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LIVE! Father-son held for making hooch that killed over 70

February 11, 2019


23:40  Father-son held for making hooch that killed over 70:  
A man and his son, who allegedly made the spurious liquor that claimed over 70 lives in Uttarakhand and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, were arrested on Monday from Jhabrera area of Haridwar district, police said.

Hardev and Sukhwinder alias Sukha, residents of Punden village of Saharanpur district in Uttar Pradesh, were arrested by the Uttarkhand Police from near Ekbalpur Fatak in Jhabrera area of the district, SSP Haridwar Janmejay Khanduri told reporters in Roorkee.

The father-son duo has told the police during preliminary interrogation that they did not manufacture the liquor but bought a drum of it of nearly 400 litres from one Arjun who lives in Tejupur village in Bhagwanpur area, he said.

Police is now in searching for Arjun, the officer said.

Meanwhile, the state government has constituted an SIT under the supervision of IG Garhwal range Ajay Rautela to look into the incident.

The latest arrests take the total number of people held in connection with the tragedy to four. Fakira and his son Sonu were arrested yesterday.

They told police that they bought the illicit liquor from Hardev and Sukhwinder and sold it to people in neighbouring villages.  -- PTI
22:40  Over 700 stranded passengers airlifted by IAF from Jammu:  
The Indian Air Force airlifted over 700 stranded passengers, including students, from Jammu to Srinagar on Monday, a defence spokesperson said.

With this, the IAF has airlifted 1,431 people in the past four days, a defence spokesman said.

For the first time, two C-17 Aircraft airlifted 707 passengers simultaneously from the Jammu Air Force Station, the spokesman said.

Thousands of people were left stranded in Jammu following the closure of the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country, in the wake of heavy snowfall on Wednesday.

The spokesperson said the relief effort has been undertaken jointly by the IAF and civil administration.

"In first sortie, a total of 301 and in the second sortie 406 passengers, including students, were airlifted," he said.

He said Jammu Air Commodore S K Mishra personally supervised the entire operation at Jammu Airbase.

"All the passengers were also provided with food packets by the Jammu-based Tiger Division. The passengers were extremely thankful to the civil administration and armed forces for a great humanitarian relief in the time of dire necessity," the spokesperson said.

As many as 538 persons, including 319 GATE aspirants, were airlifted in separate sorties by the IAF between the twin capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar, a defence spokesman had said on Saturday.

The IAF launched special sorties of C17 Globemaster, airlifting a total of 538 persons, including 319 Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) aspirants, between the twin capitals on Friday and Saturday.

Another group of 186 passengers, mostly the GATE aspirants, were airlifted by the IAF on Sunday.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Stranded Kashmir bound passengers queue up to board a C-17 aircraft of the Indian Air Force for the valley, in Jammu, on Monday. Photograph: PTI Photo
21:43  SC refuses to monitor CBI probe into Saradha chit fund scam:  
The Supreme Court on Monday refused to monitor the ongoing Central Bureau of Investigation probe into various chit fund scams, including the one involving Saradha Group of Companies.

A two-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna did not allow the application filed by some investors saying that despite the apex court's 2014 order directing the agency to probe the chit fund scam, the investigation has not attained finality.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for some investors who lost money to a ponzi scam, said the CBI probe has not led to any conclusion and the investors are still running from pillar to post for redressal.

"We are not inclined to set up a monitoring committee for the chit fund scam probe," the bench said.

The apex court, on May 9, 2014, had ordered a CBI probe into the multi-crore rupee chit-fund scam which had also revealed involvement of politicians in West Bengal, Odisha and Assam. Kunal Kumar Ghosh, Member of Parliament, was arrested on November 23, 2013, over the scam in which lakhs of people were cheated through several ponzi schemes. Ghosh was a top official at Saradha Group of Companies.

The apex court had said that it would be virtually impossible for a state police to carry out investigations into the scam having inter-state ramifications and unearth larger conspiracy involved into it.

Recently, the top court had on February 5 directed Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar to appear before the agency and 'faithfully' cooperate into the investigation of cases arising out of the chit fund scam, while it making it clear that he will not be arrested.

The CBI has alleged that Kumar, who was leading the SIT in the Saradha chit fund scam, destroyed and tampered with material evidence in the form of call detail records (CDRs) of the prime accused and potential accused.

The apex court had on February 4 taken strong note of allegations of tampering with evidence in the Saradha scam, saying, "If the police commissioner is even remotely trying to destroy evidence, we will come down so heavily on him that he will regret."

The court had also directed the West Bengal chief secretary, the director general of police (DGP) and the Kolkata police commissioner to file replies to the statements made in the contempt petition filed against them by the CBI on or before February 18.

On February 3, the CBI officials had gone to Kumar's residence in connection with the probe.

The agency also claimed that companies like Saradha, Rose Valley and Tower Group had given huge contributions to the Trinamool Congress.

Claiming that the SIT is under investigation as it was conniving with accused and potential accused to subvert the investigating process, the affidavit filed by CBI said there are a large number of hard discs and other material still in custody of Kumar which he had collected as an investigating officer, being the head of the SIT and being the functional head and day-to-day in-charge of SIT.  -- PTI
21:09  312 die of swine flu across India, over 9,000 infected:  
Death toll across the country due to swine flu has soared to 312 with the number of deaths in the last week recorded at 86, according to data released by the Union Health Ministry on Monday.

Over 9,000 persons have so far been affected by the H1N1 virus, with Rajasthan still topping the list with highest number of cases and deaths, according to the data.

Swine flu has affected 9,367 people in the country till Sunday with Rajasthan  reporting 107 deaths and 2,941 cases of infects, followed by Gujarat at 55 deaths and 1,431 people being infected, showed the data.        Punjab has reported 30 deaths and 335 cases followed by Madhya Pradesh, which has reported 22 deaths and 98 cases.

Swine flu has claimed 17 lives in Maharashtra and affected 204 people. Delhi so far has witnessed seven deaths due to the H1N1 virus and 1,669 cases of infection, followed by Haryana recording seven deaths and 640 cases.

Telangana has recorded five deaths and 424 cases of infection.

With the number of swine flu cases going up, the Health Ministry has asked state governments to bolster their surveillance for early detection of the disease and also keep beds reserved in hospitals to deal with acute cases, which require ventilator facility.

States have also been advised to involve district collectors in enhancing public awareness and outbreak response, a health ministry statement said.

