Fri, 11 September 2020
Agusta: CBI seeks sanction to prosecute ex-CAG
23:45 Agusta: CBI seeks sanction to prosecute ex-CAG
The Central Bureau of Investigation has sought sanction to prosecute former defence secretary Shashi Kant Sharma, who later became Comptroller and Auditor General, in connection with alleged corruption in the Rs 3,600-crore Agusta Westland VVIP helicopter deal, officials said on Friday.
The agency is likely to file a supplementary charge sheet detailing the role of Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the deal who was deported from the UAE and is currently in judicial custody, they said.
Reacting to the development, Sharma told PTI that he underwent a heart procedure a few days back and now is under rest as advised by his doctors.
"I have a long unblemished service record of over forty years and nobody can blame me for any malafide action or decision. I strongly and firmly deny any such frivolous allegations," he said.
In its supplementary charge sheet, the Central Bureau of Investigation is also likely to give the alleged roles of some former public servants, who were holding key decision- making positions when the deal for the helicopters was being discussed, the officials said.
In order to prosecute the officers whose alleged role surfaced during investigation, the CBI has approached the Defence Ministry seeking its nod to prosecute Sharma and the then Air Vice Marshal Jasbir Singh Panesar, besides others, they said.
The officials said that Sharma was defence secretary between 2011 and 2013, before being appointed CAG.
The agency has also sought sanction to charge sheet three former Indian Air Force (IAF) officers -- deputy chief test pilot S A Kunte, wing commander Thomas Mathew and group captain N Santosh, they said, adding that Kunte and Santosh retired as air commodores.
The officials said that the sanction is pending with the Defence Ministry since March.
It is alleged that bribes were paid to make Agusta Westland eligible for the 12 VVIP chopper deal, they said.
The need for new helicopters to ferry VVIPs -- the president, the prime minister, the vice president and the defence minister -- was felt in 1999 when a proposal was moved to find an alternative to the IAF's Soviet-era Mi8s.
23:34 Israel, Bahrain agree to normalise relations
United States President Donald Trump on Thursday announced the normalisation of ties between Israel and Bahrain, weeks after it brokered the peace deal between United Arab Emirates and Israel.
Trump made the announcement of the agreement on Friday, following a three-way phone call he had with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
The three leaders also issued a brief six-paragraph joint statement, attesting to the deal.
"President Donald J. Trump, King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman al-Khalifa of the Kingdom of Bahrain, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel spoke together and agreed to the establishment of full diplomatic relations between Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain," according to the statement tweeted by Trump.
"The second Arab country to make peace with Israel in 30 days," he tweeted.
For decades, most Arab states have boycotted Israel, insisting they would only establish ties after the Palestinian dispute was settled.
Bahrain follows the lead of its neighbour, the United Arab Emirates, which reached the peace deal with Israel last month.
Both historical agreements will be signed at the White House ceremony next Tuesday.
"This is a historic breakthrough to further peace in the Middle East," Trump, Netanyahu and King Hamad said in the statement. "Opening direct dialogue and ties between these two dynamic societies and advanced economies will continue the positive transformation of the Middle East and increase stability, security, and prosperity in the region."
23:28 JEE results out, 24 students score 100 percentile
The result for JEE-Mains was announced on Friday with 24 students scoring 100 percentile in the engineering entrance exam which was postponed twice in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Telangana has maximum 100 percentile scorers at 8, Delhi is at the second spot with 5 hundred percentile scorers followed by Rajasthan (4), Andhra Pradesh (3), Haryana (2 ) and one candidate each from Gujarat and Maharashtra.
The Joint Entrance Exam-Mains for admission to engineering colleges was conducted from September 1 to 6, amid stringent precautions and social distancing measures in view of COVID-19 pandemic.
Staggered entry and exit for candidates, sanitisers at the gate, distribution of masks and maintaining distance as candidates queued up, were among the scenes witnessed at the exam centres across the country.
A total of 8.58 lakh candidates had registered for the JEE-Mains exam for admission to engineering courses in IITs, NITs and Centrally Funded Technical Institutions (CFTIs) while only 74 per cent of them had appeared for the exam.
Increasing the number of examination centres, alternate seating plans, fewer candidates per room and staggered entry and exit were among the steps taken by the National Testing Agency for safely conducting the crucial exam.
While the governments of Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh had assured students that they would provide transportation to candidates, a group of IIT alumni and students also launched a portal to provide transport facilities to exam centres for the candidates in need.
There had been a growing chorus for postponing JEE-Mains and medical entrance exam NEET amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
The Supreme Court had earlier dismissed a plea seeking postponement of the two exams amid a spurt in the number of COVID-19 cases, saying a "precious year" of students cannot be wasted and life has to go on.
Based on the results of the JEE-Mains Paper 1 and Paper 2, the top 2.45 lakh candidates will be eligible to appear for the JEE-Advanced exam, which is a one-stop exam to get admission into the 23 premier Indian Institutes of Technology.
JEE-Advanced is scheduled to take place on September 27. -- PTI
23:18 Nirav Modi won't get justice in India: Katju
Retired Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju was challenged as a "self-publicist" on behalf of the Indian government on Friday as he gave evidence in the extradition case of fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi via a live videolink from India at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London.
On the final day of a five-day hearing, Justice Samuel Goozee heard Katju's detailed evidence before adjourning the case until November 3, when he will hear arguments on the admissibility of the evidence provided by the Indian authorities on the charges of fraud and money laundering against the diamond merchant in the USD 2-billion Punjab National Bank scam case.
The UK's Crown Prosecution Service, arguing on behalf of the Indian government, sought to counter Katju's written and oral claims that Modi would not receive a fair trial in India because a majority of the judiciary was corrupt and the investigating agencies subservient to the government.
"Is it at least possible, you are something of a self-publicist who will make any outrageous statements for the purpose of courting the press," questioned barrister Helen Malcolm, to which Katju replied "you are entitled to your opinion".
Malcolm also queried his decision to give media interviews in India earlier this week related to the evidence he was to give before the UK court in a sub judice matter, to which the former Supreme Court judge said that he merely responded to reporters' questions and that it was his duty to speak out on matters of "national importance".
During what became a quite a fiery exchange in court at times, some of his past controversial statements were also read out in court, in reference to gay relationships being "unnatural" and women who remain single being "prone to psychological problems".
Katju countered by stating that he was entitled to his opinion and that he had quoted from Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw's Man and Superman, which Malcolm "as a Britisher" should have read.
The former judge had been deposed by Modi's defence team in order to substantiate their claims that the jeweller faces an unfair and biased trial if extradited to India.
Katju also repeatedly made comparisons between India and Germany under the Nazi regime, saying Modi has been made a "convenient scapegoat" akin to the Jews in Nazi Germany in order to be blamed for the economic crisis in the country.
Asked by the if the diamantaire's own alleged dishonest actions could be to blame, he said: "I am not making any statements on the merits of this case. I am simply saying that he cannot get a fair trial all ministers and media have pronounced him guilty."
His assertion that post-retirement appointments were among the inducements which led to corruption among judges brought his own appointment as the Chairman of the Press Council of India following his retirement into focus, which he stressed was not a government appointment. -- PTI
23:03 Rank cannot be determinant of nutrition in armed forces: Rahul
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said rank cannot determine the provision for nutrition in the armed forces and called for a reconsideration of the related rules.
Participating in a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, which was convened to discuss the subject of "Provision and monitoring of quality of ration and livery items to the defence forces, especially in border areas", he said providing less nutrition to the jawans is "unfair and discriminatory" and should be reconsidered.
Gandhi pitched for the jawans, saying they should get more nutrition as they are standing at the borders and defending the country.
The former Congress chief is learnt to have told the committee that the nutritional value for the jawans should be equal to that of the officers.
There can be no differentiation in providing nutrition based on ranks, he told the panel, adding that ranks can be a determining factor for fixing the pay, but not nutritional value, sources said.
Gandhi was told by officials that the officers in the armed forces get different food items than those served to the jawans.
