Thu, 25 October 2018
India, China to hold joint military exercises this year

Timeline  Refresh

23:29   Terrorists carry out sniper attack on Army camp; jawan killed
An Army jawan was killed in sniper fire by terrorists in Tral area of south Kashmir Thursday, in second such incident within a week, officials said. 
The militants using sniper rifle carried out the attack on 42 RR camp in Luragam at 9.00 pm, killing sepoy Ngamsiamliana, who was on the guard duty, they said.

He received the fatal shot in his head, another jawan Thake Dhoniy received minor injuries, the officials said.

This is the second such incident within four days in which militants have used sniper rifle to carry out attack on security establishments. 

An SSB jawan was killed inside a CRPF camp on October 21 by militants who used sniper rifles, possibly armed with night-vision devices, in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir. 

-- PTI
23:08   India, China to hold joint military exercises this year
China and India would hold joint military drills later this year and officials from the two sides will soon meet in Chinese city Chengdu to finalise the plans to resume the exercises, the defence ministry said.

The 7th India and China joint military exercises will be held in China this year, Defence Ministry spokesman Col Wu Qian told a media briefing.

"The two sides agreed to hold the planning conference in Chengdu to further discuss on details of the joint exercises," he said.

The exercises - 'Hand-in-Hand' - focussing on counter-terrorism operations were not held last year as both sides were locked in a 73-day standoff in Doklam in the Sikkim sector of the border.

The strained relations between the two sides later improved resulting in an informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Chinese city of Wuhan.

Since then the bilateral military ties have also improved.

Chinese Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe visited India in August and met Prime Minister Modi and held talks with his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman.

The two ministers talked about setting up a hotline between adjacent military commands and improve the role of defence and security consultations mechanism and the meeting mechanism between the working delegations of the defence ministries, the Chinese military said earlier.

India and China have held so far 20 rounds of Special Representatives talks to resolve their border dispute.
22:42   Delhi's air quality still 'very poor'; SDMC to conduct night patrols to check leaf burning
Delhi's air quality remained "very poor" on Thursday even as parts of the massive Bhalswa landfill site continued to smoulder.

As the air quality showed no signs of improvement, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation has decided to act against burning of leaves and garbage. 

The Central Pollution Control Board recorded the overall Air Quality Index of Delhi at 331 in the evening, the worst in the season so far.

Faridabad, Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad and Gurgaon also recorded "very poor" category air Thursday, according to the CPCB data.

The air quality in the capital had shown signs of improvement Monday as it moved from "very poor" to "poor" category. 

However, it dipped to "very poor" again on Wednesday even as firefighting continued at the Bhalswa landfill site in north-west Delhi.

Meanwhile, the SDMC said it was going to intensify work on stopping incidents of waste and leaves burning by conducting night patrolling in all four zones in its jurisdiction.

The civic body said it has decided to depute six-member teams headed by its sanitation supervisors in all four zones to intercept the burning of leaves and garbage, and fine violators on the spot under the Nation Green Tribunal rules. 

"Five-five teams have been constituted in each zone. The teams will take rounds of localities prone to cases of burning of leaves and garbage. The teams will intercept the incidents of burning and warn them, apart from slapping a fine," the SDMC said in a statement.

-- PTI
22:14   Trump slams NYT for eavesdropping article, terms it 'fake story'
US President Donald Trump on Thursday termed as "fake story" The New York Times article that China and Russia are listening to his calls made to his friends from his personal iPhone and said that he rarely uses his cellphone.

Trump, who has been at loggerheads with several US mainstream media outlets including the CNN, ABC News, The New York Times and the Washington Post, has quite often described them as "fake media".

"The New York Times has a new Fake Story that now the Russians and Chinese (glad they finally added China) are listening to all of my calls on cellphones," Trump said in a tweet.

"Except that I rarely use a cellphone, & when I do it's government authorised. I like Hard Lines. Just more made up Fake News!" said the US president in his reaction to the exclusive news story by The Times that China to a large extent and by Russia to a lesser extent are listening to the calls made by him to his friends.

"The so-called experts on Trump over at The New York Times wrote a long and boring article on my cellphone usage that is so incorrect. I do not have time here to correct it. I only use Government Phones, and have only one seldom used government cell phone. Story is soooo wrong!" Trump said.

