Tue, 10 April 2018
Modi's fast a farce: Congress

Timeline  Refresh

23:14   Modi's fast a farce: Congress
The Congress today said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement to observe a day-long fast on Thursday to protest the washout of the budget session of Parliament was a "farce", adding that the PM should instead apologise to the youth, Dalits and other sections of the society, who were allegedly let down by his government.
Congress communications in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala also said the BJP-led central government should be blamed for the Parliament washout, despite enjoying an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha.
"This is a farce of a fast by the Modi government. The BJP should apologise to the nation and hold a fast for disrupting Parliament for over 250 hours. The Lok Sabha, where the BJP has a majority, functioned for only one per cent of its time and the Rajya Sabha functioned for six per cent of its time," he told reporters in New Delhi.
Surjewala also alleged that the government had "disrespected" and "degenerated" Parliament.
Holding the government responsible for the CBSE papers leak and the alleged dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the Congress spokesperson said the prime minister should "hold a fast to apologise to the country for the 13 banking scams, where people like chhota Modi that is Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi ran away with over Rs 61,000 crore".
He added that the BJP should also apologise to the country for not revealing the details of the Rafale deal and thereby, compromising on issues of national security.
The Congress' reaction came after the BJP announced that the prime minister would observe a day-long fast on Thursday, along with the party MPs, to protest the recent washout of the Budget Session of Parliament, while party chief Amit Shah would hold a sit-in at Hubli in poll-bound Karnataka on the same day. -- PTI
22:40   Protesters throw shoes during CSK-KKR game
In an unsavoury incident, a couple of miscreants were today detained by the police for hurling a shoe at India international Ravindra Jadeja during an IPL match between Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders.
The incident happened in the eighth over of the KKR innings. 

The unidentified protestors hurled shoes at Jadeja, who was stationed at long-on. The footwear missed the player fell near the boundary rope as Du Plessis and Lungi Ngidi were taking a stroll.
The match was preceded by massive protests from various groups and activists due to Cauvery water dispute prompting IPL governing council chairman Rajeev Shukla to seek government intervention.
The two persons detained by the police for their involvement are allegedly a part of actor-director Seeman's Naam pro-Tamil outfit Tamizhar.
Naam Tamizhar leader and film personality Seeman, film-maker Bharathirajaa and scores of activists were taken into custody by the police, who had a tough time managing the ever increasing number of protesters.
Hundreds of activists of outfits like TVK, Naam Tamizhar and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), besides some Muslim groups blocked roads at the arterial Anna Salai and TTK Salai, hugely affecting traffic movement, police said. -- PTI 
22:37   Hoist black flags during PM's visit: DMK to TN people
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam working president M K Stalin today appealed to the people to hoist black flags atop their houses on April 12 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Tamil Nadu.
Stalin made this appeal while addressing a meet on the Cauvery issue at Kottur, about 35 km from Tiruvarur.
He asked how could Modi visit Tamil Nadu after "betraying the State on the Cauvery issue."
Modi is scheduled to formally inaugurate the Defence Expo 2018 at Thiruvidanthai, about 40 km from Chennai, on that day.
The DMK leader said the day of Modi's visit is a day of 'grief' (dukkha naal) for the State in view of the Centre's 'betrayal.'
He said people should not only hoist black flags in their houses but also wear black clothes and badges as a mark of opposition and protest.
Stalin had said his party would show black flags to Modi as a mark of protest over the Cauvery issue.
The DMK leader, who is here on his fourth day of Cauvery Rights Retrieval Yatra, alleged that despite a clear Supreme Court verdict, the Centre did not come forward to set up the Cauvery Management Board.
He said opposition parties would submit a memorandum to Governor Banwarilal Purohit on April 13 asking him to urge the Centre to set up the CMB immediately. -- PTI
22:35   I see a lot of me in Virat: Ravi Shastri
India's chief coach Ravi Shastri feels that Virat Kohli's aggressive approach is a something he can relate to as he too had a similar mindset during his playing days.
"I do (see a lot of myself in Virat). Our mindsets are pretty similar, we are pretty aggressive, and we like to compete. And when someone has a mindset and the work ethic like Virat's, it is bound to rub off on the other players of the team, and that's is why India is having a great run at the moment," Shastri said after receiving the 'Maharashtracha Abhiman ' award during the 'Lokmat Maharashtrian of the Year Awards 2018' in Mumbai.
Shastri also spoke about what makes Mahendra Singh Dhoni the legend that he is.
"MS is a legend and he can remain unfazed in any situation. Whether he gets out for zero or scores a hundred, whether he wins the World Cup with a six, he is the same. There is a lot of mutual respect that Virat and Dhoni share. Their relation is fantastic and whatever you read in the media might not be true," Shastri said.
"Virat will go to him (Dhoni) seeking his advise , that communication is tremendous from the team point of view," said Shastri when asked if they have had differences.
The former all-rounder also does not have any issues with sledging and he would advise his boys to give back without crossing the line.
"I have no issues with that (sledging). Absolutely no issues on that. If someone tells me something, he says one , I am going to tell the boys give them three. One word (and) you give three back, you can do it in a nice way, (where) you don't cross the  line, but you don't give an inch," he concluded. -- PTI 
21:37   Trump cancels plans to visit South America
US President Donald Trump has canceled plans to travel to South America  to oversee the US' response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria, the White House today said.
Trump had been due to attend the summit of the Americas in Lima and travel to Colombia.
Vice-president Mike Pence will make the trip in his place. 

