Tue, 01 January 2019
Nawaz Sharif challenges his conviction in graft case

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22:22   Nawaz Sharif challenges his conviction in graft case
Pakistan's jailed ex-premier Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday filed an appeal against his conviction in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case, a week after an accountability court sentenced him to seven years in jail in the graft case.

Sharif, 69, also filed an application seeking suspension of his sentence.

On December 24, 2018, Accountability Court II Judge Arshad Malik sentenced Sharif to seven years in prison along with a fine of Rs 1.5 billion and $25 million in the Al-Azizia corruption case, concluding a series of three court cases against the Sharif family in the high-profile Panama Papers scandal.

The three-time former premier is serving his term in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat Jail.

In the appeal filed through his lawyer Khawaja Harris in the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday, Sharif argued that he was convicted on the basis of presumptions and his sentence should be set aside.

He said the trial court verdict was based on misunderstandings as it failed to properly evaluate the objections by the defence.

He also sought suspension of sentence until decision on the appeal to set aside his conviction in the case.

Three cases -- Avenfield properties case, Flagship investment case and Al-Azizia steel mills case -- were launched against the Sharif family by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on September 8, 2017 following a judgment by the Supreme Court that disqualified Sharif in the Panama Papers case in July last year.

In July, 2018 Sharif, his daughter Maryam and his son-in-law Captain (retd) M Safdar were sentenced to 10 years, seven years and one year respectively in prison in the Avenfield properties case related to their purchase of four luxury flats in London through corrupt practices. However, the three were bailed out by the Islamabad High Court in September.

Sharif was acquitted in the Flagship case due to insufficient evidence.        His two sons -- Hasan and Hussain -- were accused in all the three graft cases.

Sharif has maintained that the cases against him were initiated on the basis of allegations levelled by his political rivals and the report of a joint investigation team in the Panama Papers case was biased.  -- PTI
22:20   3 injured in Manchester knife attack: UK police
A man wielding a knife stabbed three people -- including a police officer -- at a busy railway station in the heart of Manchester in the United Kingdom on New Year's Eve, police said on Monday.

The man and woman, in their 50s, sustained 'serious' but non-life-threatening injuries. police said. The woman had injuries to her face and abdomen and the man had injuries to his abdomen.

Britain's counter-terrorism officers are leading the investigation into the  stabbing incident. The suspect has been arrested.

British Transport Police (BTP) said it is keeping an "open mind" on the motive behind the incident at Manchester Victoria station in the north-west of England.

"Within minutes, a man was arrested near to Metrolink platforms A and B on suspicion of attempted murder. He remains in custody for police questioning," a BTP statement said.

"The officer injured in a stabbing at Manchester Victoria has been released from hospital. The police sergeant -- a man in his 30s -- was taken to hospital with a stab wound to his shoulder following the attack at the station," the BTP said.

It said that officers from Counter Terrorism Policing are leading on the investigation, with support from Greater Manchester Police, British

Transport Police and other agencies and that the public will witness heightened police presence in Manchester as a precautionary measure.      

"While we don't yet know the full circumstances and are keeping an open mind, officers from Counter Terrorism Policing North West are leading on the investigation. This is to ensure we have all the expertise available to us and progress our investigation as soon as we possibly can," Assistant Chief Constable Rob Potts from Greater Manchester Police said.

A BBC producer present at the scene heard the knifeman shouting 'Allah' during the attack, along with a slogan criticising Western governments.

"I just heard this most blood curdling scream and looked down the platform' and saw he had a kitchen knife with a black handle with a good, 12-inch blade. It was just fear, pure fear," said Sam Clack, who works for the BBC in Manchester.

Greater Manchester Police declared the attack a 'critical incident' but added that there was 'no intelligence to suggest that there is any wider threat at this time'.

The New Year fireworks display at Albert Square nearby went ahead as scheduled for midnight.  -- PTI
21:42   Ishrat Jahan case accused cop promoted
An accused in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case and another who was recently discharged in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh case were among the six Indian Police Service officers promoted by the Gujarat government on Tuesday, according to a notification.

G L Singhal, one of the seven IPS officers chargesheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation in Ishrat Jahan case, has been promoted to the rank of inspector general from deputy inspector general of the Commando Training Centre in Gandhinagar.

Vipul Aggarwal, who was recently discharged by the Bombay high court in connection with the Sohrabuddin Shaikh alleged fake encounter case, has been promoted to the post of the joint commissioner of police (administration), Ahmedabad.

Singhal was arrested in February 2013 in connection with the Ishrat Jahan case.

He was granted bail by a CBI court, following which the state government had reinstated him in May 2014 as the superintendent of police of the State Crime Records Bureau.

Ishrat, a 19-year-old girl from Mumbai, and three others were killed in an encounter on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.

