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Wed, 19 June 2019
TRS welcomes simultaneous polls; AIMIM says no

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23:58   TRS welcomes simultaneous polls; AIMIM says no
The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti in Telangana Wednesday welcomed the idea of simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies while its ally in the state, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, said the proposal violated the basic structure of India's constitution.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier convened an all-party meeting to discuss the issue of 'one nation, one election' which was attended by both the TRS and the AIMIM.
However, several other opposition parties, including the Congress, skipped the meeting as they were opposed to the idea.
A committee for giving "time-bound" suggestions on simultaneous elections will be set up by Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced after the meeting.
"It is definitely a welcome decision to conduct simultaneous elections whatever the practical problems," TRS working president K T Rama Rao told reporters in New Delhi.
Conducting elections in phases, with the model code of conduct remaining in force for about seven months created an impression among people that governance took a backseat, Rama Rao, who represented the TRS in the all-party meeting.
Holding elections in a time-bound manner would help in reducing the influence of money and budgeting would also be easy if national and state elections are held together, he said.
The TRS would cooperate if any Constitutional amendments or other measures are required to be made for the purpose, Rama Rao, son of TRS president and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, said. -- PTI
22:44   ED arrests 2 ex-IL&FS executives in PMLA probe
The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday arrested two former executives in connection with its money laundering probe in the IL&FS alleged financial irregularities case, officials said.
 
They said former joint MD of the company Arun K Saha and MD of transportation network K Ramchand were arrested late evening in Mumbai under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
These are the first arrests in this case by the Enforcement Directorate. 
The two will he produced before a special PMLA court in Mumbai on Thursday, they said. 
The central agency had filed a money laundering case in February this year and had twice raided a number of former executives in order to obtain additional evidence. 
The debt crisis at the infrastructure lender came to light following a series of defaults by its group companies beginning September, 2018.
IL&FS has defaulted on payment of loans to SIDBI and along with its subsidiaries has a combined debt of over ?91,000 crore.
The ED's case is based on an FIR filed before the Economic Offences Wing of the Delhi Police in December last year.
Ashish Begwani, Director of Enso Infrastructures (P) Ltd, had filed the case against officials of IL&FS Rail Ltd for allegedly causing ?70 crore loss to his company by fraudulent means.
Begwani had alleged in his complaint that in August 2010, he was approached by two officials of IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd and he had invested ?170 crore in IL&FS Rail Ltd, a special purpose vehicle for Gurugram Metro project, in order to take its 15 per cent shares. -- PTI
22:36   Cong's Deora wants debate on simultaneous polls
Mumbai Congress president Milind Deora on Wednesday appeared to be supporting the idea of holding simultaneous polls in the country and called for a debate on the issue.
He said being in continuous election mode is a roadblock to good governance and distracts politicians from addressing real issues.
Terming 'one nation, one election' an "important and valuable reform", he said the government should decide on it by taking all political parties on board and seeking opinions of the intelligentsia, organisations working on electoral reforms and students.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday discussed with heads of various political parties, which have at least one MP either in the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha, the issue of "one nation, one election".
"It is unfortunate that India's political class, which I am a part of, is fast forgetting the art of debate, discussion and engagement. This, in my opinion, is a grave threat to India's democratic nature," Deora said in a
statement.

He said he is yet to come across evidence, which suggests that if elections to the state assemblies are held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls, it will help the party that is in power nationally.
"Only recently, along with the Lok Sabha elections, the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh elected members to their respective Vidhan Sabhas. Two out of the three states elected parties that are not even in an alliance with the BJP," he said.
India's 70-year electoral journey has taught us that the Indian voter is aware, informed and can differentiate between state and central elections. Our democracy is neither fragile nor immature and the debate of one nation - one poll calls for an open mind on either side of the spectrum, Deora said.
"We must not forget that until 1967, India conducted simultaneous polls," he added.
"As a former MP and someone who has contested four elections, I believe that being in continuous election mode is a roadblock to good governance, distracts politicians from addressing real issues and adds populism to the character of governance, which is not necessarily a long-term solution to some of the gravest problems Indians face," the former Union minister said.
However, the argument about elections straining our exchequer is uncalled for as we should be ready to keep our democracy thriving at any cost. India needs to outline a singular agenda for its social and economic growth, he said. -- PTI
21:53   Death toll due to AES reaches 115 in Bihar
The death toll due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome rose to 115 in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district on Wednesday, as a public interest litigation was filed in the Patna high court urging it to direct the state government to take adequate action to contain the outbreak. 
The Muzaffarpur administration updated the toll reported at the SKMCH hospital to 95 from 93, a figure released in the morning. At the privately-owned Kejriwal hospital, the number of deceased patients remained at 19 with no fresh casualties being reported in over 24 hours. One child died in East Champaran district on Tuesday.
The total number of AES-afflicted children said to be under treatment at the two facilities was stated to be 166, of which 138 are at the SKMCH.
The total number of AES cases registered so far at the two hospitals was 535 -- 383 at SKMCH and 152 at Kejriwal hospital.
Meanwhile, a PILwas on Wednesday filed in the Patna high court seeking directions to the Bihar government for taking adequate action to contain the outbreak. 
The petition was filed by Muzaffarpur-based lawyer Sudhir Ojha.
The petitioner has named the state government through the Chief Secretary and officials like Principal Secretaries of Health and Child Welfare departments besides District Magistrate and Civil Surgeon of Muzaffarpur as respondents in the petition.
In his petition, Ojha has also prayed for direction to the respondent authorities to take hard legal steps against those found guilty of laxity in discharge of their duty in controlling the outbreak. -- PTI
20:48   'Game of Thrones' prequel starts filming
Two months after Game of Thrones reached its end, however divisive it may have been, the shooting of its prequel is officially underway.
 
