Mon, 06 August 2018
Mehbooba: Fiddling with Art 35A violates basic structure of Constitution

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23:37   China successfully tests first hypersonic aircraft that can carry nukes
China today announced that it has successfully tested its first hypersonic aircraft which could carry nuclear warheads and penetrate any current generation anti-missile defence systems, seen as a breakthrough in developing cutting-edge weapons.

The Xingkong-2 or Starry Sky-2, was launched in a target range located in Northwest China on Friday last, the state-run China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA) said in a statement.

The United States and Russia have been carrying out similar experiments. Launched by a multi-stage rocket, China's waverider was released in the air after about 10 minutes.

It flew independently, made large-angle turning maneuvers, and landed in the targeted area as planned, the statement said.

The flight vehicle reached 30 km in altitude at Mach 5.5-6, the statement quoted by the official media today said.

The hypersonic aircraft was designed by the CAAA in collaboration with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

Waverider is a flight vehicle that flies in the atmosphere and uses shockwaves generated by its own hypersonic flight with the air to glide at high speed, Song Zhongping, a military expert told state-run Global Times.

Various parameters were proved and the flight vehicle was fully recovered, which marks the successful launch of Xingkong-2 and the first flight of a Chinese waverider, the statement said.

"Announcing the successful test to the public indicates that China must have already made a technological breakthrough with the weapon," Song said.

The waverider is expected to be tested more frequently in future before being handed over for deployment to the People's Liberation Army, he said.

The current generation of anti-missile defence systems is mainly designed to intercept cruise and ballistic missiles, which are either slower or easier to predict, making them possible to intercept, he said.

But the trajectory of a waverider is relatively unpredictable in the glide and it flies so fast that it poses an extreme challenge to current anti-missile defense systems, Song said.

Any rocket has the potential of launching a waverider, and the waverider can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads, Song said.

"The test showed that China is advancing shoulder-to-shoulder with the US and Russia," Song said.

In addition to its military use, the hypersonic flight vehicle may also see civil use in the future, an unnamed military expert, told the Global Times.

"If the hypersonic technology matures, it may see other applications including industrial transport," the expert said. China whose defence budget this year amounted to $175 billion is investing heavily in defence research and development to catch-up with US, Russia and European Union.  -- PTI
23:08   Mehbooba: Fiddling with Art 35A violates basic structure of Constitution
People's Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti today said the deferment of hearing on the plea challenging the Constitutional validity of the Article 35A in the Supreme Court has given only an interim relief to the state's natives.

She made the remarks observing that the sanctity of the Constitutional provision must be preserved as there has been a consensus on it across the political spectrum.

'Even though the deferment of hearing on Article 35A is not a solution, it has brought an interim relief to the people of J&K. But with uncertainty looming over its status, it has unleashed a wave of anxiety and panic among the people,' Mehbooba said in a series of tweets.

The former chief minister said the Constitution of India is the supreme law of the country and it has conferred special status to J&K.

'Any attempt to fiddle with it will amount to violating its basic structure,' she added.

Mehbooba said Kashmiris are often blamed for alienating themselves from the rest of the country.

"But it is actually the dynamics of the power politics which has made it difficult for the Centre to reconcile to the special status that J&K has held for more than 70 years," she said.

The people of J&K placed great faith in the country by rejecting the two-nation theory, which, she said, was divisive and driven by religion.

"We instead chose a democratic and secular India ... Now it is for the nation to respect that decision in its entirety. Instead of attempting to dilute J&K's special status they should embrace it and treat Kashmiris with dignity," she added.

Mehbooba said one of the main purposes of the PDP-BJP alliance was to bridge the growing gap between the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

"Surprisingly, it is the debate surrounding the danger of scrapping Article 35A that has made the impossible possible.

"Be it Jammu or Srinagar, the mainstream parties or the separatists, there has been a consensus on preserving the sanctity of Article 35A," she claimed.  -- PTI
22:53   Fadnavis meets PM amid Maratha quota agitation
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi and discussed issues related to the state.

Fadnavis said during the meeting, he apprised the PM on various issues related to Maharashtra.

The meeting comes in the backdrop of the ongoing agitation in Maharashtra by the Maratha community for reservation in government jobs and education.

'Called on Hon PM Narendra Modi ji in New Delhi this evening to apprise him on various issues of Maharashtra (sic),' Fadnavis tweeted.

Maratha outfits have announced a fresh round of stir from August 9 in support of their demand.

Last month, their protest had turned violent in different parts of the state, including Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and the Marathwada region.

Fadnavis yesterday said all constitutional obligations required for granting reservation to the Maratha community in the state would be completed by November.  -- PTI
22:19   Trump says open to new nuclear deal with Iran
United States President Donald Trump today reimposed sanctions on Iran, which were lifted as part of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, but said he remains open to forging a new 'more comprehensive' deal with the Islamic Republic.

In May, Trump had announced to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal. The reimposition of sanctions on Iran will have major impact on countries like India, with which it has traditional and historic trade relationship.

"Today, the US is taking action to reimpose nuclear-related sanctions with respect to Iran that were lifted in connection with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action of July 14, 2015 (the JCPOA)," Trump said.

These actions include reimposing sanctions on Iran's automotive sector and on its trade in gold and precious metals, as well as sanctions related to the Iranian rial. These measures will take effect on August 7, 2018.

"All remaining US nuclear-related sanctions will resume effective November 5, 2018. These include sanctions targeting Iran's energy sector, including petroleum-related transactions, as well as transactions by foreign financial institutions with the Central Bank of Iran," said the US President.

At the same time, Trump said he remains open to reaching a 'more comprehensive deal' that addresses the full range of the Iranian regime's malign activities, including its ballistic missile programme and its support for terrorism.

"The US welcomes the partnership of like-minded nations in these efforts," he added.

Reiterating that the US is fully committed to enforcing all of its sanctions, and will work closely with nations conducting business with Iran to ensure complete compliance, Trump warned that individuals or entities that fail to wind down activities with Iran risk severe consequences.

