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Thu, 10 October 2019
Delhi's air quality turns poor

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23:38   Delhi's air quality turns poor
Delhi recorded poor air quality on Thursday for the first time this season, the Central Pollution Control Board said.
 
The Air Quality Index, based on 33 air quality monitoring centres, was at 211. AQI between 201 to 300 is considered as poor. 
Indications of increased fire activity during the last 48 hours are visible from satellite imagery and further deterioration of AQI is expected for the next two days, the CPCB said.
According to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), the southwest monsoon has withdrawn from northwestern parts of the country and conditions are becoming favourable for further withdrawal from parts of northwest India and adjoining central India during the next four to five days. 
The late monsoon withdrawal is not good for air quality in north India, it said.

"During the 3rd to 4th week of October, the temperature will also start to cool. The anticyclone, which persists as part of the withdrawal, associated with clear skies and sinking motion will make the atmosphere very stable beneath means significantly calm surface winds," SAFAR said. 
22:55   Corbyn meeting: Cong disowns UK unit
The Congress on Thursday disowned its overseas Congress unit in the United Kingdom, saying it is not authorised to talk on India's internal matters with outsiders, after Labour Party chief Jeremy Corbyn claimed he met local members of the Congress party and discussed "human rights situation" in Jammu and Kashmir.
Congress senior spokesperson Anand Sharma expressed shock by this "misrepresentation" and said the Indian overseas Congress is only supposed to be confined to the Indian diaspora and not discuss policy issues with outsiders.
"We are shocked by this misrepresentation and any unauthorised statement that has been made on behalf of the Congress party. The delegation which met or for that matter any committee or chapter of the Indian Overseas Congress has neither a mandate nor any authorisation to speak on behalf of the Congress party on any matter which pertains to policy or India's domestic issues. They are supposed to be confined only to the Indian diaspora," Sharma told reporters.
He said the matter has been brought to the party's attention and the Congress position is "firm, consistent and clear", as articulated in its working committee resolution of August 6.
"Any issue pertaining to the state of Jammu and Kashmir are purely India's internal affairs. So, what the Congress party has to say is communicated officially here, and no other entity, individual or a body, has any authority to do so.
"We disown any such claim in entirety. I am conveying this to the leadership of the Labour Party and to Barry Gardener, who heads the foreign affairs department of Labour Party to convey this to Jeremy Corbyn," Sharma said. -- PTI
22:53   Govt asks Mother Dairy to sell tomato puree to mitigate shortage
To provide relief to consumers from rising tomato prices, the Centre on Thursday directed state-run Mother Dairy to sell tomato puree through its 400-odd Safal outlets in the national capital.
   
The Delhi government has also been asked to check hoarding and keep a vigil on border areas for any delay in transportation and take immediate corrective action.
 
The decision was taken at an inter-ministerial meeting, headed by Consumer Affairs Secretary Avinash K Srivastava, that reviewed the price and supply situation of tomato, a highly perishable vegetable.
 
Tomato prices have shot up to Rs 80 per kg in retail markets in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) due to supply disruption owing to heavy rains in producing states like Maharashtra and Karnataka.
 
Private trade data showed tomato price ruling in the range of Rs 60-80 per kg in Delhi, depending on the quality and locality, while the government data showed rates of the perishable vegetable at around Rs 60 per kg.
 
"To mitigate the shortfall in availability of tomatoes in Delhi, Safal has agreed to provide tomato puree from all its outlets in Delhi," an official statement said. -- PTI
22:28   CBI opposes Indrani's bail application
The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday opposed bail application of Indrani Mukerjea, prime accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, saying she should not be shown any "leniency".
   
Mukerjea had moved the bail application about six months ago on health grounds before special judge for CBI cases J C Jagdale.
 
This is her fourth bail plea.
 
In its reply, the Central Bureau of Investigation said she should not be shown any leniency in view of the crime she is accused of having committed.
 
If released on bail, she could threaten the witnesses or influence them by offering inducements, the agency said, adding the trial was at a very crucial stage with 58 witnesses examined so far.
 
About her health issues, the CBI said jail authorities have always ensured that she was taken to hospital immediately in emergency.
Meanwhile, cross-examination of the forensic expert from government-run Nair hospital, who had examined the purported remains of Sheena Bora in 2015 after they were exhumed from Pen town in Raigad district, continued on Thursday. -- PTI
22:21   Pay monthly, or will cut fuel supply: Oil companies to Air India
Issuing an ultimatum to Air India, PSU oil majors on Thursday asked it to make the monthly lump sum payment by October 18 or they will stop the fuel supply at six major airports, according to an official document.
 
In a letter sent to Air India, the three oil PSUs -- Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd -- said "the outstanding has not come down considerably in the absence of the committed monthly lump sum payment". 
 
The three fuel retailers had earlier stated that Air India owed Rs 5,000 crore in unpaid fuel bills with payments being delayed by almost eight months.
 
On August 22, Indian Oil Corp, Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd had stopped fuel supplies to Air India at six airports of Kochi, Mohali, Pune, Patna, Ranchi and Vizag over payment defaults.
 
