Sun, 24 February 2019
Sonakshi Sinha among 5 booked for cheating event organiser
21:05 Sonakshi Sinha among 5 booked for cheating event organiser
Bollywood actress Sonakshi Sinha and four others have been booked for allegedly cheating an event organiser here, police officials said Sunday.
However, Sinha's management agency, in a statement, alleged that the event organiser was using the media to release "false and manipulated" information, and she would be "forced" to take legal action.
The case was registered against the actress and the others under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections pertaining to cheating and criminal breach of trust, police said.
In a complaint on November 24 last year, an event organiser, Pramod Sharma, had alleged that he paid Rs 24 lakh to a company to invite Sinha for a prize distribution function in Delhi and that the actress had confirmed her presence, but did not turn up, the officials said.
The complainant, a resident of Shivpuri in Moradabad, said in total, he paid Rs 37 lakh, which included transferring a huge amount to Sinha, according to police.
Sinha's management agency has denied the charge, saying despite repeated reminders, the organiser failed to make payments to the actress before the event as contracted.
"The investigating officer in the case had served a notice to Sinha and the four others, but after not getting a response an FIR was registered on Friday," Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Moradabad, Ravindra Gaud, said.
He said among the four others are Mumbai residents Abhishek, Malvika Dhumil and Edgar.
The case has been registered at the Katghar police station.
Station House Officer, Katghar, Ajeet Singh said the case was registered under section 420 (cheating) and 406 (criminal breach of trust) of the Indian Penal Code.
The investigation in the case has started, he said.
In the statement, the agency said, "Sonakshi was approached by the event organisers in Delhi to attend an event. However, despite repeated reminders, the organiser failed to make the payments to Sonakshi before the event as contracted."
"The tickets to Delhi were not in order/as were agreed, the organiser also didn't send return tickets for Sonakshi and her team, despite knowing that she had a shoot the next morning after the event.This put everyone in a tough spot," it said. -- PTI
20:46 No change in stance on Article 35A; only elected govt can take stand: J&K govt
Putting all speculation to rest, the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Sunday said its stance remained unchanged that only an elected government would be able to take a stand on Article 35-A before the Supreme Court, which is hearing a bunch of petitions challenging its validity.
Addressing a press conference, senior bureaucrat Rohit Kansal, who has been designated as the chief spokesperson of the governor's administration, said, "The stand of the state government on the request of deferment of hearing on Article 35A in the Supreme Court remains the same as requested by them on February 11."
He was replying to a question on whether there was a change in the stand of the governor's administration on the contentious issue.
Kansal also urged the people of the state not to pay heed to rumours and get panicky on the basis of unsubstantiated and exaggerated pieces of information which were in circulation.
"In the past few days several rumours have been circulated and panic messages disseminated. Most of these have been based on unsubstantiated or exaggerated pieces of information," he said.
The Jammu and Kashmir government's counsel had sought permission from the Supreme Court for circulating a letter among the contesting parties for adjourning the upcoming hearing on the pleas challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A, which provides special rights and privileges to the natives of the state, saying there was no "elected government" in the state.
The apex court is scheduled to hear the petitions challenging Article 35A soon.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna was told by lawyer Shoeb Alam, representing the Jammu and Kashmir government, on February 11 that he was seeking its nod to circulate the letter among the parties for getting the scheduled hearing deferred.
"On the day of listing, the undersigned (Alam) shall be requesting for an adjournment in the matter since presently, there is no elected government in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the state is under President's Rule.
"The present matter involves a sensitive issue regarding a challenge to Article 35A of the Constitution of India. A short reply has been filed by the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the lead matter 'We the Citizens' and notices have not been issued on the other petitions. It will therefore be requesting that the matter may kindly be heard when an elected government is in place," the state government said in the letter.
Article 35A, which was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and bars people from outside the state from acquiring any immovable property in the state. -- PTI
20:33 Govt hikes risk, hardship allowance of paramilitary forces in Kashmir
Paramilitary troops deployed in Jammu and Kashmir will get enhanced risk and hardship allowance every month with the special benefits of the lower ranks increased by Rs 7,600 and higher officers by Rs 8,100.
The decision of the ministry of home affairs came a week after 40 Central Reserve Police Force jawans were killed in a terror attack in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to the MHA order, risk and hardship allowance for the Central Armed Police Force or paramilitary personnel has been enhanced from Rs 9,700 to Rs 17,300 per month for troops up to the rank of Inspector and from Rs 16,900 to Rs 25,000 for officers.
The enhanced allowance will be applicable to all paramilitary personnel deployed in Jammu and Kashmir and Naxal-hit areas.
The decision has been pending since August 2017.
In 2017, a committee, headed by the Union home secretary, was formed to look into the matter and review the risk and hardship allowances in CAPFs, but no decision was taken till now.
Troops deployed in terror hotbeds of south Kashmir like Budgam, Pulwama, and Anantnag and other sensitive places like Baramullah and Kupwara will get the new enhanced allowance.
New areas that will cover the risk and hardship allowance include Kulgam, Shopian, Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban and Udhampur and one district in Telangana.
