Sun, 22 October 2017
Congress invites Hardik, Mevani to meet Rahul Gandhi

Timeline  Refresh

21:50   Congress invites Hardik, Mevani to meet Rahul Gandhi
The Congress today invited Patel quota agitation leader Hardik Patel and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani to meet party vice president Rahul Gandhi during his visit to Ahmedabad tomorrow ahead of the assembly polls.

Gandhi will take part in 'Navsarjan Gujarat Janadesh' rally organised by the party in Gandhinagar where OBC leader Alpesh Thakor will join the Congress.

Congress's invite to Patel and Mevani comes a day after its state unit president Bharatsinh Solanki extended open invitation to Patel, Mevani and Thakor to join the party to ensure the ruling BJP's defeat.

"Rahul Gandhi will be coming to Ahmedabad tomorrow. We have invited Hardik Patel and other leaders of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti. They had given a memorandum to us and we are positive about their demands," Solanki said today.

"Rahul ji will hold a meeting with them before the rally and discuss all the issues and will invite them to support the Congress," Solanki said.

"We have separately invited Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani and others after the rally; Rahul ji will meet them and discuss their issues," Solanki said.

Thakor, the leader of OBC Ekta Manch, will join the Congress with his associates at the rally, Solanki said.

Gandhi is also likely to meet Chotu Vasava, the leader of Janata Dal-United in Gujarat, during his one-day visit.

Thakor met Gandhi in Delhi yesterday and later announced that he would soon join the party.

The Congress, which is out of power in Gujarat for 22 years, is wooing leaders such as Hardik Patel, Mevani and Thakor who have significant support base in their respective communities.  -- PTI
20:20   They can't say anything to me, so attacking EC: PM on Opposition
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that the Opposition parties have no 'authority' to question the Election Commission and its decisions.

"The Opposition parties have no 'authority' to question the EC over the election schedule. People are having issues on my visit to Vadodara. They cannot say anything to me, therefore, they putting pressure on the EC. But I want to make it clear that they do not have any right to point a finger at the Commission," he said.

Further taking a jibe at former finance minister P Chidambaram, the prime minister said, 'Someone' who won during 'recounting' is targeting the EC now.

Trying to woo electorates of Gujarat, the prime minister added that development is Centre's prime focus.

"We are clear in our working. All our resources will be spent towards the well-being of every citizen. Not a penny of public money will be given to those opposing development," Prime Minister Modi said.

"Since I was a child I was hearing about a ferry service from Ghogha to Dahej. It was not done all these years because development was never a priority for them. When we got a chance to serve we focussed on all-round development and the ferry is operational today," he added.

This is Prime Minister Modi's third visit to his home state Gujarat this month.Ruling BJP, has launched 'Gujarat Gaurav Yatra', its biggest mass outreach programme in poll-bound Gujarat, that will cover 149 out of 182 constituencies.

The yatra publicises the achievements of the BJP government across the state.  -- ANI

Photograph: Press Information Bureau of India
19:57   BJP leader seeks debate on Tipu, wants history to be rewritten
Demanding that India's history should be rewritten, Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya today said there should be a debate on Tipu Sultan, the 18th-century ruler of Mysore.

"The history of India has not been written properly. It needs to be rewritten. Tipu Sultan's place in history should be reconsidered and there should be a debate on the issue," he told reporters in Indore.

The statement comes at a time when the Congress and the BJP in Karnataka are headed for a showdown over Tipu Jayanti (Tipu Sultan's birth anniversary) celebrations on November 10.

Union minister Anantkumar Hegde has conveyed to the Karnataka government that he does not to want to be invited to the 'shameful' event.

"Those who wrote the history of India were, in a way, slaves of the British. They have deliberately written it in such a way that we do not take pride in our great icons," Vijayvargiya said.

"Maharana Pratap and Akbar (both Indian kings) were contemporaries. But in history, Akbar is described as great, whereas Maharana Pratap, who ate rotis made of grass and lived in the forest for the sake of the country and culture, is not referred to as great," he added.

