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Thu, 26 April 2018
For Tripura CM, Aishwarya is 'true Indian woman', Diana Hayden isn't

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23:45   Senate approves Pompeo as US secretary of state
The United States Senate voted today to approve former Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo as secretary of state Thursday, after a bruising battle by Democrats against President Donald Trump's nominee.

Pompeo, who earned Trump's confidence after a year at the CIA, was accused by Democrats as being too bellicose and harboring anti-Muslim and homophobic sentiments.

But after barely getting the nomination past the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Pompeo was easily confirmed by the entire body in a vote of 57-42, with a handful of Democratic senators facing tough re-election battles voting in favor.

The approval came in time for Pompeo to lead the US delegation to NATO foreign minister talks in Brussels this weekend and to arrange a summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the coming months.  -- Agencies
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23:40   For Tripura CM, Aishwarya is 'true Indian woman', Diana Hayden isn't
Twitterati today slammed Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb over his remarks questioning the rationale behind crowning Diana Hayden 'Miss World' 21 years ago even as he praised Aishwarya Rai for the same award, saying she 'truly represents the Indian women'.

Activist Kavita Krishnan termed his comments as 'stupid, sexist and communal'.

'If biplab deb didn't exist, a comic writer would have invented him,' columnist Salil Tripathi tweeted.

Delhi CM advisor Nagendar Sharma in a tweet said, 'Though we are still in April, this most likely could qualify for the most ridiculous quote of 2018.'

A senior journalist tweeted, 'One reason for which I should cheer the verdict in Tripura is that the nation found a new entertainer.'

Deb's comments came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi cautioned the BJP leaders to steer clear of controversies and not offer 'masala' to the media by making irresponsible statements.

The Tripura chief minister also claimed that the international beauty contests were a 'farce' as the results were all predetermined.

"Whoever contested the international beauty pageants won. For five consecutive years, we won the Miss World/Miss Universe awards. Diana Hayden won it too. Do you think she should have won the title?" Deb said.

He said he failed to understand the 'process of judgement' of the crowning of the Miss World contest in 1997, in which Diana Hayden had got the award.

"We see women as goddess Laxmi, Saraswati. Aishwarya Rai represents the Indian women. She became the Miss World and that's all right. But I do not understand the beauty of Diana Hayden," Deb, who became the chief minister last month, said.

"Why are there no more beauty pageant winners from India? They (the jury) have captured the market in the country and have gone elsewhere," he claimed.

Earlier this month, Deb had claimed that Internet and satellite communication existed in the days of Mahabharata.  -- PTI
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22:43   Congress alleges 'international tampering' with Rahul's aircraft
The Congress on Thursday hinted at intentional tampering with party president Rahul Gandhi's special flight to Hubli.

Gandhi's aide Kaushal Vidyarthee sent a complaint letter to Karnataka Director General of Police and Inspector General of Police Neelamani N Raju and demanded to investigate the incident and ground the aircraft till the investigation is completed.

According to the complaint; Gandhi along with Vidyarthee, Rampreet, Rahul Ravi and SGP official Rahul Gautam was travelling to Hubli from New Delhi on April 26, 2018 in a special flight (VT-AVH).

'The flight, which took off from New Delhi around 9.20 am, faced unexpected technical errors. At around 10.45 am the flight suddenly tilted heavily on the left side and the altitude dipped steeply, combined with the violent shuddering of the aircraft body.

'It is to be stated that the weather outside was sunny, normal and not windy as per observation of the passengers and as per the forecast for the day,' said the complaint.

It added that a clanking sound was clearly audible from one side of the plane throughout the shuddering of the aircraft body.

'It was also learnt that the autopilot of the aircraft was not functioning. After two attempts, the plane finally landed at Hubli around 11.25 am while continuously shaking and making unusual audible sounds,' the complaint said.

The complainant hinted at intentional tampering with the aircraft and demanded thorough investigation in this regard.

'Serious questions related to intentional tampering with the aircraft cannot also be brushed aside and are required to be addressed and investigated,' the complaint demanded.

Later, Directorate General of Civil Aviation said 'it was snag of autopilot mode and pilot shifted to manual and landed safely'.

'Such autopilot incidents are not uncommon. For any VIP flight, the DGCA examines in detail. We shall do here also,' it said.    -- ANI
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22:36   CIA chief had 'great meeting' with Kim: Trump
Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, who went on a secret mission to North Korea early this month, had 'a great meeting' with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, US President Donald Trump said today.

"Mike Pompeo did go there (Pyongyang). He wasn't supposed to meet with Kim Jong Un but he did," he told Fox and Friends.

Trump called into the daily morning show and said he has incredible pictures of Pompeo and Kim meeting. He said he would love to release those pictures.

Those pictures have not been released yet.

"They had a great meeting... It was very, very secret -- very, very quiet," Trump said in response to a question. Trump has accepted an invitation to meet the North Korean leader. The date and venues of the meeting is being looked into.

"We have five locations, and that will all be narrowed down," he said.

"When I came into office people thought we were going into nuclear war, OK, and now they're saying wow."

Trump said the preparations for his meeting with Kim is going well.

"We are doing very well with North Korea and we'll see how it all comes out," the president said, as he indicated that he would leave the meeting if there was no deal.

"I'm not like Obama where you go in and you have a Kerry (former US Secretary of State) who's the worst negotiator I've ever seen. He goes in for the Iran deal. He never leaves. He should have left. He should have just left. He would have made a much better deal," the president said.

"So it could be that I walk out quickly -- with respect," Trump said of the meeting.

"But it could be that maybe the meeting doesn't even take place -- who knows? But I can tell you right now they (North Korea) want to meet," he said.

