Tue, 24 April 2018
CBSE Class 12 economics paper re-test tomorrow

Timeline  Refresh

23:36   CBSE Class 12 economics paper re-test tomorrow
The Central Board of Secondary Education will conduct a re-test of Class 12 economics paper tomorrow, nearly a month after it was leaked triggering widespread outrage and confusion among students across India.

After reports of the leak surfaced on March 28, the CBSE announced it will re-conduct the examination on April 25.

Then, there were also reports of the CBSE's Class 10 mathematics paper being leaked, but the board decided against a re-test of the Class 10 paper, saying the examination was 'largely an internal segment' of the school education system.

"The candidates will appear (for the exam) from the same allotted centres using the same admit card," a board official said today.

For conducting the re-test of the economics paper, the board had said 'Class 12 exams are a gateway to higher education and various professional competitive exams which have limited seats... Therefore, giving undue advantage to a handful of beneficiaries of the alleged leak of the economics paper would not be in larger interest of the students'.

Earlier this month, the CBSE had said it found no impact of the Class 10 mathematics paper leak after an assessment.

The reports of leak of the CBSE papers had caused disappointment among students across the country last month.

In Delhi, students held protests, accusing the CBSE of negligence and demanded immediate action against the guilty.

Investigators made arrests in several parts of the country in connection with the case, including in Jharkhand and Himachal Pradesh.

They claimed to have arrested the main conspirators behind the leak from Una town in Himachal Pradesh.

The three people were staffers at a school in the town. The Class 12 economics paper was leaked on March 23 - three days before the scheduled date, according to Delhi Police.

The leak was exposed after an envelop containing four images of the hand-written economics paper was delivered to the CBSE Headquarters in Delhi on the evening of the scheduled date of examination -- March 26.

Following the leak reports, on April 2 CBSE tried a 'leak-proof' system of 'encrypted' question papers, which delayed the exam as a few centres in Delhi were unable to follow the printing of encrypted papers, e-mailed to them, at the school itself.

The HRD ministry then set up a committee to examine the process by which the CBSE conducts examinations.

The seven-member panel, headed by former HRD secretary Vinay Sheel Oberoi, will suggest measures to make the process 'secure and fool-proof' using technology.

The committee has to submit its report by May 31 to the Human Resource Development Ministry.  -- PTI
22:27   India refuses to endorse China's BRI at SCO foreign ministers meet
India did not endorse China's controversial Belt and Road Initiative at the just concluded Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Foreign Ministers' meeting while the rest of the eight-member bloc backed the pet project of President Xi Jinping.

"The foreign ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan reiterated their support for the 'Belt and Road Initiative' proposed by China," said a joint statement issued by SCO Foreign Ministers at the end of their one-day meeting in Beijing today.

India's name was conspicuously missing from the list of countries which endorsed the BRI in which China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a part.

"The parties support the use of the potential of countries, international organisations and multilateral institutions in the region to establish a broad, open and mutually beneficial partnership in the SCO region," the statement said.

India and Pakistan were admitted into the organisation in which China and Russia are influential members.

The meeting was convened to approve the agenda for the SCO summit to be held in Chinese city of Qingdao in June. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to attend the Summit.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj attended the SCO Foreign Ministers' meeting today. Indian officials have not reacted to the joint statement which was released in Chinese and Russian languages.

India has been vocal in expressing its opposition to CPEC which traverses through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).  -- PTI

IMAGE: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during SCO Foreign Ministers' meeting in Beijing. Photograph: @MEAPhotogallery/Flickr
21:31   ED set to seize assets worth Rs 15,000cr of 'fugitive offenders'
The Enforcement Directorate is set to 'confiscate' assets worth over Rs 15,000 crore as part of its first action against absconders such as liquor baron Vijay Mallya and diamantaire Nirav Modi under the recently promulgated Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance.

Officials said the agency has begun the work to bring together the existing cases of high-value fugitives and bank loan defaulters and it will soon approach various special anti-money laundering courts in the country to get orders issued against them under the new ordinance.

They said the money laundering cases against Vijay Mallya, who is now based in London, Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choski, Winsome Diamond company promoter Jatin Mehta and others are expected to be picked up first for action.

The ED is the empowered agency to enforce the new ordinance.

Under the new ordinance, the officials said, all the assets of such an absconder, both in India and abroad, which have or have not been attached by the Enforcement Directorate under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), will be confiscated immediately.

The case of Modi and Choksi will be processed under the new ordinance, once the CBI and the ED file their respective charge sheets against them, they said.

While Rs 9,890 crore worth of assets have been attached by the ED in the Mallya case, properties worth Rs 7,664 have been attached in the Nirav Modi-Mehul Choksi case.

In the first go, they said, it is estimated that over Rs 15,000 crore worth of assets could be confiscated by the ED under the provisions of the ordinance, aimed at those who flee the country after defaulting on multi-crore bank loans and similar instances of fraud.

The other such cases will be taken up gradually, they added.  -- PTI
20:21   Doklam happened due to lack of mutual trust: China
The Doklam standoff happened due to 'lack of mutual trust' between India and China, and they need to work together to create favourable conditions and gradually settle the boundary issue, a top Chinese diplomat said today, ahead of this week's informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Indian and Chinese troops had been locked in a stand-off for over two months last year in the Doklam area near Sikkim before 'disengaging' on August 28.

The area of the standoff is also claimed by Bhutan.

"The boundary incident that happened (at Doklam) last year someway reflected lack of mutual trust between the two countries," Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou told the media when asked about the Doklam standoff.