The guidelines for influenza vaccination and the details of manufacturers of vaccine provided by Drug Controller General of India have been shared with all states. Communication material for preventive measures has also been shared. Video conferences are also being held regularly to monitor the situation.

Advisory for preparedness to seasonal influenza A (H1N1) was issued and the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) and its state units have enhanced surveillance for Influenza like Illness (ILI) and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI).

The Drug Controller General of India has been asked to coordinate with drug manufacturers and monitor the availability of Oseltamivir, the medicine recommended by WHO, in various states.

The Health Ministry has recommended vaccination for healthcare workers and other priority groups.

The health advisory states that seasonal influenza (H1N1) is a self-limiting viral, air borne disease spread from person to person, through large droplets generated due to coughing and sneezing, indirect contact by touching a contaminated object or surface and close contact, including handshaking, hugging and kissing.

The dos and don'ts mention covering nose and mouth with disposable tissue or handkerchief while coughing or sneezing, washing hands with soap and water frequently, avoiding crowded places, maintaining isolation, drinking plenty of liquid and consulting a doctor.

According to the advisory, one should not touch the eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, or hug, kiss or shake hands while greeting, or spit in public places, and dispose of used napkin or tissue paper in open areas.   -- PTI
20:25  BJD MP questions why reports on blackmoney not made public:  
Biju Janata Dal MP Bhartruhari Mahtab on Friday alleged that the government has 'restrained' the Standing Committee on Finance chairman from sharing with the panel members three reports on black money.

During the debate on the interim Budget 2019-20 in Lok Sabha, Mehtab said the Finance Ministry has also refused to make them public under Right to Information (RTI) citing breach of privilege of the House.

Pointing to Veerappa Moily (Cong), who is the chairman of Standing Committee on Finance, Mehatab said even Moily has been restrained from sharing information with the members of the committee and questioned the motive behind it.

The United Progressive Alliance government had commissioned in 2011 the studies by the Delhi-based National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) and the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), and the National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM) in Faridabad. The study reports of the NIPFP, NCAER and NIFM were received by the government on December 30, 2013, July 18, 2014, and August 21, 2014, respectively.  -- PTI
19:56  Lok Sabha passes Interim Budget for 2019-20 amid uproar:  
Union Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said on Monday that the Interim Budget for 2019-20 is aimed at overall development of the country so that each citizen can benefit.

Replying to a general discussion in the Lok Sabha, which passed the Interim Budget amid uproar and walk-out by Left and Congress, Goyal said: "The Budget provides for a substantial benefit to small and marginal farmers."

"Under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana, 12 crore farmers with less than two hectares of land holding will get Rs 6,000 per year. The amount in three installments will go directly into their bank accounts," he said amidst continuous slogan shouting by some opposition members.

Goyal said the scheme will be effective from December 1, 2018, and cost Rs 75,000 crore.

On the other hand, he said, the United Progressive Alliance government had waived off Rs 52,000 crore for farmers in a span of 10 years.

"The Congress-led UPA committed a breach of trust with the people of India. They did nothing for the poor," said Goyal, adding that there is no accounting jugglery in the Budget for 2019-20 under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The overall expenditures in the Budget are at Rs 27.84 lakh crore, 13 per cent larger than the last years figure.

The expenditure for defence has been increased to Rs 3.05 lakh crore from Rs 2.85 lakh crore in 2018-19.Individual taxpayers having taxable annual income up to Rs 5 lakh will get full tax rebate.

All the applicable income tax rates have also kept unchanged.

Further, individuals having an annual income of Rs 6.5 lakh can also save income taxes, provided they invest a sum of up to Rs 1.5 lakh in prescribed savings schemes under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act such as Public Provident Fund (PPF), Equity-Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS), National Saving Certificates (NSC), insurance schemes, and so on.

An individual is also eligible to claim income tax deductions from of up to Rs 2 lakh on interest home loans, education loans, National Pension Scheme (NPS) contributions, medical insurance, medical expenditure on senior citizens.

Goyal also provided to increase the standard deduction by Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000 from the present Rs 40,000.

Therefore, going forward, all the salaried persons can claim a standard deduction of Rs 50,000 on their respective taxable income.  -- ANI
19:02  No-deal Brexit 'could cost 600,000 jobs worldwide', says study:  
A British departure from the European Union without a deal could put 600,000 jobs around the world at risk, with Germany the hardest hit, a study published on Monday found.
 
Researchers at the IWH institute in Halle, eastern Germany, examined what would happen if UK imports from the remaining EU fell 25 per cent after Brexit.
They reckoned that some 103,000 jobs would be under threat in Europe's largest economy Germany and 50,000 in France.
Being affected by Brexit would not necessarily mean workers were laid off, the economists noted.
"Given the lack of skilled labour in many advanced economies, firms could also try to keep staff on by cutting hours or opening new markets," they said.

It is so far uncertain whether Britain will strike a deal with the EU before its legally-binding exit date of March 29, after a huge majority of lawmakers last month voted down Prime Minister Theresa May's painstakingly-negotiated accord with Brussels.

A "hard" departure without a deal would see tariffs imposed at the border, "tangling up global supply chains," study co-author Oliver Holtemoeller said in a statement.
The economists focused only on trade in goods and services, leaving out other possible economic impacts of Brexit like changes to investment flows.
18:44  Won't rest until a govt of Cong's ideology is formed here: Rahul in UP:  
Asserting that Congress will "play on front foot" in Uttar Pradesh, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Monday said he and his party will not sit idle till it forms a government in the state and that is the mandate given to Priyanka Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia.
 
During a roadshow that marked his sister Priyanka's first public event after being appointed as national general secretary with charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, the Congress president said he has asked her and Scindia, who has been made general secretary for western UP, their mandate is to bring a government in the state that will ensure justice for all.
"Their aim is definitely the Lok Sabha elections, but  also to bring a Cognress government here," he said.

Asking the crowd to repeat his "chowkidar chor hai" barb against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in connection with the Congress party's corruption allegation in the Rafale fighter jet deal, Gandhi alleged that the prime minister has "stolen" money from Uttar Pradesh and other states to benefit industrialist Anil Ambani.
The government and Ambani's Reliance Group have denied the allegations levelled against them by Congress and other opposition parties.
On Uttar Pradesh, where his party is struggling to regain lost grounds, the Congress chief said, "UP is the centre (and) heart of country. I have made Priyanka and Scindiaji general secretaries and told them that they have to fight injustice that is rampant in the state for years. They have to fight against it and bring a government that gives justice."
Using a cricket analogy, he said the Congress will play on the front foot and not on the back foot in the state.
"Till a Congress ideology government is installed here (UP), we will not sit idle and ensure justice to the farmers, the youth, the poor," he added. 

