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Tue, 03 December 2019
No infra project halted except Aarey carshed: CM

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23:09   UP Raj Bhavan gets threat letter
Uttar Pradesh Raj Bhavan on Tuesday got a letter threatening to blow it up if the Governor does not leave the place in 10 days time.

A Raj Bhavan statement said the letter was from 'TSPC Jharkhand', an apparent reference to the Maoist group Tritya Sammelan Prastuti Committee.

The letter threatened to blow up the Raj Bhavan with dynamite.

The matter is being taken seriously, the statement added.

Hemath Rao, additional chief secretary to Governor Anandiben Patel, has sent the letter to the state's home department, it said.

Before taking oath as the Uttar Pradesh Governor, Patel was the Governor of Madhya Pradesh and briefly held the additional charge of neighbouring Chhattisgarh, a Naxal affected state.

Uttar Pradesh Additional Chief Secretary Awanish Kumar Awasthi said the Home Department has taken the matter 'very seriously'.

"The Home Department has taken the matter very seriously and written to the DGP and DG Intelligence and ADG Security to investigate immediately and report by tomorrow after a full assessment of the situation and to take measures as necessary," he said in a statement.  -- PTI
22:33   No infra project halted except Aarey carshed: CM
No infrastructure project has been halted in Maharashtra and a stay has been ordered only on construction of the Metro rail carshed in Aarey Colony, a green lung of the metropolis, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters after chairing a meeting that reviewed a slew of infrastructure projects in the state in Mumbai, he said no decision has been taken regarding the bullet train project as well.

Since the Shiv Sena-Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government took charge late last month, there have been reports in the media about it ordering a review of several mega projects, most notably the multi-billion dollar Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, a pet initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"There has been no order issued to halt any ongoing infrastructure project. Since the state government is reviewing the situation, no decision has been taken regarding the bullet train project as well," Thackeray said.

"The only stay order issued is for construction of carshed on Aarey land in Mumbai for Metro-3 line," he stressed.

The carshed project was in the midst of protests from environmentalists and local citizens as it involved the felling of over 2,000 trees in Aarey Colony, a sprawling green belt.

Thackeray said his government would not create hurdles in any infrastructure project, but maintained there was a need to prioritise them based on available funds and resultant benefits to people.

He added that a review of these projects will help his government expedite them.

Senior NCP leader and minister Jayant Patil, who attended the review meeting, said, "The Maharashtra government has no intention of suspending work of any ongoing infrastructure project as of now. We are reviewing their progress. A decision to prioritise projects will be taken after they are reviewed."

During the meeting, Thackeray was given a presentation on several of these projects, including the Mumbai metro, Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link, Navi Mumbai international airport and the Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi corridor.

Several big ticket projects are in different phases of development in Mumbai and its surrounding regions.

These include seven Metro rail lines, a coastal road, a sea link, a super communication highway till Nagpur and a high speed rail line, popularly called bullet train, till Ahmedabad.  -- PTI
22:22   TN CM meets families of wall collapse victims, concedes demands
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Tuesday met bereaved families of the 17 Dalits who were killed in a wall collapse near Coimbatore and conceded their demands, including enhanced solatium and construction of houses.

In addition to the Rs 4 lakh from the Disaster Relief Fund already announced, Rs 6 lakh each would be provided from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund, he said.

Speaking to reporters after calling on the families at Nadur village, where the tragedy occurred on Monday, he also said orders had already been issued to provide suitable jobs to the next of the kin of deceased.

A portion of the over 15-foot high compound wall, damp due to heavy rains lashing the area for the past few days, came crashing down on the adjoining four tiled-roof houses in a Dalit settlement in the village, over 50 km from Coimbatore, killing 17 people, including 10 women and two children.

Palaniswami, accompanied by his deputy O Panneerselvam, Local Administration Minister S P Velyumani and MPs and MLAs, consoled the families of the victims and termed the incident as most painful.

Noting that besides the damaged four houses, other dwelling units in the surroundings were also tiled-roof and not safe, he said concrete houses will be built in their place.

The CM said his government had already decided to make Tamil Nadu a slum-free state and concrete houses will be constructed for those living in low lying areas, on river banks and in unsafe conditions, he said.

On the demand for registering a case under the ST/ST Act against the owner of the house compound of which collapsed, he said action would be taken in accordance with the law after proper inquiry.

He noted that the owner, Sivasubramanian, had been arrested on Tuesday.

When asked about Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M K Stalin's remarks that the district administration failed to remove the wall despite complaints, Palaniswami said the former wanted to politicise each and every issue.

The wall collapsed due to heavy rains and so where was the question of the government's involvement in it, he added.

Stalin claimed despite complaints from the villagers about the stability of the wall, the district collector and officials failed to take action, resulting in the incident.

Police said Sivasubramanian, a textile businessman, was arrested on charges of causing death by negligence.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palanisami along with Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and others visits the site of the wall collapse in Nadur village of Mettupalayam taluk, near Coimbatore, on Tuesday. Photograph: PTI Photo
22:02   Govt reduces onion stock holding limit
Continuing efforts to curb rising onion prices, the government on Tuesday reduced the stock holding limit for retailers and wholesalers to 5 tonnes and 25 tonnes, respectively.

Onion prices have been ruling high for the past few weeks even as various measures have been initiated to increase supply of the key kitchen staple.

Earlier, retailers were allowed to hold onion stock up to 10 tonnes and wholesalers up to 50 tonnes.

Now, they can hold half of it, as per an order issued by the Consumer Affairs Ministry.

The revised stock holding limit would not be applicable for imported onions.  -- PTI
22:00   Snooping by China has increased: Navy officer
Snooping by Chinese naval ships in the Indian Ocean has increased over the last few years, but the Indian Navy has been able to keep effective surveillance over such activities, Naval Officer-in-charge, Bengal Area, Commodore Suprobho De said in Kolkata on Tuesday.

