Sun, 16 December 2018
Rahul Gandhi is no more a 'Pappu', says Modi's minister

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21:36   Rahul Gandhi is no more a 'Pappu', says Modi's minister
Against the backdrop of recent poll victory of the Congress in three Hindi heartland states, Union minister Ramdas Athawale Sunday indicated that party president Rahul Gandhi has evolved into a matured leader.
He also said the electoral defeat of BJP in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh has nothing to do with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Rahul Gandhi has achieved a good victory in three states. He is no more a 'Pappu' now but has become a 'Pappa'", Athawale, whose party RPI(A) is a member of the NDA, told reporters in Kalyan in Thane district.
Gandhi was often termed as a "Pappu" (greenhorn) by trolls on the social media.
"The defeat in the polls is that of the BJP and not of Narendra Modi", Athawale said.
The Dalit leader also advocated that Shiv Sena retain its alliance with the BJP. "It will be loss of the Sena if it doesn't continue with the alliance", he said responding to a query.
"I appeal to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to fulfill dreams of Sena supremo Bal Thackeray. He (Sena) should not think of contesting the polls alone", the Minister of State for Social Justice said.
Athawale further said that the Congress should not remain under impression that it would win the 2019 polls merely by raking up the Rafale deal. -- PTI 
21:00   Will move court if ordinance is brought for Ram temple: AIMPLB
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board on Sunday said it will move court if the Centre brings an ordinance for construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya or the "triple talaq" bill is passed in the Rajya Sabha.
At the meeting of the working committee of the AIMPLB, the board also urged the Centre to ensure that no inflammatory statements are made regarding the Ayodhya issue and urged the Supreme Court to take cognizance of such remarks, secretary of the board Zafaryab Jilani said.
After the meeting, senior member of the board Qasim Rasul Iliyaas said, "The Centre has brought an ordinance on triple talaq. Its duration is of six months. If it is made into a law, then we will challenge this in the Supreme Court."
"This ordinance was prepared without any consultation with the Muslim society... we will urge the secular parties not to allow its passage in Parliament." 
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, proposing to make instant triple talaq illegal has been passed in the Lok Sabha and is pending approval of the Rajya Sabha. The government had earlier promulgated an ordinance to make the practice a penal offence.
The government is expected to push for the passage of the triple talaq bill in the Upper House of Parliament during the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament.
Iliyas also said, "In the Ayodhya issue, the final decision of the court will be acceptable to the board."
"In the condition of maintaining status quo at the disputed site, legally no ordinance can be brought... If an ordinance is brought, then the board will challenge it," Jilani said.
The Supreme Court had in October said that an "appropriate bench" will decide in the first week of January the schedule of hearing of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case.
Pressure has been mounting on the BJP from the Sangh Parivar, of which it is a part of, and a section of hardliners within the party to make headway for the construction of Ram temple, which they termed as an issue relating to peoples' faith (aastha).
The Sangh Parivar has been demanding construction of a temple at the disputed site through an act in Parliament.
However, with the BJP's tally in the Lok Sabha having gone down on account of loss in a number of by-polls and the party falling short of majority in the Rajya Sabha there have been demands that an ordinance be promulgated to facilitate temple construction before the general elections due next year. -- PTI
20:16   Will not allow destruction of country's institutions: Rahul
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre saying he will not allow "destruction" of institutions of the country like the Supreme Court and the Reserve Bank of India.
The BJP government believes "only one idea should run India", Gandhi alleged at a public rally organised by his party's southern ally, the DMK. 
The meeting was attended by opposition leaders including TDP supremo and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. 
Gandhi was addressing the rally after participating in an earlier event for unveiling late DMK president M Karunanidhi's statue at the party's headquarters Anna Arivalayam in Chennai.
Training his guns on the Narendra Modi government, Gandhi accused it of targeting institutions of the country, besides the culture of India. 
"We are not going to allow the destruction of the idea of India. We are not going to allow the destruction of institutions, the supreme Court, Reserve Bank of India, Election Commission of India," he said.
"And we are going to stand together and do this," he added. 
He said that in the memory of Karunanidhi, and out of respect for Tamil language, its culture and tradition, "everybody in India is going to get together." 
"..... all voices in India are going to get together and defeat the BJP in the next elections" he said. -- PTI  
19:26   PM Modi should be named as 'Mr Gumrah': Congress
Congress leader Pramod Tiwari said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should be better named as "Gumrah" for misleading the Supreme Court and the nation on Rafale deal and other issues.

"The way in which the prime minister mislead all, a new name comes in my mind for him. His name is "Gumrah" for misleading the Supreme Court, for misleading the whole nation, misleading the farmers and misleading the youth," said Tiwari.

Adding that country got nothing from Modi except being mislead.

A day after the Supreme Court verdict in the Rafale fighter deal case, the government on Saturday filed an application before it, seeking a correction in the order to make it clear that the pricing aspect, examined by the CAG, has not been looked into by Parliament's Public Accounts Committee as yet.

"The BJP has betrayed the nation, armed forces, the Supreme Court and people. They must apologise to the Supreme Court and people of this country," he said. -- ANI
19:21   Ailing Parrikar makes rare public appearance, inspects 2 bridges
Ailing Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday inspected an under-construction bridge on Mandovi River in Panaji, the first time he has been seen in public since returning to the state on October 14 post hospitalisation in Delhi's AIIMS.
He later inspected the work of a bridge over Zuari River near Agassaim village, some 15 kilometres from Panaji.
Parrikar, who is suffering from a pancreatic ailment, has been recuperating at his private residence since October 14 and this is the first time he has moved out of the house, officials said.
A senior Chief Minister's Office functionary Sunday said Parrikar travelled from Porvorim to Merces inspecting the bridge, the third over the Mandovi.
The bridge, which is expected to be completed next year, will connect Panaji to the rest of north Goa.
Parrikar alighted from the car at the site and discussed the progress of the work with officials of the Goa Infrastructure Development Corporation and contracting firm Larsen and Toubro, the CMO functionary said.
The opposition Congress has been alleging that Parrikar's ailment and his absence from office had brought the coastal state's administration to a standstill. -- PTI

