Thu, 08 February 2018
US markets in the red again; Dow drops 550 points

Timeline  Refresh

23:58   Stay on Max hospital licence cancellation extended till Apr 12
An appellate body hearing the Max hospital twin death case today extended by two months the stay on a Delhi government order cancelling its licence in December, authorities said.

The stay will be in effect till April 12, the next date of hearing, they said.

The licence cancellation case pertains to the birth of a premature twin at the hospital in Shalimar Bagh on November 30 last year.

Both the babies were declared stillborn by the hospital, one of them wrongly, and handed over to the family allegedly in a polythene bag.

While the family was on its way to perform the final rites, they found that one of them (a baby boy) was still alive.

The case triggered an outrage, prompting the AAP government's Directorate General of Health Services to cancel the hospital's licence on December 8 for alleged medical negligence.

The upscale hospital group on December 13 had filed an appeal in the Financial Commissioner's court against the cancellation of the licence, which stayed the order.
23:25   US markets in the red again; Dow drops 550 points
Here we go again: Worries about the US bond market are driving heavy selling on Wall Street.

The Dow declined about 550 points, or 2.2 per cent on Thursday. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also slumped sharply.

Overseas markets have also been under pressure recently. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index is down 10.3 percent from its 52-week high, putting it in correction territory. In Germany, the Dax index closed Thursday 9.83 percent below its 52-week high.
23:06   PM Modi to hold 'Pariksha Pe Charcha' on Feb 16
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be holding a unique 'Pariksha Pe Charcha' programme on February 16, to help students appearing for exams relieve the stress.

The PM will connect with lakhs of students and thousands of schools across the country, and discuss exam-related issues through a video conference from Delhi's Talkatora Stadium at 11:00 am.

Students can also interact with Prime Minister Modi via the Narendra Modi app, the MyGov website, or through social media by using the hashtag #ExamWarriors.

In order to reach out to the students and prepare them to face the difficulties ahead of their exams, PM Modi has also penned a book, 'Exam Warriors' that is available in bookstores for Rs 100. 
22:30   Putin admits he does not have a smartphone
Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that he still does not have a smartphone, after revealing last year that he has no interest in joining any
social media networks.

At a meeting with scientists and academics, Putin made the admission in response to a speech by Mikhail Kovalchuk, head of the Kurchatov nuclear research institute, while travelling in Siberia ahead of March 18 polls in which he is seeking a fourth term in the Kremlin.

"You said that everyone has smartphones. But I don't have a smartphone," Putin said, to laughter in the audience.

The 65-year-old grandfather has previously admitted to technological cluelessness -- saying in 2005 that he did not have a mobile phone at all -- and voiced fears over content available online.

Last year while meeting schoolchildren, Putin told them he barely uses the internet, after being asked if he looked at Instagram or other social networks in his spare moments.
JUST IN: S K Mishra, Director General (Prisons), J-K, shunted out,Dilbag Singh replaces him: J-K govt order.
22:01   Army kids move NHRC against stone-pelting at personnel
At a time when FIR against armymen and withdrawal of cases against stone-pelters is a subject of hot debate in J-K, children of two army officers took an unprecedented step to move the National Human Rights Commission, asking it to protect army personnel's human rights being violated daily by stone-pelters. 

Preeti, Kajal and Prabhav, children of two Lt Colonels and a retired Naib Subedar, presented NHRC chief Justice H L Dattu with a complaint, which complimented the apex human rights body and Amnesty International for zealously protecting the human rights of locals in disturbed areas of J-K but complained that they are turning a blind eye towards the plight of army personnel who face threat to life daily from stone-pelters. 

They said a sub-optimal war was being waged in J-K since independence and the state as well as the Centre have decided to enforce AFSPA to require army to assist the 'failed state machinery'.

"The Army has been deployed in J-K since the state machinery was incapable of handling the law and order situation. But the irony is that the very administration which the Army seeks to assist and support has failed to safeguard the human rights of the armed forces personnel," their petition said. 

Referring to the Shopian incident of Army personnel firing in self-defence and registration of FIR against them, they asked why no FIR has been registered against stone-pelters and only against soldiers who were acting in self defence. The petitioning children told NHRC that Shopian was not an isolated incident and recounted five such FIRs lodged against armed forces personnel for taking action to secure the area from militants and stone-pelting crowd. They said neither the state government nor the Centre did anything to protect them. 
21:37   China changes tack on Maldives, wants facilitation of talks
China today opposed UN mediation in the Maldives but toned down its opposition to foreign intervention, saying the international community can provide "support and convenience" for Maldivian parties to resolve the
political turmoil.

Ahead of a UN Security Council meeting today to discuss the situation in the Maldives after UN officials offered to facilitate all-party talks to resolve the crisis, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told media that China is for relevant parties in the island nation to hold

Asked whether China is averse to UN mediation in the Maldives, Geng said "I made myself clear. The international community should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Maldives and provide support and convenience for dialogue between the relevant parties and play a constructive role in this aspect".

China earlier opposed any international role saying that the crisis should be internally resolved by "relevant parties".

Geng's comments came as beleaguered Maldivian President Abdullah Yameen, who is under pressure from international community to lift emergency and release the arrested Supreme Court judges and leaders, dispatched Maldivian Minister for Economic Development Mohamed Saeed as a special envoy to China to seek its support.
21:22   Woman killed in Pak shelling along LoC in Poonch
A 45-year-old woman was killed today in firing and shelling by Pakistani troops along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district.

The Pakistani Army initiated unprovoked and indiscriminate firing from small arms, automatics and mortars from 4.20 pm in the Krishnaghati sector along the LoC, a defence spokesman said.

The Indian Army is retaliating strongly and effectively, he said.

A police officer said that some mortar shells fell into the Balnoie hamlet along the LoC in the KG sector resulting in the death of a woman.

She was identified as Zainab Bi, the officer said.

With this death, 19 people, including 9 civilians, were killed and over 75 injured in Pak shelling this year. 
20:49   Google fined Rs 136 crore by Competition Commission
The Competition Commission on Thursday imposed a fine of Rs 136 crore on search engine major Google for unfair business practices in the Indian market for online search.

Passing the order on complaints that were filed back in 2012, the regulator said the penalty is being imposed on Google for "infringing anti-trust conduct". Globally, this is one of the rare cases where Google has been penalised for unfair business ways.

