Thu, 22 February 2018
Obama praises teen shooting survivors fighting for gun control

Timeline  Refresh

23:34   Extension of emergency: Maldives says India's remark a 'distortion of facts'
Reacting to concerns raised by India over the extension of the State of Emergency in the Maldives, the country's ministry of foreign affairs on Thursday said the assertion by the Government of India about the extension is a clear distortion of facts.

"The Government of Maldives takes note of the public statements issued by the Government of India that ignore the facts and ground realities with regard to the ongoing political developments in the Maldives," the MoFA said in a statement.

"The assertion by the Government of India that the extension of the State of Emergency by the People's Majlis was unconstitutional is a clear distortion of facts, which ignore the Constitution and Laws of the Maldives," the statement added.

The Maldives emphasised that the country is going through a difficult period and urge the friends, allies and the international community to refrain from making such statements.

"There is no doubt that the Maldives is experiencing one of the most difficult periods in the history of the nation. It is therefore important that friends and partners in the international community, including India, refrain from any actions that could hinder resolving the situation facing the country," the MoFA said.

"The Government of Maldives reiterates its firm commitment to work closely with the international community, including India, to address the concerns they might have," it added.

Earlier in the day, India's ministry of external affairs Spokesperson Ravish Kumar said that India did not see "any valid reason" for the extension of emergency in the Maldives.

-- ANI
23:09   Obama praises teen shooting survivors fighting for gun control
Former US President Barack Obama is throwing his support behind the teenagers vocally advocating for stricter gun control in the wake of the deadly Florida school shooting last week.

Young people have helped lead all our great movements, Obama said on Twitter. How inspiring to see it again in so many smart, fearless students standing up for their right to be safe; marching and organizing to remake the world as it should be.

The students actions ranging from speaking at a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale to organising an upcoming national march to holding meetings with President Donald Trump have added a timely emotional resonance to the countrys pitched gun control debate. Some corners of the conservative media have incorrectly dismissed them as crisis actors posing as high school students.

Weve been waiting for you, Obama said. And weve got your backs.
22:48   Meryl Streep slams 'pathetic' Harvey Weinstein lawyers
Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence have condemned Harvey Weinstein's lawyers for using their names in his defence against a legal action.

Six women are bringing a class action lawsuit against the disgraced producer.

His lawyers want it dismissed because it is too broad, arguing that actresses such as Streep haven't accused him.

But Streep said the way they used the fact he didn't abuse her "as evidence that he was not abusive with many OTHER women is pathetic and exploitative".

And Lawrence said he and his company were trying to "take things out of context and use them for their own benefit".

Weinstein has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by dozens of women. He denies all allegations of non-consensual sex. 

Weinstein's legal team used the names of Streep, Lawrence and Gwyneth Paltrow in papers filed in New York in an attempt to get the case dismissed.
22:27   Haasan opposes "saffronisation," urges space, respect for all
Actor-politician Kamal Haasan today opposed "saffronisation," saying all sections of people should be given space and respect.

Using the national flag as a symbol to convey his political message, the actor rejected suggestions that he was denigrating the Hindu right wing ideology.
Haasan, who launched his political party Makkal Neethi Maiam yesterday, has said his politics will be free of caste and religion.
In November last year, the actor had faced flak for his "Hindu extremists" remark from the BJP and other right wing outfits.  However, he had clarified then that he was not anti-Hindu.
"Some say that Kamal Haasan is denigrating saffron. It is wrong. Saffron has been given its rightful place for its sacrifice, what is more, even the national flag has a place for it," he said in his column in Tamil weekly Ananda Vikatan.'

Haasan said,  "I say that saffron should, however, not spread to the entire flag. Let us give space and respect to others. It is the pledge we have taken and that is what has been mentioned in the Constitution too."

He did not name or party or organisation. He also did not refer to any specific incident or give a context or the trigger for raising the matter immediately after launching his party.

Claiming that a video had appeared on YouTube where some people were shown taking a pledge to remove the word secular from the Constitution, he asked how such a change came through in about 50 years.

"Can sacrifice (of pluralistic values) to such an extent be made for the sake of votes," Haasan said, and asked if such a thing was not worse than a war.

-- PTI
22:10   NRA chief slams 'shameful politicisation' of Florida tragedy
The head of America's National Rifle Association today lashed out at critics of the powerful gun lobby, accusing them of exploiting last week's deadly school shooting in Florida for political advantage.

In his first public comments since the Parkland shooting that left 17 dead, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre accused gun control advocates within the Democratic Party of seeking to roll back the constitutional right to bear arms.
"The shameful politicisation of tragedy, it's a classic strategy right out of the playbook of a poisonous movement," he told an annual conservative conference, hitting out in turn at supposed "socialists" on the political left, and at the "so-called national news media."
"For them it's not a safety issue, it's a political issue," he charged. "They hate the NRA. They hate the Second Amendment. They hate individual freedom."
21:50   Waiting for Nirav Modi's response to notice on revocation of passport: MEA
The ministry of external affairs said on Thursday it is still awaiting a response to the notification sent to absconding Indian businessman Nirav Modi, involved in the $1.8 billion Punjab National Bank fraud, seeking an explanation as to why his passport should not be revoked.

Briefing the media in New Delhi, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that with the receipt of the notification, Modi is bound to reply within a stipulated time to the notice and the charges that have been explained to him.

If he replies, then we go through that and if we dont find it satisfactory, then of course the passport is revoked, Kumar said. If he does not reply, then again the same thing happens. So we are now waiting for him to respond on the notice which has been sent to him.

Stating that such notifications are sent to addresses or emails, he said that in this particular case the notification has been sent to an email in India that Modi has shared with the authorities.

After the fraud came to light earlier this month, MEA on February 16 suspended the passports of Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, who have fled the country.

On the advice of the Enforcement Directorate, the passport issuing authority in the Ministry of External Affairs has today suspended the validity of passports of Nirav Deepak Modi and Mehul Chinubhai Choksi with immediate effect for a period of four weeks u/s 10(A) of the Passports Act 1967, the ministry said in a statement.
JUST IN: Pakistani post destroyed in Indian retaliatory shelling along LoC in Poonch dist in JK: Army sources
21:11   Trump Jr announces structural completion of Trump Tower Mumbai
Mumbai has emerged as one of the most preferred destinations for luxury real estate, US President Donald Trump's son Donald John Trump said today as he announced the completion of the structural framework of a
78-storey tower being constructed by his company here.
The Trump Tower Mumbai, launched in 2014, will comprise 400 luxury residences with prices above Rs 16 crore for a 2-BHK unit.