Photograph: ANI
18:54   Reiterate my commitment to building strong, united & vibrant Congress: Rahul
On a day Rahul Gandhi completed a year as Congress president, he reiterated his commitment to building a strong, united and a vibrant party.
Gandhi, after being elected unopposed as the Congress chief, took over his new assignment on December 16 last year from his mother, Sonia Gandhi, at the party headquarters on Akbar Road in New Delhi.
"On the 1st anniversary of taking over as Congress President, I reiterate my commitment to building a strong, united and vibrant Congress party.
"I am overwhelmed by the greetings and messages I've received today and thank each and every one of you for your affection and support," he posted on Twitter on Sunday. -- PTI 
18:49   PM slams Congress for 'weakening' judiciary
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday charged the Congress with "building pressure" on the judiciary and urged people to remain wary of such a party.
Referring to the Congress, Modi said the party which has ruled this country for the longest period has tried to influence the judiciary.
Addressing a gathering in the pilgrim town of Prayagraj, the new name of Allahabad, ahead of the Kumbh Mela beginning January 15, the prime minister said, "Beware of parties pretending to stand for democracy."
Modi said the party has always tried to weaken the institution of judiciary and judicial system. "The party neither respects the law, nor the traditions," Modi said.
He accused the Congress of weakening each and every democratic institution that refused to toe its line. -- PTI    
Former Tamil Nadu chief minister and DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi's statue unveiled at party headquarter in Chennai. 
17:57   Transgenders on way to Sabarimala sent back by police
A group of transgenders, who were on their way to offer prayers at Sabarimala temple, were stopped in Erumeli, around 60 km from the shrine, and sent back by police Sunday.
The transgenders alleged that the police harassed them and said they were not banned from darshan at the shrine, but the police said there was a need to get some legal clarity in this issue.
Ananya, Trupti, Renjumol and Avanthika were dressed in black sarees, the traditional pilgrim attire, and were carrying the customary 'irumudikettu' (sacred offerings to God).
They said they reached here in the early hours but the police was reluctant to provide them security and permission to proceed further.
They alleged that the Erumeli Police even asked them to change into male attire for proceeding to the Lord Ayyappa temple. 
Ananya said they did not want to change the saree.
"The ban on menstruating women is not applicable to us. Though we have told this to police, they were not ready to allow us to proceed further. They harassed us mentally and forced us to wear male dress," Ananya said.
The devotee also said they would approach the high court against the police's move.
However, Kottayam Superintendent of Police S Harishankar rejected the charges of harassment and said everyone had the right to offer prayers at Sabarimala.
"We need to get some more legal clarity in this regard. So, we will approach the high court-appointed panel and seek their advice," he told reporters. -- PTI
17:56   Vinod Khanna's ex-wife, Akshaye-Rahul's mom, Geetanjali passes away
Late Bollywood actor Vinod Khanna's first wife Geetanjali died at the family's farmhouse in Maharashtra's Raigad district, police said Sunday.
She was 70.
Geetanjali and her actor son Akshaye Khanna were visiting the farmhouse located at Mandva over the weekend.
She complained of uneasiness at the farmhouse on Saturday evening following which she was taken to a hospital in Chondi village, Mandva police station in-charge, assistant police inspector Meghna Burande said.
After treatment at the hospital, Geetanjali and her son returned to the farmhouse where the actor took her to the bedroom and asked her to take rest, she said.
Akshaye Khanna later went out of the farmhouse for sometime. When he returned, he enquired with a care-taker about his mother and then went to her bedroom where he found her unconscious, the official said.
He then called doctors again at the local hospital and also his brother-actor Rahul Khanna in Mumbai.
On doctor's advice, he took his mother to the Alibaug-based civil hospital where she was declared dead, Burande said.
After the postmortem at the civil hospital on Sunday morning, the body was handed over to the family, she said.
"It appeared to be a natural death, but doctors have preserved the viscera to ascertain the exact cause of demise," the official said.
"We recorded Rahul Khanna's statement and have not found anything suspicious," she said, adding that the last rites of the deceased were performed by the family members at Alibaug on Sunday afternoon.
Vinod Khanna, who had served a BJP MP, died in April last year at the age of 70.
He had divorced Geetanjali in 1985. In 1990, he got married again to Kavita, with whom, he had a son, Sakshi, and a daughter, Shraddha. -- PTI  

Image: Geetanjali at Vinod Khanna's funeral.

