Wed, 07 March 2018
Actor Jeetendra booked in 47 year old sexual assault case

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23:53   Actor Jeetendra booked in 47 year old sexual assault case
Bollywood actor Jeetendra has been booked by the Shimla Police after he was accused by his cousin of sexually assaulting her 47 years ago, police said.

The woman, in a complaint to the Director General of Police, in February had alleged that the incident took place in Shimla in January, 1971, when she was 18 and the actor was 28.

Superintendent of Police Omapati Jamwal said a first information report had been filed against the star and investigations into the case were underway.

"Police officials are likely to summon the complainant in the case as they have only received her complaint on e-mail and are yet to record her version," sources said.

Later, the actor, whose actual name is Ravi Kapoor, may be summoned to record his version in the case, they said.

The woman said that Jeetendra, who is her aunt's son, had 'arranged' for her to join him from New Delhi to Shimla on the sets of a film he was shooting for.

She alleged in the complaint that after reaching Shimla at night, the inebriated actor went to her room, joined two twin beds and sexually assaulted her.

The actor denied that any such incident had taken place.  -- PTI
22:57   Naidu asks TDP ministers to quit Union cabinet
JUST IN: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu directs Telugu Desam Party ministers Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Y S Chowdary to resign as Union ministers.

Naidu's move comes hours after Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley promised Andhra Pradesh funds equivalent to what a special category state receives but drew a line saying politics cannot increase the quantum of money.

"Every state in India has the right to the central fund in the same manner. Sentiment does not decide quantum of funds, it is the constitutional award of the Finance Commission which decides on the quantum of funds that the states get," Jaitley said.

Naidu said the promises were not kept by central government.

He said Jaitley's comments suggest that 'we're asking for too much'.

"This is our right. The centre is not fulfilling the promises it made. We have been raising the matter since the day of budget. But they (Central Government) did not respond," Naidu said.

"We have shown patience for four years. I tried to convince the centre by all means," he said. -- ANI, PTI
22:00   Day after Sri Sri's letter, AIMPLB says only court order acceptable
A day after spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar pitched for an out of court settlement of the Ayodhya issue, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board said today that only a court order on the matter was acceptable to it.

The board also took exception to a recent reported statement made by the Art of Living founder on the Ayodhya issue.

"Sri Sri's statement that after court's decision situation of the country can become like Syria and Muslims should leave their claim on Ayodhya is threat to Muslims and the court both. This is an attack on the country's well being," AIMPLB General Secretary Maulana Wali Rehmani told PTI.

As far as the board is concerned, we have already said that the decision of court will be acceptable to all, he said.

Asked about a letter written to the AIMPLB by Ravi Shankar yesterday, in which he suggested Muslims gift one acre at  Ayodhya site to Hindus who will provide five acres for a mosque, Rehmani said, "He will comment on it only after discussion with board members."

Asked about Rabi Shankar's concerns regarding communal violence, Rehmani said, "If he has any such apprehension, he should find a way out to avoid a situation of communal clashes."

Ravi Shankar had earlier in an interview reportedly said that 'if the Ayodhya dispute is not resolved India will have Syria-like situation'.  -- PTI
21:10   Ambedkar statue vandalised in Meerut, replaced
A statue of Dalit icon B R Ambedkar was vandalised and replaced later in Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh, amid an ongoing spate of incidents targeting statues and busts of known figures across the country.

Following the incident, members of the Dalit community here blocked the Meerut-Mawana road even as the administrative officials sought to calm down the protesters and assured them that the vandalised statue would be replaced with a new one.

The officials later said that a new Ambedkar statue had been installed.

According to police, the statue was installed by the Dalit community in Chhota Mawana several years ago.

It was vandalised by some unidentified people late last night. The incident sparked protests by members of the Dalit community.

Mawana Circle Officer U N Mishra told PTI-Bhasha that the situation is normal and the new statue of Ambedkar had been installed.

He, however, added that no complaint was lodged in connection with the incident.

Prima facie, it is case of a conspiracy, the officer said.

The vandalisation of Ambedkar statue comes after a series of such incidents targeting statues and busts across the country.

A bust of Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee was vandalised in Kolkata today following the razing of statues of Soviet icon Vladimir Illyich Lenin in Tripura.

A bust of Dravidian movement founder E V Ramasamy Periyar was also desecrated in Tamil Nadu's Vellore, triggering widespread protests across the state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly condemned the incidents of vandalism of statues and said that stern action would be taken against those found guilty.  -- PTI
21:02   Army jawan commits suicide in J&K
An Army jawan today allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself with his service rifle in the Handwara area of Jammu and Kashmir, police said.

Sepoy Birender Sinha, who was posted at the 30 Rashtriya Rifles camp at Langate in Kupwara district, shot himself around 6.45 am, a police official said.

