Fri, 26 January 2018
Trump to travel to UK later this year, but not for state visit

Timeline  Refresh

20:35   Govt has 'effective plan' for J&K education sector: Javadekar
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar today said the HRD ministry has made an "effective plan" to boost the education sector in Jammu and Kashmir.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the Jammu & Kashmir student exchange programme - 'Maitreyi Yatra' - he said his ministry was monitoring progress in education sector in the state every month.
He said he will visit J&K for a review soon.
Under the 'Maitreyi Yatra' programme, nearly 500 Class 9 -12 students from J&K came to Delhi on January 18 for a 10-day stay, during which they visited the Delhi University, the IIT and the Railway Museum among other places.
They also enjoyed a metro ride and witnessed the grand celebrations of the Republic Day.
Javadekar said Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and the state needs to be given all facilities.
"I have observed that in the state, there is dedication towards education particularly for girls' education...Many Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas were opened in the state," the Union minister said.
He said a good education system can change the country.
"In view of this, we have made an effective plan of education. We are monitoring progress in the education sector every month.
"In the coming days, I will also visit Jammu & Kashmir to review the progress. I will also take 500 students from Delhi to the state under student exchange programme," Javedkar said. -- PTI
20:30   Trump to travel to UK later this year, but not for state visit
Donald Trump will visit the United Kingdom in the second half of this year for a working visit agreed between UK officials and the US president's team at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Downing Street said today.
The plans follow a meeting between Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May on the sidelines of the summit yesterday.
"The PM and President concluded by asking officials to work together on finalising the details of a visit by the President to the UK later this year," Downing Street said. 

The visit will not take the form of a formal state visit, which involves a ceremonial welcome from Queen Elizabeth II and a state banquet at Buckingham Palace.
The invitation for a state visit had been extended during a Washington DC visit by Theresa May in January 2017 but has since been the subject of much controversy, with Opposition parties in the UK insisting that the US President does not deserve such pomp and ceremony.
The meeting between the two leaders in Switzerland was seen as crucial after Trump had suddenly cancelled plans of a working visit to open the new US Embassy building in London next month.
While ostensibly he blamed the previous Barack Obama led US government for a bad decision on selling off the older US Embassy building for "peanuts", the cancellation was widely seen as a sign of strain in UK-US ties following the US Presidents re-tweets of videos from a far-right UK group -- Britain First.
Trump sought to quash those rumours by expressing his "love" for the UK and saying relations between the two countries remain strong.
"I have a tremendous respect for the Prime Minister and the job shes doing and I think the feeling is mutual from the standpoint of liking each other a lot. That was a little bit of a false rumour out there, I just wanted to correct it," Trump told reporters.
"We love your country," he said, adding that the US and UK were "joined at the hip" on military matters.
Later, in an interview with Britains ITV channel, he said he was prepared to apologise for retweeting posts from Britain First. -- Aditi Khanna/PTI
19:41   I was always loved by press... as bizman: Trump
US President Donald Trump today said he was always loved by the media as a businessman and he could realise "how fake" the press could be only after he joined politics and assumed presidency.
Hisses and boos came out loud from the audience in Davos at the World Economic Forum, including from a large number of journalists, as Trump made the remarks while talking about his journey to presidency in reply to a question.
"As a businessman, I was always treated really well by the press... and it wasn't until I became a politician that I realised how nasty, how mean, how vicious and how fake the press can be," Trump said.
Trump had coined the term 'fake news' during his presidential campaign, targeting media houses for "biased" coverage. Earlier this month, he also declared winners of the 'Fake News Award'. -- PTI
19:19   America first does not mean America alone, says Trump at Davos
United States President Donald Trump addresses the World Economic Forum at Davos.

Here are some of the highlights.

- After years of stagnation, the United States is once again experiencing strong economic growth

- As President of the United States, I will always put America first... America first does not mean America alone. When the United States grows, so does the world 

- America is open for business and we are competitive once again. We have just enacted the most significant tax reform

- Never been a better time to hire, build, invest, grow in the US 

- US would "no longer" turn a blind eye to unfair trade practices. We cannot have free and open trade if some countries exploit the system at the expense of other

- When it comes to terrorism we will do whatever is necessary to protect our borders. There is still more fighting and work to be done

