Thu, 10 May 2018
Electoral authorities ask TV channels not to air 'sting' video

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23:31   Electoral authorities ask TV channels not to air 'sting' video
Karnataka electoral authorities today directed TV news channels not to air a 'sting' video showing a state Bharatiya Janata Party leader allegedly trying to bribe a kin of a former Chief Justice of India to get a favourable verdict for mining baron G Janardhana Reddy in an illegal mining case.

The direction comes hours after State Home minister Ramalinga Reddy called what the Congress described as an 'explosive press conference' and released the video clippings which were in circulation on social media.

The Congress claimed the 'sting' operation revealed that alleged attempts were made to bribe to seek a favourable verdict for Reddy.

The party alleged that just one day before the then CJI retired, he passed an order in a case related to Reddy brothers' Oblapuram Mining Company.

'Now several videos have been released which show how bribe deals were done btw CJI's son-in-law & Sriramulu/Reddy Brothers: @dineshgrao,' said Karnataka Congress quoting its working President Dinesh Gundu Rao in a tweet.

It said the videos that have surfaced today show how Sriramulu, middlemen and son in-law of the former CJI discussed bribe deals, hoping to get a favourable judgment from the Supreme Court in the Obalipuram case.

Sriramulu, a confidant of tainted mining baron and owner of Obulapuram Mining Company Janardhana Reddy, is contesting from two constituencies Molakalmuru and Badami in the May 12 assembly polls.

In Badami, he is pitted against Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Rao has also sought response from BJP and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this regard.

The Congress has been criticising BJP and the prime minister for their decision to give tickets to eight persons from the Reddy 'camp' including his brothers G Somashekara Reddy and G Karunakara Reddy.

"Do not believe in such fake stings which make rounds now and then," BJP president Amit Shah said at a press conference, when asked about the 'sting videos' circulating in the social media.

As the news channels started airing the video footages shared by the Congress, electoral authorities took note of it and issued notices, chief electoral officer office sources said.

A news channel executive told PTI that the election commission said in the notices to all the news channels and publication houses that they cannot air any such content within 24 hours of election.

An officer in the CEO's officer said a report has been sent to the election commission about the video and directions have been issued to the news channels not to air the video clip.  -- PTI

Image used only for representation.
22:01   UP storm toll rises to 18, fresh storm warning
The death toll in the storm that hit parts of Uttar Pradesh last night has risen to 18, an official said today as the Met office issued another bad weather alert for the state.

Five deaths people died in Etawah district, three each in Mathura, Aligarh and Agra, two in Firozabad and one each in Hathras and Kanpur Dehat last night, an official spokesperson said.

Twenty-seven others were injured in the calamity which affected nine districts, mostly in western Uttar Pradesh that had also borne the brunt of a previous storm on May 2-3.

The official said seven houses were damaged in last night's storm.

Thirty-seven head of cattle perished. Two of the three deaths in Mathura district took place when electricity poles collapsed on the victims.

Another person was killed when a tractor-trolley filled with hay toppled on him during the storm. Two victims were from the district's Mant tehsil.

The state government has given their families Rs 4 lakh each as compensation, Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma said during a visit to Mathura today. He said the loss to farmers not covered by the crop insurance scheme was being determined.

The minister claimed that the losses would have been bigger had Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath not told the weather department to issue timely warnings.

A weather office spokesman today warned of more thunderstorms accompanied by strong winds of up to 70 kmph on Saturday and Sunday at isolated places in eastern Uttar Pradesh.

He said a dust storm too was 'very likely' at certain places in western UP.

Last week's storm had killed 134 people and injured over 400 in five states, the home ministry had said.

Uttar Pradesh was the hardest hit with 80 deaths, most of them in Agra district.

Meanwhile, Adityanath today issued fresh directives to the administration to speed up relief operations.

An official release said he asked the ministers-in-charge and district magistrates to visit the affected districts.

He said the assessment of the damage should be done immediately and repair work must begin at the earliest.  --  PTI
21:32   Trump to meet Kim in Singapore on June 12
United States President Donald Trump tweets:

'The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th. We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!'

More details awaited.
21:31   SC collegium likely to meet tomorrow on Justice Joseph's elevation issue
A crucial meeting of the Supreme Court collegium is likely to be held tomorrow to discuss the issue of reconsidering the name of Uttarakhand Chief Justice K M Joseph for elevation to the apex court, after it was returned by the Centre.

Official sources today said that the members of the collegium have been in consultation over the issue and Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra is likely to convene the meeting tomorrow.

Though there was no official word on it, the sources said it could take place any time after the completion of the matters on the board of the five judges.

It is pertinent to mention that Justice J Chelameswar, the senior-most judge of the apex court, had yesterday written a letter to the CJI asking him to convene the collegium's meeting to urgently forward Justice Joseph's name to the Centre.

The government had on April 26 returned the Collegium's recommendation to elevate Justice Joseph seeking its reconsideration, saying the proposal was not in accordance with the top court's parameters and there was adequate representation of Kerala in the higher judiciary from where he hails.

It had also questioned his seniority for elevation as a judge of the apex court.

According to an apex court official, Justice Chelameswar, in his letter sent to the CJI late last evening, has conveyed that he was reiterating his decision for the elevation of Justice Joseph as the judge of the top court as there was no change in the circumstances that had led the collegium to recommend his name to the government on January 10.