However, after the intervention of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, they resumed the fuel supply on September 7. -- PTI
22:17   US sanctions S Africa's Gupta family over 'widespread corruption'
The United States on Thursday announced sanctions against South Africa's high-profile Indian-origin Gupta family for running a "significant corruption network" that leveraged its political connections to engage in bribery, capture government contracts and misappropriate state assets.   
Among those specifically named in the US Treasury Department's designation include Ajay Gupta, Atul Gupta, Rajesh Gupta, and their associate Salim Essa for their involvement in corruption in South Africa.
The Gupta family has relocated to Dubai amid corruption charges against them in South Africa.
Ajay is the family patriarch who formulated the family's corrupt business strategies and controlled its finances, Atul is widely known to have overseen the Gupta family's outreach to corrupt government official, and Rajesh cultivated important relationships with the sons of powerful South African politicians and led efforts to pursue business and relationships in a South African province where corruption was rampant, the Treasury said.   
Salim Essa, a business associate of the Gupta family, has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, technological support in the corruption network, the Treasury alleged.
The sanctions announcement demonstrates the US government's unwavering commitment to supporting the rule of law and accountability in South Africa, the Treasury said.
"We support the anti-corruption efforts of South Africa's independent judiciary, law enforcement agencies, and the ongoing judicial commissions of inquiry. Moreover, we commend the extraordinary work by South Africa's civil society activists, investigative journalists, and whistleblowers, who have exposed the breadth and depth of the Gupta family's corruption," it said.  
21:59   India, China pose no threat to each other: Envoy
As India pulls out all stops to roll out a grand welcome to President Xi Jinping in ancient seaside temple town, Mahabalipuram, China has said the two countries pose no threat to each other and greater cooperation between the two Asian giants would inject positive energy in ensuring peace and stability in the region and beyond.
In an exclusive interview to PTI, Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong said a "new set of consensus" including "guiding principles" on the development direction of India-China ties are expected to emerge from the two-day informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Xi beginning Friday.
The envoy said as the largest developing countries and emerging economies of the world, China and India have a responsibility to inject positive energy into a "complicated world".
"We believe that the Summit will take bilateral relations to a higher level and have a major and positive impact on regional and world peace, stability and development," Sun said.
Xi will arrive in Chennai on Friday on a nearly 24-hour visit to hold talks with Modi in an informal setting amid growing unease in ties between the two countries over Kashmir, particularly after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan raised the issue during talks with the Chinese leader in Beijing on Wednesday. 
"The two countries pose no threat but offer development opportunities to each other. The cooperation between China and India will not only contribute to each other's development, but also advance the process of world multi-polarisation and economic globalisation and safeguard the common interests of developing countries," Sun said.
The Chinese envoy said the two leaders will also have in-depth discussions on the international situation and overall, long-term and strategic issues concerning the development of ties between China and India.
"A new set of consensus is expected, including a shared vision for transformation of the international system, the common responsibility and role of China and India in regional affairs, and guiding principles on the development direction of bilateral relations and cooperation in various fields," Sun said. -- PTI
21:58   Xi's gift for PM holds a message on friendship
Heading to India on Friday for his 2nd informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to present gifts to him that symbolises their friendship as well as friendly ties between the two countries.
Modi and Xi, who met numerous times in the last several years, built up a personal rapport culminating in their first informal summit at the Chinese city of Wuhan last year which helped to normalise the bilateral ties.
Xi plans to present Modi gifts that symbolises friendship between them and the two countries, the Chinese foreign ministry said in response to media queries. 

Besides India, Xi would also travel to Nepal.
"The gifts embody the friendship between President Xi and the leaders of India and Nepal and the friendly relations between China and the two countries," the ministry said, without revealing the details. 
At Wuhan summit, Modi gifted the paintings of the famous Chinese artist Xu Beihong who taught at the Viswa-Bharati University to President Xi.
Xu was known for his Chinese ink paintings of horses and birds and was one of the first Chinese artists to articulate the need for artistic expressions that reflected a modern China at the beginning of the 20th century.
The paintings depicted a horse and sparrows on grass. 

Xu made those paintings during his stay in Viswa-Bharati university. 

Xu also met Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi during his stay in India. 
21:19   Won't shut up despite ED action: Raj Thackeray
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray on Thursday said he won't be bogged down by the recent interrogation by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case.
Addressing election rallies in Mumbai's Goregaon and Santacruz suburbs, Raj said he had made it clear as said soon as he came out of the ED office that he won't keep his mouth shut.
These were his first public rallies after he was questioned by the ED for over eight hours in the IL&FS money laundering case.
"Those who were similarly threatened (by ED) joined them (BJP). But I am not bothered about such things," he said.
He also targeted Shiv Sena leader Ramdas Kadam over the felling of trees in Aarey. "Kadam was the environment minister. What did he do to stop the tree cutting," he said.
He also criticised the hurried manner in which over 2,000 trees were cut in two days before the Supreme Court stayed further tree cutting.
He also asked voters to vote for a strong opposition.

"If there is not competent Opposition, the government that comes to power won't have anyone to hold them accountable," he said. -- PTI
20:42   Not Ram Raj but Nathuram Raj in UP: Akhilesh
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav slammed the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday, saying there is not "Ram Raj" but "Nathuram Raj" in the state, a day after he visited the family of a youth killed in a police encounter over alleged illegal sand mining.
"Besides mob lynching, now there is also police lynching which can be seen here," the SP chief told newspersons.
Police said Pushpendra Yadav was killed in an encounter on Sunday after he opened fire on a patrol team.