According to the NYT, US spy agencies have determined that China and Russia are "eavesdropping" on President Donald Trump's phone calls.

"Chinese spies are often listening these phone calls and putting to use invaluable insights into how to best work the president and affect administration policy," the NYT said citing unnamed current and former US officials.

Trump, the daily said, uses an iPhone to make calls to his friends. He has refused to give this up, despite repeated requests by his officials, who have been asking him to make more use of the secure land lines.
-- PTI
21:26   Suspend CEO Rahul Johri, 7 BCCI state units write to COA chief Rai
Seven state units of the BCCI on Thursday demanded suspension of Board CEO Rahul Johri pending an inquiry into an anonymous allegation of sexual harassment against him.
"Seven affiliated state units comprising Saurashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Goa today wrote separately to the Commitee Of Administrators demanding CEO Rahul Johri's suspension pending inquiry. Now the ball is in Vinod Rai's court," a former BCCI office-bearer and a board veteran told PTI on condition of anonymity.
It is learnt that Johri has submitted his explanation to the showcause notice served by the COA after an anonymous account of alleged sexual harassment came up against him on social media. The accuser, who is yet to reveal her identity, claims to be an ex-colleague of Johri during his stint with the Discovery channel.
Repeated calls to Johri on the latest development went unanswered. 

The BCCI official, who has worked closely with Johri earlier, feels that BCCI is not doing any good by "hushing up" the matter. 
The senior officials now want an independent inquiry into the charges and not by Internal Complaints Committee of BCCI. 
21:11   All roles in UK military to be open to women
Women will be allowed to apply for all military roles in the British armed forces including in frontline infantry units and the Royal Marines, the government has announced.

It was confirmed that women will also be able to put themselves forward for selection for specialist units including the Special Air Service and Special Boat Service.

The defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, made the announcement, which the ministry of defence described as historic, during a land power demonstration on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.

Williamson said that, from Thursday, women already serving in the army were able to transfer into infantry roles. Those not currently serving would be able to apply for infantry roles in December, with new recruits starting basic training in April 2019.
20:32   Murder of Khashoggi 'premeditated': Saudi prosecutor
Saudi Arabia said the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul was "premeditated" based on information supplied by Turkey, state media reported. 

"Information from the Turkish authorities indicates that the act of the suspects in the Khashoggi case was premeditated," the public prosector said in a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency. 

"The public prosecution continues its investigation with suspects... to complete the course of justice."

Saudi Arabia initially claimed Khashoggi left freely after visiting the consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to complete paperwork for his marriage to his Turkish fiancee.

But, as international pressure mounted, the kingdom said on Saturday that the Washington Post contributor and critic of the Saudi government died inside the mission when an argument degenerated into a fistfight. 

It later acknowledged that he had in fact been murdered, as Turkish officials said all along.

The kingdom sacked two top aides to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as well three intelligence officials and arrested 18 Saudi suspects.
20:10   Nun who protested against rape accused Mulakkal heckled, asked to leave Jalandhar priest's funeral
Sister Anupama, who was at the forefront of protests demanding the arrest of Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun, was heckled and asked by some people to leave the cemetery where the funeral of a key witness in the rape case was going on.

Kuriakose Kattuthara, a priest who had also testified against Mulakkal, had been found dead under mysterious circumstances in Dasuya near Jalandhar in northern Punjab three days ago.

The post-mortem was held at Jalandhar and body brought to Kerala Wednesday.

At the funeral this evening, a section of the faithful protested Anupama's presence and asked her to leave the cemetery at St Mary's church in Pallipuram.
Reacting to the incident, Anupama, who was accompanied by other nuns, broke down and said she was "deeply hurt"  by the protests.

"I am from this place. I know Father Kattuthara for many years. He has seen me as his own daughter.. we have only stood for truth," she said.
Father Kattuthara's mysterious death comes days after Mulakkal, who was arrested and is presently out on bail, reached Jalandhar from Kerala.

-- PTI
19:27   #MeToo impact: Chennai's Music Academy drops 7 musicians from December cultural season
The Madras Music Academy has decided to drop seven musicians against whom allegations of sexual harassment have been made from the list of performers in the December music season. The musicians who have been dropped are N Ravikiran, OS Thyagarajan, Mannargudi A Easwaran, Srimushnam V Raja Rao, Nagai Sriram, R Ramesh and Thiruvarur Vaidyanathan. 

