Mon, 20 August 2018
Follow Atal, reach out to Pak to resolve Kashmir: J&K leaders to BJP

Timeline  Refresh

23:48   Follow Atal, reach out to Pak to resolve Kashmir: J&K leaders to BJP
Recalling former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, leaders from the People's Democratic Party and the National Conference, the two prominent parties of Jammu and Kashmir, today urged the Bharatiya Janata Part-led government to follow the path shown by him for resolving the Kashmir issue and reach out to the people in the valley and start dialogue with Pakistan.

National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and People's Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti paid rich tributes to Vajpayee and appreciated his approach towards Kashmir, at a prayer meeting for the departed leader organised by the BJP.
Abdullah described Vajpayee as a man with a "big heart" and said he did not differentiate between the people. He always tried to end hatred among the countrymen and with neighbours as well by taking various initiatives. 
"Please follow his approach and develop a nation which is full of love and spreads love. And establish healthy and friendly relations with neighbours," he said.
Vajpayee was perhaps the first prime minister who trusted the people of Kashmir Valley and won their trust also, PDP leader Mehbooba said.
"Vajpayeeji was not less than a messiah for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. He showed that the all problems of the valley can be resolved by following the humanitarian approach and said that you can change your friends but not neighbours," she asserted.
Mehbooba urged the current dispensation that the best tribute for Vajpayee could be by following the same humanitarian approach towards Kashmir and initiating talks with Pakistan.
Both Abdullah and Mehbooba are former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir and were also ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party on different occasions. -- PTI 
23:26   5 BJP corporators arrested for assaulting MIM leader in Aurangabad
The deputy mayor of Aurangabad was among the five Bharatiya Janata Party corporators arrested today for allegedly assaulting their colleague from the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, Syed Mateen Sayyad Rashid, during a general body meeting of the municipal corporation on August 17, police said.
Rashid, 32, was allegedly assaulted after he opposed a proposal, tabled on that day by BJP corporator Raju Vaidya, to pay tribute to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had passed away on August 16.
Inspector Dadasaheb Shingare of the City Chowk police station said Deputy Mayor Vijay Autade, Pramod Rathod, Rajgaurav Wankhede, Rameshwar Bhadwe and woman corporator Madhvi Adwant were arrested in the afternoon today based on a complaint filed by Rashid on Friday.
He informed that the five corporators were released on bail in the evening.
Rashid was arrested on August 18 on charges of promoting enmity between different groups, wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot and obscene acts in public after a security officer at the AMC filed a complaint, police said.
Mateen is currently in police remand, officials added.
The Aurangabad civic body is ruled by the BJP-Shiv Sena combine. -- PTI
23:25   Worried about my father's falling health, says Tejashwi Yadav
Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and former Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav today said he was worried about his father Lalu Prasad Yadav's "falling" health.
The RJD chief has been undergoing treatment at the Asian Heart Institute in Mumbai for more than a week, a hospital spokesperson said.
"Visited my ailing father admitted in Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai due to various diseases. Perturbed to see his falling health & increased infection. Praying that he may recover soon under the around-the-clock monitoring &
continuous medical care of specialist doctors," he tweeted.
The Jharkhand high court on August 17 extended the provisional bail of former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad, convicted in four fodder scam cases, till August 27. Granting the extension of the provisional bail, the bench of Justice Apresh Kumar Singh fixed August 24 as the date to hear the bail petition.  -- PTI
22:36   Najam Sethi resigns as PCB chief, Imran nominates Ehsan Mani
Najam Sethi today resigned from the post of Pakistan Cricket Board chairman as Prime Minister Imran Khan nominated former ICC president Ehsan Mani as his successor. 
"I have appointed Ehsan Mani as Chairman PCB. He brings vast and valuable experience to the job. He represented PCB in the ICC; was Treasurer ICC for 3 yrs and then headed the ICC for another 3 yrs," PM Khan tweeted. 
Sethi's future in the PCB was under cloud after Imran was elected as Pakistan Prime Minister, as he never shared a very good rapport with the cricketer-turned-politician.  
"I was waiting for the new Prime Minister to take oath before submitting my resignation as PCB Chairman, which I have done on Monday. I wish PCB all the best and hope our cricket team goes from strength to strength," Sethi, who was instrumental in ensuring the return of international cricket to the Pakistan, announed on twitter.
Sethi, nominated to the PCB Board of Governors by ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from 2014-2017 and then again from 2017-2020 by ex-Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, said he took the decision to make way for Imran to implement his vision for Pakistan cricket.
Sethi addressed his resignation letter to the prime minister, which states: "You have said on many occasions you have a vision for Pakistan cricket. Therefore, it is only proper that you should assume charge and responsibility for assembling a management team for PCB that enjoys your full confidence and trust." 
In his resignation letter, Sethi said he had been appointed the PCB Chairman unanimously in 2017 for a three-year term following elections. 
"In order to facilitate your objectives in the interest of Pakistan cricket, I hereby submit my resignation as Chairman of PCB and Member of its BoG," he added. -- PTI
22:22   WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels on India visit this week, may meet IT Min
WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels is visiting India this week and is likely to meet IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, as the company attempts to address concerns around fake news on its messaging platform which have led to horrific crimes like mob-lynching.
According to sources, Daniels will be in India for 4-5 days, starting tomorrow, and meet business and government officials during his visit. 
He is also likely to meet Prasad tomorrow, although this could not be independently confirmed with the company.
Emails sent to WhatsApp did not elicit any response.
One of the persons aware of the proposed visit said that WhatsApp officials plan to discuss measures being undertaken to counter the issue of fake news on its platform as well as the impending launch of its payments services in the country. 
Government officials -- who confirmed that a meeting has indeed been sought -- said the ministry, on its part, will reiterate its demand of WhatsApp establishing a set-up in India and also addressing the issue of traceability of messages. 
Last month, WhatsApp top executives including COO Matthew Idema had met IT Secretary and other Indian government officials to outline various steps being taken by the company to tackle fake news in India. 
Over the past few months, fake messages circulating on WhatsApp have incited incidents of mob fury across parts of India. The government has sent out two notices to the Facebook-owned company directing it to take urgent measures to curb false information and rumours being spread on the messaging platform.
The IT ministry has, in the past, said that the platform cannot escape its responsibility for such rampant abuse and needed to find originators of provocative messages. It had also warned that in the absence of adequate checks, it will treat the messaging platform as abettor of rumour propagation and legal consequences will follow.
 In its response, WhatsApp has informed the government that it is building a local team, including India head, as part of steps to check fake news circulation even as it did not meet the key demand of identifying message originators. -- PTI
22:15   SC judges to contribute to Kerala flood relief fund: CJI
Twenty five Supreme Court judges would contribute in the relief funds for the victims of flood in Kerala which has seen the large scale devastation of lives and properties, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra today said.
