Mon, 29 October 2018
India home to 3 of the largest NO2 emission hotspots: Greenpeace

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23:14   India home to 3 of the largest NO2 emission hotspots: Greenpeace
As Delhi continues to battle alarming pollution levels, a new study has found that three of the world's largest nitrogen dioxide emission hotspots that contribute to formation of finer particulate matter causing air pollution are in India, with one in the Delhi-NCR.
The study by Greenpeace comes as Delhi's pollution level climbed to alarming levels. Air quality continued to remain in the "very poor" category as a thick haze engulfed the city Monday.
NO2 is a dangerous pollutant in itself and also contributes to the formation of PM2.5 and ozone, two of the most dangerous air pollutants.
The largest number of hotspots, a total of 10, is found in China, eight in the Arab world, four in the EU and three each in India, the US and the DR Congo, according to an analysis of new satellite data from June 1 to August 31.
Delhi-NCR, Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh and Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh and Talcher-Angul in Odisha are the identified hotspots in India. Sonbhadra and Singrauli are considered as part of a single hotspot.
"Air pollution is a global health crisis, with up to 95 per cent of the world breathing unsafe air. With hotspots across six continents, ranging from cities to industrial clusters to agricultural areas, this new analysis shows us more clearly than ever before just how big a part of the picture NO2 pollution is," Lauri Myllyvirta, Greenpeace Nordic air pollution campaigner, said.
"Just as we have nowhere to hide from the dirty air impacting our daily lives, so too do the polluters have nowhere to hide. This new satellite is our 'eye in the sky', from which the culprits coal burning industry and oil guzzling transport cannot escape. It is now up to governments to act, with all the policy measures and technologies we have at our disposal, to clean up our air and save lives," Myllyvirta added.
The list of the largest NO2 hotspots in the world from June 1 to August 31 this year includes well known coal-fired power plants in South Africa, Germany and India, and numerous coal-burning industrial clusters in China. 
Cities such as Santiago de Chile, London, Dubai and Tehran also feature prominently in the list of 50 NO2 hotspots due to transport-related emissions.
"There are clear solutions to the global air pollution crisis. First and foremost, with coal the number one source of NO2 emissions, governments need to rapidly move their energy systems away from reliance on coal and towards renewable technologies," the report said. -- PTI
22:06   Earthquake measuring 5.3 strikes J-K
A 5.3 magnitude earthquake struck Jammu and Kashmir on Monday but there were no reports of any damage, an official said.
The quake occurred tonight at 8:13 PM, an official of the Disaster Management Department said here.
He said the epicentre of the quake was at the depth of 10 km at a latitude of 34.3 degrees north and longitude of 78.3 degrees east.
There were no reports of any loss of life or damage to property so far, the official said. -- PTI 
22:02   Better late than never, RBI Guv finally defending bank from Modi: Rahul
Congress president Rahul Gandhi said Monday it is nice to see Reserve Bank of India governor Urjit Patel "finally defending" the central bank from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and noted that the country will never allow the BJP-RSS combine to "capture" institutions.
He said it was not too late for the RBI governor to stand in defence of the Reserve Bank of India, after reports said there was a rift between Patel and 'Team Modi'.
"Nice that Mr Patel is finally defending the RBI from 'Mr 56'. Better late then never (sic). India will never allow the BJP/ RSS to capture our institutions," Gandhi said on Twitter.
Former finance minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram said there must have been some grave reason why RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya pitched for "effective independence" of the bank and, in the footnote, said he is grateful to Patel for encouraging him to explore the subject.
"So I think the matter is serious enough and it'll be best if the RBI and the government don't talk across each other through lectures, we've had two already," he said.
Chidambaram said it would be better if the time-honoured practice of the finance minister and the governor of the RBI meet in private and discuss issues.
"We have done that in the past and it has worked well, why are people delivering lectures across each other I don't know," he said when asked about the controversy.
As per reports, the long-simmering discord between the central bank and the government is turning into a very public brawl. Acharya in a hard-hitting speech Friday on central bank's independence startled his audience by invoking Argentina of 2010.
Acharya had said governments that do not respect central bank's independence would sooner or later incur the "wrath of financial markets, ignite economic fire and come to rue the day they undermined an important regulatory institution".
Amid instances of apparent differences between the government and the RBI, Acharya emphasised that undermining a central bank's independence is akin to committing a "self goal" for any government.
Delivering the A D Shroff Memorial Lecture, he said, "What matters is the effective independence with which these powers (vested in the Acts governing the RBI or any central bank) can be exercised in practice." -- PTI 
21:46   Govt looks at options after Trump turns down R-Day invite
The government is understood to be exploring options for the chief guest at the Republic Day parade after US President Donald Trump turned down its invite for the ceremony.
Sources said the government has in mind leaders from three countries including a head of state from a leading African nation.
"We have very little time left for deciding on the chief guest and the process will be completed soon," a source familiar with the development said.
Trump has declined India's invitation to be the chief guest at the parade, citing pressing engagements, including his State of The Union address, around the time India will celebrate its Republic Day.
It came at a time when Indo-US ties have witnessed some strain after India went ahead and sealed a deal with Russia to procure a batch of S-400 air defence missile systems, notwithstanding the US threat of punitive action under CAATSA (Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act).
The sources said India has already short-listed names of two-three heads of state for extending invitation to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade.
The sources indicated that India was not exclusively looking at Trump's presence at the Republic Day celebrations and that various other options were also being explored.
In July, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders had said that Trump has received an invitation to visit India, but no decision has been taken yet.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited President Trump for a bilateral visit to India during their talks in Washington in June 2017.
Every year, India invites world leaders to attend its Republic Day celebrations.
In 2015, the then US president Barack Obama had attended it as the chief guest which was his second visit to India as American president.