-- PTI
18:23  Gujjars should take reservation demand to Centre: Ashok Gehlot:  
As the Gujjar agitation entered its fourth consecutive day on Monday with demands for 5 per cent reservation, Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot said protesters should shun violence and voice their demands to the Centre.

He also said that the Congress government in the state is ready for a dialogue with the community but the final decision will have to be taken by the central government.

 "The government is ready to help them, they need to voice out their demands to the Centre, and it is up to the Centre what decision they take," said Ashok Gehlot.

"Trains have been cancelled or diverted, who is at loss? It is the country which is at a loss. What is the point in staging a protest? I would like to make an appeal, start a dialogue with the government, I can assure you we will do whatever we can," said Gehlot.

Due to the ongoing Gujjar stir several trains were cancelled, while several others were diverted or short- terminated.

As per railway authorities, as many as 18 trains were cancelled in Kota division of the Central-West Railway on Sunday. However, between February 11 and 13, the railway authorities have already announced to cancel the movement of 37 trains, scheduled to pass through Kota division, in view of the ongoing quota stir.

Among the trains that were diverted on Monday are Mewar Express from Udaipur City to H Nizamuddin, Golden Temple ML from Amritsar Junction to Mumbai Central, train from Firozpur Cantt to Mumbai Central and others. While among the trains that were cancelled on Monday are Jaipur express from Okha to Jaipur and others.  

The protestors blocked the Delhi-Kuchaman highway at Raipur Morh in Sikar district as they staged a sit-in on the road. Similarly, roads were blocked by the protesters in Bundi district also.  

"If central government can give 10 percent reservation to poor upper caste in 10 days why can't Rajasthan government give us 5 percent reservation? Unless it is given we will continue to block the road," said a protester.

Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla, on Monday, said: "We will leave only after getting 5 per cent reservation. Its my personal request to the government, dont do anything which can provoke people of Rajasthan, people are waiting for my instructions. Lets sort it out in a peaceful manner. The earlier the better."

On Sunday, the protesters turned violent as three police vehicles were torched in Dholpur district and around 10 shots were also fired. 

-- ANI
17:58  Feb 25 deadline for Twitter CEO to appear before Parl Committee:  Parliamentary committee on IT summons Twitter head and other officials to appear before it on February 25, says panel head Anurag Thakur. The Twitter team including Twitter India representatives arrived today to appear before the Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology. 


The Parliamentary Committee on IT has passed a resolution unanimously that they will not meet any Twitter officials until senior members or CEO of the Twitter Global team depose before the Committee. A 15-day deadline has been given to Twitter.


The BJP on Saturday warned Twitter over its refusal to appear before a Parliamentary panel on information technology. BJP MP Anurag Thakur went on to ask users to list their concerns on a mail to the panel. BJP has warned Twitter of "repercussions" after the social network company's CEO and top officials declined to appear before the parliamentary committee, saying no agency has the right to disrespect institutions of the country.


The parliamentary panel had summoned Twitter CEO and officials over the issue of safeguarding citizens' rights on social media platforms.


Image: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey
17:39  Karnataka Cong recommends disqualification of 4 dissident MLAs:  The Karnataka Congress on Monday recommended the disqualification of its four MLAs who did not attend the ongoing state budget, as well as the Congress Legislative Party meet ahead of the budget.


The four MLAs -- Ramesh Jarhikoli, Umesh Jadhav, Mahesh Kumatalli and N B Nagendra did not attend the state budget session as well as the CLP meeting despite a whip issued by the party.


CLP leader Siddaramaiah and Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwar met Karnataka Speaker Ramesh Kumar to submit the request for disqualification of the four dissident MLAs from the Karnataka Legislative Assembly. The budget session of the Karnataka Assembly commenced on Wednesday. -- ANI
17:34  Gandhis pay tribute to Patel :  Lucknow: Congress General Secretary for Uttar Pradesh East Priyanka Gandhi Vadra & Congress President Rahul Gandhi pay a floral tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. 
17:10  'Aa dekhe zara': Jyotiraditya Scindia's tweet with Rahul, Priyanka:  
Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia tweeted the photographic equivalent of the archetypical slow-motion shot of protagonists making an entrance in movies, as he shared a picture of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, his sister Priyanka and himself on Monday.

Accompanying the picture was an appropriately filmy line: "Aa dekhen zara, kisme kitna hai dum / jam ke rakhna kadam mere sathiya (Come on, let's see who has more courage / Keep a firm foot forward, my companion - a song from the 1981 Hindi movie Rocky)

The picture was from the roadshow in Lucknow by Scindia along with Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

Marking her political debut ahead of Lok Sabha polls, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi arrived at the Lucknow airport Monday afternoon to an emphatic reception by party leaders and workers.

A beaming Priyanka Gandhi, who has been given charge of the eastern half of the Uttar Pradesh, and Scindia, who is in charge of the western half, and Rahul Gandhi waved at a sea of supporters lining their way from the airport to the Congress headquarters.
16:25  Anxiety looms as Sabarimala temple reopens tomorrow:  
There is a sense of anxiety in and around Sabarimala as the Lord Ayyappa shrine is all set to reopen on Tuesday for monthly worship, after witnessing frenzied protests during the recently concluded annual pilgrim season over the entry of young women.
 
The hilltop temple would be opened for five days till February 17 for the monthly pujas during the Malayalam month of Kumbam, temple authorities said Monday.
Several special rituals including 'kalabhabhishekam', 'sahasrakalasam' and 'laksharchana' would be performed during the five days at the shrine, the 'sanctum sanctorum' of which would be thrown open by chief priest Vasudevan Nampoothiri Tuesday evening.
Tantri (head priest) Kandararu Rajeevaru would also be present during the time of pujas, they said.
As the shrine is set to open, state police has stepped up vigil in and around Sabarimala in view of possible protests by Sangh outfits against the entry of women, belonging to the traditionally barred age group.
The police said certain restrictions had already been imposed in areas from Nilackal, the base camp to Sannidhanam (temple complex) to ensure smooth darshan for devotees.

