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Sat, 01 February 2020
Lt Guv to police: Enhance Shaheen Bagh security

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23:41   Lt Guv to police: Enhance Shaheen Bagh security
Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal has directed police to enhance security, including putting up more barricades at the protest site in Shaheen Bagh, to prevent outsiders from creating trouble, sources said on Saturday.

The decision comes against the backdrop of a man firing two rounds in air at the Shaheen Bagh area, the epicentre of the protest against the country's new citizenship law, and was later taken into custody.

The sources said as the Delhi Assembly elections are approaching, the police has been asked to keep a tight vigil so that there is no untoward incident in the national capital.

They said that the police will also take the help of local volunteers to facilitate frisking people entering the protest site.

The sources said that the police will also randomly check people roaming around the protest site.

"The police has been directed to make all arrangements necessary for ensuring smooth access to exercise franchise to all sections of the society and instil confidence through effective public security," a source said.

Hundreds of people, including women and children, have been protesting since December 15 at Shaheen Bagh against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).  -- PTI
22:56   Shaheen Bagh firing: AAP balmes BJP again
The Aam Aadmi Party on Saturday condemned the firing incident at Shaheen Bagh and reiterated that the Bharatiya Janata Party is planning to create 'big disturbance' in the national capital on Sunday to get the February 8 assembly polls deferred as it could sense its defeat.

Delhi BJP's media in-charge for polls Ashok Goyal, however, dismissed the claim as 'nonsensical'.

"What is happening in Delhi? I had warned that a big disturbance is planned by the BJP in Delhi and a big conspiracy is being hatched by the BJP to postpone the polls," senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh said.

A man fired two rounds in air in the Shaheen Bagh area in Jamia Nagar on Saturday, where an anti-CAA protest is on, following which he was taken into custody by police, eyewitnesses said.

On Thursday, a similar incident had taken place near the Jamia university when a youth had fired on anti-CAA protesters injuring a student in the presence of police personnel.

In the wake of the Jamia shooting too, the AAP had claimed that the BJP was hatching a conspiracy to disrupt the ongoing protest at Shaheen Bagh and Jamia Millia Islamia urging the Election Commission to take cognisance.

"How is it possible that open firing is taking place in Delhi on a daily basis," Singh said, adding that the AAP has been seeking time from the EC to submit proof that the BJP was trying to disturb peace in the city.

"It is surprising that the Aam Aadmi Party has been seeking time from the Election Commission of India since yesterday and it is unfortunate that the ECI has not responded so far," he told reporters.

Singh said the administrative machinery of Delhi is currently under the ECI and the commission should ensure that the atmosphere of Delhi is not allowed to be vitiated.

"How is it possible that individuals in the national capital are brandishing dangerous weapons and are firing openly?" he said.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah is responsible for the law and order situation in Delhi but he is trying to create trouble, he said.

Singh also slammed Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for his alleged derogatory remarks against his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal.

"Yogi should have been arrested till now. He is mentally sick and requires treatment, and he should know treatment is free in Delhi," he said, adding that the EC should take strict action against Adityanath.

Singh also questioned Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad over his statement that the government was ready to talk to the protesters at Shaheen Bagh to clear their doubts over the amended Citizenship law.       

"I want to ask him what is preventing his government (from talking to the protesters) and whether it was a personal statement?" he said, adding that Prasad should know that the Union home minister will never allow talks to take place.  -- PTI
22:40   UP hostage-taker had studied other cases, planned for a month: Police
The man, who had taken 23 children captive at an Uttar Pradesh village, had apparently planned it over a month and studied similar cases of hostage crisis, police said on Saturday.

Subhash Batham, a murder accused, took the children hostage after inviting them for a birthday party at his house in Farrukhabad's Kasaria village on Thursday afternoon.

The children were freed after police barged into the house late on Thursday night and shot Batham dead.

"It seems Batham had planned it (the hostage taking) for a month," Inspector General of Police, Kanpur Range, Mohit Agarwal, told reporters, adding that his mobile phone has been seized.

Batham's wife, who was lynched by villagers, was involved and had demanded Rs one crore to free each child, he said Police have analysed Batham's phone and it has been found that 'he was planning it for a long time, searching and downloading bomb making techniques', the officer said.

"He had studied in detail a similar case in 2004 in Russia where children were held hostage, besides some other similar cases," the IG said.

The 40-year-old had earlier served jail for 10 years and was out on bail, Agarwal said.

"He was in jail last time four months ago for robbery. It seems that he had planned this (the hostage taking) there, learning the fine details from other inmates. He collected arms and explosives with their help," he said.

Batham's mobile phone is being checked to find out who he was in contact with and the people he had met. Investigations are being carried out to ascertain if any one else was also involved in the incident, the IG said.

The officer said that Batham had threatened on Thursday that he had bombs and had planted them in the his house's basement where he was holding the children hostage.

"We tried to pacify him but he fired two shots and threatened to detonate the bombs," Agarwal said, adding that locals kept him engaged as the police carried out the operation to free the children.