The defence ministry officials clarified that there is no difference in the quality and quantity of the items served, except that the officers are served different items than those served to the jawans.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence is chaired by Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Union minister Jual Oram. The members who attended the meeting on Friday included Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar. -- PTI
22:57 India, China to hold another meet next week
Indian and Chinese armies are expected to hold Corps Commander-level talks early next week with a focus on implementing provisions of a five-point roadmap agreed by the two countries to ease tensions and speed up the disengagement of troops in eastern Ladakh, government sources said on Friday.
India and China reached an agreement to resolve their border row at a meeting between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on Thursday evening on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meet.
The sources said the Indian Army will keenly observe Chinese military's overall approach along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh in the next few days to make an assessment of their seriousness in easing tension in sync with the agreement on five points.
The agreement included measures like quick disengagement of troops, avoiding action that could escalate tensions, adherence to all agreements and protocols on border management and steps to restore peace along the LAC.
It also mentioned that the two sides should expedite work to conclude "new confidence building measures" to enhance peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
However, the agreement has not mentioned any timeline for disengagement of troops.
It is learnt that Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane deliberated on the overall situation in Ladakh as well as on the provisions of the agreement with top military officials in the Army headquarters.
Separately, the two armies held another round of Brigade Commander-level talks in Chushul from 11 AM to 3 PM on Friday with a focus on bringing down tensions in the face-off sites, sources said.
"The Corps Commander-level talks are expected to be held early next week. It will definitely discuss the new agreement on resolution of the border row," said a source.
The five-point consensus came days after a fresh confrontation between the two armies earlier this week in eastern Ladakh triggered a massive military build up by both sides in almost all friction points along the LAC.
The Indian Army and the Chinese People's Liberation Army have been locked in a tense standoff in multiple areas along the LAC in eastern Ladakh since early May.
Shots were fired across the LAC on Monday for the first time in 45 years with the two sides accusing each other of firing in the air. -- PTI
5 missing Arunachal youths
22:39 China to return Arunachal boys tomorrow: Rijiju
China's People's Liberation Army is likely to hand over five youths missing from Arunachal Pradesh to the Indian authorities on Saturday, Union minister Kiren Rijiju said.
The PLA on Tuesday had conveyed that the five youths, who went missing on September 4 from the Sino-Indian border in Upper Subansiri district, were found by them across the border.
"The Chinese PLA has confirmed to the Indian Army to hand over the youths from Arunachal Pradesh to our side. The handing over is likely to take place anytime tomorrow i.e. 12th September 2020 at a designated location," Rijiju tweeted on Friday.
It was Rijiju who first broke the news about the PLA's confirmation that the youths were found on the Chinese side of the Sino-Indian border.
Rijiju, the Union sports minister, hails from Arunachal Pradesh.
The incident came to light when two members from the group of youths, who went hunting in the jungle, returned home and informed the families of the five that they were whisked away by the Chinese troops from Sera-7, an Army patrol zone located about 12 km further north of Nacho.
Nacho is the last administrative circle along the McMahon line and is around 120 km from the district headquarters Daporijo.
Those who were allegedly kidnapped by the Chinese Army were identified as Toch Singkam, Prasat Ringling, Dongtu Ebiya, Tanu Baker and Ngaru Diri.
On Monday, China brushed off concerns over the whereabouts of the five youths and needled India, saying it has never recognised Arunachal Pradesh which it claims is part of south Tibet.
"China's position on the east sector of the China-India boundary, or Zangnan (the southern part of China's Xizang (Tibet) ), is consistent and clear," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a media briefing in Beijing, adding the Chinese government has never recognized the so-called "Arunachal Pradesh".
"I'm not aware of the situation you mentioned," the spokesperson said when asked about any updates about the missing Indian nationals.
The development comes at a time when the Indian Army has enhanced its deployment along the 3,400 km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC) in view of the tense border row between India and China in eastern Ladakh.
In March, a 21-year-old man was abducted by the PLA from Asapila sector near the McMahon line.
While his two friends managed to escape, Togley Sinkam was taken away at gunpoint, his family had said.
After 19 days in captivity, the youth was released by the Chinese Army.
On September 2, the Indian Army provided food, warm clothes and medical assistance to three Chinese citizens who had lost their way in sub-zero temperatures at an altitude of 17,500 feet in a border area in North Sikkim.
The Indian Army personnel deployed in the area also guided the Chinese citizens, including a woman, to return to the Chinese side and reach their destination. -- PTI
22:28 Ex-navy officer beaten for sharing Uddhav cartoon
A 62-year-old retired Navy officer was beaten up by alleged Shiv Sena workers in Mumbai after he forwarded a cartoon on Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on WhatsApp on Friday, the police said.
The incident took place around 11.30 am in Lokhandwala Complex area in suburban Kandivali, an official said.
"Retired Navy officer Madan Sharma had forwarded a cartoon on Thackeray on a WhatsApp group. Some Sena workers went to his house and beat him up. Sharma sustained an eye injury and is being treated at hospital," he said.
A case under IPC section 325 (causing grievous hurt) and provisions related to rioting was registered against six persons though no arrest has been made so far, the official informed. -- PTI
22:09 Didn't express resentment: Maha Guv on Kangana episode
Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Friday denied that he expresed disapproval about demolition at actor Kangana Ranaut's bungalow in Mumbai.
Sources had said the governor had summoned Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's principal advisor Ajoy Mehta on Wednesday, when the demolition was carried out, and conveyed his displeasure.
To a reporter's question on Friday, Koshyari said, "I haven't expressed resentment anywhere."
The Mumbai civic body demolished the alterations allegedly made without its approval at Ranaut's bungalow at Pali Hill in suburban Bandra on Wednesday morning.
The action came in the wake of a war of words between the Shiv Sena and the actress after she likened Mumbai to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Speaking to the media after releasing a coffee table book to mark the completion of one year as governor of the state, Koshyari also said that he had not yet received the list of names for appointment to the Legislative Council.
The term of the 12 sitting MLCs appointed under the Governor's quota ended in June.
"I haven't got the list of recommended names," he said.
Speaking about his tenure as governor so far, Koshyari said, "I have tried to visit each and every area of Maharashtra. Of 35 districts, I have visited 20."
When he took over, farmers had suffered due to unseasonal and excess rains and there was political instability after the assembly polls resulting in President's rule, the govenror said. -- PTI
22:07 MoS Railways Suresh Angadi tests Covid positive
Minister of state for railways Suresh Angadi, who on Friday said he has tested positive for COVID-19, has been admitted at the AIIMS Trauma Centre in New Delhi.
The 65-year-old member of Lok Sabha from Belagavi constituency in Karnataka was admitted to the AIIMS Trauma Centre, which is a dedicated COVID-19 facility, around 6.30 pm.
"He is stable and doing fine," a source said.
He is being looked after by a team of doctors led by Dr Neeraj Nischal, associate professor in the department of medicine at AIIMS, sources said.
Earlier, Angadi had tweeted, "I have tested #Covid19 positive today. I am doing fine. Taking the advice of doctors. Requesting all those who have come in close contact with me in the last few days to monitor their health and get tested in case of any symptoms." -- PTI
21:17 Maharashtra's Covid tally crosses 10 lakh-mark
Maharashtra's tally of COVID-19 cases crossed 10 lakh on Friday with a record spike of 24,886 new cases, a health official said.
While the total of cases reached 10,15,681, the death toll due to the pandemic reached 28,724 with 393 new fatalities reported across the state.
The number of recovered COVID-19 patients increased to 7,15,023 with 14,308 patients discharged from hospitals in the last 24 hours.
Maharashtra's recovery rate of COVID-19 patients is 70.4 per cent and fatality rate is 2.83 per cent.
So far 50.72 lakh COVID-19 tests have been conducted in the state.
The positivity rate of COVID-19 tests is 20 per cent in the state.
16,47,742 people are in home quarantine and 38,487 in institutional quarantine. -- PTI
20:49 In race for TRP, journalism lacking substance: Akhilesh Yadav
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Friday said in the race for TRP, journalism has been reduced to a position where it lacks substance.
"To protect the democracy, there is an absolute necessity of truth-finding journalism, the former UP chief minister said in a tweet, adding that the country has hopes from the mediapersons who do not sacrifice their values.
"Journalism in the race for TRP has become a tatva-rahit patrikarita," Akhilesh added.