It would have been Trump's first visit to Latin America as president, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.
Last week, bombs reportedly filled with toxic chemicals were dropped on Douma area in Syria's Eastern Ghouta region, killing dozens of women and children.
The US has strongly opposed the chemical attack and accused Iran and Russia of backing the Syrian government that is being held responsible for carrying out the attack.
Pence will be embarking on the trip to South America on behalf of Trump who has stayed back to oversee America's response to Syria, Sanders said.
"Pence looks forward to promoting policy that will lead to an even stronger US economy and working with our close allies in Latin America to collectively hold undemocratic actors in the region accountable for their actions," his spokesperson Jarrod Agen said.
Last year, Pence traveled to the region to meet with the presidents of Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Panama to increase the pressure against the Maduro regime and negotiate better trade deals that benefit American workers.
"While there, the Vice President met with a number of Venezuelan dissidents. Vice President Pence also hosted the Northern Triangle Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America as well. Next month, the Vice President will continue to advance US policies and commitment to the region when he travels to Brazil," Agen said. -- PTI
21:25   Trump and Obama not invited to Prince Harry and Meghan's wedding: Reports
United States President Donald Trump and his predecessor Barack Obama will not attend the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19 as the couple have decided not to invite world leaders in their official capacities, US media reported today.
Harry, 33, fifth-in-line to the British throne, and Markle, 36, an American actress and humanitarian, are set to get married on May 19.
The royal couple have decided not to invite world leaders and political figures in their official capacities, Kensington Palace said.
CNN reported that a White House official confirmed that Trump and first lady Melania were not invited; neither was British Prime Minister Theresa May, Downing Street said.
A royal source said Barack and Michelle Obama, who are close to the couple, will not be at the wedding, the report said.
"It has been decided that an official list of political leaders -- both UK and international -- is not required for Prince Harry and Ms. Markle's wedding," a Kensington Palace spokesman said.
"Her Majesty's Government was consulted on this decision, which was taken by the royal household."
Unlike the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011, this royal wedding is not an official state occasion and is regarded as a private ceremony, so there is no onus on the couple to invite political leaders.
CNN said that some world leaders may be invited on the basis of their personal relationships with Harry and Meghan.
The ceremony, which will take place in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, is being held in a much smaller venue than Westminster Abbey, where Harry's older brother, Prince William, married Kate Middleton. -- PTI 
21:19   SC, HC judges to get enhanced DA
Judges of the Supreme Court and the 24 high courts are set to get enhanced dearness allowance, months after they received a nearly two-fold salary hike.
According to a law ministry order issued on April 5, Supreme Court and high court judges will get 7 per cent DA with effect from January 1. So far, they were getting 5 per cent DA.
The hike in their allowance is in line with the DA, members of all-India services get, from time to time.
The judges will also get an enhanced furnishing allowance as the government has decided to amend the rules in this regard.
The furnishing allowance of Supreme Court judges will be doubled from the existing Rs 5 lakh. The furnishing allowance was last revised in 2009.
Till now, Supreme Court judges and chief justices of high courts were paid Rs 4 lakh for furnishing of their homes and offices.
In January, the salary of Supreme Court and high court judges was hiked nearly two-folds.
The Chief Justice of India will now get a monthly salary of Rs 2.80 lakh, up from the present Rs 1 lakh.
Similarly, judges of the Supreme Court and chief justices of high courts will draw a monthly salary of Rs 2.50 lakh, up from the current Rs 90,000, according to the act notified by the law ministry.
As against the approved strength of 31, the Supreme Court today has 25 judges. 

The 24 high courts have an approved strength of 1,079, but 682 judges are handling work currently. The move will also benefit 2,500 retired judges. -- PTI
21:12   Media bodies write to PM, seeks his intervention in PCI matter
Ahead of the Press Council of India meeting tomorrow, eight prominent media bodies have sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention to defer the meet of the "truncated" council, alleging that the PCI chairman has adopted "arbitrary" procedure to reconstitute it.
In a letter to the prime minister yesterday, they alleged that the procedure adopted for reconstitution of the 13th PCI was "arbitrary" and said if not reversed, it would "gravely" impact media freedom and access to information critical to democracy.
"The reconstitution...undertaken by Chairman Justice (retd) C K Prasad has overlooked precedent and adopted a process to keep out certain media associations and candidates. His action has cast serious doubts over the autonomy and neutrality of the PCI, mandated to preserve and protect the freedom of the press," they said in the letter.
The letter was signed by representatives of Indian Newspaper Society, Indian Journalists Union, All India Newspaper Editors Conference, Working News Cameramen Association, National Union of Journalists-India, Hindi Samachar Patra Sammelan, All India Small and Medium Newspapers Federation and Press Association.
It said the PCI chairman has called a meeting of the reconstituted Press Council on April 11 with only eight members -- five MPs and three official nominees --out of 28 members, leaving out representatives of the print media organisations whose names were yet to be notified.
Maintaining that the PCI reconstitution was still underway, the media bodies said holding a meeting of such a "truncated PCI was unfair" and goes against the spirit of the Press Council Act.
"We request you to immediately intervene, as you did on the 'fake news' order, to have the meeting deferred till the full council is reconstituted and restore the credibility and sanctity of the PCI. This will go a long way in protecting and preserving the freedom of the Press, vital to democracy," the letter said.
The PCI had yesterday refuted allegations that its chairman had adopted a process to keep out certain media associations and candidates from the selection process while reconstituting the panel, saying the names were drawn from those submitted by the notified associations.
In the letter, the media bodies also urged Modi to instruct the information and broadcasting ministry to include representatives of journalist unions/associations who have been kept out of the recently-reconstituted Central Press Accreditation Committee despite submitting required documents to the Press Information Bureau. -- PTI
20:48   Trump's top homeland security adviser resigns
United States President Donald Trump's top homeland security adviser Tom Bossert has resigned from his post. 

