21:16 Jaitley was a political giant: LS speaker:
Paying last tributes to BJP stalwart Arun Jaitley on Sunday, Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla described him as a colossus whose inspirational and intellectual presence was an invaluable asset for the country.
Birla, who was present at the Nigambodh Ghat where Jaitley was cremated with full State honours, said Jaitley had a profound imprint on Indian statecraft and nation building, which not only defined the basic tenets of governance, but also impacted the lives of the common man.
"Arunji was a colossus whose inspirational and intellectual presence was an invaluable asset for the country. A political giant, who earned reverence and trust across the political divides," Birla was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
Birla said the former Union finance minister will also be remembered for his sensitivity and incisive understanding of issues.
In his sad demise, the nation has lost a worthy son whose memory will always inspire the future generations, Birla said.
Hundreds of mourners, who converged at the cremation ground along the banks of the Yamuna, bid a tearful adieu to the BJP stalwart who passed away on Saturday at the age of 66. -- PTI
21:04 Ashes: Stokes guides England to historic win:
Ben Stokes hit a stunning unbeaten century as England defeated Australia by one wicket to win an epic third Ashes Test at Headingley.
The win saw England level the five-Test series at 1-1.
20:47 Pak releases more water, flood threat in villages in Punjab's Ferozepur:
A few villages in Punjab's border district Ferozepur are facing a flood threat after a major portion of an embankment in the catchment area of the Sutlej river was washed away following the pakistan's release of water into the Indian territory.
Officials on Sunday said the Ferozepur district administration is on high alert, while precautionary deployment of the NDRF and the Army teams has been made in view of the flood threat which looms large in some villages.
"Pakistan has released water in huge quantity which caused damage to the embankment in Tendiwala village, and there is danger of floods in some villages," a spokesperson of the Punjab government said.
"Being on guard, the district administration has announced evacuation in most sensitive villages along the Sutlej river as a precautionary step besides deploying various teams of the health department, food and civil supplies department and others," he said.
The spokesperson said people need not panic as the administration is geared up for the task with relief work at vulnerable points being undertaken at a fast pace.
Irrigation and drainage departments are already engaged to repair the damaged embankment in Tendiwala village, he said.
Sand filled gunny bags have been stacked in huge quantity and work is on to strengthen the embankment, he added.
"In the wake of the damage to the embankment due to heavy discharge of water from the Pakistan side, the strengthening work of Tendiwala embankment is being undertaken on war footing," the spokesperson said.
Ferozepur Deputy Commissioner Chander Gaind and district police chief Vivek Sheel Soni took stock of the situation, he said.
A few days back, as many as 17 villages of Ferozepur district were flooded after Pakistan opened headworks gates in its area on the Sutlej river.
Several villages of Ferozepur remain already inundated because of the recent rains and breaches in embankments of the river. -- PTI
20:39 PM Modi arrives in France for G7 Summit:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday arrived in France to attend the G7 Summit where he will speak on burning global issues of environment, climate and digital transformation and also meet the world leaders.
Modi arrived here from Manama after concluding his three-nation tour to France, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain where he offered prayers at the Shreenathji Temple, the oldest temple in the Gulf region.
"The Prime Minister reached Biarritz in France, where he will take part in G-7 Summit. In addition to the multilateral components of the Summit, he would also be meeting world leaders in separate bilateral interactions," the Prime Minister's Office said in a tweet.
During the G7 Summit, which will be held in the picturesque seaside French town of Biarritz, the Prime Minister will address sessions on environment, climate, oceans and digital transformation.
Though India is not a member of the G-7 grouping, Modi has been personally invited by French President Emmanuel Macron.
The ministry of external affairs had said that the invitation was a "reflection of the personal chemistry" between the two leaders and also "recognition of India as a major economic power".
The countries which are part of the G7 include the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the US.
20:00 Cubicles to breastfeed infants at all UP bus stations soon:
The Uttar Pradesh State Roadways Transport Corporation will set up baby-feeding cubicles at all bus stations of the state in a phased manner, an official said on Sunday.
The step is aimed towards making the state's bus stations "lactating mother and newborn baby friendly", the official added.
In a statement, UPSRTC managing director Raj Shekhar said: "The need and requirement was very much felt by the UPSRTC in last few years. Now looking into the importance and the requirement of this, the UPSRTC board has approved the project of setting up of Breast-Feeding Cubicles/Kiosks (Baby Feeding Cubicles) in each bus station of UPSRTC."
