Fri, 24 August 2018
Army to build Bailey bridges to restore link between paths to Sabarimala

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23:39   Army to build Bailey bridges to restore link between paths to Sabarimala
The Army will build two Bailey bridges across the Pampa river to restore connectivity between two paths to the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabiramala, damaged in the floods, a body governing it said.

The Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the temple, at its review meeting in Thiruvananthapuram today to take stock of the post flood situation in areas of Pamba, decided to hand over work on constructing the uphill and downhill paths, to the Army.

One bridge would be used for the movement of emergency vehicles like ambulances and the other for devotees to cross the river, an official press release said in Thiruvananthapuram.

The bridge would connect the Pamba hill-top and the Ganapathy temple across the river, it said.

The TDB also decided to take steps to remove the mounds silt which had accumulated in the riverbed, it added.

Co-operation, Tourism and Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran and Devaswom president A Padmakumar were among those who attended the meeting.

The board had asked devotees to avoid visiting the temple during the ongoing Onam festival season.

However, the temple was opened for Onam poojas yesterday and would be closed on August 28.

The floods in Kerala has left 231 dead since August 8 and forced more than 10 lakh people out of their homes.  -- PTI
23:13   Several hurt as Youth Cong workers, cops clash outside HP assembly
Youth Congress workers and the police clashed outside the Himachal Pradesh assembly today leading to a walkout by the Congress from the House.

The Congress claimed a dozen of their youth workers suffered injuries.

In the House, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said three police personnel were injured when the protesters pelted stones.

Shimla Superintendent of Police Omapati Jamwal said the exact number of injured persons was being ascertained.

Himachal Pradesh Congress president Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, talking to PTI outside the House, said the protesting Youth Congress workers wanted to submit a memorandum on 'deteriorating law and order and increasing drug abuse' in the state but 'the officials used water cannons and cane-charged them'.

"This is unacceptable in a democratic set up," he said.

The clash led to a heated exchange of words between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition Congress in the House after which the latter's MLAs staged a walkout over the issue.

"If appropriate action is not taken against the responsible officials, the Congress will stall the Assembly proceedings," Sukhu told PTI outside the House.

He claimed that at least 12 youth Congress workers were injured in police lathicharge.

The BJP government should order an inquiry to hold the officials concerned responsible for the lathicharge, he said.

Earlier, the Youth Congress workers led by their state president Munish Thakur carried out a protest march from Chaura Maidan against 'deteriorating law and order situation' and 'increasing drug menace' in the state.  -- PTI
23:01   Bihar minister files defamation case against Tejashwi Yadav
Accusing Tejashwi Yadav of dragging his name in the shelter home sex scandal, Bihar minister Suresh Sharma today lodged a defamation suit against the Rashtriya Janata Dal leader.

Sharma, who holds the urban development ministry and represents Muzaffarpur constituency in the state assembly, filed his complaint before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Hari Prasad.

The matter is likely to be taken up for hearing on August 29.

Notably, the Bharatiya Janata Party MLA had last month sent a legal notice to Yadav-- the Leader of Opposition in Bihar assembly-- for alleging that he had close links with Brajesh Thakur, prime accused in the sexual abuse of 34 girl inmates of the shelter home run by his NGO.

Sharma has maintained that his name was being dragged in the scandal because he was the local MLA and has insisted that he has no relations with Thakur.

Meanwhile, Yadav has demanded the minister's resignation and accused Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of being 'scared' of pressing for the same as Sharma belonged to the BJP, which was in power at the Centre.  -- PTI
22:13   Don't act as 'supari killer' of idea of India: BJP to Rahul
The Bharatiya Janata Party today launched a furious attack on Rahul Gandhi after the Congress president compared it and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh with the radical Islamist outfit Muslim Brotherhood, accusing him of acting as a 'contract killer of the idea called India' for his attempt to present them as a terror organisation.

The BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said likes of President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who died last week, have an RSS background and Gandhi's comparison of the organisation with an Islamist outfit at an event in London is 'unforgivable'.

Addressing the media, Patra demanded immediate apology from the Congress president for likening the choice of Indians in an election with an organisation which, the BJP leader added, is declared a terror outfit in many countries.

He asked if Gandhi has taken a 'supari' (contract for killing) for India.

"Stop this job of acting as a contract killer of the idea called India," he said.

Instead of being a proud Indian leader on foreign countries, the Congress president has been attempting to insult and belittle India abroad, he alleged.

"India is asking you is some terrorist organisation ruling India? It is a democratically elected government. Is this government, is this choice of people of India for a terror organisation," he asked.

Patra said Gandhi has no maturity and understanding whatsoever of India and has no leadership quality.

The only quality he has, the BJP leader said, is hatred towards Modi, the BJP and the RSS and his irresponsible and immature remarks were an outcome of this.

The 'frustration' shown by the Congress leader ahead of next year's Lok Sabha polls is similar to his party's desperation in 2013 ahead of the general elections in 2014 when it had allegedly accused the RSS of running terror camps and coined the term 'Hindu terrorism', Patra said.

"Why you have such hatred for democracy... Why you hate Hindus?" he asked.

What Gandhi has said will be headlines in Pakistan's media tomorrow, he claimed, and alleged that the Congress president had an sense of entitlement and could not tolerate Modi as prime minister as he came from a poor background and a backward community.

Patra also targeted Gandhi for his criticism of Modi's handling of Pakistan, and said he should have been a proud Indian and attacked not the prime minister but the neighbouring country for its support to terrorism.

With his charge of vendetta politics against the government, the Congress leader has given a handle to lawyers of fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya, who is wanted in India for economic crimes and is currently based in London.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Congress president Rahul Gandhi at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London on Friday. Photograph: Courtesy @INCIndia/Twitter
22:07   Newborn death: NHRC issues notice to Hryana govt, Centre
The National Human Rights Commission today issued a notice to the Health Ministry and the Haryana government over reports of the death of a newborn in an ambulance that got stuck in a jam allegedly caused by a cycle rally of Haryana Pradesh Congress chief Ashok Tanwar in Sonipat district.