A bench of the CJI and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud made this observation during the hearing of a PIL in which it was contemplating imposing a cost of Rs 25 lakh on a litigant for filing an "improper application" in a PIL on which the verdict has already been reserved.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, who termed the matter a fit case for initiation of contempt proceedings, also advised that the cost, to be imposed, to be given to the Kerala Chief Minister's flood relief fund.
"We are also making some contribution in the fund... the judges of this court would also make their contribution for the relief of the victims," the CJI told Venugopal, who recently hogged the limelight by announcing that he would be contributing Rs one crore to the Kerala Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund.
Apex court judge Justice Kurian Joseph, who hails from the flood-ravaged state, has been active in ensuring and arranging relief materials for the state.        
According to the apex court sources, the judges will contribute Rs 25,000 each to the relief fund.
Venugopal's son and senior advocate Krishnan Venugopal also contributed Rs 15 lakh towards the relief fund.
A group of Delhi-based Malayali lawyers had earlier initiated a collection drive and dispatched eight truck-load full of necessary supplies including clothes for victims, sanitary napkins, candles, baby food, mugs, buckets, biscuits, water bottles, medicines, soaps etc, in a Navy aircraft.
Justice Joseph had actively taken part in the collection drive and had spent over six hours in support of the lawyers collecting supplies at the flood relief collection point near the apex court. 
He had also contributed a significant amount for flood relief activities for Kerala.
Senior lawyer Jaideep Singh contributed Rs five lakh towards the distress relief fund. -- PTI
22:13   EPFO payroll data: 47 lakh jobs created in 10 months till June
Retirement fund body Employees' Provident Fund Organisation's payroll data suggests that as many as 47.13 lakh jobs created during September 2017 to June this year.
However, the retirement body lowered earlier estimate of new members enrolment by 12.38 per cent, from 44.74 lakh to 39.20 lakh member for September 2017-May 2018 period.
According to the payroll data released by the EPFO for September-May, as many as 44.74 lakh new member were enrolled for its social security schemes to provide benefits, including provident fund, insurance and pension.
According to the latest data uploaded today by the EPFO, the new members enrolment in June is the highest so far in the last 10 month at 7,93,308.
In June, the maximum number of enrolment of 2,53,466 were recorded in the age bracket of 18 to 21 years followed by 2,05,177 in 22 to 25 age group.
The data is provisional as updation of employees records is a continuous process and gets updated in subsequent months, the EPFO said in a statement.
It also stated that the estimates may include temporary employees, whose contributions may not be continuous for the entire year.
For each age-wise band, the estimates are net of the members enrolled and ceased during the month as per the EPFO records, it added.
The EPFO manages social security funds of workers in the organised/ semi organised sector. It runs three social security scheme Employees' Provident Fund Scheme 1952, Employees' Deposit Linked Scheme 1976 (EDLI) and Employees' Pension Scheme 1995. It manages the accounts of over six crore members and a corpus of over Rs 10 lakh crore.
Earlier this year, the EPFO had started the practice of updating payroll data on its official portal. The body had also lowered its payroll data estimates earlier. -- PTI  
22:06   Congress misinformed on Rafale deal: Ambani to Rahul
Reliance Group today said its Chairman Anil Ambani has written to Congress president Rahul Gandhi on the Rafale fighter jet deal saying his party has been "misinformed, misdirected and misled" by "malicious vested interests and corporate rivals" on the issue.
Ambani, who had first written to Gandhi on the issue in December, last week again wrote to him saying not a single component worth a single rupee is to be manufactured by his group for the 36 Rafale jets India is buying from France, the company said in a statement here.
Gandhi has been attacking the government for inking the deal at a much higher price than the one the previous UPA regime had negotiated. While he has accused the government of changing the deal to benefit "one businessman", his party has demanded a JPC probe into the deal.
"Allegations of Reliance benefitting by thousands of crores is a figment of imagination, promoted by vested interests," the company statement said, quoting from Ambani's letter. "Simply put, no contract exists with the Government of India."
French company Dassault, which is supplying the fighter jets, has entered into a joint venture with Reliance Group to meet its offset requirement of the contract.
Under defence offset, a foreign supplier of equipment agrees to manufacture a given percent of his product (in terms of value) in the buying country. Sometimes this may take place with technology transfer.
While direct offsets are linked to the original defence contact where companies often agree to transfer relevant technological know-how or use local suppliers to build the equipment they are selling to the government, indirect offsets have nothing to do with the deal and can include the company making up investments in local industries.
In case of Rafale deal, which will give new comer Reliance Group a foothold in the defence industry, the companies have not specified what components will they manufacturer in India.
Ambani in the letter expressed "deep anguish over continued personal attacks by Rahul Gandhi on him", the statement said. He termed all allegations as "baseless, ill-informed and unfortunate"
Explaining the role of Reliance in offset exports/ work share with Dassault, he said: "The Congress has been misinformed, misdirected and misled by malicious vested interests and corporate rivals."
He said Rafale fighter jets are not being manufactured by Reliance of the Dassault Reliance joint venture. "All 36 planes are to be 100 per cent manufactured in France, and exported from France to India."
"There is no contract from the Ministry of Defence to any Reliance Group company related to 36 Rafale aircraft," the statement said.
21:50   Kharge to boycott Lokpal selection panel meet for fourth time
The Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, today decided not to attend the meeting of the Lokpal Selection Committee slated for tomorrow as a special invitee, the fourth time this year.
Alleging that the process of Lokpal appointment was "vitiated" and accusing the government of "subjugating" Parliament, Kharge, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said he would not be able to attend any meeting of the selection committee until the leader of the single largest opposition party is conferred the status of a full-fledged member.
He alleged that the government was refusing to bring an amendment in the Lokpal Act making the leader of the single-largest party in Lok Sabha as a member of the panel, even after a parliamentary panel made the recommendation.
"It is deeply embarrassing to Parliament that even after the select committee of Parliament has approved the amendment to the Lokpal Act that would enable the leader of the single largest party to be a member of the selection committee, the government refuses to bring this amendment before the house. In a parliamentary democracy, to exclude the voice of the opposition would be to exclude and subjugate Parliament," he said.
"I continue to believe that the process of appointing the Lokpal under such circumstances is vitiated," he said, noting that people of the country are wise enough to see through this insincerity as "special invitee" without rights of participation, recording of opinion or voting is being sent out to the opposition.
"Under these circumstances, I must once again respectfully inform that I would not be able to attend the meeting of the selection committee until the leader of single largest opposition party is conferred the status of a full-fledged member as envisioned in the Lokpal Act, 2013," he said in his letter to the prime minister.
He also drew the attention of the prime minister to his three earlier letters, dated February 28, 2018, April 10, 2018 and July 18, 2018, which he had sent in response to previous invitations requesting him to attend the meetings of the Selection Committee held on March 1, 2018, April 10, 2018 and July 19, 2018 respectively, as a "special invitee". -- PTI 
21:26   Army will stay in Kerala till situation stabilised: Southern Command chief
The army would continue to be engaged in the rescue operations in flood-hit Kerala till the situation stabilised, Southern Command chief Lt Gen D R Soni said in Thiruvananthapuram today.
He also said the army's medical teams would extend the first line of relief in co-ordination with the government.    