He said the Indian Ocean has some choke points which help the Navy in keeping an eye on the activities in the region, including the Bay of Bengal.

"With the P-8I long range maritime patrol aircraft in service, we can keep an eye on activities over the Indian Ocean," Commodore De told newspersons in Kolkata on the eve of the Navy Day.

India at present operates eight P-8I long-range sea patrol aircraft and the Navy has placed an order for an additional four planes from the manufacturer, Boeing.

The boost to the Indian fleet will come at a time when the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is seen increasing its footprints in the Indian Ocean.

By 2021, India will have a 198-ship navy, which now has 131 ships of various makes, Commodore De said.

He said a number of warships, including destroyers, corvettes and an aircraft carrier are under various stages of construction at Defence PSU shipbuilders, including the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd (GRSE) in Kolkata.

The naval officer-in-charge said though West Bengal has only around 160 km-long coastline, there are 73 landing points.

The difficult riverine Sunderbans in the region is used by smugglers, anti-nationals and traffickers, he said.

Commodore De said the Navy keeps surveillance in the area to keep a tab on such activities and coordinate with the Border Security Force,Coast Guard and the state police.   -- PTI
21:25   Not quitting BJP: Pankaja Munde
Breaking her silence on speculations regarding her future political course, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Pankaja Munde on Tuesday said she was not leaving the party, a day after she removed 'BJP' from her Twitter bio.

Political circles were abuzz since Sunday when Pankaja wrote a Facebook post on her 'future journey' in view of changed political circumstances in Maharashtra where the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress came together to form a government.

"I am not leaving the party. Defection is not in my blood," Pankaja told reporters.

Pankaja, daughter of BJP stalwart late Gopinath Munde, also denied rumours that her act of removing 'BJP' from her twitter bio was aimed at putting pressure on her party.

On Tuesday, Pankaja met senior BJP leaders Vinod Tawde, Ram Shinde and MLA Babanrao Lonikar at her residence in Malabar Hill in south Mumbai.

Pankaja has not yet vacated her official residence allotted to her as a minister in the erstwhile BJP-led government.

"Her facebook post on Sunday was distorted by the opponents; hence she was deeply hurt. She herself informed me that she is not unhappy with the party," Tawde said.

Earlier in the day, Pankaja paid tributes to India's first President Rajendra Prasad on his birth anniversary on her Facebook page while posting an image of 'lotus' (BJP symbol) along with it.

The 'About' section of her Facebook account also mentioned BJP as her political affiliation.

In her Facebook post on Sunday, she invited her followers to Gopinathgad in Beed district on December 12 on the occasion of her late father birth anniversary.

"Looking at the changed political scenario in state, there is a need to think and decide the way ahead. I need time for some 8-10 days to communicate with myself. Our future journey need to be decided against the backdrop of current political changes," she wrote in her Facebook post in Marathi.

Pankaja had lost the Parli seat in Beed district to her estranged cousin Dhananjay Munde of the NCP in the October 21 assembly elections.  -- PTI
20:23   Dead rat in midday meal, 8 students fall ill
In yet another instance of negligence in midday meal distribution, a dead rat was found in the food served in a school in Muzaffarnagar on Tuesday, following which an inquiry has been ordered by the district administration.

Additional District Magistrate Amit Kumar Singh said that eight students and a teacher of Janata Inter-College in Mustafabad Panchenda village were taken ill and sent to hospital after the rat was found in one of the plates though no one had eaten the food at that time.

NGO Janklyan Samiti of Hapur had supplied the midday meal to the school.

An inquiry has been ordered into the incident and strict action will be taken against those found guilty of negligence, Singh said.

District authorities have ordered lodging of an FIR against the mid-day meal supplier, the official said.

The students and the teacher complained of vomiting after they saw the rat and were taken to hospital, he said.

Last week, another case of apathy had come to light when a video showed that a litre of milk was allegedly diluted with a bucket of water so that 81 children could be served during their midday meal at a government school in Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh, following which a teacher was suspended.

Two months earlier a similar shocking video had emerged from Siyur Primary School in Mirzapur district showing a woman distributing rotis and another giving salt to children in the midday meal.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had taken note of the Mirzapur incident and sent a notice to the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary following which two teachers were suspended.

According to a NHRC statement, the commission had also sought a detailed report about the status of the midday meal scheme across the state within four weeks.

The state government had lodged an FIR against the journalist who recorded the video of schoolchildren being served salt and roti in their midday meal.   -- PTI
19:20   SC verdict on Chidambaram's bail tomorrow
The Supreme Court is scheduled to pronounce verdict on Wednesday over Congress leader P Chidambaram's plea seeking bail in the INX Media money laundering case.

A bench headed by Justice R Banumathi had on November 28 reserved judgement on the appeal filed by Chidambaram who has challenged the November 15 verdict of the Delhi high court denying him bail in the case.

During the arguments, the Enforcement Directorate had claimed in the apex court that the 74-year-old former finance minister continues to wield 'substantial influence' on crucial witnesses in the case even from the custody, while he said that the agency cannot 'destroy' his career and reputation by making baseless allegations.

Opposing his bail plea, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the ED, maintained that economic offences like money laundering are grave in nature as they not only affect the nation's economy but also shake people's faith in the system, especially when it is committed by people in power.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and A M Singhvi, representing the former union finance minister, had countered Mehta's submissions and said there was neither any evidence linking Chidambaram directly or indirectly with the alleged offence nor there was any material to show that he had influenced witnesses or tampered with any evidence.