- Each of you has the power to change hearts, transform lives, and shape your countries' destinies. With this power comes an obligation, however, a duty of loyalty to the people, workers, customers who have made you who you are
19:03   Delhi turns into fortress on R-Day, 60K personnel deployed
The 69th Republic Day passed off peacefully in the national capital with thousands of security personnel, anti-aircraft guns and sharpshooters being deployed at various strategic points.
Barricades were erected on all major roads leading to the parade venue at the Rajpath with policemen checking vehicles and informing people about diversions.
Nearly 60,000 security personnel drawn from the Delhi Police and central forces were deployed in Central Delhi.
Mobile hit teams, anti-aircraft guns and sharpshooters were deployed to keep a watch on the eight-km-long parade route from the Rajpath to the Red Fort, besides nearby localities.
Ten ASEAN leaders, who attended the ASEAN summit yesterday, were the chief guests at the parade.
Snipers were stationed atop high-rise buildings while scores of CCTV cameras kept a tight vigil on people's movements on the parade route.
Elaborate air defence measures, including deployment of anti-aircraft guns, were also put in place to secure the airspace.
Police said there were no untoward incidents reported and no hoax calls received today.
Security personnel had identified vulnerable spots such as crowded markets, railway stations, bus stands and other high-value establishments, and efforts made to secure them.
The traffic police had also deployed over 1,500 personnel to manage route diversions and ensure safe and secure passage for the visiting dignitaries.
Patrolling in public places had been intensified and checking and frisking in metro, railway stations and bus terminals tightened for the celebrations. -- PTI
18:08   India facing decentralised Emergency: Arun Shourie
Describing the current political situation in India as a "sort of decentralised Emergency", renowned journalist and former Union minister Arun Shourie said there is a "climate of fear" and "helplessness" in the country.

"The immediate circumstances are that today we don't have a centralised Emergency but sort of a decentralised Emergency... There is climate of fear and a sense of helplessness which I did not see during the Emergency," he said.

"Forces that are to battle against this situation are divided. I have been long saying that you have to recognise the mortal danger that (Narendra) Modi and others represent to the country," he added.

According to Shourie, over the last 30-40 years there has been a decline in the quality of persons in public life.

He also questioned the system of selecting rulers in India. "This is not the way to select rulers for a billion people.

According to Shourie, earlier the media's passion was public issues while "today the passion is to make money".
17:38   It's about manners than protocols: Khurshid on Rahul's 6th-row seat
As the Congress voiced displeasure over its president Rahul Gandhi being seated in the sixth row at the main Republic Day event in Delhi, senior party leader Salman Khurshid said it was "more an issue of good manners
than protocols".

Gandhi attended the Republic Day Parade at Rajpath and took the designated sixth-row seat, along with Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad.

"It's sad if those in power think somebody's stature is decided by where that person is seated," Khurshid said.

"Rahul Gandhi is not just a Congress MP anymore. He is also the president of India's largest opposition party. And if the ruling party doesn't understand that position, it is unfortunate."

-- PTI
17:23   Padmaavat violence: Karni Sena national secretary arrested
The national secretary of the Shree Karni Sena, Suraj Pal Amu, was today arrested by the Gurgaon police for the anti-Padmaavat violence in Gurugram.

The outfit's leader was detained yesterday for questioning and placed under arrest this morning on charges of breaching peace in the city. He has been sent to a four-day judicial custody, Gurgaon Police Public Relations Officer Ravinder Kumar said.

On Wednesday, a mob attacked a school bus with 20 to 25 children onboard in Gurgaon, where hundreds of violent protesters took to roads torching vehicles and destroying public property to oppose the film's release.

The protests were led by the Karni Sena which has alleged that history had been distorted in the Sanjal Leela Bhansali-directed period drama.

However, the police have not named the Karni Sena in the FIR registered in connection with the attack on the school bus and the torching of a Haryana Roadways bus on Sohna road.
17:07   Thousands gather at Attari-Wagah border for Beating Retreat ceremony
Thousands of spectators gathered at the Attari-Wagah border to witness the electrifying Beating Retreat Ceremony. 

The drill is characterised by elaborate and rapid dancelike manoeuvres, which have been described as colourful. It also signifies the rivalry, as well as brotherhood and cooperation between the two nations.

The practice began in 1959 and has continued without a break, but for during the 1965 and 1971 wars. 

Notably, the Border Security Force will not be sharing sweets with the Pakistan Rangers at Attari-Wagah border. While the BSF didnt elaborate on the reasons behind not following the customary exchange of sweets, reports said the move by the security force is protest against the continuous ceasefire violations by Pakistan at the International Border and the Line of Control.
16:09   Rahul takes 6th row seat at R-Day parade; Cong fires salvo at govt
Congress president Rahul Gandhi today attended the Republic Day Parade and took the designated seat in the sixth row, prompting an angry reaction from his party that accused the government of setting aside tradition
and indulging in "cheap politics".