He said it was not immediately known why the jawan took such an extreme step. -- PTI
21:00   Pak approves India's proposals about exchange of prisoners
Pakistan said on Wednesday it has approved India's humanitarian proposals about exchange of prisoners, issuance of medical visas and revival of a judicial commission, amid tensions between the two countries.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif after consulting with all the stakeholders, has approved the humanitarian proposals, which had been received from the Indian side, regarding the civilian prisoners incarcerated in both the countries, Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said.

The first proposal is about 'exchange of three categories of prisoners, women, mentally challenged or with special needs and those above 70 years of age' and the second is about 'revival of the Judicial Committee mechanism'.

It said that third proposal is about 'facilitating the visit of medical experts (from both sides) to meet and examine the mentally challenged prisoners for their repatriation'.

The Foreign Office said that the minister also extended two more humanitarian proposals which include: exchange of prisoners above 60 years of age and the exchange of child prisoners, below 18 years of age.

"The foreign minister expressed the hope that India would positively reciprocate Pakistan's proposals, in the spirit that they have been made," it said.

"He also stated that it was his desire that through such initiatives, Pakistan and India would embark on the road to a comprehensive dialogue, and make a conscious effort to de-escalate the extremely vitiated current environment and the situation on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary."

It was not known when India sent the proposals but the spokesman had said at a weekly media briefing that Indian humanitarian proposals about prisoners were under consideration of Ministry of Interior.  -- PTI
19:13   Committed to give monetary equivalent of special status to Andhra: FM
With Telugu Desam Party threatening to quit the National Democracy Alliance government, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today stepped in to pacify the sulking partner saying the Centre is committed to giving Andhra Pradesh financial assistance equivalent to a special category state.

Jaitley said he agreed with the assessment that Andhra Pradesh was financially suffering after Telengana was carved out of the state and his government will honour each and every commitment made by the Centre at the time of bifurcation.

On Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu's demand for fulfilling the promise of giving the state a special status, he said such a category did exist when the state was bifurcated in 2014.

But after the implementation of the 14th Finance Commission recommendation, such a treatment is now constitutionally restricted to just the North Eastern and three hilly states.

For special category status category states, the Centre meets 90 per cent of the funds required in a centrally sponsored scheme as against 60 per cent in case of normal category states.

The remaining funds are provided by the state governments.

For Andhra Pradesh, the Centre committed to giving 90 per cent of the funds, equivalent to special category states, through other means like external agencies, he said, adding that the Union government was even willing to accept the state government's suggestion of routing such funds through National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).

At meetings last month, the Centre suggested creation of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) where NABARD could give the money so as not to upset the fiscal deficit of the state, Jaitley said, adding that the Andhra Pradesh government is yet to come back on the modalities of such transfer.

He said all the institutions promised to Andhra Pradesh at the time of bifurcation are in the process of being set up.

Asked about Congress president Rahul Gandhi's promise to give the state the special category status if his party is voted to power, Jaitley said, 'I still have to follow constitutional award' of the 14th Finance Commission.

"We are committed to giving monetary equivalent to special status to Andhra Pradesh," he said.

On meeting revenue deficit of the state, he said, the Centre has already paid Rs 4,000 crore and only Rs 138 crore remain.  -- PTI
18:07   CBI moves court for Karti's narco test
The CBI today moved a New Delhi court seeking permission to conduct a narco analysis test on Karti Chidambaram in the INX media case. Special judge Sunil Rana said that the court would take the matter on March 9 along with two other applications seeking production warrants of Karti Chidambaram's chartered accountant S Bhaskaraman, arrested in the money laundering case, and co-accused Indrani Mukerjea. Karti Chidambaram was yesterday sent to three more days of the Central Bureau of Investigation custody with the court saying that the extension of his remand was necessary to maintain continuity in the investigation to secure evidence to arrive at the truth. -- PTI
17:59   CRPF jawan opens fire inside camp in Maharashtra; 2 injured
A CRPF jawan allegedly opened fire and injured two of his colleagues at a camp in the Naxal-infested district of Gadhchiroli near Nagpur, officials said today.

The incident took place last night at the Ettapalli camp, where Head Constable Sandre Sanjay had an altercation with two of his fellow soldiers, following which he allegedly fired at them from his service AK rifle.

Two head constables, C B Maruti and S S Singh, were injured in the incident and were admitted to a hospital, they said. Sanjay, they said, was overpowered by other men present in the camp and taken into custody, they said. While Maruti, hit in the stomach region, was in a critical condition, Singh has a bullet injury in his leg and is stated to be out of danger, they said. PTI
17:57   29 Army personnel killed since 2015 in J-K
Twenty-nine Army personnel lost their lives in nine terror attacks on defence stations and Army camps in Jammu and Kashmir since 2015, the government informed the Lok Sabha today. Twenty terrorists were killed and two civilians lost their lives in the attacks, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said in a written response to a question in the Lower House.

The highest casualty was in 2016, when a group of terrorists stormed an Army camp in Uri, resulting in the death of 26 personnel. This year, one terror attack was reported on an Army camp in Jammu, claiming the lives of six Army personnel.