It is also learnt that Justice Chelameswar, who retires on June 22, has responded to all the points raised in the communication to the CJI by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad expressing reservations on the elevation of Justice Joseph.

The meeting of the Collegium was expected to take place yesterday but Justice Chelameswar was on leave.

Besides the CJI and Justice Chelameswar, other members of the collegium are Justices Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph.

Justice Kurian Joseph, during his visit to Kerala last week, had also reportedly made it clear that he was in favour of reiterating the recommendation of the collegium on the issue of Uttarakhand Chief Justice Joseph.

Though no official word was there on when the collegium would meet, the official said it is for the CJI to fix the date as there is no other agenda but to discuss the issue of returning the recommendation relating to Justice Joseph to the Centre.

Earlier too, notwithstanding the letters written by the Collegium members to the CJI which had come out in the public domain, the Centre had disregarded the recommendation about Justice Joseph.  -- PTI
21:09   Don't trust such 'fake videos': Shah on Sriramulu's sting
Rejecting reports of Bharatiya Janata Party leader B Sriramulu's alleged sting video, party president Amit Shah on Thursday said that many fake sting videos surfaced on the internet and urged to not believe them blindly.

Addressing a press conference in Bengaluru, Shah said, "Many fake sting videos surface. Don't believe them blindly. Instead, rather verify it. There is no need to believe what the Congress is saying."

In the video that is doing the rounds on social media, Sriramulu was seen allegedly giving money to former Chief Justice of India (CJI) K G Balakrishnan's son-in-law to bribe a Supreme Court (SC) judge in a mining case.

The Reddy brothers -- G Janardhana Reddy and G Somashekara Reddy -- were also present.

The Congress claimed that the video was shot because of the dispute that came because of 'non-settlement of the bribe amount'.

"The video that has surfaced on today show how Sriramulu and middlemen Captain Reddy, Balan, Swamiji Rajnish and CJI Balakrishnan's son-in-law Sreenijan discuss bribe deals in order to get a favourable judgment from the SC in the Obalipuram case," Karnataka Congress Working President Dinesh Gundu Rao said.

"Just a day before CJI Balakrishnan retired, he passed an order in a case related to Reddy brothers mining company. Now several videos have been released which show how bribery deals were done between CJI's son-in-law and Sriramulu and the Reddy brothers," he added.

He also demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should 'break his silence' over the video on why the Reddy brothers were present again to 'loot Karnataka'.

"Sriramulu is now BJP's star campaigner. We demand that PM break his silence & answer the people of Karnataka on why the Bellary gang has been brought back to loot Karnataka. We demand an immediate high-level inquiry into this bribery scandal," Rao said.

"Despite supporting corrupt and jailed leaders in their own party, the prime minister comes to Karnataka and levels baseless allegations against us. This big expose has shown how corrupt Reddy-Srimarulu gang bribed the CJI. Will BJP and Prime Minister Modi answer?" he further said.

Sriramulu is contesting from the Badami seat and is pitted against Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.On a related note, Karnataka goes to polls on Saturday. The counting and results will take place on May 15.  -- ANI
19:50   Panchayat polls in West Bengal on May 14
Ending speculation, the State Election Commission today announced that the panchayat polls in West Bengal will be held on May 14.

The counting will take place on May 17 and re-polling, if any, will be held the day before, SEC secretary Nilanjan Shandilya told reporters in Kolkata.

The SEC's announcement followed the Supreme Court direction to the state poll panel to ensure 'free and fair' panchayat elections on May 14 in the state.

Shandilya said elections will be held in 621 zila parishads, 6157 panchayat samitis besides 31,827 gram panchayats.

The Supreme Court during the day stayed the Calcutta high court order asking the West Bengal State Election Commission to accept nomination papers filed through e-mail for contesting the panchayat polls.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra took note of the fact that almost 17,000 candidates have won the panchayat polls unopposed and dubbed it 'worrying' and directed the SEC not to declare them as winners.

The bench, also comprising justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, directed the state poll panel to ensure 'free and fair' panchayat elections on May 14 in the state.  -- PTI
19:23   Efforts on to secure release of 7 abducted Indians in Afghanistan: MEA
The government today said it was in touch with relevant people and authorities in Afghanistan to secure the release of seven Indian engineers who were abducted in the restive northern Baghlan province of the war-torn country on Sunday.

"We are in touch with different people who are involved in the exercise through the Afghan government," spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Raveesh Kumar said.

He, however, refused to share any specific details citing sensitivity of the case.

"I would not like to get into the details of the people and authorities with whom we are in touch with," he said at a media briefing.

The Indian engineers were abducted by the Taliban terrorists from near the Cheshma-e-Sher area in Baghlan on Sunday.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had a telephonic conversation with her Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani on Sunday evening during which she had sought all possible help of Kabul in securing the release the Indians.

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval too had a telephonic conversation with his Afghan counterpart Hanif Atmar on the issue.

"This is a sensitive matter. The lives of seven Indians are involved and, therefore, I would not like to share much on where we are at this point of time," said the MEA spokesperson.

Afghan media, quoting Baghlan governor Abdulhai Nemati, reported that Taliban militants were behind the abduction of Indians and they were moved to the Dand-e-Shahabuddin area of Pul-e-Khumri city.

The Indian engineers of KEC International, an RPG group company, were working on a project for construction of a power sub-station in the country.