The entire project is due for completion only in mid-2019.

"We are proud to announce that Trump Tower Mumbai has reached its highest level of construction," said Donald Trump Jr, executive vice president, Trump Organisation, said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony held atop the tower.

-- PTI
20:44   Rotomac owner Vikram Kothari, son arrested
Industrialist Vikram Kothari, the promoter of Rotomac Pens, and his son Rahul Kothari, were arrested today in Rs. 3,700-crore loan default case.

The Kotharis allegedly owes Rs. 3,695 crore to Allahabad Bank, Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Bank of Maharashtra, Indian Overseas Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce and Union Bank of India.

Investigators had raided the billionaire's home and establishments in Kanpur on Thursday. Mr Kothari and his son were questioned all day on Wednesday.

Vikram Kothari has denied any wrongdoing. "Yes, I took a loan from the bank but it's wrong information that I haven't paid," he had said.

The CBI has filed a case based on a complaint by Bank of Baroda, one of the banks from which Vikram Kothari had taken loans.

The Rotomac case coincides with the CBI's investigation into the massive PNB scam in which bank officials helped Nirav Modi and others get credit from overseas banks using fake guarantees. Nirav Modi and his family left the country in the first week of January.
JUST IN: CBI arrested Rotomac Pens owner Vikram Kothari and his son Rahul Kothari
20:04   PM Modi finally 'welcomes' Canada's Trudeau in India
On the fifth day of the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Indian visit, Narendra Modi has welcomed the former to the country via a tweet. 

Modi wrote, ""I look forward to meeting Canadian PM Justin Trudeau tomorrow and holding talks on further strengthening India-Canada relations in all spheres. I appreciate his deep commitment to ties between our two countries."

He added, "I hope Canadian PM #JustinTrudeau and his family had a very enjoyable stay so far. I particularly look forward to meeting his children Xavier, Ella-Grace, and Hadrien."

The tweet comes after reports of Modi snubbing Trudeau and not receiving him at the airport. 

However, government sources strongly rejected the speculation, insisting normal diplomatic protocol has been extended to Trudeau.

Trudeau will hold bilateral talks with Modi on Friday, a day before he wraps up his tour.
19:44   Brussels on alert amid reports of gunman, police say no terrorist attack
Police closed down a street in southern Brussels in a major security operation involving specialist armed units on Thursday after a report of a possible murder.

A police spokeswoman denied media reports that an armed gunman was hiding in the area. She said that the special units of the federal police had been deployed after a Polish man reported that someone had been murdered in the morning.

They are searching the buildings but we can say there has not been any terrorist attack, she said.

Brussels is still on alert after suicide bombers killed 32 people at the airport and on the metro in March 2016.
19:18   CS assault case: AAP MLAs sent to 14-day judicial custody
Aam Aadmi Party MLAs Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal, arrested for allegedly assaulting Delhi chief secretary, were today sent to Tihar Jail for 14 days in judicial custody by a Delhi court, which reserved its order on their bail pleas for tomorrow.

The two MLAs on the expiry of their one-day judicial custody were produced before Metropolitan Magistrate Shefali Barnala Tondon who heard their bail applications.

The court had yesterday rejected the demand of the police to interrogate them in its custody and kept the bail matter for today as the prosecution wanted to place some documents before it.

The court had yesterday termed the alleged assault on the chief secretary was a 'highly sensitive' case.

The magistrate had refused the plea of the Delhi Police to quiz them in custody for two days, saying the legislators were ready to cooperate in the investigation and no case property was to be recovered from them, which was the basic purpose of police custody.

The two MLAs were arrested in connection with the alleged assault on the bureaucrat during a meeting at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's residence on the night of February 19.

While Jarwal, an MLA from Deoli, was arrested on Tuesday night, Khan was taken into custody yesterday afternoon.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash. Photograph: PTI Photo
18:19   Held 'secret meet' with Rajini before political plunge: Kamal
Actor-politician Kamal Haasan says he held a "secret" meeting with his contemporary and friend Rajinikanth about his entry into politics and decided to maintain dignity even if they became rivals later. While Haasan launched his party Makkal Neethi Mayyam in Madurai yesterday,

Rajinikanth had announced in December that he will enter politics. Writing in his weekly series in Tamil magazine 'Ananda Vikatan', Haasan, however, did not reveal when the meeting happened. But he disclosed that they spoke on the issue of his political entry during the shoot of 'Bigg Boss', anchored by Haasan.

'Bigg Boss' was then being shot at a private studio at suburban Poonamallee, he added. Rajinikanth was shooting for his upcoming film "Kaala" in a nearby location, Haasan said, adding he made the proposal for the meeting.

"Shall we meet secretively I asked... we later sat inside a car and discussed. I spoke about the decisions I had made," Haasan said in an apparent reference to his political plunge. He said he proposed the meeting as he wanted his one time co-star to be in the know about his decision to enter politics before the others knew about it. Rajinikanth "asked with surprise," when Haasan took such a decision, the actor-director said.

To this Haasan told his 'friend,' that he was mentally prepared about the plunge a long time ago but was implementing it now. "We decided that there shall be no compromise in dignity for whatever reason. I told him that even if we are in opposing camps, the respect (for each other) should be maintained," he said, adding, it was akin to a 'yudh dharma.' Rajinikanth endorsed his views, saying "of course, Kamal," the "Vishwaroopam" maker said. -- PTI
18:17   Will be discharging regular duties as CM, says Parrikar
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who today returned to Panaji after being discharged from a Mumbai hospital, said he would carry on with his regular duties, but his interaction with the public will be limited for some time as advised by doctors. 

Parrikar, who was admitted in the Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai for a pancreatic ailment since February 15, presented the Budget and also chaired a state Cabinet meeting upon his return.

In a press statement, Parrikar said the overwhelming love shown by people has strengthened his conviction that Goa and Goans are his "extended family".

"I thank everyone who wished me for my speedy recovery through messages, letters and prayers at various temples, churches, mosques and in other ways," Parrikar said. "I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of your love and affection. It fortifies my conviction that Goa and Goans are my extended family. It is your wishes and prayers which have helped (me) to serve the state and the nation today...," he said in the statement.