"The Army carries out in-depth analysis of the terrorists incidents and security breaches that are identified with various incidents. Perimeter security projects of all the armed forces have been sanctioned by the government," Bhamre said. -- PTI
17:36   I'm not going to divorce Shami till my last breath, says wife
The wife of Indian pacer Mohammed Shami has claimed that the sportsman is having an extramarital affair. In a bid to expose the pacer's affair, she posted several screenshots of Messenger and Whatsapp messages on her Facebook page.

Married to Shami since 2014, Hasin Jahan reportedly claimed that the bowler is having several extra-marital affairs simultaneously.

Notably, the post, which was uploaded from an unverified account, was titled as 'Shami's enjoyment' and had several pictures of the pacer's text messages to multiple women. The account owner also posted Shami's pictures with some of them.

Speaking to ANI, Hasin Jahan said, "I've done everything he wanted me to do. He has tortured me and hasn't treated me like his wife. He's a big flirt. I'm not going to divorce him till my last breath. I have all the evidence and  will soon drag him to the court."
17:17   At least six incidents of stone pelting every day from 2015-17 in J-K
There were 4,799 stone-pelting incidents and 872 terror incidents in Jammu and Kashmir in past three years, the government today informed the Rajya Sabha.

Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said 730 incidents of stone pelting were reported in 2015. In 2016, he said, 2,808 such incidents were reported, and in 2017, the incidents numbered 1,261. In a written reply to a question, he said there were 208 incidents of terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir in 2015, 322 in 2016 and 342 such incidents in 2017.

The total number of terrorists killed in past three years in the state were 471, the total number of security force personnel killed were 201, and 72 civilians were also killed during the period, he told the Rajya Sabha.

"Jammu and Kashmir has been affected by terrorist violence that is sponsored and supported from across the border. The levels of terrorist violence in the hinterland of Jammu and Kashmir are linked to the infiltration from across the border," he said. -- PTI
17:09   Special status: Andhra CM questions BJP's silence
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu on Wednesday questioned the BJP's silence over the 'needs of its alliance partner Telugu Desam Party.

While asking the BJP to deliver its promise of giving 'special category status' to the state, Naidu said Congress president Rahul Gandhi has also offered to do the same if they come to power.

In his address at the Andhra Pradesh Assembly session, Naidu said, "Rahul Gandhi is saying they will give 'Special Category status' to Andhra Pradesh if they come to power. Why are you (BJP) not responding to the needs of your alliance partner?"

Earlier on Tuesday, the Congress president said if the party emerges victorious in 2019, the first thing he would do is grant special category status to Andhra Pradesh.The BJP and its Andhra ally TDP have been sharing a sour relationship following the announcement of the Union Budget 2018-19.The TDP has been alleging that the Centre has not allotted 'enough fund' to the state in the budget. -- ANI
Visual of Karnataka Lokayukta Justice Vishwanath Shetty at Bengaluru's Mallya Hospital.  His condition is stable now
16:38   Pak court restrains govt from arresting Hafeez Saeed
The Lahore High Court on Wednesday directed the federal and Punjab governments not to arrest or put Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed under house arrest until further orders, DawnNewsTV reported. Read more
16:33   BSF jawans pay cut order withdrawn after PM expresses displeasure
The BSF today withdrew an order deducting a week's salary from a jawan for showing "disrespect" towards the prime minister during a routine drill after Narendra Modi expressed his displeasure over the punishment, the force said.

Modi directed the BSF today to immediately withdraw the order, a spokesperson of the paramilitary said, adding that it had been rescinded. Constable Sanjeev Kumar, posted in the 15th battalion of the Border Security Force deployed in West Bengal's Nadia district, was found "guilty" by his commanding officer (CO) for using the words "Modi programme" while attending a morning roll call task on February 21.

The CO of the unit, Commandant Anup Lal Bhagat, issued an order handing down a "pay fine of 7 days", which means a salary cut for a week, to the jawan for "showing disrespect towards the PM". "The Prime Minister has expressed his displeasure and directed the force to immediately withdraw the punishment. The order has been rescinded and the concerned Commandant has been cautioned for not dealing with the matter judiciously," the BSF spokesperson said.

They said the CO found this reference by the jawan to the PM as improper and ordered an inquiry against him.
16:19   Curfew re-imposed in Kandy; Govt blocks internet
Curfew was re-imposed today in Sri Lanka's riot-hit Kandy district with immediate effect until further notice following reports of violence between majority Sinhala Buddhists and minority Muslims in other areas of the multi-ethnic district.

The authorities yesterday imposed curfew till this morning after communal violence erupted in the Theldeniya area of the central hill district that left two persons dead and damaged several mosques and homes.

Government spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne said that the curfew has been extended to prevent further violence. Police fired teargas shells to disperse rioters in curfew-bound areas hours after a state of emergency was imposed in a bid to quell anti-Muslim violence, an senior police official said.

