Sun, 22 July 2018
Amit Shah meets Lata Mangeshkar in Mumbai

Timeline  Refresh

22:31   Amit Shah meets Lata Mangeshkar in Mumbai
Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah today met melody queen Lata Mangeshkar at her home in Mumbai as part of the party's 'Sampark for Samarthan' (contact for support) campaign.

Shah was scheduled to meet Mangeshkar on June 6, but the visit was cancelled as she was down with food poisoning.

Shah, who was on a day's visit to Mumbai, addressed party meetings and in the evening, met Mangeshkar at her residence.

He was accompanied by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, state BJP chief Raosabheb Danve, Mumbai unit party president Ashish Shelar and his wife Sonal Shah.

On June 6, Mangeshkar had tweeted in Hindi that she had spoken to Shah over phone and expressed her inability to meet him since she had suffered food poisoning. She also requested that they can meet during his next visit to Mumbai.

In today's meeting, Shah presented the 88-year-old Bharat Ratna awardee with a booklet on the achievements of the Narendra Modi government in the last four years.

On June 6, Shah had called on actress Madhuri Dixit and industrialist Ratan Tata as part of his party's 'Sampark for Samarthan' campaign.

-- PTI 
20:59   Thailand slams foreign media for interviewing cave boys
Authorities in Thailand have accused foreign media of behaving irresponsibly by interviewing members of a juvenile football team who were trapped in a flooded cave for two weeks before a miraculous rescue.

"I was saddened that the foreign media, whom we assumed understood children' rights very well as well as the procedures for protecting children and minors, but their standards have turned out to be unexpectedly substandard," Tawatchai Thaikyo, the country's Deputy Permanent Secretary for Justice said in a Facebook post.

He urged the media to use the same guidelines used when interviewing minors as those followed in legal proceedings which, in Thailand, require a psychologist to be present during questioning "to stop opening the wound laid deep inside the hearts of children and minors. They are at the age of fragility and they must be protected."

Before the member of the Wild Boars team were released from hospital last week, local authorities asked Thai and foreign journalists to refrain from approaching the boys for interviews in order to safeguard their mental health.
20:32   'Defence minister doing flip-flop on secrecy clause; Rafale deal smells like scam'
Congress president Rahul Gandhi today alleged the controversial Rafale jet deal "smells like a scam" and accused Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of doing a "flip-flop" on the secrecy clause.

Gandhi also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue, alleging he "squirms" when asked about the prices of the fighter aircraft.

"Our Defence Minister said she would, but now she won't. She flip flops between it's-not-a-secret & it's-a-BIG-secret. The PM squirms when asked about the price of RAFALE and refuses to look me in the eye. Sure smells like a scam. #RAFALEscam (sic)," he tweeted.

Gandhi's fresh attack on the government over the deal comes two days after he told Parliament during the debate on no-confidence motion that French president had conveyed to him that there was no problem in sharing details relating to the Rafale, contrary to what the government has been saying. 

"The Defence Minister has clearly spoken an untruth," he had said. 

Referring to Prime Minister Modi, he had said, "I can see him smiling. There is a touch of nervousness. He is looking away, not looking into my eyes."

The truth is that Modi is not a "chowkidar" (guard) but a "bhagidaar" (collaborator) in the wrong-doings, the Congress chief had said. 

"I personally met the French president and asked him if there is such a pact between the French and Indian governments. The French president told me that there is no such pact between the French and Indian governments," Gandhi had said.

-- PTI
20:16   Rahul writes to ragpicker's son who cracked AIIMS entrance test, hopes he inspires many
Congress president Rahul Gandhi today congratulated Asharam Choudhary, the son of a ragpicker in Madhya Pradesh who cracked the AIIMS MBBS entrance test in his first attempt, and hoped that he would contribute to nation-building and inspire many in the future the same way he was motivated by his village doctor.
In a letter to the teenager from Dewas in Madhya Pradesh, Gandhi said the fact that despite challenges Choudhary was able to secure good rank is a testament to the dedication of his parents and the hard work put in by him.