"The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of media reports that a newborn allegedly died as the ambulance carrying him could not reach to the hospital as it got stuck in the rally of a political party in Sonipat, Haryana, on August, 22," it said.

The commission has issued the notice to the state's chief secretary calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks along with the details of the relief provided to the aggrieved family.

It also directed the Haryana DGP to submit a report on steps taken on the FIR registered in the matter and present status of the investigation in the case.

The NHRC has also sent a notice to the Union Health Ministry and directed its secretary to submit a report within four weeks, making it mandatory to equip every ambulance, be it owned by government, private hospitals or outsourced, with the life-saving devices.

The baby died at the PGIMS, Rohtak, after the ambulance carrying him was allegedly stuck in the jam for over 30 minutes.

In a police complaint filed yesterday, the newborn's father alleged that the ambulance carrying the baby was not equipped with oxygen facilities.

A case has been filed under section 304A (causing death by rash or negligent act) of the IPC and section 177 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, the police said.   -- PTI
21:12   Want talks with India but it takes two to tango: Pak foreign minister
Pakistan wants to improve ties with India and resolve all outstanding issues including Kashmir through talks, and is not shy of engaging with New Delhi despite the current impasse in relations, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in Islamabad today.

"But it takes two to tango. You cannot clap with just one hand. We have a positive stance and will remain hopeful," said Qureshi, who was sworn-in as Pakistan's Foreign Minister on Monday.

He also said the 'current position of the ties between Pakistan and India was not a secret as peace talks are suspended, but we have to see how we can move forward'.

Ties between India and Pakistan nose-dived in recent years with no bilateral talks taking place, following a spate of terror attacks on Indian military bases by Pakistan-based terror groups since January 2016.

India has made it clear that it will not hold dialogue with Islamabad as terrorism and talks cannot go hand-in-hand.

"Pakistan wants to improve ties with India and resolve all outstanding issues, including Kashmir through talks. The government is not shy of engaging with India despite the current impasse in the talks," Qureshi told reporters after Pakistan's new Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the Foreign Ministry and was briefed on the country's foreign policy.

He also mentioned Khan's July 26 victory speech, in which the former cricketer-turned-politician had said that his government would like leaders of the India and Pakistan to resolve all disputes, including the 'core issue' of Kashmir, through talks.

Khan had said that if they (India) takes one step towards us, Pakistan will take two steps.

Qureshi also denied having said that Pakistan would win the Kulbhushan Jadhav's case in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Qureshi, while addressing media in his home city of Multan, had said yesterday that Pakistan has 'solid evidence' against Jadhav and was hopeful of winning the case against him at the ICJ.

"How I can say that we will win when the matter is sub judice. I only said that we will put forward Pakistan's point of view effectively," he said.

Talking about his previous press conference, Qureshi said he had asked a question to his Indian counterpart 'whether Pakistan and India have any option other than holding talks to resolve the issues'.

He said that in his 'opinion there is no option, (but resuming talks)'.

"I am not talking about a revolution in our relation but just suggesting that we should hold talks and don't think if we would make progress or not," he said, adding that an 'enabling environment' should be created.

To a question about Kashmir issue, he said that there was national consensus and the government and the Opposition are on the same page.  -- PTI
20:59   Don't fine me, I am CM's relative, man tells traffic cops in Bhopal
A video purportedly showing a man claiming to be Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's brother-in-law and warning traffic police not to fine him has gone viral on social media.

While Bhopal police did levy a fine on Rajendra Singh Chouhan, the man in the video, last evening, the chief minister today evaded reply when asked if they were related.

"I have crores of sisters and many brothers-in law," he said.

The video showed Rajendra Singh and a woman getting down from an SUV when stopped by police on Jail Road in Bhopal and claiming that he was the husband of chief minister's sister, so the police should not fine him.

Police subedar Dipankar Swarnkar recovered a fine of Rs 3,000 from him as the vehicle was not insured, Deputy Inspector General of Police Dharmendra Choudhary today said.

About the man's claim of being chief minister's relative, Choudhary said it will be probed.

When reporters asked chief minister Chouhan after a function at his official residence today whether the man in the video clip was his brother-in-law, he said, "I have crores of sisters and many brothers-in law."

"The law will take its own course," the chief minister said before getting into his car and leaving.  -- PTI
20:34   Centre withdraws security clearance to Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera, an international English news channel, may have to stop broadcast in India as the Home Ministry has withdrawn the security clearance given to it.

The Qatar-based channel has appealed to the government against the withdrawal of the security clearance and a final decision on it is awaited, a government official said.

Though the reasons for the action against Al Jazeera are not known, a documentary on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir telecast by the channel is believed to have upset the central security establishment, leading to the decision.

When contacted, a home ministry official said it is the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting which takes the decision on the issue of broadcasting licence given to any media outlet.

"Our role is limited to matters related to security clearance. The decision on cancellation of broadcasting licence will be taken by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting," the official said.

Another official said the security clearance was given by the Home Ministry on December 3, 2010 and withdrawn on May 29, 2018.  -- PTI

Photograph: Ronen Zvulun
20:26   3 dead in Tamil Nadu floods, 7,167 acres of crops submerged
Three people have died in recent flood related incidents in Tamil Nadu, 7,167 acres of standing crops were submerged and 5,595 people were in relief centres, the state government said in Chennai today.

"Two man and a woman died, 186 villages were affected, 954 huts were fully damaged, 1,029 huts partially damaged and 7,167 acres of standing crops are submerged," Revenue Minister R B Udhaya Kumar told reporters in Chennai.