Following the incidents of violence, President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday declared a state of emergency and deployed the police and military to prevent further violence. -- PTI
16:03   Lokayukta out of danger: Karnataka HM
Karnataka HM Ramalinga Reddy on Lokayukta Justice Vishwanath Shetty stabbing: He was stabbed by a man at his office in Bengaluru. He was a contractor from Tumakuru. He complained to the Lokayukta about some tenders and assaulted the judge and he was alone. The judge is out of danger now.
In Kerala, Congress MLA Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan comes to the Assembly carrying a used grenade. Showing the grenade to the Speaker, he said grenades being used to disburse Youth Congress protesters last week were past their expiry date, and the police is still using them.
15:55   Rahul leaves for Singapore, Malaysia
"Congress President Rahul Gandhi's visit to Singapore begins with a meeting with a young admirer at the airport!" tweets @INCIndia. 

Rahul Gandhi will visit Singapore and Malaysia from March 8-10. The Congress President will meet young professionals and visit universities in the region among other engagements. He was recently in Italy to meet his grandmother, a day before the result of elections in the three states of Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Tripura.
15:34   Periyar's statue row: PIL filed against BJP's H Raja
A Public Interest Litigation has been filed against BJP leader H Raja on Wednesday with regard to his now deleted Facebook post on Periyar's statue.

The PIL was filed by advocate Surya Prakasam in Madras High Court.

The matter will come up for hearing in the court today afternoon.

Raja, in his now deleted post, wrote, "Who is Lenin and what is the connection between Lenin and India? What connection has India with Communists? Lenin's statue has been removed in Tripura. Today it is Lenin's statue in Tripura, tomorrow it will be the statue of caste fanatic EVR Ramasamy".

Raja however apologised later by saying that the post was done by one of the administrators of his page, without his permission.

Clarifying his stand, Raja said he had no intention of hurting anyone and requested the people to maintain peace and carry forward views on Hinduism in a constructive manner. -- ANI
15:28   Man held for stabbing Karnataka Lokayukta
Karnataka Lokayukta Justice P Vishwanatha Shetty was stabbed inside his office in Bengaluru today by a man identified as Tejas Shetty. Justice Shetty has been rushed to hospital and his condition is reported to be stable.

Justice Shetty took over as the new Lokayukta in January this year. The assailant apparently walked into his office and stabbed the judge thrice in the stomach. The motive for the attack is not known.

The Congress has admitted to a security lapse. CM Siddaramaiah is on his way to hospital to meet the judge.

The Congress said it was very serious about Lokayukta and action would be taken.

Image: Justice PV Shetty with Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah.
15:20   Pak troops shell areas along LoC in Rajouri
In other news, Pakistani troops today shelled mortars in Sunderbani sector along the Line of Control in Rajouri and Jammu districts, drawing retaliation from the Indian Army.  

"Pakistan Army initiated unprovoked and indiscriminate firing of small arms, automatics and mortars from 1030 hours in Sunderbani sector along LoC in Rajouri district," a defence spokesman said.  

He said the Indian Army effectively retaliated.  

Pakistani troops also violated the ceasefire in Keri and Khour areas of Akhnoor sector of Jammu district, official sources said.  

There was a brief lull in firing and shelling by Pakistan troops along the LoC in the past two days. Ceasefire violations along the LoC and the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir have left 21 people, including 12 security personnel, dead and more than 80 others, mostly civilians, injured this year. -- PTI
15:18   Judge fell on the floor after he was stabbed: Eyewitness
Lokayukta Justice Vishwanath Shetty stabbing: Eyewitness Jay Anna said that, "a man hit him (Justice Shetty) three times with his knife. The judge fell on the floor. So you can see what kind of security Siddaramaiah govt has provided us. Situation is very bad."
Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah to address the media shortly.

Reports say the accused, Tejas Sharma, arrived at the Justice Shetty's office at 12:45 pm and signed the address book, which revealed that he was from Tumkur. He had asked for information on 18 graft cases.
14:19   US school replaces detention with Yoga
A school in Denver, Colorado, is trying out a new method of punishing kids for misdemeanors, teaching Yoga.

Instead of rebuking the student and putting him in detention, the Doull Elementary is dedicating every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, time slots reserved for detention, to yoga classes.

The aim of introducing the new 'punishment' system is to teach kids how to deal with anger and other strong emotions, something that can bear fruit in all walks of life. -- ANI
14:13   Up to high command to decide MP CM face: Scindia
Senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, who has favoured projecting chief ministerial faces of the party in poll-bound states, today said it is up to the high command to decide.

"On the issue of projecting a face, not just Congress, but other parties also have varying strategies depending upon the situation. I have clarified that my view about it should be seen nationally (and not for Madhya Pradesh in particular).

"Ultimately, the party high command will take the final decision," Scindia told reporters here before heading for Mungaoli and Kolaras to thank voters for the party's victory in the recent by-elections.

Assembly elections are due in Madhya Pradesh this year. "I am a loyal worker of the party, and whatever responsibilities the leadership bestowed upon me, whether as a union minister, the Congress chief whip in the Lok Sabha or as an MP, I have always tried to fulfill my duties," Scindia said.