A special investigation team (SIT), constituted by the Gujarat high court, had concluded that the encounter was fake, following which the case was transferred to the CBI.

Aggarwal was reinstated in November 2014 after being granted bail in the alleged fake-encounter killings of gangster Sohrabuddin Shaikh, his wife, Kausar Bi, and his aide, Tulsi Prajapati.

All the 38 accused in the case have been acquitted, including the 22 accused who were discharged last month.

As per the notification issued by the state Home Department, six Indian Police Service (IPS) officers in all were promoted. Surat Commissioner of Police Satish Sharma has been promoted to director general of police rank and will continue to be Surat top officer, the state government notification said.

Surat Additional Commissioner of Police D N Patel has been promoted as the joint commissioner of police (JCP), Surat, while M A Chawda has been promoted as the inspector general of police, Gandhinagar range.

IPS officer J R Mothaliya, additional commissioner of police (traffic), Ahmedabad, has been made the JCP. The pay scale of another 22 IPS officers has been changed, the notification said.

A separate notification said eight Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officials have also been given promotions.  --  PTI
Cold wave sweeps North India.
20:48   Centre approves renaming of Allahabad as Prayagraj
A fortnight ahead of the 'Kumbh Mela', the Centre has approved the renaming of Allahabad as Prayagraj as sought by the Uttar Pradesh government, officials said on Tuesday.

The decision came more than two months after the state government, headed by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, took the decision to rename the historic city as Prayagraj.

The central government has given its consent for renaming of Allahabad as Prayagraj about 10 days ago, a home ministry official said.

The 'Kumbh Mela' in Prayagraj will start on January 15 on 'Makar Sankranti' and will conclude on March 4 on 'Maha Shivaratri'.

The central government has given consent to the renaming of at least 25 towns and villages across the country in the past one year.

The renaming proposal of UP's Faizabad district as Ayodhya is yet to be received from the state government.

A proposal to rename West Bengal as 'Bangla' is pending as the Ministry of External Affairs is understood to have expressed its reservation over the new name, as it sounds similar to Bangladesh.

A decision in this regard is expected soon as the general election in the neighbouring country concluded on Sunday.

The Union Home Ministry considers the proposals of name change according to the existing guidelines in consultations with agencies concerned.

It gives its approval to the change of name of any place after taking no-objections from the Ministry of Railways, Department of Posts and Survey of India. These organisations have to confirm that there is no such city, town or village in their records with a name similar to the proposed one.

For changing the name of a village or town or a city, an executive order is needed. The renaming of a state requires amendment of the Constitution with a simple majority in Parliament.   -- PTI
19:58   Triple talaq matter of gender justice, Sabarimala of tradition: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that while triple talaq is a matter of gender equality, entry of women in Sabarimala is related to tradition.

In an exclusive interview to ANI, Prime Minister tried to clear the air on Bharatiya Janata Party's apparent contradiction in its stand on the controversial Triple Talaq Ordinance and the ban on entry of women between the age group of (10-50 years) in the Sabarimala Temple by saying the Ordinance against Triple Talaq was brought keeping in mind gender equality and social justice and it should not be seen as interference in religious issues.

However, on the entry of women of menstrual age in the Sabarimala Temple and protests by Hindu groups, Prime Minister Modi said that the issue relates to tradition and the Supreme Court judgement that saw a dissent by a lady judge should be read carefully.

"Triple Talaq Ordinance was brought after Supreme Court verdict. We have said in our BJP manifesto that a solution would be found to this issue under the Constitution," Prime Minister Modi said.

"Most Islamic countries have banned Triple Talaq. So it is not a matter of religion or faith. Even in Pakistan, Triple Talaq is banned. So it is an issue of gender equality, matter of social justice. It is not an issue of faith. So keep the two separate," he said.

Reacting to a question on the BJP's stand on the Sabarimala issue, PM said: "India is of one opinion that everyone should get justice. There are some temples, which have their own traditions, where men can't go. And men don't go... In this, Sabrimala, a woman judge in the Supreme Court has made certain observations. It needs to be read minutely.

"There is no need to attribute those to any political party. As a woman, she has made some suggestions. There should be a debate on that as well sometimes."  -- ANI
19:19   Those accusing me in Rafale deal are weakening security forces: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that the Congress is trying to throw muck on him even though the party has nothing to prove him wrong.

In an exclusive interview to ANI, Prime Minister Modi said that those levelling allegations on him are actually weakening the Indian security forces.

He added that in spite of allegations from the Congress in the Rafale deal, he will continue to expedite the procurement process in defence so that country's security is not compromised.

"Those people who want to weaken the Army are levelling allegations. Should I worry that they are making personal attacks on me, or whether my country's needs should be met?

