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Sat, 14 July 2018
Missionaries of Charity case: 3 kids found, nun admits to selling babies

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21:47   Missionaries of Charity case: 3 kids found, nun admits to selling babies
Three children have been recovered in the child trafficking case in Missionaries of Charity in Jharkhand on Saturday.

The search for the fourth child is in underway.

The police received news that the children were sold to various couples.

One of the arrested nuns of Missionaries of Charity said that she sold two more babies, but does not know where they are now.

"I have sold two more babies. I don't know where they are now," said the arrested nun.

Speaking on the issue Ashish Gupta, Senior Superintendent of Police, Ranchi said they do not know the exact number of how many students are missing, but as per the information they received from the District Social Welfare Officer around 120 children were admitted.

"We do not have the exact numbers of the children missing, but as per the information we got the DSW, 120 children were admitted here from since 2016. The children were sold to the couples for monetary benefits," said the SSP.

Speaking about the nuns, the senior police official said that nuns have confessed their involvement in the case, also the recoveries were made on the basis of their confession.

"The nuns have confessed that they were involved in the trafficking of the children. Their confession helped us to recover the kids. Their confession has been recorded. They are being interrogated further. There will be developments in the case as the facts come to light," added Gupta.

The two nuns of Missionaries of Charity were arrested on July 5 in relation to the case. The nuns violated Section 40 of the Juvenile Justice Act and have booked under Section 8- and 81 of the JJ Act.

Additional Director General (Law and Order), Jharkhand RR Mallik requested for a CBIinquiry in the case and also to seize all accounts of Missionaries of Charity and five of its associate organisations on July 11.

Members of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), Ranchi and the police interrogated the nuns at the premises of Missionaries of Charity, 'Nirmal Hriday' on July 4, following which an FIR was lodged on the grounds of trafficking underage tribal girls.

The CWC in the recent past has been constantly monitoring the situation at the Missionaries of Charity.   -- ANI
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21:00   TN opposes Higher Education Bill, says no to scrapping UGC
The Tamil Nadu government today strongly opposed the Centre's draft Bill on setting up a Higher Education Commission and wanted the existing arrangement with the University Grants Commission at the helm to continue.

"The existing institutional arrangement of the University Grants Commission (UGC) with both regulatory and financial powers is functioning well," Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He said the Tamil Nadu government was of the view thatthere was no need to disband the UGC and replace it with the Higher Education Commission of India with only regulatory powers.

The UGC has the required capacity for objective evaluation of proposals received and to sanction funds in a transparent manner, he said, adding its financial powers are an additional enabling mechanism for the body to ensure implementation of its recommendations.

In the now proposed draft bill, the financial powers are, however, proposed to be transferred to the Ministry of Human Resources Development or some other body, he said.

Voicing the government's strong 'reservations and apprehensions over the move, Palaniswami said 'our experience of sanction of funds...by various ministries based on merits to Tamil Nadu has not been very positive'.

'If this financial power is taken over by the MHRD, weapprehend that the funding pattern would change from 100 percent funding to 60:40 ratio between the Government of India and the state government.'

For such reasons, the Tamil Nadu government 'strongly opposes the draft Bill on Higher Education Commission of India (Repeal of University Grants Commission Act) Act 2018 and request that the present institution of University Grants Commission may kindly be continued'.

Palaniswami also requested a positive response to hisview from the Centre.  -- PTI
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20:34   Former Gujarat CM Shankarsinh Vaghela's son joins BJP
Former Gujarat Chief Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela's son Mahendrasinh, a two-time Congress legislator, joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party today.

Mahendrasinh Vaghela, who quit the Congress last year, however, evaded a direct reply when asked if the senior Vaghela would also join the BJP, saying his father will take a call on his next move himself.

Shankarsinh Vaghela told reporters his son was under pressure to join the BJP and he had advised him to seek the opinion of his supporters before making any decision.

The former Gujarat chief minister said he had told his son he should not shy away from quitting the BJP if his supporters so desired.

"Mahendrasinh is a mature politician and has every right to take a decision. A few days ago, he told me about joining the BJP. I told him not to take the decision in haste. I told him he should consult his supporters when taking an important political decision like this," he said today.

"Through you (the media), I give him a one-week time to consult supporters from across Gujarat. If they are fine, stay in the party or else resign from the party," he said.

The senior Vaghela said he would snap political ties with his son if he failed to seek his supporters' opinion.

Before the 2017 assembly polls, Shankarsinh Vaghela, then a legislator, led a rebellion in the Congress, which resulted in 13 MLAs quitting the party.

Some of them later joined the BJP and fought elections, which saw the saffron party retaining power in Gujarat but with a reduced margin.

Mahendrasinh Vaghela has joined the BJP within weeks of senior OBC leader Kunwarji Bavaliya quitting the Congress to join the ruling party in the state.

Bavaliya was made a Cabinet minister on July 3, the day he quit the Congress and joined the BJP.

