Fri, 13 April 2018
Karnataka poll dates were not leaked, says EC probe panel

Timeline  Refresh

23:06   Karnataka poll dates were not leaked, says EC probe panel
Karnataka poll schedule was not leaked, said an Election Commission committee in its report on Friday.

The committee was constituted by the Election Commission to probe how information on the Karnataka assembly poll dates was aired by two TV news channels on March 27 even before Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat had made an announcement in the regard.

The Committee said alleged leak first appeared on an English TV news channel at 11.06 am, which was used by others including Bharatiya Janata Party IT cell head Amit Malviya and Karnataka Congress lT Head Srivatsa.

Incidentally, while both got the polling date correct, they got the date of counting wrong.

"The Channel in its response said 'Channel assessed the details from informed sources. Given that the information was not entirely accurate it was obvious it was not a leak'. The Committee is of the opinion that there was no leak of schedule of elections to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, 2018," the Committee said in its report.

On March 28, the EC had constituted a committee of six officials to probe how information on the Karnataka assembly poll dates was leaked.

The committee said the presentation of the news item by TV channels as well as tweets by political party leaders regarding Karnataka poll date, just as Commission was making the announcement, was avoidable and they could have acted in more responsible manner.

It also said the political parties should have avoided from tweeting at the crucial juncture when the Commission was announcing poll dates.

"The time of the announcement of the schedule is integral to the electoral process . It is the responsibility of all the stakeholders including media and political parties not to attempt any speculation that may create doubt in the minds of our stakeholders and citizens at large," the Committee said.

Terming the Election Commission's process/system robust enough, the Committee said, "However, considering the secrecy of the process the committee will separately brief the commission for further strengthening the process, if required."  -- ANI
21:51   Unnao rape case: CBI arrests MLA Kuldeep Sengar
Unnao Rape Case: Accused MLA Kuldeep Sengar arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation, ANI reports.

He was questioned by the CBI for several hours since morning.

The Allahabad high court had ordered his 'immediate arrest' earlier in the day.

More details awaited.

21:07   Congress left no stone unturned in insulting Ambedkar: PM
Chiding the Congress party's failure to honour the Daliticon, Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the former of leaving no stone unturned to insult him.

"Congress has used all its power to remove any mention of Babasaheb from the country's history. This is the bitter truth of history that when Babasaheb was alive, Congress left no stone unturned to insult him," said Modi during his speech at the inauguration ceremony of the Dr Ambedkar National Memorial.

He further challenged the Congress to tell about a single work done by them for Babasaheb as a mark of respect to him.

"The Congress has never wanted to and still does not want to promote development for the Dalit and backward, while our government, which follows Babasaheb's prescribed path and the mantra of 'sabka saath, sabka vikaas' has been trying to develop every section of the society, equally," he added.

Stating it was important for today's generation to be aware of how Dr Ambedkar brought forth Congress's true character; he blasted the Congress for undermining Dr Ambedkar and not including him in important government positions.

Quoting Dr Ambedkar, he said, "Babasaheb wrote, 'I was not taken into any cabinet committee or in the Foreign Affairs Committee, or in the Defence Committee. When the Committee of Economic Affairs was created, I felt that I would be involved in it, because I was a student of economics and financial affairs. But I was left out of it too."

During his address, the prime minister also highlighted the work his government has done for the backward and said, "Special Courts are being formed for swift hearing of cases involving atrocities on SC/ST. The government has also decided to set up a commission for the backward castes."    -- ANI
JUST IN: Two Bharatiya Janata Party ministers, who backed men accused in Kathua rape case, resign.  -- Agencies
19:54   PM breaks silence on Unnao, Kathua: No guilty will be spared
Prime Minister Narendra Modi breaks silence on Kathua and Unnao incidents:

"Incidents being discussed since past two days cannot be part of a civilised society.

"As a country, as a society we all are ashamed of it. I want to assure the country that no culprit will be spared, complete justice will be done.

"Our daughters will definitely get justice.

"Such incidents happening in any part of the country shake our senses. We all have to fight to end this evil from our society.

"I dared to say from the Red Fort, don't ask girls, ask boys. We have to strengthen our family and social values and our judicial system to fight this," he said.
19:21   Singer Kovan arrested for criticising Centre, TN govt over Cauvery row
Tamil folk singer Kovan was arrested on Friday by Trichy Police for allegedly criticising the central and state governments during Cauvery protests.

He has been arrested under sections 153 (provocation with intent to cause riot), 503 (criminal intimidation) and 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the Indian Penal Code.

Various political fronts have been protesting against the Centre and Tamil Nadugovernment over non-formation of Cauvery Management Board (CMB) within a set deadline, directed by the Supreme Court.

Earlier in the day, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam working president M K Stalin called on Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit and urged him to take the initiative in setting up the CMB before May 3.

