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LIVE! Imran leaves for US for first meeting with Trump

July 20, 2019


21:26  Imran leaves for US for first meeting with Trump:  Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday left for his maiden trip to the US to have face-to-face talks with President Donald Trump and reboot bilateral relations that were hit after he publicly criticised Islamabad, cancelled military aid and asked it to do more to fight terrorism.

Khan's visit comes at a time when talks between the US and Afghan Taliban are thought to have entered a decisive phase.

Relations between Pakistan and the US have remained tense during Trump's tenure.

Khan, who is undertaking the three-day trip to the US on the invitation of Trump, will be accompanied by army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed.

He would visit the White House on Monday for detailed talks with Trump and would also meet House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before returning on July 23.

Diplomatic sources said that issues like the Afghan peace process, Pakistan government's action against terrorism and terror financing and restoration of military aid to Pakistan would be the highlights of the trip.

Khan is expected to brief President Trump about the steps he has taken to normalise relations with India, especially after the Pulwama terror attack in Kashmir and the Indo-Pak military standoff following the Balakot air strikes, they said.

Khan would stay at the residence of Pakistan's ambassador to reduce costs to the cash-strapped country's exchequer.

He would meet Pakistan diaspora, heads of IMF and World Bank, investors, media people, editors and also give a talk at the US Institute of Peace.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Muhammad Faisal earlier this month said that the 'agenda of the meeting is being developed through diplomatic channels' but the focus will be to 'refreshing bilateral relations'.

Efforts for arranging the Imran-Trump meeting have been going on for months. However, The Express Tribune reported that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman played a key role in arranging the meeting.  -- PTI
20:43  Sheila was an able administrator: Advani:  
Advani remembers Dikshit as able administrator, who made immense contribution to Delhi New Delhi, Jul 20 (PTI)

Veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader L K Advani remembered former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, who died on Saturday at 81 years of age, as an able administrator who made 'immense contribution' to the development of Delhi.

Expressing his 'deep sadness' at her demise, he noted in a statement that he was the Union home minister when she became the chief minister and they shared a very warm and cordial working relationship.

"An able administrator, she made immense contribution to the development of Delhi. Apart from many other achievements in her long career in public life, Sheila-ji will be remembered as a fine human being," Advani said, offering his heartfelt condolences to her family members.

Dikshit was first sworn in as Delhi chief minister in 1998 when the BJP-led government was in power at the Centre with Atal Bihari Vajpayee being the prime minister.

She ruled the city for 15 years and is credited with carrying out major development works in the national capital.  -- PTI
20:21  Former President Pranab Mukherjee pays tribute to former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.  -- ANI
20:14  Pak's anti-graft body launches fresh probe against Sharif, daughter:  
Pakistan's anti-corruption body has initiated another investigation against jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam for their alleged involvement in money laundering and having income beyond means, media reports said on Saturday.

The development came a day after an anti-corruption court dismissed a plea filed against the 45-year-old vice president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz for submitting a fake document in the high-profile Avenfield Apartments case.

Sharif, 69, is serving a seven-year prison term at the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore since December 24, 2018 in the Al-Azizia case.

The NAB launched the investigation against Maryam, her father Nawaz, uncle Shahbaz Sharif, cousins Hamza Shahbaz and Yousuf Abbas and others for owning the Chaudhry Sugar Mills Limited, Dawn news reported.

The NAB has reportedly traced numerous telegraphic transfers worth millions of rupees by the Sharif family and the end beneficiaries included Maryam and other owners of the Chaudhry Sugar Mills, the report said.

"The bureau may send a questionnaire to Ms Nawaz instead of summoning her," a source told Dawn.

The money laundering evidence against the owners of the Chaudhry Sugar Mills surfaced during a probe against Shahbaz and his sons Hamza and Salman in income beyond means and money laundering case, the report said. Shahbaz has vowed to fight 'fascist tactics' of the Imran Khan government against the opposition.

"We are going to observe July 25 a black day across the country," PML-N Punjab Information Secretary Azma Bokhari said.

Maryam was sentenced to seven years in jail in July 2018 in connection with the case that pertains to the ownership of the Sharif family's posh apartments at Avenfield House, London.

