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LIVE! 'Better to transform WB into Guj than B'desh'

June 12, 2019


23:47  'Better to transform WB into Guj than B'desh':  
In a strong retort to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh on Wednesday said if voted to power, the saffron party would work towards making the state the "second Gujarat" as it would create employment for its jobless youth.
 
Ghosh also said it was better to transform Bengal into Gujarat rather than converting it into Bangladesh and a safe haven for Jihadis.
The recent general election in Bengal saw a heated war of words between the Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The acrimony resulted in clashes after the poll, leading to the loss of several lives in various parts of the state.
In the fiercely-fought election in Bengal, the saffron party won 18 Lok Sabha seats, only four less than the TMC's 22.
"It is our challenge that if voted to power, we will work towards creating a prosperous state like Gujarat. It is better to convert Bengal into Gujarat rather than a safe haven for Jihadis or Bangladesh. We will never allow Bengal to get transformed into Bangladesh," Ghosh said.
Banerjee on Tuesday said the BJP was "planning to turn Bengal into Gujarat", adding, "I am ready to go to jail, but will not allow it."
"Bengal is not a sweetmeat. Bengal is also not a toy and you cannot play around with it. In Bengal, we respect Gandhiji more than in Gujarat," she had said.
Clashes broke out between BJP workers and the police here on Wednesday during a rally to protest against the post-poll violence in West Bengal, with the saffron party claiming that several of its workers were injured. -- PTI
23:08  Reach office on time: PM to council of ministers:  
Reach office on time and avoid working from home to set an example for others -- these were some of the instructions Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave to the council of ministers on Wednesday.
In the first meeting of the council of ministers after the Modi-led dispensation assumed charge last month, the prime minister also asked senior ministers to hand-hold the new incumbents, sources said after the meeting.
Seeking to give more role to ministers of state, he said important files should be shared with them by the cabinet ministers. This, he said, would enhance productivity.
For ensuring faster approval on files, Modi said both the cabinet minister and his junior colleague can sit together to clear proposals, the sources said.
Emphasising on punctuality, Modi said all the ministers should reach office on time and spend a few minutes discussing latest developments in the ministry with the officials.
He further said ministers should come to office on a regular basis and avoid working from home.
At the same time they should keep meeting party MPs and general public on a regular basis and can start by meeting parliamentarians from their respective states, while suggesting that there is not much difference between a minister and an MP.
Modi also talked about the five-year agenda which every ministry has to formulate and an impactful decision needs to be taken in the first 100 days of the government.
During the meeting, Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar made a presentation on optimal utilisation of the Parliament session beginning Monday.
Tomar was the parliamentary affairs minister in the previous government.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made a presentation on inviting inputs for the Union Budget which will be presented on July 5.
Railway minister Piyush Goyal made a presentation on five year vision document for each Union ministry, the sources said.
The meeting of council of ministers was a regular feature in the previous tenure of the Modi government. He used to brief them about the government's various welfare schemes and how to make people aware about them. -- PTI
22:47  UP Bar Council president shot dead by colleague:  
Uttar Pradesh Bar Council president Darvesh Singh was allegedly shot dead Wednesday in the court premises here by a lawyer who then tried to kill himself, police said.
   
Singh, who was elected to the post two days ago, had come for a visit to the Civil Court when she was attacked around 2.30 pm.
 
Agra City's Additional Superintendent of Police Praveen Verma said she was shot by lawyer Manish Sharma, who had been her long-time acquaintance.
 
"After spraying three bullets on her, Sharma also shot himself," the official told PTI.
 
"Sharma is currently undergoing treatment at a hospital and is in a critical condition," he said.
 
He said the pistol used by the lawyer is a licensed weapon and the police have taken possession of it.
 
Singh had come on her first visit to the Civil Court after her election, he said quoting eyewitnesses.
 
At the ceremony in her honour, Sharma suddenly got up and opened fire on her, police said. Before anyone could react, he shot himself too.
 
Singh's body has been sent for a post mortem. -- PTI
21:59  Vayu: Airports, railways cancel services:  
The Airports Authority of India on Wednesday announced that flight operations will remain suspended at five airports in Gujarat for 24 hours from midnight Wednesday in order to minimise the damage to airport infrastructure and to avoid inconvenience to passengers due to Cyclone Vayu.
 
As cyclone 'Vayu' advances towards the Gujarat coast, the state government launched a massive evacuation exercise to shift about three lakh people from low-lying areas of Saurashtra and Kutch regions, officials said.
Flight operations will remain suspended in Porbandar, Diu, Bhavnagar, Keshod and Kandla airports, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) said.
"Equipment and heavy machinery have been moved to safety at respective airports and the Airport Directors of AAI's Bhuj and Jamnagar airports have been asked to write to the Indian Air Force to suspend operations of civil flights from these two airports also," the AAI said in a statement.
The AAI owns and manages around 100 airports across the country.
The AAI said that "a decision in respect of suspending operations at AAI's Surat Airport will be taken after analysing the weather".
"Keeping safety in mind and in order to minimise damage to the airport infrastructure and to avoid inconvenience to any of stakeholders including passengers, the AAI has decided to suspend flight operations at AAI airports in Porbandar, Diu, Bhavnagar, Keshod and Kandla from 12 midnight IST today (12/06/2019) to 12 midnight IST tomorrow (13/06/2019)," the AAI added.
 
The Regional Executive Director (Western Region), the AAI and all Airport Directors in Gujarat have been advised to be in readiness to handle any exigency occurring out of this natural calamity and to issue appropriate NOTAM (notice to airmen) action, the AAI said. 

Western Railway cancels 40 trains to coastal Gujarat

The Western Railway has decided to cut short or cancel some of its trains passing through areas of Gujarat that are likely to be affected by cyclone 'Vayu'.

All WR passenger and mail trains to Veraval, Okha, Porbandar, Bhavnagar, Bhuj and Gandhidham stations will be short-terminated or cancelled from 6 pm on Wednesday till Friday morning, said WR chief spokesperson Ravinder Bhakar.

The WR has decided to cancel operation of 40 mainline trains while 28 similar trains will be short-terminated with partial cancellation as a precautionary measure.

The WR has also planned to run a special train each from Gandhidham, Bhavnagar Para, Porbandar, Veraval and Okha to evacuate people from those areas.

Special trains with six to 10 coaches each will also be kept ready at the nearest safe location to be moved in emergency conditions, the WR said.
21:48  Delhi airport's flight operations suspended due to severe dust storm:  
Flight operations at the Delhi International Airport were suspended for around 35 minutes as a severe dust storm hit the city on Wednesday evening, airport officials said.
"The dust storm hit the Delhi airport at 6.39 pm today. The last flight arrival at the Delhi airport was at 6.36 pm. The last departure at the airport was at 6.38 pm," the officials said. 
Till 7.15 pm, total nine flights were diverted from the airport, they added.
"The airport resumed flight operations at 7.15 pm," they said.
A dust storm hit several parts of the national capital Wednesday evening, following which a thick haze was hanging over the city, affecting visibility. -- PTI

Image: People caught in a dust storm, in New Delhi. Photograph: Subhav Shukla/PTI Photo
20:50  Cabinet clears fresh triple talaq bill:  
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared a fresh bill to ban the practice of instant triple talaq, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said.
 
