics Limited  for the order, with the jets being jointly built in India.

But those talks were cancelled after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office, when he decided to purchase the jets directly from France. 

Asked why Dassault chose Reliance over HAL as its partner, Trappier said Dassault Aviation decided to establish a long-term presence in India through DRAL, a joint enterprise in which governance is provided by an Indian Chief Executive Officer and a French Chief Operating Officer. 
00:12  #MeToo: Subhash Ghai rejects sexual assault charges:  
Subhash Ghai is the latest Bollywood figure to be accused of rape with an anonymous woman alleging that he spiked her drink and then sexually assaulted her, a claim the director 'strictly and firmly' denied on Thursday.

The anonymous account shared on Twitter by writer Mahima Kukreja, who was one of the first women to accuse comedian Utsav Chakraborty of sexual harassment last week.

Kukreja said the woman is 'very credible media/lit personality, who does not want to be named'.

The woman said she worked with Ghai on a film years ago and he started taking an extra interest in her and would often call her for script sessions at his apartment, which he would allegedly call his 'thinking pad'.

She claims he once forcefully kissed her but tried to pacify her the next day by calling the incident a 'lover's tiff'.

She said she told the first assistant director and two other women about the incident but decided to let it go because she had no job or financial security at that time.

She alleges that after a late music session, he decided to have a drink and offered one to her, which 'was spiked' while he was dropping her home in the car.

The woman remembers being taken to a hotel room and assaulted before losing consciousness.

When contacted, 73-year-old Ghai told PTI, "It is sad that it is becoming a fashion to malign anyone known, bringing some stories from past without any truth or blown up false allegations if all. I deny strictly and firmly all false allegations like these."

The director said he has always been respectful towards women in life as well in workplace.

"If she claims this way, she should go to the court of law and prove it. Justice will be done or I will go for defamation certainly," he added.  -- PTI

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