According to Entertainment Weekly, the filming has quietly begun on the untitled follow-up to the HBO epic fantasy series in a familiar location Northern Ireland, which served as the production hub for GoT during its run through 2011 to 2019. 
However, it is unclear if the new show will also be shot in other countries.
The prequel pilot comes from writer Jane Goldman and GoT creator and co-executive producer George RR Martin and director SJ Clarkson. Goldman will also serve as showrunner.
It will be set thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones.
Led by Naomi Watts, the show will also star Josh Whitehouse, Naomi Ackie, Denise Gough, Miranda Richardson, Sheila Atim, Ivanno Jeremiah, Georgie Henley, Alex Sharp and Toby Regbo.
Martin has suggested the show will be titled The Long Night, which was also the title of the third episode of GoT final season. 
If the pilot is greenlit to series, the show is likely to air in late 2020. -- PTI
20:48   DD India to be available in Bangladesh, South Korea
In bid to boost India's relations with its neighbours, the government has signed agreements with Bangladesh and South Korea, under which Doordarshan India will be available in those countries, while their state channels will be shown on DD Free Dish.
 
The government has decided to show BTV World, a channel owned by Bangladesh TV, on the Doordarshan Free Dish which will be available for the viewers of Doordarshan in India, an official statement said.
At the same time, DD India would be made available in Bangladesh, it said.
"India has entered into an agreement with Bangladesh so that DD India will be shown on Bangladesh TV. In return, Bangladesh's official channel will also be available in India on DD Free Dish. DD Free dish is available in 35 million households," Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said.
The move is part of a robust cultural exchange in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Act East policy, he said.
The government has also approved the proposal of Prasar Bharati for making available the KBS World, an English 24x7 channel of government of Republic of South Korea on the DD Free Dish for the Indian viewers. Simultaneously, people of South Korea would be able to view DD India in their country.
The arrangement with Bangladesh is as a result of an MoU signed between Prasar Bharati and Bangladesh TV (BTV) May 7, 2019.
BTV World would be of special interest to the viewers of eastern India and the decision marks an important watershed moment in strengthening of ties between the two countries, the statement said.
The pact comes after an earlier decision taken by the two governments to co-produce a film on Banga Bandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, which will be directed by eminent film director/producer Shyam Benegal. -- PTI
20:45   Lanka successfully launches its 1st satellite 'Ravana-1' into orbit
Sri Lanka's first satellite 'Ravana-1', designed and developed by two local engineers, was successfully launched into orbit this week from the International Space Station along with two other BIRDS 3 satellites from Japan and Nepal.
 
Raavana 1, the cube satellite measuring 11.3 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm, and weighing around 1.05 kg, was launched into orbit at 3:45 pm (Sri Lanka time) on Monday, the Colombo Page reported.
The satellite was designed and developed by two Sri Lankan engineers - Tharindu Dayaratne and Dulani Chamika - studying space engineering at Japan's Kyushu Institute of Technology.
Raavana-1 was deployed to the 400-km of orbit at an inclination of 51.6 degrees using the JAXA (Japanese Aerospace and Exploration Agency) owned Kibo experiment module, the paper said.
The satellite was officially handed over to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency on February 18 and was sent to the ISS on April 17, through the assistance of Cygnus-1 spacecraft from the US.
Raavana-1 is expected to fulfil five missions including the capturing of pictures of Sri Lanka and surrounding regions, active attitude stabilization which ensures that satellite's attitude is stable under the influence of external talks. It will have a minimum lifespan of one and a half years but was expected to be active for up to five years. -- PTI 
20:31   PM to set up panel to examine simultaneous polls
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will set up a committee for giving "time-bound" suggestions on the issue of 'one nation, one election', Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Wednesday.
 
Addressing mediapersons after the all-party meeting on the issue, Singh said most parties supported the idea of holding simultaneous polls to Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
He said though parties such as the Communist Party of India and the CPI-M had "difference of opinion" on how the exercise of joint elections will be held, they were "not opposed (to the idea)".
Asked about the composition of the proposed committee, Singh said the prime minister will take a call. -- PTI 

20:16   Now, sisters at centre of Hrithik-Kangana fight
The ugly spat between two Bollywood celeb families that started with Hrithik Roshan and Kangana Ranaut three years ago escalated on Wednesday with their sisters at the centre-stage of controversy. 
 