Choudhary, 18, whose house does not have electricity or a toilet, secured the 141st rank in the OBC category and 707 rank overall in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences entrance test held on May 27.

He also cleared the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test, conducted on May 6, bagging the 803rd rank in the OBC category and 2,763 overall. Choudhary left for Jodhpur today to pursue MBBS at the AIIMS there.

"I congratulate you on clearing the All India Institute of Medical Sciences entrance test in your first attempt and getting selected at Jodhpur AIIMS to pursue Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS)... I extend my best wishes to you and hope you will contribute to nation-building," Gandhi said in the letter.

"I am aware that despite all challenges you were able to secure good rank. It is a testament to their dedication and your hard work that you have performed so well," he said, adding it gave him immense pleasure to note how Asharam's village doctor and parents inspired him in his journey and Dakshana Foundation supported him financially.

Choudhary's story of travails and triumphs has a hero - Durga Shanker Kumawat, a doctor in his village, who inspired him to dream big.

In his letter, the Congress president said, "I hope one day, you will also be in a position to inspire other children to take up medical profession and serve the people of India. You remind me of Mahatma Gandhi who used to say: 'Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from the indomitable will'."

Choudhary said he wanted to do Masters in Surgery in Neurology and would not go abroad.

-- PTI
19:54   Mehbooba questions ban on over 30 TV channels in Valley
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti today termed the ban on over 30 TV channels in the valley as "questionable", saying the government should instead identify "biased" ones that peddle "false narrative to incite tensions".
The government has banned over 30 Pakistani and Saudi Arabian channels in the valley, saying it had become necessary and expedient in the larger interest of public and maintenance of peace and tranquillity to prohibit cable operators from transmitting TV channels which were not permitted by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

"The recent ban imposed on transmission of over 30 TV channels on account of threatening peace in J-K is questionable," Mehbooba wrote on Twitter.

She said the government should instead  identify "biased channels peddling a false narrative with the sole motive of inciting tensions & (and) polarising the country."

-- PTI
19:44   Amarinder bats for Rahul as PM face for joint opposition alliance
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today backed Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate of a joint opposition alliance in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
At the extended meeting of the Congress Working Committee, he also supported senior party leader P Chidambaram's views on the need for a broad-based alliance with other opposition parties.

Reiterating his earlier stand, Singh said Rahul was fully competent to lead the country and would surely prove to be a successful prime minister. 

He said the Congress should explore all alliance possibilities for next year's Lok Sabha elections and Rahul should lead the joint opposition front to oust the 'divisive' BJP-led NDA from power.

"The alignments will have to happen at the national level. Whatever call the national leadership will take on alliances and whatever they decide will apply to the states," he told reporters at Parliament House Annexe after addressing the meeting.

The Punjab chief minister said alliances for the Lok Sabha polls would be worked out by the party at the national level, with the state units following suit.

Asked if he was open to an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party, which the Congress had routed in Punjab, he said, "This is a decision to be taken at the national level. The alliances will be dependent on where the central leadership takes us. And wherever it takes us, we will go."

-- PTI
19:21   Miffed with Sena over no-trust vote, Amit Shah asks party workers to prepare to go solo in '19
BJP president Amit Shah has made it clear to party workers in Maharashtra that there would be no alliance with bitter ally Shiv Sena for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections after the latter abstained from participating in Fridays no-trust vote.

Annoyed by Shiv Senas praise of Congress chief Rahul Gandhis speech and refusal to support the BJP in the no-confidence motion, Amit Shah has asked party workers to prepare to contest all Maharashtra assembly and Parliamentary constituencies for 2019.

Gearing up for the high-voltage elections next year, Shah has shared a 23-point plan with the party workers to prepare in advance to go it alone.

Shiv Sena is still part of the NDA in both Maharashtra government as well as the Modi government at the Centre, yet, the Uddhav Thackeray-led party has time and again openly criticised BJP and Prime Minister Modi.

19:01   It seems safer in many places to be a cow than a Muslim: Tharoor
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor launched a scathing attack against the BJP after the Alwar lynching case. 