Locals saw Batham pouring some inflammable material on the floor.

This suggested that he was going to take a 'major step', he said.

The Bomb Disposal Squad from Moradabad has seized a .315 bore rifle, a country-made gun, 20 live cartridges, 11 empty cartridges, one rifle round, 135 country-made bombs, cylinder bombs and material used for making bombs, the officer said.  -- PTI
22:19   RSS-affiliate says FDI in education bad idea
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) on Saturday opposed Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's budget announcement that the government will encourage foreign direct investment in education, saying it is a 'bad idea' and will lead to 'westernisation' of education.

Barring the promotion of FDI in education, SJM's co-convener Ashwani Mahajan appreciated the budget proposals.

He praised the government for reviewing free-trade agreements, saying they were not in interest of the country.

He said the 16-point action plan proposed in the Budget to create income and employment in rural areas, particularly in fisheries, horticulture and other non-farm activities, is a 'welcome move'.

"FDI in education is wrong. It is a bad idea and we oppose this proposal," Mahajan told PTI.

"We should not allow foreigners to enter our education sector. This will lead to westernisation of education and will not be in national interest."

Presenting the Budget, Sitharaman said the government will encourage external commercial borrowings and FDI in education to finance infrastructure and to be able to deliver high-quality education.

Mahajan said this was considered to be the 'most difficult budget' of this decade but was presented in a confident manner.

A broad vision was seen in the form of provisions for corporate world, foreign investors, infrastructure, personal tax reforms etc. and also the efforts to increase the income of the common man and support the rural economy, he said.  -- PTI
21:16   Budget: EC gets Rs 269 crore
The Election Commission was on Saturday allocated Rs 269 crore in the Union Budget under the 'Election' head as compared to Rs 255.46 crore last year when the Lok Sabha elections were held.

A senior Law Ministry officer and a former Election Commission functionary explained that the amount allocated to the poll panel would also be used for 'book adjustments' for expenditures incurred in holding of LS polls and other elections.

In the previous budget, the Law Ministry was allocated an additional sum of over Rs 666 crore for conducting the Lok Sabha elections which were held in the summer of 2019.

In the Vote on Account 2019-2020, an additional provision was made for the Law Ministry of Rs 666.66 crore (voted) in revenue section for conducing the polls.

The Law Ministry is the administrative ministry for the Election Commission. Certain funds are also allocated to the Union Home Ministry for elections which is largely used for transportation and logistics related to security personnel.   -- PTI
20:24   Budget will help double farmers' income: Shah
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday said that the General Budget will contribute significantly towards fulfilling the government's resolve to double the income of farmers.

'This General Budget will contribute significantly in fulfilling the Modi government's resolve to double the income of the farmers by making available, better irrigation and grain storage facilities, as well as a fair price for their produce,' Shah tweeted from his official handle.

He also outlined different schemes of the central government for the welfare of farmers and said, 'Through Kisan Rail and Kisan Udaan Yojana, our Kisan brothers will join the national and international market and their products will be able to be sold at a better price at the right time. This scheme will especially benefit fruit and vegetable growers, especially tribals and farmers from the northeast.'

The Union home minister also talked about the simplification of the tax system and its benefits to the middle class.

'The Modi government through this budget has provided a major and unprecedented relief in income tax to taxpayers of every category. Particularly middle-class salaried taxpayers will not only have to reduce tax but will also get relief from the simplification of the tax system,' Shah said.

He also lauded the steps taken in the budget for the infrastructure sector.

'With the allocation of 100 lakh crores for basic infrastructure in the country by Modi government, world-class highways, railways, ports, airports, metros, etc will be built in the country, which will not only improve the life of common people, but it will also give a significant boost to economic activities,' he said.

The Home Minister hailed the allocations in the Budget to further expand the Ayushman Bharat scheme in all corners of the country.

'In keeping with the pledge of a healthy India, Modi Ji launched new hospitals by the PPP model to bring Ayushman Bharat Yojana to every nook and corner of the country, especially in the Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities and 112 aspirational districts where there is no hospital,' he said.

'Taking forward the campaigns like home, electricity, toilets, gas and health facilities for all, I welcome PM's resolve to provide clean drinking water to everyone. The allocation of 3.60 lakh crores in this scheme shows the commitment of Prime Minister Modi, which will improve the life and health of common people,' he added.

Shah praised the resolve of the government to work for the neglected sections of the society.

'The Modi government has shown its sensitivity towards the development of the neglected sections of society and connecting them to the mainstream by making a provision of Rs 85,000 crore for Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes and Rs 53,700 crore for Scheduled Tribes,' he said.

He further lauded the raising of insurance cover for bank deposits.

'In this general budget, the insurance cover for those depositing money in banks has been increased from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh by the Modi government, so that the depositor will now get a guarantee of up to five lakh rupees,' he said.   -- ANI
19:44   Gopal Baglay appointed Indian envoy to Lanka
Seasoned diplomat Gopal Baglay was on Saturday appointed India's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka.

