Wed, 01 August 2018
PM Bengal rally tent collapse: Probe team finds 'faults' in local authorities

Timeline  Refresh

23:35   PM Bengal rally tent collapse: Probe team finds 'faults' in local authorities
An inquiry conducted by a central team to assess the circumstances leading to the collapse of a tent during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rally in West Bengal's Midnapore has blamed the local authorities for the alleged lapses and said adequate cooperation was not provided to the advance security liaison team, officials said today.
The inquiry report, submitted to the Union home ministry, suggested that not enough state police personnel were deployed within the five km radius of the prime minister's function.
The central team also submitted that the Special Protection Group, which guards the prime minister, provides security in the inner arch of the prime minister while the responsibility of giving security in the outer layers rest with the state government in which the local authorities allegedly failed, an official said.
The enquiry has also found that proper logistical help was not given to the advance security liaisoning team which visited the state two weeks before the prime minister's visit.
During their interactions with the state government officials, the findings of the team was refuted by the local authorities saying it had deputed 1,000 personnel for Modi's rally and all cooperation was offered to the advance security team, another official said.
The makeshift tent, erected next to the main entrance of the rally venue to shelter people from rain, collapsed when Modi was midway through his speech on July 16.
The prime minister later visited the hospital where the injured, including 50 women, were undergoing treatment. -- PTI  
23:30   Imran to take oath in President House: Party leaders
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan will take oath at the President House instead of an open venue like the D-Chowk or Parade Ground inIslamabad as it was suggested earlier, according to his party officials.
Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf emerged as the single largest party in the elections held on July 25. 

The 65-year-old leader is expected to take oath on August 11.
He is holding meetings with senior party leaders to select his cabinet and chief ministers for Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces where PTI is poised to form the government as well.
Party sources said that apart from formation of the governments, issue like where he should take the oath or live as Prime Minister have also been discussed.
"It was decided that he should take oath in the President House which is a secure place," a party leader said.
President Mamnoon Hussain will administer him the oath of the office.
He said though there was some support in the party for an open place like D-Chowk, in front of the parliament, where he had protested for 126 days in 2014 or the scenic Parade Ground, but was opposed due to security reasons.
Another party leader said that Khan has also agreed to live in the Ministers' Enclave in Islamabad instead of the palatial Prime Minister House as he had already declared that he would live in a simple place.
The party has so far not said anything about who will be invited for Khan's oath taking ceremony but according to local media former Indian cricketers Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavasgar and Navjot Singh Sidhu, and Bollywood actor Aamir Khan were being invited.
The party also mulled the option if it could invite foreign leaders including those from SARRC for the oath taking ceremony. 
Sources said that PTI leaders met foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua, but so far no decision has been taken. -- PTI
22:39   'Game of Thrones' castle on sale for less than USD 1 million
The final season of "Game of Thrones" will not be on the horizon till next year but fans can now bid to live in the realm of Westeros by purchasing a castle featured on the show.
According to EW, the Gosford Castle, that was used to portray the Riverrun castle on the HBO series, is up for sale online by Maison real estate and is accepting offers over USD 656,452.
The 19th-century country house in Northern Ireland, was first shown in the third season of "GOT" as the former seat of House Tully and later as the home to House Frey.
The real structure was built in the mid-1800s by the second Earl of Gosford, Archibald Acheson, and housed the Earls of Gosford through 1921. 
From being used as a prisoner of war camp (both during World War II and later the Northern Ireland Conflict), a storage facility for public records, a barracks for soldiers, to a hotel, the castle appears to have seen it all.
The property boasts of 15 bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, but needs heating fixed.
Gosford has been converted into six luxury apartments of 3,500 square feet each, and have names such as "The Inner Bailey", "The Round Tower" and "The Old Keep". -- PTI   
22:38   BJP can brand me 'infiltrator': Mamata on NRC
Attacking the Centre on the National Register of Citizens issue, Trinamool Congress chief Mamta Banerjee today said the government could even brand her an "infiltrator" as her parents did not have papers to prove that they were born in India.
Banerjee said that even genuine voters were not included in the final draft NRC.
"My father or even my mother never had birth certificates to show that they were born here. 
"Luckily, I have my documents, but on the ground that my parents do not have proper documents, the BJP government could have branded me infiltrator," the West Bengal chief minister told reporters here.
Lashing out at the BJP, the TMC chief said the ruling party cannot dictate terms and decide who is the real citizen of the country.
"The BJP cannot stop me. I am not their servant," she said. 
Her comments come against the backdrop of the Assam government publishing the draft NRC on July 30.
The names of over 40 lakh people did not figure in the list. -- PTI
22:33   Aamir Khan initially rejected Lagaan's story
It is considered a game-changer in Hindi cinema and even went on to earn an Oscar nomination but Aamir Khan today revealed that he rejected the initial idea of Lagaan as he thought the story was "bizarre".
Directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, the 2001 sports drama was a critical and commercial success and was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. 
"When I heard Lagaan, in five minutes of its narration, I rejected it.. I was like it is a story of people who are not able to pay 'Lagaan' as there are no rains and they play  cricket with British people! I was like 'What a bizarre thought is this? I told Ashutosh, 'This is a ajeeb (strange) story. I told him to get me a different story," Aamir said on the sidelines of the second edition of Indian Scriptwriters Association. 
Gowariker approached Aamir again after three months with the same story but he had a complete script by then.
Aamir says he initially felt irritated that Gowariker had kept working on it.
"But when I heard the story, I was into it. I loved the final script of 'Lagaan' and found it unbelievable. I told him, 'It is a fantastic script and it does break the record of mainstream cinema. But I am scared to say yes. I can't do it'."
The 53-year-old star advised Gowariker to approach other actors and the director would often return with interesting anecdotes like someone suggesting him changes in the final scene, which should end with Bhuvan picking up the stumps and stabbing the English officer, played by Paul Blackthorne.
A year went by but Aamir's uncertainty about the story was replaced by the doubt that he was perhaps letting go of a good film.
"I would often think why am I not doing the film?"  
Aamir said as someone who is inspired by the works of Bimal Roy and Guru Dutt, who had the courage to take risks, he decided to come on board.
"I told Ashutosh to narrate the story to my parents. They heard it and were crying. They told me I should do it." 
And the rest, as they say, is history. -- PTI  
22:30   Number of cross-border infiltration attempts in J&K dropped: Govt
The government today informed the Rajya Sabha that only 133 infiltration attempts have been made through Indo-Pakistan border in Jammu and Kashmir up to June this year, as against 406 in 2017.
Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said till June this year, as many as 14 terrorists have been killed on the Pakistan border and only one security personnel has been killed and two injured during such infiltrations.