"For complete recovery, I have been advised by the doctors some precautions in the immediate short term. During this period my interaction with the public will be limited. I will be discharging my regular duties and obligations as the chief minister of the state," he said. -- PTI
18:10   Come up with implementable plan to repay dues: PNB to Nirav Modi
Scam-hit Punjab National Bank today asked billionaire diamond jeweller Nirav Modi to come up with a concrete and implementable plan to settle the loss caused to it by fraudulent issuance of Letter of Undertakings through one of its branches. PNB said this in its response to a mail written by Nirav Modi, who allegedly cheated the bank of Rs 11,400 crore in connivance with a few bank officials.

"You were getting LoUs issued illegally and in an unauthorized way through few bank officials. At no stage such facilities were extended by our bank to your three partner firms," sources said citing mail response sent by PNB General Manager (international banking division) Ashwini Vats to Nirav Modi.

When the illegal activities of Nirav Modi surfaced, the bank brought them to the notice of the law enforcement agencies as they apparently violated FEMA and anti-money laundering law, sources said. "Your commitment and undertaking for sparing of the total liability was not backed by providing upfront amounts and timelines. However, should you have any concrete and implementable plan, do revert back," the mail said.

Nirav Modi in his letter to the bank had said that the over-zealousness on the part of the bank to deal with the issue destroyed his jewellery brand and also jeopardised his ability to clear the dues.

"The erroneously cited liability resulted in a media frenzy which led to immediate search and seizure of operations, and which in turn resulted in Firestar International and Firestar Diamond International effectively ceasing to be going-concerns... This thereby jeopardised our ability to discharge the dues of the group to the banks.

"In the anxiety to recover your dues immediately, despite my offer (on February 13, a day before the public announcement, and on 15, your actions have destroyed my brand and the business and have now restricted your ability to recover all the dues leaving a trail of unpaid debts," Modi said in its letter to the bank.

The Rs 11,400 crore fraud perpetuated by Modi is being investigated by various investigative agencies including the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI. -- PTI
17:53   PNB shares down over 2%
Shares of scam-hit Punjab National Bank today came under selling pressure, falling over 2 per cent, after witnessing marginal gains in the past two sessions.

The stock went down 2.09 per cent to end at Rs 114.65 on BSE. During the day, it lost 2.90 per cent to Rs 113.70. At NSE, shares of the company slipped 2.30 per cent to close at Rs 114.60.

In terms of equity volume, 27.98 lakh shares of the company were traded on BSE and over 4 crore shares changed hands at NSE during the day. Since February 12 till February 19, the stock had fallen almost 28 per cent.

State-owned PNB today said it has followed lawful avenues to recover its dues following Rs 11,400 crore swindling of funds allegedly by jewellery designer Nirav Modi and associates.

The PSU bank also asked Modi to come up with a concrete and implementable plan to settle the loss. PNB had disclosed about the scam on February 14 through a regulatory filing.

Meanwhile, PNB will move out of NSE's Nifty Midcap 100 index in April. The changes were announced yesterday by India Index Services and Products Ltd (IISL), an arm of National Stock Exchange as part of its periodic review. -- PTI
17:47   Hoax terror threat: Prince Harry, fiance were sent white powder
Prince Harry and his fiance Meghan Markle have been sent white powder claiming to be anthrax in a malicious hoax. The package was intercepted by officials at Kensington Palace and found to be harmless by police, who have launched an investigation, the Evening Standard reported. Read more
17:34   Workers who left Cong to join BJP have returned: Nirupam
The Congress' Mumbai unit chief, Sanjay Nirupam, today said that 300 workers and some leaders, who had left the party to join the BJP, had returned.

Calling it a "ghar wapsi" (homecoming), Nirupam said that the move also reflected the sentiments of the people, adding that Delhi leader, Arvinder Singh Lovely, who had joined the BJP, had also returned. He said, "The faulty way in which the BJP functions has become quite evident with prominent leaders coming back to the Congress.

It takes a strong leadership and transparent administration for any party to function. The leaders who have grown up with the Congress' policies of honesty cannot work in the corrupt environment of the BJP," he claimed.

Nirupam said that the Congress' victory in recent bypolls in Rajasthan and its commendable performance in the Gujarat assembly elections had begun to change the tide for the party. He said that these leaders lost faith in the BJP due to its insensitivity to the plight of farmers and common citizens and due to the "ineptness" of the BJP government beset with scams. -- PTI
17:31   Respect Gen Rawat, but he seems 'misguided': AIUDF chief
All India United Democratic Front chief Badruddin Ajmal holds a presser in Guwahati, speaks on Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat's remarks. Excerpts:

- We respect General Rawat a lot but I think he has been misinformed and misguided.

- If the Army chief is saying that demographic change is happening in Assam, then it is the government's job to check it. We are the only party which said that shoot anyone who infiltrates into our borders.

- People say we are a Muslim party which is false. We've always given 20-25 seats to our Hindu brothers in all elections. Muslim brothers had also laid down their lives in the freedom struggle. We're Indians. Let us live with the dignity of an Indian.

- Whenever I meet Union home minister (Rajnath Singh), he meets me warmly and addresses me as 'Badruddin bhai'. If we were anti-national would he welcome me?

- Have asked for time to meet the President, the prime minister and the Union home minister. Our MLA delegation will meet and clarify our position.   -- ANI
17:11   HC rejects plea alleging glorification of Sati in 'Padmaavat'
The Delhi high court today rejected a plea seeking penal action against the producers and director of Bollywood movie Padmaavat for alleged glorification of the practice of 'sati'.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar dismissed the plea saying the petitioner should have approached the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) at an appropriate time.

"The film stands released without any complaints and it is already in public domain. If the petitioner was having any complaint with regard to the issue raised in his writ petition, he should have made complaint before the CBFC at an appropriate time. We find no merit in the petition. The same is dismissed." the court said.

A PIL by social activist Swami Agnivesh had sought deletion of the scenes that depict the practice of 'sati'.

'Sati' is an obsolete funeral custom where a widow immolates herself on her husband's pyre and the law prohibits it.

The court had earlier observed that according to one of the disclaimers in the film, it is a work of fiction and therefore, it does not show any intention or animus on the part of the producers or director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, to propagate the practice.

The petition, filed through advocate Mehmood Pracha, had sought directions to the Delhi Police to lodge FIR against Ajit Andhare, one of the producers, and Bhansali.

Central government standing counsel Manish Mohan, who appeared for the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the censor board, had opposed the plea, saying the movie was certified for public viewing after considering all the aspects.

The court had said that in the present day and age, it was "hesitant to accept" the petitioner's claim that someone would follow such a practice just by seeing the movie.