A 1992-batch officer of Indian Foreign Service, Baglay succeeds Taranjit Singh Sandhu in Sri Lanka.

Sandhu has been appointed Indian Ambassador to the US.

Baglay is currently serving at the Prime Minister's Office.

"He is expected to take up the assignment shortly," the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.

Baglay has held many key positions including spokesperson of the MEA and Deputy High Commissioner of India to Pakistan.

He had also handled the sensitive PAI (Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran) division in the MEA.  -- PTI
18:57   Amid Coronavirus outbreak in China, MBBS student returns home to Saharanpur
Amid coronavirus outbreak in China, a third-year MBBS student studying in Beijing has returned to his hometown in Saharanpur, much to his family's relief.

"I was very pleased to see him when he arrived home. We were eagerly waiting for him," said Asha Singh, mother of the MBBS student. 

The student named, Navdeep Singh, returned to India on 27 January, as the deadly virus continues to affect different provinces of China.

"I was planning to stay there but our tutors asked us to go back to our home town. I have my leave till 14 February. Let's see if the situation improves," he said.

Talking about Navdeep's health status, his mother, Asha said, "He first got his health check-up done a day before leaving China and second time after he arrived in Delhi."

Meanwhile, 220 of the 324 Indians evacuated from the coronavirus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan were sent to the Army quarantine facility at Manesar on Saturday, while the remaining 104 were shifted to Indo-Tibetan Border Police-managed Chhawla Camp in the national capital for medical observation, the Health Ministry said.

The virus, which originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, has killed as many as 259 people in that country alone, while cases have been registered in several countries across the world.

-- ANI
18:49   Shooter has changed but ideology pulling trigger remains same: Cong on Shaheen Bagh incident
In a veiled attack on the BJP over the Shaheen Bagh firing incident, the Congress on Saturday said the shooter has changed but the ideology pulling the trigger in 1948 or 2020 has remained the same.
  
A man fired two rounds in air in the Shaheen Bagh area in Jamia Nagar, where an anti-CAA protest is on, following which he was taken into custody by police, eyewitnesses said.

Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said, "Shooter changes but ideology pulling the trigger either in 1948 (Nathuram Godse) or 2020 remains the same 'Goli Maro' -- Hands which should be pulling India's growth are now firing guns."

"Instead of 'Make in India' focus is on 'spreading hate in India'," he said.

-- PTI
18:43   'Nirbhaya convicts trying patience of country'
The Delhi high court will hold a special hearing on Sunday to decide governments plea to hang four 2012 rape convicts.

The convicts of the December 16 gang rape case are trying the patience of the country, the Solicitor General told the Delhi high court on Saturday during the hearing for fixing the date of hanging the four men held guilty for gang raping and murdering a 23-year-old paramedic student in 2012.

This gang rape case will go down in history of India where convicts of heinous crime are trying patience of country, the Solicitor General told the court during the hearing.

Seeking a fresh date for execution of the four convicts - who were set to be hanged on January 22 first and then on February 1 this year, Tihar Jail authorities on Saturday had moved court.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing on the behalf of Tihar jail authorities came down heavily on the convicts, who he said, had taken the legal process for a joyride.

The four convicts Akshay, Vinay and two other men - Mukesh Singh (32) and Pawan Kumar Gupta (25) were sentenced to death by a fast-track court within a year of the 2012 rape and murder of the woman.
18:32   Women form human chain at Shaheen Bagh
Women form a human chain at Shaheen Bagh where a man fired bullets today. No injuries were reported in the incident of firing. The man has been taken to a police station.


18:18   Only Hindus will rule: Shaheen Bagh shooter
Days after a 17-year-old opened fire at anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protesters near Jamia Millia Islamia University, another man opened fire in Delhi's Shaheen Bagh area on Saturday, according to several media reports.

The shooter, being led away by the police, said, "In our country, no one else will rule. Only Hindus will rule."

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, reacting to the incident, took to Twitter to slam Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

On Friday, a 17-year-old youth who fired at protesters near the Jamia Millia Islamia university during an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest, injuring one, was sent to 14-day protective custody by a Delhi court.
18:01   Those who support terrorists in Kashmir are staging protest at Shaheen Bagh: Adityanath
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Saturday alleged that those who support terrorists in Kashmir are staging protest at Shaheen Bagh and raising slogans of 'aazadi'.
 
Hitting out at the AAP dispensation at an election rally in northwest Delhi's Rohini, Adityanath said that the Arvind Kejriwal government "supplies biryani" to protesters at Shaheen Bagh.
Hundreds of people, including women and children, have been protesting since December 15 at Shaheen Bagh against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens. 
Addressing another poll rally at Karawal Nagar Chowk in east Delhi, the BJP leader lashed out at anti-CAA protesters, saying "their ancestors divided India, so they have a grouse against this emerging 'Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat'."