The sentence was, however, suspended by the Islamabad high court.

The case was one of the three filed by NAB last year in light of the Supreme Court's verdict against Sharif in the Panama Papers case.  -- PTI
19:28  PM, Speaker pay last respects to Sheila:  
Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays tribute to former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit who passed away today, due to a cardiac arrest.

Earlier, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla also visited the former CM's residence to pay his last respects.

Others who paid tribute were Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia and Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Union minister Vijay Goel.   -- ANI
19:21  ISRO wishes luck to Akshay Kumar and team for 'Mission Mangal':  
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has extended best wishes to Bollywood star Akshay Kumar and his Mission Mangal team after the first trailer of the movie was released recently.

The movie also features Vidya Balan, Taapsee Pannu, Sonakshi Sinha, Nithya Menon, Kirti Kulhari and Sharman Joshi.

The official Twitter handle of the premiere space agency, which is gearing up for  India's second mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan-2, on Friday praised the film for its portrayal of ISRO team.       

'#MissionMangalTrailer beautifully shows the glimpses of emotions and passion with which #TeamISRO works,' read the tweet.

"As #ISRO prepares for landmark launch of #Chandrayaan2, #TeamISRO wishes @akshaykumar all the best for #MissionMangal and all his future endeavour," it said in another tweet.   -- PTI
18:45  Actor Ajaz Khan sent to 14-day judicial custody:  
A court in Mumbai sent actor Ajaz Khan to judicial custody for 14 days on Saturday for allegedly uploading videos promoting communal hatred on a social media platform.

Khan was arrested by the cyber wing of the Mumbai police on July 17 and booked under Indian Penal Code section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion).

The actor had posted two videos on a social networking website on July 9. The first one was regarding an alleged lynching incident in Jharkhand, in which Khan had allegedly asked the members of a particular community to unite and take revenge.

In the second video, the actor was seen mocking the police machinery for lodging an FIR against five youngsters for allegedly making an inflammatory video.

On Friday, Khan was produced before a magistrate's court, which sent him to police custody till Saturday.

On Saturday, Khan was produced before the magistrate, who sent him to judicial custody for 14 days.

The actor's lawyer said they would file a bail plea before the magistrate now.  -- PTI
18:35  Man lynched for allegedly stealing peacocks in MP; 9 held:  
A 58-year old man has been allegedly beaten to death by a mob on suspicion of stealing peacocks in Madhya Pradesh's Neemuch district, police said on Saturday, adding that nine persons have been arrested.

The incident occurred on Friday night in Lasudi Antari village under Kukdeshwar police station limits, about 40 km from the district headquarters, Superintendent of Police Rakesh Kumar Sagar said.

Narrating the sequence of events, the SP said some villagers noticed four persons fleeing after allegedly stealing peacocks and chased them.

"While three of them managed to escape, the mob caught hold of Hiralal Banchhda, a Dalit, and thrashed him," he said.

Banchhda was rushed to hospital by police where he died during treatment, the SP said, adding that four dead peacocks were found with the deceased.

A case under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act has been registered against ten villagers, and nine of them have been arrested.

The deceased and three others were booked under the Wildlife Protection Act, he added.  -- PTI
18:00  Sheila's demise: 2-day state mourning in Delhi:  Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia says that the Delhi government has decided to declare two-day state mourning over the demise of former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.  -- ANI
17:31  Sheila's mortal remains taken to her residence:  
Mortal remains of Former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit brought to her residence in Nizamuddin.

Ahmed Patel, Congress, on her last rites: "It will be decided tomorrow morning when to take it to Congress headquarters, then it will be taken to Nigam Bodh Ghat."  -- ANI
16:49  
Bharatiya Janata Party MP and Delhi party president, Manoj Tiwari on Sheila Dikshit's demise:

"I had met her recently, it is a big shock. I remember how she welcomed me like a mother. Delhi will miss her. May God give her family and her closed ones the strength to bear this loss."
16:38  PM, Rahul, Kejriwal condole Sheila's demise:  
Leaders react to passing away of former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweets, 'Deeply saddened by the demise of Sheila Dikshit Ji. Blessed with a warm and affable personality, she made a noteworthy contribution to Delhi's development. Condolences to her family and supporters. Om Shanti.'


Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal tweets, 'Just now got to know about extremely terrible news about the passing away of Sheila Dikshit ji. It's a huge loss for Delhi & her contribution will always be remembered. My heartfelt condolences to her family members. May her soul rest in peace'.

'I'm devastated to hear about the passing away of Shiela Dikshit Ji, a beloved daughter of the Congress Party, with whom I shared a close personal bond. My condolences to her family & the citizens of Delhi, whom she served selflessly as a 3 term CM, in this time of great grief,' says Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.


Congress party tweets, 'We regret to hear of the passing of Sheila Dikshit. Lifelong congresswoman and as three time CM of Delhi she transformed the face of Delhi. Our condolences to her family and friends. Hope they find strength in this time of grief.'
16:09  Former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit passes away:  
JUST IN: Former Delhi Chief Minister and Congress leader Sheila Dikshit, passes away in Delhi at the age of 81 years.

More details awaited.
16:08  Respect you more for standing up against atrocities: Robert Vadra to Priyanka:  
Robert Vadra on Saturday lauded his wife and Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra for meeting family members of the Sonbhadra clash victims, saying he respects her even more for standing up against atrocities on the villagers.

Family members of the Sonbhadra clash victims Saturday met Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi at the Chunar guesthouse in Mirzapur district, where she spent a night in detention.

12 members of the affected families met the Congress general secretary at the guesthouse, senior party leader Ajay Rai said.

'I have always respected your qualities of compassion,empathy & sincerity. Today, Priyanka,I respect you more for standing up against atrocities on villagers,' Robert Vadra tweeted.

'You were there to console them, when government refused to listen to wails of the families.Priyanka, do what is right for the nation,' he said.   -- PTI
15:44  D Raja to replace Sudhakar Reddy as CPI general secretary:  
Rajya Sabha MP D Raja will take over as the general secretary of the Communist Parry of India after incumbent S Sudhakar Reddy resigned on health grounds, party sources said on Saturday.

The change in leadership comes after the party's worst-ever performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The decision was taken in a meeting of the CPI National Council -- the party's top decision-making body -- which began on Friday.

Raja's name was proposed unanimously by the CPI national secretariat, which met on Thursday and Friday ahead of the National Council meeting, sources said.

The proposal has to be discussed and ratified at the National Council meeting. The party sources said it was merely a formality.

Seventy-year-old Raja is a member of the Rajya Sabha from Tamil Nadu. Reddy had taken over as the CPI general secretary in 2012 and is currently serving his third term.

He is bowing out two years ahead of completion of his current three-year term.  -- PTI
15:26  Standoff between Priyanka, UP govt over: Cong:  
JUST IN: Standoff between Priyanka Gandhi and Uttar Pradesh government has ended, the Congress party said on Saturday.

Priyanka is leaving Chunar guesthouse, where she was staying since yesterday, and heading to Varanasi, Congress leader Ajay Rai said.

Priyanka, the Congress general secretary for Uttar Pradesh (East), will be visiting Kashi Vishwanath temple and Kaal Bhairav temple in Varanasi to offer prayers later today.

Earlier, expressing anger over members of the aggrieved families from Sonbhadra being stopped from meeting her, Priyanka said they have come here in 'great grief' and should at least be allowed a meeting.

The Congress general secretary's remark came after 15 family members of Sonbhadra clash victims were stopped from entering the Chunar guesthouse where she spent a night in detention.   -- PTI/ANI

IMAGE: Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra consoles a family member of Sonbhadra massacre victim, who had travelled to Chunar Fort to meet her after the former was stopped from proceeding to Sonbhadra, in Mirzapur, on Saturday, Photograph: PTI Photo
15:03  Pak holds first-ever provincial polls in northwest tribal areas:  
The first-ever provincial elections began on Sunday in Pakistan's erstwhile semi-autonomous tribal region bordering Afghanistan that was once a stronghold of various terror groups like the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) comprising seven districts was merged with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province in May 2018 after a constitutional amendment.