Trump said that many international firms have already announced their intent to leave the Iranian market, and several countries have indicated that they will reduce or end imports of Iranian crude oil.

"We urge all nations to take such steps to make clear that the Iranian regime faces a choice: either change its threatening, destabilising behavior and reintegrate with the global economy, or continue down a path of economic isolation," he said.

Beginning tomorrow, sanctions will be reimposed on purchase or acquisition of US bank notes by Iran; transactions related to the Iranian rial, activities relating to Iran's issuance of sovereign debt and Iran's automotive sector.

Sanctions will also be reimposed on Iran's trade in gold and other precious metals and graphite, aluminum, steel, coal, and software used in industrial processes, the White House said today.

However, the remaining sanctions will be reimposed on November 5, including sanctions on Iran's port operators and energy, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors; Iran's petroleum-related transactions and transactions by foreign financial institutions with the Central Bank of Iran.

The Trump administration will also relist hundreds of individuals, entities, vessels, and aircraft that were previously included on sanctions lists, the White House said.

By doing so, the administration is implementing the decision made by President Trump in May when he ended US participation in the JCPOA.

Describing the JCPOA as 'a horrible, one-sided deal', Trump said that it failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb, and it 'threw a lifeline of cash to a murderous dictatorship that has continued to spread bloodshed, violence, and chaos'.

"Since the deal was reached, Iran's aggression has only increased. The regime has used the windfall of newly accessible funds it received under the JCPOA to build nuclear-capable missiles, fund terrorism, and fuel conflict across the Middle East and beyond," he said.  -- PTI
21:34   Lynch victim's family gets death certificate from municipality Ramgarh
The Ramgarh Municipality has issued the death certificate of Alimuddin Ansari, who was lynched by a mob of cow vigilantes in Ramgarh district last year, an official said today.

"The Ramgarh Municipality handed over the death certificate of Alimuddin to his widow Mariyom Khatoon," said Sub-Divisional Officer, Ramgarh, Anant Kumar.

"The death certificate mentions multiple injuries as the cause of death of Alimuddin," the SDO said. Khatoon had earlier said, "We had approached the RIMS in Ranchi for getting the death certificate but the authorities refused to issue it saying that Alimuddin was brought dead and the RIMS issues death certificates only for patients who died in the hospital.

"The authorities suggested that we should approach the district administration for the death certificate."

On June 29, 2017, a group of people had lynched 45-year-old Alimuddin Ansari in Bazaar Tand locality of Ramgarh town on the suspicion that he was carrying beef in his car.

A fast track court in Ramgarh had convicted 12 persons in this connection and sentenced 11 of them to life imprisonment on March 21 this year.

The case of one accused, who was a minor, was under consideration of the Juvenile Justice Board.

Of the 11 convicts sentenced to life imprisonment, ten have been granted bail by the Jharkhand high court while one accused is behind the bars.

Among the ten convicts out on bail, one convict Sikandar Ram was electrocuted near his home in Ramgarh town in the last week of July this year.  -- PTI
21:08   Party nominates Imran Khan as Pakistan's next PM
Imran Khan, set to open a new innings as Pakistan's next prime minister after his party unanimously named the cricketer-turned-politician to the top post, today vowed to live up to the people's mandate and steer the country out of the current financial crisis.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's parliamentary committee today officially nominated Khan as the party's prime ministerial candidate after it emerged as the single largest in the National Assembly in the July 25 general elections.

Khan, 65, was nominated by PTI's parliamentary committee which met at a hotel in Islamabad.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the party's senior vice president, moved a resolution in favour of Khan's nomination to become the party's parliamentary leader.

The motion was unanimously approved in the meeting attended by all newly-elected members of the National Assembly and the Senate.

In his acceptance speech, the PTI chief recalled the party's history, his own struggles and achievements, including Pakistan's 1992 World Cup victory, and laid out future plans.

"My focus was not to become an MNA or a prime minister," Imran said during his address.

"The issues over which the nation voted us into power need to be addressed on priority," he said.

"The country is in an economic crisis and we need to steer it out of it." "We will approach overseas Pakistanis for repayment of debts," he added.

With Pakistan facing a serious financial crisis, Asad Umar, the PTI leader touted to be the country's next finance minister, has estimated that the economy may need more than $12 billion to overcome the deficit, with a decision on where to source the funds to be made within six weeks.      

Imran said the nation had defeated political status-quo by rejecting two-party system prevailing since the 1970s.

"Rarely can a third political party makes space for itself," he said.

"After 1970, this is the first time that the masses have defeated the political elite. This happens very rarely that in a two-party system a third once gets a chance," he said.

He said the people no longer believed in conventional politics.

"We will be held accountable by our voters if we stick to conventional governance structure," he said.

"Our struggle will create the future of Pakistan. The first phase of my 22-year-old struggle is completed," apparently referring to the setting up of the party by him in 1996.

"We are set for the second stage," Khan said as he thanked the members for showing confidence in his leadership.

"Today, I have been given the biggest of responsibilities," the PM-in-waiting said.

Khan warned his fellow party leaders that they must not govern the traditional way. "There are challenges aplenty for the PTI government," he said.

"The people do not expect us to govern the traditional way; we are viewed as different. If we do traditional politics then we would also fall prey to the public wrath."   -- PTI
20:52   Senior Congress leader R K Dhawan passes away
Senior Congress leader R K Dhawan passes away in Delhi at the age of 81.

Dhawan was a close of aide of former prime minister Indira Gandhi, and, as her personal assistant, also witnessed her assassination.

It is said that Dhawan was extremely powerful during the Emergency years due to his influence on Mrs Gandhi.

He has also been a Rajya Sabha MP.
20:07   I don't need to explain or defend my relationships: Priyanka
As Priyanka Chopra's engagement rumours with boyfriend Nick Jonas make headlines, the actor today said her personal life is not for 'public consumption'.