He further said the party will continue its protests until the CMB is constituted.

On April 9, the Supreme Court said it will hear the Cauvery water distribution issue on May 3 and asked the Center to file a draft scheme on the same day.  -- ANI
19:05   Modi takes Metro to attend Dr Ambedkar's birth anniversary event
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today took a ride in a Delhi Metro train to reach the venue of an event in north Delhi's Alipore area.

Modi boarded the train at the Lok Kalyan Marg metro station on way to participate in the event organised on the eve of Dalit icon Dr B R Ambedkar's birth anniversary.

Some commuters were seen taking pictures with the prime minister inside a coach in which he was travelling.  -- PTI

Photograph: ANI
18:25   Only they can tell why they don't have faith in us: J-K DGP
Jammu and Kashmir Police chief S P Vaid today asserted that all necessary steps will be taken to provide protection to the family members of the eight-year-old girl, who was raped and killed in Kathua, and the witnesses in the case.

His assurance came amid a nationwide outrage over the rape and killing of the girl.

"We will do whatever is required and take care of it. Nothing to worry about," Vaid said when asked about alleged threats to the witnesses, including the family members of the victim.

On the demand by some people for a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the case, the Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police said, "Only they (those demanding CBI probe) can answer this. Why they don't have trust on the same J&K police which is fighting a war in Kashmir."

Vaid said he was satisfied with the investigation carried out by the state Crime Branch, in spite of attempts to destroy evidence during the initial investigations.

"I am satisfied with the investigations and am sure the people who committed this heinous crime on an eight-year-old child must get severest possible punishment," Vaid said.

"The state crime branch did a commendable job in spite of the fact that initially the investigation was not done in a professional manner. There were some attempts to destroy evidence," he said.

The DGP noted that the police has taken action against its own personnel who were involved in the crime.

"We took action against our own two policemen -- two SPOs -- who were involved in this heinous crime. The Special Investigation Team of Crime Branch went about the investigation in a professional manner, systematically collecting evidence and scientifically pursuing the case. Now, they have produced the challan (charge sheet) in the court for judicial determination," he said.

Vaid, however, refused to comment on whether any action would be taken against those people -- including two state ministers -- who attended a rally in support of the accused persons in Kathua.

The girl, who was from the nomadic Bakerwal Muslim community, disappeared near her house in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir, on January 10.

A week later, her body was found in the same area.  -- PTI
17:50   Azad says BJP turned his former polling agent 'communal'
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of turning his former polling agent, who is now Jammu Bar Association President, 'communal'.

He made this comment while reacting on his relations with Jammu Bar Association president B S Slathia, who is accused of opposing the Jammu and Kashmir Crime Branch's charge sheet in the Kathua gang rape case.

"Yes, he (Slathia) was my polling agent. Also, J&K minister from BJP quota Lal Singh was in Congress. They (Slathia and Singh) were secular then but the BJP has vitiated the atmosphere so badly in Jammu and Kashmir that these individuals have now turned communal," Azad said.

Slathia has come into the limelight because of his demand for a Central Bureau of Investigation investigation into the Kathua rape case.

A lawyer in Jammu D S Rajawat had accused Slathia had threatened her and asked her not to appear for the Kathua victim. Slathia has denied these charges.   -- ANI
17:08   Rapists should be executed publicly: BJP MP on Unnao case
BJP MP from Assam RP Sharma on Friday called for a public execution of the accused in the Unnao gangrape case that involves party MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar. "Rape and murder, especially of children and women is inexcusable and there should be a public execution of the accused- if they are to be shot, they should rather be shot in public so that an example is set," Sharma told ANI.
17:01   Warner, Smith will be booed if they play against India: Chappell
Straight-talking former Australian captain Ian Chappell is happy that one year ban won't allow Steve Smith and David Warner to take part in the series against India Down Under as it would have exposed the disgraced duo to heavy duty "booing" from the home crowd.

The Cricket Australia banned the former skipper and his deputy from international cricket for one year for their involvement in ball tampering controversy in South Africa. India are set to play four Tests and a limited overs series in Australia starting from last week of November. -- PTI
Delhi court sends 3 men, arrested for allegedly conspiring to kill UP Shia Waqf Board Chairman, to 5-day police custody.
16:42   Mum-Ahd bullet train fares between Rs 250 and Rs 3000
Passengers on board the bullet train, proposed to run between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, have to shell out anything between Rs 250 to Rs 3,000 depending on their destination, a senior official said. Giving the first official indication of the likely fares of the government's ambitious project, Achal Khare, the managing director of National High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd (NHSRCL), told mediapersons that the fares are based on present projections and calculations. It would be Rs 3,000 between Mumbai and Ahmedabad and as low as Rs 250 between Banda-Kurla Complex and Thane, he said.

Khare said, "The fares have been based on present projections and calculations. There would be one business class and the fares for this is likely to be higher than Rs 3,000."