Kangana's sister Rangoli Chandel claimed that Hrithik's sister Sunaina was being mistreated by her family.
The Roshan family could not be reached for a comment despite repeated attempts.
Chandel, who is active on social media on behalf of her actor sister, reiterated her earlier claim that Sunaina was in touch with them and had contacted Kangana seeking her help. 
Hrithik's former wife Sussanne Khan said, "As a part of my experience with all concerned and in my life span of being a part of this close-knit family, I know Sunaina to be extremely loving, warm, caring person, who is in an unfortunate situation. 
"Sunaina's father is undergoing a major health crisis. Her mother is herself vulnerable to say the least. Please respect a family's tough period, each family goes through such times. I needed to say this as someone who has been a part of this family for long," she added in an Instagram post. 
On Tuesday, a Twitter account of Sunaina, not verified but followed by Hrithik, created a stir online with this post -- "I support Kangana all through."
The handle also said, "And living in hell continues... gosh I'm tired." 
In 2016, Kangana and Hrithik slapped each other with legal notices. Kangana claimed they had a relationship and he had promised to marry her. He denied it and said they were just work colleagues. Hrithik also demanded a public apology from the "Queen" star.
 
The two had worked together in Kites and 
 
The spat has played out in the media for three years, and still continues. -- PTI 
20:09   Microsoft to stop updates for Windows 7 from Jan next
Microsoft on Wednesday said its Windows 7 operating system will not get security and technical updates from January 14, 2020, onwards and users should shift to its latest software.
   
Microsoft also said that it is working with computer manufacturing companies like Dell and HP for making devices available at affordable prices and also working on options to roll out buyback or exchange offers.
 
"Support for Windows 7 will close on January 14, 2020. This means that after this, the operating system will not get security and technical updates. So, the risk of using the computer devices running on it will increase," Group Director of Microsoft India Farhana Haque said at a press conference.
 
The consumers should buy Windows 10 based PC, laptop or tablet in such a situation, which are more secure with updated features, she added.
 
Citing a report of TechAisle, Haque said in India, micro and small medium enterprises spend an average of Rs 93,500 to maintain a computer which is over four-year-old, whereas the cost of maintenance is enough to replace it with three or more modern PCs. -- PTI  
18:51   Bihar Dy CM dodges question on encephalitis
Deputy chief minister of Bihar Sushil Modi appeared to be unfazed about child deaths due to encephalitis as he conveniently dodged a question on the issue on Wednesday stating that his press conference was only about banking committees.

"I made it clear at the very start that this is a meeting of the bankers' organisation, for any other topic other than the ones related to banking, I will speak at a different occasion. If you want to ask anything related to banking please do so," Modi said when he was repeatedly questioned by reporters about child deaths due to the viral disease.

The BJP leader was addressing media about the non-performing assets crisis in the state and the performance of banks in the last financial year.

Encephalitis has claimed lives of 112 children in the state's Muzaffarpur.

Despite the mounting death toll, the sight of Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, where over 300 children ailing with encephalitis were admitted, is dismal, to say the least.

Apathy seems to have plagued the administration as the state-run hospitals lack basic infrastructure facilities and hygiene.

"The condition has remained the same for a long time. There's no bed for the patients and we don't have any other place to go with our ailing children. It is not safe to stay like this in the summer," an attended accompanying a child told ANI.
17:56   Elections to TN actors body deferred
The Registrar of Societies on Wednesday deferred the June 23 elections to the South Indian Artistes' Association, the Tamil Nadu based actors body, till such time issues including those relating to list of members were resolved. 

Even as the campaign by actors peaked for the elections, the registrar, citing three key issues in his order, said "in view of the said circumstances, holding elections is unacceptable, and hence, withholding poll process is ordered till such time all the issues are resolved." 

Elections for the posts of president, two vice-presidents, general secretary, and treasurer were originally scheduled to be held on June 23.  

The polls were also to elect a 24-member executive committee. 

SIAA, popularly called "Nadigar Sangam" in Tamil, is a nearly 70-year-old prestigious union of film, television, and stage actors in Tamil Nadu. 

The top official, who is also the district registrar (administration), south Chennai, cited a representation from a section of members who alleged they have been removed from the list of eligible voters.  

The veracity of their complaint has to be ascertained and the list of eligible voters has to be prepared, he said in his order.  

"The list of members pertaining to which year will be the basis for holding elections. This has to be looked into since the membership rolls for 2017-18 is pending consideration with district registrar," the official said.  

The third issue was about the propriety of calling elections after the end of the current office-bearers' tenure. 

The three-year (2015-18) tenure of the office-bearers ended in October 2018 and a general body meeting held on August 19, 2018 approved postponing the elections for six months beginning November 2018. 

"Rather than holding polls within the extended time frame approved by the general body, the poll announcement has been made in a delayed manner," the order said. 

Postponement of polls was for completing construction of the Nadigar Sangam building in Chennai, a key assurance made by the incumbent office-bearers.  

Christened "Pandavar Ani," (the Pandavas camp) actors Nasser, Vishal and Karthi won the polls in 2015. While Nasser became the president, Vishal was elected general secretary and Karthi treasurer. Ponvannan and Karunas of their team were elected vice-presidents, ending the dominance of actors led by Sarathkumar in the Sangam. 

This time round, the Pandavar Ani is being challenged by "Sankaradas Ani," (the Sankaradas group) led by popular actor-director of yesteryear K Bhagyaraj. The group is named after Swami Sankaradas, a doyen and pioneer of the Tamil theatre of the late 19th and early 20th century in Tamil Nadu.  

Bhagyaraj said they were looking into the next course of action in view of the order. 

Poochi Murugan of Vishal team alleged "political," motives behind the deferment of polls and said they were contemplating going to court. 