-- PTI
16:13  Won't rest till govt of Cong ideology is formed in UP: Rahul:  Rahul Gandhi at the road show in Lucknow stays with the Rafale deal attack: "Nation's 'chowkidaar' stole money from Uttar Pradesh, other states, and Air Force. 'Chowkidaar chor hai'. UP is the heart of the country. We'll play on front-foot. Scindiaji, Priyankaji & I won't rest until a govt of Congress' ideology is formed here."


Rahul Gandhi accompanied his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as she made her political debut as Congress general secretary. Priyanka and Jyotiraditya Scindia roared into Uttar Pradesh with thousands cheering as their cavalcade slowly made its way through the city during a roadshow, being seen as launch of the party's campaign in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. The beaming 47-year-old sported a kurta and a stole, and waved at the teeming party workers jostling for a glimpse. "Come, let's build a new future, new politics with me. Thank you," she said in her message to the people ahead of the visit to the state. 


When the three leaders embarked on a roughly 25-km-long roadshow, from the airport to the party headquarters, to woo voters in the Lok Sabha polls, rose petals and marigold garlands were showered at their cavalcade. As her 'rath' inched through major thoroughfares, enthusiastic people and party members took vantage positions to click a prized photo. 


Enthusiastic Congress workers took to the streets to celebrate the arrival of the two new AICC incharges, with party tricolours and hoardings all over giving the city a festive look. Since early morning, Congress workers were seen busy giving final touches to the arrangements for the roadshow, distributing food packets, tea and water to passersby. Patriotic songs were played on loudspeakers perking up the mood. -- PTI
15:53  Priyanka's duty to serve people, please keep her safe: Vadra :   As Priyanka Gandhi Vadra makes her way through Lucknow to rapturous crowds on her first roadshow after she officially joined the Congress party, her husband Robert Vadra has this message for her.  Vadra posted this message on Facebook, writing, "My Best wishes to you P, on your new journey of working in Uttar Pradesh and serving the people of India. You have been my best friend, a perfect wife and the best mother to our Children. There is a very Vindictive and vicious political atmosphere... But I know, it's her duty to serve the people and Now we hand her to the people of India. Please keep her safe. " He ended the post with a namaste and smiley emojis.


Robert Vadra and his mother Maureen are in Jaipur today to appear before the Enforcement Directorate in connection with a probe into an alleged land scam in Bikaner.


Last week, it was Priyanka who dropped off her husband at the ED office in Delhi, and went public with her support for him, saying, she stood by him. 


Image: Robert Vadra tweeted this picture a day before Priyanka's birthday on January 12. 
15:31  SC to hear in July Zakia Jafri's plea against clean chit to Modi :  The Supreme Court Monday said it will hear in July a plea of Zakia Jafri, challenging the SIT's clean chit to the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in connection with the 2002 Godhra riots. 


A bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar listed the matter for hearing in July. Zakia, the wife of ex-MP Ehsan Jafri who was one of the 68 killed in Ahmedabad's Gulberg society, has challenged the Gujarat High Court's October 5, 2017 order rejecting her plea against the SIT decision.


On February 8, 2012, the Special Investigation Team filed a closure report giving a clean chit to Modi and 63 others, including senior government officials, saying there was "no prosecutable evidence" against them.  -- PTI
15:26  Gandhi roadshow in Lucknow :  Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, and UP in-charge of the western region, Jyotiraditya Scindia, wave as enthusiastic partymen tried to take selfies for posterity. The roughly 25-km-long roadshow through major thoroughfares of Lucknow was sprinkled with sprinkled and marigold flowers. 
15:18  Flag bearers of hope? :  Congress supporters line the streets in Lucknow as the open-top truck with the Gandhi siblings and Jyotiraditya Scindia winds its way around the city. 
15:16  Sibling revelry :  Some more pictures from the Congress roadshow in Lucknow. 


14:59  Kumaraswamy announces SIT probe into audio clip row:  Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy Monday announced a comprehensive SIT probe to "bring out the truth" after an audio clip he released showed state BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa in a purported conversation to lure a JD (S) MLA. 


Kumaraswamy made the announcement in the state assembly after Speaker Ramesh Kumar suggested a special investigation team probe the episode to "establish the truth" as his name has also been dragged into the row. "Constitute an SIT to establish the truth. Give me relief in 15 days," a visibly anguished Kumar said, urging Kumaraswamy, after all members said the speaker was known for his integrity and dignity of his office should be protected.


Kumaraswamy said he was also "pained" at the charge against the speaker and accepted his suggestion to form an SIT. "I seek your permission to form the SIT for a comprehensive probe to bring out the truth," he told the speaker.


BJP members said the probe should be limited to the charge against the speaker as otherwise they had no trust in the government which was likely to misuse the SIT. The speaker told Kumaraswamy that "this (SIT) should not lead to a witch-hunt. The probe should be only to establish the truth." 


The political war over charges of horse-trading had escalated in Karnataka Friday with Kumaraswamy releasing an audio clip in which Yeddyurappa is purportedly trying to lure a JD(S) MLA for destabilising the coalition government. Kumaraswamy had said that during the purported conversation Yeddyurappa had also spoken about a "Rs 50 crore offer to book" the assembly speaker to give a ruling in favour of MLAs who might resign to help the BJP. -- PTI 
14:48  Naidu's daylong fast becomes centre-stage for opposition support:  Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu's daylong fast demanding special status for his state on Monday became a rallying point for various opposition leaders who visited the protest venue to back him and attack the Central government. Congress president Rahul Gandhi, National Congress chairperson Farooq Abdullah, NCP's Majeed Memon, Trinamool Congress' Derek O' Brien, DMK's Tiruchi Siva and Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav were among those who met the TDP chief to express their support. 


The TDP president is demanding that the Centre fulfil promises made during Andhra Pradesh's bifurcation in 2014 and alleges that Modi was not following 'raj dharma' by denying the state special status. 


"The prime minister has stolen from the people from Andhra Pradesh and he has given that money to Anil Ambani. That is the fact of the matter," Gandhi alleged at the protest venue Andhra Bhavan in an apparent reference to the Rafale fighter jet deal with France. 


The government and Ambani have rejected Gandhi's allegations of corruption in the deal. 


O'Brien recalled Modi's speech in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, on Sunday and said he didn't talk about development or special category status but "started a personal attack". 


"Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others," he said. The PM said in his rally that Naidu was indeed a senior, but only in losing elections, switching alliances and ditching his father-in-law N T Rama Rao. Lashing out at the prime minister, Abdullah said, "Modi has stooped so low, he's making personal attacks against Naidu, who is doing a great service to the country. The Jammu-Srinagar highway is closed for six days. They cannot clear the 30km road, but they want to rule the country," he added. 