"The journey will be much more affordable and less time consuming than in a flight, if the trip to the airport, getting boarding passes and security checks are taken into consideration," he said.

An official said, a taxi takes anywhere between one and, one and a half hours to travel between Thane and Banda-Kurla Complex and charges around Rs 650. But with the high-speed train, the journey time will come down to only 15 minutes and Rs 250 in fare, he said, adding the fares would be 1.5 times higher than AC first class fares.

A train set comprises 10 'standard' coaches, one of which will be business class. Food will be complimentary in business class and will be available in other coaches as well. Khare said construction work under the project could start as early as December this year, by which time land acquisition is expected to be over. -- PTI
15:52   Kathua rape: Miss my daughter every day, says father
The father of the eight-year-old girl, who was raped and murdered in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district, said that the culprits should be "hanged till death".Speaking to ANI on Friday, he said, "I miss my daughter every day. Those responsible for killing my daughter should be hanged till death."

Demanding action against the accused in the Unnao and Kathua rape cases, Congress president Rahul Gandhi held a candlelight vigil at India Gate yesterday night.Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday announced that the state government would bring a new law to make the death penalty mandatory for those who rape minors.

Kathua MLA Rajiv Jasrotia has been missing since two days after being questioned about the rape and murder of the eight-year-old girl in his constituency in Jammu and Kashmir.

The minor girl, who belonged to the nomadic Muslim Bakarwal community, was abducted on January 10.

She was reportedly held in captivity for a week by the accused in a small village temple in the district. She was kept sedated and sexually assaulted once again before she was bludgeoned to death. -- ANI
15:32   Kathua, Unnao rapes: Rahul orders candlelight marches in all state capitals
On the instructions of Congress President Rahul Gandhi, party members will hold candlelight marches at all state capitals against the Kathua and Unnao rape cases.
The CBI team visits the Makhi Police Station in Unnao in connection with the rape of a 17-year-old girl.
15:21   It can't get worse than this: J&K DGP on Kathua rape-murder
Condemning the incident of rape and murder of eight-year-old in Kathua district, Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police (DGP) SP Vaid on Friday said that it couldn't get worse than this.

"It is a very heinous crime; it can't get worse than this. The Special Investigation Team has done a very professional job and filed the charge sheet. Now we hope that justice will be done," Vaid told ANI.

The girl, who belonged to the nomadic Muslim Bakarwal community, was abducted on January 10. She was reportedly held captive in a temple, sedated and raped.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday announced that the state government would bring a new law to make the death penalty mandatory for those who raped minors.

Mehbooba further assured the entire nation that she stood committed to ensuring justice in the Kathua case. She also called for exemplary punishment for those responsible for the crime. -- ANI
15:10   Let's cry India, let's cry for an 8-year-old daughter of India
"How does her family remember their pretty eight year old girl? That she was rosy cheeked, her hair in a jolly little pigtail. Her huge eyes, luminous in their bright innocence. A demure, curious child, like so many eight year olds, a picture of girlhood in springtime, of running, skipping playfulness in the sunshine of her Ammi's love."

Read Sagarika Ghose's column on the Kathua rape/murder here.

14:56   Allahabad HC to monitor Unnao probe, asks for MLA's arrest
Unnao rape case: The Allahabad High Court has asked for a progress report by May 2 and that the court will monitor the probe. Court also said the MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar should be arrested and not just detained.

The CBI has taken over investigation in three cases related to the alleged rape of a 17-year-old girl by the BJP MLA and detained him today for questioning, officials said today. The agency which was referred the matter only yesterday took immediate action by re-registering the UP police FIRs and brought the four-time MLA to its Lucknow office at around 5 am for questioning, they said. The officials said Sengar, an MLA from Bangarmau, had not been arrested yet. They said a team of officials would visit the scene of crime and question jail officials, police officials and family members of the MLA.
14:25   Maharashtra plastic ban will continue: HC
Bombay High Court declines to stay Maharashtra government's decision to ban plastic materials.
14:12   SC to examine Shanti Bhushan's PIL on allocation of cases
The Supreme Court today decided to examine a PIL filed by former law minister Shanti Bhushan challenging the existing roster practice of allocation of cases by the Chief Justice of India.

A bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan sought the assistance of Attorney General K K Venugopal and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta in dealing with the PIL stating that the CJI cannot exercise arbitrary power in allocation of cases.

However, the bench took objection when Bhushan's counsel made an attempt to bring to its notice the unprecedented January 12 press conference held by four of the court's most senior judges -- Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph -- who had accused Chief Justice Dipak Misra of arbitrarily allocating cases.

"We are not going to go into it. We are not concerned with it for many reasons and obvious reasons. Don't say all this," the bench said. The bench also referred to its recent verdicts, saying it has already held that the CJI is the 'master of roster'.

