Wed, 04 March 2020
Full check-up at all land border points: MHA

Timeline  Refresh

23:41   Full check-up at all land border points: MHA
The Union Home Ministry on Wednesday night announced that full medical check-up and scanning are being carried out at all land ports in the country, including Atari, Kartarpur and Agartala, to detect suspected cases of coronavirus among the incoming passengers.

The ministry said all land ports under its control have fully equipped medical teams present to screen all incoming passengers from neighbouring countries.

"Medical check-up ongoing at Kartarpur and Atari. Full check-up and scanning is being undertaken at all land ports and a status report is being submitted on a daily basis," a home ministry spokesperson said.

Pilgrims visiting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan cross over through Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab.

Both Dera Baba Nanak and Atari are located in Punjab along the Indo-Pak border.

The home ministry said India is well-prepared to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Full medical check-up points have also been set up at Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) at Petrapole (West Bengal) and Agartala.

Both Petrapole and Agartala are located along the Indo-Bangladesh border.

The ministry said the National Disaster Response Force is organising training at Atari, Kartarpur, Petrapole and Agartala ICPs.  --  PTI
23:12   Bloomberg drops out of Prez race, backs Biden
Billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg dropped out of the 2020 United States Presidential race on Wednesday and endorsed former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

'Three months ago, I entered the race to defeat Donald Trump. Today, I'm leaving for the same reason. Defeating Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it. It's clear that is my friend and a great American, @JoeBiden,' Bloomberg tweeted.

'I'm immensely proud of the campaign we ran. I'm deeply grateful to all the Americans who voted for me, and to our dedicated staff and volunteers. I want you to stay engaged, active, and committed to our issues. I will be right there with you. And together, we will get it done,' the following tweet read.

The billionaire, who had officially launched his campaign in November last year, spent more than $400 million in television, radio and digital ads publicizing his candidacy.

The 77-year-old entrepreneur and philanthropist made his fortune creating technology that bankers and traders use to access market data.

After building a successful financial information business, he turned to politics and officially launched a bid to become Mayor of New York in 2001 as a Republican.

However, Bloomberg switched parties and became an independent -- only to re-register as a Democrat in 2018. -- ANI
22:56   Delhi riots: 531 cases filed, over 1,600 held
The Delhi Police has registered 531 first information reports and arrested or detained 1,647 people in connection with the communal violence in northeast Delhi, an officer said on Wednesday.

47 of the cases were registered under the Arms Act, the officer said.

According to police, the police control room (PCR) did not receive any calls of rioting in the past seven days.

The situation in the riot-affected areas was under control, the police said.

On Tuesday, Mohammed Shahrukh, who was seen confronting an unarmed police personnel with gun during the violence at Maujpur last week, was arrested from Uttar Pradesh's Shamli district, police said.  -- PTI
22:18   Pro-Pak slogan: Court orders to provide treatment for accused
A court at Kundapur in Udupi  district on Wednesday directed police to arrange for providing medical treatment to the man who raised pro-Pakistan slogans at the mini Vidhan Soudha there two days ago.

The man, arrested for shouting 'Pakistan Zindabad' several times at the Kundapur mini Vidhan Soudha (a complex housing government offices) on Monday, was later charged with sedition and remanded to judicial custody till March 16.

When the plea for bail to the accused came up, counsel argued that his client had a known mental illness and had behaved as such without any motive.

Counsel wanted the court to grant him bail for seeking medical treatment.

Hearing the plea, the court ordered that the district medical officer provide treatment to the accused till March 13and submit a report to the court.

The court also directed police to give him adequate security cover during the period.  -- PTI
21:26   Board students may take masks, sanitiser to exam
Students appearing for class 10 and 12 board examination will be allowed to carry masks and hand sanitiser in the exam centre in view of coronavirus scare, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) announced on Wednesday.

"Face masks and sanitisers may be carried by students in the examination centre," CBSE Secretary Anurag Tripathi said.

Class 10 and 12 board examinations began on February 15.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Students wear masks as prevention against coronavirus during school assembly, in Hyderabad, on Wednesday. Photograph: PTI Photo
20:52   9 Italian tourists, guide quarantined in MP
Nine Italian tourists and their Indian guide were sent to a quarantine facility in Chhatarpur on Wednesday for suspected exposure to the novel coronavirus, an official said.

The Italian tourists and their Indian guide reached Chhatarpur in Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday evening by road after travelling by a train to Jhansi from Agra, he said.

They were taken to a quarantine facility at Naugaon near Chhatarpur, district collector Sheelendra Singh told PTI.

"Two of them are suffering form cough and cold. They have been quarantined as a precaution," he said.  -- PTI
20:40   Encounter breaks out between terrorists, security forces in Budgam
An encounter broke out on Wednesday between terrorists and security forces in Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir, police said.

The security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Dooniwara area, following information about the presence of militants there, a police official said.

He said during the searches, the terrorists hiding in a house opened fire that was retaliated by the security forces.

"The exchange of fire was going on till last reports came in," the official said, adding that there were no casualties reported so far.  -- PTI
20:31   Out on bail, Chinmayanand celebrates birthday
Former Union minister Swami Chinmayanand celebrated his birthday in Shahjahanpur on the day the Supreme Court dismissed a plea challenging the high court order that granted bail to him in the sexual exploitation case lodged by a law student.

During events at his Mumukshu ashram, Chinmayanand met supporters, listened to a Ramayan recitation and praised those who agitated for a Ram temple in Ayodhya.

According to ashram officials, a recitation of the `Sundarkand' from Ramayan was held in the evening on Tuesday, when he turned 73.