He said that in several places in the country, it is safer to be a cow than a Muslim. 

Left leader Sitaram Yechury has also backed the Congress leader in his comment.

Several other leaders also came out in support of Tharoor."It seems safer in many places to be a cow than a Muslim," he said in a tweet. "Why BJP ministers' claims about reduction in communal violence don't stand up to the facts," he said referring to the recent Alwar case where a Muslim youth was lynched by a mob on suspicion of cow slaughter. 

He said that the BJP's claims that lynchings have gone down don't reflect in the situation in the country. 
18:46   Former cricketers bat for Imran to become next Pak PM
Pakistan's flamboyant cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan today received support from former cricketers, including Pakistani stars, in his bid to capture political power in the July 25 polls.
The 65-year-old sports celebrity recently said his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had a 100-day plan to meet serious economic and administrative woes faced by the country if it is voted to power.

Khan is running on a platform that calls for creating more jobs and housing for poor, reducing chronic power outages, improving education and health, and cracking down on the rampant corruption.

"It was in your leadership skip Imran Khan that we became world champions in 1992. It is in your leadership that we can again become a great democratic country. Vote for kapatan, naya Pakistan," former cricketer Wasim Akram tweeted.

Akram's remarks came after his fellow paceman Waqar Younis endorsed Khan and praised his leadership skills.

"You have got what it takes Skipper Imran Khan, but it will take everything you have...No one can doubt your Honesty and that's what is required in our country...An honest LEADER. Behind you skipper," Younis said in at tweet.

Former Australian great Dean Jones also supported Khan's bid.

"I am not a political person... but Imran Khan, I would have loved to play under.... great leader and would do well for Pakistan if given the opportunity," Jones tweeted.

Khan's chances of becoming the next PM have only brightened after former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was jailed on corruption charges last week.

-- PTI
JUST IN: Police officials confirm suicide bombing outside Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai International airport after Dostum's arrival. The first vice president's convoy was not affected but casualties are feared
18:29   Alwar lynching: 'I ran away from the spot and later found that my friend was killed'
The eye-witness, in the Alwar lynching case on Sunday recalled the spine-chilling turn of events when his friend was lynched to death on suspicion of smuggling cows.

Aslam, who had a narrow escape said, "We (him and the deceased) both were going with our two cows, on seeing a speeding bike the cows ran into the fields where 6-7 people were present who fired at us, I ran away from the spot to save my life, later found that my friend was killed."

This comes barely a week after the Supreme Court urged Parliament to enact a law against lynching.

28-year-old Rakbar Khan along with his friend was taking some cows to his village through a forest near Lalawandi area in the Alwar district of Rajasthan when some locals allegedly thrashed him brutally, suspecting him to be a cow smuggler.

The police immediately rushed the victim to a nearby hospital, where he was declared brought dead.

Police have, so far, arrested two suspects and launched a manhunt for other suspects.

-- ANI
17:49   Rahul can hug PM, people will not hug him in 2019: BJP
The BJP today took a dig at Rahul Gandhi, saying the Congress president might forcibly hug Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but the people of the country would not embrace him in next year's Lok Sabha election.
Attacking the Gandhi scion over his speech at the Congress Working Committee meeting today, BJP's national media in-charge Anil Baluni said the people will reject him in the next general election.

In a series of tweets, he also claimed that the Congress had decided to contest only 150 seats in the Lok Sabha polls, while Gandhi was dreaming to become the prime minister.

"Heard that desperate and disappointed Congress at its meeting today has set a target of contesting 150 Lok Sabha seats, while its president Rahul Gandhi is dreaming to become prime minister," Baluni tweeted in Hindi.

Referring to the Congress chief's hug to Modi during the debate on the no-confidence motion against the government in the Lok Sabha on Friday, the BJP leader said it was done forcibly.

"Rahulji, you forcibly hugged Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Parliament but people will not hug you in the 2019 general election. You should prepare yourself for bringing a no-confidence motion in 2024," he tweeted.