A section of Congress leadership in the state is demanding that the party should declare its face for the election to take on chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. But another view in the party is that the Congress traditionally doesn't project chief ministerial candidates. -- PTI
13:47   LS disrupted for third day, protests over statue vandalisation
The proceedings of the Lok Sabha were washed out for the third consecutive day today as parties protested on various issues, including vandalisation of statue of Dravidian icon Thanthai Periyar and PNB scam.

While the Congress continued to press for prime minister's reply on the Rs 12,700-crore bank fraud allegedly involving diamantaire Nirav Modi, members from AIADMK and AAP were in the Well, holding photos of Periyar and raising slogans condemning the vandalism in Vellore.

The TRS members raised slogans demanding a hike in Telangana's quota in reservation. While TDP continued to press for special status for Andhra Pradesh, another NDA ally Shiv Sena protested, like yesterday, demanding classical language status for Marathi.

Amid the din, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan asked Shiv Sena member Anandrao Adsul to speak on his demand. Adsul said that Marathi is an ancient language and fulfills all criteria to be given the classical language status. -- PTI
13:45   Deal strictly with those vandalising statues, Rajnath tells parties
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today asked all political parties to ensure that those found desecrating statues are dealt with strictly and said such incidents of vandalism can never be justified.

The minister's comments came hours after the Home Ministry said it had sent an advisory to all states and Union territories to take strong action against anyone involved in the destruction of statues.

"I appeal to everyone, all parties, that anyone indulging in such acts should be dealt with strictly. These incidents can never be justified," Singh told reporters outside Parliament.

Prime Narendra Modi has expressed his strong disapproval of statues being vandalised in parts of the country and spoken to the home minister on the matter. 

Two statues of Communist icon Lenin were brought down in Tripura following the BJP's emphatic win in the state over the Left, which was in power for more than 25 years. A statue of social reformer and founder of Dravidian movement E V Ramasamy Periyar was also allegedly vandalised in Tamil Nadu's Vellore district last night. 

Yesterday, Singh called up Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy and DGP A K Shukla and asked them to ensure peace and check violence till a new government is installed in the state.

Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba had also spoken to the DGP and asked that all steps be taken to maintain law and order, check violence and restore peace and public order. The ministry said enough central and state forces were available at the disposal of the state government to tackle the situation. -- PTI
13:36   Jaya Bachchan to be SP's Rajya Sabha MP
Jaya Bachchan to be the Samajwadi Party candidate from the Rajya Sabha, reports ANI.

The biennial elections will be held on March 23 to replace the 58 Rajya Sabha members who are set to retire later this year.

Bachchan was first elected in 2004 as a Samajwadi Party member of parliament, representing the Rajya Sabha till March 2006. She got a second term from June 2006 until July 2010. She was re-elected in 2012 for the third term.

Commenting on her nomination, party colleague Amar Singh said, ''Jaya Bachchan was consistently loyal to the Samajwadi Party, its system and hierarchy. She has proved to be better a politician than Naresh Agrawal.''
13:24   Nirav Modi drops out of Forbes billionaires list
Diamond trader Nirav Modi, accused of pulling off the country's biggest bank fraud, is no longer a part of India's billionaires club. Modi, who had featured in Forbes' 2017 rich list with a fortune of USD 1.8 billion, could not make the cut in this year's rankings.

"Nirav Modi is among the drop-offs from this year's the list, along with Papa John's Pizza founder John Schnatter, Christoffel Wiese of South Africa, and Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud," Forbes said.

Forbes said India's billionaire count has increased over last year. According to Forbes, India is home to 119 billionaires, 18 more than last year and the total net worth of this elite club is USD 440.1 billion, a rise of USD 114.6 billion over the year ago period.

This year's list consists of 2,043 of the richest people in the world. The combined net worth of this elite group is a whopping USD 9.1 trillion, up 18 per cent since last year.

Forbes' website describes Modi as the founder of Firestar Diamond, "which claimed to have more than USD 2 billion in sales. He later launched his own Nirav Modi Brand with 14 stores in such locations as Mumbai, Hong Kong, London, Macau and New York". -- PTI
13:14   TN BJP sacks functionary for vandalising Periyar statue
The BJP's Tamil Nadu unit today sacked a party functionary for allegedly vandalising a statue of rationalist leader E V Ramasamy, popularly known as Periyar, in Tirupattur in Vellore district.

"R Muthuraman is being expelled from the party," BJP state chief Tamilisai Soundarrajan said in a brief statement.

Muthuraman was one of the two persons arrested by police for allegedly vandalising a bust-size statue of Ramasamy, in an inebriated condition, the other was identified as Francis.

Meanwhile, the CPI said Francis is not a party activist.

Francis was not a member of the party nor was he connected to it, CPI state unit secretary R Mutharasan said.

Police yesterday said that Muthuraman was suspected to be a BJP worker and Francis was believed to be a CPI activist.

The two allegedly vandalised a statue of Ramasamy in an inebriated state.