The Madras high court had on June 18 suggested that SIAA may go in for another premises to hold its polls since the police submitted that a college in Chennai chosen for elections may not be an appropriate location. 

Earlier in the day, Vishal called on Governor Banwarilal Purohit and submitted a petition seeking fair polls and adequate security for elections.

Image: Actors Vishal, Nasser and Karthi, office-bearers of the Nadigar Sangam.
17:37   Another patient from TN with nipah virus signs
A 72-year-old patient from Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu has been admitted to Jipmer in Puducherry on Monday with suspected symptoms of Nipah virus.
 
Samples of his body fluids have been sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, for examination.
Director of Health and Family Welfare Services K V Raman told PTI Wednesday the patient was Ramalingam from Kattumannarkoil village in Cuddalore district.
 
He had returned from Ernakulam recently with complaints of fever and was treated at a government hospital in Cuddalore from where he was referred to Jipmer for further examination on Monday.
 
Raman said that this was the second case from neighbouring district admitted to Jipmer.
  
Earlier, Natarajan (51), who had returned to his hometown of Cuddalore from Guruvayoor, was admitted to Jipmer with the symptoms of nipah infection recently.
The test report conducted at the National Institute of Virology of the samples collected from Natarajan had tested negative.
  
Raman said although Natarajan tested negative for nipah virus he passed away due to 'Japanese encephalitis' at Jipmer despite intensive treatment on Sunday. 
  
Raman said the government hospital in  Puducherry had been equipped with necessary facilities, including a special ward, to meet any exigency. -- PTI  
17:12   Will work in an unbiased manner: New LS Speaker
Unanimously elected as Lok Sabha Speaker, Om Birla on Wednesday said he would perform his duties without bias and not take sides.

Talking to reporters, he said his appointment to the post came with its own fair share of responsibilities which he would try to fulfill in the days to come.

"Will have to take forward everyone together while keeping the integrity of the House intact, it is very important to do so and that is what I will try to do in the days ahead," Birla said.

He assured parties that he would work in an "unbiased" fashion without taking any sides while serving in the Lok Sabha.

"I will act and present myself in an unbiased manner as required from the position I have been assigned," Birla said.

Earlier, NDA candidate Birla was unanimously elected as the Speaker of the 17th Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Birla's name was proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and was supported by all major Opposition parties, including Congress, TMC, DMK, and BJD. The YSRCP and TDP also supported Birla's candidature.

Soon after Birla's appointment, Prime Minister Modi, Leader of the Congress party Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and a number of other opposition leaders escorted Birla to the Speaker's chair.

"It is a matter of great pride for the House and we all congratulate Om Birla on being unanimously elected as the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. Many MPs know Birla well. He has served in the state of Rajasthan also," Prime Minister Modi said.

The unopposed election of Birla, a two-time BJP MP from Kota in Rajasthan, was a smooth affair, however, it broke the record of women holding the post for the past 10 years.

In 2009, Meira Kumar became the first woman to be elected to the post during the UPA-2, while the NDA followed suit by nominating Sumitra Mahajan in 2014.

17:12   Can't dub person terrorist on mere use of word 'jihad': Court
A person cannot be branded as a terrorist merely for using the word "jihad", a Maharashtra court observed while acquitting three accused of terror charges.
 
The Akola-based court of special judge A S Jadhav made the observation while hearing a case against the three persons accused under the stringent the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, the Arms Act and the Bombay Police Act.
Abdul Razzaque (24), Shoeb Khan (24) and Salim Malik (26) were booked under various Indian Penal Code sections, including 307 (attempt to murder) and 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), following an attack on policemen outside a mosque in Pusad area of Akola on September 25, 2015, on the occasion of Eid uz Zoha, over beef ban in the state.
According to the prosecution, Razzaque arrived at the mosque, took out a knife and stabbed two policemen on duty and said before the attack that because of the beef ban, he would kill the cops.
The Anti-Terrorism Squad claimed they accused were part of a conspiracy to influence Muslim youths to join terrorist organisations.
Jadhav observed, "It appears that accused Razzaque exhibited his anger by violence against the government and some Hindu organisations for ban on cow slaughter."
"No doubt he used the word 'jihad'. But, it was adventurous to jump to the conclusion that only for using the word 'jihad' he should be branded as a terrorist," he said.
According to dictionary, the word 'jihad' literally means "struggle", he pointed out.
"Jihad is an Arabic word which literally means striving or struggling... therefore merely the use of word 'jihad' by the accused would not be proper to brand him as a terrorist," the judge said.
Razzaque was convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment for voluntarily causing hurt to policemen.
As he was in jail since September 25, 2015 and already spent three years in prison, he was released following the court order.
The court relied on testimonies of the injured policemen and other security personnel on duty. -- PTI 
16:41   Shikhar Dhawan ruled out of World Cup
India opener Shikhar Dhawan has been ruled out of the 2019 edition of the World Cup due to thumb fracture.

The 31-year-old picked up the injury during his match-winning hundred against Australia.

What was initially seen to be a swelling in his left thumb turned out to be a hairline fracture after closer examination.

India's assistant coach Sanjay Bangar had earlier said that the team management did not want to rule out Dhawan and wanted to observe his progress.

