Wed, 13 June 2018
Modi's fitness video bizarre, ridiculous: Rahul

Timeline  Refresh

23:16   Modi's fitness video bizarre, ridiculous: Rahul
Congress president Rahul Gandhi described Prime Minister Narendra Modi's fitness video put out this morning as 'bizarre' and 'ridiculous'.

Hosting an Iftar at a luxury hotel in New Delhi today, Gandhi said this amounted to bankruptcy and asked Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary Sitaram Yechury to put out his fitness video to match the prime minister.

"Did you see the PM's fitness video? It is ridiculous... I mean... It is bizarre... This is bankruptcy," he said as he poked fun at the video put out by the prime minister.

Sharing a table with former presidents Pranab Mukherjee and Pratibha Patil, Gandhi then turned to Yechury asking him to put out his fitness video as a challenge to Modi's.

Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi, Bahujan Samaj Party leader Satish Chandra Misra and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's Kanimozhi were among those who had a hearty laugh over the prime minister's video.

Mukherjee, Patil and former vice president Hamid Ansari, who were sharing the table, were silently hearing the conversation.

Among others who also attended the Congress chief's Iftar included former prime minister Manmohan Singh.

United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi was not present as she is currently abroad.

Earlier, Congress leader Pramod Tewari termed the fitness video as an insult to the supreme sacrifice of the four Border Security Force personnel who died in cross-border firing from Pakistan in Kashmir.  -- PTI

IMAGE: A still taken from the video posted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter.
23:00   Bhima Koregaon violence: One detained for killing man
One of the four suspects allegedly involved in killing a 30-year-old man during the January 1 Bhima-Koregaon caste violence was today detained by Pune Police from outside the district, an official said.

One Rahul Phatangade was assaulted and killed during the violence by a mob armed with stones and sticks.

The detainee was purportedly seen along with three other suspects in a video of the assault released by the Maharashtra Crime Investigation Department on June 8, the official said.

In the video, four people were purportedly seen assaulting Phatangade, a resident ofKanurMesainear Sanaswadi village in Pune district.

"We have detained one of the suspects who is seen in the video and we will be handing him over to the CID as they are investigating the case," said Dayanand Dhome, senior police inspector, Chatushringi police station.

Dhome, however, refused to divulge details like the identity of the detainee and the exact location from where he was picked up.

The officer merely said the suspect was detained outside Pune district.

"Acting on the inputs, our team detained him. He will be handed over to the CID," he said.

A senior CID official said that questioning of the suspect, who was detained by Chatushringi police, is underway and he is likely to be arrested by tomorrow.

Pune (Rural) police have already arrested three people in connection with Phatangade's death. The CID took over the case in February.  -- PTI
22:10   Ending speculations, Pranab attends Rahul's Iftar
Former president Pranab Mukherjee was among prominent political figures who attended an Iftar hosted by Congress president Rahul Gandhi this evening.

Mukherjee was seen conversing with Gandhi and several other senior Congress leaders.

There was considerable disquiet in the Congress after Mukherjee accepted an invitation from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to address its workers at Nagpur.

However, the party later complimented him for his speech at the RSS headquarters.

There was a buzz that Mukherjee was dropped from the Congress guest list after he attended the RSS function on June 7.

'Good food, friendly faces and great conversation make for a memorable Iftar!  We were honoured to have two former Presidents, Pranab Da & Smt Pratibha Patil ji join us, along with leaders from different political parties, the media, diplomats and many old & new friends, Rahul tweeted with a photo of Iftar. -- PTI

IMAGE: Former President Pranab Mukherjee with Congress president Rahul Gandhi at an Iftar hosted by the latter on Wednesday. Photograph: @RahulGandhi/Twitter
21:37   Karnad, other rationalists were on hit-list of Lankesh murder suspects
Eminent film and theatre personality Girish Karnad and several litterateurs and rationalists were on the hit list of those suspected of killing journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh, officials said today.

Besides Karnad, a recipient of the Jnanpith Award, thehighest honour in literature, politician-litterateur B T Lalitha Naik, pontiff Veerabhadra Channamalla Swamy of Nidumamidi Mutt and rationalist C S Dwarakanath also figured in the list, sources in the SIT probing the Lankesh murder case said.

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) has recovered a diary from the suspects with entries in Devanagari script.

The diary has the names of these personalities, known for their strong views against hardline Hindutva, who were to be targeted, sources told PTI.

Some entries, they said, are coded and efforts are onto decipher them.

The SIT had said yesterday it had arrested 26-year-old Parashuram Waghmare from Sindhagi in Vijayapura district of Karnataka but his role in the conspiracy and other details would be revealed later as doing so now would affect the investigation.