The incident follows a row over comments made by BJP leader H Raja indicating that statues of Ramasamy could be the next to be pulled down after two statues of communist icon Vladimir Lenin was razed in Tripura.

-- PTI
13:03   BSF jawan loses 7 days' pay for referring to Modi without 'Shri'
A Border Security Force jawan who forgot to affix 'honourable' or 'Shri' while referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been penalised by the force, which called the mistake "disrespect" to the PM. The constable was handed down a seven-day pay cut.

The incident took place on February 21 inside the BSF's 15th Battalion headquarters in Mahatpur, Nadia in West Bengal, during the zero parade, a routine exercise to account for jawans' daily activities.

According to reports, constable Sanjeev Kumar, who was giving a report of the parade, used the term 'Modi Program' to refer to the parade.

The commanding officer of the battalion, Commandant Anup Lal Bhagat, decided to initiate disciplinary action against Kumar. He was tried summarily and found "guilty" under Section 40 of the BSF Act (prejudicial to good order and discipline of the force).
13:00   We'll protect Periyar statue, says Kamal Haasan after vandalism
Kamal Haasan, actor turned politician, addresses the medi after Periyar's statue was vandalised on Tuesday night. 

The leader of the Makkal Needhi Maiam said that he believed that the vandalism of the statue was a diversionary tactic and asked the media to focus on the main issue -- the  Cauvery Water Management Board. 

"I believe, this is being done to divert attention from the fact that govt has not constituted Water Management Board (Cauvery). I urge people and media not to fall for all this & get diverted We need to focus on our issues."

About the law and order issue, Haasan said that he was looking for peace in Tamil and that the people of his state were capable of looking after the Periyar statue. 

He, however, said that action should be taken against BJP's H Raja who had posted on Facebook that the Periyar statue should go just as the Lenin statue had been removed in Tripura. 

He concluded talking about tolerance, saying, "I have a different view on tolerance ... The word itself is demeaning ... When you tolerate, it turns out to be a headache."
12:40   CS assault case: HC questions law and order in capital
The Delhi high court today questioned the law and order situation in the capital while hearing the bail plea of one of the two AAP MLAs, arrested for allegedly assaulting Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash.

The court said it was concerned that if "a person" can be assaulted in the presence of the Delhi chief minister and the deputy chief minister, what will happen at other places.

"At a place where the chief minister is sitting, a person is assaulted. What is the law and order situation. This is happening in front of the chief minister. I am not going on the personality of the person who was assaulted. You need to answer this," Justice Mukta Gupta said.

The court's remark came while hearing the bail plea of Deoli MLA Prakash Jarwal, who was arrested on February 20 in connection with the chief secretary's assault case.

The judge said, "I am concerned that if a person is assaulted in the presence of the chief minister and deputy chief minister, what will happen at other places? How should I be satisfied that no such incident would take place in future?"

The court, which has called for a file relating to Jarwal's previous criminal case, would resume the hearing on his bail plea after some time.

Jarwal and Khan are undergoing 14-day judicial custody, which expires tomorrow, in connection with the alleged assault on the bureaucrat during a meeting at Arvind Kejriwal's residence on the night of February 19.

A magisterial court had earlier denied bail to both of them, saying the matter cannot be treated in "a casual and routine manner" while dubbing them as "history-sheeters". 

Jarwal had then moved a sessions court and was again denied the relief with the court saying the situation could not be more alarming when lawmakers do not respect the rule of law.

-- PTI
JUST IN: Lok Sabha adjourned for the day.
12:10   Welcome President Kovind, but not 'sanghi' mindset: AMU students
Ahead of President Ram Nath Kovind's visit to the Aligarh Muslims University to attend the 65th annual convocation ceremony, the student union Secretary Mohammad Fahad has warned against the presence of any member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh at the event.

Speaking to ANI, student union Secretary Mohammad Fahad said that they are not against the presence of President Kovind, but simply oppose 'sanghi' mindset.

He recalled the remark made by the President in 2010 against the Muslims and Christians living in the country and said that it still stings the student of the university.

"We are not opposing the visit of the President; we oppose the 'sanghi' mindset," Fahad said.

"Our President gave a statement about Muslims and Christians in 2010, saying 'Muslims and Christians are alien to this nation'. The statement sill stings the students of AMU, but we respect him as the President and welcome him, but at the same time no 'sanghi' person accompanying him would be allowed inside the university premises. Those coming as per protocol can come," Fahad said.

Fahad had also written to the AMU administration regarding the issue and had warned that "no 'sanghi' politician would be allowed to enter the university premises and added the students would stage a protest" if it happens.

President Kovind is to address the students for the 65th annual convocation ceremony of AMU.

-- ANI
11:49   PNB head Sunil Mehta appears before SFIO in Rs 12,636 crore fraud
Punjab National Bank Managing Director and CEO Sunil Mehta today appeared before the Serious Fraud Investigation Office in Mumbai after being summoned for recording his statement in connection with the Rs 12,636 crore fraud at the bank.