Soon after joining the BJP, Mahendrasinh Vaghela attacked Congress president Rahul Gandhi, saying the revival of the country's oldest party does not appear possible in the near future given Gandhi's style of working.

Mahendrasinh Vaghela was elected to the Gujarat Assembly on a Congress ticket for two consecutive terms from Bayad in north Gujarat - 2007-2012 and 2012-2017.

"Today, two-time MLA and son of former Gujarat Chief Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela has joined the BJP," state BJP president Jitu Vaghani announced in Gandhinagar.

Mahendrasinh Vaghela had voted against Congress candidate Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha polls held in August 2017.

He had quit the Congress ahead of the assembly elections in December last year. However, he did not contest the elections or join any party then.

Asked why he joined the BJP now, Mahendrasinh Vaghela said: "The style of working of Gandhi will not revive that party in Gujarat or elsewhere in the country in the near future."

He praised the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. The development comes at a time when Shah is on a visit to Gujarat, his home state.

The BJP chief arrived in Gandhinagar late last night and participated in 'mangla aarti' at Lord Jagannath temple today.

When asked if he plans to join the BJP, Shankarsinh Vaghela said he had hardly met anyone after quitting the Congress.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Mahendrasinh Vaghela being welcomed to the BJP by Gujarat BJP chief Jitu Vaghani in Gandhinagar on Saturday. Deputy CM Nitin Patel is also seen. Photograph: Kind courtesy @jitu_vaghani/Twitter
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20:19   Djokovic beats Nadal to enter Wimbledon final
JUST IN: Novak Djokovic defeats Rafael Nadal to enter Wimbledon finals.

Djokovic, who won 6-4 3-6 7-6 (11-9) 3-6 10-8 in five hours and 16 minutes, will face Kevin Anderson on Sunday.

IMAGE:  Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his semi final match against Spain's Rafael Nadal. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Reuters
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19:54   Family of dead Kerala man receives wrong body after a mix up in UAE
In an unfortunate mix up, a family in Kerala, awaiting the mortal remains of their relative after his untimely death in the United Arab Emirates capital, has received the body of another Indian expatriate, who also died in Dubai almost during the same time, according to a media report today.

Nidhin Othayoth Kottaron, 29, who was working as a site supervisor in Ruwais died last week. But his family, waiting for his body received the mortal remains of Kamatchi Krishnan, 39, hailing from Tamil Nadu, the Khaleej Times reported.

The mix up was discovered by Kottaron's family when they received a coffin, with the body of Krishnan, which reached Calicut yesterday by an Air India flight.

"His (Kottaron's) parents were desperately waiting for the mortal remains since one week. They are still in a state of shock on what happened," one of the relative was quoted as saying in the report.

Kottaron was found dead on July 5, while Krishnan reportedly died on July 7, the report said, adding that cause of their deaths could not be ascertained.

While both -- Kottaron and Krishnan -- died two days apart but it is not clear how mix up happened, the relative said.

At present, Krishnan's body is kept in the mortuary of a government hospital in Kottaron's native place in Wayanad, Kerala.

According to an Air India official, all the necessary and required documents were submitted while repatriating the body.

"Kottaron's body was supposed to be sent on Air India's Calicut-bound flight yesterday and Krishnan's mortal remains were booked on an Etihad flight to Chennai on the same day.

"A relative of the deceased was also travelling with the body. It was a human error while embalming at the UAE mortuary that caused the mix up," Air India Manager for Abu Dhabi and Al Ain sector, Ranjan Dutta was quoted as saying in the report.

"We are awaiting clearance from the authorities concerned and once the documents are ready, Air India will extend full cooperation to repatriate the mortal remains at the earliest," he added.

Meanwhile, an Indian embassy official, dealing with the case, said they are doing everything possible to help the families.

"We are not sure how this unfortunate incident happened. Our first priority is to support the families by expediting the repatriation of the body, which is still in the mortuary," the official said in the report.  -- PTI
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19:41   Chidambaram takes a swipe at Sitharaman for attacking Rahul
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram today hit back at Bharatiya Janata Party leader Nirmala Sitharaman for seeking clarification from Rahul Gandhi over his remarks reported in an Urdu daily, saying the defence minister has 'all the time in the world' to inquire into the religious affiliations of parties and persons.

The Urdu daily had reported that the Congress chief who met Muslim intellectuals earlier this week had told them that the Congress was a party of Muslims.

The Congress has dismissed the media report as a 'rumour' and asserted that it was a party of 132 crore Indians.

However, latching on to the issue, Sitharaman had yesterday demanded that Rahul Gandhi clarify his stand and alleged that the Congress was 'playing up the card of religion and communal division'.

In a series of tweets, Chidambaram today took a swipe at Sitharaman over her remarks.

'After taming Pakistan, eliminating terrorism, stopping infiltration and acquiring Rafale aircraft, the Defence Minister has all the time in the world to inquire into the religious affiliations of parties and persons!' the former finance minister said.