Giving figures, he said last year, as many as 59 terrorists and seven securitymen were killed and 18 injured during such infiltrations.
The minister also informed the members during Question Hour that 64 incidents of infiltration have taken place along the Indo-Myanmar border in which 3 insurgents were killed and 66 terrorists/insurgents were caught till July 28 this year. 
Against this, during 2017 he said there were 99 such infiltrations along the Myanmar border in which 9 terrorists/ infiltrators were killed and 130 of them were caught alive. 
The minister also said that except along the Indo-Pak border in J and K, there were only 4 incidents of infiltrations till July 28, as against 10 reported in 2017 in which two terrorists/insurgents were killed. -- PTI  
22:15   PM should make statement in Parl on Dokalam: Congress
The Congress today demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi make a statement in Parliament on the Chinese presence in Dokalam and also take the nation into confidence on his government's policy on demilitarisation in the trijunction.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala accused the government of "managing headlines" and claimed that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's statement on Dokalam in Parliament "hides more than it reveals".
"In national interest, the Congress demands that Prime Minister Narendra Modi make a statement and take the nation into confidence by placing the entire spectrum of facts on the floor of Parliament. The PM must tell his government's policy on demilitarising the Doklam plateau," he said. 
In a statement, he alleged that the government's "denials, half-truths and doublespeak" on Doklam were endangering India's national security and strategic interests.
Surjewala said Swaraj's statement on Doklam was covered with "misleading opaqueness" and failed to provide the larger picture of Chinese presence in South Doklam.
He alleged that as China stares at the Siliguri Corridor, the Gateway to India's North East, the BJP government nearly ducks the Doklam question.
"The Modi government hid behind a sheet of misleading opaqueness on Doklam today. The external affairs minister claimed in Parliament that the 73 day standoff in Doklam has been resolved with diplomatic maturity without losing any ground and there is no change in the status quo (on the ground). The face off at sight has been resolved on August 28, 2017," he said.
He alleged that the government and Swaraj were "conspicuously silent" on the Chinese military buildup and new road construction in the South Doklam region, overlooking the Chicken's Neck. 
"Swaraj said nothing about the creation of a full-fledged Chinese military complex at Doklam right upto 10 metres from Indian Army Post, reflected in the satellite imagery released earlier by the Congress, besides media reports," he said. 
Surjewala said the prime minister had met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on July 26 on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in South Africa, the third bilateral meeting of Modi with his Chinese counterpart in the past four months.
"Disappointingly, the Modi government could not give a conclusive reaction to the numerous media reports and developments regarding the Doklam stand-off that have compromised India's national security and endangered its strategic interests," he said.
Surjewala alleged that during the No Confidence motion debate in Parliament, the PM spewed false political rhetoric but could not provide any clarity on the status of Chinese military and infrastructure build up at North and South Doklam. -- PTI
21:04   Country loses the most due to disruptions in Parliament: PM
The government has the least to lose due to disruptions in Parliament and it is the country which loses the most, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said while stressing on effective functioning of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
He also said it is the duty of each parliamentarian to lend voice to the problems of the common man in Parliament and force the government to take steps for their welfare.
The prime minister was speaking at an event at the central hall of Parliament to confer the best parliamentarian awards for the years 2014 to 2017.
"It is important for MPs to express the voice of the poor and the marginalised. Sadly, when there is noise and chaos in the House, MPs are not able to speak and the loss is of the entire nation," he said. 
He further said, "Government has the least to lose due to din in Parliament. It is the country which loses the most."
Parliament is a forum to debate and even criticise the government, he said stressing upon the need for Parliament to function effectively.
"The words spoken in Parliament are on record and they will be a part of the history books. That is why, it is important for Parliament to function effectively," he said.
The prime minister's remarks came in the backdrop of frequent disruptions in Parliament due to uproar by the opposition on various issues. 
"In a such a big nation, the MPs bring with them the dreams and aspirations of their constituents," he said.
The budget session of the Parliament saw a near washout because of protests by a united opposition on a variety of issues including demand for granting special category status to Andhra Pradesh.
The opposition, however, put the blame on the ruling party for the disruptions and alleged that it is using its friendly parties to cause the din.
Among those who received the awards include Najma Heptullah, Hukmdev Narayan Yadav, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Dinesh Trivedi and Bhartruhari Mahtab. 
Speaking on the occasion, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu called upon the opposition to be responsible, for the government to become "more responsive". -- PTI
20:36   Govt to move bill to nullify SC order on SC/ST Act
The Union Cabinet today approved a bill to restore original provisions of a law on prevention of atrocities against people of scheduled castes and tribes, a move seen as a reach-out by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government to Dalits days ahead of their proposed August 9 nationwide protest with this key demand.
The bill rules out any provision for an anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs, notwithstanding any court order, while it also provides that no preliminary enquiry will be required for registering a criminal case and an arrest under this law would not be subject to any approval.
Dalit groups have been asking the government to overturn a Supreme Court ruling of March 20, saying it had "diluted" and rendered "toothless" the law against atrocities faced by the weakest sections of the society by putting additional safeguards against arrest of the accused. 
Their nationwide protest on April 20 had turned violent in several states, leaving at least 12 dead, while call has been given for another 'Bharat Bandh' on August 19 with several opposition parties also offering their support this time.
With several Dalit leaders from within the BJP and some of the NDA allies also voicing their support for necessary steps to 'overturn' the apex court ruling, the government now hopes to table the bill in Parliament during the ongoing session itself for passage.
Terming the bill "historic", union minister and BJP ally Ram Vilas Paswan told reporters that a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill and it is likely to be tabled in Parliament during the ongoing session.
The bill says a preliminary enquiry will not be required for registration of a criminal case (FIR) under this law and any arrest if necessary will not be subject to any approval. 
It also rules our any provision for anticipatory bail for the accused "notwithstanding any judgement or order of any court," he said.
The Supreme Court in an order on March 20 had introduced safeguards like prior enquiry and provision for anticipatory bail for accused, sparking massive protests from Dalit groups who said it made the law "toothless".
The BJP hopes that the government's decision will defuse the anger among Dalits and tribals, while boosting its efforts to win over a major section of them as it gears up for assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Rajsthan, Chhattisgarh later this year and then the Lok Sabha election next year, leaders said. -- PTI
19:43   Cong working committee meet on Aug 4
The Congress is likely to evolve its strategy on key issues of the National Register of Citizens and the Rafale deal at a meeting of the party's working committee on August 4.
Sources said Congress president Rahul Gandhi has called the meeting of the CWC, the party's highest decision-making body.  
Top party leaders will discuss and evolve a strategy on current political and economic situation, especially the issue of Assam's National Register of Citizens and the controversial Rafale deal, they said.
According to sources, the meeting is likely to take a call on the party's strategy moving forward on the contentious NRC issue. -- PTI  
Renowned industrialists Kumar Mangalam Birla and Y C Deveshwar appointed non-official independent directors in Air India: Govt.
19:23   I'm not an opportunist: Kamal Haasan on political debut
His mission is to keep India as diverse as it is now, says screen idol and politician Kamal Haasan who asserts he has arrived in politics at an opportune time but it does not make him an opportunist.
Haasan, who launched his political party Makkal Needhi Maiam in February this year, does not see politics as the next step in his journey but as something "essential" to his existence.
It is also something that he has been contemplating since 2000, while making the film Hey Ram, said Haasan, careful not to disclose his party's affiliations.
The actor-politician has met Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal. Asked if he is up for an alliance with them, he answers with a cryptic "anything is possible".
"We have to find what is right for Tamil Nadu and who can do the best for Tamil Nadu as it stands. Who has ruined the state and who should go and to do that who can help me. These are very simple questions. If I honestly answer that, I will know my alliances," Haasan told PTI in an interview.
Questioned about rumours that he may be siding with the BJP, directly or indirectly, he said his attitude and philosophy is very clear.
"I am not an opportunist. Though I came at an opportune moment, that doesn't make me an opportunist. I have a mission and I will deliver to the best of my capabilities. My mission is to keep India as diverse as it is."
Haasan and Rajinikanth, two of the biggest stars in southern cinema, have entered politics at a time there is a vacuum in Tamil Nadu with the death of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa and DMK's leader M Karunanidhi's ill health.
Rajinikanth is yet to announce a party though he has made it clear that he will play an active role in  politics.

