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Wed, 03 October 2018
BJP appoints election in-charges for poll-bound states

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23:27  
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23:23   BJP appoints election in-charges for poll-bound states
Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah on Wednesday appointed Union Ministers J P Nadda, Prakash Javadekar and Dharmendra Pradhan as the party's election in-charges for Telangana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh respectively, a party statement said.

The assembly elections are likely to be held in these three states, besides Chhattisgarh, in the next couple of months.

Shah has also appointed Mukul Roy, who had quit the Trinamool Congress to join the BJP and seen as a capable organisational leader, as convener of the party's election management committee in West Bengal.

In another appointment, the BJP made Arvind Menon, who has an RSS background and was once a powerful organisational leader in Madhya Pradesh, as the party's co-in-charge for West Bengal.

Party General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya is the in-charge for the state.

The appointments in West Bengal underlines Shah's focus on the state, which he sees as a potential region for the party's growth in the next Lok Sabha election.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Mukul Roy has been appointed as convener of the party's election management committee in West Bengal.
22:59   Sohrabuddin case: CBI justifies not challenging Shah's discharge
The Central Bureau of Investigation's decision not to challenge the discharge granted to Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh alleged fake encounter case in 2014 was a 'conscious' and 'reasonable' move, the agency told the Bombay high court on Wednesday.

Seeking dismissal of two Public Interest Litigations questioning the CBI's decision, the central agency said the pleas are 'politically motivated' and 'publicity stunts'.

The petitioner's counsel, however, argued that the CBI had changed its stand on Amit Shah after the change of government at the Centre in 2014.

CBI Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh told the court that the investigating agency had studied the trial court's order granting discharge to Shah as well as various subsequent orders of appellate courts upholding the same.

Two PILs were filed in the HC urging it to ask the CBI why it had chosen not to challenge Shah's discharge, though the agency had filed revision applications against the discharge of two other persons in the case.

A bench of Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre Wednesday heard the PILs, filed by the Bombay Lawyers' Association (BLA) and a local journalist.

The bench has reserved its order.

A special CBI court had in 2014 discharged Shah in the case of alleged fake encounter killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in 2005.

"After going through these orders (of the trial court and of appellate courts), we decided that the order of discharge did not require any judicial review and hence, we took a conscious decision to not file any applications challenging Shah's discharge from the case," Singh said.

He made these submissions while opposing the two PILs.

Appearing for the BLA, senior advocate Dushyant Dave urged the court to intervene in the case.

He argued that the CBI had been roped in by the Supreme Court to probe the killings of Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi, and their aide Tulsiram Prajapati because the apex court had reposed its trust in the independent agency.

"Hence, the CBI should have been impartial and treated all accused persons in the same manner. Why did it then challenge the discharge granted to police officers N K Amin and Dalpat Singh Rathod, but went quiet in Shah's case?" Dave questioned.

He said the CBI had opposed the discharge plea filed by Shah before a special court in the city in April 2014, but changed its stand after Shah was discharged in December 2014.

"They had called him (Shah) one of the main conspirators in the case at that time. However, in December 2014, Shah was granted discharge in the case and the CBI changed its stand on his role.

"That is because the general elections took place and the government at the Centre changed. But, isn't the CBI supposed to be impartial irrespective of who is in power at the Centre?" Dave asked.

Countering Dave, Singh said there was no law that makes it must for the CBI to file appeals or revision applications in case of every discharge.

He urged the bench to dismiss the pleas saying that the same were 'politically motivated' and that they were 'publicity stunts'.

Singh argued that since Shah had been granted a discharge by a special CBI court in December 2014, several pleas challenging the same were filed in the HC, but they were either withdrawn or dismissed.

"The SC too had upheld the dismissal of several such pleas challenging Shah's discharge, and therefore there was no need for the Bombay HC to entertain the above PILs," Singh argued.

He informed the bench that Shah's discharge was first challenged in Bombay HC through a revision application filed by Sohrabuddin Sheikh's brother Rubabuddin, which he withdrew on October 5, 2015.

A single-judge bench of the Bombay high court had allowed Rubabuddin to withdraw the application on November 23, 2015, after it was convinced that he was doing so voluntarily.

Soon after, one Rajesh Kamble filed a revision application against the discharge granted to Shah, in his capacity of being an 'alert citizen'.

The HC, however, dismissed his plea on October 21, 2015 questioning his locus standi (his right, or the capacity in which he could have filed the plea) in the case.

A writ petition was then filed by social activist Harsh Mander in the HC challenging the discharge and questioning withdrawal of the application by Rubabuddin.

That plea too was dismissed by the HC and the dismissal was upheld by the Supreme Court in August 2017.

Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Kausar Bi were killed in an alleged fake encounter in 2005 by the Gujarat police.

Prajapati was killed in another such encounter in 2006 by the Gujarat and Rajasthan police.

Of the 38 people charged by the CBI in the case, 16, including Shah and all senior officers of Gujarat and Rajasthan police, have been discharged in the case by the trial court and the Bombay HC.  -- PTI
22:14   ICJ to hold public hearings in Kulbhushan Jadhav case from Feb 18
The International Court of Justice will hold public hearings in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case from February 18 to 21 next year at The Hague, a statement issued by the principal judicial organ of the United Nations said on Wednesday.

Jadhav, 47, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on spying charges in April 2017. India moved the ICJ in May the same year against the verdict. The world court has halted Jadhav's execution on India's appeal pending the final verdict by it.

Both India and Pakistan have already submitted their detailed pleas and responses in the world court.

"The hearings will be streamed live and on demand (VOD) in English and French on the Court's website as well as on UN Web TV, the United Nations online television channel," said the press release issued by the ICJ.

Pakistan says its security forces arrested Jadhav from Balochistan province in March 2016 after he reportedly entered the country from Iran.

In its submission to the ICJ, Pakistan had stated that Jadhav is not an ordinary person as he had entered the country with the intent of spying and carrying out sabotage activities.