There is no change in most of the areas where paramilitary personnel are deployed, but new districts have been added in Jammu and Kashmir to cover almost the entire state, barring some areas in Jammu near the International Border.
However, areas in Jammu region that fall on the Line of Control are covered.
Dangerous Naxal-infested districts like Sukma, Dantewada, Bijapur, Narayanpur, Bastar (Chhattisgarh), Latehar (Jharkhand), Gadchiroli (Maharashtra) and Malkangiri (Odisha) have also been covered.
Last week, the MHA has decided to allow air travel by paramilitary troops deployed in Jammu and Kashmir. -- PTI
20:20 UPDATE: Bangladesh foils plane hijack attempt, passengers safe
Bangladesh security officials on Sunday foiled a hijacking attempt of a Dubai-bound plane, which made an emergency landing at a coastal city in the country following the incident, officials said.
Security forces stormed the plane and detained the lone hijacker and evacuated all the passengers safely, they said.
The state-run Biman Bangladesh Airlines Flight BG-147, which was on its way to Dubai from Dhaka via Chattogram, landed at the Chattogram airport at around 5:40 pm.
Eyewitnesses said minutes after the craft flew from the Chattogram airport, it returned and made an emergency landing and opened the emergency exit through which the passengers disembarked immediately. The captain and the first officer of the flight also came out later.
Though the identity of the hijacker is yet to be known, according to unconfirmed reports the hijacker was a foreign national and was equipped with a handgun. -- PTI
19:31 Dubai-bound B'desh plane makes emergency landing after 'hijack' attempt
A Dubai bound Biman Bangladesh Airlines plane made an emergency landing at the Shah Amanat International Airport in Chittagong, on Sunday, following a reported hijack threat.
A 'gunman' reportedly attempted to take the command of the cockpit which led to the emergency landing of the passenger plane, which was on its way to Dubai from Dhaka via Chittagong, the Dhaka Tribune reported citing unconfirmed reports.
Meanwhile, according to media reports all passengers got off the plane as soon as it landed but the alleged gunman and two crew members were still on the plane.
Police and Rapid Action Battalion have sealed off the area on the runway.
More details are awaited.
19:16 10 companies of ITBP dispatched to violence-hit Arunachal
As many as 1,000 paramilitary troops have been dispatched to Arunachal Pradesh as widespread violence erupted in the state over the recommendation to grant permanent resident certificates to six communities, officials said on Sunday.
At least two persons have died as protests broke out on Saturday after the state government announced that it was considering issuing PRC to six non-Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribes living in the Namsai and Changlang districts.
The communities are Deoris, Sonowal Kacharis, Morans, Adivasis, Mishings and Gorkhas.
Most of them are recognised as Scheduled Tribes in neighbouring Assam.
The ministry of home affairs has dispatched 10 additional companies of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police for deployment in law-and-order duties in Itanagar and other violence-hit places, an official said.
The state government will deploy the troops as per the requirement of the local administration. Five ITBP companies have already been deployed in the state, the official said. A company of paramilitary comprises 100 personnel.
The ITBP personnel have been sent on an urgent basis as Itanagar and other areas have witnessed widespread violence, destruction of properties and vehicles on Sunday, officials said.
The mob has tried to set ablaze the residence of Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein and also tried to target residence of chief minister Pema Khandu, another official said. -- PTI
18:52 'Mann ki Baat' came to a halt, now 'jan ki baat' will prevail: Ahmed Patel
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Sunday took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his monthly radio programme, saying the series of 'Mann ki Baat' has come to a halt and now 'Jan ki baat' (people's opinion) will prevail in the country.
Prime Minister Modi suspended his monthly 'Mann ki Baat' broadcast for March and April, and said he will be back with the programme on the last Sunday of May, by when results of the Lok Sabha elections are expected to be declared.
"Today the series of Mann ki Baat came to a halt. Now 'jan ki baat' will prevail in the country. You (people) will speak, we will listen... come, lets move forward together, he tweeted in Hindi.
In this monthly address through the radio broadcast -- the 53rd since Modi came to power in 2014 -- the prime minister said he was doing so keeping in mind healthy democratic traditions.
"Elections are the biggest celebration of democracy. In the next two months, we will be busy in the hurly-burly of the general elections. I myself will also be a candidate. Respecting healthy democratic traditions, the next episode of 'Mann Ki Baat' will be broadcast on the last Sunday (May 26) of May," Modi said.
The fate of Modi's 'Mann ki Baat' broadcast will depend on the results of the Lok Sabha elections as the programme will continue only if he is reelected and becomes prime minister. -- PTI
18:01 Relief for home buyers as GST on under-construction flats slashed to 5%
In a big relief to home buyers, the Goods and Services Tax Council on Sunday slashed tax rates on under-construction housing properties to 5 per cent without input tax credit, from the existing 12 per cent, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.
The council also cut GST rates on affordable housing to 1 per cent from the current 8 per cent and expanded the scope of affordable housing to those costing up to Rs 45 lakh and measuring 60 sq metre in metros and 90 sq metre in non-metro cities.
The new tax rates will come into effect from April 1, 2019.
Currently, the GST is levied at 12 per cent on payments made for under-construction properties or ready-to-move-in flats where completion certificate has not been issued at the time of sale.