Of the 242 bus stations operational in the state, 23 will get the cubicles in the first phase under the PPP (public-private partnership) model, he said.
"For the rest 219 bus stations, the UPSRTC will construct the baby feeding cubicles in next 3 months on priority," he said.
The UPSRTC has also allocated Rs 2.5 crore for this special project in the "honour and dignity" of all lactating mothers and newborn children who are travelling on UPSRTC buses, he said.
These modern cubicles will have two baby feeding cabins and a utility cabin, he said, adding that necessary arrangements have been made for maintaining privacy and dignity of mothers.
The drawing, design and specifications for the cubicles have been finalised and the regional managers will be authorised to set them up in next three months, he said.
Necessary signages in Hindi and English will also be displayed at all appropriate places for public information and better utilisation of these cubicles, the statement said. -- PTI
19:57 Prominent Indian-origin Pakistani politician B M Kutty dies:
Prominent Indian-origin Pakistani politician and human rights activist B M Kutty died on Sunday in Karachi after a protracted illness.
He was 89.
Biyyothil Mohyuddin Kutty, popularly known as BM Kutty, migrated to Pakistan from Kerala 70 years ago in 1949.
"He was ill for a while. He spent his life fighting for civil and human rights," Marvi Sarmad, a human rights activist and journalist, said.
His wife Birjis Siddiqui died in 2010. The couple has four children.
Kutty came to limelight after he launched his autobiography "Sixty years in self-exile: No Regrets; A Political Autobiography" in 2011.
In the autobiography, he narrated the story about his journey from Kerala to Karachi, explaining why he had opted to stay in Pakistan.
Kutty was the general secretary of Pakistan Peace Coalition, a group that has been working to promote peace process between India and Pakistan.
Intellectuals, journalists and politicians expressed their condolences on Kutty's death and paid him rich tribute for his services for Pakistan and the community.
"Sad to learn about the death of veteran left activist BM Kutty. Originally, from Kerala, Kutty came to Pakistan as a young man and became a key figure in the politics of his new homeland, championing progressive causes...," Talat Aslam, a Pakistani journalist and editor of the News International daily, tweeted.
Born in 1930 in Tirur town in Kerala's Malappuram district, Kutty migrated to Pakistan at the age of 19.
The eldest of five siblings, he belonged to a Malayali Muslim family of peasants and landowners and was raised in middle-class circumstances.
During his student days, Kutty developed socialist and leftist political views and joined the Kerala Students Federation affiliated with the Communist Party.
In 1946, he also joined the Muslim Students Federation under the All-India Muslim League. He attended Mohammedan College in Chennai, where he studied science for four years.
Kutty also served as political secretary to the governor of Balochistan.
He took part in several political movements.
The high point of his career was his association with Ghaus Baksh Bizenjo, the governor of Balochistan province in 1972. -- PTI
19:53 Jaitley was 'stalwart' of our profession, say lawyers:
The lawyers' fraternity remembered former Union minister Arun Jaitley as a "stalwart" and a "helpful and a great human being" whose demise was a huge loss for the profession.
The Bar Associations across the national capital are planning to hold seminars to carry forward his legacy and to "make the younger generation learn from his life".
Jaitley, 66, passed away at the AIIMS in New Delhi on Saturday.
He was undergoing treatment at the hospital, where he was admitted on August 9.
Delhi High Court Bar Association president senior advocate Mohit Mathur, who was also from the same school where Jaitley studied, said it was a "personal loss" while remembering him as "very helpful and a stalwart".
"He was a leader of the Bar and a stalwart. He was always helpful for lawyers and people in general. It's very recently when we approached him for a lawyers' welfare association and he helped us wholeheartedly.
"It was a personal loss for me. He was from the same school, where I went to study later. Whenever we organised anything on behalf of the school alumni association, he used to participate and help us out very enthusiastically," Mathur said.
He said the executive committee of DHCBA will meet and decide to hold programmes in Jaitley's honour.
Jaitley was 1969-batch student of St. Xavier's Sr. Sec. School.
R K Wadhwa, Chairman of the Coordination Committee of All Bar Associations of Delhi, said that seminars will be held to highlight Jaitley's work and life so that young lawyers can learn from him.
"He was a great lawyer. His untimely demise is very sad for the entire country, especially for the legal fraternity. He was a wonderful lawyer, politician but above all a great human being," he said.