"These protests happening at various places in Delhi are not about the CAA, but it is happening because those people are questioning as to how can India emerge as a major power in the world, and to stop that rising India," he claimed. 
During the Delhi assembly poll campaign, BJP leaders have been urging people to vote for the party to show their disapproval for the ongoing anti-CAA protest at Shaheen Bagh.

-- PTI
17:35   Delhi HC to hear plea on execution of Nirbhaya case convicts on Saturday
Tihar Jail authorities on Saturday approached the Delhi high court, challenging a trial court's order staying the execution of the four convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case.
  
The plea was mentioned before Chief Justice D N Patel for an urgent hearing. It will be heard later in the day.

The jail authorities have challenged the trial court's Friday order which had stayed the execution of the convicts till further orders.

The convicts were to be hanged on Saturday.

-- PTI
17:24   Man open fires at Shaheen Bagh protesters
A man has been detained for firing at the protesters at Shaheen Bagh in New Delhi. 

No one was injured in the incident.

Delhi DCP Chinmay Biswal commenting on the incident said, "The man had resorted to aerial firing. Police immediately overpowered and caught him."

The incident comes after a man  fired at anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protesters in Jamia Nagar on Thursday.

According to witnesses, the man fired a pistol at a group of anti-CAA protesters in Jamia Nagar, injuring a student, before walking away while waving the firearm above his head and shouting 'Yeh lo Aazadi' amid heavy police presence in the area.
16:31   Ammonia leakage at Noida's Haldiram building, all safely rescued
All people were safely rescued from Haldiram's building in Sector-65 of Noida after ammonia leakage was reported on Saturday, officials said.

The gas leakage was reported around 12 pm today. Following which police force, firefighters and the National Disaster Response Force were informed. Soon after receiving information, police along with the rescue team arrived at the spot and evacuated all people.

Further details are awaited. 

-- ANI
15:56   CAA in clear violation of Constitution: Amnesty
Amnesty International has told the United States lawmakers that the recently enacted Citizenship Amendment Act stands in "clear violation" of the Constitution of India and international human rights law and "legitimises discrimination" on the basis of religion.
The new citizenship law passed by Parliament in December 2019 offers citizenship to non-Muslim persecuted religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
The Indian government has been emphasising that the new law will not deny any citizenship rights, but has been brought to protect the oppressed minorities of neighbouring countries and give them citizenship.
Amnesty International Asia Pacific Advocacy Manager Francisco Bencosme made the remarks during a testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations and House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee.
The Indian Parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Act, which legitimises discrimination on the basis of religion and stands in clear violation of the constitution of India and international human rights law, Bencosme said.
India has asserted that the legislation on CAA was enacted following the due process.
"The CAA is an internal matter of India. It has been adopted through due process and democratic means," Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Raveesh
Kumar has said, fending off criticism against the CAA. 
Defending the CAA, Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month said that the law is not about taking away citizenship, it is about giving citizenship.
"We must all know that any person of any religion from any country of the world who believes in India and its Constitution can apply for Indian citizenship through due process. There's no problem in that," he said.
The two subcommittees jointly organised a hearing on Ending Global Religious Persecution. -- PTI
15:50   Union Budget: CBI gets nominal increase of just Rs 4 crore
The Central Bureau of Investigation, which is in the thick of several high-profile graft cases, got Rs 802 crore in the Union Budget on Saturday, a nominal increase of just about Rs 4 crore.
   
With limited human resources, the agency is examining extradition cases abroad and probing corruption, banking scams and special crime cases domestically, officials said.
 
The CBI received an increase from Rs 798 crore allocated last year to Rs 802.19 crore in 2020-21, according to the Union budget presented on Saturday by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
This is an increment of about 0.50 per cent compared to the last budget.
In fiscal 2019-20, the CBI was initially allocated Rs 781.01 crore that was later revised to Rs 798 crore.
"The provision is for establishment-related expenditure of the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is entrusted with investigation and prosecution in corruption cases against public servants, private persons, firms and other cases of serious crimes," the Budget document said. 
This also includes provision for various projects such as CBI e-Governance, modernisation of training centres of the agency, establishment of technical and forensic support units, comprehensive modernisation and purchase of land, construction of office or residence buildings for the CBI, it said. -- PTI
15:30   Jamia prohibits students from holding protests inside campus
Jamia Millia Islamia on Saturday prohibited students from holding any protest meeting or agitation inside the university campus, warning them of strict action, according to officials.
   
The varsity administration also directed students to report to it any unauthorised entry of outsiders in campus to avoid "disruption of peace".
 
"Any kind of protest meeting, agitation, speeches and mass gathering or any unlawful activities causing inconvenience and disruption in the day to day academic functioning are not allowed around the central canteen or anywhere in the Jamia Millia Islamia campus," the Jamia Registrar said in an official order.
 