The bench was referring to the apex court's April 11 verdict which said the CJI is the "first among equals" and occupies a unique position having the "exclusive prerogative" to allocate cases and set up benches to hear cases. -- PTI
14:09   Colours of justice
A 50X30 ft rangoli at RM Bhatt School, Parel in Mumbai, to pay tribute to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar on his 127th birth anniversary tomorrow.

Pic: Sahil Salvi.
14:01   Azad reacts to Lekhi's allegations
Yes, he (Jammu Bar Association chief BS Slathia) was my polling agent, and also Lal Singh (BJP J&K minister) was in Congress. They were secular then but BJP has vitiated the atmosphere so badly in J&K that these individuals have now turned communal: Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress
13:52   Nawaz Sharif can never be Pak PM again
Pakistan's ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif was today barred from contesting elections for life, after the Supreme Court ruled that the disqualification of a lawmaker under the Constitution is permanent, a landmark verdict ending the political future of the three-time premier.

The verdict was issued unanimously by all five judges of the bench while hearing a petition related to determination of time duration for disqualification of a lawmaker under the Constitution.

The court had grappled with Article 62(1)(f) which only stated that a lawmaker is disqualified under specified conditions but did not set out the duration of the disqualification. Article 62, which sets the precondition for a member of parliament to be "sadiq and ameen" (honest and righteous), is the same provision under which Sharif was disqualified on July 28, 2017, in the Panama Papers case.

The court later also disqualified Sharif as head of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. In today verdict, the SC =said that under the country's Constitution, no person once disqualified from office by the top court can hold public office again. The historic ruling ended 68-year-old Sharif's hopes for a political future. -- PTI
13:40   Fair probe done in Kathua case: Meenakshi Lekhi
BJP MP and spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi on the Kathua and Unnao rapes:

"A fair probe was done in the Kathua case. A SIT was formed and 6-7 people were arrested. Also, I would like to say it on record that the Jammu Bar Association president BS Slathia is the polling agent of Ghulam Nabi Azadji.

"Unnao ki ghatna 10 mahine pehle ki hai. Police ne magistrate ke saamne bayan liya, isme vidhayak ka naam nahi liya, phir mahila ne PM aur Yogi Adityanath ko chhitthi likhi aur isme vidhayak par aarop laga, phir karyavahi huyi.

"You see their plan, first shout 'minority minority', then 'Dalit Dalit', and now 'women women' and then try to somehow fix blame of state issues on the centre. All this while ignoring the strict action being taken by state governments."

In Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, an eight-year-old girl from the nomadic Bakerwal Muslim community disappeared near her house on January 10. A week later, her body was found in the same area.

A Special Investigation Team, formed to probe the incident, has arrested eight people, including two special police officers (SPOs) and a head constable, who was charged with destroying evidence.

In Unnao in Uttar Pradesh, a teen alleged that she was raped by ruling BJP legislator  Kuldeep Singh Sengar, who was detained for questioning early today. She alleged she was raped by the MLA at his residence on June 4, 2017 where she had gone with a relative seeking a job.

After filing of the case, her father was booked by the police under the arms act on April 3 this year and put in jail on April 5.
13:30   Protests over Kathua, Unnao rapes rage on
Delhi: Protests continue outside Rajghat in Delhi led by the Delhi Commission for Women against the Unnao and Kathua rape cases.

Yesterday, a number of student and women organisations protested at Parliament Street against the rape cases and questioned the silence of Centre and PM Modi on the issue.

The The National Commission for Women yesterday took strong note of the rape cases in Uttar's Pradesh Unnao and Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua.
In a press release, the NCW said, "The National Commission for Women strongly condemns the brutal gang-rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir and the rape case in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh. The Commission calls for action against the perpatrators."

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi led a midnight march to the India Gate to protest the Kathua and Unnao minor rape cases and said its time for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to walk the talk on beti bachao (save the girl child).

Amid slogans against the Bharatiya Janata Party and the prime minister during the march, Gandhi said the women of the country are afraid to go out today and the government must ensure their safety.

@konkonas tweets saying she is "Deeply ashamed and upset."
Other special awards include:

Nargis Dutt Award on National Integration: Dhappa

Indira Gandhi Award For Best Debut Director: Pampally (Sinjar)
12:44   Vinod Khanna wins Dadasaheb Phalke Award
Another posthumous award. The prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award has been conferred to veteran actor Vinod Khanna.The Dadasaheb Phalke Award is India's highest award in cinema.
12:33   National awards are out, Sridevi wins best actress for 'Mom'
The National film awards are out and Hindi cinema has achieved only one major triumph.    

Sridevi has won the National award for best actress for her performance in Mom

The best actress award at the  65th National film awards led to a tie-breaker, with Malayalam actress Asha Sarath being a top choice for best actress. Finally, though, sentimentality prevailed.   