The latest in a long line of actors from Tamil Nadu to move from cinema to politics, Haasan said this is the only way for him to challenge the "status quo" and "existing stagnation" in the state.
"I used to think I am a kalakar (artiste). Why should I indulge in these things... It's about your personal duty towards civic society," he said.
"I wanted to challenge the status quo, challenge the existing stagnation and corruption," added the 63-year-old who is currently promoting the sequel to his 2003 film Vishwaroop.
18:55   Shahbaz Sharif summoned by Pak anti-graft body: Report
Pakistan's anti-corruption body has summoned the beleaguered chief of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party and former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif to appear before it on August 20 in a housing scandal case, according to a media report today.
Shehbaz, the younger brother of jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, is already under pressure after his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party failed to return to power in Islamabad and looks certain to yield to Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in the crucial Punjab provinicial assembly.
The National Accountability Bureau has summoned PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif in relation to the Ashiana housing scandal, Geo News reported. 
He has been ordered to appear before the accountability bureau on August 20 for the hearing of Ashiana housing scandal as well as the power company case.
Shehbaz, 66, has already appeared before the NAB in the case while former Lahore Development Authority chairman Ahad Cheema is on judicial remand after having been arrested over the case, the report said. 
Last month the accountability bureau arrested senior bureaucrat Fawad Hassan Fawad in various corruption cases, including the Ashiana Iqbal Housing Scheme case.
Quoting sources, the report said that Shehbaz was summoned by the NAB after revelations made by Fawad during interrogation. 
According to NAB officials, Fawad wrongfully awarded the Rs 14 billion Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing Scheme's contract to 'favourites', illegally ordered the shifting of nine Compressed Natural Gas stations and also worked in a private bank from 2005 to 2006 without official permission.
Fawad has served as former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's principal secretary.
Sharif was sentenced by a NAB court to 10 years in jail in a corruption case over the family's ownership of four luxury flats in London. 
Fawad was removed from the post of principal secretary on June 1 this year and was appointed director general of Civil Services Academy, Lahore.
The accused bureaucrat was also being probed by the NAB for possession of assets beyond known sources of income, the report said. -- PTI 
18:28   HC seeks Zinta's response on Wadia's plea to quash molestation case
The Bombay high court today asked actor Preity Zinta to respond to a petition filed by industrialist Ness Wadia seeking to quash a 2014 case lodged against him by the actor for allegedly outraging her modesty.
Wadia's counsel told the court they wanted to "bury the hatchet". 
"We (Wadia) want to bury the hatchet. The complainant is married now and has moved on with her life. The two (Wadia and Zinta) even sit at the same table during the IPL players' auction now," Wadia's lawyer Abaad Ponda told the court. 
A division bench of Justices R M Savant and Revati Mohite-Dere sought the complainant's (Zinta) response to the petition and posted it for hearing on August 20.
The alleged incident had taken place at the Wankhede Stadium on May 30, 2014 during an Indian Premier League match. Zinta and Wadia are co-owners of the Kings XI Punjab IPL team.
According to the complaint, Wadia was abusing the team staff over ticket distribution when Zinta asked him to calm down as their team was winning. He, however, abused and molested her by grabbing her arm, the actor had alleged.
Zinta had lodged an FIR against Wadia on June 13, 2014 under IPC sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 504 (intentional insult), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (using word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman).
In February this year, police had filed a charge sheet in the case against Wadia. 
Later, the industrialist approached the high court seeking to quash the case.
In his petition, Wadia claimed the case arose out of "personal vengeance" and that the incident was merely a "misunderstanding". -- PTI 
18:19   Mamata meets Gandhis, says not vying for PM post
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee today said she was not vying for the post of prime minister and the candidate for the top post would be chosen collectively by all opposition parties.  
Banerjee, who has been trying to consolidate opposition unity, spent the second day of her Delhi visit meeting leaders of various parties including the Congress, the Telegu Desam Party, the YSR Congress, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Samajwadi Party and the Janata Dal-Secular and invited them to her rally on January 19 in Kolkata. 

The West Bengal chief minister met United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi and her son and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi at 10 Janpath. 

 Later she said, "We discussed current politics and the possibility of all of us contesting elections together in future. We also discussed the NRCAssam issue."
Surprisingly, Banerjee also met veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader L K Advani at his chamber stating that her relations with him go back many years. 