Gandhi was seated in the sixth row, along with Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said the Modi government's "cheap politics" was at display today when it broke tradition and denied Gandhi a front-row seat.

Congress sources said the party presidents, including Sonia Gandhi who handed over the party reins to Rahul Gandhi in December last year, had always been seated in the front row at the Republic Day Parade.

"The Modi government's cheap politics is for all to see. The Congress president was deliberately made to sit in the sixth row, after initially assigning him a fourth-row seat, at the Republic Day celebrations by the arrogant rulers, who set aside all past traditions. For us the celebration of the Constitution is foremost," Surjewala tweeted in Hindi.
15:34   'Ilayaraja's Padma Vibhushan is Dalit outreach': English daily's headline sparks backlash
The Modi government's decision to award music composer Ilayaraja the Padma Vibhushan is "Dalit outreach," a leading English daily said Friday.

Ilayaraja's selection "is important against the backdrop of Dalit movements in Gujarat led by Jignesh Mevani and the Bhima Koregaon uprising of Maharashtra," the New Indian Express said in its Chennai edition.

Those words were printed beneath the most prominent headline on the front page: 'Dalit outreach with Ilayaraja's Padma.'

The story did not contain any quotes that might support such a conclusion from government sources or analysts. It drew criticism from several social media users, including a number of public figures.

Television anchor Sumanth Raman said the headline was "appalling."

A spokesperson for Ilayaraja declined to comment on the article.

One of India's most iconic composers, Ilayaraja already has a Padma Bhushan. This year, he is one of three recipients of the Padma Vibhushan, a civilian honour that is second only to the Bharat Ratna.
15:10   Korean sensation Chung retires; Federer through to Aus Open finals
After receiving treatment for a blister on his foot, Hyeon Chung has retired from the semi-finals of the Australian Open. 

His opponent, Roger Federer, world number 2, is through to the finals where he will play Marin Cilic in what is being deemed as a repeat of the Wimbledon final in 2017. 

Chungs claps to the crowd as he walks off, and they respond in kind. It's been a great run for the Korean, but this isn't the way he will have wanted it to finish. 

The finals will be played on Sunday. 
15:07   On Republic Day, PM Modi writes op-ed for 27 Asean newspapers
Citizens of 10 Asean countries awoke to read Prime Minister Narendra Modi's op-ed on the "historic milestone" that the visit of their heads of state to India is.

Th PM's op-ed was published in a total of 27 newspapers and in 10 languages.

In his piece, PM Modi talked about the India-Asean countries' partnership that will be of "great promise for their (nations') 1.9 billion people, (or) about one-fourth of humankind."

The PM tweeted a link to his piece published in Singapore's English daily The Straits Times, one of the 27 newspapers that carried the op-ed.

He talked of India's centuries-old ties with its eastern neighbours and said the future of these ties looks even more promising.

"Indians have always looked East to see the nurturing sunrise and the light of opportunities. Now, as before, the East, or the Indo-Pacific region, will be indispensable to India's future and our common destiny," wrote the PM.
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14:24   Russia's Putin congratulates PM Modi on Republic Day
With India celebrating its 69th Republic Day today, many world leaders are sending their good wishes.

In a congratulatory message, Russian President Vladimir Putin wrote, "Esteemed Mr Prime Minister,

"Kindly accept cordial greetings on the national day the Republic Day.

"The achievements of your country in economic, social, scientific, technical and other spheres are well known. India makes an important contribution to ensuring international stability and security, to solving issues of the regional and global agenda.

"Russia values the relations of special and privileged strategic partnership with india. i am convinced that through joint efforts we will bring about further development of bilateral political dialogue, fruitful cooperation across all sectors as well as constructive interaction in global affairs. undoubtedly, it meets the core interests of friendly peoples of our countries.

" I full-heartedly wish you good health and success, and to all citizens of India well-being and prosperity.


V Putin,

President of the Russian Federation"
13:51   Ranveer, Amitabh, Anushka extend Republic Day wishes to nation
As India celebrated its 69th Republic Day today, several Bollywood celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan, Riteish Deshmukh and Anushka Sharma among others took to social media to extend their wishes on the occasion.