He also posted a picture of his party's "9baje9minute" campaign, which was held on Wednesday to attract attention of the state government towards the plight of jobless youth. -- PTI
20:48 Russia welcomes India and China's decision to de-escalate tensions
Russia on Friday welcomed India and China's decison to de-escalate tensions in eastern Ladakh, with foreign minister Sergei Lavrov saying he was "very happy" that he could provide his Indian and Chinese counterparts a platform for a "very well timed" meeting.
India and China agreed on a five-point plan for resolving the prolonged border face-off, including quick disengagement of troops during talks between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on Thursday on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meet.
Addressing a joint press conference in Moscow with his Chinese counterpart Wang after bilateral talks, Lavrov noted that the foreign ministers of the three countries had a very produtive meetings on Thursday under the Russia, India and China format.
"We are very happy that Moscow has presented a platform to Russia, China and India to have this very productive, fruitful meeting whose goal is to stablise the situation on the border between India and China," Lavrov said while a reporter sought his comments on the India-China roadmap to deescalate tensions along their borders.
"It was a very productive and very well timed meeting and I am very happy that it happened," he said on the bilateral meeting between Jaishankar and Wang.
Ahead of the meeting between Jaishankar and Wang, a senior Russian diplomat in New Delhi had expressed confidence that India and China will be able to resolve the border standoff through dialogue.
Deputy Chief of the Russian embassy Roman Babushkin said Moscow would like to see "de-escalation and disengagement" through talks in eastern Ladakh.
"We hope that India and China will find a solution to the border issues through dialogue," he said at an online interaction with journalists in New Delhi on Tuesday.
His comments came a day after tension escalated in eastern Ladakh following a fresh confrontation between Indian and Chinese troops in the region. -- PTI
20:46 Security cover to Kangana based on her father's request: Govt
The Y-plus security cover to actress Kangana Ranaut has been provided based on a request from her father to the state government in her native Himachal Pradesh which in turn forwarded it to the Centre, Union minister of state for home G Kishan Reddy said on Friday.
According to Kangana's father, the actress was responding to social issues which caused "heartburn" to some people in Maharashtra, he told reporters.
Himachal Pradesh government has asked (for security for her). Kangana Ranaut's father wrote a letter to the chief minister of Himachal. He had also met the CM and submitted a memorandum that his daughter was being subjected to harassment... based on his request, the Himachal chief minister informed the centre about the situation, Reddy said.
However, when asked who is going to foot the bills for the security -- the state government or the actress herself -- the minister did not clarify
The Bollywood actor was given Y-plus category security and is protected by about 10 armed commandos round-the-clock after she and some of the Maharashtra politicians indulged in a bitter war of words over the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput in June and also other issues.
The decision to provide the security cover was taken as there were also threats that Ranut would not be allowed to enter Maharashtra as she did not belong to the state.
He said the CBI has been probing the death of Sushant Singh as per the Supreme Courts direction and the Centre has no role in that.
Reddy, however, said the Centre will interfere when there was a dispute between two states. -- PTI
20:42 Pak has made sacrifice in fighting terror: China
China on Friday staunchly defended Pakistan's record in fighting terrorism, saying its all-weather ally has made "tremendous efforts and sacrifices", countering calls by India and the United States that Islamabad must ensure that its territory is not used for terror activities.
India and the US in a joint statement after the 17th meeting of the India-US Counter Terrorism Joint Working Group and the third session of the India-US Designations Dialogue held on September 9-10, denounced the use of terrorist proxies and strongly condemned cross-border terrorism in all its forms.
New Delhi and Washington asked Islamabad to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of terrorist attacks, including the 26/11 Mumbai strike and the Pathankot airbase attack.
Asked for his reaction, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian during a media briefing in Beijing said that terrorism is a common challenge faced by all countries and Pakistan has made "tremendous efforts and sacrifices" in fighting terrorism.
"The international community should fully recognise and respect that. China opposes all kind of terrorism. All countries on the bases of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit engage in anti-terrorism international cooperation to jointly safeguard the international peace and security," he said.
On the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Zhao said that the terror attack brought many challenges to global security.
"Now, the counter-terrorism situation is still severe and has posed risks to all countries," he said.
"China opposes all kind of terrorism and we believe that the UN should play a leading role and we oppose double standards on counter-terrorism and we oppose the attempt to link the terrorism to any specific country," he said.
He emphasised that all countries should work together to prevent and fight terrorism and safeguard world's peace and stability.
"So on this very special day, I would like to say that we hope the US won't forget terrorism and COVID-19 are common enemies to all mankind. And China and Pakistan are not the enemies of the US," he said.
About the meeting between Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on Thursday on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, he said Wang assured that China will continue to provide Pakistan with anti-epidemic support until Pakistan completely overcomes the COVID-19 pandemic. -- PTI
20:23 Sushant's death case not poll issue: Fadnavis
Former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday said that Sushant Singh Rajput's death case was not an election issue but a common man's issue, and asserted that his party would ensure justice to the
The BJP will not rest till justice was done in the case, Fadnavis, who is party's Bihar election in-charge, said.
He was was talking to reporters after inaugurating BJP's media centre set up in Patna keeping in mind the assembly polls due in October-November.
Fadnavis played down reports of rift within NDA in the backdrop of LJP president Chirag Paswan's frequest attacks on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, saying there are three parties in the coalition and all of them have their own point of views on different issues, but its not a big problem and "we will solve everything through talks."
He exuded confidence that people of Bihar will once again elect NDA government with a "historic majority" which will work in tandem with the central government to roll out development schemes meant for the people. -- PTI
20:08 Social activist Swami Agnivesh passes away
Social activist Swami Agnivesh passes away at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, Delhi.
He was 80 years old.
Swami Agnivesh was receiving treatment for liver cirrhosis and had been on ventilator support for four days following multi-organ failure.
19:15 LAC standoff: Rajnath holds high-level meeting
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and top military brass on Friday deliberated on the five-point agreement reached between India and China on de-escalating tension along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh, government sources said.
The deliberation was attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria and Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh among others, they said.
The meeting also carried out a comprehensive review of the security scenario in eastern Ladakh in view of fresh confrontation by two sides in the southern bank of Pangong lake earlier this week, the sources said.
"The meeting discussed the agreement reached between the two countries," said a source.
In the meeting, Gen Naravane briefed about the combat readiness of the Army to deal with any eventualities besides elaborating on plans to keep the forces in the high-altitude region during harsh winter months.
India and China reached a five-point consensus to resolve the four-month border row in eastern Ladakh that included quick disengagement of troops, avoiding action that could escalate tensions and taking steps to restore "peace and tranquillity" along the Line of Actual Control.
The agreement was finalised at two-and-half-hours of "frank and constructive" talks between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on Thursday evening on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meet.
The Indian Army and the Chinese People's Liberation Army have been locked in a tense standoff in multiple areas along the LAC in eastern Ladakh since early May.
Shots were fired across the LAC on Monday for the first time in 45 years with the two sides accusing each other of firing in the air.
The fresh confrontation further intensified the standoff and triggered a massive military build up by both sides in almost all friction points along the LAC, the de-facto border between the two countries. -- PTI
18:53 Govt lists 23 new bills for Monsoon session
The government has listed 23 new bills, including 11 which seek to replace ordinances, for introduction in Parliament's monsoon session beginning Monday.
One of the ordinances the government plans to pass as a bill during the 18-day-long session relates to providing preventive measures against violence on heathcare personnel.
The ordinance makes acts of violence and harassment against healthcare personnel deployed in combating COVID-19 a non-bailable offence with maximum punishment of seven years imprisonment and Rs 5 lakh fine.
It also protects the healthcare fraternity, including doctors, nurses and ASHA workers.
Another ordinance to be replaced by a bill relates to reduction in the salary of MPs by 30 per cent for a period of one year beginning April 1, 2020.
The amount will be utilised in the fight against coronavirus.
The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 seeks to replace an ordinance issued recently to provide for the creation of an ecosystem where the farmers and traders enjoy the freedom of choice relating to sale and purchase of farmers' produce which facilitates remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels.
The ordinance also promotes an efficient, transparent and barrier-free inter-state and intra-state trade and commerce of farmers' produce outside the physical premises of markets or deemed markets.