"We will be holding seminars highlighting his work so that young lawyers can learn about him. The real tribute to him will be making young budding lawyers learn from his work," Wadhwa said.
New Delhi Bar Association's secretary Nagendra Kumar said Jaitley's demise has created a "vacuum" in the legal fraternity and was a "huge loss" for the profession.
He also stressed on holding seminars to highlight his works for the younger generation "who have heard a lot about him but were not fortunate enough to see him arguing before the courts and learn".
A former office-bearer of the Delhi High Court Bar Association, senior advocate Vikas Pahwa said, "I feel pained to hear about the sad demise of Arun Jaitley. He was a magnificent person, phenomenal lawyer, an accomplished politician and a great leader, who achieved unprecedented success both in the legal and political life. He never walked alone; always with his team." -- PTI
19:26 PM hails Sindhu for winning gold at BWF World Championship:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday hailed PV Sindhu for winning gold at the BWF World Championship, saying her dedication is inspiring.
She became the first Indian to clinch world badminton championship gold with win over Nozomi Okuhara of Japan.
"The stupendously talented @Pvsindhu1 makes India proud again! Congratulations to her for winning the Gold at the BWF World Championships," the prime minister tweeted.
The passion and dedication with which she's pursued badminton is inspiring, he said.
"PV Sindhu's success will inspire generations of players," he said. -- PTI
19:22 Got a taste of brute force: Rahul on J-K visit:
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said leaders of the opposition and the press got a taste of the "draconian administration" and "brute force" unleashed on the people of Jammu and Kashmir when they tried to visit Srinagar.
A delegation of opposition leaders, including Gandhi, which wanted to visit Kashmir Valley to take stock of the situation there after the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370, was not allowed to leave Srinagar airport on Saturday by the state administration and had to return to the national capital.
"It's been 20 days since the people of Jammu & Kashmir had their freedom and civil liberties curtailed," Gandhi said in a tweet.
"Leaders of the Opposition and the Press got a taste of the draconian administration and brute force unleashed on the people of J&K when we tried to visit Srinagar yesterday," he said.
The former Congress president also posted a video of Saturday's events, showing authorities reading out an order to the opposition leaders and Gandhi addressing the media.
The video showed Gandhi speaking to the media and alleging that media persons accompanying the delegation were mishandled and beaten up.
He also said it is clear that things are "not normal" in Jammu and Kashmir.
During Saturday's attempt to visit the Valley, Gandhi was accompanied by Congress's Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and KC Venugopal, Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Tiruchi Siva, Loktantrik Janata Dal's Sharad Yadav, Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi, CPI's D Raja, Nationalist Congress Party leader Majeed Menon, Rashtriya Janata Dal's Manoj Jha and Janata Dal-Secular's D Kupendra Reddy. -- PTI
18:49 J-K state flag removed from civil secretariat:
The flag of Jammu and Kashmir which used to fly along with the tricolour was removed from the Civil Secretariat in Srinagar on Sunday, three weeks after the Centre revoked Article 370 provisions which granted special status to the state, officials said.
The flag, which was hoisted along with the tricolour every day atop the civil secretariat, the seat of the government, was supposed to be removed on October 31 when the law bifurcating Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh -- will come into effect.
However, on Sunday morning, only the tricolour was hoisted on the secretariat building, the officials said.
They said the flag will be removed from other government buildings as well. The flag was adopted by state constituent assembly on June 7, 1952.
The three stripes represented the state's three regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
17:39 EC announces assembly bypolls on 4 seats:
The Election Commission on Sunday announced by-elections to one assembly seat each in Uttar Pradesh, Tripura, Chhattisgarh and Kerala.
The bypolls for Dantewada (Chhattisgarh), Pala (Kerala), Badharghat (Tripura) and Hamirpur (Uttar Pradesh) Assembly seats will be held on September 23.
The bypoll in Hamirpur was necessitated by the disqualification of BJP MLA Ashok Chandel. By-elections to 12 other Assembly seats in UP are also due as most of the sitting MLAs won the Lok Sabha elections this year. But the dates are yet to be announced by the poll panel.
The Dantewada, Pala and Badharghat bypolls were necessitated following the death of the respective sitting MLAs.
While the notification for the by-elections would be issued on August 28, counting will be held on September 27, the EC said. -- PTI
17:38 Will remember his presence: Rahul on Jaitley:
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has said former Union minister Arun Jaitley's voice will no longer reverberate within the hallowed portals of Parliament, but his presence will be remembered.