'The Defence Minister says there are 'plans to incite riots in the run-up to Lok Sabha election'. She should share her secret (?) information with the Home Minister,' he tweeted.  -- PTI
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18:56   639 farmers ended lives between March and May this yr: Maha
In Maharashtra, 639 farmers committed suicide between March and May this year due to crop failure, debt and inability to repay bank loans, the state government has said.

State Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil gave this information in the Legislative Council in Nagpur yesterday in reply to a question by Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde and NCP members Hemant Takle, Sunil Tatkare, Amarsinh Pandit, Kiran Pawaskar, Narendra Patil, and others.

"639 farmers have committed suicide between March 1 and May 31, 2018. Of these 639 farmers, 188 were declared eligible for compensation as per government schemes, based on the government's criteria of crop failure, debts and their failure to repay loans," Patil said.

"Of the 188, families of 174 farmers have received compensation," he said, adding 122 cases were declared ineligible for compensation, while 329 cases are pending for probe.

The opposition members had sought to know the number of farmers that had committed suicide in the last three months and details of the compensation provided to the family of the deceased.

They also sought to know steps taken by the government to help the families of the deceased farmers.

Talking to PTI, Munde alleged that all schemes of the government, including the loan waiver, compensation to farmers for crop loss, crop loans, and minimum support price (MSP) for agricultural goods, have failed, which led to the rise in the number of farmer suicide.

He claimed in the last four years as many as 13,000 farmers have ended their lives, of which 1,500 committed suicide in the last one year alone.

Replying to another query, Patil told the house that according to the parameters set by the state government in October last year for declaration of drought, eight talukas of Yavatmal, Washim and Jalgaon districts were declared affected by medium intensity drought in April this year.

"Accordingly, compensation and other assistance was provided to the affected farmers," the minister said.

On May 29 this year, the Centre made amendments in the rules for declaration of drought-hit areas based on the suggestions made by the states. Accordingly, the state revenue and forest departments made the changes on June 28, he said.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, while replying to a calling attention motion moved by NCP MLC Vidya Chavan, asserted that appropriate action will be taken to recover mortgaged lands of farmers from lenders.

Co-operative Minister Subhash Deshmukh said availing benefits under the government's 'lender-free farmer' scheme by submitting fake and forged documents was a crime and that strict action would be taken against those found guilty.

"Efforts will be made to get back the mortgaged jewellery of a victim farmer from lenders," he said.  -- PTI
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18:36   Several missing as boat capsizes in AP river
Several people are missing after a country boat capsized in the Gautami river in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh this afternoon.

More than 40 people, mostly students, were said to be travelling in the boat, state Disaster Management Department sources said.

Rescue teams belonging to the National Disaster Response Force and the State Disaster Response Force have rushed to the spot.

At least 10 people are said to have been rescued by locals while efforts were on to trace the others.

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has directed district officials to step up rescue operations, sources said.

The Gautami river is a tributary of the Godavari.  -- PTI
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18:20   Its not BJP's duty to keep PDP united: Madhav on Mehbooba's remarks
Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary Ram Madhav on Saturday called former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti's recent comments 'unfortunate'.

Mehbooba had said, "If Delhi tries to dismiss the voting rights of people like in 1987, and if it tries to create divisions and interfere like that, then I think just like a Salahuddin and a Yasin Malik were born in 1987, there will be dangerous consequences".

Speaking to ANI, Madhav emphasised that the Centre and the security personnel are capable enough to neutralise terrorists influenced by Mehbooba.

Terming her comments 'shocking' and 'unfortunate', Madhav said that she must sort out the existing internal problems in her party and resolve the issues rather than shifting blames on the BJP.

The BJP is not bothered about the internal crisis prevailing within the People's Democratic Party, he added.

"As far as the BJP is concerned we have nothing to do with whatever is happening inside her party. Let Mehbooba ji realise that it's not BJP'S duty to keep their party united, it is her own botheration. It is up to her to address the grievances of her MLAs," said Madhav.

When asked about the future plans of forming government in the state, Madhav said that the Governor's rule at present is imperative to weed out terrorism from the soil of the state and to promote development in the region.

"We are committed to what we have said that Kashmir needs Governor's rule for some time. We were striving for the Governor's rule in the state to deliver goods to the people residing in the region," stated Madhav.

On the prevailing situation in Kashmir, Madhav asserted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always made efforts to ease out tensions with neighbouring Pakistan.

"Time and again we all have seen that Modi ji always tries to develop a harmonious relation with Pakistan, but Islamabad always turned it down. I assure you that in the future also India will be ready to maintain diplomatic relations with neighbouring Pakistan," said Madhav.   -- ANI
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18:01   Apollo hospital room where Jaya was admitted to be inspected
The room at Apollo hospitals where late All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam supremo Jayalalithaa was hospitalised in December 2016 will be inspected on July 29 by the counsel representing the one man panel probing her death and those from the side of her aide V K Sasikala.

