Sun, 17 June 2018
Nirav Modi possessed at least 6 Indian passports, faces fresh charges
21:22 Nirav Modi possessed at least 6 Indian passports, faces fresh charges
Agencies probing the alleged USD 2-billion PNB fraud have detected that absconding diamond merchant Nirav Modi possessed at least half-a-dozen Indian passports and a fresh FIR is being mulled against him for this offence, officials said today.
Modi has been traced to Belgium by Indian intelligence agencies and his frequent travels, despite the revocation of his passport, have led the sleuths to unearth that of the six passports he held, two were active for quite some time.
The four other passports were found to be not active, sources said.
Of the two active passports, one had Modi's full name while the other only had his first name with a 40-week UK visa issued against it and that is probably how he kept travelling to various countries, despite the government revoking his first known passport earlier this year, the sources told PTI.
The second passport was also subsequently revoked by the Indian authorities.
The sources said the government, through the ministry of external affairs, has informed the Interpol about the two revoked passports of Modi, but it appears that in the absence of a uniform international mechanism, the legal blocking of the documents in various countries could not be done and the fugitive diamantaire kept using those to travel through airports and possibly seaports too.
The revocation order of the passports has been appended to the application of the probe agencies (CBI and ED), seeking an Interpol arrest warrant or a "red corner notice" against Modi.
"It is a criminal offence to use a revoked passport and also to possess more than one valid passport if a person does not enjoy a special status like that of a diplomatic entity, a government employee or on a few other grounds.
"A fresh criminal FIR may be filed against Nirav Modi and he may face prosecution for the offence after the completion of an internal inquiry," a senior official in the security establishment said.
He added that an inquiry was also being held to ascertain if Modi was using passports issued by other countries to travel.
Recently, the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate have again urged the Interpol to issue an arrest warrant against the fugitive diamantaire on the basis of their respective chargesheets against him and others, containing corruption and money-laundering charges. -- PTI
21:13 Never say never: Kim Kardashian on political plunge
Reality TV star Kim Kardashian said she is not actively considering a career in politics but she would not rule out the possibility of running for office.
The 37-year-old entrepreneur recently met US President Donald Trump to discuss prison reforms after she spent months working with her legal team in a bid to get Alice Johnson parole.
Following her meeting with the president, Alice, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 1997 on money laundering and drug conspiracy charges, was released from Aliceville Correctional Facility in Alabama.
When asked if she would ever run for office, Kardashian told CNN, "I guess never say never. But that's not going to be like, 'Kim's running.' That's not where I am."
The "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" star added she wants to use her celebrity status for the welfare of people.
"I honestly saw that if I could use my platform just to do something for one person, that it opens the conversation for so much more and for other people to want to do the same thing.
"If more people would just put their personal feelings aside and talk about really important issues that have to be discussed, then so much more can get done," she said. -- PTI
20:37 Return to work, will ensure your safety: Kejriwal to Delhi IAS officers
Hours after Delhi's IAS officers alleged that they are being targeted and victimised, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal assured safety to IAS officers.
"I am told that IAS Officers Association has expressed concerns about their safety in a press conference today. I wish to assure them that I will ensure their safety with all powers and resources available at my command. It is my duty," the AAP chief said in a statement on Twitter.
"I have given similar assurances earlier also to many officers who have been meeting me privately. I reiterate it today," he added.
Kejriwal requested the officers to end their strike and resume duties for the continuation of governmental work.
"The officers are a part of my family. I would urge them to stop their boycott of elected government, return to work now and start attending meetings of ministers, respond to their calls and messages and join the, for field inspections," he said.
"They should work without fear or pressure. They should not come under any pressures from any sources, whether state government or central government or any political party," he added.
20:12 Kejriwal making Delhi people suffer due to his inflated ego: Congress
Amid an intensifying tussle between the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party and Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, the Congress today accused the Delhi chief minister of making the people of the national capital suffer due to his "inflated ego".
Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken said Kejriwal should put an end to the crisis by expressing "regrets" to Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash, who was allegedly manhandled by AAP legislators at the chief minister's residence during a late night meeting on February 19.
"Still remember the unabashed 'apology' radio ads by Kejriwal after his 49 days gov in 2014. Now-apology from Majithia,Jaitley,Sibbal...Why can't he just offer regrets to the CS and govern Delhi the way he is Constitutionally supposed to? Why should Delhi suffer his inflated ego (sic)?" Maken tweeted.
Former Delhi chief minister and Congress leader Sheila Dikshit said nobody could help Kejriwal if he did not understand the constitutional provisions regarding Delhi.
"If you do not understand the Constitution, what can anyone do? That is the bottom line. Delhi cannot become Kerala or Goa or Puducherry, which have different powers as per the Constitution," she told PTI.
Dikshit said there was no harm in fighting for more power, but added that it could only be done through Parliament.
"If a chief minister does not understand the basics about his state, then I have nothing to say. Everybody has the right to ask for more power, but it has to be by changing the Constitution through Parliament. He can have the powers he is seeking only through Parliament," she added.
Dikshit dismissed the AAP allegation that the Congress was siding with the BJP, while several political parties were standing by Kejriwal in the ongoing tussle.
"What they are saying is totally irrelevant. We have got our own identity," she said. -- PTI
19:58 Blast inside park injures two in J&K's Ganderbal
At least two persons were injured in a blast inside a park in Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir today, police said.
A mysterious blast occurred inside the Manasbal park in the central Kashmir district, a police official said.
He said at least two persons suffered injuries due to the explosion. -- PTI
19:40 Modi govt will have to do a lot more to win over Muslims: Union minister
Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has said the Narendra Modi government would have to do a lot more to gain the confidence of Muslims "whose minds have been poisoned over the last 70 years".