-- PTI
17:29   Centre mulls changes in IPC to deal with mob lynching
The Centre is considering the possibility of amending the Indian Penal Code to define 'mob lynching' as a penal offence, a senior government functionary has said. 
Another option being considered is to draft a model law that states can adopt to prevent incidents of mob lynching, he said. 

"Everything is in the preliminary stage as the entire Supreme Court order asking the Centre to come up with a new law has to be examined," he added. 

If the IPC is amended, the government will not have to bring a stand alone law on mob lynching. 

If the burden of proof to prove innocence is put on the accused, then certain sections of the CrPC and the Indian Evidence Act would also require amendments, the functionary said. 

He said it will take several days before the government firms up its stand. 

The government may also further strengthen the framework relating to social media to ensure that rumours which may lead to such incidents are checked.

Several cases of lynching and mob violence have been reported from across the country in the recent past, the latest being from Rajasthan where a man was beaten to death on Friday on suspicion of cow smuggling .
Condemning the rising incidents of lynching in India, the Supreme Court had on Tuesday asked the government to enact a law to deal such cases.  

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had termed the incidents of lynching "horrendous acts of mobocracy".

-- PTI
17:20   Mob lynching remark misinterpreted: Meghwal
Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal on Sunday claimed that his remark on mob lynching was "misinterpreted".

He took to his Twitter handle today and said he 'deeply condemn' such incidents.

"I again reiterate that my statement is completely misinterpreted by few sections of media. We deeply condemn the incidents of mob lynching & @HMOIndia has issued an advisory to the state government in 2016 n July 2018 for taking strict action in such cases," Meghwal Tweeted.

While alluding that detractors are trying to defame the central government, Meghwal yesterday more lynching incidents will happen with the rise in popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"The more popular Modi ji becomes, the more such incidents will happen. In Bihar election it was 'Award Wapsi', in Uttar Pradesh elections it was mob lynching.

In 2019 elections it will be something else. Prime Minister Modi gave several schemes, their effects can be seen, this (lynching) incident is just one reaction to it," Meghwal said.

17:09   Ghaziabad: 4 injured in building collapse
At least four people were injured while several other are feared trapped after a five-storey under-construction building collapsed near Missal Gadi in Ghaziabad on Sunday afternoon.

Teams of the National Disaster Response Force, police and fire department have reached the spot and begun the rescue operations.

More details are awaited.

-- ANI
JUST IN: Election Commission to begin final hearing in the Office of Profit case, involving 20 MLAs, tomorrow at 3 pm.
16:30   Alliances on Congress radar at first revamped CWC
The Congress party's highest decision-making body -- the Working Committee -- is meeting today amid the afterglow of Rahul Gandhi's no-holds barred attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, followed by an unscripted hug and wink that is still a talking point on social media. 

"We are committed to make alliances work and we are all with him (Rahul Gandhi) in this endeavour. We have to rescue our people from a dangerous regime that is compromising the democracy of India," Sonia Gandhi said in her address.

At the strategy meet today, the Congress kept a tight focus on the issue of alliances. Giving an overview of the party's position in various states, former union minister P Chidambaram called for the broadest possible alliance within states.

In his address today, the Congress president, who took charge after 20 years of his mother Sonia Gandhi's leadership, reminded the members of the party's role as the "voice of India" and its responsibility of the 'present and future".
16:02   Government to hire over 54,000 jawans in Central security forces
In one of the biggest recruitment drives in central security forces, the government has decided to recruit over 54,000 jawans in armed police forces like the CRPF, BSF and ITBP among others this year.
Out of the total 54,953 vacancies advertised by the Staff Selection Commission, the maximum are for the country's largest paramilitary force-- the CRPF at 21,566 posts.

A total of 47,307 vacancies are for men and 7,646 are for women in the constable (general duty) cadre in the Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Central Industrial Security Force, Sashastra Seema Bal, Assam Rifles (posts to be called Rifleman), National Investigation Agency and the Secretariat Security Force.