"There are inaccessible areas and our men will continue to reach out to people who needed to be rescued," he told reporters.
Noting that it was not possible to provide the exact number of people stranded, he said the rescue operations by the army had not been called off.
He was replying to a question on the number of people still stranded in the state, ravaged by floods.    

At a point of time, the army personnel had to return to the barracks, but "We are not in a hurry to do so until things stabilise," he said.
The army has deployed 1,500 personnel including engineers and divers, for the rescue operation, the Lt Gen said adding it would provide initial relief to the people hit by floods.   

"We do the rescue work and initial relief work. We have got a large number of medical personnel from the Southern Command," he said.
Dwelling on the role of Army personnel in the current operations in the state, ravaged by landslides and floods, Soni said "We have saved people from tough areas".    

"They (medical team) are here. I know there are hospitals here, the but the first relief will be given by our people which will be co-ordinated by the government departments," he said.
As a precautionary measure, Soni said, the Southern Command was working out a plan to make sure that equipment required to meet flood situations would be stationed in the region.
"I want to make sure in the next two-three months, this is centrally located in the region, so that long and large scale movement are not resorted to at a time of calamity. We will be prepared...I promise," the Lt General said.
He said the army had brought 25 boats from Jodhapur, 15 from Bhopal and many other relief equipment from Pune and Bengaluru.
The defence personnel have played a key role in the rescue operations in trying conditions and built temporary bridges among a range of activities to help the flood hit people of the state. -- PTI 
20:35   '281 and Beyond': VVS pens autobiography
Veteran cricketer VVS Laxman, known for the suppleness of his wrists, will now bring his expertise into play as he picks up the pen to write his tell-all book, which will hit the stands on November 20.
Westland Publications today announced the release of the former Indian cricketer's autobiography titled, "281 and Beyond".
The title has been borrowed from the Hyderabad stylist's fabulous series-turning innings of 281 against Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001. 
"It (writing the book) was an emotional journey that left me drained at the end of each session. Several incidents that I had all but forgotten suddenly sprang back into memory as I relived my life in great detail. It was hard work, but it was also great fun," Laxman said. 
Though promising to be an "honest and frank" account of the cricketer's journey, it comes with the important caveat of "no dressing-room secrets". 
"I have been honest and frank, and shared the experiences that have made me the person I am. Without revealing dressing-room secrets, I have tried to offer a peek into the psyche of Indian cricket, and some of its most celebrated sons," said the ever-smiling non-controversial batting great.
Laxman, who announced his retirement from international cricket in 2012, played 134 Tests, amassing 8,781 runs at an average of 45.97. He scored 17 centuries and 56 half centuries.
He also played in 86 ODIs for an aggregate of 2338 and average of 30.76 in the shorter format. 
"VVS's account of his life is refreshingly candid and full of insights into the way cricket is played -- at the domestic, national and international level," Gautam Padmanabhan, CEO, Westland said .
The autobiography will be launched as part of the publishing house's new imprint, Westland Sport. -- PTI    
20:29   Mobs taking law in their hands can only harm our country: Manmohan
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today called upon the people to reflect on how to work together and contribute in arresting "disturbing trends" of intolerance, communal polarisation and incidents of violent crimes propelled by hate groups and mobs being witnessed in the country.
Addressing the Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Award function, he said such "unsavoury" trends can only harm national interests and are an anathema to the promotion of peace and communal harmony.
The award was presented to former West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishan Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. Singh, along with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former union minister Karan Singh, who is the chairman of the advisory board of Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana award trust, were among those present.
Talking about the present climate in the country, Sonia Gandhi called for collectively expressing the resolve "to fight the forces of divisiveness, hate and bigotry".
Manmohan Singh said today's function was a celebration of Rajiv Gandhi's outstanding contribution to promotion of peace, national integration and communal harmony and also a solemn occasion to pay homage to Rajiv Gandhi, whose memory shall be cherished.
He said Rajiv Gandhi worked for the values of a broad secular outlook, the spirit of tolerance, commitment to communal harmony and empathy to others all his life.
The former prime minister also noted that the homage to Rajiv Gandhi should also be marked by a reaffirmation of one's commitment to abide by these core values.
"Another cause for solemn reflection today is some disturbing trends that our country has been witnessing over the past few years. 
"Those unsavoury trends of growing intolerance, communal polarization, growing incidence of violent crimes propelled by hatred of certain groups and of mobs taking the law in their own hands can only harm the national interests of our country," he said 
The former prime minister said they are also an anathema for promotion of peace, national integration and communal harmony, which are the cherished objectives enshrined in the Constitution. 
"All of us need to pause and reflect on how we can work together and contribute to arresting these trends," he said. PTI 
19:28   Need electricians, plumbers, carpenters to bring Kerala to its feet: Alphons
Flood-ravaged Kerala needs electricians, plumbers, and carpenters to bring it back to normalcy, Union minister K J Alphons said today.
At least 216 people have lost their lives in the floods and landslides triggered by 10 days of torrential rainfall in the state which has displaced over 7.24 lakh people. They have now been sheltered in 5,645 relief camps. 
"There'll be no electricity in homes. Carpentry, plumbing would be gone. We need hundreds and thousands of electricians, plumbers and carpenters to rush to Kerala. People with technical capabilities are required to put life back into Kerala," tweeted the Union minister for tourism. 
Earlier today, both Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan jointly appealed to parliamentarians to contribute "generously" from their MPLADS funds for relief and rehabilitation works in flood-ravaged Kerala.
The two also appealed to the lawmakers to consider "donating" a month's salary for the cause. 
Relief items including ration, clothing and sanitary items being distributed to flood victims. A medical camp has been set up for people requiring urgent treatment at Challakudi, Thrissur, Kerala, the government said today. -- PTI  
19:13   Paid day-to-day expenses of PM House from my own pocket: Sharif
Pakistan's incarcerated former premir Nawaz Sharif today said he used to pay the day-to-day expenses of Prime Minister House from his own pocket, as the newly sworn-in Prime Minister Imran Khan pointed to massive government expenditure.
Talking to reporters outside an accountability court where he appeared for hearing two more graft cases against him, Sharif said he has the cheques as proof to show the payments, the Dawn reported.
He said he used to pay the day-to-day expenses of the Prime Minister House from his own pocket. 
Sharif's comments came a day after Prime Minister Khan, in his first address to the nation as the 22nd premier of the country, broke down the expenses of the Prime Minister House.
"The prime minister has 524 servants and 80 cars. The prime minister, which is me, also has 33 bulletproof cars. The prime ministers all have helicopters and aeroplanes to fly them. We have massive governor houses and every conceivable luxury," Khan said. 
He said he planned on cutting down his own as well the country's expenditure.

"I will keep only two people with me out of the (prime minister's staff of) 524. I will be staying in a three-bedroom house that served as the military secretary's house," he said.
Outlining his government's approach to resolve the country's economic issues, Khan emphasised on taking austerity measures, working on tax reforms instead of taking loans and rooting out corruption.
He has promised to transform Pakistan into a Medina-like welfare state, which was set up by the Prophet in early years of Islam.
Khan has lashed out at the previous PML-N government for current debt crisis which has risen to Rs 28 trillion, saying the country had not been as indebted in its entire history as it has been in the last ten years.
Sharif appeared before the Islamabad-based court for hearing in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and the Hill Metal Establishment cases.
Sharif along with his daughter Maryam and his son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar are serving jail terms of 10-years, seven years and one year respectively in the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, after the accountability court convicted them on July 6 over the family's ownership of four luxury flats in London through illegal means.
A number of PML-N workers gathered outside the accountability court to show their support for the ousted premier. -- PTI
19:04   Govt declares Kerala floods a 'calamity of severe nature'
The massive flood in Kerala has been declared a calamity of severe nature, the home ministry said today.
"Keeping in view the intensity and magnitude of the floods and landslides in Kerala, this is a calamity of a severe nature for all practical purposes," a home ministry official said.
At least 216 people have lost their lives in the rains, floods and landslides in Kerala where over 7.24 lakh displaced people have been sheltered in 5,645 relief camps. -- PTI 
18:29   Will give a strong reply when needed: Sidhu on Pak visit
"Whenever the reply has to be given, I will give and I will give it to all... It will be a strong reply," Sidhu, the only Indian to attend Imran Khan's swearing-in ceremony as Pakistan's prime minister, said.
His comments come after Amarinder had yesterday ticked off his cabinet colleague for hugging Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. "I think it was wrong for him (Sidhu) to have shown the affection he did for the Pakistan army chief, I am not in its favour... The fact is that the man (Sidhu) should understand that our soldiers are being killed everyday. My own regiment lost one major and two jawans a few months ago," Amarinder had said.
On his return from Pakistan yesterday, Sidhu had defended his action, asking what was he supposed to do when someone tells him that "we belong to the same culture" and talks of opening the route to the historic Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.
Meanwhile, Aam Aadmi Party MLA and ousted Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira today defended Sidhu, saying the minister had done nothing wrong. "@sherryontopp has done nothing wrong by hugging Pak army chief, its d way Pbi's meet! I demand opening of corridor to Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib. I also demand of opening of Indo-Pak border that'll immensely boost Pb's economy. There's no ill will between ppl its fight between govt's," Khaira tweeted.
Sidhu was among the special guests present at the oath-taking ceremony at the Aiwan-e-Sadr (the President House) in Islamabad on the invitation of Imran. -- PTI
17:23   It will be a while since Kodagu welcomes tourists
Not Kerala, this is Karnataka. Karnataka: Two  rescue teams with two Gemini craft have been deployed in Kodagu since 17 August by the headquarters of the Karnataka Naval Area. Indian Navy teams are integrated with NDRF and civil administration and have rescued 67 people from Kallur and Devasur villages in Kodagu district so far. 
Atal Bihari Vajpayee's foster granddaughter Niharika and his foster daughter Namita Bhattacharya at the prayer meeting for him in Delhi.
17:18   Show large-heartedness in providing aid to flood-hit Kerala: Cong to PM
The Congress today hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that he was playing politics on the issue of flood relief, and asked him to show large-heartedness in providing more central assistance to flood-hit Kerala as the Rs 500-crore aid was "too little, too late".