Among the bills which the government has listed for introduction is the The Jammu and Kashmir Official Language Bill, 2020. As per the bill, Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi, apart from the existing Urdu and English, will be the official languages in the union territory.
It provides for the languages to be used for the official purposes in the union territory.
According to a Lok Sabha bulletin, the lower house will also take up discussion and voting on the First Batch of Supplementary Demands for Grants for the year 2020-21.
It will also take up discussion and voting on the Excess Demands for Grants for the year 2016-17.
According to the document, The Multi State Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2020 has also been listed for introduction. The proposed bill seeks to rationalise government role and increase the members' participation in the working of the multi-state cooperative societies, to increase public faith in these societies and create a conducive environment for their growth and development.
The Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020 seeks to permit non-banking financial companies other than NBFC Factors (whose principal business is factoring) to undertake factoring business as well. It also seeks to permit Trade Receivables Discounting System (TReDS) entities to act as agents for financiers for filing of registration of charge with the central registry as this will lead to operational efficiency.
Another bill listed for introduction is The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
The proposed bill aims at complete mechanisation of sewer cleaning and to provide better protection in work, and compensation in case of accidents. -- PTI
18:35 Govt working on creating database of migrant labourers: Union minister
Union minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar on Friday said the government is working on creating a database of migrant labourers so that they get direct benefit of various welfare schemes.
Speaking at an event after inauguration of a new building of the Labour Bureau Bhawan here, the Minister of State (Independent charge) for Labour and Employment said an accurate database is crucial for formulation of any policy.
"We always talk about estimated figures about them (labourers). But today the need is to create such a database about migrant labourers so that they can get direct benefit of various welfare schemes," Gangwar said.
"Their skill mapping has to be done, we are concerned about this, we want that they should get jobs as per their skills," he said.
"But we are working in this direction now we are making maximum use of IT (information technology) to come out with concrete data," he added.
Stressing on the importance of accurate database for formulation of any policy, the minister said there was a need to have concrete and accurate data of labourers engaged in the unorganised sector.
"They are an important and strong workforce of our country. They constitute a big chunk of workforce. If we do not have any concrete data about them, it will be felt that something is amiss," he said.
"When we say we have nearly 10 crore labourers in the organised sector and 40 crore working in the unorganised sector, people ask do we have any database," he said, adding that the Labour Bureau can do the task of organising this data.
He also highlighted the problems faced by migrant labourers, a large number of whom had returned to their native states amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that migrant labourers who return from their native states are not able to get work as per their skills.
He hailed the work done over the years by the Labour Bureau, which is the apex organisation in the field of labour statistics, saying this organisation is making its contribution in the country's progress.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Gangwar appreciated efforts put in by various states to support labourers and extend monetary and other help to them. -- PTI
18:28 Industrial production declines 10.4% in July
Industrial production declined by 10.4 per cent in July, mainly due to lower output of manufacturing, mining and power generation, as per the government data released on Friday.
According to the Index of Industrial Production data, manufacturing sector production registered a decline of 11.1 per cent, while the output of mining and power fell 13 per cent and 2.5 per cent, respectively.
"In view of the preventive measures and announcement of nationwide lockdown by the Government to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of the industrial sector establishments were not operating from the end of March 2020 onwards.
"This has had an impact on the items being produced by the establishments during the period of lockdown. With the lifting of restrictions in the subsequent periods, industrial activity is resuming," the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation said in a press release.
The Index for July 2020 stands at 118.1 as compared to 54.0, 89.5 and 108.9 in April, May and June 2020, respectively, it added. -- PTI
18:14 India, China hold another round of talks
India and China held Brigade Commander level talks in Chushul, Ladakh on Friday, a day after the meeting between foreign ministers of the two countries.
Indian Army sources said the meeting started at 11am and ended around 3pm.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held a detailed discussion with the State Councillor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi in Moscow on Thursday on the current tensions in the India-China border areas.
The meeting lasted two-and-a-half hours.
According to government sources, Jaishankar said that as the recent incidents in eastern Ladakh have inevitably impacted the development of the bilateral relationship, an urgent resolution of the current situation was in the interest of both the nations.
The sources said that during the meeting the Indian side clearly conveyed that it expected full adherence to all agreements on the management of border areas and would not countenance any attempt to change the status quo unilaterally.
At the end of their discussions, the ministers reached an agreement on five points that will guide their approach to the current situation, the sources added. -- ANI
18:05 Aftab Shivdasani tests positive for COVID-19
Actor Aftab Shivdasani on Friday said he has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been advised to quarantine at home.
Shivdasani shared the news in statement posted on Twitter, saying that he "showed minor symptoms" of the novel disease, following which he got himself tested.
"Hello everyone, hope you all are fit and fine and are taking care of yourself. Recently, I started showing minor symptoms of a dry cough and a mild fever and I got myself tested for COVID-19.
"Unfortunately the results came out positive and under the medical supervision of doctors and the authorities, I have been advised home quarantine," the 42-year-old actor said.
Shivdasani urged all those people who may have come in contact with him recently to get themselves tested and take precautions to curb the spread of coronavirus pandemic.
"With your support and good wishes, I will recover soon and be back to normal. I can't emphasise more the need to socially be distant, use masks and sanitizers as much as possible as it can save lives. We will win this together. Love, Aftab," he concluded.
Bollywood personalities Arjun Kapoor, Malaika Arora, Raaj Shaandilyaa, rapper Raftaar were recently diagnosed with COVID-19, while those who have recovered from the disease are Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Zoa Morani and Kanika Kapoor. -- PTI
17:54 Sunandaji's lectures on 'finding the missing peace'
Sunandaji, daughter-disciple of world-renowned philosopher Swami Parthasarathy, will deliver a series of four talks over two weekends on the theme 'Find the Missing Peace'.
The lectures, based on the Bhagavad Gita, will be conducted live online on Sept 12-13 and 19-20, from 7 pm to 8.15 pm.
Sunandaji's clear and powerful presentation of ancient wisdom in contemporary thought provides the means to apply this knowledge in everyday life, leading to greater dynamism along with enduring peace, says a release from the Vedanta Cultural Foundation.
To register for the lectures, click here.
To know more about Sunandaji, click here.
17:43 Rhea sings: 15 B-Grade stars on NCB radar
Actor Rhea Chakraborty, who has been arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in a drug case linked with Sushant Singh Rajput's death has revealed names of around 15 B-Grade Bollywood celebrities who are involved in drug use, sources said.
Among these 15 celebrities, some are procurers of drugs and some are consumers, they said.
The NCB investigation also revealed that there is some circle also who procures and supply drugs to celebrities, sources said.During the NCB investigation, it was found that Showik Chakraborty and Dipesh Sawant used courier service for the delivery of drugs from Sushant's house to Rhea's house in April, amid lockdown. The courier person has confirmed that he collected the courier from Dipesh Shawant and was delivered to Showik Chakraborty amid the , sources said.
In the statement, the courier boy has revealed that he took the courier from Sushant's house from Dipesh and delivered to Rhea Chakraborty's house where Showik Chakraborty received the packet containing half kilogram of drugs.
According to sources, the phone number of Dipesh and Showik was saved in the mobile of courier boy. Call details between courier boy, Showik and Dipesh have also confirmed this movement of the drugs, sources said. Cross questioning has been done with Dipesh, Showik and Courier boy in this regard. -- ANI
A screengrab from the trailer of the show viral on social media
17:28 HC allows airing of TV show on Muslims in IAS
The Delhi High Court Friday declined to stay the evening telecast of Sudarshan TV's Bindas Bol' programme, whose promo claimed that the channel was all set to broadcast a 'big expose on conspiracy to infiltrate Muslims in government service'. The show is scheduled to be telecast at 8 pm on Friday.
Justice Navin Chawla also issued notice and sought reply of the Centre and Sudarshan News and its Editor-in-Chief Suresh Chavhanke on a petition filed by former and present students of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University challenging the nod given by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to the channel's broadcast.
The high court granted time to the ministry, represented through central government standing counsel Anurag Ahluwalia, to file an affidavit in response to the plea which has sought to set aside the government's September 9 order and to reassess the legality of the channel's show. It fixed the next date of hearing on November 18.