This is a significant announcement considering that the world of classical music and dance in South India is generally considered to be insular and stays silent on many social issues. 

The Music Academy is the premier institution engaged in the promotion, training and performance of Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam in Chennai. The annual winter music and dance festival in Chennai, also known as the Margazhi festival, is attended by thousands of connoisseurs of classical music and dance. 

Read full HERE
18:58   Amnesty offices in Bengaluru raided by Enforcement Directorate
The Amnesty International's office in Bengaluru is being raided by the Enforcement Directorate.

The raids at office of the human rights organisation have been on since 2 pm today. 

Earlier, the  Enforcement Directorate had raided the Bengaluru office of Greenpeace India. 

Greenpeace has been accused of violating the Foreign Exchange Management Act to receive funds from abroad. In 2015, the central government had cancelled the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act registration of Greenpeace.

Agencies have been accusing it of being involved in "anti-national activities", a charge denied by the NGO.
Hyderabad high court today extended the house arrest of activist Varavara Rao in the Bhima Koregaon case for another three weeks.
18:32   PM on two-day visit to Japan starting Oct 28: MEA
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a two-day visit to Japan starting October 28 to take part in an annual summit between the two nations and will engage with his counterpart Shinzo Abe on a range of issues including defence and regional security.
This will be the 13th annual summit and the fifth one to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told reporters.

"Regional security will be another topic. We presume that given the interest Japan has in issues related to the Korean peninsula and DPRK, this matter will be discussed. We will certainly raise our concerns over terrorism and other trans-border crimes which are of importance to us," he said.

He said India is also hoping to have some kind of synergy or integration between Modi's Ayushman Bharat scheme, which is the largest medicare programme of its kind globally, and the Japanese programme which is called Asia Health and Wellbeing Initiative.

"How we dovetail this and how we leverage Japan's strength in certain areas including medical equipments, hospitals and others is something that the two leaders can explore," Gokhale said.

-- PTI
JUST IN: Suspicious device addressed to Joe Biden intercepted in Delaware: US media
18:00   PM Modi removing CBI chief is totally illegal, says Rahul Gandhi
Congress president Rahul Gandhi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi removed the CBI chief in the middle of the night because he was scared the agency was about to start probing the Rafale fighter jet deal.

Here are highlights from his press conference:

>> Do you feel there is something wrong with what the government has done with CBI officials

>> The CBI director being removed at 2 am is an insult to the Indian people Chief Justice, and the constitution. It is also illegal. Why was it done in the middle of the night?

>> The power to remove CBI director is with PMO, Leader of Opposition and Chief Justice....the way Alok Verma has been removed is illegal

>> Main reason for this is that the CBI was going top begin an investigation in the role of prime minister in Rafale deal

>> They are not removing the CBI director, but trying to hide the evidence in Rafale deal
17:56   Alok Verma remains Director, only divested of power: CBI clarifies
The CBI has issued a clarification as the premier investigating company faces turmoil. 

In a statement, it said, "Alok Verma will continue to remain CBI Director, Rakesh Asthana to remain Special Director. M Nageshwar Rao to look after duties and functions of the CBI Director in the interim period till the time CVC looks into the allegations. 

On Wednesday, Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana have been divested of their powers and sent on leave. 

Reacting to that CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma had told the Supreme Court that divesting him of his powers overnight by the Centre amounts to interference in the independence of the agency whose probes against high functionaries may not take the line desirable to the government.

The apex court agreed to hear on October 26 the petition by Verma challenging the governments decision. He has said in the petition that the CBI should be kept independent of the Department of Personnel and Training, which has jurisdiction over the probe agency, since it seriously hinders the CBIs independent functioning.
17:28   Alok Verma remains Director, only divested of power: CBI clarifies
The CBI has issued a clarification as the premier investigating company faces turmoil. 

In a statement, it said, "Alok Verma will continue to remain CBI Director, Rakesh Asthana to remain Special Director. M Nageshwar Rao to look after duties and functions of the CBI Director in the interim period till the time CVC looks into the allegations. 

On Wednesday, Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana have been divested of their powers and sent on leave. 