"Look, it was very, very nasty with little rocket man and the buttons... everybody said this guy's going to get us into nuclear war," he said.

"Let me tell you the nuclear war would have happened if you have weak people."

He continued: "We had weak people. This should have been settled long before I came into office."  -- PTI
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21:58   Pak army shells LoC in Rajouri
Pakistani Army today violated ceasefire by targeting forward posts and villages along the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir with mortar shells and gunfire.

"Pakistan Army initiated unprovoked and indiscriminate firing of small arms, automatics and mortars from 0830 hours today in Sunderbani sector along LoC," an Army officer said.

The Indian Army is retaliating strongly and effectively, he said adding the firing stopped at 1100 hours.

There has been a spurt in the ceasefire violations along the LoC and the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir this year, resulting in the death of 30 persons, including 16 security personnel, in over 650 such incidents.  -- PTI
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21:33   Pak urges India to take steps for bilateral talks
Pakistan today asked India to take steps to resume bilateral talks instead of issuing 'provocative' statements.

Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal made the remarks in response to a query about Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh's statement that India will not open fire first, but if Pakistan does so, it would unleash a volley of fire.

"India should walk the talk and refrain from provocative statements. Our armed forces practice restraint but have the capacity and are ever vigilant to give a befitting response to any threat to the motherland," Faisal said.

He claimed that India was violating the ceasefire agreement and 23 civilians were killed so far in 2018 and more than 100 others injured in over 1,000 ceasefire violations.

To a question, he said that 'there is no confirmation of any hand-shake or a formal meeting' between prime ministers of Pakistan and India during the recently concluded CHOGM meet in London.

He also confirmed that Pakistani troops will be part of military exercises under the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation ambit along with other members including India.

To a question, Faisal said that US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Alice Wells, was in Islamabad earlier this week for talks and Pakistan briefed her about the situation in Kashmir as well as there was discussion about Afghanistan.

He said Pakistan's relations with Russia were constantly improving as evident from recent visits by Foreign Minister, Chief of Army Staff and National Security Adviser to Russia.  -- PTI
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20:23   Chinese military says Modi-Xi meet could maintain peace at borders
The two-day informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping could stabilise ties between the two militaries, help maintain peace at the borders and settle differences, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) said today.

"It is the common expectation of both peoples to stabilise relations between the Chinese and Indian armed forces and maintain peace and tranquillity at the border areas," the military spokesman, Col Wu Qian, told the media in Beijing.

Modi and Xi are due to hold a two-day informal summit here from tomorrow during which the boundary issue as well last year's standoff at Doklam were expected to figure in their one-on-one talks to improve relations between the two countries.

"Although the relations between the two militaries still face some difficulties and obstacles, we are willing to use the important consensus of the leaders of the two countries as guidance to deepen our understanding, enhance mutual trust, properly settle differences, and continue to accumulate the positive energy of the healthy and stable development of the relations between the two armed forces," Col Wu said.

He was replying to a question about the expectations from the Modi-Xi summit and as well as the outcome of the meeting between Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her Chinese counterpart General Wei Feng this week.

Col Wu's comments were significant as President Xi is also the head of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) and the military.

Regarded as the most powerful Chinese leader in recent times, Xi is the Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) which is the overall high command of the Chinese armed forces. Post-Dokalam standoff last year, the relations between two militaries were picking up.

Sitharaman, who was in Beijing to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Defence Ministers' meeting, held talks with her Chinese counterpart Wei and discussed steps to improve relations between the two militaries. In her remarks, she had said differences should not be allowed to become disputes.  -- PTI
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20:03   Civilian killed by terrorists firing at police check point
A Shopian resident was killed today in firing by terrorists on a security forces check point in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir, the police said.

The police and Central Reserve Police Force had established a check point at Lazibal in Anantnag on a tip-off about movement of terrorists through the area, a police official said.

He said the security forces signaled a private car to stop for checking but the terrorists on board opened fire, hitting a civilian.

The civilian, identified as Shakeeb Shabir of Shopian, suffered a crtical bullet injury in the chest, the official said.

He said the 25-year-old man succumbed to injuries while being rushed to a hospital in Srinagar for treatment.

An alert has been issued across south Kashmir to track down the terrorists, he added.  -- PTI

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19:46   Cash crunch: I-T dept seizes Rs 14.48 cr cash from hoarders
The Income Tax Department (ITD) has seized Rs 14.48 crore in cash during raids at multiple locations, including in poll-bound Karnataka, in the wake of recent cash crunch in the country, officials said today.

They said the department raided a number of entities that were found to be hoarding cash in various states.

"The total cash seized in these searches is Rs 14.48 crore and the seized currency is largely in the higher denominations of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500," a senior official said.

The officials cited some instances in this context and said searches were carried out against 'prominent' PWD contractors in poll-bound Karnataka, who were awarded contracts during January-March this year.

The searches carried out last week led to unearthing and seizure of Rs 6.76 crore in cash, mainly from the benami lockers detected during the operations, they said. Over a dozen contractors in Mysore and Bengaluru were covered as part of the action, they said.

The cash was found to be in the denominations of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 and some of the searched assessees were found to be not maintaining the books of accounts, they said.

The Rs 6.76 crore seized last week took the total amount of seizure in the poll-abound state since the announcement of election schedule to Rs 10.62 crore. The taxman has also seized jwelleries worth Rs 1.33 crore from the state.

In the Hyderabad region, the raids were conducted by the department on two realtors that led to a seizure of Rs 5.10 crore of 'unaccounted cash' in the high-value denominations, they said.