Speculation is rife that Waghmare could be Lankesh's assassin as his physical appearance matched that of the man in the CCTV footage recovered from her residence who was suspected of having shot her.

Waghmare was said to have links to Hindu right wing groups.Inspector General of Police B K Singh, who heads the SIT, had told PTI yesterday that nothing had emerged during the probe so far to suggest that Waghmare had shot Lankesh.

Karnad is known for his strong anti-Hindutva stance and so is Lalitha Naik. Veerabhadra Channamalla Swamy is also a vocal critic of hardline Hindutva, while rationalist Dwarkanath had once even questioned the existence of Lord Rama, raising the hackles of pro-Hindu outfits.

"All these people were either admirers or supportersof Lankesh or had a viewpoint similar to hers. The othersmentionedin the diary too were vocal about Hindutva," SIT sources said.

The SIT has so far arrested six people -- ParashuramWaghmare, K T Naveen alias Hotte Manja, Amol Kale, ManoharEdve, Sujeeth Kumar alias Praveen and Amit Degvekar.While Naveen Kumar is from Maddur in Mandya district of Karnataka, Amol Kale and Amit Degvekar are from Maharashtra.

Four others were caught while planning to kill writer K S Bhagawan, who has come under repeated attack from Hindu outfits for speaking 'scornfully' about Hindu Gods.

Gauri Lankesh, a journalist with strong Leftist views and anti-Hindutva ideology, was killed at the entrance of her house in Bengaluru on September 5 evening last year,triggering a nationwide outrage.  -- PTI
20:40   WhatsApp hoax leads to lynching of 2 by a mob of 1,500
Another incident of lynching allegedly triggered by fake messages in circulation on the social media has come to light, this time from Aurangabad district in Maharashtra, police said today.

According to police, two men were allegedly beaten to death and seven others were injured, one of them critically, after a mob of villagers attacked them on suspicion of being robbers in Chandgaon village in Vaijapur taluka on June 8.

Police said a mob of at least 1,500 villagers allegedly attacked nine men with wooden sticks after nabbing them from near a farm in the village on morning of last Friday.

A Vaijapur police station official said some fake messages about the presence of a 'gang of robbers' were doing rounds on Whatsapp and the incident was fallout of these rumours.

"Following the rumours, villagers were maintaining a vigil in night hours," said Assistant Police Inspector Ram Hari Yadav.

The official said police rushed to the spot after they received a call from a villager, informing that they had caught a gang of 'robbers'.

When police reached the village, they found nine men on the ground who had been brutally assaulted, he said. Police rushed the injured men to the rural hospital in Vaijapur, before shifting them to the GMCH (Government Medical College and Hospital) in Aurangabad, 70 km away from the village.

Yadav said two of the injured men succumbed to injuries on June 9 while another person is battling for life.

The deceased are identified as Bharat Sonavne and Shivaji Shinde, he said.

Police have booked more than 400 villages on charges of murder and attempt to murder in the case.

However, no arrests have been made so far.

Police are investigating the background of the nine men, the official said, adding that details like the reason behind the presence of the men in the village on the day of the incident will come out during the probe.

Aurangabad (Rural) SP Arti Singh today said the lynching occurred in the wake of certain fake messages and posts being circulated on Whatsapp in the village about the presence of a gang of robbers.

The SP said senior police officers have been directed to initiate necessary action to curb such fake messages on WhatsApp and other social media.

In separate incidents of lynching last month, two men were allegedly beaten to death by a group of villagers in Telangana on suspicion of being thieves.

In Assam, two men were pulled out of their vehicle in Karbi Anglong district last Friday and beaten to death by a group of irate villagers, who suspected them to be child-lifters.  -- PTI
19:12   No fireman died in Mumbai inferno
No casualties have been reported in fire at the 34-storey Beaumonde building in Mumbai's Prabhadevi area.