The bill will replace an ordinance issued in February by the previous BJP-led NDA government.
The fresh bill will be introduced in the budget session of Parliament, beginning Monday, Javadekar said. -- PTI
20:14  President rule in JK to be extended for 6 months:  
President's rule in Jammu and Kashmir will be extended for six more months beginning July 3 and the Union Cabinet Wednesday gave its nod in this effect, Union minister Prakash Javedkar said.
A meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave its approval for the extension of the central rule which has been continuing in Jammu and Kashmir since June 20, 2018.
"Yes, it has been decided," Javadekar told reporters when asked whether the Cabinet gave its nod to extend President's rule in Jammu and Kashmir.
After the Union Cabinet's nod, President Ram Nath Kovind will sign the proclamation for imposition of President's rule in the state and it will come into effect on July 3, a home ministry official said. -- PTI 
19:36  Scribe arrested for 'defaming' Yogi walks out of jail:  
Journalist Prashant Kanojia, who was arrested for allegedly "defaming" Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath on socila media sites, has been released from Lucknow jail.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ordered his immediate release, saying the fundamental right to liberty is non-negotiable. 

He was allowed to go after giving two sureties of Rs. 20,000 each and a personal bond for the same amount.
19:21  Uddhav to take call on son's poll plunge: Raut:  
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will take a call on whether or not his son and the saffron outfit's youth face Aaditya will contest the upcoming assembly polls in Maharashtra, party leader Sanjay Raut said Wednesday.
Raut, a Rajya Sabha MP and spokesman, was responding to speculation that Aaditya Thackeray, chief of the Yuva Sena, the party's youth wing, may enter the poll fray. Assembly polls in Maharashtra are scheduled later this year.
The 28-year-old Thackeray scion is playing an active role in the Sena's preparations for the assembly polls to ensure the party, founded by his grandfather Bal Thackeray, wins the maximum number of seats, he said.
No member of the Thackeray family has ever fought an election in the 53-year-old history of the party.
"Aaditya is involved in the Sena's preparations for the assembly elections to ensure maximum candidates of the party win.
"He himself has clarified that any decision regarding his entry in the poll arena will be taken by party president Uddhav Thackeray," Raut told a Marathi news channel.
To a query on speculation about Aaditya Thackeray becoming deputy chief minister in the event of the BJP-Sena combine retaining power, Raut said, "A Thackeray doesn't take a deputy's post. A family member is always the chief. The family has prestige in state and national politics."
To a query on remarks by senior BJP leaders Sudhir Mungantiwar and Chandrakant Patil regarding chief minister's post and number of seats to be contested by the two parties, Raut said Uddhav Thackeray and BJP president Amit Shah will decide on the matter.
"When the alliance was formalised, discussions happened only between Uddhav Thackeray and Amit Shah. So, any comment regarding chief minister's post will be made by either of them."
19:08  Industrial growth at 6-month high of 3.4 pc in April:  
Industrial production grew at a six-month high of 3.4 per cent in April mainly on account of improvement in mining and power generation, according to official data released Wednesday.
 
The Index of Industrial Production had expanded by 4.5 per cent in April 2018.
The expansion in the mining sector was 5.1 per cent compared to 3.8 per cent in the year-ago month.
Similarly, the growth in the power sector was 6 per cent in April as against 2.1 per cent in the corresponding month of the last fiscal.
However, there was a slowdown in the manufacturing sector.
The previous high in industrial growth was recorded at 8.4 per cent in October 2018. -- PTI
18:32  Final call on 'precious' Shikhar only after 10-12 days: Bangar:  
A final decision on Shikhar Dhawan's availability at the ongoing World Cup will be taken only after 10 to 12 days as he is too "precious" to be ruled out just yet, India's assistant coach Sanjay Bangar said Wednesday. 
 
Dhawan will miss three to four games due to the hairline fracture on his left thumb and Rishabh Pant will join the team as cover in Manchester ahead of the clash against arch-rivals Pakistan on Sunday.
 
"As far as Shikhar is concerned, we are observing him and it will take some time, around 10 or 12 days to figure out where he stands," Bangar said on the eve of the game against New Zealand here.
"We will be in a better position to take a call then because we don't want to rule out a precious player like Shikhar, straight at the time of the injury," he added.
 
The assistant coach's statement means that Dhawan will be out of the games against New Zealand (Thursday), Pakistan (Manchester, June 16),  Afghanistan (June 22, Southampton) and West Indies (June 27, Manchester).
 
Bangar also informed that Pant is being summoned so that he can train with the team and be match-ready in case Dhawan is ruled out of the tournament.
 
"Since Dhawan's assessment will take 10-12 days, till that point of time, we wanted to make sure if and when the replacement is required and I am saying if and when, then it is always good to have a replacement player coming in and practising with the team as a stand-by," Bangar said. -- PTI
18:31  Retail inflation spikes to 7-month high of 3.05% in May:  
Retail inflation spiked to a seven-month high of 3.05 per cent in May mainly due to costlier food items, government data showed on Wednesday.
   
The consumer price index based retail inflation for April was revised marginally upwards to 2.99 per cent from the earlier estimate of 2.92 per cent, data released by the Central Statistics Office showed.
 
Retail inflation stood at 4.87 per cent in May 2018.
 
The previous high was in October 2018, when the retail inflation print came in at 3.38 per cent.
 
As per the data, inflation in the food basket rose to 1.83 per cent in May, higher than 1.1 per cent in April.
Retail inflation is a crucial data point, keenly watched by the Reserve Bank while deciding its monetary policy. -- PTI  
18:26  Mulayam Singh discharged from hospital, back in Lucknow:  
Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav was discharged from a private hospital in Gurgaon on Wednesday, two days after he was admitted at the facility, party sources said.
   
He underwent check-up at the Gurgaon hospital and has now gone back to Lucknow, they said.
 
Yadav was admitted to Medanta Hospital on Monday after being flown from Lucknow, an SP spokesperson had said. 
 
The 79-year-old leader was admitted to Ram Manohar Lohia Institute of Medical Sciences in Lucknow on Sunday for a routine check-up after his blood sugar level rose. He was discharged after a few hours.
 