The BJP leader also alleged that great personalities had not got the places they deserved due to the sycophancy of the historians.

Vijayvargiya also expressed confidence that the saffron party would win the upcoming Gujarat Assembly polls with a huge majority.  -- PTI
19:41   Abe sweeps to resounding victory in Japan vote
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe swept to a resounding victory in a snap election today, winning a mandate to harden his already hawkish stance on North Korea.

Abe's conservative coalition was on track to win 311 seats in the 465-seat parliament, according to a projection published by private broadcaster TBS, putting him on course to become Japan's longest-serving leader.

Abe was heading for a 'landslide win', the top-selling Yomiuri daily said on its website, as the premier's gamble to hold a snap election appeared to be paying off.

But it was unclear in the immediate aftermath of the vote whether Abe's coalition would retain its two-thirds 'supermajority', requiring 310 seats, as some media had it falling just short.

A 'supermajority' would allow Abe to propose changes to pacifist Japan's United States-imposed constitution that forces it to renounce war and effectively limits its military to a self-defence role.

Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) benefited from a weak and splintered opposition, with the two main parties facing him created only a matter of weeks ago.  -- Agencies
18:35   Normalcy will be restored only when Rohingyas return: Swaraj in Dhaka
"India is deeply concerned at the spate of violence in Rakhine State of Myanmar," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said in Dhaka.

Swaraj made the remarks after co-chaired 4th Joint Consultative Commission meeting with her Bangladeshi counterpart A H Mahmood Ali.

"We have urged that the situation be handled with restraint, keeping in mind the welfare of the population," she said.

"It is clear that normalcy will only be restored with the return of the displaced persons to Rakhine state," Swaraj said.

"The only long-term solution to the situation in Rakhine state is rapid socio-economic and infrastructure development that would have a positive impact on all the communities living in the state," she said on the first day of her two-day Dhaka visit.

"We are determined to protect our societies from threat of ideologies of hate, violence and terror by adopting a zero tolerance policy and a comprehensive approach in fighting violent extremism and terrorism at all levels," the external affairs minister said.  -- ANI
18:14   Weinstein to remain in rehab at least till next month
Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein will stay in a rehabilitation centre at least till the next month amid the sexual harassment scandal.

The media mogul's spokesperson told People magazine that he will continue to be under treatment at the facility, despite his constant insistence to be shifted to a five-star hotel.

"Mr Weinstein is receiving in-patient as well as outpatient medical treatment for the next month or so," the spokesperson said.

Another insider told People, the producer believes he does not needs assistance round-the-clock.

"He agreed to treatment, but he doesn't think he needs rehab," they said.

However, another Weinstein source claims that the media mogul has accepted that he needs help.

"His team set him up at a secure place to get him the help he needs -- he knows and wants help. Specialists and at least one doctor are coming to him and he's taking the therapy seriously. He's not taking this lightly. This has been something he's actually been working on for a while."

In his first statement after the controversy blew up, Weinstein had said he is trying to be a better person and knows that he has a long way to go.

"My journey now will be to learn about myself and conquer my demons... I've brought on therapists... to deal with this issue head on. I so respect all women and regret what happened. I hope that my actions will speak louder than words," he had said.

Over 40 women, including names such as Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lupita Nyong'o and Lena Headey, have come forward to accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct after a New York Times expose, which revealed that he settled with more than eight women.

The NYT story was followed by a more detailed report in the New Yorker.  -- PTI
17:34   Economy is strong, will continue to take tough decisions: PM
"After all hardcore reforms, the economy is on track and moving in right direction," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at rally in Dahej, Gujarat.

"Many economists agree that the fundamentals of economy are strong. We have taken tough decisions for the economy and will continue to do so while maintaining financial stability," the PM said.

"We are committed towards fair and transparent functioning of the economy. Demonetisation and GST were steps in this direction," he said. -- PTI
16:39   Sharif brothers tried to assassinate me twice: Zardari
Pakistan's former president Asif Ali Zardari has claimed that ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif twice planned to assassinate him.