However, builders will not be able to claim input tax credit under the new GST rates.
"This (GST reduction) decision will certainly give boost to construction sector," Jaitley told reporters.
However, GST is not levied on real estate properties for which completion certificate has been issued at the time of sale.
With regard to lotteries, the GST Council, however, deferred its decision with Jaitley saying that the Group of Ministers will meet again to discuss the proposal.
Currently, state run lotteries attract 12 per cent GST, while state-authorised ones attract 28 per cent. -- PTI
17:12 Terrorist, police officer killed in encounter in J-K's Kulgam
A terrorist and a police officer were killed in an encounter in Kulgam district of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday, officials said.
The security forces launched a cordon-and-search operation in the Turigam area of Kulgam district following information about the presence of terrorists in the area, a police official said.
He added that the terrorists opened firing on the security forces personnel, who retaliated, triggering a gun-battle.
One terrorist was killed in the encounter, the officials said, adding that the identity and group affiliation of the slain ultra were being ascertained.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Aman Thakur was also killed in the exchange of fire, they said. -- PTI
17:00 My heart is heavy: Janhvi remembers mother Sridevi
A year has gone by since Indian film industry lost its first female superstar, Sridevi and on her maiden death anniversary daughter, actor Janhvi Kapoor says her heart still feels heavy.
Janhvi, who made her acting debut last year in July with Dhadak, says her mother will always be there in her heart.
Sridevi passed away, aged 54, due to accidental drowning in a Dubai hotel on February 24, 2018. Her sudden death left family, friends and thousands of fans in a state of shock.
"My heart will always be heavy. But I'll always be smiling because it has you in it," Janhvi wrote on Instagram, alongside a picture of her sitting in her mother's lap holding hands.
Sridevi's sister-in-law, designer Maheep Kapoor shared a series of pictures with the actor on Instagram and wrote, "Will always remember the good times."
In an impressive career, spanning five decades, Sridevi dominated the commercial space in cinema in the '80s and '90s. She reversed the trend of the male-dominated film industry by her acting prowess. Her name guaranteed a film's success.
She started acting at the age of four and made her debut in 1969 with M A Thirumugham's Tamil film Thunaivan.
She continued working in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada movies but became a national film icon courtesy her Bollywood films.
Sridevi made her Hindi film debut as a child artiste in 1975 hit Julie and continued ruling the South Indian film industry where she established herself as a leading heroine with films such as 16 Vayathinile, Sigappu Rojakkal, Meendum Kokila and Moondram Pirai.
In Bollywood, she made her debut as a lead actor in 1978's Solva Sawan and followed it up with a number of commercial hits such as Himmatwala, Mawaali, Tohfa, Mr India, Chandni, Lamhe, Nagina and Khuda Gawah among several others. -- PTI
16:48 J-K GUV calls for calm, asks people not to believe in rumours
In a bid to end the simmering 'war hysteria' in Jammu and Kashmir, especially in the valley, Governor Satya Pal Malik on Sunday appealed that people should remain calm and not believe in rumours "circulating widely" to vitiate the atmosphere.
He also clarified that the induction of para-military forces should only be seen in the context of conducting elections and should not be attributed to any other cause.
"People should not believe in rumours, which are of extreme nature and circulating widely in some quarters. They should remain calm. These rumours are unnecessarily creating an atmosphere of fear in the minds of people, leading to stress and disruption to normal life. Rumours about curfews and other actions should not be believed," the governor said in his appeal.
He said "some security-related actions" were being taken after the February 14 Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF personnel lost their lives when a terrorist of Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group blew himself next to a convoy.
"This attack was an unprecedented one. The response of security forces is guided solely by the need to counter both the impact and any further action that may be taken by terrorist groups who are still out to disrupt our country and its democratic processes," he said.
The statement from the governor came after the state administration issued many orders including supplying ration at the earliest, cancelling leave of doctors and policemen, rationing of petrol to the general public, leading to a war hysteria. The widespread arrests of Jamaat-e-Islami cadres and separatists contributed to these rumours.
The flying of IAF jets in dead hours of the night in Kashmir Valley also added to these fears despite the IAF maintaining it was a routine exercise.
The governor also addressed the issue of safety and security of Kashmiris residing outside the state.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given clear directions to the country Saturday that there is no fight against Kashmiris but that it is a fight for Kashmir.
This is a clear signal that the people of Jammu and Kashmir are not only integral part of India but it is the responsibility of the country to take care of their safety wherever they may be, he said.
"Over 22,000 Kashmiri students are studying outside the state and the number of students who have actually been injured or hurt in incidents is not even in single digits....the exaggerated reporting has led to unnecessary excessive reactions in the Kashmir Valley," he said. -- PTI
16:11 PM Modi offers prayers at Kumbh mela
Prime Minister Narendra Modi offers prayers at the Kumbh Mela where he will participate in the Swachh Kumbh Swachh Aabhaar event, organised by the ministry of drinking water and sanitation.
He will also distribute the Swachh Kumbh Swachh Aabhaar awards to Safai Karmacharis, Swachhagrahis, police personnel and naviks, another statement said.
The mela draws tens of millions of pilgrims over the course of approximately 48 days to bathe at the sacred confluence of the Ganga, the Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati river.