Naqvi also said the BJP government would remind Muslims of the schemes the government started for their development and the efforts it made against 'triple talaq' during the campaigning for the 2019 elections.
The minister had recently hosted an Iftar party for Muslim women. A few victims of 'triple talaq' had also attended it.
"We have to do a lot more to gain the confidence of Muslims because their minds have been poisoned over the last 70 years. But, the good thing is that the new generation, the women are evaluating the BJP on its merits and demerits. This is a very positive development," Naqvi told PTI.
On the BJP's defeat in the recent Kairana byelection, the minority affairs minister said it had not affected the party's "winning spree", but had certainly prompted it to have re-look at its strategy for the Lok Sabha elections.
"It does not mean that we will lose all the elections. Now that we know that the opposition parties will stitch an alliance to contest the Lok Sabha polls, we will prepare a strategy to counter them," Naqvi said. -- PTI
19:31 Southwest monsoon to revive in 5-6 days: IMD
The southwest monsoon has weakened after remaining "very active" during the first half of June, a meteorological department official said today, adding it is expected to revive in the next five-six days.
The India Meteorological Department official said the "lull" in monsoon activity is normal.
The northern limit of the monsoon continues to pass through Thane (including Mumbai), Ahmednagar, Buldhana, Amravati, Gondia, Titlagarh, Cuttack, Midnapore, Goalpara and Baghdogra.
"The further advance of the southwest monsoon has weakened. It was very active until June 15, but there is a lull now. However, it expected to revive in the next five-six days," IMD Additional Director-General Mritunjay Mohapatra said.
The southwest monsoon arrived in Kerala on June 29, three days ahead of its normal onset and, over the past a few days, it has battered parts of the western coast and the northeast.
Mohapatra said Odisha and other parts of east India would start receiving "good" rainfall from June 23-24 while Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and other parts of the southern peninsula from June 26.
For tomorrow, the IMD has predicted "heavy to very heavy rain" at a few places in Konkan, Goa and coastal Karnataka and heavy rain in parts of the sub-Himalayan West Bengal, Sikkim, central Maharashtra and Kerala.
"Thunderstorm accompanied with squall are very likely at isolated places over Punjab while thunderstorm accompanied with gusty winds and lightning are very likely at isolated places over Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi and Marathawada," the IMD said. -- PTI
Security has been tightened by Delhi Police at Parliament Street during AAP's protest march.
19:00 PM didn't say anything when we raised Delhi crisis with him: Mamata
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said today that the prime minister did not give any assurance when she, along with three other chief ministers, raised the political crisis in Delhi with him.
Banerjee, Kerala's Pinarayi Vijayan, Andhra Pradesh's N Chandrababu Naidu and Karnataka's H D Kumaraswamy had a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the sidelines of the NITI Aayog Governing Council meeting and urged the Centre to resolve the issue.
"We have raised the issue with the prime minister as well as the home minister. We told them that the deadlock should be resolved for the sake of the people. The prime minister did not say anything, but Rajnath Singh said that he would look into the matter. We said what we had to, now they have to sort it out. It is their matter now," Banerjee said after the meeting.
The chief ministers belonging to the Trinamool Congress, CPI(M), TDP and JD(S) had expressed solidarity with their Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal, visiting his home yesterday and seeking Modi's intervention on issues over which he has been on a sit-in at the Lieutenant Governor's office.
Terming the deadlock as "political crisis", the opposition leaders had said that people should not suffer due to any political crisis brought about by any political party. -- PTI
18:58 AAP's protest march stopped at Parliament Street
The Delhi police have stopped Aam Aadmi Party's protest march to the Prime Minister's Office at Parliament Street.
Madhur Verma, Deputy Commissioner of Police, New Delhi, told ANI that Aam Aadmi Party hasn't sought for any permission for the march and they're being told that they can't go any further.
"They don't have permission (for protest march). They've been contained at Parliament Street. They're being told that they can't go any further. Specially trained personnel are deployed here. We're sure they will (protesters) listen to us," Verma said.
The march which began around 5 pm is in support of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and three of his cabinet colleagues, who have been holding a sit-in at the LG office for the last one week, demanding that Lt Governor Anil Baijal direct IAS officers to end their "strike".
Meanwhile, tight security arrangements have been made by the Delhi Police as huge crowd is now assembling at Parliament Street.
18:32 20 injured in New Jersey art festival shooting, suspect killed
Twenty people were injured in a shooting at a 24-hour art festival in Trenton, New Jersey in United States.
One suspect was killed, and another one was taken into custody, officials said.
Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri said that 16 of the 20 injured were treated for gunshot wounds.
Four of those, including a 13-year-old boy, were in critical condition.
He said that two suspects opened fire during the Art All Night festival that showcases local art, music and food.
One of the suspects, a 33-year-old man, was killed.
Authorities say that about 1,000 people were in the area when the shooting started.
Eyewitnesses saod that the venue for the festival was strewn with broken glass and other debris.
The event began Saturday afternoon and was scheduled to conclude Sunday afternoon.
18:01 Thousands gather for AAP's march to PMO
Thousands of Aam Aadmi Party supporters have assembled at Mandi House to march towards the PMO to support Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his ministers' sit-in at the lieutenant governor's office for the last seven days in their fight against the "dictatorship" of Modi government.
However, the Delhi Police had said that the Kejriwal-led party hasn't sought permission for the march.
The police said that exits of several metro stations -- Patel Chowk, Udgyog Bhavan, Central Secretariat, Janpath and Lok Kalyan Marg -- have been shut.
Ahead of the march, the Communist Party of India-Marxist lent its support to Kejriwal's dharna.
CPI-M general secretory Sitaram Yechury tweeted: "Joining the protest rally to the Prime Minister's residence today to express serious condemnation over the manner in which federalism, a fundamental feature of our Constitution, is being undermined by this BJP Central government."