Congress leader Jaiveer Shergill asked the prime minister to declare the Kerala floods as a national calamity.

"The large-heartedness Prime Minister Narendra Modi shows in self promotion, advertisement and propaganda, he should show the same large-heartedness towards Kerala in giving the relief fund and providing the assistance that it requires. "...(the aid announced by the prime minister) is a classic case of too little, too late. A state which is witnessing a disaster of over Rs 19,000 crore has only got a paltry sum of Rs 500 crore from Narendra Modi who has spent Rs 5,000 crore on his self-promotion and publicity, Rs 35 crore on his fitness videos, Rs 1,100 crore on BJP headquarters," he said.

Shergill said everybody in the nation has risen to the occasion to help Kerala except Narendra Modi, "who is busy playing petty politics in such a disaster". -- PTI
17:11   Vajpayee never buckled under pressure, he was Atal after all: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a prayer meeting in the memory of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi. Vajpayee passed away on August 16. All senior leaders of the BJP are at the meeting as is Vajpayee's foster daughter Namita Bhattacharya.

"Atalji's life was for the people of India. In his youth itself he had decided that he wanted to serve his fellow Indians. He entered politics when only one party dominated the political discourse," the PM said.

"He spent several years in the opposition, but never compromised his ideology. His efforts ensured that India became a nuclear power and attributed the tests to the brilliance of our scientists. He never buckled under pressure. He was Atal after all," the PM said.

He added, "When he formed governmetn for 13 days, no party was willing to support him. As a result the government fell. Yesterday, Bajrang Punia (wrestler), who I think has never seen him, dedicated his gold medal to Atalji. I think this says a lot about his personality."

Senior BJP leader LK Advani spoke next saying, "I have addressed several public meetings, but I had never thought that I will once have to address a meeting like this, a meeting where Atalji would not be there.

"I consider myself fortunate that my friendship with Atalji lasted for 65 years during which I watched him closely. Working together, we shared our experiences, watched films together and read books together."

16:58   Kerala floods: NDDB to send relief materials worth Rs 2 cr
The Gujarat-based National Dairy Development Board today said it will dispatch relief materials worth Rs 2 crore comprising over 10 lakh packs of ready-to-drink milk, 500 tonnes of cattle feed and veterinary medicines to flood-hit Kerala.

A release from the Anand-headquartered dairy cooperative said that its chairman Dilip Rath had informed Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan that an earlier consignment of one lakh packets of sterile milk was unloaded at Thrissur and Kozhikode on Sunday morning.

"During the next few days, NDDB will supply more than a million such packs for distribution among the people in relief camps across the state. These packs are being sourced from the Dakshina Kannada Milk Unions dairy plant in Mangalore," it said.

The NDDB also informed that 10,000 bags of cattle feed, totalling 500 tonnes, would be supplied to flood-hit areas in the southern state. "The first lot of 46 tonnes, being sourced from the Karnataka Milk Federations cattle feed plant at Hassan, has reached Wayanad district (in Kerala) and is ready for distribution," it said. -- PTI

Image: Army and navy personnel rescue children stranded in flood-hit Kerala last week.
16:29   Sedition case against Sidhu for hugging Pak army chief
A sedition case filed has been filed against cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu in a Muzaffarpur court in Bihar on Monday for 'insulting the Indian Army by hugging Pakistan Army Chief' at the swearing-in ceremony of Pakistan PM Imran Khan.

Lawyer Sudhir Ojha filed the case in Muzaffarpur's Chief Judicial Magistrate court. Petitioner Ojha said that he has filed a case against Sindhu under sections of sedition laws.

In his complaint, he said Sidhu's gesture hurt the people of the country. "The court has admitted the case and will hear it next week," he said.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday lashed out at his cabinet colleague for hugging Pakistan Army Chief at the swearing-in ceremony of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad, saying he should not have shown affection to General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Every day our jawans are getting martyred. To hug their Chief General BajwaI am against this. The fact is that the man should understand that our soldiers are being killed every day.

-- MI Khan/
16:18   Chapati, curry, jam... prisoners feed Kerala flood victims
The inmates of Central Prison in Thiruvananthapuram are toiling hard to feed those staying in relief camps across Kerala, where the worst flood of the century has claimed 210 lives since August 8 and displaced over 7 lakh people.

Ever since the torrential rains started lashing the state causing massive destruction across its length and breadth, the prisoners began preparing large number of chapathis and vegetable curry for relief camp inmates and those stranded in marooned houses.

The Central Prison at Poojappura has been selling a number of food items including chapathi, vegetable and chicken curries under the brand name 'freedom' on a commercial basis for some years now.

The low-cost dishes sold through a number of counters in the capital city have many takers. According to jail authorities, an average of 40,000-50,000 chapathis were prepared for flood victims during the peak days last week. Though the work load is high, around 50 convict prisoners of the chapathi unit were working round the clock in different shifts to meet the demand, they said.

The neatly-packed chapathi and curry were handed over to the district authorities to be distributed to the relief camps. "Our food packets were used mainly for airdropping to the people stranded in roof tops and isolated building," a senior prison official told PTI.

"Besides chapati and curry, we have sent jam and packaged water also," he said adding that as the rescue mission is almost over the demand for chapathi packets is reducing now.

The Thiruvananthapuram Central Prison had sent 50,000 'jail-made' chapatis to Tamil Nadu when Chennai was flooded in torrential rains in 2015. -- PTI
15:42   Now, Kerala faces mammoth task of rehabilitation
With rains ebbing, Kerala got some respite today, but it faces the gigantic task of rehabilitating the homeless and preventing an outbreak of water-borne diseases.

At least 7.24 lakh displaced people have been sheltered in 5,645 relief camps dotting the state. Six more bodies were recovered late last night a Paroor in Ernakulam district, local MLA V D Satheeshan said, taking the death toll in the current spell of floods since August 8 to 216. Lt. Gen. D R Soni, the chief of the Army's Southern Command, told a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram that rescue operations are still continuing and drones are being used to assist in reaching people trapped in areas not easily accessible. "The focus is on complete rehabilitation," he said, adding 1,500 army personnel were engaged in rescue operations.

Rescue ops
He said people stranded on rooftops and inaccesible areas were being winched with the help of defence helicopters. Army personnel carrying satellite phones have fanned out to difficult to negotiate areas in search of stranded people, he said.

Satheesan said almost all those stranded in Paroor and nearby areas have been rescued and moved to safety. Efforts were now under way to clear the houses of the debris to make them habitable.

Water and electricity
Kerala Water Authority and Kerala State Electricity Board were trying to restore water and power supply in vast areas that are without power and tap water for the last several days.

Commercial flight operations from the naval airport at Kochi commenced today with the first Air India flight from Bengaluru arriving this morning. Small aircraft are being operated from the naval airport as the Kochi International Airport has shut operations till August 26 following flooding of the runways.