Visitors were given a special prasad made for the occasion.

The BJP politician also participated in an event organised by the local Hindu Yuva Vahini unit at the ashram, where he praised "kar sevaks' who took part in the Ayodhya movement.

After the Supreme Court's historic judgment on the Ayodhya dispute last year, a Ram temple is being built on the site where mobs brought down the Babri mosque in 1992.

Chinmayanand did not directly make clear that he was referring to the demolition when he mentioned the 'kar sevaks'.

"People who did kar seva in the Ayodhya matter are the real warriors," he said.

He added that they should be honoured as a temple is now being constructed because of them.

The Supreme Court had on Tuesday dismissed an appeal challenging the Allahabad high court order granting bail to the former minister.

Chinmayanand, whose trust runs the Shahjahanpur law college where the complainant studied, was arrested on September 20 last year under section 376-C of the Indian Penal Code, a charge short of rape.

The section is applied when someone in authority takes advantage of his official position to 'induce or seduce' a woman to have sex with him.

In a parallel case, the law student was charged with allegedly trying to extort money from Chinmayanand. The high court had granted her bail on December 4.

The Supreme Court had stepped in after the 23-year-old woman went missing for a few days in August last year after posting a video clip on social media, alleging sexual abuse.

A special investigation team of Uttar Pradesh Police, formed on the directions of the apex court, arrested Chinmayanand about a month later.

The SIT also arrested the student after a complaint that she and her friends had tried to extort Rs five crore from Chinmayanand, threatening to make public videos showing her giving massages to him.   -- PTI
19:51   17 Indians abroad infected with coronavirus: MEA
Seventeen Indians have been infected with coronavirus abroad, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Wednesday.

Responding to a question in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said 16 cases were reported from Japan on the cruise ship and one from the United Arab Emirates.

He said the 16 Indians in Japan are being treated at onshore medical facilities in that country.

He further said that the government evacuated a total of 766 persons -- 723 Indian nationals and 43 foreigners -- from China.

Similarly, 119 Indians have been brought back to India from the cruise ship in Japan, Muraleedharan said.

"Air India has raised a bill of Rs 5.98 crore for operating two special flights to China and an Indian Air Force flight carrying relief material to China also carried Indian citizens from Wuhan, China on its return journey," he said.

Muraleedharan said an Indian Air Force flight carrying relief material to China also carried Indian citizens from Wuhan in China on its return journey.

Expenditure details are yet to be received from Defence Ministry.

"Expenditure details for the special flight -- Japan to India -- for evacuation is yet to be received from Air India," he said.   -- PTI
19:43   Coronavirus: Prez office cancels Holi gatherings
Rashtrapati Bhavan will not hold the traditional Holi gatherings as a precautionary measure amid the global scare over coronavirus, the President's office tweeted on Wednesday.

'With alertness and safeguards, we all can help contain the outbreak of COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. In a precautionary measure, the Rashtrapati Bhavan will not hold the traditional Holi gatherings,' the President's office said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah have also announced that they will not participate in any 'Holi Milan' programme.

Holi will be celebrated on March 10.  -- PTI
18:58   15,000 Bangladeshi nationals given Indian citizenship since 2014: Govt
India has granted citizenship to nearly 19,000 people from five neighbouring countries, including 15,036 Bangladeshi nationals, since 2014, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Wednesday.

Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai said those who were granted Indian citizenship belonged to Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan.

Among the 18,999 people who were granted Indian citizenship, a total of 15,036 were from Bangladesh, he said in a written reply.

The highest number of Bangaldeshi nationals -- 14,864 people -- were granted Indian citizenship in 2015 under the Section 7 of the Citizenship Act, 1955 following the signing of the Indo-Bangladesh land boundary agreement.

A total of 2,935 Pakistani, 914 Afghan and 113 Sri Lankan citizens and one Myanmar national were granted Indian citizenship from 2014 to 2019, Rai said. -- PTI
18:41   Coronavirus: 3 Delhi-NCR schools closed
Three schools in the national capital and adjoining areas have announced holiday for students and staff as a precautionary measure to prevent spread of coronavirus, while two schools advanced their spring break and others sent out advisories to parents.

On Tuesday, a day after the Union Health Ministry reported two fresh cases of coronavirus in the country with one of them in Delhi, two Noida schools sent  messages to parents announcing their closure.

One of the two schools, where the infected Delhi man's son is a student in a primary class, said it will remain shut from March 4 to March 6. A health department team fumigated and sanitised the school campus on Tuesday.

A school in Delhi has announced it will be closed from Thursday while its two branches in Gurgaon have advanced their spring break and will now close from Saturday.

Amity International Schools (AIS) in Delhi-NCR have have fumigated their classrooms and sent advisories to parents detailing the dos and don'ts.

"We have sanitised the schools and fumigated each classroom. We may announce holidays if the need arises. Students and their parents should not panic but take precautionary measures," Principal of AIS Pushp Vihar Ameeta Mohan said.

Nina Kaul, the principal of Heritage Xperiential Learning School, Gurgaon, said, "We have established a comprehensive quarantine protocol and our medical staff have been trained to identify symptoms of coronavirus in order to take necessary steps upon suspecting a case. Parents have been requested not to send their child to school if they are feeling sick and especially if the child has fever."

"We have also requested the parents and staff to declare their travel plans or inform us if the child or someone in the family or in immediate circle of the child has travelled to any of the 'at risk' places so that quarantine protocols can be put into effect," she said.

Sardar Patel Vidyalaya in Delhi has asked parents to inform school authorities if anybody in the family or even relatives who frequently visit are suffering from cough and cold.

