Wed, 22 January 2020
Yogi takes a swipe at Shaheen Bagh protesters

Timeline  Refresh

23:27   Yogi takes a swipe at Shaheen Bagh protesters
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday targeted the women-led protests against the amended Citizenship Act, alleging that while the men are sleeping under the quilt at the comfort of their homes, they have pushed their women and children forward to stage sit-ins.

Addressing a rally in support of the CAA in Saket Nagar in Kanpur, Adityanath said, "Now these people (anti-CAA protesters) do not have courage to participate in the protests themselves. They know that if they indulge in vandalism, their property will be seized."

Anti-CAA protests led by women have been reported from different parts of the country with the one at Delhi's Shaheen Bagh occupying the centre stage.

"Now what have they done? They started making the women of their houses sit at roads. The children have been made to sit also. It's such a big crime that the men are sleeping under the quilt, while the women folks have been pushed forward and made to sit at various roads. It is shameful," alleged the chief minister, who had earlier warned protesters indulging in vandalism in his state that their properties would be seized and auctioned to compensate for the damages.

On Wednesday, he also slammed the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and Left parties accusing them of doing politics at the cost of the nation.

"The tactic of pushing the women forward is being resorted to. Those who do not know what the CAA is are staging sit-ins," he alleged.

"If you go and ask anyone as to why are they sitting on a 'dharna', they will say that the men of the house feel that they have become so incompetent that they cannot do anything, so they want the women to go and sit on the 'dharna'.

"For them, the country is not important. The Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis are not important. Now, for the Congress, even the Christians are not important. And, they have said the protests will continue against the CAA until the ISI agents are given entry in India. This is a shameful statement made by Congress leaders," he alleged.  -- PTI
22:37   Anupam Kher hits back at Naseeruddin Shah
Slamming veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah who called him a 'clown' and a 'sycophant', Anupam Kher on Wednesday said his A Wednesday co-star had spent his entire life in frustration despite a successful career.

The statement came against the backdrop of Shah's interview with an online news portal in which he had called Kher a sycophant and a clown.

Kher took to Twitter and shared a video of him where he launches a scathing attack against the veteran actor, whom he said had criticised other actors too in the past but was not taken seriously because of the 'substances' Shah had been consuming for years that prevented him from distinguishing right from wrong.

He captioned the post as, 'My deep love-filled message for Janaab Naseeruddin Shah. He is elder to me in age as well as in experience. I have always respected his art, but it is very necessary to respond to some statements. This is my response.'

"Thank you for the praises but I don't take you or your statements seriously. You spent your entire life in frustration despite getting so much of success.

"If you can criticise Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, Shah Rukh Khan, and Virat Kohli, then I am sure I am in great company," Kher said in the video.

"None of the actors criticised by you took your statements seriously because we all know that it is because of the substances that you have been consuming from years that you are not able to differentiate between what is right and what is wrong," he added.

In the interview, Shah had said that Kher should not be taken seriously and 'sycophantic nature' is in his blood.

Responding to Shah's statements, Kher said, "If you are able to grab headlines by criticising me then I gift you this happiness. I wish God keeps you happy. And you know what is in my blood? It is Hindustan (India) in my blood." -- ANI
22:08   Police action at Jamia: Court seeks report
A Delhi court on Wednesday directed the police to file an action taken report (ATR) on the plea of Jamia Millia Islamia University seeking registration of a first information report against alleged police attack on students on the campus last month during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

Metropolitan Magistrate Rajat Goyal sought the report from Station House Officer (SHO) of Jamia Nagar Police Station by March 16 stating whether any action has been taken on the complaint by the varsity administration to lodge an FIR.

"Let ATR be called from the SHO concerned in the following respect. Whether any complaint has been made by the complainant in the police station.

"If yes, whether any action has been taken on the said complaint. Whether any investigation or inquiry has been conducted in this regard and if yes, then what is the status of the investigation/ inquiry.

"If any cognisable offence is made out, whether any FIR has been registered or not," the court said.

The plea, filed by the Registrar of JMI University, claimed that police officials had 'illegally' entered the campus on December 15, 2019 when the students were protesting peacefully against the newly amended law and attacked students with tear gas shells, lathi charge and open firing.

It has sought registration of FIR under various Indian Penal Code sections including 295 (defiling place of worship), 297 (trespassing on burial places), 307 (attempt to murder), 342 (wrongful confinement), 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance), and 120-B (criminal conspiracy).

The plea also sought registration of FIR against relevant provisions of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.

JMIU students and locals had protested at Jamia Nagar in Delhi on December 15, 2019 against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

The protesters torched four buses and two police vehicles as they clashed with the police in New Friends Colony.

Police baton charged the protesters and used tear gas shells to disperse the mob before entering the varsity campus, detaining several persons allegedly involved in the violence.

"Police officials have committed serious offences ...and state should be held accountable for such illegal and unlawful acts and excessive/unnecessary force used by the police officials against the innocent protesting students," alleged the plea, filed through advocates Asghar Khan and Tariq Nasir.

The petition further claimed that despite repeated complaints to the police by the varsity administration to lodge an FIR against the alleged police attack, no action has been taken till date.

"Complainant (Registrar) is constrained to approach this court against the Delhi Police officials for illegally breaking out into the campus of University, without seeking any permission from the competent authorities and unlawfully attacking innocent students of the University with tear gas shells, lathi charge and open firing and also for vandalising government property belonging to the University,"  it said.

The plea claimed the civic society along with neighbouring localities had called for a peaceful protest outside the university area and the police allegedly 'broke the gates of the campus, without any having any provocation', to clear the crowd and used 'unjustified, excessive, arbitrary and brute force, in total disregard of law and order'.

"Police officials while entering the premises of the university attacked several guards who were on their duty at the gates and at Jama Masjid gate of the university. They were beaten very badly by the officials.

"The students of the University were mercilessly beaten, hurled abuses, racial and derogatory comments were herald, tear gas shells were fired, lathi charge was done.

"That some of the police officials without any just cause broke open the main library gate and also the doors and windows of the library building and fired tear gas shells on peaceful studying students even inside the library," it alleged.

It said that the police also allegedly broke open the Mosque of the university, vandalising it while the people were offering their prayers and also man-handled the Imam.

It added the police also allegedly detained several students at various police stations.  -- PTI
22:03   JNU clarifies after RTI, says all FIRs in line with Jan 3 incidents
The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Wednesday said all first information reports and other complaints filed with police are in line with the incidents that took place on January 3 and do not deviate from facts after an Right to Information response suggested discrepancies in the varsity administration's claims about vandalism in its server room.

The university said its reply to the RTI query was related to the specific location and questions sought by the applicant.

It also clarified that the servers were damaged by 'a group of miscreants' on January 4.