Earlier, it was reported that two firemen were killed in the fire.   
19:02   Wisdom can't be inherited: Jaitley's jibe at Rahul Gandhi
Taking a jibe at Rahul Gandhi for anti-Narendra Modi tirade, Union Minister Arun Jaitley questioned the Congress president's wisdom saying that it has to be acquired through learning and cannot be inherited.
The Congress party has become "ideologyless" because its "only obsession is a person called Narendra Modi", Jaitley said in a Facebook post.
Gandhi has been attacking the BJP government for waiving loans of Rs 2.5 lakh crore by big corporates, as also criticising the Mudra Yojana.
Observing that the UPA government during 2008-2014 indiscriminately lent money through banks to 15 big loan defaulters, Jaitley said Gandhi prefers the "Gobbelian traditions to say the exact opposite".
"For a President of a national party not to understand this basic procedure of bank functioning should be a matter of concern to the entire party as also the country. In dynastic parties political positions are heritable. Unfortunately wisdom is not heritable. It has to be acquired through learning," he said in a post titled 'Is Congress Becoming Ideologyless? Is Anti-Modism its only ideology?'
Gandhi earlier this week cited the examples of successful American entrepreneurs to attack Modi's policies, and described the founder of Coca-Cola as a 'shikanji seller' and that of McDonald's a 'dhaba wala'.
"Though factually what he stated was incorrect, the larger point is that he saw virtues in these professions which can act as a launch pad for many start-ups.
"The great grandson of the man who authored 'The Discovery of India' could with his customary inaccuracies one day give to this country his monumental work on 'The Rediscovery of Coca Cola'," Jaitley said.
He further said that there is no ideological pattern in Gandhi's statements. "Ignorance with anti-Modism is a common thread", he said.
Dynastic political parties are family and personality dominated and ideology takes a back seat, he said.
"The leader's ill-informed instincts become the ideology. This can only happen to a party which becomes ideologyless; pushes itself to the fringe; is willing to act as a tailender to regional parties. All this because its only obsession is a person called Narendra Modi," Jaitley said.
The minister also questioned the Congress party's 'sudden love for the Other Backward Classes' saying Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had opposed the Mandal Commission and the Congress Party recently opposed the grant of constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes.
On Congress leader P Chidambaram's comment that frying pakodas is not job creation, Jaitley said "being cleverer than rest of his colleagues, he perhaps was trying to neutralise the success story of the Mudra Yojana where 12.90 crore loans have been given for self-employment to various weaker sections".
Jaitley said the total of these loans has touched Rs 6 lakh crores and created work for millions of people. -- PTI   
18:09   'Pakistan will not hang Kulbhushan'
"Kulbhushan Jadhav is a very sad case. I think Pakistan handled this issue very clumsily. They gave too much of publicity and also said that they will hang him. Now obviously, they are not going to hang him."

Amarjit Singh Dulat, former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing, India's external intelligence agency speaks to's Syed Firdaus Ashraf and Saisuresh Sivaswamy on Pakistan's spy agency ISI, the RAW, espionage and everything that's fit to print.

Dulat co-authored the book, The Spy Chronicles with Lieutenant General Asad Durrani the former head of the Inter Services Intelligence.

Read the 1st part of a multi-part interview here.
17:25   JDS-Congress coordination panel to meet tomorrow
The first meeting of the coordination committee of the ruling JDS-Congress coalition in Karnataka will be held in Bengaluru tomorrow where the two parties would mull over a common minimum programme, senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah said today.

Announcing the power sharing arrangement on June 1, after the assembly polls delivered a fractured verdict, the two parties had said the common agenda for governance will have salient features of their election manifestos. Siddaramaiah, however, remained non-committal on farm loan waiver promised by the JDS in the run up to the elections. -- PTI
17:18   I am safe: Deepika on the fire in her building
Deepika Padukone @deepikapadukone tweets: I am safe.Thank You everyone. Let us pray for our firefighters who are at site risking their lives...

For context, a fire broke out in a multi-storey building in Mumbai which houses the residence and office of Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone. Deepika was not inside the 34-storey Beaumonde building in the Prabhadevi area where the blaze emanated from the top floor, according to fire department officials and sources close to the actress.

Deepika's house is on one floor of the building and office in another but both were unaffected by the fire, said sources close to her.

No one was injured so far in the blaze which was reported at 2.08 pm, fire brigade sources said. Over 90 people have been safely evacuated from the building even as the fire department personnel were trying to douse the fire, the sources said.

At least 10 fire engines, two quick response vans, five water tankers have been put in service to douse the fire.
So, does the Mumbai fire brigade have a snorkel that reaches the 33rd floor? The fire in the Beaumonde building at Prabhadevi is on the 32nd and 33rd floor.

A 2015 report in the Indian Express says that the Mumbai Fire Brigade has a 90-metre snorkel at the Byculla fire station, The hydraulic platform can scale up to 30 floors and has a turntable ladder and elevated water pumps to conduct firefighting and rescue operations.
16:57   RBI may hike rates again in Aug on rise in inflation: Analysts
Headline inflation surging to a four-month high of 4.87 per cent in May is likely to force the Reserve Bank of India to hike rates once again at its August monetary policy review, analysts said.

The commentary comes a day after industry body Confederation of Indian Industry said that monetary policy tightening will increase the cost of doing business and force India Inc to slowdown on investments, which are critical for pushing the growth agenda.

"With both core and headline inflation only likely to face greater upside pressure from various factors in the coming months, we continue to expect one more 0.25 per cent rate hike from the RBI. This could occur as soon as the July 31-August 1 meeting," analysts at the French brokerage BNP Paribas said in a note. -- PTI
16:35   Chef Atul Kocchar sacked over anti-Islam tweet in Dubai
Atul Kochhar, a popular Indian-origin chef in the United Arab Emirates, was today sacked by a Dubai hotel after he courted controversy by posting an anti-Islam tweet that caused outrage on social media.