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had met Yadav at his residence in Lucknow and enquired about his health on Monday. -- PTI
18:23  Cyclone Vayu: 1.6 lakh people evacuated so far :  
As cyclone 'Vayu' inches closer to the Gujarat coast and expected to make a landfall Thursday, authorities have so far shifted over 1.60 lakh people from low-lying areas of Saurashtra and Kutch regions.
Operations at ports and airports in these regions have been suspended as precautionary measure, officials said.
As per the latest weather report, cyclone Vayu, which has turned into a 'very severe cyclonic storm', has changed its course slightly and would now hit Gujarat coast anywhere between Veraval in the south and Dwarka in the west in the afternoon Thursday, officials said.
The cyclone is now situated around 280 km south of Veraval, they said.
After making the landfall, the cyclone is likely to move along and parallel to Saurashtra and Kutch coast, they said. 
18:08  Sanskrit scholar Sheldon Pollock pays tribute to friend Girish Karnad:  Sheldon Pollock, celebrated Sanskrit scholar, Arvind Raghunathan Professor of Sanskrit and South Asian Studies at Columbia University and also the General Editor of the Murty Classical Library of India, Harvard University Press, had a long-standing friendship across two continents, and spanning several decades, with distinguished playwright, actor, filmmaker and scholar Girish Karnad, who died in Bengaluru on Monday.

Pollock, the winner of Rediff's India Abroad Friend of India award remembered his friend with the following tribute: "Girish Karnad was an extraordinary man: an incomparable playwright, a gifted actor, a brilliant thinker, and one of the foremost public intellectuals of his time. A huge loss for India at a time when he has never been more needed.'

Image: Girish Karnad Photograph: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com
18:03  2 soldiers killed in terror attack in Anantnag:   Two Central Reserve Police Force personnel have been killed and three have sustained injuries after their patrol team came under terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Anantnag district.  

More details are awaited. 
17:42  Heavy rain in Palghar, Thane tonight:  IMD Mumbai: Thunderstorm accompanied by lightning, gusty wind with speed reaching 30-40 kmph with intense spell of rain likely to occur at isolated places in districts of Palghar and Thane during next 4 hours.
17:30  Economic Advisory Council refutes Arvind Subramanian's GDP claim:  The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister on Wednesday refuted the claim by former Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian that the gross domestic product growth rate was overestimated by 2.5 per cent between 2011-12 and 2016-17. 


It is worth noting that the base year of India's income calculations shifted to 2011-12 on the basis of recommendations of several committees with experts in National Income Accounting, said a statement from the Economic Advisory Council. "It was on the basis of these recommendations, started in 2008, that the government implemented the change from January 2015. 


Therefore, it is wrong to suggest that the views of experts have not been taken into account while changing the base year or weights or switching from Annual Survey of Industries to Ministry of Corporate Affairs 21," it said. The statement added that Subramanian used cross-country regressions to estimate what India's GDP should be.  -- ANI
17:21  Vayu: Flights delayed at Mumbai airport:  Mumbai International Airport: Flight delays of over 20 minutes reported at Mumbai airport due to bad weather. 


In Gujarat, National Disaster Response Force evacuates citizens from beaches in Dwarka ahead of the expected landfall of Cyclone Vayu tomorrow.


Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority: A total of 1,64,090 people have been evacuated from 10 affected areas till 4 pm today. 


Operations at all ports and airports located near the Gujarat coastline have been halted temporarily as a precautionary measure against cyclone 'Vayu',
the state government said on Wednesday. The Western Railway has also announced that all trains passing through the coastal areas have either been short-terminated or cancelled for two days, from 6 pm on Wednesday.


As per the weather department, the cyclone is expected to make a landfall in Gujarat on Thursday morning.
16:52  WB guv convenes all-party meet in wake of post-poll violence:  West Bengal Governor K N Tripathi has convened a meeting of major political parties on Thursday in view of the ongoing post-poll violence in the state, sources in the Raj Bhavan said. Tripathi has sent a letter to all prominent political parties in Bengal, urging them to attend the all-party meet at 4 pm at Raj Bhavan, they said. 


Welcoming the move, West Bengal BJP unit president Dilip Ghosh said the state government should have taken the initiative. "We welcome the decision. We have received Tripathi's letter. We would be attending tomorrow's meeting," he told PTI. 


The Trinamool Congress leadership, however, said it was yet to receive any letter. "Once we receive the letter, we would take a call on it," said a senior TMC leader. -- PTI
16:50   Navy braces to deal with Cyclone Vayu:   The Indian Navy Wednesday said the Western Naval Command has deployed its ships, aircraft and helicopters for rescue and relief operations and to alert the fishermen at sea about the impending Cyclone Vayu. 


The Navy said its diving and rescue teams and relief material have been kept on standby for rendering assistance to civil authorities. 


"Bricks and relief material have been embarked on board nominated ships of the (Western) Command and are ready to be deployed at short notice. "Indian Navy ships operating at sea and aircraft, helicopters on routine sorties have been directed to inform fishing vessels operating at sea and advise them to return to harbour," it said. 


P8i reconnaissance aircraft and IL-76 transporter aircraft are on standby to undertake Search and Rescue (SAR) missions. Medical teams and facilities at Indian Naval Hospital Asvini at Mumbai are on standby to handle medical emergencies. Offshore Defence and Advisory Group has also issued an advisory on Cyclone Vayu to all offshore platforms, it added. 


"State administration, local district authorities and Indian Coast Guard authorities have been directed to caution fishermen against proceeding to sea and take all necessary precautions in view of inclement weather," the Navy said. 


Vayu intensified into a "very severe cyclonic storm" on Wednesday. The state government has launched a massive evacuation exercise to shift about three lakh people from low-lying areas of Saurashtra and Kutch regions. The cyclone is expected to hit the Gujarat coast on Thursday morning, but several parts along the Maharashtra and Goa coast have been witnessing strong winds and rains. -- PTI


Image: In Gujarat, National Disaster Response Force evacuates citizens from beaches in Dwarka ahead of the expected landfall of Cyclone Vayu tomorrow.
16:36  Journalist jailed for Yogi comments to be released shortly:  The release order for journalist Prashant Kanojia was sent to Lucknow jail Wednesday by the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Lucknow, a day after the Supreme Court ordered his immediate release. 


The CJM (in-charge) Sanjai Kumar directed the release of the journalist on furnishing of two sureties of Rs 20,000 each and a personal bond for the same amount. The court sent the release order to jail after the bond and the sureties were filed, paving the way for his release on bail. 


Earlier, a certified copy of the Supreme Court order directing his release was filed at the CJM court here. 


The Supreme Court had Tuesday granted bail to Kanojia, who was arrested for allegedly making objectionable comments against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on social media. -- PTI
16:29  AN-32 crashed into hill: IAF:  The IAF says the AN 32 aircraft crashed into a hill and could not clear it probably because visibility was blocked by clouds. A picture from the site of the crash in Arunachal Pradesh shows the probable crash point of the aircraft and how close the plane was to clear the hill but could not, probably due to blockage of view due to clouds, the IAF said. 


A team of personnel from Indian Air Force, Army and some civil mountaineers were on Wednesday airlifted to a location close to the crash site of an AN-32 aircraft in Arunachal Pradesh to look for possible survivors, officials said. 