"I decided that whatever abuses are hurled at me, whatever allegations are levelled against me, I will continue on the path of honesty and give primacy to the country's security. I won't leave my Army jawans merely to their fate.

"Whatever be their requirement, I will expedite the procurement processes. I will do it even if allegations are levelled me," Modi said in response to allegations of corruption in the Rafale jet purchase deal.

When asked why he was silent on the Congress accusation of crony capitalism and alleged favouring of Anil Ambani in the Rafale deal, Modi replied, "This is not an allegation against me personally, but an allegation against my government. If there is any allegation against me personally, let them dig who gave what, when and where and to whom."

"In Parliament, I have spoken elaborately on this and whichever public forum I got, I spoke about this. The matter has been cleared even by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court scrutinised it threadbare. The French President has spoken. ..

"Media should have the courage to ask (the Congress) where is the evidence for these allegations? Don't throw muck and run away.... They (Congress) are not able to give any real evidence, just keep talking.

"Unko yeh bolne ki beemari hai toh mujhe kya baar baar ussi me ulajhna chahiye kya (If they have this problem of talking about it then should I too get entangled in it)," he added.

The Prime Minister said that there should be debate in the country on why controversies have been created over defence deals since Independence and on need for middlemen in defence purchases.

"Why controversies have been created over defence deals since Independence and our forces weakened. Who is doing it? What is the reason? Also, what is the need for middlemen in the defence deals? Can't defence deal not be done without middlemen? Had Make in India been initiated 70 years back, the malai khane wala raasta from outside would have been closed.

"My crime is that I am trying to Make In India. My crime is that whatever our defence forces need, that should be made in India, so that dealings outside the country end. I am trying to get technology transfer," the prime minister said.

The prime minister sought to dispel the Congress allegation that the purchase would harm his Make in India initiative.Congress president Rahul Gandhi has accused Prime Minister Modi of favouring Anil Ambani's Reliance group in the Rafale deal by pushing Dassault Aviation to have a tie up with it through an offset clause, an allegation denied vehemently by both the Indian government and Dassault. -- ANI
18:45   Was anxious during the whole surgical strike op: Modi
"Come back before sunrise, irrespective of the success or failure of the mission".This was the message of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Indian Army Special Forces' commandos who went across the Line of Control (LoC) on September 28, 2016 to carry out surgical strikes at terrorist camps in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir.

Modi, while revealing details of the military action for the first time, told ANI in an interview that the date of the attack was changed twice, keeping in mind the safety and security of the troops.The strikes were carried out days after terrorists attacked an Army camp in Uri in Kashmir, killing 20 soldiers

The PM said the surgical strikes were planned as there was a 'rage' building up within him as well as the Army after soldiers were burnt alive in the terror attack in Uri.

"I gave clear orders that whether you get success or failure, don't think about that but come back before sunrise. Don't fall for the lure and prolong it (the operation)," he said, turning a bit emotional while discussing that operation.

Emphasising that he was determined to see that none of the soldiers died in the operation, he said he had told them that they must return before sunrise even if they fail.

The PM revealed that he was keeping tab of the risky operation throughout the night and was getting live information.

"I knew it was a big risk. I never care about any political risk to me. The biggest consideration for me was the safety of our soldiers," he said.

He said he didn't want any harm to come to the commandos who were 'willing to sacrifice their lives on our word'.

The prime minister disclosed that the commandos for the operation were chosen carefully and then imparted special training.

Whatever equipment was required, it was arranged for them, he said.

He said he was 'anxious' throughout the time the soldiers were on the other side of the LoC and the moments 'extremely difficult' when the information flow stopped for about an hour in the morning.

"In the morning, information flow stopped, for an hour. My anxiety increased. Even one hour after sunrise.

"That time was extremely difficult for me... Then came the information that they have not reached back yet but two-three units have reached the safe zone, so don't worry. But I said I won't be fine till the last man returns," Modi said.

On politicisation of the surgical strikes, the prime minister said it was not done by the government but by opposition parties, which 'raised questions' over the military action and cited the Pakistani version to 'lend weight to their doubts'.

The prime minister said that even before the country was informed about the strikes, Pakistan was told about it.

"An Army officer apprised the nation (India) of the operation. That information was given to Pakistan as well... But it is unfortunate for the country that the same day (of the surgical strike), leaders of some parties raised doubts over the surgical strikes," Modi said.

"It was necessary for Pakistan to speak like this (to deny), to keep their morale intact. But what Pakistan was saying, was being said here too. To lend weight to their views, they were citing Pakistani version. Politicisation started from that point," he added.

Modi added that the opposition leaders were speaking 'rubbish' and 'those who raised doubts over the Army action, were wrong and such politicisation should not have happened'.

Modi said lauding the valour of soldiers from all operations including the 1962 war with China was the duty of the government and citizens.