Yesterday, officials from Axis Bank and ICICI Bank had also appeared before SFIO, which is the investigating arm of the ministry of corporate affairs.

SFIO is also expected to call officials of nearly 31 banks which have an exposure to the companies of diamond traders Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.

It is alleged that they got LoUs and FLCs of Rs 12,636 crore issued in favour of foreign branches of Indian banks based on fraudulent claims. The transactions were carried out from PNB's Brady House branch in Mumbai.

CBI has so far arrested over a dozen persons, including former and current officials of PNB and companies related to Modi and Choksi.

-- PTI
11:31   'Extremely unfortunate', says Amit Shah on vandalism of statues
BJP chief Amit Shah today termed the desecration of communist icon Lenin's statues in Tripura and Periyar's statue in Tamil Nadu "extremely unfortunate" and asserted that any party member found involved in destroying a statue will face severe action.

In a series of tweets, Shah distanced the BJP from the vandalism after a few party leaders appeared to be endorsing the attacks on the statues and said his organisation believes a wide range of ideas and ideologies can co-exist in India.
"The recent issue on destroying of statues is extremely unfortunate. We as a party do not support the bringing down of anybody's statue. I have spoken to the party units in both Tamil Nadu and Tripura. Any person associated with the BJP found to be involved with destroying any statue will face severe action from the party," he said.
Shah's warning to party workers came shortly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his strong disapproval over the vandalism.

-- PTI
11:25   Protests in Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha drown out proceedings
Lok Sabha adjourned till 12 noon amid protest by various opposition parties over a variety of issues while Rajya Sabha adjourned till 2 pm following opposition uproar over various issues, like demands for special package for Andhra Pradesh. 
11:07   Andhra special status: TDP likely to snap ties with BJP
With the Centre making it clear that special category status for Andhra Pradesh is not possible and most TDP MLAs and MLCs wanting the party to end its alliance with BJP, TDP president and Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is likely to set the separation process in motion beginning with the resignation of two TDP ministers -- Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Y S Chowdhary -- from the Narendra Modi cabinet.

At the TDP Legislature Party meeting in Vijayawada on Tuesday, all 125 MLAs and 34 MLCs, barring six absentees, strongly advocated ending the alliance with BJP, sources said. "CM Naidu is now all set to take steps to end the alliance. It will begin with the two central ministers stepping down, most likely on March 10. Withdrawing support to the NDA government at the Centre is likely to happen in the next few days after the two ministers resign," a source said.

BJP sources in Delhi appeared to be bracing for what looked like an imminent parting of ways with the ally. "We are committed to development of Andhra Pradesh and have done everything possible to help the state government. But we cannot meet impossible demands. We cannot give special category status on the ground of backwardness because on that count it is Bihar which should be considered first," a senior BJP leader said.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi waded into the tussle and said his party would grant special category status to Andhra Pradesh if voted to power in 2019. "We will give special category status to Andhra Pradesh. It's the first thing we will do after coming to power in 2019," he told a group of party workers protesting at Jantar Mantar in Delhi to demand special status for the state.
10:30   Modi government's hush-hush efforts to rewrite India's history
During the first week of January last year, a group of scholars gathered in a white bungalow on a leafy boulevard in central New Delhi. The focus of their discussion: how to rewrite the history of the nation.

The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi had quietly appointed the committee of scholars about six months earlier. Details of its existence are reported here for the first time.

Minutes of the meeting, reviewed by Reuters, and interviews with committee members set out its aims: to use evidence such as archaeological finds and DNA to prove that todays Hindus are directly descended from the lands first inhabitants many thousands of years ago, and make the case that ancient Hindu scriptures are fact not myth.

Read full story HERE

10:24   UPDATE: Syama Prasad Mukherjee's bust vandalised; PM expresses strong disapproval
After the Lenin statue in Tripura and the Periyar statue in Vellore, Bharatiya Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mukherjee's bust vandalised in Kalighat, Kolkata. 

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed strong disapproval after the vandalism. PM Modi, according to a government statement, spoke to Home Minister Rajnath Singh who has ordered states to act sternly to check such incidents.

The home ministry has asked the states that they must take all necessary measures to prevent such incidents. Persons indulging in such acts must be sternly dealt with & booked under relevant provisions of law
09:53   Modi speaks to Rajnath about Lenin statue vandalism, MHA for strong action
Just In: Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the vandalism of statues in Tripura. The ministry of home affairs asks state government to take strong action.
09:47   Not correct to deface Periyar statue, says BJP leader H Raja
After two people were arrested at Tirupattur in Vellore district for allegedly vandalising a statue of rationalist leader E V Ramasamy, popularly known as 'Periyar', BJP leader H Raja said on Wednesday, "The post on my Facebook page was done by one of the admins without my permission. As soon as I came to know about it, I deleted the post. We have to respond through statements and opinions not through violence. It is not correct to deface statue of Periyar."

The vandalism of the statue comes against the backdrop of a row over comments made by BJP leader H Raja indicating that statues of 'Periyar' could be the next to be pulled down after a Lenin statue was razed in Tripura.