India denies all the charges and maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy and that he has no links with the government.  -- PTI
21:40   ICJ orders US to lift Iran sanctions
The United Nations' International Court of Justice on Wednesday directed the United States to lift the sanctions imposed on humanitarian goods and civil aviation against Iran.

"On humanitarian grounds, the US must remove by means of its choosing any impediment to the free exportation to Iran of goods involving humanitarian concerns," Al Jazeera reported.

Iran's foreign ministry welcomed the interim order while stating, "The decision proved once again that the Islamic Republic is right and the US sanctions against people and citizens of our country are illegal and cruel."

While the ICJ's rulings are binding, they do not have the authority to enforce them.

Earlier, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had lashed out at the sanctions imposed by the Donald Trump-led US administration at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) held this year.

Rouhani further said that the sanctions amounted to 'economic terrorism' and 'economic war'.Meanwhile, Michael Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, had called for the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran at a breakfast meeting with his P-5 counterparts in New York on the sidelines of the UNGA.

In 2015, six countries-Iran, US, Britain, Germany, Russia, France, and China-signed the Iran Nuclear deal, for lifting sanctions on Tehran in exchange for the country's nuclear programme.

However, Trump-led USA withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, also known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in May this year. -- ANI
21:20   BJP's ally in Goa 'ready to face' mid-term polls
At a time the Congress has raised questions over stability of the Goa government, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, one of the constituents of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led dispensation, on Wednesday said the party was ready to face mid-term polls in case the government is 'dissolved'.

MGP leader and PWD Minister Sudin Dhavalikar also said politics is an unpredictable field.

"The MGP is ready to face mid-term assembly elections in case of dissolution of the government. We will not be affected whether the government is dissolved or not. But, the people got us elected for the tenure of five years (in 2017) and we want to complete our term," the minister told reporters in Panaji.

With three MLAs, the MGP is one of the constituents of the BJP-led government. The others being the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and Independent MLAs.

The opposition Congress, which has 16 MLAs in the House of 40, had demanded a floor test claiming that all is not well among the allies of the BJP in view of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's absence from office due to ill health.

The CM is currently undergoing treatment at AIIMS in Delhi for a pancreatic ailment.

"...Anything can happen in politics. Even a group of ten legislators can switch over to another party. We had seen it in a state where an entire group of Congress MLAs, including chief minister, had shifted to the BJP overnight," Dhavlikar said.

He said the government would continue in office till people want.

"Elections would be imminent if the people doesn't want the government to continue," he said.

Dhavalikar, however, ruled out replacement of the chief minister.

He said the CM would allot additional portfolios to ministers after October 9.

"There is nothing wrong in the current political situation of Goa. The CM is not here because he is unwell. There won't be any change in leadership in Goa. We want Manohar Parrikar to be our leader and till the time he can work for the people of Goa, he will be continue to be our leader," Dhavalikar added.  -- PTI
20:29   Centre asks Karmapa to return to India
The government has asked Tibetan spiritual leader Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, who is in the United States, to return to India as desired by his followers, officials said on Wednesday.

The Cabinet Committee on Security, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has also decided to allot a piece of land to the Karmapa in Delhi to construct his monastery.

The government has asked the Karmapa to return to India as his followers want him to stay in the country, an official privy to the development said.

However, the official said, the Tibetan spiritual leader is believed to be reluctant to return to India as he wants unrestricted movement within the country as well as abroad.

Currently, he is allowed to travel anywhere in India, except the Rumtek monastery in Sikkim, but he has to take the permission of authorities for his travel due to objections raised by the intelligence agencies.

The Karmapa is upset that he has to take permission every time he wants to go anywhere, unlike the Dalai Lama, who is free to travel anywhere without restriction, the official said.

Dorje uses a Dominican Republic passport for his travel abroad.

The CCS has decided to allot a piece of land to the Karmapa in Delhi, possibly in the Dwarka area, another official said.

The Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, also the chairman of the Delhi Development Authority, is scouting for land and is expected to decide the place soon.

The Karmapa wants to build a monastery as his current abode in Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh is small, the official said.

The Sikkimese Buddhists who follow the Khagyu sect recognise the 32-year-old Ogyen Trinley Dorje as the real heir and successor of the 16th Karmapa who passed away in 1981.

However, the central government had banned entry of all claimants to the title of Karmapa to the Rumtek monastery in East Sikkim in 1994.

The Sikkim government has written several times and passed resolutions, requesting the Centre to allow Dorje to make his claim as the 17th Karmapa.

The Centre has, however, not given any decision on it yet.

Dorje, head of the Karma Khagyu (Black Hat) tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, was born in Tibet and had escaped to India through Nepal at the age of 14. He reached the Tibetan exile quarters at McLeod Ganj on January 5, 2000.

He is recognised by the Dalai Lama.  -- PTI
20:04   Maha minister comes out in Nana Patekar's support, questions Tanushree
Maharashtra minister Deepak Kesarkar Wednesday came out in support of Nana Patekar, accused by fellow actor Tanushree Dutta of harassing her on the sets of a film in 2008, saying he is an 'illustrious personality' who has done tremendous work for the state.

He also questioned the veracity of Dutta's claims and asked why was an FIR not registered all these years.

The Shiv Sena member said Patekar is known as a social worker, adding that unless there is a complaint, one can't accuse a person of his (Patekar's) stature.

"He is not just an actor. He is also a social activist who has done tremendous work for the state. You just cannot level allegations against anybody," he said.

Patekar is an 'illustrious personality' who has done tremendous work for Maharashtra, the minister of state for home told PTI.

On Dutta's claims, he said, "This is not how the home department functions. Why was there no FIR registered in the last 10 years? What is the substantial evidence on which a complaint can be registered a decade after the incident took place?"

In a recent TV interview, Dutta had claimed that Patekar misbehaved with her on the sets of Horn Ok Pleasss 10 years ago.