Advocate Bijender Singh, who was representing the TV channel, said "there is no stay on the telecast of the programme. The court declined it." The petition by Syed Mujtaba Athar and Ritesh Siraj sought urgent hearing seeking a direction prohibiting the broadcast of the show titled Bindas Bol', which is scheduled to be telecast at 8 pm tonight on Sudarshan TV till the time government decides on the legality of the show. -- PTI
17:27 Our govt had nothing to do with Kangana issue: NCP
Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Friday said that Maharashtra government has nothing to do with the demolition of Kangana's office as it was BMC which has taken that action. "The issue is not Kangana vs state, demolition of Kangana's office has nothing to do with the state. The decision of demolishing the office was taken by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. The state government had no role in it. BMC did it following its rules and regulations," said Pawar whose party is in coalition with Shiv Sena and Congress in the MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi) government in Maharashtra.
"The BMC has also said that this subject is not related to Maharashtra state and this is related to Corporation," he added.
Kangana's office in Pali Hill, Bandra was partially demolished by the BMC on Wednesday.
When asked to comment upon Kangana's tweet on Sonia Gandhi, Pawar said that "this issue has nothing to do with the state".
Meanwhile, commenting upon opposition concerns regarding Question Hour, Pawar said, "This time situation is completely different. This has never happened in the past. This time situation is totally different."
16:56 Earnings of India Inc will fall by 24%: Moody's
The aggregate earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation for 22 rated Indian non-financial companies will fall by 24 per cent in the current financial year, global rating agency Moody's said on Friday.
Their credit metrics will weaken as coronavirus-led economic contraction reduces corporate earnings and debt/EBITDA leverage will increase by half a turn to around 4x.
Credit quality is weakening across most sectors as a slowing economy dampens consumer confidence and business activity. Moody's Investors Service said India's real GDP will contract by 11.5 per cent in fiscal 2021.
"Still, we expect fiscal 2022 earnings to recover as economic growth returns. Gradually improving business conditions and activity will support a recovery in credit metrics by March 2022."Credit trends are negative for sectors vulnerable to declining consumption and resource price volatility. The economic slowdown will exacerbate challenging conditions for automakers and auto-part suppliers this fiscal year.
Passenger and commercial-vehicle unit sales will fall at least 20 per cent in fiscal 2021 from a year earlier. Low oil and gas prices, weak refining margins and lower demand for transportation fuel will hurt oil and gas companies.Volatile commodity prices and high debt levels will continue to weigh on miners and steel-makers. Credit trends for IT services and telecommunications companies remain neutral.
Refinancing risk for most companies is manageable. Rated Indian companies have 21 billion dollars of bonds and 32 billion dollars of term loans maturing through fiscal year 2023 with around 17 billion dollars of those maturities due in fiscal 2021.Moody's said eight companies have weak liquidity. -- PTI
16:36 Students to study NEP curriculum in 2022: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday that students will study under a new curriculum drawn from the National Education Policy when the country celebrates its 75th year of Independence in 2022, and asserted that the curriculum will be "forward-looking, future ready and scientific".
Addressing a conclave on "School Education in 21st Century" under the NEP 2020, Modi also emphasised on the need for children to study in their mother tongue or local language at least till Class 5. He, however, said that the NEP places no bar on learning any language and that children can study English or any international language which they find useful. No one has any objection to this, he added, while noting that Indian languages should be promoted.
His comments come amid criticism of the NEP-2020 by some opposition-ruled states. A few opposition parties have accused the ruling BJP of working to promote Hindi, a charge rejected by it.
In his speech, the prime minister lamented that the world changed in the last three decades but our education policy remained the same. In the current system, marksheet has become "pressure sheet" for students and "prestige sheet" for families, the prime minister said, adding that the new policy aims to remove this pressure.
Modi said the NEP will give a new direction to the country in the 21st century, sowing the seeds for a new era. "The job is not finished yet. It (NEP) has to be implemented in an equally effective manner, and we have to do it together," he said, noting that a nation-wide consultation process is going on over the policy. People have many questions about the NEP, and they are legitimate, he said, noting that over 15 lakh suggestions have been received on MyGov portal from teachers within a week of the Ministry of Education seeking views on the policy's implementation.
"When the country marks its 75th years of Independence, then every student should be studying under guidelines formulated by the NEP. This is our collective responsibility," he said, referring to teachers, parents, states and NGOs. -- PTI
16:07 Modi's Bihar dhamaka: Projects worth Rs 16,000 cr
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch and inaugurate development works worth over Rs 16,000 crore in the next 10 days in poll-bound Bihar, sources said on Friday. These multiple projects will improve infrastructure and ease of living for the people of Bihar, they said.
The sources said that the projects pertain to a number of sectors, including LPG pipeline, LPG bottling plant, sewage treatment plant under Namami Gange, water supply schemes, riverfront development project, new railway line, railway bridge, electrification of various sections, and construction of highways and bridges.
The prime minister will also be interacting with the people of the state during these programmes, they said. "The total cost of these projects exceed Rs 16,000 crore, thus leveraging public expenditure to act as a major driver of growth in times of COVID-19," a source said. Assembly polls are due in Bihar in October-November. -- PTI
15:53 Freedom of speech, expression not absolute right: HC
The Bombay High Court on Friday said the freedom of speech and expression provided under Article 19 of the Constitution was not an absolute right. The court made the observation while refusing to grant interim protection from arrest to a woman booked by the Mumbai and Palghar police for allegedly making offensive remarks on Twitter against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aditya Thackeray.
A bench of Justices S S Shinde and M S Karnik, however, accepted the state government's oral assurance that the woman, Sunaina Holey, will not be arrested in the case at least for the next two weeks.
The state, however, added that such relief will be subject to Holey visiting the Azad Maidan and Tulinj police stations Mumbai and Palghar district, respectively, for questioning, and "cooperating" with the police in their probe. -- PTI
15:37 MGR's nephew dies of COVID-19
AIADMK founder and former Chief Minister M G Ramachandran's nephew M C Chandran, who was treated for coronavirus has succumbed to the illness here on Friday, the party said. The AIADMK said 75-year old Chandran is the son of MGR's elder brother M G Chakrapani and he was treated at Rajiv Gandhi Government General hospital in Chennai for COVID-19.
"We were grieved to learn that he has passed away not responding to the treatment," AIADMK's coordinator and co- coordinator, O Panneerselvam and K Palaniswami said in a party release. Extending condolences to the bereaved family, the top party leaders said they prayed to the Almighty to rest his soul in peace and give the family the strength to bear the loss and grief. -- PTI
15:25 Sena can demolish Kangana's home, not Dawood's: Fadnavis
The Shiv Sena-led state government these days looks more focused on fighting actor Kangana Ranaut than the ongoing coronavirus crisis in Maharashtra, said BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis on Friday.
"The Maharashtra government believes its fight is not with Corona but Kangana. The maximum number of Covid-19 cases are in Maharashtra, every day 25-30 thousand new cases are coming up. 40 percent of Covid deaths are from Maharashtra, but the government does not want to fight it," Fadnavis told reporters.
"If they even put 50 per cent of their ability in fighting corona we will be able to stop Covid deaths," he added.
The former chief minister also said that Shiv Sena blew the issue surrounding Ranaut out of proportion by issuing threats to her followed by her property's demolition.
"Kangana Ranaut is no political figure, the matter should not have been escalated by Shiv Sena. Kangana's issue was blown out of proportion by you (Shiv Sena). You don't go to demolish Dawood's home but you demolished her place," Fadnavis told reporters.
Ranaut has been making headlines with her statements and revelations about the Hindi film industry after actor Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in his Mumbai residence in June.
15:09 5 big Covid-affected states have 60% recovery
Sixty per cent of the daily new Covid-19 recoveries in India are from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, which also account for 57 per cent of the new cases, the Union Health Ministry said on Friday. Total Coviid-19 recoveries in the country have surged to 35,42,663 as on date with a total 70,880 recoveries being registered in a span of 24 hours of which Maharashtra alone contributed to more than 14,000 and Andhra Pradesh more than 10,000.
Of the total 96,551 new cases being reported in a span 24 hours, Maharashtra alone has more than 23,000 infections and Andhra Pradesh more than 10,000, the ministry said.