"If we don't hail the valour of those who stake their lives for the country, then who will? So praising the Army should not be considered as politicisation," he said.

The prime minister was asked whether the objectives of the surgical strikes were met, considering that cross-LoC attacks still continue in Kashmir.In response, he said he would not like to discuss the issue in open domain.

But then he went on to add, "Ek ladai se Pakistan sudhar jayega, yeh sochne mein bahut badi galti hogi. Pakistan ko sudarne mein abhi aur samay lagega (It will be a big mistake to think that Pakistan will start behaving after one fight. It will take a long time for Pakistan to start behaving)."

Talking about the Uri attack, Modi said, "That incident made me restless and there was rage within me. I had gone to Kerala and made a mention of this.

"Because I could not stop myself.Modi said that while talking to the Army, he realised that they wanted justice for their martyred soldiers and the government gave them the 'free hand' to plan and execute the surgical strikes.Special training was imparted to the commandos and secrecy was maintained."

"The topography and obstacles were kept in consideration... It was a learning experience for me as well," Modi said.

In September 2016, terrorists of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed entered the Army camp in Uri near the Line of Control and killed 20 soldiers in the attack.

In retaliation, the Indian Army troops including the commandos from various units of the Para (Special Forces) units deployed in Jammu and Kashmir carried out raids across the border on multiple targets.

All these targets were launch pads for terrorists for infiltrating into Jammu and Kashmir for carrying out attacks against military and civilian targets.

Though the security forces are not sure about the exact number of casualties on the Pakistan side but based on post-operation intercepts and movements, it is believed that it had suffered around 50 casualties including its regular Army soldiers who were deployed for protecting the terror camps.

From the Indian side, only one soldier had suffered injury due to a personnel mine explosion while returning from the operation. -- ANI
17:27   Ordinance on Ram Temple only after judicial process is over: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday made it clear that any decision on bringing an Ordinance on Ram temple can be considered only after the judicial process gets over.

In an interview to ANI, he also suggested that the judicial process was being slowed down because Congress lawyers were creating 'obstacles' in the Supreme Court.

"We have said in our BJP manifesto that a solution would be found to this issue under the ambit of the Constitution," the prime minister said about the Ram temple matter when asked whether the Ram Mandir issue had been relegated as merely an emotive issue for the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The BJP, as articulated in its manifesto, wants building of a majestic Ram temple in Ayodhya.

Recently, there has been a renewed pitch within the party as well as by its sister organisations in the Sangh Parivar for expediting the process of construction of the temple.

The Sangh Parivar organisations have expressed unhappiness over the delay in resolving the matter and there are demands for promulgating an Ordinance, similar to the one issued on Triple Talaq, to facilitate construction of a temple.

The demand for Ordinance has been articulated even by BJP's ally the Shiv Sena.Asked whether the government could consider issuing an Ordinance on Ram temple, the Prime Minister pointed out that the matter is before the Supreme Court and possibly in the final stages.

"Let the judicial process be over. After the judicial process is over, whatever will be our responsibility as the government, we are ready to make all efforts," he added.

The matter is slated to be heard by the Supreme Court on January 4.Petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court for day-to-day hearing in the case.

The prime minister was asked why an Ordinance cannot be promulgated to facilitate Ram temple construction when a similar step was taken to ban instant Triple Talaq.

In response, Modi said, 'the Triple Talaq ordinance was brought after the Supreme Court verdict, in the light of Supreme Court verdict.'

He was referring to the Supreme Court's ruling in 2017, banning the practice of Triple Talaq among the Muslims.

Subsequently, the government issued an Ordinance and brought a bill in Parliament.The bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha and is before the Rajya Sabha.

"Nobody can deny that those sitting in the governments in the last 70 years have tried their best to stall a solution to this (Ayodhya) issue," Modi said.

Targeting the Congress, he said it should 'not create obstacles' and should let the judicial process to take its own course.

"Don't weigh it in political terms," Modi said, addressing the Congress.

"I beseech the Congress, for the sake of national peace and amity, they should stop its lawyers from stalling this (Ayodhya issue) in the court," he added.

The prime minister said all lawyers, including the Congress ones, should jointly head to the court and ensure that there is an early judicial verdict.

"In the court, Congress lawyers, who are creating obstacles, should stop. Let the judicial process take its own course," he said.  -- ANI
16:26   Prakash Raj announces entry into politics, will contest 2019 polls
Announcing his formal entry into politics, critically-acclaimed actor Prakash Raj on Tuesday said he will contest as an independent candidate in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The National Award-winning actor made the declaration in a tweet.

"Happy New Year to everyone. A new beginning... more responsibility.. with your support I will be contesting in the coming parliament elections as an independent candidate.