Allowing an application from two lawyers representing the panel, seeking to visit the hospital, Justice Arumughaswamy, heading the one man commission, allowed them and two advocates from Sasikala's side to inspect the room on July 29.

Besides the room, the Emergency and ICCU units, the floors where government officers, ministers and Sasikala accessed the hospital premises are among the spots that will be inspected, according to commission sources.

The inspection is aimed at understanding the circumstances and correlate it with evidence furnished to the commission.

The move assumes significance since a video clip showing Jayalalithaa from her hospital bed was leaked last December. Such aspects are also expected to be verified during the counsel's visit proposed later this month.

The Justice A Arumughaswamy Commission of Inquiry was constituted by the Tamil Nadu government last year following suspicions raised by several quarters on her death.

The panel's terms of reference were to inquire into the circumstances and situation leading to the hospitalisation of Jayalalithaa on September 22, 2016, and treatment provided till her death on December 5 the same year.

The commission had invited all those having 'personal knowledge and direct acquaintance' in the matter to furnish information to it.  -- PTI
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17:28   Indian restaurant in Abu Dhabi closed down for violating hygiene condition
An Indian restaurant has been closed down by authorities in the United Arab Emirates for violating the mandatory hygiene conditions, according to a media report.

Anjappar Chettinad Restaurant in Al Khalidiya street of Abu Dhabi was shut after it ignored several warning issued by the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), the Khaleej Times reported.

'The restaurant management still failed to make the necessary adjustments to raise the hygiene standards, which could have a negative impact on public health and safety. The restaurant will remain shut until the necessary adjustments are made,' the paper quoted ADFCA spokesperson Thamer Al Qasimi as saying.

Unclean floors, ceilings and equipment, lack of maintenance of lighting fixtures and unclean refrigerators were among the major reasons behind the closure of the restaurant, said the report.

Al Qasimi said the management also failed to provide expiry dates on food served and left food uncovered for long periods of time. Violating pest-control conditions also led to spread of insects in the food preparation area, in addition to hiring untrained employees.  -- PTI 
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17:25   60 snakes found in school's kitchen in Maharashtra
Sixty highly poisonous Russell's viper snakes were found in the kitchen of a Zilla Parishad school in Hingoli district of Maharashtra, a school official said today.

The spotting of so many snakes at one place created panic among students and staffers of the Zilla Parishad-run school located in Pangra Bokhare village of Hingoli district, about 225km from Aurangabad in the Marathwada region.

A female cook spotted two Russells vipers near the place where wood used for fuel was stored yesterday afternoon.

When she started lifting more pieces of wood, she found another 58 snakes in the kitchen, he said.

The school's headmaster, Triyambak Bhosle, said, "All of us panicked after seeing so many snakes. Several villagers rushed to the spot with sticks and stones but we stopped them from killing the snakes."

A snake catcher, Vicky Dalal, was called and after toiling for more than two hours, he caught all the snakes and put them in bottles, he said.

Bhimrao Bokhare, a school administrator, said the snakes were later handed over to forest officer J D Kachwe.  -- PTI
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17:08   Sharif's lawyers to appeal against sentence on Monday
The lawyers of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam will file appeal against the Accountability Courtorder convicting them in the Avenfield Corruption case.

Sharif's lawyers on Saturday were in Adiala jail in Rawalpindi, where the two have been lodged, to get the legal papers signed by Sharif and Maryam.

Since there was no time to reach court on Saturday, the appeal will now be filed in the court on Monday, the last day for filing appeal against the order that was delivered on July 6 by the Islamabad Accountability Court.

Sharif was awarded 10 years in jail while his daughter got 7 years of imprisonment along with others ahead of the general elections in Pakistan on July 25.    -- ANI

IMAGE: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sits on a plane after landing at the Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore on Friday. Photograph: Drazen Jorgic/Reuters
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16:23   Is Congress only for Muslim men, or women too? Modi asks Rahul
Prime Minister Narendra Modi takes on the opposition parties while addressing the gathering at foundation stone laying ceremony of Purvanchal Expressway in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh.

"Those who didn't even like looking at each other earlier, are now chanting Modi Modi. These people, out on bail, and the dynast parties now want to create obstacles on your path to development," Modi said, targeting the Congress and other opposition parties.

"The take of these parties on triple talaq has exposed them. On one side the Centre is trying to make the lives of women easy, on the other side these people have grouped together to make the lives of women, especially Muslim women, difficult," he said.

"I have read in newspaper that the Congress president has said that Congress is a party of Muslims. I am not surprised by this. All I want to ask is, is their party only for Muslim men or for women too? Ye log sansad mein kanoon dabakar baith jaate hain (these people block bills in Parliament)," he said.    -- with ANI inputs
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16:10   Woman commits suicide after being raped by BSF jawan: Police
A 26-year-old woman committed suicide by consuming poison after a Border Security Force jawan allegedly raped her on the pretext of marriage in Muzaffarnagar, police said today.

