Wed, 30 May 2018
Soldier from Kerala dies in Kolkata of suspected Nipah virus infection

Timeline  Refresh

23:56   NCLAT stays insolvency proceedings against RCom
Appellate tribunal NCLAT today stayed bankruptcy proceedings against  Reliance Communications after the debt-laden telecom operator agreed to pay Rs 550 crore to Ericsson to settle a payment dispute.

The order of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal clears the way for Anil Ambani-led RCom to sell its telecom towers, spectrum and fibre assets to Reliance Jio.

Run by richest Indian and Anil's elder brother, Mukesh, Jio is buying RCom for about Rs 18,000 crore to clear some of the Rs 45,733 crore debt it owes to banks.

A two-member bench headed by NCLAT Chairman Justice S J Mukhopadhaya directed RCom and its subsidiares -- Reliance Infratel and Reliance Telecom -- to pay Rs 550 crore to Ericsson India in 120 days, failing which it will direct insolvency proceedings against the company.

The countdown would start from June 1.

"Impugned order of May 15, 2018 and May 18, 2018 passed by NCLT Mumbai in ... are stayed," the tribunal said.

The NCLAT also directed the chairman/managing director of RCom to file an undertaking regarding payment of the amount.

It further said: "The corporate debtor and financial creditors are given liberty to sell assets and deposit the sale proceeds in banks' account. The sale will be subject to final decision of the tribunal."

The appellate tribunal also directed the Resolution Professional appointed by the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) to allow RCom to take over day-to-day functioning.

"Resolution Professional will allow the Corporate Debtor (RCom) management to takeover day to day functioning," the court said.        Meanwhile, in a statement, RCom said its management has been reinstated by NCLAT's order.

"RCom's management and board of directors have been reinstated vide this order," RCom spokesperson said.

It further said the company expects to complete the sale of its assets within the next few weeks.

"RCom expects to now complete the sale of its assets within the next few weeks, having removed legal hurdles of cases by minority investors of RITL, and Ericsson, thereby achieving an overall debt reduction of approximately Rs 25,000 crore from the first phase of its asset monetisation programme," he added.

RCom will get a majority of the proceeds from Reliance Jio from sale of telecom assets, it will receive around Rs 1,000 crore from sale of real estate in Delhi and Chennai to Brookfield.

On May 15, the Mumbai bench of NCLT had admitted Ericsson's petition for beginning of insolvency proceedings against RCom.

Ericsson India had moved NCLT recovering its about Rs 1,100 crore dues by auctioning RCom.

RCom lenders too had opposed the NCLT order as they see in Jio best option to recover their dues.

RCom had yesterday reached a settlement with HSBC Daisy Investments, a minority shareholder in Reliance Infratel.

Ericsson, which had signed a seven-year deal in 2014 to operate and manage RCom's nationwide telecom network, had alleged that it had not been paid the dues.  -- PTI
23:27   Soldier from Kerala dies in Kolkata of suspected Nipah virus infection
A 28-year-old soldier from Kerala, who was posted at Fort William, Kolkata, has died of suspected Nipah virus infection.

He was admitted to the command hospital on May 20, where he died five days later, a Defence spokesperson in Thiruvanthapuram said.

The body of the soldier, Seenu Prasad, who hails from Palakkad district, was not brought to Kerala and the funeral was held in Kolkata.

His parents and wife attended the last rites, the spokesperson said.

Prasad's body samples have been sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, for testing.

The results are awaited. He was on a month's leave in Kerala and had joined duty on May 13, the spokesperson added.  -- PTI
22:40   Mayawati vacates one bungalow, BSP retains another
Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati has vacated a government house in Lucknow, claiming compliance with a Supreme Court order, while holding on to a second official bungalow which her party says is a memorial to Kanshi Ram.

The Uttar Pradesh government recently sent notices to six politicians after Supreme Court ordered that they should shift out of the official accommodation allotted to them as former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh.

Mayawati's personal secretary said today that she has now vacated 6, Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg which was allotted to her as a former chief minister.

But the UP government had sent her a notice asking her to vacate another bungalow, 13A, Mall Avenue, which the party says is a memorial to BSP founder Kashi Ram.

The BSP recently said Mayawati occupied just two rooms of the 'Shri Kanshi Ram Ji Yadgar Vishram Sthal'.

The party had indicated that Mayawati was willing to vacate the bungalow on Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg if a notice was served.

Following the Supreme Court order, the UP government on May 17 issued notices to Narayan Dutt Tiwari, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Kalyan Singh, Mayawati, Rajnath Singh and Akhilesh Yadav to vacate the bungalows.

While Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh indicated their willingness to do so, the others have expressed reluctance.

N D Tiwari's wife Ujjwala Tiwari sought more time, pleading that her husband was in the 'last stages' of his life. Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav have written to the Estate Department seeking two more years at their official residences and have moved the apex court on this.  --  PTI
22:00   Anti-Kremlin scribe reported killed turns up alive at presser
Russian anti-Kremlin journalist Arkady Babchenko, who was reported killed in Kiev, appeared alive and well at a news conference in Ukraine in a stunning development today.

The head of Ukraine's security service Vasyl Grytsak told reporters that the faked death yesterday was part of a 'special operation' to pre-empt a real plot to kill him.  -- Agencies

IMAGE: Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, who was reported murdered in the Ukrainian capital on May 29, attends a news briefing by the Ukrainian state security service in Kiev, on Wednesday. Photograph: Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters
21:46   Air India pilot found dead in Saudi Arabia hotel
A 27-year-old Air India pilot was found dead at a Riyadh hotel in Saudi Arabia this morning, officials said.

Rithwick Tiwari, a first officer with the state-run airline, died reportedly of a heart attack while working out in the hotel gym, according to crew sources.

Tiwari's colleague Captain Renu Maulay identified the body after police broke open the door of a small toilet room inside the health club of Hotel Holiday Inn where it was found lying sideways, they said.

Indian Embassy officials in Riyadh have confirmed the pilot's death.

"He had collapsed in the wash room of the hotel gym this morning. He was then taken to a hospital, where the doctors declared him dead," Counsellor (Community Welfare) Anil Nautiyal told PTI over the phone.

He said the embassy is yet to study the detailed hospital report but it appeared to be a case of heart attack.

Nautiyal said the embassy officials are in touch with the pilot's family.

"We are in touch with the family but there are a lot of formalities that need to be completed before the mortal remains could be sent back to India," he said.