"Students are expected to cooperate actively in discipline maintenance to support exam and conduct of classes. They are also expected to immediately report any outsider or unauthorized campus entry as this can lead to an attempt  of disruption of peace at university. Strict action will be initiated if anyone is found engaged in such activities," the registrar added. -- PTI
14:51   Hardik ruled out of New Zealand Test series: BCCI
Flamboyant India all-rounder Hardik Pandya was on Saturday ruled out of the upcoming Test series against New Zealand after failing to regain full fitness, the BCCI said.
   
Returning from a back surgery, Pandya last month flunked the bowling workload monitoring test, one of the mandatory requirements to be considered for selection.
 
"Team India all-rounder Hardik Pandya has been ruled out of the upcoming Test series against New Zealand. He travelled to London and was accompanied by NCA Head Physio Ashish Kaushik for a review by spinal surgeon Dr James Allibone," BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a statement.
 
"Hardik will be under rehab at the National Cricket Academy until he regains full match fitness," he added. -- PTI 
14:48   Shabana Azmi returns home from hospital
Noted actor Shabana Azmi, who was injured in an accident last month, on Saturday said that she is back home now and thanked her fans for praying for her speedy recovery. 
 
The 69-year-old actor suffered head injuries when her car met with an accident on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway on January 18. Her husband, veteran lyricist Javed Akhtar, was also there in the vehicle but escaped unhurt.
The actor and her driver Kamlesh Kamath were taken to the MGM hospital in Navi Mumbai and later shifted to the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in suburban Andheri the same day.
"Thank you all for your prayers and wishes for my recovery . I'm back home now," Azmi wrote on Twitter alongside a post-recovery photo of herself. 
"Thank you #Tina Ambani and Kokilaben Ambani hospital for the sterling care provided by the doctors team and the nursing staff. Im indebted and grateful," she added.
Azmi's driver has been booked for rash driving and negligence. -- PTI  
14:06   Another Nirbhaya convict files mercy petition
Akshay Thakur, one of the convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case, on Saturday filed a mercy plea, jail officials said. 
 
Thakur and three other convicts were to be hanged on Saturday but a city court indefinitely postponed their hanging.
"Akshay Thakur filed a mercy plea before President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday," Director General (Prison) Sandeep Goel said.
Earlier in the day, the President rejected the mercy plea of another accused, Vinay Sharma.
The 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as 'Nirbhaya' (fearless), was gangraped and savagely assaulted on the night of December 16, 2012, in a moving bus in South Delhi. She died of her injuries a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital.  
Six people -- Mukesh, Vinay, Akshay Kumar Singh, Pawan Gupta, Ram Singh and a juvenile -- were named as accused.
The trial of the five adult men began in a special fast-track court in March 2013.
The prime accused, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself in Tihar jail days after the trial began. The juvenile, who was said to be the most brutal of the attackers, was put in a correctional home for three years. 
He was released in 2015 and sent to an undisclosed location amid concerns over a threat to his life. The juvenile, when released, was 20 years old.
Mukesh, Vinay, Akshay and Pawan were convicted and sentenced to death in September 2013. -- PTI
13:24   Kunal Kamra sends legal notice to IndiGo
Stand comedian Kunal Kamra has issued a legal notice to Indigo which had suspended him from flying for a period of 6 months.

IndiGo had suspended Kamra after he allegedly heckled journalist Arnab Goswami aboard one of its planes from Mumbai to Lucknow.

Kamra has demanded Rs 25 lakh from IndiGo for causing "mental pain and agony".

The legal notice issued through advocate Prashant Sivarajan, Partner at Lawmen & White, requires the airlines:- 

- To revoke the suspension of Kunal Kamra from flying with Indigo Airlines for a period of 6 months with immediate effect;

- To tender unconditional apology towards him in all leading newspapers as well as electronic media and on all of the social media platforms currently being operated by the airlines;

- To pay compensation of Rs. 25,00,000/- on account of the mental pain and agony suffered by him as well as losses incurred on account of cancellation of his scheduled shows and programmes in India as well as abroad on account of adoption of a totally illegal, arbitrary and high handed procedure which is against the extant DGCA CAR on the subject matter;

- To take action against the errant officials responsible for imposing the instant ban in abrogation of the DGCA CARs as notified under Rule 133A entailing imposition of penalty under S. No. 13 of Category III of Schedule VI of the Aircraft Rules, 1937.

Through the legal notice, Kamra said that it was in exercise of his right to freedom of speech and expression as enshrined in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, he sought to indulge in a conversation with a fellow passenger.
13:02   Too late: Oppn on govt's reach out to Shaheen Bagh
The Aam Aadmi Party and the National Congress Party have criticised the central government's dialogue offer to Shaheen Bagh protesters by questioning the timing of the move, adding that it came 'too late'.

Union law and justice minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ravi Shankar Prasad today said that the central government is ready for a structured dialogue with the Shaheen Bagh protesters.