Kochhar, 48, the second Indian to receive a Michelin star, is well known for his Rang Mahal restaurant at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, Dubai.

He caused a furore after taking a dig at Bollywood actor Priyanka Chopra over an episode in American television series 'Quantico' that purportedly portrayed Hindu nationalists as terrorists.

"Following the recent comments made by Chef Atul Kochhar, we have taken the decision to end our agreement with him for Rang Mahal. With the termination of our agreement, Chef Atul will no longer be associated with the restaurant," Bill Keffer, general manager of the hotel, was quoted as saying by the Gulf News.

According to the hotel, the restaurant will continue to operate without the chef's affiliation.

"At the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai we pride ourselves on creating a culture of diversity and inclusion for our guests and associates across the hotel and our restaurants. We also remain committed to delivering the traditional culinary experience and high service standards that Rang Mahal is renowned for," the hotel statement added.

Reacting to the hotel's move, Kochhar said he was "deeply upset" by the hotel's decision to cut ties with him. "The decision by JW Marriott Marquis Dubai is deeply upsetting, however I fully accept the great pain I have caused and the difficult position the hotel has been put in," the paper quoted him as saying.

"I hope my friends and well-wishers in Dubai will forgive me and continue to support me in the future," he continued.

In his controversial tweet on Sunday, Kochhar had said, "It's sad to see that you (Priyanka) have not respected the sentiments of Hindus who have been terrorised by Islam over 2000 years. Shame on You (sic)." He later deleted the tweet and apologised for the "major error" that was "made in the heat of the moment". The tweet had caused outrage on social media with the twitterati calling for firing the chef. -- PTI

Image: Chef Atul Kocchar. Courtesy: @atulkochhar
16:15   Vajpayee may be discharged in a few days: AIIMS
Just in: Atal Bihari Vajpayee has shown significant improvement; hope we'll be able to discharge him in next few days: AIIMS director. "We are hopeful of Vajpayee's full recovery in the next few days,"  AIIMS director Randeep Guleria said.

Guleria said Vajpayee's kidney function is back to normal, heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure are also normal and the parameters are being maintained without support.

The former PM (93) was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi on Monday with an urinary tract infection, lower respiratory tract infection and kidney issues, but his condition was reported to be stable since on Tuesday.

A team of doctors, under the supervision of AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, evaluated his condition, a source said.

The former prime minister underwent dialysis on Monday and continued to remain in the intensive care unit of the cardiothoracic centre of the AIIMS, the source said.

Vajpayee, a diabetic, has one functional kidney. He suffered a stroke in 2009, weakening his cognitive abilities. Later, he developed dementia.

The entire corridor of the first-floor ICU has been cordoned off and only patients' attendants or relatives are being allowed after showing proof.

A host of political leaders, including former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and H D Deve Gowda, visited the ailing leader on Tuesday.
15:30   'Everybody can now feel much safer'
Donald J Trump @realDonaldTrump Just landed - a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!
15:24   Godman elevated to Cabinet rank in MP government
The Madhya Pradesh Government elevated state Cow Protection Board chairperson Swami Akhileshwaranand to Cabinet minister rank on Wednesday.

He was earlier given Minister of State rank.As per reports, Akhileshwaranand reportedly expressed his displeasure over his inclusion in the panel without his consent and on being put at par with Computer Baba and Yogendra Mahant, who were also part of this panel.

The state government in March had constituted a committee to conduct a public awareness campaign on the banks of river Narmada. Earlier on April 3, the state government granted the status of Minister of State to five religious figures. He did not even attend any meeting conducted by the panel. -- ANI
15:19   Bungalow damage row: Akhilesh sees it as BJP conspiracy
Former UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav today smelled a BJP "conspiracy" to "malign" him in reports of damage to the bungalow vacated by him in Lucknow and sought to know as to why two state officials had entered the house before it was shown to the media.

The SP leader also hit out at the state Governor over the issue, saying he has the "soul of RSS". "I want to ask from the government as to why CM's OSD Abhishek (Kaushik) and IAS Mrityunjay Narain went to my house before it was shown to the media. I want to asked them to check the inventory of the house and tell me what I have taken. I am waiting for the report," a fuming Akhilesh said at a hurriedly convened press conference here.

"It's a conspiracy of the BJP after its humiliating defeat in by-elections in Gorakhpur, Phulpur, Kairana and Noorpur. It is rattled after these repeated defeats. I want to tell them (BJP) that the same officers will find out something when you (BJP) leave your house. They might come out with a 'chilam' (a small pipe that holds tobacco and other substances being smoked)," he said.