This year, leaders from 10 ASEAN countries had attended the Republic Day celebrations.
In 2016, the then French president Francois Hollande was the chief guest of the parade while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the chief guest at the celebrations in 2014.
The heads of state and government who have attended the Republic Day celebrations include Nicolas Sarkozy, Vladimir Putin, Nelson Mandela, John Major, Mohammed Khatami and Jacques Chirac. -- PTI  
21:45   Please don't spread rumours: Dilip Kumar's family friend on actor's health
A family friend of screen legend Dilip Kumar, Faisal Farooqui Monday refuted reports that the actor has again contracted "lung infection".
The 95-year-old actor was last month admitted to a hospital for treatment for mild pneumonia.
Farooqui rubbished a couple of reports claiming that Kumar was being treated for the ailment at his residence.
"This news is not true. @TheDilipKumar is fine. Pls don't spread rumors. Dilip Kumar sahab is doing well- at home in the company of his loved ones. -FF," he tweeted from the actor's official Twitter account.
Farooqui also called out an online portal for spreading "mischievous posting and fake commentary" about Kumar's health.
Known as the Tragedy King of Bollywood', Dilip Kumar has given memorable performances in films such as Andaz, Aan, Madhumati, Devdas and Mughal-e-Azam. -- PTI  
20:52   No conflict with judiciary: BJP on Shah's Sabarimala verdict remark
The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday said party chief Amit Shah's remarks that courts should desist from pronouncing "impracticable" verdicts, against the backdrop of the Supreme Court ruling on Sabarimala, should not be misconstrued as a "conflict with the judiciary".
Addressing a press conference in Indore, BJP's national spokesperson Sambit Patra said the saffron party was only raising the "issue of faith" with "utmost humbleness".
A recent verdict of the apex court lifting the age restrictions on entry of women to the Kerala-based hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa, who is believed to be a celibate as per traditions, has led to massive protests by the devotees.
The BJP and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have extended their support to the devotees who are opposing the entry of women of menstruating age to the abode of the Lord.
Shah had Saturday said that courts should desist from pronouncing verdicts that cannot be implemented, drawing flak from Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party.
Responding to a query on the Sabarimala row and Shah's remarks, Patra said, "There is no confrontation (with the judiciary on the issue). The BJP only believes that faith should be respected."
"Be it the Sabarimala temple or 'Shivlinga' they are the centres of our faith. We are standing by our faith with great humility and love," he added.
Responding to a query on whether Narendra Modi government would bring in a law to construct a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, Patra said the government wanted to construct the temple as per Constitutional norms.
"The legal case related to the Ram temple is sub-judice. A big section of the country's polity is trying to delay the trial of this case. The BJP wants to construct the temple of Lord Ram as per Constitution," he said.
The issue of Ram temple came to the centre-stage after RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat recently appealed to the government to bring in a law to facilitate the construction of the temple in Ayodhya, which he said was necessary for "self esteem". -- PTI
20:51   Japan backs India's NSG membership bid
Japan on Monday backed India's membership bid to join the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group, which is opposed by China.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe during their summit talks also sought "expeditious and meaningful" reforms of the United Nations.
"After India's full accession to three international export control regimes, the two leaders pledged to continue working together for India's membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, with the aim of strengthening the global non-proliferation efforts," according to the India-Japan Vision Statement issued after the talks.
India is already a member of the Australia Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Missile Technology Control Regime.
"India and Japan seek expeditious and meaningful reforms of the United Nations, in particular the comprehensive reform of the United Nations Security Council, to make it more legitimate, effective and representative, taking into account the contemporary realities of the 21st century," it said.
India, Japan, Brazil and Germany have formed the G4 grouping to support each other's bids for permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council.
The two leaders also expressed their determination to accelerate the process of UN reforms, including the launch of text-based negotiations in the intergovernmental negotiations in the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, it added.
Modi and Abe welcomed recent developments in the Korean Peninsula, including the US-North Korea Summit at Singapore in June and three inter-Korean Summits this year as a step towards the comprehensive resolution of the outstanding issues regarding North Korea. -- PTI
20:22   Virus spread leading to death of lions at Gir fully under control: Govt to SC
The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that spread of canine distemper virus, which led to the death of several lions in Gujarat's Gir sanctuary recently, was now "fully under control".
A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta expressed concern over the deaths and questioned the "reluctance" in shifting lions from Gir to other places like Kuno wildlife sanctury in Madhya Pradesh.
"Several lions have died in Gir incident. Every forest has its limit. I do not know why there is reluctance in shifting lions to Kuno?," Justice Gupta observed.
The bench also observed that spread of such virus could led to wiping out of the entire breed if the lions would be placed at one place only.
Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, appearing for the Centre, told the court that area under the Gir sanctuary have been increased and lions have been kept in pockets now to avoid any such incident.
During the hearing, the bench also took note of the recent incident in Odisha where seven elephants had died due to electrocution.
The bench was informed by an advocate that he would file an application regarding the Odisha incident matter which is pending before the apex court.
The Supreme Court also dealt with an application filed by National Tiger Conservation Authority which has sought its direction stating that the top court's 2013 decision rendered in a wildlife case does not prevent authorities from taking steps in conformity with law to re-introduce cheetahs from Africa to suitable sites in India.
The counsel appearing for NTCA told the bench that they have taken consent from International Union for Conservation of Nature, an organisation working in the field of nature conservation, for re-location of cheetahs from Africa to India. -- PTI
19:20   India attacks Pak Army administrative HQ near Poonch
The Indian Army has fired at Pakistan Army's administrative headquarters situated near Poonch district along the Line of Control (LoC).