The high court on January 25 had rejected a Rajasthan-based group's plea seeking quashing of the certification granted to the film, saying the Supreme Court had permitted its release. -- PTI
16:22   He should never have received invite: Trudeau on Khalistani terrorist
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau on inviting Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal to a dinner with the Canadian Prime Minister, hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner in New Delhi.

"Obviously, we take this extremely seriously. He should never have received an invitation. As soon as we received the information we resciended it. A member of Parliament had included this individual," Trudeau said.

Canadian Member of Parliament Randeep S Sarai has taken responsibility for inviting Atwal to Trudeau's reception dinner in New Delhi, which is scheduled to take place later today.

"I alone facilitated his request to attend this important event. I should have exercised better judgment, and I take full responsibility for my actions," Sarai said in a statement, which Canadian journalist Abigail Bimman shared on Twitter.

Raveesh Kumar, the MEA spokesperson weighed on the matter saying, "There are two aspects to it -- presence & Visa. The Canadian side has already clarified that the invitation has been withdrawn. About the visa, I don't know how it happened. We will ascertain information from our Commission."

Jaspal Atwal, a convicted Khalistani terrorist, who was active in the banned International Sikh Youth Federation, was invited for a formal dinner with the Canadian Prime Minister, hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner in New Delhi.

He was convicted of the attempted murder of Punjab minister, Malkiat Singh Sidhu, on Vancouver Island in 1986 for which he was convicted with three others.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is on a visit to India, has been under immense pressure to answer concerns about Sikh separatism in Canada. 
15:58   Ever wondered why Narendra Modi never says 'I did it'?
One of the reasons for the defeat of the Atal Behari Vajpayee-led NDA coalition in 2004 was the election slogan: "India Shining'. Instead, a better slogan would have been "India Rising', as L.K. Advani later admitted.

There's a fundamental problem in politicians trumpeting their success and saying "I did it'. Once the story is over, the audience moves on to something else. It looks for other, newer stories.A successful election slogan doesn't seek to end the story but keeps you hooked to it. When a movie ends, you don't even wait to see the credits before you get up and leave. But a TV series ends with some suspense that makes you want to watch the next episode. That is also how successful politicians present their work.

Read the report here
15:57   Nirav Modi aide Vipul Ambani was aware of fraud LoUs: CBI
The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday said Head of Finance Department of Firestar Group of Companies of Nirav Modi, Vipul Ambani was fully aware of the fraudulent and illegal Letter of Undertakings in connection with the Punjab National Bank fraud case.

The LoUs were issued by retired Deputy Manager of Punjab National Bank Brady House branch in Mumbai, Gokulnath Setty, in conspiracy and guidance of celebrity jeweller and his other employees.

Ambani in his aforesaid capacity as Finance Head was also visiting and meeting not only the officials of Brady House PNB, but also the officials of PNB Circle, Zonal office at Mumbai and Head Office in New Delhi.

His knowledge of the fraudulent transactions is proved from the fact that on Wednesday, during the searches in this case at the office of Firestar Group of Companies at Peninsula Business Park at Mumbai's Lower Parel, the applications of fraudulent LoUs made to PNB by the three firms of Nirav Modi- Diamonds 'R" US, Solar Exports and Stellar Diamonds- were seized. -- ANI

Image: Vipul Ambani, President (finance) of Nirav Modis Firestar Diamond being taken to the special CBI court on Wednesday
15:15   Parrikar presents Goa budget hours after discharge from hospital
Goa CM Manohar Parrikar puts to rest morbid rumours of his illness as he presents the budget in the state assembly.

Parrikar, who was recently hospitalised in Mumbai, was discharged from Lilavati Hospital and reached Goa at 11:40 am by a special flight. He left for Panaji for his residence and then

The Budget session of the Goa Legislative Assembly began on February 19.
15:00   Centre to crack down on erring auditors
The government is considering implementing stringent auditing standards by notifying Section 132 of the Companies Act, 2013, in the wake of the 1.77 billion dollar Punjab National Bank fraud.

Government sources told ANI that implementing this section would enable the creation of a National Financial Reporting Authority that would give the government regulatory control over Chartered Accountants and audit firms to penalise them for their misconduct.

As per current provisions, CAs and audit firms function as per guidelines issued under the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949. Any case of misconduct or corrupt practices is administered by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.

During the demonetisation drive, five CAs were found guilty of misconduct, out of which four were suspended for three months and fined Rs. 1 lakh each.

However, once Section 132 of Companies Act 2013 gets notified, the government will be able to exercise greater control over matters relating to accounting and auditing standards.Section 132 provides for a fine of up to ten times the fee received by auditing firms and five times the fee received for CAs. It also has the power to suspend corrupt officials for a period of six months to ten years. 
14:54   Donald Trump Jr.s tour through India is staggeringly corrupt
Unlike his sister Ivanka, Trump Jr. is not a formal member of the White House. He's technically just a businessman running the Trump Organization on behalf of his father.But by delivering a foreign policy speech, Trump Jr. is signaling to Indians that he's in their country as a businessman and as a surrogate for the US government. If any wealthy Indians were on the fence about whether it was worth buying a condo just to talk to Trump Jr. about, say, trade policy, the fact that he's delivering that speech should make it seem worthwhile. Trump Jr. is sending a clear signal that he wants to talk policy.

Read the full report here.
Allahabad High Court rejects petition seeking re investigation into UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's alleged role in the 2007 riots in Gorakhpur.
14:30   Parrikar discharged from Mumbai hospital
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar was today discharged from the Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai, where he was undergoing treatment for a pancreatic ailment. Parrikar has arrived in Goa after the discharge. Deputy Speaker of the Goa Legislative Assembly Michael Lobo confirmed this development. Parrikar was being treated in Mumbai for pancreatitis since February 15.

The annual Budget is scheduled to be tabled in the Goa Legislative Assembly today. However, it is still not clear whether Parrikar would table it or not, Lobo said. "Parrikar has arrived in Goa. It is a good piece of news that he has been discharged. But it is not still clear whether he would be tabling the budget ," Lobo told reporters outside the Assembly.

"Parrikar has so much willpower that he has recovered, and if he thinks that he should table the budget, he will come and do it," he said. After landing in Goa, Parrikar went to his residence in Panaji. -- PTI
14:28   59 pc candidates in Nagaland polls are crorepatis: ADR
Fifty-nine percent of the candidates for the February 27 Assembly elections in Nagaland are crorepatis with JD(U) nominee Ramongo Lotha being the richest among them with a total wealth of Rs 38.92 crore, an analysis of the affidavits revealed. The Association of Democratic Reforms, which analysed the affidavits of 193 aspirants out of a total of 196 candidates, found out that 114 candidates are crorepatis.

