Mon, 10 February 2020
UP BJP leader seeks ban on burqa, served notice
22:50 UP BJP leader seeks ban on burqa, served notice
The Bharatiya Janata Party slapped an Uttar Pradesh leader with a notice after he demanded a ban on burqa, calling it a security threat and linking it to demon king Ravana's sister Surpanakha.
"Burqa should be banned in the country as has been done in several other countries," Raghuraj Singh, who holds a rank equivalent to a minister of state in the Uttar Pradesh government, told reporters on Monday.
Hours later, BJP's state unit president Swatantra Dev Singh issued a show cause notice asking him to explain within a week why he should not be expelled from the party over the 'undignified comments'.
Raghuraj Singh claimed burqa is not worn in countries like Sri Lanka, China, the United States and Canada and said it should be banned in India as terrorists can take advantage of it.
The BJP leader said people are sporting burqas in Delhi's Shaheen Bagh protest against the new citizenship law, and added, "The burqa helps terrorists, thieves and anti-socials elements to hide behind it."
"Burqa is a threat to national security and has to be banned to crush terrorism," Singh said.
Without citing any source, Singh linked burqa to Surpanakha, the demon who has her face disfigured in Ramayana.
According to Singh's version, Surpanakha fled to hide in the Arab desert.
"As her nose and ears were chopped, she used a burqa to hide her face," he said, adding it is not necessary for humans.
"In Mecca, a shivalinga was set up by Guru Shukracharya, who was the guru of devils, and from there the burqa tradition started," he said.
"This is Hindustan and it will be run as per traditions of the Hindus. This is our wish," he said.
Congress leader P L Punia and Aam Aadmi Party's Sanjay Singh condemned Raghuraj Singh's remarks.
BJP leader Siddharth Nath Singh, a minister in the UP government, disowned the remarks, saying they reflected Raghuraj Singh's personal opinion.
Later, party spokesperson Manish Dixit in Lucknow said Raghuraj Singh has been put on notice.
"The notice has been served on charges of working against the policy of the party and making undignified comments," he said.
The state unit president has said the party will not tolerate any undignified behaviour or comment against women belonging to any caste or community, according to the spokesperson.
Raghuraj Singh, who is part of a cell attached to UP government's labour department, courted controversy earlier by threatening to bury alive Aligarh Muslim University students for raising slogans against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Bharatiya Janata Party's Aligarh unit spokesperson said Singh holds the rank equivalent to a minister of state in the UP government. -- PTI
22:42 3 overground workers arrested in Jan 31 encounter case
Three Overground Workers (OGWs) have been arrested from Pulwama district of south Kashmir in connection with the recent encounter along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway in which three Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists were killed, officials said on Monday.
Suhail Javed Lone, Zahoor Ahmad Khan and Shoiab Manzoor were arrested in an overnight operation, they said.
Lone, a Jammu student, was the second point of contact for JeM terrorists in case they failed to meet Sameer Ahmad Dar, who was driving them to the Kashmir Valley.
Dar is a cousin of the suicide bomber who killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel in a deadly attack last year in Pulwama.
The three Pakistani terrorists were killed and their three associates, all residents of south Kashmir, arrested during the encounter that broke out when security forces intercepted the truck near Ban Toll Plaza on January 31.
Besides Dar, the other two persons arrested from the scene of the encounter were Sartaj Ahmad Mantoo and Asif Ahmad Malik. -- PTI
21:43 House speech not live telecast: WB Guv unhappy
Expressing surprise that West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra's budget speech was telecast live but the state governor's address on the inaugural day of the session was not, Jagdeep Dhankhar on Monday wondered whether it was some kind of 'censorship'.
He termed this as 'intolerance' to the constitutional head of the state, and expressed confidence that the media will not be a 'silent spectator' to the whole episode.
Mitra presented the Budget of the Mamata Banerjee government on Monday, while Dhankhar addressed the Assembly at the beginning of the session on Friday.
'State Finance Minister Dr Mitra's budget speech was live while the address of the Governor under Article 176, an important occasion, in sharp deviation to practice was not allowed live coverage and media was also kept away. Leave to judgment of the people of the State!' Dhankhar said on his twitter handle.
He said this is of critical consequence for media.
'Is this acceptable expression of ideas? Is it not intolerance of (sic) the constitutional head ? Is it not a kind of censorship? I am sure the media and public would not be just silent spectators,' he said in the micro-blogging site.
The governor averted a showdown by not deviating from the speech prepared by the Trinamool Congress government for his customary address to the Assembly at the beginning of the budget session on Friday.
Dhankhar had earlier said that as the constitutional head of the state, he was within his right to make suggestions and hoped those would be incorporated in his speech. -- PTI
20:51 First meeting of Ram temple trust on Feb 19
Fixing the date for the beginning of the Ram temple's construction and appointment of two trustees are on the agenda of the 'Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra', a trust formed by the Union government for building the temple in Ayodhya, in its first meeting on February 19.
There is a view that Ram Navami, which falls in the first week of April, will be an auspicious day to start the work for building the temple but official sources said a decision will be taken after considering various aspects, including feasibility and opinions of other stakeholders.
Bharatiya Janata Party member Kameshwar Chaupal, who is one of the members of the trust, said the meeting will take place in the national capital.
Chaupal is a Dalit and laid the foundation for the temple during 'shilanyas' in 1989.
The Modi government has announced that at least one person on the 15-member trust will be a Dalit.
Member of 'Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra' Swami Vasudevanand Saraswati in Allahabad said they will also discuss the inclusion of Ram Mandir Nyas chief Mahant Nritya Gopal Das in the trust.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 5 had announced in Lok Sabha the formation of the trust to construct a Ram temple in Ayodhya as directed by the Supreme Court in its landmark verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case in November last year.