"The president is grateful for Tom's commitment to the safety and security of our great country," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said of his departure.
The announcement came a day after John Bolton took over as Trump's fourth national security advisor. 
20:34   Scam-hit PNB ignored CVC's advice against 'corrupt' staff: Report
Scam-hit Punjab National Bank is among some government organisations which ignored the Central Vigilance Commission advice to act against its allegedly corrupt staff, the anti-corruption body has stated in a new report.
The non-compliance of the advice has been mentioned in the CVC's annual report for 2017 tabled in Parliament recently.
The report comes at a time when the bank is facing multiple agency probe in the over Rs 13,000 crore loan fraud allegedly committed by billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi and his uncle, Mehul Choksi, the promoter of Gitanjali Gems.
The latest CVC report refers to a case in which the PNB sanctioned a Cash Credit limit of Rs 200 lakh and term loan of Rs 150 lakh to a firm for setting up a manufacturing unit in Dehradun against mortgage of property that was find unviable.
"(The) loan was secured by hypothecation of stocks, plant and machinery mortgage of factory land valued at Rs 42 lakh and mortgage of another immovable property as collateral security situated in Delhi.
"Further CC limit of Rs 150 lakh & TL of Rs 50 lakh was sanctioned for setting up Unit II. Charge over existing collateral security was extended and a second immovable property in Delhi was also mortgaged," the CVC said.
It has been observed that the bank accepted the two properties situated in Delhi "without ensuring genuineness of property papers as well as its geographical location", it said.
In case of one property, the seller was not the rightful owner, while the other was found to be a 'gram sabha' land and thus both mortgages were found to be defective and not enforceable, the Commission said, without mentioning when the deals took place.
"The bank (later) reported that the chain of title deeds at the time of equitable mortgage was not critically examined independently by the concerned official and the report of advocate was simply relied upon," it said.
The commission advised initiation of major penalty proceedings against the senior manager of the PNB. Out of 14 charges, the inquiry officer has held only two charges as proved and one charge as partly proved.
"On conclusion of inquiry, the disciplinary authority proposed to levy a minor penalty of 'censure'," the CVC said.
The commission decided to treat the case as a deviation from its advice and to report the same in the annual report, it said. -- PTI
20:19   Jaitley to undergo two more dialysis this week
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, suffering from kidney ailment, is likely to undergo two more dialysis this week before rejoining work next Monday.
Jaitley, 65, was admitted to AIIMS on Friday evening and after two days of observation, a dialysis was performed yesterday.

He was discharged from the hospital to return to a 'controlled environment' at home.
Sources said two more dialysis are planned this week.
They said Jaitley, who has not been attending office since last Monday, may resume work on April 16.
Although the minister is at home, visitors are being regulated to avoid his contracting an infection.
Jaitley was supposed to undergo a kidney transplant but doctors attending him have for the time being preferred dialysis and medicines as the mode of treatment, the sources said.
Dialysis is a substitute for many of the normal functions of the kidneys. The process purifies the blood and helps people with kidney failure live productive lives.
The ailment has prevented Jaitley from even taking oath of office since his re-election to Rajya Sabha last month. His current term expired on April 2. -- PTI
19:50   CBSE Class 10, 12 exams postponed in Punjab to be held on April 27
The Central Board of Secondary Education today announced that the Class 10 and Class 12 examinations that were postponed in Punjab due to the 'Bharat bandh' on April 2 will now be conducted on April 27.

At the request of the state government in view of bandh called by several Dalit organisations against the alleged dilution of the SCs/STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the CBSE had postponed the exams scheduled on April 2.

"It has been decided to conduct the cancelled examination in Punjab on April 27. The roll numbers and examination centres already allotted to the students will remain the same," said K K Chaudhury, Controller of Examinations, CBSE.

While Class 12 students were supposed to appear for the Hindi exam, language exams of French, Sanskrit and Urdu were scheduled for Class 10 on that day.

The board had then said that it had received a letter of request, dated April 1, from the director general (school education) of the Punjab government to postpone all its examinations scheduled to be held on April 2, on account of apprehensions of law and order problems and other disturbances in the day during the 'Bharat bandh'.

The Punjab government had also taken a decision to keep all schools shut for the day, the CBSE had said referring to the former's letter. PTI
18:52   Protests against IPL intensify; heavy security outside Chennai stadium
Protests intensified in Chennai today against the conduct of Indian Premiere League matches amid raging Cauvery demonstrations, with police chasing away agitators in some places.

One incident of agitators burning yellow jerseys, the attire of Chennai Super Kings players, was also reported.

Hundreds of activists of pro-Tamil outfits like Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi (TVK), Naam Tamizhar, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) and some Muslim groups staged road blockade at the arterial Anna Salai and TTK Salai, affecting traffic movement, police said.

In some places, protesters clashed with police.

Tamil film celebrities, director Bharathirajaa and national award-winning lyricist Vairamuthu among others also joined the agitation.

The threat of more protests prompted police to step up security for the cricketers, including during their journey to the stadium from their hotel.

The CSK team suffered a slight delay on its onward trip to the stadium for the match due to the disruption.

The Chidambaram stadium has turned into a virtual fortress with 4,000 policemen including commandos and members of the Rapid Action Force deployed for security.

Today's IPL tie, the first since 2015, would involve Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).

Policemen were seen chasing away protesters on the arterial Anna Salai which bore the brunt as scores of protesters staged agitation on this key road, resulting in traffic snarls.

Some protesters were seen raising slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not establishing the Cauvery Management Board, an issue on which Tamil Nadu political parties including Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and other outfits have been agitating for the past one week.

The chairman of IPL today urged the Centre to ensure enhanced security during matches in Chennai in view of  the protests, prompting the Union Home Secretary to ask the chief of the Tamil Nadu Police to do the needful, officials said.

IPL chief Rajeev Shukla met Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and requested him to ensure additional security in and around the Chidambaram stadium amidst fears that protesters demanding the formation of the Cauvery Management Board might disrupt the matches.

"The IPL chairman met the Union home secretary and urged him to do the needful for additional security in the M A Chidambaram stadium in Chennai. Following this, the home secretary spoke to the Director General of the Tamil Nadu Police and asked him to ensure proper security during the match," a home ministry official said.

The home secretary also assured the IPL chairman that foolproof security will be provided for all the matches in Chennai, another official said.  -- PTI
18:27   Parrikar likely to return in May: Goa BJP leader
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who is undergoing treatment in the United States for a pancreatic ailment, is likely to return next month, a state Bharatiya Janata Party leader said today.

The chief minister flew to the US in the first week of March after he was advised advanced medical treatment by the doctors at Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai.

Sadanand Tanavade, the state BJP general secretary, said Parrikar's condition was improving.

"The chief minister's condition is improving and he is responding well to treatment. He is likely to come back to Goa next month," Tanavade said at a press conference in Panaji.

Parrikar, who complained of stomach pain on February 14, was admitted to Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai the next day.

He was discharged on February 22 and presented Budget in the Goa assembly on the same day upon return.

Later, he was again admitted to Lilavati Hospital on March 5, from where he was taken to the US.

A cabinet advisory committee, consisting of senior ministers, has been authorised to take decisions in his absence.  -- PTI
Former Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju's checked-in luggage left behind at Delhi Airport. He was flying in an Air India from Delhi to Vizag.