Jaitley, 66, died at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi on Saturday, where he was undergoing treatment.
In a condolence message to Jaitley's wife Sangeeta, Gandhi said that in his illustrious career spanning over four decades, Jaitley left his mark on politics.
"Although his voice will no longer reverberate within the hallowed portals of Parliament, we will remember his presence," he said in the letter.
"Your family is in my thoughts and prayers. I wish you peace and strength during this difficult time," Gandhi said. -- PTI
Image: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi pays his last respects to Jaitley. Photograph: Atul Yadav/PTI Photo
16:56 Indian-American Congresswoman 'troubled' by reports of arrests in Kashmir:
The Indian-American lawmaker in the United States House of Representatives, Pramila Jayapal, has said she was "troubled" over reports of arrests in Jammu and Kashmir after India revoked the Article 370 of the Constitution that granted special status to the state.
"Deeply troubled by reports of Indian Govt's arrests of 2,000 in Kashmir...," Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said on Saturday.
The Democratic Congresswoman from Washington State, Jayapal is the first-ever and the only Indian-American to be elected to the US House of Representatives.
"Democracy requires transparency, due process and freedom of assembly and speech. These are absolutely essential, even in the most complex of situations," said Jayapal, who is considered as champion on human rights issues in the Congress. She also shared a New York Times news report on her Twitter account.
Congressman Adam Schiff said that fundamental human rights like free speech and access to information must be protected.
A day earlier, Congressman Peter King met Indian Consul General in New York to discuss "India-Pakistan dispute" over Kashmir.
"Met with Consul General of India to discuss India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir. Told him I understood India's action & had concerns over Islamist elements in Pakistan & Kashmir. But b/c of sensitivity & both countries being nuclear powers urged need to seek diplomatic solution," King wrote.
"Very concerned about the situation in Kashmir, particularly the ongoing communications blackout," said Congressman Don Beyer.
Security was stepped up in the Valley at vital installations and mobile and internet services were suspended after the government's decision to abrogate Article 370 on August 5.
On Saturday, restrictions were lifted from most of Kashmir and situation has been improving gradually. -- PTI
16:48 No harm in communication blackout if...: J-K Guv:
Governor Satya Pal Malik on Sunday denied that there was any shortage of medicines and essential commodities in Jammu and Kashmir and said communication curbs helped save many lives there.
Mailk also said no life has been lost in Jammu and Kashmir due to any violence in the last 10 days after the abrogation of the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir and its division into two Union Territories.
"If blockade of communication helps saves lives, what is the harm?" he told reporters when asked to comment on how long the restrictions will continue.
Malik said that in the past, whenever there was a crisis in Kashmir, at least 50 people used to die in the first week itself.
"Our attitude that there should be no loss of human life. '10 din telephone nahi honge, nahi honge, lekin hum bahut jaldi sab wapas kar denge. (If there is no phone connection for 10 days, so be it. But, we will restore everything soon)," he said.
Malik said there has been no shortage of medicines and essential commodities anywhere in Jammu and Kashmir and enough stocks were available for the people to buy.
"In fact, we delivered meat, vegetables and eggs to people's doorsteps on Eid," he said.
The Governor was in the national capital to pay his last respect to former Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, who passed away on Saturday at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi.
Fondly remembering Jaitley, Malik said it was the departed leader who had insisted him to take up the responsibility as the Jammu and Kashmir Governor last year.
"I was advised by Arun Jaitley to take up the responsibility as Governor. He told me that it will be historic. He also told me that his in-laws are from Jammu," he said. -- PTI
16:02 Minority Affairs Ministry team in J-K on Aug 27:
A minority affairs ministry team will visit the Kashmir Valley for two days from Tuesday to identify the areas to implement centrally-sponsored development projects after provisions of Article 370 were abrogated, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has said.
He also asserted that those opposing the government's withdrawal of J&K's special status, acting as per their "political prejudice", will also come around to support the move after seeing its impact.
"A team of senior officials, including the Secretary, will be visiting the area (Kashmir Valley) on August 27-28. The team will explore development possibilities -- where schools, colleges, skill development centres can be opened," Naqvi told PTI in an interview.
The team will look at all possibilities of social-economic development projects, he said.