'Details of the constituency soon. Ab ki baar Janatha ki Sarkar in parliament too...,' the Bengaluru-born Raj said on Twitter.

The actor has been vocal about his views on the current Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre.

He has also been one of those seeking justice for his friend and journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot outside her residence in September 2017.

Raj earlier claimed that Bollywood filmmakers stopped offering him roles as he has been critical of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government.

The actor is the latest celebrity to join politics from south after veterans Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan.  -- PTI
15:14   Pak targets Indian posts in Poonch district
Pakistan Army on Tuesday opened fire on forward areas along the Line of Control in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.

The firing took place in Khari Karmara and Gulpur forward areas along the LoC, they said.

Indian troops guarding the borderline retaliated.

No casualty has been reported.

Despite repeated calls for restraint and adherence to the ceasefire understanding of 2003,  there have been 1,600 incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistan last year till October, 2018.   -- PTI
14:36   Bulandshahr violence: Man who attacked inspector with axe held
Police have arrested a man, accused of attacking Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh with an axe during the December 3 violence in Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr district over alleged cow slaughter, officials said on Tuesday.

The arrest of Kalua from a bus stand on Monday night takes the total number of accused held in this case to 30, a police officer said.

Kalua told police that on December 3, he was felling a tree to block a road.

When the inspector stopped him from doing so, he attacked him with an axe, the officer said.

On December 27, police had arrested Prashant Nat, who allegedly shot the inspector dead after the axe attack. Five people were arrested on December 18 for their alleged roles in the mob violence and the cow slaughter case.

Violence had erupted after cow carcasses were found in a field near Mahaw village in the district. The inspector and a youth had died during the violence.

An FIR against 27 named people and 50-60 unidentified people was registered at the Siyana police station for the violence at the Chingrawathi police post.

One of the main suspects among the 27 named in the FIR, local Bajrang Dal leader Yogesh Raj, is still at large, while an Army jawan, Jitendra Malik, has been arrested and remanded in custody.  -- PTI
14:22   Delhi's air quality in 'severe' category for third consecutive day
For the third consecutive day, the air quality in the national capital was in the severe category on Tuesday.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data, the overall air quality index (AQI) in the national capital on New Year's Day was 404, while the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR) recorded an AQI of 405, both of which are under the 'severe' category.

Nineteen areas in Delhi recorded 'severe' pollution, while 14 witnessed 'very poor' air quality, the CPCB data showed. Ghaziabad and Noida recorded 'severe' air quality, while in Faridabad and Gurgaon recorded it was in the 'very poor' category.

The overall PM2.5 level (fine particulate matter in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometer) was recorded at 280 and the PM10 level at 465 in Delhi, the CPCB said.

The SAFAR has said the air quality would improve slightly 'provided that no additional local emissions are added on New Year eve'.

"Any new trigger in terms of additional local emission, particularly from open fire, pyrotechnic display and fossil fuel burning may make air heavier and thick with low ventilation, and may lead to rapid deterioration in air quality to severe-plus range," the SAFAR said.

But despite warnings, several instances of firecracker bursting, before and after the time limit fixed by the apex court, were observed in Delhi-NCR during New Year celebrations.

The SAFAR said the air quality in Delhi is likely to remain in the 'severe' zone for the next two days as weather conditions are more adverse now.

"The deterioration in speed of moisture-laden wind from west may become fatal at this stage and any new trigger, in terms of local emission, particularly from open fires, firecrackers and (burning of) fossil fuels will fast deteriorate the air quality and keep it in the 'severe' category," it said.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) and SAFAR said the air quality is likely to remain in the 'severe' category owing to low wind speed, which is highly unfavourable for dispersion of pollutants.

The authorities warned that moderate fog and emissions during night hours may result in deterioration of the air quality and this situation may prevail till Wednesday.

The SAFAR also pointed out that a consistent day-night trend is being observed for the past one week.

"During night, a combination of calm wind and colder condition is elevating the pollution level. In many locations, 24-hour rolling average (AQI) is touching 'severe' levels for a few hours, whereas during the day wind is picking up speed slightly and temperature is increasing to keep the level in the 'very poor' range," it said.  -- PTI
13:38   Pak shares with India list of nuclear installations
Pakistan on Tuesday shared with India a list of its nuclear installations and facilities as per the provisions of a bilateral agreement.

The list was handed over in accordance with Article-II of the Agreement on Prohibition of Attacks Against Nuclear Installations and Facilities between Pakistan and India, signed on December 31, 1988, the Foreign Office (FO) said in a statement in Islamabad.

"The list of nuclear installations and facilities in Pakistan was officially handed over to a representative of the Indian High Commission at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today, at 1000 hrs (local time)," it said.

Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi handed over the list of Indian Nuclear Installations and Facilities to a representative of the High Commission of Pakistan at 1030 hrs (local time), the FO said.