Giving statistics on the damage caused by the recent floods,he said the number of people in relief centres stood at 5,595, including 775 children in 20 camps in Erode, Thanjavur, Tiruchirappalli, Nagapattinam and Cuddalore districts.

The number of camps has come down from August 18, when there were 119 shelters housing 13,569 people. After the flood waters started receding, people had begun moving out of the camps.

Following heavy inflows from Karnataka dams, water was simultaneously released from state's dams', including Mettur.

This led to flooding in districts along the banks of the Cauvery and Bhavani rivers, including Tiruchirappalli, Erode and Namakkal.

The water in Mettur dam reached its Full Reservoir Level of 120 feet for the first time this year on July 23 due to higher realisation from Karnataka's Krishnaraja Sagar and Kabini dams, for the second time on August 11 and the third on August 22.

The water level at the Mettur dam continues to be above FRL as of today with a storage of 93,502 Thousand Million cubic feet at 120.02 feet.

However, the inflow has substantially fallen from as high as two lakh cusecs a few days ago to 22,290 cusecs today discharge is now 25,126 cusecs.

On August 19, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami had inspected the flood hit areas and assured compensation for crop loss and permanent houses for the affected people.

Revenue Minister Udhaya Kumar inspected Madurai and Kanyakumari districts on August 18 and 19 respectively.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami presents essentials to people in flood-affected area of Erode. Photograph: PTI Photo
19:01   First-ever penguin born in India dies at Mumbai zoo
The first Humboldt Penguin that was ever born at Mumbai's Byculla zoo on Independence Day, has died. 

Zoo authorities have said its death was due to anomalies associated with newborn penguins.

The veterinary team that is concerned with Humboldt Penguins at the Mumbai zoo said in a statement that a preliminary investigation during the post-mortem revealed there were anomalies like yolk sac retention and liver dysfunction, which were the major causes of death.

The Humboldt penguin was born on August 15 at 8.02pm. 

It weighed 75 grams at birth and was healthy, zoo officials had said. 
18:22   SC verdict on panchayat poll victory of democracy: Mamata
Dubbing the Supreme Court verdict on West Bengal panchayat poll as a "victory of democracy and of the people", Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress and the Communist Party of India-Marxist for "defaming" the state through false propaganda.
It was a planned move by the three political parties to gain political advantage, Banerjee said.
Welcoming the Supreme Court's verdict, she said these parties had deliberately resorted to false propaganda.
"I think it is a victory of democracy and victory of the people. I want to dedicate it to the people of the country," Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat.
She said the CPI-M and the BJP moving the Supreme Court seeking cancellation of elections in over 20,000 uncontested local body seats in West Bengal had brought bad name to the state.
"It was a planned move by the CPI-M, the Congress and the BJP to malign the state and they have been doing it continuously," Banerjee, also the Trinamool Congress chief, said.
The Supreme Court has turned down the pleas of the CPI-M and the BJP seeking cancellation of elections on over 20,000 uncontested local body seats in West Bengal.
All the uncontested seats were won by candidates of the ruling Trinamool Congress.
The CPI-M and the BJP, which opposed the contention of the state government, state poll panel and the TMC, had alleged that West Bengal did not witness a free and fair election and the candidates of these two parties were stopped from filing nomination papers.
Elections were held in phases for 48,650 posts in Gram Panchayats, 825 posts in Zilla Parishads and 9,217 posts in Panchayat Samitis and the TMC won about 34 per cent seats uncontested. -- PTI
17:22   K'taka floods: Defence Minister announces Rs 1 crore aid from MP funds
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday announced a financial aid of Rs 1 crore from her Members of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) scheme for the flood-hit districts of Karnataka.

"I am a member of Parliament from Karnataka. I want to offer Rs 1 crore from my MPLAD for Kodagu district," Sitharaman said while taking part at an event.

Earlier on Friday, the Defence Minister also visited the flood-ravaged district of Kodagu and pledged support for the restoration work where hundreds have been rendered homeless. She had also assured that the Indian Army and the Air Force will work in rebuilding the lives of those who have been affected.

Kodagu is one of the worst affected areas in Karnataka as torrential rains have left a huge trail of destruction, with hundreds taking shelter in temples, churches and Madrasas.

On August 21, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy had urged the Centre to provide Rs 100 crore relief fund for the Kodagu district. Similarly, former chief minister Siddaramaiah also appealed the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide necessary relief for the victims of the floods. -- ANI

Image: Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Kodagu today.
17:09   Vajpayee's ashes immersed in Arabian Sea off Mumbai coast
The ashes of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee were today immersed in the Arabian Sea near the Gateway of India in Mumbai in the presence of senior BJP leaders. Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah had handed over urns containing Vajpayees ashes to all the BJP state unit chiefs asking them to immerse it in rivers and seas across the country. The "asthi kalash yatra" here, which took place in the afternoon today, had several BJP leaders travelling in a boat and its city unit chief Ashish Shelar and senior state minister Vinod Tawde immersing the ashes in the sea amid sloganeering by party workers eulogising Vajpayee.

Image: PM Modi with the urns containing Atal Bihari Vajpayee's ashes at the BJP HQ in Delhi.
An earthquake of magnitude 5.5 hits the Andaman Islands: USGS
16:36   Another Rs 18 crore grant for Kerala
Health Ministry approves an additional grant of Rs.18.71 crore under National Health Mission (NHM) to Kerala for disbursing to Village Health, Sanitation & Nutrition Committees for Kerala flood relief, as per the state's  request.
15:51   Army works day and night to keep Kerala safe
An Indian army team in Palakkad, Kerala, creates a barrage using railway sleepers and prevents water from entering the village after the Kannadipuza river changed course. 
15:48   NO aid to Kerala announced, says UAE
The UAE has said today that there has been no official announcement so far on any specific amount as financial aid for Kerala.

