Wed, 10 February 2021
'Army responded to China's attempt appropriately'
23:47 Army responded to China's attempt appropriately: Govt
The government on Wednesday said it will continue discussions with China to achieve the objective of disengagement of troops from all friction points and restoration of peace and tranquillity in eastern Ladakh at an early date.
Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said this in Lok Sabha while replying to a question on details of in-person and virtual meetings between India and China since the standoff began last year.
The minister's comments came on a day the Chinese defence ministry said in Beijing that Indian and Chinese troops started "synchronised" disengagement at the south and north banks of Pangong Lake in eastern Ladakh.
In his written reply, Muraleedharan said the Chinese military made several attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh since April-May last year and Indian armed forces "responded" to them "appropriately".
Indian and Chinese armies are locked in a bitter standoff in eastern Ladakh for over nine months.
"Since April/May 2020 the Chinese side had made several attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo along the LAC in Western Sector. These attempts have been responded to appropriately by our armed forces," Muraleedharan said in replying to a question.
"It has been made clear to the Chinese side that such unilateral attempts are unacceptable. These actions have seriously disturbed the peace and tranquillity along the LAC in the Western sector," he said.
The government often refers to eastern Ladakh as western sector.
Muraleedharan said diplomatic and military engagements with the Chinese side have continued in order to ensure complete disengagement from all friction points and full restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
He said six meetings of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China border affairs and nine meetings of the senior commanders have been held so far.
"Government will continue discussions with the Chinese side to achieve the objective of disengagement from all friction points and restoration of peace and tranquility in the India-China Border Areas at an early date," he said.
The Chinese defence ministry said the frontline troops of China and India at the south and north banks of the Pangong Lake in eastern Ladakh started "synchronised and organised" disengagement from Wednesday.
There was no official comment by either the Indian defence ministry or the Indian Army on the Chinese statement.
In responding to the question in Lok Sabha, Muraleedharan also referred to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar's talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on September 10 in Moscow.
"The two foreign ministers agreed that the current situation in the border areas is not in the interest of either side. They agreed therefore that the border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions," he said.
Muraleedharan said the two foreign ministers also agreed that both sides shall abide by all the existing agreements and protocol on China-India boundary affairs, maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas and avoid any action that could escalate matters.
To a separate question, he said India received assistance from a few countries including Japan, the US, France, Germany and Israel in the form of medical equipment and grants-in-aid following the coronavirus pandemic. -- PTI
23:35 Went to Red Fort as everyone was going there: Deep Sidhu
Actor-activist Deep Sidhu, who was arrested for the violence at the Red Fort on Republic Day, has told police that he had no "bad intentions" and went to the historic monument as everybody was going there, officials said on Wednesday.
The Delhi Police's Crime Branch questioned Sidhu on Wednesday about his whereabouts and acts at the Red Fort on January 26, officials said.
The actor-activist was sent to seven-day police custody on Tuesday by a court in New Delhi following his arrest a day earlier from Karnal bypass in connection with the violence at the Red Fort.
Sidhu, according to police, was "a prominent player" behind the January 26 incident.
Following his arrest by the Delhi Police, he was handed over to the Crime Branch, which is probing the case in connection with the violence and vandalism at the historic fort.
On first day of police remand, the focus of investigation remained on how Sidhu reached the Red Fort and his activities there on the day of incident, a senior police officer said.
Sidhu initially denied being present at Singhu border on January 25 but after the police presented evidence, he admitted that he was present at the farmers' protest site but slept at a spot a bit away from there.
The actor-activist claimed that when he woke up on January 26, there were two-three missed calls and messages on his mobile phone about people heading to the Red Fort, so he too reached there with his three friends using his mobile phone to navigate.
Sidhu and his friends left Singhu border at around 11 am in a vehicle and after violence broke out at the fort, they fled to Singhu border in the same vehicle and reached there at around 1 pm, he said.
When questioned about his role in the flag hoisting incident at the fort, he denied his involvement and claimed that he did not gather or instigate the crowd, the officer said.
According to the officer, when asked why he went to the Red Fort when it did not figure in the route approved by authorities for the tractor parade, Sidhu claimed that since everybody was going, he too went there but had no "bad intentions".
While on the run, Sidhu kept switching his locations between Haryana and Punjab, police said, adding that the hunt for his three friends is on.
Police are now trying to recover his mobile phone and probing the exact locations where he hid while also verifying whatever he revealed during the interrogation, the officer said. -- PTI
23:25 Twitter will be a nicer place if move to Koo picks up pace: Omar
Twitter would be a nicer place if the shift of its users to Indian micro-blogging site 'Koo' gathers pace, National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah said on Wednesday, in a backhanded compliment to the 10-month-old app.
The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister's remarks came after several Twitter users and government departments announced joining the 'desi' platform.
"Twitter will be a much nicer place if the move to Koo picks up pace," Abdullah wrote on Twitter. -- PTI
22:52 Lok Sabha proceedings extended till mid-night
Lok Sabha proceedings were extended till mid-night on Wednesday to accommodate members' participation in the discussion on budget proposals.
K Suresh, who was in the Chair at 9 pm, when the Lok Sabha usually adjourns for the day, announced that the timing of the House has been extended till 12 mid-night.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal said there was a long list of speakers who wanted to participate in the general discussion on the Union Budget 2021-22. -- PTI
22:43 Modi to address BJP MPs on Thursday
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address Bharatiya Janata Party MPs on Thursday on the occasion of party ideologue Deendayal Upadhyay's death anniversary.