"We will take at least 10-12 days to take a call on Shikhar's condition. We don't want to rule out a precious player like him," Bangar had told the media on the eve of India's third World Cup clash against New Zealand.
16:31   Pompeo cancels visit to Lanka
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday cancelled his trip to Sri Lanka, still recovering from the Easter Sunday bombings, due to 'unavoidable scheduling conflicts' during his visit to the Indo-Pacific region next week.

Pompeo's trip to Colombo was aimed at expressing America's solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka as they stand united against the despicable April 21 suicide attacks.

New Delhi would be Pompeo's first stop and South Korea his last during the nearly week-long visit to the Indo-Pacific region, beginning June 24, that was also scheduled to take him to Sri Lanka and Japan.

His trip is aimed at deepening US partnerships in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.

The US Embassy in Colombo in a statement said Pompeo will not be visiting Sri Lanka due to 'unavoidable scheduling conflicts' during his visit to the Indo-Pacific region that includes accompanying President Donald Trump to the G20 Summit in Japan.

"Pompeo regrets that he is no longer able to visit Colombo at this time. He hopes to travel to Sri Lanka at a later date to underscore our strong partnership with Sri Lanka, which is rooted in a commitment to democracy, economic growth and a free, open Indo-Pacific region," the statement said.  -- PTI
16:24   Khashoggi: UN expert claims proof of MBS hand
There is 'credible evidence' linking Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince to the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October, a report by an independent United Nations rights expert said on Wednesday.

In her report, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard said she had 'determined that there is credible evidence, warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi Officials' individual liability, including the Crown Prince's'.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres should launch an international criminal investigation into the killing of Khashoggi, Callamard said.

She urged Guterres to 'initiate a follow-up criminal investigation into the killing of Khashoggi to build-up strong files on each of the alleged perpetrators and identify mechanisms for formal accountability, such as an ad hoc or hybrid tribunal'.  -- Agencies
16:13   Patient from TN admitted to JIPMER with Nipah signs
A 72-year-old patient from neighbouring Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu has been admitted to JIPMER in Puducherry on Monday with suspected symptoms of Nipah virus.

His body fluids have been sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, for examination.

Director of Health and Family Welfare Services K V Raman told PTI Wednesday the patient was Ramalingam from Kattumannarkoil village in Cuddalore district.

He had returned from Ernakulam recently with complaints of fever and was treated at a government hospital in Cuddalore from where he was referred to JIPMER for further examination on Monday.

Raman said that this was the second case from neighbouring district admitted to Jipmer.

Earlier, Natarajan, 51, who had returned to his hometown of Cuddalore from Guruvayoor, was admitted to JIPMER with the symptoms of Nipah infection recently.

The test report conducted at the National Institute of Virology of the samples collected from Natarajan had tested negative.

Raman said although Natarajan tested negative for Nipah virus he passed away due to 'Japanese encephalitis' at JIPMER despite intensive treatment on Sunday.

Raman said the government hospital here had been equipped with necessary facilities, including a special ward, to meet any exigency.  --  PTI
16:00   Marilyn Monroe's iconic statue stolen in LA
The Los Angeles police is investigating after a statue of the late legendary actor Marilyn Monroe was stolen.

The theft took place on Tuesday early morning around 3 am in the area of Hollywood Boulevard and North La Brea Avenue, according to the police, reported the Hollywood Reporter

The statue was swiped from the Four Ladies of Hollywood gazebo. 

The gazebo celebrates the iconic film actors representing different cultures who helped change the movie industry.

The bronze-coloured statue features Monroe in her iconic windblown dress pose from 1955's hit 'The Seven Year Itch.

'It graced the top of the silver structure that is held up by other statues of famous actors including Mae West, Anna Mae Wong, Dolores Del Rio, and Dorothy Dandridge,' reported Deadline

The gazebo is a very famous tourist and photo attraction along the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Investigators including a forensics expect are looking at fingerprints from the location in order to find a lead about the thief or group of thieves.

A witness to the crime incident said that she saw a man using a hacksaw to remove and then take the prestigious figure.

Currently, the police do not have any suspects and the investigation is underway.

Monroe passed away tragically in 1962 at the age of 36, leaving behind a legacy as one of the most iconic Hollywood actors of all times. 
15:55   Now Trump gets a statue in Telangana
An admirer of Donald Trump's "strong leadership" and "bold attitude" in Telangana has erected a six-foot-tall statue of the US president at his home and worships him like a "god". 

As tensions over trade-related issues heat up between India and the US, Bussa Krishna, a 32-year-old farmer from Konne village in Jangaon district, unveiled the Trump statue and applied 'tilak' and garlanded it before performing "Abhishekam" and "Aarti" by chanting "Jai Jai Trump." 

Krishna said he 'worships' Trump because he is a strong leader and he likes his bold attitude. He said he wants to meet Trump some day. 

His mother said Krishna spent Rs 1.3 lakh to install the statue and even organised a feast for villagers.

On June 14, when Trump celebrated his 73rd birthday, Krishna pasted a poster of the US president outside his home to wish him. 
15:48   PM's meet begins without key opposition parties
Meeting of heads of political parties begins in Parliament, under chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Janata Dal-Unietd's Nitish Kumar, National Conference's Farooq Abdullah, Shiromani Akali Dal's Sukhbir Singh Badal, Biju Janata Dal's Naveen Patnaik, People's Democratic Party's Mehbooba Mufti, Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Congress Party's Jagan Mohan Reddy present, among others.