The assessment of relief needed for the flood and aftermath is ongoing. Announcing any specific amount as financial aid, I dont think it is final, since it is still ongoing, Ahmed Albanna said.

The Indian Express in a report said that when asked if UAE had not announced Rs 700 crore in aid, the ambassador said, Yes, that is correct. It is not yet final. It has not been announced.

UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum had first tweeted on August 18 that his country had formed a committee to explore ways of helping Kerala.

An estimated three million Indians live and work in the UAE, of whom 80 per cent are from Kerala.

The centre has maintained that it has not received any official offer for financial help from any nation for Kerala.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had, however, tweeted on August 21 that the UAE will "provide Kerala an assistance of Rs. 700 crore. Kerala has a special relationship with UAE, which is a home away from home for Malayalees. We express our gratitude to UAE for their support."

Meanwhile, the European Union made an initial contribution of 190,000 euros in humanitarian aid funding to support the Indian Red Cross Society for immediate relief assistance.

While the Indian government is going by the policy of not accepting foreign aid for disaster relief that was framed after the tsunami hit India, former National Security Advisor and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon said while the 2004 decision was to not accept foreign participation in relief, it could be accepted for long-term rehabilitation case by case.

In other news, the Kerala government had yesterday filed an affidavit in the Supreme court, saying the sudden release of water from the Mullaperiyar dam by the Tamil Nadu government was one of the reasons for the unprecedented flooding in the state. The affidavit also said that out of a total population of about 3.48 crore, more than 54 lakh (or one-sixth of the population of Kerala) had been directly affected by the floods.
14:48   Indian women suffer shock defeat to Iran in kabaddi final
Iran hurt India's pride in kabaddi yet again as it delivered a second straight knockout punch to the sport's most successful nation in the women's gold medal match of the 18th Asian Games here today. The two-time defending champions was shocked 24-27 in a thrilling final as the firm favourites settled for silver. India's raiders disappointed in the title clash as Iran came from behind to jolt them in the second half. The Iranian women emulated thus their male counterparts, who had shocked seven-time champions India in the semifinals yesterday.
14:47   Landslides triggered by human activity on rise, study shows
More than 50,000 people were killed by landslides around the world between 2004 and 2016, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Sheffield.

The team, which compiled data on more than 4,800 fatal landslides during the 13-year period, also revealed for the first time that landslides resulting from human activity have increased over time.

The research is published today in the European Geosciences Union journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences.

The team found that more than 700 fatal landslides that occurred between 2004 and 2016 had a human fingerprint. Construction works, legal and illegal mining, as well as the unregulated cutting of hills (carving out land on a slope) caused most of the human-induced landslides. -- PTI
14:36   Dharamshala records second highest rainfall for 24-hour period
Dharamshala in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh has witnessed its second highest rainfall for a 24-hour period, the Meteorological centre said today. As per data recorded by centre, 292.4 millimetres rainfall was witnessed in Dharamshala in 24 hours ending at 8.30 am today. As a precautionary measure, schools have been shut in Kangra. -- PTI
13:52   BJP-RSS dividing India: Rahul in Germany
While his party binds the people of India, the BJP-RSS divides them and spreads hatred, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has said. Addressing the Indian diaspora at a function organised by the Indian Overseas Congress in Berlin last night, he said the Congress's thought of "unity in diversity" came from the times of Guru Nanak Dev.

Taking on the BJP-led NDA government in India, Gandhi said while long speeches were being given and hatred was being generated, farmers continued to commit suicide and youngsters were unable to see a future for themselves.

"The Congress belongs to all, works for everyone and our work is to spread the thought of unity in diversity. Today, the government in India is working differently," he said. Gandhi said India's competition was with China and jobs would either go there or come here.

"The BJP-RSS people are dividing our own people. They are spreading hatred in our own country. Our job is to bring the people together and take the country forward and we have shown how to do it," he said.

The Congress chief once again claimed that while China gave jobs to 50,000 people in 24 hours, India gave employment to only 450 people in the said period.

"There are long speeches, spewing of hatred, but farmers are still committing suicide and the youth cannot see a future. "We want India to go forward and you will never hear of any Indian spreading hatred or anger anywhere. This is our culture, this is your culture," he said.

Gandhi also noted that his thoughts emanated from those of Guru Nanak Dev, the first Sikh guru, and thanked the members of the Indian community living in Germany, many of whom are from Punjab, for supporting the Congress and helping the party form government in the state. He told them it was their government in Punjab and his doors were open to them in case they needed something.

"When we needed you, you stood with us and helped us form our government in Punjab. A friend in need is a friend indeed and you have been true friends," he told the gathering.

The Congress chief also mentioned that a German MP had told him Europe's strength was unity in diversity. "I thought, you are saying this today, we have been speaking of unity in diversity from the times of Guru Nanak. Our strength is listening to everyone, even the weakest, the poorest person. Every Indian religion talks about helping the last man in the line," he said.

The Congress chief was accompanied by party leaders, including Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh's wife Preneet Kaur, who has been an MP and a Union minister in the past. Gandhi, who was on a two-day visit to Germany, will now head to the UK, where he is scheduled to address the students of the London School of Economics tonight and then the Indian Overseas Congress a day after. -- PTI
13:46   HC refuses to extend bail, asks Lalu to surrender by Aug 30
The Jharkhand High Court today refused to extend the provisional bail of fodder scam convict and former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad and asked him to surrender by August 30 before the CBI court.

Hearing the prayer for extension of provisional bail for three months on grounds that the RJD leader needed to undergo treatment, Justice Apresh Kumar Singh asked Prasad to surrender by August 30 before the CBI court and directed the state government to provide medical care whenever needed.

Appearing for Prasad, Abhishek Manu Singhvi prayed for extension of provisional bail for three months for treatment of anal abscess, kidney stone and enlarged prostate glands.