"The central forces, called the central armed police forces and central police organisations, are set for further expansion by raising of new battalions and hence these new vacancies have been advertised by the government after sanction from the Union home ministry," a senior official said.

Applicants in the age group of 18-23 years and who have completed class 10 successfully, with a few exceptions and reservations, can apply for these posts.

The salary offered, as per the SSC advertisement, is in the matrix of Rs 21,700-69,100.

The candidates will undertake a computer-based exam, physical efficiency test, physical standard test and a final medical test before being inducted into these forces/organisations that are deployed as part of securing the internal security grid of the country under the command of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The last date to apply for these vacancies is August 20.

The CAPFs are deployed for guarding borders, undertaking anti-Naxal operations, assisting in law and order duties, protecting high-value infrastructure and assets apart from a variety of other security tasks across the country.

-- PTI
15:46   Congress can win 3 times more seats in 2019: Chidambaram
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Sunday expressed confidence that the party can win three times more seats in the 2019 general elections by further boosting its presence in 12 states where it already has a strong foothold. The Congress currently has 48 members of Parliament in the Lok Sabha.

Addressing the Congress Working Committee in the Parliament Annexe Building, Chidambaram emphasised the need to strengthen the party's presence in the 12 states to boost up the numbers.

In rest of the states, the senior leader pitched for aligning with regional parties to further improve the party's position.

Giving a clarion call, the party president urged the Congress men and women "to rise and fight for India's oppressed."

The CWC meeting comes just a few days after an united Opposition faced a decisive defeat from the ruling Narendra Modi government during the monsoon session of Parliament in Lok Sabha on Friday. 

-- ANI
15:17   Now, only 35 goods in highest tax bracket of GST
The GST Council has pruned the 28 per cent slab by cutting tax rates on 191 goods over the last one year, leaving just 35 items, including AC, digital camera, video recorders, dishwashing machine and automobiles, in the highest tax bracket.
There were around 226 goods in the 28 per cent category when Goods and Services Tax was implemented on July 1, 2017.

Over the last one year, the Council, chaired by Union finance minister and comprising state ministers, has slashed rates in 191 items.

The 35 goods, which will be left in highest slab once the new GST rates are implemented from July 27, also include cement, automobile parts, tyres, automobile equipments, motor vehicles. yachts, aircrafts, aerated drinks, betting and demerit items like tobacco, cigarette and pan masala.

Experts said going forward as the revenues stabilise, the Council may look at further rationalisation of the 28 per cent slab, to restrict the highest tax slab to super luxury and sin goods.

After the latest rounds of rate cuts by the GST Council on July 21, only 35 items are left in the 28 per cent tax slab, an official said.

The Council brought down tax rates to 18 per cent from 28 per cent on 15 items, including vacuum cleaners, washing maching, 68 cm (27 inch) TV, fridge, laundry machines, paints and varnishes.

-- PTI
15:10   NRC: Rajnath says no need to panic, will get opportunities to prove citizenship
Ahead of the publication of NRC in Assam, Home Minister Rajnath Singh today said there was no need to panic and all bonafide Indians will be given adequate opportunities to prove their citizenship.
In a series of tweets, the home minister said the National Register of Citizens, a list of Assam's citizens, is being updated in accordance with the 'Assam Accord' signed on August 15, 1985 and  is being carried out as per the directions of the Supreme Court, which is constantly monitoring the process.

"There is no reason for panic or fear. No person will be allowed to be harassed. We will ensure that every individual gets justice and is treated in a humane manner," he said.

Singh assured that the NRC exercise is being carried out in a totally impartial, transparent and meticulous manner and will continue to be so.
"All individuals will have sufficient opportunity for all remedies available under the law.  At every stage of the process,  adequate opportunity is given to all persons to be heard," he said.

The home minister said the entire process is being conducted according to law and due procedure is being followed.

Singh said the central government wants to make it clear that the NRC, to be published on July 30, is only a draft and after draft publication, adequate opportunity for claims and objections will be available.
"All claims and objections will be duly examined. Adequate opportunity of being heard will be given before disposal of claims and objections. Only thereafter,  final NRC will be published," he said. 