"Even if any other member of the family has such symptoms, please inform so that adequate precautionary measures can be taken in this regard," an advisory by the school said.

Schools in the region have also suggested parents to not send their wards to attend classes even in case of mild cough or cold.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday said  efforts are on to check and screen 88 people who came in contact with the Delhi man who tested positive for coronavirus.

A taskforce headed by him has been formed to tackle the situation emerging from the coronavirus infection and there is no need to panic, the chief minister said at a press conference.  -- PTI
18:01   Social media ban lifted in J-K; 2G till Mar 17
Removing a ban on social media platforms, Jammu and Kashmir administration on Wednesday allowed access to all sites on 2G mobile data services and fixed line internet in the Union Territory till March 17.

Earlier, only access to white-listed sites was allowed after the services were restored for a week on January 25 and subsequently extended from time to time.

The internet facility was snapped across Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 last year, the day when Centre abrogated the special status to the erstwhile state and bifurcated it into two union territories.

The fresh order was issued by Principal Secretary, Home, Shaleen Kabra after assessment of the impact of telecom services regulation on the overall security situation and maintenance of public order and reports of law enforcement agencies.  --  PTI
17:23   Nirbhaya convicts' death warrant at 2 pm tomorrow
A plea was on Wednesday moved in a Delhi court seeking fresh death warrant for the execution of the four convicts in the December 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case contending that the convicts have exhausted all the legal remedies.

Additional Session Judge Dharmender Rana issued notice to the convicts seeking their response on the application and slated the matter for hearing at 2 pm tomorrow.

Public prosecutor advocate Irfan Ahmad, appearing for the state, sought the issuance of a fresh date for execution today itself saying that the convicts have exhausted all the legal remedies available to them.

"The only legal remedy available to Pawan Gupta has also been exhausted... As there is no legal remedy left, please issue a fresh date of execution today itself," he said.

This comes after President Ram Nath Kovind, earlier today, rejected the mercy petition of Pawan Gupta, one of the four death row convicts in the case. Gupta was the fourth convict to file his mercy plea.

A Delhi court had on Monday stayed for the third time the death sentence of four convicts in the case observing that they cannot be executed while a mercy petition is pending before the President.The President has rejected the mercy petition of all the convicts in the case.

However, a "complete" mercy petition of convict Akshay Singh Thakur was recently filed claiming that the previous one, which was rejected by the President on February 5, did not have "complete facts".

Meanwhile, Pawan Gupta's curative petition seeking commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment was also dismissed by the Supreme Court on Monday. - ANI
17:03   NRIs can acquire 100% stake in AI now: Govt
Now Non-resident Indians can acquire 100 per cent stake in Air India from which the government is disinvesting, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday announced after the meeting of the Union Cabinet.

Earlier, the cap for the NRIs to acquire stake in the national airlines was 49 per cent."Regarding the strategic sale of Air India, now NRIs can acquire 100 per cent of stake in the airlines. Earlier it was 49 per cent," Javadekar said.

The government has initiated the process of divesting its share from Air India and is looking for suitable bidders. Earlier attempts by the government at AI divestment had not elicited a response from the potential buyers. -- ANI
16:39   Rhodes
South African cricketing legend Jonty Rhodes posts this picture from Rishikesh to say, "Benefits of cold water immersion in the Holy Ganges are both physical and spiritual #moksha #rishikesh #internationalyogfestival."

India, Rhodes, has said, is his second home. He spends almost four months a year here.
16:31   Delhi govt moves court seeking fresh date for execution of Nirbhaya convicts
The Delhi government on Wednesday moved a city court seeking a fresh date for the execution of four Nirbhaya case convicts. President Ram Nath Kovind rejected the mercy petition of Pawan Kumar Gupta, one of the four men facing the gallows in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, a Home Ministry official said earlier in the day. The trial court had on February 17 issued fresh date for execution of death warrants for March 3 at 6 am for the four convicts -- Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan (25), Vinay Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar Singh (31) -- in the case. The matter is likely to be taken up for hearing shortly by Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana. The President has already rejected the mercy petitions of Mukesh, Vinay and Akshay.  -- PTI
16:20   Delhi riots: Cong protests for Parl debate
The Congress said on Wednesday it would continue with its protests till the government agrees to debate Delhi riots in Parliament. The Congress has been demanding that the issue of communal riots in Delhi be debated in Parliament and proceedings of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have been disrupted over the issue. 

Congress' leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said his party has been demanding that there should be a discussion in Parliament on the recent riots in Delhi. "The government should accept its responsibility and the perpetrators of the violence should be punished. We have been asking the government repeatedly to debate on the issue," he said.

The government has said that the matter will be taken up after Holi, but the opposition is of the view that an important matter like this cannot wait. "Today also, we protested inside the House. Till the time a debate on Delhi riots is allowed in Parliament, our protest both inside and outside will continue," Chowdhury told reporters outside Parliament. -- PTI
16:13   No change in India's nuclear doctrine: MEA
There has been no change in India's nuclear doctrine, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Wednesday. Responding to a question in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said India is committed to maintaining credible minimum deterrence and the policy of no-first use of nuclear weapons. 

"There has been no change in India's nuclear doctrine," he said. India has a declared nuclear no-first-use policy under which a country cannot use nuclear weapons as a means of warfare unless first attacked by nuclear weapons. PTI
16:07   Phase II of Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) launched
The second phase of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen), which has a total outlay of Rs 1,40,881 crore, was launched by Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat in New Delhi on Wednesday. SBM (G) Phase-II will focus on sustaining the gains made in the first phase of the programme in the last five years in terms of toilet access and usage, and will ensure that no one is left behind, he said.