CBI counsel Rajiv Sinha objected to the prayer, saying the RJD leader has availed about 12 weeks for his treatment. Medicare is available in the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences in Ranchi, he said. -- PTI
13:35   Yogi conducts aerial survey of flood-hit parts of UP
No, not Kerala or Karnataka, that's Lakhimpur Kheri district in Uttar Pradesh. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath conducted an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas today. 
13:10   Water from Mullaperiyar dam did NOT cause flooding: TN CM rebuffs Kerala
Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi Palainasamy said today that Kerala's accusations towards Tamil Nadu are false and baseless. Kerala has maintained that the the water released from the Mulllaperiyar dam by Tamil Nadu caused the flooding in Kerala.

"If you say, excess water was discharged from one dam (Mullaperiyar) then how did water reach all parts of Kerala? The excess discharge of water from 80 dams caused flood in Kerala.

"Water from Mullaperiyar Dam was released one week after the floods struck Kerala. It was not done immediately after the floods. Three warnings were issued, first at at 139 feet. second at 141 feet and third warning at 142 feet. Water was released in a phased manner," the CM said.

The Supreme Court today ordered that the water level at the Mullaperiyar dam be maintained at 139 feet till August 31 keeping in mind the grave devastation that has taken place due to the unprecedented floods in Kerala.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud considered the Centre's submission that the sub-committee of the Mullaperiyar dam had met on August 23 and directed the Tamil Nadu government to ensure that the water level is maintained at 139 feet, which is two feet below the permissible limit fixed by the apex court.

As floodwaters recede in Kerala, the focus is now on taking care of the over 10.40 lakh people staying in relief camps and rehabilitating people whose houses have been destroyed in the deluge. People from all over the country and abroad have pitched in to help the state by offering material and also cash donations to the Chief Minister's Disaster Relief Fund (CMDRF).

A total of Rs 539 crore has been received till last night, official sources said. Though people from relief camps have started returning to their homes, more than 10.40 lakh people were still in 2,770 camps across the state.
12:44   SC seeks WB govt's response on plea seeking CBI probe into killing of BJP workers
The Supreme Court today sought response from the West Bengal government on a plea seeking a CBI probe into the killing of three BJP workers in the state. A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan issued notice and sought response of the West Bengal government and CBI on a plea filed by BJP leader and advocate Gaurav Bhatia. Bhatia, appearing in person, said the three disturbing murders of Shaktipad Sarkar, Tirlochan Mahato and Dulal Kumar have taken place in the state but police have not registered FIR and their family members have been allegedly threatened. He said a CBI probe should be ordered and compensation of Rs 50 lakh should be directed to be given to the family members. He also sought security for family members of the victims. -- PTI
12:39   How Kejriwal's Twitter timeline hints at Ashutosh, Khetan's decline
If tweets and retweets by the boss are an indication of popularity, Aam Aadmi Party leaders Ashutosh and Ashish Khetan had fallen out of favour with party chief Arvind Kejriwal long before they announced their resignation.

The diminishing importance of the two leaders, both former journalists who made their political debut when they joined the party, and their tensions with the top leadership is reflected in the chief minister's timeline, reveals an analysis of Kejriwal's Twitter account over two months.

From June 18 to August 15, Kejriwal only retweeted two of Ashutosh's tweets and three of Khetan, far less than those of other leaders who enjoy his confidence. Kejriwal, who has over 14 million followers on Twitter and is the second most followed politician in India after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is a prolific tweeter and uses the microblogging platform with great effect.

That he chose to virtually ignore his once trusted lieutenants spoke volumes, said party observers. In the same period, Kejriwal retweeted 102 tweets of his party members, including his deputy in the government Manish Sisodia, 80 tweets of journalists and 11 tweets of leaders from other parties. This excludes his own tweets and random retweets.

The analysis of his Twitter account also revealed that he retweeted Sisodia 31 times and AAP's Delhi unit chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj 19 times.

Kejriwal is known to operate his Twitter account himself and is guided by inputs from his social media team, said an AAP leader. He usually retweets posts that speak highly of the Delhi government's work and information critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP.

Party sources said the unease between Kejriwal and rebel party leader Kumar Vishwas also came to the fore when the chief stopped retweeting his once trusted lieutenant's tweets. Though Ashutosh and Khetan are believed to have resigned on August 15, the latter announced he was quitting earlier this week. Kejriwal is yet to accept their resignations.

When Ashutosh announced his resignation from the party on August 15, Kejriwal responded by saying, "How can we accept your resignation, Sir? Not in this birth. Sir, we all love you." Ashutosh was a close confidant of Kejriwal's and a back-door negotiator with several rebels, including its lawmakers. This was seen as evidence of the importance of the political newbie who had joined the party just before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Kejriwal used Khetan and Ashutosh as key negotiators to resolve the crisis between him and Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan. Party insiders said discontent among senior leaders had been growing since the party nominated Delhi-based businessman Sushil Gupta and chartered accountant N D Gupta for the vacant Rajya Sabha seats from Delhi along with senior leader Sanjay Singh. They said Ashutosh, Khetan and Kumar Vishwas, a founder member of the party, were upset over the AAP leadership's choice of the businessman and the chartered accountant for two of the three Rajya Sabha seats in April.

All three AAP nominees are now members of the Upper House Later, the party chose Pankaj Gupta to contest from Chandni Chowk for the 2019 Lok Sabha election over Ashutosh, who had lost the seat in 2014 polls. Khetan, too, is believed to be upset because the party is not keen on fielding him from the New Delhi Lok Sabha seat he had contested and lost in 2014. -- PTI

Image: Arvind Kejriwal with Ashish Khetan.
Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan claim men's doubles gold in Asian Games tennis.
11:50   Even after 71 years of Independence atrocities on SCs haven't abated: SC
The Delhi High Court today dismissed the appeal of 15 persons belonging to the dominant Jat community against their conviction and sentencing in a case of burning alive a 70-year-old Dalit man and his physically-challenged daughter at Mirchpur village in Haryana's Hisar district in 2010.