The wreckage of the AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force was spotted on Tuesday in a heavily forested mountainous terrain by an IAF Mi-17 helicopter, eight days after it went missing with 13 people on board. 


"A team comprising personnel from IAF, Army and civil mountaineers have been airlifted to a location close to the crash site," a spokesperson of the IAF said. 


Another official said the rescue team will look for possible survivors. The Russian-origin AN-32 aircraft was going from Jorhat in Assam to Menchuka advanced landing ground near the border with China on June 3 when it lost contact with ground staff at 1 pm, within 33 minutes of taking off. 


The IAF launched a massive operation after the aircraft went missing and the wreckage of the plane was spotted on Tuesday at a height of 12,000 feet near north of Lipo locality. The IAF said efforts are on to establish the status of occupants amid fears that chances of any survivor in the one of worst accidents involving a military platform in recent years may be very bleak. The IAF spokesperson said Air marshal RD Mathur, Air officer-commanding-in-chief Eastern Air Command complimented the search team for their relentless effort spanning eight days. --  PTI
16:12  Promise of thunder :  Overcast skies, cool breeze and the promise of more rain, what more could Mumbaikars singed by a long summer ask for? Ahead of Cyclone Vayu hitting Gujarat tomorrow morning, temperatures dropped marginally in the city and people headed out to watch the skies darken. The cyclone is expected to bypass Mumbai, but rains are expected in the city. 

Pic: Sahil Salvi 
16:05  Follow real-time info on cyclone to stay safe: PM:  As cyclone 'Vayu' advances towards Saurashtra and Kutch regions of Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday advised people to follow real-time information being provided by local agencies to stay safe. 


"Praying for the safety and wellbeing of all those affected by Cyclone Vayu. The government and local agencies are providing real-time information, which I urge those in affected areas to closely follow," he said in a tweet. 


"Cyclone Vayu has turned into a very severe cyclonic storm. It would cause gusty winds to blow at a speed of 145 kmph to 170 kmph by Thursday morning," the IMD said. 


Teams of the National Disaster Response Force started landing in Gujarat with the help of the Indian Air Force to undertake preventive evacuation of people living on the west coast, an IAF official said. 


Because of the cyclonic storm, the Arabian Sea has turned turbulent and bigger waves are advancing towards coastal areas, the IMD said. -- PTI
15:50  JNU Alumni Award for Sitharaman, Jaishankar:  Executive Council of Jawaharlal Nehru University today approved a proposal to give the Distinguished Alumni Award to two of its alumni, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during the convocation of JNU in Aug 2019.
15:47  Rahul was, is, will be Cong prez: Surjewala:  Rahul Gandhi was, is, and will remain the Congress president, party's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Wednesday, after days of uncertainty over Gandhi's offer to quit the post. Surjewala made the remarks after senior Congress leaders met in New Delhi informally under the guidance of A K Antony and discussed the party's strategy and preparation for the upcoming assembly elections in Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand and Maharashtra. 


Gandhi had offered to quit as party chief during a meeting of the Congress Working Committee on May 25 which was called to analyse the party's poor performance in the Lok Sabha polls, in which it managed to win just 52 seats. 


The CWC had unanimously rejected his offer to quit but Gandhi was apparently firm on his stand. 


"Rahulji was, is and will remain the Congress president. We have no doubt about it," Surjewala told reporters when asked about the situation arising out of Gandhi's offer to resign. Senior leaders Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjuna Kharge, Ghulam Nabi Azad, P Chidambaram, KC Venugopal, Surjewala, Jairam Ramesh and Anand Sharma were present in the meeting. 


All the leaders present in Wednesday's meeting were members of the core group formed for the Lok Sabha polls. However, Surjewala clarified that contrary to speculation in the media there was no core group now as all election-related committees ceased to exist. PTI
15:40  News alerts:   Preeti Rathi acid attack case: Bombay HC upholds conviction of 25-year-old man, but commutes death penalty to life sentence. 


In Mumbai, a 62-year-old man was killed after a hoarding collapse at a railway station. 


Details awaited.
15:35   At least 65 people were evacuated and shifted to shelters from Diu and Gujarat by National Disaster Response Force with the help of civil police and civil administration on Wednesday in the wake of Cyclone Vayu. 


Western Railways has also taken various safety and security precautions for train passengers in cyclone-prone areas of Veraval, Okha, Porbandar, Bhavnagar, Bhuj and Gandhidham. 


All passenger and express trains to these stations are being short terminated from 6 pm on June 12 till the morning of June 14. 


The coaching stock presently available at depots and station yards at coastal areas is being shifted to safe places. Special trains with six to ten coaches each will be formed, to be kept in ready condition at a nearest safe location to be moved in emergency conditions. 


Apart from this, WR Headquarter office and Divisions have been instructed for better coordination with state authorities for passenger convenience. Round the clock manning of Emergency control office at HQ and at Divisional level by Officers of concerned departments has also been arranged. 


WR will also run one Special train each from Gandhidham, Bhavnagar Para, Porbandar, Veraval and Okha to evacuate all persons from respective areas. 


The cyclone is expected to touch Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Mahuva around Veraval and Diu region as a severe cyclonic storm with a wind speed of 110-120 kmph gusting to 135 kmph on the morning of June 13.


Image: The Kandla port has been shut ahead of Cyclone Vayu.
15:31  Kapil Dev wants 'farewell from the ground' for Yuvi:  World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev Wednesday said a player of Yuvraj Singh's stature should have got a farewell from the ground and the stylish southpaw will command a place in his all time XI as and when he comes up with it. 


Neither Yuvraj nor the BCCI has spoken on why the 2011 World Cup hero did not get a farewell game. The 37-year-old on Monday announced his retirement after 17 years in international cricket. 


"Yuvraj will be in my all time eleven whenever I sit down to make my team. I would love to see a player like him get the farewell from the ground than he saying 'I am retired'," said Kapil at the launch of fantasy sports platform 'Apne11'. 


 "The way he played his cricket. The way he is looked up to, what he has gone through in his life (battling cancer). I wish him even better than what he achieved on the cricket field," said the legendary all-rounder. Yuvraj is among the Indian greats who did not get a farewell game after contemporaries Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Gautam Gambhir.
15:28  CBI raids residences of former UP minister Gayatri Prajapati:  The CBI is conducting a search operation at 22 locations including three residential premises of former Uttar Pradesh minister Gayatri Prajapati in connection with an illegal mining case, officials said Wednesday. 


His three houses in Amethi were part of this search operation which is spread over 11 locations in Hamirpur district in the state and several other places in Delhi and NCR, they said. Prajapati held the mining portfolio in the Akhilesh Yadav government and he is considered an influential Samajwadi Party leader. 