Major opposition parties like the Congress, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Trinamool Congress, the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Telanaga Rashtra Samiti are not attending the meeting.

However, leaders of the Left parties are in attendance.  -- ANI
14:55   Cong to skip PM's meet on simultaneous polls
The Congress will skip the all-party meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the 'one nation, one election' issue as it is opposed to the idea of holding simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly elections, sources said on Wednesday.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the party's top leaders in the Parliament after consultations with various other parties.

Leaders of a number of other parties have already decided to skip the meeting as a majority of them are opposed to the idea.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati are among the host of Opposition leaders who will skip the all-party meeting on the issue of simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly elections.

The Samajwadi Party is also opposed to the idea and will skip the meeting, a source said.

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam supremo M K Stalin will also not attend the meeting, sources said.

Naitonalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar and Telugu Desam Party president Chandrababu Naidu are likely to skip the meeting of party chiefs, while the Left parties are likely to attend, the sources said.  --  PTI
14:45   Union minister Prahlad Patel's son arrested on murder charge
The police on Tuesday arrested Prabal Patel, son of Union minister Prahlad Patel, and his cousin on charges of attempt to murder, in Narsinghpur district of Madhya Pradesh.  

"A clash took place between two groups on Monday night near Behli bazaar. After the fracas, a bullet was fired in which a man sustained injuries. They also beat a policeman. According to evidence, there was an old dispute between two groups," superintendent of police, Karan Singh told reporters.  

"We have the evidence that Prabal Patel and Monu Patel were also involved in the case and their names along with 18 others are in the FIR registered under section 307 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Four teams are constituted to nab the accused," he said.  

The man who sustained gunshot injuries was identified as Himanshu Rathor. Later, sub divisional officer police, PS Warle said, "Six people have been arrested including the main accused Prabal Patel. We will arrest rest of accused very soon," he said. 

The Union minister denied to comment on his son's arrest and said that the law will take its own course. 

"All I can say is that it is sad and unfortunate. Law will take its own course, I don't want to make any further comments," Prahlad Patel, left, told ANI

Prahlad's brother Jalam Singh Patel said, "My son Monu was in Jabalpur and Prabal was also not in town at the time of the incident."

-- ANI
14:14   Karnataka Cong dissolved; state chief retained
Amid growing rumblings in the Karnataka Congress, the grand old party dissolved its unit in the southern state on Wednesday, while retaining its president and working president.

"The AICC has decided to dissolve the present committee of (the) Karnataka Pradesh Congress. The president and working president remain unchanged," a statement issued by All India Congress Committee general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal said.

Rumblings within the Karnataka Congress have grown ever since the Lok Sabha poll debacle in the state.

There have also been problems of coordination in the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government in the southern state.

Voices of dissent have been growing in the Karnataka Congress for some time now due to differences over the functioning of the coalition government in the state.

Two members of the Congress were recently inducted in the Karnataka cabinet.  -- PTI
14:07   SP leader abducted, killed by Naxals in Chhattisgarh
A Samajwadi Party leader was abducted and killed by Naxals in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district, police said on Wednesday.

Santosh Punem, who was also a contractor, was abducted by ultras late Tuesday evening from his construction site in Marimalla village where he had gone to supervise some road-related work, Superintendent of Police Divyang Patel said.

Some locals spotted his body lying in a pool of blood at the nearby Marimalla hills on Wednesday morning and informed the police.

A team of security personnel rushed to the spot, located deep inside a forest which is 16 km away from the police station, he said.

The police were yet to return with the body, he said.

Punem last year contested the state assembly polls from Bijapur seat on the SP's ticket, he added.  -- PTI
13:48   Nayantara Sahgal writes on the 2019 election results
'Now that the dust has settled on India's most hard-fought national election, and it has been hailed as a spectacular democratic victory, it is possible to take a quiet look at the election result. It was no surprise to me for I had not only expected it but realised it could have gone no other way. I had the help of literature in seeing it as a story with only one possible ending,' writes novelist and commentator Nayantara Sahgal in the Indian Express.

Specifically, she refers to two literary works, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's The Chronicle of a Death Foretold and Yale University philosophy professor Jason Stanley's How Propaganda Works and How Fascism Works, to foresee the 2019 election results. 

You can read her article, here.
13:44   Bihar doc urges netas to stay out of hospital
Sunil Kumarr Shahi, Superintendent at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, Muzaffarpur, says, "Till now, 372 children have been admitted here, of which 118 have been discharged, 57 to be discharged soon. It is unfortunate that we have lost 93 lives due to AES (Acute Encephalitis Syndrome)."

"I humbly request all political workers to go to places from where patients are coming and spread awareness. Right now they're not needed at the hospital. I request them to go to the periphery," Shahi said.

He said that 'not a single child has been put on the floor in PICU'.

"2-3 children have been put on 1 bed. There are 40 beds in the recovery ward and the number of children is more than that. Out of the 57 children there, 40 will be discharged today. Then situation will improve," he said.

However, patients and their families complain of frequent power cuts.

"There are frequent power cuts here. There is no alternate arrangement, we are using handheld fans. Children are crying due to heat," they said.
12:57   Would've attended PM meet if it was on EVM: Maya
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Wednesday said she would have attended the all-party meeting called by the prime minister if it was on electronic voting machines, and described the idea of simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly polls as a ploy to divert attention from issues like poverty.