Sridevi, who passed away suddenly in February, was given the best actress award posthumously for her final farewell performance as a mother fighting for justice for her raped daughter in Mom.  

The National award for best actor has  gone to Riddhi Sen for his stunning performance as a transgender in Kaushil Ganguly's  Nagarkirtan

The best film has been given to an Assamese film, Rima Das's Village Rockstars, while the best director has gone to Jayaraj for the  Malayalm film Bhayanakam

Another  prominent Bollywood win is the very talented Divya Dutta for her  performance in the little-known environmental drama Iraada

SS Rajmouli's Baahubali: The Conclusion has won for best popular film providing wholesome entertainment.

-- Subhash K Jha
12:19   Nawaz Sharif barred from contesting polls, holding public office: Pak SC
In a huge setback to former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday ruled that he will never be able to contest elections or hold public office ever in life. The court said that the disqualification handed down under Article 62 (1)(f) of the Constitution is for life.

Pakistan's ousted premier was disqualified under Article 62(1)(f) by a five-judge SC bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa on July 28, 2017 on charges on allegation in connection with the Panama Papers case.
12:00   Unnao rape accused will not be spared: Yogi
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on the Unnao rape case: Investigation has been handed over to the CBI. I believe the CBI would have arrested the MLA also. Our government will not compromise on this, no matter how influential the accused is, he will not be spared.

The CBI today registered three separate cases in connection with the alleged rape of a minor girl by BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar in Unnao district and detained him for questioning in the early hours today, officials said.

The agency has taken over investigation into the three cases referred by the Centre on the request of the Uttar Pradesh government. The cases pertain to the alleged rape of the girl, her father's killing and a case of arms act which was slapped on her father in which he was arrested by local police.

He had subsequently died in judicial custody and the autopsy report showed serious injuries on his body. Faced with the embarrassment of its own MLA from Bangarmau in Unnao allegedly being involved in the rape case, the state government had referred the matter to the Centre yesterday -- a day before Allahabad High Court was to pronounce its order on probe into the case by the central agency.
11:55   Kathua rape case reaches SC
A group of lawyers in the Supreme Court have requested Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra to take suo moto cognisance of the conduct of lawyers in Kathua and a PIL in this regard is likely to be filed today.

Lawyer PV Dinesh told the Supreme Court that Jammu lawyers prevented the due course of law to be followed in the Kathua rape case and requested CJI Dipak Misra to take suo moto cognisance of it. The CJI led bench said it may hear the petition.

A Special Investigation Team, formed to probe the incident, has arrested eight people, including two Special Police Officers and a head constable, who was charged with destroying evidence.

The other developments in the case include Union Minister Maneka Gandhi saying she will work to amend the POCSO Act to make rape of children under 12 years punishable by death.

The girl, who belonged to the nomadic Bakerwal Muslim community, had disappeared from a spot near her house on January 10. A week later, her body was found in the same area.

Former J-K CM Omar Abdullah  tweeted: "Hon PM sir, there isn't a day when we don't hear you speak about things that are important to you yet there are times when you are completely silent about things that are important to others. Please don't let #Asifa be someone you choose to remain silent about."

Also read: Kathua rape: 'This crime can never happen in a temple'
11:17   PDP, BJP partners in crime
"I do not want that the number of passenger planes landing at Srinagar airport is used as a counter-argument to the number of coffins that are interned elsewhere. I don't want that we have to hide our tears from our guests and hide our guests from the mourners on the streets. I am not for importing crowds of people to camouflage the immense outpouring of grief that has become a part of our daily life. Instead, I am for a tourism that is seen as a sincere developmental exercise by our people and not as a military operation. My tourism is for the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh first and then for everyone else."

J-K tourism minister and CM Mehbooba Mufti's brother Tassaduq Mufti's interview to the Indian Express. Read it here.
SC seeks material on record to take judicial note of strike call of J&K and Kathua bar bodies in view of minor's gang rape.
10:54   Rahul thanks people who joined him in midnight candlelight march
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday thanked people who joined the candlelight protest in New Delhi on Thursday midnight, demanding justice for Kathua and Unnao rape victims.

"Thousands of men and women stood up to be counted in the battle for justice and to protest the rising acts of violence against girls and women. I thank each and every one of you for your support. It shall not be in vain," Gandhi tweeted.

Gandhi led a candle light march in the nation capital which was also joined by his sister Priyanka Vadra.

Speaking on the issue, Gandhi said: "This is a matter about the safety of women in this country. This is not a political issue. This is an issue of national importance.The government should do something to ensurer safety of women in the nation."

Earlier, he had tweeted: "Like millions of Indians my heart hurts tonight. India simply cannot continue to treat its women the way it does. Join me in a silent, peaceful, candlelight vigil at India Gate at midnight tonight to protest this violence and demand justice."