Reacting to that CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma had told the Supreme Court that divesting him of his powers overnight by the Centre amounts to interference in the independence of the agency whose probes against high functionaries may not take the line desirable to the government.

The apex court agreed to hear on October 26 the petition by Verma challenging the governments decision. He has said in the petition that the CBI should be kept independent of the Department of Personnel and Training, which has jurisdiction over the probe agency, since it seriously hinders the CBIs independent functioning.
17:03   India needs a strong, stable, decisive govt for next 10 years: Doval
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on Thursday said India needed a strong, stable and decisive government for the next 10 years. Weak coalitions would be bad for India, Doval said while addressing a press conference here.

He said, "We are not governed by people's representative, but by the laws made by them, therefore the rule of law is extremely important.  All defence hardware must be 100% transfer of technology. This is the policy of the new government.

"See how China's Alibaba and others have become big companies, how much Chinese govt has supported them. We want the Indian pvt sector companies should perform and promote Indian strategic interest.

"The populist measures shouldn't take precedence over national requirements. It is a temptation that is you take the thing or you refrain from doing the thing which are in the national interest. But probably for a short time they may cause some pain to the people.

"If we have to become a major power then our economy has to be big, it has to be globally competitive and that can be only when it is technologically ahead," Doval said. 
16:20   Cowardly acts will strengthen my resolve to work for AP: Jagan Reddy
Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday condemned the "cowardly attack" on YSR Congress chief Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy at the Visakhapatnam airport and asked all agencies concerned to probe the matter thoroughly.

Reddy, the leader of the Opposition in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, received a minor injury on his shoulder when he was attacked by a man with a sharp-edged object at the airport, according to official sources.

"The unfortunate attack by an authorised employee of a licensed airport restaurant took place before the security hold area of Vizag airport, and the same will be investigated expeditiously," the Civil Aviation Ministry said in a tweet. 

Jagan Reddy tweeted, "To everyone worried about my safety, I'd like to inform you that I am safe. God's grace and love, concern and blessings of people of Andhra will protect me. Such cowardice acts will not dissuade me but only strengthen my resolve to work for the people of my state."
16:00   Sensex plummets 344 points on global meltdown, F&O expiry
Benchmark BSE Sensex slumped about 344 points Thursday to settle at 33,690.09 on across-the-board selling on prevailing liquidity crunch and fresh weakness in the rupee amid a global sell-off. October futures and options (F&O) expiry added to the woes as investors offloaded their long bets instead of carrying them forward to the next series for November, brokers said. During October F&O series, the BSE Sensex dropped 2,634.08 points, or over 7 per cent while the NSE Nifty lost 852.65 points, or almost 8 per cent.

In the forex market, the rupee weakened by 22 paise to 73.38 against the US dollar intra-day. The 30-share Sensex, after gap down opening at 33,778.60 points, continued to slide and touched a low of 33,553.18, dragged down by all-round selling amid the a sell-off in global markets. It finally settled 343.87 points, or 1.01 per cent lower at 33,690.09. The gauge had gained nearly 187 points on Wednesday. -- PTI
15:17   Aircel-Maxis case: Chidambaram accused #1 in supplementary chargesheet
The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday filed a chargesheet against former finance minister P Chidambaram in the Aircel-Maxis case.

ED has named nine accused in the case, including Chidambaram, who is named as accused #1,  S Bhaskaraman and four Maxis companies. CBI Special Judge OP Saini fixed November 26 for consideration of the chargesheet.

This is the second chargesheet being filed by ED in the Aircel Maxis Case. The chargesheet mentions about illegal FIPB approval by Chidambaram.

In its chargesheet filed earlier in the case against former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanithi Maran and others, the agency had alleged that Chidambaram had granted an FIPB approval in March, 2006 to Mauritius-based Global Communication Services Holdings Ltd, a subsidiary of Maxis.

The Maran brothers and the other accused named in the CBI chargesheet were discharged by the special court, which had said the agency had failed to produce any material against them to proceed with the trial.

Both Chidambaram and Karti have denied the allegations levelled against them by the CBI and the ED
14:55   Look who Divya Spandana is following...
Guess what? Jairam Ramesh -- who has been accused by some purveyors of political scuttlebutt as the Congress leader who clipped Divya Spandana's influence in the party -- just acquired a new follower on Twitter: Divya Spandana.