"Google was found to be indulging in practices of search bias and by doing so, it causes harm to its competitors as well as to users," the CCI said in its order. The company will need to deposit the fine within 60 days, the commission said.

It was alleged that Google is indulging in abuse of dominant position in the market for online search through practices leading to search bias and search manipulation, among others.

The penalty amount of Rs 135.86 crore translates to 5 per cent of the company's average total revenue generated from India operations from its different business segments for the financial years 2013, 2014 and 2015, according to the CCI order.
JUST IN:  Competition Commission slaps Rs 136 crore fine on Google for unfair business practices.
20:10   BJP attacks Congress over Renuka Chowdhury's conduct in RS
The BJP today accused the Congress of devaluing Parliament as it attacked the opposition party over its member Renuka Chowdhury's conduct in the Rajya Sabha yesterday.

BJP general secretary Bhupender Yadav hit back at the Congress following its members protests in the Rajya Sabha over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dig at Chowdhury in the House yesterday.

As she laughed loudly in the House, prompting its chairman Venkaiah Naidu to chide her, a smiling Modi had said Naidu should not act against her as he had the privilege of hearing such a laughter now after the tele serial Ramayan, which was telecast in 1980s.

Congress members claimed today his jibe was "derogatory".

Yadav told reporters that Chowdhury's uproarious laughter in the House "disrespected" parliamentary traditions.

The conduct of some Congress members in Parliament is in violation of parliamentary traditions and the party has been "devaluing" constitutional intuitions for some time.

The response of the Congress to this is wrong, he said.
19:23   Capt Kundu will be remembered as brave son of India: Khattar
The Haryana government has decided to name the road approaching the government School in Ransika village Haryana and the bus stand in nearby Khod after Captain Kapil Kundu, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar
said today.

He said that a project will also be named after Captain Kundu so that future generations can take inspiration from the martyr. Khattar said that his government may also provide jobs to the army captain's sisters in accordance with the prevailing rules.

The Haryana chief minister met the family of Captain Kundu at his native Ransika village and offered a letter of ex-gratia of Rs 50 lakh given by the state government.

He expressed his condolences to the young army captain's mother Sunita Devi and sisters Sonia and Kajal.

Twenty two-year-old Kundu was killed braving Pakistani shelling in Jammu and Kashmir's Rajouri district on February 4.

-- PTI
18:53   Congress compromising on security: Jaitley on Rafale deal
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said that corruption allegations over Rafale deal are manufactured.

Speaking in Lok Sabha, Jaitley said that the secrecy is an inherent part of any deal but the United Progressive Alliance's new strategy is to manufacture corruption charges.

"They're compromising national security by asking for details which should not be made public, by which I mean known to the enemy," Jaitley said.
18:30   Hurt by rumours, nothing offensive in 'Manikarnika': Kangana
Actor Kangana Ranaut today dismissed rumours that there was a romantic sequence involving Rani Laxmibai in her film Manikarnika, saying those spreading such stories are actually defaming the queen.
Brahmin group Sarv Brahmin Mahasabha from Rajasthan has raised objection over the film, alleging it features a romantic scene between Rani Laxmibai and a British East India company agent.
Kangana said the crew is hurt by such allegations.
"It is very lowly to even think like that about Rani Laxmibai. We cannot even think like that, the kind of things they are saying. What they are saying is actually defaming. There is nothing like that. It is idle talk and I don't know why it is being said," the actor told reporters.
Kangana said the film has been written by K V Vijayendra Prasad, who also penned Baahubali.
"We are hurt and upset. The writer of the film, Vijayendra Prasad has named his daughter Manikarnika. We are hurt that such things are being said about Rani Laxmibai," she added.
The objections against the film come close on the heels a similar controversy involving Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmaavat, which a faced protests by Rajput groups.
Now, Sarv Brahmin Mahasabha has raised concerns over Manikarnika

The Mahasabha's president met with Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, yesterday demanding that the filmmaker be directed to give an affidavit that there is no such scene in the film. -- PTI
18:13   Only Rahul can take on Modi in 2019, dethrone BJP: Congress
Congress president Rahul Gandhi is the only person who can take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2019 polls and his attacks on the governments failures are galvanising the opposition, party leader Sachin Pilot has
The BJP was running away from answering questions but Rahul Gandhi was forcing it to be accountable, the Congress' Rajasthan unit chief said.
Support for the Congress president's leadership also came from Sonia Gandhi who said in her address to the Congress Parliamentary Party today that Rahul Gandhi was her boss too, and asked party MPs to work with him to strengthen the party.
"Mr Gandhi is relentlessly taking on the BJP leadership for all its failures (and) that is giving a lot of energy and confidence to opposition forces," Pilot told PTI.
"He is the only person who is going to be able to take on Mr Modi and mount a formidable challenge to dethrone the BJP in 2019," said Pilot, under whose leadership the Congress won the key Rajasthan bypolls recently.
The way the Congress president has been aggressively taking on the BJP for its failures has attracted many anti-BJP forces and is galvanising the opposition, he said.
According to Pilot, the BJP was becoming "nervous" with Rahul Gandhi constantly asking them questions on the promises made by them.
"It's very easy to give a sermon and monologue but when you are asked questions on past performance, on data, on promises made, that is when the BJP loses it nerve. That is exactly what Mr Gandhi has been able to do," the 40-year-old leader said.
On whether Rahul Gandhi was the best choice for leading an alliance against the NDA in 2019, Pilot said, "I will only say this much -- that nationally the only party that can challenge the BJP is the Congress party and under Rahul Gandhi's leadership it is now fully geared up to take on the BJP whenever the Lok Sabha elections happen." -- PTI
17:43   No proposal to remove Darwin's theory from curriculum: HRD
There is no proposal to remove Charles Darwin's theory of evolution from school or college curricula, the Rajya Sabha was informed today.
"The CBSE has intimated that Charles Darwin's evolution of species is a part of the curriculum under the elective subject of Biology for class 12," Minister of State for HRD Satya Pal Singh said in response to a written question in the Rajya Sabha.
He added that the ministry is not considering any proposal to omit the theory from school and college curricula.
Singh landed in controversy last month when he claimed at an event in Aurangabad that Darwins theory of evolution was "scientifically wrong" and needed to be changed in school and college curricula.
While scientists from three top scientific institutions in the country condemned the remarks, Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar advised Singh to refrain from making such comments and leave the job to scientists. -- PTI
Just in: One Srinagar hospital terrorist identified as Tikka Khan has been identified.  
17:14   Modi promises HIRA if Manik govt is thrown out in Tripura
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today called upon the people of poll-bound Tripura to "throw" out the Manik Sarkar-led Left Front government in the state and vote for the BJP to usher in development for which he developed a new acronym - 'hira'.