17:30   Builder booked for trying to grab Dilip Kumar's bungalow released, Saira Banu requests meeting with PM
Following the release of builder Samir Bhojwani, who had falsely claimed ownership of the two plots on which Dilip Kumar's bungalow was built, the legendary actor's wife Saira Banu Khan has requested to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the issue. 
The 96-year-old actor's bungalow is located in the upscale Pali Hill area of Bandra. 
On Sunday, Banu's request was shared on Kumar's official Twitter account. 
"Request from Saira Banu Khan: The Hon'ble @PMOIndia Shri @narendramodi Sir, Land Mafia Samir Bhojwani released from jail. No action taken despite assurances by CM @Dev_Fadnavis . Padma Vibhushit betrayed,  threatened by money and muscle power. Request meeting with you in #Mumbai," the tweet read. 
Earlier this year Banu had approached police and lodged a complaint against Bhojwani. In January, the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police had registered a case of cheating against the builder for allegedly trying to grab the bungalow of the veteran actor.
The police officials suspected that Bhojwani forged certain documents to grab the property. After the offence was registered, a team of EOW sleuths raided Bhojwani's residence in Bandra from where they seized weapons, including knives and daggers.
Bhojwani was arrested by EOW in April this year. -- PTI 
17:27   Congress is manufacturing lies about Rafale verdict: Jaitley
Ruling out referring the Rafale deal to a parliamentary panel, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday launched a blistering attack on the Congress, calling it "bad losers" and said the Comptroller and Auditor General 's view of the deal is not relevant after the Supreme Court's clean chit. 
With the first four days of winter session of Parliament washed out over various protests, Jaitley said the opposition Congress will prefer disruptions over discussion on Rafale during the remainder of the session.
The Congress, which was not a petitioner before the apex court, wants the Rafale deal to be referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee to go into the price arrived at by the BJP government versus the one negotiated by the previous UPA regime, as also how billionaire Anil Ambani's group with virtually no experience in manufacture of fighter jets was selected as an offset partner for the deal.
"After the Supreme Court has spoken the last word, it gets legitimacy. A political body can never come to a finding contrary to what the court has said," Jaitley wrote in a Facebook blog, titled 'Rafale - Lies, Shortlived lies and now further lies?'.
On the Congress claiming 'ambiguity' in the Supreme Court judgment that said the deal has been examined by the CAG and is now before Parliament's Public Accounts Committee, Jaitley said defence transactions go to the CAG for an audit review, which then are referred to the PAC.
"This was factually and accurately stated by the government before the Court. The audit review of Rafale is pending before the CAG. All facts are shared with it. When its report is out, it will go to the PAC. Notwithstanding this factually correct statement made, if an ambiguity has emerged in the court order, the correct course is for anyone to apply/mention before the court and have it corrected," he said.
The correct picture has been presented to court and it must now be left to the wisdom of the court to state at which stage the CAG review is pending.
"The CAG review is not relevant to the final findings on procedure, pricing and offset suppliers. But bad losers never accept the truth. Having failed in multiple lies they have now started an innuendo about the Judgement," he said.
Jaitley said the Congress, having failed in their initial falsehood, is now "manufacturing further lies about the Judgement."
"On facts it lied. The judgement of the Supreme Court conclusively establishes the Congress party's vulnerabilities in a discussion on defence transactions.
"It will be a great opportunity to remind the nation of the legacy of the Congress Party and its defence acquisitions - a great opportunity indeed for some of us to speak," he wrote.
The finance minister, who had alongside the defence minister led a spirited counter-attack against the Congress on Friday post the Supreme Court ruling, said the opponents of the Rafale deal had a choice of forum to present their side, and they chose the Supreme Court.
"The Court conducts a judicial review, it is a non-partisan, independent and a fair Constitutional authority. The Court's verdict is final. It can't be reviewed by anyone except by the Court itself," he said. ?
Ruling out setting up a JPC to go into the deal, Jaitley said, "How can a Parliamentary Committee go into the correctness or otherwise to what the Court has said. Is a Committee of Politicians both legally and in terms of human resources capable of reviewing issues already decided by the Supreme Court?" -- PTI
17:13   KTR to assume charge as TRS working president on Monday
K T Rama Rao would formally take over as working president of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi on Monday.
TRS supremo and state Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had on Friday appointed his son and former minister Rama Rao as the outfit's working president.
Rama Rao, the MLA from Sircilla seat and popularly known as KTR, would assume charge as the TRS working president at his new chambers in the Telangana Bhavan here at 11.56 am (muhurat) on Monday, party sources said.
"He would shortly take up district-wise tours and interact with TRS leaders and party workers as part of measures towards strengthening the party from the grassroot," a source said.
The TRS state executive committee meeting, chaired by Rama Rao, had on Saturday decided to set up a public grievance cell at the Telangana Bhavan to receive complains of the public.
According a press release issued earlier by the chief minister's office, Rama Rao's appointment was necessitated as Chandrasekhar Rao will have to concentrate on national politics and also focus on various developmental activities in the state.
The chief minister believes that the party will further progress under the leadership of KTR, the release added.
Chandrasekhar Rao returned as the state's chief minister for the second consecutive term on Thursday. -- PTI
16:38   Recall Rafale verdict, issue contempt of court notice to govt: Congress to SC
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma on Sunday urged the Supreme Court to recall its Rafale judgement and issue contempt of court and perjury notices to the government, alleging the Centre had provided false information to the apex court.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters in New Delhi, Sharma also alleged that the government was guility of committing breach of privilege of both Houses of Parliament by claiming that the Comptroller and Auditor General report on Rafale pricing had been presented to the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament.
Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, the Congress leader said: "They should seek penance and take a dip in the holy Ganges instead".
"We urge the Supreme Court to recall its judgement on Rafale and issue notices of perjury and contempt of court to the government," he said. -- PTI  
16:36   Govt notifies rules for in-flight, maritime mobile phone services
People will soon be able to make calls and access internet through their phones during air travel and ship voyage within Indian territory as the government has notified rules for providing such services.
Indian and foreign airlines and shipping companies operating in the country can provide in-flight and maritime voice and data services in partnership with a valid Indian telecom licence holder.
"These rules may be called the Flight and Maritime Connectivity Rules, 2018. They shall come into force on the date of their publication in the Official Gazette," the notification dated December 14 said.
The in-flight and maritime connectivity can be provided using telecom networks on ground as well as using satellites.
The services can be provided by a valid telecom licence holder in India through domestic and foreign satellites having permission of the Department of Space, it said.
"In case of using satellite system for providing IFMC, the telegraph message shall be passed through the satellite gateway earth station located within India...and such satellite gateway earth stations shall be interconnected with the NLD (national long distance) or access service or ISP licensee's network for further delivery of service," the notification said.
The IFMC services will be activated once the aircraft attains a minimum height of 3,000 metres in Indian airspace to avoid interference with terrestrial mobile networks.
The IFMC licences will be granted against annual fee of Re 1 for a period of 10 years and the permit holder will have to pay licence fees and spectrum charges based on revenue earned from providing services. -- PTI  
16:34   Strike called by separatists, restrictions imposed in Srinagar, Pulwama districts of J-K
Authorities on Sunday imposed restrictions in Pulwama and parts of Srinagar districts of Jammu and Kashmir as a precautionary measure in view of the strike called by separatists against the killing of seven civilians during an encounter on Saturday.
Restrictions under Section 144 CrPc have been imposed in Pulwama district of south Kashmir and six police station areas of Srinagar, the summer capital of the state, officials said.
They said the curbs have been imposed in Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, Safakadal, M R Gunj and Maisuma police station areas of the city.
The officials said the restrictions were imposed as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order and avoid any untoward incident.
Separatists under the banner of Joint Resistance Leadership on Saturday called for a strike across Kashmir on Sunday against the killing of the civilians. 
The JRL  -- comprising Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik -- also asked people to march to the headquarters of the army's Chinar Corps at Badamibagh in Srinagar on Monday.
Seven civilians were killed and several others injured after security forces allegedly opened fire on protestors near an encounter site in Sirnoo village of Pulwama district of south Kashmir on Saturday. -- PTI