Senior lawyer K Parasaran has been named the head of the trust and its other members include Jagatguru Shankracharya, Jyothishpeethadheeshwar Swami Vasudevanand Saraswati Ji Maharaj from Allahabad, Jagatguru Madhavacharya Swami Vishwa Prasannatheerth Ji Maharaj, Pejawar Math in Udupi, Yugpurush Paramanand Ji Maharaj from Haridwar, Swami Govinddev Giri Ji Maharaj from Pune and Vimlendra Mohan Pratap Mishra from Ayodhya.
Two prominent people who shall be practising Hindus will be nominated by the board of trustees with a majority resolution. -- PTI
20:02 India's first coronavirus patient tests negative
The latest test result of the woman medical student, who arrived in Thrissur from China's Wuhan region and was the first positive case from India for the novel Coronavirus (nCoV), has come out negative, health officials said on Monday.
Her condition was 'stable', they said.
According to the state health department as of now, 34 people are in isolation wards across various hospitals in the state.
"The blood test result of the first patient from Thrissur, from the National Institute of Virology (NIV) testing centre at Alappuzha, shows a negative result. But we need confirmation from the NIV at Pune," a senior medical officer told PTI.
After the first positive case was reported from Thrissur, two other Keralite students from Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus, had tested positive in Alappuzha and Kasaragod districts.
The health department had earlier said those in isolation wards of various hospitals in the state have come down to 34.
"A total of 3,252 are still under observation across the state, of which 3,218 are under home quarantine," a release issued by the health department said.
The department has already sent at least 345 samples for testing at the NIV at Pune and so far 326 results have returned negative.
The 'state calamity' alert, which was declared on February 3, was withdrawn on Friday after no new positive cases of infection were detected. -- PTI
19:14 NHRC notice to UP govt over 'police atrocities'
The National Human Rights Commission has sent a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government days after a Congress delegation led by senior party leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra met top officials of the rights panel and sought action against alleged police atrocities on anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protesters in the state, an official said on Monday.
The Congress on January 27 moved the NHRC demanding action against alleged police atrocities on the protesters in the state, claiming that victims have been made accused in case-related first information reports and no police officer has been named.
The delegation had met the NHRC chairperson and other senior officials, and made a detailed 31-page representation which included videos and photographs as 'evidence' of alleged atrocities and human rights violations in the state.
After the meeting, Rahul Gandhi alleged that the UP government has 'gone to war against its own people' and urged the NHRC to act decisively to protect the 'constitutional rights of our citizens'.
"The NHRC has taken cognisance of the issue after a Congress delegation visited the commission recently and me the top officials. A notice has been issued to the chief secretary in this connection and response has been sought in six weeks," the official said. -- PTI
18:37 IndiGo pilot axed for threatening senior citizen
Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Monday suspended an IndiGo captain for three months for allegedly intimidating and threatening a wheelchair-bound senior citizen in a Chennai-Bengaluru flight on January 13, an official said.
During investigation, it was found that the pilot-in-command 'insisted' on an apology letter from the passengers -- the senior citizen and her daughter -- which further delayed the matter, detaining them for approximately 75 minutes after the deboarding began at the Bengaluru airport.
'It was established that the pilot-in-command's attitude towards the wheelchair-bound senior citizen passenger was intimidating, threatening and lacked compassion. The DGCA has suspended his license for a period of three months,' the official added. -- PTI
18:16 Cong to move privilege motion against Gehlot
The Congress on Monday accused Union Social Justice Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot of misleading Lok Sabha on the issue of reservation and said it would move a privilege motion against him.
The Congress said it would stage protests and agitations at district level on the issue in the coming weeks to 'expose' the Modi government's 'conspiracy to end reservation' for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes.
Congress general secretary (Organisation) K C Venugopal said it is a clear agenda of the Bharatiya Janata Party to curtail reservation for SCs/STs and backwards and alleged that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has been sabotaging reservation to these oppressed sections for years.
"Congress party has decided to move a privilege motion against...Gehlot," he told reporters.
"The minister has misled the House. We will definitely move the privilege motion against him," he said.
The government on Monday informed Lok Sabha that it was not a party in the Supreme Court which has ordered that states are not bound to provide reservation in appointments.
Making a statement in the House, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Gehlot said the Centre was also not asked to file an affidavit on the issue.
He said the top court order pertains to a decision of the Uttarakhand government taken in 2012 when the Congress was in power in the state.
Denying the charge, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said it is the BJP government which has filed the special leave petition on November 14, 2019 in the Supreme Court on which the judgement has come.
"The truth is that the malintent and malafide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government is leading to this kind of judgement," Surjewala said.
"The Congress will always protect the rights and reservation for Dalits, Adivasis and will oppose this conspiracy of the BJP to end reservation for SCs/STs and backwards," he said. -- PTI
16:58 No basis to charge Omar, Mehbooba: Priyanka
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Monday said it is "pretty clear" the government has no basis to charge Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti under the Public Safety Act and the two former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers must be freed. "Since when has becoming a "daddy's girl" and encouraging people to vote become a crime against the nation," Priyanka Gandhi asked on Twitter.
Her attack came after Abdullah's "considerable influence" over people, including the ability to attract voters to polling booths despite poll boycott calls and the potential for channelling energies of public for any cause, was cited in support of his detention under the stringent PSA.
His political opponent and Peoples Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti has been accused of making anti-national statements and extending support to organisations such as the Jamaat-e-Islamia.
She was also reportedly referred in the report as being called by the masses as 'Daddy's girl' and 'Kota Rani'. "Since when has being a 'Daddy's girl' and encouraging people to vote become a crime against the nation? I would be proud to be both!" Priyanka Gandhi said in a tweet.
"It's pretty clear that the government has no basis for charging Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti with PSA. They must be freed," she said. Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also attacked the government over the PSA dossier on the two leaders.