Meanwhile, an Air India spokesperson in New Delhi said the airline's manager in Riyadh was coordinating the matter and they are awaiting the nod from the embassy before the body is flown to India.  -- PTI

Image only for representation.
20:40   61% voter turnout in repolling at 73 Kairana booths
Repolling at 73 booths in Kairana Lok Sabha constituency  passed off peacefully today with an estimated voter turn out of 61 per cent, the state election office said in Lucknow.

The Election Commission had yesterday ordered repolling at these polling stations in view of technical snags in EVM-VVPAT machines during the bye-election on Monday.

Around 80,000 voters were eligible to cast their votes at the booths where the repolling was held today.

Opposition Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal as well as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party had complained of electronic voting machines (EVM) malfunctioning  at these booths.

The repoll began at 7 am and ended at 5 pm in 23 polling stations at Nakur, 44 in Gangoh and one station at Thana Bhawan in Saharanpur and five in Shamli.

On Monday, 54 per cent polling was recorded in Kairana seat, which fell vacant following the death of BJP MP Hukum Singh, whose daughter Mriganka Singh is the saffron party candidate in the bypoll.

Mriganka Singh is contesting against Rashtriya Lok Dal's Tabassum Hasan, who is also supported by the Congress, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party. Counting of votes will take place tomorrow.  -- PTI
20:08   Unlucky in love, Pak man walks to Indian border 'to get shot'
Heartbroken over not being able to marry his lover, a Pakistani man decided to walk up to the Indian border hoping a Border Security Force bullet would kill him.

Instead, Mohammad Asif, 32, landed behind bars.

He was caught by 118 Battalion of the BSF on Monday near the Mabboke border post and handed over to the Mamdot police, BSF officials said in Ferozepur today.

Asif told the security forces that he walked towards the Indian border hoping that a bullet from the BSF jawans would pierce his heart and end his trauma.

He said he wanted to hang himself but changed the plan as that would not have been the right thing to do during the holy month of Ramzan.

A resident of Jalloke village in Pakistan's Kasur district, Asif was in love with the sister-in-law of his eldest brother Atik-ur-Rehman.

Asif decided to end his life after twice being denied permission to marry her. His family and that of the woman disapproved of their relationship, according to his account.

He said both were in love and wanted to get married. But the woman was forced to marry someone else. Sometime back, she got divorced.

Again, Asif pleaded with his family to let him marry her, but they refused.

Asif comes from a well-off family that owns around 25 acres of land and he has cleared his senior secondary exams, Station House Officer (SHO) of Mamdot police station, Rashpal Singh, said.

He has been booked under the Indian Passport Act and the Foreigners Act.  -- PTI
19:44   Gauri Lankesh murder: SIT names Hindutva activist in 1st chargesheet
The Special Investigation Team probing the murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh today filed its first chargesheet in the sensational case, naming alleged gunrunner and Hindutva activist T Naveen Kumar as an accused.

The 650-page chargesheet filed before the First Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate details the role of Naveen Kumar alone as an accomplice in the murder, which had triggered a nationwide outrage.

Naveen Kumar has been charged under Section 302 (murder), 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 118 (concealing a conspiracy) and 114 (abetment to the crime) of the Indian Penal Code, and also under provisions of the Arms Act, SIT sources told PTI.

The chargesheet contains the statement of about 131 witnesses, the sources said.

The SIT has submitted that it would submit more documents relating to the case in future.

Lankesh, 55, known for her left leaning and strong anti-Hindutva views, was shot dead in front of her housein Bengaluru on September five last year.

Naveen Kumar was arrested for alleged illegal possession of firearm and ammunition on February 18.

During the probe, the SIT claimed, it had found evidence of his involvement in the killing of Lankesh, and also arrested him in that case.

The Arms Act case against Naveen Kumar would be heard by a city court tomorrow.

Naveen Kumar, hailing from Maddur in Mandya district, was arrested with a firearm and bullets when he was waiting for a client at Majestic bus stand in Bengaluru.

Sources claimed he had not only supplied firearms to the assassins of Lankesh but also conducted a recce of the area around her residence and provided them vital inputs about her.

He is also suspected to have ferried the prime accused to a place close to Lankesh's house.

Police said Naveen Kumar had named a man from Shivamogga Praveen Kumar, arrested by the city police in connection with an illegal arms case in May, in the Gauri Lankesh murder case.

The sources said the SIT has taken into custody four more people suspected of involvement in Lankesh's killing.

They have been identified as Manohar Edve, 30, Sujith Kumar alias Praveen, 37, Amol Kale alias Bhaisab, 40, and Amit Degwekar alias Pradeep.

While Edve and Praveen are from Karnataka, Kale and Degvekar are from Maharashtra and Goarespectively.

They were arrested for hatching a plan to kill Kannada writer K S Bhagawan, known for his anti-Hindutva stance, the sources said.

"Their involvement in Gauri Lankesh case is very much likely. That's why we have taken them into custody and are interrogating them closely," said a source in the SIT.  -- PTI
19:35   Ex-BSF DIG, J&K DSP, 3 others held guilty in sex scandal
Five persons, including a former deputy inspector general of the Border Security Force and a former Jammu and Kashmir police deputy superintendent of police, were held guilty by a special Central Bureau of Investigation court in Chandigarh today in the 2006 Jammu and Kashmir sex scandal.

Two other accused, including the then Additional Advocate General of J&K, were acquitted by the court of Judge Gagan Geet Kaur.

The quantum of sentence in the infamous case will be pronounced on June 4.

The scandal had hit the headlines in 2006 when the J&K police recovered two CDs showing Kashmiri minors being sexually exploited.

The minors were allegedly coerced into prostitution and supplied to top police officials, bureaucrats, politicians and surrendered terrorists.

"The court has held five persons guilty in the scandal while two persons have been acquitted in this case," said CBI prosecutor K P Singh.

The quantum of sentence in the infamous case will be pronounced on June 4. The sentence could range from seven years in jail to life imprisonment.

Those convicted under Section 376 of the Ranbir Penal Code are K C Padhi, a former DIG of the BSF, and Mohammad Ashraf Mir, a former DSP of police in J&K.

Singh said the three others found guilty are Maqsood Ahmad, Shabir Ahmad Langoo and Shabir Ahmad Laway.

The court acquitted former additional AG Anil Sethi and Mehrajuddin Malik, the CBI prosecutor added.

Prime accused Sabeena and her husband Abdul Hamid Bulla, who allegedly ran a brothel, died during the trial.