"Phase II will ensure that effective solid and liquid waste management (SLWM) is instituted in every gram panchayat of the country," Shekhawat said. Talking to media persons after the launch at the National Dissemination and Consultation Workshop on SBM (G) Phase-II, the minister said "SBM Phase II will be implemented from 2020-2021 to 2024-2025 in a mission mode with a total outlay of Rs 1,40,881 crore." 

The cabinet approved the second phase of the Swachh Bharat Mission, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet project focussed on sustainability of ODF and management of solid and liquid waste, on February 19. Since the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission in 2014, over 10 crore toilets have been built in rural areas, Shekhawat said, adding, "Over 5.9 lakh villages in 699 districts of 35 states/UTs have declared themselves open defecation free (ODF)." PTI 
15:54   'MLAs offered Rs 100 cr to topple MP govt'
A Vayapam scam whistleblower has released a purported video of a 'sting operation' involving senior BJP leader Narottam Mishra, and claimed that the former minister offered Rs 100 crore and ministerial posts to some Congress MLAs for toppling the Kamal Nath government.

While the authenticity of the video has not yet been verified independently, the BJP dubbed it as "fake and misleading", and said it has been released to tarnish Mishra's image. Dr Anand Rai posted the video of the alleged sting operation, titled 'Horse Trading: BJP Exposed', on his Facebook account where he said, "The attempt to buy public opinion failed, Rs 100 crore and the greed of the ministerial post could not buy our faith." Rai, who earlier blew the lid off the Vyapam scam pertaining to irregularities in exams held by the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board, has shared the video at a time when the Congress has accused the BJP of trying to poach its MLAs to destabilise the state government.

Claiming the video is authentic, Rai said he is ready to get the audio-visual content involving Mishra probed by any agency. Talking to PTI, Rai claimed, "This video was shot at a room in the Madhya Pradesh Bhavan located in Chanakyapuri area of Delhi which was recorded with an spy camera during my meeting with BJP leader Narottam Mishra last year." 

Without revealing names of the legislators concerned, Rai said, "There are
four Congress MLAs in the state who are in touch with me. Each MLA was offered a bribe of Rs 100 crore each in four installments, besides a ministerial post. Mishra had met me in Delhi at the behest of the top leadership of his party to topple the Kamal Nath government." 

The whistleblower claimed he released the video of Mishra's alleged sting operation so that voters could know the truth that efforts to buy public mandate started immediately after the formation of the Kamal Nath-led government. However, state BJP spokesperson Umesh Sharma termed the video as "fake and misleading". -- PTI
15:35   Nirbhaya's family to seek fresh date for execution of convicts
Advocate Seema Kushwaha, lawyer of the parents of the December 2012 gang-rape and murder victim, on Wednesday said that they are moving an application seeking a fresh date for the execution of the four convicts.

This comes after President Ram Nath Kovind, earlier today, rejected the mercy petition of Pawan Gupta, one of the four death row convicts in the case.

"We are moving a fresh application in Delhi court to fix a fresh date for the execution of the four convicts. All the convicts have exhausted their complete rights. The date which will be fixed now will be the final date," Kushwaha told ANI.

A Delhi court had on Monday stayed for the third time the death sentence of four convicts in the case observing that they cannot be executed while a mercy petition is pending before the President.

The President has rejected the mercy petition of all the convicts in the case. However, a "complete" mercy petition of convict Akshay Singh Thakur was recently filed claiming that the previous one, which was rejected by the President on February 5, did not have "complete facts".

Meanwhile, Pawan Gupta's curative petition seeking commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment was also dismissed by the Supreme Court on Monday.
15:33   Out-of-turn promotion for 14 cops who nabbed Kasab: Minister
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Wednesday informed that 14 police personnel, who nabbed terrorist Ajmal Kasab in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, have been awarded an out-of-turn promotion by the state government. Terrorist Ajmal Kasab, alongside fellow recruit Ismail Khan, killed 72 people in 2008 Mumbai attacks. He was the only attacker captured alive by Mumbai Police. In 2012, he was hanged on 21 November and buried at Yerwada Jail in Pune. - ANI
15:06   BJP attempting to poach MLAs, but Cong govt in MP completely secure: Scindia
Senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia on Wednesday accused the BJP of orchestrating a move to "poach" the legislators of his party in Madhya Pradesh, but asserted that Congress government in the state was "completely secure and stable". 

State minister Jitu Patwari has alleged that BJP leaders in Madhya Pradesh have taken eight MLAs to a hotel in Haryana as part of a conspiracy to topple the Kamal Nath government. The BJP has denied the charge.

"This is 100 per cent an attempt to poach (MLAs). We are united and our government is stable. We have counted the numbers and there is no threat to the government (in Madhya Pradesh)," the Congress general secretary told PTI. The former Union minister said the incidents that took place late on Tuesday night in Gurgaon near the national capital, were "obviously orchestrated by the BJP." "I have been at work as I was in Gwalior yesterday (Tuesday)... but I can tell you that the government in the state is completely secure," he said. In the 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly, the Congress has 114 MLAs, followed by the BJP 107. The simple majority mark is 116.

The Congress-led state government has the support of four Independent MLAs, two Bahujan Samaj Party legislators and one of the Samajwadi Party. Two seats are currently vacant following the demise of a Congress and a BJP legislator. PTI 
14:46   No Holi for Kejriwal
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, like PM Modi and Amit Shah will not be celebrating Holi: "I am also not celebrating Holi this year, because of this (Coronavirus) and the recent violence which took place in Delhi, in which many people lost their lives. People are in pain that is why neither I nor any minister or MLA will celebrate Holi."
14:42   What the Delhi govt is doing to battle nCoV
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday said efforts are on to check and screen 88 people who came in contact with the Delhi man who tested positive for coronavirus. A taskforce headed by him has been formed to tackle the situation emerging from the coronavirus infection and there is no need to panic, he said at a press conference. The taskforce will comprise all concerned stakeholders.