"If I am told about missing things, I will return the items immediately. Someone is saying Rs 42 crore was spent on the bungalow...Some say there was a swimming pool, which I filled before leaving the premises. I am ready to go there again. Show me where is the pool," he said. Attacking the governor, Akhilesh said, "He is a good person but he is not following the Constitution.

He does not have the Constitution in his soul but there is the RSS," he said, adding that he has "good relations" with the governor. Akhilesh said "The BJP is saying that he had taken away taps. I want to give them taps through the media."

"I had my gym and a steel structure there. In my new house I will use it. The BJP is trying to humiliate me with the help of media. I also know photography and the angle used to show what is to be emphasised," he said.

In a letter to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the governor said reports about the damage at 4, Vikramaditya Marg, were doing the rounds in the media and among the common people. He said this was a "serious matter".  -- ANI

14:33   Mumbai high-rise, home to Deepika Padukone, on fire
The top two floors of the 33-storey Beaumonde building in Worli, Mumbai, is on fire. Images show smoke bellowing out of the top floors of the 'B' wing of the building. Actress Deepika Padukone's apartment is on the 26th floor or the same building. The Mumbai fire brigade said four fire engines were at the spot and were taking charge of the situation. No reports of anyone trapped or any casualties have been reported.
14:17   'Kim should be given benefit of the doubt'
"The sanctions are biting Kim Jong-un. He also has a chance to come out into the world and reshape his nation."

Ravi Velloor, Associate Editor, The Straits Times, Singapore's leading newspaper, has compared the handshake between United States President Donald J Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Tuesday as one of the two watershed moments in the first half of the 20th century. The first being the 2008 election of Barack Obama as America's first Black president.

Velloor explains why the meeting is lead news across the world and its Indian connection. Read the interview with Archana Masih/ here.
14:04   Wake up Punchy: Trump slams De Niro for Tony speech
US President Donald Trump today hit back at Robert De Niro for his expletive-laced Tony Awards address, for which the Hollywood veteran received a standing ovation.

Making a sly reference to the actor's various boxing-related films such as "Raging Bull", "Hands of Stone", "Grudge Match" and "Night in The City", Trump said De Niro received too many shots to his head. Trump also dubbed the actor as a "very low IQ individual".

The POTUS took to social media where he said he watched the awards ceremony and believes the actor was "punch-drunk". "Robert De Niro, a very Low IQ individual, has received to many shots to the head by real boxers in movies (sic). I watched him last night and truly believe he may be 'punch-drunk'. "I guess he doesn't realize the economy is the best it's ever been with employment being at an all time high, and many companies pouring back into our country. Wake up Punchy!," Trump wrote on Twitter.

De Niro, who has been a vocal critic of the president, had dropped an F-bomb in his speech to call out Trump. The 74-year-old actor had taken to the stage to introduce music icon Bruce Springsteen's performance at Radio City Music Hall but went off script in his remarks, the channel CBS said.

The masses, however, could not hear De Niro shouting "F** Trump" as the CBS Program Practices executive monitoring the show used the discretion to push a delete button to drop audio entirely from the telecast. -- PTI
13:54   China should engage in direct dialogue with Dalai Lama: Pompeo
The US should express publicly that China needs to engage in a meaningful and direct dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, without preconditions, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told lawmakers, ahead of his visit to Beijing.

The Chinese government officials and the Dalai Lama or his representatives have not met in formal negotiations since 2010.

The US has encouraged both sides to engage in meaningful and direct dialogue, without preconditions, to lead to a settlement that resolves differences.

In response to written questions from Members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Pompeo said he was committed to press for respect of human rights for Tibetans, including freedom of religion and belief, in his conversations with the Chinese officials, and advocating for the release of Tibetan political prisoners.

Pompeo will visit China tomorrow and will exchange views with his Chinese counterpart on bilateral ties and major global and regional issues of common concern, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said today.

"I will recommend that the United States express publicly, and at the highest levels of government that Chinese authorities need to engage in meaningful and direct dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, without preconditions, to lower tensions and resolve differences," Pompeo said.
-- PTI
13:33   Pak summons India over 'ceasefire violations'
Pakistan has summoned India's acting Deputy High Commissioner alleging ceasefire violation by India along the Line of Control.

Four personnel of the Border Security Force have died in Pakistani firing in the Chambliyal sector of Jammu and Kashmir's Samba district. One among the four is a BSF assistant commandant.

The major ceasefire violation by Pakistan comes nearly a week after top level military officers of both countries agreed to implement the ceasefire pact of 2003 in "letter and spirit".

Kamal Nath Choubey, ADG, BSF, Jammu  Frontier, said, "Ceasefire is always a bilateral decision, we have always maintained the sanctity of ceasefire, but Pakistan has violated it. We are always prepared, ceasefire or no ceasefire there is no let up in border surveillance. Every instrument required to protect the territorial integrity of the border is maintained."