Adding his voice to the chorus of criticism, Memon alleged that the Central government was meting out step motherly treatment to the state and the BJP was attacking Naidu because he has taken the lead in uniting rival parties against it. 


"We will show the BJP its place in the elections. I assure you on behalf of Sharad Pawarji," Memon stated. 


Mulayam Yadav said he was not well but had come to show endorse Naidu's stand. "Naidu is fighting the battle for the poor, the farmers and all those who are oppressed," he added. Stating that Naidu was fighting for a just cause, DMK leader Siva said the Modi government would be ousted in three months. -- PTI
14:21  Vadra, mom in Jaipur today in land scam case :  Congress general secretary (UP East) Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's husband Robert and mother-in-law Maureen arrive in Jaipur for questioning in connection with a money-laundering case related to a land scam in Bikaner. On Sunday Vadra posted on Instagram saying, he was "fine, good and disciplined" to deal with anything he is put through. "Just want to say thank you to all my friends and acquaintances who have reached out in support from all over the nation, at this time. I'm fine, good n disciplined to deal with anything, I'm put through. Truth will always prevail."


Vadra is deposing before the ED in Jaipur in a money-laundering case related to an alleged land scam in Bikaner, after being grilled by the the Enforcement Directorate a day earlier. 


After two sessions of questioning on February 6 and 7, officials said the investigating officer of the case wanted to put across more questions to Vadra in connection with the case and hence he was asked to depose again on Saturday. 
14:08  Even dead horses can raise a mighty stink:  Less than a week after his (Anil Ambani's) telecom company went bankrupt, another of his companies was showing off its wares. On February 7, Dassault Reliance Aerospace Limited invited a group of journalists to its manufacturing facility at Mihan in Nagpur to display "the first cockpit front section of Falcon 2000 series" produced by the company to be handed over to Dassault Aviation.


The facility, it told the visiting reporters, would be in a position to roll out fully assembled Dassault Falcon 2000 business jets in about three years. If that were to happen, Anil Ambani -- who had no experience in the defence sector and yet became Dassault's chosen partner with a 51 per cent stake in the joint venture -- will finally become a very successful businessman indeed.


Read Manini Chatterjee's column for the Telegraph here. 
13:51  Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, DMK's T Siva at Andhra Pradesh CM & TDP Chief N Chandrababu Naidu's day-long fast in Delhi. 
13:49  Lucknow welcomes Gandhis :  Congress MP Raj Babbar welcomes Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in Lucknow. Pic: @INCIndia.
13:43  Priyanka, Rahul, Scindia begin UP conquest :  
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia have begun their roadshow in Lucknow. This is the first public rally of Priyanka Gandhi after taking charge as Congress's general secretary for Uttar Pradesh (East). Other Congress leaders like Raj Babbar also accompanied the three. 


The roadshow will cover a stretch of 12 km from the airport to Nehru Bhawan. Priyanka's rally in Lucknow holds significance because Uttar Pradesh sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha. Priyanka Gandhi's road show in Lucknow will also be the Congress's first mega show of strength in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.


Reviving Congress fortunes in the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh will be a symbolic victory for the party as Allahabad has been home to the Nehru family and was also former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Sastri's Lok Sabha seat. Neighbouring Phulpur used to be India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's Lok Sabha seat. Eastern Uttar Pradesh currently has strongholds of both Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


Image: Rahul Gandhi flanked by UP general secretaries Jyotiraditya Scindia and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Pic courtesy: @INCIndia
13:32  AR Rahman attends Grammy Awards with daughter Raheema:  Music maestro was present at the 2019 Grammy Awards ceremony with his daughter Raheema. The composer, who won two Grammy awards in 2009 for his work on "Slumdog Millionaire", posted several pictures from the awards night, which saw Kacey Musgraves, Childish Gambino, Cardi B and Quincy Jones create history in various categories. 


 Rahman opted for a a black and grey suit for the ceremony, while Raheema chose an all-black ensemble. The Oscar-winning music director was attending Grammys with London-based Prashant Mistry, New York-based Falguni Shah and US-based Satnam Kaur, who were nominated in different categories for their albums 'Symbol', 'Falu's Bazaar' and 'Beloved' respectively. None of them could register a win at the biggest music awards night of the year. Rahman also shared pictures of Dolly Parton's tribute performance at the ceremony as well as a video of Lady Gaga's energetic act on "Shallow". The award ceremony took place at the Staples Centre here. PTI


Image: AR Rahman shared this picture with his daughter Raheema just before the awards. 
13:24  SC refuses to entertain plea seeking court-monitored probe into Saradha scam:  The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a plea filed by investors seeking a court-monitored probe into the Saradha chit-fund scam.


The Saradha Group financial scandal was a major scam caused by the collapse of a Ponzi scheme run by the conglomerate. The multi-crore-rupee chit fund scam allegedly involves several key leaders from the Trinamool Congress.


The Central Bureau of Investigation is presently questioning Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar and former TMC MP Kunal Ghosh in Shillong in connection with the case.


Kumar, who has been serving as Kolkata's Police Commissioner since January 2016, is said to have not responded to the earlier summons by the CBI in connection with the probe. He is also accused of allegedly tampering with evidence in the case.


On February 5, the Supreme Court had directed the 1989-batch IPS officer to appear before the CBI in connection with the scam. It had also said that no coercive step should be taken against Kumar.


The top court directive had come against the backdrop of a  dharna organised by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata in protest against the CBIs attempt to arrest Kumar. -- ANI
13:02  Priyanka, Rahul in Lucknow:  General Secretary for Uttar Pradesh East Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and party President Rahul Gandhi reach Lucknow.
12:53  I stand in solidarity with Naidu: Manmohan:  Former prime minister Manmohan Singh Monday extended support to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu's day-long fast for special status to the state and said the central government should fulfil the promise without any further delay. 


Singh, who headed the UPA government at the Centre when Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated, said, "This demand had support of all parties when it was discussed in Parliament. I stand in solidarity with Naidu." 


He said the special category status promise must be implemented without any further delay and that he had always stood by the people of the state. 


Congress leader Anand Sharma said at the time of Andhra Pradesh's bifurcation, it was clearly announced that the residual state will be given special status to make up for the loss. He attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over "the language used by him against Naidu" at a rally in Guntur in the state on Sunday. 