India has been carrying out reconstruction activities in the war-torn country. It has already provided at least $2 billion aid to Afghanistan.  -- PTI

Image only for representation.
18:29   Instagram down
Just in: Instagram is down around the world. Users across the world have been unable to load their news feed or pictures, reported, the Independent. The problems were widespread across the world, with most reports coming from Europe, the US and Japan, according to the website Down Detector.

Image: Kendall Jenner was the most followed model on Instagram last year.
18:27   Kejriwal's nephew sent to 1-day judicial custody
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's relative Vinay Bansal, arrested by Anti-Corruption Bureau in connection with the PWD scam, was today sent to one-day judicial custody by a Delhi court.

Duty Metropolitian Magistrate Suri Mishra denied the ACB's application for three-day police remand saying Bansal is not medically fit.

The order came after Bansal, who was arrested this morning by the ACB, fainted during arguments when he was was produced before the court. He was rushed to Aruna Asaf Ali Government Hospital.

Bansal is Kejriwal's nephew.

Three FIRs, including one against a company run by the chief minister's brother-in-law Surender Bansal, were registered by the ACB in this case on May 9 last year.

Three companies, including Renu Constructions (owned by Bansal, Kamal Singh and Pawan Kumar), were included in the FIRs.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Anti-Corruption Bureau produces Vinay Bansal, right, in a court in New Delhi on Thursday. The ACB arrested Vinay Bansal, son of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwals brother-in law, in connection with the Public Works Department (PWD) scam. Photograph: PTI Photo
17:35   When Ishaan wed Surya: Kerala's 1st trans marriage
Ishaan and Surya become the first transsexual marriage in Kerala. The couple wed in Thiruvananthapuram today.

Earlier this month, Surya, the bride, spoke to's Shobha Warrier. Do read
17:07   SC reserves verdict on validity of Aadhaar
Just in: A five judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra reserved its judgement on the Aadhaar matter. Several appeals were filled challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar. Petitioners submitted to the Court that multiple data breaches from government portals have increased Aadhaar's status as a "universal unique identifier."

The Centre has argued that Aadhaar data is safe and cannot be breached and said no one will be left out if they don't have Aadhaar. Petitioners argued Aadhaar cannot remain as law.

This is the second longest hearing in the SC -- a marathon 38 days spread over three-and-a-half-months. The longest hearing is the Keshavananda Bharti case.

The verdict is expected around July end or August. More details awaited.
17:01   Kovind boosts soldiers' morale at Siachen base camp
President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday became the second president to visit the Siachen base camp of the Indian Army in Ladakh, and conveyed the whole country's respect for the soldiers protecting Indian borders at the highest battlefield in the world.

"There was a special reason behind my excitement to meet you. I wanted to personally convey you the message that there is special respect in heart of all Indians for the soldiers and officers guarding the borders," Kovind said in his address to the Army personnel at the camp.

"Siachen is the highest battlefield in the world and living a normal life in such an atmosphere is difficult. Having to be ready to fight the enemy in these conditions is even more difficult, and it is an honour for me to meet the brave soldiers who are here protect our country," he added.

In his address, the President also remembered the soldiers who were killed in action in Siachen, "I bow to those soldiers who sacrificed their lives here."

President Kovind also came with another message to convey on behalf of Indians, "I came here to also give you the assurance that each citizen stands by your families and their well-being is always in each Indian's prayers."

While concluding his address, Kovind invited the soldiers to Rashtrapati Bhawan, "Whenever you come to Delhi, you are welcome to visit the Rashtrapati Bhawan."

The President also laid a wreath at a memorial in the camp and later interacted with the soldiers posted there. Army Chief General Bipin Rawat was also present. Kovind is the second president to visit the camp, after former president APJ Abdul Kalam, who visited in 2004.

Image: President Ram Nath Kovind interacts with soldiers at Siachen. Interestingly, his cap has the words 'The Supreme Commander' woven on the brim.
16:33   Parrikar responding well to treatment in US, says Prabhu
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is responding well to his treatment in the US, Union Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said today. Prabhu spoke to the chief minister and expressed hope that he would return soon to resume his responsibilities of "developing Goa as a leading state".

Parrikar, 62, is currently undergoing treatment for a pancreatic ailment at a hospital in the US. The former defence minister left for USA in the first week of March. Prabhu wished a speedy recovery to Parrikar in a twitter post today. "Spoke to @manoharparrikar, who is responding well to medical treatment in the US. Wishinghim well for speedy recovery so he returns to India soon to resume his responsibilities of developing #Goa as leading state," the Union minister tweeted.

BJP president Amit Shah is expected to visit Goa on May 13 to address the party workers near Panaji. -- PTI
16:27   Walmart to open 50 new stores in India in 4-5 yrs
A day after announcing USD 16 billion investment in India's largest online retailer Flipkart, Walmart Inc today said it will continue to grow its wholesale cash-and-carry business, adding 50 new stores in the next four-five years.

"We currently have 21 stores and plan to open 50 stores in 4 to 5 years. Plans are on track," Walmart India President and CEO Krish Iyer said at a select media roundtable called to explain the Flipkart deal.

Walmart Chief Executive Doug McMillon said Flipkart group, in which the US retailer is acquiring 77 per cent stake, would continue to operate as a separate board-managed company with co-founder Binny Bansal as the CEO.