Chidambaram was first arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation on August 21 in the INX Media corruption case and was granted bail by the top court on October 22.

The ED had arrested him on October 16 in the money laundering case.

The CBI registered its case on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in a FIPB clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007, during Chidambaram's tenure as finance minister.

Thereafter, the ED had lodged a money-laundering case.  -- PTI
18:45   PoK intruder nabbed near LoC in Rajouri
A man from a Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) village was nabbed after he infiltrated into this side from across the Line of Control in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district, a police officer said.

Senior Superintendent of Police, Rajouri, Yougal Manhas said alert Army troops guarding the LoC noticed a man who was trying to sneak into the Indian territory in an area of Nowshera sector.

The man was challenged and then nabbed, he said.

The incident took place in the afternoon, Manhas added.

The man was handed over to police at Nowshera police station and necessary formalities, including his medical examination, were conducted, he said.

During initial investigation, the man was identified as Tariq Mahmood, a resident of Chai Nalla village of Samahani Tehsil in Bhimber district of PoK, Manhas said.

The cognisance of the matter has been taken under relevant sections of law and the accused is being questioned, he said.

The SSP said no weapon or incriminating material was recovered from the intruder.  -- PTI
18:28   Govt open to further reforms: Sitharaman
Seeking investment from global players, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said the government is open to further reforms for making India a more attractive investment destination.

The government has taken various steps, including reduction in corporate tax, she said at the India-Sweden Business Summit in New Delhi.

Without sharing details of future reforms, the finance minister said, "I only can invite and assure that the Government of India is committed for further reforms in various sectors whether it is banking, mining or insurance and so on."

She further said that the government is addressing challenges faced by the industry not just Indian-owned but operationalise industries which are present in India.   -- PTI
18:13   Fasting DCW chief asked to leave Jantar Mantar
Police on Tuesday requested Delhi Commission For Women chief Swati Maliwal to vacate the Jantar Mantar premises, citing a standing order that prohibits protests at the venue after 5 pm.

Maliwal sat on a hunger strike at the venue to protest against the recent rape incidents in the country.

She refused to listen to police's request.  -- PTI
17:33   Woman killed, 8 injured as Pak shells Poonch
A woman was killed while eight persons were injured on Tuesday when Pakistan army shelled forward posts and villages along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district, officials said.

The firing and shelling from across the border in Shahpur and Kirni sectors was retaliated by the Indian army, a defence spokesman said.

"At about 2.30 pm, Pakistan initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation by firing of small arms and shelling with mortars in the two sectors. The Indian army is retaliating befittingly," he said.

In the Pakistani firing and shelling, one woman was killed and eight others were injured in Shahpur sector, a police officer said.

The injured are being shifted to a hospital, he said. The shelling is going on heavily in the area, the officer said.  -- PTI
17:30   Name & shame rapists' families, cops: Jaya
A day after stating that the accused in rape cases should be 'lynched' publicly, Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan on Tuesday said that this will not only set up an example but will also create fear among the perpetrators of heinous act.


"An exemplary punishment should be given to the rape culprits to create fear among the people (perpetrators). The government has done everything but rape continues to take place across the country," Bachchan told ANI.


"Also, the family of the rapist should be publicly humiliated and also the protectors (police) who denied to file an FIR should be publicly shamed by putting up their photos in newspapers and televisions," added she.


She further said that a long term solution to the problem could come only from the upbringing in homes and the education provided in institutions, but an example needed to be set through harsh punishment.


"Such incidents are being reported from Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and other places too. We need to have a long and serious discussion on this topic. Otherwise, it is not going to end," said Bachchan.


Earlier on Monday, the Rajya Sabha lawmaker had said that the accused in rape and murder of veterinary doctor should be lynched publicly.


"People now want the government to give a proper and definite answer. These types of people (the accused in the rape case) need to be brought in public and lynched," said Bachchan in the Upper House of Parliament.
17:28   Man held for posting vulgar comments on murdered H'bad vet
A 22-year-old man was on Tuesday arrested for allegedly makingvulgar comments on the social media about the woman veterinarian, who was gang-raped and murdered near Hyderabad. 


On November 30, the cyber crime police registered a suo moto case after some unknown people uploaded photos of the victim of sexual violence and made vulgar and objectionable comments about her, a senior police official said. The posts were very derogatory, obscene and vulgar, they said. 


A case was registered and during the course of investigation the police identified the accused from Nizamabad and arrested him. The police have said the victim's real name should not be used in media and social media and requested them to refer to her as "#Justice for Disha" to protect anonymity, confidentiality and the rights of the victim's family.


Image: Protesters and police clash during a demonstration demanding justice for the slain vet in Hyderabad. 
17:05   HM: Priyanka security breach a 'coincidence'
Sharda Tyagi, who was in the vehicle which breached security at Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's residence in Delhi says she is deeply anguished by the incident. 


"I was born in Congress I am dedicated to the party. I was deeply anguished to find that security was left on homeguards. I went there for the first time and saw this. I didn't know her (Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's) house number and asked about it by calling at Congress office. When I went there, (security) didn't even care to see who was sitting in the car and the barricade was removed immediately and gate was opened." 

And this is what Home Minister Amit Shah has to say on the security breach "Incident happened on November 25. Priyanka Gandhi got information that Rahul Gandhi was coming to meet her in a black SUV, but another black SUV came at the same time which had Meerut Congress leader Sharda Tyagi in it. The car and timing were same, such was the coincidence. That's why the car with Sharda Tyagi went in without security check. Then also, we've ordered a high-level probe and suspended three officers responsible for the breach." 