According to sources, the attack by Indian forces comes in retaliation to the firing of mortar shells witnessed in Poonch and Jhallas on October 23.

Soon after the firing from the Indian side took place, sources said residents in the neighbouring villages of Poonch witnessed smoke emanating from the site.

However, sources said that the Indian Army has exercised maximum restraint in spite of continuous provocation by Pakistan.

In doing so, the Indian side has consciously avoided targeting or harassing civilian population in Pakistani towns of Hajira, Nikial and Samani which are in close proximity to the LoC.

The attack comes over two years after the Indian Army carried out surgical strikes in September 2016 at terrorist launch pads across the LoC in response to the strikes witnessed in Uri and Nagrota sectors of Jammu and Kashmir.

Earlier in the month, a reported published by The Dawn had noted that uneducated and unemployed youth were being targeted primarily for carrying out a wide range of terrorist activities.

The report further claimed that deprivation and penury of PoK locals suited the Pakistan Army, which, while ensconced in the safety of their posts, used these youth as cannon fodder for action along the LoC.

In this regard, sources said it was high time to call out the bluff of the Pakistan Army and take necessary action against perpetrators of terror.

Disturbance along the LoC has restricted the movement of Indians to PoK who visit the area either for business purpose or to meet relatives and friends.

Sources added that in the wake of the situation prevailing in PoK only a handful of Indian residents are able to visit PoK mainly due to the number of restrictions imposed in the region by the Pakistani authorities.

Compared to this, a fairly larger number of Pakistani citizens have been crossing over to the Indian side.

According to data, a total of 283 PoK residents have crossed over to the Indian side from June this year, whereas only eight Indian citizens have been able to cross from the Indian side to PoK.

Sources said Indian citizens cite excessive restrictions when they visit PoK and constant shadowing by intelligence operatives as the reason for their reluctance to visit their relatives in PoK.

Compared to this, Pakistani citizens have a fairly easy movement in India. -- ANI
19:01   Will wait for SC verdict, say litigants in Ayodhya case
Litigants in the Ram Janmabhoomi/Babri mosque title suit said on Monday they would wait for the Supreme Court verdict in the case, after the apex court said the schedule of hearing will be decided in the first week of January next year.

There were, however, differing views on the demand by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and other Hindu outfits that the government bring in a law to build Ram temple, with Iqbal Ansari of Sunni Waqf Board terming it as a 'political gimmick' ahead of the elections.

Mahant Dinendra Das, representative of Nirmohi Akhara which is one of the main parties from the Hindu side, said that 'the court will follow its procedure and we should wait for the verdict'.

He claimed that bringing a law to build Ram temple 'will not be a good decision of the government because the title of the land belongs to Nirmohi Akhara'.

"We will get back our land through court verdict only," he said.

Another litigant from the Hindu side 'Ram Lalla Virajman ', represented by Triloki Nath Pandey, said there was little anyone could do after the court put off the matter to January.

"We will wait for the court's verdict as we have been waiting for more than hundred years," he said.

Pandey, however, supported the demand for a law to construct the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

"Definitely, the land will be allotted to us and Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas will construct the Ram temple," he said.

Reacting to the development, Iqbal Ansari of Sunni Waqf Board said, "We will wait for the court verdict as we have have full faith in the Supreme Court."

"The proposal for making a law for Ram temple is a political gimmick as when the elections approach, a political party always raises the issue," he said.

"When the matter is before the court, let the court decide. Interference of the government in matters that are before the court will not be good for the country, especially in Ayodhya issue," he said.  -- PTI
18:37   Delhi pollution 'very critical': SC bans old vehicles in NCR
The Supreme Court on Monday prohibited the plying of 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles in the national capital region and directed the transport department to announce that such vehicles would be impounded if found plying.

Terming as 'very critical' the prevailing situation of pollution in Delhi-NCR region, the apex court directed that a list of 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles be published on the web site of Central Pollution Control Board and transport department.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta said that advertisement on this  should also be published in the newspapers.

The bench directed the CPCB to immediately create a social media account on which citizens could lodge their complaints directly about pollution on which appropriate action could be taken by the authorities concerned.

It permitted the court-mandated Environment Pollution Control Authority  to take pre-emptive steps under the Graded Response Action Plan without strict adherence to pollution stages delineated in the plan.

GRAP is aimed at tackling air pollution in Delhi-NCR and adjoining areas and it is designed to take urgent remedial action when air quality deteriorates.

The apex court passed these directions on a note placed before it by advocate Aparajita Singh, assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the air pollution matter, seeking urgent directions to correct the prevailing situation of pollution.

Earlier, the National Green Tribunal had also banned the plying of 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles in the Delhi-NCR.

The apex court had rejected a plea against the NGT's order banning plying of 15-year-old petrol and 10-year-old diesel vehicles on Delhi roads.      