17:41 Mallya faces fresh money laundering chargesheet, fugitive tag
In more trouble for liquor baron Vijay Mallya, the Enforcement Directorate is set to soon file a fresh chargesheet against him and his companies on charges of money laundering and allegedly cheating a consortium of nationalised banks to the tune of Rs 6,027 crore, officials said today.
With this charge sheet (also known as the prosecution complaint), official sources told PTI, the central probe agency will immediately seek from a court permission to "confiscate" more than Rs 9,000 crore worth assets of the beleaguered businessman and his firms under the recently promulgated Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance.
The ED last year had filed its first chargesheet against Mallya, now in London, in the about Rs 900 crore IDBI bank-Kingfisher Airlines alleged bank loan fraud case.
It has attached assets worth Rs 9,890 crore in this case till now.
The forthcoming charge sheet will revolve around the complaint received from the State Bank of India (SBI) on behalf of the consortium of banks for causing loss of Rs 6,027 crore to them by not keeping repayment commitments of his loan (by Mallya firms) taken during 2005-10, they said.
The ED has based its investigation in this instance after taking cognisance of a CBI FIR and the charge sheet will be filed before a special court in Mumbai under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
It was alleged that SBI and its consortium banks had advanced various credit facilities to KFA Limited during the period between 2005 and 2010.
During 2009-10, the company failed to meet its repayment commitments to the bank from whom it had availed credit facilities and the airlines did not keep its account with the consortium banks regular which became NPA (non performing asset), the CBI FIR had stated.
The consortium banks, therefore, recalled credit facilities and also invoked corporate guarantee of UBHL (United Breweries Holdings Limited) and personal guarantee of Mallya, it had alleged.
It was alleged that there was a conspiracy among group companies promoter and unknown others to cheat the lenders, the CBI had said. -- PTI
17:32 Work according to rules: Sheila Dikshit to Kejriwal
Former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Sunday advised state chief Arvind Kejriwal to work in accordance with the set rules and provisions.
While speaking with ANI, Dikshit slammed Kejriwal for protesting against Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and said the state government cannot work as per their wish.
"The Delhi fovernment should work according to the existing rules and provisions. They cannot do whatever they want to," he said.
Kejriwal and three of his cabinet ministers are on sit-in strike at Raj Nivas, the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor, since June 11 demanding a direction to the Indian Administrative Service officers working under the Delhi administration to end their 'undeclared strike', among other demands.
The Delhi chief minister claimed that the IAS officers working for Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi were "only working on important files" and "not responding to ministers' calls and messages, and not attending meetings".
Therefore, Kejriwal had asked Baijal to direct the IAS officers to end their strike and take action against officers who have allegedly struck work for four months. -- ANI
16:45 'Diabetes has become epidemic in India, needs urgent attention'
Diabetes has become an epidemic in the country which requires urgent attention, but good news is that the Centre as well as state governments are committed to address the situation, a public health expert has said.
"In India, (there are) 75 million estimated diabetics. Another 70 million are called pre-diabetics. They would go into diabetes very soon. So, you are looking at 150 million people in our country who are at risk of diabetes," Director of Indian Institute of Public Health, Hyderabad, GVS Murthy told PTI.
The problem is "half of them do not know that they have diabetes" and the condition is noticed only when they have a complication, he said.
"These are the three big challenges why diabetes is important," he said.
IIPH works under the aegis of the Public Health Foundation of India.
The PHFI had recently launched a Helpline for Diabetes here last week.
Murthy observed that diabetes is the underlying cause of 50 per cent of all deaths in any part of the world today.
"Stroke, diabetes is the commonest underlying factor. Heart attack, diabetes is the commonest underlying factor. That's why, it is so important. It is an epidemic. Unless we act today, we will fail tomorrow," he said.
At present, USD 700 billion is the cost on care for diabetes globally, he said. He put the cost in India at nearly USD 10 billion out of the USD 700 billion.
It includes cost of medication, treatment and the loss of wages due to the inability to go for work, Murthy said.
"Today, the government is committed to providing care for diabetes as part of the Non-Communicable Diseases," he said.
Reduction of NCDs by 50 per cent is a major indicator of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, he pointed out.
"50 per cent reduction of NCDs should be one of the SDG indicators. Therefore, all governments have now woken up," he said. -- PTI
16:29 'We are not on strike': Delhi IAS officers counter Kejriwal's charge
Amid Delhi standoff, IAS officers' association today denied being on strike and refuted Aam Aadmi Party's claim that they are partisan to the Centre.
Addressing a press conference, IAS officers' body said that they are only answerable to the law.
"I would like to inform that we are not on strike. The information that IAS officers in Delhi are on strike is completely false and baseless. We are attending meetings, all departments are doing their works. We are sometimes also working on holidays," Manisha Saxena, members of the IAS association said.
Another IAS officer and transport commissioner, Varsha Joshi said that she has been targeted by social media handles of a certain political party in an unfair manner.
"I have been targeted by social media handles of a certain political party in an unfair manner. The way we have been forced to do certain jobs is not right," Joshi said.
"Let us do our work. We are feeling frightened and victimised. We are being used for completely political reasons," Joshi added.
And here are the real Dangal girls with their 'bapu' celebrating Father's Day.
15:38 AAP alleges workers being stopped, police say no permission for protest march
Hours before the Aam Aadmi Party's protest march to the prime minister's residence, the Delhi Police said no permission was sought for it, even as the party leaders alleged that party supporters were being prevented from taking part in the rally.
The AAP is holding the march to support the sit-in of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet colleagues at the lieutenant governor's office for the last six days demanding him to direct IAS officers to end their "strike".