Sanjay Raut of Shiv Sena, an NDA constituent, also came to meet Banerjee at the TMC office and she invited Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to the January 19 rally.
The TMC chief said that the first priority is to bring all opposition parties together to take on the BJP in the coming Lok Sabha elections. 
"I am not for any post. I am interested in seeing that all parties should work together. All political parties will sit together and decide," she told reporters wile replying to queries on the issue.
The TMC office in Parliament was abuzz after Banerjee arrived there today and opposition leaders made a beeline to meet her.
She spoke to Congress leader Gulam Nabi Azad and Ahmed Patel. Banerjee also met Advani at his chamber."I went to meet him and enquired about his health," she told reporters.
Suspended BJP member of parliament Kirti Azad hailed her as a great leader and said that her efforts to consolidate all opposition parties are "commendable".
18:02   No border dispute with Myanmar: Govt
The government today said there was no border dispute between India and Myanmar and the demarcation of nine pillars was being worked out in a complete understanding with the neighbouring country.
Rejecting reports about border dispute and destroying of pillars in the Manipur region as false, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said a high-level central team has already visited the spot and reported that there is no dispute on the issue.
Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, he said the Indo-Myanmar boundary was 1,472 km long, out of which 171 km is to be demarcated through a boundary mechanism which both the countries have established.
He said there were some nine border pillars which are to be identified and put on the ground.
"We don't have a border dispute, we have an agreement. We have a complete understanding. It is only the demarcation of the pillars, total nine in numbers, that is to be settled," he told the members.
Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu also had a word of caution on the issue, saying "This is something connected with our relations with the neighbour also, please keep that in mind."
Rijiju termed the issue as "very sensitive" as it concerned neighbouring countries and said some news reports have created an undesirable situation in the state of Manipur.
"The report which we have carefully seen and the official team from the home ministry along with officials from the external affairs minister as well as Survey General of India had visited the spot and found that the report that created tension was false.
"That is why I want to assure the members that on Border pillar 81 and border pillar 82, there are some issues regarding the subsidiary pillars, but the primary pillars, which our joint official team visited, was found to be okay and there is no problem on ground as such," he said.
In his written reply, he said the Indo-Myanmar boundary has been settled as per the provision of the India-Myanmar Boundary agreement, 1967, but the ground demarcation work, including that of nine unsettled boundary pillars along the border in the Manipur sector, remains to be completed. -- PTI
17:37   Tata Motors becomes Indian wrestling's principal sponsor
In a first for Indian wrestling, Tata Motors today announced an all-encompassing three-year strategic partnership with the Wrestling Federation of India as "Principal Sponsor" to encourage and promote the sport.   

The deal was announced at a media conference today in the presence of Olympic medallists Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt and Sakshi Malik.   

"This is one of the biggest non-cricket associations in the country," said Tata Motors' Commercial Vehicle Business Unit's President, Girish Wagh.   

Welcoming the partnership, WFI president Brijbhushan Sharan Singh said that it was the first time that the ancient sport was being propped up in this manner.   

"This the first time anyone is supporting wrestling as a body. Our relationship will last more than three years, I promise," he said.   

Also present at the function were three other Asian Games-bound wrestlers, Bajrang Punia, Sandeeo Tomar and Pooja Dhanda, along with London Olympian Geeta Phogat and Satyawart Kadian. 

 As part of the partnership, Tata Motors will support top performing 50 men and women wrestlers across categories in both domestic and international circuit.
17:27   27-year-old man who worked with Mika Singh arrested or stealing cash, valuables from singer
A 27-year-old man was arrested in New Delhi for allegedly stealing valuables and cash from singer Mika Singh's residence in Mumbai, police said today.
During interrogation, the man, identified as Ankit Vasan, revealed that he had been working with the singer as an editor for 15 years and had been clandestinely stealing cash and valuables, they said.
On July 29, after being noticed by the singer, the accused fled from the studio and hid himself in Mumbai for two days, police said.
On July 31, he landed in Delhi and was arrested from Vikaspuri, they said.
Police have recovered Rs 50,000, and Rs 5 lakh that had been deposited in three bank accounts, a hard disk containing music software and keys of the studio from the accused, Vijay Kumar, Deputy Commissioner of Police (West), said. -- PTI

17:15   Kolkata police give permission for Amit Shah rally on Aug 11
The Kolkata police today granted permission for BJP president Amit Shah's proposed rally on August 11.   

The development came hours after the BJP Yuva Morcha alleged that they are yet to receive any communication from the Kolkata police regarding permission for Shah's rally.   

The ruling Trinamool Congress took a swipe at the BJP and Shah, claiming that they had become nervous and wished them "happy journey to the land of peace and harmony".   

"Some unwarranted speculation in social media about denial of permission to a political party on 11 August has come to our notice. It is to clarify that on request permission for meeting has already been granted," the Kolkata police said in a tweet.   

State BJP Yuva Morcha chief Debjit Sarkar said he has been informed by the police that the permission has been given to hold the rally at Mayo Road in the heart of the city.   

Sarkar had earlier told PTI that the organisation has submitted a formal application to the police, seeking permission for Shah's rally.   

The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress and the BJP have been locked in a bitter war of words amid attempts by the saffron party to make inroads in the TMC stronghold.   

The latest flashpoint has been the issues of National Register of Citizens in Assam and illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. 

Shah is aiming to win 22 of Bengal's 42 Lok Sabha seats in the next elections. It had won two in 2014. The TMC had bagged 34.   

"BJP & its national President have become nervous, tense. Their programme for Aug 3 in Kolkata was promptly granted permission. For their Aug 11 program, they only just sent a letter & permission granted" (sic), TMC chief national spokesperson Derek O'Brien said in a statement.   
"Happy journey to the land of peace and harmony #Bangla Love Your Neighbour", he said in a tweet.
16:51   No-show by Mekhail, Sheena Bora murder trial adjourned to Aug 10
Prosecution Witness No 15 Mekhail Bora, Accused No 1 Indrani Mukerjea's son, did not show up in court Wednesday. He said he didn't have the means to be at the court. Judge suggested he take a train. Next date of hearing: August 10.

-- Vaihayasi Pande Daniel in Mumbai / Illustration: Dominic Xavier/
And while on Karunanidhi, actor Vijay met DMK leader MK Stalin at Kauvery hospital where former Tamil Nadu CM M Karunanidhi is undergoing treatment.
16:14   'Shocked' by Karuna's illness, 21 cadres die, says DMK
The DMK today said 21 of its party workers have died unable to bear the "shock" of the illness and hospitalisation of party chief M Karunanidhi. The party also appealed to the cadres not to take any extreme step in view of the 94-year-old former chief minister's health.

"I am deeply depressed to learn that 21 party workers have died unable to bear the shock of party president Kalaignar's illness (and hospitalisation)," DMK Working President M K Stalin said.

As Karunanidhi continues to be under intensive care for the fifth consecutive day today at the Kauvery Hospital here, the party top leader said he was grieved by such deaths and conveyed his condolences to the next of the kin of the affected families. The identity of the deceased has, however, not been disclosed by him.

Quoting a statement from the hospital, Stalin said health condition of the party patriarch was "normalising," and a team of doctors was constantly monitoring him. "It is a good news and giving us confidence," he said, adding that the emotional cries (Thalaiva Va / 'Leader Come') of cadres urging their leader to make a come back did not go in vain.

Stalin, who is also Karunanidhi's son and his successor in the DMK, asked cadres to realise that he cannot bear the loss of even a single party worker's life. The principle of "duty, dignity and discipline should be followed making Anna (party founder) and Kalaignar proud," he said. "No one should take any extreme step that may result in loss of their lives."