Speaking to ANI, AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh said, "I believe this should have been done long ago and we have been saying it repeatedly that government should talk. Why does the government wake up so late? This shows that the government is in deep slumber and is not worried. Now they are saying they are ready to talk, it is their government and they have law and order, they should talk. It is a welcome move that Ravi Shankar Prasad has proposed it and I hope it has a positive outcome."

"If the government's intent is clear, the protesters should also become a part of communication", he added.

NCP lawmaker from Rajya Sabha, Majeed Memon, also slammed the government alleging that the offer was 'very late' and he doubted the intent of it.

"Law minister has woken up too late. The government of India has now realised that no persuasion and words from them can convince the protesters to call off the agitation. The government has now come up with some offer. But I am skeptical if this is some genuine offer. The whole country is protesting against this unconstitutional and undemocratic act", he said.

The Centre on Saturday said that it is ready to talk to and clear any misgivings of protestors who have been on a sit-in agitation at Shaheen Bagh in the national capital against the Citizenship Amendment Act in New Delhi for over almost two months.

In a tweet, this morning the Union Law Minister posted: "Government is ready to talk to protestors of Shaheen Bagh but then it should be in a structured form and the @narendramodi govt is ready to communicate with them and clear all their doubts they have against CAA..." -- ANI
12:53   2 more suspected coronavirus cases in Delhi's RML Hospital
Two more people suspected of being affected by coronavirus have been admitted to the isolation ward of RML hospital in New Delhi,, taking the total number of patients housed at the facility to eight, hospital authorities said on Saturday.
   
On Friday evening, two men, aged 23 and 46 years,  complained of respiratory problems and fever at the hospital which has been designated by the government to deal with such cases, they said.
 
The 23-year-old had been staying in Wuhan for the last five years and he returned to India on January 24. The other man visited Changsa and returned to India on January 18, they added.
 
Six people, suspected of being affected by novel coronavirus, were already under observation at the isolation ward. 
 
The samples of the eight people, who are all residents of Delhi, have been sent for testing and reports are awaited, the hospital authorities said.
 
India reported its first case of novel coronavirus in Kerala on Thursday and the patient, a female medical student, has been kept in an isolation ward in the state.
 
The government has stepped up its efforts to detect and prevent the spread of the virus that has killed 259 people and infected 11,791 in China and has spread to at least 17 countries already.
 
Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Thursday reviewed the country's preparedness with the ministries concerned to tackle the spread of the virus, an official release said.
 
He also spoke to chief secretaries of the states and UTs through video-conference, it added.
 
During these meetings, it was decided that all those who have come from China after January 15 will be tested for the exposure to the virus.
 
Apart from putting measures in place to battle the spread at home, 324 Indians came back to India on Saturday morning from Wuhan.
 
Authorities have been screening patients at 21 airports, ports and borders for possible coronavirus infection and the Health Ministry has urged people to report themselves if they show symptoms of the virus, such as cold and respiratory distress, on the 24x7 helpline (011-23978046).
 
The ministry has asked people to refrain from travelling to China and the states bordering Nepal -- Uttarakhand, UP, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim -- have stepped up vigil. -- PTI  
12:17   Maha college bans mobile phones to 'boost student performance'
In a bid to improve students' focus on education, a women's college in Maharashtra's Aurangabad city has banned the use of mobile phones inside its campus.
The move comes at a time when mobile phones have become an indelible part of everyday living, where youngsters are glued to social media.
Speaking to PTI, Principal of Dr Rafiq Zakaria Women's College, Dr Maqdoom Farooqui said, "We were searching for measures to enhance the process of learning and we found that students could concentrate better when they are not allowed to carry their cellphones to classrooms."
With more than 3,000 students, the women's college offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
The ban, which was imposed 15 days ago, has not only helped students focus better in classrooms, but also improved their interaction with their peers, Dr Farooqui said.
Although students are not allowed to carry their own phones on campus, a couple of handsets are kept in the reading room for emergencies, he added.
 "Initially, the decision was taken as a punishment for overuse of cellphones, but now students and staff are cooperating in the effort to enhance the learning and teaching process," the principal claimed.
Students, who travel to the college from far away places, have to deposit their phones once they enter the campus and collect them on their way home, he added.
Head of the Political Science department Prof Dr T A Paithankar said, "Initially, we also found the decision to be restrictive, but now studentsare concentrating on their studies and I am sure that this will reflect in their exam
results."
A student on the condition of anonymity said, "We are getting to know the world around us, as now have plenty of time to read newspapers and magazines in the library." -- PTI 
12:12   Ready to talk to Shaheen Bagh protesters: Govt
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Saturday said that the central government is ready to talk to Shaheen Bagh protesters who are camping at Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens.

"Government is ready to talk to protesters of Shaheen Bagh but then it should be in a structured form and the Narendra Modi government is ready to communicate with them and clear all their doubts they have against CAA," the Union law minister tweeted.

In Delhi, thousands of people, including women and children, have been protesting since December 15 at Shaheen Bagh and nearby Jamia Millia Islamia against the CAA and the NRC.