15:53 Shooting World Cup: 16-yr-old Saurabh smashes world record to win gold
Teenager Saurabh Chaudhary smashed the world record on his way to a gold medal in the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi on Sunday, securing the country's third Tokyo Olympics quota.
The 16-year-old claimed the top honours in the men's 10m air pistol event at the season-opening International Shooting Sport Federation event.
The Asian Games gold medallist ended the event with a total score of 245.
Dami Mikec of Serbia was second in the podium with a score of 239.3, while the bronze medal was bagged by Wei Pang of China, who managed 215.2.
Such was Saurabh's dominance in the eight-men final that he finished the event 5.7 points ahead of the silver medallist, the gold assured even before his final shot.
Saurabh, who started strongly finished tied on top with Serbian Mikec at the end of the first series.
In the second series, the champion shooter continued his good form and finished at the top.
Other Indians competing in the event, Abhishek Verma and Ravinder Singh, failed to qualify for the final.
Both Abhishek are Ravinder finished with a total score of 576 in the qualification round. -- PTI
15:12 NC president speaks to Rajnath about tense situation in Kashmir Valley
Amid reports of panic stocking of essentials by Kashmir Valley residents, National Conference president Farooq Abdullah spoke to Union home minister Rajnath Singh and asked him to take steps to reassure the people.
He informed Singh about the tense situation in the Valley which has been further fuelled by speculations about possible developments, National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah said.
"The president of @JKNC_ has spoken to Union Home Minister @rajnathsingh Sb to brief him about the sense of panic that is prevailing in the valley at the moment. He has requested the union government to step in with a statement & steps that reassure people," Omar Abdullah tweeted on Saturday night.
"Dr Farooq Abdullah briefed @rajnathsingh Sb about the panic buying in the markets & the way petrol pumps have run dry and how speculation about possible developments has worsened an already tense situation," he tweeted.
Residents of Srinagar and other major towns of the Valley went on a panic buying spree on Saturday as government departments issued circulars and advisories, which hinted at the possibility of long drawn disruption in normal life.
Cars queued up at fuel stations late in the night, prompting the oil companies to suspend sales. -- PTI
14:55 Overheated silencer of vehicle may have caused Aero India fire
An overheated silencer of a vehicle was the probable cause of the fire that gutted about 300 cars in the parking area of the Aero India show in Bengaluru, defence minister Niramala Sitharaman was informed by officials on Sunday during her visit to the spot.
Sitharaman inspected the mishap site outside the Yelahanka Air Force Station, a day after the fire, and was briefed by the Indian Air Force officials, DG Fire Services and the head of Disaster Management Team about the incident, a defence spokesman said.
A major fire swept through the parking area, far away from the venue of Asia's premier air show, gutting about 300 cars on Saturday, but there were no casualties.
The five-day biennial air show went on unaffected by the fire incident, which came four days after two jets of Indian Air Force's aerobatic team Surya Kiran crashed, killing a pilot a day before the opening of the event on February 19.
The fire brigade and Rapid Action Force and the National Disaster Response Force teams had doused the blaze in about 40 minutes after it was noticed around noon.
The Indian Air Force has ordered a Court of Inquiry into the cause of the fire.
The officials, who briefed Sitharaman on Sunday, told her that the probable cause of the mishap was fire from an overheated silencer of one of the parked cars and accentuated by strong wings, it spread quickly, the spokesman said.
Within minutes after the fire broke out, response was activated and there was quick assessment of the situation and joint planning by stakeholders, the spokesman said, adding some cars were broke open.
The cars then were pushed out of the fire area to create an artificial break in the fire, he added.
As many as 77 vehicles were broken open, of which 16, were already on fire to an extent, he said.
A help desk with phone numbers 9480801415 and 080-22942536 had been set up under DCP (Law and Order) to help those who had lost their vehicles in the fire to get certificates for facilitating insurance claim, the spokesman said.
The survey of damaged vehicles by insurance companies was also being facilitated by the help desk, he added.
The defence ministry expressed its concern and sympathy towards visitors who lost their vehicles in the accident. -- PTI
14:46 Pak's ex-diplomats urge govt to be prepared to deter any 'action'
Amidst heightened Indo-Pak tensions, Pakistan's three former foreign secretaries have urged their government to be prepared to deter any "aggressive action" by India after the deadly Pulwama terror attack while engaging in "robust diplomacy" to end the crisis peacefully.
Days after the attack by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad terror group that killed 40 CRPF soldiers on February 14, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said security forces have been given free hand to avenge the dastardly act.
In a joint article published in Dawn newspaper on Sunday, former foreign secretaries Riaz Hussain Khokhar, Riaz Mohammad Khan and Inamul Haq urged the media, political leadership, intelligentsia and public opinion makers in the two countries to show "responsibility to exercise restraint and take measures to bring some equanimity to the troubled environment".
Titled 'A time for restraint', the article started with asserting that "Tension between Pakistan and India is dangerously high" as Prime Minister Modi gave a free hand to his army to take retaliatory action for Pulwama.
India has threatened to "isolate" Pakistan and to strangulate its economy besides taking the symbolic step of withdrawing MFN status, they said.