"It has now become a crime to encourage people to vote despite a call for boycott by separatists, and that too under PSA?" Surjewala asked in a tweet.
All leaders, parties and election commissioners have been committing this crime, he said. "Where are the Supreme Court and Election Commission? 'Modi hai toh mumkin hai (If Modi is there, it is possible)," Surjewala said, taking a dig at the BJP's 2019 election campaign. -- PTI
16:24 Academy includes Satyajit Ray's 'Pather Panchali', Rahman's 'Jai Ho' in Oscar montages
India found its moment at the 92nd Oscars after the Academy celebrated Satyajit Ray's 1955 classic "Pather Panchali" and musician A R Rahman's Oscar-winning song "Jai Ho" in its montage videos. Ray's film, the first part of his critically-acclaimed "The Apu Trilogy", is hailed as one of the most iconic films made in India. The movie, which marked the directorial debut of the legendary filmmaker, explores the childhood of a young Bengali named Apu who aspires to be a writer.
The montage of international films also featured shots of movies such "Amour", "The Intouchables", "A Separation", "In The Mood Of Love" and "Amelie", among others. Ray was felicitated with an Honorary Award at the 64th Academy Awards in 1991 before his demise in April 1992. Rahman had created history in 2009 after he bagged two Oscars -- best original score and best original song -- for Danny Boyle's India-set "Slumdog Millionaire".
15:59 FIR registered in Gargi College molestation case
The Delhi Police on Monday registered a case in connection with the alleged molestation of students during a cultural festival at the all-women Gargi College last week. The police said they have received a complaint from the college authorities.
A case has been registered at the Hauz Khas police station under IPC sections 452 (House-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 509 (Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).
The incident came to light after some students of the Delhi University's Gargi College took to Instagram to narrate their unpleasant experiences during the February 6 college fest. The students alleged that a group of men gatecrashed the event and molested them. -- PTI
15:39 Rahul is lying: RSS hits out on reservations
The RSS today said reacted to Rahul Gandhi's statement that it wants to erase reservations, saying, the Congress leader was lying.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya said that Rahul Gandhi was lying and there is no impression among Indians that the RSS is anti-reservation.
Vaidya said, "The RSS has always made its stand clear on the issue (of caste-based reservations and quotas). "The RSS supports Constitution-enabled reservations. The RSS has often said so. If Rahul Gandhi is lying about it (the RSS's stand on reservations), there is no need to respond to such lies."
Earlier in the day, reacting to the Supreme Court's verdict validating the Constitutionality of the SC/ST Amendment Act, 2018, Gandhi said, "(It is) in the DNA of RSS and BJP to erase reservations."
The apex court's order came in response to PILs that had challenged the validity of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act of 2018. This amendment was introduced to nullify an earlier ruling of the SC that had diluted the stringent provisions of the SC/ST Atrocities Act.
Justifying the relevance of caste-based reservations in India, Vaidya said, "Because of the prevailing caste-based discrimination, which is evil, in the (Indian) society, we have to give reservations (based on caste). The RSS believes that first such discriminations should end; till the time they exist, reservations will stay. We need to build a society based on equality."
-- Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com
15:15 Intel warns of terror attacks on RSS leaders
Offices of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh as well as their leaders, are under the threat of being targetted by global terror organisations, which could use IEDs or vehicle-borne improvised IEDs (VBIEDs) to carry out the attack, as per a recent input of the Intelligence Bureau (IB).
The attack can take place in Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, etc, it claims.
The latest input issued this month claims that 'unknown individuals, possibly linked to Global Terror Groups are planning to target RSS offices/leaders and Police Stations, possibly using IEDs and/or VBIEDs in the coming days.
Sources have claimed that the alert asked all concerned state governments to take appropriate steps to beef up the security. A top government official claimed that security has been beefed in states of Maharashtra, Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan, UP and Assam and security of office bearers are also under review. -- PTI
Image: RSS workers at a rally in Varanasi
15:01 SC upset over minors at anti-CAA protests
The Supreme Court Monday took up the issue of an infant dying on returning home from Shaheen Bagh where his parents had taken him along to the ongoing protests against the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA).
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde took strong exception to some of the lawyers opposing the court's taking suo motu (on its own) cognisance of the matter.
"Can a 4-month-old child be taking part in such protests," the bench asked women lawyers appearing in the matter. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said it was not correct that minors like the 4-month infant should be taken to the protest site. The apex court took suo motu cognisance of the matter following a letter written to it by a national bravery award winner Zen Gunratan Sadavarte, who said that minors be barred from participating in any type of protest and agitation. The top court issued notices to the Centre and the Delhi government seeking their responses on the issue.
The bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, expressed anguish over the two women lawyers who made a statement that children who participated in the protests have been dubbed as 'Pakistani' and 'anti-nationals' in their schools. "We do not want people to use this platform to further create problems," the bench said, expressing unhappiness that the lawyers were deviating from the main issue it taken cognisance of.
"We are not considering either CAA or NRC. We are not considering the abuses like Pakistani hurled in schools, the bench said. The bench made it clear that it was not stifling anybody's voice. "We are not stifling any voice. This is a properly constituted suo motu proceedings by the Supreme Court of India," the bench said. The two women lawyers said they were seeking intervention on behalf of journalist and activist John Dayal and a woman who is the mother of two children. PTI
Image: A 4-month-old baby had passed away in his sleep on the night of January 30 after returning from Shaheen Bagh where his parents (alongside) had taken him during an anti-CAA protest
14:20 Misbehavior with women students at Gargi College extremely unfortunate: Kejriwal
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said misbehavior with women students at Gargi College was "extremely unfortunate" and the accused must be given stringent punishment. Scores of students of the all-women Gargi College on Monday held a protest against the alleged molestation of students by a group of men who had gatecrashed a cultural festival.
