Sun, 02 April 2017
Over 200 killed in Colombia mudslide; rescue efforts on

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21:46   Over 200 killed in Colombia mudslide; rescue efforts on
The death toll from a devastating landslide in the Colombian town of Mocoa stood at around 200 on Sunday as rescuers clawed through piles of muck and debris in search of survivors.

The Colombian Red Cross, which provided the revised consolidated toll, said it was unclear how many people were still missing.

An earlier Red Cross tally said 234 had been killed and more than 100 were unaccounted for. A spokesman for the organisation said the miscount was due to confusion about the identities of the victims.

At least 203 people were injured, some 300 families were affected and 25 homes destroyed, the Red Cross said.

The Pacific rim of South America has been hard hit in recent months by floods and mudslides, with scores killed in Peru and Ecuador as well.

Over a thousand emergency personnel, including soldiers and local police, were deployed to help the rescue effort. Mocoa was left without power or running water, and there were reports of people looting stores searching for bottled water. -- Agencies

IMAGE: Rescue agencies look for bodies in a destroyed area after heavy rains caused several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads in Mocoa, Colombia. Photograph: Jaime Saldarriaga/Reuters
19:57   Terrorists hurl grenade at police party in Nowhatta; 1 killed
One policeman killed and at least 13 others injured in a grenade attack by terrorists in Nowhatta area of old Srinagar on Sunday.

Terrorists hurled the grenade on a police party next to Ganjbaksh Park in Nowhatta area of the city at around 7 pm when the cops were withdrawing from there after day-long law and order duty, a police official said.

He said 14 policemen were injured in the grenade blast.

However, media reports later claimed that one policeman has died in the attack.

The injured cops were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

The official said miscreants had engaged the cops by pelting stones on them in the same area.

Image for representation only.
19:00   Adityanath to hold first cabinet meet on April 4
Two weeks after taking oath, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will hold the first meeting of his cabinet on April 4. Key issues in the Bharatiya Janata Partys poll manifesto, especially farmers' loan waiver, could be taken up at the meeting.

"The cabinet meeting will be held in the evening on April 4," state Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh told reporters in Lucknow.

He, however, did not elaborate on the issues to be taken up during the meeting.

"The agenda has not been finalised so far," he said.

The BJP, in its Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra (manifesto), had promised to waive the loans of small and marginal farmers and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in his election speeches that writing off farmers' loans would be among the foremost tasks of the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh.

Modi had promised during his election campaign that a decision on loan waiver would be taken at the first cabinet meeting of the BJP government in the state. -- PTI
18:06   Path of bloodshed hasn't helped anyone: PM to Kashmiri youth
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has just finished addressing a public meeting in Jammu and Kashmir's Udhampur. Excerpts from his address:

-- Some misguided youngsters are pelting stones but see here, youth of Kashmir are using the same stones to build infrastructure, he said referring to 'Chenani-Nashri Tunnel' he inaugurated today.

-- Every Indian wants to see Jammu and Kashmir. The beauty of this land can draw so many people. Tourism will also bring economic growth.

-- Youth of Kashmir have a choice to select one of the two paths -- one of tourism the other of terrorism.

-- The path of bloodshed has not helped any one and will never help anyone.

-- I want to specially thank CM Mehbooba Mufti. The Centre announced a package for the state and work has begun on the same.

-- Whenever I come to Jammu and Kashmir, it is natural to remember the vision and work of Atal ji.

-- Our sole Mantra is development and the way we want to achieve that is through jan bhagidari (participation of people). We want to involve the youth.
17:19   14 cell phones seized from inmates in Baramulla sub-jail
Police today recovered 14 cell phones along with some 'incriminating material' from inside a sub-jail in Baramulla district of north Kashmir.

"FIR has been registered against 10-12 inmates and investigation is on as to how these articles, which are not authorised as per the jail manual, have made entry into jail premises," a police official said.

A joint search was conducted by Baramulla Police and Jail authorities in sub-jail Baramulla on the basis of information that some 'incriminating material' including, unauthorised cell phones were being used inside the jail premises, the official said.

IMAGE: Phones seized from a jail in Baramulla, Jammu and Kashmir> Photograph: ANI
16:09   PM inaugurates India's longest tunnel in Kashmir
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates India's longest road tunnel the Chenani-Nashri tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir.