Flipkart gives Walmart an online presence. So far it had been handicapped by India's retail policy that does not allow overseas companies to sell directly to consumers (except in wholesale cash-and-carry segment). Companies like Flipkart and Amazon operate as e-commerce marketplaces -- a segment where 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) is allowed.  -- PTI
Monica Lewinsky @MonicaLewinsky dear world: please don't invite me to an event (esp one about social change) and --then after i've accepted-- uninvite me because bill clinton then decided to attend/was invited. it's 2018. emily post would def not approve. Me.


15:37   Arrest of Kejriwal's newphew aimed at maligning image AAP
The AAP today hit out at the Anti-Corruption Branch for arresting Vinay Bansal, a nephew of Arvind Kejriwal, saying the action was aimed at maligning the chief minister's image and harassing his relatives.

Bansal, who is a partner in a firm linked to alleged financial irregularities in building a drainage system in north-west Delhi, was arrested early this morning.

"This is nothing but an attempt to malign the chief minister's image and harass his relatives," AAP's Delhi unit chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj said. He also rejected allegations of scam in the contract allotted to Bansal's company.

Three FIRs, including one against a company run by Surendra Bansal, father of Vinay Bansal, were registered by the ACB in this case on May 9 last year. Surendra Bansal, who is married to the sister of Kejriwal's wife, died of heart attack last year. -- PTI
15:30   SC stays Cal HC order on WB panchayat polls
The Supreme Court today stayed the Calcutta High Court order asking the West Bengal State Election Commission to accept nomination papers filed through e-mail for contesting the panchayat elections in the state.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra took note of the fact that almost 17,000 candidates have won the panchayat polls unopposed and directed the state poll panel not to declare them as winners.

The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, asked the state poll panel to ensure "free and fair" panchayat elections on May 14 in the state.

The apex court said the high court's direction and the fact that 34 per cent of the candidates have won the election unopposed, "are worrying". On May 8, the high court had directed the SEC to accept the nominations of those candidates named by CPI(M) who had filed their papers electronically within the stipulated time before 3 pm on April 23. -- PTI
15:06   Rahul has right to dream of becoming PM: Sena
After Congress President Rahul Gandhi was recently attacked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for publicly declaring his prime ministerial ambition, BJP bickering ally Shiv Sena came out in his support.

"In this country, every person has the right to dream of becoming the Prime Minister. If Modi ji calls himself a 'pradhan sewak' then any 'sewak' of this country can become the Prime Minister," said Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut.

Raut's statement comes days after the Congress President said that he would become the Prime Minister if his party emerged as the single largest party in the 2019 general elections.

Following which, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the remarks suggested that the Prime Minister's seat was reserved for just one dynasty.

Another BJP leader Subramanian Swamy dubbed Rahul's remark as "immature" and said that it might push other parties away from forging an alliance. -- ANI
14:59   Ruskin Bond's new book inspired by letter from Lankan boy
Ruskin Bond fans have something to cheer again -- a new book will be launched on his 84th birthday on May 19 which is inspired by a letter from one of his many fans in Sri Lanka. Lyrical and illustrated, "Ranji and the Music Maker" is a sunny story of forging bonds and simple joys.

The legendary author will launch the book at one of his most frequented places, Cambridge Bookstores in Mussoorie.

"It was set off, inspired you might say, by the photograph of a small boy playing his flute for a kitten sent to me by a reader in Sri Lanka. I imagined the little boy as Ranji," says Bond.

The book by Puffin India is about young Ranji who once in the middle of his languid holiday, stumbles upon assorted musical instruments in the storeroom - first a shrill flute, then a blaring little trumpet and, finally, a too-big drum that may have once sounded a battle march.

He stages impromptu concerts down the road, not sparing his neighbours, the cats around his porch, or the peace-loving inhabitants of the zoo. But all Ranji is really seeking is a friend who'll hear the magic in his din.

"Ranji and the Music Maker" has illustrations by Sayan Mukherjee. Bond's first novel, "The Room on the Roof", written when he was 17, received the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1957. Since then he has written a number of novellas, essays, poems and children's books. He has also penned over 500 short stories and articles that have appeared in magazines and anthologies. He received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1993, the Padma Shri in 1999 and the Padma Bhushan in 2014. -- PTI

Also read the 2017 interview with Ruskin Bond.
14:48   Kerala HC christens child as sparring parents fail to agree on name
Having reached a dead end in a dispute, the Kerala High Court has assigned a name to a child, after his estranged parents couldn't agree on one. The child, now named Johan Sachin by the High Court, was in need of a birth certificate in order to apply for admission to a school. Read more
14:30   Neha Dhupia weds Angad Bedi
A season of weddings for Bollywood, it seems. After Sonam Kapoor's grand wedding celebrations, comes another Bollywood shaadi, albeit a quieter one. Neha Dhupia wed her 'best friend' Angad Bedi, and the couple made a pretty picture in shades of white and pink. The wedding took place in a Delhi gurdwara.
14:16   Justice Chelameswar writes to CJI on elevation of Justice Joseph
Justice J Chelameswar, the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, has written a letter to the Chief Justice of India asking him to convene a meeting of the collegium to urgently forward to the Centre the name of Uttarakhand Chief Justice K M Joseph as the judge of the apex court.

The government had on April 26 returned the Collegium's recommendation to elevate Justice Joseph seeking its reconsideration, saying the proposal was not in accordance with the top court's parameters and there was adequate representation of Kerala in the higher judiciary from where he hails.