"The misbehavior with our daughters at Gargi College is extremely unfortunate. This cannot be tolerated at all. The culprits should be given stringent punishment. It should be ensured that the children studying in our colleges are safe," Kejriwal said in a tweet. -- PTI
14:04 Speaker raps TMC MP for saying he's partial
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Monday cautioned TMC member Mahua Moitra against making undue remarks during debates and casting aspersions on the chair's impartiality during proceedings of the House. The Speaker's comments came after Moitra made certain remarks on the chair after she was not given an opportunity to ask a supplementary question on the country's growth rate during the Question Hour.
"Honourable member, please don't make undue comments and that too when sitting in someone else's seat. Whether I am impartial or not, the House will decide...," he said, expressing his displeasure over Moitra's comments which was not audible in the din.
As the West Bengal MP rose to say something again, Birla said she was again making undue comments. Then the Speaker told TMC leader of the House Sudip Bandyopadhyay to advice his party MP, Moitra, to behave and not to make undue comments during proceedings of the House and that too sitting in someone else's seat.
Bandyopadhyay responded to the Speaker's request by saying Moitra was a first time MP and he would convey Birla's words. "Sir, she is a first time MP, she is very jovial and very promising. I will definitely convey your message to her but you too kindly bless her," he said. PTI
13:49 My father and brother are very strong: Omar's sister
This morning, February 10, Sara Pilot challenged her brother Omar Abdullah's detention and charges under the stringent Public Safety Act before the Supreme Court.
Under Jammu and Kashmir's Public Safety Act, a person can be detained for three to six months without charge or trial and it can be extended further. The PSA was enforced soon after Omar's six-month preventive detention ended last Thursday, February 6.
Says Safiya Abdullah Khan, one of Omar's three sisters, "We spent the last week in the hope that my brother would be released."
In conversation with Archana Masih/Rediff.com over the phone from Srinagar, Safiya talks of her brother and father and their unbroken spirit.
Read the interview here.
Image: Safiya Abdullah Khan was detained and subsequently released along with her aunt Suraiya Ali and other women for protesting against the abrogation of Article 370 last October in Srinagar. Photograph: Umar Ganie for Rediff.com
13:35 Economy close to collapse, says Chidambaram
Former finance minister P Chidambaram on Monday tore into the Modi government's handling of the economy, saying it was close to collapse and was been attended by "very incompetent doctors."
Initiating the debate on the Union Budget for 2020-21, he said rising unemployment and falling consumption was making India poorer. The economy, he said, is facing demand constraints and is investment starved. The economy is facing fall in consumption and rising unemployment. "Fear and uncertainty prevails in the country," he added.
He said the chief economic advisor to the BJP government for four years, Arvind Subramanian has stated that the economy is in the ICU. But "I would say the patient has been kept out of ICU and incompetent doctors are looking at the patient," Chidambaram said.
"It is dangerous to have a patient out of ICU and being looked upon by incompetent doctors. What is the point standing around and chanting slogan 'Sab ka saath, sab ka vishwas'," he said, adding every competent doctor the Modi government could ever identify has left the country.
His said a list of such people included former RBI governor Raghurman Rajan, former CEA Arvind Subramanian, former RBI governor Urjit Patel and former NITI Aayog vice chairman Arvind Panagariya.
"Who are your doctors, I want to know," he said, adding the government considers Congress as untouchable and doesn't think of any good about the rest of the opposition and so doesn't consult them. Chidambaram charged that instead of putting money in the hands of people, the Modi government "put money in hands of 200 corporates" by way of corporate tax. -- PTI
13:13 Outsiders behind Gargi College incident: Minister
HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' on Monday said outsiders were behind the alleged molestation of students at an all-women college in Delhi and the administration of the institute has been told to take action.
Replying to a question of Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi in Lok Sabha, Pokhriyal said the government was aware of the incident at Gargi College, a reputed institute in the national capital.
"Those who were involved in the incident were outsiders and not students. It was not a good incident. The college administration has been told to take action in the incident," he said during Question Hour.
Gogoi said sexual harassment and bullying often takes place in many higher education institutions and action should be taken in such incidents. He also said a group of men allegedly molested the students after gatecrashing Gargi College during a festival.
Reports said the incident came to light when some of the students took to Instagram to narrate their unpleasant experiences during the fest at the college on February 6 and alleged that security personnel did nothing to control the unruly groups. -- PTI
Image: Delhi Commission For Women Chief Swati Maliwal arrives at Gargi College. Students of Gargi College have alleged sexual assault by outsiders.
13:05 No permission given to Kabaddi players to go to Pakistan: Rijiju
No Indian Indian player was given permission to travel to Pakistan to participate in the World Kabaddi Championship, clarified Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Kiren Rijiju on Monday.
"Nobody has given permission to any Kabaddi players to go to Pakistan. Issuance of giving visa is the sovereign prerogative of a country, we have no role in granting visa," Rijiju told ANI.
"We'll talk to the Kabaddi federation on whether it was an informed visit or not. With regard to visa, we have no role. But playing in the name of country or India's flag being used, these are the matters to be investigated," Rijiju added.
Earlier, the administer of Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) Justice SP Garg said the body never gave any permission to any Kabaddi team to play match in Pakistan and legal action may be taken against the defaulters.
"AKFI has no information about any Kabaddi team to have gone to Pakistan. No permission was ever granted by AKFI to any team to go to Pakistan and play any Kabaddi match there. We came to know about it only after information was sought. AKFI does not support any such activity. Legal action may be taken against the defaulters," Garg had said. -- ANI
12:51 SC: Shaheen Bagh protesters can't block roads
The Supreme Court on Monday said the anti-CAA protesters at Delhi's Shaheen Bagh cannot block public roads and create inconvenience for others. The apex court issued notices to the Centre, Delhi government and the police on the pleas seeking removal protesters from Shaheen Bagh.