Addressing an election meeting at Rangamatia Madrassa ground at Sonamura in Tripura, he said people wear 'manik' or gem stone for changing their fate, but this Manik (Sarkar) failed to bring prosperity in the lives of people. "Throw away manik (Sarkar government) and go for 'hira' for prosperity and development in the state in the upcoming election. 'Hira' means, he said, "H for highway, I for Internet way, R for roadways and A for airways".

Modi said, "Tripura remained backward for a long time and there has been no development in the state. So we want to bring transformation through transportation. People should throw Manik now and wear hira," the prime minister said. He said, "We need good roads, highways, rail and air connectivity for development. So we have brought hira for you," he said.

Elections for the 60-member Tripura Assembly would be held on February 18 and results would be out on March 3. -- PTI
17:04   Markets breathe easy after 7 days; global cues lift mood
Domestic equities today heaved a sigh of relief after corporate earnings and Asian markets optimism broke the seven-day losing streak, with benchmark indices Sensex and Nifty ending in the green.

The BSE flagship index Sensex jumped over 330 points, or 0.97 per cent, to close at 34,413.16 -- its biggest single- session gains in two weeks. The 30-share pack had lost 2,200.54 points in the last seven sessions amid negative domestic and global cues.

The NSE Nifty too recovered over 100 points, or 0.96 per cent, to end at 10,576.85. An emergence of value-buying in recently battered banking counters as also pharma and IT stocks revived optimism on domestic bourses.

Also, investor sentiments got a boost from improved outlook on economic growth and falling crude prices. Brent crude futures tumbled to a six-week low of USD 65.16 per barrel. A fall in crude prices is seen as positive for India, which imports most of its oil requirements.
16:58   Man who plotted Pak prisoner's escape from hospital identified
The man who plotted the shootout at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital has been identified as Hilal Ahmed Rather. Hilal helped Pakistani terrorist in police custody Naveed Jhatt escape as he was brought to the hospital for a routine medical check-up. Police indicated that an accomplice of the prisoner opened fire inside the hospital building. Two policemen have died in the incident.

Image: Pakistani terrorist Naveed Jhatt
16:46   Jawans dying in Pak firing, but govt talks of pakodas: Sena
The Shiv Sena today hit out at the BJP over the prime minister and Amit Shah's 'pakoda' remarks and said the Modi government was trying to divert people's attention from key issues, including Kashmir where jawans are dying in firing by Pakistan.

Hailing former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for "defeating" Pakistan and "dividing" it, the Sena also said that despite being in power for the last four years, the Modi government has failed to resolve the Kashmir issue.

"The Congress did not have the courage to teach Pakistan a lesson. However, Indira Gandhi defeated Pakistan and divided that country. She showed courage at a time when America had sided with Pakistan," the Sena said in an editorial in the party mouthpiece 'Saamana'.

Today, claims are being made that countries like the US, France, Germany and Israel are dancing to the tune of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and that Pakistan has been isolated in the world, it said.

"New Delhi was happy when America spoke against the financial aid being given to that country. However, Pakistan and its terrorists are creating trouble for India everyday," the Uddhav Thackeray-led party said.

"Imaginary pakodas are being fried to divert the attention of people from serious issues," it said. BJP chief Shah recently told the Rajya Sabha, that it was better to sell pakodas than being unemployed. A few weeks earlier, Modi, in a television interview, said that selling pakodas is also a form of employment and can be seen in the light of 'job creation'. -- PTI
16:39   Pak violates ceasefire again, Indian army responds
Just in: Another ceasefire violation by Pakistan in the Krishna Ghatti area of Poonch. The Indian Army has been responding strongly.

Indian and Pakistani troops traded heavy fire Tuesday on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir's Rajouri district after Pakistan army resorted to unprovoked shelling and firing, defence sources said.

"They are using small arms, automatics and mortars to target defence and civilian facilities in Tarkunde and Manjakote areas of Bhimber Gali sector of Rajouri. Indian positions are effectively and strongly retaliating and heavy firing exchanges are going on between the two sides," said a source.

Pakistan Army had targeted a post of the Indian Army in the same sector on Sunday, killing four soldiers including a captain.

File pic.
16:31   Surprise! AI operating profit more than doubles to Rs 298 cr in FY17
Air India has been "consistently improving" its overall performance and more than doubled its operating profit to Rs 298.03 crore in the last financial year, according to the government.

The net loss of the state-owned airline however widened to Rs 5,765.16 crore in 2016-17. The divestment-bound national carrier had an operating profit of Rs 105 crore in 2015-16.

"Air India has been consistently improving its overall financial and operational performance since the implementation of the turnaround plan by the government," Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha today.

In 2015-16, Air India had an operating profit of Rs 105 crore while net loss stood at Rs 3,836.77 crore. The previous UPA government, in 2012, had approved a turnaround plan under which Air India is to receive a total equity infusion worth Rs 30,231 crore up to 2021 subject to meeting certain performance thresholds. Out of the total amount, Rs 26,545.21 crore has already been infused into the airline till now. -- PTI
16:25   Poachers killed 74 rhinos in Assam in 3 years: Forest minister
Altogether 74 rhinos were killed by poachers in Assam since 2015 and 316 poachers arrested during 2015-17, Forest Minister Pramilla Rani Brahma said in the Assam Assembly today. Twenty one rhinos were killed in 2015, 22 the next year and nine last year, Brahma said in reply to a question by All India United Democratic Front MLA Aminul Islam.

To another query, the minister said police records showed the involvement of militant outfits in poaching of the Pride of Assam, and action was taken against them under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. -- PTI
16:16   Owners of '1 Above' pub arrested in PF case
The three owners of the '1 Above' pub, which was gutted in the Kamala Mills Compound fire in Mumbai last year, were today arrested in a case related to non- payment of Provident Fund to their employees, police said. Kripesh Sanghvi, his brother Jigar and their partner Abhijeet Mankar were arrested by the N M Joshi Marg police, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Zone III, Virendra Mishra, said. They had allegedly not paid PF dues of Rs 8.65 lakh to their employees and accordingly, a case was registered against them under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Provident Fund Act, he told PTI.