Reactions to the PM's fast...

Congress: PM inspired to follow what Rahul has done.

TMC: PM going on a fast is a gimmick. PM is not concerned about Parliament.
17:38   PM Modi, Amit Shah, BJP MPs to go on day-long fast on April 12
Two days after the Congress party went on a hunger strike, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also go on a day-long fast on Thursday. The fast is to protest the Parliament washout in the recently concluded budget session.

PM Modi will be fasting in Delhi with all party MPs, while BJP president Amit Shah will be fasting in Hubli, Karnataka, where he is campaigning.

On Monday, the Congress party went on a five-hour fast, a ''Unity rally',  to promote communal harmony at Rajghat in New Delhi.

However, the fast was embellished by the presence of 1984 anti-Sikh riots accused Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, and a photograph of Congress leaders having a Chhole Bhature breakfast ahead of the fast. 
17:31   UP shocker: Woman's hands broken for not bearing male child
Both hands of a woman were fractured by her husband and in-laws in a village in Shahjahanpur, allegedly for giving birth to three daughters and not bearing a male child in eight years of married life, police said.

"The woman has suffered serious injuries and we are waiting for the medical report. Action will be taken against the suspects," Superintendent of Police (Rural) Subhash Chandra Shakya said today.

The incident took place in Babra village and came to light recently after the parents of Rekha Devi (30) dropped by for a visit and found her in an injured condition. They took her to a hospital and filed an FIR against her husband and in-laws, Shakya said.   -- PTI
17:13   Is SM Krishna going back to Congress?
Rumours are rife that former Congress leader SM Krishna, who had joined BJP a year ago, is thinking of going back to the Congress party. Chief Minister of Karnataka, Siddaramaiah, however refused to comment on the speculations.

"I don't know," he told ANI when asked about Krishna's change of heart.

Another Congress leader, K Rahman Khan said, "All are welcome but we do not have any information on this."

SM Krishna hails from Karnataka and was the state Chief Minister from 1999 to 2004. Last year the Income Tax department raided offices and residence of his son-in-law VG Siddhartha, who owns the popular Cafe Coffee Day chain and allegedly concealed income to the tune of Rs 650 crore.

Speaking about the reports of Krishna's re-joining the Congress party, BJP spokesperson S Prakash rubbished the reports, calling it a desperation of the Congress."It is a planted story by the desperate Congressmen, who have now realised the worth of SM Krishna. When he quit the Congress party, they made all kind of allegations against him," he told media.

"At last now those ungrateful characters are remembering SM Krishna," he added.

SM Krishna, who had been in Congress for decades, joined BJP last year. He is regarded as an influential leader in the politics of Karnataka, which will go to polls on May 12 to elect its representatives for the 225-member assembly. The results will be out on May 15. -- ANI
17:02   PhD student goes missing near Marriot hotel in Bengaluru
A PhD student, identified as Dr Atreyee Majumdar, has been reported as missing from Bengaluru, Karnataka.

Atreyee, an anthropologist and has been missing since April 6. She was last seen at the Marriot at Bellandur in Bengaluru.Atreyee is an alumnus of the National Law School in Bengaluru. She was in Toronto pursuing a post-doctoral research.

Family and friends of Atreyee have shared her pictures extensively on social media in an attempt to reach her. Journalist Sunetra Choudhury tweeted, "My brilliant niece has gone missing in #Bengaluru - please get in touch at the numbers below if you have any leads. Please RT."

A case has been registered and an investigation is underway.
16:46   Security upped for IPL
In Chennai, Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi (TVK) workers protest outside MA Chidambaram Stadium ahead of the CSK vs KKR IPL match at 8 pm. The workers were carrying balloons stating, 'We do not want IPL, we want Cauvery Management Board'. IPL chairperson Rajiv Shukla has asked for increased security for players as well as spectators. The Tamil Nadu government has assured full security.  

Shukla met Union Home Secretary Rajeev Gauba over security regarding matches in Chennai. The Home Secretary has assured him appropriate arrangements have been made. 
West Bengal: BJP protest outside State Election Commission office in Kolkata, against the commission revoking order that extended nomination dates for Panchayat elections.
16:39   One Ambedkar statue vandalised, another goes blue
Statues of BR Ambedkar in the news today.

In Saharanpur, UP, a statue of the Dalit icon was allegedly vandalised (see image) by miscreants. It is now being restored. Police say that the plot of land on which the statue is located is disputed and belongs to a hostel. "We're probing if it was done due to dispute or got crumbled due to wear & tear," the police said.

In Badaun, UP, three days after the BSP leaders in the district installed a new "saffron" statue of Ambedkar in the Dugraiya village with the help of district administration, the colour of the statue was changed to blue today.
16:34   Jaitley to be sworn-in as RS member tomorrow in Naidu's chambers
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who was recently elected to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, will take oath tomorrow in the chambers of chairman M Venkaiah Naidu.   

Jaitley, who is diabetic and suffers from a kidney ailment, did not take oath after his election. Last Friday he was admitted to the AIIMS in New Delhi for a kidney transplant surgery, and was was discharged after undergoing a dialysis on Monday.   

He is expected to undergo a renal transplant in the next few days.
16:26   JK Police files FIR against lawyers for protesting against CB officials
The Jammu and Kashmir Police has filed FIR against a group of lawyers for protesting and attempting to prevent the Crime Branch officials from performing their duty of filing charge sheet against eight persons in the alleged rape and murder of a minor girl.

The body of the girl, from the Bakherwal community, a nomadic Muslim tribe, was recovered from the Rassana forest on January 17, a week after she went missing while grazing horses in the forest area.

The Crime Branch of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, probing the alleged rape and murder of the girl in Kathua district, filed the charge sheet against seven of the eight accused in the case at a court in Kathua, amid protests by local lawyers yesterday.

The case has become communally sensitive and various political parties have jumped into the controversy with allegations and counter-allegations over handling of the matter.

Today, the Crime Branch of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, probing the alleged rape and murder of the minor girl, filed a separate charge sheet against a juvenile accused in the case at a court in Kathua district. -- PTI
15:58   Charge sheet filed against IAF officer in an alleged espionage case
The Delhi Police has filed charge sheet against an Indian Air Force officer, arrested in February for alleged espionage. The charge sheet was filed before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Deepak Shehrawat here against Group Captain Arun Marwah, who was booked under the Official Secrets Act for allegedly leaking classified documents to a woman through WhatsApp.