Asked whether the Doklam standoff and the boundary issue will figure in the talks between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi, Kong said the two leaders decided to hold informal summit 'because both the countries attach great importance to each other in external strategy, not because of the boundary question that still remained unresolved, that we need to talk about it during the informal summit'.

India-China boundary dispute spans to 3,488-km along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Both sides have held 20 rounds of talks between the Special Representatives to resolve it.

"Of course, the boundary question is important. Both sides need to work together to create favourable conditions and gradually settle it. Proper settlement of boundary question will help deepen cooperation and deepen mutual understanding and trust between the two countries," Kong said.

He said both China and India needs to even make greater efforts to deepen their mutual trust.

"At the informal summit, the two leaders will have heart-to-heart discussions on the issues of overarching, long-term and strategic importance to bilateral relations. In terms of some specific differences or sensitive issues, the two sides will stay in touch with each other through relevant channels. In the process of deepening mutual trust, they will gradually find a way to try to settle them," he said.  -- PTI
20:02   Blast destroys sets of Akshay's upcoming film
A blast has reportedly occurred on the sets of Akshay Kumar's upcoming film Kesri.

The blast occurred while shooting a war sequence.

Akshay had already left for the day and there are no reports of injuries.

However, reports says that the set has been completely destroyed and the makers might have to rebuild it.   -- Agencies
18:27   Impeachment motion filed to intimidate judges: Jaitley
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today that the rejected Congress-led impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra was filed on untenable grounds to intimidate the CJI and other judges of the highest judiciary.

Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu yesterday rejected the impeachment notice given by opposition parties led by the Congress against the CJI, saying it lacked substantial merit and the allegations were neither 'tenable nor admissible'.

In a Facebook post, Jaitley said an impeachment motion has to be filed in the rarest of rare cases where a 'gross misconduct' has been indulged in by a delinquent judge during his tenure.

There has to be strong and hard evidence to substantiate this, he said, adding that hearsay and rumours are not a substitute for evidence.

'The present impeachment motion has been filed on untenable grounds. It has been filed for collateral purpose to intimidate the Chief Justice of India and other judges of the highest judiciary,' said, Jaitley who is also the leader of the Rajya Sabha.

In the post, 'Why the mala fide Impeachment Motion was bound to fail?', he said the Congress party is capable of dragging the judges into an unsavoury controversy and make them controversial 'should their judicial opinion not appear favourable in the cases in which the party has an interest'.

'To any political analyst it was clear that the impeachment motion would never get support of two-third majority in both Houses of Parliament. The Congress Party knew this. Its object was not the passage of the Motion but intimidation of India's judiciary,' Jaitley said.

Referring to the indication given by the Congress that it would now challenge the order of the Rajya Sabha Chairman in the Supreme Court, the senior BJP leader said Parliament is supreme in its own jurisdiction and its process cannot be subjected to judicial review.

Jaitley noted that a very large number of eminent lawyers are now members of Parliament and most political parties have given nominations to some of them since their value, both in court and Parliamentary debates, is significant.

'The incidental impact of this has been a growing tendency of lawyer members to drag intra court disputes into the parliamentary process.

'The misconceived motion for the impeachment of the Chief Justice of India is just one example of this,' said Jaitley, who himself is an eminent lawyer.  -- PTI
18:06   Three Jaish terrorists killed in Pulwama encounter
Three Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists and two security force personnel were killed today in a fierce encounter in a forest area in the Pulwama district in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said. Based on intelligence developed by police about the presence of terrorists, security forces launched an anti-militancy operation in the Laam forest of Tral area in Pulwama district, a police official said.

A gun battle broke out when the militants opened fire at the security personnel, the official said. In the initial exchange of fire, one soldier and a policeman sustained injuries. They were evacuated to hospitals here but succumbed to injuries, the official said.

The slain security force personnel were identified as Sepoy Ajay Kumar and Constable Lateef Gujri. Three JeM militants were also killed, the official said adding weapons and other warlike stores were recovered from the scene of the incident. While the individual identity of the slain militants is being ascertained, the official said at least two of them were believed to be foreigners. PTI
India unlikely to be a part of SAARC Summit in Pakistan this year too. Talks and terrorism can't go along, reports ANI quoting sources.
17:59   Kathua rape-murder: Cop, SPO arrested by SIT move J-K HC
A policeman and an SPO arrested in connection with the Kathua rape-and-murder case have moved the Jammu and Kashmir High Court seeking a fresh CBI probe into the matter and quashing of the investigation by the crime branch of the state police.

Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta and Special Police Officer Deepak Khajuria were arrested for allegedly destroying evidence related to the rape-and-killing of an eight-year-old girl in the state's Kathua district. Khajuria was also allegedly involved in the gang-rape of the girl.

A petition was filed in the high court in this regard yesterday by their counsel Veenu Gupta. The petitioners pleaded that the crime branch probe be quashed as it had been shifted on three occasions from the local police to it, and finally to a Special Investigation Team. It is strange that a policeman, who was involved in a rape and murder case a few years ago and evaded arrest for three years despite being a officer, was a member of the SIT, the petition said. The officer's subsequent acquittal in a trial court for lack of evidence is a matter of record, it said.