Zardari, 62, said that Nawaz and Shahbaz plotted his murder when he was serving his eight-year-long sentence in corruption cases. He said the Sharif brothers planned to kill him when he was going to a court to attend his hearing.

"The Sharif brothers twice planned my murder in captivity in 1990s," Zardari said while speaking to party workers at Bilawal House Lahore.

Zardari further said Nawaz has been trying to make a contact with him to seek his support but 'I have refused'.

"I have not yet forgotten what they (Sharifs) have done to Benazir Bhutto (his wife) and me. We forgave them and signed Charter of Democracy, but still Mian sahib (Nawaz) betrayed me and went to court in memogate in order to label me a traitor," he said.

The memogate controversy revolved around a memorandum seeking help of the Obama administration in the wake of the Osama bin Laden raid to avert a military takeover of the civilian government in Pakistan.

The memo is alleged to have been drafted by Pakistan's then ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani at the behest of Zardari.

Sharif demanded an inquiry into the matter and also threatened to resign from the National Assembly if the Zardari government did not satisfactorily probe the matter.

"The Sharif brothers cannot be trusted this time around and I will not shake hands with them," he added.

"They change colour so quickly. When they are in trouble they are ready to cooperate with you.... when in absolute power they hit you smartly," Zardari said.

Zardari made it clear to the party leaders to forget an alliance with the PML-N after 2018 election. -- PTI
16:04   Mother of girl starved to death in Jharkhand alleges threats from villagers
The mother of the 11-year-old girl, who died allegedly of starvation in Jharkhand's Simdega district a few days ago as her family's ration card was not linked to the Aadhaar, has accused the villagers of threatening and abusing her for 'defaming' the village.

Koyli Devi, the mother of the victim, said she was 'living in fear' as the villagers thronged outside her house and abused her family.

"I have been living in fear; villagers abused me and asked me to leave the village. They thronged outside my house and abused me and threatened me as I raised the issue," she told ANI.

Following the threats, Koyli Devi and her family reportedly travelled 8 km from her village to the Patiamba village in the Jaldega block to take shelter.

The police then brought them back to Simdega and deployed a security team outside their residence.

The victim, Santoshi Kumari, died on September 28 after her mother was unable to feed her.

The family was struck off from the government welfare rolls for not linking their ration card with the Aadhar card.

Meanwhile, Jharkhand Food Minister Saryu Roy said, "Action would be taken if anyone threatens Koyli Devi. We have ensured now that she doesn't face any problem."  -- ANI
15:23   Our mantra is P for P - Ports for Prosperity: Modi in Gujarat
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is speaking at a public meeting in Dahej, Gujarat:

- Our mantra is P for P - Ports for Prosperity. India needs better ports and more ports.

- We believe Sagar Mala project alone will provide around one crore jobs.

- Without proper connectivity, the economic development of a nation slows down. Keeping this in mind we are focussing on ports infrastructure.

- Our focus is on the blue economy. We see the blue economy as integral to our vision of a new India.

- I'm digging out old files and getting projects on track which were stuck for decades.   -- ANI and courtesy @PMOINdia/Twitter
15:18   It's 2017, not 1817: Rahul Gandhi to Rajasthan CM
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today took a swipe at Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over a controversial ordinance, pointing out that the year was '2017, not 1817'.

'Madam Chief Minister, with all humility we are in the 21st century. It's 2017, not 1817,' Gandhi tweeted.

He also tagged a news report titled 'Rajasthan ordinance is against free speech, say legal experts'.

The report said the ordinance prohibited an investigation without prior sanction against judicial officers and public servants and also restricted the media.

It said under the proposed law, the media cannot report on accusations against magistrates and others until the prosecution gets the go-ahead from the sanctioning authority.

The state government said in a release last night there was no provision in the ordinance to protect corrupt officials.  -- PTI
14:26   CRPF jawan dies of malaria in Chhattisgarh
A jawan of the Central Reserve Police Force's elite CoBRA unit today died of malaria in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district, police said.