"We are concerned about situation but no need to panic," he said. A coronavirus testing lab will be set up at the Lady Hardinge Hospital and also at the LNJP Hospital if necessary, Kejriwal said. There is no shortage of masks, the chief minister added. 

Municipal corporations in Delhi are contacting and screening tourists from four countries where most cases of the infection have come to light. The screening is being done at hotels and guesthouses in the city, he said. Isolation wards in 19 government and six private hospitals are being readied in case of need, Kejriwal stated. -- PTI
14:38   No call from party leaders, says BJP worker whose factory was destroyed in riots
"I gave the BJP 16-17 years of my life... I used to be on first-name basis with its senior State leaders... But not one of them has called to inquire or console me after my factory was destroyed last Monday, along with that of my younger brother, just because of what our names are," said  Atiq, who leads the BJP's minorities' cell at Brahmpuri Mandal.

Read the report here. 
14:25   Nirbhaya's dad hopes convicts' hanging in March
The father of the 2012 Delhi gang-rape victim on Wednesday expressed hope that the convicts will be hanged this month, after President Ram Nath Kovind rejected the mercy petition of Pawan Kumar Gupta, one of the four men facing the gallows in the case. 

"He has one option left -- that is to challenge the mercy plea in Supreme Court as the others have done. Let's see what happens next, but we are confident of getting justice," Nirbhaya's father told PTI over phone. 

"We are hopeful that the convicts will be hanged this month and justice will be finally delivered to us after a long wait," he said. A 23-year-old woman paramedic student, who came to be known as 'Nirbhaya -- the fearless -- was gangraped and savagely assaulted in a moving bus in south Delhi on December 16, 2012. She succumbed to injuries on December 29 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore where she was taken for better medical treatment. The president had already rejected the mercy petitions of the other three convicts in the case. 

While one of the accused, Ram Singh had committed suicide in jail, a juvenile accused was released from a remand home after completion of his term. PTI 
14:20   One more arrested for ''goli maro ...'' slogan during Shah''s Kolkata rally
Another suspected BJP supporter has been apprehended by the city police for allegedly raising the provocative slogan -- "desh ke gaddaro ko, goli maro..." (shoot the traitors)-- during Union Home Minister Amit Shah's rally here, the sixth arrest in the case, a senior officer said on Wednesday. Prasanta Sarkar (50), a resident of Ghola of Sodepur in North 24 Parganas district, has been arrested late Tuesday night from his home, the officer said. 

"Sarkar was seen in the group of people who were raising the slogan on Sunday. We have arrested him last night. He will be produced before a court today," the IPS officer said. Like the five other arrested "BJP supporters", Sarkar has been booked for promoting enmity between different groups and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, criminal intimidation, committing public mischief and common intention, he said.

The Kolkata police arrested Sandeep Sonkar and Sujit Barua in the past two days in connection with the matter after they were identified from a video footage. -- PTI
14:04   Molecule in oranges may help reduce obesity: Study
After that gluttony of a lunch, peel an orange. Here's why.

A molecule found in sweet oranges and tangerines, called nobiletin, may reduce obesity and reverse its negative effects, according to a study in mice which may lead to new interventions against the condition. 

The study, published in the Journal of Lipid Research, said that mice fed a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet that were also given nobiletin were noticeably leaner compared to those that were fed a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet alone. 

It also noted that the mice fed the high-fat diet had reduced levels of blood fats and insulin resistance -- a condition in which the body fails to use the hormone insulin to process glucose from the blood for energy. 

"We've shown that in mice that already have all the negative symptoms of obesity, we can use nobelitin to reverse those symptoms, and even start to regress plaque build-up in the arteries, known as atherosclerosis," said Murray Huff, study co-author from the University of Western Ontario in Canada. 

The researchers initially suspected that the molecule could be acting on the pathway that regulates how fat is handled in the body. Called AMP Kinase, they said, this regulator turns on the machinery in the body that burns fats to create energy, and may also block the manufacture of fats. 
13:11   SC seeks activist Harsh Mander's response on allegations of hate speech
The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought a response of activist Harsh Mander on the allegations of making hate speech during anti-CAA protests in Delhi. The Centre brought to the notice of a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde the alleged hate speeches made by Mander. The bench also comprising justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to file plea on this aspect and directed Mander's counsel to respond to the allegations. 

Taking note of the submissions of the law officer, the bench said, "This is what you think of this court. Before we hear you (counsel for Mander), you see the allegations and respond to them." 

At the outset, Mehta referred to Mander's alleged speech in which he had made some "objectionable" statements against the court. "We have been told that you have made certain remarks against this court," the bench said, adding that it wanted to know all of them who have violated the majesty of law. Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves referred to alleged hate speeches made by BJP leaders -- Anurag Thakur, Parvesh Verma, Kapil Mishra and Abhay Verma. The bench has sought the response of Mander's counsel at 2 pm and the hearing is underway. PTI
13:02   Unnao: Sengar convicted of culpable homicide in death of rape victim's father
A court in Delhi on Wednesday convicted expelled BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in the death of the Unnao rape victim's father. The rape victim's father had died in judicial custody on April 9, 2018. District judge Dharmesh Sharma said Sengar had no intention of killing the victim's father. "He was beaten in a brutal manner that led to his death," the judge said. PTI
12:53   28 confirmed cases of nCoV in India: Govt
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan says India has 28 confirmed cases of Coronavirus, which includes 16 Italian tourists. "We have requested all hospitals in Delhi to develop good quality isolation wards in order to stay prepared if more cases of CoronaVirus are suspected in the national capital.