Here's what the celebs tweeted:

Amitabh Bachchan wrote, "T 2594 - Watching Republic Day Parade in Delhi .. what a moment of pride .. tears welling up as the Army marches past .. memories of the early years in Delhi, when we would clamour for seats to watch the parade ! JAI HIND !!????????????????????".

Actor Riteish Deshmukh wrote, "I am an INDIAN before I am anything else.

Jai Hind. #Justice #Liberty #Equality #Fraternity #HappyRepublicDay".

Actress Anushka Sharma tweeted, "United we stand, divided we fall. Happy #RepublicDay to you all! Jai Hind! ????".

"?So very proud of my country. Jai Hind!", veteran actor Rishi Kapoor wrote.

"Happy #RepublicDay to all", tweeted Salman Khan.

Asking everyone to stand together, Bollywood actress Diana Penty wrote, "Happy #RepublicDay to us all! Let's pledge to stand together as one and be the strength India needs to reach its full potential".

Actor Ajay Devgn tweeted, "Salute to our Armed Forces for letting us have a #RepublicDay".

Ranveer Singh posted a picture of himself with a flag in his hand, writing, "?Happy Republic Day! ?? #jaihind ????".

-- ANI
13:31   Hardik Patel part of Opposition's 'Save Constitution' march in Mumbai
Hardik Patel, convener of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, is in Mumbai to participate in the Opposition's 'Save Constitution' march. 

NCP leader Sharad Pawar placed calls to senior leaders across the opposition parties to invite them for the march. Independent MP Raju Shetti, who broke away from the BJP in August last, is one of the organisers.

The press conference by four of the senior-most Supreme Court judges alluding to administrative mismanagement and selective allocation of cases to preferred benches was the tipping point for the march.

January 26 was selected as it was the day when India adopted the Constitution, NCP spokesperson DP Tripathi said. 

In an attempt to counter the Opposition, the BJP is also plannin a rally in Mumbai -- the Tiranga Yatra.
13:04   Modi resets foreign-policy priorities
Indias economic diplomacy bounced back to centre stage this week after a prolonged absence of more than three years, when it made a robust appearance at the World Economic Forum  meet in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday and New Delhi hosted a special ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit on Thursday.

Read full HERE
12:56   Casey Affleck drops out of presenting Oscar amid sexual misconduct allegations
Casey Affleck has withdrawn from the Oscars where he was due to present the Best Actress award. 

It was revealed the 42-year-old had notified the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences that he will not be attending this year's awards on March 4. 

Sources said he does not want to distract from the women nominated in the category he was due to present. 

Affleck's decision comes a year after his controversial victory in the male category and in the thick of the #MeToo movement. 

In 2017, he took home the Oscar for his performance in Manchester By The Sea, a win which offended actresses including Brie Larson because of lingering accusations that he sexually harassed or was inappropriate towards two female colleagues in 2010. 

Affleck settled their allegations with undisclosed financial sums and the topic was scarcely discussed. 

When Larson refused to applaud him last year, she reminded the industry of those allegations.  

As the winner of the 2016 Best Actress award, she had been tasked with presenting Affleck the honour.

Among the nominees in this year's category for Best Actress are Frances McDormand, a forceful voice in the #MeToo, Time's Up movement, and feminist favourite Meryl Streep. 

Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie and Sally Hawkins are also nominated. 
12:17   Trump apologises for retweeting far-right British group
US President Donald Trump has apologised for the first time for retweeting a British far-right group's videos apparently showing Islamist violence, in an ITV interview aired in Britain today.

"If you're telling me they're horrible racist people, I would certainly apologise if you'd like me to do that," he told Good Morning Britain's Piers Morgan during the interview, conducted in Davos yesterday. 
12:01   PM Modi walks down Rajpath to greet people
Breaking away from tradition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi walked down at the Rajpath to greet citizens during the 69th Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi.

Last year too, on the Republic Day, the prime minister walked down the Rajpath to greet people.

India on Friday celebrated its 69th Republic Day with great joy and zeal. While on the one hand, the India's military prowess and achievements in various fields was showcased on the other was the display of state-of- the-art defence and cultural platforms left the audience mesmerised.
11:39   BSF's women daredevils debut at R-Day parade
Daredevil women from the Border Security Force stunned spectators at the Rajpath, performing daring stunts at the Republic Day parade for the first time. 

President Ram Nath Kovind was all smiles as he applauded the personnel, while politician, including Amit Shah and Smriti Irani, could be seen standing in applause.