The court has put up the final report for taking cognisance on April 24. As per the complaint filed against Marwah by the Air Force, he was caught by the counter-intelligence wing after he was found carrying a high-end phone at the headquarters which are banned there. Punishment under the Official Secrets Act entails a jail term of up to seven years. PTI
15:55   Kathua rape-murder case: Separate charge sheet filed against another accused
The Jammu and Kashmir Police, probing the alleged rape and murder of a minor girl, filed a separate charge sheet today against another accused, who was earlier said to be a juvenile, at a court in Kathua district.

Yesterday, a senior police official had said the crime branch has filed a charge sheet against seven of the eight accused in the case, even as the Kathua bar association claimed the officials were compelled to leave the court premises without filing the charge sheet amid protest by local lawyers.

"We have filed a separate challan (charge sheet) against another accused in the court today," a top police officer told PTI.

The body of the girl, from the Bakherwal community, was recovered from Rassana forest on January 17, a week after she went missing while grazing horses in the forest area.

On January 23, the government had handed over the case to the crime branch of the state police which formed a Special Investigation Team and arrested eight people including two Special Police Officers and a head constable, who was charged with destruction of evidence.

Among the accused, former revenue official and the alleged conspirator, Sanji Ram (60), surrendered before the crime branch on March 20 after his son, Vishal, was arrested from Uttar Pradesh. According to a senior crime branch officer, following a medical examination on March 7, the accused who was thought to be a juvenile, was found to be 19 years old.

Yesterday, all the members of the Kathua bar association protested the presentation of the charge sheet by the crime branch in the case as they were demanding CBI probe into it.

The president of Kathua Bar Association, Kirty Bhushan Mahajan, said the bar association is on strike protesting the crime branch probing the case and is in favour of a CBI inquiry.

The Jammu Bar Association, which alleged that the minority Dogras of Jammu and Kashmir in Hiranagar were being targeted in the probe by the crime branch is on strike for the past five days and has called for Jammu Bandh tomorrow. -- PTI
15:44   JK govt has failed to deport Rohingyas: Panun Kashmir
Panun Kashmir, a representative body of migrant Kashmiri Pandits, today said the government and political class has failed to deport Rohingyas from Jammu.

The organisation termed the stay of the Rohingyas in the state as a threat to the security and law and order situation.

"The issue of Rohingya immigrants in Jammu is developing into a very serious threat to the security and law & order situation in the state and Jammu province in particular," Panun Kashmir president Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo said today.

He said, "it is surprising to note that despite warnings over the last one year in this connection, the government and the political class has failed to take the issue seriously and deport them from Jammu".

Chrungoo said, "We cannot absolve the role of those politicians who were responsible for their stay in the Jammu city and its suburbs over the last fifteen years".

He said their comforts here are being taken care of by the political class and some NGOs and their detection and deportation is contested and also given a communal colour.

Hitting out at former chief minister Farooq Abdullah for raking up greater autonomy, Chrungoo said, "Once again, the protagonists have started talking about autonomy in the J&K state." PTI
15:17   Prabhu orders enquiry into IndiGo deboarding passenger at Lucknow
Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu today ordered an enquiry into the IndiGo staff off-loading a passenger at Lucknow airport. Saurabh Rai, a doctor, has claimed that he was deboarded after complaining of mosquitoes onboard an IndiGo flight from Lucknow to Bengaluru.

"I have ordered an enquiry into the incident of off-loading passenger Dr Saurabh Rai by IndiGo at Lucknow Airport," Prabhu said in a tweet.

Rai, a cardiologist, has accused IndiGo staff of manhandling and de-boarding him from the flight after he complained on mosquitoes onboard. The airline has claimed however that Rai was offloaded for unruly behaviour and that he even attempted to instigate other passengers to damage the aircraft.

While the airline did not issue a formal statement on the incident, in a series of tweets, it said, Rai was offloaded for unruly behaviour.  -- PTI
14:27   BJP moves SC over Bengal panchayat polls
BJP moves the Supreme Court against the West Bengal poll panel's decision to recall its order extending the last date for filing of nominations for the panchayat polls.

The West Bengal Election Commission today withdrew the extended deadline for filing nominations for the next month's panchayat election in the state. State Election Commisisoner A K Singh cancelled the poll panel's previous order, which had extended the deadline for filing nominations.

"It appears that there was no specific direction by the Supreme Court of India for extension of the nomination date. Therefore on perusal of all the papers and considering all the points, the Commission hereby recalls the said order and therefore rescinds the (previous) order," said the new notification issued by the SEC.

Though the last day for filing nominations for the rural polls slated for May 1, 3 and 5 was till yesterday, the SEC had extended it till 3 pm today on complaints that the opposition candidates had been prevented from filing papers.

According to the new notification, the State Election Commissioner received two letters, one from the special secretary of the state government and another one from the Trinamool Congress, citing legal infirmities in the previous order of the commission.
14:02   Anti-quota 'bandh' evokes partial response in MP
The 'Bharat Bandh' called by some groups opposed to the caste-based reservations evoked a partial response in Madhya Pradesh today, with some shops remaining closed in Bhopal during the morning hours. The schools in the state capital remained open even as some of them suspended their bus services, sources said.

The authorities had announced yesterday a daytime curfew clamp in Morena and Bhind, besides enforcing prohibitory orders under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in Gwalior, Bhopal, Sagar and some other sensitive towns of the state to avoid any untoward incidents.

"We are monitoring the situation. There has been no impact of the alleged bandh so far. The state police is also keeping a watch on the social media," Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Bhupendra Singh told reporters.

The security arrangements across the state have been beefed up in the wake of a shutdown call reportedly given by the groups opposed to caste-based reservations.

The officials said the call for the bandh was given on social media and no organisation had come forward so far to claim responsibility for it. The internet services too have been blocked in the Gwalior-Chambal region to prevent rumour-mongering. -- PTI
13:12   Rahul congratulates IAS couple
Rahul Gandhi @RahulGandhi tweets his congratulations to IAS topper Tina Dabi who married the runner-up, Athar Amir-ul-Shafi, defying love-jihad allegations.