It had also questioned his seniority for elevation as a judge of the apex court. An apex court official said, in his letter sent to the CJI late last evening, Justice Chelameswar has conveyed that he was reiterating his decision for the elevation of Justice Joseph as the judge of the top court since there was no change in the circumstance that had led the collegium to recommend his name to the government on January 10.

It is also learnt that, Justice Chelameswar, who retires on June 22, has responded to all the points raised in the communication to the CJI by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad expressing reservations on the elevation of Justice Joseph.

The meeting of the Collegium was expected to take place yesterday but Justice Chelameswar was on leave. Besides the CJI and Justice Chelameswar, other members of the collegium are Justices Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph.

Justice Kurian Joseph, during his visit to Kerala last week, had also reportedly made it clear that he was in favour of reiterating the recommendation of the collegium on the issue of Uttarakhand Chief Justice Joseph.

Though no official word was there on when the collegium would meet, the official said it is for the CJI to fix the date as there is no other agenda but to discuss the issue of returning the recommendation relating to Justice Joseph to the Centre.

Earlier also, notwithstanding the letters written by the collegium members to the CJI which had come into the public domain, the Centre had disregarded the recommendation about Justice Joseph. -- PTI
14:04   Will be doing more pressers unlike PM: Rahul
Congress president Rahul Gandhi today that he enjoyed meeting the press in Bengaluru and would be holding more press conferences. @RahulGandhi enjoyed meeting the regional & national press today in Bengaluru. We had a packed house! I'm sorry not everyone got a chance to ask a question due to the paucity of time. But, unlike our PM who hasn't had a press conference in 4 yrs., I will be doing many more of these!

At the press conference Rahul Gandhi said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's attack on him declaring his prime ministerial ambitions was aimed at distracting attention. "This election is not about Rahul," the Congress president said. "I have now learnt to deal with the prime minister. When he can't respond, he distracts," Gandhi told reporters after winding up his extensive tour of poll-bound Karnataka.

Gandhi was responding to Modi's scathing attack on him after he declared his prime ministerial ambition. At his election rallies, Modi had wondered whether the country will ever accept such an "immature and naamdar (famous)" leader for the post. He also said Modi sees a 'threat' in him. "Modi has anger inside... he has anger for everybody, not just me ...and sees a threat in me," Gandhi said. Expressing confidence that the Congress would win the assembly polls in Karnataka on May 12, he said the opposition had restricted itself to making personal attacks during the campaign.
13:52   Critics kept writing me off, but I bounced back every time: Rajinikanth
Reflecting on his failures in the last few years, superstar Rajinikanth said critics have tried to write him off over time but he has come back stronger every time.

The 67-year-old actor said his films such as daughter Soundarya's motion-capture "Kochaidaiyaan" and KS Ravikumar's "Lingaa" did not work at the box office.

Rajinikanth said he was wary of "Kochadaiyaan" failure after watching the film's final version.

"Soundarya is a genius. Working with intelligent people is easy. But, we should be careful with geniuses. She listed out a post-production budget to enhance the film's final version. But, I was sure that this film wouldn't be successful. So, I insisted on releasing the film with the same version," he told reporters yesterday.

The actor was speaking at the audio launch of his upcoming film "Kaala". Santhosh Narayanan has composed the music. About "Lingaa", Rajinikanth said that he agreed to do the film as the subplot of interlinking rivers was a dream come true on-screen. -- PTI
13:41   That's Trump on his way to meet the men released by N Korea
While Donald Trump may look like a man who hates his job, it was a big day for the US President and the families of three men held in North Korea for over a year. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders @PressSec tweeted this a while ago. @POTUS lands at JBA to welcome home the three returnees - incredible night for America.

The three Korean-Americans who were detained in North Korea were greeted by President Donald Trump beneath a giant American flag after they returned to the mainland US today. Despite a middle-of-the-night landing, first lady Melania Trump and a host of senior administration officials joined Trump to celebrate the occasion. The president and first lady boarded the medical plane on which the men traveled to take a private moment with them.
12:53   Vet scientists reach Sitapur to tackle killer dogs
As feral dogs continue to threaten innocent lives in Uttar Pradesh's Sitapur, a team of four scientists from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute reached the district on Wednesday to probe the matter.

A scientist at the IVRI, Dr Dinesh Chandra, told ANI, "We are here to find out how and why did the dogs turn violent and started attacking people." The menace began on May 1, when stray dogs began to attack children in Sitapur and adjacent areas. To tackle the issue, the Sitapur administration had called a dog catcher team from Mathura but it was later sent back.

After 12 children were reported to have been killed and several others were found injured by the dogs, the administration on Tuesday announced that drones and night vision binoculars would be used to track feral dogs and observe their activities.

Meanwhile, in the last 12 hours, two children were hospitalised after they were attacked by the dogs in the Khairabad Police station area. 
12:50   11 die in dust storms in UP, toll 81
Eleven more people lost their lives in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday due to high-intensity dust storms, taking the death toll to 81. Deaths were recorded in Agra, Etawah, Mathura, Aligarh, Firozabad and Kanpur Rural districts of Uttar Pradesh. Eleven people were also injured.

On May 7, the Meteorological Department had issued a 48-hour dust storm and thunderstorm warning.