He is currently in jail in a rape case. A woman from Chitrakoot had alleged that the minister exploited her on the promise of allotting her a mining lease, but he denied the charge. The officials said rules and procedures were violated by politicians and officials in the allotment of mining leases of minor minerals in Hamirpur district during 2012-16. Minor minerals are sand, gravel etc. -- PTI
15:12  UK Court denies bail to Nirav Modi for 4th time:   PNB Scam case: The Royal Courts of Justice in London denies bail to Nirav Modi. This was the diamantaire's Modi's fourth bail application at the UK court.


Modi moved the Royal Courts of Justice to seek bail in the extradition proceedings brought forth by India at the Westminster Magistrates' Court for defrauding the Punjab National Bank to the tune of Rs 13,300 crore. All the three earlier attempts to seek bail at the district court were turned down and he had been sent back to prison. 
14:52  Chandrayaan 2 will land on moon in Sept: ISRO:   Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman Dr K Sivan announces that ISRO has firmed up that Chandrayaan 2 Mission will be launched on July 15 early morning at 2 hours 51 minutes.


The Chandrayaan 2 Mission contains three components & the composite body of Chandrayaan 2 is kept inside GSLV MK-III. The total mass of Chandrayaan 2 system is 3.8 ton; out of 3.8 ton, nearly 1.3 ton is the propeller. 


"The day we are going to land is either September 6 or September 7, that day happens to be the beginning of a lunar day. For one full lunar day, the lander and rover will be functioning and will carry out scientific experiments," Dr Sivan said.


The cost of Chandrayaan 2 Mission mainly the satellite portion, including the support from foreign agencies as well as for navigation purpose, is Rs 603 crore, he said. 
14:43  Bijli, paani: Sheila Dikshit meets Delhi CM:  Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit Wednesday met Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal over the power and water woes being faced by the people in the city. A Delhi Congress delegation, led by the former Delhi chief minister, met Kejriwal at his Flagstaff Road residence in the national capital.


"Dikshit raised the power and water crisis faced by people during the meeting with the chief minister and demanded withdrawal of fixed charge hike in electricity bills," Delhi Congress working president Haroon Yusuf said after the meeting. 


The chief minister assured that the fixed charges will be brought to the previous lower rates, he said. Aam Aadmi Party chief spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said the complaints of the Congress leaders were replied to with facts during the meeting following which they did not have anything to say. 
-- PTI 
14:35  PM won't fly over Pak en route to Bishkek: MEA:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not fly over the Pakistani airspace while travelling to Kyrgyz capital Bishkek on Wednesday to attend a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the External Affairs Ministry said. It said the prime minister will fly over Oman, Iran and several Central Asian countries countries to reach Bishkek. India requested Pakistan to let Modi's aircraft fly over its airspace when he travels to Bishkek. 


Pakistan accorded an "in principle" approval to India's request. 


"The government of India had explored two options for the route to be taken by the VVIP aircraft to Bishkek. A decision has now been taken that the VVIP aircraft will fly via Oman, Iran and Central Asian countries on the way to Bishkek," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.


He was responding to media queries regarding the route to be taken by prime minister's aircraft while travelling to Bishkek. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is also attending the meeting of the regional grouping. Modi leaves for Bishkek on Wednesday on a two-day visit. -- PTI
14:30  Cops lathicharge BJP workers in Kolkata :  Kolkata police lathi-charged BJP workers on Bepin Behari Ganguly Street today as they were marching towards Lal Bazar, the police headquarters, protesting against the TMC govt.


Clashes broke out between BJP workers and police personnel during the massive rally organised by the party in protest against post-poll violence and alleged attacks on its workers and supporters. 


As the BJP activists jostled to reach the Bowbazar crossing in the city, police resorted to firing tear gas shells and water cannons to disperse them. 


In retaliation, the saffron party workers raised slogans and hurled stones and bottles at the officers. Some of the party workers were seen holding a sit-in demonstration in the area in protest. 


Police personnel, who were deployed in huge numbers, teargassed and used water cannons to disperse the crowd.


BJP workers carrying party flags were seen climbing up barricades set up by Kolkata Police to reach the police headquarters. 
14:15  Survivors in AN-32 crash bleak: IAF:  A team of personnel from Indian Air Force, Army and some civil mountaineers were on Wednesday airlifted to a location close to the crash site of an AN-32 aircraft in Arunachal Pradesh to look for possible survivors, officials said. 


The wreckage of the AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force was spotted on Tuesday in a heavily forested mountainous terrain by an IAF Mi-17 helicopter, eight days after it went missing with 13 people on board. 


"A team comprising personnel from IAF, Army and civil mountaineers have been airlifted to a location close to the crash site," a spokesperson of the IAF said. 


Another official said the rescue team will look for possible survivors. The Russian-origin AN-32 aircraft was going from Jorhat in Assam to Menchuka advanced landing ground near the border with China on June 3 when it lost contact with ground staff at 1 pm, within 33 minutes of taking off. 


The IAF launched a massive operation after the aircraft went missing and the wreckage of the plane was spotted on Tuesday at a height of 12,000 feet near north of Lipo locality. The IAF said efforts are on to establish the status of occupants amid fears that chances of any survivor in the one of worst accidents involving a military platform in recent years may be very bleak. 


The IAF spokesperson said Air marshal RD Mathur, Air officer-commanding-in-chief Eastern Air Command complimented the search team for their relentless effort spanning eight days. Mathur also thanked Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu and Chief Secretary Satya Gopa for extending unflinching support to the IAF towards locating the missing An-32. "The proud and highly patriotic people of the state have worked tirelessly to help the IAF for a national cause," said the spokesperson. PTI
13:56  Piyush Goyal appointed Deputy Leader of House in Rajya Sabha:  
Union minster Piyush Goyal was on Wednesday appointed as the Deputy Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha, sources said.
  
The two-time Rajya Sabha MP will be succeeding Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who has been elected to the Lok Sabha. 

Goyal, the Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry in the Narendra Modi government, will be deputy to senior BJP leader Thawarchand Gehlot, the Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment.

Gehlot has been chosen as the Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha.

Goyal is currently a Rajya Sabha member from of Maharashtra. He was formerly the National Treasurer of the BJP. 

-- PTI
13:11  NIA conducts raids in Coimbatore over IS module:  The National Investigation Agency is conducting raids at seven locations in Coimbatore in connection with an ISIS module case. Searches are being held in Anbu Nagar, Podanur, and Kuniyamuthur areas of the city, to name a few. 

The raids, which began at 7 am today, are currently underway. 

In April this year, the NIA had arrested one Riyas Aboobacker from Palakkad in Kerala in connection with the terror module case. According to the investigating agency, Aboobacker was allegedly planning suicide attacks at international tourist destinations in Kerala. 

The 29-year-old is said to have followed the speeches and videos of Sri Lankan Sunday Easter bombing mastermind, Zahran Hashim, till he was arrested. 