Head constable Brahmanand, belonging to the 206th battalion of CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action), succumbed to malaria at Sukma district hospital, Additional Superintendent of Police Jitendra Shukla told PTI.

The jawan, posted at the paramilitary force's camp in Chintagufa, was last night admitted to the CRPF's field hospital there.

He was shifted to the district hospital in a serious condition this morning, he said.

The body will be sent to his native place in Uttar Pradesh after the post-mortem, the ASP said.

Last week, a jawan from the same camp suffered from malaria and is currently under treatment in Raipur, he said.

Shukla said adequate precautions are being taken as all personnel deployed at the camps are provided mosquito nets and repellents.

Despite the precautions, the personnel are exposed to mosquitoes due to their long operations in the forest areas, he said.

Malaria, the mosquito-borne infectious disease, has been common in the interiors of Bastar division after rains.

Several security personnel, deployed in anti-Maoist operations in the region, have lost their lives or fallen sick due to the life threatening fever in the past.  -- PTI

Photograph: ANI
14:03   Pakistan violates ceasefire in Uri sector
Pakistani troops today violated ceasefire along the Line of Control in Kamalkote area of Uri sector in Baramulla district for the second consecutive day, an Army official said.

No casualties have been reported in today's firing so far, the official said.

There was unprovoked ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops along the LoC in Kamalkote area and they fired indiscriminately for the second day running, he said.

The Indian Army personnel were giving a 'strong and befitting' response to the ceasefire violation, he said, adding that further details were being ascertained.

In yesterday's firing, an army porter was killed while two women were injured.  -- PTI

Image for representation only.
13:56   China fears envoy in Pak might be attacked; asks more security
China has asked Pakistan to step up security of its newly-appointed ambassador in Islamabad in the wake of threats to his life from a terrorist organisation, according to media reports.

The Chinese Embassy made the request in a letter written to the Interior Ministry on October 19, saying a member of the banned terrorist group East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) has sneaked into Pakistan to assassinate its ambassador.

The letter, circulated in the local media, was written by the focal person for the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Ping Ying Fi who asked the Interior Ministry to 'enhance the protection' of the ambassador and other Chinese working in the country.

This, the letter says, will not only help foil the nefarious designs of the terrorist but will also help in getting to other terrorists involved in the plot. China has appointed Yao Jing, who has served as Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan, as its new envoy to Pakistan.

Yao replaced Sun Weidong, who served as China's Ambassador to Pakistan for three years and recently returned to his country.

In the letter, Ping shared details of the terrorist's passport and demanded his immediate arrest and handover to the Chinese Embassy. It identified the terrorist as Abdul Wali.

The Interior Ministry and the Chinese Embassy have declined to comment on the letter.

The ETIM largely operates from China's restive Muslim- majority Xinjiang region, bordering Pakistan. The security of Chinese officials in Pakistan is a major issue and the Army has been tasked to provide security to the Chinese working on various projects, including the CPEC.

The CPEC, which traverse through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, will connect Xinjiang with Pakistan's seaport Gwadar through a network of rail, road and pipeline. -- PTI
12:52   Faced hostility from Centre when I was CM: Modi in Gujarat
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is addressing a public meeting in Bhavnagar District.

- I am happy to be in Gujarat to personally convey new year greetings. This programme may be for a ferry between Ghogha and Dahej but this programme is of vital importance for the entire nation.

- Ferry service is a first of sorts. Its a dream come true for people of Gujarat.

- I am also here with regard to a project in dairy sector, a sector to which we have given immense importance over the last two decades.

- I urge people to explore opportunities in animal husbandry.

- The history of human civilisation illustrates the vitality of rivers and maritime trade. Gujarat is the land of Lothal. How can we forget these aspects of our history.

- This programme is to bring back to life our glorious past, connect Saurashtra and South Gujarat.