Despite the sensitivity of the case, he is member of the probe panel, the petitioners said, while pleading for a fresh CBI probe in the case. The petition said there were "huge differences" in the post mortem and forensic reports and stated that the crime branch probe was "incorrect". -- PTI
17:54   No woman should speak in favour of casting couch: Kamal Haasan
This isn't place to discuss casting couch. We're forming a new Tamil Nadu here. It's irrelevant. But considering I'm from film industry, every woman has right to kick away that couch. No woman should speak in its favor: Kamal Haasan, chief of the Makkal Needhi Maiam party in Chennai. 
17:47   Sushma Swaraj in Mongolia
External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Raveesh Kumar spokesperson MEA tweets, "First visit of an Indian External Affairs Minister to Mongolia in 42 years! Reconnecting with our shared Buddhist heritage, EAM @SushmaSwaraj warmly received by Deputy Foreign Minister of Mongolia, B.Battsetseg on her arrival in sunny Ulaanbaatar."
17:37   Parliament is not immune to casting couch: Renuka Chowdhary
Responding to Bollywood choreographer Saroj Khan's remark on the casting couch, Congress leader Renuka Chowdhary on Tuesday said that even Parliament is not immune to it.

Talking to ANI, Chowdhary urged that India should stand up and said #MeToo."It is not just in the film industry. It happens everywhere and it is the bitter truth. Don't imagine that Parliament is immune or other workplaces are immune to it. It is time that India stood up and said #MeToo," Chowdhary said.

Earlier in the day, veteran choreographer Saroj Khan defended the practice of casting couch in the film industry. The 69-year-old, who has choreographed more than 2000 songs in her career, further said the 'tradition' has been going on for centuries and blaming just Bollywood is unfair. -- ANI
17:32   Decision to reject CJI impeachment after a month's due diligence: Naidu
Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu today said his decision to reject the impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra was "timely and not a hasty one" and came after over a month of due diligence, according to sources.

"Freedom of expression allows that but ultimately truth prevails. I have done the just thing in the best possible manner expected of me,' sources quoted Naidu as saying, a day after he rejected the impeachment motion. He said his decision was in strict conformity with the provisions of the Constitution and the Judges Inquiry Act of 1968. "I have done my job and am satisfied with it,' Naidu was quoted as telling a group of 10 Supreme Court lawyers who met him to compliment him over the decision. The Rajya Sabha chairman's office is not a mere post office but a constitutional functionary, Naidu, who is also the vice president, told the group.

According to sources, Naidu said the chief justice of India is the highest judicial functionary of the country and "any issue in public domain concerning him requires to be resolved at the earliest following prescribed procedures so as to prevent the atmosphere from being further vitiated".

Naidu yesterday rejected the notice by seven opposition parties, led by the Congress, to impeach the chief justice of India on five grounds of "misbehaviour", saying the allegations were neither "tenable nor admissible". His order was slammed as "hasty, illegal and illinformed" by the Congress. PTI
17:22   Disclosure of rape victims' identity: Even dead have dignity, says SC
Even the dead have dignity. They cannot be "named or shamed." This was the observation of the Supreme Court today as it dealt with the issue of disclosure of identity of rape victims, including the eight-year-old girl who was raped and brutally murdered recently in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir. It said that even in cases where the rape victims were alive and were either minors or of unsound mind, their identities should not be revealed as they have the right to privacy and they cannot live under such a "stigma" throughout their life.

"Think of the dignity of dead also. It (media reporting) can be done without naming or shaming them. The dead also have dignity," a bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said while hearing the matter in which senior lawyer Indira Jaising raked up the issue of section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which deals with disclosure of identity of victims of sexual offences. The bench, which agreed to examine the aspect related to section 228-A of the IPC, also questioned as to how the identity of a minor rape victim could be disclosed after getting consent from her parents. "Why should this happen, that the identity of a minor victim be disclosed just because her parents have given consent," the bench asked, adding, "Even if a person is of unsound mind, she has a right to privacy. A minor will become major. Why should this stigma be there for life".

Jaising, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae, said it was necessary for the apex court to clarify section 228-A of the IPC. She said there cannot be a "blanket ban" on the media from reporting such incidents and the apex court would have to balance freedom of press and the rights of the victim.

During the hearing, the bench observed that the issue required clarification. It asked that even in cases where the victim had died, "why should there be disclosure of name". Jaising, without directly referring to the Kathua incident, said in a recent case, the victim had died which had led to demand for justice not only in India but also globally.

The bench said it would examine the issue related to section 228-A of the IPC, after which the Centre's counsel sought time to seek instructions. The court then listed the matter for hearing on May 8.

The top court was hearing the petitions filed after the brutal gang-rape-and-murder case in Delhi on December 16, 2012 raising concerns over safety and security of women.

Last week, the Delhi High Court had directed 12 media houses to pay a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each for revealing the identity of the Kathua rape victim. These media houses had apologised in the high court for revealing the details of the victim.  -- PTI
17:04   Make your sons more responsible: PM on incidents of rape
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the promulgation of an ordinance on rape demonstrated his government's determination to act on the issue, but stressed that people had to respect their daughters and make their sons more responsible for an atmosphere of safety.

Modi also pitched for a social movement to ensure the safety of women and girls while addressing a rally in Mandla, Madhya Pradesh.

"Shivraj ji (Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan) just referred to the capital punishment provided in the ordinance for rape against minors and I could see that it (the remark) received cheers from everyone present here," he said.

"There is a government in Delhi which listens to your voice and takes decisions. So, the Centre has made a provision for capital punishment to the monstrous intent," he said while referring to the recent ordinance.

The Union cabinet on April 21 approved the ordinance under which the death penalty could be awarded to those convicted of raping girls below 12 years of age, amid a nation-wide outrage over cases of sexual assault and murder of minors in Kathua and Surat and the rape of a teenager in Unnao.

Modi, however, called upon the people to create an atmosphere for the safety of daughters.

"Families will have to enhance the honour and respect of daughters. Families should also make their sons more responsible," he said, while addressing the National Panchayati Raj Sammelan at Ramnagar in the tribal-dominated Mandla district.

"In this way, the safety of daughters would not be a difficult task. We have to launch a social movement in this direction," he said.