The case was registered after the Kamala Mills fire tragedy and the arrests were made today, the DCP said, adding that they would be produced before a local court. The three were already in custody in the Kamala Mills fire case and now have been arrested in the PF payment default matter, police said. They were booked under IPC sections 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent), and section 14 of the PF Act (filing prosecution against defaulters), they said. -- PTI

File pic.
16:06   Only time will tell, says Rajini on tying-up with Haasan
Leading Tamil actor Kamal Haasan, who is all set to foray into politics soon, today said he and superstar Rajinikanth needed to contemplate if it was necessary for them to join hands and face the election. Asked for his response, Rajinikanth, who announced his political entry on December 31 last year, told reporters that only time will tell if he will join hands with Haasan during their political journey.

"I (have) already told you. Only time will answer all these questions," Rajinikanth said. To a question on facing the next Lok Sabha polls, Rajinikanth said he will take a decision at the "appropriate time."

Referring to his remarks that "system is rotten" and whether it referred to Tamil Nadu or India, he said "first of all, in Tamil Nadu you have to correct it."

On January 17 too, to a query on forging ties with Haasan, Rajinikanth had said "only time will be able to tell that. Let us see in due course of time." In his weekly column in Tamil magazine 'Ananda Vikatan,' Haasan said both of them were being asked repeatedly if they would face the polls together and added that he endorsed the view of Rajinikanth in this respect.

"Rajini sir, to this question had said that only time will give an answer and I had seconded that view. Truly, only time will answer," he said.

Haasan, who is set to unveil his political party's name and go on a political tour on February 21, said both of them should first formally launch their respective political parties. Following this, policies should be spelt out and it needed to be seen if these were compatible, he said.
15:22   Ayodhya case: SC wants documents translated by March 14
The three-judge bench of the Supreme Court hearing the Babri Masjid-Ram
Janmabhoomi dispute to file in two weeks after the English translation
of documents is exhibited by them. The court also asks parties to provide in the Allahabad High Court translated copies of excerpts of certain vernacular books which have been relied upon by them. "We are not rejecting at the moment the plea of certain individuals seeking to intervene in the case:," the court said.

The SC also directed its Registry to provide copies of video cassettes, which were part of HC records, to parties on actual cost and fixes appeals for hearing on March 14.

The final hearings are on a bunch of 13 petitions over the 2.7 acre disputed Ayodhya site that is claimed by both Hindus and Muslims. The top court's bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had earlier signalled its intention to hold the last round of hearings soon, rejecting a suggestion by senior lawyer and Congress leader Kapil Sibal to defer hearings till after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

That recommendation had landed Sibal, who was representing an individual in court, and the Congress in a major political row ahead of last year's elections in Gujarat.
15:11   Sonakshi Sinha steps up to launch DCs latest car
The ongoing Auto Expo in Greater Noida saw an infusion of Bollywood glam on Thursday with actress Sonakshi Sinha unveiling Dilip Chhabria's latest creation.   

Titled DC TCA (the abbreviation standing for Titanium, Carbon and Aluminium), the car draws inspiration from the Ferrari and Pagani Zonda.   

Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/
14:57   Idol worship
Work underway to place the statue of of former Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa at the AIADMK headquarters. The statue is planned to be unveiled on February 24, on her birth anniversary. 
14:53   Next hearing in Ayodhya case on March 14
Karnataka: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar met Muslim clerics, including Maulana Syed Salman Husain Nadvi and Zufar Faruqui, in Bengaluru on the Ayodhya issue. The Supreme Court has set the next hearing in the case for March 14.
14:49   Shopian deaths: Army Major's father moves SC seeking to quash FIR
The father of Army Major Aditya Kumar, booked by the Jammu and Kashmir Police in the firing incident in Shopian, has moved the Supreme Court seeking quashing of the FIR against his son. Lieutenant Colonel Karamveer Singh said his son, a Major in the 10 Garhwal Rifles, has been "wrongly and arbitrarily" named in the FIR as the incident relates to an Army convoy on bonafide military duty in an area under the AFSPA, which was isolated by an "unruly and deranged" mob pelting stones causing damage to military vehicles.

The plea, filed through advocate Aishwarya Bhati, said the intention of his son was to save Army personnel and property and the fire was inflicted "only to impair and provide a safe escape from a savage and violent mob engaged in terrorist activity".

The unruly mob was requested to disperse and not obstruct military in performance of their duties and not to damage government property but when the situation reached beyond control, a warning was issued to disperse, the plea said.

As the unruly behaviour of the "unlawful assembly" reached peak and when they got hold of a Junior Commissioned Officer and were in the process of lynching him to death, warning shots were fired fire to disperse the violent mob and protect public property, it submitted.

Singh also referred to last year's incident of a mob lynching of DSP Mohd Ayub Pandith to apprise the top court about the situation in the state and the condition in which Army officials were working to control violent mobs in Kashmir.

"The petitioner is constrained to file the present writ petition for quashing of FIR, directly before this court in view of the extremely hostile situation on the ground, whereby an FIR has been registered by local police against the son of the petitioner, who is a service Army officer and was performing bonafide duties as directed by the Union of India.

"The manner in which the lodging of the FIR has been portrayed and projected by the political leadership and administrative higher-ups of the State, reflects the extremely hostile atmosphere in the State. In these circumstances, the petitioner is left with no other viable option but to approach this court under Article 32 of the Constitution for protection of Fundamental Rights of his son and himself, enshrined under Article 14 & 21 of the Constitution," the plea said.

The FIR was registered against the personnel of 10, Garhwal unit of the Army including Major Kumar under sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Ranbir Penal Code. Two civilians were killed when Army personnel fired at a stone-pelting mob in Ganovpora village in Shopian, prompting the chief minister to order an inquiry into the incident. -- PTI

Representational image.
14:24   Former B'desh PM gets 5-year-jail for graft
A Dhaka court has sentenced opposition leader Khaleda Zia to five years in jail after convicting her of embezzling money meant for an orphanage: Bangladesh Media.