During the investigation, J&K police had prepared a list of 56 suspects, including high-profile individuals, allegedly involved in the sex scandal.

The case was shifted to the CBI in May 2006 after the names of some ministers also emerged. The Supreme Court transferred the case to a Chandigarh court later that year.

The then J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah submitted his resignation when his name was linked with this case.

However, the then J&K Governor N N Vohra had refused to accept his resignation.  -- PTI
18:40   Kerala 'honour killing': Two cops taken into custody
Two police personnel have been taken into custody in connection with the alleged honour killing of a man, a top police officer said in  Kottayam today.

ASI Biju and police driver Ajaya Kumar of Gandhinagar police station near  Kottayam were detained for suspected links with the gang that had abducted and killed 23-year old Kevin P Joseph, Ernakulam Range IG Vijay Sakhare, heading the probe team, said.

Joseph, a Dalit Christian, was abducted on May 27 by the gang allegedly engaged by his fiancee's family. His body was found in a river in Kollam district a day later.

His relatives have alleged that he was tortured and killed two days after he and his fiancee filed a joint application for marriage registration at a sub-registrar office near  Kottayam.

The IG told reporters here that 'prima facie evidence' suggested that the two police personnel, detained yesterday, had links with the gang which had abducted and killed Joseph.

They were being interrogated, he said, and indicated they might be arraigned as accused in the case, which has rocked the state with opposition Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party slamming the Left Democratic Front government.

So far 14 persons have been named as accused, he said. They will be charged under various sections of Indian Penal Code including 302 (murder) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).

Five of them, including father of Joseph's fiancee Chacko John (50) and brother Syanu Chacko (26), have been arrested.

Police said cars allegedly used in the abduction of Joseph were seized today from Punaloor area in Kollam district.

Sub-Inspector M S Shibu and Grade ASI Sunnymon of the Gandhinagar police station were yesterday suspended for laxity while Kottayam District Superintendent of Police V M Mohammed Rafique was transferred following the incident.

Joseph's fiancee, whose father is a Christian and mother a Muslim, has alleged laxity on the part of police when she approached the Gandhinagar police station with a missing complaint earlier.

The police did not pay heed even after she made an appeal to the sub-inspector that Joseph's life was in danger and he should be rescued, she had said.

Kerala Human Rights Commission has said it was suspected to be a case of honour killing and ordered the state police chief to submit a report in three weeks.  -- PTI
18:10   Terrorists carry out two grenade attacks in Pulwama
Terrorists carried out two grenade attacks on security forces in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir today but there was no loss of life or damage to property, an official said.

The grenade attacks on security forces took place this afternoon at Tral and Pulwama towns of the south Kashmir district, a police spokesman said.

There was no loss of life or property in the two attacks, he said adding the incidents were being investigated.  -- PTI
17:44   ICICI Bank orders probe into allegations against Chanda Kochhar
The board of India's largest private sector lender ICICI Bank has ordered an independent probe into allegations of 'conflict of interest' and 'quid pro quo' in bank's MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar's dealing with certain borrowers.

There are allegations of involvement of Kochhar and her family members in a loan provided to Videocon group on a quid pro quo basis.

It was alleged that Videocon Group pumped money into NuPower Renewables, a firm owned by Deepak Kochhar, husband of Chanda Kochhar.

Last week, market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India had served a notice on Kochhar on dealings of the bank with Videocon Group and Nupower.

The enquiry was ordered by the board, at its meeting yesterday, on a complaint by an anonymous whistle-blower against Kochhar, the bank said in a regulatory filing today.

'...the enquiry to be headed by an independent and credible person (will) examine and enquire into an additional anonymous whistle-blower complaint...,' it said.

The scope of enquiry would be comprehensive and include all relevant matters arising out of and in course of examination of the facts and wherever warranted, use of forensics/email reviews and recordal of statements of relevant personal, it said.

The enquiry, the bank said, will be conducted by an 'independent and credible' person.

The whistle-blower had alleged that the bank's MD and CEO had not adhered to provisions relating to code of conduct of the bank and legal and regulatory provisions relating to conflict of interest over a period of time and also alleged quid pro quo in the course of Kochhar's work in dealing with certain customers/borrowers of the bank.

Interestingly in April, the board had expressed full confidence in Kochhar and ruled out any quid pro quo as alleged with regard to certain loan given to Videocon group.

The regulator filing, which came today after close of stock market, further said the enquiry will cover all 'connected matters' in the course of investigations to bring the matter to a final close.

In keeping with the whistle-blower policy of the bank, its board mandated the audit committee to appoint an independent and credible person to head the enquiry and also define the terms of reference, including timeline.

There are also allegations that NuPower got investments of Rs 325 crore from Mauritius-based Firstland Holdings, a company owned by Nishant Kanodia, son-in-law of Essar Group co-founder Ravi Ruia.

The investments from Ruia's son-in-law's firm into NuPower started in December 2010. Incidentally, the same month ICICI Bank was lead banker in a consortium of Indian banks that extended a $530 million loan to Essar Steel Minnesota LLC on December 29, 2010.

This loan was later classified as a Non-Performing Asset.

The Reserve Bank in its 2016 investigation in the matter had raised questions over the ownership of the Mauritius-based entity, First Land Holding, which had invested Rs 325 crore in NuPower.

Also, there was no clarity over the alleged Rs 64-crore loan (unsecured fully convertible debentures) given to NuPower by Supreme Energy, which was 99.99 per cent owned by Videocon chief Venugopal Dhoot at that time.

While Chanda Kochhar sat on the credit committee that approved the loan to Videocon, there are allegations of conflict of interest in her husband's brother, Singapore-based Rajiv Kochhar, performing debt-restructuring work on errant corporate borrowers from ICICI, including Videocon.

The restructuring wasn't commissioned by the bank but by the borrowers. Interestingly, the board of ICICI Bank expressed full faith in Chanda Kochhar, whose current tenure as CEO is set to end on March 31, 2019.

It had reviewed credit approval processes and found them to be robust, according to a March 28 filing by the bank.  -- PTI
17:35   Woman says BJP man beat up spouse, tries to end life outside CM's house
The police today detained a woman when she allegedly tried to immolate herself near Chief Minister Vijay Rupani's residence in Gujarat's Rajkot district, an official said.

Hetal Makawana, a native of Padadhari town in Rajkot,had a couple of days back threatened to set herself ablaze in front of Rupani's private residence in Rajkot.