He also talked about the welfare of tribals and farmers and asked the elected representatives of Panchayats to educate villagers to become self-dependent in farming.

The prime minister also urged the panchayat representatives to spend NREGA funds during the months of April, May and June only on works related to water conservation.  -- PTI
16:35   If Cong wins K'taka, Siddaramaiah may not remain CM
The Congress stands a very good chance of winning the Karnataka Assembly polls, and the high-command will take a call on the next chief minister, senior party leader Mallikarjun Kharge said today, indicating incumbent Siddaramaiah may not be the automatic choice. He said the Congress high-command will choose the chief minister in consultation with the newly elected MLAs, if the party is voted to power for a second term running. The Congress has consistently maintained it is contesting the polls under the leadership of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah but refrained from declaring him its candidate for the top job.

Kharge's remarks indicated that the leadership question in the Congress was far from settled. When asked if the party's central leadership has decided on who would be the next chief minister, Kharge said "unnecessary controversy" should not be created in the run-up to the elections.

"CM (Siddaramaiah) is already there. He is leading (the Congress campaign) and he is the captain. As long as he leads, he is the captain. "And the party, whenever it wants, can change anybody because the high-command is the ultimate authority. In consultation with local (newly elected) MLAs, they (the high-command) will take decision (on who will be the chief minister)," Kharge told PTI.

Kharge, leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha, said since the BJP and the JDS were facing problems, they had declared their chief ministerial nominees, he said, without elaborating.

The BJP has declared its state unit chief B S Yeddyurappa and JDS H D Kumaraswamy as their chief ministerial faces. Both have been the state's chief minister.

Talking about the Congress's electoral prospects, Kharge said, "We have got very good chances to win the elections and I hope that we will get majority." He also claimed that neither the Congress nor the chief minister is facing "anti-incumbency".

Kharge defended Siddaramaiah for filing nominations from two constituencies -- Chamundeshwari and Badami. Noting that Kumaraswamy is also contesting from two seats, he asked, "Have Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda not done so?" "People of the area (Badami and north Karnataka) want Siddaramaiah to contest from Badami.  PTI
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who is contesting the upcoming Karnataka Elections 2018 from two seats - Badami and Chamundeshwari, has filed his nomination from Badami constituency.
16:24   'Missing' Indian Sikh found in Pak, to be sent back to India
A 24-year-old Indian Sikh man, who had gone missing in Pakistan during Baisakhi festival celebrations and was subsequently found from the residence of his "Facebook friend", was today handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah border.

"After getting special approval from the interior ministry the Evacuee Trust Property Board today handed over Amarjit Singh to the Border Security Force at the Wagah Border," ETPB spokesman Amir Hashmi told PTI.

He said Singh crossed into India on foot. Amarjit Singh, a resident of Amritsar, had arrived in Pakistan along with other 1,700 Sikh pilgrims to celebrate Baisakhi festival on April 12. But his disappearance was only noticed when the entourage he came along with embarked upon the return journey to India on April 21.

Yesterday he was found from his Facebook friend Amir Razzak' house in Sheikhupura, about 50 kms from Lahore, where he had gone to see him. According to the ETPB, Singh on his arrival to Nankana Sahib had left the group to meet Razzak. -- PTI
16:05   Congress disagrees with Khurshid's statement
Congress disagrees with statement of Salman Khurshid in toto. Everyone must know that both prior and post independence Congress is the only party which has worked towards building an egalitarian society by carrying all sections of people together as also religious and ethnic minorities: PL Punia
16:01   PM summons Andhra governor to Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has summoned Andhra Pradesh Telangana Governor ESL Narasimhan and Puducherry Lt Governor Kiran Bedi to New Delhi to understand the local political issues. The Prime Minister wants insider inputs on the state administration especially from Narasimhan. The  PMO wants to know about the ground realities of AP CM Chandrababu Naidu and the TDP. This is the first time the Andhra Pradesh governor is briefing the Prime Minister after the Telugu Desam has withdrawn support.
15:25   Maharashtra: 37 Naxals gunned down in two encounters
At least 37 Naxals have been killed in Gadchiroli district in two encounters that have taken place in as many days. After Sunday's encounter, where 31 Naxals died, six more were killed by security forces at Gadchiroli's Jimalgatta forest area on Monday. Said to be the biggest encounter in Maharashtra yet, all the bodies have been recovered from different locations in the district during the past 36 hours. The encounter first broke out in Etapalli's Boriya forest area on Sunday morning after a team of C-60 commandos, following specific inputs, was dispatched to the area. The exchange of fire took place after the police team was fired upon and they retaliated. -- ANI

Representational image.
15:15   Congress' hand stained with Muslims blood: Salman Khurshid
Raking up a controversy, senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid said that his party's hand is stained with the blood of Muslims. Responding to a question at an event organized in Aligarh Muslim University on Monday, Khurshid said, "I am a part of Congress so let me accept that we have the blood of Muslims on our hands. I am telling you this; we are ready to show the blood on our hands so that you understand that you too must not get blood on your hands."

"If you attack them, you are the ones who would get stains on your hands. Learn something from our history and don't create such situation for yourself where if you come back to AMU after 10 years you will find one like you to ask the question," he added.

Khurshid was replying to a question asked by former AMU student. "The first amendment was in 1948. Then, there was Presidential order in 1950. After that Hasanpura, Maliana, Muzaffarnagar and there is a long list of riots under the Congress regime. Then there was the opening of the gates of Babri Masjid, placing idols inside and then the demolition of Babri Masjid while Congress was in power at the centre. Congress has Muslims' blood on its hands. What do you have to say about it?" the former student asked.

Later, talking to media post his remark, Khurshid said that he was defending the Congress party.