The longest highway tunnel in India also happens to be Asia's longest bi-directional highway tunnel with fully transverse ventilation system, he said. It also comes with fully-integrated tunnel control system with ventilation, communication, power supply, incident detection, SOS call box and fire fighting.

Fitted with intelligent traffic mechanism, the tunnel will have fully automatic smart control and no human intervention will be required for its operations.

The work on the twin-tube tunnel, which is part of a 286-km-long four-lane project on the highway, started on May 23, 2011, in the lower Himalayan mountain range.

The tunnel is located at an elevation of 1,200 metres. Constructed by IL&FS, the tunnel is all set to be handed over to National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) soon after its formal inauguration by the prime minister.

"The project will result in a saving of Rs 27 lakh per day based on traffic estimates and would cut the travel distance between Jammu and Sringar by 41 km," Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari had said.
15:31   Were just having fun, say students booked for chasing Irani's car
Two of the accused, who had chased Union Minister Smriti Irani's car, today tendered apology and said that they were just having fun which went out of context.

"We four were returning from our friend's birthday party. We do agree that we have flouted the rules. We were making a video for Instagram and the music in the car was loud. We were just making funny videos. When we overtook the car, we didn't know that Smriti Irani was there in it. We would have not done this if we knew that it was Smriti Iranis car," said one of the accused.

"We have apologised for our mistake. We have not done anything objectionable, but if she feels so then we are apologising for it. We do agree that they have taken the right action against us. We won't repeat this ever," he added.

The other accused also apologised for the mistake, saying they were not aware that Irani was there in that car.

"We apologised for our misconduct but they didn't listen to us and took us to the police station. We had consumed alcohol because we had gone to our friend's birthday party," he said. -- ANI
14:42   SC rejects plea to stop MPs from practising other professions
The Supreme Court has dismissed a plea seeking to restrict lawmakers from practising any other profession, saying though the petitioner has a valid point the issue is beyond the realm of its jurisdiction.

"The prayers made in this petition do not fall within the realm of our jurisdiction under Article 32 of the Constitution of India. The writ petition is accordingly dismissed," a bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud said.

The bench observed that the petitioner in the matter has been affiliated to a political party and though he has a valid point, the court cannot frame policies in this regard.

"There are doctors who became IAS officers and engineers who are diplomats," the court told the petitioner, adding, "You also have a political affiliation."

The petitioner, advocate and Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, told the bench that the restriction imposed on judges and public servants against engaging in other professions should also be applied to the lawmakers.

"Today, I saw five MPs in the Supreme Court. They have come here after signing a register at 11 am in Parliament," he told the court.

To this, the bench said, "Your arguments make sense, but how can we frame policies?"

The petitioner had sought framing of a uniform policy to restrict the lawmakers from practising any other profession.

He had said in his plea that members of Parliament 'must attend Parliament everyday and dedicate themselves full-time for the welfare of people' as they have a very important role in the federal system. -- PTI
14:40   Rajinikathn's fans urge him to join politics and 'save India'
Although superstar Rajinikanth has said several times that he has no political ambition, his fans have not given up their demand.

On Sunday, several of his fans assembled at Raghvendra Mandapam in Chennai to urge the superstar to join politics.

Only the district president, secretary and treasurer of his fans' association were allowed into the hall. The rest shouted slogans outside.

They asked the 'Thalaiva' to 'save Tamil Nadu', and a few more ambitious ones asked him to 'save India'.

They have already designed a tri-coloured flag with Rajinikanth's face at the centre. -- A Ganesh Nadar/ from Chennai
13:21   Naidu inducts son, 4 YSRC turncoats in AP cabinet
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu's son Nara Lokesh, four MLAs of the opposition Yuvajana, Shramika, Rythu Congress who switched loyalty to the ruling Telugu Desam Party-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition, and six others were today inducted into the Andhra Pradesh cabinet.

Five incumbent ministers were dropped in the maiden reorganisation of the state council of ministers since the government was formed on June 8, 2014.

Soon after the rejig, one of the dropped ministers Bojjala Gopala Krishna Reddy resigned from his assembly membership.