The party leader had also accused the Centre of misusing its powers to stop Delhi government from working.
"The call given by the AAP to march towards PM office or residence is without permission. No permission has been applied for. As such the areas under New Delhi district are under prohibitory orders," a senior Delhi Police officer said.
Four Metro rail stations -- Central Secretariat, Patel Chowk, Udyog Bhawan and Lok Kalyan Marg (Race Course) -- will be closed to prevent AAP workers and supporters to reach Mandi House, venue of the march scheduled at 4 pm.
The officer said preparations are made to prevent assembly of the protesters at Mandi House.
"Those trying to take out the march will be detained since no permission has been sought for it," he said.
A senior Delhi Metro official said entry and exit at the four stations falling in Lutyens' Delhi zone have been closed from 2 pm onwards as per the advice of the Delhi Police.
No entry and exit will be allowed at the Lok Kalyan Marg Metro station, closest to the PM's residence, the official said.
However, the interchange facilities will continue at Central Secretariat, he said.
Reacting on the development, the AAP leadership alleged that the Delhi Police was trying to stop people from joining the march.
AAP leader Saurabh Bhardwaj assured the police and the PMO that there will be no violence during the march.
"I assure LG, PMO and Delhi police that there won't be any violence. People just want to tell the PM that the LG appointed by him, is doing injustice to Delhi. He'll also be requested to tell IAS officers, who're on strike since last four months, to come back to work," Bhardwaj said in a press conference.
"Police has got several Metro stations closed down. Barricades have been erected all over Delhi and police is going door to door asking people if they were going for the march. People are being stopped from going for the march," Delhi AAP chief Gopal Rai said.
People, who have gathered at the offices and residences of MLAs, are being stopped from moving to Mandi House, alleged Bhardwaj. -- PTI
Image: AAP member Amit Mishra tweeted this picture claiming that police stopped the bus which was taking party workers to Mandi House for protest march to the prime minister's residence, Photograph: @Amitjanhit/Twitter
15:21 What Albert Einstein thought about Chinese
Albert Einstein's diary reveals that the German scientist held racist views about Chinese people, and viewed them as being intellectually inferior.
In diaries that Einstein kept during his five month journey across countries including China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Palestine and Spain, the Nobel Prize winner called China a "peculiar herd-like nation" and said its citizens were "often more like automatons than people".
Later in his life Einstein called racism a "disease of white people" and became a champion of the civil rights movement in the United States.
However, 'The Travel Diaries of Albert Einstein', translated from German to English for the first time, shows he did not think like that during earlier travels to the Far East and Middle East.
"Chinese don't sit on benches while eating but squat like Europeans do when they relieve themselves out in the leafy woods. All this occurs quietly and demurely. Even the children are spiritless and look obtuse," Einstein wrote.
Travelling in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, Einstein wrote that people "live in great filth and considerable stench at ground level".
He added that they "do little, and need little. The simple economic cycle of life", 'The Telegraph' reported.
The scientist was kinder about the Japanese saying they were "unostentatious, decent, altogether very appealing".
According to the publishers the diaries "contain passages that reveal Einstein's stereotyping of members of various nations and raise questions about his attitudes on race".
Ze'ev Rosenkranz, the editor of the book, said Einstein had made comments that were "pretty unpleasant" and at odds with his humanitarian image.
He said Einstein's opinion that people in the Far East were intellectually inferior was "pretty prevalent" at the time.
The remarks were "still shocking, especially to a modern reader," he said. -- PTI
14:29 Delhi's pollution level remains severe; air quality improves rapidly
Delhi's pollution level decreased rapidly but continued to remain in the 'severe' category for the sixth day today, monitoring agencies said.
The pollution level that dipped to 'severe plus' state has come to 'severe' category due to rapid dispersion of pollutants, Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research institute said.
According to the data by Central Pollution Control Board, the PM10 level (presence of particles with diameter less than 10 mm) was recorded at 424 in Delhi-NCR and 420 in Delhi today.
The dispersion of pollutants has become faster after the local winds picked up speed, which in turn has rapidly decreased the pollution level and improved air quality, said Gufran Beig, a scientist at SAFAR, adding that the air quality is expected to improve further.
The Air Quality Index of the city remained severe at 402. An AQI between 0-50 is considered "good", 51-100 "satisfactory", 101-200 "moderate", 201-300 "poor", 301-400 "very poor", and 401-500 "severe".
The PM10 level had climbed to 778 in Delhi-NCR area and 824 in Delhi on Wednesday, bringing to light that severe pollution could be a 'summer-time problem' too.
The PM2.5 level (presence of particles with diameter less than 2.5 mm) that deteriorated from "very poor" to "severe" has now come to "poor" category. It was 110 in Delhi-NCR and 107 in Delhi today, the CPCB data said.
There was a dip in the air quality level on Tuesday due to dust storms in western India, particularly Rajasthan, which increased coarser particles in the air, it added. -- PTI
14:27 Facebook not to show weapon accessory ads to users under 18: Report
Facebook has prohibited advertisements for weapon accessories to users under the age of 18 amid a raging debate in the United States over gun control after a number of mass shootings, according to media reports.
The social network currently bans advertisements for the sale of weapons and modifications, like magazines. But Facebook took an additional step of adding an age requirement for ads selling things like holsters, belt accessories or mounted flashlights, CNET reported.
For example, advertisements for gun cases, slings and gun paint are allowed, but only with the new age restriction. But those for firearms, ammunition, paintball guns or BB guns are not allowed, it said.
The new policy is set to go into effect June 21, it said.
The announcement comes as the US has been embroiled in a nationwide debate over gun reform. Mass shootings, including school attacks in Parkland, Florida, and Santa Fe, Texas, have intensified the discussion.