The 36-year-old actor said she does not feel the need to give explanation about her relationships to anyone.

"My personal life is not for public consumption. 90 per cent of my life is for public consumption but 10 per cent is for me. I am a girl and I have the right to keep that to myself. My family, friendship, my relationships are things I don't think I need to defend or explain it to anyone. I am not running for the Office, so I don't think I need to give explanations," Priyanka said.

The actor was speaking at an interactive session titled 'Challenging the Status Quo & Forging New Paths' organised Jointly by FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) and Yes bank.

Reports of Priyanka getting engaged to Nick started doing the rounds after she opted out of Salman Khan's Bharat and director of the film Ali Abbas Zafar dropped a hint that she left the film because of a 'very special reason', which she told the makers in the 'Nick of time'.

Over the last two months, the 25-year-old singer and the Quantico star have been spotted on several outings, including a dinner date in New York City and a Beauty and the Beast Live in Concert show in Los Angeles.

While Nick introduced Priyanka to his family during the wedding of his cousin, the former Miss World was accompanied by the singer to India where they met her mother Madhu Chopra.

Last night, Priyanka also attended Nick's concert in Singapore.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Actor Priyanka Chopra during a talk on Challenging the Status Quo and Forging New Paths , in New Delhi on Monday. Photograph: Shahbaz Khan/PTI Photo
19:10   Karunanidhi's health declines, hospital says next 24 hours crucial
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M Karunanidhi, admitted to a Chennai hospital ten days ago, has suffered a decline in his medical condition and maintaining his vital organ functions "continues to be a challenge",  the hospital said today.
The 94-year old former Tamil Nadu chief minister was under continious monitoring and treated with active medical support, a press release by Kauvery Hospital said.
"There has been a decline in the medical condition of DMK president and former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi. Maintaining his vital organ functions continues to remain a challenge considering his age related ailments," it said.
The DMK patriarch is on "continuous monitoring and being treated with active medical support. His response to the medical interventions over the next 24 hours will determine the prognosis," Executive Director of the Hospital Dr Aravindan Selvaraj said in the release.
Karunanidhi was admitted to the hospital on July 28 following a dip in his blood pressure which later stabilised but doctors had later said due to "decline" in his general health his stay would be extended. -- PTI 
18:36   RS passes bill to grant constitutional status to NCBC
The Rajya Sabha today passed a bill to provide constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes, as several members urged the government to make public the findings of the caste census and implement reservation accordingly.
The demand was raised during a debate on the Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill 2017, passed by the Lok Sabha on August 2 superseding the amendments earlier carried out by the Rajya Sabha.
Today, the Upper House adopted the legislation, along with the amendments made by the Lok Sabha, by 156 votes to nil.

Over two-third majority of those present voted in favour of the bill, which is a necessity for amending the Constitution.
The Rajya Sabha had earlier passed the measure on July 31 last year, along with an amendment and sent it to the Lower House. The Lok Sabha had passed the bill last week with alternate amendments as well as some more changes unanimously with over two-third majority.
Moving the bill for consideration and passage, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot said it would help the backward classes people fight atrocities against them and ensure quick justice to them.
"This bill would provide justice to the OBC people," said Gehlot, adding "this is the need of hour".
Referring to the suggestions by the opposition parties, he said the NCBC would have female representation.
He also assured that it would also not encroach upon the rights of state governments as they would have their own backward class commissions.
"This commission has no relation with the state governments but is related to the Centre only," he said.

He said the state governments had their own lists of castes of OBC people, while the Centre had its own. The NCBC would recommend only to the central government regarding inclusion or deletion of a particular caste in the list. -- PTI
17:38   Antigua can extradite Mehul Choksi as it's part of Commonwealth: MEA
The External Affairs Ministry notifies Antigua of its extradition commitment as part of the Commonwealth.  Indian government directs provisions of Extradition Act 1962 shall apply with respect to Antigua & Barbuda. In 2001 Antigua & Barbuda notified India as designated country under the Commonwealth under the provision of Extradition Act.

This is particularly important for India in its efforts to extradite diamantaire Mehul Choksi who has taken up citizenship of the country.

In fact, Antigua and Barbuda has already informed India that in the absence of a bilateral treaty, Choksi can still be extradited to New Delhi as both countries are members of the Commonwealth of Nations.

The Antigua and Barbuda government is of the view that Section 7 of its Extradition Act, 1993, provides scope for acting on New Delhi's request to send back the jeweller.

The CBI has already initiated the process to extradite the businessman from Antigua. The CBI has sent a request under the UN Convention against corruption as both countries are part of the convention.
17:36   ABP proprietor told me not to name Modi: Bajpai
Journalist Punya Prasun Bajpai has claimed that his former employer, ABP News, had asked him to avoid references to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his criticism of government policies during his prime-time show Masterstroke.

His team was also asked to avoid using pictures and video footage featuring Modi, he wrote in an article for The Wire on Monday.

Bajpai's allegations come on the heels of his and ABP News Managing Editor Milind Khandekar's resignations, following criticism from senior ministers for airing a report that claimed that a woman in Chhattisgarh had been tutored to make false claims that her income had doubled during a video interaction with the prime minister.  Read the report here.
17:09   Indra Nooyi to step down as Pepsico CEO
Just in: Indra Nooyi to step down as Pepsico CEO. The company's president Ramon Laguarta will succeed her. Nooyi has been leading the food and beverage giant for 12 years and has been with the company for 24 years.

Laguarta was elected by the board of directors to succeed her. Nooyi will remain as chairman until early 2019 even though her tenure ends in October.
16:57   PTI announces Imran Khan as its PM candidate
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's parliamentary committee today officially nominated Imran Khan as the party's prime ministerial candidate.
The party of the 65-year-old cricketer-turned-politician emerged as the single largest side in the National Assembly in the July 25 general elections.
Khan was nominated by PTI's parliamentary committee which met at a hotel here. The meeting was attended by several top leaders and elected members of PTI including Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Asad Umar, Pervez Khattak, Chaudhry Sarwar, Fawad Chaudhry, Arif Alvi and Shafqat Mahmood.
Qureshi, the party's senior vice president, presented a resolution in favour of Khan's nomination to become the party's parliamentary leader, which was accepted by the members.
The meeting was taken into confidence about the formation of the government and it unanimously decided to nominate Imran Khan as party nominee for the Prime Minister, according to PTI sources.
Khan thanked the members for showing confidence in his leadership.
Earlier in the day, Khan left his Banigala residence for the first time after his party's victory in last week's elections. 