"Pakistan Rangers initiated cross border firing along the International Border in Ramgarh last night. We have lost four of our personnel, including an assistant commandant rank officer, while other 3 of our personnel suffered injuries," Inspector General, BSF, Ram Awtar told news agency PTI. The police chief of Jammu and Kashmir, SP Vaid, in a tweet expressed his condolences.

Image: Kamal Nath Choubey, ADG, BSF, Jammu  Frontier, said ceasefire is always a bilateral decision, but Pakistan has violated it.
12:49   Singaporean PM writes congratulatory letter to Kim
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un received a letter from Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong congratulating him for the successful Democratic People's Republic of Korea-United States of America summit talks.

Extending congratulations to Kim, the letter said, the joint statement signed by Kim and US President Donald Trump is the first significant step in the long course toward permanent peace and stability on the denuclearized Korean Peninsula, as per KCNA.The letter further said that Singapore is honoured to have had sponsored the historic summit.

It said Singapore wishes that the DPRK and the US will make achievements in implementing their agreements.

The Singaporean Prime Minister in the letter also expressed his wish to meet Kim again in the near future.

After the summit, addressing a press conference in Singapore, President Trump on Tuesday assured North Korea that the US will lift the sanctions slapped on the reclusive nation after it's certain that nuclear missiles are "no longer a factor". -- ANI
12:44   Patient suffers multiple organ failure after hospital administers wrong blood, says kin
The family of a patient has lodged a case of medical negligence against the Columbia Asia Hospital in Kolkata. The family has alleged that the hospital staff infused blood of a wrong group while performing a surgery. The case has been filed in Kolkata's Bidhan Nagar police station.

The patient, identified as Baishakhi Saha, was taken to hospital after she had complained of abdominal pain. Thereafter, she underwent a surgery on June 5.

The woman is now battling for her life and is on the ventilator as post operation instead of A+ blood - which is her blood group - the hospital allegedly transfused AB+ into her body. Following which she suffered multiple organ failures.

"I admitted my wife to Columbia Asia hospital on June 5. She was administered blood of a wrong group during surgery. Her lungs and kidneys are damaged. Administration is now threatening to stop treatment if I refuse to pay the bills. I have already paid Rs 2.5 lakh," Baishakhi's husband Abhijit Saha told ANI.

Abhijit has also sent a letter to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asking her to take strict actions against the hospital authorities. -- ANI
12:10   Congress wins Jayanagar seat
Congress candidate Sowmya Reddy has won the Jayanagar Assembly polls by 4000 votes. She defeated the BJP's BN Prahlad, her closest rival. The seat was held by the BJP earlier.

Fifty-five per cent polling was recorded in the Jayangar Assembly constituency on June 11. The assembly elections were held across the state on May 12, but poll in Jayanagar was countermanded following the death of BJP candidate B N Vijayakumar, who was holding the seat.

Sowmya Reddy is Congress former minister Ramalinga Reddy's daughter while BJP's B N Prahlad is the brother of Vijaykumar. In all, 19 candidates are in the fray.

Ahead of the polls, Janata Dal-S had on June 5 pulled out its candidate from the contest and extended the party's support to its ruling coalition partner, the Congress.

This was the first election after coming to power, where both coalition partners had joined hands. Both Congress and JD-S had fielded candidates against each other, despite being coalition partners, in the recent election to the Rajarajeshwari Nagar Assembly seat in the city.

Congress candidate Munirathna had won the seat, relegating the JD-S candidate to a distant third behind BJP. -- PTI

Image: Congress workers celebrate the victory in the Jayanagar polls. Pic: ANI
11:30   To PM's fitness challenge, Kumaraswamy says thanks, but...
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, tagged by Virat Kohli in his #FitnessChallenge video, today tweeted a video of his morning exercises and passed on the challenge to Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, Commonwealth medalist Manika Batra and 40-plus Indian Police Service officers.

The Karanataka CM tweeted soon after, but used his response to make a larger point that his state would need the centres cooperation.

He wrote on Twitter, "Dear @narendramodi ji
I am honoured& thankU very much for d concern about my health
I believe physical fitness is imptnt for all&support d cause. Yoga-treadmill r part of my daily workout regime.
Yet, I am more concerned about devlpment fitness of my state&seek ur support for it."

The fitness challenge was started by Union Minister Raghavendra Rathore.

The Modi government has often endorsed yoga on national and international platforms. In 2015, India created two world records on International Yoga Day when PM Modi led the participants at Rajpath in Delhi and recorded the largest yoga class with 35,985 people.
11:07   Dust storm aftermath: Delhi's air quality worsens
Pollution levels in Delhi have spiked again, pushing the air quality of the national capital and surrounding areas from 'moderate' to 'severe' category.