The 27-member BSF women daredevils drew huge cheers as they showcased their stunts and acrobatics on their 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycles. 

In 2015, women contingents of the Army, Navy and Air Force had made debut in the national parade. The all-woman daredevil bikers squad was raised by the country's largest border guarding force last year, on the lines of their much-acclaimed male counterparts. As per the tradition of the Republic Day parade, the BSF and the Army's bike-borne daredevils, alternatively every year, end the parade riding their roaring bikes.
11:30   Rahul attends R-Day Parade
Congress president Rahul Gandhi attended the Republic Day Parade at Rajpath , a day after the party complained that its leader was relegated to a seat in the fourth row. 

Gandhi was seen sitting in the middle rows and chatting with senior Congressman and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad.

A Congress leader had yesterday alleged that by not allocating a seat to the Congress president in the front row, the Modi government was resorting to "cheap politics". Congress sources said the party president had always been seated in the front row since Independence.

-- PTI
11:13   BSF to not exchange sweets with Pakistan Rangers on Republic Day
The Border Security Force refused to exchange sweets and greetings with their Pakistani counterparts the Pakistan Rangers, on the occasion of the 69th Republic Day.

The move by the BSF came following the heightened tension between both countries along the International Border and Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir due to repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistani forces leading to killing of soldiers and civilians on the Indian side.

Tension continues to prevail along the IB and LoC for the past few months due to repeated ceasefire violations.

BSF sources said it was conveyed to the Pakistan Rangers on Thursday that no sweets will be exchanged on Republic Day.
10:39   A contingent like no other...
The Camel Contingent of the BSF trots down Rajpath. The only band of its kind in the world plays Hum Hai Seema Suraksha Bal'. The camel-mounted troops have been instrumental in successfully tracking down notorious smugglers extremists in Rajasthan Gujarat frontiers. Their motto -- Duty unto Death.
10:33   Google celebrates India's 69th Republic Day
Today's Google Doodle celebrates the 69th Republic Day of India. Republic Day is celebrated to mark the day when India formally adopted the constitution and became an independent republic. The main celebration of Republic Day involves a parade in the national capital which starts from the iconic India Gate and carries on along the Rajpath. The parade includes marching contingents, various tableaux and performances showcasing the different cultures of the country. This year's parade will feature tableaux from 14 states and union territories, and nine central ministries.

India adopted the constitution on November 26, 1949, which came into force on January 26, 1950, marking the country's first Republic Day.

In a first, the parade will see 10 chief guests - the leaders of all member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN. In another first, the ASEAN flag will also be flown during the parade.

Apart from the tableaux from various states and union territories, a major attraction of the parade is the armed forces contingents. The marching contingents aside, several aircraft, military vehicles, and weapons are displayed during the parade. The aircraft also perform a flypast, involving different formations.
Visuals of the ASEAN flag bearer contingent at the Republic Day parade. Flags being carried by a contingent of the Rajputana Rifles regiment. 

Photograph: ANI/Twitter
10:10   President hands over Ashok Chakra to IAF Garud commando's kin
President Ram Nath Kovind bestows the Ashok Chakra,  the highest peacetime military decoration, the the family of Corporal Jyoti Prakash Nirala, an Indian Air Force Garud commando who laid down his life while gunning down two terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. 

Corporal Nirala was part of a Garud Special Forces Unit, a detachment of which was attached to a Rashtriya Rifles Battalion under aegis of 'Op Rakshak' in Jammu-Kashmir.

On November 18, 2017, based on specific intelligence, an offensive was launched in Chanderger village of Bandipora district in J-K.

The Garud detachment covertly approached the target house where the suspected terrorists were hiding and laid a close quarter ambush.

"Corporal Nirala, displaying exceptional battle craft, positioned himself close to the approach of the hideout, thus cutting off all possibilities of an escape by the terrorists.

"Laying the ambush at such close quarters demanded a very high degree of courage and professional acumen," a statement by the defence ministry said.

While the detachment laid in wait, six terrorists hiding in the house, rushed out, shooting and lobbing grenades at the Garuds.

"Corporal Nirala, disregarding personal safety and displaying indomitable courage, retaliated with effective lethal fire and gunned down two category A terrorists and injured two others," the statement said.

In this violent exchange of fire, Nirala was hit by a volley of small arms fire. Despite being critically injured, the Corporal continued retaliatory fire.

Subsequently, he succumbed to fatal gunshot wounds received in the fierce encounter, which resulted in the killing of all six dreaded terrorists, the statement said.