"As per the complaint filed by administration on January 3, 2020 about the incident in Centre for Information System (CIS) Data Centre, JNU has not claimed about damage to servers on that day. The RTI answers are correct and specific to the questions asked," the varsity said.

The RTI reply also clearly states that servers are located at CIS Data Centre not in CIS office, which seems to be 'conspicuously ignored while highlighting the matter in the media', it said.

"All FIRs and other complaints filed with police are in line with the actual incidents that took place on January 3 and do not deviate from actual facts," it said.

The JNU administration reiterates that a group of masked students came to CIS Data Centre premises on January 3 and forcibly evicted the technical staff, switched off the power supply, locked the premises and squatted in front of the main entrance to the CIS Data Centre without providing any access to the centre, the varsity said.

Before evicting the technical staff out of CIS Data Centre, the masked students forced the technical staff to shutdown the systems, it said.

"This led to the discontinuation of the winter semester registration affecting thousands of students of the university. When CIS technical staff got an access to CIS Data Centre on the morning of January 4 with the help of security, it took more than four hours to restore the entire system of CIS," it said.

Damage to the CIS Data Centre server room was caused on January 4 by 'a group of miscreants' who broke open one of the door-windows of the CIS premises and entered the server room, it said.

Once inside, they turned off the servers and severely damaged the fibre optic cables, power supplies, broke the biometric systems inside the room, it added.

"The miscreants then started sloganeering and intimidated the technical staff from entering the server room," the varsity said.

Biometric systems and CCTV cameras at the server room were not vandalised in the first week of January, contrary to the claims made by the Jawaharlal Nehru University administration that students had destroyed them on January 3, the varsity has said in a RTI reply.

The reply to the RTI filed by Saurav Das, a member of the National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI), under 'life and liberty' clause, said the main server of JNU at the Centre for Information System (CIS) was shut down on January 3 and had gone down the next day 'due to power supply disruption'.   -- PTI
20:39   Kin of terrorist found with Davinder detained
One person was detained by security agencies in connection with a case involving suspended Deputy Superintendent of Jammu and Kashmir Police Davinder Singh, who was caught ferrying terrorists, officials said in Jammu on Wednesday.

Irfan Mushtaq is kin of a terrorist arrested along with Singh and is being questioned by a team of National Investigation Agency (NIA) and is likely to be arrested, they said.

The NIA, which took over the investigations into the case last weekend, brought all the four -- Singh, so-called commander of banned Hizbul Mujahideen terror group Naveed Mushtaq alias Baba, his accomplice Asif and Irfan Mir -- in Jammu on a transit remand.

They would be produced before a designated court on Thursday.

All the four were arrested on January 18 near Qazigund on Jammu Srinagar national highway when the militants were being ferried to Jammu with a possible destination to Chandigarh to escape the winter chill in the Kashmir valley.

Singh was subsequently suspended.

Raids at his residence led to recovery of two pistols, one AK rifle and lot of ammunition.

The NIA, after registering the case, sent a high-powered team to question Singh and others, who were lodged at Kulgam police station in South Kashmir.  -- PTI
20:32   Army chief arrives on two-day maiden visit to J-K
Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane on Wednesday arrived in Jammu on a maiden two-day visit of Jammu and Kashmir to review the prevailing security situation, an army officer said.

Gen Naravane, who took charge of Chief of the Army Staff on January 1, is likely to meet the Lt Governor G C Murmu and visit the forward areas along the Line of Control (LoC) during his two stay in Jammu region, the officer said.

"The COAS has reached this evening and is scheduled to review the security situation at a high level meeting at Northern Command in Udhampur tomorrow (Thursday)," he said.

After the meeting, the officer said the army chief will visit the forward areas along the LoC in Rajouri district and interact with the soldiers before returning back to Jammu where he is likely to meet the Lt Governor besides paying a visit to the army base at Nagrota.

On January 9, the COAS paid a visit to the forward posts in Siachen sector in the Union Territory of Ladakh and was briefed on the operational readiness being maintained in the sector by commander, Siachen Brigade.  -- PTI
19:54   Oppose CAA-NRC; it isn't poll issue: Kejriwal
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday said that he has cleared his stand on the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens while asserting that the assembly elections should not be fought on national issues.

"We have always opposed the CAA-NRC issue, and voted against it in the Parliament as well, but I believe the Delhi elections will be fought on issues which affect the national capital," he said.

He also urged people of Delhi, 'especially the workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress to vote in favour of the Aam Aadmi Party in the upcoming assembly elections'.

"I want to appeal to the people of Delhi, especially those who belong to the BJP, the Congress and other parties, to vote in favour of the AAP. This needs to be done because we have made the schools and hospitals efficient with much hard work, all that work should not be undone.

"Do not leave your parties but vote for the AAP," Kejriwal said.

He also said that his government has worked on different sectors during the last five years and are contesting these elections on the basis of that work.

"The AAP is contesting this election on the basis of the work we have done in the last five years. We worked really hard with honesty and dedication. I have worked like the eldest son of every family in Delhi," Kejriwal said.

"Just like the eldest son of the family, I have taken care of all the needs of a family, be it education, health, electricity, or pilgrimage for the senior citizens," he added.

Delhi, which has 70 seats, is slated to go to polls on February 8.

The counting of votes will take place on February 11. -- ANI
19:42   Hardik Patel gets bail
Congress leader Hardik Patel was granted bail on Wednesday, four days after he was arrested for failing to appear before the trial court in a 2015 sedition case.

Additional sessions judge B G Ganatra granted Patel bail on the condition that he will cooperate with the court proceedings and would not seek adjournment unless there is a genuine reason.

The court will hear the sedition case next on January 24.

Last Saturday, Judge Ganatra had issued arrest warrant against Patel after accepting the government's plea against an exemption from appearance application moved by the Patidar leader's lawyer.

He was arrested soon after from Viramgam in Ahmedabad district.

The court had observed that Patel was flouting his bail conditions by not cooperating with the trial proceedings and remaining absent.

The Ahmedabad crime branch booked Patel in a case of sedition in connection with the violence which broke out in many parts of Gujarat following a rally for Patidar quota here on August 25, 2015.

Patel had led the agitation for quota for the Patidar/Patel community.

The Gujarat high court granted him bail in July 2016.

In November 2018, the trial court framed charges against him and others. Patel joined the Congress ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.  -- PTI
19:39   Rahul to address anti-CAA rally in Wayanad on Jan 30
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will lead an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) rally at Kalpetta in Waynad on January 30, party sources said.

The Wayanad MP is expected to be on a one-day visit to the state.