"There is a law and people have grievance against it. The matter is pending in court. Despite that some people are protesting. They are entitled to protest," a bench comprising justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph said.
"You cannot block the public roads. There cannot be indefinite period of protest in such an area. if you want to protest, it has to be in an area identified for protest," the bench said.
The apex court further said that the protest at Shaheen Bagh is going on for long but it cannot create inconvenience for others. The bench said it would not pass any direction without hearing the other side and posted the matter for February 17. -- PTI
12:47 Govt to make statement on SC ruling on quota in promotion
The government will make a statement in Lok Sabha on the Supreme Court ruling on reservation in promotions for SC/STs, Deputy Leader of the House Rajnath Singh said on Monday amid Opposition protests over the ruling. As soon as the Question Hour started, Opposition members, led by Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, sought to raise the issue.
He was also joined by members from other parties, including the DMK. However, Speaker Om Birla told them that the matter can be raised during the Zero Hour, saying that the Question Hour was "important".
The recent Supreme Court ruling is a "sensitive issue" and the Social Justice and Empowerment Minister would make a statement on the subject in the House, Singh, who is also the Defence Minister, said.
Thaawarchand Gehlot is helming the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry. The Supreme Court has ruled that there is no fundamental right to claim reservation in promotion for SCs, STs and OBCs in government jobs. Birla requested protesting members to raise the issue during the Zero Hour and wondered why they want to lower the dignity of the House.
When one of the members remarked that the Constitution itself was under threat, the Speaker said, the Constitution was not under threat but the dignity of the House was. The Speaker also emphasised that he does not want to stop any member or minister from raising issues but that the Question Hour was important. -- PTI
12:20 In DNA of RSS, BJP to erase reservation: Rahul
It is in the DNA of RSS and BJP to try and erase reservation, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said after the Supreme Court on Monday upheld the constitutional validity of the SC/ST Amendment Act, 2018.
The top court's verdict came on a batch of PILs challenging the validity of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act of 2018, which was brought to nullify the effect of the apex court's 2018 ruling, which had diluted the provisions of the stringent Act.
"In DNA of RSS and BJP to try and erase reservation...We'll never allow reservations to be done away with no matter how much (Narendra) Modi Ji or Mohan Bhagwat dream of it," Gandhi said, taking a swipe at the prime minister and the RSS chief. -- PTI
11:49 NCW takes note of mass molestation at college
The National Commission for Women (NCW) on Monday took cognizance of the alleged sexual assault of students at Delhi University's Gargi College following which a team of the commission reached the institute's campus.
Delhi Police have begun a probe into the matter of alleged harassment and sexual abuse of female students in the college by a number of unidentified men during their annual cultural fest on February 6.
"We are inquiring into the matter. However, we haven't received any complaint so far," said Deputy Commissioner of Police, South, Atul Thakur.
While speaking to ANI on Monday a woman student said that over 100 middle-aged men crashed the college gate on February 6 and misbehaved with the women inside the campus.
"The three-day annual college fest began on February 4 and on February 6 over 100 middle-aged men crashed the college gate and came inside where the fest was being held. They started misbehaving with girls. Luckily nothing happened with me but my friends told me that those men groped them and much more," she said.
"I have no idea if those girls have filed an FIR or not. The college principal is also not supporting us. A protest is also being staged in the college and the principal will also be coming here and I think she will be discussing about the incident with us," she added.
Meanwhile, Congress candidate from Kalkaji constituency Shivani Chopra condemned the incident and arrived at Gargi College earlier today to express solidarity with the students."They are not letting me enter the campus. It's a shameful incident. Chief Minister of Delhi should come out and stand in solidarity with the students. In fact, Home Minister Amit Shah should also come out and take cognizance of the law and order situation," she added.Speaking about the incident on Thursday, a second-year student had told ANI that the men who had entered the college groped the girls and made them uncomfortable.
"Taking advantage of the crowd, the men followed girls everywhere and groped them. They made girls uncomfortable and showed us that they have control over us. They derived pleasure from it," she said.
11:35 Equity indices slip on coronavirus concerns
Equity benchmark indices traded lower during early hours on Monday amid concerns over the impact of coronavirus on global economy.At 10:15 am, the BSE S&P Sensex was down by 246 points to 40,896 while the Nifty 50 slipped by 69 points at 12,029. All sectoral indices at the National Stock Exchange were in the negative zone with Nifty metal down by 2.1 per cent and auto by 0.94 per cent.
Among stocks, Tata Steel dipped by 3.9 per cent at Rs 452.30 per share while Vedanta was down by 1.9 per cent at Rs 141.85 apiece.Auto stocks too slipped substantially with Mahindra & Mahindra down by 4.1 per cent, Tata Motors by 1.9 per cent and Eicher Motors by 1.3 per cent.
The other prominent losers were ONGC, Coal India, Britannia, Zee Entertainment and Grasim.However, UPL, Cipla, Bharti Infratel, ICICI Bank and Yes Bank traded with a positive bias. -- PTI
11:29 Domestic passenger vehicle sales drop 6.2% in January
Domestic passenger vehicle sales declined 6.2 per cent in January as vehicle demand continued to be stressed by rising cost of ownership and slower GDP growth, automobile industry body SIAM said on Monday. Passenger vehicle sales last month stood at 2,62,714 units against 2,80,091 units in the year-ago month, according to data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).
Car sales last month were also down 8.1 per cent at 1,64,793 units compared with 1,79,324 units in the January last year. Vehicle sales across categories registered a decline of 13.83 per cent to 17,39,975 units from 20,19,253 units in January 2019, SIAM said.