Strong-anti cyclonic winds blowing from Rajasthan are the reason behind the worsening air quality.

According to AQICN, on Wednesday morning, many places in Delhi saw the air quality index touching above 500, causing hazy conditions and leading to a dip in visibility.

It is to be noted that a number of dust storms have struck the northern part of India several times in this year's summer season, causing casualties and loss of properties.
10:46   Jayanagar polls: Cong candidate gains lead over BJP rival
The Congress is leading over the BJP by a margin of over 10,000 votes in the first few hours of counting of votes for the Jayanagar assembly constituency.
While Congress candidate Sowmya Reddy was leading, BJP's B N Prahlad was in second position, poll officials said.

Fifty-five per cent polling was recorded in the Jayangar assembly constituency on June 11.

The assembly elections were held across the state on May 12, but poll in Jayanagar was countermanded following the death of BJP candidate B N Vijayakumar, who was holding the seat.

BJP's B N Prahlad, brother of Vijaykumar, and senior Congress leader and former minister Ramalinga Reddy's daughter Sowmya Reddy are locked in a direct contest for the seat.

In all, nineteen candidates are in the fray.

-- PTI
10:13   Grand alliance is a sentiment of people: Rahul Gandhi
The grand alliance of opposition parties to take on the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not just the sentiment of politicians but also of the people, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said today.

The Congress, he said, is trying to join together these voices and the work is going on.

"It is the sentiment of the people and not just political parties which are opposed to the BJP, to have a mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) that can take on the BJP, the RSS and Prime Minister Narendra Modi," he said at a press conference.

"Prime Minister Modi and the BJP are attacking the Constitution and institutions of the nation," he alleged, saying the question facing the people is how to stop this.

He said the opposition has been asking Prime Minister Modi to bring prices of petrol and diesel under the Goods and Services Tax, but "he is not interested."

"There was an attack on Mumbai (through demonetisation). There are small industries, traders here... The leather industry and the cloth industry. They were attacked through the 'Gabbar Singh Tax'. The whole country is sad. Small businessmen are sad and we are fighting for them," he said.

-- PTI
09:45   Indian chess star withdraws from Iran event over headscarf rule
Chess star Soumya Swaminathan has refused to be a part of the Asian Team Chess Championship, to be held in Hamadan, Iran, from July 26 to August 4, because of the compulsory-headscarf rule in the country which she said violated her personal rights.

She took to her Facebook page to say, "I find the Iranian law of compulsory Headscarf to be in direct violation of my basic human rights including my right to freedom of expression, and right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It seems that under the present circumstances, the only way for me to protect my rights is not to go to Iran."

She further said that the religious dress codes should not be imposed on players.

She added, "I understand the organisers expecting us to wear our national team dress or formals or sporting attire for our games during official championships, but surely there is no place for an enforceable religious dress code in sports."

This is not the first time an athlete pulled out of an event over the same issue. In 2016, top Indian shooter Heena Sidhu had withdrawn from the Asian Airgun meet in Iran citing the same reason. 

-- ANI
09:21   Modi takes up Kohli's fitness challenge; challenges HD Kumaraswamy
After a long wait, Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally took up the fitness challenge on Wednesday. 

PM Modi was challenged by India cricket captain Virat Kohli after the latter shared a video of him strengthening his core muscles.

PM Modis video, which is just under two minutes, also had this message. Here are moments from my morning exercises. Apart from Yoga, I walk on a track inspired by the Panchtatvas or 5 elements of nature - Prithvi, Jal, Agni, Vayu, Aakash. This is extremely refreshing and rejuvenating. I also practice breathing exercises (sic).

PM Modi has now issued a challenge to Indian table tennis sensation Manika Batra, Karnatakas new Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and entire fraternity of Indian police officers, especially those over 40 years of age.

The fitness challenge began with Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports  Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore taking to his Twitter handle urging Indian citizens to adopt a fitter lifestyle.
09:13   RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat condoles death of Bhayyu Maharaj
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat today condoled the death of spiritual guru Bhayyu Maharaj and said the organisation has lost its "very old friend".
Maharaj, who had refused to accept ministerial rank granted by the Madhya Pradesh government over two months back, allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself in Indore on Tuesday, police said.

In a joint statement, Bhagwat and RSS general secretary Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi said, "We pray for the peace of the departed soul and pay homages from the entire organisation."

Bhayyu Maharaj, whose original name was Uday Singh Deshmukh, was one of the five saints to whom the Shivraj Singh government in Madhya Pradesh had granted Minister of State rank in April. However, he had refused to accept it saying "a post holds no importance for a saint". 