The veteran TDP leader from Chittoor forwarded his resignation letter to assembly Speaker Kodela Sivaprasada Rao this morning. A copy of the letter was also sent to the CM.

Governor E S L Narasimhan administered the oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers at a function near the state government's transitional headquarters at Velagapudi. The AP cabinet's strength has now increased to 26.

Nara Lokesh was elected to the state Legislative Council under the MLAs' quota last month.

The four YSRC MLAs, who were sworn-in as ministers included R V Sujay Krishna Rao, Bhuma Akhila Priya, Ch Adinarayana Reddy and N Amarnatha Reddy. -- PTI
12:35   JNU moves HC to restrain students from holding demonstration
The Jawaharlal Nehru University administration has moved the Delhi high court seeking direction to restrain its students from staging any demonstration within 100 metres of the administrative block.

The plea by the JNU administration was filed before Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, who had recently asked the students to ensure the decibel levels were kept low during protests so that there was no disturbance in the functioning of the university.

The court had on March 17 modified its order restraining the students from protesting within 100 metres of the block and had directed that the protest, if any, should be peaceful and not block lanes or roads leading to the administrative block.

Alleging that the students of JNU have disobeyed the court's direction, despite assurance given by them before it, the plea has sought action against the ones who have violated the order.

The petition by JNU's counsel Monika Arora has sought 'immediate indulgence of the court' while highlighting that on March 23 the students had staged a dharna, burnt the effigy of the Vice Chancellor right outside the administrative block and blocked entry and exit of university officials.

While seeking direction to the police to provide adequate security as and when requested, the plea sought direction that 'no dharna/demonstration/street plays etc. will be allowed with or without noise making instruments within 100 metres of the administrative block' of the JNU.

The court has fixed the plea for hearing on April 12. -- PTI

Representative image only.
11:46   Political parties under RTI: CIC keeps issue 'in abeyance'
Chief Information Commissioner R K Mathur has directed to keep 'in abeyance' the matter pertaining to political parties not adhering to the Right to Information Act, thus putting the controversial issue in cold storage.

The note, in this regard, was issued after Bimal Julka, one of the members of the bench hearing the case, recused himself on December 23, 2016.

'Till the bench is reconstituted or a decision taken on IC (BJ) note, the proceedings may temporarily remain in abeyance,' Mathur had stated on December 29, 2016.

Nearly three months later, there is no word on replacement of Julka in the bench and the matter hangs in a limbo.

The file notings have now been disclosed by the Central Information Commission under the RTI Act to activist R K Jain, who had filed a complaint against political parties.

Mathur's direction to keep the hearing in abeyance comes in spite of a 2014 order of the Delhi high court to the Commission to decide within six months the complaint filed by Jain.

The activist has alleged that the parties were not replying to RTI applications and have not put in place any infrastructure mandated under the RTI Act.

Six national parties -- the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Communist Party of India-Marxist, the Communist Party of India and the Bahujan Samaj Party were brought under the ambit of the RTI Act by a Full Bench of the Commission on June 3, 2013.

This order was neither challenged in a high court nor changed but the political parties have refused to entertain the RTI applications directed at them. -- PTI
11:02   400 CRPF men fall ill after consuming food in Kerala
At least 400 jawans attached to the CRPF camp at Pallipuram were taken ill due to suspected food poisoning, the police said.

They were admitted to various hospitals in the city following complaints of diarrhoea and vomiting after consuming food yesterday, they said.

Initial investigations suggested that the jawans fell ill after consuming fish curry.

Around 109 jawans are under observation at Trivandrum Medical College Hospital. State Health Minister K K Shylaja visited them at the hospital last night and a probe has been ordered. 
10:32   'Mentally unstable' shrine custodian hacks 20 devotees to death in Pakistan
At least 19 people were hacked to death by a shrine custodian in Sargodha, Pakistan on Friday night. Officials said that the accused is mentally unstable.

Sargodha Deputy Commissioner Liaquat Ali Chatta told India Today that the accused identified as Abdul Waheed used a dagger and baton to kill all his victims. He added that Waheed is mentally unstable. 
Chatta said that the incident was reported by one of the injured victims who was rushed to the District Hospital in Sargodha. He said that she was one of the three survivors who managed to flee from the scene.