Photograph: Umar Ganie/ 
16:27   Joint parliamentary panel expresses dismay over long working hours of CRPF personnel
A joint parliamentary committee has expressed dismay over long working hours of Central Reserve Police Force personnel, who cannot even avail holidays and weekly offs, saying such a situation is neither healthy nor sustainable.
The parliamentary standing committee on home affairs, headed by Congress leader P Chidambaram, also said the accommodation provided by the state governments to paramilitary forces sometimes are unhygienic, insecure and poorly maintained, which affects dignity, morale and motivation of troops.
"The committee is dismayed to note that the CRPF personnel work for 12-14 hours a day and more than 80 per cent of CRPF personnel cannot avail holidays and Sundays," it said in a report submitted to Rajya Sabha.
The panel said it understands that the job of an armed force personnel is such that he or she has to be alert 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.
However, working 12 to 14 hours daily with no scope for holidays and Sundays will result in psychological and physical consequences and affect their work, it said.
The committee said it is important to acknowledge that the working hours regulation under Indian Labour Law stipulates a maximum of 48 hours per week. 
While the armed forces are exempted from this directive, it does indicate that their working hours are "neither healthy nor sustainable in the long term", it said.
The committee, therefore, recommends that some mechanism should be worked out by the ministry to provide the much needed rest and optimal duty hours for the personnel.
The panel notes that there is a constant increase in the demand of CRPF deployment by the state governments. The states are over dependent on the CRPF for maintaining all kinds of major as well as minor law and order situations.
The committee also notes that no CRPF battalion is presently designated for the purpose of providing rest and recuperation. Moreover, almost 98 per cent of training companies remain deployed on various short term law and order assignments across the country.
This continuous deployment of training companies affects the overall operational efficiency of the force, besides denying troops the much wanted training and rest and recuperation.
"The committee is concerned to observe this over-deployment of the CRPF which is curtailing their training, rest and recuperation. The committee is of the considered view that one-sixth of a battalion, should be, at any given time, mandatorily under training or rest or in peace stations," the report said. -- PTI
16:20   Survey shows children stop believing in Santa Claus by age of 8
Children around the world stop believing in Santa Claus around the age of 8, according to an international survey which also showed that about 34 per cent of adults wished that they still believed in Father Christmas.
The study also shows the threat of being on Santa's naughty list does not work for many children, and many youngsters continue to pretend they believe in Father Christmas even when they know he does not exist. 
Psychologist Professor Chris Boyle, from the University of Exeter in the UK, asked people around the world to tell him how they changed their minds about Santa, and if learning that he is not quite as he seems had affected their trust in their parents.
Boyle received 1,200 responses from all around the world to his The Exeter Santa Survey, the only international study of its kind, mainly from adults reflecting on their childhood memories.
The findings show that 34 per cent of people wished that they still believed in Santa with 50 per cent quite content that they no longer believe.
Around 34 per cent of those who took part in the survey said believing in Father Christmas had improved their behaviour as a child whilst 47 per cent found it did not.
The average age when children stopped believing in Father Christmas was 8, according to the study.
About 65 per cent of people had played along with the Santa myth, as children, even though they knew it was not true.
A third of respondents said they had been upset when they discovered Father Christmas was not real, while 15 per cent had felt betrayed by their parents and ten per cent were angry.
Around 56 per cent of respondents said their trust in adults hadn't been affected by their belief in Father Christmas, while 30 per cent said it had.
A total of 31 per cent of parents said they had denied that Santa is not true when directly asked by their child, while 40 per cent had not denied it if they are asked directly.
About 72 per cent of parents are quite happy telling their children about Santa and playing along with the myth, with the rest choosing not to.
"During the last two years I have been overwhelmed by people getting in touch to say they were affected by the lack of trust involved when they discovered Santa wasn't real," said Boyle.
"It has been fascinating to hear why they started to believe he is fictional. The main cause is either the accidental or deliberate actions of parents, but some children started to piece together the truth themselves as they became older," he said.
"As much as this research has a light-hearted element, the responses do show a sense of disappointment and also amusement about having been lied to," he added. -- PTI   
16:14   Raje was 'careless' in fulfilling people's expectations in Rajasthan: Gehlot
Senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot, who will be taking oath as chief minister of Rajasthan on Monday, said outgoing chief minister Vasundhara Raje was "careless" in fulfilling people's expectations despite a huge mandate in the last elections. 
Holding Raje responsible for the financial condition of the state, Gehlot said she could have done more work if she wanted.
"What is the financial condition of the state is known by all. The BJP got a huge mandate in the last elections and people had expectations from Raje, but she was careless and passed five years in carelessness," Gehlot told reporters Sunday at Albert hall where he reviewed the preparations for the oath-taking ceremony to be held Monday.
"We were not responsible for her differences with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, she should have resolved the issues with them," he said.  
On December 11, the Congress emerged as the single largest party by winning 99 out of 199 seats in Rajasthan. -- PTI  
15:49   Pak tried to take Kashmir by force post 1962 Sino-India war: Lt Gen Brar
India's defeat in the 1962 China war followed by the delineation of the Kutch border "emboldened" Pakistan to try and take Kashmir by force and settle its political problems by "military action", Lt Gen N S Brar (retd) has said.
In his latest book "Drummers Call", Brar writes that it was the 'Battle of Asal Uttar' that defined the 1965 war between India and Pakistan. 
Fought in early September, the battle of Asal Uttar (meaning fitting reply) was one of the largest tank battles fought during the 1965 war, which ultimately ended with the "decisive victory" for India.
"Post India's humilation in 1962, when Pakistan made incursions into Kutch in April-May 1965, India agreed to a delineation of the Kutch border by a three-member international tribunal. This emboldened Pakistan to attempt to take Kashmir by force," Brar writes in his anthology published by 'The Browser'.
"The Pakistan Army, boosted by its qualitative and quantitative superiority in artillery and armour, and believing the post-1962 expanded Indian Army to be ill-trained and ill-equipped to stand against them, considered it a very opportune time to settle its political problems with India by military action," he notes.
As per the book, buoyed by its sophisticated American weaponry, the Pakistan Army, on September 8, entered into Indian territory and captured the Indian town of Khem Karan, 5 kilometres from the International Border.
The Indian troops retaliated, and after a few days of bitter fighting, the battle reached its climax on September 10, with the Indian Army crushing its Pakistani counterparts.
"The decisive victory at Asal Uttar resulted in the decimation of Pakistan's 1 Armoured Division and became a graveyard for the much vaunted Patton tanks," he writes.
Former Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf also participated as a lieutenant in the Battle of Asal Uttar.
Brar informs that Pakistan lost 97 tanks, including the virtual decimation of Pak 4 Cavalry, whose Commanding Officer along with other top officers and 11 running tanks surrendered on September 11.
"The peaceful green countryside around Asal Uttar gives no hint of the bloody battles in September 1965," he states.
The book, which is basically an anthology of military writings, comprises an eclectic mix of personal experiences, historical events, evolution of military customs, traditions and folklore.
It also offers an insight into what goes into the making of a soldier and what his trade is all about. -- PTI
15:36   31 monkeys, 14 pigeons die in gas leak near Mumbai
Around 30 monkeys and 14 pigeons died after suspected gas leak from an industrial unit in Raigad district of Maharashtra, officials said Sunday.
The carcasses of the animals were buried in pits near the place following the incident that took place on Thursday night at the unit located in Posri area of Panvel taluka, around 10 km from the Karnala Bird Sanctuary, they said.
A senior official at the Directorate of Industrial Safety and Health at Raigad said fumes that leaked out of a chemical storage tank might have spread in the atmosphere and caused the mishap.
Terming the incident as "unfortunate", Raigad District Collector Vijay Suryavanshi said the gas leaked from one of the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited plants, which was previously a unit of the Hindustan Organic Chemicals Limited.
Acting on a tip-off, teams of the forest department, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and police visited the site for an inspection on Saturday, Chief Conservator of Forests S R Kadam said.
They exhumed carcasses of 31 monkeys and 14 pigeons buried in pits dug up at the site, he said.
A raw acid leaked from one of the old plants leading to the incident, Suryavanshi said, adding that various agencies were conducting a probe into it.
Eight people, including seven attached to the BPCL and a driver of the JCB excavating machine, were detained in connection with the incident but later let-off, he said.
Notably, the Centre had last year announced a restructuring plan to close loss-making PSU's non-viable unit at Rasayani in Raigad except the di-nitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) plant, which was to be transferred to the Indian Space Research Organisation.
"Prima facie there seems to be no lapses from any quarter," Suryavanshi said, adding that he has directed the chief conservator of forests and the ISRO to conduct a detailed investigation into the causes of gas leakage and lapses, if any.
"A comprehensive probe is being carried out into the incident," the collector said.
The authorities concerned have also been asked to suggest ways to prevent such incidents in the future, he said.
There was no senior officer present at the site on the day of the incident as they had gone for a meeting in Mumbai, he said.
Kadam said the autopsy was conducted by a veterinary doctor in Panvel and some parts were sent to the Haffkine Institute, a premier biomedical research facility, in Mumbai for further examination.
A case was registered under the Wildlife Protection Act, Rasayani police station inspector Ashok Jagdale said. -- PTI
15:32   6 dies in boiler explosion in Karnataka's Bagalkote
Six people were killed and five critically injured after a boiler exploded at a distillery in north Karnataka's Bagalkote, ANI reported.