"The life and mission of Deendayal Ji inspires us all. On his Punya Tithi tomorrow, 11th February, will be addressing BJP MPs," he said in a tweet.
Upadhyay, a senior RSS functionary and a top leader of the BJP's forerunner Jana Sangh, had passed away in 1968. -- PTI
21:38 BJP MP seeks privilege motion against Mahua Moitra
A Bharatiya Janata Party member has given a breach of privilege notice against Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra over her remarks against a former chief justice of India in Lok Sabha on Monday.
The notice has been moved by BJP MP P P Chowdhary.
"While speaking on Motion of Thanks on President's address, she has cast some aspersions with respect to the conduct of a judge. So the question is whether the conduct of a judge can be discussed on the floor of the House or not," he said.
He referred to an article in the Constitution to contend that no allegation can be levelled against a sitting or ex-judge.
The statement made by her was deliberate, the BJP MP added.
Another BJP MP Nishikant Dubey demanded that Moitra's membership be terminated.
N K Premchandran, who was in the Chair, said that the notice is under consideration of the Lok Sabha Speaker.
After BJP members had objected to her remarks, Moitra had tweeted on Tuesday, "It would be a privilege indeed if a breach of privilege motion is initiated against me for speaking the truth during India's darkest hour".
Earlier, two BJP MPs in Lok Sabha had moved a privilege notice against Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.
The notice has been given against the Congress leader for calling teen activist Greta Thunberg as 'persona non grata'. -- PTI
21:28 No plans to cut taxes on petrol, diesel: Pradhan
Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Wednesday ruled out any cut in excise duty, for now, to give relief to consumers from the spiralling retail prices of petrol and diesel which have touched all-time highs.
"There is no such proposal at present," he said in the Rajya Sabha when asked if the government was looking at cutting taxes to cool off prices.
Petrol price crossed the Rs 94-mark in Mumbai and diesel soared to Rs 84.63 per litre on Wednesday. Retail pump rates have not seen a reduction in almost 11 months.
International benchmark rates had plunged to decade lows in April. The government had hiked excise duty on petrol by a record Rs 13 per litre and on diesel by Rs 16 a litre to mop up gains arising from the fall in rates but did not cut taxes when oil prices bounced back.
Retail petrol price have risen by Rs 18.01 per litre since mid-March 2020 and diesel rates have gone up by Rs 15.44.
Replying to questions on rising fuel prices, Pradhan said retail pump rates are governed by international prices as India is 85 per cent dependent on imports for meeting its need.
"When the international price of crude oil is higher, we have to increase the prices and when the international price is lower, we have to decrease the prices here too. This is a market mechanism which is followed by oil marketing companies. We have given the freedom to them," he said during Question Hour.
The retail price, he said, is made up of three components -- base price that reflects the cost of international oil, central excise duty and state taxes.
Both central and state governments rely heavily on collections from taxes on these products for meeting their developmental and welfare priorities, he said.
"They need some resources... (and) this (taxing petrol and diesel) has been a proven and substantial route by all the governments, whether the state governments or the central government," he said.
The current rally in fuel prices is because crude oil prices have touched USD 61 per barrel mark for the first time in more than a year.
Taxes make up for over 61 per cent of retail petrol price while they constitute more than 56 per cent of diesel pump rates.
While the central government has raised excise duty, states too have raised VAT, the minister said. "So, both the states and the central government are raising taxes according to their developmental needs."
In the last 300 days, petrol and diesel prices have risen on 60 days. Rates were cut on 7 days for petrol and 21 in case of diesel. "For almost 250 days, we have neither increased nor decreased the price," he said. "So, it is a misnomer to campaign that prices are an all-time high."
The central government had reduced the excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 2 per litre on October 4, 2017, and again by Rs 1.5 on October 5, 2018, he said, adding on the Centre's request 18 states and one union territory had reduced VAT on the fuel at that time.
In October 2018 when excise duty was cut, petrol price in Delhi had touched Rs 84 per litre and diesel was at Rs 75.45. On Wednesday, petrol was priced at Rs 87.60 a litre in Delhi and diesel at Rs 77.73.
Rates vary from state to state depending on local taxes and freight. -- PTI
21:00 Abusing private sector no longer acceptable: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday stressed on the private sector's vital role in the economy and asserted that the culture of "abusing" it for votes is no longer acceptable.
If the public sector is important, the role of the private sector is also vital, he said during his reply in Lok Sabha to the discussion on the motion of thanks to the President's address.
Modi cited the examples of telecom and pharma sectors to note as to how the robust presence of private firms in these fields has helped people, with even the poor using smart phones, and mobile calls costing virtually nothing due to competitiveness.
If India is able to serve humanity during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is also due to the role of the private sector, he said.
"To use improper words against the private sector may have got votes for a few people in the past but those times are gone. The culture of abusing the private sector is not acceptable any longer. We cannot keep insulting our youth like this," he said.
The Modi government has announced in the Budget its fresh push for disinvestment in the public sector, drawing criticism from the Opposition. -- PTI
20:13 Gujarat civic polls: AAP promises 'Delhi model' for Ahmedabad
Replication of "Delhi model", setting up of a school in each ward besides mohalla clinics that will provide free treatment, and operating a fleet of pollution-free buses are some of the promises made by the Aam Aadmi Party in its eight-point "guarantee card" for the forthcoming Ahmedabad civic polls.