Sixty per cent of the new recovered cases are being reported from five states -- Maharashtra (20.1%), Tamil Nadu (14.2 %), Andhra Pradesh (9.9%), Karnataka (8.7%) and Uttar Pradesh (6.5%) taking the national recovery rate to 77.65 per cent, it highlighted.
"Nearly 57 per cent of the new cases are reported from only five states. These are the same states that are also contributing 60 per cent of the new recovered cases," the ministry underlined. There are 9,43,480 active cases of COVID-19 in the country which comprises 20.68 per cent of the total caseload, the data updated at 8 am stated. Maharashtra is leading this tally with more than 2,60,000 cases followed by Karnataka withmore than 1,00,000 cases.
Nearly 74 per cent of the total active cases are in nine most affected states--Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Assam, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh contribute more than 48 per cent of the total active cases, the ministry said. As many as 1,209 deaths have been registered in a day. Maharashtra has reported 495 deaths followed by Karnataka with 129 deaths, whereas Uttar Pradesh has logged 94 deaths, the ministry stated.
14:36 Centre releases Rs 6,195 cr to 14 states as devolution of taxes
The Centre has released Rs 6,195.08 crores to 14 states as the sixth equated monthly instalment of the Post Devolution Revenue Deficit Grant (PDRDG) on Friday as recommended by the 15th Finance Commission. Office of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted on Friday saying that this would provide them with additional resources during the coronavirus crisis.
"The government on September 10, 2020, released Rs 6,195.08 crore to 14 states as the sixth equated monthly installment of the Post Devolution Revenue Deficit Grant as recommended by the 15th Finance Commission. This would provide them additional resources during the Corona crisis," it tweeted.
On September 5, the Economic Advisory Council of the 15th Finance Commission advised the Central government to treat the financial year 2020-21 and 2021-22 differently in comparison to the next four years. The statement from the former came after noticing that the latter is facing difficulties to disburse GST compensation to states on the low revenue collection. -- ANI
14:32 Don't own building, Kangana's claims false: Pawar
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar said he has no connection with actor Kangana Ranaut's property, which was demolished by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). "I have no connection with the building, which was demolished by BMC. Her allegations against me are totally false," Pawar told reporters on Thursday.
Ranaut, according to reports, had said the building, which was demolished belonged to the NCP chief.
Ranaut has been making headlines with her statements and revelations about the Hindi film industry after actor Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in his Mumbai residence in June. She had been provided with Y-plus category security cover by the Union Home Ministry in the wake of the row over her remarks, in which she compared Mumbai with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and also targeted the Mumbai police.
Recently, the actor had also moved the Bombay High Court against the demolition drive by BMC at her property in Mumbai.
The NCP chief had called a meeting of Congress and his own party leaders over the Bhima Koregaon issue."There are arrests happening under the pretext of calling people Naxals. We discussed these issues today. We are taking the opinions of leaders on the issue. Though the matter is being investigated by the NIA, the state government, too, has some rights," he said. -- ANI
14:01 After 9 months vehicle sales rise in India
Passenger vehicle wholesales in India rose by 14.16 per cent in August to 2,15,916 units driven by pent-up demand, industry body SIAM said on Friday. According to the latest data by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), passenger vehicles wholesales stood at 1,89,129 units in the same month last year. Passenger vehicle sales have returned to positive territory in August after nine consecutive months of decline. It was in October last year that the segment had posted a marginal growth snapping 11 continuous months of decline in sales.
Passenger car sales last month stood at 1,24,715 units as compared with 1,09,277 units, up 14.13 per cent. Similarly, utility vehicle sales increased by 15.54 per cent to 81,842 units last month as against 70,837 units a year ago. Sales of vans also saw an increase of 3.82 per cent at 9,359 units as compared with 9,015 units in August 2019, SIAM said. Similarly, two-wheeler sales also rose 3 per cent at 15,59,665 units as compared to 15,14,196 units in the same month last year. -- PTI
13:46 IPL 13: Gambhir believes players won't be afraid of Covid
Former India cricketer Gautam Gambhir believes that the coronavirus pandemic will not impact the performance of the cricketers when they participate in the Indian Premier League in the UAE. The former Delhi Capitals captain also stressed that players must adhere to the guidelines put in place.
"I don't think that players will be afraid of it. It is important to be in the bio-secure bubble and follow the guidelines. Just because of one person, the tournament can't be sacrificed. So, it is important to follow the instructions and guidelines," Gambhir told ANI.
The 13th edition of the league will be played from September 19 to November 10, across three venues in the UAE -- Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Dubai.
Last month, the Board of Control for Cricket in India had confirmed that 13 personnel including two players tested positive for COVID-19.
Speaking on the chances of Delhi Capitals winning the tournament, Gambhir said that in IPL, there is no certainty about anything and also raised the point that Indian players have not played the game for a long time due to the pandemic. -- PTI
13:36 an arrested for threatening Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut
A man, claiming to be a fan of actress Kangana Ranaut, was on Friday arrested from Kolkata's Tollygunge area for allegedly threatening Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, police said.
A team of Mumbai Police with the help of Kolkata Police nabbed Palash Ghosh, in his late 20s, from his Tollygunge residence in the early hours of Friday for allegedly threatening Raut, they said. Ghosh had allegedly threatened the Shiv Sena MP with "dire consequences" following which the Mumbai Police contacted the city cops and arrested the man. "He will be produced at a city court where the Mumbai Police will ask for transit remand to take him with them to Mumbai," the source said.
The Shiv Sena and the actress were engaged in a war of words after the latter recently likened Mumbai to Pakistan- occupied Kashmir (PoK) and also said she feared Mumbai Police more than "movie mafia". The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which is ruled by the Sena, on Wednesday pulled down some "illegal alterations" made at Ranaut's bungalow in Bandra. However, the Bombay High Court later ordered a stay on it. PTI
A video grab of the drones delivering meals to Chinese troops
13:27 China propaganda blitzkrieg: Hot meals for troops
China-state affiliated media, The Global Times, releases this video in a push towards what it does best -- propaganda. Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the paper, tweets the video showing hot meals being cooked delivered to Chinese troops via drones at the LAC. He writes, "With these drones, the PLA's frontline soldiers can enjoy hot meals once winter reaches the plateau. Some sympathize with the nearby Indian soldiers who can only eat cold canned food and have to endure the severe cold and potential spread of COVID-19."
Noting that the current situation at their border is not in the interest of either side, India and China have agreed on a five-point roadmap including quick disengagement of troops and avoiding any action that could escalate tensions for resolving the four-month-long face-off in eastern Ladakh.
Read the report here
An artist's impression of the Coastal Road
The National Green Tribunal has refused to quash the Coastal Zone Management Plan for Sub-Urban Mumbai and directed the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority to maintain a strict vigil against any violation of the same.
A bench of the NGT, headed by its chairperson AK Goel, was hearing an application filed by one Sonia Raj Sood seeking quashing of the CZMP for Sub-Urban Mumbai to the extent of inclusion of Bandra Fort and its adjoining plots in Coastal Regulation Zone-II (CRZ-II).
"We do not find any ground to quash the final Coastal Zone Management Plan in question. We, however, direct the MCZMA to maintain strict vigil against any violation of the Coastal Zone Management Plan," the bench said in its order issued on Wednesday.
The application raised particular objection to the inclusion of a certain area in Bandra (West), as the said area is within 100 meters of Bandra Fort and further prayer is to restore the original status of the said area as CRZ-I(A), as indicated in the State Approved Draft CZMP.
The bench, disposing of the plea, said, "We find that the joint Committee has visited the site and duly verified the factual position exhaustively. There is no justification to cast aspersions on the Committee of experts who are public servants."
"The factual position with respect to all the three objections of the applicant location of the hotel in CRZ II, the FSI and the mangroves has been clearly explained, as mentioned and quoted earlier. We considered the objections of the applicant and heard her at length," it added.
According to the applicant, there are 30 to 35 other plots shown in CRZ-II by changing status of CRZ-III. The applicant had also sought depiction of marine life, mangroves, rocks, etc in Bandra Bandstand coast as per the original state-approved plan.