"Sales of vehicles continue to be stressed due to rising cost of vehicle ownership and slower growth in GDP," SIAM President Rajan Wadhera said. Vehicle prices have gone up as manufacturers gear up for the transition to stricter emission norm BS-VI from BS-IV beginning April 1. Besides, many companies had increased prices in January citing rising input costs. -- PTI
11:28 Anti-CAA protests: Heavy police deployment at Mandi House
There was a heavy police deployment in New Delhi's Mandi House area on Monday morning in view of a protest call against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
According to a senior police official, they had refused permission for the protest march as the budget session of Parliament was going on.
"We have not given any permission to protest in the Mandi House area. If they want to protest, they can do it at Jantar Mantar, the designated place for any demonstration. Necessary actions will be taken if they hamper traffic movement and create law and order situations," the officer said. -- PTI
11:22 Sabarimala case: SC says it can refer questions of law to larger bench
The Supreme Court on Monday held that its five-judge bench can refer questions of law to a larger bench while exercising its limited power under review jurisdiction in the Sabarimala case.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde framed seven questions to be heard by a nine-judge Constitutional bench on issues relating to freedom of religion under the Constitution and faith.
The seven questions framed by the bench include those on scope and ambit of religious freedom, and interplay between religious freedom and freedom of beliefs of religious denominations.
The bench said it's nine-judge bench will deal with the right to freedom of religion under Article 25 of the Constitution and it's interplay with the right of various religious denominations.
It will also deal with the extent of judicial review with regard to religious practices and the meaning of "sections of Hindus" occurring in article 25 (2)(b) of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court will also deal with the power of a person, who does not belong to a particular religion or sect of a religion, to question the religious beliefs of that religion by filling a PIL. -- PTI
11:19 WHO warns overseas coronavirus spread may be 'tip of the iceberg'
The head of the World Health Organization said on Monday there have been "concerning instances" of coronavirus among people with no travel history to China, warning that it could be the "tip of the iceberg", as he urged all countries to prepare for the possible arrival of the novel virus that has killed over 900 people.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus lauded the doctors, nurses and health workers for doing "their utmost" at personal risk to contain the epidemic, terming them "true heroes" of the outbreak that first surfaced in December in Wuhan city in China's central Hubei province where millions of people are under lockdown in a bid to stop it from spreading.
"There've been some concerning instances of onward 2019nCoV spread from people with no travel history to China. The detection of a small number of cases may indicate more widespread transmission in other countries; in short, we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg," tweeted Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO.
"In an evolving public health emergency, all countries must step up efforts to prepare for #2019nCoV's possible arrival and do their utmost to contain it should it arrive. This means lab capacity for rapid diagnosis, contact tracing and other tools in the public health arsenal," he said.
The death toll in China from the novel coronavirus epidemic jumped to 908 and the number of confirmed cases has risen over 40,000, Chinese health officials said on Monday.
Ghebreyesus said the spread of coronavirus outside China appeared to be slowing, but could accelerate, warning that any breach in solidarity is a victory for the virus.
"Containment remains our objective, but all countries must use the window of opportunity created by the containment strategy to prepare for the virus's possible arrival," he said.
"In the spirit of financial solidarity, donors have been stepping up, but we have not reached our goal of US$675 million for @WHO and vulnerable countries," Ghebreyesus said.
"Containment remains our objective, but all countries must use the window of opportunity created by the containment strategy to prepare for the virus's possible arrival," he said.
A total of 908 people have died of coronavirus and 40,171 confirmed cases of infection were reported in 31 provincial-level regions so far, China's National Health Commission said on Monday.
By the end of Sunday, 36 confirmed cases, including one death, had been reported in Hong Kong, 10 confirmed cases in Macao and 18 in Taiwan. Overseas, over 300 cases of coronavirus have been reported, including three from Kerala.
Outside China, there have been more than 350 infections reported in almost 30 places with two deaths, one in the Philippines and the other in Hong Kong.
Several countries have banned arrivals from China while major airlines have suspended flights to the country.
China and countries around the world are scrambling to contain the spread of coronavirus which is wreaking havoc in China and abroad. Apart from Germany, Britain and Italy, other European nations with cases of the virus include France, Russia, Belgium, Sweden, Finland and Spain. -- PTI
11:18 Omar's sister moves SC against his detention
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah's sister Sara Abdullah Pilot has challenged his detention and charges under the stringent Public Safety Act before the Supreme Court.
Sara Abdullah Pilot has said her brother's arrest is a violation of the constitutional right to freedom of speech and is part of a "consistent and concerted effort to muzzle all political rivals".
Omar Abdullah, detained without charges since August 5, when the government ended special status to Jammu and Kashmir, was formally placed under detention under the PSA last week.
10:22 Assam plans survey to identify indigenous Muslim
Assam is likely to conduct an exercise to identify the state's indigenous Muslim population and segregate them from illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, even as doubts over the accuracy of the National Register of Citizens are yet to be addressed.
As per the plans, the survey will be conducted to identify people of four communities -- Goria, Moria, Desi and Jolah of the tea tribes -- considered as indigenous.
Assam welfare of minorities minister Ranjit Dutta has convened a meeting on Tuesday with various organisations of the four communities and other stakeholders to finalise the plan.
"Assam has about 1.3 crore Muslims population, of which around 90 lakh are of Bangladeshi origin. The remaining 40 lakh are from different tribes and they need to be identified," Assam minority development board chairman Muminul Aowal said.
The indigenous Muslims are deprived of benefits of the government welfare schemes in absence of proper identification, he claimed.
Aowal, who is also the convenor of Janagosthiya Samanway Parishad Asom, said the entire rationale behind such an exercise is to give protection to the indigenous people from demographic changes in the state.
"The NRC included lakhs of Bangladeshi-origin people. So, we cannot rely on that. If we do not act now, one day all the indigenous tribes will be wiped out from Assam," he added.