Image: The PM campaigning in Nagaland
14:05   Army backs Rawat: Nothing religious or political in talk
The Indian Army on Thursday clarified its Chief General Bipin Rawat's remarks on drawing a comparison between the growth speed of Bharatiya Janata Party and an Assamese political party, saying, "There is nothing political or religious in the talk. The Army Chief just mentioned amalgamation and development in the seminar on North-East organised at DRDO Bhawan on 21 February," army said.

On Wednesday, General Rawat remarked that Assam's All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) "has grown in a faster time-frame than the BJP grew over the years. There is a party called AIUDF. They have grown in a faster time-frame than the BJP grew over the years. When we talk of Jan Sangh with two MPs and where they have reached, AIUDF is moving at a faster pace in the state of Assam," General Rawat, said at the North East Region of India- Bridging Gaps and Securing Borders Summit, conducted on Wednesday. -- ANI
13:53   Pak doesn't want India to remain peaceful: BSF
In the wake of the continuous ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir, the Border Security Force on Thursday said that Pakistan restores to incessant firing across the border because they don't want India to have a peaceful atmosphere.

"Pakistan doesn't want India to have a peaceful atmosphere. This is why they do such violations. There was a ceasefire violation yesterday too," Sonali Mishra, Inspector General of BSF told ANI.

Mishra further averred that the BSF and Army have given a befitting reply to the attackers."BSF and Army gave a befitting reply and according to our reliable sources there are two casualties on their side," added Mishra.

Earlier in the day, Pakistan Army restored to unprovoked and indiscriminate firing in Jammu and Kashmir's Charunda Uri sector. -- ANI
13:47   Sikh's turban ripped outside UK parliament in 'racist' attack
An Indian Sikh man's turban was ripped by a white man shouting "Muslim go back" in an apparent racist attack outside the UK parliament, according to a media report.

Ravneet Singh, 37, who is from Punjab, was waiting to enter the Portcullis House, part of the British Parliamentary Estate, to meet Sikh Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi when the assault took place yesterday.

Singh said he was waiting in the queue when the man, who was shouting "Muslim go back", approached him and tried to remove his turban, a religious headgear.

"I was in the queue outside Portcullis House and this guy ran up to us. Just before we got to the entrance he came up to me and attacked me. "He was pulling at my turban strongly. It half moved and I grabbed it. Before he could do anything else I shouted at him and he ran," Singh was quoted as saying by The Independent.

Singh said the man made a "racist comment" in another language that he did not understand. "He was a white man, but he didn't sound English. He said something like 'Muslim go back'," he added. Dhesi, who was to host Singh,
expressed "disgust" at the incident and sought action against the culprit.

"Disgusted to discover today that someone filled with hatred tried to pull off the turban of one of my guests standing in line outside @UKParliament. I hope the @metpoliceuk /authorities will take urgent action," Dhesi tweeted.

According to the report, the police have confirmed being alerted at 5.20 pm about the assault outside the building adjacent to the Houses of Parliament, which is home to offices for MPs and their staff. Police said no arrest has been made so far and they were probing the case. The Sikh community in the UK has often been the mistaken target of hate crimes against Muslims that surged after the 9/11 attack in the US. -- PTI
13:36   SC asks if Kerala HC was justified in annulling Hadiya's marriage
The Supreme Court today asked if a roving inquiry could be ordered into the "issue of consent" between two adults who married at will and if the Kerala High Court order annulling the marriage of Hadiya, an alleged victim of 'love jihad', was justified.

The questions from a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud came during the hearing of the Kerala conversion case.

"What troubles us is that whether there can be a roving inquiry into the issue of consent between two adults who have agreed to marry," the bench said.

Whether the high court was justified in nullifying the marriage is a pure question of law, it added. "Marriage and investigation are two different things. As far as marriage is concerned, it does not warrant any investigation. Investigation has nothing to do with it. You can investigate any other thing," the court said.

Hadiya, the 25-year-old woman who is at the centre of an alleged love jihad controversy, had on Tuesday filed an affidavit before the top court claiming that she willingly converted to Islam and wants to live with her husband Shafin Jahan.

The matter had come to fore when Jahan had challenged the Kerala High Court's order annulling his marriage with Hadiya and sending her to her parents' custody.

On November 27 last year, the apex court had freed Hadiya from her parents' custody and sent her to college to pursue her studies, even as she had pleaded that she should be allowed to go with her husband. -- PTI
12:47   Court lifts gag order against Caravan
In a huge and well-deserved victory for The Caravan magazine, the Delhi High Court vacates the injunction against the February 2011 cover story on Arindam Chaudhuri and IIPM.  For a background on the what happened, read this.

Chaudhari had filed the case after the magazine published an article titled Sweet smell of success How Arindam Chaudhuri made a fortune of the aspirations and insecurities of Indias middle classes. A civil court in Silchar, Assam had granted Chaudhari a preliminary injunction, directing Caravan to remove the article in question from its website, reports the Bar & Bench.

A transfer petition filed in the Supreme Court praying that the case be shifted to the Delhi High Court was granted, and the case came up before the Bench of Justice Manmohan.

Appearing for Chaudhari in the Delhi High Court, Advocate Nishit Kush contended that the magazine carried a morphed image of Chaudhari, showing him as a magician/soothsayer with the intent to portray him as a trickster.

It was further stated that derogatory comments were made against him without any basis and with an intent to create a negative image of Chaudhari amongst the general public.

12:24   Khalistani terrorist's invite: Canada PMO says he wasn't part of Trudeau's delegation
Canada PMO on the invitation to Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal, which has come as a huge embarrassment to their government especially after Justin Trudeau has categorically told Punjab CM Amarinder Singh that Canada will neither provide a safe harbour for terrorists or separatists.

The PMO statement: "This individual( Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal) should never have been invited to any event on the program, and his invitation has been rescinded. We are in the process of looking into how this occurred. That said, it's important to be clear that he is not part of official delegation to PMs visit to India, nor was he invited by the Prime Ministers Office. As is the case with international trips, individuals sometimes travel on their own to the location of the visit."

Convicted Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal, who was active in the banned International Sikh Youth Federation, posed with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife Sophie Trudeau at an event in Mumbai on February 20, during the Canadian first family's visit to India.