The law set aside 24 seats in the KP assembly for the former FATA region. However, due to administrative reasons elections on those seats were not held with the general polls held in July in the country last year.

According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), polling began at 8 am local time in all the seven tribal districts amid heightened security.

As many as 34,497 security personnel have been deployed in the polling booths.

As many as 285 candidates, including two women, are contesting for 16 seats.

Another four seats are reserved for women and one for non-Muslim. These seats will be awarded to the political parties on the basis of their share in the 16 contested seats.

The ECP said 2.80 million voters -- 1.67 millions of whom are men and 1.13 million women -- will exercise their franchise in 1,897 polling stations.

The parties which fielded their candidates in the election include Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Awami National Party (ANP), Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Qaumi Watan Party (QWP).  -- PTI
14:16  New Guvs for WB, NE states; Anandiben shifted:  
The government on Saturday transferred two governors and made fresh appointments in some states.

Former interlocutor on Naga talks R N Ravi has been appointed as Nagaland governor, according to a Rashtrapati Bhavan communique.

Noted lawyer and former Janata Dal MP Jagdeep Dhankhar was appointed as the West Bengal governor.

Madhya Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel has been shifted to Uttar Pradesh and her place will be filled by Bihar Governor Lalji Tandon, the communique said.

Phagu Chauhan will fill replace Tandon as Bihar governor.

Ramesh Bais has been appointed as the governor of Tripura, it said. -- PTI
14:03  Sonbhadra clash: Relative of main accused arrested:  
A relative of the main accused in the Sonbhadra clash was arrested from Varanasi, a senior police official said on Saturday.

10 people were gunned down and 28 injured in the clash between supporters of Ubbah village headman Yagya Dutt and Gond tribals over a piece of land in Sonbhadra district's Ghorawal area on Wednesday.

Komal, a station superintendent in Bhadohi and a relative of Dutt was arrested on Friday evening from Varanasi, Superintendent of Police (SP) Salman Taj Patil said on Saturday.

On Friday, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said 29 people, including Dutt, have been arrested and a sub-divisional magistrate and four policemen suspended.

"Komal a relative of Yagya Dutt, the main accused of the July 17 incident, has been arrested. Komal was arrested from Varanasi. He is the station superintendent of Bhadohi railway station," the SP said.

Patil said that according to the members of the affected families, "Komal was present at the spot of the incident and also fired (on the tribals)".  -- PTI
14:00  Tremors felt in Palghar district:  
Tremors with a magnitude of 3.5 on the Richter Scale were experienced in Palghar district of Maharashtra on Saturday morning, officials said.

No casualties or damage to property were reported, chief of the District Disaster Control Room Vivekananda Kadam said.

"The tremors were felt around 9.17 am. There were no reports of any mishap due to the tremors. However, people ran out of the houses out of fear," he said.

The last time tremors were felt in Palghar district was on July 10. The magnitude of those tremors was 2.6 on the Richter Scale, Kadam said.

Parts of Palghar district, especially Dahanu area, has been experiencing such tremors since November last year, with most of them centred around Dudhalwadi village.

Between April and May this year also, tremors were felt at least half a dozen times in the district, officials said.   -- PTI
13:01  Dhoni makes himself unavailable for Windies tour:  
Former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Saturday made himself 'unavailable' for the Indian team's tour of West Indies as speculations raged about his future.

An Honorary Lieutenant Colonel in the Parachute Regiment of the Territorial Army, it is learnt that Dhoni will be spending better part of the next two months with his regiment.

A top BCCI official confirmed the development.

"Dhoni has made himself unavailable for the tour of West Indies as he will be spending two months with his paramilitary regiment," the official told PTI.

Dhoni, 38, has intimated his decision to the BCCI prior to the selection committee meeting on Sunday.

With Dhoni pulling out of the tour, Rishabh Pant is expected to be first wicketkeeper in all three formats while Wriddhiman Saha will be Pant's understudy in the Tests.  -- PTI
12:47  Congress leaders on way to meet Sonbhadra victims' kin detained:  
Congress leaders Deepender Singh Hooda, Mukul Wasnik, Raj Babbar, Ratanjit Pratap Narain Singh, Jitin Prasada and Rajeev Shukla have been stopped at Varanasi airport by police.