Despite Khan's explicit instructions and refusal to travel with a large protocol, a number of cars and heavy security tagged along with him.
While the exact date of the swearing-in of Pakistan's new prime minister has not been announced, reports say it could take place on August 14, the Independence Day of the country. -- PTI
16:11   SC judges meet CJI over Justice K M Joseph issue
Judges of the Supreme Court today met Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and lodged their protest over the Centre's decision to lower down the seniority of Justice K M Joseph, who is scheduled to take oath as apex court judge along with two others tomorrow.
Highly placed sources in the apex court said the judges, including Justices M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, who are members of the collegium, met the CJI at the judges lounge during the tea before start of the day's working.
Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who is the senior-most judge after the CJI, was not present as he was on leave today.
The sources said that the CJI assured the judges that he will consult Justice Gogoi and take up the issue with the Centre.
The Centre on Friday came out with the notification on appointment of three judges to the apex court by putting at number three the seniority of Justice K M Joseph.
In the notification, the names of Justice Indira Banerjee, Chief Justice of Madras high court, was at number one followed by that of Justice Vineet Saran, Chief Justice of Orissa high court. 

-- PTI
16:02   15 naxals killed in encounter with police in Chhattisgarh
At least 15 Maoists were gunned down today in an encounter with security forces in a dense forest in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district, police said.
This was one of the biggest anti-Naxal operations in the history of Chhattisgarh, where 15 bodies of rebels were recovered in a single incident, state's Special Director General of Police (anti-Naxal operations) D M Awasthi said.
Two Naxals, including a woman who was injured the gunbattle, were also arrested from the encounter site.

Based on intelligence inputs about locations of Naxal camps in south Sukma, two teams of security forces were sent into the forest from different directions last evening, Awasthi said.

The teams included personnel of the District Reserve Guard, Special Task Force, Central Reserve Police Force and its elite unit Commando Battalion for Resolute Action.

One of the patrolling teams, comprising around 200 personnel of the STF and the DRG, spotted a Maoist camp this morning at the forest in Nalkatong village, following which it started encircling the place, Awasthi said.
A gunbattle took place between Naxals and the patrolling team for about half-an-hour, he said.
After guns fell silent, bodies of 15 Maoists and 16 weapons, including 315 bore and 12 bore guns, were recovered from the spot, Awasthi said.

-- PTI
Sensex rises 135.73 points to close at record 37,691.89; Nifty gains 26.30 points to end at new peak of 11,387.10
15:40   Muzaffarpur accused has right to treatment, say docs
Muzaffarpur Shelter Home case: A medical team arrives at Shaheed Khudiram Bose Central Jail for the medical examination of accused Brajesh Thakur, who is currently lodged there.

Thakur has been lodged in hospital for slip disc, high blood sugar levels, and fluctuating blood pressure that can lead to a heart attack.

"If doctors say keep him in jail hospital, what can we do? He may have done any crime, but that does not mean we do not give him proper treatment. That is his right. What if he dies then you will say he died as part of some conspiracy, Muzaffarpur Jail Superintendent, Rajiv Kumar Jha told the Economic Times.

Brajesh Thakur, who is the prime accused in the case is a newspaper owner, a local power broker and the man who ran the shelter where the 34 girls, most of them children, were allegedly sexually assaulted. 
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's parliamentary committee nominates Imran Khan as its Prime Ministerial candidate: media reports.
15:21   No minister needs to resign: Bihar Dy CM on shelter home case
Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi asserted today that there was no need for the resignation of Social Welfare Minister Manju Verma or any other minister in the aftermath of the Muzaffarpur shelter home scandal "just because some people are giving statements".

Modi was responding to queries from journalists about demands having been made by some senior leaders of his party for the resignation of Verma, who belongs to the JD(U).

The senior BJP leader made the remark immediately after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's "Lok Samvad" programme.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the event, Kumar said that if Verma is found involved or if anything is found against her in connection with the shelter home sex scandal, she may be asked "to go".

Verma is in the eye of the storm after the name of her husband cropped up in the case of sexual abuse of minor girls at the shelter home in Muzaffarpur.

"Making an allegation is different from guilt being proven in an investigation. Some people had even levelled allegations against a minister from our party," Modi said in an obvious reference to Urban Development Minister Suresh Sharma, who is also the Muzaffarpur MLA.

"No BJP leader authorised to give a statement that may be deemed the party's official line has made such a demand. State president Nityanand Rai has not made such a demand. So it would be wrong to construe personal opinions of some leaders as being the party's opinion," Modi said.

Yesterday, Rajya Sabha MP and former Union Minister C P Thakur had said that Verma, whose department is under the scanner in the shelter home scandal, should resign taking moral responsibility for the sexual abuse of more than 30 girls. -- PTI
15:20   No minister needs to resign: Bihar Dy CM on shelter home case
Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi asserted today that there was no need for the resignation of Social Welfare Minister Manju Verma or any other minister in the aftermath of the Muzaffarpur shelter home scandal "just because some people are giving statements".

Modi was responding to queries from journalists about demands having been made by some senior leaders of his party for the resignation of Verma, who belongs to the JD(U).

The senior BJP leader made the remark immediately after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's "Lok Samvad" programme.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the event, Kumar said that if Verma is found involved or if anything is found against her in connection with the shelter home sex scandal, she may be asked "to go".

Verma is in the eye of the storm after the name of her husband cropped up in the case of sexual abuse of minor girls at the shelter home in Muzaffarpur.