But his family members have alleged that he was killed in a staged gunfight after he refused to pay bribe to the police station in-charge and threatened to expose him.
The initial statements of Jhansi SSP and the SHO on the encounter were inconsistent.
The SP chief visited Pushpendra Yadav's family on Wednesday and assured them help.
On Thursday, he said, "There are many loopholes in the police story."
Akhilesh Yadav said he has "no trust" in the police and the administration.
"Which Ram Raj is going on in UP? This is not Ram Raj but Nathuram Raj. With mob lynching, police lynching have also started in the state," he said at a press conference.
Jhansi Senior Superintendent of Police O P Singh had told reporters on the night of the encounter that the SHO was returning alone in his private vehicle from vacation when the exchange of fire took place, but the Station House Officer involved said he was on patrol duty with two constables.
Police have also claimed Pushpendra Yadav, who ran a sand mining business, was shot dead after he opened fire on the police officer who had seized his truck a few days earlier.
Pushpendra Yadav's family alleged that the area police officer in-charge, Dharmendra Chauhan, was demanding Rs 1.5- lakh bribe to release his truck.
"I want justice. My husband...he had given money earlier but was asked for more. When he did not give it my husband was shot dead. I want justice," his wife Shivangi said, sobbing before visiting mediapersons. -- PTI
20:30   Lawyer who filed sedition case against celebs, files 'protest petition'
After the Bihar police ordered closure of the sedition case filed against 49 personalities, who had signed an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over rising incidents of mob lynching, the complainant on Thursday filed a "protest petition" against the police.
 
Advocate Sudhir Kumar Ojha, in the fresh petition filed before Chief Judicial Magistrate Surya Kant Tiwari, alleged the police acted "under political pressure" and urged the court to monitor the case or hand it over to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
"The FIR was lodged on my complaint. The date of hearing for my protest petition has been fixed as November 11. The police has to submit its closure report before the court where I would oppose the same," Ojha told reporters.
The FIR was filed at Sadar police station last week after the CJM allowed a petition filed by Ojha, under section 156(3) of the CrPC, in July, seeking directions to the police to register a case against the signatories to the open letter.
Those named as accused included historian Ramachandra Guha, filmmakers Shyam Benegal, Anurag Kashyap, Mani Ratnam and Adoor Gopalakrishnan, actors Aparna Sen, Soumitra Chatterjee and Revathi besides light classical singer Shubha Mudgal.
Bollywood personalities critical of the move like Kangana Ranaut, Madhur Bhandarkar and Vivek Agnihotri were named as witnesses.
Notably, Bihar deputy chief minister and senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi had also come out with a statement on Wednesday, asserting his party had nothing to do with the filing of the FIR and called Ojha a "serial litigant" by whom he too had been named in a litigation four years ago. -- PTI  
20:29   Prez to meet PM's mother during two-day visit to Gujarat
President Ram Nath Kovind will be on a two-day Gujarat visit from Saturday during which he is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi's mother Hiraba and visit a famous Jain temple-cum-museum near Gandhinagar, officials said on Thursday.
As per his itinerary, Kovind will arrive in Ahmedabad on Saturday evening and stay at the Raj Bhavan in the state capital.
On Sunday morning, he would first go to Raisan village near Gandhinagar to meet Modi's nonagenarian mother Hiraba, who lives with the PM's younger brother Pankaj Modi, said the officials.
The president would then head to Koba village near Raisan to seek blessings of spiritual leader Acharya Shri Padmasagarsuriji of the Mahavir Jain Aradhana Kendra, they said. -- PTI
20:27   Rabada tried to sledge but I was in my zone: Pujara
South Africa pacer Kagiso Rabada did try to disturb Cheteshwar Pujara's concentration on the opening day of the second Test, but tactic hardly bothered the senior India batsman as he was "in his own zone".  
Rabada did say a few words to Pujara after dismissing him for 58, perhaps letting a bit of his frustration out as he was unlucky not to get him out on zero due to a dropped catch.
   
Asked what exactly Rabada said, Pujara replied: "I can't remember what he said. But he (Rabada) is someone who always likes to say something to the batsmen.
 
"As a batsman, I always know that he (Rabada) will try to disturb my concentration, not just him but any bowler, who passes a comment, so I try and avoid (listening to) what they say," said India's dependable No 3.
 
"If you are in your zone, you hardly hear what they are trying to say as you are too much focussed on what you want to do as batsman. So when you are in your own zone, you miss out what they are saying, Pujara said avoiding any controversy. 
 
Pujara made 58 off 112 deliveries. 

He hit nine fours and one six during his knock before being dismissed by Rabada. -- PTI  

Image: South Africa cricket team player Kagiso Rabada celebrates the dismissal of Cheteshwar Pujara during the second India-South Africa cricket test match at Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune. Photograph: Mitesh Bhuvad/PTI Photo
19:43   Mob lynching a reality, a 'new normal': CPI hits out at RSS
Mob lynching is a reality and has become a "new normal", the Communist Party of India said Thursday, hitting out at Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat for his comments that the word "lynching" was "alien" to the Indian tradition.
   
In his Dussehra address in Nagpur, Bhagwat had said isolated incidents of social violence should not be labelled with foreign words, like lynching, to defame the country.
 