Crpl Nirala exhibited most conspicuous gallantry in fighting with terrorists and made supreme sacrifice," it said.
09:48   PM Modi welcomes ASEAN leaders at R-Day Parade
Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomes the Asean leaders at the Republic Day parade. 

The 10 Asean leaders will the chief guests at the 69th Republic Day parade. 

As per the protocol worked out, the first to arrive will be the prime minister of Brunei and the last to reach will be the Thai king. 

Image: Modi welcomes Myanmar's Aung San Suu-Kyi. 
Interesting tidbit from ANI's Smita Prakash: President Kovind leaves from Rashtrapati Bhavan escorted by 46 Bodyguards on magnificent Bay and Dark Bay coloured mounts. Raised in 1773, the President's Bodyguard is the oldest surviving mounted unit and the senior most regiment of the Indian Army. 
09:33   On R-Day, PM Modi pays tribute to the fallen soldiers
Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays tribute to the soldiers at the Amar Jawan Jyoti ahead of the Republic Day parade. 

Accompanying him are the three service chiefs -- army, navy and air force -- and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. 

After the PM lays a wreath, the buglers sound the Last Post' and a 2 minute silence is observed at the Amar Jawan Jyoti. 

The Eternal flame at Amar Jawan Jyoti honours every unknown soldier who sacrificed his life in wars. It was erected in December, 1971, inaugurated by PM Indira Gandhi in 1979
09:17   RSS chief hoists tricolour in Kerala
RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat unfurls tricolour at a school in Kerala's Palakkad. Photograph: ANI/Twitter
08:51   PM Modi greets countrymen on 69th Republic Day
As the country geared up for the 69th Republic Day celebrations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today greeted citizens on the occasion.

"Greetings on #RepublicDay. Jai Hind (sic)," Modi said in a tweet.

India will be showcasing its military prowess, culture and diversity in the presence of leaders of the 10 ASEAN nations who will attend the event at the Rajpath as chief guests.

There will be a march past by the army personnel carrying the ASEAN flag at the Republic Day parade, where 23 tableaux, including those representing various states, ministries, the All India Radio among others, will roll down the Rajpath.

The city has been wrapped in an unprecedented security blanket with thousands of security personnel keeping a hawk-eyed vigil to prevent any terror strike or untoward incident during the celebrations. 

-- PTI

Image: Mumbai's Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj terminus illuminated on the eve of Republic day. Photograph: Shashank Parade/PTI Photo
BJP Chief Amit Shah unfurls tricolour at party HQ in Delhi. Photograph: ANI/Twitter
08:18   Mobile internet services snapped in Kashmir
Mobile internet services have been snapped in Kashmir as a precautionary measure on the occasion of the Republic Day, officials said today.

The internet services on mobile phones and data cards were suspended yesterday as part of the security drill of the Republic Day.

Although, it's a normal practice in Kashmir to suspend the internet services on the Republic Day and Independence Day, this is the first time that these services were withdrawn a day earlier.

Security forces have been deployed in strength at strategic locations in the city.

The law enforcing agencies are carrying out random frisking and searches of vehicles entering the city.

This year the main Republic Day function will be held at Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium instead of the regular venue -- Bakshi Stadium.

-- PTI
07:58   ASEAN leaders as chief guests, 100-foot wide stage for R-Day parade
As India celebrates its 69th Republic Day today, for the first time, 10 leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN will be the chief guests at the ceremonial parade, held at Rajpath, in the heart of national capital Delhi. 

To accommodate the 10 heads of state, the stage that will be enclosed by bullet-proof glass will be 100 feet wide, three times bigger than what it was last year. There's unprecedented security in Delhi; mobile hit teams, anti-aircraft guns and sharpshooters have been deployed to keep a watch on the eight-km-long parade route from Rajpath to Red Fort. 

The parade will be presided over by President Ram Nath Kovind. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ministers, top leaders from political parties and senior officials will attend the event.

The foreign guests would go to Rashtrapati Bhavan first from where the cars carrying the heads of state and their spouses will start rolling down the Raisina Hill at 9.35 am. As per the protocol worked out, the first to arrive will be the prime minister of Brunei and the last to reach will be the Thai king. 

One of the main spectacles of the parade will be the breathtaking stunts on motorcycles performed by 'Seema Bhawani' - a group of 113 women from the Border Security Force or BSF. The group would be a first all-women contingent from any force to perform biking stunts at the parade.