A row erupted in Tamil Nadu over H Raja's remarks indicating that statues of 'Periyar' could be the next to be pulled down.

As the comments in a Facebook post against late Ramasamy, founder of the Dravidian movement, drew condemnation from several political parties in the state, Raja deleted it while BJP's state unit distanced itself from the issue, saying it was his personal view.

Political parties including Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Left lashed out at Raja, a BJP national secretary, with DMK working president M K Stalin leading the charge seeking his detention under the 'Goondas Act'.
09:24   Rahul Gandhi to visit Malaysia, Singapore
Congress president Rahul Gandhi will visit Singapore and Malaysia from March 8-10.

The Congress president will meet young professionals and visit universities in the region among other engagements.

He was recently in Italy to meet his granny, a day before the result of elections in the three states of Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Tripura. 

-- ANI
09:13   Amazon's Jeff Bezos is now the richest man on Earth
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has become the first person to amass a fortune surpassing $100 billion in Forbes magazines annual ranking of the worlds moguls.

Forbes estimates Bezos wealth at $112 billion as of February 9, up from about $73 billion last year, thanks to Amazons surging stock price.

It would take the combined wealth of 2.3 million Americans to equal the wealth that the Amazon co-founder is now estimated to be worth. 

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump didnt fare as well financially during his first year in office. Forbes says his fortune fell by about $400 million to $3.1 billion.

Bill Gates, Microsoft's co-founder, ranks second on the Forbes list with wealth of $90 billion. Warren Buffet comes third with $84 billion. 

India's Mukesh Ambani comes in 19 on the list with a value of $40.1 billion. 
08:27   US man pleads guilty to charges of killing Indian engineer
A US Navy veteran charged with killing of Indian techie Srinivas Kuchibhotla and injuring two others at a suburban Kansas City bar last year, today pleaded guilty to premeditated first-degree murder.
Adam Purinton, 52, pleaded guilty before a Kansas court.

He was charged with first-degree murder of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, and two counts of attempted first-degree murder in the shootings of his friend, Alok Madasani, and a bystander, who chased Purinton after he fled the Austin's Bar and Grill in Olathe city on February 22, last year.
Puriton had pleaded not guilty on all these charges and waived his preliminary hearing in late November 2017.

Kuchibhotla's widow welcomed the guilty plea.

-- PTI

08:13   Petrol bomb hurled at BJP office in Coimbatore, no casualty reported
A petrol bomb was hurled at Bharatiya Janata Party office in Tamil Nadu's Coimbatore on Wednesday. 

No casualty has been reported in the incident so far.

As per initial reports, no arrest has been made yet as the assailants who threw the bomb are still unknown.

The attack comes after a statue of rationalist leader E V Ramasamy, popularly known as 'Periyar, was vandalised in Vellore. 

Two persons were on Tuesday arrested for vandalising the bust-size statue of Ramasasmy in an inebriated state. The incident comes against the backdrop of a row over comments made by BJP leader H Raja indicating that statues of 'Periyar' could be the next to be pulled down after a Lenin statue was razed in Tripura.

A row erupted in Tamil Nadu over H Raja's remarks indicating that statues of 'Periyar' could be the next to be pulled down.
00:02   South, North Korea likely to have summit-level talks in late April
Government sources in South Korea on Tuesday said that summit-level talks with North Korea are likely to take place in late April.

This was indicated by a report filed by a foreign news agency.

It was also reported by the Yonhap news agency that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had an 'open-hearted talk' in Pyongyang with envoys sent by South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday night.

This was the first time South Korean officials met with the North Korean leader in person since he assumed power after his father's death in late 2011.

Attempts are being made by the Koreas to try to mend ties after a year of weapons tests and threats of launching a nuclear war by North Korea.

Kim Jong-un expressed his desire to 'write a new history of national reunification' during a dinner Monday night that Seoul said lasted about four hours, North Korea's state media said.

South Korea was reportedly represented by a 10-member diplomatic delegation.

The South Korean delegation was led by President Moon's National Security Director Chung Eui-yong, reports The Japan Times.

The move to improve ties between the two Koreas is reportedly aimed at softening or even attempt to convince the United States and other countries to withdraw international sanctions and pressure.

But each new development also raises the possibility that the rivals can use the momentum from the good feelings created during North Korea's participation in the South's Pyeongchang Winter Olympics last month to ease a standoff over North Korea's nuclear ambitions and restart talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

If President Moon Jae-in accepts Kim's invitation to visit Pyongyang, it would be the third time that the two Koreas are meeting for summit-level talks.

The other two were held in the years 2000 and 2007, and the outcome was the launch of a series of cooperative projects.

These projects, however, were scuttled during subsequent conservative administrations in South Korea.  -- ANI

IMAGE: Head of the North Korean delegation Ri Son-gwon shakes hands with his South Korean counterpart Cho Myoung-gyon during their meeting at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas,. Photograph: Yonhap via Reuters

Read yesterday's LIVE commentary HERE