"RSS, instead of condemning the mob lynching, gives a spin saying that lynching is alien concept and a conspiracy to tarnish Hindu culture. Mob lynching is a reality and has become a new normal. The country knows who are the lynchers," said a statement from the party. 
 
Touching on various aspects of Bhagwat's speech, the statement alleged that RSS-BJP "trampled" upon every right of the people won through relentless struggles. 
The party appealed to all the left, democratic, secular forces to "strike together, while marching separately" and raise their voices against the shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir where people have been allegedly denied even the basic rights and leaders have been held under house arrests.
 
"The sinister move to consolidate Hindu votes making full use of armed forces' victories, Islamaphobia, etc, have to explained in detail to the masses," the statement said. 
The National Executive of the CPI at its last meeting in September called upon all its units to carry out an ideological and political campaign from October 2 to November 7, "to expose the nefarious designs and activities of RSS, BJP and their affiliates." -- PTI 
19:42   Rahul to hit campaign trail in Maha with rally in Dharavi
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will campaign in Mumbai on Sunday for the Maharashtra assembly elections.

It will be his first campaign event in the state ahead of the October 21 elections.

Mumbai Congress chief Eknath Gaikwad said Gandhi will address a rally at Dharavi on Sunday evening.

Gaikwad's daughter and Congress secretary Varsha Gaikwad is seeking re-election for a fourth term from Dharavi.

During Rahul Gandhi's tenure as party chief, Varsha Gaikwad was AICC secretary for Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh assembly polls.

The Congress is contesting 31 seats in Mumbai, leaving five for the ally NCP. 

In 2014, the Congress had won only five seats in the metropolis.

State Congress sources said Gandhi will also address a rally in Latur where former chief minister late Vilasrao Deshmukh's sons Amit and Dheeraj are contesting from Latur City and Latur Rural seats, respectively.

A rally in Vidarbha is also being planned early in the day on Sunday, sources said.

Gandhi will return to the state for another round of campaigning on October 15, they said. -- PTI
19:34   BJP slams Cong for meeting UK leader on J-K
The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday lashed out at the Congress over its "shameful shenanigans" and demanded an explanation after British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he discussed the human rights situation in Kashmir with "UK representatives from the Indian Congress Party".

"A very productive meeting with UK representatives from the Indian Congress Party where we discussed the human rights situation in Kashmir. There must be a de-escalation and an end to the cycle of violence and fear which has plagued the region for so long," Corbyn tweeted.

The Labour Party leader, whose stand on Kashmir has not gone down well with the Indian government, also tweeted a picture of the meeting.

The picture included Kamal Dhaliwal, who heads the overseas Congress in the UK.

"Appalling! Congress owes it to the people of India to explain what its leaders are telling foreign leaders about India. India will give a befitting reply to Congress for these shameful shenanigans!" the BJP said in a tweet.

The saffron party's foreign affairs department in-charge Vijay Chauthaiwale said, "This is Congress seeking advice from the UK Labour Leader they might as well go to their masters directly in Pakistan." -- PTI

Photograph: @jeremycorbyn/Twitter  
19:22   WB Guv 'shocked' over killing of teacher, family; seeks report
Expressing shock over the brutal killing of a school teacher and his family members in Murshidabad district, West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Thursday said the incident reflects the law and order situation of the state.
A primary school teacher, his wife and 8-year-old son were hacked to death by "unidentified miscreants" inside their residence in West Bengal's Murshidabad district on Tuesday.
"I am shocked, distressed and pained at the inhuman brutal killing of a school teacher, his wife and his son in Murshidabad district. This is a critical reflection of the state of affairs and the law and order of West Bengal,"
Dhankhar told PTI.
Dhankhar said he has sought a report on the killing from the state government on an urgent basis.
"I call upon the law enforcement agencies to pursue the culprits and bring them to book," he said.
The bodies of Bondhu Gopal Pal, a 35-year-old primary school teacher, his pregnant wife Beauty and son Angan were found lying in a pool of blood inside their residence at Jiaganj in Murshidabad district on Tuesday. -- PTI 
18:02   Ex-Ranbaxy promoter Shivinder Singh arrested
Former promoter of Ranbaxy pharmaceuticals, Shivinder Singh, was arrested on Thursday by the Delhi police in a Rs. 740-crore fraud case. 

Shivinder Singh's brother Malvinder Singh is also named in the case.

The brothers have been accused by Religare Finvest of fraud and misappropriation of funds to the tune of Rs. 740 crore.
17:44   World backs PM on Kashmir, But Pak cornered: HM
Union home minister Amit Shah on Thursday said that the entire world stands by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to abrogate Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, while on the other hand, Pakistan stands alone in a corner.

"Prime Minister Modi recently returned from the UN, and the entire world is standing by his decision to abrogate Article 370. On the other hand, Pakistan stands alone in a corner," Shah said while addressing a public rally in Maharashtra's Sangli.

Shah also criticised the Congress party and the Nationalist Congress Party for opposing the central government's decision to abrogate Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

"When Prime Minister Modi brought the proposal to abrogate Article 370, both the Congress and the NCP were against it and were revolting against it. I want Rahul Gandhi and Sharad Pawar to answer to the people of Maharashtra why they were against the removal of Article 370," he said.