In a similar action in Punjab's Khanna district, a group engaged in manufacture and sale of cattle feed was searched and it led to the seizure of cash amounting to Rs 2.62 crore alongwith jewellery and bullion of Rs 66.49 lakh, the officials said.

The group was making purchases and sales outside the books in cash and was showing a very low profit ratio and 5 lockers of the group are still under the attachment ordered by the tax authority, they said.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), that frames policy for the ITD, had recently asked the investigation wings of the department to check the cash crunch crisis after many ATMs across the country went dry.  -- PTI
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18:26   PM leaves for Wuhan for informal summit with President Xi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today left for the central Chinese city of Wuhan for a two-day-long informal summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping which is expected to improve bilateral ties hit by a tense border standoff in Doklam and differences over several sticky issues.

In a pre-departure statement, Modi, without specifically mentioning about any issue, said he and President Xi will review the developments in Sino-Indian relations from a strategic and long-term perspective during the summit beginning tomorrow.

"President Xi and I will exchange views on a range of issues of bilateral and global importance. We will discuss our respective visions and priorities for national development, particularly in the context of current and future international situation," Modi said.

"We will also review the developments in the India-China relations from a strategic and long-term perspective," he further said.

Besides the Doklam standoff, relations between India and China have witnessed a nosedive over a series of other issues including China blocking India's move to get Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar banned by the United Nations, its opposition to India's bid for NSG membership. India has also been severely critical of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as the $50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is part of the BRI project, passes through Gilgit and Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

India says it cannot accept a project that ignores its core concern on sovereignty and territorial integrity.

There was no clarity on whether these issues will figure in the talks between Modi and Xi.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou on Tuesday had said the two leaders will try to reach important consensus to resolve outstanding issues and build mutual trust during their talks in Wuhan.

Sources here had said the meeting will not have an 'issue-based discussion but a strategic conversation between the two leaders to understand each other's perspective on national and international matters'.

The informal summit between Modi and Xi is taking place in the backdrop of an escalating trade dispute between China and the US and it will be keenly observed whether the issue figures in the talks between the leaders of two major economies of the world.  -- PTI
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18:21   Delhi HC grants bail to Ilyasi to take care of ailing wife
The Delhi high court today granted interim bail for a month to former TV anchor and producer Suhaib Ilyasi, serving life term for killing his wife 18 years ago, to take care of his ailing second spouse.

A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta granted the relief to Ilyasi subject to his furnishing a bond of Rs 20,000 and a surety of the like amount.

The former TV anchor was taken into custody on December 16 last year after his conviction.

The trial court had on December 20, 2017, sentenced Ilyasi to life term for stabbing his wife Anju to death, saying he 'committed murder and gave it a colour of suicide'.

It had also imposed a fine of Rs 2 lakh on him and directed that Rs 10 lakh be paid as compensation to Anju's parents.

The expense would be borne by him. Anju was rushed to a hospital on January 11, 2000 with stab wounds she received at her East Delhi residence.

Ilyasi, who had shot into limelight for hosting the TV crime show 'India's Most Wanted', was arrested on March 28, 2000.

Charges were framed against him in the case after his sister-in-law and mother-in-law alleged that he used to torture his wife for dowry.  -- PTI
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17:22   Raping girls no sin for 'Brahmgyani' like him, believed Asaram
Asaram believed that sexual exploitation of girls is not a sin for 'Brahmgyani' or a highly enlightened person, a prosecution witness had deposed to the court during the trial that ended yesterday in a life-long jail term to the self-styled godman.


Asaram also used to take medicines to increase sexual prowess, said prosecution witness Rahul K Sachar, an Asaram's follower, in his deposition forming part of the 453-page judgement convicting the godman and his two accomplices for raping a minor nearly five years ago. Sachar , who was close to Asaram and had access to his 'kutia' or abode, deposed that he had seen Asaram molesting girls in his ashrams in 2003 in Pushkar (Rajasthan), Bhiwani (Haryana) and Ahmedabad (Gujarat).


After leaving Asaram's company and his ashram, Sachar was also attacked in 2004, for which he had lodged a complaint with police but no progress ever took place. He was again attacked after giving statement in the Asaram sexual assault case.  -- PTI
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17:09   Train-school van accident: Nautanki bandh karo, UP CM tells protestors
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath today faced angry protests during his visit to Kushinagar to get a first-hand account of the train-school van collision that left 13 children dead. As Adityanath reached the accident spot after visiting the district hospital, an angry crowd raised slogans against railway and local authorities.


The chief minister tried to pacify them using a megaphone. "Narebazi bandh karo, nautanki bandh karo" (stop raising slogans, stop this drama). I have come here to express my sympathies," he said.


However, the protesters were not satisfied and some of them squatted on the railway track. They demanded that railway personnel should be posted at the unmanned crossing to avoid such accidents.


Members of the Bar Council, Kushinagar, also complained about the "irresponsible attitude" of the district hospital staff. "As soon as they saw 13 bodies, senior officials of district hospital at Kushinagar referred four injured children and the driver to BRD Hospital without even administering first aid," members of the Bar Council complained to the chief minister, according to an official. -- PTI
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15:58   Govt refusal to elevate Justice Joseph to SC unwarranted intrusion: CPI(M)
The CPI(M) has demanded immediate intervention of the President to ensure that laid-out procedure in the selection of judges is followed and the collegium's recommendation to elevate


Justice K M Joseph to the Supreme Court is cleared. In a statement today, the Left party accused the BJP-led NDA government of "unwarranted intrusion" into the selection process.