They were on their way to Sonbhadra to meet the victims of firing case. -- ANI
12:44  Pak troops violate ceasefire in J-K's Poonch:  
Pakistani troops on Saturday violated ceasefire by resorting to unprovoked mortar and small arms firing along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, a defence spokesman said.

He said Indian army is retaliating befittingly to silence the Pakistani guns and there was no immediate report of any casualty.

"At about 0900 hours, Pakistan initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation with firing of small arms and shelling with mortars along the LoC in Mendhar sector," the spokesman said.

The cross-border shelling was going on when last reports were received, a police official said adding the firing triggered panic among the border residents who have been directed to stay at safer places to avoid any casualty.

The firing from across the border took place on the day when Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is scheduled to visit the state to lay a wreath at the Kargil War Memorial in Dras to commemorate 20 years of the Indian Army's Operation Vijay.

On Saturday, Singh will also dedicate to the nation two bridges built by the Border Roads Organisation at Ujh in Kathua district and Basantar in Samba district.

The Ujh bridge is one kilometre-long and the Basantar bridge is 617.4 metres, officials said.

Operation Vijay refers to the Indian Army's limited war against Pakistan's infiltration in 1999 fought at the icy heights of Kargil, including super-high altitude locations such as Tololing and Tiger Hill.  -- PTI
11:47  Sonbhadra victims' kin come to meet Priyanka:  
JUST IN: Family members of the victims of Sonbhadra's firing case come to meet Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra at Chunar Guest House.

"Two relatives of victims have come here to meet me, 15 others are not being allowed to meet me. Even I am not being allowed to meet them," Priyanka said.  -- ANI
11:37  Now, TMC leaders stopped en route to Sonbhadra:  
A Trinamool Congress delegation was detained at the airport here on Saturday when it was going to meet families of victims of the Sonbhadra clash in which 10 people were gunned down this week over a land dispute, party MP Derek O'Brien said.
 
The TMC team comprises O'Brien, MP and leader of the delegation Sunil Mondal and MP Abir Ranjan Biswas.
The detention of the team comes a day after Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was detained and stopped in Mirzapaur district from going to Sonbhadra to meet those injured in the incident and the victims' families.
"Trinamool Parliamentary delegation detained at Varanasi airport. ADM,SP have not told us under which section.(Doing as told from topmost).We have told them that we will cooperate,wish to meet injured & then proceed to Sonbhadra to meet & give confidence to grieving families (sic)," O'Brien tweeted.
"We were stopped by police at the Varanasi airport while we were going to Sonbhadra to meet the victims.There is no violation of Section144 as we are less in number," he said.
The delegation arrived in Varanasi to meet the injured at the hospital here and then proceed to Sonbhadra to meet and give confidence to the grieving families, O'Brien said.
The TMC delegation was scheduled to return by an evening flight after their visit to Sonbhadra.
The party had announced Friday that a team of its MPs will visit on Saturday the families of the Sonbhadra clash victims in Uttar Pradesh.
The decision assumes significance due to the intensified political bickering and violence between the TMC and the BJP since the Lok Sabha elections in which the saffron party made significant inroads in West Bengal. 
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee had attacked each other during the election campaign in the eastern state. -- PTI
11:25  Punjab CM accepts Sidhu's resignation:  
Punjab chief minister Capt. Amarinder Singh has accepted Navjot Sidhu's resignation as state minister.

The Punjab CM has forwarded his resignation to the Governor. 

On July 14, Sidhu tweeted his resignation that he had sent to Rahul Gandhi on June 10. 

Reacting to his tweet, Amarinder Singh had said Sindhu's resignation had not reached him.
10:54  Jungle raj prevailing in UP: Congress:  
The Congress Saturday alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Uttar Pradesh wants to "deport" party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra so that she cannot meet the victims of the Sonbhadra clash.
 