Facebook is not the only Silicon Valley company that's waded into the gun debate by restricting the content on its platforms.
In March, YouTube, owned by Google, said it will ban videos that promote or link to websites that sell firearms and accessories. The company had already banned videos that attempted to sell firearms.
Facebook's advertising and data collection policies have more broadly been under scrutiny as the company deals with the toughest crises in its 14-year history.
In March, the social network was criticised for a scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, the British political consulting firm, which improperly accessed personal information on up to 87 million Facebook users.
Facebook's updated advertisements policy could ruffle conservatives and Second Amendment advocates. Some conservatives are already suspicious of Facebook, accusing the social network of liberal bias and suppression of conservative voices. -- PTI
14:25 4 CMs ask PM to end tussle between Delhi L-G, AAP govt
Chief ministers of West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala today met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urged him to intervene for solving the tussle between Delhi Lt Governor and the Aam Aadmi Party government, terming it a "constitutional crisis.
On the sidelines of the NITI Aayog governing council meeting, West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh's Chandrababu Naidu, Kerala's Pinarayi Vijayan, and Karnataka's H D Kumaraswamy requested Modi to resolve the crisis so the "federal structure of the Constitution is maintained".
"I along with the Hon'ble CMs of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala have requested Hon'ble PM today to resolve the problems of Delhi government immediately (sic)," Banerjee tweeted after meeting with Modi.
Yesterday itself, the four chief ministers after being denied a meeting with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced that they will raise the issue with the prime minister.
The leaders had termed the situation "unconstitutional" and said the prime minister should make sure that the problem gets resolved.
The open support to Kejriwal by the four regional heavyweights - from the Trinamool Congress, Telugu Desam Party, Janata Dal (Secular) and Communist Party of India (Marxist) - comes amid opposition efforts to cobble together a rainbow coalition ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Kejriwal accompanied by his deputy Manish Sisodia and ministers Satyendar Jain and Gopal Rai have stayed put at the LG office since Monday demanding that Baijal direct IAS officers to end what AAP described as their "strike" and approve doorstep ration delivery scheme.
The West Bengal chief minister also supported Chandrababu Naidu on the issue of 2011 Census being adopted by 15th Finance Commission in the NITI Aayog Governing Council meeting and requested not to penalise the performing states. -- PTI
13:15 In Yogi's UP, now toll plaza turns saffron
A toll plaza on the Muzaffarnagar-Saharanpur highway in Uttar Pradesh was painted saffron on Sunday.
Uttar Pradesh government's love for saffron colour is no secret to anyone.
From the chief minister's office to various other spots, the colour has become a defining feature of the state.
It has virtually permeated everything -- from booklets and school bags to towels or chairs, buses and even police stations.
Earlier this year, Gomti Nagar police station, Qaiser Bagh police station, Haj committee office's boundary walls in Lucknow were coated saffron.
The saffronisation, however, did not go down well with the Opposition, who termed it a political ploy of the party.
12:46 Poisonous snake at Puducherry airport creates panic
A highly venomous snake was discovered in the VIP lounge of the airport in Puducherry causing flutter among staff members and officials.
Top officials including Airport Authority of India, Chairman, Guruprasad Mohapatra had in the middle of a meeting yesterday spotted the 6-feet long reptile moving beneath a couch and immediately rushed out of the lounge, police said.
A woman staff present at the spot tried to drive out the snake using a mop.
However, a police constable managed to catch the snake that had wandered in from nearby thicket and handed it over to forest department personnel, they said.
The reptile was identified as Viper, a species considered to be very poisonous.
The constable D Thiagou, attached to the India Reserve Battalion of Puducherry was presented a cash award and commendation certificate for his act of bravery.
Director General of Police S K Gautam presented the cash award and commendation certificate to the constable and appreciated his brave act.
The woman worker would be honoured for her courageous act tomorrow, airport sources said. -- PTI
12:35 PM meets non-BJP CMs
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hand with his party, BJP's former ally and chief minister of Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu as Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan look on during the governing council meeting of NITI Aayog in New Delhi.
12:29 HRD ministry mandates universities to hold convocation every year
The human resource development ministry has written to all universities mandating them to hold convocation every year after few universities were found skipping the event.
"Convocation ceremonies must be held regularly and degrees awarded annually as the event carries a huge significance for graduating students and is a moment of pride for their families," a senior HRD ministry official said.
"It was found that some universities were not doing the exercise regularly due to either financial or time constraints. However, they are supposed to do it every year," the official added.
The ministry has also asked all universities to send details of the last convocation held by them.
For instance, West Bengal's Visva Bharati University held its convocation in May after five years.
The Central University of Tripura held its convocation after four years this year where they awarded degrees to all scholars from the last four years.
Forty-six years after its first and only convocation, the Jawaharlal Nehru University held its second convocation this year. -- PTI
12:26 Niti Aayog meet: PM vows 'important' measures to take growth to double digits
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the challenge now before the government is to take the economic growth rate to double digits, for which many important steps would have to be taken.
In his opening remarks at the fourth meeting of the Niti Aayog Governing Council, the prime minister also assured the chief ministers of flood-affected states of providing all central assistance to deal with the situation.
Observing that the Indian economy has grown at a healthy rate of 7.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017-18, Modi said the challenge now is to take this growth rate to double digits, which requires more important measures.
The conference among other things would deliberate on issues like doubling of farmers' income, development of aspirational districts, Ayushman Bharat, Mission Indradhanush, Nutrition Mission and celebrations of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
These steps, Modi said, were essential to achieve the vision of New India by 2020.
The prime minister said the governing council was a platform that could bring about "historic change" in the development of the country.
He assured the chief ministers from flood-affected states that the Union government would provide all assistance to them to deal with the flood situations.