For those who came in late, high flying Divya, who pretty much ran social media for Luddite Congressi circles, came crashing down like Icarus last month.

Her role was trimmed; she now longer called the shots on what to tweet in the GOP.

She had apparently run afoul of two Kannadigas on the ascent --- Jairam Ramesh, who has swung back into the emperor's orbit after a few months in Congressi Siberia -- and Nikhil Alva, whose mama Margaret Alva is a Congress veteran of Indira-Rajiv vintage.

By following Jairam on Twitter, Divya -- who tweeted punches with Anthony Joshua-like ferocity -- has either decided that she needs to build bridges or she plans to check if Ramesh, who fancies his reputation for quick repartee, can give it to BJP trolls as well as she does.
14:49   Kerala police releases photos of suspects in Sabarimala protests
The Kerala police has released photographs of over 200 people suspected to have been involved in the protests at Sabarimala to prevent the entry of women of menstrual age into the Lord Ayyappa shrine last week.

Special teams would be formed in all districts to identify the suspects whose photographs were released on Wednesday, police sources said.

Pathnamthitta district police chief T Narayanan said a list of 210 people, suspected to have taken part in the protests and their photographs have been been sent to Superintendents of Police of various districts for identification.

Meanwhile, as part of steps to beef up security at the 'Sannidhanam' (temple complex), it has been decided to deploy 5,000 additional police personnel during the three month-long 'mandalam-makaravillaku' season starting on November 17.

The number of police personnel at Sannidhanam, Pamba and Nilakkal would also be increased and more CCTV cameras would be installed, a police press note said.

The temple had witnessed high drama recently with around a dozen women in the 10-50 age group being prevented by protesting devotees from entering it after the doors were opened for all women following the apex court verdict. -- PTI

Image: Protesters oppose the entry of women to the Sabarimala Temple last week. PTI Photo
The perpetrator had stabbed Jagan Reddy with this knife. 
13:40   YSR Congress leader Jagan Reddy stabbed at airport
YSR Congress leader Jagan Mohan Reddy was stabbed by a man taking a selfie with him at Vizag airport today. Reddy was on his way to Hyderabad. He received a minor injury on his left arm and was given first aid at the airport. The perpetrator is believed to be a waiter at an outlet at the airport and has been apprehended. But the motive behind the attack is not known yet.  Further details awaited.

Image: Jagan Reddy braves the injury on his left arm.
13:08   'Horrible, scary', says SC on Muzzafarpur shelter case
The Supreme Court on Thursday termed as "horrible" and "scary" details placed before it about the investigation into the case of Muzzafarpur shelter home where several girls were allegedly raped and sexually abused.

A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur perused the status report filed by the CBI and said "what is this going on? This is horrible". The apex court also took note of allegations referred by the CBI against shelter home owner Brajesh Thakur and issued notice to him to explain why he should not be transferred to a jail outside the state.

The CBI in its report had alleged that Thakur is an influential person and a mobile phone was recovered from him inside the jail where he is currently lodged under judicial custody.

The bench also comprising Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta noted that Thakur is an influential person. The top court also asked the Bihar and CBI to explain delay in tracing whereabouts of ex-minister Manju Verma's husband Chandrashekhar Verma.

It had asked the Bihar Police to investigate the former minister and her husband in connection with the recovery of huge quantity of ammunition from them. Verma had to resign as the minister of Social Welfare from the Bihar government in the wake of the Muzzafarpur shelter home sexual abuse case. The bench said the CBI team investigating the case should not be changed and posted the matter for hearing on October 30. -- PTI

File pic: Ink was thrown on Muzzafarpur shelter home owner Brajesh Thakur when he appeared in court in August.
12:44   EPS: Amma's government will win all 18 seats
Tamil Nadu CM E Palaniswami reacts to the Madras High Court verdict: "We welcome the HC verdict. Even if bypolls are announced for the 18 assembly seats, Amma's government will win all of them, the rest of the things the EC has to decide."
12:36   Why HC verdict disqualifying 18 TN MLAs is so important to EPS
Thursday's verdict has come as a massive relief for the E Palaniswami government as the restoration of the membership of the rebel MLAs could have set off a realignment in the state's politics with the TTV Dhinakaran camp likely joining hands with the opposition DMK and bringing it dangerously close to losing majority in the 232-strong Tamil Nadu Assembly.