Several top Congress leaders, including  Ghulam Nabi Azad, took part in the march to the India Gate at the heart of the national capital.
10:33   CBI at hotel to meet Unnao victim's family
Unnao rape case: The CBI team arrives at the hotel in Unnao where the victim's family members are staying. The Uttar Pradesh Police has come under the CBI scanner after the BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar's call details suggested he kept in touch with police officers, reported India Today. The TV channel also said the CBI might arrest one of the cops from Makhi police station and grill police officers over the alleged involvement.

The CBI has registered three separate cases in connection with the alleged rape of a minor girl by BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar in Unnao district and detained him for questioning in the early hours today, officials said.

The agency has taken over investigation into the three cases referred by the Centre on the request of the Uttar Pradesh government.

The cases pertain to:

1. the alleged rape of the girl,
2. her father's killing
3. a case of arms act which was slapped on her father in which he was arrested by local police.

He had subsequently died in judicial custody and the autopsy report showed serious injuries on his body. Faced with the embarrassment of its own MLA from Bangarmau in Unnao allegedly being involved in the rape case, the state government had referred the matter to the Centre yesterday -- a day before Allahabad High Court was to pronounce its order on probe into the case by the central agency.

The Centre too acted with alacrity referring the matter to the CBI last night. The agency sleuths swooped down at the residence of Sengar in Lucknow in the early hours today and took him for questioning at its office in Lucknow, the officials said. Sengar, a four term MLA, enjoys immense clout cutting across party lines in the rural areas around Unnao district, a semi-urban area about 70 km from Lucknow.
10:12   Shubho Noboborsho! Trump greets Bengalis on their New Year
Ahead of the Bengali New Year, United States President Donald Trump extended his wishes to Bengalis living across the globe.

"On behalf of President Trump and the American people, I wish Bengalis everywhere a joyous New Year. We commemorate this important day along with all those from Bangladesh, India, and around the world who come together today to mark the arrival of the New Year," Acting Secretary of State John J. Sullivan said in an official statement.

"Here in the United States, we take this opportunity to thank the Bangladeshi American community for its outstanding contributions to our nation, our economy, and our culture. We join all of you in looking toward a bright future, and wish you the best in the year to come," the statement further read, before signing off with "Shubho Noboborsho!"

The Bengali New Year, also called Poyela Boishakh, is the traditional new year day of the Bengali community. This year, it will be celebrated on April 15. -- ANI
10:08   Kolkata bandh today
The statewide six-hour bandh called by the Left Front against pre-panchayat poll violence in West Bengal began from 6 am today amidst elaborate security arrangements. Public transport was available on the city roads since early morning, flight services remained normal while train services in the suburban sections of the South Eastern Railway and the Eastern Railway remained mostly normal. Metro rail services were also normal. Educational institutions were open. Calcutta University and the CBSE authorities had said that the examination schedule would not be altered in view of the bandh.-- PTI
10:01   Helpline for childhood neurodevelopmental disorders started at AIIMS
Union Minister of State for Health Anupriya Patel launched a round-the-clock toll-free helpline and tele-consultation service for people seeking help and advice on childhood neurodevelopmental disorders at AIIMS yesterday.

The toll-free helpline 1800-11-7776 will be managed by four trained nurse counsellors and they will work under the supervision of resident doctors and faculty of the pediatric department.

AIIMS will also provide tele-consultation services on the same number for those aged between 1 month and 18 years.

"Any parent or care giver of a child with any neurological problem can obtain free information or guidance by calling up the National Child Neurology helpline," professor of Pediatric Neurology Sheffali Gulati said.

She said, "More than half of the patients seeking pediatric consultations have neurodevelopmental disorders. The interplay of multiple social and demographic factors in the developing world adversely influence childhood neurodevelopment."

"This may get translated into impaired long-term neurocognitive outcome, significant losses to work force and impeded national development. These morbidities often get ignored as public health priorities because of lack of indigenous evidence," Gulati said.

The objective of staring the helpline and tele-consultation service is to answer the queries of parents and care providers of all infants, children and adolescents aged one to 18 years and also to make a digital registry of the queries put forth by the parents and the answers provided to them. PTI
09:58   Wasn't talking about Digvijaya's wife, says BJP MP
BJP MP Manohar Untwal on his crass remark on Congress leader Digvijaya Singh. "I respect Digvijaya Singhji a lot, and I also respect women, my statement has been twisted. No way was I talking about his wife," he said.