- Imagine how much time and petrol this ferry service will save. This ferry service connects Saurashtra and South Gujarat...people from these regions frequently travel to and fro.

- When I was serving as CM, I faced hostility from the then Central Government. Efforts were made to stall industries and the state's growth.

- Over the last three years we have changed that and given importance to the development of Gujarat.

- Gujarat is blessed with a long coastline and we should harness opportunities arising due to this. We took steps in developing coastal infrastructure.

- This ferry service will not be restricted to this one route. We are planning to link other places also through ferries.

Photograph and matter: Kind courtesy @PMOIndia/Twitter
12:33   Centre de-affiliates 400 ITIs for failing quality norms
The government has de-affiliated close to 400 industrial training institutes after quality inspections administered by it found the institutes lacking the requisite infrastructure and trainers for imparting vocational training to students.

Asked about around 400 out of the 13,000-odd ITIs being de-affiliated, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajesh Agarwal replied in the affirmative.

"We get (them) inspected, we see the quality of infrastructure, the trainers that should be there as per the guidelines.

"When it is not there the ITIs are de-affiliated because ultimately if you have to be an ITI at the NCVT (National Council for Vocational Training) level, there are certain minimum conditions that you have to meet," Agarwal told PTI.

He said the skill development ministry has begun monitoring the ITIs with a view to maintaining their quality standards and also introduced voluntary self grading by the institutes.

"We are trying to see that centres or institutes which are not up to the mark or quality are slowly chucked out of the system," Agarwal said.

The government's vocational training programmes are administered by ITIs, whichcater to about 36 per cent of the seven million people enrolled invarious training programmes in India.

According to Agarwal, about 5,100 ITIs have been gradedtill now under the star rating system and are presently in theprocess of getting inspected through third parties andcertification assessment.

"It is a voluntary process. We are trying to build incentives around grading. ITIs who get graded and are doing well, there are incentives for them to grow, whereas the ones not getting graded will slowly phase out," the Joint Secretary said.  -- PTI
12:08   PM launches RO-RO ferry service, his 'dream project', in Gujarat
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the launch of Phase 1 of RO-RO (Roll on, Roll off) ferry service and other projects in Ghogha, Gujarat.

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Deputy CM Nitin Patel and others are also seen.

The PM will also travel by the newly-inaugurated ferry and address the people in Dahej thereafter.

The prime minister had called ferry service his dream project while addressing a gathering at Gandhinagar on Monday.  -- ANI
11:17   PM Modi reaches Gujarat; to launch slew of projects today
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in Bhavnagar, Gujarat. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy CM Nitin Patel received him.

Modi will launch different projects in Ghogha, Dahej and Vadodara today.   He will inaugurate Phase 1 of the RO-RO (Roll on, Roll off) ferry service between Ghogha and Dahej.

The PM will also travel by the newly-inaugurated ferry. After the maiden journey, he will address a gathering at Dahej.

The seven to eight hours of travel time between Ghogha in Saurashtra, and Dahej in South Gujarat will reduce to one hour after the ferry service begins.

At the public meeting there, the prime minister will also inaugurate the Sarvottam Cattle Feed Plant of Shree Bhavnagar District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Ltd.

Modi will then head to Vadodara, where he will dedicate the Vadodara City Command Control Centre, the Waghodiya Regional Water Supply Scheme, and the New Head Office Building of the Bank of Baroda to the nation at a public meeting.

The PM will hand over the residences to beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (urban, as well as rural).

Prime Minister Modi will also lay the foundation stones of several infrastructure and development projects, including capacity expansion of Mundra-Delhi petroleum product pipeline, green-field marketing terminal project of the HPCL, an integrated transport hub, regional water supply schemes, housing projects, and a flyover.  -- ANI

Photograph: ANI
10:48   Missing Indians in Iraq: Families' DNA tests normal, says govt
The Government of India has said that asking relatives of the 39 Indians who went missing in Mosul, Iraq, three years ago to undergo DNA tests is normal procedure to confirm identification. 