According to NDTV, the distillery belongs to former minister Murugesh Nirani.

More details are awaited. 
15:05   Make country better place for women: Mamata urges people on Nirbhaya anniversary
On the sixth anniversary of the Nirbhaya gang rape case, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Sunday urged people to make the country a better place for women.   

Banerjee took to Twitter to ask people to stop violence against women.
"Today is the sixth anniversary of the horrific Delhi Nirbhaya case. The incident shook the country. As a society, we must make this country a better place for women. Say no to violence against women," she tweeted.
A 23-year-old paramedic student was gang raped on December 16, 2012 in a moving bus in Delhi and thrown out of the vehicle along with her male friend.
She later died in a hospital in Singapore.
The incident had triggered outrage and protests across the country. She subsequently came to be known as 'Nirbhaya', the fearless.
All the six accused were arrested and charged with sexual assault and murder.
While one of the accused hanged himself in prison, another accused, a juvenile then, was given the maximum sentence of three years' imprisonment in a reform facility.
The other four were found guilty of rape and murder and later sentenced to death.
The incident of gang rape was widely condemned. -- PTI
15:00   India welcomes resolution of political crisis in Sri Lanka
India on Sunday welcomed resolution of the political crisis in Sri Lanka and exuded confidence that relations between the two countries will continue to move on in an upward trajectory.
The ministry of external affairs said the resolution of the political issues was a reflection of the maturity demonstrated by all political forces.
United National Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the prime minister of Sri Lanka on Sunday, ending a 51-day power tussle in the island nation that had crippled the government.
"As a close neighbour and true friend, India welcomes the resolution of the political situation in Sri Lanka. This is a reflection of the maturity demonstrated by all political forces, and also of the resilience of Sri Lankan democracy and its  institutions," MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
He said India remains committed to taking forward its people oriented development projects in Sri Lanka. 
"We are confident that India-Sri Lanka relations will continue to move on an upward trajectory," he said. -- PTI
New Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel to take oath on Monday at 5 pm, says observer for the state Mallikarjun Kharge.
14:20   It's official: Bhupesh Baghel to be CM of Chhattisgarh
The Congress has announced that Bhupesh Baghel will be the chief minister of Chhattisgarh.