Modi further said the council has approached complex issues of governance as "Team India", in the spirit of cooperative, competitive federalism.
The prime minister said chief ministers of states had played a key role in policy formulation, through sub-groups and committees on issues such as Swachh Bharat Mission, Digital Transactions and Skill Development.
The recommendations of these sub-groups have been incorporated by various ministries of the Union government, he added.
The prime minister said that 1.5 lakh health and wellness centres are being constructed under the Ayushman Bharat programme.
He said about 10 crore families will be provided with health assurance worth Rs 5 lakh every year.
A comprehensive approach was being adopted for education, under the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, Modi added.
Observing that schemes such as Mudra Yojana, Jan Dhan Yojana and Stand Up India were helping in greater financial inclusion, the prime minister said it was imperative to tackle economic imbalances on priority.
He said that all aspects and parameters of human development need to be addressed and improved upon in the 115 aspirational districts.
The Gram Swaraj Abhiyan has emerged as a new model for implementation of schemes, he said, adding that it has been extended to 45,000 villages in the aspirational districts.
Modi further said India has no shortage of capabilities, capacities and resources and in the current financial year, the states would receive over Rs 11 lakh crore from the Centre, which is an increase of about Rs 6 lakh crore from the last year of the previous government.
The day-long governing council meeting is being attended by chief ministers, several Union ministers and Niti Aayog officials. -- PTI
12:15 Kejriwal slams LG for 'replacing' him at NITI Aayog meet; Kant says Baijal not present
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today said he has not "authorised" LG Anil Baijal to attend the NITI Aayog meeting in his place after a report claimed the presence of the Constitutional head at the meeting.
However, NITI Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant described the report as "totally incorrect".
"Under which provision of the Constitution does LG have powers to replace the Chief Minister? I have not authorised him to go in my place," Kejriwal tweeted.
Kejriwal was responding to a Twitter user's claim that LG Baijal "chose" to represent Delhi at the Niti Aayog meeting and had reached the meeting venue.
Responding to the report, Kant said, "This is totally incorrect. Lt. Governor of Delhi is not present at the fourth meeting of the governing council of NITI Aayog."
Kejriwal accompanied by his deputy Manish Sisodia and ministers Satyendar Jain and Gopal Rai is staging a dharna at Baijal's office for the last one week, demanding that IAS officers end their "strike" and approve doorstep ration delivery scheme of his government.
The fourth meeting of Niti Aayog's Governing Council is underway here today with the main agenda of deliberating upon measures taken to double farmers' income and the progress of government's flagship schemes.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is chairing the meeting, which is being held at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
11:55 Man found guilty of murdering Indian-origin student in US
A man in the United States has been convicted of the first-degree murder of an Indian-origin student after four years of untiring efforts by his family to seek justice, according to a media report.
When Southern Illinois University student Pravin Varughese was found dead in 2014 after being missing for five days, authorities in Carbondale initially declared it as a tragic accident.
Varughese's cause of death at that time was reported as environmental hypothermia, Chicago Tribune reported.
The family of the 19-year-old student from Morton Grove was simply unwilling to accept that.
His relatives pushed for further investigation, had an independent autopsy performed that conflicted with the local coroner's findings and filed suit against Carbondale and its police chief, who was fired soon after.
A 12-person jury on Thursday found Gaege Bethune, a southern Illinois man, guilty of the first-degree murder of Varughese.
"Pravin's day finally came. He can rest in peace now," Pravin's mother, Lovely Varughese said.
During investigations, Bethune, who was 19 at the time, told police that he gave Varughese a ride on the night of February 12, 2014 after a party, and the two drove around while Varughese was allegedly looking to buy cocaine.
Bethune said that at some point he got into a fight with Varughese.
The prosecution said the two had been fighting over money, and alleged Bethune landed several punches to Varughese's head and face that led to Varughese running into the woods, where he later died.
Jurors deliberated for seven hours before returning a verdict, according to WSIL.
They found Bethune guilty of one count of murder that hinged on the state arguing Bethune caused great bodily harm to Varughese and that his death was "a direct and foreseeable consequence," The Southern Illinosian reported.
He was found not guilty on a second murder charge that accused Bethune of robbing the victim, according to the newspaper.
Bethune now faces 20 to 60 years in prison. A sentencing has not yet been scheduled. -- PTI
11:50 PM Modi chairs 4th Governing Council meet of Niti Aayog
The fourth meeting of Niti Aayog's Governing Council began in New Delhi today with main agenda of deliberating upon measures taken to double farmers' income and the progress of government's flagship schemes.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is chairing the meeting, which is being held at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
"Chaired by PM @narendramodi & consisting of Chief Ministers, Lt. Governors, Union Ministers and Special Invitees, the Fourth Meeting of the Governing Council of #NITIAayog begins. #FourthGCM," the government think tank said in a tweet.
The governing council is expected to take up issues such as measures taken to double farmers' income, progress made by flagship schemes such as Ayushman Bharat, National Nutrition Mission, and Mission Indradhanush and development of aspirational districts.
It will also take stock of the work done during the previous year and deliberate upon development agenda for 'New India 2022'.
The council, apex body of Niti Aayog, includes all chief ministers, lieutenant governors of union territories, several union ministers and senior government officials.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerejee, Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, Karnataka CM H D Kumaraswamy, Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje and Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Aditya Nath are among the chief ministers attending the NITI Aayog meet.
Among others attending the meet are Union ministers J P Nadda and Nitin Gadkari. -- PTI
11:38 Govt not to extend Ramzan ceasefire in J&K
The government today announced that the ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir, announced on account of Ramzan, won't be extended.