The home minister said the Citizenship Rules provide that any person who is not satisfied with the outcome of claims and objections can appeal in the Foreigner's Tribunal.

Therefore, there is no question of anyone being put in a detention centre after the publication of NRC, he said.

14:45   Akshay Kumar in 'tears of joy' after sanitary napkins exempted from GST
National Award winning Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, whose film "PadMan" tried to create awareness on menstrual hygiene, has thanked the GST Council for making sanitary napkins Goods and Services Tax free.

Expressing his happiness, Akshay tweeted: "One of those days when a news brings tears of joy as a cause close to your heart gets fulfilled. Thank you, #GSTCouncil, for understanding the need for menstrual hygiene & exempting sanitary pads from tax. I'm sure crores of women in our country are silently sending gratitude your way."

​The GST on sanitary pads has been cut from 12 per cent to zero.

Earlier this year, Akshay narrated the story of Arunachalam Muruganantham, who introduced the low-cost sanitary napkins in India, in "PadMan".
14:23   When a Twitter user asked PM Modi to smile more often

After winning the trust vote in Lok Sabha on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now winning hearts.

In what appears to be unusual for the prime minister, PM Modi is replying personally to Twitter users.

To one user who asked PM Modi to smile more often, he replied, "Point taken :)"

PM Modi was replying to the Twitter users who tweeted using hashtag #PMInShahjahanpur while he addressed a rally in Uttar Pradesh's Shahjahanpur on Saturday.

In another heart-warming gesture, PM Modi congratulated a man who shared his daughter's essay on Swachh Bharat for school magazine.
13:39   Posters of Rahul hugging PM surface in Mumbai
Several posters of Congress president Rahul Gandhi hugging Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha has been put up in Mumbai's Andheri.

The posters, which have been put by the Congress workers, also has a tagline that reads, "Nafrat se nahi, Pyar se jeetenge (we will win by love, not hatred)."

Rahul garnered huge attention during the discussion on no-confidence motion on July 20 after he walked up to the PM and hugged him after concluding his fiery speech.

Though, Rahul's gesture was hailed by his party leaders as "Jaadu ki Jhappi (magical hug)", the BJP ridiculed him saying he has started "chipko movement" in the Lok Sabha.

During his fiery rhetorical speech, Rahul attacked the Central government and said, "I will take pout this hatred out of you and turn it into love and turn it into love. I am the Congress. You taught me what it means to be a Hindustani, what it means to be a Hindu. It means to love somebody even if they attack you."

-- ANI
13:12   Dangerous regime compromising democracy: Sonia @ CWC
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi today lashed out at the Narendra Modi government, saying the people of the country have to be rescued from a "dangerous regime" that is "compromising" with India's democracy.
In her address to the newly-constituted Congress Working Committee, which met for the first time under the chairmanship of party chief Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi also cautioned the people about the "reign of despair and fear" heaped upon India's deprived and poor.

She said the rhetoric of Prime Minister Narendra Modi shows his "desperation" reflecting that the "reverse countdown" of the Modi government has begun.
We are committed to make alliances work and we are all with Congress president Rahul Gandhi in this endeavour. 

We have to rescue our people from a dangerous regime that is compromising with the democracy of India, she said. 
12:47   Govt cut GST rates with eye on assembly polls: Chidambaram
Congress leader P Chidambaram today took a dig at the government for reducing GST rates on nearly 100 items ahead of assembly elections in four states, saying holding frequent polls is good for the people.
In a series of tweets, Chidambaram said the present Goods and Services Tax regime is still "unreformed" and the government must notify three rates immediately and signal its intention to move to a single rate in the medium term, which will be the true GST.

"When elections are around the corner, government cuts rates. I suppose that makes a good case for frequent elections in different states!," he said.

"The GST Council cuts rates on 100 items, approves quarterly returns. Belated wisdom. Why did Government not follow our advice in July 2017? 