Image: Sharda Tyagi was allowed to enter the gates of Pryinaka Vadra's residence easily. 
16:44   Man arrested for raping 70-yr-old woman in UP
A man has been arrested for allegedly raping a 70-year-old woman in Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh, police said on Tuesday. The accused, 27, sexually assaulted the women when she was alone at her home, Circle Officer Gyan Prakash Rai said. The incident took place on Sunday, he added. -- PTI
15:56   Committed to Make in India: Navy chief
Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh on Tuesday said that the force is fully committed to "Make in India" vision and underlined that since December 2018, close to 88 per cent of Indian Navy's contracts and acceptance of necessity (AoN) by value have been concluded with or accorded to Indian vendors.


"Navy is fully committed to 'Make in India' vision. Since December 2018, close to 88 per cent of our contracts and AoN by value have been concluded with or accorded to Indian vendors," he said while addressing the Navy Day press conference in New Delhi. 


Highlighting that Navy is at the forefront of self-reliance since independence, the Navy Chief said, "Our commitment to this pursuit is seen by the fact that out of 50 ships and submarines currently under construction, 48 are being built in Indian shipyards. These include the aircraft carrier Vikrant, P-15 bravo class destroyers, P-17 alpha class stealth frigates, Offshore Patrol Vehicles and Scorpene Class submarines.


"The last of P-28 ASW Corvette is scheduled for delivery by next year and the delivery of four P-8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled in 2021, informed Admiral Karambir Singh while adding that "we also contracted for 16 ASW shallow watercraft and 36 aircraft which include 12 Dorniers, 16 ALH and 8 Chetak.


"Speaking briefly about various exercises conducted by Indian Navy, he said, "This year, we exercised our composite combat capability through Navy's largest bi-annual war game, that is the theatre level readiness exercise called TROPEX-19. Also as part of TROPEX, we conducted a pan India coastal defence exercise -- Sea Vigil. Based on its effectiveness, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has also approved institutionalisation of Sea Vigil on a bi-annual basis."


"Indian Navy also participates in numerous regional exercise with friendly foreign countries. From a rather conservative figure of eight exercises in 2015, we are now participating in close to 30 bilateral or multilateral exercises. Maiden bilateral with Bangladesh and Qatar and a trilateral exercise with Singapore and Thailand were also commenced this year. Maiden bilateral exercise with Saudi Arabia is also scheduled early next year," he added.


Speaking about MILAN-2020, the Navy Chief said the event is scheduled to witness the participation of approximately 41 countries. On being asked as to why some of the neighbouring countries, in an apparent reference to China, have not been invited, Navy Chief said, "we have called whom we think are like-minded".Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh evaded question on naval exercises with China based on Modi-Xi Jinping informal summit saying "this is beyond my pay grade."
15:45   No job losses post merger of 10 PSBs: Govt
The government on Tuesday assured the Rajya Sabha that merger of 10 public sector banks will not lead to any job losses and employees' interest will be protected. In August, the government announced a mega plan to merge 10 public sector banks into four with a view to creating fewer and stronger global-sized lenders with robust balance sheets that can be used to boost credit and spur growth. 


During Question Hour, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Singh Thakur said lending and other banking services to eastern states will be improved after two Kolkata-based banks are merged. While United Bank of India will be merged with Punjab National Bank, Allahabad Bank will be amalgamated with Indian Bank. These two banks are headquartered in Kolkata. "Merger of banks will strengthen the lending capacity. It has been ensured that no person loses job. The employees of merging banks will benefit the maximum. Merger is being done keeping their interest in mind," he said. "We have taken enough precaution," he said, adding that Narasimham Committee in 1998 and Leeladhar Committee in 2008 recommended amalgamation of the banks.


"Amalgamating banks was advised to duly factor in and draw road maps for converging IT systems and HR and to put in place institutional arrangements to ensure expeditious integration," Thakur said.
15:08   BJP govt broke the backbone of Naxalism: PM in Jharkhand
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday hailed the BJP government in Jharkhand for breaking the backbone of Naxalism. Addressing a rally in Khunti, Prime Minister Modi said, "After the first phase of the Assembly elections in the state, three things are clear -- the faith of the people of Jharkhand in strengthening democracy and nation building is unprecedented."


He added, "Secondly, the way the BJP government has broken the back of Naxalism, it has reduced the atmosphere of fear and created an environment of development here. Thirdly, it has been made clear that the people of Jharkhand have a feeling of trust towards BJP and the lotus symbol."


Prime Minister Modi said that Jharkhand knows that the politics of Congress and JMM is "politics of deceit and selfishness."


The five-phase elections to the 81-member Jharkhand Assembly began on November 30 and will end on December 20. Counting of votes will take place on December 23.In total, 20 Assembly constituencies are going to polls in the second-phase on December 7. -- ANI
15:04   Maha may defer bullet train project: Minister
Maharashtra minister Jayant Patil on Tuesday said the state government was trying to ascertain if projects like bullet train could be deferred in view the "Rs 4.71 lakh crore debt" on the state. 


Patil's comments came two days after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray ordered a review of all on-going development projects in the state, including the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train. 


"The state's debt is Rs 4.71 lakh crore. The debt for ongoing projects is Rs 2 lakh crore. We are reviewing which projects are important for the state's development and whether projects like bullet train can be taken up at a later stage," Patil told a television channel. 


"We have called a meeting to look into the viability of the project and how much money will the state government need to repay," he said. 


The bullet train project has faced stiff opposition from farmers and tribals whose lands are to be acquired. Patil also said that people were "not happy" with the previous government's loan waiver scheme. 


"We are working on how to provide relief to farmers affected by unseasonal rains and floods," he added. Thackeray on Sunday said the state government, which has a debt of nearly Rs 5 lakh crore, is firm on giving unconditional loan waivers to farmers. 