Gandhi's programme would be finalised by tonight, the sources said.  -- PTI
19:12   Budget will have 'plan of action' on economy: Javadekar
The government will unveil its 'plan of action' to boost the economy in the Union Budget to be presented on February 1, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Wednesday, asserting that economic fundamentals remain very strong.

Responding to a question about the downward revision of India's growth rate by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), he said the economy is on the path of 'revival' and nobody should have a pessimistic view about it.

"From the Union Budget, you will get government's plan of action. Our fundamentals are very strong. Therefore, nobody should create a pessimistic view about Indian economy," the Information and Broadcasting minister said at a briefing after the Union Cabinet meeting.

Asserting that the economy was on the path of 'revival', he said there are ups and downs in world economy, and it has reflection on economy of countries.

The IMF had on Monday lowered growth estimate for India to 4.8 per cent for 2019, citing stress in the non-bank financial sector and weak rural income growth as the major factors for the downward revision.

While providing an update on the global economy ahead of the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual summit, the IMF cut its India growth forecast.

India-born IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath had said growth in India slowed sharply owing to stress in the non-banking financial sectors and weak rural income growth.

Opposition parties have been attacking the government over the economic slowdown and its policies.  -- PTI
18:29   Uddhav to visit Ayodhya to mark 100 days as CM
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who heads the Shiv Sena, will visit Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh to mark the completion of 100 days in power in March, senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut said in Mumbai on Wednesday.

It will be the first visit of the Sena chief to Ayodhya after his party severed ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party and the National Democratic Alliance over sharing of power after the results of the Maharashtra elections were declared in October last year.

Thackeray had put off his November 24, 2019 visit to Ayodhya, after the Nationalist Congress Party core committee resolved to form an alternative government in the state.

The Sena subsequently joined hands with the NCP and Congress to form a coalition government.

Thackeray was sworn in as the CM on November 28, 2019.

'The government is working and will complete five years with the blessings of lord Ram. On completion of 100 days in power, Thackeray will visit Ayodhya to seek blessings of Lord Ram and chart out his future course of action,' tweeted Raut.

Thackeray had last visited Ayodhya in June, 2019 and offered prayers at the makeshift Ram Lalla temple along with18 newly-elected MPs of his party.  -- PTI
18:16   Delhi court acquits man of rape, says woman was his wife 'on that day'
A Delhi court has acquitted a man of rape charge saying the offence cannot be made out as the complainant was married to him when he forcibly established physical relations with her.

Additional Sessions Judge Umed Singh Grewal observed that the woman accused the man of allegedly raping her on July 5, 2016, but it could not be considered a case of rape as she was 'wife of the accused on that day'.

"It becomes clear that the victim had married with the accused on or before 02.11.2015. As per her own cross-examination... she was raped by the accused after July 5, 2016 but she was wife of the accused on that day," the court observed, while acquitting the man.

The complainant was living with the man in Punjab when she came to know that he was convicted and jailed for committing theft.

Thereafter, she moved to Delhi without informing him.

The man who later followed her to Delhi convinced her that he will mend his ways and the couple started living together, whereafter he stole Rs 2 lakh from her.

The wife then refused to reside with him.

He was arrested by the police on her complaint but he kept visiting her house and established physical relationship repeatedly, the woman alleged.

The court observed that physical relationship between the couple was with her consent when they were in Punjab and for some period in Delhi and it was only after the theft of Rs 2 lakh, that the accused had established physical relation with her forcibly.

"When the accused established physical relation with the victim forcibly, she was his wife and hence, rape case is not made out," the court said.  -- PTI
17:30   Mayawati accepts Shah's CAA debate challenge
Bahujan Samajwadi Party supremo Mayawati on Wednesday said her party is ready for a debate on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on any platform, a day after Union Home Minister Amit Shah threw a challenge to the Opposition.

Addressing a rally in support of the CAA in Lucknow on Tuesday, Shah had dared, besides Mayawati, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav to a debate with him on the law on a 'sarvjanik manch' (public platform).

'The BSP is ready to accept the challenge thrown by the central government, which is troubled by the organised struggle and agitation all over the country against the most controversial CAA/NRC/NPR, especially by the youth and women, for a debate on the issue on any platform and anywhere,' Mayawati said in a tweet in Hindi.

According to the CAA, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, to escape religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
 It does not include Muslims.

Those opposing the CAA contend that it discriminates on the basis of religion and violates the Constitution.

They also allege that the CAA along with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is intended to target the Muslim community in India.

However, the central government has dismissed the allegations, maintaining that the law is intended to give citizenship to the persecuted minorities from the three neighbouring countries and not to take away anyone's citizenship.  -- PTI
16:14   Budget will have plan of action on economy: Javadekar
The government will unveil its "plan of action" to boost the economy in the Union Budget to be presented on February 1, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said on Wednesday, asserting that economic fundamentals remain very strong.

Responding to a question about the downward revision of India's growth rate by the International Monetary Fund, he said at a Cabinet briefing that the economy is on the path of "revival" and nobody should have a pessimistic view about it.

He also slammed critics of the National Population Register exercise, saying that it was done during the Congress-led government as well. 

The exercise was considered good then but bad now when the BJP is doing so, he said. -- PTI 
16:09   Interpol issues Blue Corner notice against Nithyananda
The Interpol has issued a Blue Corner Notice to locate self-styled godman Nithyananda, who fled India last year after a rape case was registered against him in Karnataka, Gujarat Police said on Wednesday.
The state police revealed the move in a chargesheet filed in a local court in connection with an FIR lodged against Nithyananda in November last year, after two girls went missing from his ashram in Ahmedabad.
"The Interpol issued the Blue Corner notice against the controversial godman this month," Deputy Superintendent of Police K T Kamariya said.
The police said they were working that a Red Corner Notice be issued by the Interpol against him now.
Nithyananda was earlier declared wanted by the Gujarat Police.
A Blue Corner notice is issued to locate or obtain information about a person in a criminal investigation, while a Red Corner notice is issued to seek arrest of a wanted person. --  PTI 
16:05   India drops 10 places in Democracy Index
India slipped 10 places to 51st position in the 2019 Democracy Index's global ranking, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit, which cited "erosion of civil liberties" in the country as the primary cause for the downtrend.
India's overall score fell from 7.23 in 2018 to 6.90 in the Index that provides a snapshot of the current state of democracy worldwide for 165 independent states and two territories.
On India, the report said, the country dropped ten places in the Democracy Index's global ranking to 51st. The primary cause of the democratic regression was an erosion of civil liberties in the country.
The index is based on five categories -- electoral process and pluralism; the functioning of government; political participation; political culture; and civil liberties.
Based on their total score, the countries are classified as one of four types of regime: "full democracy" (scores greater than 8); flawed democracy -- scores greater than 6 and less than or equal to 8; hybrid regime -- scores greater than 4 and less than or equal to 6; authoritarian regime -- scores less than or equal to 4".
India was included in the "flawed democracy" category.
Meanwhile, China's score fell to 2.26 in the 2019 index, and the country is now ranked 153rd, close to the bottom of the global rankings.
"Over the past year discrimination against minorities, especially in the north-western region of Xinjiang, has intensified. Digital surveillance of the population continued apace in 2019, representing a further constraint on individual freedoms," the report said.
Among other emerging economies, Brazil was ranked 52nd with a score of 6.86, Russia stood at 134th with a score of 3.11.
Meanwhile, Pakistan was ranked 108th on the overall list with a score of 4.25, while Sri Lanka was at 69th place with a score of 6.27, Bangladesh (at 80th with 5.88 score).
The overall list was topped by Norway, followed by Iceland and Sweden. 