-- ANI

Image used for representational purpose only
13:06  Railways may hand over 20 stations to PSUs for upkeep:  Indian Railways is being partially given out for public-private participation. Navratna PSUs are likely to be given 20 major railway stations for upkeep. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is likely to announce this in her 2019 Budget on July 5.
12:53  Union Minister Piyush Goyal to be deputy leader of Rajya Sabha: Sources.
12:42  Sri Lanka's terror-hit Shangri-La Hotel reopens today:  
The Shangri-La Hotel in Sri Lanka's Colombo is set to reopen today, seven weeks after the high-end facility was extensively damaged in deadly terror attacks that killed more than 250 people who were celebrating Easter on April 21.

The Shangri-La Group, in a statement, said, "From Wednesday, June 12, 6 pm onwards (local time), popular dining establishments including Sapphyr Lounge, Capital Bar and Grill and Kaema Sutra will reopen for service. Guests will be able to enjoy room stays and Chi, the Spa from Saturday June 15 onwards."

Colombo Page cited the statement in which the Group showed gratefulness to the local authorities and the global community for their support and messages of commendations regarding the terror attack during the past weeks, Colombo Page reported.

"The group remains deeply appreciative of the selfless service and courageous spirit demonstrated by the colleagues of Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo and the Sri Lankan community in the face of such adversity," the statement read.

The group further expressed its heartfelt sympathies and continued support to those who suffered injuries and lost their loved ones in the Easter Sunday attacks. "They will always be remembered," the statement added.

It said, "Shangri-La stands united as one with the Sri Lankan community. With everyone's support, Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo will come back stronger. The team's passion for service remains undiminished and they look forward to welcoming the public back to Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo."

The Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo was one of three hotels targeted by eight coordinated suicide blasts on April 21 and suffered extensive damages.

While the other two hotels reopened in the recent weeks, most of the sections of the Shangri-La Hotel will, however, remained closed.

At least eight locations, including three churches, were targetted by the terrorists on Easter Sunday. A local Jihadi group and Islamic State affiliate, National Thowheeth Jama'ath, had claimed the responsibility for the devastating attacks, which were widely condemned. 

-- ANI
12:24  'Madrasas don't breed people like Godse, Pragya':  
Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan has stoked a controversy by saying that "madrasas do not breed people like that of Nathuram Godse or a personality like Pragya Singh Thakur."

Godse had assassinated Mahatma Gandhi while Pragya Singh Thakur, current BJP MP from Bhopal, is an accused in Malegaon blast.

On being asked to respond on Centre's decision to connect madrasas to mainstream education, Khan said, "Madrasas don't breed people like that of Nathuram Godse or a personality like Pragya Thakur. See that first, announce that those propagating thoughts of Nathuram Godse will be declared enemies of democracy, those convicted for terror activities won't be rewarded."

Khan, who is known for giving such controversial statements, said that if the central government wants to help madrasas then they should improve their standard.

"Religious teachings are imparted at madrasas. At the very same madrasas, English, Hindi and Maths are taught. This has always been done. If you want to help, improve their standard. Build buildings for madrasas, provide them furniture and midday meal facility," Khan said.

-- ANI
12:04  Rishabh Pant to stand in for Dhawan at WC:   Just in: Rishabh Pant has been brought in as cover for the injured Shikhar Dhawan in India's World Cup squad: BCCI official.


This comes after in-form senior India opener Shikhar Dhawan was, on Tuesday, ruled out of at least three World Cup matches after sustaining a hairline fracture on his left hand.


While it is blow to the team ahead of India's third game against New Zealand, the good news is there is a chance that he will recover. 


Dhawan will miss the game against New Zealand on Thursday and the marquee clash against Pakistan on Sunday. It remains to be seen if he regains fitness for the match against Afghanistan of June 22 but the team is expecting that he will be fully fit by the business end of the tournament.
11:55  Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath holds a review meeting on the law and order situation in the state.
11:52  9am-9pm shutdown in Bengal hospitals today:  In Kolkata, patients left in a lurch as the strike of junior doctors at NRS Medical College & Hospital enters the second day. A patient's attendant says, "My patient is not receiving any treatment from the last 3 days. I am not allowed to enter the hospital. Many patients are dying."


Services at state-run institutions across West Bengal were hit on Tuesday after junior doctors launched a protest after an intern at the NRS hospital was allegedly assaulted by the relatives of a patient who had died.


The outdoor patient departments at the government hospitals will be shut today from 9:00 am. to 9:00 pm because of the protest, doctors organisations have said. While hospitals say their emergency departments will function, services are expected to be affected by the low attendance of doctors.


Private hospitals are also likely to be hit; many have expressed solidarity with the protesting doctors.
11:32  ISRO shares pics of Chandrayaan-2:  The Indian Space Research Organisation is gearing up to launch India's second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2 as per schedule in July. 


The ISRO on Wednesday shared the first pictures of Chandrayaan-2 the lander and orbiter at its Satellite Integration and Testing establishment in Bengaluru. 


The lunar mission is scheduled to launch during the window of 9 July to 16 July 16 with an expected Moon landing on 6 September 2019.  
11:27  UP cops suspended for urinating on scribe:  Hours after a journalist in Shamli was beaten up on camera by a group of GRP personnel for covering the derailment of a goods train, DGP Uttar Pradesh OP Singh on Wednesday ordered the immediate suspension of Station House Officer, GRP Shamli, Rakesh Kumar and Constable Sanjay Pawar. 


"We have come across a video where a journalist has been beaten up & put up in a lock up. DGP UP OP Singh has ordered for immediate suspension of SHO GRP Shamli Rakesh Kumar & Const. Sanjay Pawar. Strict punishment shall be accorded to policemen misbehaving with citizens," read the UP Police twitter handle. 


In the video, the journalist can be seen been mercilessly hit by a group of men. The victim also spoke to ANI and narrated his ordeal, saying, "They were in plain clothes. One hit my camera and it fell down. When I picked it up they hit and abused me. I was locked up, stripped and they urinated in my mouth." 
11:01  Coast Guard on standby for Vayu:  The Indian Coast Guard @IndiaCoastGuard tweets his picture: Disaster Relief Teams formed and kept on immediate notice at Daman,Dahanu,Mumbai Murud Janjira, Ratnagiri, Goa, Karwar, Mangalore, Beypore, Vijhinjam & Kochi for immediate response to the impending cyclonic storm Vayu.
10:56  Cong top leaders to meet today to chart out Parl strategy:  A core group of Congress leaders will meet on Wednesday to discuss the strategy for the upcoming Parliament session, sources said. Top Congress leaders including, Ghulam Nabi Azad, P Chidambaram, Ashok Gehlot, Mallikarjun Kharge, Ahmed Patel, Jairam Ramesh, Randeep Surjewala and K C Venugopal, who are part of the core group headed by senior party leader AK Antony, will be present in the meeting which is slated to take place later today in the Congress war room at 15, Gurdwara Rakabganj Road, in New Delhi.


However, United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi will not attend the meeting as she will embark on her maiden visit to her parliamentary constituency, Rae Bareli after winning from the seat in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. According to sources, the party will also discuss the appointment of Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha and Congress president Rahul Gandhi's unwillingness to continue as party president. 