A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta said even after 71 years of Independence atrocities on Scheduled Castes community has shown no signs of abating.

The court also directed the Haryana government to rehabilitate families belonging to the Dalit community who were displaced after the 2010 incident.

The high court pronounced the verdict on the appeal of 15 persons challenging their conviction and sentence by a trial court in the case. The victims and the police had also appealed in the high court seeking enhancement of punishment awarded to the convicts and acquittal of others.

The trial court had on September 24, 2011, convicted 15 of 97 men belonging to the Jat community. The house of Tara Chand was set on fire resulting in burning alive of the father and daughter on April 21, 2010 after a dispute between Jat and Dalit community of the village.

On October 31, 2011, the trial court had sentenced Kulwinder, Dharambir and Ramphal to life imprisonment for committing unintentional killing under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code. Five others -- Baljeet, Karamveer, Karampal, Dharambir and Bobal -- were handed down jail term of five years for their offences including rioting, voluntarily causing hurt, mischief and putting ablaze victims' houses and provisions of SC/ST (POA) Act. Seven others, convicted under milder penal provisions, were released on probation by the trial court, which had earlier acquitted 82 out of 97 accused in the case. -- PTI
11:47   SC refuses to cancel WB panchayat polls
In a relief for Mamata Banerjee, the Supreme Court today turned down the pleas of CPI(M) and BJP seeking cancellation of elections on over 20,000 uncontested local body seats in West Bengal. All these uncontested seats were won unopposed by candidates of the ruling Trinamool Congress and opposition parties had alleged that their candidates were obstructed from filing nomination papers.

The apex court, however, took note of the allegations and said the aggrieved candidate may file election petitions to challenge panchayat polls in courts concerned.

A bench comprising Chief Justice DIpak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud exercised its extraordinary power under Article 142 of the Constitution and held that the limitation period of 30 days for filing the election petitions, which has expired, would now commence from the date of notification of panchayat poll results.

Earlier, the apex court had termed the situation as "grim and grave" and had directed the West Bengal State Election Commission not to declare and notify the results of panchayat body elections in the wake of allegations of large scale violence and alleged obstruction of filing nomination papers.

The court, meanwhile, set aside the Calcutta High Court decision directing the state poll panel to allow filing of nomination papers in panchayat elections through electronic forms such as e-mails and WhatsApp.

"The high court was in error while allowing the filing of nomination papers through electronic forms," it said, adding, "no such process is either mentioned nor allowed under the provisions of the Representation of Peoples Act".

Out of a total 58,692 posts for gram panchayat village, zilla parishad and panchayat samiti, 20,159 had remained uncontested in the violence-marred local polls in the state held in May this year. The court was hearing the pleas by parties like the BJP and CPI (M) alleging that candidates from ruling All India Trinmool Congress in West Bengal were only allowed to file nomination papers and as a result, they won without any contest. Earlier, the West Bengal government had told court that the row over the recently concluded panchayat polls in the state has led to a "constitutional crisis" since the tenure of several Panchayats were over and new bodies have not been made functional. -- PTI
11:16   Arnab Goswami misquotes Ambedkar, calls Gandhi Mohanchand Karamchand Gandhi
In a familiar high-pitched hyperbolic monologue, another episode of Arnab Goswami's Daily Newshour 'The Debate' wrapped up on August 22. The topic chosen for the hour-long debate was -- "What's wrong with chanting Bharat Mata Ki Jai?" in the wake of former J&K CM Farooq Abdullah being heckled by a crowd in Srinagar two days after he chanted the slogan in Delhi.

The show started with Goswami urging everybody to shout 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' and ended with a lecture on the Indian Constitution by BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra. In between, there were comical moments like Abdullah accidentally referring to Goswami as 'pagal' and hastily correcting his faux pas.

However, the gaffes were not limited to Abdullah and this article is about the ones that Goswami made during the length of the show. These were originally pointed out by Shuddhabrata Sengupta, an artist, curator and writer with the Raqs Media Collective.  Read more
11:07   Rift in Vajpayee's family over his ashes
The niece of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Kanti Mishra has rebuffed another niece of the late leader, Karuna Shukla, over her statement criticising the Bharatiya Janata Party for carrying the veteran leader's ashes to different states for immersion.

Speaking to ANI, Mishra said, "He (Vajpayee) does not belong to me or her (Karuna), he belongs to the nation. Everyone cannot go to Delhi so when 'Kalash' comes to their state they get a chance to pay their last respects".

Mishra's statement comes after Karuna, a Congress leader, alleged that the BJP is politicising the former prime minister's death for gains in the upcoming 2019 elections.

Vajpayee passed away on August 16 at All India Institute for Medical Sciences in the national capital. Following the cremation of the leader, his ashes were distributed to the presidents of BJP-ruled states for immersion. -- ANI
10:59   2016 assault: Ambassador T P Sreenivasan wants police officers forgiven
In a widely condemned incident, Ambassador T P Sreenivasan, former diplomat and columnist, was attacked by Students Federation of India activists in January 2016 at the venue of the Global Education Meet in Kovalam.   

The ambassador was then vice chairman and executive head of the Kerala State Higher Education Council, which had organised the meet, and the leftist students' assault was apparently in protest against what they termed 'commercialising higher education' through organising such events.   

The police force at the venue, the ambassador had pointed out, remained mute spectators.   

Following the attack, suo motu proceedings were initiated by Justice K P Balachandran, the state's Upa Lok Ayukta, on a charge of maladministration on the part of the police, and recently six police officers were found guilty of very serious dereliction of duty and recommended that major penalties be imposed on them.   