Jaspal was also invited for a formal dinner with the Canadian Prime Minister, hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner on Thursday.

However, the invite has now been rescinded.

Image: Canadian Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi, photographed with Jaspal Atwal (right) in Mumbai on February 20.
EAM Sushma Swaraj greets the Foreign Minister of Canada Chrystia Freeland ahead of the FM-level Strategic Dialogue between the two countries.  
11:43   AIUDF reacts on Army chief's statement
AIUDF MLA, Aminul Islam, on Army chief's statement: AIUDF is working for the downtrodden. this is why our popularity is growing faster than BJP. We are hopeful that people of Assam irrespective of caste & creed, will accept AIUDF and our party will come to power soon.
11:39   Khalistani terrorist's invitation to Trudeau reception rescinded
The Canadian High Commission on Thursday confirmed that the invitation to Khalistani terrorist to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's reception has been rescinded.

"The High Commission has rescinded Mr. Atwal's invitation. We do not comment on matters related to the PM's security," Canadian Consulate in Mumbai told ANI.

Jaspal, a convicted Khalistani terrorist, who was active in the banned International SikhYouth Federation, was invited for a formal dinner with the Canadian Prime Minister, hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner, scheduled to take place later in the day, Canada's CBC News reported earlier.

Jaspal Atwal was convicted of the attempted murder of Punjab minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu, on Vancouver Island in 1986. -- ANI
Army reacts: There is nothing political or religious in the talk. Army Chief just mentioned amalgamation & development in the seminar on North-East organised at DRDO Bhawan on 21 Feb '18.
11:30   AIUDF shocked over Gen Bipin Rawat's political statement
Badruddin Ajmal, chief of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) in Assam, tweets: "Gen Bipin Rawat has made a political statement, shocking! Why is it a concern for the Army Chief that a political party, based on democratic & secular values, is rising faster than BJP? Alternative parties like AIUDF, AAP have grown because of the misgovernance of big parties. By making such statement, isn't the Chief of Army Staff indulging into politics which is against the constitutional mandate given to him. @rashtrapatibhvn @PMOIndia please take note."

11:25   Army chief enters 'restricted territory': Assam politics
A "planned" influx of people from Bangladesh into the Northeast is taking place as part of a proxy warfare by Pakistan with support from China with an aim to keep the area disturbed, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat today said.

Referring to reports of increase in Muslim population in several districts of Assam, the Army Chief also talked about Badruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF (All India United Democratic Front) in the state, observing that its growth has been "faster" than that of the BJP in the 1980s.

"A planned immigration is taking place because of our western neighbour. They will always try and ensure that this area is taken over, playing the proxy dimension of warfare," General Rawat said, talking about the influx of people from Bangladesh into the Northeast.

He was addressing a conference on bridging gaps and securing borders in the Northeast region.

"I think the proxy game is very well played by our western neighbour, supported by our northern border (China) to keep the area disturbed. We will continue to see some migration happening. The solution lies in identifying the problem and holistically looking at it," he said.

Influx of illegal Bangladeshis is a major issue in Assam and the state government is now coming out with a national register of citizens to find out those living illegally in the state.

"There is a party called AIUDF. If you look at it, they have grown in a faster time-frame than the BJP grew over the years," he said, while referring to the BJP winning only 2 seats in 1984. "The AIDUF is moving at a faster pace in Assam."

The AIUDF, which was formed in 2005 with an aim to champion the cause of Muslim community, currently has three parliamentarians in Lok Sabha and 13 legislators in the state assembly.

The Army chief said the solution to the problem lies in ensuring development of the region by taking a holistic approach."I do not think you can now change the population dynamics of the area. If it was five districts to eight to nine, inversion has taken place whichever be the government," he said while referring to reports that Muslim majority has increased from five to nine districts in Assam.The Army chief said efforts should be to "amalgamate" the people living in the region and then try and "start identifying those creating trouble for us".

"The government is looking at the Northeast in correct perspective, and if that happens, time will not be far that we will be able to amalgamate the region and ensure development. And with development comes the control of the people who are residing in this area," he said.

General Rawat said the centre is seriously taking several measures to ensure development of the region. "The development will finally happen in the area. That should take care of lot of things."He said, "We will have more problem in segregating people. Yes some people will have to be identified who are creating trouble for us."

The Army chief said migration is also taking place from Bangladesh because of shrinking land space in the country due to various reasons including floods. He said the government must send a message that peace will lead to development in the region, adding enough development has not taken place in Mizoram though it is a peaceful state.
Nirav Modi's Rolls Royce Ghost seized by the ED today.
The Porsche Panamera belonging to Nirav Modi seized by the Enforcement Directorate.
Narendra Modi lands in Dimapur for the Assembly Elections in Nagaland. 
10:45   Nirav Modi's 9 cars (including a Rolls Royce Ghost) seized
The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday seized nine cars belonging to jeweller Nirav Modi and his companies, in connection with the Punjab National Bank fraud case.

The cars seized by the agency include a Rolls Royce Ghost, a Porsche Panamera, two Mercedes Benz GL 350 CDIs, three Honda cars, a Toyota Fortuner and a Toyota Innova.

Mutual funds and shares worth Rs 7.80 crore of Nirav Modi and Rs 86.72 crore of those belonging to Mehul Choksi Group were also frozen by the agency.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Income Tax department attached Rs. 145.74 crore found in several bank accounts belonging to jeweller Nirav Modi.

Till date, the IT department has attached a total of 141 bank accounts/Fixed Deposits of the group.

Representational image of a Rolls Royce Ghost Series II, which in 2014 cost Rs 4.50 crore.
10:36   Why must so many elephants die on the railway tracks?
In a mammoth tragedy two Saturdays ago, a speeding train in Assam killed three baby elephants and two adult elephants on the railway track at night.

The elephants were crossing the track in a forested area. Locals say, that because the baby elephants did not move seeing the oncoming train, they were flanked by the adults who took the brunt of the train, but were unable to save them.

The driver tried applying the brakes, but it was too late.

Ten days before the tragedy in Assam, a group of wildlife conservationists sent a letter to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to act on the rising elephant deaths due to train collisions.

The letter listed measures that the government needs to undertake urgently to save these gentle giants.