He said, "I am not a representative of the Congress party, I am the Congress party. I was defending Congress party. What I said I will continue to say, I made the statement as a human being." -- ANI
14:55   Death by hanging safer and quicker, Centres tells SC
The Centre in its counter affidavit over a plea seeking an alternative method of execution other than hanging on Tuesday submitted to the Supreme Court that hanging is far safer and quicker than lethal injections or firing squads.

The Supreme Court lawyer, Rishi Malhotra had filed the petition before the apex court seeking a direction from it to provide an alternate method of execution other than hanging.

The Public Interest Litigation sought to declare that the right to die by a dignified procedure of death as a fundamental right as defined under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The Central Government, in its counter affidavit, had stated that hanging as a mode of execution is easy to assemble.

Quick and simple and free from anything that would unnecessarily sharpen the poignancy of the prisoner's apprehension.Recently, the Centre on April 21 cleared the amendment in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to award death sentence to the rapists of children below the age of 12. -- ANI
J&K amends Child Rape Act: Death for raping children below 12 years. Life term for raping children between 13-16 years.
14:14   Kathua case: Crime Branch to approach court against defence lawyer
The Jammu and Kashmir Crime Branch will soon approach a local court in Kathua against a defence lawyer who is allegedly circulating "twisted facts' in the case of the gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old girl to vitiate the atmosphere, officials said today.

The police has taken cognisance of a CD in which a witness is seen as saying that he had been coerced by the Crime Branch to give a statement against Vishal Sharma, one of those alleged to have raped the child, officials said.

Sharma is the son of Sanji Ram, alleged to be the main conspirator in the case that has outraged the nation. The CD, which has gone viral on social media, was passed off by the lawyer as a statement that the witness had given in front of the magistrate, the officials said.

However, initial investigations showed that it was prepared outside the court premises by the lawyer to mislead the public and create disaffection towards the government, they said.

"This is definitely an attempt to browbeat the witnesses in the case and we have to immediately step in keeping in mind the sensitivities attached with the case," an official said.

According to investigations, the girl from a minority nomadic community was allegedly kidnapped at the behest of Sanji Ram, who wanted to scare away the Gujjar and Bakherwals communities which would migrate to the village, about 90 km from Kathua in winter.

She was allegedly held in captivity in a small village temple in Kathua district for a week in January this year during which she was kept sedated and sexually assaulted before being bludgeoned to death.

On January 23, the government handed over the case to the Crime Branch of the state police, which formed a Special Investigation Team and arrested eight persons.

Ram was allegedly joined by special police officers Deepak Khajuria and Surender Verma, friend Parvesh Kumar alias Mannu, Ram's nephew, a juvenile, and his son.

The chargesheet also named investigating officers, Head Constable Tilak Raj and Sub-Inspector Anand Dutta, who allegedly took Rs 4 lakh from Ram and destroyed crucial evidence.

The Crime Branch filed two separate chargesheets -- a separate chargesheet was filed for the juvenile -- before the chief judicial magistrate in Kathua on April 9 and 10 despite protests by local lawyers, who demanded that the case be handed over to the CBI for a "fair probe'.

The accused pleaded not guilty on the opening day of the trial in the principal district and sessions court on April 16. The court posted the next hearing in the case for April 28. PTI
14:06   PM launches Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched a scheme that seeks to strengthen the country's Panchayati Raj system and address critical gaps that hinder its success. He launched the Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan at Ramnagar in the tribal-dominated district of Madhya Pradesh on the occasion of National Panchayati Raj Day.

The Central government scheme aims at making rural local bodies self-sustainable, financially stable and more efficient. The programme seeks to address critical gaps that hinder the success of Panchayats by enhancing their capacities and effectiveness, and promote devolution of powers and responsibilities.

On the occasion, Modi unveiled a roadmap for development of tribal areas of Madhya Pradesh over the next five years. Under the plan, Rs 2 lakh crore will be spent for development of areas under tribal panchayats. The prime minister also laid the foundation stone for a liquefied petroleum gas bottling plant at Maneri in the district.

Modi also honoured panchayats for their achievements in implementing the government's e-governance scheme, making villages under their jurisdiction open defecation-free and also smokeless by switching from conventional fuel to LPG. -- PTI
13:46   First look at Hirani's Sanju
First look at Rajkumar Hirani's Sanju starring Ranbir Kapoor in the lead role. The Sanjay Dutt biopic is set to release on June 29 this year. This is the first poster of the film and chronicles the various stages in the actor's life. 
13:41   Two security personnel killed in Pulwama encounter
Update on the Pulwama enconuter: Two security force personnel and a militant were today killed in an encounter in a forest area of Pulwama district in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.

Security forces launched an anti-militancy operation in Laam forest of Tral area in Pulwama district following information about presence of militants there, a police official said.

He said a gunbattle broke out between militants and security forces when the ultras opened fire. In the fierce exchange of fire, an Army soldier and a policeman sustained injuries.

They were evacuated to hospitals in Srinagar but succumbed to injuries, the official said. The slain security force personnel have been identified as Sepoy Ajay and Constable Lateed Gujri. A militant was also killed in the gunbattle, the official said adding search operation was still going on in the forest area. PTI
13:15   Least bothered who will contest against me, says confident Siddharamaiah
Expressing faith on the voters, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddharamaiah on Tuesday said that he is least bothered as to who will contest against him in the upcoming state assembly election.

Speaking at Hubli airport, Siddharamaiah said, " I am least bothered who will contest against me there. I have faith in voters. North Karnataka people wanted me to contest from here so I am contesting."