Shah stated that they opposed the decision to do vote bank politics and added, "Rahul Gandhi said that 'Kashmir me khoon ki nadiya beh jayengi', but no bullet had to be fired."

He further said that Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the first person to congratulate former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on India's victory after the India-Pakistan war in 1971.

"We were in the opposition then, but for us, the nation comes first," he said. -- ANI
17:18   Delegation of Muslim spiritual leaders to visit J-K
A delegation of Sufi leaders and spiritual heads of various shrines across the country will visit Jammu and Kashmir between October 12 and 14 to meet the locals and assess the ground situation there.
 
The spiritual head of Ajmer dargah, Zainul Abedin Ali Khan, has taken the initiative to send the delegation comprising 18 members that will be led by his son Nasiruddin Chisty.
"Kashmir has been a sufferer of false propaganda which is executed against India from across the border. I felt the necessity that we should interact with Kashmiri people, particularly youths, and work for prosperity in Jammu and Kashmir therefore the decision to send a delegation to J&K was taken," the Ajmer dargah Deewan said in Ajmer on Thursday.
"We would like to act as a bridge between the Kashmiri (people) and prosperity," he added.
He said that the Union government and other authorities have been informed about the visit of the delegation, which will leave New Delhi on October 12.
The delegation members are from Rajasthan, (Ajmer, Jaipur and Jhunjhjunu), Hyderabad, New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Bihar.
Chisty said that the delegation members will be interacting mainly with youngsters in Jammu and Kashmir and will assess the ground reality.
"Our aim is to build trust among youths and other people and to bring them into the mainstream," Chisty said. -- PTI  
16:41   Olga Tokarczuk, Peter Handke win Literature Nobel
Polish author Olga Tokarczuk has won the Nobel Literature for 2018 while 2019 Literature Nobel has bee n awarded to Austrian author Peter Handke.

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature was postponed for a year due to the sexual harassment scandal that shook the Swedish Academy.
16:11   India slams Turkey for its 'unilateral military offensive' in northeast Syria
India on Thursday said it was "deeply concerned" over the "unilateral military offensive" by Turkey in northeastern Syria and asserted that the action can undermine stability in the region as well as the fight against terrorism. 
  
On Wednesday, Turkish jets and artillery targeted Kurdish-controlled areas in Syria, forcing thousands of civilians to flee their homes.

Reacting to the development, ministry of external affairs said: "We are deeply concerned at the unilateral military offensive by Turkey in northeast Syria."

Turkey's actions can undermine stability in the region and the fight against terrorism, it said.

The action also has the potential for causing humanitarian and civilian distress, the MEA said in a statement.

"We call upon Turkey to exercise restraint and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. We urge the peaceful settlement of all issues through dialogue and discussion," the MEA said.

-- PTI
15:57   I-T raids ex-Karnataka deputy CM's residence
The Income Tax Department on Thursday conducted raids at premises linked to former deputy chief minister of Karnataka G Parameshwara and others in connection with a multi-crore tax evasion case linked to the NEET exams, officials said.

A total of 30 premises are being covered in the raids and a team of around 80 I-T officials, apart from police personnel, are undertaking the searches at various locations in the state and some places in Rajasthan, they said.

The department took the action as part of its probe to check alleged irregularities in the conduct of NEET exams in two medical colleges run by a trust in Tumkur city.

Parameshwara is stated to be the chairman of the trust identified as Shri Siddhartha education trust.

A case of alleged forgery in the NEET exam by impersonation and alleged illegal payments made to secure seats is the trigger of the I-T action, they said.

Searches are being conducted in Rajasthan to trace some students who impersonated in the exams, they said.

Parmeshwara was the deputy chief minister of Karnataka from May 2018 to July 2019. 

-- PTI
15:20   Nadda given 'Z' category security
BJP working president J P Nadda has been accorded with 'Z' category security and he will be guarded by the commandos of the Central Reserve Police Force round the clock, officials said on Thursday.
 
The decision has been taken by the Union Home Ministry taking into consideration of the increased threat perception on Nadda, who has taken the charge of the ruling party's crucial post nearly four months ago.
The BJP working president has been accorded with the 'Z' category security in all India basis, a home ministry official said.
A total of 35 commandos of the CRPF will guard Nadda on a rotational basis and at any given time, eight to nine commandos will give him proximate security.
Following the decision, Nadda will be given the 'Z' category protection wherever he travels within the country.
In addition to the proximate security, CRPF personnel will also be posted to guard Nadda's residence here, another official said. 

-- PTI
15:01   No date fixed for inauguration of Kartarpur corridor: Pak
Pakistan on Thursday said no date has been fixed so far for the inauguration of the much-awaited Kartarpur corridor, even as it assured that it will be open "on time" on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Sikh faith founder Guru Nanak Dev next month. 

The statement came nearly a month after a senior official heading the corridor project announced that Pakistan will allow Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit the holy Kartarpur Sahib from November 9. 

Addressing a weekly press briefing, Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said, "Work on the Karatarpur corridor will be completed on time as committed by the prime minister (Imran Khan). It will be inaugurated on time, but I can't give any date for its opening as no date has been fixed so far." 

He assured that the corridor will be open on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of the Sikh spiritual leader on November 12.