The woman consumed the poison on July 6 and died at a hospital yesterday, Station House Officer (SHO), Kotwali, Anil Kaperwan, said.

Her father, in his complaint, said his daughter was raped by the BSF jawan, who threatened to upload the video of the act on the internet, he said.

The complainant also said that the accused had raped her on the pretext of marriage and was harassing her, the SHO said.

The matter is being probed, the officer said.  -- PTI
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15:48   Modi lays foundation of Purvanchal Expressway in Azamgarh
Prime Minister Narendra Modi lays the foundation stone of Purvanchal Expressway in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh.

"Purvanchal Expressway will take UP, especially Eastern UP, to graeter heights. More than Rs 23,000 Crore will be spent on it. All the cities, towns and places falling in the route will experience a change," Modi said in Azamgarh.

"The Bharatiya Janata Party government is working to create an environment of development in UP. What (Chief Minister) Yogi (Adityanath) ji did towards putting a check on crime and corruption, bringing investments to the state and making business easier for small traders, is commendable," Modi said.

Earlier in the day, hours before Modi was to lay the foundation stone for the Purvanchal Expressway, former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav sought to take the wind out of his sails by claiming it was his own government's project which was being relaunched.

"This was originally Samajwadi Purvanchal Expressway, but the word Samajwadi has been dropped," the Samajwadi Party chief told a press conference at the party headquarters in Lucknow.   -- ANI, PTI
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15:27   Union minister apologises for calling Mallya 'smart'
Union Minister Jual Oram on Saturday apologised for his Vijay Mallya remark.

Addressing the National Tribal Entrepreneurs Conclave here on Friday, Oram had described fugitive Vijay Mallya as smart.

He advised tribals to follow the footsteps of Mallya to avail bank loans in order to become successful entrepreneurs.

Oram had said: "You people criticise Vijay Mallya. But what is Vijay Mallya? He is smart. He employed some intelligent people. He did something here and there with bankers, politicians, government."

"He bought them. Who prevented you (from being smart)? Who asked Adivasis not to influence the system? Who prevented you from influencing bankers," Oram had added.

On Saturday, however, Oram apologised saying: "I accidentally took Vijay Mallya's name. I should have taken someone else's name. I should not have taken his name, it was my mistake, " said Oram. -- ANI
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14:25   Modi reaches Varanasi, to inaugurate various projects today
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in Varanasi.

He will inaugurate various projects in the city today.

He was welcomed by Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, UP Bharatiya Janata Party chief and former minister Mahendra Nath Pandey and others.    -- ANI
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14:22   Villagers beat Naxal to death over levy demand
Fed up with the naxals recurring levy demands, villagers in Bariatu village of Lathehar district has allegedly beaten up a Naxal to death after he demanded a levy of Rs 15,000 from a contractor who is presently engaged in toilet construction work.

Villagers claimed that Naxals demand levy on regular basis for different ongoing works.

Initially they rattle on phone and then beat up the person concerned if the money was not given.

Elaborating on the incident that occurred on Thursday night, contractor Birendra Singh said, "I denied them the levy when they called and threatened. They came to my house at midnight and started beating me. I ran to call for help, following which the villagers caught and beat up two of them."

Of the five Naxals, one died on-the-spot and three managed to escape. The fifth naxal got severely injured in the beating and was handed over to the police.

One villager was also injured in the incident.   -- ANI
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14:14   Death toll in Balochistan suicide bombing reaches 130
The toll from the deadliest attack on a campaign rally in Pakistan's restive Balochistan reached 130 today as the country's security establishment was under pressure to improve security and intelligence gathering to avoid further election carnage.

At least 20 of the injured among over 200 people are reported to be in critical condition, the Express Tribune reported.

Terrorists yesterday targeted a gathering of Balochistan Awami Party leader Siraj Raisani in the Mastung area in the troubled province, killing at least 128 people and injuring over 200 others.

Raisani, who was a candidate from PB-35 (Mastung), was among those killed in the attack. With two more deaths, the number of casualties mounted to 135 in the yesterday's twin attacks in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces.

Normal life remained disrupted and business activities suspended in various parts of the Balochistan city as security has been put on high alert in the area.

The Islamic State terror group had claimed responsibility for the attack through its Aamaq news agency.    -- PTI
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14:03   Woman charged with hacking Selena Gomez's email
A New Jersey woman has been charged with hacking into singer-actor Selena Gomez's email account. According to Variety, Susan Atrach, 21, of Ridgefield Park, New Jersery, was charged with 11 felony counts, including five counts of identity theft and five counts of computer hacking.

She faces up to nine years and eight months in prison if convicted, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office.

Prosecutors said Atrach allegedly hacked into accounts belonging to Gomez and an associate, from June 2015 through February 2016.

Prosecutors allege she obtained 'stored media', and shared it with friends and online.