The Daily Star reports, "Wearing an off-white sari, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, offered her prayers and comforted her relatives, most of whom, were in tears, as she boarded her motorcade from her Gulshan residence on way to the court set for delivering verdict in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case today.

As she was leaving her Gulshan residence Feroza -- around 12:00pm, many of her relatives broke down in tears.

There is no need to cry. I will be alright. You all wait, I will be back. Do not worry and be strong, Khaleda said while trying to comfort her weeping relatives.
14:20   Women ministers should not act like slaves of PM: Moily
Veerappa Moily, Congress on the Renuka Chowdhury-PM slugfest: "Some women ministers have said that Renuka Chowdhury deserved the comment from PM, of course they are entitled to defend PM, but this comment was against a woman. They should not act like slaves of the PM." 
14:03   Biker dies in Delhi road mishap, cops suspended
A 21-year-old motorcyclist lost his life after his neck got stuck in a wire tied between two police barricades placed on the road near Netaji Subhash Place last night.

A case has been registered with the Delhi Police under section 304A of Indian Penal Code (causing death by negligence). Further investigation is going on.Till now 7 people including beat constables and division officers have been suspended.The SHO of Netaji Subhash Place was sent to the district line.Sunil, a relative of the victim told ANI,

"There were two barricades which were tied to each other by a wire. There was no light when he was coming towards the barricades and the wire hit him.""He succumbed to his injuries a little while after being hit. There was no police officer here and it was the locals who tried to help him. There should have been a PCR van over here. Minutes before this incident, another man had bruised his neck due to the wire," he added.

The victim's mother has demanded an investigation into the matter and called for stringent action against those responsible.She said, "My boy wanted to join the police forces and the police force has taken his life. He had gone to attend a wedding in Delhi and while coming back to his home, this incident took place. I demand punishment for those who are responsible." -- ANI

Image: The wire tied between the two police barricades which were unmanned when the incident took place.
13:53   This PadMan from Jharkand has a message for Modi
"I realised that women weren't allowed to enter the farm or work there during their periods. Since these women were daily wage labourers and had families dependent on them, I knew they had financial problems. "When I spoke to a few of them, I realised the real problem was much bigger. These women did not follow basic sanitation during menstruation. They were ignorant and were using ash and forest grass during their periods. They weren't aware of sanitary napkins or cloth."

Then Mangesh Jha found a solution. Read the story of Jharkhand's PadMan here.
13:46   John F Kennedy's silk scarf auctioned for USD 6,490
A cream-coloured silk scarf belonging to former US President John F Kennedy has been sold for USD 6,490 at an auction in the US. The scarf from A Sulka & Company was worn by Kennedy during his tenure as a congressman and into his early senatorial career.

It has an attractive herringbone pattern, classic black- and-tan fringe ends, and an embroidered open monogram bearing Kennedy's initials, "JFK." An accouterment of his classic style, this is an exquisite scarf sported by Kennedy as he strolled the chilly sidewalks of Boston during the early 1950s, according to US- based RR Auction.

The Sulka brand became synonymous with the style of the upper crust and political elite, and long served as the go-to haberdashery for the likes of the Duke of Windsor, Winston Churchill, Henry Ford, and Clark Gable, among others.  -- PTI
Rijiju responds with this tweet: "Congress says it's a breach of privilege! Rajya Sabha Chairman remarked that such behaviour is unbecoming. I'm only referring to how PM didn't get annoyed."
13:28   US declares Pakistan-based terrorists as global terrorists
The US today declared as global terrorists three individuals linked to Pakistan-based terror outfits like the LeT and the Taliban and asked Islamabad to deny sanctuaries to "dangerous" individuals and organisations.

As a result of today's designation, all property and interests in property of the trio -- Rahman Zeb Faqir Muhammad, Hizb Ullah Astam Khan and Dilawar Khan Nadir Khan - subject to US jurisdiction are blocked and the US citizens are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

The US Department of Treasury designated the trio as "global terrorists" for their links to terror outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Taliban. This has been done as part of America's efforts to disrupt South Asian terrorist support networks, the Treasury said. -- PTI
13:27   Renuka to file privilege motion against Rijiju
Congress' Rajya Sabha MP, Renuka Chowdhury has said she will file a privilege motion on Kiren Rijiju for posting a video of PM Modi's remarks on her in the Rajya Sabha yesterday.

IANS reports that Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju shared a video of mythological character 'Surpanakha' linking Prime Minister Narendra Modi's comment on Congress leader Renuka Chowdhary in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

Taking the dig at Chowdhary, Rijiju shared a Facebook post late on Wednesday after Modi compared Chowdhary's laughter with the one in the epic television serial "Ramayana" in the 1980s.

Modi had taken a dig at Chowdhary, who burst out laughing at his claim that the idea of Aadhaar was conceptualised during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

Modi had compared her laughter with the one in Ramanand Sagar's epic series.
12:46   5 arrested for shootout in Srinagar hospital
Five people have been arrested for the shootout and the escape of a Pakistani prisoner at the  SMHS hospital in Srinagar. While Pakistani terrorist Naveed Jhatt escaped from police custody two policemen died in the incident. The police said they have tracked down on the motorcycle and the vehicle they had used for the getaway.

The attack by the LeT to free "hardcore' Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorist Mohammed Naveed Jhatt took place around 11.35 am inside the busy SMHS hospital complex in a high security area of Jammu and Kashmir's summer capital.

It ended with Head Constable Mushtaq Ahmad and Constable Babar Ahmad Khan being killed and the terrorists escaping into the narrow lanes of downtown Srinagar, a police official said.

Jhatt, the 22-year-old LeT terrorist from Pakistan who was caught in Kulgam in south Kashmir in 2014, escaped with the assailants, police said.

Image: Pakistani LeT terrorist Naveed Jhatt who escaped in the shootout at the SMHS hospital in Srinagar.
12:30   30 years after death, Mahadevi Varma gets tax notice
The Allahabad Municipal Corporation has issued a notice in the name of the late poet and woman activist Mahadevi Varma. The civic body in the notice has asked Verma to appear in person, and deposit pending house tax of Rs 44,816. It should be noted that Verma passed away 30-years ago.

The notice further states if Verma fails to do so, then her house at Nevada, Ashok Nagar, would be attached. "The house in Nevada is still in the name of the late Mahadevi Varma and no house tax has been paid on the property from past many years. This is considered an evasion of house tax," Chief Tax Officer PK Mishra said.