Taking action upon her information, a team of police personnel rushed to the shrine and arrested the suspect. At least 19 bodies were recovered from the area surrounding the shrine.
09:51   Trump earns majority of Americans' disapproval in record time
US President Donald Trumps job approval ratings are low in any context, but they look even worse through a historical lens.

Gallups latest poll shows 38 per cent of American adults approve of the job Trump is doing as president, and 56 per cent disapprove.

Whats different is the timing. It took far more than a year before presidents from Ronald Reagan through Barack Obama earned the disapproval of a majority of the public, according to Gallup. It took Trump just over a week.
09:30   PM Modi to inaugurate Jammu And Kashmir Tunnel today
Amid high alert and multi-tiered security, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate India's longest road tunnel on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway today, making it operational for traffic.

Multi-tier security has been put in place ahead of the prime minister's visit amid alert along the border and high degree of vigilance in Jammu and Kashmir.

"It is a matter of great pride for the people of Jammu and Kashmir that this great tunnel is being dedicated to the nation by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi - the most popular PM. It is dedicated to the nation in keeping with his call for a new India," Union Minister of State in PMO, Jitendra Singh said.

The PM will also address a public rally at Battal Ballian in Udhampur district after inaugurating the tunnel.

The tunnel will save fuel worth nearly Rs 99 crores a year. "Rs. 27 lakh worth of fuel is likely to be saved per day," Mr Singh said.

The tunnel will reduce the travel time between the two state capitals of Jammu and Srinagar by two hours. The distance from Chenani and Nashri will now be 10.9 km (between two ends of the tunnel), instead of the existing 41 km.
08:46   Pak ex-minister becomes victim of April Fool's Day prank
Pakistan's former interior minister Rehman Malik today fell for a April Fool's Day prank when he reacted to a fake news story about naming of Islamabad's new airport after Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Express Tribune early today ran a story as an April Fool's Day prank on its website that the government has decided to name a new airport in the capital after the Chinese leader.
Hours later the prank elicited a serious reaction from Malik who expressed 'serious reservations' over it as the airport is named after Benazir Bhutto, the slain leader of Pakistan Peoples Party.

He warned the government that his party would take the issue to an 'extreme level' if it tried to the rename the airport.

"The government should avoid taking any steps which may hurt the feelings of the public," Malik said in a statement issued to the media.

"There is no precedent in the past to rename organisations [or facilities] which are named after national heroes," he said.

He also asked the government for a clarification.
08:07   Indian woman told to strip at Frankfurt airport, Sushma Swaraj seeks report
A 30-year-old Indian woman travelling from Bengaluru to Iceland this week was told to strip by Frankfurt airport security officers this week. They backed out, but only after her husband, an Icelandic, walked into the room at her insistence. "Are brown people not suspicious if we have European partners or co-travellers?" she asked in a Facebook post where she put out an angry note, detailing the incident of March 29.

As details of the incident emerged today, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj sought a report from the consulate general of India in the German city.

Shruthi Basappa said she had cleared the full body scan. But the security officers still had their doubts. She told them that she was willing to go through a pat down search but requested they be gentle about it as she had gone through an abdominal surgery just two weeks back. She had the medical records to back her request but they refused.

For someone who has lived in Europe for about six years, Basappa alleges it was a clear case of racial-profiling, something that she thought she was used to; being singled out for "random" security checks and pat downs. This time, she alleged, it went a step further.

"I was asked to remove the dress I was wearing. Yes. Remove my clothes. Is this the new norm? Isn't it enough to always be the one random person picked out of line that now I need to wrap my head around the fact that I might be asked to strip? Do I need to wax my legs? Do I need to carefully put together a special 'for travel lingerie' set that has nothing to do with seducing my husband but more about hiding the outrage, anger, humiliation and disgust that is an inevitable part of travelling through airports?" the architect said in her angry post on Facebook.

At the airport, Basappa had stood her ground, refusing to pull up her dress and demanded that her husband be called in. She says the tone and tenor of the officers changed after they saw her Icelandic husband. The strip search quickly turned into a pat down, something she was willing to do much before the whole nightmare.

But the change in the security officer's approach makes "this whole thing worse for me".

"How was I not a threat then? I dread to think if I was alone or my husband not European what would have happened" she asked.