Image: DMK supporters outside Kauvery Hospital in Chennai
16:04   Will go to Kolkata, police can arrest me: Amit Shah dares Mamata
BJP president Amit Shah has said he will go to Kolkata for a rally on August 11. The BJP Yuva Morcha today said they are yet to receive any communication from the Kolkata Police regarding permission for the proposed rally.

Shah said he will go to Kolkata anyway, and dared the police to arrest him.

Yuva Morcha state president Debjit Sarkar told PTI that they have submitted a formal application to police, seeking permission for Shah's rally. He said they will move court if police deny permission.

"We submitted an application to police yesterday, seeking permission for the rally. We have mentioned five venues in Kolkata for the meeting, but police are yet to give us permission. We need time to prepare for the rally," he said. Police's reaction was not available immediately.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has said Shah was welcome to come to Bengal.
15:38   Mamata's day in Delhi: Meetings with Advani, Sonia, Rahul, Kejriwal
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee is on a meet and greet in Parliament today.

First up, was BJP senior leader LK Advani. She said she met Adavni and asked about his health.

She also bumped into SP leader Jaya Bachchan and shared a Kodak moment. It is not known whether the two firebrand politicians spoke in Bengali.

Mamata Banerjee said she will also meet Sonia Gandhi and Rahul, followed by Deve Gowda and Arvind Kejriwal.

She also met Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut.

Speaking on the Assam NRC, Mamata said Assam is the border of Bengal. "The NRC will affect us also. It is our neighbour, will we not raise our voice if our neighbor is unhappy?"

Speaking to NDTV Mamata said she had no problems with BJP president Amit Shah coming to West Bengal. "Let him come 365 days, we have no problem," she said in her characteristic manner.

She warned that the BJP's actions will lead to a bloodbath.

When asked to comment on Rahul GAndhi's comment that she could be the PM face for the 2019 polls, Mamata Banerjee did not dismiss it outright, but said prosaically, "let us first defeat the BJP."

15:05   I see you, sister
Meanwhile, in Parliament, firebrand politicians -- West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC Chief Mamata Banerjee and Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan meet.
RBI pegs GDP growth at 7.5-7.6 per cent for April-September period; FY'19 growth retained at 7.4. RBI pegs retail inflation at 4.8 per cent for the second half of the current fiscal.
14:42   RBI hikes repo rate to 6.5%
Breaking: RBI Governor Urjit Patel-led Monetary Policy Committee announced a hike of 25 basis points in the repo rate to 6.5 per cent in its monetary policy statement on Wednesday. This is the third bi-monthly statement by the central bank for financial year 2018-19. Repo rate is the key rate at which the RBI lends short-term funds to commercial banks.

The reverse repo rate stands adjusted to 6.25% and marginal standing facility rate & Bank Rate to 6.75%.

In its last policy review, the RBI had announced a 25-basis-point hike in the repo rate while maintaining its policy stance at 'neutral'. The June rate hike marked the first in more than four years. Since then, inflation has moved higher, further up from the RBI's target of 4 per cent over the medium term.

14:30   It's 1984 again, TMC's Orwellian response to Assam list
The opposition Congress and Trinamool Congress today attacked the government in the Lok Sabha over the issue of Assam's National Register of Citizens, accusing it of attempting to polarise people and forcing them out of their land.

Arpita Ghosh of the TMC referred to George Orwell's novel "1984" to snipe at the government, accusing it of carrying out a surveillance of citizens through Aadhaar and now using the NRC to force people out of their lands.

"It should be stopped," she said. "1984" is a dystopian novel set in the year 1984 when most of the world population has become victim of war and government surveillance.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress said the NRC has created an atmosphere of uncertainty. He said different kind of statements are being made on the NRC issue.

While BJP president Amit Shah said the government had the courage to execute the NRC, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi claimed the NRC was his baby, Chowdhury pointed out. "Attempts to polarise people is being made," he said.  -- PTI
14:02   A house for Mr Khan: Imran likely to move into MInisters' Enclave
Pakistan Prime Minister-in-waiting Imran Khan is expected to move into the Ministers' Enclave after authorities revealed the plan to declare a house for Khan in the Enclave, reported the Dawn.

Earlier in his speech, Khan had said that he would not shift to the official Prime Minister's House, and would decide about his official residence after consulting his partymen.

Imran Khan was extended VVIP protocol and security by the capital police and the district administration shortly after his victory in the recently-concluded Pakistan general elections. Security was deployed around Khan and at his residence in Banigala. Soon after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf emerged victorious in the polls, senior police officers including Deputy Inspector General of Police Waqar Ahmed Chohan, visited Khan's Banigala residence.

The police officials said even though there was no standard procedure for the Prime Miniter-in-waiting, necessary measures were still taken since it is a foregone conclusion now that Imran Khan would be the country's prime minister.

Forces of the Islamabad traffic police were also deployed around his residence in Banigala and the road leading to it with Rangers were also put on duty on the nearby mountains. -- ANI
13:53   Agra-Lucknow Expressway caves in
Car carrying four passengers falls after service road on the Agra-Lucknow Expressway caves in. Details awaited.
13:32   'India is not a dharamshala for Bangladeshi refugees'
"If the Bharatiya Janata Party is voted to power in Bengal, then we will implement the National Register of Citizens in the state too. We will send back the illegal immigrants to Bangladesh. Tough days are ahead, we will not tolerate any illegal immigrants in Bengal."

With these statements, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh kickstarted a furore, with the Congress and Communist Party of India-Marxist leaders alleging that his statements reflected the "anti-Bengali mindset" of his party, which it alleged was trying to 'import Hindi heartland culture' in Bengal.

Speaking to's Syed Firdaus Ashraf, Ghosh, below, explains how the presence of 10 million Bangladeshis has made life hell for the people of Bengal because of their illegal activities -- be it terrorism or minting fake currency. Read more
13:29   Social media platforms should weed out fake news themselves: Prasad
Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today said social media platforms should themselves weed out circulation of fake news and that the government will not tolerate abuse of data by companies for influencing elections in India.

He said the government has ordered a CBI investigation into alleged misuse of data of Indian Facebook users by British political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica.

"Any foreign entity, Facebook or Cambridge Analytica, cannot abuse the data of Indians to influence elections of India. India's elections are very transparent, sanctified," Prasad in the Lok Sabha during Question Hour.

The government has told social media platforms that fake news or abusive news cannot be circulated and re-circulated to "create crimes" in India, Prasad said, adding, "that will not be acceptable".

"Therefore the origin of those news should also be technologically answered. I have conveyed to them in very clear observation that it does not need rocket science to identify lakhs of messages being circulated on a particular day, in a particular area of a particular state.You must have technological solutions," Prasad said.