"This fraught situation can spark a conflict with incalculable consequences for both Pakistan and India. Can they pull back from the brink?" they wrote.
They held that "Pulwama is not Mumbai" because the "signature is clearly that of an indigenous operation" and unlike Mumbai when India followed restraint, New Delhi after Pulwama "resorted to beat the drums of war."
They wrote that "Pakistan faces the challenge to avert a catastrophe that Indian actions may precipitate in South Asia."
"First and foremost, Pakistan must be ready to deter any possible aggressive action, without being provocative. Preparedness will itself pre-empt escalation," they said.
Asking India for serious response to Prime Minister Imran Khan's offer to investigate any actionable information, they said, "simultaneously, Pakistan is engaged in and must continue robust diplomacy at every level internationally, bilaterally and at the United Nations".
The trio said that "if formal diplomatic channels with India are paralysed, there is always room for informal contacts."
They said that Pakistan "sympathises with and supports" the Kashmiri struggle. But to say that acts of violence in Kashmir at present, such as the Pulwama attack, are sponsored by Pakistan defies not just facts on the ground but basic logic of its policy, they added.-- PTI
14:02 General Soleimani threatens Pakistan
From Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar: 'HUGELY IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENT...
Commander of the elite Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) General Qassem Soleimani (who reports directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) says,
"We have always offered Pakistan help in the region, but I have this question for the Pakistani government: Where are you heading too? You have caused unrest along borders with all your neighbors and do you have any other neighbor left that you want to stir up insecurity for?"
"Are you, who have atomic bombs, unable to destroy a terrorist group with several hundred members in the region? How many of your own people have been killed in different terrorist operations? We do not want your condolences, how could your condolence help the people of Iran?"
Pakistani Army should not let several billion dollars of a Saudi criminal burn alive Muslims on a bus and finance other terrorist operations in the region. I ask the Pakistani government what has been left for Pakistan?
"I warn you not to test Iran and anyone who has tested Iran has received firm response. We are speaking to Pakistan with a friendly tone and we are telling that country not to allow their borders to become a source of insecurity for the neighboring countries; anyone who has made this plot for Pakistan is seeking to disintegrate that country. The Islamic Republic of Iran will take revenge of its martyrs from those mercenaries who have committed this crime no matter where they are in the world. We will punish this wicked group in any part of the world and we will not allow the blood of our youth to be shed in the country and cleaned (and forgotten) easily."
Iran enjoys independent power and honour. Some countries have wealth, but no prowess. Trump tells the Al-Saud that if it hadn't been for the US support, Saudi Arabia would not have survived and Saudi Arabia's coalitions in the region have all ended in failure.'
13:55 Pulwama fallout: India leg of Asian Snooker Tour postponed indefinitely
The India leg of the Asian Snooker Tour has been postponed indefinitely over Pakistan players' visa issues in the aftermath of the ghastly Pulwama terror attack.
The 10 Reds Asian Tour Snooker tournament was scheduled to be held in Bengaluru in the last week of March but has been postponed after the organisers failed to guarantee visas for Pakistani cueists.
The Asian Confederation of Billiards Sport decided to postpone the event after India failed to provide guarantee for issuing visas to the Pakistani players.
"Looking at what was happening with other sporting events in India, we informed the ACBS that visa will be an issue for Pakistani players. So, the ACBS decided to postpone the last leg of the Asian Snooker Tour indefinitely," Billiards and Snooker Federation of India (BSFI) secretary S Subramaniam told PTI.
"Six out of 24 players are from Pakistan or are Pakistani-origin. The haven't applied for visa but we made ACBS aware of the current situation."
The first two legs of the Asian Snooker Tour were held in Qatar and China. India was supposed to be the last leg of the tour.
The BSFI official, however, said the local organisers of the event, Karnataka State Billiards Association, is planning to host another international event without Pakistani players around the same time.
"The KSBA is exploring another international event as they have already approved the budget for the Asian Tour from the state government," Subramaniam said.
Sporting activities in the country involving Pakistani players were badly affected in the aftermath the terror attack that killed more than 40 CRPF personnel on February 14. -- PTI
13:32 Army has resolved to wipe out terrorists: PM Modi
The Army has resolved to wipe out terrorists and their harbourers following the Pulwama attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday, asserting that the martyrdom of 40 Central Reserve Police force soldiers will keep "inspiring us relentlessly to uproot the very base of terrorism".
In his 53rd and last 'Mann ki Baat' broadcast before the Lok Sabha elections, Modi asked people to rally together to take on the challenge of terrorism facing the country by forgetting barriers of casteism, communalism, regionalism and other differences so that the steps against terror are firmer and more decisive.
In an apparent reference to the killing of Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists, who the Army said were masterminds of the Pulwama attack, in an encounter, he said "retributive action was accomplished" within 100 hours of the incident.
He also mentioned responses of families of deceased CRPF men and said that the story of every family of martyrs is full of inspiration.
Paying tributes to security forces, Modi said he will dedicate the National War Memorial to them on Monday and added that not having such a memorial always pained and surprised him.