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

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

On September 16, during a maiden visit of Pakistani and foreign journalists to the proposed Kartarpur Corridor in Narowal, some 125 km from Lahore, the project director, Atif Majid, said 86 per cent of the work on the corridor has been completed and it will be opened to pilgrims on November 9.

-- PTI
14:25   Sharad Pawar joins Rafale 'shastra puja' row
NCP leader Sharad Pawar has joined the debate over the 'shastra puja' performed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in front of the Rafale fighter jet handed over by France on Tuesday. 

Pawar, while acknowledging the Rs 59,000 crore deal was in India's best interests, was left bewildered by the hanging of lemon and chili from the multi-million dollar advanced multirole fighter jet that is widely regarded as one of the deadliest in its class.

"I have no doubts on the decision taken for national security. But, I don't know if it is true, but what can one say when lemon-chili is hung on Rafale aircraft with the idea of protecting it from curse just like it's hung on a newly-purchased truck," Pawar was quoted as saying by ANI.

Sharad Pawar's sarcastic jibe comes a day after his "Abhi toh main jawan hoon" jibe at BJP leaders who accused him of being too old for politics and claimed the NCP-Congress alliance in Maharashtra had given up hope of unseating the BJP-Shiv Sena combine in assembly elections on October 21.

On Tuesday, after taking formal handover of the first of 36 Rafale jets meant for the Indian Air Force, Rajnath Singh performed a 'shastra puja'.

In front of a gathering that included French Defence Minister Florence Parly, Singh wrote the Sanskrit word "Om" on the body of the aircraft, sprinkled it with flowers and offered up a coconut. Finally, he placed a lime in front of the wheels - a practice meant to ward off evil - before flying off on a sortie in the jet.

Singh's actions prompted criticism from opposition leaders, with Congress politician Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, calling it "tamasha".

13:55   Will talk to RBI chief on PMC bank issue: Nirmala
Finance Minister met a few angry and disgruntled customers of the PMC bank in Mumbai, Maharashtra. She assured them of all the help she could provide them with. 

Later, she held a press conference and this is what she said:

>> PMC is a multi-state cooperative and is regulated by RBI. Therefore, in such instances where there is malpractice, it is RBI that handles the matter. I have conveyed this to PMC customers

>> We will try to bring in resolutions in the upcoming Winter Session of the Parliament

>> If amendments are going to help us curb malpractices and in empowering the regulator that is the RBI, we'd like to do it. We will also take legislative steps to avoid such cases
12:45   Shah, Uddhav to address rallies in Amravati on Friday
Electioneering for the eight assembly seats in Maharashtra's Amravati will gain momentum from Friday when BJP president Amit Shah and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will address separate rallies in the district located in the Vidarbha region.

Shah will address a public gathering in Melghat constituency, a tribal belt where the BJP has fielded Ramesh Mavaskar, a fresh face, in place of sitting MLA Prabhudas Bhilavekar.

Mavaskar is pitted against NCP's Kewalram Kale.

Thackeray will address a public meeting at the Dussehra maidan in Amravati city to campaign for Shiv Sena candidates Preeti Band (Badnera Assembly seat), Rajesh Wankhade (Teosa) and Sunita Fiske (Achalpur).

In Badnera, Preeti Band, the widow of former Sena MLA Sanjay Band, is pitted against two-term Independent MLA Ravi Rana, who has the backing of the opposition Congress and NCP.

In Teosa, Wankhade is taking on Congress MLA Yashomati Thakur, who is eying a hat-trick.

In Achalpur, Fiske, the local municipal council president, is contesting against three-term Independent MLA Bachchu Kadu.

Polling for the 288 assembly seats in the state will be held on October 21 and counting of votes will take place on October 24.

-- PTI
12:26   BJP MLA seeks ban on 'Bigg Boss' show
A BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh has written a letter to Minister of Information & Broadcasting, Prakash Javadekar, asking him to immediately stop the telecast of "Bigg Boss-13" alleging that the show is 'spreading vulgarity and hurting the social morality of the country'.

BJP MLA from Loni, Nand Kishor Gurjar wrote that the "show was promoting obscenity and vulgarity and was unfit for family viewing".

"The show is against the cultural ethos of the country and highly objectionable intimate scenes were a part of it. Couples of different communities were being made to share their bed with another which was unacceptable," read the letter.

Lauding the sincere efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to regain the lost glory of India, the BJP lawmaker said, "On one hand where our Prime Minister Modi ji is working really hard to regain the lost glory of the country, on the other hand shows like Bigg Boss are degrading the culture of India."

He demanded a ban on the reality show with immediate effect and even asked for a censor board to keep a check on the content being aired on television.

-- ANI
11:59   BJP uses security forces, hijacks their sacrifices to get votes: Mehbooba
Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday questioned the heavy deployment of troops in the Valley post the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and alleged that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is using forces and hijacking their sacrifices to get votes.

The statement from the former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister came at the time when the Block Development Council elections are just around the corner in the region. 

"What explains 9 lakh troops in Kashmir if everything's 'normal'? They aren't there because of an imminent attack from Pakistan but simply to quell protests. Army's primary responsibility is to protect borders instead of being used to crush dissent," she tweeted.

"BJP uses the jawan card and hijacks their sacrifices to get votes. But truth is that if Kashmiris are treated as cannon fodder, troops have become pawns to contain unrest in the valley. The ruling party does not care about jawans or Kashmiris. Sole concern is winning elections," she said in another tweet.