"It's unbecoming of the prime minister. He has dragged the political discourse to such a low level. Therefore, we decided to unite against him. Standing together need is the hour," he said. Party leader Ahmed Patel alleged that the prime minister betrayed Andhra Pradesh and that its people should expect not anything from this government as it is a dispensation of cheaters and "tod-jod" (patchwork). "We are solidly supporting Andhra. We are standing with Naidu," he said. -- PTI
12:43  Happy anniversary, Sanjay, Maanayata!:  Actor Sanjay Dutt tweets this picture saying, "I can't thank God enough for blessing me with a beautiful woman like you, who I have the privilege of calling my wife! Happy anniversary @maanayata_dutt Here's to sharing a lifetime of love & laughter, together! #11YearsOfTogetherness."
12:37  Rahul renews Rafale attack, says PM opened door for Ambani:  Congress president Rahul Gandhi attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday over a media report which claimed the government waived anti-corruption clauses in the Rafale deal, alleging he "opened the door" to allow Anil Ambani to "steal" Rs 30,000 crore from the Air Force.


Gandhi's scathing attack came after a report in The Hindu claimed the Rafale deal between India and France involved "major and unprecedented" concessions from the Indian government, with critical provisions for anti-corruption penalties and making payments through an escrow account dropped days before the signing of the inter-governmental agreement (IGA). 


"NoMo anti corruption clause. The Chowkidar himself opened the door to allow Anil Ambani to steal 30,000 Cr. from the IAF," Gandhi tweeted tagging the report. The government, as well as Ambani, have strongly refuted allegations of any wrongdoing in the fighter jet agreement with France. 


Last week, the Congress president had demanded answers to questions raised by another report in the newspaper that the PMO conducted parallel negotiations on the Rafale deal. Repeating the "chowkidar" epithet, he ramped up his attack on the prime minister and said it was clear "crystal clear" that the "watchman" is the "thief". -- PTI


File pic. 
12:26  Day 3: Rajeev Kumar arrives at Shillong CBI office :  Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar on Monday arrived at the CBI office in Shillong for questioning in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam. This is the third day of his questioning by the central investigative agency.


Earlier in the day, former Trinamool Congress MP Kunal Ghosh arrived at the CBI office for the second day of interrogation in connection with the case.


The CBI grilled Kumar and Ghosh for nearly 12 hours on Sunday in connection with the Rose Valley and Saradha chit fund scams.


Ghosh was arrested on November 23, 2013, and sent to custody by the CBI on September 4, 2014, after it took over the investigation on the orders of the Supreme Court. 


In 2016, the Calcutta High Court had granted interim bail to Ghosh against a bail bond of Rs 2 lakh. The Kolkata Police chief, who has been accused of withholding some documents related to Saradha and Rose Valley chit fund cases, was questioned by the CBI in Shillong on Saturday as well.


On February 5, the Supreme Court had directed Kumar to appear before the central investigative agency in connection with the matter. It had also said that no coercive step should be taken against Kumar.


The top court's directive had come against the backdrop of a dharna organised by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata earlier this month in protest against the CBIs attempt to arrest the top cop.


Kumar has been serving as Kolkatas Police Commissioner since January 2016. He is said to have not responded to earlier summons from the CBI in connection with the probe into the Rose Valley and Saradha ponzi scams.
-- ANI
12:16  Dalrymple's new book in October :  Heads up William Dalrymple fans. @DalrympleWill announces a new book on British India. "I am very happy to say that on Friday night, at around 9.30pm, after five years work and 160,000 words, I finally finished The Anarchy: The Fall of the Mughal Empire and the Rise of the East India Company, 1599-1803. It should be out in October, published by @BloomsburyBooks." 
12:10  HC notice to Moin Qureshi :  The Delhi High Court Monday issued a notice to controversial meat exporter Moin Akhtar Qureshi on a CBI plea to enhance the security amount he has to pay to travel abroad. Justice Chander Shekhar sought the response of Qureshi on the agency's plea seeking enhancing of security from Rs 2 crore to Rs 6 crore which Qureshi, accused in a cheating and corruption case, has been asked to furnish to travel to the UAE and Pakistan. 


Recently, Qureshi was allowed by a trial court to travel to the UAE from February 15-23 for attending the Gulf Food Festival and to Pakistan from March 6-20 to attend his niece's wedding. The court had also directed him to furnish an additional security of Rs two crore in the form of bank guarantee and warned that in case of violation of any of the conditions imposed, the amount would be forfeited. -- PTI
11:56  Jimmy Carter wins 2019 Grammy award for spoken word album:  Former US President Jimmy Carter won his second Grammy Award for spoken word album for his biography Faith -- Journey For All. In 2016, Carter, the 39th president of the United States, won his first Grammy award for another one of his works, "A Full Life: Reflections at 90". 


The spoken word category includes poetry, audio books, and storytelling. Other nominees in the category were Courtney B. Vance for "Accessory to War," David Sedaris for "Calypso," Questlove for "Creative Quest," and Tiffany Haddish for "The Last Black Unicorn." Last year's winner was Carrie Fisher for her final book "The Princess Diarist". -- PTI
11:56  Manmohan Singh at Naidu's dharna :  Former Prime Minister and Congress leader Manmohan Singh at Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu's day-long fast at Andhra Pradesh Bhawan in New Delhi.
11:40  Meet Rajini's new son-in-law:  Newly-married couple Soundarya Rajinikanth and Vishagan Vanangamudi at The Leela Palace hotel in Chennai today. 
11:28  Modi lies, has no credibility: Rahul at Naidu's dharna :  Congress President Rahul Gandhi at Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu's day-long hunger strike against the central government. 


Chandrababu Naidu is in New Delhi demanding that the Centre grant special status to the state and fulfil all promises made before its bifurcation in 2014.


Rahul said, "I stand with the people of Andhra Pradesh. What kind of a PM is he? He did not fulfill the commitment made to the people of Andhra Pradesh. Mr Modi, tells a lie wherever he goes. He has got no credibility left."


Speaking to reporters later, Rahul added, "Every defence deal has an anti-corruption clause. The Hindu has reported that the PM removed the anti-corruption clause. It is clear that the PM facilitated loot." 


Apart from the Congress president, a number of opposition party leaders like National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal extended their support to the Telugu Desam Party chief's fast at the Andhra Pradesh Bhavan.  
11:16  Michelle Obama makes surprise appearance at Grammys:  Former first lady Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance at the Grammy Awards. She was welcomed onstage by host Alicia Keys and joined Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith and Jennifer Lopez for an empowering opening address to the crowd, wrote The Hollywood Reporter.