The positive cases are: 1 in Delhi, 6 in Agra, 16 Italians and Indian driver, 1 in Telangana and 3 in Kerala.

The Italian nationals have been sent to at Indo-Tibetan Border Police's quarantine facility in Chhawla.

There are six 6 coronavirus cases in Agra and the patients are relatives of a Delhi-based man who tested positive for the disease, the minister said. 

"On conducting contact tracing of a person who tested positive in Delhi, we came to know that he infected six members of his family who are in Agra. All 6 members tested positive for CoronaVirus.

Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, PK Mishra to take a meeting at 12.30 pm today to review preparedness for dealing with Coronavirus situation in the country.

"If the Iran Govt supports our efforts, then we have an intention to establish a test lab there as well. This will let us bring back our citizens from Iran after a thorough screening," he said.

Image: Hyderabad Metro Rail sprayed disinfectant at stations and inside metro coaches. The state government has also issued public advisories as part of an awareness campaign.
12:36   Tension over throwing cattle dung near temple in UP's Muzaffarnagar
Tension prevailed between Dalits and upper caste Hindus over throwing cattle dung near a Ravidas temple in a village in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar district prompting police to tighten security in the area, police said. The incident happened in Alipu Khurd village under Titawi police station limits in the district on Tuesday, they said. Dalits were opposed to upper caste Hindus throwing dung and dirt near the temple premises that led to some tensions between the two communities, according to police. Security has been tightened in the village as precautionary measures, they added. PTI

Representational image
12:11   HC declines plea Nirbhaya convicts' mental health
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday declined to entertain a plea seeking direction to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to assess the mental and physical health of the four death row convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case. 

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar said the plea was not maintainable as it should have been first moved in the NHRC. A Delhi court had on Monday deferred till further orders the hanging of the convicts because of pending disposal of a convict's mercy plea. All the convicts in the case were to be hanged together on Tuesday. -- PTI
12:06   PM to skip Holi milan amid Coronavirus advisory
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not be participating in any 'Holi milan' programmes this year in view of Novel Coronavirus outbreak. He cited experts' advice to reduce mass gatherings to avoid the spread of the deadly virus.

"Experts across the world have advised to reduce mass gatherings to avoid the spread of COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. Hence, this year I have decided not to participate in any Holi Milan programme," the Prime Minister tweeted.

The Union Health Ministry informed on Tuesday that six positive cases of the deadly Coronavirus (COVID-19) have been reported in India so far.

Global deaths due to coronavirus outbreak on Monday rose above 3,000 with the new count in China mainland rising to 2,912. The deadly virus, that originated in China late last year, continues to spread around the world and has infected more than 80,000 people. -- ANI
11:34   Escalation does not mean war: Army chief
Apart from strengthening its conventional prowess, India is focusing on a dynamic response along its western and northern borders that is below the threshold of an all-out war, Army chief Gen M M Naravane said on Wednesday. Speaking at a seminar on land warfare in New Delhi, the Army chief said the airstrikes on Balakot demonstrated that if one is skillful, escalation does not always lead to war. 

India's northern border is aligned with China and the western border with Pakistan. The army chief pointed out that Chinese dominance in the South China Sea showed small incremental steps achieved the aim without firing a single shot or inviting retaliatory action. He also said the rise of non-state actors such as terrorists demands that victory in war is formulated in a nuanced manner. 

ISIS was far more adept in using social media for devastating effects as compared to the 21st century armies of the US and the UK, Naravane added. PTI 
11:27   Men can smell when a woman is sexually aroused: Study
Men can smell and tell if a woman is sexually aroused, suggests a new study. The study was published in the journal - Archives of Sexual Behavior.

University of Kent research suggests that men can distinguish between the scents of sexually aroused and non-aroused women.

This research by Dr Arnaud Wisman, a Psychologist at the University of Kent, expands on previous studies which have concluded that humans can communicate and detect emotions such as fear or sadness through scent.

Sexual arousal is also identified as an emotional physical state.Findings were established through three different experiments where men processed the scents of auxillary sweat samples from anonymous sexually aroused and non-aroused women.

Men evaluated the scent of sexually aroused women as relatively more attractive and this increased their sexual motivation. This suggests that the chemical signals of scent alone can elicit a sexual response in recipients.

"The studies suggest that men are sensitive to the olfactory signals of sexual arousal released by women. This research suggests that these signals released along with corresponding visual and auditory expressions of sexual interest can produce a stronger overall signal that increases sexual motivation," said Dr Arnaud Wisman.

"Sexual interest may entail more than meets the eye and we hope that the current findings encourage further research to examine the role of sexual olfactory signals in human communication," added Wisman. -- ANI
11:06   New Zealand confirms second case of COVID-19
New Zealand confirmed the second case of COVID-19 on Wednesday. After returning to Auckland from northern Italy last week, a woman in her 30s has tested positive for the new virus. She is currently quarantined at home, along with her family.

The country's first case was confirmed last week.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that New Zealand is well prepared to deal with the epidemic and has a plan in place.

The second confirmed case showed that some people with the virus have only displayed mild to moderate symptoms so the patient has not been required to be hospitalised, Ardern said.