"Celebrations are in order in Chhattisgarh as @Bhupesh_Baghel is appointed CM. We wish him the best as he forms a govt. of equality, transparency & integrity starting off with farm loan waiver for farmers as we promised," the Congress announced on its Twitter handle.
14:02   Bhupesh Baghel will be new CM of Chhattisgarh: Reports
Bhupesh Baghel is the new chief minister of Chhattisgarh, several media reports claimed quoting Congress sources.

According to reports, Baghel, Chhattisgarh Congress Committee president, has been elected as the leader of the Congress legislature party.

Baghel and his counterparts in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh will take oath as chief ministers in three back-to-back ceremonies on Monday, seen as a mega show of opposition unity ahead of the national elections next year. 

Rahul Gandhi will attend all the events.
13:47   Death toll in food poisoning incident at K'taka temple rises to 13
The death toll in the food poisoning incident at a temple in Karnataka's Chamarajnagar district rose to 13 with two more deaths Sunday, Health Department officials said.
Joint Director Health Department Suresh Shastry said two deaths were reported at Apollo Hospital Sunday.
The deceased were identified as Mageshwari, 36, and Salamma, 35, he said, adding with the two deaths, the toll rose to 13.
One Sharat was critical, he said.
The official said four patients were on ventilator at Suyogh hospital and two of them were critical. He said one more person might need the assisted ventilation.
The tragedy occurred on Friday morning at Sulavadi village where special pooja was conducted at the Maramma Devi temple for groundbreaking ceremony. 
Later, prasad was distributed and those who consumed it started complaining of stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhoea-like symptoms. They were rushed to hospitals in Bengaluru, Mysuru as well as neighbouring towns.
At least 100 people are still hospitalised, sources in the health department said.
A sample of prasad was sent for lab test the same day.
Police are probing suspected foul play in the incident and the villagers have urged the government to take over the temple management as stories are doing rounds that factional feud within the temple management led to the prasad's poisoning.
It has also emerged that the CCTV cameras installed in the temple were defunct. Two people have been detained. -- PTI 

13:09   Earlier governments neglected development of Raebareli: PM
Taking on the Congress in Sonia Gandhi's home turf in Uttra Pradesh's Raebareli, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday accused earlier governments of neglecting the constituency.
The prime minister laid the foundation stone of some projects and inaugurated few others worth Rs 1,100 crore during his first visit to Sonia Gandhi's Lok Sabha constituency.
He also flagged off the 900th coach and Humsafar rake made by the Modern Coach Factory here.
"The Centre is committed to development of Raebareli. Earlier governments neglected it," he said in his first public meeting after the BJP's loss in recent assembly polls.
He, however, did not name any party.
Modi, who inspected the Modern Coach Factory, said its neglect was "an example of injustice to the country's means and resources by previous governments".
The factory was sanctioned in 2007 but failed to take off, he said. -- PTI 
13:03   Don't want to be on this earth: Pete Davidson posts disturbing message, deletes Instagram account
Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson shared an unsettling message on Instagram saying he does not "want to be on this earth anymore" and then deleted his account.
"I'm doing my best to stay here for you but I actually don't know how much longer I can last. All I've ever tried to do was help people. Just remember I told you so," he wrote. 
Following the post the New York Police Department conducted a wellness check and made contact with Davidson.
According to The New York Times, the police said a representative for NBC told the NYPD that Davidson was at work and doing fine.
The post came shortly after Davidson had used the social media platform to applaud Kanye West for speaking openly about his own mental health issues.
West had criticised the SNL cast member's former fiancee Ariana Grande for a joke she made regarding West's feud with Drake, which he claimed made light of his mental health. 
Davidson split up with Grande in mid-October. Since, he has posted about being bullied on social media, and at one point indicated he would not kill himself "no matter how hard the internet or anyone tries to make me".
Grande responded to Davidson's post tweeting, "Man i'm so sorry I told a dumb joke. I really didn't mean any harm. All I want everyone to be healthy and happy. So desperately. Please. My god."
She added in another tweet "I''m downstairs and I'm not going anywhere if you need anyone or anything. I know you have everyone you need and that's not me, but I'm here too."
Grande's tweets are now deleted. 
Several celebrities posted messages of support for Davidson. -- PTI