The minister also said "precautions" taken in J&K are targeted at a "handful of separatists" who can mislead the people. "It is the job of a responsible government to not allow any misinformation campaign to be run," he said.
Naqvi said the team will also visit Jammu and Ladakh at a later date.
The minority affairs minister ruled out reconsideration on abrogation of Article 370 provisions, saying there was no going back.
"It is (Narendra) Modi's government. Everybody knows that in this government, decision is made after a lot of thinking, but there is no question of a rethink after a decision has been made," he said.
Asked if people of the Kashmir Valley were supportive of the government move, Naqvi claimed that they were "absolutely supportive".
Earlier this month, the government had revoked J&K's special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and divided the state into two Union territories -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
15:25 Arun Jaitley cremated with state honours:
Former Union minister and BJP leader Arun Jaitley has been laid to rest at Nigambodh Ghat with full state honours.
Political leaders across parties were present at the site of the cremation.
Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajanth are among the BJP leaders attending the last rites.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia too were present.
15:14 Committed to complete Kartarpur Corridor, despite tense ties with India: Pak:
Pakistan is committed to complete the Kartarpur corridor project for Sikh pilgrims ahead of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak despite the tensions in relations with India, a senior aide to the Pakistani Prime Minister said on Sunday.
The Kartarpur corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Baba Guru Nanak.
Special Assistant to Pakistan Prime Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan in a series of tweets said that Kartarpur is a sacred place for Sikhs and is the perfect example of interfaith harmony.
She dismissed reports that Pakistan had stalled work on the corridor due to fresh strain in ties with India.
She said irrespective of India-Pakistan relations Pakistan's doors are open to Sikh pilgrims visiting the Darbar Sahib Kartarpur.
In the world of growing extremism and intolerance, Kartarpur corridor resonates the message of respect and tolerance, she was quoted as saying by Radio Pakistan.
Awan said the white colour in the Pakistani flag represents minorities and it is as dear to the government as the green is.
She said the corridor would be inaugurated in November this year as per the schedule and terms of reference finalised with India.
Tension between India and Pakistan has escalated after New Delhi revoked Article 370 of the Constitution which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories on August 5. Reacting to India's move on Kashmir, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi.
Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak up to the border will be constructed by India. -- PTI
14:36 Naidu, Shah at Nigambodh Ghat:
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Home Minister Amit Shah at Nigambodh Ghat.
14:34 Jaitley's mortal remains reaches Nigambodh Ghat:
The cavalcade carrying former Union minister and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley's mortal remains has arrived at the Nigambodh Ghat for the final rites.
Mortal remains of the former finance minister to be cremated with full state honours.
13:47 Jaitley begins final journey from BJP office:
The mortal remains of former Union minister Arun Jaitley was taken to the Nigambodh Ghat from the BJP headquarters in New Delhi on Sunday afternoon in a flower-decked gun carriage, amidst chants of 'Jaitley ji amar rahein' (long live Jaitley).
The last rites will be performed around 2.30 pm with full State honours, a senior BJP leader.
BJP workers and mourners queued up in large numbers outside the party headquarters since morning to pay their last respects to the leader.
Posters remembering Jaitley have been put up on the roads leading to the Nigambodh Ghat, on the banks of the Yamuna river.
13:21 Ministers, leaders pay last respects to Jaitley :
The mortal remains of former finance minister Arun Jaitley were on Sunday morning brought to the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters where Union ministers Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, senior party leaders and workers paid their last respects.
BJP working president JP Nadda, Union ministers Harsh Vardhan, Prakash Javadekar, Piyush Goyal and Anurag Thakur, and Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh also paid their last respects to Jaitley.
"Jaitley's loss is irreparable and he will always be remembered for his contribution," Harsh Vardhan said.
The body will be taken to the Nigambodh Ghat in a flower-decked gun carriage on the banks of the Yamuna river for performing the last rites around 2.30 pm with full State honours, a senior BJP leader said.
The 66-year-old passed away at the AIIMS in New Delhi on Saturday.
He was undergoing treatment at the hospital, where he was admitted on August 9.
Among others who paid their respects are Manipur governor Najma Heptulla, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani and Yoga Guru Ramdev.
Wrapped in the national flag, Jaitley's body was brought to the BJP headquarters located on the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg here from his Kailash Colony residence.
BJP workers and mourners queued up in large numbers outside the party headquarters to pay their last respects to the departed leader.