The AAP has fielded 154 candidates for the elections to Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, which will go to polls along with five other civic bodies on February 21.
The Arvind Kejriwal-led party is contesting for the first time on all seats in the elections to local bodies in Gujarat, which are scheduled to be held in two phases on February 21 and 28.
The "guarantee card" for voters of Ahmedabad which was released on Wednesday, lays emphasis on areas like education, health, tax, parking and public transport, culture and sports, environment, public amenities, and others.
"The AAP will do for the AMC (Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation) what it has done for Delhi in terms of health, education, women's safety, sports, etc., as promised in our guarantee card," the party's Ahmedabad zonal organising secretary Hasmukh Patel told reporters.
He said, like Delhi, a school will be set up in each ward of the AMC and more teachers will be recruited.
"Education should be such that there will be no need for students to take tuitions," Patel said.
The AAP will also set up a mohalla clinic in each ward in Ahmedabad, where people can get international quality health services free of cost, he said.
The party has also promised nutritious mid-day meals for students in civic-run schools.
Apart from this, the party's "guarantee card" also promises operating 500 buses for the population of 10 lakh, setting up sports complex in each zone, taking action against the industrial units releasing pollutants in streams, holding mohalla meetings before preparing civic budgets. It also promises ridding the city from the menace of stray cattle and dogs. -- PTI
20:09 Maratha candidates can apply in EWS category for jobs in energy dept
The Maharashtra government on Wednesday announced that Maratha candidates from the socially and educationally backward class (SEBC) can apply for jobs in the state energy department in the EWS reservation.
The issue of validity of reservation for Marathas in the newly created SEBC quota is pending before the Supreme Court which has stayed a 2018 law providing reservations to the community in jobs and education.
The government had earlier taken a decision that SEBC students whose family income is less than Rs 8 lakh can avail of benefits for the economically weaker section, energy minister Nitin Rautsaid.
Now more than 8,000 posts in Mahavitaran, the state power discom, will be filled by giving this benefit, he said.
PWD minister Ashok Chavan, who heads a cabinet sub- committee on the Maratha quota issue, saidthe government had on December 23, 2020 given option to SEBC candidates to avail of EWS quota.
Accordingly, the energy department issued orders on Wednesday, he said. -- PTI
20:08 Farmers to hold 4-hr nationwide rail roko on Feb 18
Intensifying their agitation against the three new agricultural laws, protesting farmer unions Wednesday announced a four-hour nationwide 'rail roko' (railway blockade) on February 18.
In a statement, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, which is spearheading the protest, also announced that toll collection will not be allowed in Rajasthan from February 12.
"There will be a 'rail roko' across the country from 12 pm to 4 pm on February 18," the SKM said in the statement.
Earlier this month, they had observed a three-hour road blockade to press their demand of repealing the three laws.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting against the three laws which were enacted in September last year. The protesters have been alleging the laws will weaken the MSP mechanism and end the mandi system.
But the government says the new legislations offer more options to farmers to sell their crops, and will help raise their incomes. -- PTI
19:44 Navy carries out massive war game in Indian Ocean
The Indian Navy is carrying out a mega war game involving almost all operational assets like warships, submarines and aircraft over a vast geographical expanse in the Indian Ocean Region to test the force's combat readiness in a complex multi-dimensional scenario, officials said on Wednesday,
The biennial 'Theatre Level Operational Readiness Exercise (TROPEX)' aims to validate the Navy's offensive as well as defence capabilities and safeguard national interests in the maritime domain besides promoting peace and stability in the Indian Ocean, they said.
"Indian Navy's largest war game, the biennial TROPEX 21, which commenced in early January is currently underway with participation of all operational units of Indian Navy including ships, submarines, aircraft as well as units of the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Coast Guard," the Navy said.
It said the exercise will culminate by the third week of February.
The exercise is taking place at a time China has been making increasing forays into the Indian Ocean region as part of its offensive military manoeuvre.
"The exercise is being conducted over a vast geographical expanse in the Indian Ocean Region including its adjunct waters and is aimed at testing combat readiness of the Navy in a complex multi-dimensional scenario set in the context of the current geo strategic environment," the Navy said in a statement.
It said the conduct of TROPEX is being overseen by the Naval headquarters with participation from all three commands of the Indian Navy and the tri-services command at Port Blair.
"TROPEX is being progressed over distinct phases that also test the Navy's transition from peacetime to hostilities," the Navy said.
19:20 Malware used to plant evidence in activist Rona Wilsons laptop: WaPo
'Key evidence against a group of Indian activists accused of plotting to overthrow the government was planted on a laptop seized by police, a new forensics report concludes, deepening doubts about a case viewed as a test of the rule of law under Prime Minister Narendra Modi,' report Niha Masih and Joanna Slater in the Washington Post.
'An attacker used malware to infiltrate a laptop belonging to one of the activists, Rona Wilson, before his arrest and deposited at least 10 incriminating letters on the computer, according to a report from Arsenal Consulting, a Massachusetts-based digital forensics firm that examined an electronic copy of the laptop at the request of Wilson's lawyers,' they write.
'Arsenal's report on the Indian case does not identify the perpetrator of the cyberattack. The analysis, which has not been previously reported, was reviewed by The Washington Post. Three outside experts who reviewed the document at The Post's request said the report's conclusions were valid,' Masih and Slater report, here.