Speaking at the event, she said, "From the Motown records I wore out on the Southside to the 'Who Run the World' songs that fueled me through this last decade, music has always helped me tell my story."


She further added, "Music helps us share ourselves, our dignity and sorrows, our hopes, our joys. Music shows us that all of it matters."


Gaga too spoke on the power of music, saying, They said I was weird, but music led me to all of you and to my little monsters, who I love so much, while Lopez quipped in, Back in the Bronx, music gave me a reason to dance." -- PTI
11:06  'It's premature to predict Modi will be a one-term PM':  One of the biggest changes that Narendra Damodardas Modi has made in the last five years is reasserting India's role on the global scene, believes Milan Vaishnav Director, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace in Washington, DC.


"Modi is more pro-business than pro-market -- that is a subtle, but important, distinction; while politically the BJP has become the new centre of gravity," Dr Vaishnav, who recently won the Ramnath Goenka Award for Journalism in the non fiction category for his book When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics, tells Rediff.com's Archana Masih in the concluding segment of a two-part e-mail interview. Read it here. 
11:05  Day 2 of TMC MP's interrogation in Saradha case :  In Shillong, former TMC MP Kunal Ghosh arrives at the CBI office for the second day of interrogation in connection with the Saradha Chit fund case. 
10:59  TDP poster sinks to a new low:  TDP MP Jayadev Galla calls time on the posters put up by his party at the venue of the ongoing protest at Andhra Pradesh Bhawan in New Delhi. "We don't endorse it. It is not correct and it should not be done. It must not have been put by our party people," Galla said. 

The poster says, 'We have entrusted the nation to a person who should have been handed dirty tea cups'. 
10:48  Cardi B becomes first solo woman to win best rap album Grammy:  Cardi B on Monday created history by becoming the first female to win the Best Rap Album Grammy award. She won the award for her debut 'Invasion of Privacy', beating out Nipsey Hussle, Pusha T, Travis Scott, and the late Mac Miller.


The rapper accepted the award taking the stage with husband Offset, who held her hand as she controlled her tears while talking about her pregnancy and daughter Kulture.


"I want to thank my daughter. I'm not just saying thank you because she's my daughter. It's because, you know, when I found out I was pregnant, my album was not complete, like three songs that I was for sure having. And then you know, you know how it was, we was like, we have to get this album done so I could still do videos while I'm still not showing. And it was very long nights," Cardi said in her speech. 


"I can't breath. Oh my goodness. The nerves are so bad!" She added with a laugh, "Maybe I need to smart smoking weed." While Cardi's the first woman to win the award for a solo act, Lauryn Hill did win best rap album as part of hip-hop group Fugees in 1997. -- PTI
10:36  Ariana Grande wins first-ever Grammy award:  Singer Ariana Grande on Monday won her first Grammy award in the Best Pop Vocal Album category for her LP 'Sweetener ' Her album bested fellow nominees Camila Cabello, Kelly Clarkson, Shawn Mendes, P!nk and Taylor Swift. The singer, however, was not present at the ceremony and the Recording Academy accepted the award on her behalf. 


"I know I'm not there tonight (trust, I tried and still truly wished it had worked out) and I know I said I try not to put too much weight into these things . but f*** . this is wild and beautiful. Thank you so much," Grande tweeted post her win. 


She also dropped a series of Instagram photos revealing her in the custom Zac Posen gown she had got made for the event. "When @zacposen makes you a custom gown it doesn't matter if you're singing or not," she wrote in the caption. 


Grande, who was scheduled to perform at the Grammys, pulled out of the show last week as she felt "insulted" after producers refused to let her perform her song "7 Rings" at the award ceremony. -- PTI
10:07  Dua Lipa wins Grammys for Best New Artist :  Popstar Dua Lipa wins Grammys for Best New Artist. 
10:05  Now, Priyanka as Durga :  Banner seen in Lucknow ahead of Congress General Secretary for UP East, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and UP West general secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia and party President Rahul Gandhi's visit to the city today. 
09:52  'The Favourite', 'Roma' big winners at BAFTA 2019:  
Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron's semi-autobiographical black-and-white drama, Roma, and Yorgos Lanthimos' dark comedy, The Favourite, emerged as big winners at the 72nd edition of the BAFTA Awards.
 
The Favourite, which had 12 nominations, dominated the ceremony with seven wins, including for leading actress (Olivia Colman), supporting actress (Rachel Weisz) and outstanding British film.
Roma, Curaon's memoir of childhood set in 1970s Mexico City, claimed the top prize of best film, alongside director and cinematography honours.

Roma also won the BAFTA for film not in the English language. 
Cuaron thanked Netflix for having the "faith and courage to get behind a black-and-white film about a domestic worker, subtitled from Spanish, and bring it to audiences around the world. To see a film about an indigenous domestic worker embraced this way in an age when fear and anger propose to divide us means the world to me.
"Reverting back to a world of separation and isolation is not a solution to anything. It is simply an excuse to hide our fear within our basest instincts."
Colman, who won best actress for her role as Queen Anne in The Favourite, drew some of the biggest laughs and applause of the ceremony from the audience for her speech. 
She started by thanking "All the producers. We're having an amazing night aren't we? We're going to get so pissed later."
The actor went on to thank her co-stars Weisz and Emma Stone, calling them "the coolest honour guard anyone could have."
Colman said they were all leads and it was "weird" only one of them could be nominated for lead. 
"This is for all three of us. It's got my name on it but we can scratch in some other names," she said. 
Weisz, who claimed the best supporting actress trophy, defeated co-star Stone, Amy Adams (Vice), Claire Foy (First Man) and Margot Robbie (Mary Queen of Scots) in the category. 
"I had the most extraordinary luck in that I played opposite two of the most glorious women: Olivia Colman and Emma Stone," she said following her maiden BAFTA win.
First-time nominee Rami Malek took home the best actor award for his portrayal of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in biopic Bohemian Rhapsody
Malek thanked Mercury, who he called "the greatest outsider of them" for being "unwavering, unflinching and uncompromising in every way". 
The film also won the award for best sound.
Mahershala Ali nabbed the best supporting actor trophy for Peter Farrelly's Green Book. He was nominated alongside Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman), Richard E Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) Sam Rockwell (Vice) and Timothee Chalamet (Beautiful Boy).
"The work itself has always been the reward for me so to get this sort of thing is always a bit surreal," Ali said in his acceptance speech. -- PTI