Other countries in the top 10 include New Zealand at the fourth place, Finland (5th), Ireland (6th), Denmark (7th), Canada (8th), Australia (9th) and Switzerland (10th).
North Korea was at the bottom of the global ranking at 167th place. -- PTI  
15:50   Shabana Azmi 'stable', 'recovering': Sources
Veteran actor Shabana Azmi, who was injured in an accident last week, is "stable and recovering" in a Mumbai hospital, sources close to her family said on Wednesday.
Azmi suffered head injuries when her car met with an accident on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway on January 18.
The 69-year-old actor and her driver Kamlesh Kamath were rushed to the MGM hospital in Navi Mumbai and were shifted to the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in suburban Andheri the same day.
"She is stable and recovering," a source close to the family told PTI.
There is no clarity about when she will be discharged from hospital.
Hospital authorities remained unavailable for comment.
 Kamath has been booked for rash driving and negligence.
15:44   J-K kids nationalists, but sometimes...: Rajnath
The children of Jammu and Kashmir are nationalists, but they are sometimes being motivated in the wrong direction, defence minister Rajnath Singh said on Wednesday.
The comments come days after Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said girls and boys, as young as 10 and 12, were being radicalised in Kashmir, adding that it was a matter of concern.
"The kids of Jammu Kashmir are nationalists. They shouldn't be seen in any other way," Singh, who is visiting the NCC Republic Day Camp in Delhi, said when asked about his opinion on kids in the state who are being motivated to join the National Cadet Corps.
"Youngsters are youngsters only. Sometimes, the way they should be motivated, people do not motivate them. In fact, they are motivated in the wrong direction.
"That is why the kids should not be blamed for this. The ones who are wrongly motivating them should be blamed. The ones who are motivating them in wrong direction are the culprits," the defence minister added. -- PTI  
15:15   Mumbai to remain open 24x7 from Jan 27: Aaditya
The Maharashtra Cabinet on Wednesday approved its 'Mumbai 24 hours' policy allowing malls, multiplexes and shops to remain open round-the-clock in the city from January 27.
Noting that London's 'night economy' was five billion pounds, state tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray told reporters after the Cabinet meeting that the government's decision could help generate more revenue and jobs, in
addition to the existing five lakh people working in the service sector.
He also said keeping shops, malls and eateries open in the night was not mandatory.
"Only those who feel they can do good business can keep their establishments open throughout the night," he said.
In the first phase, shops, eateries and theatres in malls and mill compounds situated in non-residential areas will be allowed to remain open.
"In the Bandra-Kurla Complex and Nariman Point near NCPA, a lane will be opened for food trucks. Food inspectors will keep a watch on them. If rules on solid waste management, decibel limits and law and order are violated, there is provision of lifetime ban," the Shiv Sena leader said.
He said the police force will not be under stress because after 1.30 am, their job till now was to check if shops and establishments were shut down.
"But, now they will be able to focus on law and order only," said the minister, who is son of chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.
He also said that while taking the decision, excise rules have not been touched and pubs and bars will close as usual at 1.30am.
"People can eat food, shop and watch movies even during the night," he said.
He said Mumbai is a "24x7 functional city". "There are people who work in night shifts. There are tourists, too, in transit. Where do they go if they are hungry after 10 pm?" he asked.
Thackeray also said there are provisions for security and CCTVs in malls and mill compounds and they have all the licenses. If these establishments need additional police security, they will have to pay for it, he added.
Asked about criticism from the BJP over this move, the minister said the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government was working to fulfil people's aspirations.
"The BJP is against the youth, seeing the way they are handling students," he said, referring to the recent violence in Delhi's JNU and Jamia Millia Islamia. -- PTI
14:54   Work on Chandrayaan-3 started: ISRO chief
The work on Chandrayaan-3 mission has started and it is going on at full speed, ISRO chief K Sivan said on Wednesday.

"The work on Chandrayaan-3 has started and it is going at full speed," he told reporters in Bengaluru.

Earlier this month, Sivan had stated that Chandrayaan-3's configuration will be almost similar to Chandrayaan-2 but the new mission will have a rover with a propulsion module.

"In Chandrayaan-2 we had orbiter, lander and rover configuration. But the Chandrayaan-3 will be having a lander and rover with a propulsion module. The work is being carried out very smoothly," he had said.