The DMK and its allies the Congress and IUML together have 97 MLAs, and with the 18 rebel AIADMK forging an alliance with them besides independent legislator Dhinakaran himself, their strength would have risen to 116, which is equal to that of the ruling party.

Two assembly seats are vacant, including Thiruvarur, which was represented by DMK patriarch the late M Karunanidhi.

The 18 AIADMK MLAs were disqualified on September 18 last year under the anti-defection law after they met the governor and expressed loss of confidence in Chief Minister K Palaniswami.

A division bench of the court comprising Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar had delivered a split verdict on June 14. Banerjee had upheld Speaker P Dhanapal's order disqualifying them, while Sundar had passed a dissenting judgement.

The Supreme Court had then appointed Justice M Sathyanarayanan to hear the matter. Justice Sathyanarayanan Thursday said there was no
infirmity in Dhanapal's order which was upheld by Banerjee.

Reacting to the verdict, Dhinakaran, who now heads the AMMK after being sidelined in the AIADMK, said he would consult the MLAs loyal to him before deciding whether to go in appeal in the Supreme Court.

Image: Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam
12:04   AIADMK hails HC verdict on MLAs disqualification
The ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu Thursday hailed the Madras High Court verdict upholding the disqualification of 18 party MLAs saying it was a "just order."

Party spokesperson P Valarmathi expressed joy over the verdict and said the Edappadi Palaniswami government has now proved its 'stability.'

"We are very happy...this is a just order," Valarmathi told PTI. When asked about the disqualified MLAs' plea to hold by-elections in their constituencies, she said the AIAFMK was ready and expressed confidence that the ruling party will emerge victorious in all the 20 seats.

Besides the constituencies of the disqualified MLAs, the Tiruvarur and Thiruparankundram seats had fallen vacant following the death of late DMK chief M Karunanidhi and AIADMK's AK Bose respectively.

Justice M Sathyanarayanan had earlier Thursday upheld the June 14 order of the then Chief Justice disqualifying the 18 rebel AIADMK MLAs, in a huge relief to the Palaniswami government.

The 18 MLAs were disqualified on September 18 last year under the anti-defection law after they met the Governor and expressed loss of confidence in the Chief Minister. -- PTI

Image: AIADMK leaders celebrate the HC verdict upholding the disqualification of the 18 MLAs
11:53   Koregaon Bhima case: Maharashtra govt moves SC challenging Bombay HC order
The Maharashtra government Thursday moved the Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Court order by which the extension of time granted to state police to conclude probe in the Koregaon Bhima violence case was set aside.

The Bombay High Court Wednesday had quashed the lower court's decision by which the Maharahstra Police was granted more time to conclude the investigation and file the chargesheet in the violence case in which several rights activist had been made accused.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi considered the submissions of lawyer Nishant Katneshwar, appearing for the Maharashtra government, that the appeal needed to be heard on an urgent basis.

The lawyer said if the high court order is not stayed then accused in the violence case would become entitled for grant of statutory bail for want of non-filing of chargesheet within the stipulated period.

The bench, which also comprises Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, said the appeal of the Maharashtra government would be heard on October 26. Earlier, the apex court had refused to interfere with the arrest of five rights activists by the Maharashtra Police in connection with the Koregaon-Bhima violence case and declined to appoint a SIT for probe into their arrest.

The Maharashtra Police had arrested five activists -- Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha -- in connection with an FIR lodged following a conclave -- 'Elgaar Parishad' -- held last year that had later triggered violence at Koregaon-Bhima village in the state. -- PTI

Image: File pic of activist Gautam Navlakha being taken into custody
11:33   Parrikar being pressured to continue as CM, alleges Velingkar
Former Goa unit RSS chief Subhash Velingkar has alleged that the BJP high command is pressuring Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar to continue in the post despite his ill health, to retain power in the state. The BJP, however, rubbished his charge, saying Parrikar was not being forced to continue as the chief minister and that his health condition was improving. Velingkar demanded that the state government give an update on the chief minister's health.

"They (the government) are fooling people. Parrikar needs proper rest. Unfortunately, theBJP high command in Delhi wants to retain power in Goa, that is why they are not allowing him to rest. They are power hungry," he alleged. -- PTI
11:28   Four men found 'loitering' outside Alok Verma's house
Four men found "loitering" outside the official residence of CBI director Alok Verma, who was sent on leave, are being questioned by police, sources claimed.

However, Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Madhur Verma denied that the police had detained four men and was questioning them. Sources said the four men, who were stationed outside Verma's 2, Janpath residence from Wednesday night, were questioned and then taken away by police. They are being interrogated, sources said.

The DCP said, "We do not have any information about this. Police have not detained anyone."

A late-night order on Tuesday from the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana, who were at loggerheads, on leave. Besides sending Verma and Asthana on leave, the government also transferred several CBI officials and appointed M Nageswar Rao as the interim chief of the agency.

The CBI director moved the Supreme Court Wednesday challenging the government's decision after which it agreed to hear his plea on Friday.
-- PTI
10:48   Dhinakaran reacts: Had expected a positive outcome
First reactions from TTV Dhinakaran on the disqualification of his MLAs: It is not a setback for us. This is an experience, we will face the situation. We had expected a positive outcome. The future course of action will be decided after meeting with the 18 MLAs.
10:46   Court upholds disqualification of 18 TN MLAs from Dhinakaran camp
Just in: The Madras High Court upholds the Tamil Nadu speaker's decision of disqualifying 18 AIADMK MLAs loyal to TTV Dhinakaran. Dhinakaran had instructed all but one of the 18 MLAs to move to a resort near the Tirunelveli district ahead of the HC verdict.

This comes as a huge relief for TN CM E Palaniswami for if the HC had said the disqualification was illegal, the strength of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam would have come down to 112 in the assembly, five short of the required 117 according to current assembly strength.

The 18 lawmakers had presented letters to the then Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao pulling out their support to Edappadi K Palaniswami as chief minister in September last year.

The Madras High Court had on June 14 given a split judgment, in a breather for the state government.
10:34   PNB fraud: ED attaches Rs 255 cr assets of Nirav Modi in HK
The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday said it has attached valuables and jewellery worth Rs 255 crore in Hong Kong of diamond jeweller Nirav Modi in connection with the alleged fraud of USD 2 billion in PNB.

The agency said it has issued a provisional order under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act for attachment of these assets.

"The said valuables were exported through 26 shipments by Dubai based companies of Nirav Modi to the Hong Kong based companies controlled by him after the registration of the case (PNB money laundering) in India," it said. These valuables, diamonds and jewellery were lying in a logistics company vault in Hong Kong, the agency said.

"Details like value, consignee, shipper, ownership among others of these shipments were obtained during investigation and after gathering the evidences of ownership and value of the goods, the same have been attached," it said.

The value of the attached assets is USD 34.97 million or about Rs 255 crore at present, it said. A court issued order will soon be sent to Hong Kong to formalise the PMLA attachment order, they said. With this latest order, the total assets attached in this case against the absconding diamantaire is about Rs 4,744 crore.

Nirav Modi has been absconding since the alleged bank fraud, by far the highest in the country in terms of value, came to light early this year and an Interpol arrest warrant has been notified against him even as India is working to get him extradited from the United Kingdom, where he was last reported to have been based.

The ED has also filed a charge sheet against him alleging that he laundered and diverted over Rs 6,400 crore of bank funds abroad to dummy companies that were under his and his families' control. -- PTI
10:29   Two Chinese helicopters violated Indian airspace: Sources
Two Chinese helicopters on September 27 crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) - the de-facto border between China and India, sources said.

The transgression happened near Ladakh trig heights also known as Trade junction, which connects Ladakh with Tibet.The sources further suggested that the two choppers remained in the Indian territory for about 10 minutes before heading back.

This comes weeks after Pakistan violated Indian airspace in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir.

Official sources said a white-colour chopper crossed into this side in Gulpur sector and hovered for sometime before turning back.

It was alleged that inside the chopper were PoK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan, Tourism Minister Mushtaq Minhas, and the province's Education Minister Ifthikar Gilani. These allegations were later rejected by the PoK Prime Minister. -- ANI
10:07   Sensex tumbles 301 pts on global sell-off
The Benchmark Sensex on Thursday slumped over 301 points to dip below the 34,000-mark in early trade, largely in sync with meltdown at other Asian markets following overnight losses at the Wall Street and fresh weakness in the rupee.