She also alleged that Patekar had the tacit support of the film's makers.

Many Bollywood stars including Farhan Akhtar, Priyanka Chopra, Twinkle Khanna, Swara Bhasker, Anurag Kashyap, Richa Chadha, Parineeti Chopra and Hansal Mehta have come out in support of Dutta. -- PTI
19:25   LeT terrorist who threatened people against participating in polls held
Security forces Wednesday arrested a Lashkar-e-Tayiba (LeT) terrorist, who had issued threats to people against taking part in the local bodies and panchayat elections, from Sopore area of Jammu and Kashmir, police said.

"Acting on a reliable input, security forces in Sopore arrested one local militant  during naka checking at  Baramulla-Handwara road near Hadipora crossing," a police spokesman said.

He said the arrested terrorist has been identified as Amir Sultan War, a resident of Naidkhai in Bandipora district.

"War had recently joined the LeT outfit and a video showing him with a weapon had gone viral in which he was seen giving threat  to the people of north Kashmir not to participate in the forthcoming Local Bodies and Panchayat elections," the spokesman said.

A case has been registered in the concerned police station in this regard, he added.  -- PTI
18:55   Rafale issue is 20 times bigger than Bofors, says Tharoor
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday said the Rafale issue is 20 times bigger than the Bofors issue but the media is "not giving any importance like before".
   
He said the media in the late 1980s continuously pursued the Bofors issue, and it essentially tarnished the image of then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and led to the Congress' defeat in the election of 1989.
Tharoor said, "In the 1980s, there was not a single day the media did not chase the Bofors issue. Day after day, investigative reporters were sent around the world to find out what happened."
"Today, we have a scam that is 20 times as big in terms of money involved - that is the Rafale scam. Do you see the media giving any importance like before... Not at all," he said
"Nobody has the courage to investigate the Rafale issue and there is no media investigation into such a major scam. This is truly disappointing," Tharoor said. 
The opposition led by the Congress has been accusing the government of benefitting Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence Ltd. from the Rafale deal. However, the BJP and Reliance Defence have dismissed all the allegations as false.
 
The Rafale controversy took a new turn last month after Francois Hollande, who was French president when the Rs 58,000 crore deal was announced, was quoted as saying by French publication Mediapart that France was given "no choice" on selection of the Indian partner for Dassault, the manufacturer of Rafale jets.
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 Quoting reports, Tharoor said India was ranked 136th in terms of "freedom of press" below Afghanistan and "most of the mainstream media houses are owned by businessmen". -- PTI 
18:38   Cross-border firing quadruples, BSF suffers highest casualties this year
Incidents of unprovoked firing from the Pakistani side along the international border in Jammu have quadrupled this year as against 2017 and the figure was the highest in the past five years, according to official data.
   
The latest data accessed also shows that the Border Security Force suffered the maximum casualties this year -- 12 deaths and 40 injured.
 
The data shows that till September this year, a total of 498 incidents of cross-border firing have taken place along the IB in Jammu as compared to 111 last year.
 
The corresponding figures for the previous three years were 204 (in 2016), 350 (in 2015) and 127 (in 2014).
 
Twelve BSF personnel have been killed in these incidents this year, including the brutal killing of Head Constable Narender Singh last month. Singh was shot dead and his throat slit when his team went towards the fence to cut thick and long elephant grass near their border post in Ramgarh sector of Jammu.
 
A "record-high" number of 40 jawans have been injured in these incidents this year and these figures are the highest in the past five years, the data said.
 
A BSF jawan was also killed along the small portion of the Line of Control (LoC) that falls in Jammu this year, the data said. While the BSF is deployed under the operational command of the Army along the LoC, it secures the IB independently.
 
Last year, two personnel of the border guarding force were killed and seven injured due to sniping and mortar shelling incidents along the IB while three BSF personnel were killed and 10 injured in such incidents in 2016. 
 
Similarly, a BSF jawan was killed and five were injured in 2015 while two men were killed and 14 were injured in 2014 at this frontier in Jammu and Kashmir.
 
A senior official of the force said in view of the recent killing of the BSF jawan along this frontier by Pakistani border action team, the force has asked the forward units along the IB to be on "extra alert and vigilant".
 
"The relations between the two countries and their security forces are strained for quite sometime now. It is, therefore, expected that the hostilities may rise and audacious attacks can be launched by the other side. The forward units hence have been asked to be very very cautious," the official, who did not wish to be identified, said.
 
Former BSF Director General K K Sharma, who retired last month, had told reporters during his last press conference here on September 28 that they were witnessing a "more aggressive stance" of the opponent along the IB in Jammu and Kashmir after Imran Khan took over as Pakistan's prime minister. -- PTI
18:29   Treat as paid news reports based on false charges against my govt: Chouhan to EC
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan Wednesday urged the Election Commission to display polling percentage at all booths every two hour on the day of election so that political parties can mobilise voters to boost the voting percentage if it is low.
 
With assembly elections expected in his state in the next couple of months, the BJP leader also made a slew of suggestions to the poll watchdog, including treating news reports based on false charges against his government as "paid news".
He was briefing reporters after meeting EC officials along with other party leaders, including BJP vice president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, who is also the state's in-charge in the organisation.
His suggestion for regular display of polling percentage -- of both men and women voters -- is apparently aimed at using the formidable saffron organisational machinery in the state to mobilise its voters.
With the Congress, spearheaded by Kamal Nath in the state, attacking his government over a host of issues, Chouhan is seeking to turn the tables on the opposition party as the latter has often accused BJP leaders of using money to plant propaganda items as news in the media, calling it a case of paid news.
The chief minister told reporters that the BJP has been in power in the state for 15 years, and it is natural that the party will go to the masses on the back of its achievements.
"At times when these achievements are reported in newspapers, then complaint is made that this is a case of paid news... We have urged the commission that it should also probe when false allegations are levelled against us as we are in power, and they then get printed and are publicised among the masses. Action of paid news should be taken in such cases as well," he said. 
He accused the Congress of going to courts and the EC over baseless issues to create an atmosphere of confusion and vitiate the election process.
He cited the opposition's allegation of over 60 lakh fake voters in Madhya Pradesh's electoral rolls, which an EC inquiry had found to have no merit, to make his point.
He had asked the EC to take action against complainants if their allegations are found to be false, Chouhan said.
Om Pathak, an office-bearer in the party, said various other constructive suggestions were also made to the EC. -- PTI 
18:08   Cabinet hikes wheat MSP by Rs 105 per quintal for 2018-19
The Cabinet has approved a Rs 105 per quintal hike in the minimum support price of wheat to Rs 1,840 per quintal for 2018-19 season, sources said.
   