19:16 Farmers not seeking change in govt: Tikait
Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait on Wednesday asserted that the agitating farmers were not aiming at any change in power at the Centre but a solution to their problems as he said many of their leaders will tour different parts of the country to spread the movement.
Addressing the protesting farmers at Singhu border, Tikait said that the agitation against the farm laws will stretch till the Centre addresses their issues.
"We do not aim change in power (at the Centre). The government should do its work. We want it to repeal the farm laws and ensure law on MSP," he said.
Tikait said that the agitation will be long drawn and continue till government starts talks with farmer leaders.
He also asserted that the unity of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of the farmer unions protesting against the contentious farm laws, was intact and warned the government not to be in any illusion.
The agitation will expand with holding of big meetings across the country and associating 40 lakh tractors with it, he said, adding the farmer leaders will tour different states to spread the movement. -- PTI
18:54 Nearly impossible to reassemble Viraat now: Ship-breaker
The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered status quo on the dismantling of decommissioned aircraft carrier `Viraat', but a Gujarat-based ship-breaker who has purchased it said it is now too late for any restoration effort.
Over 40 per cent of the dismantling work has been completed so far, said Mukesh Patel, Chairman of Shree Ram Group based at Alang in Bhavnagar district which bought the ship at an auction in July last year for Rs 38.54 crore.
The firm began the dismantling at its ship-breaking yard at Alang in December 2020 and now it is impossible to reassemble the parts that have been cut, he said.
"Over 40 per cent of dismantling work is complete. We have already pulled the ship towards the shore and also dismantled some portions of the hull, making it impossible for the ship to remain afloat now," said Patel, after learning about the SC order from the media.
"I have not received any notice yet from the court. But it is already too late for the ship to be used for any other purpose. Our legal team would submit a reply if a notice is served to us," he said.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered status quo on the dismantling of 'Viraat' which was in service with the Indian Navy for nearly three decades.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde issued notice to the Centre and others seeking response on a plea filed by a firm which seeks preservation of the ship as a museum.
The centaur-class aircraft carrier, INS Viraat, was in service with the Indian Navy for 29 years before being decommissioned in March 2017.
The Centre had in July 2019 informed Parliament that the decision to scrap Viraat was taken after due consultation with the Indian Navy. -- PTI
18:34 Lok Sabha passes motion to thank President for his address
Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed by a voice vote the motion to thank the President for his address to both Houses of Parliament.
Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi replied to the debate on the Motion of Thanks, Speaker Om Birla put all amendments moved by the opposition members for vote.
The amendments were rejected by a voice vote.
The Congress walked out of the House in protest during the Prime Minister's speech, while the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Trinamool Congress too walked out later, saying they were not satisfied with Modi's reply.
The members of the three parties were not present when the motion to thank President Ram Nath Kovind was passed in the Lower House. -- PTI
18:34 'Kisan Andolan' is sacred, but...: PM Modi in LS
Continuing his attack on 'andolanjivis', Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the farmers' protest is sacred, but when 'andolanjivis' hijack it and show pictures of those jailed for terrorism what purpose does it serve.
"Kisan Andolan sacred, but when 'andolanjivis' hijack it and show pictures of those jailed for terrorism what purpose does it serve," PM Modi said in Lok Sabha while Replying in Lok Sabha to the discussion on the motion of thanks to the President's address to the joint sitting of Parliament
17:45 PM attacks 'confused, divided' Congress
PM Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha: "Congress party is divided & confused. Neither it can work for its own good nor it can think about solving the issues of the country. What can be more unfortunate than this?
"Argument has come - why did you provide when we didn't ask. Accepting/refusing depends on you. It's not compulsory. Nobody had demanded law against dowry, still, it was made for nation's progress. Laws were made against Triple Talaq and Child Marriage for progress."
17:27 Banking stocks under pressure
Key equity indices see-sawed between gains and losses on Wednesday and closed in the red zone as investors turned cautious over the sustainability of a recent risk rally.
At the closing bell, the BSE S&P Sensex was down by 20 points or 0.04 per cent at 51,309 while the Nifty 50 edged lower by 3 points or 0.02 per cent to 15,107.
Sectoral indices at the National Stock Exchange were mixed with Nifty private bank down by 0.7 per cent, financial service by 0.2 per cent and metal by 0.8 per cent. But Nifty realty gained by 1.6 per cent and auto by 0.9 per cent.
Among stocks, HDFC Bank dropped by 1.2 per cent to close at Rs 1,591.90 per share. Axis Bank closed 0.7 per cent lower and IndusInd Bank by 0.4 per cent.
Tata Steel lost by 1.1 per cent a day after the company reported a consolidated profit of Rs 3,989 crore for the quarter ended December 2020 driven by improved realisation-backed strong operating income.
The other prominent losers were Bharti Airtel, Eicher Motors, ONGC and IndianOil Corporation. -- ANI
17:17 Cong MPs stage walkout as PM speaks on farm laws
Congress MPs stage a walkout during PM Narendra Modi's reply in Lok Sabha to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address. Opposition MPs created an uproar as Modi spoke on Farm Laws during his reply to the Motion of Thanks.
"Adhir Ranjan ji, ab zyada ho raha hai. I respect you. You will get more publicity than TMC in Bengal. Don't worry...This doesn't look good, why are you doing this?" PM Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha as Leader of Congress in the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury interjects.