"The government has not cleared the appointment of Justice K M Joseph. This is an unwarranted intrusion into the selection process of a judge and will affect the independence of the judiciary.


"The President of India must immediately intervene to ensure that the laid-out procedure is followed and the appointment of Justice Joseph is cleared, " the CPI(M) said.


The government appointed senior advocate Indu Malhotra as a judge of the Supreme Court today and asked the collegium to reconsider its recommendation to elevate Justice Joseph, the Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice, to the apex court. Both the names were recommended by the collegium earlier this year.


The CPI(M) said that even though the collegium of the Supreme Court had forwarded the names of both Justice Joseph and Malhotra to be elevated as judges of the apex court, the government did not clear the appointment of Justice Joseph but only cleared the appointment of Malhotra after "considerable delay". PTI
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15:43   India to grow 7.2% this fisc, rising oil prices challenge: Deloitte
India's economic growth will accelerate to 7.2 per cent in the current fiscal buoyed by manufacturing activity even as rising oil prices and high government debt remain a challenge, Deloitte said today.


The agriculture sector is expected to grow higher than the estimated 2.1 per cent in the current fiscal year on account of positive prospects on Rabi harvest and a normal monsoon, contributing significantly to the national GDP, said the India Economic Outlook Report 2018.


"India's growth prospects remain promising and the economy will continue to grow at 7.2 per cent in 2018-19. The gradual recovery in industrial production bodes well for the economy, reflecting a possible strengthening of domestic demand and a further build-up in global trade activity," it said.


The Indian economy grew 6.6 per cent in the last fiscal as it battled the lingering effects of demonetisation in 2016. Deloitte's growth forecast for this fiscal is conservative compared to that of the Reserve Bank and the International Monetary Fund which projected India to grow 7.4 per cent, and Asian Development Bank and Fitch which estimated growth at 7.3 per cent.


However, the report cautions that the increasing inflationary pressures, widening fiscal deficit and the rising debt burden could pose challenges to the economy. -- PTI
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15:22  
All India Tennis Association recommends Rohan Bopanna and Yuki Bhambri for Arjuna Award.
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15:09  
@CNNnews18 Terrorists open fire on CRPF vehicle in Lazibal near Anantnag. The area has been cordoned off. No casualties reported yet.
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14:59   Independence of judiciary is in danger: Cong
The Congress today said that the independence of the judiciary "is in danger" and asked if it would now speak in one voice to state "enough is enough".


The party's sharp reaction came after the government returned to the Supreme Court collegium its recommendation to elevate Justice K M Joseph to the apex court and asked it to reconsider it.


"Indian judiciary is in danger. And if our judiciary is not united to protect its independence then democracy is in danger.... they want to pack High Courts with their won people," senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal told reporters.


Sibal said that there are 410 vacancies of judges across the country out of the total approved strength of 1079 judges. "We want to know as to who will stand for judicial independence. Will the judiciary speak in one voice that enough is enough," he said. PTI
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14:52   Unimaginable, unconscionable to stay Indu Malhotra's appointment: CJI
Senior Advocate Indu Malhotra officially appointed judge of the Supreme Court of India after the apex court refused to stay her appointment.


The court termed as "unimaginable", "unconscionable" and "never heard of" the plea of Indira Jaising that appointment of Malhotra as judge be stayed. Jaising had said that she was worried about the independence of the judiciary.

CJI Dipak Misra said that if the Centre has segregated the recommendation and sent one of the names for reconsideration then they are within their right.

Over 100 SC lawyers moved a plea seeking that Uttarakhand HC CJ K M Joseph and Malhotra be simultaneously be made apex court judges.

On January 22, the apex court collegium's file recommending the elevation of Justice Joseph and Malhotra reached the Law Ministry.

After processing the file in the first week of February, the recommendations were kept in abeyance as the government wanted to elevate only Malhotra.

But now, the government has went ahead with the appointment of Malhotra and kept on hold the elevation of Justice Joseph.

The government feels that while recommending the name of Justice Joseph, the collegium has disregarded seniority and regional representation.

He is 42nd in the seniority list of 669 high court judges.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad would now write to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra about its decision to appoint only Malhotra, the sources added.
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14:31  
Supreme Court refuses to stay warrant on appointment of senior advocate Indu Malhotra as an apex court judge. PTI
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14:20   Centre interfering in judicial functioning: SC lawyers
The Supreme Court Bar Association on Thursday said the government has meddled with the functioning of the judiciary by appointing senior advocate Indu Malhotra as a Supreme Court judge.


However, at the same time, the lawyers' body said Malhotra will prove to be a great judge.


"Indu Malhotra is a fine lawyer and she will prove to be a great judge. I have a huge reservation at the attitude of the government, there is no way by which they should not have cleared Justice KM Joseph's name," SCBA chief advocate Vikas Singh told ANI.


Singh also said the matter should be taken up with the government very strongly.


"By making one appointment and not making another, the government has interfered in the functioning of the judiciary. This is a very serious matter and should be taken up with the government very strongly," he added.


Malhotra will be the first woman SC judge to be appointed to the post directly from the bar.The government has decided to put on hold the elevation of Justice KM Joseph, who heads the Uttarakhand High Court.
-- ANI
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14:03   Govt asks SC to reconsider Justice Joseph recommendation
The government today asked the Supreme Court collegium to reconsider its recommendation for elevating Justice KM Joseph to the apex court, sources said today. The government said it wanted an objective view on Justice Joseph's elevation.


This comes a day after the government cleared the appointment of senior advocate Indu Malhotra as a judge of the Supreme Court and kept in abeyance a decision on Joseph, who heads the Uttarakhand High Court. Both the names were recommended by the collegium earlier this year.