According to the late poet's family, an application was given after her death for the transfer of her property to the trust formed by herself. "They have misplaced the file," a family member said.  -- ANI
12:11   Maldives sends envoys to 'friendly' nations, India not included
Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen on Wednesday sent his special envoys to three 'friendly nations'- China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

"Members of the Administration's Cabinet, on the direction of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, will visit friendly nations of the Maldives and provide updates on the current situation," Yameen's Presidential Office said in a statement.

On Wednesday, the Minister of Economic Development, Mohamed Saeed, departed for China, while the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Mohamed Asim, went to Pakistan.Dr Mohamed Shainee, the Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, is scheduled to depart to Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

India was disturbed by the declaration of the state of emergency in the Maldives, following Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen's refusal to abide by the Maldivian SC's ruling, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Tuesday.

China on Tuesday called for a dialogue to end the ongoing political crisis in the Maldives and to ensure social and political stability.Former President of Maldives Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed and Judicial administrator Hassan Saeed were arrested by the security forces after Yameen declared a state of emergency in the country on Monday. - ANI

Image: Maldives president Abdulla Yameen
11:56   Cong protests in RS against PM's remark on Renuka Chowdhury
Rajya Sabha proceedings were adjourned till noon today after the Congress members created an uproar over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remarks against party MP Renuka Chowdhury. No sooner had the House mourned the death of its former member Frida Topno and the listed papers were laid on the table, Congress members were on their feet protesting against Modi's dig at Choudhury during his reply to the debate on Motion of Thanks on President's address yesterday. Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu chided the members for their "unbecoming" behaviour and asked them to resume their places. "I have no option other than to adjourn the House," he said, suspending the proceedings till 1200 hrs.

Yesterday, during the reply, Modi had questioned the Congress's claim of being the originator of the biometric national ID Aadhaar when he said that the then Home Minister L K Advani had in 1998 spoken about an all-purpose national ID in Rajya Sabha. This led to Chowdhury bursting into loud laughter.

Naidu disapproved of her behaviour but Modi asked him not to stop Chowdhury. "Sabhapati ji meri aapse vinti hai Renuka ji ko kuch mat kahiye. Ramayan serial ke baad aisi hansi sunne ka saubhagya aaj jaake mila hai (I request you not to say anything to Renuka ji. After the Ramayan serial, we got the privilege of hearing this kind of laughter only today," he said, to the amusement of top BJP leaders and other ministers sitting around him.

Chowdhury had protested the remarks but the chairman did not allow her comments to go on record. Today, the Congress tweeted: "We condemn PM Modi's derogatory remark in Parliament against former Union minister and RS MP Renuka Chowdhury." "We also urge the RS Speaker Shri Venkaiah Naidu to not act in a partisan manner and accord due respect to a fellow member of the house," it said. -- PTI
11:52   B'desh tense ahead of verdict against ex-PM Zia
Bangladesh was on high alert ahead an impending corruption trial verdict today against ex-prime minister and main opposition BNP chief Khaleda Zia that may disqualify her from contesting the next general election slated for December. A Dhaka court is set to deliver the judgement in the trial in which Zia, 72, and five others, including her expatriate elder son Tarique Rahman, stand accused of embezzling 21 million takas (USD 252,000) in foreign donations meant for the Zia Orphanage Trust. -- PTI
11:40   Why is there a flurry of activity around the Taj: SC asks UP govt
The Supreme Court today directed the Uttar Pradesh government to file within four weeks a vision document for protection and preservation of the Taj Mahal.

The apex court also directed the state government to explain why there was a sudden flurry of activities in and around the Taj Mahal and the Taj Trapezium Zone and why leather industries and hotels were coming up there.

TTZ is an area of about 10,400 sq kms spread over the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur in Rajasthan. "You file the vision document within four weeks,"a bench comprising Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said. "There is sudden flurry of activities in TTZ. Is there any particular reason for that? Leather industries and hotels are coming up there. Why? the bench asked Additional Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the state.

Mehta told the top court that he would get instructions on this issue and get back to it. Meanwhile, the state government filed a separate application for cutting 234 trees for laying pipelines for water supply in Agra city. -- PTI
11:28   Rahul is now my boss, too: Sonia tells Congress
Sonia Gandhi tells Congress leaders at the party's parliamentary meeting that Rahul is the boss.

"We have a new Congress president and on your behalf and my own I wish him all the best. He is now my boss too. Let there be no doubt about that," the former Congress party chief said.

Rahul Gandhi was crowned as the 87th president of the Indian National Congress in January, a post his mother, Sonia Gandhi had held for 19 years.

Addressing Congress leaders, Sonia Gandhi spoke about the party's performance in Gujarat and Rajasthan. "We performed very creditably under tough circumstances in Gujarat and the recent by-election results in Rajasthan were huge. This shows winds of change are coming. I am sure Karnataka too will underline resurgence of Congress:," she said.

"It has been almost four years since this govt came to power, this has been a period in which institutions which have come under systematic assault-Parliament itself, judiciary, media and civil society. Investigative agencies have been let loose against political opponents," Sonia told the Congress Parliamentary Party meeting.

11:08   Oprah Winfrey reiterates she is not running for presidency
Oprah Winfrey has shot down the prospects of her running for the post of President of the United States. During a conversation with Broadway star Lin-Manuel Miranda on her podcast SuperSoul Sunday, Winfrey said she is not running for the office, according to Entertainment Weekly. Miranda had said that he was not going to enter politics, to which Winfrey responded, "I'm not either!"

Winfrey's rousing speech at the Golden Globe awards had set social media abuzz with speculation that she might enter politics with many celebrities already looking at her as a possible presidential candidate in 2020.

Winfrey had earlier also shot down the possibility of her presidential bid in an interview with InStyle magazine. "I've always felt very secure and confident with myself in knowing what I could do and what I could not. And so it's not something that interests me. I don't have the DNA for it," Winfrey had said. -- PTI
10:46   How can a PM speak like this, it shows his culture: Renuka Chowdhury
Retorting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remark against her loud laughter, Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury said that it denigrated the status of a woman.