The minister's comments come within days of rumours on social media platform Whatsapp triggering lynching incidents in the country. Prasad said while Facebook has apologised to the Government of India and said data was pilfered by other agencies, Cambridge Analytica gave just one reply and did not follow up the other reply. "Therefore, because of these diversions and since the reply was not adequately convincing, I have referred the matter to the CBI," Prasad said. The Minister said Facebook in its response has said that about 5.62 lakh Indians may have been potentially affected in the Cambridge Analytica case. -- PTI
13:15   Fresh batch of 670 pilgrims leaves for Amarnath
A fresh batch of 670 pilgrims left for Amarnath today.  The 60-day yatra, which commenced from the twin routes of Pahalgam in Anantnag district and Baltal in Ganderbal district on June 28, has crossed the 2 lakh mark so far.

However, the number of pilgrims undertaking the yatra has marked a sharp dip over the past week due to early melting of the naturally formed ice-Shivling at the sanctum sanctorum. 

The pilgrims, which included 410 males, 213 women and 47 sadhus, left in a fleet of 17 vehicles under tight security arrangements early morning today, the officials said, adding they are expected to reach their destination later in the day.

While 352 pilgrims, including 137 women, have opted the shorter 12-km Baltal route, 318 others, including 76 women and 47 Sadhus, are undertaking the yatra from the traditional 36-km Pahalgam route, he said. The yatra is scheduled to conclude on August 26 coinciding with 'Raksha Bandhan' festival. -- PTI
13:00   SC refuses to stay 'Fanney Khan' release
The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay the release of upcoming Bollywood film Fanney Khan.

Film producer Vashu Bhagnani had moved to the apex court against the film's release over the movie's distribution rights.

The film, therefore, will hit the big screens on its scheduled release date, ie, August 3.

Fanney Khan will see Anil Kapoor playing the role of an orchestra singer, who worships Mohammed Rafi and Shammi Kapoor as his gods and sings their songs.

The one of its kind musical comedy revolves around a father, played by Anil Kapoor, who wishes to fulfill his daughter's dream of becoming a singer.

Helmed by Atul Manjrekar, the film also stars Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Rajkummar Rao.
12:57   Dirty trains on WR? Now you can WhatsApp your complaint
Passengers can now click pictures of filth and dirt at railway stations and send it across to authorities on mobile messaging platform WhatsApp, as part of Western Railway's cleanliness drive.   

Authorities are hopeful that this will ensure clean railway stations and toilets, a senior WR official said.   

A dedicated staff has been deputed round-the-clock to handle such complaints, he said.   

Under the initiative, the Western Railway has introduced a dedicated WhatsApp number -- 9004499733 -- on which passengers can send pictures and report about the unclean condition of the Mumbai suburban stations, the official said.   

"Efforts will be made to immediately attend to the area concerned and address the grievance. This will be an additional monitoring mechanism in addition to inspections already being carried out by station masters and other officers," he said.   

WR has also introduced such WhatsApp numbers in its five divisions of Vadodara (9724091426), Ahmedabad (9724093981), Bhavnagar (9724097967), Rajkot (9724094983) and Ratlam (9752492970).
12:54   14 more killed in UP rains, toll goes up to 106
Fourteen people were killed and seven others injured in rain-related incidents in different parts of Uttar Pradesh in the last 24 hours, raising the death toll to 106 since the last week, official sources said today. 

 According to reports, two people were killed each in Farukhabad and Bahraich while one each in Kheri, Rae Bareli, Lucknow, Kanpur Dehat, Barabanki, Sitpaur and Sultanpur. 

 "The toll since the last week in such incidents has reached 106 while the total number of those injured is over 100," they said. 

Over 80 cattle lost their lives and over 600 houses were damaged in rain-related incidents. 

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed senior officials of all the districts to alert people and asked them to undertake extensive tours of the affected areas and identify dilapidated buildings and get them vacated, a government spokesperson said here. 

 He also directed officials to provide immediate financial and medical assistance to people severely affected by rains.
12:46   Those excluded from NRC may vote if on electoral roll
NDTV quotes top election officer as saying that those not included in the National Register of Citizens may vote if they've their names on the electoral rolls. 
12:18   HC extends interim protection from arrest to Chidambaram
The Delhi high court today extended till September 28 the interim protection from arrest granted to senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on his pleas seeking anticipatory bail in the INX Media case.

The matter was mentioned before Justice A K Pathak, who asked the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to file a reply within four weeks

During the hearing, the Central Bureau of Investigation told the court that it has already filed its reply in the case.

Senior advocates Dayan Krishnan, Pramod Kumar Dubey, Ramesh Gupta and Mohit Mathur appeared for Chidambaram. The matter will be heard on September 28.

The court had on May 31 granted interim protection from arrest to the former Union minister and had directed the ED not to take any coercive step against him in the INX Media money laundering case till today.      

The high court had also extended the interim protection against arrest granted to Chidambaram in the CBI case.    -- PTI
12:02   Jeff Bezos' parents could make $30bn from 1995 Amazon investment
The parents of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos could have made the most successful investment of all time as $250,000 put into the company 25 years ago is now estimated to be worth almost $30bn (22.8bn).

Read the report here.
12:00   Huawei beats Apple to become world's No 2 smartphone vendor
Huawei's strong performance is partly due to strong sales of its latest flagship model, the P20, and a stellar contribution from its budget brand Honor. Read the report here.
11:50   Mamata will lose support in Bengal: UP Dy CM
While on the NRC, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma has launched a scathing attack on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for criticising Assam's National Register of Citizens final draft.

Sharma called on Banerjee not to bring caste or religion into the matter as it means snatching away the rights of Indian Muslims, Hindus as well as Christians. He further said that the West Bengal Chief Minister is soon going to lose and support in Bengal, while the lotus will bloom in the state.

"Modiji is working for 125 crore people with "Sabka saath sabka vikas". But we are working for Indians. If someone starts living here illegally might be from Bengal, Assam or Uttar Pradesh but he does not have the right to snatch rights of our Hindus and Muslims," Sharma added.

Ripun Bora, Congress Chief, Assam also crticised on Mamata's civil war remark. He said being the Chief Minister, she should not provoke for a civil war. "We condemn this statement. It will have no impact on Assam as it is absolutely peaceful there," he said. 

11:31   When Naidu spoke to Azad about parliament decorum
Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday had conveyed his unhappiness to the Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad on the House disruption after members from all parties agreed to discuss the National Register of Citizens of Assam.

After the House was adjourned for the day, Naidu called the senior Congress leader to his chamber to convey his unhappiness over the way discussion on NRC in Assam was derailed. The vice president, they said, was particularly concerned over the way members had rushed to the well of the house.
11:27   Uproar in RS after Amit Shah is asked to conclude NRC statement
A repeat of what happened in the Rajya Sabha yesterday.