The government's decision of not approving Joseph's name has evoked sharp reactions with the Supreme Court Bar Association President terming it as "disturbing". -- PTI
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13:23   IPL: Kohli fined Rs 12 lakh for slow over-rate
Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli has been penalised Rs 12 lakh for maintaining a slow over-rate during his franchise's Indian Premier League clash against Chennai Super Kings at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Chennai on Thursday.


Besides being imposed with a fine, Kohli has also received an official reprimand for slow over-rate throughout his side's innings in the clash, which Chennai Super Kings went on to win by five wickets.


As it was Kohli's first offence this season, the Indian captain has been fined Rs12 lakh for breaching the IPL Code of Conduct relating to minimum over-rate offences.


Kohli smashed just 18 runs in RCB's defeat as CSK chased down the target of 206 runs with the help of Mahendra Singh Dhoni (70 not out off 34 deliveries) and Ambati Rayudu's 53-ball 83.Chennai are currently standing at the top spot with 10 points, having clinched five victories out of six matches they have played so far.


Meanwhile, RCB have slumped to their fourth loss and are at the sixth position, with just four points in their account, and having won just two matches so far. ANI
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13:16   Cong appoints Kamal Nath as MP unit prez, Scindia as campaign chief
The Congress today appointed senior leader Kamal Nath as president of its Madhya Pradesh unit and Jyotiraditya Scindia as campaign committee chief ahead of elections in the state expected later this year, a statement from the party said. The party also appointed Girish Chodankar as the Pradesh Congress Committee chief for Goa, replacing Shantaram Naik who had resigned a few days ago.


"Congress President Rahul Gandhi has cleared the appointment of Kamal Nath as PCC president of Madhya Pradesh and Jyotiraditya Scindia as Chairman, Campaign Committee of the state,"AICC general secretary Ashok Gehlot said in a statement.


The party also appointed four working presidents -- Bala Bachhan, Ramnivas Rawat, Jitu Patwari and Surender Chaudhary -- in the Madhya Pradesh state unit.


The appointments come a few months before the state assembly elections, where the Congress is seeking to wrest power from the BJP. The chief ministerial candidate has not yet been decided as the choice still seems open with both Kamal Nath and Scindia in the race, a party leader said.
-- PTI
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13:11   Former US President George H W Bush out of ICU
Former US president George H W Bush is "alert" and has been moved from an intensive care unit to a regular room as he recovers from an infection that had spread to his blood, a family spokesperson said.


The 93-year-old former president was admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital on Monday, a day after his wife Barbara Bush's funeral.


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.


He is "alert and talking with hospital staff, family and friends, and his doctors are very pleased with his progress," family spokesman, Jim McGrath, said in a statement, adding that Bush is expected to remain at the hospital for several more days. Bush is the US' oldest living president. He has a rare syndrome that mimics Parkinson's disease. -- PTI
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12:55   UP netas to camp in Karnataka from May 3
The Karnataka Assembly polls are the new battle field for political stalwarts of Uttar Pradesh including Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati, who will be criss-crossing the state to turn the tide in favour of their respective parties.


Adityanath will be addressing as many as 35 rallies and road shows as the Nath sect, to which he belongs, wields considerable clout in coastal Karnataka, BJP sources said today. The UP CM's hectic Karnataka tour will begin on May 3 and end on May 10.


Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav will also be touring the state.  The SP has fielded over two dozen candidates in Karnataka. The party president will be campaigning there for our candidates. The tour details will be finalised in a day or two," SP spokesman Rajendra Chowdhury told PTI. When asked specifically as to whether Akhilesh will campaign for the Congress too, Chowdhury said, "He will campaign for SP candidates only as of now."


The Congress and the SP had contested the UP Assembly polls last year jointly, but had contested the civic body polls in the state independently. BSP supremo Mayawati, whose party has entered into a pact with former prime minister HD Deve Gowda's JD(S), has already started working in the state with her rallies starting yesterday from Mysuru. She will be addressing a rally in Chitradurga today and Belagavi and Bidar on May 5-6 respectively. The BSP is contesting on 20 seats in Karnataka and is hoping to open an account there with the JD(S) support.


Polling will be held in a single phase on May 12 for all the 224 Assembly seats in the Congress-ruled state, including 36 reserved for the Scheduled Castes and 15 for the Scheduled Tribes.
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12:41   Don't have Jaya's biological samples, Apollo tells HC
Apollo Hospital submits to Madras High Court that they do not have any biological samples of former Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa. The court had sought a reply on a petition filed by a woman claiming to be Jayalalithaa's daughter. The Madras high court on Wednesday directed the Apollo Hospitals to inform it by today whether it had preserved the biological samples of Jayalalithaa collected during her hospitalisation in 2016.


Justice S Vaidyanathan gave the direction on a petition by a woman, who claimed she was the biological daughter of Jayalalithaa. On February 23, the judge had issued a notice to Apollo Hospitals on a sub-application by the woman, who sought a direction for a DNA test to establish her parentage.
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12:24  
Girish Chodankar appointed as President of Goa Pradesh Congress Committee, Kamal Nath appointed as Madhya Pradesh PC.
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12:18   Imran Khan's ex-wife on the dog behind his marriage woes
Imran Khan's ex-wife Reham Khan writes on the dog behind his latest matrimonial woes. Read  Pakistan's Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan's third wife Bushra Manek has reportedly returned to her maternal home following a domestic dispute over the ex-cricketer's pet dogs. According to a report by Times of Islamabad, Imran Khan's pet dogs, who had earlier been thrown out of his palatial house on the direction of Manek, have returned and are seen wandering around the house.