The introduction of the bullet train is expected to mark the country's shift to an era of high-speed trains capable of hitting a speed of up to 350 km per hour. Of the 508.17-km-long bullet train corridor, 155.76 km will be in Maharashtra, 348.04 km in Gujarat and 4.3 km in Dadra and Nagar Haveli. 

The Narendra Modi government has set the deadline of completing the project by August 15, 2022, when India marks 75 years of Independence. -- PTI
14:33   Sena seeks reply from FM on Hegde's claim on central funds
A Shiv Sena member on Tuesday sought reply from the Finance Minister on the issue of alleged refund of Rs 40,000 crore given by the Centre to Maharashtra for various development projects including bullet train. It was alleged that the fund was returned without spending by the hastily formed government under Devendra Fadnavis for 80 hours, Vinayak Raut (SS) said in Lok Sabha during the Zero Hour. 


Raising the issue, he said this information was shared by none less than BJP member and former minister Ananth Kumar Hegde thrice in the media. He said quoting Hegde's media claim that Devendra Fadnavis was made Maharashtra chief minister last month despite lacking majority to 'protect' Rs 40,000 crore central funds under the CM's control from being 'misused'. 


Raut sought a reply from Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as to whether such a thing took place or not. Fadnavis has also already dismissed Hegde's claim as "absolutely wrong", asserting that nothing of that sort happened. --PTI 
14:24   Over 15 lakh people sign petitions seeking justice for H'bad vet
Over 15 lakh people from across the country have signed petitions on change.org in the last four days seeking justice for the 27-year-old veterinarian who was brutally raped and murdered in Hyderabad. Started on November 29, the petition gathered 3 lakh supporters in just 24 hours and continued to grow rapidly, according to a statement by change.org. 


"Within four days, over 500 petitions have been started by regular citizens in an attempt to register protest and anger and the biggest petition that has gathered the signatures of over 8 lakh people has been started by another veterinarian from Mumbai Dr Shantanu Kodape," the statement said. -- PTI


Image: Anu Dubey (in black) along with her brother staged a protest in New Delhi over the gang-rape and murder of the veterinarian in Hyderabad.
14:17   Hanging for all rapists: DCW chief on dharna
Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal sat on an indefinite hunger strike at Jantar Mantar on Tuesday against the recent incidents of rape. 


Earlier she had alleged that police had not given her permission to hold the protest. Maliwal also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding that rapists be hanged within six months of their conviction and cited the recent incidents of the gangrape and murder of a Hyderabad veterinarian and the brutal rape of a six-year-old girl in Rajasthan. 


"My demand to PM is that we want capital punishment for the rapists of minor and major victims. The accused in the Hyderabad case must be hanged. Last year, I sat on protest and within 10 days, the government made a law that the rapists of minors will get capital punishment within six months, but this did not happen. 


"Now, I want PM to implement the law. I am demanding strict and swift punishment. We need to enhance the infrastructure for a better implementation of the law. In Delhi, there is a shortage of 66,000 police officers and 45 fast track courts," Maliwal said at Jantar Mantar. 


Responding to her allegations, the Delhi police said that they have not rejected the demand of holding the protest. Seeking to clarify the matter, police said a letter was sent to the DCW for obtaining details of the protest, mode of transport, microphone arrangements and the number of protesters who were supposed to take part in it, with a copy of an undertaking to be filled according to the Supreme Court guidelines. The details regarding it is awaited, they said. -- PTI


Image: Students participate in a rally in solidarity with the assistant veterinarian who was gang-raped, smothered to death and her body burnt. Her charred remains were found under a culvert, in Hyderabad. 
13:22   PM may visit India-EU summit in Brussels next year
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday and expressed his desire to work together for strengthening India-EU partnership. 

 The prime minister accepted the invitation of the European Commission president to visit Brussels for the next India-EU Summit, a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office said. The prime minister congratulated von der Leyen on taking over as the president of the European Commission and expressed happiness that they were able to establish contact early in her tenure. Modi said that von der Leyen's leadership of the commission had special significance since she was its first woman president.
13:18   Angry mob besieges Pak daily's offices for terming London Bridge attacker "man of Pakistani origin"
Dozens of protesters carrying banners and chanting slogans against a Pakistani newspaper tried to storm its offices in Islamabad, enraged over the leading daily's news report in which the London Bridge attacker was identified as a "man of Pakistani origin". 


The Dawn newspaper in its headline had identified Usman Khan, a convicted Islamist terrorist from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir who stabbed two people to death in a terror attack on London Bridge last week, as "UK national of Pakistani origin, unlike many other local dailies which said he was born and brought up in Britain and had no link with Pakistan. 


A few dozen unidentified people on Monday staged a protest outside Dawn offices in Islamabad over publication of a news report regarding the ethnicity of the London Bridge attacker of last week, the paper reported on Tuesday. They were apparently angered by the headline of newspaper last week in which it identified Khan as a man of Pakistani origin. -- PTI
13:16   Eye-for-an-eye: Burn rapists alive, says Sena MP
After members of Parliament Jaya Bachchan and Mimi Chakraborty advocated for the public lynching of the accused in the Telangana rape and murder case, Shiv Sena MP Dhairyasheel Mane has gone a step ahead and said the accused should be burnt alive.


Mane, the young MP from Maharashtra said that the accused who had raped and burnt the vet should be "burnt alive in full public glare".


"Inhuman acts like this have risen across the country. We need more stringent laws in this respect. People accused of such acts (rape) should have a fear of law. Many times, our hands are tied while working within the framework of the law. If a girl is burnt like this after gang-rape, the accused should be burnt alive on road in full public glare," said the Shiv Sena MP.