Outside the party office, people chanted Jab tak suraj chand rahega Jaitley tera naam rahega (Your name will endure as long as the Sun and the Moon exist)" and Jaitley ji amar rahe (Long live Jaitley).
Image: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh pays his respects to former finance minister and BJP leader Arun Jaitley. Photograph: ANI
13:01 Anti-national: Priyanka attacks govt on Kashmir:
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Sunday hit out at those accusing the opposition of "politicising" the Jammu and Kashmir issue, saying there is nothing more "political" and "anti-national" than the alleged "shutting down" of democratic rights in Kashmir.
She also asserted that the Congress will not stop raising its voice against it.
Her remarks come a day after a delegation of opposition leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, which wanted to visit Kashmir Valley to take stock of the situation there after the abrogation of Article 370 provisions, was not allowed to leave Srinagar airport by the state administration and had to return to the national capital.
Taking to Twitter, Priyanka tagged a video in which a woman is seen telling Rahul Gandhi, on the flight from Srinagar, problems being faced by her family and loved ones.
"How long is this going to continue? This is one out of millions of people who are being silenced and crushed in the name of 'Nationalism'," she said in a tweet accompanying the video.
"For those who accuse the opposition of 'politicising' this issue: There is nothing more 'political' and 'anti national' than the shutting down of all democratic rights that is taking place in Kashmir," Priyanka Gandhi said.
"It is the duty of every one of us to raise our voices against it, we will not stop doing so," she added.
Earlier this month, the government had revoked J&K's special status under Article 370 and bifurcated the state into two Union territories -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
The opposition delegation's aborted visit came a day after the Jammu and Kashmir government issued a statement asking political leaders not to visit the Valley as it would disturb the gradual restoration of peace and normal life. -- PTI
12:54 Bahrain pardons 250 Indian prisoners:
In an humanitarian gesture, the Bahrain government on Sunday pardoned 250 Indians serving sentences in the Gulf nation during the maiden visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the oil-rich country.
The prime minister expressed his gratitude to the Bahrain leadership for the Royal pardon.
According to an official data, 8,189 Indians are lodged in various prisons in foreign countries, with Saudi Arabia having the highest number at 1,811 followed by the UAE at 1,392.
It was not clear how many Indians are lodged in jails in the Gulf kingdom.
"In a kind and humanitarian gesture, the Government of Bahrain has pardoned 250 Indians serving sentences in Bahrain," the prime minister's office tweeted.
The prime minister has specially thanked the King of Bahrain and the entire Royal Family for their kindness and the compassionate decision, it added. -- PTI
12:15 PM emplanes for France to attend G7 Summit:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday left for France from here to attend the G7 Summit where he will speak on burning global issues of environment, climate and digital transformation and also meet world leaders.
Modi, who was in Manama on the third leg of his three-nation tour to France, the UAE and Bahrain, concluded his visit with prayers at the 200-year-old Shreenathji Temple in Manama, the oldest temple in the region.
"After the first ever visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Bahrain, as a special gesture PM @narendramodi is seen off by Deputy PMs HH Mohammed bin Mubarak and HH Khalid bin Abdullah as he emplanes for Biarritz, France to participate in #G7Summit as Biarritz Partner," ministry of external affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.
During the G7 Summit, which will be held in the picturesque seaside French town of Biarritz, the PM will address sessions on environment, climate, oceans and digital transformation.
Though India is not a member of the G-7 grouping, Modi has been personally invited by the French President Emmanuel Macron.
The MEA had said that the invitation was a "reflection of the personal chemistry" between the two leaders and also "recognition of India as a major economic power".
The countries which are part of the G7 include the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States.
On the sidelines of the G7 Summit, Modi and US President Donald Trump are likely to discuss the situation in Kashmir, trade issues and other topics of mutual interest. -- PTI
12:06 Mann Ki Baat: PM calls for movement against single-use plastic from Oct 2:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday pitched for launching a "new mass movement" against single-use plastic from October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
In his monthly radio address 'Mann ki Baat', the prime minister said when the country observes the 150 birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation, "we will launch a new mass movement against use of plastic".
He also called for efforts to ensure proper collection and storage of plastic to save the environment.
In his Independence Day address also , Modi had urged citizens to eliminate single-use plastic and suggested that shopkeepers provide eco-friendly bags to customers.