"The Centre is misusing the power they are trying to disturb our leaders. Why there are no raids on Senior BJP leader and former chief minister of Karnataka Jagadish Shettar and Chief Ministerial candidate BS Yeddyurappa's places?" he asked.

Siddaramaiah is set to contest from Chamundeshwari constituency in the assembly elections. He will file nomination papers for the Badami seat later in the day. Karnataka 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
12:57   Trump admin plans to end work permits for H-1B visa spouses
The Trump administration is planning to end allowing spouses of H1-B visa holders to work legally in the US, a top federal agency official has told lawmakers, a move that could have a devastating impact on tens of thousands of Indians. The move to end the Obama-era rule could have an impact on more than 70,000 H-4 visas holders, who have work permits.

H-4 is issued to the spouse of H-1B visa holders, a significantly large number of whom are high-skilled professionals from India. They had obtained work permits under a special order issued by the previous Obama administration. Indian-Americans were a major beneficiary of this provision.

More than 100,000 H-4 visa holders have been beneficiary of this rule. A 2015 rule issued by the Obama administration allows work permits for spouses who otherwise could not be employed while H-1B visa holders seek permanent resident status -- a process that can take a decade or longer. -- PTI
12:27   Choreographer Saroj Khan defends casting couch
Defending the practice of casting couch in the film industry, veteran choreographer Saroj Khan has said it's done with consent and at least provides livelihood.

The 69-year-old, who has choreographed more than 2000 songs in her career, further said the 'tradition' has been going on since centuries and blaming just Bollywood is unfair.

"This is going on from 'Baba Adam's times', it is not new. Someone or the other always tries to take an advantage of a girl. The government officials do it too, then why are we only after the film industry? It provides livelihood at least," she said.

She said why would anyone want to sell herself if she is confident about her talent.

"It is up to the girl, what she wants to do. If you don't want to fall into wrong hands, you won't. If you are talented, why would you sell yourself? Don't blame the film industry's name, it is everything to us," she said.
-- ANI
12:19   I fear for my life: Indrani Mukerjea tells CBI court
One of the prime accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, Indrani Mukerjea on Monday told the special Central Bureau of Investigation court that she fears for her life.

"I fear for my life, I have not given my statement to IG Prisons. I confirm that I have not spoken to anyone," Mukerjea told the court.

This statement from Indrani comes two weeks after she was hospitalised in JJ Hospital for an alleged drug overdose.

Mukerjea has been lodged in Mumbai's Byculla jail for killing her daughter, Sheena Bora.

Sheena (24) was abducted and killed on April 24, 2012, allegedly over a financial dispute, and her body was disposed of in a forest in adjoining Raigad district.

Indrani and her former husband Sanjeev Khanna were arrested in August 2015 along with her former driver Shyamvar Rai, while Indrani's present husband Peter Mukerjea was nabbed in November the same year.

Read our in-depth coverage of the Indrani Mukerjea trial here.
12:06   Tight security in Jodhpur ahead of verdict in Asaram case
Security has been stepped up and prohibitory orders issued in the city ahead of the trial court verdict in the rape case against self-styled godman Asaram tomorrow. As per the directions of the Rajasthan High Court, the trial court will deliver its verdict in the case in Jodhpur Central Jail premises.

Apprehending a threat to law and order from followers of Asaram, the police have imposed prohibitory orders.

"We have made all arrangements for the judgement day. Magistrate along with court staff, Asaram and co-accused along with the defence and prosecution counsels will remain present in the courtroom in jail premises, DIG, Jail," Vikram Singh said.

Final arguments in the case had been completed by the special court for SC/ST cases on April 7 and the court had kept the order reserved to be pronounced on April 25.

Asaram was arrested on the complaint filed by a teenage girl from Shahajahanpur of Uttar Pradesh, who was studying at the godman's ashram at Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh.

The victim had alleged that Asaram had called her to his ashram in Manai area near Jodhpur and raped her on the night of August 15, 2013. Asaram was arrested from Indore and brought to Jodhpur on 1 September, 2013. He is under judicial custody since September 2, 2013.

Asaram has unsuccessfuly moved 12 bail applications, of which 6 were rejected by trial court, 3 by the Rajasthan high court and 3 by the Supreme Court. PTI
12:03   After Each Attack He Carried the Wounded. Then He Became a Victim.
He was a retired, medal-winning wrestler, often one of the first to arrive after a suicide bombing to help evacuate the wounded on the shoulders of his muscular frame. On Sunday those shoulders were needed again when a suicide bomber killed at least 60 people and wounded more than 120, including children, outside a Kabul voter-registration office. But the wrestler, Wakil Hussain Allahdad, could not help. He was among the dead.  Read the story here.
11:22   'The uniform should be above religion'
Dr Meeran C Borwankar was Maharashtra's first woman commissioner of police and the officer in charge of the hangings of Ajmal Kasab and Yakub Memon.

Dr Borwankar was one of the 49 retired civil servants who wrote to Prime Minister Narendra D Modi, telling him that 'In post-independent India, this is our darkest hour and we find the response of our government, the leaders of our political parties inadequate and feeble.'

"It is most important for society, for the uniform, to be above religion. Otherwise, whom will we look up to if we feel this police station is aligned to Hindutva and this police station to a minority?" Dr Borwankar, tells's Archana Masih. Read the interview here
11:13   UP, MP, Raj, Chhattishgarh pulling down India's social development
NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant on Tuesday said that the states in India's eastern region like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are keeping India backward especially on social indicators.

Speaking at the first Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan Memorial Lecture at Jamia Millia Islamia University, Kant said, "Eastern part of India particularly states like Bihar, UP, Chattisgarh, MP, and Rajasthan are keeping India backward especially on social indicators. While we have improved on ease of doing business, we have remained backward on human development index."