"On 17th May 2018, GoI took the decision that security forces will not conduct offensive operations in J&K during the holy month of Ramzan. This decision was taken in the interests of the peace loving people of J&K, in order to provide them a conducive atmosphere to observe Ramzan," Rajnath said in a series of tweets.
The home minister said that security forces implemented the ceasefire decision in letter and spirit in the face of grave provocation to enable the Muslims to observe Ramzan in a peaceful manner.
He, however, expressed disappointment that terrorists continued with their attacks even the security forces showed restraint during the initiative.
"It was expected that everyone will cooperate in ensuring the success of this initiative. While the Security Forces have displayed exemplary restraint during this period, the terrorists have continued with their attacks, on civilians and SFs, resulting in deaths and injuries," he said.
"The security forces are being directed to take all necessary actions as earlier to prevent terrorists from launching attacks and indulging in violence and killings," he said announcing the resumption operations against terrorists.
11:05 Dues of PNB's big wilful defaulters rise to Rs 15,490 crore
Wilful defaulters borrowing Rs 25 lakh and above owed more than Rs 15,490 crore to PNB as of May end, up 2 per cent from the preceding month.
The data from the state-owned Punjab National Bank covers the big wilful defaulters who are not paying back their loans despite having the capacity to do so.
These borrowers of PNB had defaulted on loan repayment of Rs 15,199.57 crore as on April 30 this year.
For financial year ended March 2018, the bank's balance sheet had closed with big wilful defaults owing Rs 15,171.91 crore.
PNB suffered a standalone net loss of Rs 12,282.82 crore in 2017-18, as against a profit of Rs 1,324.80 crore in 2016-17.
The major defaulters included Kudos Chemie - Rs 1,301.82 crore; Kingfisher Airlines Rs 597.44 crore; BBF Industries Rs 100.99 crore; ICSA (India) Ltd Rs 134.76 crore; Arvind Remedies Rs 158.16 crore and Indu Projects Ltd Rs 102.83 crore.
Others included Jas Infrastructure and Power Ltd - Rs 410.96 crore; VMC Systems - Rs 296.8 crore; MBS Jewellers - Rs 266.17 crore; Tulsi Extrusion - Rs 175.41 crore. These borrowers took loan from PNB through a consortium arrangement of several banks.
The defaulters who took loan solely from PNB were: Winsome Diamonds and Jewellery - Rs 899.70cr; Forever Precious Jewellery & Diamonds - Rs 747.97 crore; Zoom Developers - Rs 410.18 crore; Nafed - Rs 224.24 crore and Mahua Media Pvt Ltd - Rs 104.86 crore.
The Indian banking sector, particularly state-owned lenders, is grappling with mounting non performing assets or bad loans as also a host of scams and frauds. NPAs in the banking sector stood at Rs 8.31 lakh crore as of December 2017.
The total bad loan write-off by the public sector banks stood at over Rs 1.20 lakh crore in the last fiscal, with SBI bearing the burnt at Rs 40,196 crore, nearly 25 per cent of the total write-offs during 2017-18.
10:55 AAP to lead protest march to PMO today
Accusing the Centre of misusing its powers to stop Delhi government from working, AAP said it would lead a massive protest march to the Prime Minister's Office on Sunday evening.
People will assemble at Mandi House at 4 pm and march to the PMO under the party banner to support Kejriwal and his ministers' sit-in.
10:25 Man caught littering by Anushka and Virat slams couple, calls them trashy
Indian cricket team skipper Virat Kohli on Saturday shared a video of his wife, actor Anushka Sharma, scolding a man for littering on a road. The guy, who goes by the handle of Arhhansingh on Instagram, put up a screenshot from the video and went on a rant against the power couple.
In his post, he wrote, "While I'm apologetic for my carelessness, Mrs Anushka Sharma Kohli, a little etiquette and politeness in your dialogue wouldn't have made you a lesser star."
Calling Virat Kohli a trashy mind, Singh wrote, "The garbage that mistakenly went out of the window of my 'luxury car' was way less than the garbage that came out from your mouth, from your 'luxury car's window, or the trashy mind of Virat Kohli to shoot and post this online... for whatever gains. Now that's some serious trash."
In the video, Anushka can be seen pulling over the car next to hers and asking the man inside not to throw garbage on the streets.
"Why are you throwing garbage on the road? Don?t throw garbage on the road. Please be careful," she said.
Virat captured the incident on his phone and shared it on Twitter, saying, "Saw these people throwing garbage on the road and pulled them up rightfully. Travelling in a luxury car and brains gone for a toss. These people will keep our country clean? Yeah right!!! If you see something wrong happening like this, do the same and spread awareness."
"Lot of people who don't have the courage to do something like this find it funny. Everything for people nowadays is meme content. Shame," he added.
The Pari actress was previously associated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. In 2017, she was named as the face of a countrywide campaign to clean the streets, roads and for the infrastructural development of the country.
09:59 Sri Lanka to release 10 Indian fishermen's boats
Sri Lankan navy will release ten Indian fishermen's boats that were taken into custody in 2015 and 2016.
As per media reports, the Sri Lankan government had, on June 13 sent a letter to the ministry of external affairs stating that they are ready to release 10 boats.
In 2017, out of the 216 boats, Sri Lanka released around 42 boats. However, the fishermen were only able to retrieve 32 boats as remaining ten were damaged beyond repair. Now, the Sri Lankan government is releasing another 10 boats instead of the ones that were not retrieved in 2017, Colombo Page reported.
A team headed by a fisheries official, including fishermen and salvage personnel will be leaving for Sri Lanka in two days to retrieve the boats.
As per the demands of fishermen in the region, remaining 174 boats in the Sri Lankan custody must be released. Each boat costs Rs 8 to 10 lakh, they added.
"We will go and check the boats in Sri Lanka but we demand that all our boats in the Sri Lankan custody be released," Colombo Page quoted Jesuraj, a Tamilian fishermen leader as saying.