A veterinarian was allegedly gangraped and killed by four persons before they burnt her body in Shadnagar outskirts in Telangana's Ranga Reddy district on November 28. Hyderabad police on November 29 arrested four accused in the case.


Responding to whether observation in an article by Samna that the Telangana case hasn't got traction across the country unlike Nirbhaya, Mane said a single incident like this at any time and any place is condemnable and unacceptable.


"Take the case of Kashmir victim who was a child, the whole country got associated with her family. Be it any state, region, or party, a crime against women is unacceptable and we need to respect women," he stated.


The parliamentarian also extended support to Jaya Bachchan and Mimi Chakraborty on their suggestion of public lynching of such accused people. "I fully support Jaya Bachchan when she says that these accused should be publically lynched. I too am a father of a girl child and we too feel whether our girls are safe in the country. There is a need to set an example and give exemplary punishment for such misdeeds and crimes, "added the MP.
12:50   Poonam Mahajan rebukes Adhir on 'Nirbala' comment
BJP MP Poonam Mahajan in Lok Sabha: "Yesterday all MPs stood together on the issue of rape and murder of a Telangana doctor. Kuch samay baad, jinke naam mein 'Dhir' hai aise Adhir Ranjanji ke apne dhir ka bandh phoot gaya. FM Nirmala Sitharaman par unhone jo tipani ki woh sabse bura hua. Nirbal toh aap hain dada (Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury) ki ek hi parivaar ki mahila ke liye aap khade hain and usi ke samaan aur suraksha ke liye lad rahe hain." 


12:44   Keep rapists permanently in jail: Hema
In the wake of the rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad, BJP MP from Mathura Hema Malini said on Tuesday that rapists should be kept in jail permanently. Her comments came a day after Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan said in the Rajya Sabha that rapists should be "brought out in public and lynched."


"Each day we hear about women being harassed. My suggestion is keep the culprits in jail permanently. Once they go in jail, they should not be released at all," the BJP MP told reporters in Parliament premises in response to a question. 


Yesterday, Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan led a chorus of angry and impassioned voices in parliament amid nationwide shock over the horrific rape and murder.


These types of people (the rape accused in the Telangana case) need to be brought out in public and lynched," Jaya Bachchan said, adding, "I think it is time... the people want the government to give a proper and definite answer".
11:55   Heavy rain in S India, fog in N India, says IMD
Widespread rainfall is expected to batter isolated places of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Karaikal on Tuesday due to the influence of an active easterly wave, as predicted by India Meteorological Department.


From the past few days, these regions are continuously receiving downpour forcing district administration to announce the closure of all schools in Tamil Nadu's Sivaganga today.


Apart from these areas Kerala, Mahe and Lakshadweep are also likely to receive heavy downpour throughout the day, predicted India Meteorological Department in its All India Weather Summary and Forecast Bulletin.


The weather forecast agency further predicted that rainfall is likely to reduce in Peninsular India from today onwards."The dense fog is very likely in isolated pockets over plains of Uttarakhand, Assam, Meghalaya and Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura during morning hours on December 3," the IMD further states in its Bulletin.  -- ANI


File pic: Kerala was ravaged by heavy rain in August. 
11:51   Crocodile shot dead in UP
The carcass of a crocodile with a bullet injury mark was found at Bendighat of the Yamuna river in Tindwari area of Banda district, forest department officials said on Tuesday. "The carcass was found on Monday evening. It appears that someone has shot the crocodile," Forest Ranger Krishnspal said. An FIR has been registered in the matter against unidentified person and a probe into the matter is on, he said. PTI

Representational image.
11:30   Rapists be hanged within 6 months of conviction: DCW chief to PM
Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal on Tuesday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that rapists be hanged within six months of their conviction. Stressing that implementation of laws is important, she demanded that police resources be increased and their accountability fixed.  -- PTI

Image: DCW Chief  Swati Maliwal
11:22   Govt open to more reforms to boost investment: FM
And as former Finance Minister P Chidambaram tweets on the hopelessness of the economic situation in India led by the BJP government, FM Nirmala Sitharaman today said the government is open to further reforms for making India a more attractive investment destination. 


The government has taken various steps, including reduction of corporate tax, she said at India-Sweden Business Summit here. "I only can invite and assure that the Government of India is committed for further reforms in various sectors whether it is banking, mining or insurance and so on," she said. 


She invited Swedish firms to invest in infrastructure development projects. India plans to invest about Rs 1 lakh crore in infrastructure sector in the next five years. -- PTI
10:45   Take a walk with nature with these gobsmacking images
Take a break from news on politics and its shenanigans and feast your eyes on this slideshow on the The Epson International Pano Awards. The awards showcases the work of panoramic photographers worldwide and is the largest specialist competition for panoramic images.


This year the competition received 4913 entries from 1258 photographers in 72 countries, but the overall winner of the 2019 Open competition is Mieke Boynton from Australia -- the first female to win the title.

Take a look at the breathtaking images right here. 


Image: Milky Way', shows the twisting Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria. Photograph: Daniel Trippolt/The Epson International Pano Awards
10:30   God save India's economy: PC on GDP 'irrelevance'
Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambarm on Tuesday took a dig at the BJP over its MP Nishikant Dubey's remarks that the GDP has no relevance, saying "God save India's economy". 


Participating in a discussion in Lok Sabha on the Taxation Law Amendment Bill and a statutory resolution disapproving the ordinance on the same legislation, Dubey had said that the Gross Domestic Product has no relevance and it should not be treated as 'Bible, Ramayan and Mahabharat'. 


"GDP numbers are irrelevant, personal tax will be cut, import duties will be increased. These are BJP's ideas of reforms. God save India's economy," Chidambaram, who is in jail in connection with cases of corruption and money laundering, said in a tweet. 


Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala on Monday had also taken a swipe at Dubey over his remarks, saying God save the people from "New India's novice economists". -- PTI
10:24   Leh is freezing cold
Leh town of Ladakh records minus 14 degrees Celsius.
10:16   Jamait Ulema advocate not available, says lawyer
Advocate-on-record Ejaz Maqbool tells news agency ANI that it is wrong to say that Rajeev Dhawan was removed from the case (Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind review petition in Ayodhya case) because of his illness. "Issue is that my client (Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind) wanted to file the review petition yesterday itself. It was to be settled by Mr Dhawan. I could not give his name in the petition because he was not available. It is not a big issue," Maqbool said.


Advocate Rajeev Dhawan who represented the Sunni Waqf Board and other Muslim parties in the Ayodhya title dispute case on Tuesday claimed that he was sacked from the case.
09:58   Sensex falls 65 points on global trade worries
Equity benchmark Sensex fell over 65 points in early trade on Tuesday in line with global market sell-offs as investors panicked after the US decision to impose tariffs on Argentina and Brazil. 


The fresh trade war tensions along with unabated foreign fund outflows weighed heavily on the market sentiments, traders said. The 30-share index was trading 65.51 points, or 0.16 per cent, lower at 40,736.66. Similarly, the Nifty slipped 23.75 points, or 0.20 per cent to 12,024.45. 


In the Sensex pack, Tata Steel emerged as the biggest loser with a slide of 1.95 per cent, followed by Vedanta, IndusInd Bank, Bharti Airtel, ONGC and Axis Bank. -- PTI
09:55   Vadra tweets security breach ahead of SPG Bill
After reports of a massive breach in Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi's security on November 26, her husband Robert Vadra said the security across the country is being compromised with, adding that the safety of every citizen is government's responsibility.


"It is not about the security for Priyanka, my daughter and son or me or the Gandhi family. It's about keeping our citizens especially the women of our country safe and feeling secure," he said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.


On November 26, an SUV car with five passengers allegedly entered Priyanka's residence. The group went up to her and was able get pictures clicked with the Congress leader, the family said. This happened barely weeks after her SPG security cover was downgraded to Z-plus.


"Girls are being molested/raped. What society are we creating? Security of every citizen is the government's responsibility. If we are not safe in our own country, our homes, not safe on roads, not safe in the day or not at night, where and when are we safe?' Vadra further said in the post.


Priyanka, along with brother Rahul and mother Sonia, was an SPG protectee until November 4. The Special Protection Group cover to all three Congress leaders was withdrawn following which they remain Z-plus protectee.


Under the Z-plus security, the family has commandos from the CRPF paramilitary force in close proximity besides guards at their homes and where ever they travel in the country.In comparison, SPG protectees are provided with guards, hi-tech vehicles, jammers and an ambulance in their motorcade. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now the only SPG protectee in the country. 
09:44   Party top brass arrive for BJP Parl party meeting
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and other Union Ministers Pralhad Joshi, Jitendra Singh and Arjun Meghwal arrive for the BJP parliamentary party meeting, to be held at Parliament Library Building.
09:39   HM to move SPG (Amendment) Bill in RS today
Union Home Minister Amit Shah will on Tuesday move The Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in Rajya Sabha. The Bill was passed in Lok Sabha on November 27. It was passed with a voice vote, while Congress MPs had walked out of the House in protest.


A statement from the Home Ministry said, "The Bill says that family members of a former Prime Minister who reside with him at his allotted accommodation will get security cover of the SPG only for five years, from the date he/she ceases to hold the office of Prime Minister.


"Initiating the debate on the bill in Lok Sabha, Shah said that the SPG shall provide proximate security to the Prime Minister and his immediate family members residing with him at his official residence.


Shah rejected Congress allegations about "political vendetta" in the change in the security of Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and said that changes had been made in the protection Act earlier keeping "one family in mind".


He said security has been changed of members of Gandhi family after a yearly professional assessment and the change in security has also been done under the ambit of the Act. He added security has been changed from SPG on the basis of an assessment of threat perception and the review was done twice and it was found that ASL is sufficient. -- ANI
09:29   Bypolls crucial for BJP to survive in Karnataka
The future of the BJP government in Karnataka depends on the by-polls in 15 Assembly seats. Though the party needs seven seats to save the government, BJP has gone full throttle to win at least eight seats so that there is no danger to the government.


However, BJP leaders claim that they are going to win all the 15 seats. Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, other minister and party officials are working hard in the Assembly constituencies.


In July, the Congress-JD(S) coalition government led by former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy collapsed after 17 of its MLAs resigned. The resignations also reduced the majority mark in 224-strong Assembly to 104.


The BJP with its 105 MLAs formed the government in the state. Now with by-polls on those vacant seats, the majority mark would increase which the BJP is trying to fill.At present, there are 207 MLAs in Karnataka Assembly with 104 required for a majority. BJP has 105 MLAs. Now with the election of 15 MLAs, the number of MLAs in the Assembly would go to 222. With that, BJP would require 112 MLAs for majority in the Assembly.


So, if BJP wins seven seats, its government in the state would get the majority. However, the party wishes to win at least eight seats in the state. Elections for two other seats will be held in future which will take the majority mark to 113.


The ruling party in the state wants to ensure it has the required numbers. However, in around seven-eight Assembly seats, local BJP leaders are upset over party giving tickets to rebels from Congress and JD(S). Some of them are contesting the elections as independents which has increased the challenge for BJP. -- ANI
09:08   Sumitra Mahajan says she took help of Cong leaders to raise Indore's issues
In a candid admission, former Lok Sabha Speaker and ex-Indore BJP MP Sumitra Mahajan said she took the help of Congress leaders for issues concerning the development of her constituency in order to mount pressure on the then Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in the state.