She wanted to protest, what she claimed as, the 'police inaction' to include the name of a local Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former MLA in a first information report in connection with an incident of her husband having been allegedly beaten up.

Makawana's husband was injured in a clash a few days ago, a police official said.

The woman alleged that he was beaten up at the behest of former Rajkot MLA Ramesh Rupapara, he said.

She claimed that despite her repeated request, thepolice did not include Rupapara's name as an accused in theFIR and threatened to set herself on fire.

A senior police official said they had stepped up the security at the chief minister's residence in advance and detained Makawana when she came to immolate herself today.

Rupani's residence is located in the city's posh Prakash society near Nirmala convent school.  -- PTI
17:11   Traffic jam on Mumbai's Western Express highway
Just In: Traffic heading to Andheri and beyond on Mumbai's Western Express highway has been badly affected after a milk tanker overturned near the marble shops before the airport.
17:07   Modi announces 30-day free visa for Indonesian citizens
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced a 30-day free visa for Indonesian citizens and invited the diaspora to travel to their country of origin to experience the 'New India'.

Addressing a gathering of Indian diaspora at the Jakarta Convention Centre in the Indonesian capital, Modi said, "Not only do the names of our nations rhyme but also there is a distinct rhythm in the India-Indonesia friendship."

"We will grant free of cost visa for Indonesian citizens for travel of up to 30 days," Modi said, amid applause.

"Many of you may never have been to India. I invite you all to come to India for the Kumbh in Prayag next year," Modi told the gathering.

Kumbh Mela is one of the largest human congregations on the Earth.

Taking a dig at the previous governments, Modi said his first priority as a government was to make the country corruption free, citizen-centric and development friendly.

"Our government, has been making India ready according to the need and expectations of the 21st century," he said.

"We have gone a step ahead of 'Ease of Doing Business.' Our focus is 'Ease of Living.' Our processes are transparent and sensitive," Modi said.

"We have to make a 'New India'. We have to start working to realise the dream of New India by 2022, when India will celebrate 75 years of her independence," Modi added.

In the last two-and-a-half years, more than 9,000 start-ups have been registered in India, he said, adding that the world's second largest start-up ecosystem is built in India.

"And my friends living in Indonesia, these are happening, laws are the same, officers are the same, offices are the same, tables and chairs are the same, only the government has changed and the country is changing," Modi said.

"If the policy is clear and intension pure, then development has to happen which we have shown," he asserted.

Prime Minister Modi, who arrived in Jakarta last night on his first-ever official visit to Indonesia, earlier met President Joko Widodo at the Merdeka palace, one of the presidential palaces in Indonesia.  -- PTI

Photograph: Courtesy @MEAIndia/Twitter
16:20   Indrani Mukerjea's son Mikhail says life under threat
Mikhail Bora, Indrani Mukerjeas son has claimed that there is a threat to his life in Assam. He has written a letter to the CBI who have brought the matter to the notice of the trial court. The CBI has filed an application before the trial court seeking to direct Assam police to give Mikhail Bora protection.

Earlier, Indrani Mukerjea, accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, said at a  special CBI court that she would oppose her estranged son Mikhail's claim on Sheena's share of ancestral property.

Sheena, 24, Indrani's daughter from an earlier relationship, was killed in April 2012, but the killing came to light in August 2015 after Mukerjea's driver Shyamvar Rai, arrested in another case, revealed it. Mukerjea has been lodged in Mumbai's Byculla jail for killing her daughter, Sheena Bora.

Indrani and her former husband Sanjeev Khanna were arrested in August 2015 along with her former driver Shyamvar Rai, while Indrani's present husband Peter Mukerjea was nabbed in November the same year.

16:09   PNB fraud: ED attaches Rs 52.8 cr wind farm of Nirav Modi's family in Jaisalmer
The Enforcement Directorate has attached a Rs 52.8 crore wind farm owned by Nirav Modi's family in Rajasthan's Jaisalmer in connection with its money laundering investigation into the over $2 billion PNB fraud case, the probe agency said today.
The agency said it has issued a provisional order for attachment under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act for freezing the 9.6 MW-power capacity farm (consisting of multiple wind mills) that is "owned by" Ms Solar Exports, Ms Stellar Diamonds, Ms Diamond R US and Ms Neeshal Merchandising Private Limited.
The first three firms are involved in the Punjab National Bank alleged fraud case as they "got the Letters of Undertaking issued fraudulently from the bank", the ED said in a statement.
It said the market value of the asset is Rs 52.80 crore.

 The central probe agency has attached Nirav Modi's assets worth over Rs 691 crore till now.

It also filed its first chargesheet, before a special court in Mumbai, against the diamantaire and his family on May 24 in the over $2 billion PNB fraud case stating that over Rs 6,400 crore of bank funds were allegedly laundered abroad to dummy companies by him and others.
The ED had registered an FIR, called the Enforcement Case Information Report, in this case on February 14.
The CBI had also filed two chargesheets in this case earlier this month.
Nirav Modi, who is absconding and has not joined the ED probe in the case till now, and others are being probed under various criminal laws after the fraud came to light this year following a complaint by the Punjab National Bank that they allegedly cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of over Rs 13,000 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank.

-- PTI
15:45   Bank strike may hit transactions worth Rs 20k crore: Assocham
The two-day nationwide strike by employees of public sector banks may affect customer transactions worth up to Rs 20,000 crore, industry body Assocham said today, urging the United Forum of Bank Unions to call off the strike.
The chamber also urged the government to come up with a stimulus plan for restoring the health of public sector banks.
State-owned lenders are grappling with high levels of bad loans and as per reports their losses for the quarter ended March 2018 are set to hit a record Rs 50,000 crore which is more than double the losses of Rs 19,000 crore in preceding quarter ended December 2017, Assocham said in a statement.
"Considering such a precarious situation, we at Assocham would urge the government to come up with a stimulus plan which must include restoring the PSBs to health," Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat said.
"With about 10 lakh bank employees going on strike, banking operations such as cheque clearances, cash withdrawals and deposits at PSB branches across India will be affected," he added.

The UFBU, an umbrella body of nine bank unions, has gone on strike against the proposed wage hike of 2 per cent as against 15 per cent given last time, All India Bank Employees Association general secretary C H Venkatachalam said.
Consequently, banking activities in public sector banks across the country have been interrupted.
However, operations in the new-generation private banks like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank were almost normal, barring few activities including cheque clearance.
Since the strike coincides with the month-end, salary withdrawals from branches are likely to get affected. Some ATMs may also take a hit.
Besides, deposit in branches, FD renewal, government treasury operation, money market operation would see the impact of the strike.