Now a total of 135 people have lost their lives due to high-intensity dust storms in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

In Rajasthan 209 were injured in the massive storm.Moreover, two people died in New Delhi on May 8 after a strong dust storm caused ambulances to catch fire. -- ANI
12:37   Centre trying to fulfill Ambedkar's dreams: PM
Reaching out to Dalits and other backward communities in poll-bound Karnataka, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said his government was trying to fulfill B R Ambedkar's dream of a powerful and prosperous nation.

Hitting out at the ruling Congress in Karnataka, he said the party failed to confer the Bharat Ratna on Ambedkar when it was in power. Modi, while addressing the SC, ST, BC and Slum Morcha workers of Karnataka BJP via Narendra Modi app, said, "Our government has made the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act more stringent".

He also reminded the workers that the BJP had the maximum number of members of Parliament belonging to the SC/ST, OBC and minority communities.

"We are trying to fulfill Ambedkar's dream of a powerful and prosperous nation," he said. The Karnataka Assembly elections in the state will be held on May 12. -- PTI
11:57   WB panchayat polls: SC to hear state poll panel's plea at 2 pm
The Supreme Court will hear the West Bengal State Election Commission's plea, challenging the Calcutta High Court order directing it to accept the nominations of candidates who have filed their papers electronically within the stipulated time for the panchayat elections, at 2 pm today.

The State Election Commission, which approached the apex court today, has sought a stay of the operation of yesterday's order, saying it would suffer "irreparable loss and injury" that cannot be compensated.

Anticipating the SEC's move, the state's main opposition CPI(M) and BJP have filed a caveat before the top court saying that no ex-parte orders should be passed.

Caveat is a legal notice to a court or public officer that certain actions may not be taken without informing the person who gave the notice. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud was told by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for BJP's West Bengal unit, that the copy of the SEC's petition be supplied to them and the court may list the matter for hearing on May 11. PTI
Sagarika Ghose @sagarikaghose Good to see @RahulGandhi holding an open press conference. When will @narendramodi ji do the same with all journalists, not just scripted interviews to the spineless cheerleading toadies?

@RKRadhakrishn I join Sagarika in requesting @narendramodi to hold at least one press conference before he lays down office next year.
11:27   P-A-N-I-C: Rahul spells out BJP's mood in Karnataka
Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressing a press conference in Bengaluru on the last day of the campaign trail in Karnataka. With him on the dais is incumbent chief minister Siddaramaiah. Responding to a barrage of questions on the upcoming elections, the tonality of the rallies, his Italian background, Gandhi said the election was not about him or the Congress, but about the spirit of Karnataka. Excerpts from the presser.

On his Italian background: Rahul said his mother, the former Congress president was Italian, but she had spent the better part of her life in India and was more Indian than a lot of Indians. She had suffered for the country.  

On the BJP's statement that Rahul was an election Hindu: "Throughout the last 15 years, I've been visiting temples, mosques, gurudwaras, every religious institution I come across. BJP doesn't like this. I don't think they understand meaning of the term Hindu. It's a perspective. It's something which lives with you throughout."

On the Dalit issue: "We had said that Dalits are being beaten up and oppressed when Rohith Vemula was killed. ModiJi doesn't say a word. When Dalits are killed and humiliated in other parts of India, Modiji doesn't say anything. Congress will defend the rights of Dalits and raise this issue.

On atrocities against women: He said it was a political and a national issue. Mr Modi likes to discuss bullet train and other issues but does not like to discuss fundamental issues.

On the personal statements made by the PM at the rallies: Mr Modi has got anger inside of him. He is angry with everybody, not only me. I am a lightning rod for anger, I attract anger. But that is his problem. It is not my problem.

On the number of rallies the BJP senior leadership including the PM has held in the state: He said there was just one explanation to it, which, he spelt out saying P-A-N-I-C.  I have been travelling around K'taka for few months now, we all stood together and fought campaign on fundamental issues.We've prepared manifesto which is truly voice of the people. Opposition has restricted itself to making personal remarks. We are confident of winning the elections.
10:57   Chhattisgarh CM makes a jibe at Rahul's upcoming bike rally
As Congress chief Rahul Gandhi is set to conduct a massive roadshow in Chhattisgarh, state Chief Minister Raman Singh yesterday said he is welcome to hold the rally on 'well-constructed roads of the state.

'Taking a jibe at the Congress chief, Singh said that the road of Chhattisgarh is not like Amethi (Rahul's constituency), it is good for bike rides.

"He can go on a bike rally anywhere he likes in the state, the roads of the state is very good. It is not like the roads of Amethi, where he cannot go on bike rallies," Singh said.

Rahul is scheduled to hold a roadshow with a bike rally in Chhattisgarh on May 17.

Further speaking on the Karnataka assembly elections, he expressed confidence of the BJP winning the polls under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah.Karnataka will go to polls on May 12 and the results will be declared on 15. -- ANI
10:54   Let me beg in uniform, not got salary for 2 months, pleads Mumbai cop
A constable with the Mumbai Police has sought permission to "beg in uniform", saying he cannot support his family as he hasn't received his salary for the last two months.

Constable Dnyaneshwar Ahirrao - in a letter to his superiors, Mumbai Police Commissioner Datta Padsalgikar and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis - has asked permission to beg to take care of his ailing wife and manage household expenses.

In the letter, Ahirrao, working with the Local Arms unit, said he had taken leave from March 20 to March 22.

However, he could not report to duty after his leave ended since his wife suffered a fracture in her leg, he said. Ahirrao, posted with the security team at 'Matoshree', the home of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, claimed that he had informed, over the phone, his unit in-charge about the emergency leave he was availing of for five days. Following his wife's treatment, he resumed duty on March 28, he said.