"Making an allegation is different from guilt being proven in an investigation. Some people had even levelled allegations against a minister from our party," Modi said in an obvious reference to Urban Development Minister Suresh Sharma, who is also the Muzaffarpur MLA.

"No BJP leader authorised to give a statement that may be deemed the party's official line has made such a demand. State president Nityanand Rai has not made such a demand. So it would be wrong to construe personal opinions of some leaders as being the party's opinion," Modi said.

Yesterday, Rajya Sabha MP and former Union Minister C P Thakur had said that Verma, whose department is under the scanner in the shelter home scandal, should resign taking moral responsibility for the sexual abuse of more than 30 girls. -- PTI
14:48   Maratha quota: Amit Shah to meet Maharashtra CM today
BJP President Amit Shah to meet Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis and  Maharashtra MPs today at 7 pm over the issue of the Maratha Reservation issue.

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari inadvertently provided fodder for the Congress party to attack the BJP when he said that reservation will not guarantee employment as jobs are shrinking in the country. Talking to reporters in Maharashtra's Aurangabad district, Gadkari was quoted by PTI as saying, "Let us assume the reservation is given. But there are no jobs. Because in banks, the jobs have shrunk because of IT. The government recruitment is frozen. Where are the jobs?'

The Congress party reacted saying, that's the question Indians are asking as well.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said yesterday that all constitutional obligations in connection with the granting of reservations to the Maratha community in the state would be completed by November this year.
14:34   LS adjourns briefly amid din over Muzaffarpur shelter home case
Lok Sabha proceedings were today adjourned briefly as Congress and other Opposition members created a ruckus over the alleged sexual exploitation of girls at a shelter home in Muzaffarpur and sought a response from Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan asked the government to take concerns of members seriously following which Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the CBI probe into the case will be fair and Singh will be informed of the members' sentiments.

However, members of the Congress and the RJD staged a walkout with Mallikarjun Kharge alleging suppression of evidence and seeking Singh's reply.

During the Zero Hour, Congress member Ranjeet Ranjan was allowed by the Speaker to raise the issue and RJD's Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav also spoke about it. The Speaker did not allow Opposition members to continue discussing the case, saying since it is already being probed by the CBI there was no need to discuss the issue everyday.

However, an agitated Ranjan walked into the Well and began speaking in a loud voice. A few minutes later, she also threw a book and some papers kept on the table of Secretary General Snehlata Shrivastava. Ranjan demanded a reply from Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was present in the House. -- PTI
14:23   14 Naxals killed in Sukma
In a massive victory to the security forces in Chhattisgarh, at least 14 Maoists were killed in an encounter on Monday near Sukma's Konta and Golapalli police station limits.

The security forces also recovered 16 weapons from the spot.According to Sukma's Superintendent of Police, Abhishek Meena, the encounter broke out in the morning when the police patrol party was carrying out a search operation in the area.

The security forces are continuing with their search to check the presence of more Naxals around the encounter site.

Earlier this month, the Chhattisgarh Police said that Maoists had released a pamphlet claiming that they lost 247 of their cadres in encounters with security forces over the last two years.

However, Special Director General (Anti-Naxal Operations) DM Awasthi said that security forces recovered bodies of 208 Naxals in more than 500 encounters between August 2016 and July 2018. -- ANI
14:21   Elections to RS Deputy Chairman's post on Aug 9
Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Monday announced that elections for the post of deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha would be held on August 9.

The vice president made the announcement in the upper house of Parliament. The elections would be held on the second last day of the monsoon session of Parliament.

The post has been lying vacant since Congress leader PJ Kurien retired on July 1. At the farewell of Kurien, Naidu had urged the ruling and opposition parties to find a suitable replacement for the former.

"I will certainly be missing him as my Deputy; he was doing most of the work. He is a multi-faceted personality, and always ensured the effective functioning of the house, which was the most important feature about him that attracted me the most. I hope in the coming days the ruling party and the Opposition will find a suitable replacement for PJ Kurien," Naidu said. -- ANI
14:19   Ex-superintendent of Bhagalpur shelter home arrested
Former Superintendent of Bhagalpur shelter home Pradeep Sharma has been arrested. Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences in its social audit report had mentioned that the arrangements for children at the shelter home were not good.

The incident came to light after a girl escaped from the shelter home and informed the police how they were all treated like servants.

This comes after similar audit reports revealed the horrible conditions of the inmates at shelter homes in Uttar Pradesh's Deoria and Bihar's Muzaffarpur respectively.

In Muzaffarpur, the shelter home case was uncovered around two months ago after a report by TISS revealed that the inmates were sexually abused. Notably, it was this organisation's report which revealed that as many as 40 girls have fallen prey to sexual abuse at a Muzaffarpur shelter home.For those unversed, on July 24, 11 employees of the shelter home in Muzaffarpur were arrested for allegedly sexually harassing the girls.

On receiving information, the police raided the vicinity and rescued 44 girls. The shelter home was run by Brajesh Thakur. -- ANI
13:55   Will convert you to Islam: Owaisi to accused who cut Muslim man's beard
Few days after a Muslim man was forced to shave off his beard following an altercation in Gurugram, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen  President Asaduddin Owaisi has threatened the accused that he would be "converted to Islam".

Strongly reacting to the Haryana incident, Owaisi further said that he would make the accused grow a beard.

"Muslim man's beard was shaved off. Those who did it, I am telling them and their fathers, even if you slit our throat, we'll be Muslims. We will convert you to Islam and will make you keep a beard," he said.

On August 2, Gurugram Police arrested three accused after an FIR was registered by the victim, Yunus in this regard.The incident took place in Gurugram's Sector 29 when three people allegedly dragged a Muslim man to a salon and forced him to shave off his beard.