The top court is seized of matters in which several issues related to air pollution in the Delhi-NCR have been raised.  -- PTI
17:57   Ranatunga arrested after his guards shoot Rajapaksa supporter dead
Sri Lanka's Petroleum Minister and cricket legend Arjuna Ranatunga was arrested on Monday for the first violent incident amidst the on going political crisis in the country that killed one person, police said.

The political crises in Sri Lanka took an ugly turn on Sunday when bodyguards of 54-year-old Ranatunga, a loyalist of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, fired live rounds at the supporters of the new premier Mahinda Rajapaksa, leaving one person dead.

One person succumbed to his injuries and two others were hospitalised in the shooting incident and a security personnel was arrested at the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) premises in Dematagoda following a tense situation.

The cricketer-turned-politician was arrested on Monday for the incident at his ministry premises when a petroleum worker died due to shooting by his security staff, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Supporters of Sri Lanka's newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa argue with members of the Special Task Force and the police after an official security guard of sacked minister Arjuna Ranatunga shot and wounded three people in front of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, in Colombo. Photograph: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters
17:29   Court won't do anything in Ram temple matter: Shiv Sena
Courts won't do anything in the Ram temple matter, Bharatiya Janata Party's sparring ally Shiv Sena said on Monday.

This assertion by Sena leader Sanjay Raut followed the Supreme Court fixing the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute cases for January before an appropriate bench, which will decide the schedule of hearing.

"We are not paying attention to what the Supreme Court verdict (on Ram temple issue) is and what date it gives (for the verdict). We don't want to pay attention. The court won't do anything in the Ram temple matter," Raut told reporters in Mumbai.

"We did not ask the court before demolishing the Babri structure 25 years ago," he said.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said on Monday the appropriate bench will decide the future course of hearing in January next year on the appeals filed against the Allahabad high court verdict in the Ayodhya land dispute case.

Raut said Sena president Uddhav Thackeray will reach Ayodhya on November 25. He will have a 'darshan' of Ram Lalla. He has 4 or 5 important programmes in Ayodhya, he said.

"Our hundreds and thousands of 'kar sevaks' did not become shaheed (martyr) after seeking court permission. We have not started any movement on Ayodhya after seeking the court nod," Raut said.

"We feel that there should be a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. We are not demanding a Ram temple in Pakistan but in Prabhu Shri Ram's Ayodhya. Uddhav Thackeray will go to Ayodhya and put forth his views on the Ram Mandir before people of the country," he said.  -- PTI
17:08   Rahul exhibiting 'fancy dress Hinduism': BJP
The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday said Congress president Rahul Gandhi is exhibiting 'fancy dress Hinduism' to fool people and demanded action against his party colleague Shashi Tharoor for his 'scorpion' remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The saffron party's attack on Gandhi came in the backdrop of his frequent visits to temples -- the latest being a trip to Ujjain's Mahakaleshwar temple Monday, ahead of his tour of the politically significant Malwa-Nimar region in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh.

The ruling party asked Gandhi to expel Tharoor from the Congress for his controversial remarks against Modi.

The Congress MP from Kerala stoked a fresh controversy on Sunday, claiming that an unnamed Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader had compared the prime minister to 'a scorpion sitting on a Shivling' and termed it as an extraordinarily striking metaphor.

"The objectionable statement of Tharoor, who is very close to Rahul Gandhi, has disrespected not only the holy deity of Lord Mahadev, worshipped by crores of Hindus, but also Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"In such a situation, how will he (Gandhi) offer prayers at the Mahakal temple," BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra told reporters in Indore.

Alleging that Congress leaders were continuously disrespecting the Hindus by making objectionable statements, Patra demanded that Gandhi apologise for Tharoor's remarks and expel the 62-year-old UN diplomat-turned-politician from the party.

He claimed that after the humiliating defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, a committee headed by former Union minister A K Antony had said the Congress should take care of the Hindus for its political revival as it was losing ground because of its projected image of a 'party of Muslims'.

"After the Antony committee's report, Rahul Gandhi is exhibiting fancy dress Hinduism continuously. To mislead the Hindus, he is sporting a janeu (scared thread) over the shirt. We demand that 'janeudhari' Rahul Gandhi clarify to which 'gotra' (clan) does he belong to," Patra said.

He also said since Gandhi had not given any answer to this question, people were calling him a 'Vatican gotra ka Brahmin'.

The Congress chief's mother, United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi, is an Italian by birth.  -- PTI
16:16   'No survivors' after Lion Air plane crashed in Indonesia with 189 on board
"No survivors are expected" after a passenger plane crashed into the sea minutes after taking off from Indonesia's capital. 

Lion Air flight JT610 plunged into the sea after losing contact with ground officials 13 minutes after take-off. 

An official told reporters: "I predict there are no survivors, based on body parts found so far."

The pilot of the plane had requested to return to the airport shortly before it plunged into the sea. 

Indonesia's president Joko Widodo has ordered the National Commission for Transport Safety to investigate the crash. 

Nugroho Dudi Wiryanto, deputy chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency told reporters: "We are waiting for the miracle from God" when asked about the fate of those onboard. 

He added that around 300 people including soldiers, police and fishermen are involved in the search that has so far only recovered personal belongings and aircraft debris. 

Agency head Muhammad Syaugi told a news conference that no distress signals had been received from the jet.