Sivan further said that Chandrayaan-3's lander and craft cost is approximately Rs 250 crore, whereas the launch cost will be around Rs 350 crore. -- ANI
14:52   Maha govt declares 'Tanhaji' tax-free
The Maharashtra Cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal to make Ajay Devgn-starrer Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior tax-free in the state.
The film based on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's trusted lieutenant Tanaji Malusare, who played a pivotal role in capturing the Kondana fort, now known as Sinhagad Fort located near Pune, has grossed over Rs 150 crore since it its release on January 10.
"The proposal for exempting the film from entertainment tax was approved in the Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray," an official told PTI.
Last week, the chief minister himself brought up the topic about the film in the Cabinet.
He had sought a proposal for tax exemption of the film, which recreates the valour and bravery of Malusare.
State Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat and Women and Child Welfare Minister Yashomati Thakur earlier said the issue was discussed last week in the Cabinet where ministers were unanimous about making the film tax-free.
The film, starring Ajay Devgn, Saif Ali Khan and Kajol, has been directed by Om Raut. 
14:47   Western Railway trains in Mumbai delayed due to technical snag
Suburban services on the Western Railway were disrupted due to a snag in the overhead wire between Mira Road and Dahisar stations on Wednesday, a railway official said.
All Borivali-bound trains were stopped because of the problem on UP fast-train line (towards Churchgate) for about an hour from 12.30 pm onwards, he said.
"The problem in OHE was rectified at around 1.30 pm and train services restored on the line," Ravinder Bhakar, chief public relations officer of the Western Railway said.
The Railways claimed that the services on the line were diverted on UP slow lines till the problem was resolved.
"Some trains were delayed and some might have been cancelled," he said.
The Western Railway provides suburban connectivity to areas such as Vasai, Virar, Palghar and Dahanu and at least 35 lakh commuters travel on suburban locals on the zonal railway every day. -- PTI  
14:45   Delhi polls: Over 1000 violations of model code of conduct
Over 1000 FIRs have so far been registered in connection with various violations since the model of code conduct came into force for the Delhi assembly polls.
Talking to reporters, Delhi Chief Electoral Officer Ranbir Singh said action had been taken against 2,078 public vehicles, including autorickshaws and e-rickshaws, for carrying political messages.
A total of 543512 hoardings and posters have been removed under the Defacement of Properties Act by local bodies. 
Delhi goes to polls on February 8 and results will be declared on February 11. The model code of conduct came into force on January 6. -- PTI
14:37   Vote keeping welfare of your family in mind: Kejriwal
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday appealed to the supporters of opposition parties to vote for the Aam Aadmi Party in the February 8 assembly polls so that the work done in the last five years in the national capital is not "undone".
He said the entire Delhi should vote on the basis of development done in the education and healthcare system.
"We have worked hard to improve our schools, the education system, health care... Who will take care of the education of your children, who will help you get good and affordable health care if you vote for any other party? Just give it a thought," the chief minister said while addressing a roadshow in the Badli constituency in support of AAP candidate Ajesh Yadav.
"So, I appeal to you all, especially those who support the Congress and the BJP... please be with your respective parties but vote for us this time. Cast your vote keeping the welfare of your family in mind," he said standing in a jeep as hundreds of his supporters walked along donning 'aam aadmi' caps and carrying banners of the party.
Kejriwal said his government did a lot for the people of Delhi in its five-year tenure but needed more time to complete the work pending for 70 years.
"We have tried our best to give maximum benefit to the people of Delhi... to make their lives prosperous. We have made water and electricity free, improved the education and health care system.. but the work pending for 70 years cannot be completed in just 5 years. We need more time," he said. -- PTI
14:13   Delhi polls: Sonia, Rahul, Priyanka among star campaigners for Congress
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former party chief Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are among the party's list of 40 star campaigners for the upcoming Delhi assembly polls.
Interestingly, former Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha are also among the top campaigners for the polls. 
Both Sidhu and Sinha, who have earlier been with the BJP, have been roped in for the campaign in a bid to woo Punjabi and Purvanchali voters in the national capital.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh as well as chief ministers of Congress-ruled states -- Capt Amarinder Singh (Punjab), Ashok Gehlot (Rajasthan), Kamal Nath (Madhya Pradesh), Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh) and V Narayanasamy (Puducherry) -- also figure in the Congress' list of star campaigners that has been sent to the Election Commission by the party.
The Congress has announced names of 66 candidates so far for the election to the 70-member Delhi assembly and it is likely to leave four seats for its ally RJD.
Congress' Delhi unit chief Subhash Chopra, campaign committee chief Kirti Azad, AICC in-charge of Delhi P C Chacko and NSUI chief Neeraj Kundan, will also campaign for various candidates in the high-stakes poll battle.
Former chief ministers Harish Rawat and Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, general secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia, senior leaders Kapil Sibal and Ghulam Nabi Azad, are also among the star campaigners.
Former Union minister Shashi Tharoor, who has been aggressively taking on the AAP and had launched the party's campaign in Delhi, will also canvass for various candidates for the party.
Polling will be held on February 8 for the 70-member Delhi Assembly and the results will be declared on February 11.
The Congress is seeking to revive its fortunes in the national capital this time. It had won just eight seats in 2013 and drew a blank in the 2015 Delhi assembly polls. -- PTI 
13:56   Cong should be called 'Muslim League Congress': BJP
The Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday cited statements of several opposition leaders to accuse them of "abusing" Hindus for their appeasement politics and referred to the Congress as "Muslim League Congress".
Seeking apologies from Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said leaders of these parties have used the ongoing protests against the amended citizenship law to "abuse" Hindus.
Congress leader Ashok Chavan has said in a public meeting that the Congress decided to join hands with the Shiv Sena to form government in Maharashtra as Muslims wanted the party to stop the BJP, Patra stated, claiming that it shows the opposition party has nothing to do with people belonging to other religions, including Hindus.
Patra also referred to a statement from an NCP leader to attack the opposition.
Asked about Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge's reported jibe at the RSS for its "non-participation" in the freedom movement, the BJP leader shot back, asking if parents of Sonia Gandhi, who is of Italian origin, had fought in India's independence struggle.
The Indian National Congress, he said referring to the opposition party's full name, should be called "Muslim League Congress". -- PTI  
13:55   Mamata leads anti-CAA march in Darjeeling
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday led a 4-km-long protest march in Darjeeling hills against the new citizenship law. 
The rally began at Bhanu Bhakta Bhavan near Mall in Darjeeling and will conclude in the Chowkbazar area.
Earlier, she had led ten protest marches and six rallies in various parts of the state against the CAA and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens. -- PTI
13:12   Jammu-Srinagar NH shut for 2nd day due to multiple landslides
Multiple landslides at several places hampered restoration work on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway which remained closed for the second day on Wednesday, officials said. 
The highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country, was closed for traffic on Tuesday following fresh snowfall and incessant rains.
Though the weather improved, multiple landslides at Panthiyal, Moumpassi and Digdole coupled with slippery conditions delayed restoration work, the officials said. 
"The men and machines are on the job and efforts are on to make the highway motorable as soon as possible," Deputy Superintendent of Police (traffic), National Highway, Shemsher Singh told PTI. 
He said the Jawahar Tunnel, which experienced nearly one feet of fresh snowfall, was cleared for one-way traffic and around 1500 Kashmir-bound vehicles including trucks carrying essential commodities were allowed to move towards their destinations with drivers asked to drive carefully due to slippery conditions.
Heavy rains in Ramban triggered shooting of stones from hillocks overlooking the highway between Panthiyal and Ramsu throughout the day on Tuesday, while fresh landslides occurred at different places along the stretch, blocking the road, he said. 
In Jammu city and other parts of the region it was a sunny day. 
Jammu city recorded a minimum of 6 degrees Celsius -- one degree below normal, but the maximum temperature which had slipped over four degrees below normal on Tuesday is likely to settle around the season's normal at 18.8 degrees Celsius due to clear skies, an official of the Meteorological department said. 
He said Katra, the base camp for pilgrims visiting Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine in Reasi district, recorded a low of 5 degrees Celsius. 
The shrine and adjoining areas experienced heavy snowfall on Tuesday. 
The highway town of Batote in Ramban district was the coldest recorded place in Jammu region with a night temperature of minus 2 degrees Celsius followed by Bhaderwah in Doda district at minus 1.3 degrees Celsius and Banihal at minus 1 degrees Celsius, the spokesman said. -- PTI  
12:53   Mangaluru airport bomb suspect surrenders
A 36-year-old man, who is suspected to have planted the explosive at the Mangaluru Intentional Airport, surrendered before the police in Bengaluru on Wednesday, officials said.
The man turned up at the DGP and IGP office in  Bengaluru, where he has been detained for inquiry and medical tests.
The suspect has been identified as Adithya Rao, a native of Manipal, they said, adding he resembled the one captured on CCTV footage at Mangaluru airport.
The suspect confessed to having planted the bomb at the airport, sources said.
Meanwhile, a team of police officials from Mangaluru have arrived in the city to question the suspect.
Mangaluru city police commissioner P S Harsha tweeted that the investigation team will question the suspect and will initiate further necessary legal action.
Police sources said, Rao, who was taken to Halsoor Gate police station in Bengaluru for questioning, is an engineering graduate and an MBA holder.
He had earlier been arrested for making a hoax bomb call to Bengaluru airport in 2018 and was jailed for six months.
This was an act of revenge as he was denied the job of a security guard at the Bengaluru International Airport which he had applied for due to lack of certain documents, they said.
Rao had come to Bengaluru in 2012 seeking a job and landed one in a private bank, which he resigned.
He then returned to Mangaluru, where he worked as a security guard for six months and then as a cook in Puthige Mutt in Udupi.
Later, he went back to the state capital and joined an insurance company, which he left and tried to become a security staff at the airport, the sources said.
A 'live' explosive device was found in an unattended bag near a ticket counter of the departure gate of the international airport in Mangaluru on Monday and later defused at a nearby open ground. -- PTI 
12:42   Pak, even US, are theocracies, but not India: Rajnath Singh
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday said Indian values consider all religions equal, and that is why the country is secular and never became a theocratic state like Pakistan. 