"I do believe that for our countrymen a visit to the National War Memorial will be akin to a pilgrimage to a holy place. The National Soldiers' Memorial is a symbol of the nation's gratitude to those men who made the supreme sacrifice after we gained Independence," he said. -- PTI
13:11 Maratha outfit not to back major parties in LS polls
A key Maratha outfit, that led the quota agitation in Maharashtra, has decided not to extend support to any major political party in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls for "neglecting" its demands.
The Maratha Kranti Morcha will support independent candidates or nominees of smaller parties in the polls, its convener Sanjeev Bhor-Patil said on Saturday.
"We are contemplating to support independent candidates or smaller parties in the polls instead of major political parties, such as alliances of BJP-Shiv Sena or Congress-NCP, as they all neglected our key demands," he said.
He claimed that some members of the community were falsely framed in atrocity cases.
"One of our key demands was to sort out the issue of false atrocity cases. However, no political party has taken it seriously. Our another demand was to implement the Swaminathan Commission recommendations on minimum support price for crops," he said.
Bhor-Patil said MKM leaders will meet in the coming week to chalk out strategy for the general elections.
"We cannot register a political party in the name of 'Maratha Kranti Morcha' as it is against our protocol. Hence, we will either support smaller political parties or favourable candidates," another MKM leader said.
The MKM had earlier spearheaded the agitation for quota for the Maratha community in jobs and education in the state.
The Maharashtra Legislature had in November last year passed a bill proposing 16 per cent reservation in education and government jobs for Marathas, declared as socially and educationally backward class by the government.
The quota was granted in addition to the existing 52 per cent reservation in the state. -- PTI
13:08 Not releasing B'wood films in Pak won't affect Indian film industry: Experts
The decision of Indian film fraternity to not release their movies in Pakistan following Pulwama attack will have a fleeting effect on the box office collections, believe experts.
In the wake of the February 14 terror attack, which claimed the lives of 40 CRPF jawans, makers of films such as Total Dhamaal, Luka Chuppi, Arjun Patiala, Notebook and Kabir Singh have announced not to screen the movies in the neighbouring country.
Bollywood trade analyst Taran Adarsh says Indian films have great viewership in Pakistan but the collection from the country does not contribute much to the worldwide box office numbers of Hindi films.
He, however, believes it would be detrimental to the earnings of distributors in Pakistan.
"There are about 150 screens in Pakistan. Like us, they also love Hindi movies. They make very few films. Also, you cannot show Hollywood films round-the-clock. Indian films are a big addiction... It is going to be tough for them as it is a small market for us," Adarsh said.
Echoing Adarsh's views, Mumbai-based film exhibitor Akshay Rathi says the exhibition sector of Pakistan will be more affected by the decision.
"The impact of Indian films not releasing in Pakistan will be massive on exhibition sector there, but it will be minuscule for Indian producers. Lots of consumption of Indian films happens through piracy and the kind of collection that comes out of Pakistan is very less as compared to other territories," he adds.
According to Rathi, on an average, Hindi films do a business of about Rs 4-7 crores in Pakistan.
The biggest hit from Bollywood in Pakistan is Salman Khan's 2016 Eid blockbuster Sultan, amassing Rs 37 crore. Salman's 2015 cross-border drama Bajrangi Bhaijaan minted Rs 23 crore in the country.
Aamir Khan-starrers Dhoom 3 and PK earned Rs 25 crore and Rs 22 crore respectively, while Shah Rukh Khan's Fan grossed Rs 6.5 crore.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Bajirao Mastani collected Rs 9 crore and Race 2, featuring Saif Ali Khan, did a business of Rs 4.93 crore. -- PTI
12:57 PM Modi launches Rs. 75,000 crore farmer scheme from Gorakhpur
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launches the Rs 75,000-crore Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.
12:31 Saudi Arabia appoints its first female ambassador to US
Saudi Arabia has named a princess as its first female ambassador to the United States, a key appointment as the fallout over journalist Jamal Khashoggis murder tests relations between the allies.
Princess Reema bint Bandar replaced Prince Khalid bin Salman, the younger brother of the powerful crown prince who was appointed vice defence minister in a flurry of late-night royal decrees announced on state media.
The reshuffle comes as Saudi Arabia seeks to quell an international outcry over Khashoggis murder last October in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which strained relations with its key ally.
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12:22 PM suspends 'Mann ki Baat' till LS poll, promises to be back in May
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday suspended his monthly 'Mann ki Baat' broadcast for March and April, and said he will be back with the programme on the last Sunday of May, by when results of the Lok Sabha elections are expected to be declared.
In this monthly address through the radio broadcast -- the 53rd since Modi came to power in 2014 -- he said he was doing so keeping in mind healthy democratic traditions.
"Elections are the biggest celebration of democracy. In the next two months, we will be busy in the hurly-burly of the general elections. I myself will also be a candidate. Respecting healthy democratic traditions, the next episode of 'Mann Ki Baat' will be broadcast on the last Sunday (May 26) of May," Modi said.
Opposition parties have in the past demanded stopping the broadcast of Mann ki Baat during elections, saying it violated the model code of conduct as the interaction amounted to the misuse of the prime minister's programme for political purposes.