Relief material
A Cochin Port Trust official said Naval Ship INS Deepak, carrying relief material from Mumbai, arrived with about 800 tonnes of fresh water and nearly 18 tonnes of provisions. Fresh water is being ferried on two barges to the affected areas. Trucks carrying provisions are being rushed for distribution, he said. The official said another consignment of relief material sent by the shipping fraternity under an initiative of the Ministry of Shipping arrived at Vallarpadam.

A vessel with 50000 MT of crude from Mumbai has been diverted by BPCL to the Cochin port to meet the fuel demand of Kerala. Incessant rains over the last few days have blurred the distinction between Kerala's backwaters and roads with sheets of water covering the landscape, but the state is facing shortage of potable water. Several fuel stations in the state are also reported to have run dry. -- PTI

Image: An NDRF team rescues an elderly woman. At least 15,000 people were shifted to safer places by the NDRF. Pic courtesy: @NDRFHQ
15:42   All hotel bookings in rain-ravaged Kodagu cancelled till Aug 31
Rescue operations in the flood-ravaged Karnataka's Kodagu were intensified today even as the administration cancelled hotel bookings made by tourists in the scenic hilly district till the end of this month.

Torrential rain has wrecked havoc in the popular tourist destination bordering Kerala and nestled on the hills of the Western Ghats, with floods and landslides killing at least eight people and rendering hundreds homeless.

Several tourists were stuck in resorts and hotels ever since the disaster struck the district last week, with roads, including highways, suffering damage, making access to the region extremely difficult. Restoration of the damaged roads is on a war footing, official sources said. Personnel of the army, National Disaster Response Force and other agencies are involved in the ongoing rescue operations, where 3,500 people had been moved to safer places till yesterday, officials said.

An official notification issued by the district deputy commissioner today said bookings made by tourists in hotels, resorts and home stays had been cancelled till August 31.

The measure has been taken for the safety of tourists, it added. The district administration struggled to provide basic amenities to the people housed in the 30 relief camps.

The deputy commissioner appealed to the donors to provide warm clothes, torch lights, candles, first-aid kits, candles, matchboxes, bed sheets, toothpaste and detergents, cooking oil, inner garments and mosquito repellents.-- PTI

Image: Incessant rain and floodwaters left roads damaged. 
15:34   Train services resume in Kerala
Train services between Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam have resumed and the railways is also planning to conduct a trial run from Shornur to Ernakulam. Train services from Thiruvananthapuram to Chennai, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi have been partially restored. In the worst affected Chengannur in Alappuzha.
15:17   Chhattisgarh sends 2,500 tonnes rice to flood-hit Kerala
Chhattisgarh has sent 2,500 tonnes of rice for the people of flood-hit Kerala in a special train. The train, which departed from here yesterday, is likely to reach the southern state in the next three days covering a distance of 2,100 kms, officials said today. The move comes after Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh announced assistance of Rs 10 crore to Kerala. The state government has sent 2,500 tonnes of rice, worth about Rs 7.5 crore, through the special train, the officials said, adding that the railways has not charged any money for ferrying the consignment.

The Chhattisgarh government will soon release the remaining Rs 2.5 crore to Kerala, they said. "We are ready to help Kerala in all possible way. We are also willing to send doctors and a team of self-help groups to help people there," Singh said.

Singh has also spoken to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to enquire about the flood situation and offered his government's assistance in any possible way. Heavy rains in Kerala have so far claimed 216 lives and forced over 7.14 lakh people to take shelter in relief camps. -- PTI
15:08   When Vajpayee appeared on the Rediff Chat
"As Vajpayeeji entered the room, all of us instantly stood up. Even though he was a diffident, mild mannered, man, there was an electricity about his presence that inspired awe and respect.

"As the questions from Rediff readers were read out, he would often keep his eyes closed while listening to them, then Kanchan or a couple of us would key in Vajpayeeji's answers."

Archana Masih recalls that December evening 22 years ago when Atal Bihari Vajpayee logged into the Rediff Chat.  Do read
15:04   Heavy rains lash Chandigarh and surrounding areas
Heavy rains lashed Chandigarh and its surrounding areas today, after which the mercury dropped by a few notches. A sharp spell of rain brought down the mercury providing relief to the people from sultry weather conditions. Chandigarh's adjoining towns of Mohali in Punjab and Panchkula in Haryana were also lashed by heavy showers. According to the meteorological department officials, more rain has been forecast at many places in the two states till tomorrow. -- PTI
14:37   Flood-affected families on mind, Kerala athletes carry on at Asiad
The tragedy unfolding in the aftermath of the Kerala floods is finding an echo in faraway Indonesia where over 40 athletes from the state are oscillating between anxiety and concern for loved ones while trying to focus on their Asian Games campaign.

A swimmer didn't even know of it until a journalist enquired, a sprinter is worried while a hockey player is just relieved that his family is in a safe zone even though he is heartbroken for his state. India's chef-de-mission at the Games, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, told PTI in Jakarta that the athletes will be updated on the safety status of their families after seeking the home ministry's assistance.

"We will approach the home ministry to find the whereabouts of missing family members of the Kerala athletes. They need support and we want them to compete without taking any load," Singh said.

"I know it's difficult when such tragedies happen but we will try to get assuring news for them," he added. Kerala's representation is strong in the Indian teams of athletics, volleyball, and basketball besides a significant presence in squads for swimming and hockey.

The athletes are dealing with the conflicting emotions of being so far away from home amid a calamity that has claimed over 300 lives till now. "My family is in a safe zone but a lot of my relatives and friends are affected by the terrible floods. I did not expect the situation to be so severe. It is a sad situation," sprinter Muhammed Anas, who is the 400m national record-holder and a strong medal-contender at the ongoing Games, told PTI.

Anas hails from Nilamel town near the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram, which has been relatively better off. Swimmer Sajan Prakash, who finished fifth in the 200m butterfly event last night, is still awaiting some update on his family members but managed to break the national record nonetheless. "...I was seeing the news and a reporter here, who was in touch informed me.

He told me that he spoke to my mother and members of my family are affected by the floods in Kerala," Sajan revealed. "My mother is in Tamil Nadu but my maternal family members are stuck in Kerala. We haven't been able to contact them. I would like to hope they are at a safe place,"he added. -- PTI
14:30   Sena slams Sidhu for visiting Pak, hugging Army chief
The Shiv Sena lashed out today at Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for visiting Pakistan and hugging its Army chief, dubbing it as "heights of shamelessness".

It also took a dig at the BJP, saying Sidhu was not labelled a traitor, even though people were termed "anti-national" for opposing demonetisation and criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The cricketer-turned-politician was among the special guests present on Saturday at Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's oath taking ceremony.

The Shiv Sena claimed Sidhu's act was a "height of shamelessness" as he hugged the Pakistan Army chief who was supporting insurgency in Kashmir.

"Nobody called Sidhu a traitor despite his visit to Pakistan amid opposition and the situation (in Jammu and Kashmir), but there are some people who are easily labelled as anti-national for opposing note ban or criticising Modi," it said in an editorial in party mouthpiece 'Saamana'.

Earlier, Modi had hugged the then Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif and it was called his "masterstroke", it said, adding, "then how can we criticise Sidhu alone".

Though Sidhu was now with the Congress, he had been with the BJP for a long time and "the BJP should introspect where exactly its 'sanskar' (teachings) fell short", it said. "The prime minister is known for taking strong steps, and he could have simply issued a similar ban against those who wished to visit Pakistan," the editorial said. -- PTI
14:17   PM wrote congratulatory letter to Imran, not invite for talks: India
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sent a letter to his newly elected Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan, conveying that India was looking for constructive and meaningful engagement with his country.

Modi noted that India was committed to peaceful neighbourly ties with Pakistan, official sources said, quoting from the letter. The prime minister also stressed the need to work for a terror-free South Asia, they said.

India also clarified that PM Modi wrote a congratulatory letter to Imran Khan, but there was no new proposal for dialogue. This comes after Pakistan Foreign Minister SM Quershi's claim that Modi wrote a letter to Imran Khan in which he indicated beginning of talks.