He said: We dont know yet whether there are any survivors. We hope, we pray, but we cannot confirm.
16:04   BJP chief Amit Shah likely to offer prayers at Sabarimala temple
BJP president Amit Shah, who has pledged his party's support to devotees protesting the entry of women of all ages into Ayyappa temple, has expressed wish to offer prayers at the hill shrine in Sabarimala during the annual pilgrim season starting on November 17, a party leader said Monday.

"The BJP president has expressed desire to visit the Sabarimala temple. But no decision has been taken so far," a senior Kerala unit BJP leader said. 

Shah's wish to trek the hills comes days after he declared BJP's full support to the agitation by the devotees against CPI-M-led Left Democratic Front government's decision to implement the Supreme Court order lifting the ban on entry of women in 10-50 age group from offering prayers at the shrine.

In a scathing criticism of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for taking action against Sabarimala protesters, Shah last week claimed an "Emergency-like" situation was prevailing in the state and accused the government of "playing with fire".

If the state government does not stop hurting the devotees, BJP workers would be forced to bring it down, Shah said, drawing a strong reaction from Vijayan, who termed the BJP president's warning an "attack" on the Supreme Court, Constitution and the country's judicial system.

-- PTI
15:54   Kneel & apologise at Jaya's memorial and return to party: AIADMK to disqualified MLAs
The ruling AIADMK on Monday asked the 18 disqualified party MLAs siding with rival leader T T V Dinakaran to "kneel" and "apologise" at the memorial of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa and return to the party fold.  

Party mouthpiece 'Namathu Amma' credited the victory of all 18 individuals in the 2016 assembly polls to the late AIADMK supremo and asked them to "deeply repent" their action of siding with Dinakaran before returning to the parent organisation.

A write-up in the vernacular daily came days after the AIADMK leadership extended an olive branch to the 18 disqualified legislators, asking them to jump on to the ruling party bandwagon, as the ruling party leaders O Panneerselvam and K Palaniswami alleged Dinakaran of "misleading" them.

The disqualified MLAs have "come on the streets" by siding with Dinakaran and are in a "pitiable situation," it said, adding those who became MLAs because of Jayalalithaa were now virtually reduced to nothing by joining the "wrong camp". 

"You had deserted the temple called AIADMK and joined AMMK. Whether you went for benefits or unwittingly, this situation has come up because of your veering off the path shown by Amma (Jayalalithaa)," it said.

"Deeply repent (your actions). Kneel before Amma (at her memorial at Marina) and seek a tearful apology. Issue an apology letter to the party and return on time," it said.

The mouthpiece also recalled that Dinakaran had been earlier dismissed from the party by Jayalalithaa.

The Madras high court had on October 25 upheld the June 14 order of the then chief justice disqualifying the 18 rebel AIADMK MLAs, in a huge relief to the K Palaniswami government.

-- PTI
15:01   CBI's Asthana gets protection against arrest till Nov 1 by Delhi HC
The Delhi high court on Monday ordered the CBI to maintain status quo on proceedings against its Special Director Rakesh Asthana, who was sent on leave by government till November 1.
A bench of Justice Najmi Waziri questioned the CBI for not filing reply to pleas of Asthana and another official seeking quashing of FIR in the matter.
The high court also directed CBI to file reply on the two pleas on or before November 1. 

-- PTI
14:33   Can't wait eternally for court judgment, govt should bring law on Ram Mandir: VHP
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad on Monday said Hindus cannot wait eternally for a court judgment on the Ayodhya land dispute case and asked the government to bring a law for building a Ram temple.
Its working president Alok Kumar urged the Narendra Modi government to bring a legislation in the Winter Session. 
His remarks came soon after the Supreme Court moved the hearing on the case to January next year.

"The Supreme Court has once again adjourned the hearing. This fortifies the VHP's stand that the solution to the Ram Janambhoomi issue is not in eternally waiting for hearing of appeals pending for over seven years. We reiterate our request to the Union government to enact a law to clear the way for building a grand temple of Lord Ram at his birthplace in Ayodhya," Kumar said. 

This may be done in the coming winter session of Parliament, the head of the RSS affiliate said, adding that the Hindutva organisation will intensify its campaign for such a legislation if the government does not act. 
The organisation has called a two-day 'Dharam Sansad', a meeting of seers, on January 31 and February 1 next year to discuss the Ram temple issue. This will be held on the sidelines of the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. 
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said an "appropriate bench" will decide in January next year the future course of hearing on the appeals filed against the Allahabad high court verdict in the Ayodhya land dispute case.

-- PTI
14:19   Swamy maybe dropped from BJP's national executive
BJP president Amit Shah is upset with his party's Rajya Sabha member, Dr Subramanian Swamy, for his tweets against the Union government. Sources said Shah was waiting for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to return from Japan, before taking the decision to drop Dr Swamy as a member of the BJP's national executive.   

Of late Dr Swamy's acerbic seem to target even those in the ruling establishment. His latest target appears to be Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, against who he has listed a slew of charges, and said that he was yet to get sanction from the finance minister to prosecute him.   

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley himself is another favourite target of Dr Swamy.  

Incidentally, Dr Swamy has not been admitted to the BJP's parliamentary party precisely for his refusal to accept Jaitley as his leader.   

And to show him that dissent will not be tolerated anymore, Amit Shah has decided to drop the Harvard-educated Dr Swamy from the national executive, say sources.
14:03   Muzaffarpur case: Former minister Manju Verma's husband surrenders before court
After Supreme court slammed the Bihar government and the CBI for the delay in tracing the whereabouts of Chandrashekhar Verma, husband of former state minister Manju Verma, the former has surrendered in court. 