Sounding confident of his return to power, he said he will begin the series of conversations under the programme from May with the "power of your blessings" and will keep speaking to people through 'Mann ki Baat' for years.
The fate of Modi's 'Mann ki Baat' broadcast will depend on the results of the Lok Sabha elections as the programme will continue only if he is reelected and becomes prime minister. -- PTI
11:46 Pulwama aftermath: Pak sets up 'crisis management cell'
Pakistan has set up a "crisis management cell" in the wake of heightened Indo-Pak tensions following one of the worst terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad terror group that killed 40 Central Reserve Polcie Force soldiers, according to a media report.
The cell will keep all stakeholders updated over border situation and diplomatic contacts, foreign office spokesperson Muhammad Faisal was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune on Saturday.
The cell, set up in the ministry of foreign affairs, will remain operational throughout the week without any break, Faisal said.
Days after the Pulwama attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said security forces have been given free hand to avenge the dastardly act. -- PTI
11:10 Separatist-sponsored strike disrupts normal life in Kashmir
Authorities Sunday imposed restrictions in parts of the city as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in the wake of a strike called by separatists.
Restrictions under Section 144 Code of Criminal Procedure have been imposed in five police station areas of Srinagar, a police official said.
He said curbs were imposed in police station areas of Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, MR Gunj and Safakadal.
The official said restrictions were imposed as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of the strike call.
Separatists, under the banner of Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), Saturday called for a shutdown in the valley on Sunday against the crackdown on separatists.
The strike affected normal life across the Kashmir valley.
Shops, fuel stations and other business establishments were shut in Srinagar, officials said.
They said public transport was off the roads, but some private cars and auto-rickshaws were seen plying in some areas of the city.
The weekly flea market was also shut as no stalls were put on the TRC Crossing-Batamaloo axis through city centre Lal Chowk, the officials said.
They said similar reports of shutdown were received from other district headquarters of the valley. -- PTI
11:04 Now, Vadra hints at joining politics
Robert Vadra, the brother-in-law of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, has hinted at joining politics, a month after his wife Priyanka Gandhi made her debut into active politics and was appointed a general secretary in the party.
In a Facebook post, Vadra said, 'All these years of experience and learning cannot be just wasted and should be put to better use... Once all these accusations and allegations are over, I feel I should dedicate a larger role in serving the people.'
'Years and months I spent campaigning, working in different parts of the country, but mainly in UP, gave me a feeling to do more for people and make smaller changes possible by me, in areas and when they got to know me, the genuine love, affection, respect I earned was humbling,' he said.
49-year-old Vadra, who has been repeatedly questioned by the Enforcement Directorate in the recent past in connection with money laundering and land grab cases, accused the government of targeting him to divert the attention from the real issues confronting the country.
'More than a decade of different governments being after me, using and highlighting my name to divert real issues of the country (sic),' he said.
'People of the country gradually realised this Modus and knew there was no truth in any of these allegations. People reach out and show respect and wish me luck for a better future,' he said.
Vadra, 'Now with my visits to the Enforcement Directorate in Delhi and Rajasthan, almost 8 visits, of many hours and since I have always adhered to rules and surely not above the law, I have been a person to learn from every event I go through.'
Priyanka Gandhi joined Congress on January 23 and was appointed general secretary for Uttar Pradesh (East).She has been assigned a tough task to revive Congress in UP, particularly the eastern part of the state.
On Saturday, Congress had announced various committees for UP ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
In his post, Vadra also referred to the social service he has been doing with various organisations.
Of late, Vadra's Facebook page is full of his pictures doing social service. His close aide Jagdish Sharma has also been putting out Vadra's pictures on social media.
Vadra had also in the past hinted at joining politics and had been seen in the Gandhi strongholds of Raebareli and Amethi.
According to a source, he was keen to contest about a decade back, but it was put on hold at that time.
Asked about Vadra's questioning by the ED, Priyanka Gandhi had told ANI in Lucknow, "These things will go on and I will do my work." -- ANI
10:39 Stone chunks hit Vande Bharat Express; driver's screen, windows damaged
The main driver's screen and some side windows of the Vande Bharat Express were damaged when the train was hit by stones during its Varanasi-New Delhi journey on Saturday, official said.
Northern Railways Chief Public Relation Officer said a shower of ballast came flying towards the train near Achalda in Uttar Pradesh when the Dibrugarh Rajdhani, crossing on the adjoining line, run over a cattle.
"The stone chunks hit the driver's windscreen and one each side outer glasses of windows of coach numbers C4, C6, C7, C8, C13 and two glass panes of C12, causing damage," the CPRO said.
The statement said the technical staff on board the train assessed the damages and after careful careful examination the train was found fit to run.
"So it carried on its onward journey to its destination station at its normal speed. The Train has since then reached New Delhi railway station at 11.05 pm," it said.
The Northern Railways CPRO also said officials attended to the damaged windows and put on safety sheets to ensure passengers are not inconvenienced in any way during its Sunday journey.
The train left for Varanasi Sunday morning on its scheduled time. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on February 15 flagged off the semi-high speed train from New Delhi Railway Station.
Its commercial operations began on February 17. -- PTI
10:23 Kim departs for second summit with Trump in Hanoi
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un departed by train for Vietnam on Saturday for the upcoming second summit with United States President Donald Trump.