The Block Development Council elections will be held in Jammu and Kashmir on October 24 from 9 am to 1 pm. The counting of the votes will begin at 3 pm on the same day.

Notably, these elections are the first electoral process in the union territory which will take place after the repealing of Article 370 in August.

-- ANI
11:40   Not said anything wrong: Rahul's defence in court
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Thursday told a Surat court that he did not say anything wrong when he wondered why all thieves shared the Modi surname.

Rahul Gandhi made the remark as the court deferred till December 10 the hearing on the defamation case filed against former Congress president Rahul Gandhi over his remark: Why do all thieves share the Modi surname?

Chief Judicial Magistrate B H Kapadia had in May issued summons to Gandhi after admitting a complaint filed by local BJP MLA Purnesh Modi under IPC sections 499 and 500, which deal with criminal defamation.

During the last hearing in July, the court had granted Gandhi exemption from personal appearance for that hearing and fixed October 10 as the next date of hearing.

In his complaint, the BJP legislator from Surat-West had alleged the Congress leader had defamed the entire Modi community with his remark, made during the Lok Sabha campaign this year.
11:12   Rahul Gandhi appears before Surat court in defamation case
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday appeared before a court in Surat in a criminal defamation case filed against him over his remark: Why do all thieves share the Modi surname?

Chief Judicial Magistrate B H Kapadia had in May issued summons to Gandhi after admitting a complaint filed by local BJP MLA Purnesh Modi under IPC sections 499 and 500, which deal with criminal defamation.

During the last hearing in July, the court had granted Gandhi exemption from personal appearance for that hearing and fixed October 10 as the next date of hearing.

In his complaint, the BJP legislator from Surat-West had alleged the Congress leader had defamed the entire Modi community with his remark, made during the Lok Sabha campaign this year.

The court, while admitting the suit, had held that there was a prima facie case of criminal defamation against the Lok Sabha member from Wayanad.

At a campaign rally at Kolar in Karnataka on April 13, Gandhi had said, "Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Narendra Modi... how come they all have Modi as common surname? How come all thieves have Modi as common surname?"

In his complaint, Purnesh Modi had said the Congress leader had defamed the entire Modi community with his statement.
-- PTI
11:01   Mary Kom punches her way into semi-finals of World Women's Boxing Championship
India's M C Mary Kom (51kg) enters semi-finals of World Women's Boxing Championship, assured of unprecedented eighth medal. 

Mary Kom beat reigning Olympic medalist Ingrit Valencia by unanimous decision 5:0 to storm into the semis.
10:49   Cong questions govt on China's U-turn on Kashmir
The Congress has slammed the Narendra Modi-led government for failing to stop China from interfering in the internal matters of India after China said it was paying close attention to the situation in Kashmir.

Taking to Twitter after a heated exchange of words between India and China on Kashmir, Congress leader Manish Tewari asked why does India not raise issues of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, human rights violations in Xinjiang like China keeps raising concerns on Kashmir.

"Xi Jinping says he is watching Kashmir but why does @PMOIndia/MEA not say 1) We are watching pro-democracy protests muzzled in Hong Kong. 2) We are watching human rights violations in Xinjiang. 3) We are watching continued oppression in Tibet 4) We are watching South China Sea," Congresss Manish Tewari wrote on Twitter as he hit out at the Centre for its inability to stop China from interfering in Indias internal matters.

Manish Tewaris tweet came in response to Chinese president telling Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan that it was paying "close attention" to the situation in Kashmir just hours before the second informal Modi-Xi summit in Tamil Nadu's Mahabalipuram.

Xi Jinping, who is scheduled to visit India on Friday to hold the second informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, assured Imran Khan during a meeting that the friendship between China and Pakistan is "unbreakable and rock-solid" despite changes in the international and regional situation.

A release said the Chinese side reiterated that the Kashmir issue is a dispute left from history, and should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements.
10:23   Rahul arrives in Surat ahead of court appearance
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi arrives in Surat. He will appear before Surat Court today in connection with a case over his comment "Why do all thieves have Modi in their names".

In April this year, Rahul is reported to have said that "Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi and Narendra Modi...how come they all have Modi as common surname? How come all the thieves have Modi as the common surname?" during a rally in Kolar, Karnataka. 

Following his remark, BJP MLA in Surat Purnesh Modi had moved the court and filed a defamation suit against Rahul under Section 499 and 500 of Indian Penal Code. Modi has claimed that Rahul's remark defamed the entire Modi community by calling them as thieves. 

Following the complaint, the court had issued summons to Rahul for his appearance. 
10:00   BSF spots drone, entered from Pak side, for 3rd consecutive day
Border Security Force personnel on the third consecutive day spotted drone entered from Pakistan's side on Wednesday evening in Hussainiwala border in Ferozepur, sources said.

The drone was first spotted around 7:15 pm and again spotted by security personnel and locals after three hours. Later, information was given to the local police. Punjab Police is investigating the matter.

BSF personnel had earlier spotted a drone entering from Pakistan's side on Monday night. 

-- ANI
09:42   Kashmir opens for tourists; 67 days of clampdown
Jammu and Kashmir will open for tourists from today two months after an advisory was issued asking tourists to leave the Valley due to terror threat.