Kant further said that India is still 131 out of 188 countries in the Human Development Index (HDI).

Reacting to 'Challenges of Transforming India' he said that the part of southern and western India was doing well and growing speedily.

"And when the country's HDI has to improve and we have to focus on these social indicators. We are working on these things through Aspirational Districts Programme," he added.

Stressing upon the significance of sustainable growth, the NITI Aayog CEO said, "Education and health are vital and in these two areas India is lagging behind. Our learning outcomes are poor - a class 5 student is not able to do class 2 subtractions. Class 5 student is not able to read his mother tongue. Infant mortality rates are very high. Unless we improve on these aspects, it will be difficult to grow in a consistent way."

He also encouraged women to participate in decision-making process. He said, "There must be a conscious effort to frame policies to give women opportunities."Vice Chancellor of Jamia University Talat Ahmad was also present at the event. -- ANI
10:48   Porn behind rising child rape cases, molestation: MP Home Minister
Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Bhupendra Singh on Tuesday blamed pornographic websites for the rising number of  child rape and molestations in India. Singh further noted that his government is considering banning porn in Madhya Pradesh.

"We think the reason for rising number of child rape and molestation cases are porn. We are contemplating banning porn in Madhya Pradesh, will approach Centre in the matter," Singh told ANI.

According to media reports, the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh has blocked 25 porn sites.Singh's statement comes after the horrific rape and murder of an infant baby girl in Indore on April 19. The infant was recovered from the basement of a building.

Reportedly, the police have identified the accused as Sunil Bheel, 21, claiming that he was seen in CCTV footage, around 4.45 am on Friday, carrying the infant on his shoulder. -- ANI
10:46   Army jawan killed in Pulwama, encounter underway
One army jawan succumbs to his injuries in an encounter with terrorists in Lam village of Tral in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on Tuesday. Several gunshots were heard earlier in the day in Lam village.

Following the gunshots security forces have been deployed at the spot.

The encounter comes a day after Pakistan Army violated ceasefire along the Line of Control at Krishna Ghati sector of Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district.  -- ANI

Representational image.
10:40   POCSO Act: Death penalty will be futile, says Justice Shah
Former Delhi High Court Chief Justice AP Shah, along with other child rights activists and lawyers expressed their dissatisfaction over the recent ordinance to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

Addressing the media at the Press Club of India on Monday, Justice Shah urged everyone to reject the ordinance and focus on reforming the criminal justice system.

"Not only is the enhancement of punishment to include death penalty futile, but it will also have disastrous consequences for children. I urge everyone to reject the ordinance and focus on reforming the criminal justice system," Justice Shah said.

"Mostly there are pressures of settling the matter within the family. The death penalty diverts attention from other problems in the criminal justice system such as poor investigation, crime prevention," he added.

The issues were raised by a six-member bench headed by Justice AP Shah, advocate Vrinda Grover, Anuja Gupta from RAHI Foundation, Bharti Ali of HAQ and including child rights activists.

The Centre on April 21 cleared the amendment in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to award death sentence to the rapists of children below the age of 12. -- ANI
10:16   At least 18 dead in China karaoke lounge fire: Reports
At least 18 people died in a fire that broke out at a karaoke lounge in southern China on Tuesday, local media reported.

The blaze took place in a three-storey building in Qingyuan City, Guangdong province, China's state-run news agency Xinhua reported, quoting the local police.

A preliminary investigation found that the fire was caused by arson, the Qingyuan public security department said on its Weibo social media account.

"The public security authorities are stepping up their investigation," it said.

10:09   After howlers, umpires told to be more vigilant in IPL
Taking strong exception to a few umpiring howlers in the ongoing Indian Premier League, the league's chairman Rajiv Shukla is learnt to have told match referees to speak to umpires about staying more vigilant during matches.
"These things do happen sometimes but still the IPL chairman has spoken to match referees and asked them to speak to the umpires," a source close to Shukla said on the sidelines of the match between Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils on Monday. 
The match between Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad saw a seven-ball over two weeks ago. 
There was a clear no ball bowled during the game between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings on Sunday, but it escaped the umpire's attention. 
To minimise errors, the umpires have apparently been advised to take the help of technology, if needed. 
Another official involved with the Indian Premier League said nobody is "infallible". -- PTI 
09:38   Opinion polls predict hung assembly in Karnataka
Two opinion polls have indicated a hung assembly in the May 12 assembly elections in Karnataka, with the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress neck-and-neck.
According to a survey conducted by the Times Now-VMR, in the 224 member House, the Congress is likely to get 91 seats, and the BJP just two seats fewer. 

The Janata Dal-Secular could emerge as the kingmaker with 40 seats, the survey, conducted between April 4 and April 16, stated.
"If polls were held now neither Chief Minister Siddaramaiah nor B S Yeddyurappa (of the BJP) is in a position to form the government as they are both well short of the 112 mark," it said.
As far as the choice for the chief ministerial post is concerned, Siddaramaiah leads the race with more than 46 per cent respondents voting for him. Yeddyurappa was the choice for the top post in the state for 32 per cent respondents, the survey stated.
The survey conducted by VMR for Times Now channel was had more than 4,000 respondents surveyed through stratified random sampling spread across all regions of the state.
The Karnataka assembly election will be held on May 12 and the counting of votes will be done on May 15. 

According to the ABP-CSDS survey, the Congress will improve its vote share to 37% but still finish second with 85-91 seats. 

The BJP will also improve its vote share to 35% and become the largest party in the assembly with a projected tally of 89-95 seats, the survey said. 