He boarded the train from Pyongyang Railway Station for the 60-hour journey, which will see the train travel around 4,500 kilometres to reach the Vietnamese border city of Dang Dong on Tuesday.
Kim will then travel by car to Hanoi for the summit.
The North Korean leader is accompanied by several senior officials including his sister Kim Yo Jong and aide Kim Yong Chol, Yonhap News Agency quoted North Korea's state media as saying.
The second summit, slated to be held in Hanoi on February 27 and 28, comes after the first landmark US-North Korea summit was held in Singapore in June last year.North Korea had agreed to completely denuclearise during the first meeting -- a move which was hailed as a major stride by the international community.
However, ties between the United States and Pyongyang hit a roadblock over ease of sanctions, where North Korea sought relief in economic sanctions as recognition of the steps taken towards denuclearisation.
The United States has, until now, reinforced that relief in sanctions would only be given after North Korea carries out complete denuclearisation.
Both the sides aim at working towards the concretisation of steps for a peaceful Korean Peninsula, including complete denuclearisation, when Kim sits down with Trump in Hanoi this week. -- ANI
09:50 SC order on eviction of tribals: Rahul asks C'garh CM to file review
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday told Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel to file a review petition against a Supreme Court's order, which asked the states to ensure eviction of tribals and forest dwellers whose claim for the forest land have been rejected.
'The recent order of the honourable Supreme Court of India in Wildlife Trust of India & others vs. Union of India & others, deserves your urgent intervention. The court has directed state governments to evict tribals and other forest dwellers whose claims under the Forest Rights Act were rejected,' Gandhi said in his letter dated February 23.
The Congress president said 'in order to preempt largescale evictions' it would be 'expedient to file a review petition' and 'take any other action' as deemed fit by Baghel.
'The Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) in its status report on the implementation of the Forest Rights Act highlighted that less than 45 per cent of the Individual Forest Rights and 50 per cent of the Community Forest Rights claims were approved as on April in 2018,' he said.
'Further, the MoTA has pointed out that forest staff often raised 'frivolous' objections leading to rejection,' he said.
He said in this backdrop eviction based on rejected claims alone, without a proper review and appeal process violates the due process of law.
'For millions of adivasis and other forest dwellers 'Jal, Jangal and Zameen' is integral to their Right to Life guaranteed by our Constitution. It is time for us to work towards deepening the promise of India for everyone,' the Congress chief said.
The apex court, in its February 13 order, asked the chief secretaries of the states concerned to file affidavits stating whether those against whom the rejection orders were passed have been evicted or not and if not, the reasons for the same.
On February 21, the Supreme Court asked 21 states to apprise it about the action taken by them over the eviction of tribals and forest dwellers whose claim for the forest land have been rejected.
The states which have come under the scanner of the top court are -- Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Manipur. -- PTI
08:48 Pak takes U-turn, says Bahawalpur seminary not linked to Jaish
Taking a complete U-turn, the Pakistan government on Saturday dismissed its own claim of taking over the control of the Jaish-e-Mohammad headquarters in Bahawalpur and said the complex has no link with the terror outfit, which claimed responsibility for the deadly Pulwama suicide attack that killed 41 Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir.
In a video message on social media, Pakistan's Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the Punjab government took administrative control of Madrassatul Sabir and Jamia-e-Masjid Subhanallah in Bahawalpur in line with the decisions taken during the National Security Council meeting held on Thursday and as part of the National Action Plan.
Rejecting his earlier announcement that the complex was JeM headquarters, Chaudhry said, "This is the madrassah (seminary) and India is doing propaganda that it is the JeM headquarters."
On Friday, the minister had told PTI that the Punjab government has 'taken over the control of the JeM headquarters in Bahawalpur', about 400 km from Lahore.
"The government of Punjab has taken over the control of a campus comprising Madressatul Sabir and Jama-e-Masjid Subhanallah in Bahawalpur, allegedly the headquarters of Jaish-e-Mohammad, and appointed an administrator to manage its affairs," he said.
This was the first time in years that the campus, about 430 km from Lahore, had been acknowledged by Pakistan to be the headquarters of the terror outfit JeM led by Masood Azhar.
A statement issued by the Interior Ministry on Friday also said the crackdown on Jaish 'has been taken in line with the decision of the National Security Committee meeting held on Thursday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Imran Khan'.
The Islamic seminaries in the campus has a faculty of 70 teachers and currently 600 students were studying in it, the statement said, adding that Punjab police is providing security and protection to the campus.
Meanwhile, The Pakistani government on Saturday took a group of local journalists to the campus in Bahawalpur and claimed that it is a 'routine seminary having no link with JeM'.
Bahawalpur Deputy Commissioner Shahzaib Saeed accompanied a group of journalists to the campus showing 'business as usual' there.
The commissioner denied association of the seminary and the mosque with Masood Azhar.
"Some 600 students are studying here and none of them is associated with any banned organisation or involved in any terror activity," he said.
A local journalist, who visited the seminary and spoke to some students and teachers there, said, "When asked about the JeM and Masood Azhar, they showed complete ignorance about them. Perhaps they were briefed before our visit." -- PTI