12:57 Athawale meets Maha guv: Want Kangana compensated
Union Minister Ramdas Athawale met Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari today. "I met the Maharashtra Governor today over the issue of the demolition of Kangana Ranaut's property in Mumbai and demanded that she should get compensation for the loss. The way BMC carried out demolition at her property is wrong. She must get justice," the Union Minister said.
Athawale said on Thursday after meeting Kangana Ranaut, whose Mumbai property was partially demolished by the civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, that feels insulted and wants compensation.
"Met actor Kangana Ranaut and talked with her for an hour. I told her she has nothing to fear in Mumbai...Mumbai is the country's economic capital and everybody has the right to live here...my party (RPI) is with her," he said after the meeting with the actor yesterday.
"She told me she felt insulted. Her office that she got constructed in January has been damaged. She said she didn't know about 2-3 inches extra constructed by the builder. The BMC should have demolished that part but it damaged the inside walls and furniture. She has approached the court against this and wants compensation," he added.
12:23 No bail for Rhea, brother, others
Just in: The bail pleas of Rhea Chakraborty, her brother, Showik, Abdul Basit, Zaid Vilatra, Dipesh Sawant and Samuel Miranda have been rejected by a special court in Mumbai. They're arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau in connection with a drugs case related to actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
After three days of interrogation, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Tuesday arrested Rhea Chakraborty in a drugs case linked to Sushant's death, following which she was sent in judicial custody till September 22 by a local court.
The NCB said Rhea disclosed her involvement in procurement of drugs for Rajput and related financial transactions and also her instructions to co-accused Sammuel Miranda, Dipesh Sawant and Showik Chakraborty, it claimed.
11:58 Balasaheb feared Sena will become Cong: Kangana
Invoking Shiv Sena founder, the late Balasaheb Thackeray, actor Kangana Ranaut on Friday questioned how he would be feeling if he saw his party's situation today.
Sharing an old video clip of an interview given by the late Balasaheb in which he said that he does not "like elections, and groupism", Ranaut said the late leader's biggest fear was that Shiv Sena will "become Congress".
"Great Bala Saheb Thakeray one of my most favourite icons, his biggest fear was some day Shiv Sena will do Gutbandhan and become Congress. I want to know what is his conscious feeling today looking at the condition of his party ?(sic)" Ranaut's tweet read.
Ranaut has been making headlines with her statements and revelations about the Hindi film industry after actor Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in his Mumbai residence in June.
She had been provided with Y-plus category security cover by the Union Home Ministry in the wake of the row over her remarks, in which she compared Mumbai with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and also targeted the Mumbai police.
Recently, the actor had also moved the Bombay High Court against the demolition drive by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) at her property in Mumbai. -- ANI
11:45 Lockdown: Normal life comes to grinding halt in Bengal
Normal life came to a grinding halt in West Bengal on Friday as a complete lockdown was enforced across the state to stem the spread of Covid-19 cases. All public transport, offices and other commercial establishments, barring those dealing with essential services, remained closed as strict restrictions were clamped.
The lockdown was also almost total in Kolkata and in districts barring some places like Purulia town, Asansol, Durgapur where some grocery shops and vegetable vendors did brisk business in the morning before police stepped in, official reports said.
In Kolkata, a near deserted look was seen in different parts of the city including Rajabazar, Gariahat, Hazra crossing, Hudco crossing Ultadanga as police set up road barricades to monitor vehicles.
In Hazra crossing drones were pressed into service to keep a tab on movement of vehicles and individuals while road barriers were put in the middle of forlorn looking Howrah Bridge to check the motorists, reports said. At Lake town, the cops were seen using thermal guns to check the temperature of some of those having gone out for essential works.
All the markets, shops, commercial establishments were closed while pharmacies were allowed to keep open. Police made some arrests in city and elsewhere for violations of lockdown norms. The state had reported 1,93,175 Covid-19 cases till Thursday.
11:38 IPL will bring normalcy back into our lives: Robin Uthappa
Rajasthan Royals' Robin Uthappa believes the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League is going to be "really special" and it will bring the "feeling of normalcy back into our lives" amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"Very happy to get back to playing, competing, and not just individually but as a team. I think that's what I enjoyed a lot more... Most definitely, it is going to be really special this year, simply because of what we all have gone through as a human race," Uthappa said in a video posted on IPL's official website.
"I think in this unpredictable time, we were and are craving for normalcy and this tournament and sports, in general, bring about that feeling of normalcy back into our lives," he added.Heading into the tournament, Uthappa has cleared the team's intention saying that they are going into the IPL with the desire of winning it."... Indians and cricket lovers all around the world will really be looking forward to this tournament. So, in that sense, it is a big, big IPL. Having said that, I think as any other team, our desire and intention is to go out there and compete extremely well and hopefully win the tournament," he said.
March of the migrants: The govt's unholy mess
11:29 India needs more stimulus to battle Covid: IMF
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is significant on India's development and the immediate priority is a coordinated policy response, the International Monetary Fund has said. "Given the unprecedented shock, the immediate priority is a coordinated policy response to fight the virus," said IMF Spokesman Gerry Rice at a press briefing in Washington on Thursday (local time).
He said the IMF supports the government's responses to the pandemic, including fiscal stimulus with a focus on low-income workers and households.
"We support the monetary easing and liquidity and regulatory measures for the financial sector for borrowers that have taken place. And maybe just to add, in this context, we believe further fiscal stimulus is warranted -- especially expenditures on health, food and income support for vulnerable households, and support for businesses."
"The preliminary GDP estimate for 2020 second-quarter performance in India came in weaker than expected at around minus 23.9 per cent year-on-year, reflecting the severe impact of the pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns," he said.
Rice said the contraction in economic activity reflected broad-based weaknesses in industries on services with construction, manufacturing, hotels, and transportation sectors suffering the most.In its last World Economic Outlook update, the IMF projected growth in India at minus 4.5 per cent and 6 per cent respectively for FY 20-21 and FY 21-22. -- ANI
11:08 Politics over a death to win Bihar polls: Sena
In a veiled reference to the Sushant Singh Rajput death case, Shiv Sena in its mouthpiece Saamana on Friday said that to win the election in Bihar and to get votes of specific caste, politics is being played on a death.
"To win the election of Bihar and to get votes of specific caste, politics is being played on a death. National and political policies are decided in this regard. But millions of people become unemployed and poor, no policy is prepared on this," the Shiv Sena said.
"On the absurd statements of an actress, a large section of the society is delivering unilateral political rhetoric. The support of political parties is built behind all this. This is not a politics of national interest," it added."The CBI's investigation into the Sushant Singh Rajput death case has not concluded but Rhea Chakraborty has been arrested in a drug case.
According to the plan, Kangana Ranaut also came to Mumbai. Now everyone should pay attention to the issues of national interest, national security and the issues of the people," it added.
Shiv Sena further pointed out that there are issues of national security and the current standoff with China that need to be focused on by the Central government but there is an attempt to divert the attention of the public from these issues to other issues for vested interests.
"Meanwhile, there is a conflict on the border between India and China. China has crossed Laxman Rekha and our commanders have been ordered to retaliate. China has entered our border and is not ready to retreat even an inch. Isn't this an attempt to cross Lakshman Rekha? Which Laxman Rekha we are waiting to cross now? The soldiers of both the countries are ready for the cross-border battle and this time the Chinese army will have to pay a huge price," it said.
"China killed our 20 soldiers on the LAC in Ladakh. Leaders forget that terrible event in a moment and people forget it too, so from time to time 'opium' is sown through different means. Consuming that opium will cause intoxication for a few moments, but it will not drive away the questions," it added.
Shiv Sena further said that there is a crisis of the collapse of the economy due to lockdown and the government needs to address it."The economy collapsed due to 'lockdown'.
There was a crisis over employment. This has increased the number of suicides across the country. The country was already worried due to farmers' suicide. Now the very poor, employed, middle-class people are also committing suicide. Carpenters, plumbers, wiremen, small shopkeepers, mobile repairing workers, tanners, paint workers, workers of buildings, etc currently have no work," it said.