At an event on Thursday, Untwal said, "Digvijaya Singh ne Madhya Pradesh ke liye kuch nahi kiya lekin Delhi se ek item zaroor lekar aa gaye. Narmada Yatra pe nikal gaye. Abhi keh rahe hain ki sadhuon ko laal batti de di, unse inko taklif ho rahi hai (Digvijaya Singh has done nothing for Madhya Pradesh but brought an 'item' from Delhi. He undertook Narmada Yatra. Now, he is asking why saints have been given red beacon car. He has now problem with them)."
09:49   Unnao victim's family cries threat to life
A close relative of the Unnao gang-rape victim who has named an Uttar Pradesh lawmaker as one of her violators told reporters on Thursday sharpshooters were following him and his family and could kill them any time. Read the report here.
09:40   Oops! BJP leader eats on party's day of fast
BJP leader Harak Singh Rawat on Thursday, admitted his mistake after consuming cashews and fruit juice on a day his leader and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had urged every BJP worker to observe a fast.

In an attempt to expose the Opposition parties for disrupting the Parliament during budget sessions, while interacting with BJP members and other people on the "Gram Swaraj Abhiyan", Modi said it was the responsibility of the party leaders and workers to bring out the sin of those who strangled democracy before the nation by observing a day-long fast.

However, it seems like one of his own party members, Rawat, did not get the memo, as he was photographed eating dry-fruits and drinking juice.

In his defence, Rawat said, "all party leaders had observed a fast today but by mistake, I consumed cashews at an event."

On Monday, leaders of Congress were photographed eating chole bhature at a restaurant before sitting for the day-long protest at Rajghat, called by the Delhi Congress, against the atrocities on the Dalit community.  -- PTI
09:32   Unnao, Kathua Rape cases warrant stringent action: NCW Chief
Chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW) Rekha Sharma on Thursday urged the nation to not make Unnao and Kathua rape case a political issue while calling for a strict punishment against the culprits.

"No one should see this as a religious or a political issue, this is a crime and culprits should be apprehended and dealt with severely," she said.

She further slammed the Uttar Pradesh police for not arresting the Unnao rape case accused BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar despite an FIR against him.

"I believe the police should have made the arrest by now, they do not wait for the CBI's orders to make each and every arrest, so why to wait now, especially if an FIR has been registered, and as it falls under POSCO Act, it warrants an immediate arrest," she added.

In Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua an eight-year-old nomadic girl was allegedly abducted, drugged, raped, tortured and killed. After being missing for a week, her body was found on January 17.

In Uttar Pradesh's Unnao, an 18-year-old woman has alleged she was raped by the BJP MLA Sengar and his accomplices last year.

On April 8, the rape victim, along with her family members, tried to commit suicide in front of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's residence in Lucknow. Later, the victim's father was taken into police custody from the location.

However, on April 9, the victim's father was admitted to a hospital after complaining of abdominal pain and vomiting and subsequently died there.

Image: The Unnao rape survivor
09:19   India saw 19.8% dip in awarding death sentences in 2017: Amnesty
India saw a dip in imposition of capital punishment last year with 109 cases of execution reported in the country in 2017 as compared to 136 such cases in 2016, global rights watchdog Amnesty International said in a report.

The report titled 'Death Sentences and Executions 2017' claimed that the year 2017 saw a 19.8 per cent decrease in awarding death sentences in the country as compared to 2016.

"Globally, executions and death sentences are sliding and India has contributed to this trend, Aakar Patel, Executive Director of Amnesty International India, said in a press release.

"However, there is bad news coming out of India too, with new laws being passed that expand the scope of this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment," he said.

The report noted that a research done by the Centre on Death Penalty-National Law University indicated that courts in India had imposed 109 new death sentences in 2017, including 51 for murder and 43 for murder involving sexual offences.

It said India was one of the only three countries in the world that expanded the scope of the death penalty by adopting new laws.

"Case in point is the Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016, which provides for death penalty for hijacking resulting in death. It came into force at national level on July 5, 2017," the report added.

-- PTI
08:57   BJP MP makes derogatory remarks against Digvijay's wife
Bharatiya Janata Party MP Manohar Untwal has made a derogatory remark against the wife of Congress leader Digvijay Singh in regard to the latter's participation in Narmada Yatra.

At an event on Thursday, Untwal said, "Digvijay Singh ne Madhya Pradesh ke liye kuch nahi kiya lekin Delhi se ek item zaroor lekar aa gaye. Narmada Yatra pe nikal gaye. Abhi keh rahe hain ki sadhuon ko laal batti de di, unse inko taklif ho rahi hai (Digvijay Singh has done nothing for Madhya Pradesh but brought an item from Delhi. He undertook Narmada Yatra. Now, he is asking why saints have been given red beacon car. He has now problem with them)."

Recently, the Congress said Singh had gathered evidence on rampant corruption prevailing in the Madhya Pradesh government during his 'Narmada yatra', which he is going to reveal soon.

Singh's 3,200-km-long Narmada Parikrama ended at the river's Barman Ghat in Narsinghpur district on April 9.

Singh, 70, and his wife Amrita had started the 'parikrama' of the Narmada river in MP as a "religious and spiritual" exercise from Narsinghpur district. 