Speaking at the NCC Republic Day Camp in Delhi, Singh said: "We (India) said we would not discriminate among religions. Why did we do that? Our neighbouring country has declared that their State has a religion. They have declared themselves a theocratic state. We didn't declare so." 

"Even America is a theocratic country. India is not a theocratic country. Why? Because our saints and seers did not just consider the people living within our borders as part of the family, but called everyone living in the world as one family," the minister said. 

Singh underlined that India had never declared its religion would be Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist and people of all religions could live here. 

"They gave the slogan of 'Vasudev Kutumbakam' -- the whole world is one family. This message has gone to the whole world from here only," he added.

-- PTI
12:37   Debate CAA with a bearded man: Owaisi to Shah
"Why debate with them? Debate with me," said All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Tuesday after Union home minister Amit Shah challenged Opposition leaders Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee and Akhilesh Yadav for a debate on the newly enacted Citizenship Amendment Act.

Addressing a gathering in Karimnagar, the Lok Sabha MP said that he is ready for a debate on the CAA, the National Population Register and the National Register of Citizens.

"You should debate with me. I am here. Why debate with them? The debate should be with a bearded man. I can debate with them on CAA, NPR and NRC," he said.

Shah had on Tuesday attended a party event in Lucknow where he said that the Opposition is spreading rumours about the CAA.

"I have come to you for a Jan Jagaran Abhiyan in Lucknow. Our government is hardly 8 months old but we are conducting this campaign to dispell the falsities being spread by the opposition against CAA. I challenge Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee and Akhilesh Yadav to engage in a debate on CAA," he said. -- ANI
12:20   Indian-American faces murder charges in US for killing 3 teens
An Indian-American man is facing multiple murder charges after he intentionally rammed his vehicle into a car ferrying six teenagers in California, killing three of them and injuring the rest before fleeing, according to United Sattes media reports.
Anurag Chandra, 42, a resident of California's Corona city, was arrested shortly after the late Sunday crash that sent the car into a tree in Temescal Valley, southeast of Los Angeles, where police officials found his vehicle with front-end damage.
"It was an intentional act," California Highway Patrol Lt David Yokley told reporters on Monday.
"Our investigation led us to believe Chandra intentionally rammed the Prius, causing the driver to lose control. The investigation has now changed from a hit-run collision to homicide," Yokley was quoted as saying by the New York Post.
Chandra, 42, faces multiple counts of murder and assault with a deadly weapon, Riverside County jail records show. 

He is being held without bail.
One person was pronounced dead at the scene, the statement said. The others were taken to a hospital, where two died later. It wasn't immediately clear whether the teens were wearing seat belts, NBC News reported.
The Riverside County Fire Department posted a statement on Facebook saying that a single car with six occupants hit a tree and that three of the car's occupants had to be extricated.
The injured teens are expected to survive. All six had attended Olive Branch Church & School in Corona.
"They were bright young kids that had so much to look forward to and it was taken far too early," said the institute's spokesman Tim East.
Yokley did not disclose a motive for the crash.
"We really don't know," the officer said.
"Obviously, there was some sort of contact. We are looking into those exact same questions, of whether or not he was known to the victims" Yokley said.
Alcohol or drugs did not appear to be a factor in the crash, but toxicology tests are still pending. -- PTI 
12:19   Want to make film on Chandragupta Maurya: Kangana
Actor Kangana Ranaut has expressed her desire to make a movie on Chandragupta, the shepherd-turned-emperor who founded the Maurya dynasty, noting that the film industry has "not done enough justice to our history".
The national award winner was in Patna to take part in a programme organised by the publishers of a leading Hindi daily where she performed a jig to the tunes of Bhojpuri songs along with actor-turned-politician Ravi Kishan before the duo participated in a question and answer session.
Replying to the questions posed by Kishan, who is also the Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Gorakhpur, Ranaut on Tuesday said it was her second trip to Bihar.
"The last time, I was here as a child though I have not yet got a chance to explore the state with which I feel a connect as my Yoga teacher has his roots here," she said.
Ranaut, who won acclaim for portraying Rani Laxmibai -- the valiant queen of Jhansi who took on the British during the revolt of 1857 -- in Manikarnika, when asked if she would like to be associated with a film on any historical figure from Bihar, said, "It would be Chandragupta Maurya. The film industry has not done much justice to our history".
A self-confessed admirer of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the 32-year-old, who has won three National Awards in the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories, replied in the affirmative when asked about reports that she has turned producer and her first venture is based on the theme of Ram temple in Ayodhya.
The Himachal Pradesh-born actress, who has courted controversy for taking on well-entrenched Bollywood "insiders" like Karan Johar and Hrithik Roshan, said she has had a rebellious streak since childhood and shared an anecdote about her breaking her teacher's stick upon being hit for chatting with a classmate in school.
When Kishan asked why she has gained so much weight, Ranaut replied it was in preparation for her upcoming biopic Thalaivi, based on late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa.
The actress said her forthcoming release Panga is a family drama.
Ranaut said after landing in Patna, she gorged on 'Litti Chokha', a local delicacy.
She also regaled the audience by greeting them in Bhojpuri and repeating several commonly used phrases of the dialect after Kishan. -- PTI  

Image: Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut during an event in Patna. Photograph: PTI Photo
12:10   Maha govt to make Preamble reading mandatory in schools
The Maharashtra government has made reading of Preamble of the Constitution after prayer mandatory in all primary and secondary schools, starting from January 26.