"Distressed by the economic tragedy caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, a carpenter named Ram Nihore (45) committed suicide by hanging himself in his house in Banda, Uttar Pradesh. Such reports are now being published daily in every State, city and village," it added. -- ANI
10:49 The story behind Time Magazine's black border cover
TIME's issue marking nearly 200,000 US deaths -- and why its border is black for the second time in history. Do read
10:39 Will 'Act of God' reclaim land from China: Rahul
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday asked the Government of India whether it has any plans to reclaim 'land taken by China' or "is that also going to be left to an 'Act of God'.
"The Chinese have taken our land. When exactly is GOI planning to get it back? Or is that also going to be left to an 'Act of God'?" the Congress leader tweeted.
India recently outflanked China by taking control of strategic heights near Pangong Lake's southern bank. It thwarted an attempt by the Chinese soldiers to transgress into Indian areas near the southern bank of Pangong Tso near Chushul in Ladakh.
India and China have been engaged in a standoff since April-May over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas including the Finger area, Galwan Valley, Hot springs and Kongrung Nala. The situation worsened after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in violent clashes with Chinese troops in Galwan Valley in June.
Last Friday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe on the sidelines of the SCO dialogue in Moscow that attempts by Chinese troops to unilaterally alter the status quo along the LAC was in violation of the bilateral agreements, and Beijing should work with New Delhi for complete disengagement from all friction areas including Pangong Tso. --ANI
10:13 Corona has gone, Mamata's lockdown needless: BJP
As India recorded the biggest single-day spike of 96,551 coronavirus cases in a day, BJP President, Dilip Ghosh, dismisses the numbers and claims the state is virus free. "Corona has gone. Didimoni (Mamata Banerjee) is acting and imposing lockdown so that BJP can't organise meetings and rallies in the state. No one can stop us." The country's tally is 45,62,415. The death toll is 1,209 in a day, with the total toll at 76,271.
The BJP has begun its campaign in West Bengal in full earnest.
BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya on Thursday claimed that women are not safe in the state, even though the chief minister herself is a woman. Vijayvargiya, who is the saffron party's Bengal minder, claimed that "one set of laws is applicable in the whole country barring this state, where only Mamata Banerjee's rules prevail". "Bengal has a woman chief minister but women in the state are not safe," he said, while pointing out to the recent gangrape case of two women in Jalpaiguri district, one of whom allegedly died by suicide. He also said that BJP's women workers were being attacked in different parts of the state.
09:57 India reports 96,550 COVID cases in 1-day spike
India has recorded the biggest single-day spike so far, of 96,551 coronavirus cases in a day, which has taken the countrys tally to 45,62,415. The death toll has also 1,209 and is now at 76,271.
Among the 45 lakh confirmed cases, India now has 9,43,480 active coronavirus cases and 35,42,663 recovered or discharged cases.
The country now has a recovery rate of 77.65%.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has said that in view of the WHO's warning that COVID-19 cases will be on the rise in the coming days, the state government has decided to provide 80% oxygen cylinders to hospitals and 20% to industries.
09:48 100% surge in COVID recovery rate in last 29 days
Even as there has been been an unprecedented rise in COVID-19 cases, there has been a 100 per cent surge in recovered patients in the last 29 days, the Union health ministry said on Friday.
"There has been an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 recoveries in India. There is a more than 100% increase in patients recovered and discharged in the past 29 days," it said.
Pointing out that the high recovery rate was possible due to early identification, it added that aggressive and wide-scale testing, "prompt and effective" treatment in supervised home/facility isolation and hospitals, and "enhanced" clinical skills of ICU doctors have led to a high recovery rate.
09:26 Kangana says she can't afford to rebuild office
Actor Kangana Ranaut in a tweet said that, as a symbolic gesture, she will not renovate the portions of her office that were demolished on Wednesday by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. The BMC carried out the demolition based on alleged structural violations.
In a tweet, the actor wrote, I had my office opening on 15th Jan, shortly after corona hit us, like most of us I havent worked ever since, dont have money to renovate it, I will work from those ruins keep that office ravaged as a symbol of a womans will that dared to rise in this world.
She added the hashtag, Kangana vs Uddhav, a sign of her continued altercation with Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
In a video message posted on Twitter, Kangana addressed Thackeray directly, and said in Hindi, Uddhav Thackeray, did you think that you got revenge from me by colluding with the film mafia and demolishing my house? My house has been demolished today but your pride will crumble tomorrow. Time will change. I think you have done me a huge favour. I knew what Kashmiri Pandits must have gone through, but today, I have experienced it. I vow that I will make a film, not just on Ayodhya, but also on Kashmir. I will rouse my fellow countrymen. It has happened to me, which has some meaning and significance. Uddhav Thackeray, it is a good thing that it was me who was subjected to this cruelty and terror. It definitely has some significance. Jai Hind, Jai Maharashtra!
09:16 Serena Williams crashes out of US Open semis
Serena Williams has lost the battle of mothers at the US Open in the semi finals to Belarus' Victoria Azarenka.
The third seeded Williams went down fighting to Azarenka -- 6-1, 3-6, 3-6.
The hunt for Williams' 24th Grand Slam title will continue.
Meanwhile, Azarenka will now play Naomi Osaka for the finals on Saturday.
08:51 Delhi's Magenta Line, Grey Line resume services
Delhi Metro's Magenta Line and Grey Line resumed operations on Friday after being closed for 173 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.
Services started at 7 am as part of the second stage of the graded reopening of Delhi Metro, which was closed on March 22 to check the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In this stage, trains will operate in two batches of six-hour each from 7 am to 1 pm and 4-10 pm.
Services on other lines which had reopened under stage one from Monday through Thursday will now also follow the stage two schedule.
Yellow Line and Rapid Metro were the first ones to be reopened on Monday, followed by Blue Line and Pink Line resuming services on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Red Line, Violet Line and Green Line were made operational.
Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has appealed to people to use the rapid transport only if urgently needed.
08:30 Medium-intensity quake hits Palghar district in Maharashtra
A medium-intensity earthquake of magnitude 3.5 hit the coastal district of Palghar in Maharashtra early Friday morning, the National Centre for Seismology said.
The quake occurred at 3.57 am at a depth of 10 kilometres, the NCS, a body under the ministry of earth sciences, said.
A district adjoining Gujarat and Mumbai, Palghar also houses the Tarapur Atomic Power Station units 1-4.
The district has been witnessing a series of low-intensity quakes since last week.
07:57 COVID-19 cases worldwide surpasses 28 million
The worldwide number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has surpassed 28 million, Johns Hopkins University says.
The exact number of the coronavirus cases stood at 28,047,828 on Friday.
More than 907,000 people have died of the disease, the university added.
The World Health Organisation declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11.
The biggest number of cases so far has been registered in the United States, India and Brazil.
00:21 Cong ready to tie up with Left Front in WB: Adhir
Newly appointed West Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said on Thursday that his party is ready to forge a poll alliance with the Communist Party of India Marxist-led Left Front in the state to put up a
"spirited" battle against the Trinamool Congress and the Bharatiya in the 2021 Assembly elections.
Chowdhury, who is also the Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, further said that the fight was primarily between secularism and communalism.
"Secular ideals of the Congress will ultimately defeat the communal rhetoric of the BJP and the TMC. The Congress, in alliance with the Left parties, wants to put up a spirited battle against the misrule of the TMC," he said at a press meet, his first after taking over as the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president.
Chowdhury had earlier served as the WBPCC chief from 2014 to 2018.
Under his leadership, the party had joined hands with the Left Front and fought the 2016 state elections.
During the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, however, the proposed Congress-CPIM alliance fell apart after both the parties were unable to reach an agreement on seat sharing.
"Yet again, I have been given the responsibility of the state unit prior to the Assembly elections. We never wanted to lose the political and poll understanding with the CPI-M and other Left parties, but after the last elections,
the CPI-M might have felt that it did not get the desired results by getting into an alliance with the Congress.
"This could be a reason why the Left decided to go it alone in the subsequent elections after 2016. The Congress, however, never thought so," Chowdhury said.
The senior Congress leader said he would strive hard to strengthen the organisation in the state.
"Once the coronavirus crisis is over, the Congress will resume its fight against the misrule of the TMC government in West Bengal," the five-time Lok Sabha MP said.
He urged defectors, who have joined opposition camps, to return to the party.
"I call up on them (defectors) to return to their grand old party. We will give them their due respect," Chowdhury added. -- PTI