The agreement, which was signed on December 31, 1988 and entered into force on January 27, 1991, provides, inter alia, that the two countries inform each other of nuclear installations and facilities to be covered under the agreement on the first of January of every calendar year.

"This has been done consecutively since January 1, 1992," the FO said.

The practice of exchanging lists of nuclear installation has endured despite many low in bilateral ties.  -- PTI
13:08   Security upped as people pay tributes at Koregaon Bhima memorial
Thousands of people, mainly Dalits, on Tuesday flocked the 'Jay Stambh' memorial in Maharashtra's Pune district to pay tributes on the 201st anniversary of the Koregaon Bhima battle amidst heavy police presence.

One person was killed and several others were injured in caste clashes that broke out on January 1 last year on the occasion of the anniversary of the 1818 battle, which has attained legendary stature in Dalit history.

At least 5,000 police personnel, 1,200 Home Guard jawans, 12 companies of the State Reserve Police Force and 2,000 Dalit volunteers are deployed in and around Perne village where people are paying tributes at the war memorial, police said.

The 'jay stambh' was erected by the British as a memorial for soldiers killed in the Koregaon Bhima battle on January 1, 1818.

Besides large-scale police deployment, 500 CCTV cameras, 11 drone cameras and 40 video cameras are monitoring the area, a senior police officer said this morning.

Police check posts have been set up along the border of Pune district.

"Internet services in and around Perne village have been suspended," special Inspector General of Police Vishwas Nangre-Patil said.

In the Dalit narrative, the 1818 battle is the victory over casteism as the British Army comprising a large contingent of Dalit Mahar soldiers had defeated the forces of Peshwas -- the Brahmin custodians of the Maratha kingdom.

Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar, the grandson of Dalit icon B R Ambedkar, was among the first politicians to offer his tribute at the Jay Stambh this morning.

After laying a wreath at the memorial, Ambedkar hoped the commemoration event will pass off peacefully.

"Unlike last year, local people of surrounding villages have extended all help during the commemoration. Locals are lending a helping hand. I hope peaceful completion. However, the police should not act in haste," he told reporters.

Ambedkar said the number of visitors is likely to swell this year.

"The reason behind the surge is because the likes of retired SC judge P B Sawant, retired HC judge B G Kolse Patil and some students (Kabir Kala Manch) took the history of the Koregaon Bhima battle to rural Maharashtra," he said.

Unfortunately, the same students who 'bridged the gap between the Marathas and the OBCs using the Elgaar Parishad platform were labelled as Naxals by the government', he said.

"These students took real history of Koregon Bhima to the masses, but the government labelled them Naxals," he said, adding the government should find real perpetrators of last year's violence and bring them to justice.

Police are probing the alleged Maoist links in the January 1 violence, which they suspect was triggered by provocative speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave in Pune on December 31, 2017.

In the wake of the clashes, police had booked Hindutva leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide on charges of inciting violence.  -- PTI
11:58   An 'accomplished talent': BigB remembers Kader Khan
Megastar Amitabh Bachchan on Tuesday paid homage to his frequent collaborator veteran actor-writer Kader Khan, who passed away on December 31 due to prolonged illness.

Bachchan, who has worked with Khan in blockbusters such as Do Aur Do Paanch, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Mr. Natwarlal, Suhaag, Coolie and Shahenshah, took to Twitter to remember the multifaceted personality.

'Kader Khan passes away. Sad depressing news. My prayers and condolences. A brilliant stage artist a most compassionate and accomplished talent on film.

'A writer of eminence; in most of my very successful films. A delightful company and a mathematician,' Bachchan wrote.

Khan was admitted to a hospital in Canada and his actor son Sarfaraz confirmed the news of his demise.

He had developed breathing issues and the doctors had reportedly transferred him from regular ventilator to BiPAP ventilator.

Actor Manoj Bajpayee also paid respects to the actor-writer.

'Rest in peace Kader Khan saheb,' Bajpayee tweeted.  -- PTI
11:46   Boy dies of bullet injuries during New Year's eve celebrations
An eight-year-old boy died of bullet injuries he suffered during New Year's eve celebrations in northeast Delhi's Usmanpur area, police said on Tuesday.

The incident took place at around 11 pm and police were informed about it by hospital authorities.

An investigation revealed that the boy sustained bullet wounds during New Year's eve celebrations organised near his residence, a senior police officer said.

Witnesses claimed they heard the sound of firecrackers going off and later found the boy lying unconscious, the officer said. The victim was declared brought dead at a nearby hospital, he said.

The officer said it appears that the boy sustained bullet injuries, though the exact cause of the death will be confirmed after post-mortem.