The statement issued by School Education Minister and senior Congress leader Varsha Gaikwad on Tuesday, read, "From January 26, a programme called Sovereignty of Constitution, the public interest of all will be started, wherein every school Preamble of the Constitution will be read by all in a group before the classes begin."

"It is being done so that everyone comes to know and understand the basic principles of the inclusiveness, justice, equality, liberty and brotherhood," the statement read.

A similar order was passed by the School Education and Sports Department on February 4, 2013, but it is observed that this order of 2013 is not being complied, according to the statement. -- ANI

Image: A woman holds a copy of the Indian constitution outside Gandhi ashram in Ahmedabad. Photograph: PTI Photo
11:59   Suspect in Mangaluru airport bomb case surrenders in Bengaluru
A 36-year-old man, who is suspected to have planted an explosive at the Mangaluru Intentional Airport, surrendered before the police on Wednesday, officials said. 

The man turned up at the DGP and IGP office in Bengaluru, where he has been detained for inquiry and medical tests. 

The suspect has been identified as Adithya Rao, a native of Manipal, they said, adding he resembled the one captured on CCTV footage at Mangaluru airport. 

 A team of officials from Mangaluru police are travelling to the city to question the suspect. 

 A 'live' explosive device was found in an unattended bag near a ticket counter of the departure gate of the international airport in Mangaluru on Monday and later defused at a nearby open ground.
11:58   Rocker Ozzy Osbourne has Parkinson's disease
Rocker Ozzy Osbourne has revealed that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. The musician was said he was "a lot better now" than he was in February 2019 as he appeared on the TV show Good Morning America with his wife Sharon and children Kelly and Jack. 

"It's been terribly challenging for us all," Ozzy, 71, said. It all started last year after a fall and the health battle aggravated after his Parkinson's diagnosis, he said. "I did my last show New Year's Eve at The Forum. Then I had a bad fall. I had to have surgery on my neck, which screwed all my nerves... I'm a lot better now than I was last February. I was in a shocking state," the vocalist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath added.

Sharon said her husband was diagnosed with "PRKN 2". "There's so many different types of Parkinson's. It's not a death sentence by any stretch of the imagination, but it does affect certain nerves in your body. And it's like you have a good day, a good day and then a really bad day," she said.

Ozzy said he detested being at home and doing nothing. "Coming from a working-class background, I hate to let people down. I hate to not do my job. And so when I see my wife goin' to work, my kids goin' to work, everybody's doing -- tryin' to be helpful to me, that gets me down because I can't contribute to my family," he said. 

The singer-songwriter said his fans have been a good source of support during the ordeal. "They're my air. I feel better. I've owned up to the fact that I have a case of Parkinson's. And I just hope they hang on and they're there for me because I need them," Ozzy said.

He added in the wake of his recent single Ordinary Man, the singer plans to get back to performing. "I wanna see my people. I miss them so much," he said.
-- PTI
11:40   Pamela Anderson marries for 5th time
Actor-model Pamela Anderson and movie mogul Jon Peters have tied the knot in a private ceremony.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the couple, who dated over 30 years ago, exchanged vows in Malibu on January 20.
Anderson, 52, and Peters, 74, reunited in recent months and kept the relationship under wraps.
Peters, a producer on Barbra Streisand's 1976 version of A Star Is Born and the 2018 remake and other films including Batman (1989) and Superman Returns (2006), said Anderson inspired him.
"Pamela has never seen her full potential as an artist. She has yet to shine in a real way. There is much more to her than meets the eye, or I wouldn't love her so much. There are beautiful girls everywhere. I could have my pick, but -- for 35 years -- I've only wanted Pamela. She makes me wild -- in a good way. She inspires me. I protect her and treat her the way she deserves to be treated," the producer told the outlet.
Baywatch alum Anderson talked about Peters in the form of a poem. 
"Jon is the original bad boy' of Hollywood - no one compares - I love him deeply like family. His life used to scare me. So much for a girl like me. Now I've seen more of life and realise .. 
"He's been there all along. Never failed me - I'm ready now and he's ready too - We understand and respect each other - We love each other without conditions. - I'm a lucky woman. - Proof God has a plan," she said in a statement.
This is a fifth marriage for both.
Anderson's former husbands include rocker Tommy Lee and rapper Kid Rock. 

Peters' ex wives include actor Lesley Ann Warren, producer Christine Forsyth-Peters and he was once in 12-year relationship with Streisand. -- PTI 
11:36   SC refuses to stay Citizenship Law
The Supreme Court on Wednesday made it clear that it will not grant any stay on the Citizenship Amendment Act without hearing the Centre and said it may refer pleas challenging the validity of the Act to a larger Constitution bench.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde is hearing a batch of 143 pleas challenging the validity of CAA, including those filed by the Indian Union Muslim League and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, told the bench that the government has been given copies of around 60 pleas out of the 143 petitions.
He said it wanted time to respond to pleas which have not been served on it. 
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal urged the bench to put on hold operation of CAA and postpone exercise of the National Population Register for the time being.
The court said it will not grant any stay on CAA without hearing the Centre on the matter.
The CAA seeks to grant citizenship to migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Jain and Parsi communities who came to the country from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on or before December 31, 2014.
11:19   SC may refer CAA pleas to constitution bench
The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it may refer pleas challenging the validity of the Citizenship Amendment Act to a larger Constitution bench.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde is hearing a batch of 143 pleas challenging the validity of CAA.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, told the bench that the government has been given copies of around 60 pleas out of the 143 petitions.
He said it wanted time to respond to pleas which have not been served on it. 
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal urged the bench to put on hold operation of CAA and postpone exercise of the National Population Register for the time being.-- PTI 
11:09   Hearing on over 140 pleas on CAA begins in SC
The hearing on around 144 petitions challenging to the Citizenship Amendment Act is underway in the Supreme Court.

Popular Front of India national secretary Anis Ahmed has also filed a PIL in the apex court challenging the new legislation, which trigged protests across several parts of the country.

A bench of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, Justice S Abdul Nazeer and Justice Sanjiv Khanna will hear Ahmed's petition with several other pleas, including petitions challenging the constitutional validity of CAA and transfer petitions filed by the Central Government.