Soon after Chandrashekhar, who was absconding for over two months, surrendered in a court in Begusarai district,he was sent to judicial custody for 14 days. 

Bihar DGP K S Diwedi told media that Chandrashekhar Verma has surrendered under pressure from police."It is result of police pressure as police was about to attach his property on Monday," Diwedi said. 

Manju Verma's husband Chandrasekhar Verma's plea of bail was rejected by the lower court and Patna high court repeatedly. 

In last September police issued an arrest warrant against Manju Verma's husband Chandrasekhar Verma in connection with an FIR registered by the CBI under the Arms Act. 

At least 34 girls who lived at the shelter home were found to have been raped during a social audit in June. 

CBI had seized 50 live cartridges from the former minister's Begusarai home and filed the FIR against Verma and her husband. 

Manju Verma resigned on August 8 following allegations that Brajesh Thakur, the main accused in the Muzaffarpur case, had links with her husband. 

-- M I Khan reports from Bihar
13:48   Bangladesh's Khaleda Zia sentenced to 7 years in another graft case
In a major setback to Bangladesh's ailing former prime minister Khaleda Zia, a court on Monday sentenced her to seven years in prison in a second corruption case for embezzling millions from a charitable trust in her late husband's name.

Zia, 73, who is already serving a jail term since February after being convicted in another case related embezzlement of funds of an orphanage named after her husband president Ziaur Rahman in February, was sentenced along with three others.  

The latest sentence, which comes ahead of general elections in December, is related the Zia Charitable Trust. 

According to the case, Zia and three others abused their power and collected $375,000 for the trust from unknown sources. 

Judge Mohammad Akhtaruzzaman announced the verdict from the temporary premises of the court at the old central prison at Dhaka's Nazimuddin Road.

-- PTI
Congress president Rahul Gandhi offers prayers at Mahakaleshwar temple in Ujjain. 

Photograph: INCIndia/Twitter
13:16   SC stays CBI probe into graft charges against Tamil Nadu CM
The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Madras high court order directing the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe allegations of corruption against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami.   

The petition against the high court order was filed by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption.   

The matter came to the fore in June when the opposition Dravida Munetra Kazhagam wrote to the DVAC alleging corruption in the allocation of contracts to various firms reportedly owned by the Tamil Nadu CM's relatives in five highway projects.   

The DVAC filed a report in the matter, but the high court rejected it and ordered a CBI probe in the matter.   

Observers feel the Supreme Court stay order has come as a shot in the arm for Palaniswami, and it may speed up the process of bringing together the official AIADMK with the rebel faction headed by TTV Dhinakaran, an outcome even the central government is keen on.   

The stay order will also strengthen the government in case by-elections are called in the state for the 18 seats whose MLAs, belonging to Dhinakaran camp, have been disqualified by the assembly speaker. The state government is very keen that these bypolls are held along with the Lok Sabha elections next year.
12:59   Rajapaksa assumes charge as new Sri Lankan Prime Minister
Former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday assumed charge as Sri Lanka's new prime minister after the surprise sacking of his predecessor Ranil Wickremesinghe by President Maithripala Sirisena which plunged the island nation into an unprecedented political crisis.
Rajapaksa assumed the duties in the prime minister's secretariat which was not used by the ousted prime minister Wickremesinghe, officials from his Sri Lanka People's Party said.

Sirisena on Friday night sacked Wickremesinghe and appointed Rajapaksa as the new prime minister in a surprise move that is being debated as a constitutional coup.

Sirisena also suspended parliament till November 16 after Wickremesinghe sought an emergency session to prove his majority.

Lankan President Sirisena has been facing international pressure over his controversial decision to suspend parliament. UN chief Antonio Guterres and and the US State Department have called on the country's government to respect democratic values and constitutional provisions and process.
12:45   CBI row: Satish Sana, who levelled bribery allegations against Asthana, seeks interim protection
Hyderabad-based businessman, Satish Sana, who had a filed corruption complaint against CBI special director Rakesh Asthana has reportedly knocked the doors of the Supreme Court seeking interim protection in the case. 

Sana approached the apex court after reports claiming that CBI has summoned him for questioning. The following developments surface after Satish Sana in a statement to CBI had accused Rakesh Asthana of taking a bribe of Rs 2 crore. 

Based on the statement, the CBI had filed a First Information Report against Rakesh Asthana, escalating a simmering row between the agency's top two officers -- director Alok Verma and Mr Asthana, the special director. Both accused each other of corruption.

Last week, both officers were sent on forced leave and M Nageswar Rao was appointed interim CBI chief in a post-midnight "coup" that was challenged by the director.

The court ordered that the vigilance inquiry against Verma be complete in two weeks, under the supervision of an ex-Supreme Court judge. The judges also ordered that the interim chief make no policy decisions and stick to administrative ones.
12:04   Ayodhya case: SC adjourns matter to January 2019
The Supreme Court has adjourned till January the hearing of a clutch of pleas challenging the Allahabad high courts 2010 judgment which ruled that the disputed land on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya be divided into three parts.

The court said that the issue will come up before appropriate bench in January. No decision was taken on Monday on the date of hearing and the composition of the bench.

On September 27, the Supreme Court declined to revisit the observations in its 1994 judgment that a mosque is not integral to Islam, clearing the way for hearing in the politically charged Ayodhya land dispute. In a majority verdict of 2:1, the apex court bench headed by former Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi civil suit has to be decided on the basis of evidence and the previous verdict has no relevance to it.