"There are many other lacunae in the GST law. I doubt if the government has the will or the skill to remove these lacunae," he said.

The GST Council in its 28th meeting yesterday approved rate reductions for 88 consumer-centric items such as cosmetics, refrigerators, washing machines, and small screen televisions, and cleared the widely demanded exemption on sanitary napkins.

Assembly elections are due in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram later this year.

When the GST council reduced the number of items attracting the top 28 per cent tax rate to just 50 from 228 in November last year, Chidambaram had said the decision had been taken to further the chances of the BJP in Gujarat where the election was due then.

"Thank you Gujarat. Your elections did what Parliament and common sense could not do," he had tweeted then.

-- PTI
12:28   Manmohan Singh @ CWC rejects culture of constant "self praise and jumlas"
Congress president Rahul Gandhi is chairing his first meeting of the revamped Congress Working Committee, after taking over as party chief in December last year. 

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who attended the meeting, in a scathing criticism of PM Modi said it's a culture of "constant self praise and jumlas as against solid policy framework for driving the engine of growth." He pointed out that the "claim of doubling farm income by 2022 will require an agricultural growth rate of 14%, which is nowhere in sight."

Gandhi revamped the CWC and dropped veterans like Digvijaya Singh, Janardan Dwivedi, Kamal Nath, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Karan Singh. Veterans like AK Antony, Ahmed Patel, Ambika Soni, Motilal Vora, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Anand Sharma and Kumari Selja have been retained.

The new CWC includes 23 regular members, 19 permanent invitees and nine special invitees. Incidentally, the party, which is seeking 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and state assemblies, has three women among the regular members.
12:14   Sonia, Manmohan attend first meeting of extended CWC
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi are attending the Congress Working Committee meeting.

The meeting would be chaired by party president Rahul Gandhi.

This is the first meeting of the extended CWC, convened by Rahul Gandhi to chalk out the party's future strategy.

He constituted the CWC last week, dropping veterans like Digvijay Singh, Janardan Dwivedi, Kamal Nath, Sushilkumar Shinde and Karan Singh from the party's highest decision-making body.  -- ANI, PTI
12:13   Home ministry procures 5,000 rape investigation kits to distribute to police stations
The home ministry has purchased 5,000 rape investigation kits which would be given to police stations across the country for speedy probe in sexual harassment cases, according to a senior Women and Child Development official.

The official said that for now, five kits each would be provided to randomly-selected police stations and states have also been asked to chip in with their contribution.

The kits are designed to carry out immediate medical investigation and aid the  evidence-gathering exercise in sexual assault and rape cases.

"The Home Ministry has procured 5,000 rape investigation kits that would be distributed to randomly selected police stations across the country for speedy probes in sexual harassment cases," he said.

Each kit comes with a set of test tubes and bottles and costs Rs 200 to Rs 300, the official said. 

The official said the states have responded positively and the Haryana government has even approved their procurement.

Explaining the functioning of these kits, the official said it would be used to collect various samples -- such as blood, semen and sweat -- of the victim which will be locked and sent to the forensic laboratory. It will carry the time of sealing of the samples and also the names of the police officer and the doctor involved.
As many as 1,10,333 cases of rape were registered in the country between 2014-16, according to government figures.

The figures say that 38,947 cases of rape were registered in 2016, 34,651 in 2015 and 36,735 in 2014.

Altogether 3,38,954 cases of crime against women were registered in 2016, while 3,29,243 such cases were registered in 2015 and 3,39,457 in 2014, according to the government figures.

Rape accounts for about 12 per cent of all crimes against women, according to the figures. 

-- PTI
11:43   PML-N chief Shehbaz Sharif vows to make Pakistan better than India
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Shehbaz Sharif has said that he would make Pakistan better than its arch-rival India after coming into power, according to a media report today.

Addressing a rally in Sargodha district of his stronghold of Punjab, Sharif said that people can change his name if he does not take Pakistan ahead of India after coming into power, The Express Tribune reported.

"They (Indians) will come to Wagah border and call Pakistanis their master," 65-year-old Sharif was quoted as saying by the paper.