But he stopped getting the salary, his letter said, without revealing more information. "I have to take care of my sick wife, old parents and a daughter. Besides, I have to pay monthly instalment of the loan I have taken. But since my salary has been stopped, I am unable to meet these expenses. So I want permission from you to beg in uniform," the letter said.

Dnyaneshwar Ahirrao himself could not be contacted for more details.
When contacted, Vasant Jadhav, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Local Arms Unit, said, "The matter comes under the administration department. I can not comment on it." -- PTI

Image: Ajay Devgn plays a honest and valiant cop in the Rohit Shetty film, Singham, set in Goa.  
10:30   Kejriwal's kin arrested
A man related to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was arrested today by the Anti-Corruption Bureau in connection with the PWD scam. Vinay Bansal,  son of Kejriwal's brother-in-law, was arrested this morning, ACB chief Arvind Deep said. Three FIRs, including one against a company run by the chief minister's brother-in-law Surender Bansal, were registered by the ACB in this case on May 9 last year.

Three companies, including Renu Constructions (owned by Bansal, Kamal Singh and Pawan Kumar), were included in the FIRs. In a complaint, Rahul Sharma, founder of Roads Anti-Corruption Organisation (RACO), had alleged that Kejriwal and PWD minister Satyendra Jain misused their office for grant of contracts to Bansal. However, they were not named in the FIR.

RACO, an organisation which claims to monitor construction projects in the national capital, had alleged that a firm linked to Bansal was involved in financial irregularities in building a drainage system in north-west Delhi.

It was also alleged that the bills sent to the Public Works Department  for unfinished works were "false and fabricated". PTI
10:27   Azadi is not going to happen, army chief warns Kashmiri youth
In an interview to the Indian Express, Army Chief Bipin Rawat has said that Kashmiri youth picking up the gun and those who tell them (that) this path will bring Azadi is misleading them. Gen Rawat said categorically, "I want to tell Kashmiri youth that Azadi isn't possible. It won't happen. Don't get carried away unnecessarily. Why are you picking up weapons? We will always fight those who seek Azadi, those who want to secede. (Azadi) is not going to happen, never."

General Rawat said that he doesn't attach much importance to the number of militants who are killed in encounters with the Army. "These numbers don't matter to me because I know this cycle will continue. There are fresh recruitments happening. I only want to stress that all this is futile, nothing is going to be achieved by them. You can't fight the Army."

Both the ruling PDP-BJP coalition led by chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and the opposition in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday recommended the Centre to consider a unilateral ceasefire against terrorists starting from Ramzan, this month till the end of Amarnath yatra and Eid in August.

The Army chief said that the Army or Indian administration does not like any sort of killing, but would fight with full force if compelled to do so. Comparing the role of Indian Army to that of security forces in countries like Syria and neighbouring Pakistan, General Rawat said that the forces in India havent been brutal.
09:52   Lalu's son to wed in two days
In Patna, Lalu Prasad Yadav's son Tej Pratap's mehendi ceremony was held last night. He will be be tying the knot with Aishwarya Rai, daughter of RJD party legislator Chandrika Rai, on May 12. 
09:42   Students trek 4 km every day to use a toilet
So much for the Centre's claims of providing basic toilets for its people. Flush with statistics of toilets built, the fact remains that much of the toilets cannot be used as there is no water. 

In Madhya Pradesh's Damoh district for instance, girls of a government hostel have to travel four kilometers every day to use a toilet which has water.  "My friends and I along with our teacher walk two kilometers every day to use the toilet, due to the water crisis in the area," a student said.

There is no water in the toilets in the hostel. Even after having two borewells, the girls face hardship as the wells goes dry at the beginning of summer. "But usually we get water from tankers. But this time we did not even have that," said the warden of the hostel.

Taking cognizance of the issue, the collector of the district said that they have informed higher authorities, but are yet to receive any help from them.
 -- ANI
08:51   Akshay, Twinkle sent legal notice for auctioning 'Rustom' costumes
Eleven serving defence officers and eight others have sent a legal notice to actors Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna, accusing the Bollywood couple of "playing with the sentiments" of the armed forces by putting up for auction a naval costume from the Hindi film "Rustom".

The group, which also included the wife of a navy man and seven retired officers, said it was offended that the actors had listed the costume as an "original naval uniform". "Uniforms resembling those of the armed forces pose a potential threat to national security as the said uniform, insignia and badges could pass for genuine service clothing and can find their way to anti-national elements who can use it to foment trouble," the notice said.

A copy of the notice has also been sent to the auction house Salt Scout and the office of the defence minister. 

The officers urged the minister to take action against the actors and to stop the auctioning of the outfit Kumar wore in the 2016 film, a fictional account loosely based on the real-life case of Naval Officer K M Nanavati, charged with and then acquitted of killing his wife. 

"By putting in auction 'Akshay Kumar's Rustom Naval Officer Uniform' you have shown no respect for national interest but have also played with the sentiments of armed forces personnel and their widows including my clients, who are retired, as well as serving armed forces officials and their family members," the notice read. 

Kumar had put the outfit up for the auction on April 26 in support of an NGO working for the cause of animal rescue and welfare. 

"Hi, all I'm thrilled to announce that you can bid to win the actual naval officer uniform I wore in Rustom! Auction's proceeds will support the cause of animal rescue and welfare. Place your bid at," he wrote. 