Image: Pete Davidson with former fiancee Ariana Grande 
12:55   Consultancy firm EY to advise on merger of 3 PSU general insurers
Management consultancy firm EY has been shortlisted to advise on the proposed merger of three public sector general insurers as announced in this year's budget.
The government has proposed to merge three public sector general insurance companies -- National Insurance Company, Oriental Insurance Company and United India Insurance Company.
Based on the bid floated in June, the firms zeroed in on EY as the consultant to advise on the consolidation process, sources said.
As on March 31, 2017, the three companies together had more than 200 insurance products with a total premium of Rs 41,461 crore and a market share of around 35 per cent.
Their combined net worth is Rs 9,243 crore with total employee strength of around 44,000 spread over 6,000 offices.
The consultant is expected to advise on organisational restructuring, rationalisation of human resources, management of operational issues, regulatory and compliance issues, sources said.
It is also expected to handhold the management of the three companies, throughout the merger process till the new organisation is formed and set in place, sources added.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the budget speech had announced that the three companies would be merged into a single insurance entity. The process of merger is likely to be completed during the current fiscal.
The profitability of many general insurance companies including the state-owned ones has been under pressure owing to rising underwriting losses and higher claims.
In 2017, state-owned New India Assurance Company and General Insurance Corporation of India were listed on bourses.
Initial estimates suggest that the combined entity formed by merging the three insurers will be the largest non-life insurance company in India, valued at Rs 1.2-1.5 lakh crore. -- PTI 
12:52   People have started showing gotra, janeyu to become prominent in politics: Yogi
Taking a veiled dig at Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has said people have started showing their gotra and sacred thread to become prominent in the country's politics.
Addressing a gathering in Faizabad on Saturday he said, the people who had described themselves as accidentally Hindus were now realising that they were Hindus in the real sense and it was a victory of Sanatan faith.
He said Google failed before the epic Ramayana, which was written by sage Valmiki, and he asserted that the knowledge of the spiritual books was correct instead of what the search engine said. 
"The word Kumbh has started becoming prevalent. It has become a fashion and trademark for the branding of one's programme... These days people are showing their Gotra and janeyu (sacred thread) to become prominent in the country's politics," Adityanath said without naming Gandhi. 
"The people who described themselves as accidentally Hindu are now realising that they are also Hindus. (They are realising) it is not accidental and we are Hindus in the real sense. Now they are remembering their janeyu and Gotra. I think this is the victory of India's Sanatan faith. This is the victoy of our beliefs," he said.
He claimed the people who were criticising the Kumbh Mela were trying to destroy the Indian culture and were conspiring to disgrace the country with the help of foreign funds.
The BJP leader claimed that they were trying to defame Hindu religion over the Sabrimala issue when everybody knew the tradition of the temple.
He claimed that those who had never been to temple were issuing statements over the issue and a similar environment was being created over the grand Kumbh Mela by terming it an anti-Dalit convention.
He said people from all castes took part in Kumbh which was a symbol of spiritual grandeur.
He said most verses in the Vedas were composed by Dalit saints and the sage who had interviewed Lord Ram was Valmiki but people from the community were discriminated against. -- PTI  
12:14   Muhammad Ali was on the short list to play Superman in 1978 film
Boxing legend Muhammad Ali and veteran actors Al Pacino and Dustin Hoffman were on the short list to play Superman in the 1978 film, producer Ilya Salkind has said. 
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Salkind made the revelation on the commentary track in the newest edition of the film which was recently released to coincide with its 40th anniversary.
"One of the conditions with DC Comics was I had to make a list of actors to play Superman that they had to approve.
"I had a made a list that was absolutely hilarious because they had approved people like Cassius Clay then, they had approved Al Pacino, they had approved Dustin Hoffman. They had approved them, they could play Superman," Salkind said. 
Christopher Reeve played the iconic DC superhero, but Ali and Superman teamed up in the comics to defeat an alien invasion of Earth.
The comics titled "Superman vs Muhammad Ali" also released in 1978.
Salkind shared the casting process was "complex" and confusing at times. 
"One side, they were extraordinarily protective (of the character's image) and on the other side, they weren't so aware of reality because as much as Dustin Hoffman is a fantastic actor, I don't think he would have been a great Superman. Perhaps he could have been." 
Hoffman was also considered for the role of Lex Luthor. 
"We met with Dustin at Cannes... We had dinner with Dustin to play Lex Luthor, which would have been pretty exciting. But it didn't work out," Salkind said. 
The role went to Gene Hackman. -- PTI  
11:53   PV Sindhu wins maiden BWF World Tour Finals title
PV Sindhu beats Japan's Nozomi Okuhara 21-19, 21-17 to clinch her maiden BWF World Tour Finals title.
11:44   Ranil Wickremesinghe reinstated as Sri Lanka PM
Ranil Wickremesinghe has returned as Sri Lanka's prime minister, likely ending a political crisis that began in late October when he was surprisingly ousted.

On October 26, Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Wickremesinghe and appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place.
However, after two crucial Supreme Court decisions, Rajapaksa resigned from prime ministership on Saturday, paving the way for the return of 69-year-old Wickremesinghe who had refused to step down asserting that his sacking was illegal.
11:31   Sitharaman, armed forces pay tributes to heroes of 1971 war
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Devraj Anbu, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa paide tribute at Amar Jawan Jyoti on Vijay Diwas today.

Vijay Diwas (Victory Day) is celebrated every year on December 16 in India to mark the anniversary of victory of Indian forces over Pakistan in Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.
On 16 December 1971, nearly 93,000 Pakistani soldiers had raised white flags and surrendered to the Indian Army.
The victory followed the creation of Bangladesh (then East Pakistan).  
11:14   Ready to work with Sirisena again, says Wickremesinghe's UNP
Sri Lanka's ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's United National Party has said it is ready to work with President Maithripala Sirisena, who was "misled by some groups" against the unity government.
Sirisena sacked Wickremesinghe on October 26 and appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place, in a controversial move which plunged the island nation into a constitutional crisis.
Rajapaksa resigned on Saturday after two crucial Supreme Court decisions made his efforts to cling to premiership untenable, paving the way for the return of 69-year-old Wickremesinghe who had refused to step down asserting that his sacking was illegal.
UNP deputy leader Sajith Premadasa said that he was not surprised that the president had agreed to appoint Wickremesinghe as prime minister again despite taking a firm position earlier that he will not appoint Wickremesinghe.
"This showed the true character of the president," he was quoted as saying by the Colombo Gazette.
Premadasa said that the President was "misled by some groups who were against the unity Government" and this resulted in the President removing Wickremesinghe.
"But now truth has prevailed," he said.
"The party is prepared to work with Sirisena again in the government," he said.
Premadasa said, "The lessons from the incident must be used to strengthen the foundation of democracy and promote justice and fairness." 
UNP General Secretary MP Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said the new Cabinet will be appointed within two days. -- PTI
10:46   Railways plan 800 special trains for Kumbh Mela
To facilitate pilgrims arriving in large numbers during the Kumbh Mela in 2019, the railways has proposed running 800 special trains from various stations of Allahabad district, an officials has said. 

These trains would be in addition to the regular trains run by the North Central Railway. 

NCR PRO Amit Malviya said, "Six special trains will come to Allahabad from different railway zones of the country for pilgrims and tourists participating in the Kumbh Mela." 

He said the railways planned to operate four to five special trains to ferry 5,000 Pravasi Bhartiyas from Allahabad to New Delhi. They will be in Allahabad to participate in the Kumbh Mela after attending the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas at Varanasi. The Pravasi Bhartiyas will be taken to New Delhi for the Republic Day celebrations.  
09:05   Give Kamal Nath same benefit of doubt as Modi in 2002: Tharoor
Defending Madhya Pradesh chief minister-designate Kamal Nath over allegations of his involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has asserted that the former should get the same "benefit of the doubt" which Prime Minister Narendra Modi was given in 2002 Gujarat riots.