Several people have been questioned and examined in connection with the incident, the officer added. In another incident, a 12-year-old boy was shot at during New Year's eve celebrations in northeast Delhi's Welcome area, police said.

The boy is undergoing treatment at a nearby hospital and is out of danger, the officer said. Investigations revealed that the incident took place when a group of people including the victim's neighbours were celebrating new year on the terrace of their house.

An unidentified person opened fire at him, the officer said.  --  PTI
10:24   Veteran actor-writer Kader Khan dies at 81
The 81-year actor-dialogue writer has passed away after a long illness. 

The actor had been admitted to a hospital in Canada. He had developed breathing issues and the doctors had reportedly transferred him from regular ventilator to BiPAP ventilator.

Khan was reportedly, suffering from Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, a degenerative disease that causes loss of balance, difficulty in walking and dementia.

Megastar Amitabh Bachchan, who worked with Khan in films such as Do Aur Do Paanch, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Mr. Natwarlal, Suhaag, Coolie and Shahenshah, took to Twitter on Friday to pray for the veteran actors wellbeing and recovery.

Born in Kabul, Kader Khan made his acting debut in 1973 with Rajesh Khannas Daag and has featured in over 300 films.

He has also written dialogues for over 250 movies. Before becoming an actor, he had written dialogues for Randhir Kapoor-Jaya Bachchans Jawani Diwani.

As a screenwriter, Khan frequently collaborated with Manmohan Desai and Prakash Mehra. His films with Desai include Dharam Veer, Ganga Jamuna Saraswati, Coolie, Desh Premee, Suhaag, Parvarish and Amar Akbar Anthony and films with Mehra include Jwalamukhi, Sharaabi, Lawaaris and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar.
10:04   Year after caste violence, security tightened in Bhima Koregaon
A series of precautionary and security measures are in place in Maharashtra on the 201st anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon war on Tuesday.

Massive police deployment has been made in Bhima-Koregaon village and surroundings as lakhs of people from all over the state are expected to arrive at the village.

They will commemorate the anniversary of the historic Third Anglo-Maratha battle between the 834-strong British force comprising mostly of soldiers from the Dalit Mahar community and the 28,000-strong army of Peshwa Bajirao II, which was vanquished.

The British later erected a victory obelisk (memorial) and the Dalit castes regard it as their symbolic victory over the higher castes, which is celebrated annually on New Year Day, January 1 since the past 200 years.

Last year, however, the celebrations, attended by around 3,00,000 people had turned violent, killing one and effecting a Maharashtra shutdown on January 3, leading to a major churning in caste and ideological politics.

Later, police swooped in on human rights, rights and civil society activists all over India to check 'Urban Maoist' activities in the wake of a conference held in Pune on December 31, 2017, on the eve of the Bhima-Koregaon battles 200th anniversary.

In a series of pre-emptive measures, the Mumbai Police last week detained Bhim army president Chandrashekhar Azad, seven other leaders and around 350 activists from Malad, Ghatkopar, Kandivali, Dadar, Worli and other areas.

Azad has been kept under detention in the suburban Hotel Manali since Friday, and has been barred from addressing any public meetings in the state.

The state government also barred Right-wing leaders like Sambhaji Bhide alias Guruji and Milind Ekbote, besides activists of the Left-leaning NGO, Kabir Kala Manch, which had organised the December 31, 2017 Elgaar Parishad in Pune, from Bhima-Koregaon from Sunday till Wednesday.
09:22   Sumitra Mahajan urges MPs to resolve to not enter Well of the House in 2019
Business Standard tells us: On Monday, the last day of 2018, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan urged all members of the House to resolve to not enter the Well of the House and work in accordance with the rules in 2019. 

Amid sloganeering by Congress and AIADMK members, Mahajan requested MPs of both parties to go to their respective seats for her sake, following which the MPs from both parties sat down. 

"Today is the last day of the should be the last day when you enter the Well of the House," Mahajan said. She also indicated that there was a rule which prohibited members from entering the Well of the House and they should comply with it. 

While Mahajan was making these remarks, members listened to her patiently. 

Later, Mahajan announced that January 1 will be a holiday and the House would assemble on Wednesday. The Rajya Sabha also decided that the New Year's Day will be a holiday.
09:04   Congress accepts Jaitley's dare on Rafale debate, asks govt to fix time
Congress on Monday said in Lok Sabha that it is ready for a debate on the Rafale jet deal on Wednesday.

Jaitley ji has thrown a challenge ... we are ready for a debate on January 2. Please decide a time, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said.

He made these remarks soon after the House gave its nod to additional gross expenditure of Rs 85,948.86 crore during the current fiscal ending March 2019.

At 2.00 pm, when the House was to take up discussion on Supplementary Demands for Grants, Kharge repeated his demand for a joint parliamentary committee to probe the Rafale deal.