The party also alleged that "jungle raj" was prevalent in the state and the government had failed to take action against the guilty.
Priyanka Gandhi was on Friday detained and stopped from going to Sonbhadra where 10 people were gunned down this week, triggering a standoff with the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh.
Refusing to furnish a personal bond, the Congress general secretary stayed put at a guesthouse in Mirzapur district where she was taken after she squatted on the road with her supporters, insisting that she be allowed to proceed and meet the victims' families.
"BJP government fails to prevent Sonbhadra Massacre. BJP government fails to act against guilty.BJP government illegally arrests Priyanka ji for wanting to meet families," Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in a tweet.
On Friday, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath Friday suspended a sub divisional magistrate and four policemen. Twenty-nine people have been arrested so far in the Sonbhadra case.
"BJP government cuts electricity/water of Chunar guest house where she is held. BJP government now wants to deport her from UP. Jungle Raj!" he said.
The Congress on Friday also targeted the Uttar Pradesh government over the detention of Priyanka Gandhi, with former party chief Rahul Gandhi terming it as "illegal arrest".    
Upping the ante against the BJP dispensation, the Congress had alleged that human rights violations were taking place in the state and asked if the Yogi Adityanath government be allowed to stay in power on ethical grounds.
It also questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's silence on the issue.
The party has planned countrywide protests against the turn of events, with party general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal writing to all state units and senior leaders to organise such protests in each district and state headquarters. -- PTI
10:41  Ansarullah terror module: NIA conducts searches across TN:  
The National Investigation Agency is conducting searches at various locations in Tamil Nadu as part of its probe into the 'Ansarullah' terror module case, police said Saturday.
 
The raids are being carried out in Chennai, Madurai, Tirunelveli and Ramanathapuram district, they said without divulging further details.
The searches come a day after a special NIA court had granted the probe agency eight-day custody of 16 people arrested for allegedly attempting to set up the terror outfit, "Ansarullah."
The NIA had said the agency needed to take the accused to various places to verify the evidence collected against them during the investigation.
The accused supported the ISIS and Al-Qaeda terror outfits, according to the prosecution in the NIA court.
While 14 accused were arrested after they were deported to India last week by Saudi Arabia for allegedly attempting to set up terror outfit 'Ansarullah' in Tamil Nadu, two had been picked up from the state last Saturday. -- PTI
09:45  Priyanka Gandhi spends night in UP's Mirzapur:  
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was stopped on Friday when she was on her way to meet the families affected by the Sonbhadra shootout, spent the night at a guest house in Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh where senior government officials met her late night. 

However, talks between Ms Gandhi and the government officials failed after the Congress leader told them she "won't leave without meeting" the affected families.

In a series of late-night tweets, the 47-year-leader said Braj Bhushan, Varanasi Additional Director General of Police, along with other senior government officials, came to meet her at around 12 am at Chunar Fort, where she was taken after she was stopped earlier on Friday.

"UP Government sent Varanasi ADG Brish Bhushan, Varanasi Commissioner Deepak Agrawal , DIG Mirzapur to tell me that I should leave without meeting the affected families. They are sitting here since the last one hour. They have not explained why they have taken me in custody, they have also not handed me any papers," Gandhi, who is the Congress in-charge of eastern UP, wrote in one of the tweets in Hindi.

"According to my lawyers, my arrest is illegal in all ways. They have passed on the government's message to me that I can't meet the affected families," Gandhi wrote.

"I told them clearly that I did not come here to break any laws but came only to meet the affected families. I have told them I won't go without meeting the affected families," she said in another tweet.

Gandhi also tweeted a video of the senior police officers and top government officials leaving the fort at around 1:15 am after meeting her.

Priyanka was on Friday detained and stopped from going to Sonbhadra where 10 people were gunned down this week, triggering a standoff with the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Uttar Pradesh.
09:42  Car rams into truck on Pune-Solapur highway, 9 students killed:  
Nine students were killed after their car rammed into a truck on the Pune-Solapur Highway in Pune in the early hours of Saturday, police said. 
 
The accident took place around 1.30 am near Kadamwak Wasti.
"Those killed in the accident were returning from Raigarh and heading to their hometown Yavat, towards Solapur. Their car rammed into an approaching truck," an officer at the Loni Kalbhor police station said. 
He added that all the nine occupants of the car, who were in the age group of 19-23 years, were killed in the accident. 
"Their bodies have been sent for postmortem and the matter is being investigated," the officer said. -- PTI 
08:46  10 killed, 19 injured in China gas plant explosion:  
At least 10 people were killed and 19 others injured in an explosion at a gas plant workshop in China's Yima city on Friday, local media reported.
 