Once again, the opposition led by the Congress has blocked the remainder of BJP MP Amit Shah's speech from yesterday on the NRC.

Chairperson Venkaiah Naidu opened the day saying he was very upset yesterday when some members ran 'menacingly' towards the well of the house. "I hope it will not be repeated. I don't want to name anybody, but the house should function smoothly." He also reminded the members that the chairperson has the right to adjourn the house.

He then invited Shah to conclude his speech which had been disrupted yesterday.

Congress MP Anand Sharma said if Shah speaks the Congress will stage a walkout. 

The House has now been adjourned till noon after continued ruckus.

Yesterday, the BJP President hit out at the erstwhile UPA governments charging the Congress with not having the courage to identify illegal migrants in Assam, an exercise which was to be conducted as part of the accord signed by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1985.

He sought to know whether the Congress wanted to protect the illegal Bangladeshis in the eastern state.

Participating in a discussion on the issue of National Register of Citizens in Assam in the Rajya Sabha, Shah said the exercise was conducted under the supervision of the Supreme Court.
11:09   Fresh Maratha quota stir in Maharashtra today, govt offers sops
The Maharashtra government has decided to stand guarantor for loans to be disbursed to youth from the Maratha community under a scheme to extend financial assistance to backward communities.

This comes even as protesters have blocked the Pune-Solapur highway.

The decision was taken at the cabinet sub-committee chaired by Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil yesterday.

The committee has been set up to take steps for the welfare of the Maratha community, which has been agitating over its demand for reservation in government jobs and education. The panel had received complaints that banks were not approving loans of people from the community and asking for counter-guarantee.

Over 10,000 applications are pending for approval, and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had earlier given an assurance that he will take up the issue with the State Level Bankers' Committee.

During the meeting yesterday, the cabinet sub-committee decided that the government would stand guarantor for loans to be given to the Maratha youth under a scheme of the state-run Annabhau Sathe Financial Development Corporation, said an official release issued late last night.

The scheme aims to improve the financial condition of backward communities by offering assistance for self-employment and other business ventures.

The M.Phil and Ph.D research students from the community will also be given fellowships by the Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaja Research, Training and Human Development Institute, set up by the government in Pune.

The institute's mandate is to study social, financial and educational issues faced by Marathas, Kunbis and farmers in the state. Patil said the government has decided to pay half of the fees of students including Marathas, whose family income is less than Rs 8 lakh per anum, for 608 professional courses. Action would be taken against colleges which do not admit students by taking 50 per cent fees (as part of the fee-waiver scheme), he said.

File pic
10:41   Cow slaughter bigger crime than terrorism: BJP MLA
More inanities from the ruling party. BJP leader Gyan Dev Ahuja has said that cow slaughtering is a bigger crime than terrorism. The BJP MLA from Rajasthan also expressed his ire over several incidents of mob lynching and cow vigilantism and said "sentiments of crores of Hindus get hurt, when a cow is killed."

"Cow slaughtering is a bigger crime than terrorism. Terrorists kill two to three people, but when a cow is killed, sentiments of crores of Hindus get hurt," Ahuja said.

The BJP MLA's statement comes on the backdrop of recent mob lynching incident in Rajasthan's Alwar district where a Muslim Man named Rakbar Khan was beaten to death on the suspicion of cow smuggling.

Earlier, speaking in the Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged all the state governments to take stringent action against those involved in mob lynching incidents and punish them to curb the menace prevailing in the country at the earliest.

The incidents of mob lynching have been on a rise in the country. As per data compiled by the Ministry of Home Affairs, 45 persons were killed in 40 cases of mob lynching across nine states between 2014 and 3 March, 2018. The Supreme Court on July 17 asked the Centre to enact a law to deal with incidents of lynching and take action on mob violence.  -- ANI
10:29   Why Imran bowled with venom against India
During the 1982 Indian cricket tour of Pakistan, Imran Khan often troubled the Indian batsmen with his prodigious reverse swing, which was very pronounced after tea breaks.

A well known Pakistani commentator noted to Imran that he seemed to be bowling with particular venom when playing against India.

According to the commentator, Imran replied that whenever he played against India he did not treat it is as just a game, but thinking of Kashmir, he treated it as a jihad.

This story comes to us from an Indian diplomat then serving in Pakistan.
10:25   Gurugram man live streams suicide on Facebook
After a fight with his wife, a man in Gurugram committed suicide by hanging himself from the ceiling fan in his house and streamed his final moments live on Facebook, police said.

The 28-year-old man, named Amit, was a resident of Haily Mandi near Pataudi. "Amit had a fight with his wife on Monday. Later in the day Preeti left her in-laws' house. Amit got unhappy with this and later hanged himself while doing a live streaming of the suicide on Facebook," said Subhash Boken, PRO, Gurugram Police.

"Amit was also depressed and was being treated at Pandit Bhagwat Dayal Sharma Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Rohtak for the last few months. His family members on Tuesday cremated the body without informing the police. We are currently investigating the case," he added.
-- ANI
10:16   'Student, theatre-lover, future star': Suhana Khan's 1st ever mag cover
Filmmaker Karan Johar, who shares a close bond with Shah Rukh Khan and his family, has welcomed Suhana Khan to the spotlight with an endearing message.

Karan's wish comes after King Khan unveiled his 18-year-old's first ever magazine cover.

The 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil' director tweeted, "Have seen her on stage and had my heart bursting with pride!! She is stunning, soulful and a bonafide talent! Welcome to the spotlight my darling! Even in its harshest moments it will envelop you with immense love....and thank you for never calling me UNCLE! Love you."

SRK's daughter Suhana has made her entry into the glamour world by becoming Vogue India's cover star for August issue.

The 'Zero' star took to social media to share the cover, writing, "Holding her in my arms again thanks to @vogueindia . 'What imperfect carriers of love we are..." except when it comes to our children. So sending u all my love & a big hug. Hello Suhana Khan!"

Donning an over-sized dress, Suhana has been styled by Anaita Shroff Adajania for the issue.Her hair and makeup have been done by Yianni Tsapatori and Namrata Soni respectively. -- ANI
And the bigger picture: What 4200 cycles look like.
10:06   Cycle of waste
When the intent is right but there is no action plan on the ground.

In Chhattisgarh, bicycles to be distributed under the Mukhyamantri Shram Shakti Yojana lie without any protection from the elements for two months. Rain and sun has rusted the cycles. The labour Officer says, The government does not have a building to store bicycles. The government has distributed 3600 cycles, but 4200 still remain to be distributed.
09:55   Rupee sheds 5 paise against USD ahead of RBI's monetary policy outcome
The rupee depreciated by 5 paise to 68.59 against the US dollar in early trade today ahead of the Reserve Bank's monetary policy outcome, scheduled later in the day. Dealers attributed the rupee's fall to fresh demand for the US currency, but a higher opening in domestic stocks limited the fall.