Atrach is expected to be arraigned in Los Angeles Superior Court by August 27. Prosecutors are asking that she be held on $250,000 bail.  -- PTI
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13:39   Shah gave no assurance on Ram Temple: BJP
JUST IN: The Bharatiya Janata Party has denied that its president Amit Shah assured that construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya will begin before 2019 polls.

The party rejected a media agency report of Shah making assurances on Ram temple in a meeting in Hyderabad yesterday, saying 'no such matter was even on the agenda'.   -- ANI
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13:32   Rescued Thai cave boys to leave hospital on Thursday
The 12 young footballers and their coach rescued from a flooded Thai cave will be released from hospital on Thursday, health officials said.

The 'Wild Boars' went into the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand on June 23 to celebrate a birthday, but became trapped as floodwaters poured in.

They were all extracted on July 10, ending an ordeal that had the world holding its breath for their safe return.

"All 13 Wild Boars are in good physical health... all are in good spirits," public health minister Piyasakol Sakolsattayatorn told reporters today.

"They will be discharged altogether, initially on Thursday."

The children -- and their parents -- have been advised to spend time with friends and family and not to give media interviews as that could 'trigger post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms', the minister added.  -- Agencies
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13:22   Sambhaji Bhide in trouble over his "mangoes for sons" remarks
Controversial Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide has been found guilty of violating law with his 'mangoes for sons' remarks and will be dragged to court by the Nashik civic body.

An advisory committee of the Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) has found Bhide guilty of violating the Pre- conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act (PCPNDT Act) with his remarks, an official said today.

Bhide had last month claimed a number of couples were blessed with sons after eating mangoes from his orchard.

"Mangoes are powerful and nutritious. Some women who ate mangoes of my garden have given birth to sons," Bhide had said, addressing a gathering in Nashik.

The ex-RSS activist's remarks drew flak from various quarters and the Additional Director of Health, Pune, had asked the NMC to look into the matter after receiving a complaint against Bhide from a member of the Ahmednagar civic body's committee on the PCPNDT Act.

Accordingly, the committee, which works under the NMC's health department, probed the matter and submitted a report to the civic commissioner yesterday, said J Z Kothari, NMC's medical superintendent.

The panel had served a notice to Bhide, seeking his explanation, but he did not appear before it, committee members said.

Bhide was found guilty of violating section 22 of the PCPNDT Act (prohibition of advertisement relating to pre- conception and pre-natal determination of sex and punishment for contravention), Kothari said, quoting from the report.

The advisory committee has decided to file a case against Bhide in a local court under the Act, he said.

Bhide, who heads the Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan, is an accused in the January 1 Bhima-Koregaon caste violence case.  -- PTI
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12:58   Rakesh Sinha, Sonal Mansingh among 4 nominated to RS
The President of India has made the following four nominations to the Rajya Sabha:
Farmer Leader Ram Shakal,
Author and Columnist Rakesh Sinha,
Sculptor Raghunath Mohapatra; and,
Classical Dancer Sonal Mansingh.

More details awaited.

IMAGE: RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha. Photograph: ANI
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12:19   Over 50 rich buyers of Nirav Modi jewellery face I-T scrutiny
The Income Tax Department has decided to re-assess the income tax returns of over 50 high net-worth individuals (HNIs) who purchased costly jewellery from firms owned by absconding diamantaire Nirav Modi, official sources said today.

They said the taxman decided to initiate the step after a number of people, it sent notices asking them to explain the source of income for purchase of the jewellery, denied any cash payment made by them to Nirav Modi's firms.

Officials said the department has gathered documents that indicate that these select buyers of high-end jewellery had split the total payment for diamond jewellery, by paying a part through cheque or card (debit/credit) and the rest in cash.

In reply to the tax notices, most of the people said that they did not make any cash payment, but this version does not corroborate with the data obtained by the IT Department vis-a-vis the sales made by the firms of Nirav Modi.

It has been found from the company books that payments were received after splitting them into cash and cheque/card transactions, officials said, hence it is essential to re-assess the income tax returns (ITRs) of these over 50 people beginning from the 2014-15 assessment year.

They said if discrepancies of concealed cash payments are found, which in some cases may be in several lakhs, the HNIs will be charged for tax evasion and subsequent action will be initiated.

Some more cases of this nature are under preliminary probe, the officials said.

The department had recently conducted searches on the premises of a Rewari-based hospital group, related to the family of Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav, after it was found that the owners of the firm allegedly made a part-cash and cheque payment against purchase of jewellery from a Nirav Modi firm.

The tax department has already filed a chargesheet against Nirav Modi and others before a Mumbai court for alleged tax evasion.

Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are also being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI after it was detected that they allegedly cheated Punjab National Bank of more than Rs 13,400 crore with the purported involvement of a few of its employees.

The scam, which reportedly began in 2011, was detected in January this year, after which PNB officials reported it to the probe agencies.