Imran Khan has negated rumours about kicking out his dog 'Sheru', saying the dog had died a few years ago.The presence of dogs reportedly interfered in the religious activities of Manek due to which she wanted the expulsion of the dogs from the house.


File pic of Imran Khan and his family with his third wife Bushra Manek (in veil)
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12:10  
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in Wuhan, the venue for informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 27-28.
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12:09   The driver had earplugs on, says UP CM
UP CM Yogi Adityanath on the the Kushinagar accident in which 13 children were killed.

"Thirteen students have died, four students and the van driver are critically injured. They have been admitted to the BRD Medical College. An inquiry will be conducted to nab those responsible. I spoke to Railway Minister also about ways to man the unmanned railway crossings. Prima facie it appears to be a mistake of the van driver. He had earphones on and there are questions over his age too. There are rules in place, inquiry will be conducted as to why they were not followed. Strict action will be taken." 
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11:52   Modi-Jinping's unusual meeting will have no agenda at all
Pressing global issues and their outlook for the world and each other's country may figure in the talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping during their two-day informal summit commencing Friday.


Speaking to ANI, India's Ambassador to China Gautam Bambawale, said, "There is no set agenda for talks. It will happen in a very informal setting, friendly setting." The two leaders will not be exchanging MoUs or release any joint statement. Since there is no set agenda, so, they are free to talk on anything, and they probably will discuss these issues while walking in the park, or, during a boat ride on the East Lake, Bambawale said.


This summit is probably the first of its kind, especially between the two Asian giants.The meeting comes at a time when two sides are looking to "reset" ties, which suffered during the two-month Doklam standoff last year. -- ANI


File pic: PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping
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11:30   PM's strange boast
When boasting drives logic, the argument is bound to become perverse. The prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, spoke to an overseas audience in London in a much touted programme entitled 'Bharat ki baat, sabke saath'.


Presumably embodying Bharat, Mr Modi fell to publicizing his government's achievements. The government has opened a series of stores where medicine is sold cheaply.


In order to underline the need for this kind of intervention, the prime minister of the country said that Indian doctors do not use generic names of drugs on prescriptions. Instead they give the names of expensive, branded medicines to please pharmaceutical companies that take them on international trips.


This less than pretty account has caused the Indian medical fraternity to react with hurt and anger, and the Indian Medical Association has sent the prime minister a letter expressing its disappointment. While no one denies that some doctors do accept junkets, it is shocking that a prime minister should tar the entire medical fraternity with the same brush of corruption before an international audience.


For more, read the editorial in the Telegraph.
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10:47   BuzzFeed partners with Netflix for documentary series
BuzzFeed has announced a journalism-orientated documentary series produced in partnership with Netflix. Launching on 9 July, the weekly 20-show run of 15-minute episodes will go behind-the-scenes as its journalists pursue a variety of stories. An initial YouTube trailer for the series, titled Follow This, shows clips from an investigation into ASMR. Read more
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10:31   PM begins K'taka blitzkrieg via video conference with party workers
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today that development was his only agenda for the Karnataka Assembly polls, and accused the state's Congress government of stalling its progress. Modi also accused the Congress of playing caste politics during elections.


"BJP has a three-pronged agenda for Karnataka -- development, fast paced development, all round development," he told BJP leaders, office bearers and party workers via video conference.


"Our agenda is vikas (development), vikas, vikas," he said. Without naming the Lingayats, the prime minister accused the Congress government of doing caste politics.


"When elections come, they offer lollipops to a caste group so they get busy with it. But the BJP's priority is politics of development," he said.


The Siddaramaiah government recently recommended religious minority status for the Lingayat and its sub-group Veershaiva Lingayat community. The move is seen as an attempt to divide the Lingayats, the bedrock of the BJP's voter base in the state. The Congress government in Karnataka, he alleged, was responsible for tardy progress of the state. With pre-poll surveys projecting a hung Assembly, Modi asked the voters to elect a BJP government with absolute majority to give a fillip to development. PTI
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10:16   BCCI recommends Dravid for Dronacharya, Kohli for Khel Ratna
The BCCI has recommended former India captain Rahul Dravid for the prestigious Dronacharya award and once again nominated Virat Kohli for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna honour. Legendary opener Sunil Gavaskar's name has been recommended for Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award.


CoA chief Vinod Rai confirmed Dravid's nomination for the Dronacharya award.


"Yes, we have sent a number of nominations in various categories to the government. Rahul is the BCCI nominee for the Dronacharya award," Rai told PTI.


Dravid has been nominated for successfully guiding the India U-19 team to World Cup title early this year. Under his guidance, the Colts batch of 2016 played the finals.


He has worked with India A team also and is the bridge between international and junior cricket. BCCI had stopped sending nominations for Dronacharya awards due to multiple coaches at times claiming credit for a player's success.


"It happened when a former India opener had signed two nominations where coaches claimed that the player worked under them. From then, we had stopped sending nominations," a senior BCCI official said.


"However when Rajkumar Sharma (Kohli coach) got Dronacharya award, it was a personal nomination. He was not BCCI nominee. For someone of Rahul's stature, we have decided to depart from convention," the official added. As per Kohli's nomination for Khel Ratna, it has been learnt that BCCI has nominated the Indian captain him for the second time.