09:42 Now, DMK's Stalin backs Arvind Kejriwal over L-G office dharna
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal seems to have triggered an all-new offensive against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the NDA government with his relentless dharna at the office of Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal.
After four chief ministers Andhra Pradeshs N Chandrababu Naidu, Keralas Pinarayi Vijayan, West Bengals Mamata Banerjee and Karnatakas HD Kumaraswamy now DMK working president MK Stalin has come out in support of the Aam Aadmi Party chief.
Taking to microblogging site Twitter, Stalin said that he was concerned with the disdain shown towards an elected Chief Minister, accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party of proactively destroying the federal structure of India.
The DMK working president tweeted, I am concerned with the disdain shown by Lt Gov of Delhi towards an elected Chief Minister like @ArvindKejriwal. The BJP is proactively destroying the federal structure of this nation. I express my solidarity with the chief ministers who are standing up for states' rights.
The support from the Tamil Nadu strongman was welcomed by the Delhi Chief Minister, who thanked Stalin for supporting people of Delhi. Kejriwal said, Thank u sir for supporting people of Delhi. They r continuously insulting the people of Delhi, which will not be tolerated. (sic)
09:04 Decision on extending cease-ops in Jammu and Kashmir today
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Saturday that he would make a formal announcement on Sunday on the Centres decision on extension of the Suspension of Operations or cease-ops currently in force in the Kashmir Valley.
As the government weighs the possibility of extending the SoO that ended on Saturday with the end of Ramzan, government data show 65 incidents of stone-pelting were reported from May 16 till June 16.
In comparison, 31 incidents were reported in January, 45 in February, 79 in March and 169 in April when the SoO was not in place. From June 1-14 alone, 27 such incidents were reported.
The government will consider these facts and a comparative analysis of the incidents reported during the pre-Ramzan period will also be factored in when the decision on the SoO is announced on Sunday, an official said.
08:37 India, Seychelles island deal goes adrift
India's outreach to the Indian Ocean Region is now in 'troubled waters'. After the massive low in relations with Maldives, India is facing problems with Seychelles on the naval base project at the Assumption Island in Seychelles.
President Danny Faure, ahead of his visit to India, in a press conference two weeks ago said the joint project with New Delhi to develop a naval base at Assumption Island in his country would "not move forward".
Faure, who according to sources will be in New Delhi for a bilateral visit on June 25-26, said the issue of a military base on Assumption island that would also be used by India "will not be discussed with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi."
"In next year's budget, we will put funds for us to build a coastguard facility on Assumption ourselves. It is important for us to ensure that we have a military post in this area," he said.
Since Seychelles and India signed an agreement earlier this year to build military facilities on the remote island of Assumption, the project quickly became controversial, with the government supporting the plan but opposition members in the National Assembly and many private citizens against it.
The external affairs ministry is yet to issue a formal comment on the matter.
The deal for development of the naval base in Assumption island was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit in 2015 but the government in Victoria failed to get it ratified by its parliament. An updated version of the original pact was finalised by the two sides earlier this year. However, opposition leaders in Seychelles launched protests against a foreign power being involved in such a strategically sensitive project.
08:05 'Centre is destroying federal system': 4 CMs support Kejriwal
Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala rallied behind their Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal, who is on a sit-in at the Lieutenant Governor's office for six days, and sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention in solving what they termed a "constitutional crisis.
After their request for permission to meet the Aam Aadmi Party chief at the LG's office was verbally denied, West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee, Karnataka's H D Kumaraswamy, Andhra Pradesh's N Chandrababu Naidu and Kerala's Pinarayi Vijayan reached the chief minister's home in the evening.
The open support to Kejriwal by the four regional heavyweights - from Trinamool Congress, Telugu Desam Party, Janata Dal (Secular) and Communist Party of India-Marxist - comes amid opposition efforts to cobble together a rainbow coalition ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
But the Congress, which has been eyeing a grand alliance of opposition parties, has been slamming the Delhi chief minister for the sit-in at Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal's office.
Kejriwal and three Cabinet colleagues have been staying put in a waiting room at Raj Niwas, protesting against what they call is a strike by the bureaucrats in the national capital.
"We came here to show our support to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. We demand that the prime minister interferes and takes necessary steps to solve the problem," Kumaraswamy said.
"I wanted to meet the Delhi chief minister but I was told, verbally, that permission will not be granted. Then four of us wrote to the LG for an appointment, but we were told that he is not there. We were not allowed," Banerjee said.
Earlier, the four leaders met at Andhra Bhawan.
The CMs met Kejriwal's wife, members of minister Satyendar Jain's family and several AAP leaders at the Delhi chief minister's home.
We want this problem to be solved. This has become a constitutional crisis. Ultimately, if this problem is not solved, the people will face issues, Banerjee said.
If this is happening in the capital, then what will happen in other states? We will meet the prime minister tomorrow and request him to intervene and solve the problem," Banerjee said.
The bureaucrats in Delhi are not meeting Delhi ministers as part of their protest against an alleged assault on Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash in February.
They are demanding an apology from Kejriwal for the incident.
At their joint press conference at Kejriwal's home, the CMs said they had come to show solidarity with the protest by the AAP chief.
Pinarayi Vijayan said the Centre must take immediate steps to resolve the issue. "We demand PM's intervention to solve this problem," he said.
He said the situation had developed in this manner because of the attitude of the central government, which is destroying the federal system.
The threat was not just to Delhi government but to the whole country, he said.
Mamata Banerjee said there has been no work in Delhi for the last four months.
We want this issue to be sorted out as there is a constitutional crisis," she said. The people should not suffer due to a political crisis and their mandate should be respected, she added.