So far 10 people are confirmed dead and 19 others seriously injured, official media broadcast on Saturday.
Five more people remain unaccounted for, state-run CCTV reported.
The incident happened around 6 pm on Friday and the injured were sent to the hospital, according to local officials. 
The explosion did not involve tanks of dangerous materials, the local government said.
"The sound was extremely loud with a ball of fire and clouds of smoke in the air," a local resident, who was 500 meters away from the gas plant when the explosion occurred, was quoted as saying by the Beijing News.
"Customers who bought goods outside were hurt by broken glass," he said.
The factory was named as the first provincial-level enterprise to put in place a double prevention system for safety production risks in Henan this month.
The Yima gas plant of Henan Gas Co Ltd was established in 1997, covering an area of 87 hectares, with more than 1,200 employees. -- PTI
08:45  Rajnath Singh to visit Kargil :  Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will visit Kargil today, on the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas
08:17  Don't want window dressing: US on Hafiz's arrest:  
The Trump Administration Friday expressed doubts over Pakistan's intentions in arresting terrorist Hafiz Muhammed Saeed, the mastermind of the 2001 Indian Parliament attack and the 2008 Mumbai attack, saying his previous arrests made no difference either to his activities or that of his outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba.
"We've seen this happen in the past. And we have been looking for sustained and concrete steps, not just window dressing," a senior administration official told reporters Friday, ahead of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit to the US next week.  
Saeed, a UN-designated terrorist was arrested on Wednesday -- the seventh times since December 2001 -- when he was nabbed in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament.
"Let me reassure you, we are clear eyed about the history here. We're under no illusions about the support that we could see from Pakistan's military intelligence services to these groups. So we will look for concrete action," the official said when asked about the actions that Pakistan has taken against terrorist group and if the US believes in them.
"I noticed that Pakistan has taken some initial steps such as pledging to seize assets of some of these terrorist groups. And, of course, they put under arrest yesterday Hafiz Muhammed Saeed, the leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba which is responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks," said the official requesting anonymity.
But the official quickly noted that this was the seventh time that Saeed was arrested since 2001 attack on India's Parliament when he was detained right after that attack and was subsequently released.
"That is why we are very clear eyed and realistic when you see him arrested" as he has been arrested and released in the past. "So we would look to see that Pakistan take sustained action in actually prosecuting these people," the official said.
"Quite frankly, the previous arrest of Hafiz Muhammed Saeed hasn't made a difference and the LeT has been has been able to operate. So we're monitoring the situation," said the senior administration official as reporters asked questions on the links between Pakistani intelligence services and terrorist groups.
The US "remains concerned" about terrorist groups that continue to operate in Pakistan, such as Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Haqqani network. "We do have concerns about link between these groups and Pakistan intelligence services in military. That's no secret," the official said. -- PTI
00:06  Airspace closure costs Pakistan over $50 million:  
Pakistan suffered a whopping $50 million (Rs 344 crore) loss after it closed its airspace with India for nearly five months following the Balakot air strikes in February, according to the country's aviation minister, who underlined that Islamabad's action hit New Delhi "harder." 
  
Pakistan fully closed its airspace on February 26 after the Indian Air Force struck a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Balakot in retaliation for the Pulwama attack carried out by a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror outfit. 

While India removed some airspace restrictions later, Pakistan kept the ban in place along its eastern border with India for nearly five months, leading to increased flght time for passengers and huge fuel costs to airlines. 

Pakistan opened its airspace for all civilian traffic on Tuesday early morning, removing the ban on Indian flights that were not allowed to use majority of its airspace since the Balakot air strikes.

The airspace closure disrupted Indian flights headed west. It also forced Pakistan International Airlines to suspend some of its flights, and effectively closed off major international routes in and out of Islamabad and Lahore. 

"But this restriction hit India harder than Pakistan. The loss of India is almost double. But at this juncture detente and harmony are required from both sides," Khan said.

-- PTI

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