"Noises and attempts to obstruct are part of a well-thought strategy. The strategy is to keep making noises otherwise the lies and rumours will be exposed, truth will come out & things will get difficult for them. You won't be able to win people's confidence like that," Modi said.
17:05 This govt respects farmers: PM in LS
Opposition MPs create an uproar in the Lok Sabha as Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks on Farm Laws during his reply to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address.
This is what the PM said.
"Three farm laws were brought in by Government, these Agricultural reforms are important and necessary. Congress MPs in House debated on colour of the laws (black/white), it would have been better if they had debated on the content and intent of the laws.
"Farm laws were passed through an Ordinance and later by Parliament. No mandis were shut after the implementation of these laws, MSP did not end anywhere in the nation. It's a truth which we hide, it has no meaning. Purchase on MSP increased after the laws were formed.
"This House, our Government and we all respect the farmers who are voicing their views on the farm bills. This is the reason why senior Ministers of the Government are constantly talking to them. There is great respect for the farmers."
17:02 China, India troops begin disengagement: Report
Chinese and Indian border troops on the southern and northern shores of Pangong Lake began disengagement as planned on Wednesday according to the consensus reached during the ninth round of military commander-level talks, reports Chinese media quoting Chinese Defence Ministry.
16:52 World is looking for new leaders post Corona: PM
Modi in Parliament: "During the times of corona the way India handled the pandemic and helped the world was a turning point. The common people of India showed their strong will during the pandemic. World is looking for new world leaders and we have to emerge as a strong nation post pandemic.
"Our doctors, nurses, COVID warriors, Safai Karamcharis, those who drove ambulances...such people and so many others became manifestations of the divine who strengthened India's fight against the global pandemic.
New world-order is visible post-Corona," says PM.
The British said India is in itself like a continent of many countries; no one can keep it together as a nation. But we Indians proved them wrong. Today, we are a ray of hope for the entire world.
"Manish Tewari said that we stayed protected from Corona by God's grace. I'd like to say something. This indeed is God's grace that the entire world shook but we remained safe. It was because doctors and nurses came as God, because they couldn't return to their homes for 15 days."
16:36 Can hear 'vocal for local' all over India: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi replies in Lok Sabha to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address.
"During the discussion on the President's speech, a large number of women MPs took part. This is a great sign. I want to congratulate the women MPs who enriched the House proceedings with their thoughts.
"The speech by President showcased India's 'Sankalp Shakti.' His words have boosted the spirit of confidence among the people of India. We're knocking at the doors of 75 years of independence.
"It's a matter of pride for every Indian and an occasion to move forward. We may be in any corner or belong to any strata of society but we must make a new resolve that where do we want to take India at 100 years of freedom.
"The post-COVID world is turning out to be very different. In such times, remaining isolated from global trends will be counter-productive. We'll have to emerge as a strong player. That is why, India is working towards building an Aatmanirbhar Bharat.
"Today we can hear 'Vocal for Local' in every corner of India. People look for local. This sense of self-respect is working a lot for Aatmanirbhar Bharat."
Stocks of SBI fell
16:03 Sensex, Nifty end marginally lower
Equity benchmarks Sensex and Nifty ended marginally lower after a choppy session on Wednesday amid profit-taking in recent gainers, despite a largely positive trend in global markets.
After swinging 666.64 points, the 30-share BSE Sensex settled 19.69 points or 0.04 per cent lower at 51,309.39. Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty slipped 2.80 points or 0.02 per cent to 15,106.50. HDFC Bank, Bharti Airtel, Axis Bank, Nestle India, ONGC, L&T and SBI and were among the laggards in the Sensex pack, shedding over 1 per cent. On the other hand, Bajaj Finserv, M&M, Bajaj Finance, Titan and TCS were among the gainers.
According to traders, investors used the higher levels as an opportunity to book profits through the day, keeping the benchmarks volatile. Elsewhere in Asia, bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul ended with gains. Stock exchanges in Europe were also trading on a positive note in early deals. Meanwhile, the global oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 0.23 per cent higher at USD 61.36 per barrel. PTI
16:00 Make in Bihar, invest in Bihar: Shahnawaz tells investors
Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, the new Industries Minister of Bihar, on Wednesday expressed resolve to usher in growth in the sector that has remained largely untapped in the state, where conditions have now become favourable with improvements in infrastructure.
The senior BJP leader and former Union minister, who was sworn in as a member of the Nitish Kumar cabinet on Tuesday, was talking to reporters after assuming charge. Hussain pointed out that the coronavirus-induced lockdown and the massive migrant crisis that came in its wake, have brought the issue of lack of industries and job opportunities in Bihar into sharp focus.
He urged entrepreneurs from the state, who have been "running businesses across the country and world over" to rise to the occasion and "make in Bihar, invest in Bihar".
"Investors and entrepreneurs can be rest assured they will get full cooperation from the Bihar government. The state is fortunate to have a chief minister like Nitish Kumar from whose rich experience it has benefitted a lot. I am here to chip in with whatever experience I have," said Hussain, who had served as a minister of state in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.
"Nitish Kumar's leadership has succeeded in making the power situation and the roads in Bihar better than most states. Now is the time to take things to the next level," he remarked. -- PTI
15:40 Glacier disaster: Bodies drifted 92 km away
Few bodies have drifted to Rudraprayag and Srinagar districts due to the Alaknanda river's heavy flow following glacier burst in Uttarakhand, Chamoli Police said on Wednesday. The bodies drifted a distance of around 92 km.