Besides, investors were also cautious ahead of the last session of October month expiry in the derivatives segment. In the forex market, the rupee weakened by 19 paise to 73.35 against the US dollar due to increased demand for the US currency from importers. Brokers said negative cues from other Asian bourses after US markets plummeted Wednesday as a sharp drop in tech shares and worries about corporate earnings, triggered sell-off on the domestic exchanges here.

The 30-share BSE Sensex dropped by 301.49 points, or 0.89 per cent, to 33,732.47 points. It had gained 186.73 points on Wednesday. -- PTI
09:27   4 persons held outside residence of Alok Verma, being questioned
JUST IN: Four people seen outside the residence of  Alok Verma, Central Bureau of Investigation director sent on leave, are being questioned by Delhi Police.

More details awaited.   -- ANI
09:14   HC verdict on disqualification of MLAs loyal to Dinakaran today
The Madras high court will pronounce its verdict on disqualification of 18 Tami Nadu MLAs loyal to Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam leader T T V Dinakaran at 10.30 am today.

Earlier this week, Dinakaran had instructed all but one of the 18 MLAs to move to a resort near the Tirunelveli district ahead of the HC verdict.

According to media reports, all MLAs except P Vetrivel are likely to remain at a resort in Courtallam till the verdict is pronounced.

If the HC declares the disqualification illegal, the strength of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam will come down to 112 in the assembly, five short of the required 117 according to current assembly strength.

The 18 lawmakers presented letters to the then Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao pulling out their support to Edappadi K Palaniswami as chief minister in September last year.  -- Agencies
08:55   2 killed in shooting at grocery store in Kentucky
At least two people were killed in a shooting at a Kroger grocery store in Jeffersontown on Wednesday afternoon.

According to a dispatcher from the Jeffersontown police, one suspect has been detained in relation to the shooting, reported Fox News.

"I was in the vitamin aisle, and ... who we believe to be the shooter, walked right by me. And just 3-5 seconds later, you heard a series of gunshots from that aisle," said Andrew Butler, who claimed to have witnessed the shooting.

In a statement released by Krogers, the company stated that it is 'shocked and saddened by the shooting incident that occurred around 2.30 pm today'.

Krogers, thanking the local police said, "Thanks to the quick response of the local police department, the suspect was apprehended and our store is secure. Our store is closed and will reopen after the investigation concludes."  -- ANI
08:30   CBI row: Congress to hold protest on Oct 26
The Congress party will hold protests across the country on October 26 over the ongoing Central Bureau of Investigation row.

Top Congress leaders will stage a protest outside the CBI headquarters in the national capital, while state leaders will protest in front of the CBI offices in their respective states.

After a spell of the internal fight, that appeared to tarnish the image of the country's premier investigative agency, the Centre divested the CBI director Alok Verma and special and Rakesh Asthana respectively from their roles and sent both of them on leave.

Asthana and Verma were at loggerheads on several issues and accused each other of blocking several important cases to be heard.

The CBI had recently filed an FIR against Asthana for allegedly accepting a bribe from a businessman, who was linked to Moin Akhtar Qureshi case. Asthana was heading the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that was probing Qureshi's case.

Amid this internal slugfest, M Nageshwar Rao was appointed as the interim director of the CBI with immediate effect on Wednesday.  -- ANI
00:07   European parliament approves sweeping ban on single-use plastics
The European parliament has overwhelmingly backed a wide-ranging ban on single-use plastics in an effort to tackle pollution in seas, fields and waterways.

Under the proposed directive, items such as plastic straws, cotton swabs, disposable plastic plates and cutlery would be banned by 2021, and 90 per cent of plastic bottle recycled by 2025.

Described by the European commission as a clampdown on the top 10 plastic products that most often end up in the ocean, the proposed legislation passed 571 votes to 53.

Labour MEPs said the EU plan must be respected by the UK after Brexit. Seb Dance, the partys environment spokesman in the European parliament, said: These new measures will slash the use of single-use plastics in the EU. With more than 700,000 plastic bottles littered in the UK every day, it would be negligent if the UK does not maintain these new targets if we leave the EU.

Much plastic waste is washed into the ocean, where it may take centuries to fully degrade. Lightweight single-use items are among the most problematic of plastics because they can easily travel long distances, absorbing toxins along the way that damage marine flora and fauna.