The construction of the Ram temple was an important part of BJPs manifesto ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and also the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections both of which it won.
11:56   Koregaon-Bhima: SC stays Bombay HC order refusing extension of time to police to file chargesheet
The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Bombay high court order refusing extension of time to the state police for filing charge sheet in the Koregaon-Bhima violence case.
Recently, the Bombay High Court had set aside the lower court's order allowing extension of time to police to file its probe report against the rights activists in the violence case.
Taking note of the appeal of the Maharashtra government, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi stayed the high court order and issued notice to rights activists on the plea. 
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 Pune Police had arrested lawyer Surendra Gadling, Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen, Dalit activist Sudhir Dhawale, activist Mahesh Raut and Kerala native Rona Wilson in June for their alleged links with Maoists under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

The arrests had followed raids at their residences and offices in connection with the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31 last year, which, the police had claimed, had led to violence at Bhima Koregaon the next day.

-- PTI
11:48   Delhi man captain of Indonesia's Lion Air plane that crashed
Captain Bhavye Suneja, who belongs to Delhi, was reportedly the captain of the Indonesian Lion Air plane which crashed into the Java Sea with 188 passengers and crew member on board on Monday.

According to media reports, Suneja was a resident of Mayur Vihar and studied at the Ahlcon Public School in the locality. He joined the low-cost carrier Lion Air in March 2011, Times of India reported.

The report quoted a senior official of an Indian airline as saying that Suneja was considering returning to India. 

On Monday morning, Flight JT 610 -- carrying 181 passengers, including one child and two infants, as well as six crew members and two pilots -- crashed into the sea off Indonesias island of Java. 

A spokesman for Indonesias search and rescue agency said that the plane lost contact 13 minutes after takeoff, adding that a tug boat leaving the capitals port had seen the craft falling.
11:04   Thick haze engulfs capital, air quality remains poor
Delhi's air quality continued to remain in the very poor category on Monday as a thick haze engulfed the city which is battling alarming levels of pollution.
An overall Air Quality Index of 348 was recorded which falls in the very poor category, according to data of the Central Pollution Control Board. 

Twenty-nine monitoring stations located in different parts of the city recorded very poor air quality while four stations recorded severe air quality.

An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered "good", 51 and 100 "satisfactory", 101 and 200 "moderate", 201 and 300 "poor", 301 and 400 "very poor", and 401 and 500 "severe".

Authorities have attributed the deterioration of air quality to localised factors like construction activities and vehicular pollution as well as regional factors like pollution by stubble burning from neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.

A thick smog engulfed the national capital as authorities said the situation may further deteriorate next month during the festival.

A health advisory has also been issued due to increase in the pollution level of the city.

The health advisory is specifically for people suffering from heart or lung disease, older adults and children to avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.

It also recommended people go for shorter walks instead of jogs, keeping windows closed, and wearing masks while stepping outside.

-- PTI
10:59   SC likely to hear Asthana's plea today challenging divestment of duties
The Supreme Court is likely to hear a plea today filed by Special Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation Rakesh Asthana, in which he has sought the removal of CBI Director Alok Verma from the post and also challenged the Centre's decision to divest him of duties and send him on leave.

Asthana and Verma, the two most senior functionaries of the CBI, have been embroiled in an unprecedented feud, each accusing the other of corruption and of having accepted bribes.

Counsel for the CBI special director, former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, brought the petition to the Supreme Court's attention on Friday, while the bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph was hearing Verma's petition, who also challenged the Department of Personnel and Training's decision to remove him from his post and send him on leave. 

In his plea, Verma had dubbed the move "patently illegal".

Asthana, in his plea, referred to the sequence of events in his feud with Verma in the CBI and claimed he was a "whistleblower" as he had approached the Central Vigilance Commission on August 24 with a corruption complaint against the CBI director.

The special director also accused the Centre of backing the "corrupt" CBI chief, alleging that he had been victimised for his bonafide actions.
Supreme Court adjourns hearing in Uphaar fire tragedy case for January 19.
10:12   3 people mowed down by train near Nangloi railway station
Three people sitting on tracks were run over by a train near Nangloi Railway Station on Monday, railways said.
The three, who were believed to be drunk, were sitting on the tracks at 7.15 am when the Bikaner-Delhi Express mowed them down. The train driver sounded the siren but the trio did not vacate the tracks, local police said. 

The incident comes days after 59 people were run over by a train while watching Dusshera celebrations on railway tracks near Amritsar.

-- PTI
09:56   Had this been Pakistan, Tharoor would've been silenced: Giriraj Singh
Condemning the remark made by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Giriraj Singh said Tharoor would have been silenced if he had made the remark in Pakistan.

"Had Tharoor been in Pakistan, he would have been made to shut his mouth. He has not only insulted the prime minister, but crores of Hindus and followers of Lord Shiva in this country. How can Rahul Gandhi claim to be a follower of Lord Shiva when his party man can say such a thing? He should come out and apologise on behalf of Tharoor. The Congress has crossed all limits now," Singh said.

Accusing the Congress of practising politics of "division and hatred," senior BJP leader Anil Vij added, "It (Tharoor's remark) is extremely condemnable. The Congress is strategically imparting a politics of division and hatred. On one hand, Rahul Gandhi claims to be a devout follower of Lord Shiva, on the other hand, the Congress leaders, in some way or the other, are humiliating the Hindus of this country. It's time we reject this."