-- PTI
15:31   Thousands go home as India, Pakistan agree to end Kashmir firing
Thousands of people from Jammu and Kashmir headed back to their homes near the de facto border with rival Pakistan on Wednesday, after their armies agreed to stop exchanging artillery fire following repeated recent clashes. 

More than 50,000 people had taken shelter in schools and colleges in the Indian-ruled part of disputed Kashmir, away from the shelling that officials say killed 12 people and wounded many more on both sides over the past few weeks. 

On Tuesday, Indian Army and Pakistan's army agreed to fully implement a 2003 ceasefire agreement.

In case of any issue, restraint will be exercised and the matter will be resolved through utilisation of existing mechanisms of hotline contacts and border flag meetings at local commanders level, Pakistans military said in a statement.

Bacchan Lal, the headman of Abdullian village in Jammu and Kashmir, who has been living in a college with 350 other people over the past two weeks, said such agreements rarely last long.

They agree to respect the ceasefire several times every year but then they violate it again. Every time people are killed, cattle perish and we end up in such camps, he said. We are in camps for the second time this year. We dont want this uncertainty. We want permanent peace as we had 30 years ago. 
15:16   Rajini to pay Rs 2 lakh to families of those killed in Tuticorin violence
Superstar Rajinikanth on Wednesday announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each for the kin of those who died during the anti-Sterlite protests in Tamil Nadu's Thoothukudi district.   

Earlier today, the actor-turned politician visited the general hospital in Thoothukudi to meet the people who were injured in the violence.   

"This has happened because of the negligence of Intelligence. This incident shows the carelessness of the government," Rajinikanth told reporters.   "I don't want to comment more on it, but the government needs to be careful as the people are watching. It was a huge mistake and a big lesson. I announce Rs 2 lakh each for the kin of victims, who died in the protest," he added.   

On May 22, at least 13 people were killed and more than 60 injured in the police firing during a protest against the construction of a new smelter plant by Sterlite Copper in Thoothukudi.   

The people were protesting against the construction of the copper plant, claiming that it was polluting the groundwater and was hazardous for the environment.
15:03   OPS's son too rises in TN
The ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu today effected a shake-up in its party ranks, appointing its coordinator O Panneerselvam's son to a key post.   

Panneerselvam and AIADMK co-coordinator K Palaniswami announced the appointment of P Ravindranath Kumar as Theni district secretary of 'Puratchi Thalaivi Amma Peravai,' a forum named after the late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.   

Kumar is the son of Panneerselvam, the state's deputy chief minister. 
15:00   19-year-old files rape charge against BJP legislator in UP
The police in Bareilly is probing the complaint of a 19-year-old woman who has charged the BJP's Bisauli legislator Kushagra Sagar with raping her on the pretext of marriage, a senior official said today.   

Sagar has refuted the allegation as "baseless".  

In a written complaint to the senior superintendent of police, the woman alleged that Sagar had an affair with her in 2014, when she was a minor, and she was kept in his house in Bareilly for two years on the promise of marriage and raped.   

Bareilly SSP Kalanidhi Naithani told PTI that an inquiry in this connection has been handed over to circle officer Niti Dwivedi and action will be taken on getting a report.
14:58   No bids for Air India so far, won't extend deadline: Aviation Secretary
The government has not received any bids so far for its stake in state-run carrier Air India, the civil aviation secretary told TV channels, a day before the formal bidding process closes.

The government will not extend the deadline for submissions of interest in Air India, RN Choubey said on Wednesday. The deadline for receiving bids has already been extended once to May 31 from May 14.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, keen to sell the loss-making, debt-ridden airline, finalised plans in late March to divest a 76 percent stake and offload about $5.1 billion of its debt.

After the terms were disclosed, no company has come forward to say it is interested or to reaffirm previous interest, while Jet Airways and rival IndiGo, owned by InterGlobe Aviation, have already publicly opted out of the race.
14:47   Punjab and Haryana HC gets new chief justice
The Punjab and Haryana high court is set to a get a new chief justice in the coming days as the law ministry has cleared the name of Justice Krishna Murari for the post.             

Justice Krishna Murari is a judge of the Allahabad high court and his name to head the Punjab and Haryana high court was cleared by the Supreme Court collegium last month.   

Justice Ajay Kumar Mittal was recently appointed as the acting chief justice of the Punjab and Hayana high court following the retirement of Justice Shiavax Jal Vazifdar who was heading the HC.

Meanwhile, Justice Hrishikesh Roy, a judge of the Gauhati high court, has been transferred to the Kerala high court. Since he is now the senior-most judge in Kerala HC, he has been asked to assume charge as acting chief justice following the retirement of Justice Antony Dominic.   

Separate law ministry notifications also said Justices Krishna Singh and Rajiv Lochan Mehrotra, additional judges in the Allahabad high court, have been elevated as permanent judges.    

The Allahabad high court at present is facing a shortage of 63 judges. While its approved strength is 160, it is doing with 97 judges. 
14:35   11 convicted in Tanasha murder case, 6 get life term
A special MCOCA court in Mumbai today convicted 11 people in connection with the murder of gangster Farid Tanasha, an aide of underworld don Chhota Rajan, and awarded life imprisonment to six of them.  

Special MCOCA Judge S M Bhosale convicted six of the accused under section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code and section 3(1) of Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) for causing death of a person, and sentenced them to life imprisonment.   

The remaining five accused were convicted under section 3(2) of the MCOCA, for being members of an organised crime syndicate and aiding and abetting an offence.   

They were sentenced to 10 years in jail, special public prosecutor Raja Thakare said.   

Tanasha was shot dead at his residence in Mumbai's central suburb of Tilak Nagar on June 2, 2010.
14:27   Rahul Gandhi terms 1 paisa petrol price cut as 'prank, childish move'
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the cut in petrol and diesel price. If this is your idea of a prank, its childish and in poor taste, he said while mocking PM Modi over reducing the petrol and diesel price by 1 paisa.

Dear PM, Youve cut the price of Petrol and Diesel today by 1 paisa. ONE paisa!?? If this is your idea of a prank, its childish and in poor taste. P.S. A ONE paisa cut is not a suitable response to the #FuelChallenge I threw you last week, he tweeted.

Earlier in the day, the reduction in petrol and diesel prices was revised to just 1 paisa a litre each, with state-owned oil companies blaming clerical error for previously announcing a cut of up to 60 paise. Petrol in Delhi now costs Rs 78.42 per litre and diesel Rs 69.30.