"The government does not seem to care and until that happens we will keep seeing such tragedies happen again and again," Debi Goenka, founder, Conservation Action Trust, and a signatory to the letter, tells's Archana Masih. Read the full interview here.
10:28   Bachchan starts following Cong leaders on Twitter, triggers speculation
Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan has started following some senior Congress leaders on Twitter of late, triggering speculation over his sudden interest in the party that he was once close to and had later drifted away from.

After following Congress president Rahul Gandhi and the party's official Twitter handle, he began following senior party like leaders P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, Ahmed Patel, Ashok Gehlot, Ajay Maken, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot and CP Joshi from this month. He recently also started following party leaders Manish Tewari, Shakeel Ahmed, Sanjay Nirupam, Randeep Surjewala Priyanka Chaturvedi and Sanjay Jha on the micro-blogging site.

Bachchan, who was once close to the Nehru-Gandhi family and was a friend of Rajiv Gandhi, is currently the brand ambassador of Gujarat. He has over 33.1 million followers on Twitter and follows only 1,689 people.

His sudden love for the Congress and some other opposition leaders has taken the party by surprise. Some other opposition leaders whom the actor has started following recently, include RJD chief Lalu Prasad, his daughter Misa Bharti, JD(U)'s Nitish Kumar, CPI-M's Sitaram Yechury.

He also follows the RJD's official Twitter handle, NC's Omar Abdullah and NCP's Supriya Sule. The AAP leaders he started following recently are Manish Sisodia, Gopal Rai, Sanjay Singh, Kumar Vishwas and Ashish Khetan. Manish Tewari, who was one of the Congress leaders recently followed by the actor, thanked him but did not say anything more on its timing and political significance.

The superstar also follows a number of BJP leaders. Of late, he started following ministers Nitin Gadkari and Suresh Prabhu. --  PTI

Image courtesy: Amitabh Bachchan's Twitter page.
10:15   Pak troops target Indian posts along LoC
Pakistani troops today fired at Indian posts along the Line of Control in the Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir, prompting Indian soldiers to retaliate, an Army official said. The Pakistani troops opened unprovoked firing at Indian posts in the Hajipeer area of the Uri sector in Baramulla district this morning, the official said.

He said Indian soldiers are retaliating the aggression from across the LoC effectively and in equal measure. No casualties have been reported in the incident so far,  he added. -- PTI
And another picture of the Trudeaus at Jama Masjid, Delhi. 
10:13   Trudeaus at Jama Masjid
Delhi: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau along with his family arrives at Jama Masjid, Delhi. Seems to have finally ditched desi attire for a suit. All through Trudeau and his family's public appearances in India since they arrived in India on February 17 have always been in Indian clothes including the over-the-top bridegroom-like sherwani he wore to the Bollywood party on February 20.
09:58   PNB scam: Residence of Gili's director sealed
In the wake of the Punjab National Bank fraud case, the Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday sealed the residence of Gili India Limited director Aniyath Shivraman at Kalyan in Maharashtra's Thane district.

The ED also seized several important documents related to the Punjab National Bank. Meanwhile, all four people, accused of cheating the Punjab National bank to the tune of Rs 11, 400 crores, were sent to police custody on Wednesday.

A special Central Bureau of Investigation court sent all the four, including celebrity jewellery designer Nirav Modi's Firestar Diamond President Vipul Ambani, to custody till March 5.The PNB detected a 1.77 billion dollar (Rs 11,400) scam, in which jeweller Nirav Modi acquired fraudulent letters of undertaking from one of its branches for overseas credit from other Indian lenders. -- ANI
09:56   Khalistani terrorist invited for Trudeau reception
A convicted Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal, who was active in the banned International Sikh Youth Federation, posed with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife Sophie Trudeau at an event in Mumbai on February 20, during the Canadian first family's visit to India.

Jaspal was also invited for a formal dinner with the Canadian Prime Minister, hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner on Thursday.

However, the invite is being rescinded now, as per reports of Canada's CBC News."I can confirm that the High Commission is in the process of rescinding Mr Atwal's invitation," PMO spokeswoman Eleanore Catenaro said, as per the report.

Atwal has also been photographed with the Canadian Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi in Mumbai on February 20.

Jaspal Atwal was convicted of the attempted murder of Punjab minister, Malkiat Singh Sidhu, on Vancouver Island in 1986.

At the time of the 1986 shooting, he was a Sikh separatist active in the pro-Khalistan International Sikh Youth Federation. He and three others were convicted in 1987 of trying to kill Malkiat Singh Sidhu.

Trudeau, who is in India on a week-long State visit, has been under pressure throughout his tour to answer Indian concerns about Sikh separatism in Canada. -- ANI

Image: Convicted Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal poses with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife Sophie Trudeau.
09:49   Senator worried Trump Jr's business trip will be confused as official
Democratic Senator Robert Menendez has written a letter to the US Ambassador to India to ensure that the son of the US president, who is visiting India, is not given any special treatment by the diplomatic mission, except for the one required by the security.

Menendez wrote a letter, as he said that he was concerned about a speech  at a business summit by Donald J Trump Jr which may send a "mistaken message that he is speaking on behalf of Donald Trump".

The 40-year-old son of the US President is currently on a business trip India. He is executive vice president of the Trump Organization which is developing a number of high profile properties in various parts of India.

"Given the potential to confuse Mr Trump's private business visit with having an official governmental purpose, I write to ensure that the US embassy presence in India will have no role in supporting Mr Trump or the Trump Organization during his time in India, other than that necessary to provide security support for the US Secret Service," the New Jersey Senator said in a letter to US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster.

"I expect that the US State Department, including  US Embassy Delhi, will treat Mr Trump no differently than it would any other American individual visiting on private business, and will take every effort to avoid any perception of special treatment or a conflict of interest," he said as he listed a series of questions to Juster on the visit of the son of the US president.

The Trump Administration has said that Donald J Trump Jr is on a personal; business visit to India. In his letter, Menendez also raised concerns about his scheduled speech on Indo-Pacific relations at the Global Business Summit in Delhi on Friday.

"Given that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and multiple government ministers will speak at the same event, I am concerned that Mr Trump's speech will send the mistaken message that he is speaking on behalf of the President, the Administration or the United States government, not as a private individual, or that he is communicating official American policy," Menendez said. -- PTI
09:45   Rupee declines 30 paise against dollar in early trade
The rupee weakened by 30 paise to trade at a three-month low of 65.06 against the US dollar in the opening session today due to increased demand for the greenback from importers amid heavy foreign fund outflows.

The dollar's gain against major world currencies, after US Federal Reserve minutes hinted at hiking interest rates faster than expectations, also impacted the rupee sentiment, a currency dealer said.