Two criminal complaints were filed by the ED in these instances after taking cognisance of CBI FIRs.  -- PTI
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11:01   Amit Shah says Ram temple construction to begin before 2019 election
Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah has said that construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya will begin before the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

Shah said that steps will be taken to clear the decks for starting the temple's construction before the general election.

"Considering the developments, I believe that construction of Ram temple will begin before the coming general elections," BJP National Executive member Perala Sekharjee quoted Shah as saying.

Shah also told his party colleagues in Hyderabad to prepare strategies to bring the party to power in the state.

Image: Hindu worshippers walk past carved stone blocks for the proposed Ram temple in the holy city of Ayodhya. Photograph: Kamal Kishore/Reuters
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10:47   'One nation, one election' a debacle in successive elections: Jairam Ramesh
Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that the National Democratic Alliance government's 'One Nation, One Election' proposal is a debacle in successive elections.

While addressing an event in Chennai, Ramesh said, "By supporting 'One Nation, One Election', you are denying yourself the ability to enforce some accountability of the executive. It is the debacle in successive elections in the last 12 months but has made the current prime minister more aware of the concerns of farmers, unemployed, rural landless labour."

"If you have had one nation, one election, you elect somebody and then for the next five years you have no opportunity whatsoever of making your voice heard. We are a system in which our voice is heard only through elections," he added.

Criticising the proposal, the Congress leader further said, "You have to suffer for five years if you have one nation one election."

-- ANI
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10:15  
JUST IN: Congress MP Shashi Tharoor summoned by Kolkata Court over his 'Hindu-Pakistan' comment. Advocate Sumeet Chowdhury had filed the case alleging Tharoor's comments had hurt religious sentiments and insulted the Constitution. Tharoor has been asked to appear on August 14
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10:05   'Attacks are cowardly attempts to deprive Pak people of their rights'
The United States has strongly condemned the attacks on political candidates and their supporters in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces of Pakistan.  
"These attacks are cowardly attempts to deprive the Pakistani people of their democratic rights, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said.

We grieve with those mourning the victims, and hope for a rapid recovery of those injured. We will continue to stand with the people of Pakistan and the broader South Asia region in their fight against terrorism, he said. 

At least 133 people, including Balochistan Awami Party leader Nawabzada Siraj Raisani, were killed and over 200 others injured yesterday in a powerful suicide blast and a targeted attack on separate election rallies in Mastung in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the deadliest in a series of assaults on candidates ahead of the July 25 polls.

On Monday, a suicide bomber killed Awami National Party leader and candidate in the general elections, Haroon Bilour and 19 others after striking at a corner election meeting in Peshawar city.

On July 7, seven people were injured when a convoy of a Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal came under attack in Bannu. 
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09:40   Fresh batch of pilgrims leave for Amarnath yatra
A  fresh batch of over 3,000 pilgrims today left Jammu for the holy cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas.
  
The 60-day yatra commenced from the twin routes of Baltal in Ganderbal and Pahalgam in Anantnag districts on June 28 and till yesterday over 1.65 pilgrims from across the country visited the cave shrine. 

The fresh batch of 3,048 pilgrims, including 623 women and 144 sadhus, left Jammu in 112 vehicles for the twin base camps in the Valley under tight security in the wee hours, a police official said. 

He said while 1,973 pilgrims, including 310 women and 144 sadhus, were heading for the Nunwan base camp along the 36-km Pahalgam track, 1,075 yatries have opted the shortest 12-km Baltal route. They will be reaching the base camp later in the day. 

The yatra is scheduled to conclude on August 26 coinciding with 'Raksha Bandhan' festival.

-- PTI
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09:24   Row over expressway ahead of Modi's UP visit, SP says Akhilesh inaugurated project in 2016
The ruling BJP and the Samajwadi Party have begun a war of words over the Rs 23,000-crore Purvanchal Expressway project which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch tomorrow in Azamgarh.
 
The opposition party is claiming that project is the brainchild of its leader and former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, who laid a foundation stone for the same stretch in December 2016.
"With this expressway, the eastern districts of the state will get linked with New Delhi via Yamuna expressway and it will become the longest expressway in the country," Yadav was then quoted as saying.
Modi will lay the foundation stone for the 340-km expressway when he visits Azamgarh on Saturday as part of his two-day trip which will also cover Varanasi and Mirzapur.
The six-lane expressway, which can be expanded to eight lanes, will provide a smooth ride between Lucknow and Ghazipur in eastern UP.
Both the BJP and the SP seemed to be trying to take credit for the project keeping the 2019 general elections in mind.
Taking a jibe at the BJP government, SP spokesperson Sunil Singh Sajan said, "The SP government had vision while this government is sans any vision.
They only want to term the work done by the SP government as their own. They simply have nothing of their own to showcase to the people of the state," he said.
SP workers led by senior party leader Balram Singh Yadav had staged a demonstration at the Azamgarh district collectorate against the planned launch of the project.

The state BJP spokesperson Chandramohan said the government had taken up the project to help develop eastern UP.