State-owned oil companies on Wednesday morning had announced reduction in petrol price by 60 paise to Rs 77.83 a litre and diesel by 56 paise to Rs 68.75 in Delhi. Within hours of the announcement, they revised the cut to just 1 paisa a litre each.

The 'reduction' comes after 16 consecutive price increases since May 14 when fuel retailers ended a 19-day pre-Karnataka poll hiatus to pass on a spike in global oil rates.
14:22   Russian journalist critical of Kremlin shot dead in Ukraine
A dissident Russian journalist has been shot at his apartment in Kiev in a high-profile murder that police said may have been tied to his reporting, reports Andrew Roth in The Guardian

'Arkady Babchenko, a veteran Russian war correspondent, was shot three times in the back as he left his apartment to buy bread... The killing appeared to be targeted. The gunman had apparently lain in wait for him outside his apartment, reports Roth.   

'Babchenko had grown highly critical of the Russian government in recent years. He criticised Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea and his support for the separatists of south-east Ukraine. He left Russia in February 2017, writing that it was "a country I no longer feel safe in',' Roth writes, here.
14:14   The secret of Dutertes electoral success
'Since his May 2016 election, Philippines president Rodrigo Roa Duterte's approval rating has never been far from 80 percent, and his drug war is an important element of his popularity. According to a detailed poll carried out last year by Manila-based Social Weather Stations, voters approved of the drug war 77-14,' reports Christopher Caldwell in  

'Duterte came to power in a landslide two years ago, promising to wage a war on drugs. He did not use "war' as a metaphor. "You destroy our country, I'll kill you,' Duterte said as his presidency began. "You destroy our children, I'll kill you',' Caldwell writes.   

And the president seems to have carried out his promise. 

'Last August, the government's "One-Time Bigtime' busts left 52 dead in one night. By the turn of this year, 4,075 people had died in anti-drug operations, according to the government. But that does not include thousands more killings tallied up by human-rights organizations and investigative journalists. These have been carried out by masked men and pairs of assassins on motorbikes. Whether the killers are out-of-uniform policemen silencing witnesses to their own corruption or neighborhood hoodlums using the drug war as a cover to settle scores, the violence has been immense,' points out Caldwell, here.
JUST IN: Explosions heard close to new building of Ministry of Interior in Kabul on airport road, casualties feared, reports Afghanistan's TOLO News.
13:21   Sena has harsh words for the EC; calls it 'mistress' of a political party
Ahead of the Palghar Lok Sabha constituency bypoll, the Shiv Sena on Wednesday slammed the Election Commission and called it a 'tawaif' (mistress) of a political party.

Raut's comment comes after his party chief Uddhav Thackeray released a video of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis asking Bharatiya Janata Party workers to use all possible means to win the Palghar Lok Sabha seat, where the polling took place on May 28.

"Our people caught BJP workers red-handed distributing money during Palghar bypoll, but Election Commission did not take any action, if similar inaction is shown by EC all over India, then it means EC is acting like a 'tawaif' (mistress) of a political party," Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said.

However, the BJP later alleged that the clip has been tampered.

The Palghar Lok Sabha by-poll was necessitated after the demise of Chintaman Wanga, the sitting Member of Parliament of the BJP.

The bypolls for four Lok Sabha seats and nine assembly constituencies were held on Monday across 10 states.

Counting of votes will take place tomorrow. 

-- ANI
13:16   Jet Airways grounds 4 pilots for clicking midair selfies
Jet Airways has reportedly grounded four of its pilots for allegedly clicking selfies on a training flight. Though the flight wherein they allegedly clicked the photographs was a training flight without any passenger, yet the act was in violation of the norms specified for airlines.

Among the pilots grounded by Jet Airways are a senior instructor level commander and three trainee pilots. The flight was on its way from Leh to Delhi on April 19 when the pilots clicked selfies. An internal investigation has been initiated by Jet Airways.

This is not the first such incident involving Jet Airways that has come to light. In 2014, one of the pilots of the airline had violated civil aviation safety guidelines by allowing his friends and colleague to not just access the cockpit area, but also click pictures with the pilots on duty.

According to the norms prescribed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, not everyone can access the cockpit area of a flight. Apart from the pilots, only DGCA inspecting officials, engineer or trainee pilots can enter the restricted zone.
12:45   Mehbooba welcomes India, Pak DGMOs' decision to fully implement 2003 ceasefire pact
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today welcomed the agreement by DGMOs of India and Pakistan to fully implement the ceasefire pact of 2003 and stop cross border firings, saying it would bring great relief to the people of the state.
The chief minister said having peace on the borders was the first essential step to a larger understanding and expressed hope that it would sustain.

Wholeheartedly welcome the reiteration of the commitment to the ceasefire on the border by both DGMO's. This brings great relief to the people residing in the vicinity, Mehbooba wrote on Twitter.

Peace on our borders is the first essential step to a larger understanding & (and) I truly hope it sustains, she said.

Director General of Military Operations of India and Pakistan yesterday agreed to "fully implement" the ceasefire pact of 2003 in "letter and spirit" forthwith to stop cross border firings in Jammu and Kashmir.

The two military commanders reviewed the prevailing situation along the Line of Control  and International Border in Jammu-Kashmir during a conversation over the hotline at 6 pm, the Indian Army said.

The special hotline contact was initiated by the Pakistani DGMO.

Following the conversation between Indian DGMO Lt Gen Anil Chauhan and Pakistan's Maj Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza, the two armies issued identical statements saying both sides agreed to fully implement the 15-year-old ceasefire understanding. 

-- PTI
12:10   Rajinikanth opens up on Kaala not releasing in Karnataka
The Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce has blocked the release of Rajinikanth's Kaala in the state.

About 10 pro-Kannada groups approached the Kannada Film Council, seeking a ban on Kaala, because they were dissatisfied with Rajinikanth's comments on the Cauvery issue.

At a recent media interaction, the actor opened up about his film not releasing in Karnataka.

Rajinikanth said, "I don't know the reason behind banning my movie. The KFCC is a part of South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce and I believe that they will intervene in this issue and come to an amicable solution."

Rajinikanth's previous film Kabali collected Rs 30 crore in the Karnataka region. If Kaala doesn't see the light of day in Karnataka, there will be a dip in the total box office collection of the film.