Kohli's name was sent in 2016 but being the Olympic year, the three stars of Rio, PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik and Deepa Karmakar were conferred with the award. As far as Gavaskar is concerned, his contribution in Indian cricket as a player and then as a critique has been unquestionable. Normally, the convention for Dhyan Chand award is to confer those who have not got Arjuna award during their playing days. However Gavaskar is an Arjuna awardee. -- PTI
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10:13   BSP rally in Karnataka draws few, but Maya is still 'God'
Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati's maiden rally in poll-bound Karnataka failed to attract expected crowds but those who attended the rally said Mayawati is like a 'God' to them.


Mayawati along with Janata Dal (Secular) Supremo Deve Gowda and his son H.D. Kumaraswamy addressed a rally in Mysuru yesterday. But by the time rally started, the thin crowd was tired of waiting as the rally got delayed by almost three hours.


Former prime minister Gowda barely spoke for three-four minutes while Mayawati read out her speech. Both the leaders appealed to the Dalit voters to vote for the JD (S) under the leadership of Kumaraswamy.


"Congress and BJP never wanted the regulation of Mandal Commission's report which would provide Other Backward Classes the benefits of reservation," Mayawati said. She also trained guns at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over corruption.


"Widespread corruption by people like Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi have punctured the air out of Modi Ji's slogan 'Na khaaonga na khaane doonga'," the BSP chief said.


Kumaraswamy, who spoke for about ten minutes, also appealed to vote for JD (S) candidates. He also highlighted his achievements as Chief Minister and his father's achievements as the Prime Minister of India.


Despite the poor show, there were many who were big supporter of Mayawati. Talking to ANI after the rally, a local said the BSP supremo is like a God for Dalits."Mayawati is considered as a Dalit leader across India. So, Mayawati doesn't just have an impact, she is a God for us. We consider her as our sister. She will protect our rights in the parliament," Sreeniwas told ANI.


Voting will be held on May 12 in all 224 constituencies.It is to be noted that the BSP and JD(S) have forged an alliance for the polls and the BSP would be fielding candidates from 20 seats. -- ANI
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10:01   Japan is objecting to this 'distasteful' Korean dessert
Japan on Wednesday lodged a formal protest about the mango mousse dessert, which will be served to South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un when the two leaders meet at the upcoming inter-Korean summit.


The dessert will feature a map of the Korean Peninsula that includes a disputed island claimed by Tokyo.


Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that Kenji Kanasugi, the director-general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, had told the South Korean Embassy in Tokyo that the inclusion of Takeshima, or Dokdo island in Korean, was "very regrettable", "distasteful" and "not acceptable", CNN reported.


The special chairs to be used by the two Korean leaders at the Peace House in the border village of Panmunjom, also features an emblem of the controversial island, along with the peninsula.


Also, Tokyo has said that Seoul is "illegally occupying the rocky island" lying east of the Korean Peninsula, has long soured relations between the two countries, the report said.


Japan had occupied the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945 until it was defeated in World War II.


Other than the controversial dessert dish, the menu for the leaders of two Koreas includes - cold noodles, dumplings, barbecued beef, sweets and a Swiss potato dish, which is said to be the favourite dish of Kim.


The inter-Korean summit is slated to be held on April 27, where Moon and Kim are expected to discuss on denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula as well as a peace plan, in an effort to improve the bilateral relations between the two countries.

There has been a pressing need for the denuclearisation of North Korea by Japan, the United States, China and South Korea. On the same lines, a proposed summit is expected to take place between US President Donald Trump and Kim either in May or June. ANI
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09:54   Kathua rape case: SC to resume hearing
The Supreme Court on Thursday will resume hearing the case of alleged rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl belonging to Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua area.


The minor girl, who belonged to a nomadic Muslim tribe, was allegedly abducted, drugged, gang-raped, tortured and killed in January.In the wake of the incident, President Ram Nath Kovind, on April 22, promulgated the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2018, for effective deterrence against the commission of rape.


The ordinance seeks the death penalty for the rapists of girls below 12 years of age and stringent punishment for perpetrators of rape particularly of girls below 16 years, thereby strengthening the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.On Tuesday, the Kathua Chief Judicial Magistrate rejected the bail application of the juvenile accused in the rape and murder of the aforementioned eight-year-old. -- ANI
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09:31   Kohli fined 12 lakh for slow over rate against CSK
Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli has been fined Rs 12 lakh for maintaining slow over-rate during their Indian Premier League against Chennai Super Kings in Bengaluru on Wednesday night.
   
The hosts had put on board a challenging 205 for eight but riding on MS Dhoni's power-packed 34-ball 70, Super Kings overhauled the formidable target with two balls to spare. 
 
"As it was his team's first offence of the season under the IPL's Code of Conduct relating to minimum over-rate offences, Mr. Kohli was fined Rs 12 lakh," an IPL press release said. -- PTI   
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09:25   PM Modi to leave for China today for 'informal summit' with Xi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave for China today to attend an informal summit to be hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan city on April 27 and 28.

This informal discussion is going to take place for the first time after 1954.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sunday at the joint press conference with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj in Beijing said, "We will make sure that the informal summit (between PM Modi and Chinese President Jinping) will be a complete success and a milestone in China-India relations."

The informal summit is being seen as a move by the two countries to get their ties back on track following the Doklam stand-off last year, wherein troops from the two nations were engaged in an eyeball-to-eyeball standoff near Sikkim border between June to August.

The summit comes ahead of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Qingdao city in June.

No agreements will be signed between India and China and no customary joint press conference will be held during Modi's two-day visit. -- ANI
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08:52   Maximum pressure campaign on North Korea is working, says White House
The maximum pressure campaign of the Trump administration is working on North Korea, the White House said today, and ruled out any concession to Pyongyang right now.
"We think that the maximum pressure campaign is working. We are not going to let up on that campaign until we see some of the words that they've made go into concrete action. But they're moving in the right direction," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at her daily news conference.
 