His push against single-use plastic is being seen as an effort to prevent environmental degradation. -- PTI
11:38 PM launches $4.2 million project at temple in Bahrain:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday launched the $4.2 million redevelopment project of the 200-year-old Lord Sri Krishna temple in the Bahraini capital, Manama during his two-day visit to the Gulf nation.
The facelift for the Shreenathji (Shree Krishna) temple in Manama will kick off later this year.
The $4.2 million redevelopment project will be on a piece of land measuring 16,500 square feet and the new four-floor structure covering 45,000 square feet will have an overall height of 30 meters.
Modi arrived in Manama on Saturday, the first ever by an Indian prime minister to Bahrain. -- PTI
11:14 Amit Shah pays respects to Jaitley at BJP HQ:
Former finance minister Arun Jaitley, a key strategist and chief troubleshooter of the BJP and the Narendra Modi government during its first term, died on Saturday at the AIIMS after battling multiple health issues for the last several months. He will be cremated with full state honours at the Nigambodh Ghat today. Jaitley, 66, breathed his last at 12.07pm on Saturday. He was admitted to the hospital on August 9.
Mortal remains of Arun Jaitley have been kept at the Press Conference Room at the ground floor of BJP headquarters where party president Amit Shah paid his respects.
Arun Jaitley's son, wife and relatives are present in the party headquarters.
11:01 IAS officer quits, says "disturbed" over restrictions in J&K:
A 33-year-old Indian Administrative Service officer said he has filed his papers to quit the coveted government job. While stating his reasons, IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan said one of them was denial of "fundamental rights" to lakhs of people in Jammu and Kashmir for weeks after special status was scrapped from the state earlier this month.
"...Not that my resignation will cause anything even worth a flutter. But one has one's own conscience to answer to, I guess," Gopinathan was quoted as saying to NDTV.
Gopinathan, a secretary of key departments in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, was instrumental in transforming a loss-making government electricity distribution firm into a profit-making one.
"In (Jammu and) Kashmir, fundamental rights of lakhs of people have been suspended for 20 days. And many in India seem to be okay with it. This is happening in India in 2019. Article 370 or its abrogation is not the issue, but denying citizens their right to respond to it, is the main issue. They could welcome the move or protest it, that's their right," Mr Gopinathan told NDTV, adding this issue "disturbed" him enough to resign.
An IAS officer for seven years, Gopinathan gave his resignation on August 21.
"Even when a former IAS officer was detained from the airport, there was a complete lack of response from civil society. It seems like most in this country are okay with this," said Gopinathan, referring to how IAS officer-turned-activist Shah Faesal was sent back to Srinagar from Delhi airport while he was about to take a flight abroad.
10:36 From Jaitley to Sushma: BJP loses its stalwarts:
Former Union Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley died at 12:07 pm on Saturday at All India Institute of Medical Sciences. He was 66 years old. Arun Jaitley was admitted to AIIMS on August 9 after he complained of restlessness. He was placed under observation at the hospital's Cardio-Neuro-Centre.
Several leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other top BJP and Congress leaders condoled Arun Jaitley's demise.
The BJP lost several of its leaders including former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, Union Minister Ananth Kumar in past one year. Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley died in a span of 18 days.
10:05 Jaitley's mortal remains taken to BJP HQ:
Former finance minister Arun Jaitley, a key strategist and chief troubleshooter of the BJP and the Narendra Modi government during its first term, died on Saturday at the AIIMS here after battling multiple health issues for the last several months.
He will be cremated with full state honours at the Nigambodh Ghat today. Jaitley, 66, breathed his last at 12.07 pm on Saturday. He was admitted to the hospital on August 9.
BJP leaders, legislators and friends are accompanying Arun Jaitley convoy en route to the BJP headquarters.
Nationalist Congress Party leaders Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel arrive at the residence of former Union Minister and BJP leader Arun Jaitley to pay their last respects to him.
09:32 Jaitley was a food lover: L K Advani:
Expressing grief over the death of former finance minister and party colleague Arun Jaitley, veteran BJP leader LK Advani on Saturday said that the late leader was a food lover who always used to recommend good restaurants to him.
As a person, Arunji will be remembered as a soft-spoken, erudite and warm-hearted person. A food lover, he never failed to recommend good restaurants to me, Advani said in a statement.
Describing Jaitley as an outstanding parliamentarian, Advani remarked that he was also a superb administrator. Advani noted that Jaitley was a big name in the legal field too. He was also someone who valued and nurtured his friendship with people across the political spectrum, he said.