Both India and Iraq maintain that the 39 Indian nationals are still alive and authorities in both countries remain committed to continue their search for them on this assumption. 

"All of us have been asked to undergo DNA test," Gurpinder, the sister of Manjinder, one of the missing Indians, told ANI. 

In July this year, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had firmly said in Parliament that she would not declare the 39 Indians dead without concrete proof or evidence.  

"It is a sin to declare a person dead without concrete evidence. I will not do this sin," Swaraj said in a statement in the Lok Sabha on the fate of 39 Indians missing in Iraq since 2014.  

India has asked Iraq for help in locating the missing Indians after Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul from ISIS, and New Delhi has repeatedly said it won't end the search for these missing citizens, believing that they are still alive.  

"This file will not close till there is proof that the 39 Indians are dead. I will not commit the sin of declaring them dead without any evidence," Swaraj had said in July, adding then that insofar as this emotive issue is concerned, there is no benefit to the government by misleading the people.  

Iraq's Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Eshaiker al-Jafari is also on record as saying around that time that Baghdad does not have "substantial evidence" to prove that the missing Indians are dead.  

The 39 persons, most of whom hail from Punjab, were working on projects near Mosul, when they were kidnapped during their evacuation.  

India is on record as saying that every effort is being made by Iraq and other countries to help trace the abducted Indians.
10:34   Rape victim's silence no proof of consent: Delhi HC
The silence of a rape victim cannot be taken as proof of consent for sexual relations, the Delhi high court has observed while upholding a man's 10-year jail term for raping a pregnant woman.  

Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal made the observation while rejecting a rape convict's defence that the victim's silence about the incident proved consensual sexual relations.  

"The defence taken by the accused that the prosecutrix (victim) had consensual sexual relations with him which is pointed out from her silence about the incident, holds no ground, as mere silence cannot be taken as proof of consensual sexual relations as she has also stated that she was being threatened by the accused. 

"Thus, any act of sexual intercourse in the absence of consent would amount to an act of rape," the high court said, while upholding a trial court's 2015 decision to convict and sentence to 10-year imprisonment one Munna, who was then 28 years old, for repeatedly raping a 19-year-old woman.  

The high court also upheld the decision of the trial court to acquit Munna of the offences of kidnapping, saying there were inconsistencies in the woman's statements regarding how she had reached Delhi.  

It also agreed with the subordinate court's decision to acquit him and co-accused Suman Kumar of the charge of trying to sell the woman into prostitution as alleged by her. 

The high court was hearing Munna's appeal against his conviction and sentence, as well as the plea of the police challenging the trial court's decision to acquit the two men of the other offences.
10:13   Azharuddin may contest 2019 polls from Telangana
Former cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin has been invited by the Telangana Congress to contest the 2019 elections from the state. 

The 54-year-old former Team India captain said he felt happy and honoured with the invitation extended to him by Telangana Congress president N Uttam Kumar Reddy, and that he would move ahead vis-a-vis his role in the party in consultation with the high command. 

Azharuddin, a former Congress MP from Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, said he already campaigns for the party at different places in the country. 

Speaking at an event, Reddy invited Azharuddin to contest elections from the state, either for the post of MP or MLA, when the former cricketer expressed his readiness to work for the party in Telangana.  

"If we work together again, our Congress government will come in Telangana," Azharuddin said at the public event yesterday. To this, Reddy said, "I am inviting you, in Telangana, whichever MP or want to contest. We will call you to contest."  

Azharuddin, who hails from Hyderabad, had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Rajasthan. 

The assembly elections in Telangana are scheduled to be held simultaneously with Lok Sabha polls in 2019.
08:57   Sushma in Dhaka, to meet Hasina today
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will meet Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka today.  

Swaraj, who is on a two-day visit to the country, will also attend the fourth Bangladesh-India Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) meeting, the Dhaka Tribune has reported. 

This is Swaraj's second visit to Bangladesh. She last visited the country in 2014. 

The JCC meeting is expected to review the implementation and progress of decisions taken during Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to India this year. 