She went on to claim she could not raise issues of public interest several times when her own party's government was in power in MP as she was "tied down by discipline".

The Congress unseated the BJP after 15 years in the assembly polls late last year.

"I could not raise issues of public interest many a times during the previous BJP government in MP. Then, in hush hush manner, I used to tell them (Congress leaders) to raise such issues, promising them I will ask (then) Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to do the needful," Mahajan said at a function on Sunday night.

"We rise above party politics when we set forth for Indore's development," the eight-time former MP, who was denied a ticket in the April-May Lok Sabha polls as she had crossed 75 years of age, added.

"I was tied down with (party) discipline so could not publicly speak against the previous state government," she said, adding that Congress leaders kept their word during such times.

-- PTI
08:56   Lawyer for Muslim parties in Ayodhya case sacked
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan, who appeared for Sunni Waqf Board and other Muslim parties in the Ayodhya case in Supreme Court, said on Tuesday he has been sacked from the case.

Just been sacked from the Babri case by AOR Ejaz Maqbool who was representing the Jamiat. Have sent formal letter accepting the sacking without demur. No longer involved in the review or the case, Dhavan said in a Facebook post.

The senior advocate said that he was told that he was being removed from the review of the case as he was unwell.
08:41   Kerala nun pens autobiography, outlines 'sexual abuse, harassment by bishops'
Sister Lucy Kalappura, one of the nuns who protested against rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal said that her autobiography titled 'Karthaavinte Naamathil' (in the name of the Lord) also states the sexual abuses from priests and bishops -- a fact which everybody knows but is silent about.

She said: "It is about life experiences and sexual abuse and harassment of nuns by priests and bishops -- a fact which everybody knows but is silent about." 

She said that she started writing the book between 2004 and 2005, after experiencing mental torture from the congregation.

"I had started writing it in 2004-05 because during the period of 2000-03 I had a bitter experience -- mental torture from the congregation. I thought it will be better to keep a record of all that. So I started to write little by little," Sister Lucy said.
Narrating the incidents of "sexual abuses and torture faced by the sisters", she said that even church leaders who supported the sisters, the victims of sexual abuse, have now started supporting the accused.

"Catholic Church leaders, who supported the sisters -- the victims, have now started talking against them and are supporting the accused. It is against the teachings of Jesus Christ. It pained me and I thought this should be published, whatever is happening," the Sister said.

-- ANI
08:21   Ajit said allying with BJP was mistake: Pawar
Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar said on Monday that senior party leader and his nephew, Ajit Pawar , had confessed to him that allying with the Bharatiya Janata Party was a mistake. The 78-year-old leader also indicated that he may forgive Ajit for the misadventure that barely lasted 80 hours.

Pawar said that Ajit, who was widely considered as the number 2 in the party before he broke ranks and backed BJPs Devendra Fadnavis, was irked by the long negotiation and disagreements between the NCP, Congress and the Shiv Sena on November 22.

"Irked with that disagreement and the ongoing discussion with Congress, Ajit took this call that night. He was told oath has to be taken immediately, if this deal had to be done. Later, Ajit told me he made a mistake," said Pawar.

Pawar, however, indicated that his nephew would be forgiven and pointed out that a large section within the NCP looked up to Ajits leadership. "He is always available for them [party workers and leaders] when I am busy in Delhi. This is whether we are in power or not."
07:54   NASA finds Chandrayaan 2's lander on moon
A NASA satellite orbiting the Moon has found India's Vikram lander which crashed on the lunar surface in September, the US space agency has said.
  
NASA released an image taken by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter that showed the site of the spacecraft's impact (September 6 in India and September 7 in the US) and associated debris field, with parts scattered over almost two dozen locations spanning several kilometres.

In a statement, NASA said it released a mosaic image of the site on September 26, inviting the public to search it for signs of the lander.

It added that a person named Shanmuga Subramanian contacted the LRO project with a positive identification of debris -- with the first piece found about 750 meters northwest of the main crash site. 
Blasting off in July, emerging Asian giant India had hoped with its Chandrayaan-2 ("Moon Vehicle 2") mission to become just the fourth country after the United States, Russia and regional rival China to make a successful Moon landing, and the first on the lunar south pole. 

The main spacecraft, which remains in orbit around the Moon, dropped the unmanned lander Vikram for a descent that would take five days, but the probe went silent just 2.1 kilometers above the surface. 
Days after the failed landing, the Indian Space Research Organisation said it had located the lander, but hadn't been able to establish communication. 
00:36   China bans US Navy visits to Hong Kong
China has banned United States warships and military aircraft from making stops in Hong Kong after Washington passed legislation supporting the territory's pro-democracy protesters.

"In response to the unreasonable behaviors of the US side, the Chinese government decides to suspend the review of requests by US military ships and aircraft to visit Hong Kong as of today," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a news conference in Beijing.

Hua also announced that Beijing would impose sanctions on several US non-governmental human rights organizations that have been monitoring and reporting on the protests in Hong Kong, CNN reported.

The Chinese government accused the NGOs of supporting 'anti-China people' and said they were instigating protesters 'engaging in extreme crimes' in pursuit of Hong Kong's separation from China.

US President Donald Trump signed into law the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which allows Washington to sanction Chinese officials.

The new law permits Washington to suspend Hong Kong's special trading status over rights violations.

Hua said it was a 'serious violation of international law and the basic norms governing international relations and interferes in China's internal affairs'.

Urging the US to 'correct' its mistakes and 'stop interfering in our internal affairs', she said: "China will take further steps if necessary and we will uphold (Hong Kong's) prosperity, stability and our country's national sovereignty, security, and development." -- ANI

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