The protesters have been demanding repeal of the CAA.
12:01   Jammu terrorists were Pakistanis: J-K Police
The Jammu and Kashmir police said that the three Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists killed by security forces on January 31 were Pakistanis, who had recently infiltrated from across the border.

The Jammu and Kashmir police on Friday said that it had recovered improvised explosion devices, ready to be used around Nagrota, along with huge quantities of arms, ammunition and communication equipment from the Pakistani terrorists.

"Recovered from three slain Pakistan terrorists of JeM on January 31. They had an IED ready to be used around Nagrota through some third person in a few days. They had dumped it at a convenient location on Jammu-Srinagar Highway," the Jammu and Kashmir Police's tweet on Friday read.

The recovery included AK-47 rifles, pistols and armour piercing steel core ammunition which can go through Level 3 protection bulletproof vehicles. -- ANI
11:21   Prez rejects mercy plea of Nirbhaya convict
President Ram Nath Kovind rejects mercy plea of Nirbhaya case convict Vinay Kumar Sharma: Home Ministry official

The trial court on January 17 issued black warrants for the second time for the execution of all the four convicts in the case -- Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan (25), Vinay (26) and Akshay (31) -- in Tihar jail at 6 am on February 1.

However, on Friday a Delhi court postponed the execution till further order.

They had originally been sentenced to hang on January 22 but that was postponed after Mukesh Singh's mercy plea was rejected.
10:56   Kafeel Khan remanded to judicial custody
Child specialist Kafeel Khan who was accused of making an inflammatory speech at Aligarh Muslim University was remanded to judicial custody and later transferred to Mathura jail, officials said on Saturday. 
   
Circle Officer (Civil Lines) Anil Samania said Khan was brought in  Aligarh late Friday evening and was produced before the remand magistrate who remanded him to judicial custody.
 
He was sent to the Aligarh jail, but within an hour, he was transferred to Mathura jail, the official said. 
 
He was accused of making an inflammatory speech at the university during anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests on December 14. -- PTI 
10:23   Another AI flight to evacuate Indians from Wuhan
Air India said another special flight to evacuate Indians from coronavirus-hit Wuhan in China would depart from the Delhi airport on Saturday afternoon, hours after the first flight with 324 passengers landed in the Indian capital.
   
Wuhan is the epicentre of novel coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 200 persons in China itself.
 
Air India spokesperson said on Saturday, "Another flight will depart to Wuhan from Delhi at 12.50 pm today with a different set of crew, same doctors' team with other aircraft. The rescue team is again headed by Capt Amitabh Singh, Director Operation, Air India."
 
The first flight - which evacuated 324 passengers from Wuhan - had a team of five doctors from Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, one paramedical staff, five cockpit crew members, and 15 cabin crew members.
 
The 324 passengers comprised 211 students, 110 working professionals and three minors, the Air India spokesperson said. -- PTI
10:05   Sitharaman arrives at Parliament
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and MoS Finance Anurag Thakur arrive at the Parliament to attend Cabinet meeting at 10:15 am.
10:04  
Union Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba arrives at the Parliament ahead of the presentation of the Union budget.
10:02   FM chooses 'bahi khata' again for her 2nd budget
For her second budget presentation, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman once again carried documents in a traditional 'Bahi-Khata' (ledger) wrapped in a red cloth, similar to what she carried last year.

Dressed in crisp yellow silk saree, accompanied by MoS Finance Anurag Thakur and other officials from her ministry, Sitharam met President Ram Nath Kovind before presenting the budget at 11 am today. 

Last year, Sitharaman had ditched the long-standing tradition of carrying budget documents in a leather briefcase and went swadeshi with a 'bahi-khata'.

Commenting on the shift from a briefcase to 'bahi-khata' during the 89th Union Budget, Chief Economic Advisor, Krishnamurthy Subramanian had said in July last year, "The government is following Indian tradition and 'bahi khata' symbolises our departure from the slavery of western thought."

On being asked about the replacement of the briefcase, Subramanian had said, "It is not a budget, but a bahi-khata (ledger)."

"Sitharaman believes that leather-made products are not auspicious for the big occasion, so she avoided the leather bag and took the 'bahi khata' wrapped in the red cloth. This is considered to be auspicious," he had said. -- ANI
09:49   Union Cabinet to meet 10:15 am
Union Cabinet meeting to be held at 10:15 am today in the Parliament House ahead of the presentation of Union Budget 2020-21.
09:45   Indian economy experienced abrupt slowdown in 2019, but..: IMF MD
The Indian economy experienced some abrupt slowdown in 2019 due to turbulence in non-banking financial institutions and major reform measures such as goods and services tax and demonetisation, but it is not in a recession, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva has said.
 
"The Indian economy indeed has experienced an abrupt slowdown in 2019. We had to revise our growth projections, downwards to four percent for last year. We are expecting 5.8 per cent (growth rate) in 2020 and then an upward trajectory to 6.5 percent in 2021," Georgieva told a group of foreign journalists in Washington D.C. on Friday.
 