Meanwhile, the US Senate today passed the North Korean Human Rights Act, a legislation that would update and reauthorise the 2004 law promoting human rights and freedom in the country. 
 
"It is both America's moral responsibility and in our national security interest to hold accountable the North Korean dictatorship for being one of the world's worst human rights abusers," Senator Marco Rubio said. 
 
The Kim regime, he said, "systematically and mercilessly terrorises" its own people, denying them their most basic freedoms.
 
"It engages in extrajudicial killings, abductions, arbitrary detention, arrest, torture, forced starvation, and sexual violence against women," Rubio said.
 
Senator ben Cardin said the North Korean people have suffered "enormously" for decades.
 
"As the US and our allies and partners in the region prepare to engage Pyongyang in potential denuclearisation talks, we cannot take our eyes off the deplorable human rights situation in that country. Promoting and defending human rights must always remain a core pillar of US diplomacy abroad, and this bill will underscore that," he said. -- PTI 
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08:50   Pompeo's nomination for US secretary of state opposed for remarks on Indians, Muslims
The nomination of Mike Pompeo, the CIA Director, for the US secretary of state has been opposed by Democrats as they raked up his remarks on Indians, Muslims and other ethnic minorities.
 
"These concerns are beyond policy disagreements, which alone are not a basis for rejecting a nominee," Senator Robert Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on the Senate floor as Senators debated on the Secretary of State nomination of Pompeo.
Senator Charles Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, said he asked Pompeo if he would recant what he had said about Muslims and Indian Americans, LGBTQ Americans, and women's rights, now that he was in line to be the US secretary of state and had to deal with countries that might be affected by his remarks.
"Again, he demurred. So, with a clear conscience, I will be voting against Mr Pompeo's nomination. I still believe the president deserves his team, and that disagreements on policy alone are not a sufficient reason to reject a nomination," he said.  

"But I gave Mr Pompeo the benefit of the doubt and three chances to answer the questions that I thought were extremely important and assuage my broader concerns about his nomination, and (he) did not answer those questions in any way that was satisfying. So, with a clear conscience, I will be voting against his nomination," Schumer said. 
 
Another top Democrat Senator Robert Menendez also raised the issue.
 
"On our own border, we simply cannot address the threat of drug traffickers or opioids without productive collaboration with Mexico. When the President wants to call Mexicans drug-traffickers and rapists, as our nation's top diplomat who during his confirmation hearing insisted his "record is exquisite with respect to treating people of each and every faith with the dignity they deserve" would Mr Pompeo advise the President not to? Or would it be the Pompeo who once called a political opponent a "turban-topper" prevail?" Menendez said. 
 
"How will he explain this kind of rhetoric to people of myriad different faiths who wear turbans whether millions of Sikhs, Punjabis or Muslims in India, a critically important ally or Orthodox Christians in the Horn of Africa, or tribal leaders in Afghanistan with whom we are trying to build constructive relationships based on values of democracy and human rights?" he asked. -- PTI
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08:39   France won't leave Iran nuclear deal, says Macron
French President Emanuel Macron has said that France will not leave the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and pushed for a comprehensive agreement with Tehran to address the United States concerns.
 
"There is an existing framework called the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) to control the nuclear activity of Iran. We signed it at the initiative of the US. We signed it, both the United States and France. That is why we cannot say we should get rid of it like that," Macron said in his joint address to the US Congress.
 
He said the agreement may not address all and important concerns, "but we should not abandon it without having something substantial and more substantial instead," he said.
 
The US and its President Trump, he said, will have to see its responsibilities regarding the issue.
 
"But what I want to do, and what we decided together with your president, is that we can work on a more comprehensive deal addressing all of his concerns," he said.
 
The objective on Iran, he said, was clear that it shall never possess any nuclear weapons.
 
"Not now, not in five years, not in 10 years, never. But this policy should never lead us to war in the Middle East," he said. 
 
"We must ensure stability and respect sovereignty of the nations, including that one of Iran, which represents a great civilisation. Let us not replicate past mistakes in the region. Let us not be naive on one side. Let us not create new walls ourselves on the other side," Macron said. -- PTI
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08:33   13 school children killed in a bus-train collision in UP
Thirteen children were killed and eight others injured when their school bus was hit by a train at an unmanned railway crossing in Uttar Pradesh's Kushinagar area, around 50km from Gorakhpur, on Thursday morning. 

The children, students of Divine Public School, were killed on the spot.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has announced ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the families of the victims and directed Commissioner Gorakhpur to conduct an inquiry into the accident.
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00:14   Indu Malhotra to be elevated as SC judge, Justice Joseph's name put on hold
The government is learnt to have cleared the appointment of senior advocate Indu Malhotra as a judge of the Supreme Court, sources in the Law Ministry said on Wednesday.

She will be the first woman judge to be appointed to the top post directly from the bar.

With this development, the government has decided to put on hold the elevation of Justice K M Joseph, who heads the Uttarakhand high court.

On January 22, the apex court collegium's file recommending the elevation of Justice Joseph and Malhotra reached the Law Ministry.

After processing the file in the first week of February, the recommendations were kept in abeyance as the government wanted to elevate only Malhotra.

But now, the government has went ahead with the appointment of Malhotra and kept on hold the elevation of Justice Joseph.

The government feels that while recommending the name of Justice Joseph, the collegium has disregarded seniority and regional representation. He is 42nd in the seniority list of 669 high court judges.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad would now write to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra about its decision to appoint only Malhotra, the sources added. -- PTI