However, on August 24 this year, Ambassador Sreenivasan wrote to the additional chief secretary (home) of Kerala requesting that the Upa Lok Ayukta's recommendations be considered with sympathy and compassion.   
'This is a time of forgiveness and reconciliation in Kerala, following the unprecedented flood havoc in Kerala. The police forces in Kerala have done exceptional work in rescue and rehabilitation work and earned universal admiration. This is a time for all of us to work together to rescue our state. I do not wish to vitiate this atmosphere by any action against some police officers on my account at this juncture,' Sreenivasan has written in his letter.   

He adds: 'There were many gestures on their part to express regret over the developments, like inviting me to their annual conference and apologising for the incident and writing in their magazine condemning the attack. I believe the then DGP, Shri T P Senkumar had taken action against the concerned police officers.'   

Ambassador Sreenivasan ends his letter to the additional chief secretary with these words: 'I am not competent to forgive them, but I personally believe that they may be forgiven for their mistakes. I shall be grateful if the matter is closed without any further action against the police officers in question.'

Following the assault, this is what columnist Rajeev Srinivasan had to say: This is how communists are
10:44   Physically challenged man helps couple stay alive and afloat
Tales of grit and humanity from Kerala: Sinna Durai, a specially abled person from Pathanamthitta's Othera, saved a couple's life when they were stuck in the floodwaters. "I heard them cry for help. So I arranged a makeshift raft and helped them move to an elevated platform. We were rescued soon after," he told news agency ANI. 
10:35   Vajpayee, warts and all
The sorry image of a wailing leader visiting relief camps for riot victims was completely incoherent with what he did next, blaming the minority community for the disturbance. Utkarsh Mishra/ pens a tribute from the heart. Do read
10:34   Defence minister visits flood-wrecked Kodagu
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visits flood and landslide affected areas in Kodagu. Sreevidya PI Deputy Commissioner of Kodagu district also present.

The torrential rains that lashed the district last week has left a huge trail of destruction and claimed at least 16 lives. Thousands have been rendered homeless.

Sitharaman is expected to visit affected areas including Kuvempu Layout, Sai Layout and talk to people there, the Karnataka BJP said. She will then travel to landslide-hit areas of Madapur and take stock of the situation. After that, she is scheduled to visit a relief camp in Madikeri and interact with the flood-affected people there.

The defence minister will also hold meetings with the district administration and other officials at the Deputy Commissioner's office on the relief and rehabilitation work.

Sitharaman, who is Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka, is the second Union minister to visit the flood-ravaged district, after D V Sadananada Gowda, who also hails from the state. -- PTI
10:29   Under 50 and drink alcohol? Read this
In a shocking revelation, a recent study has found that alcohol is associated with nearly one in 10 deaths in people aged 15-49 years old. Overall, according to the research that estimates levels of alcohol use and health effects in 195 countries between 1990 to 2016, 2.8 million deaths occur each year worldwide.

Based on their analysis, the authors suggest that there is no safe level of alcohol as any health benefits of alcohol are outweighed by its adverse effects on other aspects of health, particularly cancers.

According to lead author, Dr Max Griswold of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, USA, "Previous studies have found a protective effect of alcohol on some conditions, but we found that the combined health risks associated with alcohol increase with any amount of alcohol. In particular, the strong association between alcohol consumption and the risk of cancer, injuries, and infectious diseases offset the protective effects for ischemic heart disease in women in our study."

"Although the health risks associated with alcohol starts off being small with one drink a day, they then rise rapidly as people drink more. Policies focusing on reducing alcohol consumption to the lowest levels will be important to improve health. The widely held view of the health benefits of alcohol needs revising, particularly as improved methods and analyses continue to shed light on how much alcohol contributes to global death and disability," added Dr Max Griswold.

Globally, one in three people (32.5 percent) drink alcohol - equivalent to 2.4 billion people - including 25 percent of women (0.9 billion women) and 39 percent of men (1.5 billion men).

On average, each day women consumed 0.73 alcoholic drinks, and men drank 1.7 drinks.Drinking alcohol was the seventh leading risk factor globally for premature death and disease in 2016, accounting for 2.2 percent of deaths in women and 6.8 percent of deaths in men. -- ANI
10:12   The magnificent men and women of the IAF who helped Kerala
The Indian Air Force conducted multiple rescue missions in Kerala's worst deluge in a century. The pilots speak to's Archana Masih. Do read

Image: The crew of a rescue team led by Wing Commander B K Sahu (in red), Co-pilot Squadron Leader J P Mothsra (on his right), Flight Gunner Sergeant Sudhir (far right) and Garud Commando Vikas (left) Photograph: Kind courtesy Wing Commander B K Sahu.
10:07   Another 22.5 tonnes of food dispatched to Kerala relief camps
In a bid to lessen the suffering of the people of Kerala and to provide them timely relief, Headquarters Maintenance Command of the Indian Air Force, at Nagpur took an initiative under the leadership of Air Marshal Hemant Sharma AVSM VSM, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief to airlift relief material for flood-hit Kerala.

Civil Administration and various NGOs at Nagpur have also donated relief material for the flood-affected people. Even citizens of Nagpur have come forward to contribute relief material. The vendors who supplied the utility materials also extended considerable discounts on the purchases made for relief material.

The collected relief material was airlifted on August 23 from Nagpur by a special aircraft of the Indian Air Force so that it can reach the affected citizens at the earliest.

Apart from relief material, 22.5 tonnes worth food grains (rice, dal, wheat flour, vegetables, oils, milk etc.), clothing, medicines, cleaning and sanitary materials and water was dispatched by a parcel van attached to Sabari Express.