"Once the indigenous tribes are officially recognised, it will be better and easier to work for the development of these people. I, as a representative of these tribes, had in 2015 met the then Union home minister Rajnath Singh," Aowal said.
The indigenous groups had urged Singh for such a survey, he said.
When asked how the exercise will be carried out, Aowal said, "We will request the state government to get an approval from the RGI (Registrar General of India). Without the RGI's approval, the findings may not be legally tenable."
The organisations representing the Muslim tribes want the paper works to be completed by March so that the actual fieldwork of enumerating people can begin early next fiscal, he said.
"The entire initiative is of the minority department of the state government, but it does not have the required manpower to carry out such a state-wide exercise. That is why it can be conducted through the Revenue Department, which is present at the village-level," Aowal explained.
The NRC, which was published last year under the supervision of the Supreme Court with over 19 lakh exclusions, is being criticised by all sections for the "minimal number" of people left out.
It is being alleged that genuine Indians, mostly Hindus, were left out and many illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, mostly Muslims, were included.
The apex court is still hearing a number of petitions on the issue. -- PTI
Congress Lok Sabha MPs scheduled to meet at Congress Parliamentary Party Office at 10.30 am today.
10:02 Sensex drops over 150 pts
Market benchmark Sensex dropped over 150 points in opening session on Monday tracking losses in global equities amid rising concerns over coronavirus outbreak.
The 30-share BSE index was trading 171.90 points or 0.42 per cent lower at 40,969.95, and the broader NSE advanced 51.45 points, or 0.43 per cent, to 12,046.90.
In the previous session, Sensex closed 164.18 points or 0.40 per cent lower at 41,141.85, and the Nifty settled at 12,098.35, down by 39.60 points or 0.33 per cent.
Meanwhile, on a net basis, foreign institutional investors bought equities worth Rs 161.93 crore, while domestic institutional investors sold shares worth Rs 178.59 crore on Friday, data available with stock exchanges showed.
Tata Steel was the top loser in the Sensex pack, cracking up to 5 per cent, after the company reported a consolidated net loss of Rs 1,228.53 crore for the quarter ended on December 2019.
It had posted a consolidated net profit of Rs 1,753.07 crore during the same quarter a year ago.
Mahindra & Mahindra, ONGC, NTPC, PowerGrid, Titan and IndusInd Bank were also in the red.
On the other hand, ICICI Bank, Bajaj Finance, Bajaj Auto, HDFC and SBI were trading with gains.
According to traders, domestic equities were trading on a negative note following weak cues from global equities as concerns over the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic kept investors on edge.
Bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul were trading with significant losses.
Global crude benchmark Brent slipped 0.20 per cent to USD 54.36 per barrel.
The rupee appreciated 9 paise against the US dollar to 71.34 in morning session. -- PTI
09:47 Laid foundation for USD 5 trn economy in budget: FM
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday said that the foundation for achieving the goal of $5 trillion economy by 2024-25 has been laid in the union budget which stressed on increasing capital expenditure for infrastructure.
She said that the budget has also focused on increasing consumption and investments towards building assets.
"I think we have laid the foundation for increasing consumption and investments towards building assets such as infrastructure, which should have a cascading effect in the long and short term," Sitharaman told reporters in Kolkata.
She said this will trigger the virtuous cycle for the economy to perform and move forward.
"The majority of government investment is directed towards creating infrastructure and through various windows like health and agriculture to avoid any kind of rural distress. These will create the foundation for the $5
trillion economy," she said.
Asked about rationalisation of rates of Goods and Services Tax, the finance minister said that it is being reviewed every three months by the GST Council.
"If the rates are reviewed every three months, the government cannot make an assessment of revenue collection. Can we consider a situation where rate rationalisation is done once a year and not every three months?. I have proposed the GST Council to consider it," she said.
Rationalisation of GST rates once a year will help the government and businesses, she said.
"It is not that GST collection is not happening. The indirect tax administration is now getting the benefits of data analytics to prevent fraudulent activities," the finance minister said.
The GST collection has been around Rs 1 lakh crore per month, she said.
To a query whether GST has been revenue neutral as was envisaged, the finance minister said, "The compensation rate (for states' revenue loss) was fixed at 14 per cent on the basis of certain level of calculation. However, collections have fallen (short of expectations) and so there will be an impact."
The compensation rate was fixed on the premise that the economy will grow by 12-13 per cent, she said. -- PTI
09:45 Maha: Woman lecturer set on fire by stalker dies
The 25-year-old woman lecturer who was set on fire by a stalker in Maharashtra's Wardha district last week died at a hospital in Nagpur on Monday morning, a police official said.
Ankita Pisudde, a resident of Hinganghat town in Wardha, was critical after sustaining 40 per cent burns on February 3 when she was set afire allegedly by one Vikesh Nagrale (27) while she was on the way to her college.
She was undergoing treatment at the Orange City Hospital & Research Centre in Nagpur, located around 840 km from Mumbai.
"Doctors at the hospital declared her dead at 6.55 am today," Hinganghat's police inspector Satyaveer Bandiwar said.
Heavy security was deployed in Hinganghat to avoid any law and order problem following her death, he said.
Several locals, mostly women and college students, took out a march in Wardha city last Thursday, demanding death penalty for the accused.
The state government has appointed well-known lawyer Ujjwal Nikam as special public prosecutor in the case.
According to the victim's relatives, Nagrale had been harassing her for quite some time.
He was arrested within hours of the incident and booked under relevant sections.
Nagrale and the woman were friends till two years ago when she severed ties with him due to his "irrational behaviour", the police earlier said. -- PTI
09:18 SC to hear pleas against Shaheen Bagh protests
The Supreme Court will hear the pleas seeking removal of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protestors from Shaheen Bagh today.