Directed by Pa Ranjith, Kaala, starring Rajinikanth, is a commercial film about indigenous land laws. In the film, the superstar will be seen as a slum lord-turned-gangster who fights for the people living in Dharavi in Mumbai.
11:32   Rape case filed against BJP MLA from Badaun
A woman from Bareilly has accused Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Badaun Kushagra Sagar of allegedly raping her.

The victim claimed that Sagar raped her for two-year on the pretext of marrying her.

"My mother used to work in his house and I used to accompany her there. The BJP MLA promised to marry me and raped for two years. Now when he has become an MLA he has refused to marry me," the victim said.

The woman has filed a complaint with the police and has threatened to commit suicide if justice is not served to her.

"Will commit suicide if I do not get justice, I have been receiving threats as well and have become a subject of ridicule in society," she said.

Meanwhile, the police said the case has been registered in the matter and they have begun the investigation.

-- ANI
11:05   CIA believes Kim won't give up nukes, could allow burger chain
North Korea is unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons stockpile any time soon but could offer to allow the launch of a western hamburger franchise in Pyongyang instead as a goodwill gesture, NBC News cited a new CIA intelligence assessment.

The assessment, however, did not name the brand likely to get North Korean leader Kim Jong-uns nod. His other options could include American investments, especially in infrastructure.

A hamburger franchise will be an easy give. And, as the NBC News report reminded its viewers, US President Donald Trump had expressed his desire in 2016 to talk peace with the North Korean leader while eating a hamburger on a conference table. And the world is aware of Trumps love of burgers two at a time, pushed down by a chocolate shake for dinner, while campaigning.

According to the news report, the CIA analysis further says Kim might have wanted to have an establishment up and running by the time of the talks to ensure a steady supply of burgers to the delegations involved. But there would be no shortage of the delicacy in Singapore if the southeast Asian nation does get to host the summit.
10:36   Chidambaram gets anticipatory bail in Aircel-Maxis case
Former Union minister P Chidambaram was granted anticpatory bail in the Aircel-Maxis case. 

With central agencies moving fast in the Aircel-Maxis case, Chidambaram had moved Delhi's Patiala House Court. 

The Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation are probing the Aircel-Maxis case of alleged money laundering. The CBI had arrested P Chidambaram's son Karti Chidambaram in connection with the case in February this year.

The case pertains to Foreign Investment Promotion Board approval granted in 2006 by P Chidambaram when he was the Union finance minister in the Manmohan Singh government.

The probe agencies have claimed that an alleged payment of Rs 26 lakh was made by Aircel Televentures Limited to ASCPL within days of the FIPB approval. ASCPL is allegedly linked to Karti Chidambaram.
10:08   Re-polling underway in UP's Kairana and Maharashtra after EVM glitches
Repolling in 123 booths in Maharashtra's Bhandara-Gondiya, Uttar Pradesh's Kairana and Aonglenden in Nagaland started on Wednesday morning.

Election Commission yesterday ordered re-poll at 73 polling stations in Kairana, 49 in Bhandara-Gondia and one polling station in Nagaland, after VVPAT machines developed snags during Monday's Lok Sabha bypolls.

The repolling is taking place at 49 booths in Bhandara-Gondiya and 73 booths in Kairana.

In Aongleden, repolling is being conducted at only one polling booth.

Following allegations of EVM malfunctioning, the Election Commission on Monday ordered the transfer of District Collector Abhimanyu Kale. He was replaced by Kadambari Balkawade.

Kale cited high temperatures as the primary reason for the malfunctioning of the Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail during the polling in the Bhandara-Gondia Lok Sabha constituency.

On Monday, the by-polls for four Lok Sabha seats and nine assembly constituencies were held on Monday across 10 states.

-- ANI
09:59   Morgan Freeman demands 'immediate' retraction and apology from CNN
Morgan Freeman's lawyer has demanded an immediate retraction and an apology from CNN for a report in which multiple women accused the veteran actor of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour.
In a letter sent to the media house, Freeman's lawyer Robert Schwartz said the report was a product of a "year-long witch hunt" against the 80-year-old that has caused damage to his reputation and career.

"At a minimum, CNN immediately needs to issue a retraction and apologize to Mr Freeman through the same channels, and with the same level of attention, that it used to unjustly attack him on May 24," read the 10-page letter obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. 

The letter also claims that one of the women named in the report, Freeman's Revelations Entertainment co-founder Lori McCreary, has rebutted the story.

"CNN also needs to retract the portions of the story that concern Lori McCreary and apologize to her for defaming and injuring her," it added.

It also claimed that CNN reporter Chloe Melas, one of the co-authors of the report, misinterpreted Freeman's remarks to her during a press junket for his film "Going In Style". 

The letter stated that Melas "baited and prodded supposed 'witnesses' to say bad things about Mr. Freeman and tried to get them to confirm her bias against him".

The media house, however, shot back at Freeman and in a statement said that it stands by its report.

"The unfounded accusations made by Mr Freeman's lawyer are disappointing and are difficult to reconcile with Mr Freeman's own public statements in the aftermath of the story," CNN said.

"CNN stands by its reporting and will respond forcefully to any attempt by Mr. Freeman or his representatives to intimidate us from covering this important public issue," it added.

-- PTI
09:36   CBI raids Delhi Minister Satyendar Jain; Kejriwal asks what does PM Modi want
The Central Bureau of Investigation raided Delhi PWD Minister Satyendar Jain for hiring a creative team for the Public Works Department.

Jain's decision to hire 24 architects to set up a creative team for the Public Works Department through a detective agency had come under CBI scanner last year.

It has been alleged that the minister tweaked the tender documents to facilitate the contract for hiring 24 professionals who were to work on Mohalla clinics and other PWD projects.

In a tweet, the minister claimed that all were forced to leave the place.

Reacting to the development, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asked what does PM Modi want.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that the matter was handed over to CBI by former LG Najeeb Jung before leaving the office.
09:11   RSS praises Pranab Mukherjee for accepting invite
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh praised former president and Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee for accepting an invitation to address its workers in Nagpur on June 7.

This isnt surprising for those who know and understand the Sangh, because RSS has always invited prominent people of the society in its programmes. This time, we invited Dr Pranab Mukherjee and its his greatness that he has accepted our invitation, read a statement from the RSS.

The former president will address the Third Year Sangha Shiksha Varga, which is held at the RSS headquarters annually in Nagpur.