Medical workers are tracing those who had close contact with the second confirmed case, including passengers on board Air New Zealand flight NZ0283, from Singapore to Auckland on February 25, and two domestic flights travelled between Auckland and Palmerston North on March 2. -- ANI
10:58   459 passengers on cruise ship screened in Kochi
In the backdrop of the coronavirus threat, as many as 459 passengers of the Italian luxury cruise ship 'Costa Victoria', which was docked in Kochi, were screened for respiratory symptoms and fever on Wednesday."

A total of 459 passengers disembarked out of which 305 are Indians. All passengers were screened for respiratory symptoms and fever," said Jijo Thomas, PRO, Kochi Port Trust while talking to ANI.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday reviewed the country's preparedness regarding the deadly coronavirus and urged people to not panic while assuring that all requisite steps to contain the virus are being taken.

On Monday, a person each from Delhi and Telangana were tested positive for coronavirus. Both the patients are stable and being closely monitored, the ministry of health and family welfare said.Global deaths due to coronavirus outbreak on Monday rose above 3,000 with the new count in China mainland rising to 2,912. 

The deadly virus that originated in China late last year continues to spread around the world and has infected more than 80,000 people. -- ANI
10:53   Congress gives business suspension notice in RS over Delhi violence
The Congress on Wednesday gave a suspension of business notice under Rule 267 in the Rajya Sabha over the incidents of violence in Delhi.The notice was submitted by senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma. At least 47 people were killed and around 200 people sustained serious injuries in the violence that hit North-East Delhi last week. -- ANI
10:19   nCoV: Health minister meet with Delhi babus today
Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan will hold a meeting with senior officials of the Delhi government on Wednesday to take stock of the preparedness with respect to coronavirus.

Earlier on Tuesday, after a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi CM had said that the Centre-state government will work together to stop the outbreak of the deadly disease.

Six positive cases of deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) have been reported in India so far, the Union Health Ministry informed on Tuesday.

According to the Ministry, the fresh cases of COVID-19 have been reported from New Delhi, Telangana, and Rajasthan where an Italian national has been found positive with the infection in Jaipur. 

Last month, three cases were recorded in Kerala -- who have now recovered and discharged from hospital.Witnessing the seriousness of the situation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday tweeted that he has reviewed the situation of coronavirus and India's preparedness to deal with the global pandemic, assuring citizens that there was no reason to panic.

The Cabinet Secretary held a review meeting through video conference with the secretaries of concerned ministries, chief secretaries and health secretaries of the States to review and assess action taken for containment of COVID-19.Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has said that the Delhi government has made full preparations to tackle the situation. For providing treatment to the patients, 25 Delhi hospitals -- including 19 government hospitals and six private hospitals -- have been equipped to handle the influx of patients in case of an emergency.'

"Isolation facility has been provided in these hospitals and 230 beds have also been made available. Beds will also be made available to doctors and other staff treating the cases in the hospital. The Delhi government has also arranged for the distribution of more than 3.50 lakh N95 masks. Around 8000 separation kits have also been arranged," he said. -- ANI
10:04   Coronavirus: 6 samples from Noida test negative
Six people, including three children, whose samples were taken in Noida for suspected coronavirus have tested negative, officials said on Wednesday. 
The six have, however, been kept self-quarantined at their home for the next 14 days and if symptoms for COVID-19 develop, they would be retested, the officials said. 
Among those whose samples were taken on Tuesday were a couple and their 12-year-old son, and a woman and her two children, aged 12 and five, according to Noida health department sources. 
These six had come in contact with a Delhi-based man who has tested positive for the coronavirus during a party thrown by him.
"On the Coronavirus issue, samples taken from six contacts in Noida have tested negative but they will need to be under home quarantine for next 14 days and if symptoms develop, can be retested again," District Magistrate B N Singh said in a statement.
He added that the government and the administration were monitoring the situation, stressing there was no need to panic.
"Administration has not given any school closure order," Singh said. -- PTI  
09:51   Adopt 'namaskar': BJP leader on COVID-19
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader from Goa has suggested that people should adopt the Indian 'Namaskar' style of greeting each other with folded hands.
Former Panaji MLA Siddharth Kunkolienkar also said it is high time that people take adequate precautions to check the spread of the potentially deadly virus.
"As cases detected for nCovid19 increase, albeit in single digit, it's high time we take adequate precautions and adopt #Indian style of greeting with #Namaskar," Kunkolienkar, who was a close aide of former Goa chief  minister Manohar Parrikar, tweeted on Wednesday.
Six people in India have so far been confirmed to be infected by coronavirus, including an Italian couple in Rajasthan.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday urged people not to panic, as the government banned visitors from Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan which have been hit by the coronavirus.
Two private schools in Noida were shut for next few days after father of one of their students tested positive, while several people, including his family members, were quarantined or kept in isolation as authorities stepped up
prevention efforts.
On February 4, India cancelled the existing visas for Chinese nationals and foreigners who had visited the neighbouring country in the preceding two-week period, following the outbreak of the coronavirus which has now spread to over 60 countries and claimed over 3,100 lives. 