The former Punjab chief minister said that he would bring Pakistan at par with Malaysia and Turkey. He added that he would visit Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan "to learn from them and make Pakistan a great nation again".

He said that Pakistan cannot become a great nation by voting leaders like Imran Khan who have made false promises to "our nation".

"The U-turn signs should be removed from roads and should be replaced by the picture of Imran Khan," he said, adding that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief's politics is based on baseless allegations and false promises.

"Khan alleged corruption against the Punjab government but not a single penny has been proved against me," the PML-N president said.

He said his elder brother Nawaz Sharif came back to Pakistan leaving his ailing wife in London but Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz were arrested at the airport.

"Nawaz Sharif was not even allowed to meet his mother," he added.

Both Sharif and Maryam have been sentenced by a court to 10 and seven years in prison, respectively, for corruption charges. Maryam's husband Muhammad Safdar was jailed for one year. 

-- PTI
10:39   Chennai building collapse: 1 body found, search concludes
One body has been recovered after a portion of an under-construction building collapsed in Kandanchavadi area in Chennai on Saturday.

The National Disaster Response Force said that the search has ended from their end.Vinoj, Assistant Commandant, NDRF said, "From our end search has concluded. One dead body was recovered. 61 personnel were part of this operation."

Meanwhile, 17 others have been left critically injured in the incident.

Out of those injured, five are left with head injuries, along with two in critical condition.  -- ANI
10:34   1 dead in Los Angeles standoff, gunman arrested
The man who opened fire outside a Trader Joe's in Silver Lake, Los Angeles was arrested after hours-long standoff, which claimed one life.

As per CNN, Mayor Eric Garcetti, at a news conference, announced the death of a woman inside the grocery store during the standoff and surrender of the suspect.

The man in his late teen was handcuffed by the Los Angeles police outside the store.

'We have successfully taken the suspect into custody without incident,' Los Angelespolice said on Twitter.

The incident began with shooting in South Los Angeles in which the suspect shot his grandmother and a young woman at her residence.

The suspect later took the younger woman with himself in his car. As soon as the police chased his car, he fired multiple rounds at them.

The pursuit ended when the car crashed into a light post outside the Trader Joe's and he got out and ran into the store.

18 ambulances and over a 100 firefighters are present at the scene of action.

The police has cordoned the incident spot around the Silver Lake and urged the public to avoid the area.  -- ANI

IMAGE: A Trader Joe's employee embraces a friend in a parking lot near the store where a hostage situation unfolded in Los Angeles, California, on Saturday. Photograph: Andrew Cullen/Reuters
09:16   Bihar to grant reservation in promotions to SCs/STs
The Bihar government has decided to grant facility of reservation in promotions to the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes personnel in its services.

This has been done following an advice received from the Union Personnel and Training Department in the light of the orders passed by the Supreme Court on May 17 and June 6 on a special writ petition.

According to an official notification, such promotions would, however, be subject to further orders of the Apex Court.

The decision in this regard was taken in the light of the recommendations made by a high-level committee of state government officials constituted for the purpose on June 27 and legal advice obtained on it, the notification said.

The notification also gave detailed guidelines for effecting such reservation in promotions.  -- PTI
UPDATE: Three terrorists have been gunned down by security forces in Kulgam. Three weapons also recovered. -- ANI
08:16   Terrorist involved in killing of J&K cop gunned down, others trapped
An encounter broke out between security forces and terrorists in Kulgam district of Jammu and Kashmir today, police said.

One terrorist has been killed in the encounter in Kulgam's Khudwani.

The terrorists trapped are the ones who had killed Constable Mohammad Salim.

Security forces launched a cordon-and-search operation in Khudwani area of Kulgam district in south Kashmir after receiving specific intelligence input about the presence of terrorists in the area, a police official said.

He said the search operation turned into a gun-battle as the terrorists fired upon the forces, prompting retaliation.

The gun-battle is going on, the official said, adding further details are awaited.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Constable Mohammad Salim Shah.