The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in its meeting on Wednesday approved minimum support prices of Rabi crops, they said. 
 
The MSP of wheat was Rs 1,735 per quintal in the 2017-18 crop year. 
 
The MSP has been increased according to the recommendations of farm advisory body CACP and is in line with the government's announcement to provide farmers a 50 per cent profit over the cost of production. -- PTI 
17:30   'Modi's Operandi' for defence contracts? Default by Rs 45,000 cr: Rahul
Congress president Rahul Gandhi Wednesday took a swipe at the Modi government and Anil Ambani over the Rafale issue, saying that in order to bag India's biggest defence contracts one has to be a "defaulter of Rs 45,000 crore" and have "no relevant experience".


Gandhi also cited a media report claiming that Swedish telecom equipment company Ericsson has petitioned the Supreme Court to prevent Ambani and two senior executives from his group from leaving the country after accusing them of willfully defaulting in previously promised payment of Rs 550 crore by alleged abuse of process of law.


"Modi's Operandi for handing out India's biggest defence contracts --

1. Be a defaulter of 45,000 crore.
2. Owe money to other companies who beg Supreme Court not to let you leave India.
3. Be called 'Bhai' by PM but have no relevant experience," Gandhi said in a tweet and tagged the media report.


The opposition led by the Congress has been accusing the government of benefitting Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence Ltd. from the Rafale deal.


The BJP and Reliance Defence have dismissed all the allegations as false. The Rafale controversy took a new turn last month after Francois Hollande, who was French president when the Rs 58,000 crore deal was announced, was quoted as saying by French publication Mediapart that France was given "no choice" on selection of the Indian partner for Dassault, the manufacturer of Rafale jets.


The Indian government proposed the name of Reliance as offset partner for the French aerospace giant, he said. Modi had announced the procurement of 36 Rafale fighters after holding talks with Hollande on April 10, 2015, in Paris.  -- PTI
17:11   BSP will not ally with Cong for Raj, MP polls: Maya
BSP chief Mayawati has announced that the party will contest the Rajasthan and Madnya Pradesh assembly polls alone; there will be no alliance with the Congress.


She said the Congress, like the BJP, is conspiring to finish off the BSP. "They (Congress) are getting arrogant and are under the misconception that they can defeat the BJP on their own, but the ground reality is that people haven't forgiven the Congress party for their mistakes and corruption. They don't seem to be ready to rectify themselves," Mayawati said.


However, she said that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi's intentions for a Congress-BSP alliance were honest. "But some Congress leaders are sabotaging this. Digvijaya Singh who is also a BJP agent is giving statements that Mayawatiji has a lot of pressure from Centre so she doesn't want this alliance. This is baseless. Digvijaya Singh does not wish for a Congress-BSP alliance. They are afraid of agencies like the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI, she said.

She said in Karnataka and Chhattisgarh, the BSP had tied up with a regional party. "We may go with regional parties there but certainly not with the Congress," she read out in a statement.


Mayawati had earlier announced that the BSP will tie up with Ajit Jogi's party for the Chhattisgarh Assembly polls


A survey conducted by C-Voter and ABP news has predicted that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party would lose all three upcoming Assembly elections of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan to the Congress.


Image: BSP chief Mayawati bonds with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi during Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy's swearing in in Bengaluru
16:30   Raise time span of reporting sexual abuse to 30 years: Maneka
Ministry of Women and Child Development is mulling over increasing the time limit for lodging complaints of sexual harassment to 30 years.


Speaking to reporters, Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, said, "What we would like to do is to get this government to raise the age to file a complaint in the matter so that those who were molested as children can complain till 30 years of age."


The minister's revelation has come amidst the furore over actress Tanushree Dutta accusing Nana Patekar of inappropriate behaviour on the sets of a film in 2008.


Dutta's claims have whipped up a storm in socio-political circles, with several people either coming forward to her support, while many others either questioning her or dodging the issue from commenting.


Last year, a social media campaign #MeToo was launched to demonstrate the problem of sexual misconduct. Millions of people responded, sharing their experiences of having faced sexual harassment.


Batting for a similar #MeToo campaign, so that more women should feel encouraged to come forward and complain, Maneka Gandhi said harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.


"I feel we should also start something called 'Me Too India' in which any woman who has been harassed at any point should write to us and we should investigate. For the first time, the National Commission for Women is going into every case which has been reported to us. We go in detail and literally, we have solved several thousand cases," she said.


Section 468 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) lays down the time limitations for filing a complaint after an offence has taken place. -- ANI
16:25   Sensex crashes 550 points on rupee woes
The BSE benchmark Sensex plunged over 550 points Wednesday to slip below the 36,000-level after the rupee collapsed to a new life-time low amid surging crude oil prices and unabated foreign fund outflows.


The BSE 30-share barometer, after a weak start, continued its slide to plummet below the 36,000-mark to hit a low of 35,911.82 to finally settle 550.51 points, or 1.51 per cent, down at 35,975.63.


The gauge had gained 299 points in the previous session on Monday after the RBI announced measures to shore up liquidity. The NSE Nifty, too, stayed in the negative terrain through the session and hit a low of 10,843.75, finally ending 150.05 points, or 1.36 per cent, lower at 10,858.25.