Over 90,000 have been infected. -- PTI  
09:25   Intel employee potentially exposed to coronavirus, under quarantine
Tech giant Intel has said one of its employees in Bengaluru has "potentially been exposed" to coronavirus and is currently under quarantine. 
The company also said it has implemented precautionary measures like travel restrictions, increased frequency of office sanitisation, and work-from-home provisions in India. 
"An Intel employee in Bangalore has potentially been exposed and is currently under quarantine in accordance with government requirements," Intel said in a late night statement on Tuesday.
The company said it is monitoring the coronavirus situation closely and working to ensure that its employees have the information and resources they need to stay safe and informed. 
In India, we have implemented precautionary measures such as travel and event restrictions, visitor screenings at all our offices, increased frequency of office sanitisation, and work-from-home provisions," it said. 
The virus outbreak, which has seen cases being registered across the world including South Korea, Iran, Italy and Japan, has had a significant impact on businesses across industries.
Microblogging platform Twitter has asked its employees to work from home while other tech giants like Tata Consultancy Services and HCL Technologies instructed staff to avoid non-essential travel as IT firms put in place measures to safeguard workers against the deadly coronavirus.
The coronavirus outbreak claimed over 3,000 lives globally, and fresh cases being reported in India.
 The government has stepped up its efforts to detect and check the virus outbreak whose epicentre was in China. -- PTI
08:45   Trump holds phone call with Taliban leader
United States President Donald Trump spoke to deputy Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and discussed progress towards achieving peace in Afghanistan, the White House has said, the first known call between an American president and the militant group.
The historic telephonic conversation took place a day after the Taliban ended the partial truce amidst renewed violence in the war-torn country, raising doubt over the intra-Afghan negotiations that are scheduled to begin on March 10.
During the call on Tuesday, Trump "emphasised the need to continue the reduction in violence, which made possible the signing of the historic United States-Taliban agreement on February 29," the White House said in a readout of the telephonic conversation.
The president stated that the US stands ready to continue its support for the Afghan people as they pursue a peace settlement, it said.
"He (Trump) also urged the Taliban to participate in intra-Afghan negotiations with representatives of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, as well as other Afghans, with the goal of ending more than 40 years of war," the White House said.
"I spoke to the leader of the Taliban today. We had a very good talk," Trump told reporters.
After 18 years of war, the US and the Taliban signed the peace deal in Doha on Saturday to facilitate intra-Afghan dialogue in Oslo this month and the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan in 14 months.
In Doha in the presence of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Baradar had signed the agreement with the US. Special US Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad had signed the agreement on behalf of the United States.
The intra-Afghan negotiations are due to begin on March 10, according to the US-Taliban deal, but a dispute over prisoner swap has raised questions.
The agreement includes a commitment for the Taliban to release up to 1,000 prisoners and for the Afghan government to free around 5,000 insurgent captives -- something the militants have cited as a prerequisite for talks. However, President Ashraf Ghani has refused to do it before the negotiations begin.
Under the US-Taliban pact signed in Doha, the US has agreed to reduce its troops in Afghanistan from 13,000 to 8,600 in the next 130 days and withdraw all its soldiers in 14 months. -- PTI
08:38   Union Cabinet to meet at 9.30 am
The Union Cabinet is scheduled to meet today at 9.30 am.

The meeting comes a day after the Lok Sabha witnessed unruly scenes for the second successive day after Opposition pressed for an immediate discussion on recent Delhi violence, which claimed over 45 lives and left around 200 injured.
08:23   MP: Cong accuses BJP of poaching MLAs
Bharatiya Janata Party leaders in Madhya Pradesh have allegedly taken eight MLAs to a hotel in Haryana as part of a conspiracy to topple the state government, a Congress leader has alleged.
The statement of Madhya Pradesh higher education minister Jitu Patwari came hours after Congress veteran Digvijaya Singh claimed that a senior leader of the saffron party has taken a Bahujan Samaj Party legislator to Delhi in a chartered flight, alleging that "poaching" attempts were being made by the BJP on Congress MLAs in Madhya Pradesh.
The opposition BJP dismissed the claim of Madhya Pradesh''s former chief minister and said his statement was aimed at ensuring his re-nomination for the Rajya Sabha polls in Madhya Pradesh scheduled on March 26.
"Senior BJP leaders including former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, former ministers Narottam Mishra, Bhupendra Singh and Rampal Singh among others have forcibly taken eight MLAs to a hotel in Haryana as part of a conspiracy," Patwari said.
"The MLAs told us that they were forcibly confined by the BJP leaders," he alleged.
"We are trying to bring them back. Four of them have come back also but they have forcibly taken away tribal MLA Bisahulal Singh," he alleged.
According to media reports, Digvijay and his minister son Jaivardhan Singh also reached the Haryana hotel to meet the MLAs.
Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath said, "Things are under control. There is nothing like that. The MLAs will come back".
According to the Congress sources, among the eight MLAs who have been taken to Haryana, four are from the Congress, one is independent while the rest of them are from the BSP and the SP.
They said that woman BSP MLA Rambai was allegedly manhandled when Congress ministers reached the hotel to meet her.
Speaking to reporters on Monday at New Delhi, Digvijay alleged his party MLAs were being offered huge amount of money by BJP leaders as part of the saffron party''s "poaching" attempts to destabilise the Kamal Nath government.
Hitting back, Chouhan accused the Congress veteran of making false statements and engaging in sensationalism. 

BJP vice-president and MLA Rameshwar Sharma said that people don't take the Congress veteran seriously. -- PTI  
00:13   UK coronavirus cases surge to new total of 51
Twelve more people in the UK have tested positive for coronavirus, taking the total number infected to 51.

Eight of the new patients announced on Tuesday had recently travelled from Italy, and the fresh cases also included the first to have travelled from Germany. The others had been to Singapore, Japan and Iran, suggesting none are believed to have contracted the virus in the UK.

Health officials in the Canary Islands reported the first case of a British national testing positive at a quarantined hotel in Tenerife.

The 12 new UK cases constitute the second highest single-day increase in cases to date. They include the first known cases in Hampshire, Humberside and Northamptonshire. Others are from London, Wirral, Greater Manchester and Kent.