Major currencies were mostly weak against the dollar overseas after reports that US President Donald Trump would propose tariffs of 25 per cent, instead of 10 per cent, in an announcement that may come as early as today.

Policy meetings of the US Federal Reserve (today) and Bank of England (tomorrow), are also keeping investors cautious; although the US central bank is expected to keep rates unchanged.

Yesterday, the rupee had gained 13 paise to close at a fresh two-week high of 68.54 against the dollar on expectations that the US Fed is likely to keep rates unchanged.

Meanwhile, the benchmark BSE Sensex rose 58.95 points, or 0.15 per cent, to hit an all-time high of 37,665.53. NSE Nifty too scaled a new peak high of 11,378.95 in early trade today. -- PTI
09:30   BJP workers file police complaint against Didi for 'civil war' remark
A police complaint has been filed against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee by Assam Bharatiya Janata Party for 'inciting hate and tension' among communities in the state, NDTV reported.

The move comes hours after Banerjee warned of a 'civil war and bloodbath' over the recently released final draft of National Register for Citizens that leaves out 40 lakh people from the northeastern state.

The complaint was filed by three workers of the BJP's youth wing in Assam's Dibrugarh. Mamata Banerjee has accused the BJP of trying to divide the country with the draft National Register of Citizens or NRC in Assam, which leaves 40 lakh people facing the prospect of deportation, the report said.
09:12   FB detects 'efforts' to disrupt US politics, with possible links to Russia
Months away from the midterm elections in the United States, Facebook has detected 'sophisticated efforts' on its social media platforms, with possible links to Russia, to disrupt US politics.

According to Fox News, 32 accounts on Facebook and Instagram were removed by the social media giant. The apparently fake accounts were exhibiting 'coordinated' political behaviour.

While stating that the efforts may not be directed at affecting the midterm elections, Facebook said that the timing of the efforts suggested otherwise, adding that the investigations it has launched are in its early stages.

They have also held briefings in the House and the Senate earlier this week.

Facebook confirmed that they discovered links between the deleted accounts and accounts connected to Russia's Internet Research Agency that were removed before and after the 2016 Presidential Elections, thus raising suspicions of Russia's involvement.

The Mark Zuckerberg-founded company was praised by US Senator Mark Warner, who, in a statement to Fox News, said, "Today's disclosure is further evidence that the Kremlin continues to exploit platforms like Facebook to sow division and spread disinformation, and I am glad that Facebook is taking some steps to pinpoint and address this activity."

"I also expect Facebook, along with other platform companies, will continue to identify Russian troll activity and to work with Congress on updating our laws to better protect our democracy in the future," he added.

Meanwhile, Facebook, in a statement, said, "It's clear that whoever set up these accounts went to much greater lengths to obscure their true identities than the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) has in the past. We believe this could be partly due to changes we've made over the last year to make this kind of abuse much harder."

The earliest of the accounts were created in March 2017, with one of the pages having garnered over 290,000 followers.

"Aztlan Warriors," ''Black Elevation," ''Mindful Being," and "Resisters" were some of the most popular pages on Facebook.  -- ANI
08:45   Maratha quota stir: Fresh protests against govt in Mumbai today
Maratha community members will hold a protest in Mumbai on Wednesday against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government's 'failure' to withdraw criminal cases against the protesters.

Maratha community members will hold a jail bharo protest in Mumbai, Sakal Maratha Morcha leader Praveen Patil said.

"The state government, despite its assurance of withdrawing criminal charges of vandalism and damaging public property against some protesters, has not taken any action and that is why we are holding the protest Mumbai tomorrow," Patil said.

He also sought an apology from Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil and BJP MLA Ram Kadam for 'defaming' Maratha quota agitation and its leaders.

The politically influential Maratha community, constituting around 30 per cent of the state's population, has been agitating to press its demand for reservation in jobs and education.

The community had earlier taken out silent marches across the state to highlight their demands, prominently for reservation.

However, their latest round of agitation has taken a violent turn.

Protesters indulged in violence and arson at separate places in Maharashtra on Monday.

Four police officials were injured in stone pelting, and around 70 vehicles, including state-run buses and police vans, were damaged or torched during the violence in Chakan near Pune on Monday.

Amid the continuing agitation, the opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party had approached state Governor Vidyasagar Rao, requesting him to direct the Devendra Fadnavis government to announce a decision on the reservation issue immediately.

Maratha outfits have announced that a mega rally will be held in Mumbai on August 9 in support of their quota demand.   -- PTI
08:31   Infant dies after facing health issues on board Patna-bound IndiGo flight
A four-month-old boy died on Tuesday evening after facing health issues on board a Patna-bound Indigo flight, which was forced to make an emergency landing at the Rajiv Gandhi Hyderabad International Airport in Hyderabad, police said.

According to the Circle Inspector, RGI Airport Police Station, the Indigo flight was flying from Andhra Pradesh's Nellore district to Patna and was forced to make an emergency landing at the airport at around 8 pm, after some health issue of the infant raised on board.

Immediately after landing, the four-month-old boy was rushed to a private hospital, where the doctors declared him 'brought dead'.

The body was later shifted to a government hospital for post-mortem.

A case has been registered under Section 174 of The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and further investigation is on.  -- ANI

Image only for representation.
08:12   Didi meets Rajnath to discuss amendments in NRC bill
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and discussed about bringing possible amendments to the National Register of Citizens bill.

Mamata said that Singh, in the meeting, assured her that the people who have been left out from the Assam NRC final draft will not be harassed.

"I asked him to amend the NRC Bill or bring a new bill. He has assured me they (government) will not harass people. I also spoke to him about reports of NRC being implemented in Bengal," she said after meeting Singh.

Banerjee further said that there will be 'civil war and bloodbath' if the issue of the Assam citizen's list is not solved.   -- ANI
00:04   21 TN fishermen stranded in Iran released, will be repatriated: Swaraj
Twenty-one Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu, who were stranded in Iran, have been released and will be repatriated soon, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said tonight.
They will be repatriated to Chennai in batches from August 3, she said.
"I am happy to inform that 21 Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu who were stranded at Nakhitaghi (Iran) have been released with the efforts of Indian Embassy in Iran and our Consulate at Bandar Abbas," Swaraj tweeted.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami had last month urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to direct the Indian Embassy in Iran to take necessary steps for bringing back the 21 fishermen. 
The fishermen were engaged in fishing in three boats belonging to their Iranian employers for more than six months, Palaniswami had said. 
The fishermen lost hope of receiving a fair remuneration from their employers and requested them to facilitate their return to India which was also refused, he had said. -- PTI