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08:56   Nearly 15,000 premature deaths due to air pollution in Delhi: Study
Nearly 15,000 people died prematurely in Delhi due to pollution by fine particulate matter in 2016, according to a new study which ranked the national capital third in a list of cities reporting most deaths due to air pollution.
 
Shanghai was ranked first in most premature deaths at 17,600 and Beijing second with 18,200 deaths due to PM2.5 pollutant. 
PM2.5 refers to atmospheric particulate matter with diameter less than 2.5 mm.
"Air pollution is emerging as the main threat and to overcome it there is a need for a strong air quality management system and the Environment Ministry is finalising a National Premier Action Plan to fight air pollution in Delhi," said Anumita Roychowdhury, director at the Centre for Science and Environment. 
This study reports PM2.5-related long-term mortality for the year 2016 in 13 megacities of China, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan using an integrated exposure risk (IER) model. 

In Indian megacities, the premature deaths were 14,800, 10,500, 7,300, 4,800 and 4,800 in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai respectively. 

Though China has taken initial steps with pollution control targets and strategy, there was an urgent need for government policy in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, the study said.

This study highlighted the need for setting up decisive air quality targets by megacity authorities and advocates for joint regional efforts to control air pollution. 

-- PTI
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08:28   Apple to back Malala Fund activities for girls' education in India, Brazil
Apple has launched a new collaboration to advance girls education opportunities with the Malala Fund in Latin America, which will be extended to India at a later date. In Brazil, where the collaboration will start today, the support will be via the 10 Apple Developer Academies in the country.

As part of its new expansion into Latin America, Malala Fund, which works to provide quality, safe secondary education and opportunities for girls, has also offered grants to local advocates in Brazil. The advocates join the Malala Fund network of Gulmakai champions and will implement projects across the country designed to empower girls, teachers, and policymakers through skills development, school enrollment efforts and education advocacy, a note said.

This January, Apple had announced that it was becoming the Malala Funds first Laureate partner aiming at enabling the organisation to double the number of grants awarded by its Gulmakai Network and fund new programs in Latin America and India.
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08:07   Nawaz Sharif and daughter Maryam shifted to Adiala jail
Pakistans former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam were shifted to Adiala jail in Rawalpindi on Friday after they were arrested on their return to the country following the conviction in one of the three corruption cases against the powerful political family, weeks before the July 25 polls.

Sharif and Maryam were shifted to Adiala jail in separate armoured vehicles escorted by police.

According to jail manual, they can be medically examined at the jail hospital.

Maryam is expected to be moved later to Sihala Rest House which has been declared as sub-jail.

The plane carrying Sharif, the supremo of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz, and Maryam landed at Lahores Allama Iqbal Airport at 9:15 IST, nearly three hours late from the scheduled arrival.

According to an airport official, the father-daughter duo surrendered before a team of the countrys anti-graft body The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) without any resistance.

A special plane later carried Sharif and Maryam to Islamabad. The plane landed at New Islamabad International airport in Islamabad.

The two were convicted on July 6 in the Avenfield properties case linked to the Sharif familys ownership of four luxury flats in London.

Both Sharif, 68, and Maryam, 44, have been sentenced by an accountability court to 10 and 7 years in prison respectively.
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00:18   Cattle smuggling on Indo-Bangla border drastically down: BSF
Border Security Force Director General K K Sharma said cattle smuggling had come down drastically along the Indo-Bangladesh border due to strategic deployment of forces, use of gadgets, and better coordination with the state police.
  
He said they could not stop 100 per cent smuggling as local population on both sides were dependent on cattle trade for a very long time but they were trying to reduce it, he said.
Sharma, who was on a routine visit here, said that the killings related to cattle smuggling too had come down. He said this year, an officer and a trooper were killed in smuggling incident.

"We have reduced the killings. Earlier, it used to be three figures, in hundreds, now it was in two digits. It was 10 last year, the BSF chief said.

He said the the BSF has been using non-lethal weapons along the Indo-Bangladesh border which has emboldened smugglers.
While noting that no smuggler from across the border was killed this year, Sharma said an Indian smuggler was killed by the BSF.
"We are using pump action guns instead of regular INSAS riffles for guarding the Indo-Bangladesh border. Because of the use of this strategy, the smugglers have become bolder. Attacks on BSF troops have increased and roughly 150 boys and officers of the BSF are injured every year," Sharma told reporters here.

He said cattle smuggling had come down drastically due to the additional deployment of forces and gadgets and better coordination with the state police.
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00:17   Kevin Anderson enters Wimbledon finals
Kevin Anderson is through to his first-ever Wimbledon final. 

The South African, seeded eighth, ousted America's John Isner in an epic five set match in the semis -- 7-6, 6-7, 6-7, 6-4, 26-24. 

Anderson, who defeated Roger Federer in the quarters, will now await the winner of the Nadal-Djokovic match and the finals will be played on Sunday.