According to this survey, the JD-S is projected to get 32-38 seats. 
09:24   Key US panel narrowly recommends Pompeo as secretary of state
United States President Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of state Mike Pompeo has narrowly won approval from a key Congressional panel after a leading Republican supported him at the last minute, paving the way for the CIA director to become America's top diplomat.
The nomination of 54-year-old Pompeo now heads to the Senate for a vote on his confirmation.
Pompeo, if confirmed by the Senate, would replace Rex Tillerson as the Secretary of State. 

Tillerson was fired by Trump last month.
During a tense Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting, Pompeo was voted 11-9. In addition to all the Republican Senators, Senator Chris Coons was the only Democratic Senator to have voted in support of Pompeo.
Coons displayed a "statesmanship that I'm not accustomed to seeing in the Senate," said Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Earlier in the day, Republican Senator Rand Paul, who had earlier announced to oppose Pompeo, said that he has now changed his mind and would support the nomination.
"Having received assurances from President Trump and Director Pompeo that he agrees with the President on these important issues, I have decided to support his nomination to be our next Secretary of State," Paul said.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio welcomed the development.
"CIA Director Mike Pompeo has the full confidence of the President, an outstanding record of service to our country, and is more than qualified to serve as Secretary of State. As Director Pompeo's nomination now moves to the Senate Floor, I strongly urge my colleagues to put country over party and confirm him without further delay," he said.
Senator Johnny Isakson, a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, who voted by proxy said that Pompeo is prepared to lead the State Department. -- PTI
09:07   Police arrest blast convict after conversation to 'eliminate' PM goes viral
The Coimbatore Police on Monday arrested a 1998 serial blast convict after a recorded telephonic conversation went viral on social media in which he is purportedly heard saying he is planning to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi, police said.
They said the eight-minute long conversation, which is being circulated on social media, was between a man, who has completed a jail term in the blast case and lives in Kuniyamuthur in the city, and a transport contractor.
"The conversation was mainly related to finances about vehicles. But suddenly the blast convict was heard saying 'we have decided to eliminate (Prime Minister) Modi, as we were the ones who had planted bombs when (former deputy prime minster L K) Advani visited the city in 1998," the police said.
The city was rocked by a series of bomb blasts in February 1998 in which 58 people were killed and property worth crores was destroyed.
"I have many cases against me and have damaged more than 100 vehicles," the man can be heard telling the contractor during the conversation, the police said.
The city police formed special teams to investigate the recorded conversation and verify the genuineness of the persons in it, the police said in a press release. 
The man has been arrested based on the conversation, it said. -- PTI 
09:05   Ex-US Prez George HW Bush hospitalised a day after his wife's funeral
Former United States president George HW Bush has been hospitalised in Houston after contracting an infection, a day after his wife's funeral, a family spokesperson said.
Bush, 93, was admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital yesterday after contracting an infection that spread to his blood, the day after funeral was held for his wife, Barbara Bush, according to a statement  from his office.
The statement from family spokesman Jim McGrath read, "He is responding to treatments and appears to be recovering. We will issue additional updates as events warrant."
Barbara, the only woman to see both her husband and her son sworn in as US president, died last Tuesday and was laid to rest on Saturday.
The couple were married for 73 years.
Former presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W Bush and their spouses attended the ceremony along with current First Lady Melania Trump.
Bush, 41st US president, was born June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts. He served as command in chief from 1989 to 1993, served as a congressman, CIA director and Ronald Reagan's vice president.
Bush attended his wife's funeral wearing socks decorated in blue, read and yellow books -- a tribute to her legacy of promoting literacy.
During Friday's public viewing of Barbara's casket, he greeted and shook hands with several people who walked through the church to pay their respects.
On Saturday morning, former president Bush also hosted a reception for the visiting dignitaries before the private service. -- PTI 
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation ministerial meeting.
08:49   A tragic and senseless attack: Trudeau
Offering condolences to the victims, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the attack "tragic and senseless".

"It was with great sadness that I heard about the tragic and senseless attack that took place in Toronto this afternoon. On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of those who were killed, and my thoughts for a fast and full recovery to those injured," he said in a statement. 

"I thank the first responders at the scene who managed this extremely difficult situation with courage and professionalism. They faced danger without hesitation, and their efforts no doubt saved lives and prevented further injuries," the statement said. 

"We should all feel safe walking in our cities and communities. We are monitoring this situation closely, and will continue working with our law enforcement partners around the country to ensure the safety and security of all Canadians," Trudeau said.
08:30   10 killed as van ploughs into pedestrians in Toronto, suspect arrested
Ten people were killed and 15 others injured after a man plowed a white van into a crowd of pedestrians in Canada's biggest city Toronto on Monday.

The incident took place on Yonge Street at the corner with Finch Avenue in broad daylight around 16 kilometers  from a conference center hosting a meeting of G7 ministers, but officials said they had no evidence of a link to the event.

"The actions definitely looked deliberate," Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said.

Police arrested a suspect at the scene -- who police identified later as 25-year-old Alex Minassian from a northern Toronto suburb -- of the attack.

"Were working collaboratively not just on a local level but on a federal and provincial level," Saunders said

"We are looking strongly at the exact motive," he added. 
00:06   Van runs over pedestrians in Toronto, local media says 4 dead
A van ran over pedestrians in central Toronto on Monday, injuring as many as 10 people, police said.

'Update: unknown of extent of injuries, possible 8 - 10 pedestrians struck,' Toronto police wrote on Twitter.

Another tweet said it was 'too early to confirm the number of pedestrians struck or their injuries'.

Police did not specify whether or not the incident was deliberate.

According to local media, at least four people were killed in the incident and the river had fled the scene.   -- Agencies