Besides Rahul, Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor, Anandpur Sahib MP Manish Tewari, Berhampore MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury Adhiranjan Choudhary and Kaliabor MP Gaurav Gogoi among others are some probable names who would lead the party in Lok Sabha. The appointment will be finalised by Sonia.  -- ANI
10:49  Sonia, Priyanka in Rae Bareli to thank voters :  Sonia Gandhi arrives at her Lok Sabha constituency Rae Bareli. This is her first visit to the constituency after retaining the seat in the elections. Sonia Gandhi's daughter and Congress General Secretary of UP East Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is also accompanying her .


Rae Bareli is the only seat that the Congress won in Uttar Pradesh in the 2019 general elections. 


During her visit, Sonia Gandhi is set to review the party's dismal performance in polls and also strategise the course for the upcoming 2022 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. 


Both Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi will personally meet and thank the booth level workers of the Congress party and the voters of Rae Bareli who helped the Grand Old Party to retain its bastion. 
10:40  Rescue ops begin at AN-32 crash site:  Mi-17s and Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) of the Indian Army have been deployed for the search and rescue operation of 13 personnel on board the Indian Air Force's AN-32. 


This comes a day after the IAF managed to locate the wreckage of the plane 16 kilometres North of Lipo, North East of Tato at an altitude of 12,000 feet. 


The plane had been missing since June 3 after taking off from Jorhat air base in Assam to Menchuka advanced landing ground in Arunachal Pradesh with 13 persons on board. Parts of the aircraft were located 15-20 km north of the flight path of the aircraft in Arunachal Pradesh. 


The Indian Air Force has been carrying out extensive search and rescue mission for the missing aircraft including use of Research and Analysis Wing's Global 5000 spy plane, NTRO satellites, Naval P-8I surveillance aircraft along with its own Mi-17 choppers, C-130J special operations planes and all possible assets from different agencies. 


The IAF had on Saturday announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh to anyone providing information about the location of the AN-32 transport aircraft.
10:34  Light rain in Mumbai: Weather Bureau:  Those of you in Mumbai, heads up. Bishwombhar Singh, director in-charge, Regional Weather Forecasting Centre, Mumbai, says, "Cyclone Vayu won't have much effect on Mumbai. The city will probably receive light rain and there might be increase in wind speed."

Fingers crossed. 
10:31  Don't believe in 'cyclone of rumours': Disaster Mgt Dept:  
Tweet from the Mumbai Police Commissioner's office: @CPMumbaiPolice: In view of #CycloneVayu heading towards Gujarat coast, Mumbai is likely to experience very windy conditions from afternoon. Citizens shud not venture into sea & should keep safe distance from shore-line. Parking under weak/old trees be avoided. Take care Mumbai @DisasterMgmtBMC.


The Disaster Management Department, Mumbai, says, quite eloquently, "Precaution is better than cure must have been said for a reason! So while we are here for the cure, we request Mumbaikars to take precaution on ground & the sea today. City expects strong winds & we request you to maintain safe distance from shore-line. #Dial1916 #CycloneVayu."


It also warns against believing in a 'cyclone of rumours today & rest of the days during monsoon'. "We request you to not believe in any rumours & #Dial1916 when in doubt or tweet. We will be happy to clear the air."


Image: Waves lash the Gujarat coast today. Pic: ANI
10:19  Rupee rises 8 paise to 69.38 vs USD in early trade:   The rupee appreciated by 8 paise to 69.38 against the US dollar in opening trade Wednesday, driven by easing crude oil prices and foreign fund inflows. 


Forex traders said the weakening of the greenback vis-a-vis some major currencies overseas aided the local unit. 


However, a weak opening in domestic equities weighed on the domestic currency. The rupee opened strong at 69.38 at the interbank forex market, then gained further ground and touched 69.36, displaying gains of 8 paise over its last close. 


The local unit however, pared some gains and was trading at 69.38, up 6 paise from its previous close at 1005 hrs. The rupee had settled at 69.44 against the US dollar Tuesday. -- PTI
10:17  Vayu: IMD warns of rough seas, flying objects :  
Update on Cyclone Vayu. In Maharashtra, a tree uprooted in Mumbai early morning today due to strong winds in the coastal areas ahead of landfall of Cyclone Vayu. A bike was crushed under the uprooted tree, but no casualties thankfully. 


The Deputy Director General, India Meteorological Department, Mumbai, KS Hosalikar says, "A very severe cyclonic storm Vayu is now at 280 km south-southwest of Mumbai. Winds over North Maharashtra coast are very likely to be 50-60 kmph gusting to 70 kmph today. It is expected to be a windy day today with potential threat from flying objects. Sea conditions are very likely to become rough to high along and off Maharashtra coast on 12 and 13 June. Sea beaches would require special attention. Warnings to fisherman have been issued. Gusty winds can cause tree falling incidences too."


CycloneVayu is expected to make a landfall in Gujarat tomorrow morning. Tourists visiting Dwarka, Somnath, Sasan, Kutch, have been advised to leave for safer places after the afternoon of 12 June.


Parts of Gujarat are bracing for impact from strengthening Cyclone Vayu, which is expected to slam into the state early Thursday, even as plans are afoot to shift people in the coastal belt to safer places.


The Gujarat administration is on high alert to deal with the cyclone, which is likely to hit the state coast near Veraval, officials said.


Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani on Tuesday said people living in the coastal belt would be shifted to safer places.
09:42  Talk with Pak meaningless unless terror infra is dismantled: Haqqani:  Supporting India's determination that "talks and terror" cannot go together, a former top Pakistan diplomat has said another high-level meeting between the two countries would be fruitless unless Islamabad ensures the terrorist infrastructure on its territory is dismantled. 


Pakistan's recent initiatives for talks with India must be seen in the context of the economic and international pressures on it, former Pakistani ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani told reporters here Tuesday. His remarks have come just ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit in Kyrgyzstan on June 13-14. India and Pakistan are part of the regional security grouping and leaders of both the countries are set to attend the meeting in Bishkek. 


In a letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, Pakistan premier Imran Khan had requested resumption of talks between the two countries to resolve all differences. But no meeting has been planned between them on the sidelines of the summit. -- PTI
09:28  Pak grants Rs 100 crore in 2019-20 budget for Kartarpur corridor project:  
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's government has earmarked Rs 100 crore in the federal budget 2019-20 for the development of the much-awaited Kartarpur corridor.

The corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Guru Nanak Dev.

Pakistan's Minster of state for revenue Hammad Azhar presented in Parliament the austerity driven budget for fiscal year 2019-20, which starts from July 1.

The government has earmarked Rs 100 crore in the federal budget for the development of the Kartarpur corridor.

The funds will be used for land acquisition and development of infrastructure of Kartarpur under Public Sector Development Programme for the next financial year 2019-20, Geo TV reported.