He was very popular in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh because of his spiritual and social works and enjoyed a large following among politicians and film stars.

His ashram is situated in Indore city and top political leaders including Devendra Fadnavis, legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar among others are his disciples.

He also played the role of a mediator when India Against Corruption movement led by Anna Hazare was at its peak.

-- PTI
08:43   US gives nod to sale of 6 Apache attack helicopters to India
In a move that could be a big boost for India's defensive capabilities, the US State Department approved the sale of six Boeing AH-64E Apache helicopters.

According to a news release from Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the sale of the attack helicopters - as requested by India - would help in strengthening US-Indian strategic relationship and to 'improve the security of an important partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in South Asia.'

While the release highlights that the proposed sale won't alter the basic military balance in South Asia, many feel the attack helicopters could enable Indian armed forces to tackle ground-armoured threats.

The Apache is manufactured by Boeing - a company that is now in partnership with TATA to manufacture the helicopters in India.

Apart from the attack helicopter, the US State Department also approved sale of four AN/APG-78 Fire Control Radars, 180 AGM-114L-3 Hellfire Longbow missiles, 90 AGM-114R-3 Hellfire II missiles, 200  Stinger Block I-92H missiles, Embedded GPS Inertial Navigation Systems, 30mm cannons, transponders, simulators, training equipment etc. The total cost of the deal is said to be around $930 million.
08:31   Jayanagar assembly election: Counting of votes begin
Counting of votes have begun for Jayanagar assembly constituency in Karnataka where election was held on June 11.
The assembly elections were held across Karnataka on May 12, but polls in Jayanagar was countermanded following the death of BJP candidate B N Vijayakumar, who was holding the seat.

An estimated 55 per cent polling was recorded in the constituency on June 11.

BJP's B N Prahlad, brother of Vijayakumar, and senior Congress leader and former minister Ramalinga Reddy's daughter Sowmya Reddy were locked in a direct contest for the seat. In all, nineteen candidates were in the fray.

Ahead of polls, Janata Dal-Secular had on June 5 pulled out its candidate from the contest and extended the party's support to its ruling coalition partner, the Congress.

Police have made elaborate security arrangement in and around the counting centre. 

-- PTI
JUST IN: 17 dead, more than 35 injured after a private bus hit a divider and overturned near Mainpuri in Uttar Pradesh. 
07:50   Officer among 4 BSF personnel killed in Pak Rangers firing along IB in Samba
Four Border Security Force personnel, including an officer, were killed and three others injured in unprovoked firing by Pakistan Rangers along the International Border in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir, a senior BSF officer said today.
"Pakistan Rangers initiated cross border firing along IB in Ramgarh sector last night. We have lost four of our personnel, including an assistant commandant rank officer, while other 3 of our personnel suffered injuries," said IG, BSF (Jammu Frontier) Ram Awtar.

He said Pakistan Rangers and the BSF had recently agreed to ensure ceasefire along the IB but the former violated it by initiating cross-border firing.

In a tweet, Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police SP Vaid expressed his condolence over the incident. 

"In  Ramgarh Jammu sector of IB , 4 BSF personnel were martyred including one Asstt Commandant & 5 injured due to firing from across. Our heart goes to those who lost their dear ones," he said.

The firing from across the border in Chamliyal post area of Ramgarh sector started around 10.30 pm yesterday and continued till 4.30 am, a police official said, requesting anonymity.

He said it was not immediately clear whether the BSF personnel were killed last night or in the wee hours today.

The BSF troops also fired in retaliation, the official said.

This is the second major ceasefire violation along the IB this month and came despite Director General Military Operations of the two countries agreeing, on May 29, to implement the ceasefire pact of 2003 in "letter and spirit" and a sector commander-level (BSF DIG-Rangers Brigadier) meeting on June 4 to ensure peace by "holding fire" along the IB.

-- PTI
00:40   Trump says he trusts Kim with denuclearisation promise
United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he trusted North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un over the agreement for denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, reached between the two countries after their historic summit in Singapore.

After the summit in Singapore, Kim pledged to work toward the 'complete denuclearisation' of the Korean peninsula in return for security guarantees from the US, as Trump wrapped up the meeting with outcomes that could ease tensions and reshape the geopolitics of the Asia-Pacific region.

"I can only tell you that from the time I've (dealt) with him, which is really starting 90 days ago... I think he wants to get it done," Trump told reporters, as he stopped by briefly to take questions just before flying back home, a little ahead of schedule.

Asked if he was disappointed or whatsoever, he said, "As soon as I had my first opportunity, which was toward the end, I said could you do it. He said we will do it."

Asked how would the US make sure the denuclearisation, Trump said "We're going to have to check it and we will check it. We'll check it very strongly."

Asked if he trusted Kim, the President responded: "I do."  -- PTI