The decision to lift the curb was announced by the governor Satya Pal Malik on Monday following a situation-cum-security review meeting with the advisers and the chief secretary.

The Centre had, on August 2, cancelled the Amarnath Yatra and advised pilgrims and tourists to cut short their stay in the Valley immediately in view of the intelligence inputs of terror threats, days before the revocation of Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

In another move, the administration re-opened higher secondary schools, colleges and universities on Wednesday.

In Srinagar, security forces were stationed outside the prestigious Sri Pratap College and were allowing students on the campus after checking their identity cards. I came here to get the study material and not to attend the classes. The teachers told us that the classes can only start once the situation becomes normal, said a chemistry student, who did not wish to be named.

Restrictions, imposed in the aftermath of Centres August 5 move to abrogate Article 370 and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, have been lifted in phases in the past two months. But a shutdown against the governments move continues while mobile and internet services remain largely blocked.

Image: Vacant tourist Shikara boats are moored in middle of Dal lake during curfew like restrictions. Photograph: Yawar Nazir/ Getty Images
09:29   Sena corporators resign to support party's rebel candidate in Kalyan
Around 30 Shiv Sena corporators and several other party leaders from Kalyan (East) assembly seat submitted their resignations to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray in support of the party's rebel candidate Dhananjay Bodare. 

Local Shiv Sena leaders are reportedly upset over the party's order to support BJP candidate Ganpat Gaikwad in the forthcoming assembly elections. 
08:58   Post-scandal Academy to award 2 Nobel Literature prizes
The Swedish Academy will crown two Nobel literature laureates on Thursday, after postponing last year's prize over a sexual harassment scandal.

Experts say the academy will seek to avoid ruffling any feathers with this year's choices as it bids to move on from the scandal that saw the husband of one of its members jailed for rape.

Ahead of the announcement, when it will reveal one winner for 2018 and one for 2019, some names creating a buzz are poet Anne Carson and novelist Margaret Atwood, both of Canada, as well as Kenyan writer Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, Polish writer and activist Olga Tokarczuk, and French Guadeloupean Maryse Conde, according to betting site Unibet.

Stockholm's literary circles have also speculated about Romanian poet and novelist Mircea Cartarescu, Polish writer Hanna Krall, Antiguan-American author Jamaica Kincaid, South Korean writer Han Kang and Joyce Carol Oates of the United States.
08:30   JK to release 3 politicians from detention today
The Jammu and Kashmir administration will release three politicians detained since August 5 after the Centre abrogated special status granted to the state under the Constitution, officials said. 
  
Yawar Mir, Noor Mohammed and Shoiab Lone will be released on various grounds which includes signing of a bond, they said, explaining the reasons for ending of their detention. 

While Mir is a former MLA of the PDP from Rafiabad assembly seat, Lone contested unsuccessfully on a Congress ticket from North Kashmir and later resigned from the party. He was considered close to People's Conference chief Sajjad Lone. 

Noor Mohammed is a National Conference worker who has been managing the party's show in the militancy-infested Batmaloo area of the Srinagar city. 

Before his release, he will be signing a bond to maintain peace and good behaviour, the officials said. 

The governor administration had earlier released Imran Ansari of the People's Conference and Syed Akhoon on health grounds on September 21. 

More than a thousand people, including politicians, separatists, activists and lawyers, were detained after the August 5 decision of the Central government to abrogate the special status. 

The detainees include three former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. 

Over 250 were sent to the jails outside Jammu and Kashmir. Farooq Abdullah was subsequently detained under the stringent Public Safety Act, while other politicians were mostly detained under different sections of the criminal procedure code. 

-- PTI
08:02   Introspect: Scindia sounds warning for Congress
Congress general secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia said that his party needs to do some introspection.

Speaking to media, Scindia was responding to a question about senior leader Salman Khurshid's statement about leadership "vacuum" in the party.

"I don't comment on others' statement, but it is true that the Congress needs introspection. The party's situation should be assessed and improved, and this is the need of the hour," he said.

Khurshid had said on Monday that the Congress was taking too long to come to terms with its defeat in general elections.

"Our biggest problem is our leader has walked away," Khurshid said, referring to Rahul Gandhi's resignation as party chief.

Scindia, meanwhile, expressed confidence that the Congress would do well in the Maharashtra assembly polls.

-- PTI
00:21   PM releases commemorative stamp on Arjan Singh
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday attended the 'at home' programme of the Indian Air Force to mark its 87th raising day and released a commemorative stamp to honour Marshal of the Air Force late Arjan Singh.
 
The PM also witnessed an exhibition on self-reliance through innovation.
"This year we mark the birth centenary of Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross). As a tribute to his exemplary service to our nation, a stamp was released. May his courage keep motivating the people of our nation for years to come," the prime minister wrote on Twitter.
The at home event was organised as part of the Air Force Day celebrations.
 
He posted pictures of the event including the one in which he is handing over certificates to IAF personnel who participated in the exhibition.
 
Addressing a Dussehra celebration here on Tuesday, Modi hailed the valour of the Indian Air Force and asked people to especially remember it on its raising day like they pay respect to Lord Hanuman on Vijayadashami.
 
The prime minister had said it's a coincidence that this year the two events are being celebrated on the same day. -- PTI 

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