The prime minister conveyed to Khan that India was looking for constructive and meaningful engagement with Pakistan, the sources said. Khan was sworn in as Pakistan's 22nd prime minister on Friday. -- PTI
13:49   Tharoor allowed to fly abroad to visit Kofi Annan's family
Delhi's Patiala House Court on Monday granted permission to Congress leader Shashi Tharoor to visit Geneva, Switzerland, to meet the family of former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who passed away on August 18.

Tharoor is an accused in his wife Sunanda Pushkar's death case. The court had earlier barred him from foreign travel without prior permission.

The court also allowed him to visit the United Nations Headquarters to seek aid for Kerala floods after an urgent application was moved by senior advocate Vikas Pahwa and advocate Gaurav Gupta, representing Tharoor.

Annan's death was earlier confirmed by his family and foundation on his official Twitter handle.

Tharoor had tweeted, "Kofi Annan was a proud son of Africa, a great admirer of India, a voice of the developing world, a paragon of internationalism & an exemplar of humanity. The @UN was fortunate to have been led by him at a pivotal moment in world history. He remains one of its greatest SecGens."

On May 14, the Delhi Police had filed a charge sheet in the court, naming Tharoor as an accused, under Sections 306 (Abetment of suicide) and 498A (Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Tharoor, however, had dismissed the charge sheet as "preposterous".
13:30   ATMs open in Idukki, Kerala
Life in Idukki gradually moves back to normal. ATM services also resume. Work in progress to re-establish connectivity and restore communication. This is a visuals from the Kattappana area of Idukki.
13:25   Kerala teen ends life after rains destroy school certificates
Can it really get worse than this?

Heartbroken on finding his class XII certificates destroyed in the devastation caused by the deadly monsoon in Kerala, a 19-year-old boy, committed suicide, police said today.

With his house fully waterlogged in the downpour, the boy, Kailash, and his parents, hailing from Karanthur in Kozhikode district, had moved to a relief camp three days ago. Kailash had got admission for a course in the Industrial Training Institute and had purchased new clothes and set apart some money for higher studies, they said.

As the rains abated for a while, he returned home yesterday to take a look at the house and was shocked to find his plus two certificates soaked in water and in tatters.

A police officer with the Kunnamanagalam station said the boy's death came to light later in the day yesterday when his parents came to clean up the house as the water receded. They were shocked to see him hanging, police said. His shattered father, a labourer, had pinned all his hopes on his son as all their belongings had been mostly destroyed in the rains. -- PTI
13:21   Kerala fishermen who rescued hundreds are biggest heroes: Minister
As the rescue and relief operations continue in flood-hit Kerala, Union Tourism Minister KJ Alphons on Monday said that the authorities have housed at least 10 lakh people in scores of relief camps set up by the administration across the state.

The minister also lauded the local fishermen for making efforts to save the lives of people, who have been reeling under nature's fury from the past couple of weeks.

"Today we have nearly 1 million people in relief camps. The district collectors are working as coordinators and providing supplies. Central forces are providing all possible services to Kerala. Biggest heroes are fishermen, they came in 600 boats and are rescuing stranded people," he said.

As Kerala has been facing the worst flooding in a century, the entire country has come forward to help the southern state in this hour of need. So far, 357 people have lost their lives due to flooding in the state.

The deluge has so far caused a loss of Rs 19,512 crore to the state.

Rescue and relief operations in the state have been scaled up to evacuate the stranded people from flood-affected area. The Centre has also launched massive operations, along with Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Disaster Response Force.

Earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a relief fund of Rs. 500 crore to the state, in addition to the financial assistance of Rs 100 crore announced by Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Chief Ministers of various states have also offered financial aid to the state. -- ANI
13:14   90 different medicines required for Kerala flood-affected: Minister
Union Minister JP Nadda on the Kerala floods: Till now, 3757 medical camps have been setup in Kerala. There is requirement of 90 different medicines. The first installment has reached. We have issued an advisory for daily monitoring and surveillance. Quick response medical teams to start work as soon as water recedes.
12:54   Army built 15 villages in one area of Kerala
Update on the Kerala floods: Captain Syed Ashad Ahmed of 8 Engineer Regiment established a captive ferry to rescue 57 civilians from Chingannur. The Army made 15 bridges, provided relief material to 20 villages, and ready to eat meals to 1200 civilians in what is being called Operation Madad.

Image: Army jawans rescue children from a flooded house in Kerala. Pic courtesy: @adgpi (Additional Directorate General of Public Information, IHQ of MoD (Army)
12:32   Nirav Modi in UK, CBI files for extradition
Authorities in the United Kingdom have confirmed that Nirav Modi is in the UK. The CBI has moved an extradition request through proper channels.

In fact, on August 2, V K Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs, had informed the Rajya Sabha that the request for extradition of the jeweller from the UK had been sent to the High Commission of India in London.

He told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply to a question that the Ministry of External Affairs had received a request from the Ministry of Home Affairs for the extradition of Modi from the UK.

"The request has been sent by a special diplomatic bag to the High Commission of India, London for onward transmission to the UK authorities," Singh told Parliament.

Modi is going to be the 29th fugitive India has asked UK to extradite since 2002.

The UK government in the past 16 years has rejected India's request for extradition in the case of nine fugitives. The extradition requests of business tycoon Vijay Mallya is still pending.

Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are both accused of defrauding Punjab National Bank of about Rs 14,000 crore, seen as the biggest ever banking fraud in the country.

Both left India in January before PNB lodged a complaint with the Central Bureau of Investigation that the duo had defrauded it of Rs 280 crore. The subsequent complaints lodged by the PNB took the quantum of the scam to about Rs 14,000 crore.
12:21   Rakbar lynching: What action have you taken, SC asks Rajasthan govt
The Supreme Court today took note of the July 20 lynching incident in Rajasthan's Alwar district after it had issued a slew of directions on dealing with cow vigilantism and asked the state government to file its response about the action taken in the case.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra asked the Principal Secretary of the Home department of the state government to file an affidavit giving details of the action taken in the lynching case.

Rakbar Khan (28) was allegedly beaten by cow vigilantes in Alwar district's Ramgarh area on July 20 when was leading two cows from Ladpura village to his home to Haryana.

The bench was hearing a contempt plea filed by Tushar Gandhi and Congress leader Tehseen Poonawala seeking contempt action against the Rajasthan government in the mob lynching case at Alwar.

They alleged that incidents of mob lynching and vigilantism were taking place despite the apex court verdict in this regard. The Supreme Court had on July 17 said "horrendous acts of mobocracy" cannot be allowed to overrun the law of the land and asked Parliament to consider enacting a new law to sternly deal with mob lynching and cow vigilantism, warning that such incidents may rise like a "Typhoon-like monster" across the country.

The court had also issued a slew of directions to the government to provide "preventive, remedial and punitive measures" to deal with offences like mob violence and cow vigilantism. -- PTI

Image: Lynching victim: Rakbar Khan
12:12   On Dabholkar's 5th death anniversary, kin demand arrest of real killers
Members of an outfit founded by slain anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar and his family members took out a protest rally in Maharashtra's Pune city today, demanding arrest of the "real perpetrators" of the crime.

Today is the fifth death anniversary of the rationalist, who was shot dead in Pune on August 20, 2013. The family members of Dabholkar and slain rationalist Govind Pansare, theatre director Atul Pethe, actor Sonali Kulkarni, Mahatma Gandhi's grandson Tushar Gandhi and several other art, culture and film personalities participated in the march.

The rally, led by members of Dabholkar's Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti, started from the Vitthal Ramji Shinde bridge, also known as the Omkareshwar bridge, where Dabholkar was shot dead in 2013, and culminated at the Sane Guruji Smarak.