The rescue operation is underway inside Tapovan tunnel in Uttarakhand's Chamoli.
Meanwhile, ITBP personnel were seen carrying ration to villages, which have been cut off due to glacier burst and traversing through mountainous terrain in the state.
There is not much progress in the ongoing rescue operation following the glacier burst, said Uttarakhand Director General of Police (DGP), Ashok Kumar on Wednesday.
Out of 32 bodies that have been recovered -- 8 have been identified while 24 are still unknown. The rescue teams have also recovered two Uttarakhand Police personnel bodies.
"Not much progress in the rescue operation. We have recovered 32 bodies, 8 identified, 24 unknown. The rescue team also recovered 2 Uttarakhand Police personnel bodies. Cannot confirm the exact number for missing and dead people but it is between 192 and 204," Kumar told ANI.
Speaking about the challenges being faced by the rescue team, Aparna Kumar, DIG Sector HQ, ITBP, Chamoli said: "The challenge we are facing is that debris and slush are coming out from the tunnel. Machines to continue to work inside the tunnel. We need to progress carefully as water with high pressure might come from inside the tunnel."
A team of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and other agencies continue to conduct rescue operation inside Tapovan tunnel, Uttarakhand on the third day today.
A meeting of all agencies including senior officials of ITBP, NDRF, Army and local administration has been called today to decide further course of action.
14:53 Indian economy to contract by 7% in FY21: Report
Pencilling in a GDP growth in third and fourth quarters, SBI Research on Wednesday revised its contraction forecast for the current fiscal year to 7 per cent. The agency had earlier forecast a 7.4 per cent contraction in 2020-21 GDP numbers.
In April-September, the economy contracted 15.7 per cent but the second half may see a surprise 2.8 per cent growth, if the SBI analysis turns out to be correct.
Soumya Kanti Ghosh, group chief economic adviser at State Bank of India (SBI) said of the 41 high frequency leading indicators, 51 per cent are showing acceleration which should help the economy turn around to the green from the third quarter with a 0.3 percentage point growth which is likely to surprise positively when the final numbers are out.
In April-June, the Indian economy contracted by a record 23.9 per cent, but dramatically improved to -7.5 per cent in the second quarter. In 2019-20, the economy had grown 4 per cent and in the current fiscal year, it is on course to tank by 7 per cent.
"The consensus is -7.5-8 per cent with the NSO pegging it at -7 per cent and RBI at -7.5 per cent. We now expect GDP decline for the full year to be around -7 per cent compared to our earlier prediction of 7.4 per cent. Also, Q4 growth will also be in positive territory at around 2.5 per cent," Ghosh said, adding promptly that the projections are conditional to the absence of any rise in infections. "We retain our GDP forecast for FY22 at 11 per cent (RBI has pegged it at 10.5 per cent and the economy survey at 11.5 per cent and the budget did not offer a GDP estimate), but with the caveat that 11 per cent will be the floor below which it cannot fall," he said. Corporate results so far also reinstate the fact that third quarter would be much better than the previous one. The corporate GVA of 1,129 companies has expanded by 14.7 per cent in October-December compared to 8.6 per cent in second quarter (of 3,758 companies ex- telecom)
14:40 BJP using Rath Yatra to divide society: Mamata
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday mocked Bharatiya Janata Party leaders for travelling on raths 'as if they are gods', and alleged that their political agenda is to create division in society on the basis of religion.
She also accused the saffron party of resorting to lies about Hinduism.
"Rath Yatra is a religious festival. All of us have participated in this festival. We know Lord Jagannath, Balaram and Goddess Subhadra travel in those chariots.
"But, the BJP leaders are using this Rath Yatra for their own political purposes to divide the society and pit one against the other. BJP leaders are travelling on raths as if they are gods," she said, while addressing a rally in Raiganj.
Reiterating her charge that BJP is bringing outsiders to the state for the assembly elections due in April-May, the Trinamool Congress boss claimed that all they do is eat at houses of locals for a photo opportunity.
"Some outsiders are coming in luxury cars and indulging in photo sessions to show they are having food at houses of villagers," she said, alleging that the the food is brought from five-star hotels.
"Bengal will be ruled by those from the state and not by people coming from Gujarat," Banerjee asserted. -- PTI
14:20 Kin of farmer died who on R Day move HC for probe
The family of a 25-year-old man, who died after his tractor overturned at Central Delhi's ITO during the protesting farmers' tractor parade on the Republic Day, moved the Delhi Court on Wednesday seeking a court-monitored SIT probe into the incident.
The petition, which is likely to be listed for hearing on Thursday, is filed by deceased Navreet Singh's grandfather who has sought enforcement of his right to fair investigation and justice as well as the right to know the truth about his grandson's death.
According to the police, the man had died as his tractor overturned at ITO where many farmers participating in the parade had reached from the Ghazipur border after taking a detour from the pre-agreed route for the march.
The police had claimed that the man was driving the tractor and he came under the vehicle as it overturned.
However, the petition said that as per eye-witness accounts reported in the media, Navreet was driving his tractor past the Andhra Education Society in New Delhi, and he was allegedly shot by policemen, due to which he lost control of his tractor which thereafter collided with some barricades and overturned.
The plea, filed through advocates Vrinda Grover, Soutik Banerjee, Mannat Tipnis and Devika Tulsiani, sought for a court appointed and court monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) comprising police officers with a demonstrably impeccable record of professional integrity, honesty and efficiency, to carry out time bound investigation into the death of the petitioner Hardeep Singh's grandson Navreet Singh.