Advani said that Jaitley was a dedicated party worker who had worked tirelessly for the Bharatiya Janta Party. He added that the BJP was hugely dependent on Jaitley in order to find solutions for complex issues.
A dedicated party worker for decades, he was someone who was inducted into the BJP core team when I was party president and he soon rose to become one of the most prominent leaders of the party, he said.
Arunji was known and respected for his sharp, analytical mind and everyone in the BJP always depended on him for finding solutions to complex issues, the veteran leader stressed.
Terming Jaitleys demise as a huge loss for the country, Advani said that the former finance minister's death is a huge personal loss for him. To me, it is a personal loss that has left a huge void. May his soul rest in peace, he added.
09:21 A man of open heart and mind, Arun Jaitley had friends across divide:
In my last interaction with Arun Jaitley less than a month ago, he made a stray comment which could well serve as his epitaph. He said he made it a point to help whenever he was in a position to do so and he had been amply rewarded by the goodwill he enjoyed '" he was speaking in the context of an opposition leader who found himself friendless in his recent legal difficulties.
Read Coomi Kapoor's moving tribute to the former minister HERE
09:03 J&K to be on table as PM talks to world leaders:
Amidst renewed focus on Jammu-Kashmir and the lockdown in the Valley, Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in Biarritz, an elegant seaside town on southwest Frances Basque coast, on Sunday afternoon for his first G-7 summit. While Modi is coming prepared to speak at two sessions one on climate change and the other on digital issues it is likely that he will hold discussions with major world leaders on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
Modi is likely to meet US President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres in this town where the wealthy French have their holiday homes. Sources said Modi lands in Biarritz, 700 km from Paris, on the afternoon of August 25 and is expected to meet some of the G-7 leaders that day. Macron is expected to host the PM for dinner later in the day.
US President Trump landed on Saturday afternoon for the summit and the American officials have made it clear that Kashmir will be on the table when Modi meets him. His officials have now said that Trump is ready to assist, instead of ready to mediate.
08:29 Sent back to Delhi from Srinagar airport, Congress's Anand Sharma takes dig at J-K administration:
Taking a dig at the Jammu and Kashmir administration for not allowing him to visit Srinagar, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma on Saturday said he has seen "such hospitality for the first time".
Sharma was part of a delegation of Opposition leaders who went to Srinagar to see the ground reality after the repeal of special status to Jammu and Kashmir but were not allowed to go outside the airport and were subsequently sent back to the national capital. "I have seen such hospitality for the first time -- first invite, then detain," Sharma said upon his return from the Valley.
The Congress leader said that the restrictions imposed in Jammu and Kashmir were posing a "big challenge for Indian democracy."
"People are in pain. No one knows what is happening there," he said.
He said the situation was "bad on the ground" but the government was projecting as if everything is normal. "Such things should not happen in India. Political leaders should be released from house arrest," he demanded.
"There was no reason to stop us (from visiting Srinagar). We are responsible leaders and we had gone there on an invitation," he said.
The delegation comprised senior leaders from Opposition parties including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Sitaram Yechury, Sharad Yadav, Manoj Jha, Majeed Memon, Tiruchi Shiva and D Raja.
08:06 Arun Jaitley to be cremated today:
Arun Jaitley, former finance minister and BJP veteran who died on Saturday, will be cremated this afternoon with state honours.
The seasoned BJP leader died at 12:07 pm on Saturday at Delhi's AIIMS, two weeks after he was admitted following complaints of breathlessness. "It is with profound grief that we inform about the sad demise of Shri Arun Jaitley... Shri Arun Jaitley was admitted in AIIMS, New Delhi on 09/08/2019 and was treated by a multidisciplinary team of senior doctors," said AIIMS in a statement.
Hundreds of leaders from across political spectrum visited his Delhi home in Kailash Colony last evening to pay their last respects.
His body will be kept at the BJP headquarters in Delhi today between 10:30 am and 1 pm where party workers and leaders will pay tributes.
The last rites will take place at the Nigambodh Ghat at 2:30 pm, the BJP said in a tweet.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was in Bahrain, turned emotional at an event on Saturday as he remembered his "friend", Arun Jaitley. "I can't imagine that I am so far here while my friend has gone away. Some days ago, we lost our former External Affairs Minister Behen Sushma Ji. Today I have lost my friend Arun," he added.