Mayawati's comments came hours before an all-party meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss several issues, including the idea of 'one nation, one election', celebration of 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary this year and 75 years of Independence in 2022.

The BSP chief alleged that the people's faith in the electronic voting machines (EVMs) had dwindled to worrisome level.

'The stubbornness of conducting elections through electronic voting machines instead of ballot paper is the real threat to the democracy and Constitution of the country.

'In these circumstances, if the meeting was convened to deliberate upon the deadly issue, then I would have definitely attended it,' Mayawati tweeted.

'Elections in any democracy can never be a problem, nor the elections should be weighed from the point of view of expenditure and extravagance,' she said.

'The 'one nation, one election' is in fact an attempt to divert the attention from burning national issues such as poverty, inflation, unemployment and increase in violence, and is simply an illusion.'

The 'one nation, one poll', which was part of the Bharatiya Janata Party's Lok Sabha election manifesto, has made the Opposition weary about the prospects.   -- PTI
12:47   RBI levies Rs 1 cr fine on HDFC Bank for violations
The Reserve Bank of India has imposed a fine of Rs 1 crore on HDFC Bank for violation of norms relating to know-your-customer (KYC), anti-money laundering and reporting of frauds.

"This action is based on deficiencies in regulatory compliance and is not intended to pronounce upon the validity of any transaction or agreement entered into by the bank with its customers," said the central bank in a statement.

"Examination in this regard revealed violations of RBI directions on KYC/AML norms and on reporting of frauds based on which a notice was issued to the bank advising it to show cause as to why monetary penalty should not be imposed for non-compliance with the aforesaid directions."

The RBI added that it had received a reference from customs authorities for submission of forged bill of entries by certain importers to the bank for remittance of foreign currency.

The RBI said it considered the lender's reply and oral submissions made during the personal hearing as well as an additional submission made after the personal hearing. 

It concluded that the charges of non-compliance with regulatory norms were proven with the imposition of monetary penalty warranted.

-- ANI
12:03   SC seeks EC's reply on separate RS bypolls
The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought a response from the Election Commission by June 24 on a plea of the Gujarat Congress, challenging the poll panel's decision to hold separate bypolls to two Rajya Sabha seats in the state.

A vacation bench of justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant listed the matter for hearing on June 25, saying the issue required to be heard.

The bench said, "It is not an issue which can be taken up through an election petition and therefore, requires to be heard."

Senior advocate Vivek Tankha, appearing for the Gujarat Congress, said there were judgments of the Delhi high court which were in their favour.

To this, the bench said, "We are not saying anything for now. We need to decide whether it is a casual vacancy or a statutory vacancy. This matter requires hearing."

The Rajya Sabha seats fell vacant following the election of Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani to the Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar and Amethi respectively.  -- PTI
11:54   Air India de-rosters captain, crew member for on-board fight
Air India has de-rostered the captain and a crew member of the Bengaluru-Delhi flight AI 772 for getting into a heated argument in public view on board the plane on Monday.

The incident happened when the captain allegedly asked the crew member to wash his tiffin box.

An Air India official confirmed the incident and said an investigation in this regard has already been launched. 

The airline has issued summons to the crew members for questioning.

The matter has been also been reported to the aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

-- ANI
11:41   Delhi HC to hear PIL over police assault on auto driver, his son
The Delhi high court on Wednesday agreed to hear a public interest litigaiton over alleged police assault on an auto-rickshaw driver and his son in northwest Delhi's Mukherjee Nagar.

The issue was mentioned before a bench of justices Jayant Nath and Najmi Waziri which said it will hear the matter on Wednesday at 2.15 pm.

Petitioners, referring to news reports, said that the auto-rickshaw driver and his minor son were brutally assaulted by police and sought calling of records, including medical reports, of the case.  -- PTI
11:28  
Newly-elected Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla in his chair.
11:14   Om Birla elected new Lok Sabha Speaker
The process of election of new Speaker begins in the Lok Sabha.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi presetned the motion to make Bharatiya Janata Party MP Om Birla as the new Speaker.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh seconded the motion.

Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Telugu Desam Party also support the motion.

The motion is carried.

Pro tem Speaker Virendra Kumar announce Om Birla elected as the new Speaker.

PM walks Birla to Speaker's chair.

10:17   Muzaffarpur: Encephalitis toll mounts to 112
The death toll due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district rose to 112 on Wednesday, officials said.

As many as 93 children have died at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) while 19 others lost their lives at Kejriwal Hospital.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had on Tuesday visited Sri Krishna hospital to take stock of the encephalitis outbreak.

Earlier, Kumar had announced an ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of the children who died due to AES.

He had also given directions to the health department, district administration and doctors to take necessary measures to fight the outbreak.

AES is a viral disease which causes mild flu-like symptoms such as high fever, convulsions and headache. -- ANI

IMAGE: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar visits children suffering from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome at a hospital in Muzaffarpur district. Photograph: PTI Photo
10:11   Modi to host dinner for all MPs on Thursday
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will host a dinner for all the members of Parliament on Thursday.

The dinner will take place at Ashoka Hotel in the national capital, sources said.