Mukherjees party, the Congress, was silent on the issue. No comments, was Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkans response when asked about Mukherjee visiting the RSS headquarters.
08:51   15 hours on, fire rages in Delhi; Air Force joins ops
It will take another four hours to completely douse the massive fire that ripped through a godown in south Delhi's Malviya Nagar area on Tuesday evening, officials said today. The blaze is of the "highest category" that the national capital has seen in recent times. The authorities have sought the Air Force's help to douse the fire and evacuate the area.

The fire that started around 5 pm on Tuesday in Khirki Extension of Malviya Nagar is still raging. As many as 80 fire engines have been deployed to contain the fire since last evening. 

Thick plumes of smoke were seen from most parts of south Delhi.

Firefighters have been struggling for over 12 hours to bring the blaze under control while it continues to spread to the nearby buildings. No casualty was reported but those living near the fire site were being evacuated, an official said, adding that Delhi Disaster Management Authority  has sought help from the Air Force. 

Early this morning, the Air Force choppers were seen surveying the area.

Reaching the spot proved to be very tough for the fire engines as the lanes in the area are very narrow and congested, officials said. One fire fighter has been injured.

The blaze started after the truck full of rubber sheets, parked near the godown, suddenly caught fire that spread to the godown in no time, a fire official said. The godown is very close to a school in the area, Sant Nirankari Public School, which was empty at the time the fire began. Plastic and raw material stored at the factory fuelled the fire, he said.
PM Narendra Modi pays tribute at Kalibata National Heroes' Cemetery in Jakarta during his visit to Indonesia. 

Photograph: ANI/Twitter
08:24   After 16 days of continuous hike, fuel prices witnessed a slight drop today
After 16 days of continuous hike, fuel prices on Wednesday witnessed a slight drop.

The petrol prices have been cut down to 60 paise in Delhi and 59 paise in Mumbai while diesel price went down by 56 paise in Delhi and 59 paise in Mumbai.

The revised petrol prices in metropolitan cities are -- Delhi: Rs 77.83 per litre; Mumbai: 85.65; Kolkata: 80.47 and Chennai: 80.80.

Meanwhile, the cost of diesel per litre as on Wednesday is Rs 68.75 per litre in Delhi, Rs 73.20 per litre in Mumbai, Rs. 71.30 in Kolkata and Rs. 72.58 in Chennai.

The fuel price hike has caused inconvenience and disappointment among the general public for the last 16 days.

With the increase in fuel prices burning a hole in the pockets of the buyers, the people across the nation condemned the Centre for the continuous increase in the fuel prices.

-- ANI
07:59   2-day bank strike begins today: ATMs could go dry
Upset by a wage-hike offer that fell short of their expectations, employees of 20 state-owned, 12 private sector, and seven foreign banks will go on strike across India on May 30 and 31, affecting millions of customers, disrupting business, and increasing traffic at automated teller machines around the end of the month -- a time when the salaries of most employees hit their bank accounts.

On May 28, the Indian Banks Association said it would offer a 2 per cent wage hike this year. The All India Bank Employees Association said this is inadequate. Last time the wage hike was 15 per cent and prior to that it was 17.5 per cent. To start a wage hike discussion at 2 per cent increase is ridiculous. IBA should increase it adequately based on which we can talk further, said CH Venkatachalam, general secretary of AIBEA.

Theres more reason for AIBEAs angst. IBA also wants to exclude senior employees ( grade 4-7 scale officers) from the discussions. Banks have employees on grades ranging from 1 to 7, one being the lowest. Currently, it is willing to consider a wage revision only for the junior employees between grade 1 and 3 . Usually, wage revision used to be composite for all. We want IBA to be transparent, said Venkatachalam, adding that IBA has said it is willing to meet the union after 10 days, holding out hope that the strike could be resolved.

Last week, IBA informed banks that the United Forum of Bank Unions had served notice of a strike. In a regulatory filing, State Bank of India, the countrys largest lender, said, All India State Bank Officers Federation and All India State Bank of India Staff Federation are members of UFBU. Thus, it is likely that our bank will also be impacted to some extent by the said strike calls.

Account holders in ICICI Bank Ltd, HDFC Bank Ltd and Axis Bank Ltd will not be affected since these banks are not part of the union. However, customers of State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda and Indian Bank will have to postpone plans to visit bank branches for the next 48 hours.

There is a possibility of panic in terms of cash shortage at ATMs. ATMs will be impacted to a certain extent. Banks will not be able to replenish cash during the period of the strike, causing ATMs to go dry, said Venkatachalam.

01:10   Minorities in India felt increasingly vulnerable in 2017: US report
Members of civil society and religious minorities in India were concerned over minority communities feeling 'increasingly vulnerable' due to Hindu nationalist groups engaging in violence against them in 2017, a United States report on international religious freedom said.

The Congressional-mandated annual report on International Religious Freedom covering 2017 was released by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

According to the report, representatives of religious minority communities stated that, while the national government sometimes spoke out against incidents of violence, local political leaders often did not, and at times made public remarks that individuals could interpret as condoning violence.

'Members of civil society and religious minorities stated that under the current government, religious minority communities felt increasingly vulnerable due to Hindu nationalist groups engaging in violence against non-Hindu individuals and their places of worship,' the report said.

'Authorities often did not prosecute violence by vigilantes against persons, mostly Muslims, suspected of slaughtering or illegally transporting cows or trading in or consuming beef,' the report said.

Citing some court cases such as triple talaq, it said many long-standing legal cases involving religiously motivated violence and riots continued to advance slowly.

'The government continued its challenge to the minority status of Muslim educational institutions in the Supreme Court. Minority status afforded these institutions independence in hiring and curriculum decisions,' it said.

It said on July 13, Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned a rise in deadly mob attacks on cattle traders, consumers of beef, and dairy farmers, and said killing persons in the name of protecting cows was unacceptable.

In a speech at University of Bangalore on August 7, then-Vice President of India Hamid Ansari said Dalits, Muslims, and Christians were feeling increasingly insecure, it noted.

In an August 10 interview, Ansari stated there was a feeling of 'unease' and 'insecurity creeping in' among Muslims in the country.

His remarks drew criticism from the Bharatiya Janata Party and Hindu nationalist groups, the report said.

According to figures compiled by local partners of international non-governmental organisation Open Doors, during the first six months of the year, Christians were harassed, threatened, or attacked for their faith in 410 reported incidents, compared with 441 incidents in all of 2016, the report said.

From January through May, the Ministry of Home Affairs reported 296 conflicts between religious communities, resulting in 44 deaths and 892 injuries, it said.  -- PTI