Dabholkar's son Hamid Dabholkar, daughter Mukta Dabholkar and Govind Pansare's daughter-in-law Megha Pansare participated in the rally. The protesters carried placards with messages demanding justice and arrest of the "real perpetrators" of the crime.

Veteran actor Amol Palekar and family members of Dabholkar, Pansare, and slain scholar M M Kalburgi and journalist Gauri Lankesh are expected to address the gathering during the day-long programme at the protest site.

The Hindi translation of Dabholkar's book 'Bhram aur Niraas' will also be released later today. Two days ago, the Central Bureau of Investigation had arrested Sachin Andure, the alleged main shooter in the killing case of Dabholkar. Andure, a resident of Aurangabad, was nabbed from Pune late on Saturday evening, a CBI spokesperson had said. He was remanded yesterday in the CBI custody till August 26. -- PTI
12:02   Muzaffarpur case: FIR registered against Manju Verma, husband
An FIR was registered on Monday against Bihar's former Social Welfare Minister Manju Verma and her husband Chandrakant Verma under Arms Act. They were booked in connection with Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case.

The Central Bureau of Investigation had earlier conducted raids at 12 locations, including Manju's Patna residence in Begusarai, and seized 50 cartridges.

Additionally, the CBI had also questioned former Bihar Social Welfare Minister Damodar Rawat, who was accused of having alleged links with Brajesh Thakur -- the key mastermind of the Muzaffarpur shelter home rapes.

On August 9, Education Minister Krishna Nandan Prasad Verma was given an additional charge of the Social Welfare Department, a day after Manju tendered her resignation from the post following allegations regarding the case.

Manju's resignation came a couple of days after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar assured that the culprits involved in the alleged incident would not be spared. The former state minister has been in the eye of the storm lately, after the opposition parties demanded her resignation over her husband's alleged involvement surfaced.

Chandrakant, on the other hand, allegedly used to visit the shelter home quite frequently, spending hours in the girls' room. However, the couple had denied the allegations levelled against them.The issue of alleged sexual exploitation of more than 40 girls at a Muzaffarpur shelter home was uncovered more than a month ago by the Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Later, 11 employees of the child shelter home were arrested in this regard. -- ANI

Image: The main accused in the Muzaffarpur shelter home case Brajesh Thakur has ink thrown on his face while he was being taken to a special POCSO court, in Muzaffarpur on August 10. Photograph: PTI Photo
11:51   'On India, generals likely to enforce a thin red line on Imran'
"For all the army's perceived support of Imran Khan, Pakistan's new prime minister does not acknowledge it, does not like being called the army's 'ladla'," says Madiha Afzal, assistant professor at the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy and Non-Resident Fellow at Brookings Institute and author of the well received recent book, Pakistan Under Siege: Extremism, Society, and the State.

As Imran Khan took oath as Pakistan's new prime minister on August 18, Dr Afzal, who was raised in Lahore and Montreal, tells's Archana Masih in an e-mail interview what India, Pakistan and US can expect from the cricketer-turned-prime minister.

Do read

Image: Imran Khan and wife Bushra Bibi before the oath taking ceremony on August 18, 2018.

11:30   Kochi naval air base opens for commercial flights
Commodore RR Iyer, CO, INS Garuda, who headed the opening up of the Kochi Naval air base to commercial flights says, "It's a historic day as the airport is back into civil operations. Substantial work done to ensure all facilities are available and support is given for aircraft to operate. We've segregated parking bays so that unhindered operations take place."
11:25   Kerala needs plumbers, carpenters, electricians, not food: Minister
Union Minister for tourism, KJ Alphons, who is from Kerala, has this message to send out.

"Today we have close to a million people in relief camps. District collectors are working as coordinators and providing supplies. Central forces are providing amazing service to Kerala. The biggest heroes are fishermen, who came in 600 boats and are rescuing people.

"There will be no electricity in homes. Carpentry, plumbing would be gone. We need hundreds of thousands of electricians, plumbers, carpenters to rush to Kerala. We don't need clothes or food. People with technical capabilities are required to put life back into Kerala."

Meanwhile, in Kochi, flights to the INS Garuda Kochi Naval Air Station has begun. Commercial flights services is from this air station since the Cochin International Airport is still flooded.

India stepped up relief operations for the worst flood in Kerala in over a 100 years. Additional rescue teams, helicopters and motorboats, have been deployed to the state.

The death toll for the state stands at 357 since monsoons started in June,  with many as 845,000 people taking shelter in 3,700 camps.

Image: Refugees in their own country. People at a relief camp in flood-hit Chengannur, in Kerala, eat a hot meal.

11:07   US Secretary of State to visit Pak on Sept 5
United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo is likely to visit Pakistan on September 5 to meet newly sworn-in Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and discuss issues on mutual interests, The Dawn quoted diplomatic and official sources as saying.

Pompeo, who would make a brief stopover in Islamabad, would likely be the first foreign dignitary to meet Khan, who took oath as the 22nd prime minister of Pakistan on Saturday, the paper quoted sources as saying.

The US Secretary of State, who will hold talks with Pakistani officials, will likely deliberate on efforts to revive the strained relations between Washington and Islamabad and ask for Pakistan's support and cooperation to re-start the US-led Afghan peace process, sources added.

After the meeting, Pompeo would leave for New Delhi on September 6 to attend the 2+2 dialogue.Pompeo is likely to be accompanied by Alice Wells, who heads the Bureau for South Asian affairs at the State Department. -- ANI
10:53   Rajiv Gandhi's death left a deep void in my life: Rahul
United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi along with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Robert Vadra on Monday paid floral tribute to late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi on his birth anniversary at Veer Bhumi.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ashok Gehlot also paid homage to the former prime minister on his birth anniversary that is celebrated as `Sadbhavna divas`.

Rahul Gandhi also tweeted: @RahulGandhi Rajiv Gandhi was a kind, gentle and affectionate man whose untimely death left a deep void in my life. I remember the times we had together and the many birthdays we were lucky to celebrate with him when he was alive. He is greatly missed, but his memory lives on."
10:46   Indian NGO raises over USD 10,000 for Kerela Floods
Sewa International, an Indian non-profit organisation in America, has raised over USD 10,000 for the flood relief operations in the deluge-hit Kerala.

Nearly 200 people have lost their lives in Kerala since August 8 due to floods caused by rains and landslides, while over 3.14 lakh people have been moved to relief camps.

The southern Indian state is facing its worst flood in 100 years with 80 dams opened and all rivers in spate. A body blow has been dealt to the scenic state, with its infrastructure, standing crops and tourism facilities severely hit.

Sewa International USA has raised over USD 10,000 towards the flood relief in Kerela, where nearly 200 people have died in devastating floods and thousands have lost lives and have been rendered homeless, the organisation said in a statement.

Fresh from the painful memories of hurricane Harvey just a year back in Houston, Sewa International immediately rose to the occasion by setting an immediate goal of raising USD 100,000 for the relief operations, along with its India partner, Deseeya Seva Bharati Keralam, it said.

Over 5,000 Sewa volunteers have fanned out distributing food packets and cooking kits, and are opening free kitchens and medical camps to help the flood affected. -- PTI
10:37   R&R continues in Kerala
In Kerala, the Indian Coast Guard continues relief and rescue operations across the state. Thankfully, the IMD has withdrawn the 'red alert' for rain across the state, though heavy rain is expected in some places. 
10:35   After Kerala, it's Andhra's turn
And in Andhra Pradesh, flooding in parts of the Krishna district as heavy rain continues to lash the region. 
10:34   Thank you, Sir
In Kerala, a 'Thanks' note painted on the roof of a house in Kochi from where the Naval ALH piloted by Cdr Vijay Varma had rescued two women on August 17.
10:32   81 doctors from Mumbai, Pune, head to Kerala for flood relief ops
At least 55 doctors from JJ Hospital, Mumbai, 26 doctors from Pune's Sassoon hospital and paramedical staff leave for Thiruvananthapuram in two Air India aircraft to help with the Kerala flood relief operations.