The invitation was extended by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi to all members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

It will be the first time that the prime minister will be meeting all the MPs after the new government was formed last month.

During the all-party meet on Sunday, ahead of the start of the 17th Lok Sabha, the Prime Minister had urged all leaders to keep their political differences aside.
09:41   PM Modi wishes Rahul on his birthday
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday wished good health and a long life to Congress president Rahul Gandhi on his birthday.

'Best wishes to Shri @RahulGandhi on his birthday. May he be blessed with good health and a long life,' he said in a tweet.

The two leaders were involved in a war of words in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls, in which the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance returned to power with a massive majority.

Gandhi was born on this day in 1970.  -- PTI
09:17   Encephalitis outbreak: Odisha orders testing of litchis
Amid the outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Bihar which claimed 109 lives so far, Odisha Health Minister Naba Kishore Das has directed officials to ascertain toxic content in litchi fruit being sold in the state.

The directive has come in the wake of reports that encephalitis is spreading in litchi growing areas of Bihar, including Muzaffarpur district and other parts of the country and that consumption of the fruit was among the factors for the spread of the disease.

The Department of Health and Family Welfare asked the Food Commissioner to collect and test the sample of Litchi being sold in the market.

Earlier, Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey had said a team that was formed to ascertain the cause of Encephalitis concluded that sleeping on an empty stomach at night, dehydration due to humidity and eating litchi on an empty stomach were some of the causes of the disease.

Encephalitis is a viral disease, which causes mild flu-like symptoms such as high fever, convulsions, and headache. -- ANI
08:45   After Mamata, Stalin to skip meet called by PM
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief M K Stalin will not attend the meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Parliament today.

Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu will also not attend the meeting. Jayadev Galla is likely to represent the party at the meeting.

Modi has invited the heads of all the political parties that have at least one member either in the Lok Sabha or in the Rajya Sabha for a meeting on June 19 to discuss several issues, including the 'one nation, one election' idea, celebration of 75 years of Independence in 2022 and the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi this year.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday excused herself from the meeting, asking the Centre to prepare a white paper on 'one nation, one election', instead of doing it 'hurriedly'.   -- ANI/PTI
08:39   Trump launches re-election campaign at Florida
United States President Donald Trump announced his intent to run for a second term by contesting in the 2020 Presidential elections during a massive rally in Orlando in Florida on Tuesday.

"Exactly 4 years ago this week, I announced my campaign for President of the United States...it turned out to be a great political movement because of you..." he told the crowd in Orlando.

"Nobody has done what we have done in two-and-a-half years...Our future has never ever looked brighter or sharper," CNN quoted the President as saying.

Trump set off for the rally in Orlando along with First Lady Melania Trump on Tuesday.

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife were also present at the rally when Trump announced his bid for re-election.

He had started off his speech by taking a dig at the media.

"You know, if we have three or four empty seats, the fake news will say headlines he didn't fill the arena," he said.

"The American dream is back. It's bigger, better and stronger than ever before," he told the gathered crowd while announcing his re-election bid.

"He truly loves this country and will continue to work on your behalf for as long as he can. All of us will," CNN quoted the First Lady as telling the gathered crowd, with Trump on stage.

"Re-elect Donald Trump and we will keep America great!" Pence said before the Trumps came on stage at the massive rally.

The incumbent US President was propelled to power after the 2016 Presidential elections, where he beat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to secure a clear majority.

The 2016 Presidential polls, however, were marred with allegations against the Trump campaign's alleged collusion with the Russians, which was proved to be untrue through Special Counsel Robert Mueller's extensive investigations which recently culminated.

Even though he has claimed to bring good to the United States during his Presidential tenure, calls for Trump's impeachment have been rampant amongst the Democrats.

While there has only been one clear candidate for the Presidential polls from the Republicans' side, scores of Democrats have launched their campaigns, including former Vice President Joe Biden.

In fact, opinion polls project Biden to be a frontrunner as the Democrats' candidate for the 2020 polls, with Bernie Sanders trailing behind.

During Tuesday's rally, Trump targetted the Democrats in his speech. "Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred prejudice and rage. They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it. Not acceptable. It's not going to happen," he said. -- ANI

IMAGE: US President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign kick off rally at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday. Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters
00:03  
Catch up on all of yesterday's news HERE
00:01   UK PM candidates fight for 2nd place with Boris
The UK's prime ministerial race narrowed to five candidates from six after a crunch vote on Tuesday when ruling Conservative Party MPs voted in a secret ballot for the second time to whittle down the list of contenders further.

The candidates are competing to become the next Conservative Party leader and the UK's next Prime Minister after Theresa May was forced to step down over her failure to deliver Brexit. She remains in the post at Downing Street as a caretaker leader until a new premier is elected. 

Boris Johnson once again came top of the second ballot, with 126 votes, 12 more than in the first round, with former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab falling three short of the required 33 votes to be officially out of the race now.

With the former UK foreign secretary a clear frontrunner in the race to replace Theresa May, the contest now mainly revolves around the second most popular candidate. 
Cabinet ministers Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove are seen as the lead contenders for that second spot to take on Johnson, with home secretary Sajid Javid trailing behind. 
International development secretary Rory Stewart, who was placed last in the first secret ballot of Tory MPs last week, is widely seen as the underdog in the contest as he now overtook Raab to stay in the running. 

-- PTI

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