Earlier in the day, Tharoor, while speaking at an event in Bengaluru, had said Prime Minister Modi was, in a way, like a "scorpion sitting on a Shivling."

However, the Congress leader later clarified that the comment was made by an unnamed member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh six years ago, and not by him.

-- ANI
09:19   Tata Group fires Suhel Seth over #MeToo allegations
Adman and socialite Suhel Seth, who was accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, has lost his job as a consultant at the Tata Group.

Reports say that Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group, has decided to terminate its contract with Suhel Seth.

The company was examining its association with the brand consultant in the wake of the sexual harassment allegations that emerged during the #MeToo campaign.

Seth has been accused of sexual misconduct by six women including model Diandra Soares, filmmaker Natashja Rathore, and writer Ira Trivedi.
09:02   You're like Diwali lamps spreading light: Modi to Indians in Japan
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the Indian community in Japan for taking 'brand India' to new heights by introducing cricket, Indian food and culture to the island nation, which has long worked with India in several sectors such as infrastructure, auto and technology.

"Just as how lamps light up the dark during Diwali wherever you are, you are spreading the light of India to every corner of the world and Japan and making the country proud. My best wishes are with you," PM Modi said after he was greeted by a group of Indians in Tokyo on the last day of his two-day visit.

PM Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe came to Tokyo in a train on Sunday after spending eight hours together in the picturesque Yamanashi prefecture, where they held informal talks and visited a factory.

"India is going through a massive transformative phase today. The world is appreciating India for its efforts towards services towards humanity. The policies being made in India, the work being done towards public welfare, for these the nation is being felicitated today," PM Modi told the Indian community in Tokyo this morning.

During his speech in the island nation known for its high-technology products, PM Modi cited his government's "Make in India" initiative to boost manufacturing in India, especially India's progress in mobile phone manufacturing.

"Broadband connectivity is reaching villages, over 100 crore mobile phones are active in India. One GB is cheaper than a small bottle of cold drink. Data is becoming a tool for service-delivery," the prime minister said.
08:51   US calls on Sri Lanka president to immediately reconvene parliament
The US has called on Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena to immediately reconvene parliament to allow the democratically elected representatives in the country decide who will lead their government following a political turmoil sparked by the sudden sacking of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Sirisena on Friday sacked Wickremesinghe and appointed former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new prime minister, triggering political chaos in the Indian Ocean island nation. 
Next day, he suspended Parliament after Wickremesinghe, who had termed his sacking as illegal and unconstitutional, sought an emergency session to prove his majority.

The president also withdrew Wickremesinghe's personal security and vehicles in order to accord them to his 72-year-old successor, who staged a dramatic political comeback.

"We call on the President, in consultation with the Speaker, to immediately reconvene parliament and allow the democratically elected representatives of the Sri Lankan people to fulfil their responsibility to affirm who will lead their government," US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said.
The United States continues to follow developments in Sri Lanka with concern, she said.
"We urge all sides to refrain from intimidation and violence," Nauert said in a statement.
The United Nations also expressed concerns over the political developments in Sari Lanka. 
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the Sri Lanka government to respect democratic values and constitutional provisions and process, uphold the rule of law and ensure the safety and security of all Sri Lankans.

-- PTI
08:29   Indonesia Lion Air flight from Jakarta crashes
A Lion Air flight capable of carrying up to 189 passengers has crashed during a short flight from the Indonesian capital Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang, according to Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency.

A spokesman for the low-cost carrier confirmed that it had lost contact with Lion Air flight JT 610 Monday morning, local time.

The plane had been due to land around 7:30 am local time in Pangkal Pinan, the largest city on the Indonesian island of Bangka.

The plane lost contact 13 minutes after takeoff, according to the official. The jet was a Boeing 737 MAX 8, according to air tracking service Flightradar 24.
Lion Air flight from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang goes missing 13 minutes after take-off, reports Singapore's Strait Times.
Lion Air flight from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang goes missing 13 minutes after take-off, reports Singapore's Strait Times.
07:50   Ayodhya dispute: SC likely to hear pleas against HC verdict today
The Supreme Court is likely to hear today a batch of pleas challenging the Allahabad high court's 2010 verdict by which the disputed land on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid area in Ayodhya was divided into three parts.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph would hear the appeals filed in the matter.

On September 27, the apex court had declined to refer to a five-judge constitution bench the issue of reconsideration of the observations in its 1994 judgment that a mosque was not integral to Islam which had arisen during the hearing of the Ayodhya land dispute.

In a majority verdict of 2:1, a three-judge bench headed by then chief justice Dipak Misra had said the civil suit has to be decided on the basis of evidence and the previous verdict has no relevance to this issue.

Justice Ashok Bhushan, who had penned the judgment for himself and the Chief Justice of India, had said it has to find out the context in which the five-judge bench had delivered the 1994 verdict. 

However, Justice S Abdul Nazeer had disagreed with the two judges and had said whether a mosque is integral to Islam has to be decided considering religious belief which requires detailed consideration.

The court had on September 27 said the civil suit on land dispute would be heard by a three-judge bench on October 29.

The issue whether a mosque is integral to Islam had cropped up when the three-judge bench was hearing the appeals filed against the Allahabad high court's verdict.

The three-judge high court bench, in a 2:1 majority ruling, had ordered that the 2.77 acres of land be partitioned equally among three parties -- the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

-- PTI