As many as 357 people have lost their lives so far, with the state facing a loss of Rs 19,512 crore. Rescue and relief operations in the state have been stepped up to evacuate the stranded people from the flood-affected areas.  -- ANI

Image: Over 10 lakh people have been forced out of their homes owing to the floods, which are being described as the worst the state has witnessed in a century.
09:33   Pak asks US to 'correct' statement on Imran Khan-Pompeo call
In an unusual move, Pakistan asked the US to "immediately correct" a readout issued by the State Department in which US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was quoted as saying that he asked Pakistan's new prime minister to take "decisive action" against all terrorists operating in the country.

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement that Pompeo, in his talks with Khan, raised the importance of Pakistan taking "decisive action" against all terrorists operating in Pakistan and its vital role in promoting the Afghan peace process.

However, according to the Foreign Office, Pompeo congratulated Khan while discussing other issues of interest and there was no mention of "terrorists operating in Pakistan".

FO spokesman Mohammad Faisal said that "Pakistan takes exception to the factually incorrect statement issued by US State Department on today's phone call between Prime Minister Khan and Secretary Pompeo".

"There was no mention at all in the conversation about terrorists operating in Pakistan. This should be immediately corrected," Faisal said on Twitter.

The Pakistani media this week reported that Pompeo is likely to visit Islamabad in the first week of September to hold talks with newly-elected Prime Minister Khan.

Pompeo, who is expected in Islamabad on September 5, would be the first foreign dignitary to meet Khan, Dawn reported, quoting the diplomatic and official sources.

The relations between Pakistan and the US nose-dived after US President Donald Trump in January accused Islamabad of giving nothing to Washington but "lies and deceit" and providing "safe haven" to terrorists.

-- PTI
09:10   Kerala floods: Rs 600 crore only advance aid, clarifies Centre
Over the row over aid to Kerala, the Centre clarified that the Rs 600 crore released for tackling the flood situation in Kerala was only an advance assistance, and additional funds would be released from the National Disaster Response Fund on assessment of the damages in the flood-hit state as per laid down procedure.

The Centre, in a press release, stated that during the recent floods in Kerala, it provided urgent aid and relief material to Karnataka and the situation was being regularly monitored by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on daily basis.

The Centre launched massive rescue and relief operations. 

In one of the largest rescue operations, 40 helicopters, 31 aircraft, 182 teams for rescue, 18 Medical Teams of Defence forces, 58 teams of NDRF, 7 companies of CAPFs were pressed into service along with over 500 boats and necessary rescue equipment. They successfully saved over 60,000 human lives by rescuing them from marooned areas and shifting them to relief camps. 

Defence aircrafts and helicopters have made 1,084 sorties of duration 1,168 flying hours and airlifted 1,286 tonne of load and carried 3,332 rescuers.

As many as 357 people have lost their lives so far, with the state facing a loss of Rs 19,512 crore. Rescue and relief operations in the state have been stepped up to evacuate the stranded people from the flood-affected areas.

-- ANI
08:41   Australia's Turnbull ousted; Scott Morrison voted next prime minister
Scott Morrison has beaten rival Peter Dutton in a party vote to become the next prime minister of Australia.

Malcolm Turnbull, the current leader, was ousted as prime minister as his party held a second vote on its leadership in a week.

Turnbull said he received a petition from Peter Dutton that he requested as a condition for calling the meeting, triggering the meeting to take place at 12.20pm local time (3.20am UK time).

The ballot on whether or not to spill the leadership was successful, with 45 votes to 40. Julie Bishop, Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton were all running to be the party's leader, as expected.

Bishop was eliminated in the first round, ABC News reported.

In the final round, Morrison defeated Dutton, with 45-40 votes, the broadcaster reported. 

Image: Australia's new PM Scott Morrison. Photograph: Reuters
08:05   "Mr 56": Rahul Gandhi taunts PM on Unnao rape
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, away in Germany on a round of programmes took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, over the death of a witness in a rape case. 

His tweet ended with a jab - "Is this your idea of 'justice for our daughters', Mr 56". The reference was the PM's comment that such incidents shame the society and his promise of action against the culprits.

The 48-year-old Congress chief has taken frequent digs at the PM over his claims of a "56-inch chest" made ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha election.

His tweet said: "The mysterious death & hurried burial without an autopsy, of the key witness in the #Unnao rape & murder case, involving BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar, smells of a conspiracy. Is this your idea of "justice for our daughters", Mr 56 ?"

The case he referred to concerned a minor girl from Unnao, who was raped, allegedly by BJP lawmaker Kuldeep Singh Sengar. On April 8, she attempted suicide outside the home of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's home after her father was thrashed -- allegedly by Kuldeep Sengar's brother Atul Singh. He died the next day.
00:41   CBI court denies bail to Dera chief Ram Rahim in castration case
Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, serving a 20-year jail term each in two rape cases, was denied bail today by a Panchkula Central Bureau of Investigation court in another case involving castration of 400 of his followers.

Gurmeet Ram Rahim's bail plea was dismissed three days after he had moved the court for it. In the castration case, the Panchkula court had recently framed charges of cheating, criminal intimidation and the one for causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons against Gurmeet.

He was also charged with criminal conspiracy along with two doctors, Pankaj Garg and M P Singh, allegedly involved in castration of nearly 400 of the sect followers.

The CBI earlier had filed a charge sheet against Gurmeet and the two doctors for allegedly subjecting the sect followers to castration.

It had been alleged that they castrated the men at the Sirsa-based dera telling the victims that it would lead to realisation of god through the dera chief.

The charge sheet had been filed in a special CBI court in Panchkula.

The agency had registered the case of alleged criminal conspiracy for voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons among other charges under the Indian Penal Code against Ram Rahim and others in 2015.

The probe was handed over to the agency by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on a plea by a dera follower.

The CBI court, meanwhile, granted permission to Dr Garg to visit the UK from November 3 to November 11 to attend a medical conference.  -- PTI