It also sought a direction that the SIT shall file periodic status reports before the court to ensure a time bound court monitored investigation.
The petitioner's grandson was lying in a critically injured condition under the overturned tractor, however, despite the presence of a large number of police men including senior police officials in the vicinity, no attempts were made by Delhi Police to provide immediate critical medical intervention to save the life of the petitioner's grandson.
Instead, the Delhi Police resorted to tear gas shelling to prevent other protestors from reaching the site where the tractor lay with the petitioner's grandson's body underneath.
No efforts were made by the Delhi Police to cordon off the site of the incident and to collect time sensitive material evidence from the site, which was allowed to be erased and destroyed, the petition claimed.
It alleged that no steps, as mandated under the Code of Criminal Procedure, were taken by the police after the unnatural death of Navreet to carry out inquest proceedings.
In the face of such apathy and hostility by the Delhi Police, the body of the petitioner's grandson was recovered by other farmers and later handed over to the petitioner's family, who took the body to their native place in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, it said.
The plea said that the entire incident was captured by multiple CCTV cameras installed in the vicinity, however, the police cited technical difficulties and did not facilitate the farmers in viewing the CCTV footage.
It said the victim's post mortem was conducted the next day at the District Hospital in Rampur but the video or x-ray reports were not shared with the family.
It said the medical/ forensic experts who have reviewed the description of injuries in the post mortem report have independently made statements, reported by various media houses, opining that the injuries are consistent with firearm/gunshot wounds and that the said injuries could not have resulted from the tractor overturning, as has been repeatedly asserted and announced by the Delhi Police.
The haste with which the Delhi Police has made public statements declaring the incident to be an accident, as well as registered FIRs against senior journalists who have pursued the possibility of Navreet Singh's death having resulted from a firearm injury, inspires no confidence in the petitioner that the Delhi Police would conduct a fair and honest investigation into the death / murder of his grandson, it claimed.
The petition has arrayed Home Department of Delhi government, SHO of IP Estate police station here, SHO of Bilaspur police station in UP and Chief Medical Officer of District Hospital at Rampur as parties. -- PTI
14:00 Neetu Kapoor says no Chautha held for Rajiv Kapoor
A day after the demise of veteran actor Rajiv Kapoor, the late star's sister in law Neetu Kapoor announced that there will be no 'Chautha' held due to the 'current pandemic circumstances.'
The 62-year-old actor and wife of late Rishi Kapoor took to Instagram and issued a statement confirming the same.
"Due to the current pandemic circumstances, there will be no Chautha held for the Late Mr. Rajiv Kapoor for safety reasons. May his soul rest in peace. The entire Raj Kapoor family is a part of your grief too," the statement read.
Late legendary actor-filmmaker Raj Kapoor's son and actor Rajiv Kapoor passed away on Tuesday. He was 58.
The 'Ram Teri Ganga Maili' actor suffered a heart attack at his residence in Chembur following which he was rushed to Inlaks Hospital. He was declared dead at the hospital.Neetu Kapoor took to Instagram to confirm the demise of Rajiv. She posted a picture of the late actor and wrote, "RIP," along with it. -- ANI
The PM cried while bidding farewell to RS MP Ghulam Nabi Azad
13:40 PM to reply to Prez address at 4 pm today
PM Narendra Modi will reply to the Motion of Thanks on the President's address at 4 pm in Lok Sabha today, the PMO said. The Lok Sabha has accepted Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi's motion of dispensing with the Question Hour till today.
13:32 Bengal govt failed to act against Bangladeshi infiltrators: Centre
Minister of State (MoS) for Home affairs Nityanand Rai on Wednesday alleged that the West Bengal government has failed to take strict action against illegal infiltrators from Bangladesh.
"Border Security Force (BSF) has apprehended around 4,500 infiltrators in last four years from 2016 to 2019 on Indo- Bangladesh border and handed them over to state administration for further action. But, the state government failed to take action against illegal infiltrators," Rai said in Rajya Sabha.
He further informed the House that the BSF has made 4,189 named accused in connection with illegally trespassing the border but unfortunately, the state government arrested only 4,072 accused.
As per the data given by MoS Home Rai in the Upper House, in the last four years (from 2016 to 2019) BSF has lodged complaints against 2,548 illegal infiltrators in West Bengal but the state government has lodged FIR against only 2,104 infiltrators.
Meanwhile, the state govt has filed the charge sheet against 1,134 infiltrators, and out of 1,134 charge-sheeted accused only 212 have been convicted.
MoS Home asked the state government to take necessary and strict legal action against infiltrators.
He also informed the Rajya Sabha that the number of cross-border infiltration cases reported along the India-Bangladesh Border has reduced between 2016 and 2020.
He said this in reply to the question raised by Member of Parliament (MP) Manas Ranjan Bhunia in Rajya Sabha."Is it a fact that cross-border infiltration has increased during the last five years from the India-Bangladesh border? Has the government taken the initiative to take punitive action against the responsible personnel for illegal cross-border infiltration?" asked Bhunia.
13:26 Shahnawaz Hussain assumes office
BJP's Syed Shahnawaz Hussain takes charge as Bihar Industry Minister. "Industrialization is needed in Bihar. Our mission is to ensure people get jobs within the state. Agro-based industries & skilled workers are here, why should the factories be set-up outside", he says.