"It appears that the main reason for this slowdown was the non-banking financial institutions experiencing a turbulence," she said on the eve of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presenting the annual budget in Parliament on Saturday.
 
She said India had undertaken some important reforms that over the longer term would be beneficial for the country, but they do have some short-term impact.
 
"For example, coming with the unified tax system, and the demonetisation that took place. These are steps that over time are beneficial, but of course they might, might be somewhat disruptive over short term," Georgieva said in response to a question.
 
The IMF managing director said that there is not a lot of fiscal space in India. "But we also recognise that the policies of the government on that side, on the fiscal side have been prudent. We will see how the reading of the budget, the submission of the budget goes, tomorrow," she said.
 
In the medium-term, she said, the IMF remains optimistic about India. "This is why we see that upswing potential for the growth in the country," she said.
 
Georgieva said that the current economic slowdown cannot be described as a recession. "No.... You're far from that. But it is a significant slowdown, not the recession," she said. -- PTI
09:41  
MoS Finance Anurag Thakur offers prayers at his residence ahead of the presentation of the Union Budget 2020-21 in the Parliament today.
09:41   Sitharaman to present her 2nd budget shortly
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the budget of the second term of the Narendra Modi government today.

This will also be the second budget for Sitharaman, who became the second woman finance minister after Indira Gandhi to do so in the history of the independent India.

Sitharaman will present the full-year budget for the year ending March 2021.

The Budget speech will begin at around 11 am today with Sitharaman beginning it with an address to the speaker of Lok Sabha. 

Usually, the duration of the presentation ranges from 90 to 120 minutes.

The finance minister on Friday tabled in Parliament the pre-budget economic survey for 2019-20, which projected the state of the economy and outlined its challenges. 

The survey was released by Chief Economic Adviser Krishnamurthy Subramanian.

The Union Budget is the financial statement of the government, detailing its revenue and expenditure in the past, as well as estimated spending and projections for the coming year.

Sitharaman had presented her maiden budget in July last year, shortly after the BJP-led government came back to power in the Centre in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. -- ANI

Image: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with 'Bahi-Khata' ahead of presentation of Union Budget 2020-21. Photograph: ANI
09:06   Sitharaman arrives at finance ministry
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman arrives at ministry of finance. She will present her second budget today.
08:20   Coronavirus: AI flies back 324 Indians from Wuhan
Air India's jumbo B747 plane, evacuating 324 Indian nationals from the coronavirus-hit Wuhan in China, landed in New Delhi on Saturday morning, officials said.
 
The plane reached Delhi around 7.30 am, they said.
 
"With 324 passengers, special flight has taken off for India from Wuhan. It may reach Delhi at 7.30am," said an Air India spokesperson at 1.19 am on Saturday.
 
There are five doctors from Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and one paramedical staff on board, said the Air India spokesperson. 
 
The flight had departed from Delhi airport at 1.17 pm on Friday to evacuate Indian nationals from China, where more than 200 people - none of them Indian - have died due to novel coronavirus. 
 
On Friday evening, the Air India spokesperson had stated that another special flight may take off from Delhi airport on Saturday to evacuate Indians from Wuhan.
 
The death toll from the novel coronavirus outbreak in China has risen to 259 with total confirmed cases surging to 11,791 amid stepped up efforts by a number of countries to evacuate their nationals from Hubei province, the epicentre of the virus, officials said on Saturday. -- PTI 
00:22   Sharjeel Imam's phone, laptop seized
Activist Sharjeel Imam's mobile phone and laptop along with some anti-Citizenship Amendment Act posters have been seized from his house in Bihar's Jehanabad and rented flat in Vasant Kunj, police said on Friday.

Imam was arrested by the Delhi Police's Crime Branch from Jehanabad in a sedition case and he is being questioned by police for his alleged inflammatory speeches in Aligarh and at the Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi.

During investigation, a laptop and a desktop belonging to Imam were recovered from his rented flat at Vasant Kunj, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) Rajesh Deo said.

His mobile phone was recovered from his house at his native place in Jehanabad's Kako area on the instance of his brother, he said.

Imam had prepared anti-CAA and anti-NRC pamphlets with 'misleading and intimidating facts' and then distributed them in various mosques, the copy of which have been recovered, police said.

The shop from where he made photocopies of the pamphlets has also been identified, they added. Imam was arrested on Tuesday.

He was brought to Delhi on Wednesday and produced at the residence of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Purushottam Pathak in the evening amid tight security after which police were granted his five-day custody.

The PhD scholar at the Jawaharlal Nehru University's Centre for Historical Studies has been booked for sedition and other charges in several states after videos of his alleged inflammatory speeches, made during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), were circulated on the social media.

An FIR was registered against Imam by the Delhi Police on January 25 under Indian Penal C ode sections 124A (sedition) and 153A (promoting or attempting to promote disharmony or feelings of enmity on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever) among others.  -- PTI

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