"Congratulations Tina Dabi & Athar Amir-ul-Shafi, IAS toppers, batch of 2015, on your wedding! May your love grow from strength to strength and may you be an inspiration to all Indians in this age of growing intolerance and communal hatred. God bless you."
13:08   SIT will now probe Unnao rape case
A special investigation team (SIT) has been constituted to probe the rape of an 18-year-old woman, allegedly by BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar and his brothers, in Unnao and the custodial death of the victim's father.

"The SIT will go into the entire gamut of issues involved in the incident," ADG (Law and Order) Anand Kumar told a press conference.

Anand Kumar, ADG Law and Order said the postmortem report on the girl's father states that the cause of death is shock and septicemia due to peritonitis and ascending colon perforation.

"Investigation is being done and action will definitely be taken:," the ADG said.

Earlier today, Atul Singh, the brother of the rape-accused BJP MLA, was arrested in Unnao. The BJP MLA has rejected the charge as a conspiracy by his opponents. The ADG also said that so far clean chit had not been given to anyone in the matter. The victim's father yesterday died in custody in Unnao, prompting her to charge that he was killed inside jail at the behest of the lawmaker. -- PTI
12:59   Heena Sidhu adds third gold to India's shooting kitty in CWG
Heena Sidhu picked up India's third gold medal in shooting at the ongoing Commonwealth Games, finishing on top in the women's 25m pistol event and also breaking a Games record in the process, in Brisbane today.

The 28-year-old Sidhu shot a final score of 38, two of the series being perfect fives, to claim the top honours ahead of Australian Elena Galiabovitch (35). The bronze medal went to Malaysia's Alia Azahari (26). This was Sidhu's second medal at the ongoing Games after having claimed a silver in the 10m air pistol event behind 16-year-old compatriot Manu Bhaker.

Incidentally, this is her first major medal in the 25m pistol event with most of her other podium finishes being in 10m air pistol. "I am exhausted, those are my thoughts on today's performance," Sidhu quipped while speaking to PTI after her gold. Annuraj Singh finished sixth after being eliminated in the second stage of the same event. Her final score was a disappointing 15.

Sidhu, however, was in terrific form after qualifying third with a score of 579 despite admitting to struggling with her trigger finger owing to a nerve problem. "Thankfully, my trigger which has been giving me some trouble because of a tingling sensation was alright today. I didn't feel that tingling too much," Sidhu said. -- PTI
12:11   Bots in the Twittersphere
An estimated two-thirds of tweeted links to popular websites are posted by automated accounts -- not human beings. Read more
12:04   Raju Narisetti steps down as Gizmodo Media CEO
Raju Narisetti, the CEO of Gizmodo Media Group, is exiting the company, reports The Daily Beast.   

'Gizmodo Media Group's top executive is exiting the company'"a sign that parent Univision plans to get more directly involved with its flagship digital media property as it weighs deep cuts.   

'The Daily Beast has learned that GMG CEO Raju Narisetti has been pushed out, amid a larger business review following the company's decision to scuttle its planned initial public offering earlier this year,' reports Maxwell Tani, adding however that one person familiar with the situation has disputed that Narisetti was pushed out.   

Narisetti also wrote a lengthy mail to the staff, in which he spoke of leaving with the parent company's 'reluctant blessing'.   

Narisetti, the founding editor of Mint newspaper from the Hindustan Times stable and a former managing editor at the Washington Post, also had a piece of advice for the staff:   

'If you can, amid all the relentless change that is now the new normal for our business, remain focused on our growing audiences, and keep creating meaningful differences than better sameness, with all your journalism,' Narisetti told the employees in his mail.   

You can read the full report, here.
Indian shooter Heena Sidhu wins gold medal in women's 25m pistol event of Commonwealth Games. PTI
11:27   SC judges appointed on impression, not performance: J Chelameswar
Stressing on the need to bring more transparency in the appointment process of Supreme Court judges, Justice J Chelameswar on Monday said the elevation of the High Court judge to the apex court is done on their impression rather than on their performance.

Speaking during a panel discussion titled 'The Indian Higher Judiciary: Issues and Prospects', the apex court judge said the one responsible for the selection process must put "assessment on record", which would "eliminate most of the problems".

"An assessment of the performance of a high court judge, I am talking about elevation to the Supreme Court, is hardly done. Generally, the assessment goes by impression," Justice Chelameswar said.

During the discussion, Justice Chelameswar, while speaking on reforms required in the apex court, said if it happens then as the sanctioned strength of the top court is 31 judges, each state will stake its claim for a seat.

"The SC today has a sanctioned strength of 31. The moment Supreme Court with 31 judges is created, the first thing that happens in this country is every state believes it is entitled to a seat in the top court," he said. -- ANI

File pic.
11:11   Speeding truck overturns, 18 labourers killed
At least 18 labourers were killed and 15 others injured when a speeding truck overturned in western Maharashtra's Satara district in the early hours today, a police official said. The condition of three of the injured labourers was reported to be critical, he said. The police suspect that the driver "dozed off" and lost control of the vehicle while managing a difficult turn, leading to the accident.

The truck, carrying construction labourers from Bijapur district in Karnataka, was going towards Pune when it met with the accident around 4.30 am on Mumbai-Bengaluru highway passing through the district, around 250 km from here, Satara's Superintendent of Police Sandeep Patil said.

"After crossing the Khambatki ghat section, there is a difficult turning of 'S' shape. It is an accident-prone spot. The truck driver probably dozed off and lost control over the wheels, as a result of which the vehicle hit a barricade and overturned," he said.

At least 18 labourers died, while 15 others sustained injuries, he said. The labourers, carrying heavy and sharp equipment, were heading to a construction site in Pune, Patil said.

"They were carrying some sharp and heavy equipment in the truck. When the vehicle overturned, the equipment fell on the labourers. Many of them died due to head injuries caused by the equipment," the SP said. On being informed, the Khandala police rushed the spot and took all the victims to the Satara Civil Hospital, he said. Three of the injured labourers were reported to be in a critical condition, he said. -- PTI
11:00   Unnao rape: Victim wants BJP MLA hanged
Unnao rape: The victim, speaking to ANI, said that Kuldeep Singh (Sengar, the BJP MLA) has not yet been arrested. "I don't know if his brother is arrested. I demand that they be hanged till death. They've made my life miserable. I want justice. They killed my father," she said.