IMAGE: Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone in The Favourite.
09:36  Court's role is limited in Ayodhya dispute: Swamy:  
Courts have a "limited" role to play in the resolution of the Ayodhya dispute, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy said.
Speaking at a public function in Mumbai, the Rajya Sabha MP also claimed that Pakistan will disintegrate in the next decade.
Talking about the Babri Masjid-Ram temple issue, which is currently before the Supreme Court, Swamy said, "Court's role is limited in this case. The non-disputed land can be taken into possession and the temple can be constructed within two years."
Last month, the Narendra Modi government asked the Supreme Court to allow it to return the "non-disputed" surplus land acquired around the disputed structure in Ayodhya to a Hindu trust and other original owners.
Swamy also predicted that Pakistan will split up and cease to exist as a country.
"Between 2020 and 2030, Pakistan will disintegrate into four provinces, and Pakistan as a country will cease to exist," he said. -- PTI
09:35  Have warned of thrashing if anybody talks about caste: Gadkari:  
Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari on Sunday said in a lighter vein that there was no place for casteism in his area because of his "warning" that anybody talking about caste will be "thrashed" by him.
Speaking at a programme organised by the Punaruththan Samarasta Gurukulam in Pimpri Chinchwad township in Maharashtra's Pune, the senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader said the society should be brought together
on the basis of the economic and social equality, and it should not have any scope for casteism and communalism.
"We do not believe in any casteism...I do not know what do you have but there is no place for castiesm in our five districts because I have warned everybody that if someone talks about caste, I will thrash him," said Gadkari who represents Nagpur Lok Sabha seat.
Gadkari further said: "the entire society should be brought together on the basis of economic and social equality and unity and it also should be free from casteism and communalism".
Gadkari, who is known for speaking his mind, had kicked up controversies over his public statements in the past.
He had said in December last year that leadership should have the tendency to own up defeat and failures. The remarks had come days after the BJP's loss in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh assembly polls.
Gadkari later clarified that his remarks were taken out of context.
Last month, Gadkari had advised fellow politicians against interfering in "other fields".
He had made the remarks at the valedictory function of the annual Marathi literary meet at Yavatmal in Maharashtra which was embroiled in a controversy after an invitation to noted writer Nayantara Sahgal was withdrawn. -- PTI
09:07  Hanif Syed, sentenced to death in 2003 Mumbai blasts, dies :  
Mohammad Hanif Syed, one of the three convicts sentenced to death in the 2003 Mumbai twin bomb blasts and currently lodged in the Nagpur Central Jail, died at a hospital, a prison officer said on Sunday.
   
Syed's health suddenly deteriorated on Saturday evening, following which he was shifted to the Government Medical College and Hospital where he died one and half hours after admission, jail superintendent Rani Bhosle said.
 
"The exact cause of his death will be known after post-mortem which will be conducted on Monday in the presence of his relatives who have arrived in the city Sunday," she said, adding that Syed's body will be handed over to his relatives after autopsy.
As per preliminary information and symptoms, he could have died of a cardiac arrest, Bhosle said.
Syed, his wife Fehmida and third conspirator Ashrat Ansari were convicted by a POTA (Prevention of Terrorist Activity) court in 2009 of planting powerful bombs in two taxis which exploded at the iconic Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar on August 25, 2003, leaving 52 people dead and 244 injured.
 
Syed was shifted to the Nagpur Central Jail from Yerwada jail in 2012, after the Bombay high court upheld his death sentence.
 
The Lashkar-e-Tayiba's role in the twin blasts was revealed by an accused-turned-approver.
 
It was for the first time that the LeT had used a family to carry out bomb blasts in the country. -- PTI
09:04  Don't want use PM's office for film's publicity: Rakeysh Mehra:  
Film-maker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra says he has no plans to hold a special screening of his next "Mere Pyare Prime Minister" for PM Narendra Modi as it has become "fashionable" now.
   
The film chronicles the story of a young slum kid who travels to the capital with his friends to meet the prime minister, after his mother is raped.
 
When asked if he plans to hold a screening for Modi, Mehra told reporters, "No, not at all. We don't have any such plans, yet. It has become very fashionable, I would rather want to stay away from it."
 
The director was speaking at the trailer launch of the film in Mumbai.
 
When asked why he wouldn't want to screen the film, Mehra said if the PM to wants to see the movie, it'll be an honour but he wouldn't use the PM's office for publicity.
 
"I feel the film is made for the people of the country and somewhere I don't want to dilute that by using such a big office. He is a very busy man and is running the country. To take three hours of his time, which he could devote to some national and international interest policy.
 
"Just because I want to promote, it doesn't suit me. But, If he wants to watch the film, it'll be an honour," he said.
 
The film, which talks about the need of public sanitation and is scheduled to release on March 15, comes just before the parliamentary elections.
 
On being quizzed if the film will, in any way, impact the elections, the "Rang De Basanti" director said that's not the movie's intention.
 
"It'll not (have an) effect (on) the elections and it should not. A film's job should not be to impact elections. My endeavour is to make movies which can be perpetual. Because all of us, our best novels and films, we don't remember which week we watched or read them in. We don't know when that film or novel released but for us those are our favourite films. 
 
"If you're lucky and everything falls in place, if your work becomes perpetual, I feel achievement is in that," he said.
 
The film stars Anjali Patil, Om Kanujiya and Atul Kulkarni among others. -- PTI 
08:41  Naidu begins fast to demand special status for AP:  
Telugu Desam Party president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is on a day-long hunger strike in the national capital today demanding special status for his state and fulfilment of commitments made by the Centre under the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014.

Naidu paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat before sitting on the hunger strike.
 
The Telugu Desam Party had walked out the BJP-led NDA last year protesting the "injustice" done to Andhra Pradesh after its bifurcation.
Naidu will stage the 'Dharma Porata Deeksha' (a day-long protest for justice) at the Andhra Pradesh Bhavan in the national capital from 8 am to 8 pm on Monday. 

He will also submit a memorandum to President of India Ram Nath Kovind on February 12, an official statement said.
The chief minister is on a hunger strike along with his ministers, party MLAs, MLCs and MPs. Members of state employee associations, social organisations and student organisations will also join the fast, it said.
Leader of several opposition parties are expected to extend their solidarity to the Andhra Pradesh chief minister's protest, the statement said.

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