The bid, which will end on May 26, currently stands at Rs 2,35,000.
08:23   Mallya can be regarded as a fugitive from justice: UK court
Vijay Mallya, wanted in India to face charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs 9,000 crore, can be regarded as a "fugitive from justice", the UK High Court has concluded.

Judge Andrew Henshaw, who upheld a worldwide freeze order and ruled in favour of 13 Indian state-owned banks to recover funds amounting to nearly 1.145 billion in a judgment yesterday, took note of the fact that the 62-year-old businessman is contesting his extradition to India relating to "alleged financial misconduct".

"In all these circumstances, and even taking account of the fact that Dr Mallya is contesting the alleged grounds for extradition, there are grounds for regarding Dr Mallya as a fugitive from justice," the judge said as part of his ruling.

The High Court remained unconvinced by Mallya's claim that he has been a non-resident Indian since 1988 and has lived in England since 1992, a country where he has indefinite leave to remain.

"The evidence indicates that prior to March 2016 Dr Mallya travelled fairly regularly between India and England for business and political reasons. Most of his business interests were in or closely connected with India, most notably United Breweries Group and Kingfisher AirlinesWhilst Dr Mallya has indefinite leave to stay in the UK, he is said to be a non-resident taxpayer," the court observed.

The judge also concluded that the businessman had been in "clear breach" of a Karnataka court's order when he disposed of assets like a historic sword of Tipu Sultan acquired at an auction in 2003.

"The sword of Tipu Sultan is an item of historic importance which Dr Mallya bought at an auction in 2003 for the equivalent of 188,400 and states that he gave away in 2016 as his family members considered that it was bringing him bad luck," Judge Henshaw notes in his judgment.

"Dr Mallya declined to state in correspondence to whom the sword was given. Dr Mallya was unable to put forward any basis for contending that the disposal was not in breach of the Karnataka High Court's interim injunction, and accepted that it occurred after the Supreme Court had made clear that the injunction covered subsequently acquired assets It does, though, appear to me to have been in clear breach of the Karnataka court's order," he adds.

The judge, however, was less certain that luxury cars and yachts had been undeclared or disposed of by Mallya as claimed by the legal team representing the 13 Indian banks State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Corporation bank, Federal Bank Ltd, IDBI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Jammu &a Kashmir Bank, Punjab & Sind Bank, Punjab National Bank, State Bank of Mysore, UCO Bank, United Bank of India and JM Financial Asset Reconstruction Co Pvt Ltd.

-- PTI
07:51   Not interested in Nobel prize, want victory for the world: Trump
US President Donald Trump today said he is not interested in winning a Noble Peace Prize but wants victory for the world.

Asked by a journalist if he deserved a Nobel Peace prize, Trump said although everyone thought he did, he would never say it himself.

"You know what I want to do? I want to get it finished. The prize I want is victory for the world, not for even here. I want victory for the world. Because that's what we're talking about. So that's the only prize I want," Trump said in response.

The South Korean president had recently said Trump deserved to win the Nobel Peace prize for his efforts with regard to North Korea.

Trump said his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would be a very good thing for the region and the world.

"This is something that nobody thought was going to happen for years or more. I really believe it's going to be a great thing for North Korea, a great thing for South Korea and Japan. I want to thank (Chinese) President Xi (Jinping). He was very helpful to us two days ago on something very specific," the president said. 

"We are working trade with China. They are doing okay because they're helping us, and I guess they're probably doing a little bit better because they're helping us. But they have really helped us on North Korea. We appreciate it and we appreciate President Xi," he said. 

Trump said he spoke with his South Korean counterpart.

"I just spoke to President Moon and explained what was taking place with respect to the three gentlemen. And President Moon of South Korea was very, very happy to hear it. He, likewise, has been incredibly helpful," he said.

"So the relationships we have with (Japanese) Prime Minister Abe, President Moon and President Xi, I think it all goes into what is taking place right now. We very much look forward to having the meeting between the United States and North Korea. That will be announced over the next couple of days," Trump said. 

-- PTI
00:22   Rahul Gandhi is our PM candidate: Ahmed Patel
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Wednesday said that Rahul Gandhi is the party's prime ministerial candidate for the next national election.
Asked as to how he saw the Congress chief's comment yesterday that he was ready to occupy the prime ministerial post if the Congress emerges as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha polls, Patel said, "The Congress president has already said something. It all depends on who will get how many seats. Our candidate will be Rahul Gandhi," 
"But ultimately it will all depend on the (Lok Sabha poll) results," Patel told reporters here, maintaining that Gandhi's claim did not make him "arrogant."
"After all he (Gandhi) is the president of the Congress party...If we don't get majority, others (alliance parties) will definitely be consulted. This is not arrogance. If he says he cannot become the prime minister, it will demoralise the party," Patel added.
In reply to a question, Patel alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had "learnt from China" how to showcase a few big projects to create the impression that there is a lot of development.
"He has learnt it from China how to build big projects and showcase them as development. But if you go a bit deeper, there is no development. The Sabarmati river front, the bullet train, the Metro trains are sold as development. But if you go to villages, there is no development. Government schools are shutting down," he alleged.
Patel exuded confidence that the Congress will be getting majority in the Karnataka assembly elections by crossing the magic figure of 112.
He also said his party will continue to press the demand of use of ballot paper in the general elections. -- PTI