Advocate Amit Sahni, who has filed an appeal in the apex court against the January 14 order of the high court directing the police to deal with the situation keeping in mind law and order, said that due to the protests since December 15 last year traffic flow on Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch has been badly affected.
Restrictions have been imposed on the stretch as also the Okhla underpass due to protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens.
09:00 BJP will definitely come again: Fadnavis
Former Maharashtra chief minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday said that with the help of people's blessings one can make a comeback.
"Nobody can stop you if you have blessings of the people. We definitely make a comeback if we have their blessings," the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly told a gathering in Alandi, a pilgrim town in Pune
"I think whether you are in power or in opposition, you have to walk on right path and for doing so, you have to come here to get the blessings. Therefore, I have come here to get your blessings," Fadnavis added.
"Once you get blessings of the people, then you will definitely come again," he said.
During the state assembly elections held in October, Fadnavis had repeatedly used 'mi punha yein' (I will come again) slogan as part of his poll campaign.
The BJP and the Sena, which had fought the assembly polls in alliance, had secured a comfortable majority by winning 105 and 56 seats respectively.
The Sena, however, broke its three-decade-long ties with the BJP after the latter declined to share the chief minister's post.
The Sena finally joined hands with the Nationalist Congress Party and Congress to form the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government with Sena president Uddhav Thackeray as the chief minister. -- PTI
08:39 RSS ideologue P Parameswaran passes away; PM, others condole
P Parameswaran, veteran Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ideologue, thinker and a prolific writer, died early Sunday at Ottappalam in Kerala, Sangh Parivar sources said.
The 93-year-old founder-director of the Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram, established to promote "nationalist thoughts" among Keralites, breathed his last at 12.10 am while undergoing Ayurvedic treatment at Ottappalam in Palakkad district, the sources said.
A leader of the erstwhile Bharatiya Jana Sangh, Parameswaran, who had worked with the likes of Deendayal Upadhyaya, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani during the Sangh days, was honoured with Padma Shri in 2004 and Padma Vibhushan in 2018.
His mortal remains were brought to Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram in Thiruvananthapuram late on Sunday night for the leaders and workers of the Sangh Parivar and other political parties to pay their tribute.
The body will be kept there till Monday 6 am and will then be taken to the Mahatma Ayyankali Hall where people can pay their last respects.
The cremation will be held on Monday afternoon at his native Muhamma town in Alappuzha district, Sangh leaders said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Union Home Minister Amit Shah were among the host of leaders who condoled the death of Parameswaran.
Modi described the late leader as a "proud and dedicated son of Bharat Mata" who devoted his life to "India's cultural awakening", while Khan said he inspired society through insightful speeches and writings on Indian thought.
"Shri P Parameswaran was a proud and dedicated son of Bharat Mata. His was a life devoted to India's cultural awakening, spiritual regeneration and serving the poorest of the poor. Parameswaran Ji's thoughts were prolific and his writings were outstanding.He was indomitable!" Modi tweeted.
Governor Khan in a tweet said: "Deeply grieved by the sad demise of P Parameswar-Ji, Director, Bharatiya VicharaKendram. With endearing politeness and accomplished scholarship, he inspired society through insightful speeches & writings on Indian thought. My heartfelt condolences."
Condoling the demise of Parameswaran, Vijayan said he was an ideologue who dedicated his life for the ideology he believed in.
Shah in a tweet said: "Saddened to learn about the demise of senior Pracharak and Padma Vibhushan P. Parameswaran ji. He was a great social reformer and a true nationalist who devoted his entire life in the service of nation & humanity. His passing away is an irreparable loss to the society. Om Shanti."
Noting that Parameswaran's writings and thoughts on social, cultural, religious and national issues were unparalleled, he said the late leader's contribution in restoring democracy during the emergency will always be remembered.
Fondly called as Parameswar ji by the Sangh Parivar leaders, he was a prolific writer, poet, researcher and a widely-respected RSS ideologue.
He was the Bharatiya Jana Sangh's secretary (1967-1971) and vice-president (1971-1977), as well as the director of the Deendayal Research Institute (1977-1982), New Delhi.
Born in Muhamma, he joined the RSS during his student days. -- PTI
08:08 Coronavirus death toll rises to 908 in China
The death toll in China due to novel coronavirus epidemic has gone up to 908 and the number of confirmed cases rose over 40,000, Chinese health officials said on Monday.
There were 97 deaths and 3,062 new confirmed cases of the lethal infection on Sunday, China's National Health Commission said.
Ninety-one deaths were in Hubei province, the epicentre of the epidemic, two in Anhui, and one each in Heilongjiang, Jiangxi, Hainan and Gansu, according to the commission.
A total of 908 people have died of the disease and 40,171 confirmed cases of the outbreak were reported in 31 provincial-level regions so far, it said.
Another 4,008 new suspected cases were reported on Sunday. Moreover, 296 patients became seriously ill, the commission said, adding that 6,484 patients remained in severe condition and 23,589 people were suspected of being infected with the virus.
A total of 3,281 people had been discharged from hospital after recovery.
The commission said 3.99 lakh close contacts had been traced, adding that among them, 29,307 were discharged from medical observation on Sunday, with 1.87 lakh still under medical observation.
By the end of Sunday, 36 confirmed cases, including one death, had been reported in Hong Kong, 10 confirmed cases in Macao and 18 in Taiwan.
Overseas, over 300 cases of coronavirus have been reported, including from three from Kerala.
Meanwhile, millions of people have started returning to Beijing and other cities in China after the extended holiday of China's New Year.
The holidays, which began on January 24 and were due to end on February 3, has been extended till February 9 as part of its efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
However, the employees of most of the offices have been asked to work from home.
As the biggest reverse migration began, Chinese officials said on Saturday that the cases of the deadly infection had started declining for the first time after weeks of sharp rise. -- PTI