Interacting with members of the All India Professional Congress in Mumbai, Tharoor further said that the charges against Nath were not proven in the court of law.

On being asked whether the Congress has lost the moral high ground to the BJP by choosing Nath for chief minister's post in Madhya Pradesh, Tharoor said, "So far, no court has found any evidence against him to convict him. It is wrong to make a judgement based on unsubstantiated and unproven allegations. Prime Minister Modi has not been convicted by any court of law. Let us give Kamal Nath the same benefit of the doubt that BJP wants us to give Modi and anybody else."

The Congress MP also said that the Congress is the only substitute to the "discredited" BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. 

"We have to work with parties that are more powerful than us in some states because our main objective is to stop the BJP coming into power in 2019 elections. In the long term, we need to restore our connection with the people and should not rely on allies," he added.

Nath will take oath as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister on December 17 in Bhopal. 
08:55   Country not ready to see women come back in body bags: Gen Rawat
Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat on Saturday said there are women officers engaged in exercises like mining and de-mining operations and also manning the air defence system, but cited difficulties in assigning them frontline combat role.

He said that in frontline combat there are risks of officers getting killed. 

"See, I am not saying a woman who has children doesn't die. She can also die in a road accident. But in combat, when body bags come back, our country is not ready to see that," Rawat said in an interview to CNN News 18.

"We have women officers as engineers, they are doing mining and demining work. In air defence, they are manning our weapon systems. But we have not put women in frontline combat because what we are engaged in right now is a proxy war, like in Kashmir," he said.

He cited logistical reason also behind not posting women on the frontlines. 

"Our orders are that a lady officer will get a hut in the COB, then there are orders that we have to cocoon her separately. She will say somebody is peeping, so we will have to give a sheet around her," Rawat said.             

Rawat questioned whether a women officer with commanding responsibilities can stay away from her post for long.

"I am ready, it is not that army is not ready (for combat role for the women). Will she command? Okay, so now I make her a commanding officer. She is commanding a battalion.

"Do I put a restriction on her to say that in that command tenure you will not be given maternity leave? If I say that, there will be ruckus created," he added. 

Image used for representational purpose.
08:42   Lahore court acquits 2 of charges of killing Sarabjit
Two prime suspects were acquitted from charges of killing Indian national Sarabjit Singh inside the Kot Lakhpat jail in 2013 by a district and sessions court in Lahore on Saturday.

Amir Tandba and Mudasir Munir, who were Singh's fellow inmates at the jail had allegedly tortured him to death, according to Dawn.

Additional district and sessions judge Moin Khokar directed to release both suspects after the witnesses withdrew their statements.

Sarabjit Singh had been sentenced to death for alleged involvement in a string of bombings in 1990 in Pakistan, which created a huge furore back in India. Several mercy petitions were filed by Singh's lawyers. The fifth petition was filed on May 2012 along with 100,000 signatures collected from India. 

None of the mercy petitions was granted. 

Singh was pronounced dead by doctors at Lahore's Jinnah Hospital after being comatose for five days due to severe injuries in the head after the attack on the jail's premises in 2013.

India's ministry of external affairs had asked the Pakistani government to conduct a probe into Singh's death, while his sister, Dalbir Kaur, had called for an inquiry into the case and said: "If the attack was planned by the government itself, then there is no need for an inquiry. But if Sarabjit was attacked without the knowledge of the authorities, then an inquiry is definitely needed."

A case was registered by the Lahore police at the Kot Lakhpat police station at the behest of then-superintendent Kot Lakhpat jail, Waqar Sumra, under Section 324/34 (planned attempted murder in group) under the Pakistan Penal Code. 
08:36   Cyclone Phethai likely to hit Andhra on Monday
The meteorological department has warned that cyclone Phethai will intensify and move towards the state of Andhra Pradesh.  

"The deep depression in the south-eastern area of the Bay of Bengal has moved to the northern side with a speed of 17 km an hour and has now intensified and developed into a cyclonic storm named Phethai. It is very likely to move to the north-eastern side and cross Andhra Pradesh coast between Ongole and Kakinada on December 17," the statement from the meteorological department read. 

The department also predicted light to moderate rain and thunderstorm in parts of Odisha on Sunday, and predicted heavy to very heavy rainfall in various districts of the state.  

The statement said, "Light to moderate rain/thundershower likely to occur at many places over districts of south Odisha and a few places over districts of north Odisha on December 16, at many places over districts of Odisha on 17. and at a few places over districts of Odisha on December 18."
08:26   Suspense over Chhattisgarh CM to end at noon today
Chhattisgarh Congress State in-charge, PL Punia on Saturday told the media that the chief minister's name for the state will be announced after a meeting on Sunday. 

"A meeting will be held at 12 pm on Sunday. Then we will inform (chief minister candidate for Chhattisgarh). The opinion of all MLAs will be considered. Governor has given us the time of 4:30 pm on December 17 for the oath ceremony. So what's the hurry?" Punia said.  

Earlier on Saturday, Congress leader TS Singh Deo said there is more than one eligible name for the post of Chhattisgarh chief minister and that is why the process is taking time.  

As suspense looms over who would be the next chief minister of the state, Deo, one of the top contenders of the chief ministerial post told ANI, "We have more than one eligible name that is why process is taking time, in any case, final result came late on 11th so it has just been four days today. BJP which took more than seven to eight days to appoint its recent chief ministers should not comment on us."  

Along with Deo, other contenders for the post are party's state unit chief Bhupesh Baghel, Congress OBC wing's chief Tamradhwaj Singh and former Union minister Chandras Mahant.  

On December 11, the Congress party dethroned the Raman Singh-led BJP government in the state by winning 68 seats. 

Image: Chhattisgarh Congress unit chief Bhupesh Baghel, who led the party to victory in the recent assembly elections.