The meeting will coordinate, oversee and follow-up implementation of initiatives as well as explore new avenues for cooperation. 

The third JCC meeting was held in New Delhi in 2014.  

India and Bangladesh have witnessed a deepening of bilateral economic cooperation in recent years, particularly in terms of increasing volumes of trade and investment flows.
08:42   JNU students served showcause notice for staging gherao on Feb 27
A proctorial inquiry committee of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has issued show cause notices to around 15 students for staging a gherao, which "disrupted the normal functioning" of the university administration early this year. 

The committee has also observed that staging the gherao was an act of "indiscipline" and "misconduct". 

The allegation has, however, been denied by the students.  

The notice issued to the students said, 'You have been found guilty in the following acts of indiscipline -- sitting in room no. 225 of the Administration Block the whole night of February 27, despite a request by the security persons to vacate.'  

If the students fail to defend themselves, they will have to face punishments, including cancellation of admission, withdrawal of degree, fines up to Rs 20,000 and rustication for two semesters, depending on the charges slapped against them. 

'Your reply should reach this office latest by October 25 (5 pm), failing which it will be presumed that you have nothing to say in your defence and this office will be free to take appropriate action against you,' the notice said. 

However, the students have dismissed the allegations and claimed that they were targeted for staging protests against the implementation of the UGC gazette, which resulted in seat cuts.  

"I have been proved guilty without being shown evidence and without being given a chance to defend myself," said one of the students.  

Former JNU Students' Union general secretary Satarupa Chakraborty alleged that the university administration was trying to instill a sense of fear among the students and discourage them from raising voice against any injustice through heavy fines, hostel transfers, suspension and blocking of academic activities. 

"In the name of the UGC Gazette, they (administration) blocked the admission of nearly 1,000 students from deprived backgrounds," she said. 

Image: A file photograph of students protesting in JNU.
08:31   Update: J&K: Terrorist killed in gun battle with security forces
An unidentified terrorist was killed in a gun battle with security forces in Langet area of Kupwara district in Jammu and Kashmir.  

An encounter broke out between terrorists and security forces this morning after the latter launched a search operation in Langet, 100 km from Srinagar, an Army official said. 

He said one terrorist has been killed and the encounter is still underway. 
08:22   'Hardik a Congress agent': Former aides slam Gujarat OBC leader
The Congress has received a boost ahead of the Gujarat assembly polls, with backward class leader Alpesh Thakor announcing his decision to join the party, after a meeting with Rahul Gandhi.  

The announcement came hours after the Congress, which has been out of power in Gujarat for over two decades now, invited Patidar quota stir spearhead Hardik Patel, OBC leader Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani, a protagonist of resurgent Dalit politics in the key western state, to join the party.  

Thakor, the convenor of the Gujarat OBC Ekta Manch and leader of the local Thakor Sena, has considerable influence among backward classes. 

Thakor, accompanied by Congress general secretary incharge of Gujarat Ashok Gehlot and state party chief Bharatsinh Solanki, met Gandhi at his residence in New Delhi yesterday evening. Soon thereafter, Thakor said Rahul Gandhi would attend a rally organised by him on October 23 where "I will join the Congress party". 

But Hardik Patel, the Patidar leader who spearheaded a prolonged agitation for reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for people of his community, was rather tepid in his response to the Congress's invitation.  

"It is a political stunt, coming as it does just before the elections. I cannot contest elections myself because of constitutional provisions, nor do I want. Since an invitation has been extended, our leaders will consider the proposal," he told a TV news channel.  

Patel, whose quota stir often turned violent resulting in the death of several people in police action, is 24 years old. The minimum age required for a person to contest an assembly or Lok Sabha election in is 25. 

However, in a dramatic turn of events, Hardik Patel's key aides -- Varun Patel and Reshma Patel -- have joined the BJP.  

Varun and Reshma were among the prominent faces of the Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) and remained critical of the ruling BJP during the agitation. They joined the BJP after a meeting with Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel and state party chief Jitu Vaghani during its parliamentary board meeting, which was also attended by BJP president Amit Shah.  