-- ANI
08:21   Will make death penalty mandatory for those raping minors, says Mehbooba Mufti
Even as the Kathua gangrape continues to fuel national outrage, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today said that her government will soon table a new law to make death penalty mandatory for those who rape minors.

"We will never ever let another child suffer this way. We will bring a new law that will make the death penalty mandatory for those who rape minors, so that minor's case becomes the last," said Mehbooba Mufti in a tweet.

The chief minister further assured the entire nation that she stands committed not to just ensure justice for the minor girl but will also seek exemplary punishment for the perpetrators of the heinous crime.

The eight-year-old girl, who went missing on January 12, was found dead on January 17 based on a tip off by a local. The chargesheet which was filed on Monday reveal chilling details of the crime. The minor girl was sedated and raped repeatedly before she was brutally murdered.

Several politicians and public figures joined the chorus to demand justice for the deceased. All eight accused in the gangrape have been arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir Police.
08:06   BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar detained in Unnao rape case
The CBI has registered three separate cases related to the alleged rape of a woman by a BJP MLA and his brother late in the night, officials said today.
Banagarmau MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar is being questioned by the CBI officers, they said.
The victim had attempted suicide outside the residence of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath triggering a massive political row over women's safety in Uttar Pradesh.
Later, the state police had arrested her father who died in judicial custody with autopsy suggesting several injuries on his body.
The Uttar Pradesh government had referred the matter to the CBI which registered the case after getting reference from the centre last night. 

-- PTI
01:50   Pakistani hand in Kathua rape-murder case, says MP BJP chief
A senior BJP leader in Madhya Pradesh today claimed a "Pakistani hand" behind the gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua region.
BJP state president Nandkumar Singh Chouhan, who was participating in a fast organised here in protest against the washout of parliament's budget session, told reporters, "The act (Kathua rape-murder) must have been committed by Pakistan's agents to divide people by chanting Jai Shri Ram".
He was responding to reports that slogans of 'Jai Sriram' were raised following the incident.
"If slogans of Jai Shri Ram were shouted on the rape of the girl, it must be the handiwork of Pakistan's agents who want to create differences between us," Chouhan said.
"Hindus are less than one per cent in Kashmir. They cannot even open their mouths, then how can they shout these slogans?" he asked.
The BJP leader, however, termed the incident as a "blot on humanity".
The eight-year-old girl was allegedly raped by six men who had held her in captivity in a small temple village for a week in January. She was allegedly drugged so that she could be sexually assaulted again before being bludgeoned to death, according to police. -- PTI

IMAGE: Locals protest in Srinagar demanding justice for 8-year-old girl, who was raped and murdered. Photograph: Umar Ganie for 
01:07   Govt must take strict action to prevent crimes against women: Rahul
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi tonight said that the government must take strict action to prevent crimes against women.

"This is a national issue, not a political issue. You can see people across parties have joined. Women should at least feel safe," he said while leading a midnight march at the India Gate in New Delhi. 
00:50   Govt is sleeping, will wake them up: Ghulam Nabi Azad
The govt is sleeping and so at this time the Congress will have to wake them up. The PM had given a slogan 'Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao' and it's in his regime that our girls are being raped. He isn't taking action against his ministers who are trying to save the rape accused, says Ghulam Nabi Azad who has participated in a midnight candlelight march at India Gate. 

IMAGE: Congress workers participate in a candle light march to protest over government's 'inaction' in Kathua and Unnao rape incidents near India Gate in New Delhi. Photograph: Arun Sharma/PTI Photo
Priyanka Gandhi and Robert Vadra also participate in the candlelight march at India Gate against Kathua and Unnao rape cases.
00:18   Rahul Gandhi leads candlelight vigil for Kathua, Unnao rape victims
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi is leading a midnight candlelight vigil at India Gate in New Delhi to demand justice for Asifa, the 8-year-old girl who was gang-raped and murdered in Jammu and Kashmir and the teenager in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao, who was allegedly raped by a Bharatiya Janata Party MLA.

"Like millions of Indians my heart hurts tonight. India simply cannot continue to treat its women the way it does. Join me in a silent, peaceful, candlelight vigil at India Gate at midnight tonight to protest this violence and demand justice," Rahul Gandhi had tweeted this evening amid nationwide outcry over two rape incidents.

Earlier, breaking his silence on the case earlier today, Rahul Gandhi had tweeted, "How can anyone protect the culprits of such evil? What happened to Asifa at #Kathua is a crime against humanity. It cannot go unpunished. What have we become if we allow politics to interfere with such unimaginable brutality perpetrated on an innocent child?"

Union Minister VK Singh also added his voice to the spiraling outrage over Asifa's gang-rape and murder. "We have failed Asifa as humans. But she will not be denied justice," tweeted the former army chief, the first minister in the BJP-led central government to talk about justice for the child who suffered unspeakable cruelty in her last few days.