Pakistan will build the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak in Indian Punjab's Gurdaspur district up to the border will be constructed by India.

According to officials, some 50 per cent of the development work on the four-kilometre stretch being built by Pakistan has been completed.

-- PTI
08:55  Indian agencies desperate to stick charge against me: Zakir Naik:  
Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, booked by the Enforcement Directorate for money laundering, claimed investigating agencies were "desperately" trying to get "something to stick on him" on the instructions of their "political bosses".

Zakir Naik levelled the allegation in response to the ED trying to get a Red Corner Notice issued against him.

In a statement issued in Mumbai, Naik asked "why are the Indian agencies getting so desperate? Desperate to comply with the instructions of their political bosses?"

"It surely cannot be a desperation to serve justice because they're not sure of the charges themselves. But this desperation is shameful, and it shows in the way they keep shifting focus from one angle to another, from terror to money laundering, just to make something stick on me," his statement added.

"If the Supreme Court of India gives me in writing that I will not be arrested and jailed until I am convicted, I will return to India, and I will return today," he said.

Naik, reportedly in Malaysia, further claimed he was trying to clear his name from the "fictitious charges by Indian agencies", adding that investigating agencies were continuing an exercise "steeped in injustice and unfairness".

"The objective of all their actions seems to be to put me behind bars without trial and without hearing," he alleged.

Last month, the ED filed a chargesheet against Naik on charges of laundering criminal money to the tune of Rs 193 crore and creating illegal real estate assets in India and abroad.

Naik was booked by the ED in 2016 based on a National Investigation Agency FIR that was registered under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
08:37  India staring at longest heatwave in 3 decades:  
Nearly two-thirds of India sizzled on Tuesday under a spell of a heatwave that is on course to becoming the longest ever as scalding temperatures killed four train passengers, drained water supplies, and drove thousands of tourists to hill stations already bursting at the seams.

Across large swathes of northern, central and peninsular India, the mercury breached the 45 degree mark, including in Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh, Churu and Bikaner in Rajasthan, Hisar and Bhiwani in Haryana, Patiala in Punjab, and Gwalior and Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.

The Capital, which sweltered on its hottest June day in history on Monday (48 degrees Celsius) recorded as maximum temperature of 45.4 degrees Celcius at Palam in spite of a spell of light rain in the morning.

Experts warned that monsoon relief was still some time away with the severe cyclonic storm, Vayu, barrelling towards the Gujarat coast and drawing rain clouds from over the sea.

With a heatwave spell stretching 32 days, 2019 has already seen the second-longest spell of scorching temperature ever recorded. If the mercury doesnt dramatically drop in the next two days, 2019 will become the year with the longest heatwave spell in recorded history with three weeks to go in June.

In 1988, there were 33 such days, and in 2016, there were 32 such days. 
08:18  Amit Shah may continue as BJP president till December:  
Amit Shah, now the Union home minister, may continue as BJP president until the organisation elections in the party are over, sources in the BJP said. The election process in the BJP, the schedule for which will be finalised at a meeting of office-bearers on Thursday, is expected to be concluded by December.

Shah will meet the BJPs national office-bearers, state chiefs and states in-charge leaders on Thursday, when the party will set in motion the process for organisational polls that may culminate in the election of his successor. Shah will hold another meeting of his general secretaries on June 18.

Shah had taken over as BJP president from Rajnath Singh in July 2014 when the latter joined Prime Minister Narendra Modis Cabinet. Shahs appointment, replacing Singh who had 18 months left in his term, indicated that the party wanted to stick to its convention of one man for one post. In January 2016, Shah was elected BJP president unopposed for a full three-year term.

The BJPs constitution allows a person two full three-year terms consecutively as party president. So, there is room for Shah to continue as president for another term.
07:44  Nirav Modi bail: Court to deliver verdict today:  
The Royal Courts of Justice in London on Tuesday concluded the hearing of diamond merchant Nirav Modis petition for bail in the extradition case against him. 

The judge said the ruling, which is a matter of some importance would be delivered on Wednesday.

Modi was arrested in London on March 19 for allegedly duping Indias Punjab National Bank of more than Rs 13,000 crore. Modis arrest had come days after an arrest warrant was issued by authorities in London. 

He has been lodged at the Wandsworth prison in London since his third attempt at seeking bail was rejected during a hearing earlier this month at the Westminster Magistrates Court. On May 31, the court extended his custody till June 27.
00:06  Sena stakes claim for CM's chair, cites Shah's 'approval':  
Contesting Maharashtra finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar's claim that the next chief minister would be from the Bharatiya Janata Party, a Yuva Sena leader has said the post will be rotated between the Shiv Sena and the
BJP, an assertion that could become another bone of contention between the saffron allies ahead of the state assembly polls.
The politically sensitive topic was raised by Mungantiwar, a senior BJP leader, on Monday when he told reporters that the next CM of Maharashtra will be from his party again.
"The next chief minister will be from the BJP. There is no discontent in the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance over this. We will even cross the 220 assembly seat mark in the 288-member House, this time," Mungantiwar told reporters in Nashik.
He had also said the BJP and ally Shiv Sena would arrive at a seat-sharing agreement soon for the state polls due in September-October.
However, indicating that the Sena would drive a hard bargain before agreeing for an electoral tie-up, Yuva Sena secretary Varun Sardesai has claimed both the parties will share the CM's post for a duration of 2.5 years each.
Sardesai, a cousin of Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray, tweeted that BJP president Amit Shah had "approved" the decision to have rotational chief ministership between the saffron outfits.
"Shivsena Prez Uddhavsaheb and BJP Prez Amitji have decided that Maha CM post will be 2.5 years each. People who weren't present for negotiations, shouldn't spoil the alliance for their personal gains (sic)," he tweeted.
It seems the Sena has interpreted chief minister Devendra Fadnavis's recent statement, that both the allies would share all responsibilities and contest an equal number of assembly seats, as an indication of rotational chief
ministership.
Another Sena leader has said there was no change in the BJP chief minister's statement.
He said Fadnavis, heading the first BJP government in the state, had declared on February 19 that both the parties would share "responsibilities" and also the number of seats for the Vidhan Sabha polls.
Interestingly, senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut had said in February that the next chief minister of Maharashtra would be from his party.
Mungantiwar had also said leaders of the BJP and Sena were working on a seat-sharing pact for the state polls.
"The final decision on seat-sharing will be taken soon...we will work hard to ensure the victory of our allies," Mungantiwar had said.
Last week, revenue minister Chandrakant Patil had said his party BJP and the Sena and will contest 135 seats each and leave the remaining 18 for other allies.
The Sena and the BJP had contested the 2014 assembly polls separately, but the Uddhav Thackeray-led party joined the government later.
Of the total 288 seats, the BJP had won 122 and emerged as the single largest party.
The Maharashtra-centric Sena, which ruled the state for four years in alliance with the BJP in the 1990s, came a distant second with 63 seats.  -- PTI

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