Investors were cautious as the three-day RBI policy review began Wednesday. The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is expected to go for a 25 basis points hike. The domestic currency breached the 73-mark for the first time to hit an all-time low of 73.41 (intra-day) against the US dollar.  -- PTI
16:02   India deports 7 Rohingyas to Myanmar
India sends seven Rohingya Muslims to the border for deportation to Myanmar. The men, from the Kyauk Daw township in central Rakhine State, were detained in 2012 and held at the Silchar central prison in Cachar district, Assam, on charges of irregular entry.


India shares a border with Myanmar at four states -- Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur.


The deportation comes after a bench declined to list a  plea filed in the Supreme Court for urgent hearing seeking a restraint on the Government of India from deporting the seven Rohingyas.


United Nations special rapporteur on racism E Tendayi Achiume has expressed alarm at the governments decision to deport the seven men to Myanmar. Achiume has said in a statement that forcing the men to leave India could be considered refoulement, which violates international law.

Non-refoulement is a principle in international law that stops a country from returning a person to a place where they would be at risk of persecution.


However, the Ministry of Home Affairs has said in its affidavit before the Supreme Court that India, that as a non-signatory to the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention, it was not obliged to adhere to the principle of non-refoulement.


Representational image of a family from the Rohingya community at thier their shack at a refugee camp in Delhi. Pic: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters.
15:34   Three win Nobel Prize in Chemistry for work on proteins
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2018 with one half to Frances H Arnold and the other half jointly to George P Smith and Sir Gregory P Winter. This year's Chemistry Laureates have taken control of evolution and used the same principles -- genetic change and selection -- to develop proteins that solve humankind's chemical problems. This year's prize "awards a revolution based on evolution", and goes to scientists who "applied the principles of Darwin in the test tube".
15:21  
Just in: NobelPrize in Chemistry 2018 awarded to Frances H. Arnold, George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter.
15:20   Climate, calamity linked to culture: Modi at UN award
A clean and green environment is at the root of his government's policies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Delhi Wednesday as he was presented the UN's Champions of the Earth Award by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.


Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron were jointly awarded the UN's highest environmental honour for their pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance and promoting new areas of cooperation on environmental action.


In his address, Modi said climate and calamity are linked to culture, and it will be difficult to avoid calamity as long as concerns for the climate do not become a part of culture.


From agriculture and industrial policies to building houses and construction of toilets, the need for a clean environment has been driving his government's programmes, Modi said.


India's commitment to environment has only increased, he said, adding that his government is working to bring down "emission intensity" by 20-25 per cent in the next two years against its 2005 figure and by 30-35 per cent by 2030.


He said his government has succeeded in changing people's behaviour, an apparent reference to 'Swachhta Abhiyan'. The honour bestowed on him is a recognition of Indian tribes living in forests who respect trees more than their lives, its fishermen who capture only as much fish as they need to earn their living and farmers whose lives are intertwined with the cycle of seasons, he said. -- PTI
15:16   India launches 'Operation Samudra Maitri' to help tsunami-hit Indonesia
India has launched a massive operation to provide assistance to the earthquake and tsunami victims in Indonesia, dispatching two aircraft and three naval ships carrying relief material to the country, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Wednesday.


'Operation Samudra Maitri' for humanitarian assistance was launched after a telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indonesian President Joko Widodo on October 1, and following Indonesia's acceptance of international aid, the MEA said in a statement. Two Indian Air Force aircraft -- C-130J and C-17 -- departed on Wednesday morning with medical personnel and relief material. The C-130J aircraft is carrying a medical team along with tents and equipment to set up a field hospital. The C-17 aircraft is carrying medicines, generators, tents and water to provide immediate assistance, the MEA said.


Three Indian Navy ships -- INS Tir, INS Sujatha and INS Shardul -- have also been mobilised to carry out humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. These ships are likely to reach the Central Sulawesi province of Indonesia on October 6, the ministry said. The death toll in Indonesia's twin quake-tsunami disaster, which decimated parts of the central Indonesian island of Sulawesi, has already climbed to nearly 1,400. -- PTI


Image: Remains of a road in Palu, Sulawesi, after it was damaged by the twin disasters of an earthquake and a tsunami.
15:13   Larsen & Toubro bags Rs 3,036 cr order for Terminal-2 at airport
Larsen & Toubro Wednesday said its buildings and factories business has won an Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) order worth Rs 3,036 crore from Bangalore International Airport Limited to construct Terminal-2 (T2) of the Kempegowda InternationalAirport.


Once completed, the 255,000 sq. mt. Phase 1 of T2 will augment the capacity of the airport by 25 million passengers per annum, the company said in a release.


It said the scope of work includes design, engineering, procurement, construction, testing and commissioning of Terminal-2, including integration of services and utilities along with the airport's systems, support facilities and buildings. -- PTI
14:38   Pehlu Khan case: Witnesses were not fired upon, say police
The Rajasthan Police claimed Wednesday they had found no evidence of firing on the witnesses of the Pehlu Khan lynching case and termed the complaint fake.


The witnesses in the lynching case, including Khan's two sons, had alleged Saturday they were fired upon by unidentified men while they were on the way to appear in a court in Behror town.


"No firing on the witnesses took place and the complaint was fake. There was no circumstantial evidence of firing and no such vehicle, as described by the complainant, is seen in CCTV footage," Circle Officer Behror Kushal Singh said.


"The complaint was posted on social media about the alleged incident but they did not inform the police control room. They went to the SP office instead of approaching a nearby police station which had raised doubts," he said.


Khan's son Irshad had lodged the complaint in the matter at the Neemrana Police Station. Singh said the police will file a report in the court and legal action against the complainant will also be taken for filing a false complaint.  