This has come at a time when many political parties are cornering the Centre over rampant incidents of mob lynching, alleging that atrocities against the Muslim community are on a rise across the country. -- ANI

Image: Three people allegedly dragged this Muslim man to a salon and forced him to shave off his beard. Pic: ANI
13:44   PTI to nominate Imran Khan as PM today
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf's parliamentary committee meets in Islamabad on Monday to nominate party chairman Imran Khan as prime minister.The parliamentary committee is also expected to decide the names of federal cabinet members in the meeting to be chaired by Khan. The PTI chief had earlier decided to keep his federal cabinet small with an initial strength of 15 to 20 federal ministers. Read the full report here.
13:40   No problem with Mayawati or Mamata as PM candidate: Deve Gowda
Janata Dal Secular has no problem with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee or Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati being fielded as the opposition's prime ministerial candidates for 2019 general elections, said former prime minister and Janata Dal Secular president, HD Deve Gowda.

"Don't try to create any type of unnecessary confusion. I have already told that I am running a coalition government here with Congress. First, Congress said Rahul Gandhi will be the prime ministerial candidate. A PTI correspondent said Congress will propose Mamata Banerjee or Mayawati as PM candidate as they want a woman candidate, I told the journalist, I have no problem with it," Deve Gowda told ANI.

Few weeks ago, while replying to a media query on who the prime ministerial face for next year's Lok Sabha elections will be, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, "Naturally, the Congress president would be the only face to be projected. The Congress would fight this election by putting forward our leader." -- ANI
13:23   All shelter homes will be run by Bihar govt in future: Nitish
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar is holding a press conference on the sexual abuse of girls at a shelter home in Muzzafarpur.

The biggest takeaway from the conference is that from now on, shelter homes in the state will only be run by the government.

Fourteen officials have been suspended by the Bihar government for negligence and dereliction of duty. But it took nearly four months for the Nitish Kumar government to prima facie identify the officials at fault in a case of alleged rape of 34 girls aged between 7 and 17 at Muzaffarpur district of Bihar.

Under constant attack from the Opposition parties, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday broke his silence on the Muzaffarpur shelter home sex scandal, terming the incident as shameful and assuring that the culprits would not be spared.

Excerpts of what the Bihar CM said:

On bringing those involved to justice: If someone related to the minister is involved, they won't be spared. But why is this issue being raised only now. We had called her and she has denied any involvement. How is it justified to level baseless allegations?
We made the TISS report public. If ministers are in the wrong, they will go.

Social welfare minister Manju Verma, whose husband allegedly frequented the Muzaffarpur shelter home,

On a probe in the case: The matter should be investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation & the High Court should monitor their investigation.
We came to know about the incident after an internal investigation into the Muzaffarpur case and we started a CBI inquiry. CBI is doing an inquiry into the Muzaffarpur case, how will anyone be let off?'s MI Khan reports that the Patna high court will monitor the CBI probe in the case.

The Patna High Court on Monday agreed to monitor the CBI probe into the case of rape of 34 minor girls in a shelter home in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district.

The CM said in the future only the government will run such shelter homes.

Bihar police probe: When Bihar police was investigating the case there was an illusionary environment being created, which is why we asked the CBI to get involved & even the High Court is overseeing the investigation:

12:48   Will the TDP ally with Congress in 2019?
The Telugu Desam Party is the arch rival of the BJP. TDP MP C Ramesh,  who is the key coordinator between TDP leader and Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu and 23 TDP MPs in New Delhi gets a call from the CM's office every day.

During the parliament session, there is some drama by TDP MPs either inside or outside parliament, which is being Scripted from Hyderabad.

The TDP's arch rivals are Jaganmohan Reddy's YSR Congress and the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti. These two parties have been at loggerheads with the TDP.

In the Central Hall of Parliament, C Ramesh is often seen hugging Congress MPs and their apparent bonhomie, naysayers say is only to seek numerical support. At times, Ramesh is also seen strategising with Ghulam Nabi Azad inside the Rajya Sabha. His rapport with the Congress is a thorn on the side for the BJP.

During the BJP-TDP alliance days in 2015-2016 Ramesh could not curry favours from the finance ministry on income tax or customs exemptions. But, the businessman that he is, got at least 10 BJP states to help him get national highway projects. BJP MPs even recollect Ramesh's meetings with BJP CMs. But now Ramesh ignores the party.

His new friends now are the TMC, SP and BSP MPs. Few TDP MPs even heckle the BJP government during their speeches, which is music to the Congress Party's ears.

So, will the Congress ally with the TDP in Andhra Pradesh to rebuild their base. Rahul Gandhi is happy with the TDP for bringing about the no confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government.

But as they say, there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics.

Image: TDP MP Naramalli Sivaprasad dresses up as Lord Ram outside Parliament to protest over the demand of special status for Andhra Pradesh. He has earlier dressed up as a magician, a woman, a washerman and even a school boy among others.
Elections to the post of deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha to be held on August 9, says Vice President and Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu.
12:14   Karunanidhi critically ill
DMK chief M Karunanidhi's condition is deteriorating and he is now believed to be critically ill.

A health bulletin from Kauvery Hospital in Chennai where he has been admitted for over a week after his blood pressure fell due to complexities developed after the urinary tract infection.

On Saturday, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu met with DMK leaders MK Stalin and Kanimozhi at Kauvery hospital, while on Sunday President Ram Nath KOvind paid a visit.  

Ever since he was admitted a week ago, the hospital has said that Karunanidhi will require an extended stay in hospital due to the  the "decline" in his general health though his vital parameters had normalised.

Doctors said the former Tamil Nadu chief minister is being treated for a urinary tract infection and other geriatric complaints. A team of doctors from Kauvery Hospital is attending to him round the clock.

Karunanidhi has been unwell for some time now with age-related health problems and has largely been confined to his home since late 2016. His tracheotomy tube was replaced two weeks ago.

When Rahul Gandhi visited Karunanidhi

File pic.
11:40   Meghna Gulzar to direct original series on supercop Rakesh Maria
In other news, filmmaker Meghna Gulzar and Reliance Entertainment's Phantom Films have signed up to produce a series on the life and case files of former Commissioner of Mumbai Police, Rakesh Maria. The series, based on his experiences and various case files of his career, will be directed by Meghna.