After joining the BJP, the Patidar leaders told reporters that Hardik has become a "Congress agent" and was trying to use the agitation to overthrow the present state government.  

"Our agitation was about getting reservations under the OBC quota, not about uprooting the BJP and bringing the Congress to power. While the BJP always supported the community and accepted a majority of our demands, Congress is only trying to use Patels as a vote bank. We do not want to be part of such malicious conspiracy," Reshma Patel said.  

"This agitation was not of Hardik Patel's alone. He is now acting like a Congress agent. I and Varun are of the opinion that the BJP would definitely fulfil our demands," she said. 

According to Varun Patel, the Patidar community will never allow the Congress party to take over the reins of Gujarat by inciting Patel youths. 

"The BJP government (in the state) held talks with us in the past to resolve various issues. However, the Congress never held such talks, as they were not committed. We have decided to join BJP because we do not want to run the agitation by becoming Congress agents," said Varun Patel.  

"The BJP government even promised us to represent the issue of reservation to the OBC Commission. BJP leaders also promised us to provide legal help in case we want to take up the matter with the Supreme Court," he added. 

Unfazed by the announcement of his key aides, Hardik Patel said in a tweet he that will continue to fight for the people. 

"The centipede will continue to run even if some of his legs break. People are with me, and I will continue to fight for them," he said.
08:11   Terrorist killed in Handwara
NorthernComd_IA) tweeted at 7:38 a.m. on Sun, Oct 22, 2017:
#IndianArmy One terrorist killed in #Handwara. Operation in progress.
08:05   'Mersal' producer yields to BJP, says willing to cut scenes
Facing flak from the Tamil Nadu BJP over dialogues allegedly flaying the GST in Mersal, the film production house has said that if needed, it would delete scenes that have caused "misunderstanding", even as the Congress slammed the saffron party for demanding cuts. 

The producers also said that the BJP's opposition to some dialogues in Mersal was "just" from its own perspective. 

Giving indication that a truce had been reached between the production house and the state BJP, the producers claimed that BJP leaders have accepted their explanation.  

Sri Thenandal Films head Murali Ramaswamy said, "From their perspective, their opposition is just. If opinions (expressed in the movie) that may lead to misunderstanding need to be removed, we are ready for that too."  

Earlier, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and senior party leader P Chidambaram had hit out at the state BJP for demanding cuts in Mersal

"Mr Modi, Cinema is a deep expression of Tamil culture and language. Don't try to demon-etise Tamil pride by interfering in Mersal," Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet which was retweeted by Chidambaram.  

The BJP leaders have appreciated "our honest approach to meet them in person, we thank them all", the film's producer said after a meeting with state BJP chief Tamilisai Soundararajan and other leaders. 

"We explained the movie's objective, our stand and that this movie has not been produced with an intention to hurt anyone and they have generously accepted it," he said. 

"Mersal is not against anyone. It is not a film that expresses opinions against the government either. Even an ordinary person should get access to proper medical amenities and this is the story line of the movie," Ramaswamy said in a statement.

However, he did not elaborate whether the BJP leaders insisted on removing views they found "objectionable" or whether the producers will effect the cuts or not. 

In a statement, the Tamil Film Producers Council and South Indian Artistes' Association opposed cuts as the movie had already been censored. They claimed that it went against the right to freedom of expression and will set a bad precedent. 

Meanwhile, the BJP has said while the people have right to criticise the government, they must keep their facts correct. H Raja said the BJP welcomes criticism but was only objecting to wrong facts about central government schemes being shown in the film. 

"We welcome criticism. But one should not deliberately give false statement through a movie. Some facts in the movie are wrong and we have objected to it. We want rectification of the wrong statements," he said. 

Mersal, starring Tamil star Vijay, landed in a controversy after Tamilisai Soundararajan said 'misconceptions' were being promoted in the film about central government schemes, including GST and Digital India.