Ahmed, in his petition, challenged not only the CAA but also the amendments made to related legislation, rules and orders. He stated religion has never been a criterion for citizenship.

"However, as a result of the CAA, only Muslims run the risk of losing citizenship on account of their religion. The impugned legislation sets the criterion of religion for the purposes of granting or denying citizenship. That is not conducive to the constitutional ideals, such as justice, equality, liberty and fraternity, unity and integrity of the country," read the petition.

Anis Ahmed stated that the CAA is "wholly destructive, divisive and dangerous to the harmonious living of the citizens of India".

The PIL also states that "The Articles 2, 3, 7, 15 and 18 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR to which India is a party, mandates that there shall not be any discrimination on the ground of religion."

"Unfortunately, the impugned legislations are wholly unjust, arbitrary, discriminatory, and unconstitutional and against the international Declarations/Covenants adopted by the United Nations Organization, wherein India is a member," read a press release by PFI.

The PIL also sought to declare Rule 4(1)(ha) of the Passport (Entry into India) Rules 1950, para 3A of the Foreigners Order, 1948 and the CAA as "unconstitutional and to strike down those legislations". -- ANI
10:36   Prashant Kishor challenges Shah on CAA, NRC
A day after Union home minister Amit Shah reiterated that Citizenship Amendment Act won't be revoked, Janata Dal-United vice president Prashant Kishor on Wednesday challenged the former Bharatiya Janata Party president to "try and implement" the CAA and National Register of Citizens.

"Being dismissive of citizens' dissent couldnt be the sign of strength of any Govt. @amitshah Ji, if you dont care for those protesting against #CAA_NRC, why dont you go ahead and try implementing the CAA & NRC in the chronology that you so audaciously announced to the nation!" Kishor said in a tweet.

Addressing a rally in Lucknow in support of the CAA, Shah on Tuesday emphatically said the CAA will not be withdrawn and those protesting can continue to do so even as he challenged opposition leaders for a public debate on the contentious law.
Due to fog and poor visibility, three flights from Riyadh, Kuwait and Bangkok are delayed. Two flights from Kabul and Bahrain flights have also been diverted.
10:03   Union Cabinet meeting today at 10:30 am
A meeting of Union Cabinet is scheduled to be held today at 10:30 am. 
09:54   Trump trial opens with clash over witnesses
The United States Senate has started the historic impeachment trial of President Donald Trump amidst acrimonious scenes among the Senators from the ruling Republican party and the opposition Democrats over the rules of the game.
The impeachment trial began on Tuesday and comes nearly a week after the House of Representatives, where the Democrats enjoy a majority, voted to send articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate.
In a 228-193 vote, which was mainly on party lines, the House had appointed seven impeachment managers to argue Democrats' case for removing Trump from the office.
The managers - Congressmen Adam Schiff, Jerrold Nadler, Zoe Lofgren, Hakeem Jeffries, Val Demings, Jason Crow, and Sylvia Garcia - were named by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The 435-member House on December 18 charged Trump with "high crimes and misdemeanors" and impeached him for pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential Democratic rival for the current president in the 2020 elections.
President Trump's lawyers submitted a trial brief Monday calling his impeachment by the House "a dangerous perversion" of the US constitution and demanding his immediate acquittal by the Senate.
On Tuesday, the Senate started the historic trial in "utter acrimony" as the debate was a technical one about the rules and procedures to govern the trial, The New York Times reported.
Trump's close-ally Mitch McConnell laid out ground rules that would block subpoenaing key witnesses or documents while each side makes its case -- potentially crippling prosecutors' arguments.
Flexing his solid 53-47 majority, the Republican Senate leader also made clear he would summarily block any Democratic attempts to change his rules. -- PTI
09:18   Dense fog engulfs Delhi, 5 flights diverted
Five flights have been diverted at Delhi airport due to dense fog on Wednesday morning, an airport official said.
"Five flights diverted as captain was not trained to land under CAT  conditions," the official said.
When the runway visual range is minimum 200 metres, then only that pilot -- who is trained in instrument landing system Category 3A (CATIIIA) -- can land the aircraft.
If the RVR is minimum 50 metres, then a pilot who is trained in using CATIIIB landing system can land the aircraft at the airport. -- PTI 
08:43   CAA, NPR a 'conspiracy' to take away voting rights: Kumar Ketkar
Rajya Sabha MP Kumar Ketkar on Tuesday said the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Population Register were part of a "conspiracy" to take away voting rights of citizens.
He was speaking at a protest organised here against the CAA, NPR and National Register of Citizens.
About 16 educational and social organisations, under the aegis of the 'Federation of Organisation for Social Justice Secularism and Democracy', had organised the protest.

The protest also sought to create public awareness on various aspects of the CAA, NPR and NRC, its organisers said.
The programme saw Ketkar, former UGC chairman Sukhdev Thorat and others addressing the gathering.
The journalist-turned-politician alleged the CAA and NPR were part of a "conspiracy" to take away voting rights of citizens.
Ketkar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and the BJP were feeling uneasy because of peaceful protests over scrapping of Article 370 in J&K and the new citizenship law.
They wanted riots so that they could impose 'Emergency' in the country, the Rajya Sabha MP said.
He said the current ruling dispensation is afraid of non-violent protests, a method used effectively by Mahatma Gandhi against the British. -- PTI 
08:25   First case of coronavirus detected in US
The first case of coronavirus which has claimed the lives of six people in Asia, has been detected in the United States, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Tuesday.

The United States has its first confirmed case of a new virus that appeared in Wuhan, China, last month, the CDC announced, reported CNN.

The male patient, who travelled from Wuhan to Washington, is in isolation at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett.

CNN quoted him as saying that he did not attend the animal markets in the Chinese city where many of the patients were infected.

The virus can spread person to person, though not nearly as easily as viruses such as measles or influenza.

This comes even as Chinese healthcare authorities said that 291 confirmed cases of new coronavirus-related pneumonia and 54 suspected cases had been reported in the country by the end of Monday, reported Xinhua.

Earlier, Chinese President Xi Jinping had ordered resolute efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus  that causes pneumonia. -- ANI
00:23   Senate kicks off Trump impeachment trial debate
The historic impeachment trial of United States President Donald Trump opened debate with fireworks Tuesday as Democrats accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of fomenting a 'cover-up' with his proposed rules for the process.

Republican McConnell proposed a set of ground rules that would place strict restrictions on witnesses and evidence for the first stage and move the trial quickly ahead, saying he would summarily block any Democratic attempts to change his rules.

"The basic structure we're proposing is just as eminently fair and even-handed," McConnell said.

"There is no reason why the vote on this resolution ought to be remotely partisan," he said. -- Agencies