Six people, including Khan's sons Irshad and Arif and their lawyer, were on the way to court in Behror. They had alleged unidentified accused driving in an SUV without having registration number plate fired on them and fled from the spot.  


On April 1 last year, Irshad and Arif were with their father in a pick-up truck when they, along with two others, were attacked by cow vigilantes in Alwar. They were on their way to Haryana reportedly after purchasing cattle in Rajasthan.


Khan, a 55-year-old dairy farmer, succumbed to his injuries two days later. -- PTI


Image: Pehlu Khan died after being lynched by a mob of cow vigilantes in Alwar district in April last year.
13:48   Govt, IAF no role in selecting partner in Rafale deal: Air chief
Indian Air Force Chief BS Dhanoa on Wednesday said it was French fighter jet manufacturer Dassault that was supposed to select the offset partner in the Rafale deal and the Indian government and the IAF had no role to play.


The IAF chief added the Rafale was good aircraft and that it would be a gamechanger when it comes to the sub-continent. "We have got a good package, we have a lot of advantages in the Rafale deal," said the Air Chief.


His statements come at a time when the government has been accused of allegedly selecting Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence as partner for the Rafale deal over state-run aerospace behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.


He said the government had taken a bold step and bought 36 Rafale aircraft. "A high performance, high-tech aircraft has been to the given to the air force to offset the capability of the adversary. We had reached an impasse. We had three options, first was either to wait for something to happen, withdraw RFP or do an emergency purchase. We did an emergency purchase," Air chief Dhanoa said.


He said both the Rafale and the S-400 deal were booster deals for the air force.

He said there has been a delay in the delivery schedule in contracts already executed to HAL. "There is a three years' delay in delivery of Sukhoi-30, 6 years delay in Jaguar, 5 year delay in LCA, and 2 year delay in delivery of Mirage 2000 upgrade. Number of depleting squadrons is a major concern,"  he said in effect taking the line that HAL was not a good option.
13:16   Indonesia's Mount Soputan erupts on tsunami-hit island
A volcano erupted Wednesday morning on the same central Indonesian island as an earlier earthquake. Mount Soputan in North Sulawesi province spewed ash 6,000 meters (19,700 feet) into the sky. The state disaster agency warned people to stay at least four kilometres away but said there was no need to evacuate for the time being. Images showed an eruption visible for miles around, with a cloud of ash climbing in a large vertical column with a mushroom-shaped top.
13:02   HCC-HDC JV bags Rs 2,126 crore Mumbai Coastal Road Project
Infrastructure major Hindustan Construction Company Ltd Wednesday said the company, in a joint venture with Hyundai Development Corporation has been awarded a Rs 2,126 crore Mumbai Coastal Road Project contract by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM).


"HCC's share in the joint venture is 55 per cent (Rs 1,169 crore) and the project is to be completed in four years (48 months)," the company said in a BSE filing.


"The scope of work includes design and construction of road, bridges, interchanges including reclamation and associated works between Baroda Palace near Haji Ali and the Worli end of Bandra Worli Sea Link," it added.


HCC said MCGM has envisaged the Mumbai Coastal Road Project along the western seafront of the city to decongest existing roads. -- PTI
12:49   Four years before he was a 'kid', Shakti Kapoor was judging item girl show
Journalist Rohini Mohan on Shakti Kapoor's comment that he was a 'kid' when Tanushree Dutta was harassed by Nana Patekar in 2008. She tweets saying, "In 2004, 4 years before he was "a kid", Shakti Kapoor was judging a reality show on Zee called "Item Girl". I was on my first job then & cudnt believe how openly he pawed women & spoke of tits & ass. This behaviour was profitable once."

Read this
12:41   PM receives UN award
Prime Minister Narendra Modi receives the 'UNEP Champions of the Earth' award from United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, at a ceremony in Delhi.
12:08   Rape-accused bishop to remain in jail
The Kerala High Court Wednesday dismissed the bail plea of Roman Catholic Bishop Franco Mulakkal, arrested over allegations of repeatedly raping and sexually assaulting a nun.


Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan dismissed the bail plea while accepting the prosecution argument that the accused, holding a high position in society will try to influence witnesses in the case, if he is granted bail.


Police said the investigation in the case is progressing even after the arrest of the accused. The court also took note of the submission by the prosecution that the investigation in the case was at a crucial stage and more statements of fellow nuns have to be recorded before the magistrate under Section 164 of the CrPC in connection with the case.


The Bishop moved the High Court after a magistrate court in Pala rejected his bail application. He is currently under judicial remand in a sub-jail in Pala in Kottayam district.


In her complaint to the Kottayam Police in June, the nun had alleged that Bishop Mulakkal raped her at a guest house in Kuravilangad in May 2014 and later sexually exploited her on several occasions.


The nun said she had to approach the police as church authorities did not act on her repeated complaints against the clergyman. However, the bishop has denied the charges. -- PTI
11:47   Forced on a crutch
Four years ago, when the Bharatiya Janata Party routed the Congress and came to power, the prime minister made a number of promises, such as Make in India, Skill India, Digital India and Clean India in Sanskrit (Swachh Bharat). Although he did not wrap it up in a crisp slogan, he also promised to double farmers' income. That sounded unrealistic. Doubling of farmers' income in 10 years would involve raising it at 7.1 per cent a year on the average; such agricultural growth has not been achieved over any significant length of time. Read Ashok V Desai's column here.
11:37   Maharashtra govt moves SC on Navlakha being freed
The Maharashtra government Wednesday moved the Supreme Court challenging the Delhi High Court order allowing Gautam Navlakha, one of the five rights activists arrested in connection with the Koregaon-Bhima case, to be freed from house arrest.


The plea has been filed in the apex court registry Wednesday morning challenging the Delhi High Court order, Nishant Katneshwar, counsel for the Maharashtra government told PTI.


The Delhi High Court had on Monday freed Navlakha from house arrest, five weeks after he along with four other rights activists were arrested in connection with the Koregaon-Bhima violence in Maharashtra.