Prime Minister Modi, during his speech in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, took a jibe at the Congress leader over her loud laughter at his claim that the idea of Aadhaar was conceptualised during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

Asking Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu not to stop Chowdhury from laughing during his speech, he said, "Ramayan serial ke baad aisi hansi sunne ka saubhagya aaj jaake mila hai (After Ramayan serial, we have got the privilege of hearing this kind of laughter today)."

Hitting back at the Prime Minister, Chowdhury told ANI, "He has once made a long speech against Aadhar card publically. Now he is saying that Aadhar was conceptualized when Advani-ji (Lal Krishna Advani ) was there. This shocking claim made me laugh. He passed a personal comment against me. Denigrating the status of a woman is a crime. It is now established beyond doubt that the BJP is against women. How can a Prime Minister speak like this? This shows his culture. I can't go to that extent."

Branding the BJP and the Prime Miniter Modi-led NDA government as "mahila virodhi sarkar" (anti-women government), she noted, "If he (Prime Minister) would have spoken this outside the Parliament, there would have been a case against him according to law." -- ANI
Chhattisgarh: One Naxal dead in an encounter with security personnel in Dantewada; one rifle recovered.
10:32   Cong slogan shouting during PM's speech was Rahul's idea
Live television footage captured Congress MPs shouting slogans throughout Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech in Lok Sabha on Wednesday afternoon. Congress' 'flash protest' n parliament caught many by surprise.

According to sources, it was Congress president Rahul Gandhi who came up with the idea of protest based on "guerrilla-style" war technique.

Congress MPs were asked to reach Lok Sabha by 12 noon. While former Congress president Sonia Gandhi was a bit hesitant, Rahul Gandhi gave his nod to his 'generals' to raise issue-based slogans.

While former Congress president Sonia Gandhi was a bit hesitant, Rahul Gandhi gave a green signal to his generals to go all out and raise 'issue-based' slogans. The entire plan was executed by Jyotiraditya Scindia, the party's whip in Lok Sabha.

The moment Congress MPs started raising slogans and holding paper placards, which were printed in Congress' parliament office, other Opposition parties too joined them.

Interestingly, while Congress MPs were busy shouting slogans, it was Sonia Gandhi who ensured that MPs throats didn't become sore.

"It was Soniaji who passed us toffees to prevent our throats from becoming sore," a Congress leader said.Rahul Gandhi was clear on what sort of slogans should be shouted.

"There was clear instruction that we raise slogans related to issues and not make personal jibes at the PM," Congress MP from Supaul Ranjeet Ranjan, who shouted the most, said.

-- India Today.
10:08   Free health treatment for tea workers in WB
An Australian NGO named "Hands on India" in collaboration with a Siliguri based NGO is providing free Chiropractic health treatment to workers of Gulma Tea Estate near Siliguri.

There are presently 317 tea gardens in Terai-Dooars region and 87 gardens in Darjeeling hills and more than five lakhs people are directly or indirectly involved in this industry.

Every year India is producing around 1,300 million kg of tea and North Bengal is sharing 230 million kg, earning huge amount of foreign money, but the health condition of the garden workers does not seem good as they are not getting proper medical treatment.

It was also found that some of the gardens do not have proper health care centers.The tea garden workers are also seen suffering from critical diseases, but due to lack of money they are helpless.

Following the crisis, this Australian NGO has come forward to help the garden workers who appreciated the help saying, "We get better medical treatment here because we do not have money to avail treatment at the tea garden".

The team had taken the initiative to provide free treatment with the help of Siliguri based NGO "Seva Kendra". The 12 members' Australian team is providing free Chiropractic treatment to the needy garden workers.

They are providing treatment for osteoarthritis; solder pain, elbow pain, knee injuries, ankle injuries, frozen shoulder, headaches, low back pain and disc injuries.

"Workers in tea garden are poor and have never received any health care. We have come here to help them. It is a tedious job and their shoulders and joints get arthritic and our treatment helps those issues. We provide Chiropractic which relieves muscles, joints and spine," NGO Supervisor, Warren Genders told ANI.

He added that their NGO is receiving a very good response and they are requesting the Indian Government to set up more and more health care centers in this region which could help the poor garden workers. -- ANI
09:57   Sensex recovers 168 points in early trade
The benchmark Sensex recovered about 168 points in early trade today on buying in realty, IT, capital goods and banking stocks after the RBI maintained status quo in its monetary policy review yesterday.

The 30-share index rose by 167.73 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 34,250.44 opening trade. All the sectoral indices led by realty, IT, healthcare and banking were trading in the green with gains of up to 1.86 per cent. The gauge had lost 2,200.54 points in the previous seven sessions. Also, the NSE Nifty rose 42.35 points or 0.40 per cent to 10,519.05.

Major gainers that supported the recovery were Infosys, HDFC LTD, Axis Bank, Maruti Suzuki, Yes Bank, Dr Reddy's, SBI, Hero Motocorp and M&M, gaining up to 2.08 per cent. Brokers said buying by domestic institutional investors (DIIs) and a mixed trend at other Asian bourses improved the market sentiment. -- PTI
09:51   IM operative Haroon Naik gets 6 yrs jail in fake currency case
A special court convicted an important Indian Mujahdeen operative, Haroon Naik, today in connection with the seizure of fake Indian currency notes and sentenced him to six years imprisonment. Another accused Asrar Tailor, alias Sagari, was given a similar punishment in the case. However, the special NIA court acquitted Azhar-ul-Islam Siddiqui alias Munna of all charges in the case.

The case, which was investigated by the Maharashtra ATS, was later handed over to National Investigation Agency (NIA). According to the prosecution, the ATS had raided a private guest house in Wadala in August 2011 and arrested Naik.

They recovered currency notes with a face value of Rs 9.75 lakh in Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 denominations from the place. During Naik's interrogation, he told the sleuths that Asrar had indoctrinated him to participate in "jihadi activities" after undergoing militant training. Police later arrested Asrar and also held Azhar as he was also indoctrinated by the former. -- PTI
09:49   US Senate reaches two-year budget deal to avert govt shutdown
The US Senate today reached a two-year budget deal to avert another government shutdown tomorrow when federal funding is due to expire. The deal, agreed upon by both the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate, was immediately welcomed by the White House. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer announced the budget deal in the House.

"I am very pleased to announce that we have reached a two-year budget deal to lift the spending caps for defence and urgent domestic priorities far above current spending levels," Schumer said.