"Rakesh Maria's life-experiences and his prolific career in law-enforcement are a powerful lens to explore the chronology of crime and terror, in our society - as a city, as well as, as a country and a geographical region. The potential of this content is limitless, and that is supremely exciting for me," the director said in a statement. As Deputy Commissioner Police (Traffic) in 1993, Maria cracked the Bombay serial blasts case, and later moved to DCP (Crime) and then Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), of the Mumbai Police. He solved the 2003 Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar twin blasts case. He was also given the responsibility of investigating the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2008 and interrogated Ajmal Kasab, the only terrorist captured alive, and successfully investigated the case.

"It is exciting to re-live the journey... It's also a valuable opportunity to place before the people the extraordinary work of the Mumbai Police when facing tough challenges and working against all odds," Maria said. -- PTI
11:36   Hearing on J-K's Article 35A adjourned to August 27
The Chief Justice of India hearing petitions on the repeal of Article 35-A of the Constitution has adjourned the hearing, saying the third judge Justice D Y Chandrachud of the three-judge bench, was not present. The three-judge bench will now hear the case on August 27.

The three-judge bench been hearing the case has to decide whether the issue of Article 35 A has to be referred to a Constitutional bench, says the SC. "We will only have to see whether Article 35 A goes against basic structure of the Constitution," the SC said.

Article 35A, incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, confers special status to the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir, and bars people from outside the state from acquiring any immovable property in the state.

A batch of petitions challenged the constitutional validity of the Article 35A. A Supreme Court bench headed by the then Chief Justice J S Khehar referred the matter to a three-judge bench.

Delhi-based NGO We the Citizens, in its petition, argued that Article 35A goes against the "very spirit of oneness of India" as it creates a "class within a class of Indian citizens".
11:06   Strike over Article 35A cripples life for 2nd day in J-K
Life in Kashmir remained severely affected today for the second consecutive day due to a complete shutdown called by separatists against the legal challenge in the Supreme Court on the validity of Article 35A.

The two-day strike called by the Joint Resistance Leadership -- comprising Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik -- comes as the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a PIL challenging the validity of Article 35A later in the day.

Article 35A, incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, confers special status to the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir, and bars people from outside the state from acquiring any immovable property in the state.

Educational institutions, shops and business establishments remained closed across the Valley, while all kinds of transport remained off the roads due to the strike. The state government has filed an application before the registrar of the Supreme Court, informing that it was going to seek adjournment of the hearing in view of the "ongoing preparations" for the upcoming panchayat and urban local body and municipal elections in the state.

Officials said the security forces had been deployed at vulnerable places in the city and elsewhere in Kashmir for maintaining law and order. The situation across the Valley is peaceful with no untoward incident reported from anywhere so far today, the officials said.

Stone-pelting incidents were reported from some places yesterday, with six people getting injured in Kulgam district in a clash between protesters and security forces.

Various organisations. including the state bar association, transporters and traders' bodies have extended support to the shutdown call. Protests have been held across the length and breadth of Kashmir over the past few days, with mainstream parties like National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party also holding rallies in support of continuing Article 35A. -- PTI
10:39   Those not in NRC draft won't be jailed or deported: NRC coordinator
The conflagration over the Assam NRC may have been doused just a bit.

Prateek Hajela, State Coordinator of NRC on Sunday, said people, whose names have not been mentioned in Assam's National Register of Citizens draft, will not be "jailed or deported".

Nearly 40 lakh people have been left out from the draft which was released on July 30.

The draft incorporated names of 2.89 crore people out of 3.29 crore applicants.

Ever since the draft was released, the Opposition has been at loggerheads with the BJP-led Centre and questioning as to where these 40 lakh people would go.

Clearing the air on the matter, Hajela told ANI, "Among the 40 lakh people, whose names are not in the list, can again apply for the same through claim form (Claims and Objections), which we will take between August 30 and September 28. After that we will call these people one by one for inquiry so that they can keep their side in front of the committee. Later on, we will take a final decision on this before final NRC is published. Similarly, people can submit objections forms between the same dates." -- ANI
10:33   Where are the jobs, Gadkariji: Rahul launches fresh attack on Centre
You've got to hand it to the Congress Party's social media head Divya Spandana for taking on the Centre and the BJP at every available instance, which in these trying times, is enormous.

@RahulGandhi pat response to Union minister Nitin Gadkari's statement that that reservation will not guarantee employment as jobs are shrinking.
Gadkari made the remarks responding to reporters' questions on the ongoing agitation by the Marathas for reservation and similar demands by other communities in Maharashtra.

"Let's us assume the reservation is given. But there are no jobs. Because in banks, the jobs have shrunk because of IT. The government recruitment is frozen. Where are the jobs?" he asked in Ahmedabad.

@RahulGandhi responded, "Excellent question Gadkariji. Every Indian is asking the same question. "

The Congress party has made sure it misses no opportunity to take on the government.

Image: The Maratha community in Maharashtra called for a bandh in Mumbai and Pune and unleashed a spiral of violence demanding reservations in jobs.
10:07   Sikh man beaten, told to 'go back to ur country' in US
A 50-year-old Sikh man was beaten up multiple times by two white men who yelled racial slurs that "You're not welcome here!, Go back to your country!" in the US state of California, prompting police to investigate the "heinous" hate crime, authorities said. The incident happened last week near the intersection of Keyes and Foote roads in California as the man was putting up campaign signs alone along a rural stretch on the outskirts of Keyes, the police was quoted as saying by The Sacramento Bee. Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said the assault is being investigated as a hate crime.

"This is a random despicable criminal act against a member of the Sikh community," Christianson said. Sheriff Sergeant Tom Letras said the 50-year-old victim was placing signs for local candidates when two white men wearing black hooded sweatshirts ambushed him and beat him to the ground.