The brother of the rape-accused BJP MLA, was arrested in Unnao early today, police said. According to a police spokesperson, a crime branch team arrested Atul Singh Sengar, on the directions of the state police chief.

An 18-year-old woman alleged that she was raped by BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar and his brothers.

Yesterday, her father died in custody in Unnao, prompting her to charge that he was killed inside jail at the behest of the lawmaker.

Pappu Singh, around 50, was rushed to a hospital from the district jail on April 8 and died during treatment yesterday, Superintendent of Police, Unnao, Pushpanjali had yesterday said.

Four accused -- Sonu, Baua, Vinit and Shailu -- named in the FIR registered on April 4 for beating up Pappu had been arrested.

The complaint was lodged by Asha Singh wife of Surendra Singh alias Pappu. Pappu was arrested on April 5 under the Arms Act after he was allegedly beaten up by Anil Singh, the MLA's brother. Makhi police station SHO Ashok Kumar Singh had been suspended. -- PTI
10:38   Markets cheer decision to curtail Axis Bank CEO's tenure
Shares of Axis Bank today rose as much as 4 per cent in morning trade on the bourses after its CEO and Managing Director Shikha Sharma's tenure was shortened. The Axis Bank board yesterday curtailed the fourth term of Sharma to seven months following an unusual request from her that she be relieved on December 2018, 29 months ahead of the scheduled term.

Following the announcement, shares of the company opened on a bullish note at Rs 523.10, then surged to a high of Rs 540, up 4.26 per cent from its previous closing price.

On NSE, the stock opened at Rs 523, then jumped to a high of Rs 540, a rise of 3.98 per cent from its last close. The board's decision came amidst RBI raising questions over her re-appointment for the fourth term as MD and CEO of the third largest private sector lender in the wake of mounting non-performing assets.

Sharma, who would complete her third term on May 31, 2018, has been heading the bank since 2009. The Axis Bank board accepted her request for a shorter seven-month term (from June 1 to December 31, 2018), subject to the approval of the Reserve Bank of India, the bank said in a regulatory filing.
10:33   PM arrives in Bihar
PM Narendra Modi arrives in Bihar. He will lay the foundation stone for various projects in the state and speak at a Swacch Bharat Abhiyan event. He was received upon arrival by Governor Satyapal Malik and CM Nitish Kumar.
10:29   Indian shooter's father tries to enter athletes lounge at CWG range
An unidentified Indian shooter's father tried to enter the Commonwealth Games athletes lounge at the Belmont Shooting Centre today but was told to back off after his accreditation was found to be invalid.

Claiming to be the personal coach of one of the female members of the Indian shooting team, the man in question tried to enter the lounge but was told to leave by the National Rifles Association of India President Raninder Singh.

"It was a small matter, somebody had tried to enter. I don't wish to take the concerned shooter's name, she is yet to compete. Not her fault as well. It's just that personal coaches are not allowed in Commonwealth, Asian and Olympic Games," Singh told PTI, refusing to identify the shooter involved in the matter.

"This is a clear policy of the NRAI but sometimes people try to act smart. But once he was told to back off, he didn't create any issue. So, the matter is closed now, controversy resolved" he said. Singh said the man in question should not have been issued accreditation.

"I don't know how he got an accreditation, may be the Indian contingent was misled about his status as a coach because in shooting, only team coaches are allowed access to the athletes lounge.

"There is no concept of personal coaches at multi-sport events as far as shooting is concerned," he explained. A source in the Indian contingent said the accreditation was issued to this person based on a request from a member of the shooting squad.

The Indian shooting contingent is enjoying a good run at the Games and its gold medal count stands at two right now courtesy teen sensation Manu Bhaker and the experienced Jitu Rai. -- PTI
10:14   This madrasa in Gorakhpur teaches Sanskrit
In Yogi Adityanath's Goarakhpur, Sanskrit, among other subjects, is being being taught at the Darul Uloom Husainia madrasa.

The Principal of the madrasa told ANI, 'It's a modern madrasa under the UP Education board and subjects like English, Hindi, Science, Maths and Sanskrit are taught here. They are also taught Arabic."

The students of the madrasa added,"We feel good to learn Sanskrit. Our teachers teach and explain things very well. Even our parents help us in learning."

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has maintained that he did not favour the closure of madrasas but saw the need for modernisation of madrasas and Sanskrit Vidyalayas in the state.

Closing down madrasas is not a  solution. Only quality education is the solution, Adityanath said, adding that the need of the hour was to equip students of Islamic and Sanskrit institutions with modern education so that they could face the cut-throat competition in the world.
10:01   Your MFs should now do well
The BSE Sensex advanced over 130 points today, continuing its rising streak for the fourth straight day, on firm global leads after Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech eased worries over a trade war. The 30-share Sensex was trading higher by 130.31 points.
09:59   The saffronisation of Ambedkar
Badaun: A BR Ambedkar statue which was vandalized recently has been rebuilt and painted saffron.
09:58   Sorry for not doing enough: Zuckerberg testimony to Congress
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has apologised to the US Congress and accepts responsibility over the Cambridge Analytica scandal for "not doing enough" to protect its users' personal data being misused.

In a testimony released yesterday on the eve of his first Congressional appearance, Zuckerberg accepts responsibility for the social network's failure to protect private data of its 87 million users and prevent manipulation of the platform.

"We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I'm sorry," Zuckerberg said in his written testimony released by a House of Representatives panel.

"I started Facebook, I run it, and I'm responsible for what happens here." "It's clear now that we didn't do enough to prevent these tools from being used for harm as well. That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech," Zuckerberg said.