Granting relief to the 65-year-old Navlakha, the high court had also quashed the trial court's transit remand order which he had challenged before the matter was taken to the Supreme Court.-- PTI
10:58  
Kerala nun rape case: Bail plea of Franco Mulakkal, former Bishop Jalandhar, rejected by the Kerala High Court.
10:58  
Justice Gogoi will have a tenure of a little over 13 months and would retire on November 17, 2019.
10:55   Ranjan Gogoi sworn in as the 46th Chief Justice of India
Justice Ranjan Gogoi takes oath as the Chief Justice of India at Rashtrapati Bhavan. The oath was administered by President Ram Nath Kovind at the magnificent Durbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan. Immediately, after he took oath as India's 46th Chief Justice, he went up to his mother to take her blessings and thereafter met the VVIPs present at the hall.


Gogoi is the first Chief Justice of India from the north-east. As is the norm, Gogoi, the senior-most after outgoing CJI Dipak Misra, was recommended by the latter and the appointment was then confirmed by President Kovind in September this year.


Justice Gogoi started his career as a Permanent Judge of the Gauhati High Court in February 2001. He went on to be transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2010 and was appointed Chief Justice there in 2011. He came to the Supreme Court as a judge on April 23, 2012.
10:46   Nagerbazar explosion: Case registered against unknown persons
A suo motu case has been registered against unknown persons in connection with Tuesday's explosion in Nagerbazar area of Kolkata that left a boy dead and nine others injured, an official said Wednesday.


Samples have been collected from the spot and forensic tests are being conducted to ascertain what type of material was used in the blast in Nagerbazar.


"We have started a suo motu case against unknown persons in this case. Strict action will be taken as per law against those found guilty," an officer of the Barrackpore Police Commissionerate told PTI.


"CCTV footage from neighbouring shops as well as those from the traffic police are being checked. Locals of the neighbourhood have also been asked to come over for a round of questioning for our probe," the police official said. Inputs from locals could be vital and help in identifying those behind the blast, the police officer said.


Asked if the explosion could have been a fallout of internal squabbles in the ruling Trinamool Congress, as has been alleged by the BJP, the police officer said it is difficult to infer such things at this stage since no arrests have been made in the case so far.


Police have described Tuesday's blast as a low-intensity one that occurred outside a fruit shop on the ground floor of a building which houses the office of South Dum Dum Municipality chairman and Trinamool Congress leader Panchu Roy. The ruling party has held the BJP responsible for the blast and alleged that it was targeted at Roy. -- PTI
10:38   Sensex falls over 200 points, Nifty slips below 11,000
The BSE Sensex fell over 200 points and the NSE Nifty dropped below the 11,000-level in early trade Wednesday after the rupee dropped to a new low amid sustained foreign fund outflows and surging crude oil prices.


The BSE 30-share barometer fell 231.08 points, or 0.63 per cent, to 36,295.06 after hitting a low of 36,325.15. The gauge had gained 299 points Monday after the RBI announced measures to shore up liquidity.


Investors were also cautious ahead of the three-day RBI policy review scheduled to begin Wednesday. Sectoral indices led by PSU, metal, infrastructure, power, oil and gas, auto, capital goods, realty and consumer durables stocks were trading in the negative terrain, falling by up to 1.43 per cent.


The NSE Nifty fell 93.55 points, or 0.85 per cent, to 10,914.75. Top laggards include Maruti Suzuki, Asian Paint, TCS, Coal India, HDFC Bank, SBI and IndusInd Bank, falling up to 2.18 per cent. -- PTI
10:36   Fire at Calcutta Medical college doused, no casualties
Kolkata fire update: A fire broke out in the dispensary of the state-run Calcutta Medical College and Hospital Wednesday, fire officials said. Patients were evacuated from the top floor of the building as a precautionary measure. No one has been injured in the the blaze that broke out at 8 am in the dispensary located on the ground floor. Ten fire tenders have been engaged for taming the fire, the officials said.


Thick smoke was seen billowing from the ground floor of the hospital's main building where the dispensary is located. A senior fire official said the fire has been brought under control.


A disaster management team of the Kolkata Police, fire officials and senior officials are on the spot. "I have been told that patients have been evacuated. We are looking into the incident," Mayor Sovan Chattopadhyay said.


Image: The fire broke out in the dispensary in the ground floor in the heritage building of the medical college. 
10:28   Tanushree-Patekar row: I was kid back then, mocks Shakti Kapoor
After a lot of Bollywood stars spoke up in support of Tanushree Dutta over her allegations against Nana Patekar, veteran actor Shakti Kapoor laughed the matter off, stating that the incident took place 10 years ago and he was a kid back then.


In a recent interaction with media, Kapoor said, "I don't know anything about this case. This was 10 years back, I was a kid back then."


Dutta recently alleged that Patekar misbehaved with her on the sets of the film 'Horn Ok Pleasss'. She had accused Patekar of harassing her while shooting for a special dance number in the movie, and also accused dance choreographer Ganesh Acharya of teaming up against her.


Many Bollywood celebrities have voiced their support for the actor including Priyanka Chopra, Parineeti Chopra, Farhan Akhtar, Swara Bhaskar, Shilpa Shetty, Kalki Koechlin, and Sonam Kapoor Ahuja.


Patekar's lawyer reportedly sent a legal notice to Dutta, demanding a written apology from her for ruining the veteran actor's image. -- ANI
10:27   Protesting farmers end march in Delhi
Protesting farmers ended their march at the Kisan Ghat in New Delhi early Wednesday after police allowed them to enter the national capital, police said. The Delhi Police removed barricades after midnight Tuesday night to allow the farmers stopped during the Kisan Kranti Padyatra, which started from Haridwar, to enter Delhi.


The farmers entered the national capital riding their tractors and trolleys and proceeded towards Kisan Ghat where heavy police deployment has been made, he added.