Strengthening US dollar and increased outflows from domestic capital market have weighed on the are weighing on the domestic currency. -- PTI
09:11   Ford North America President Raj Nair steps down for 'inappropriate behavior'
Indian-American Raj Nair, executive vice president and president of Ford North America has been asked to leave the Detroit-based motor company following allegations of misconduct at work place, the company said today.
Nair, 54, "is departing" from Ford effective immediately, the company said, noting that the decision follows a recent internal investigation into reports of inappropriate behaviour.
The review determined certain behaviour by Nair was inconsistent with the company's code of conduct, the statement said.
"We made this decision after a thorough review and careful consideration," said Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett.
"Ford is deeply committed to providing and nurturing a safe and respectful culture and we expect our leaders to fully uphold these values," he said.
In an accompanying statement Nair regretted the incident.
"I sincerely regret that there have been instances where I have not exhibited leadership behaviors consistent with the principles that the company and I have always espoused. I continue to have the utmost faith in the people of Ford Motor Company and wish them continued success in the future," Nair said.
Nair has been president of Ford North America since June 1, 2017. Prior to that, he served as Ford's head of global product development and chief technical officer.
Ford said his replacement will be subject to an announcement in the near future.
Having served Ford in various capacities, Nair was its vice president, operations, Asia Pacific.
In this position for three years, he was responsible for product development, manufacturing, purchasing, quality and information technology within the Asia Pacific region.
Nair joined Ford Motor Company in 1987 as a body and assembly operations launch engineer and held various positions on more than 11 vehicle programmes in 13 assembly plants. -- PTI
09:06   UP: Nominations of 13 candidates for Gorakhpur, Phoolpur LS bypolls rejected
As many as 13 nomination papers were on Wednesday rejected for the March 11 Lok Sabha bypolls to the Gorakhpur and Phoolpur seats in Uttar Pradesh.
Seven nomination papers from the Gorakhpur seat and six from Phoolpur were rejected leaving 10 and 24 candidates, respectively, in the fray after scrutiny of names was undertaken today, the state election office said.
February 23 is the last date for withdrawal of names, they said, adding that counting of votes will be held on March 14.
Byelections in Gorakhpur and Phulpur were necessitated after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya vacated their respective seats after becoming members of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council. -- PTI  
08:52   For a PM, nation must come first: Pawar's advise to Modi
Lamenting that personal attacks had become a trend in the country's politics, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday disapproved of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's criticism of Jawaharlal Nehru in Parliament.
He was referring to Modi's reply on the motion of thanks to the president's address to a joint sitting of Parliament.
"Criticising policies is okay. But I cannot agree to a statement that Nehru had no contribution in the country's development or in strengthening its democracy. If democracy was introduced in the 12th century, the British also ruled us after that and we were slaves," Pawar said in Pune.
He was being interviewed by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray.
The former Union minister recalled that late Yashwantrao Chavan always used to say that Nehru was responsible for making India a strong democratic nation.
He also said former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had immense respect for individuals, irrespective of ideological differences.
Pawar said political leaders from Maharashtra, from the time of Yashwantrao Chavan, had always put the nation first.
To a question from Thackeray on why leaders from the other states did not do the same, the NCP chief admitted that Maharashtra had to bear the brunt at times due to its approach of putting nation above regionalism.
When Thackeray said Prime Minister Narendra Modi took visiting foreign dignitaries to Ahmedabad, instead of the other parts of the country, Pawar said for a prime minister, the nation must come first.
"Even BJP members privately speak about the prime minister hugging visiting dignitaries and taking them around Ahmedabad. I feel, when someone is the nation's leader, the country should come first. Pride about Gujarat and Ahmedabad is okay."
Stating that he had cordial relations with Modi, Pawar said, "When Modi was the Gujarat CM, he was a vocal critic of the Congress leadership and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The Congress members refused to engage with him. But I was of the view that Gujarat was part of India and if Modi speaks ill of the Congress, the people of Gujarat should not be ignored. So, whatever issues of Gujarat came up, I handled them."

Pawar described Modi's remarks that the latter had come into politics holding his fingers as meaningless.
"He (Modi) has been in politics for a long time, starting with the RSS. Thankfully, my finger has not gone into his hand," he said in a lighter vein.
The former Maharashtra chief minister said a positive in Modi was that he had the ability to work hard, but pointed out that governing the country was different from running a state.
"Administering Gujarat and the country are two different things. You need a team to run the country. But I doubt if such a team is in place," he said.

Photograph: Sahil Salvi
00:16   Florida shooting survivors rally for stricter gun controls
Survivors of a Florida school shooting that left 17 people dead have marched to the state capitol to press lawmakers to take more action on gun control.

One student said she was disappointed in meetings with lawmakers, who "danced around" their questions on gun control.

It is the first organised protest of the youth-led anti-gun movement that has swept the US since the attack.

Thousands of Florida students walked out of their classrooms in solidarity with survivors.

"We came here prepared, and we are going to come to every single meeting with every single legislator prepared. We know what we want. We want gun reform. We want common sense gun laws," Delaney Tarr said.

Students chanted "protect our kids" and carried banners with the words "never again" emblazoned across them as they protested outside Florida's capitol in Tallahassee. The teenagers were also joined by students from two universities in Florida.

"Today instead of returning to our studies, instead of preparing for exams and instead of grieving for dead classmates and teachers, we are out here advocating for a change," Florida survivor Florence Yared said.

US President Donald Trump is set to host students and teachers at the White House on Wednesday for a "listening session" on gun control.
00:04   Priya Prakash Varrier happy over Supreme Court's stay order
After the Supreme Court stayed all criminal proceedings against actress Priya Prakash Varrier and director Omar Lulu, who were booked for allegedly hurting religious sentiments of Muslims in a song from their upcoming film 'Oru Adaar Love', the internet sensation expressed happiness over apex court's order.

The SC on Wednesday also said no FIR can be lodged in future in any state against Varrier.

"People like us, who have just started our career, get tensed with such things. I am happy with the order of Supreme Court," she said.

"Main sabko thank you kehna chahoongi support karne ke liye (I would love to say thank you to all who supported)," Varrier added.

Yesterday, the apex court agreed to an urgent hearing of a petition by the teenage Malayalam actress, who was seeking the quashing of FIRs lodged against her and film maker for a song.

Earlier in the week, Varrier had filed a plea in the court over the case registered against her film 'Oru Adaar Love' in Telangana.