As the massive floods continue to wreak havoc in the state of Kerala, the Western Naval Command on Sunday sailed INS Mysore with relief material to provide assistance to the flood-hit state.

On the night of August 19, the ship carried about 70 tonnes of relief material which includes bottled water, ready to eat meals, fresh ration, milk, biscuits and other miscellaneous things like medicines, essential toiletries, phenyl, gash bags, bleaching powder, and candles.

The relief material also included items received from some NGOs situated in Mumbai.The ship also carried one Chetak helicopter for augmenting air effort of the Southern Naval Command. A second ship, INS Mumbai is also being prepared with relief material and would depart for Kochi by the morning of August 20.

The Western Naval Command's Karwar Naval Base has also sent approximately 15 tonnes of fresh rations on Indian Naval Ship Sharda on August 19.Earlier on August 17, INS Deepak had sailed from Mumbai for Kochi with divers, Geminis, raincoats, gumboots, bottled water, fresh rations and ready to eat meals.

The ship entered Kochi on Sunday and handed over relief stores. Over the next few days, the ship will stock up more fresh water and relief material from Karwar for a second round of replenishment at Kochi.

Yesterday, the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) directed the central ministries to focus on the provision of emergency supplies of food, water, medicines and restoration of essential services in the southern state.

NCMC met for the fourth time on Sunday in last four day to coordinate rescue and relief operations among the Defence Forces, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and other Central Ministries and Kerala Government.

Thousands of personnel of Indian Navy, Air Force, Army, NDRF and Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) are engaged in the rescue and relief operations, which is in full swing in Kerala.

Till now, 38,000 people have been rescued and evacuated from the flood-affected areas. Medical aid has been provided to more than 23,000 people and around 3,00,000 food packets have been supplied by the Food Processing Ministry. 
10:01   Sensex hits record high, Nifty breaches 11,500 mark
Continuing its rally, the benchmark BSE Sensex rose over 250 points to hit a fresh record high in early trade, and NSE Nifty went past the 11,500-mark for the first time today on widespread gains in capital goods, metal, realty and banking scrips amid firm Asian cues.

The Sensex advanced by 263.06 points, or 0.69 per cent, to hit a new high of 38,210.94, breaking its previous record of 38,076.23 reached on August 9.

The gauge had gained 284.32 points in the previous session on Friday. NSE Nifty too breached the 11,500 mark, by surging 46.50 points, or 0.40 per cent, to 11,517.25, surging past its previous (intra-day) high of 11,495.20 on August 9. Besides, fresh inflows by foreign funds and persistent buying by domestic institutional investors (DIIs) and rupee recovery also boosted investor sentiment here, brokers said.

The market rally was powered by strong gains in capital gods, metal, realty, infrastructure, PSU, oil and gas, healthcare, auto and banking stocks, rising up to 2.78 per cent. Major gainers that helped key indices scale new highs include L&T, ONGC, Yes Bank, Coal India, Tata Motors, Tata Steel, Wipro, Vedanta, SBI, RIL, HUL, HDFC Ltd, Hero MotoCorp and HDFC Bank, rising up to 4.17 per cent. -- PTI
09:59   Seems Lalu is Imran Khan's mentor: Pak leader mocks speech
Downplaying Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's speech in the National Assembly, Pakistan Peoples Party leader Syed Khursheed Shah on Sunday said that the former's address did not match the stature of a premier of the country.

Shah was quoted by Dunya News as saying, "Ostensibly, Khan's speech gives the impression that India's Lalu Prasad Yadav is his political mentor".

In his first address in the NA after being elected as the prime minister, Khan reportedly lost his temper after the opposition leaders created a ruckus and staged a sit-in in the lower house of the Pakistan Parliament.

However, while speaking, he raised his voice on some occasions.Asserting that he did not expect such an 'irresponsible behaviour' from the cricketer-turned-politician, Shah further said, "If this is Naya Pakistan, then God may have mercy upon us."

Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party had emerged as the single largest party with 116 seats in the July 25 general elections. On Friday, Imran Khan was elected as the new prime minister of Pakistan by the NA lawmakers, defeating his PML-N rival Shehbaz Sharif.While Khan bagged 176 seats, Sharif, the PML-N president and the brother of jailed former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, managed to secure just 96 seats.
-- ANI
09:30   Sonia, Rahul pay tribute to Rajiv Gandhi on his birth anniversary
United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi along with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Robert Vadra on Monday paid floral tribute to late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi on his birth anniversary in New Delhi at Veer Bhumi.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ashok Gehlot also paid homage to the former prime minister on his birth anniversary that is celebrated as 'Sadbhavna divas'.

Born on August 20, 1944, Rajiv Gandhi represented Uttar Pradesh's Amethi parliamentary constituency four times.

He served as the sixth prime minister of India from 1984 to 1989.

Rajiv took office after the assassination of his mother, then prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1984.

He was assassinated in a suicide bombing at Tamil Nadu's Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991, and was later cremated at Veer Bhumi, on the banks of the river Yamuna.  -- ANI

Photograph: @INCIndia/Twitter
09:18   2 detained in connection with attack on Umar Khalid
Delhi Police Special Cell has detained two people in connection with attack on Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid.

Khalid was attacked by an unidentified gunman outside Delhi's Constitution Club on August 13.

A video had gone viral in which two people had claimed responsibility for the attack.

More details awaited.  -- ANI
08:43   Headley's half-brother did not attend Vajpayee's funeral: Centre
Indian government on Sunday dismissed reports of David Headley's half-brother, Daniel Gilani, attending the funeral of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi on Friday.

Headley, a convict in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack in 2008, is considered as one of the main plotters of the attack.

The government also denied reports of Daniel Gilani attending courtesy meeting between Pakistan's interim Minister of Law and Information, Syed Ali Zafar and External Affairs Minister (EAM), Sushma Swaraj.

The denial came after reports emerged that Gilani attended the funeral of Vajpayee on August 17, as part of the Pakistan delegation.

"He (Gilani) did not go to funeral venue. He (Gilani) did not attend courtesy meeting of Caretaker Law Minister with EAM," sources said.

The government further informed that Gilani was issued visa after checking blacklist, adding, there are no reports of his links to terrorism.

According to the sources, Gilani is a Pakistan civil servant and director to the Caretaker Law Minister.

"Daniel has publicly dissociated himself from David Headly," sources added.  -- ANI
08:20   First commercial flight lands in Kochi since airport suspended ops
First commercial flight lands at INS Garuda stationed at Kochi Naval Air Station after the International Airport in Kochi got affected due to the devastating floods in Kerala.

Meanwhile, the Western Naval Command sailed Indian Naval Ship Mysore with relief material to provide assistance to the flood-hit state.

On the night of August 19, the ship carried about 70 tonnes of relief material which includes bottled water, ready to eat meals, fresh ration, milk, biscuits and other miscellaneous things like medicines, essential toiletries, phenyl, gash bags, bleaching powder, and candles.

The relief material also included items received from some NGOs situated in Mumbai.

The ship also carried one Chetak helicopter for augmenting air effort of the Southern Naval Command.

A second ship, INS Mumbai is also being prepared with relief material and would depart for Kochi by the morning of August 20.

The Western Naval Command's Karwar Naval Base has also sent approximately 15 tonnes of fresh rations on Indian Naval Ship Sharda on August 19.

Earlier on August 17, INS Deepak had sailed from Mumbai for Kochi with divers, Geminis, raincoats, gumboots, bottled water, fresh rations and ready to eat meals.

The ship entered Kochi on Sunday and handed over relief stores. Over the next few days, the ship will stock up more fresh water and relief material from Karwar for a second round of replenishment at Kochi.  -- ANI