Thousands of farmers on Tuesday marched towards Delhi over demands ranging from farm loan waiver to cut in fuel prices, blocking traffic movement on arterial roads leading to the national capital.


National highways leading to the capital were swamped with farmers who came in from places as far as Gonda, Basti and Gorakhpur in eastern Uttar Pradesh as well as the sugarcane belt of western Uttar Pradesh.


Police picketed the border with Uttar Pradesh, imposing prohibitory orders banning assembly of five or more people and holding of any public meeting, usage of any amplifier, loudspeaker, and similar instruments.


The Kisan Kranti Yatra, which began from Tikait Ghat in Haridwar on September 23, was joined by farmers from various parts of Uttar Pradesh. They carried banners of Bhartiya Kisan Union, which gave the call for the march to press for a series of demands.


Their list of demands include unconditional loan waiver for farmers, clearing of dues by sugar mills, higher prices for crops, free electricity for farms and a cut in diesel prices. -- PTI


Image: Naresh Tikait, President, Bharatiya Kisan Union, said that the Kisan Kranti Padyatra' that started on September 23 had to end at Delhi's Kisan Ghat since the Delhi police didn't allow them to enter. They will now go back to their villages. 
09:50   Rupee dives to new low of 73.34
The Indian rupee Wednesday crashed below the 73 mark against the dollar for the first time ever on strong demand for the American currency from importers amid rising global oil prices and unabated capital outflows. At the Interbank Foreign Exchange (forex) market, the domestic currency dropped 43 paise to 73.34 against the US dollar in the early trade. The rupee opened lower at 73.26 and weakened further to quote at 73.34 a dollar against its previous closing of 72.91 Monday.


Foreign institutional investors sold shares net worth Rs 1,842 crore Monday, provisional data showed. Investors remained concerned over sustained foreign capital outflows and soaring crude oil prices that crossed the USD 85 per barrel.


The rupee Monday tumbled 43 paise to end at a two-week low of 72.91 against the US dollar on steady capital outflows. Forex dealers said besides strong demand for the American currency from importers, concerns of fears of rising fiscal deficit and capital outflows mainly weighed on the domestic currency.


Forex market remained closed Tuesday on account of Gandhi Jayanti. Meanwhile, the BSE benchmark Sensex dropped by 137.62 points, or 0.38 per cent, to 36,388.52 in opening trade Wednesday. -- PTI
09:20   Russia, India to sign deal on S-400 air defence systems this week: Kremlin
Russian President Vladimir Putin will oversee the signing of a $5 billion deal this week to supply Delhi with S-400 air defence systems, a top Kremlin aide said on Tuesday ahead of Putin's trip to India.
  
"The president is leaving for India on October 4," Putin's top foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov told reporters.

"The key feature of this visit will be the signing of the agreement to deliver S-400 air defence systems," he said. "The value of the contract will be more than $5 billion."

Moscow has been negotiating to sell the S-400 long-range surface-to-air missiles to India for months.

The sale has irked India's defence partner Washington, which has wanted to wean India off Russian technology, and a senior Pentagon official said in August that sanctions against India would come under consideration if its purchase goes through.

India has signalled it will ask Washington for a special waiver from sanctions, though a US official last week said there is no guarantee it would do so. 
09:03   Fire breaks out at Kolkata medical college, 10 tenders rushed to spot
A massive fire has broken out at Kolkata Medical College and hospital on Wednesday morning. 

Ten fire tenders have been rushed to the spot and rescue operations are underway.

Reports state that 250 patients have been evacuated from the premises. 

TV reports said that the fire is suspected to have broken out in the pharmacy of the hospital. 
08:22   Pompeo to travel to meet Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang next week
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would travel to Pyongyang next week to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, his spokesperson said on Tuesday.
      
Pompeo, on a four-nation Asian trip from October 6 to 8 would also travel to Japan, South Korea and Beijing.
        
"In Tokyo, October 6-7, the Secretary will meet with Prime Minister Abe and Foreign Minister Taro Kono. In Pyongyang, October 7, the Secretary will meet with Chairman Kim Jong Un," State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters at a news conference.
         
"In Seoul, October 7-8, the Secretary will meet with President Moon Jae-in, and Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha," said adding that in Beijing, October 8, he will meet with his Chinese counterparts to discuss bilateral, regional, and global issues.
        
"Throughout the secretary's trip he will reiterate the administration's continued focus on the final, fully verifiable, denuclearisation of North Korea and longstanding commitment to our alliances and partnerships in the region," Nauert said.

-- PTI
07:57   After protests turned violent, police allow farmers to enter Delhi
Delhi Police removed barricades post-midnight to allow the farmers stopped during the Kisan Kranti Padyatra to enter Delhi and proceed towards Kisan Ghat, said a senior police officer.
 
The farmers entered the national capital riding their tractors and trolleys and proceeded towards Kisan Ghat where heavy police deployment has been made, he added.

Thousands of farmers on Tuesday marched towards Delhi over demands ranging from farm loan waiver to cut in fuel prices, blocking traffic movement on arterial roads leading to the national capital.
National highways leading to the capital were swamped with farmers who came in from places as far as Gonda, Basti and Gorakhpur in eastern Uttar Pradesh as well as the sugarcane belt of western Uttar Pradesh.

Police picketed the border with Uttar Pradesh, imposing prohibitory orders banning assembly of five or more people and holding of any public meeting, usage of any amplifier, loudspeaker, and similar instruments.

The Kisan Kranti Yatra, which began from Tikait Ghat in Haridwar on September 23, was joined by farmers from various parts of Uttar Pradesh. They came on foot, in buses and tractor trolleys.

They carried banners of Bhartiya Kisan Union, which gave the call for the march to press for a series of demands. 

Their list of demands include unconditional loan waiver for farmers, clearing of dues by sugar mills, higher prices for crops, free electricity for farms and a cut in diesel prices. 

-- PTI

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