At this, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Kharge should begin the discussion on the issue immediately and asserted that the government was ready to give a reply.

Kharge, he said, was running away from discussion.

Stressing that there should a discussion on Rafale deal, Jaitley said he would prove that the Congress party was spreading lies over the deal.

When the House was about to be adjourned for the day, Kharge reminded Speaker Sumitra Mahajan of the debate and sought a time for it.

Mahajan said she will decide on the timing but Kharge cant extract a decision on the date and time immediately.

You keep your challenges to yourself. Dont challenge me, an apparently peeved Mahajan said.
08:38   9 hurt as car rams into famed Tokyo street on New Year's Eve
Nine people were hurt, one seriously, when a man deliberately ploughed his car into crowds celebrating New Year's Eve along a famous Tokyo street, police and media said Tuesday.

With an "intent to murder", 21-year-old Kazuhiro Kusakabe drove a small vehicle into Takeshita Street in Tokyo's fashion district of Harajuku at 10 minutes past midnight, a police spokesman said.

According to national broadcaster NHK, Kusakabe told police he was acting in "retribution for the death penalty" without giving more precise details.

One college student suffered serious injuries during the attack and was undergoing surgery, the police spokesman added.

Kusakabe was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, police said.

According to local media, Kusakabe hit a total of nine people on the street, which was closed to car traffic at the time as revellers packed the area to celebrate New Year.

Takeshita Street is packed with small shops and is considered the centre of youth culture and fashion in Japan, attracting tens of thousands of international tourists every day. 
08:09   3 wounded in Manchester knife attack
A man, a woman and a police officer were being treated for knife injuries, police said on Monday, after a stabbing at a railway station in the British city of Manchester.
Witness Sam Clack, 38, a BBC radio producer, said he heard the suspect shouting "Allah" before and during the attack.
He quoted the suspect as saying: "As long as you keep bombing other countries this sort of shit is going to keep happening." The attack took place at Manchester Victoria station in the northwest English city on New Year's Eve.
The suspect has been arrested.

British Transport Police said in a statement that two members of the public and one of its officers was being treated for their injuries. "Officers are attending Manchester Victoria station following reports of a man wielding a knife," the statement said, adding that the call was received at 8:52 pm (2052 GMT).
"A man has been detained and two members of the public, a man and a woman have been taken to hospital with knife injuries.
"A BTP officer is also receiving treatment for a stab wound to the shoulder." Transport police said officers remained at the scene along with colleagues from the Greater Manchester police force and the ambulance service.
Clack said: "I just heard this most blood curdling scream and looked down the platform.
"He came towards me. I looked down and saw he had a kitchen knife with a black handle with a good 12 inch blade.
00:03   Elizabeth Warren takes first step to seek presidency in 2020
Senator Elizabeth Warren on Monday announced to form a presidential exploratory committee, making her the first high-profile Democratic leader to officially announce her intention to enter the 2020 elections.

Warren, 69, who was re-elected from Massachusetts in the November mid-term elections, is a bitter critic of President Donald Trump.

She is the first among more than a dozen Democratic presidential aspirants to challenge Trump in the 2020 elections.

But before that, she has to fight out her party colleagues in the Democratic primary elections scheduled to kick off in early 2020.

Indian American Senator from California Kamala Harris and Hindu Congresswoman from Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard are among those Democratic leaders who are seen as a potential challenger to Trump.

A former Harvard Professor, Warren made the announcement about her presidential aspirations in a New Year video message to her supporters on Monday.

"America's middle class is under attack. How did we get here? Billionaires and big corporations decided they wanted more of the pie. And they enlisted politicians to cut them a bigger slice," she said in her video message setting the tone of her presidential campaign.

Considered as a left leaning candidate, Warren in her message talked about issues like economic equality, government accountability and reining in big corporations.

"I've spent my career getting to the bottom of why America's promise works for some families, but others who work just as hard slip through the cracks into disaster. What I've found is terrifying. These aren't cracks that families are falling into, they're traps," she said.

"If we organise together, if we fight together, if we persist together we can win. We can and we will," Warren said at the end of her video lasting about four and half minutes.

Among other Democratic leaders likely to be in the 2020 race are Congressman Beto O'Rourke , former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Senators Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Sherrod Brown and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Former US Vice President Joe Biden and 2016 candidate Senator Bernie Sanders are also said to be thinking about entering the 2020 race.

"I never thought I'd run for office, not in a million years. But when Republican senators tried to sabotage [financial sector] reforms and run me out of town, I went back to Massachusetts and ran against one of them, and I beat him," Warren said.

Forming an exploratory committee is the first step towards entering the presidential race.

Warren has not yet formally announced her decision to run for presidential elections in 2020.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Senator Elizabeth Warren. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Reuters