He added that there were still a few final details to work out but all the principles of the agreement were in place. "The budget deal does not have everything Democrats want, it does not have everything the Republicans want, but it has a great deal of what the American people want," Schumer said in his speech on the House Floor. He said the budget deal was a "genuine breakthrough" after months of legislative logjams. -- PTI
09:37   Cousin accuses Jeetendra of sexually assaulting her 47 years ago
Actor Jeetendra was on Wednesday accused by his cousin of sexually assaulting her 47 years ago, a charge that the 60s star rubbished as 'baseless and ridiculous'.

The complainant said the actor, whose actual name is Ravi Kapoor, is her aunt's son.

In her complaint to the Director General of Police, Himachal Pradesh, she said the incident took place in Shimla in January, 1971, when she was 18 and the actor was 28.

She said he had 'arranged' for the victim to join him from New Delhi to Shimla on the sets of a film he was shooting for.

She alleged in the complaint that after reaching Shimla at night, an inebriated Jeetendra went to her room, joined two twin beds and sexually assaulted her.

The actor denied that any such incident had taken place.

Police sources said a first information report had not been registered as the complaint had been emailed to the DGP.

For the registration of an FIR, the signature of the complainant was necessary, police sources in Shimla said.

In a statement issued in Mumbai, Jeetendra's advocate Rizwan Siddiquee said the allegation was 'baseless and ridiculous'.

"Foremost, my client specifically and categorically denies any such incident. Besides even otherwise such baseless, ridiculous and fabricated claims cannot be entertained by any Court of law or the law enforcement agencies after a span of almost 50 years," it said.

Siddiquee said the law did not give any person 'any rights or liberties of making any baseless... claims against any man publicly and seek to defame him with a hidden personal agenda'.

"The Statute has provided a justice delivery system through the Courts, and the Limitation Act 1963 was specifically enacted to ensure that all genuine complaints are made within a maximum time limit of three years, so that a proper investigation is carried out and timely justice is delivered," it added.

It also questioned the timing of the complaint.

"In any event the timing of this baseless complaint seems to be nothing but a miserable effort made by a jealous competitor to disrupt the business activities of my client and his esteemed company. Such efforts are therefore in all fairness treated with the contempt it truly deserves," it said.

The allegation by the woman, who said the actor was her father's sister's son, comes in the wake of a slew of accusations of sexual assault by actresses against American producer Harvey Weinstein and others in the entertainment business.  -- PTI
09:00   PM Modi to address two rallies in Tripura today
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address two rallies in Tripura on Thursday ahead of the February 18 assembly elections in the state.

The prime minister will address one rally at Sonamura in Sipahijala district and the other at Kailasahar in Unakoti district.

In view of Modi's rallies, tight security arrangements have been put in place in the state.

Addressing poll rallies in Kumarghat and Kailasahar, Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar had said that in the regime of present central government, the rate of unemployment was increasing and that the Centre was not filling up vacancies remained in the government departments.

The assembly Elections in Tripura are slated to be held on February 18 and the counting will take place on March 3. -- ANI
08:38   US calls on Maldives to restore rights of people and institutions
The United States today called on Maldives President Abdulla Yameen to ensure the proper functioning of the Parliament and restore constitutionally guaranteed rights of the people and institutions in the country.

"The US calls on President Yameen, the army, and police to comply with the rule of law, implement the Supreme Court's lawful ruling, ensure the full and proper functioning of the Parliament, and restore constitutionally guaranteed rights of the people and institutions of Maldives," a State Department spokesperson told PTI.

He was responding to questions on the current situation in Maldives.

The spokesperson, however, did not weigh in on former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed seeking military intervention from India.

Nasheed yesterday had asked India to play its role of 'liberators' and intervene militarily to resolve the ongoing political turmoil in Maldives.

"We are troubled by reports that Yameen has declared a state of emergency, which gives sweeping powers to security forces to arrest and detain suspects, bans public gatherings, imposes travel restrictions, and suspends parts of the Maldivian Constitution," he said.

Asserting that the US stands with the people of Maldives, the State Department spokesperson said Yameen, the army and police should respect the Maldives' international human rights obligations and commitments.

Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al Hussein said the declaration of the state of emergency in the Maldives and the resulting suspension of constitutional guarantees have swept away the checks and balances and separation of powers necessary in any functioning democracy.

He warned that this could potentially lead to a greater number of violations of the rights of people in the Island country.

"The suspension of several functions of the judiciary and Parliament, and the restrictions on a series of constitutional rights, create a dangerous concentration of power in the hands of the President," he said.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said it remains deeply concerned over the escalating tensions and the resultant law and order situation in Maldives.

In a statement, it called on all parties to respect the rule of law, independence of the judiciary and to take into account the overall interest of their country to avoid any untoward incident, which could undermine the peace and stability in the country.

The OIC also stressed the need for a peaceful settlement of the ongoing political crisis in line with the constitutional provisions. -- PTI

IMAGE: Maldivian Police officers stand guard near the opposition MDP (Maldives Democratic Party) headquarters after President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency. Photograph: Stringer/Reuters
08:32   Kasganj: 2 more arrested in Chandan Gupta's murder case
Kasganj Police on Wednesday arrested two more accused in connection with the murder of Chandan Gupta in Kasganj violence on January 26.

Two accused, identified as Naseem and Waseem, were arrested with two country-made pistols along with two cartridges.

Earlier on Tuesday, another accused, identified as Salman, was arrested in connection with the case.

On February 3, the Uttar Pradesh Police arrested one accused, Rahat Qureshi.  -- ANI
00:07   80 per cent Ganga to be cleaned before Kumbh
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari assured all that the 'Namami Gange' projects will be completed soon.

"We are spending Rs 20,000 crore on the River Ganga especially for the upcoming Kumbh mela. We have also completed 47 out of the 189 projects and are also aiming to complete all the projects which have been started for cleaning the Rive Ganga," Gadkari said.

"Before the Kumbh Mela, Ganga will be cleaned up to 80 per cent. Apart from this, sewage treatment will prevent water from going to Ganga," he added.

Gadkari further said that five river ports will also be constructed.

"Along with road and water maintenance; transport facility will also be provided," he added.

The Kumbh Mela, is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, to be held at Sangam in Allahabad. Up to 100 million people gather on the shores of the Ganges to celebrate the Hindu festival.