He was struck multiple times as the assailants screamed, "You're not welcome here!" and "Go back to your country!" They then spray painted his truck, Letras said. "This is a heinous crime and we are aggressively investigating it," Letras said. The victim required medical attention so an ambulance was called and he treated on scene for cuts and other wounds.

According to a Facebook post, the man was beaten on the head with a rod. But he escaped major injury because of his turban, which is traditionally worn by Sikh men, the report added. -- PTI
09:48   J-K: Centre constructs bunkers for safety against ceasefire violation
The Government of India has constructed community bunkers in Rajouri's Nowshera city to provide safety to locals during cross-border firing along the Line of Control.

This initiative is taken to ensure that daily life and education is not disrupted in areas surrounding the borders.Speaking to ANI, Rajouri District Development Commissioner, Mohammad Aijaz Asad said, "Some bunkers have already been constructed and many more will be completed soon in Rajouri. The project by the Government will be wrapped up soon.

Schooling facility will be provided in the bunkers, so that students' time isn't wasted and their schooling is completed on time."102 bunkers have already been completed in here, providing major relief to the locals especially at the time of ceasefire violation by Pakistan.

"It is a very good initiative taken up by the government. Whenever there is a firing, people take shelter in the bunkers. The government is increasing the number by providing one bunker each to every house here," said a local, Shubam Choudhary.Bunkers are helping us a lot during sudden firings. We have added light bulbs and fans inside for our comfort. I appreciate the decision of the government," said another local, Yash Pal.

In May this year, Home Minister Rajnath Singh called for expediting construction of bunkers along the International Border (IB) and LoC to protect the border residents, in view of 1,252 ceasefire violations by Pakistan during the current year.The MHA has approved Rs.415 crores for construction of more than 14,000 bunkers in Kathua, Samba, Jammu, Rajouri, and Poonch districts. -- ANI

Image: In May 2017, over 1500 locals had to move from the Nowshera sector along the LoC after continued shelling by Pakistan.
09:34   Nifty breaches 11,400 mark for 1st time, Sensex sees all-time high of 37,778
The Nifty breached the 11,400 mark for the first time. At the same time, the Sensex surged 222.03 points to hit an all-time high of 37,778.19. 

Stocks across Asia advanced on Monday as Chinas efforts to stop sharp declines in its currency and capital flight supported wider sentiment in the region, although the escalating Sino-US trade conflict has capped gains. 

The last time, the Sensex breached the 37,000 mark was on July 26 when it touched a high of 37,061.62 before closing the day at a new high of 36,984.64. 
09:05   After Muzaffarpur, 24 girls rescued from shelter home in Deoria
The Deoria police on Sunday arrested a couple and rescued 24 girls from a shelter home, after its licence was revoked following an inspection by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Both the man and his wife were managers at the shelter home.

The incident came to light after a girl escaped from the shelter home and informed the police how they were all treated like servants.

Superintendent of Police Rohan P Kanay said, "When the order to close this institution was made, our people went there and the organisation's director misbehaved with our team. Today, after a girl escaped from there, we got to the reality of that place. There have been many big disclosures during the investigation. 24 children have been rescued safely so far."

He further informed that the institution's director Girija Tripathi and her husband have been arrested.

A probe is underway and further details are awaited.

In a similar incident, employees of a shelter home in Muzaffarpur were arrested last month for allegedly sexually harassing the girls.

-- ANI
08:42   SC to hear petitions challenging validity of Article 35A in J-K today
Amid tensed situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the Supreme Court is all set to hear a batch of petitions on Monday, which challenge the validity of Article 35-A of the Constitution that grants special privileges to the residents of the state.

The state government had on Friday moved an application before the top court and sought to defer the hearing of the case, citing upcoming panchayat and urban local body elections.

Earlier in May, the top court had deferred the hearing of the case, saying that the government-appointed interlocutor, Dineshwar Sharma, is making efforts to find a solution; in such a situation, passing an interim order could prove futile.

The Union government decided not to file a counter affidavit in order to leave the Supreme Court free to decide on what is essentially an interpretation of the law and the Constitution.

Article 35-A was incorporated into the Constitution by a presidential order in 1954, stating, all those living in Jammu and Kashmir at that time and also those who lived in the state for 10 years anytime since, would be considered as its permanent residents.

These residents have been issued a certificate, which entitle them to special benefits in employment, with the biggest advantage being -- only permanent residents have the right to own and buy property in the state.

A non-governmental organisation, We the Citizens, filed a petitioned in the apex Court in 2014 to abolish the law on the grounds that it was "unconstitutional".

There are apprehensions, amongst sections of Kashmiris, that if the law is repealed or diluted, outsiders would settle in Jammu and Kashmir.

The matter of 35-A has united Kashmiri separatists and mainstream politicians.

The government and the top court, on the other hand, are treading rather cautiously in dealing with the sensitive issue.

-- ANI
08:01   SC judges unhappy over Centre's decision to lower down Justice Joseph's seniority
Several judges of the Supreme Court, including members of the collegium, are apparently upset over the Centre's decision to lower down the seniority of Justice K M Joseph, whose name has been notified, along with those of two other judges, for elevation to the apex court.
Highly-placed sources in the apex court said the judges, including some members of the collegium, will meet Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Monday to express dissatisfaction over the Centre's decision to put Justice Joseph's name in serial number 3 in the notification.

Sources said a demand would be made to the CJI to take a corrective measure before the oath-taking ceremony in the Supreme Court, which is likely to take place on Tuesday.

Some members of the Supreme Court Bar Association said they will also make a representation on the issue.

The Centre on Friday came out with the notification for the appointment of the three judges, including Justice Joseph, to the apex court.

There was a tussle between the five-member collegium headed by the CJI and the Centre over the elevation of Justice Joseph to the apex court.

Justice Joseph, the chief justice of the Uttarakhand high court, had headed a bench, which had quashed the imposition of President's Rule in the state in 2016. Uttarakhand was then under the Congress rule.

-- PTI