Zuckerberg, 33, who is facing the worst crisis of business, will testify before senators later today and a House panel tomorrow amid a firestorm over the hijacking of data on millions of Facebook users by the British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

In prepared remarks released by a congressional panel, Zuckerberg admitted he was too idealistic and failed to grasp how the platform, used by two billion people, could be abused and manipulated.  -- PTI
09:50   She makes the Commonwealth's best marmalade
The marmalade that Victoria Singh made with oranges from her garden in Kota won the first place in the Commonwealth category at the World Original Marmalade Awards in England. Victoria Singh tells's Archana Masih about the jam from her kitchen in India that Prince Charles found delicious! Do read
09:02   Unnao rape case: MLA's brother arrested, 3 others nabbed too
Atul Singh, brother of BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar, has been arrested in connection with death of Unnao rape victim's father in jail. Three other people have also been arrested.

The father of an 18-year-old woman, who alleged that she was raped by Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar and his brothers, on Monday died in custody in Unnao, prompting her to put the blame on the lawmaker, who rejected the charge as a conspiracy and said the complainant belonged to 'low class'.

The alleged victim's father, aged around 50, was rushed to a hospital from the district jail on Sunday night and died during treatment on Monday.

He was arrested on April 5 under the Arms Act, police officials said. The news of his death spread like wildfire with opposition parties slamming the Bharatiya Janata Party government even as Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath promised action against the guilty.

Image: BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar rejected the rape charge as a conspiracy and said the complainant belonged to 'low class'. Photograph: Nand Kumar/PTI Photo
CWG: Disappointing end to India's 50m Rifle Prone event as Chain Singh and Gagan Narang are eliminated. No medal for India in this discipline.
08:39   FBI conduct raids on Trump's lawyer's office
The office of Michael Cohen, a long-standing personal lawyer and confidante of United States President Donald Trump, was raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Monday.

According to CNN, documents with information related to Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, who alleged that she had an affair with Trump in 2006, were seized from the office by the FBI.

In a statement, Stephen Ryan, a lawyer for Cohen, said a number of search warrants, commissioned by the US Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York, were used by the Bureau to enter and search the offices of Cohen, while they also had "seized the privileged communications" between Cohen and his clients.

It is also being reported that Trump, who was watching the FBI raids on television, was aware of it before it happened.

In Ryan's statement, he said that that federal prosecutors told him that the office was singled out for the raid partly due to a referral made by the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

"I have been advised by federal prosecutors that the New York action is, in part, a referral by the Office of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller. It resulted in the unnecessary seizure of protected attorney-client communications between a lawyer and his clients. These government tactics are also wrong because Mr Cohen has cooperated completely with all government entities, including providing thousands of non-privileged documents to the Congress and sitting for depositions under oath," Ryan said in the statement.

-- ANI
08:15   2 army jawans killed in Pakistani shelling in J-K's Rajouri
Two jawans were killed in heavy mortar shelling and firing by Pakistani troops along the LoC in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.

"Pakistan army initiated unprovoked and indiscriminate firing of small arms, automatics and mortars from 1715 hours in Sunderbani sector along the Line of Control last night," a defence spokesman said.

The Indian Army was giving a befitting reply, he said.

Rifleman Vinod Singh and Rifleman Jaki Sharma were grievously injured in the firing and later succumbed to their injuries, the spokesman said.

Singh, 24, belonged to Danapur village of Akhnoor district in Jammu and Kashmir. He is survived by his father, Ajit Singh.

Sharma, 30, was from Sanhail village of Hiranagar district in Jammu. He is survived by his wife, Rajni Devi.

"Rifleman Vinod Singh and Rifleman Jaki Sharma were brave and sincere soldiers. The nation will always remain indebted to the brave hearts for their supreme sacrifice and devotion to duty," the defence spokesperson said.

-- PTI
07:54   Security beefed up across nation in wake of shutdown call
Elaborate security arrangements have been put in place in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and other parts of the country ahead of the country-wide shutdown called by groups opposed to caste-based reservations, a senior police official said.

Prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC have been imposed in Jaipur city. Mobile internet service has also been blocked for 24 hours in Jaipur as a precautionary measure, the official said. 

The 'Bharat bandh' call has been made on social media only and no organisation here has so far come forward to support it, the official said.

Deputy Inspector General of Police, Bhopal, Dharmendra Dubey said that social media messages were being monitored and warned that those spreading hate messages would be booked under section 188 (disobedience to order promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code.

Ajatshatru, Divisional Commissioner of Bhopal said that prohibitory orders under section 144 had been clamped in the city for Tuesday but services including schools, government offices and banks would operate as usual.

Sudhir Lad, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Chambal range said that curfew would be effective in Bhind from 9 pm today to 6 pm tomorrow to avoid any untoward incident.

Four people had died in Bhind in violence during the April 2 shutdown.

He informed that internet services had been blocked in the Chambal region in order to prevent rumour mongering.
00:20   Modi govt needs to build a pro-Dalit image: Paswan
Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan has favoured inclusion of the SC/ST Act and reservations for Dalits in Ninth Schedule of the Constitution so that they cannot be challenged in a court of law.
Laws under the Ninth Schedule are beyond the purview of judicial review. The Supreme Court, however,  in 2007 had ruled that any law placed in the Ninth Schedule after April 24, 1973, would be subject to scrutiny of courts if they violated fundamental rights.
"I would also urge the government to consider inclusion of the SC/ST Act and the reservations in the Ninth Schedule so that there remains no possibility of anybody challenging them in a court of law," Paswan told reporters.
Paswan, also the Lok Janshakti Party chief, charged the opposition parties such as the Congress, the RJD and the BSP with trying to derive political mileage out of the anxieties of Dalits following dilution of the SC/ST Act by the Supreme Court.
"I fully understand what the Dalits must be feeling in the wake of the Supreme Court order. But I would request them to rest assured that the matter will be dealt with," he said.
The Supreme Court had on March 20 "diluted" the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, ruling that government servants should not be arrested without prior sanction and private citizens too, can be arrested only after an inquiry.
"I have no objection to Dalit youths taking part in agitations but they must not indulge in violence. But, I have serious problem with opposition political parties trying to derive political mileage out of the issue," he said.
Paswan was referring to the April 2 Bharat Bandh called by Dalit and tribal organisations, and supported by many opposition parties, which had resulted in large-scale violence in states like Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
"The Narendra Modi government is in need of building a pro-Dalit image. Late Prime Minister VP Singh had built for himself the image of a messiah of the downtrodden though he did not belong to a poor family nor from a backward caste, unlike Modi," Paswan said. -- PTI