13:21 NIA did not summon protesting farmers: Govt to RS
Farmers participating in the ongoing protests against newly enacted three agri laws were not summoned by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the government told Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting at Delhi borders for more than two months, demanding a complete repeal of three farm laws enacted in September 2020.
"No sir," Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said in a written reply to a query whether the NIA summoned farmers, participating in the ongoing farmers' protests. NIA probes terror related crimes. The question was asked by Congress leader Digvijaya Singh and two other members. PTI
13:03 80m done, 100m more to go in glacier-hit tunnel
Rescue efforts by multi-agency security personnel were intensified on Wednesday with the help of drones and remote-sensing equipment to locate those trapped inside the Tapovan tunnel, which is chock-a-block with tonnes of debris.
"All strategies at the moment are focussed on rescuing those trapped inside the tunnel with the help of all the resources at our disposal, including drones and remote-sensing equipment," Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Nilesh Anand Bharne, the Chief Spokesperson of the Uttarakhand police, told PTI on the spot.
Around 25-35 people, who were at work inside the tunnel at the time the glacier disaster struck in Uttarakhand's Chamoli district on Sunday, are trapped inside it.
"The rescue teams have so far progressed to 80 metres inside the tunnel and have to make their way through tonnes of debris for at least 100 metres more to reach those trapped inside," the DIG said.
" Drilling through the debris has become more difficult with the silt inside the tunnel drying up and getting harder," Bharne said.
So far, 32 bodies have been recovered from different places in the avalanche-hit areas of Chamoli, of which eight have been identified, while 174 people are still missing, the State Emergency Control Centre in Dehradun said. More than 600 Army, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) personnel are engaged in the search-and-rescue operations. PTI
12:38 R-Day violence: Police, IB to question Deep Sidhu
Intelligence Bureau (IB) will interrogate actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu on Wednesday, who has been sent to 7-day police custody for his alleged role in the violence that took place at the Red Fort and other parts of the national capital on Republic Day, according to Delhi Police sources.
Questions will be posed to Sidhu regarding the farmers' agitation leading to violence across the national capital on January 26. He is currently in Crime Branch's custody.
Delhi Police Special Cell will also interrogate Sidhu, sources said.Delhi Police Special-Cell team after arresting Sidhu on Tuesday produced him before a Delhi court seeking 10-day police custody but Court has sent him to 7-day police custody.
Delhi Police told Metropolitan Magistrate Prigya Gupta that Deep Sidhu was the main instigator. He allegedly instigated the mob not to follow the permitted route of the Kisan parade and to breach barricades with tractors on January 26.
Delhi Police told the Court that there is video evidence to show that Sidhu was entering Red Fort with supporters carrying lathis and flags.
Delhi Police also told the court that he was at the rampart where the flag was unfurled.
Meanwhile, Another accused in the January 26 Delhi violence case, Iqbal Singh, was arrested by Special Cell from Hoshiarpur in Punjab on Tuesday night, the Delhi Police informed.
The names of Punjabi actor Sidhu and gangster Lakka Sadana were included in the FIR registered in connection with the violence at Red Fort in Delhi on January 26, Delhi Police said earlier while adding that Sidhu was involved in the incident.
On Republic Day, protestors did not follow the prearranged route and broke barricades to enter Delhi, clashed with police, and vandalised property in several parts of the national capital during the farmers' tractor rally. They also entered the Red Fort and unfurled their flags from its ramparts.
Farmers have been protesting at the different borders of the national capital since November 26 against the three newly enacted farm laws: Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. -- ANI
12:26 SC rejects plea on dead body disposal
The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea which had sought a direction to the Centre to formulate a national mortal remains management and disposal protocol for pandemic and non-pandemic times to be implemented across the country.
The plea was filed by a Delhi-based man who had said that body of his mother was mistaken for some other COVID-19 victim and was handed over to another person due to the negligence of a hospital.
The petitioner said that he was denied the sacred right of doing the last rites of his mother who was not a COVID-19 positive patient, due to the callous action of the hospital.
The plea came up for hearing before a bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and R S Reddy. "You can intervene in the suo motu matter. You can file proper intervention application. These issues are being taken up in the suo motu PIL. Why should we hear a fresh petition," the bench told advocate Manoj V George, who was appearing for the petitioner.
The top court had last year taken suo motu cognisance of reports of improper handling of COVID-19 patients and undignified disposal of victims' bodies in the country. The suo motu case is titled as Proper Treatment of COVID-19 Patients and Dignified Handling of Dead Bodies in Hospitals etc'.
George said this is not an adversarial petition. "My (petitioner) mother's body was swapped and I was denied the right of dignified burial to her. This can happen to anyone," he told the bench, which dismissed the plea.
Petitioner G Manohar had sought directions to all the states to formulate a state mortal remains management and disposal protocol for pandemic and non-pandemic times within a reasonable period. The plea had said that states should be directed to designate the district medical officer to be the appropriate authority for implementation of this protocol -- PTI
12:20 Home Ministry begins preparing rules for CAA
Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday stated in Rajya Sabha that the rules under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019 are under preparation and the Act has already come into force with effect from October 1, 2020.
The Ministry made the statement in response to Congress MP Digvijaya Singh's question on whether it has drafted the rules to be notified under CAA. "If yes, then what are details including the date by which the rules are expected to be notified. If not, then what are the reasons?" he questioned.Responding to his query, Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai said that the Act has been notified on December 12, 2019."It has come into force with effect from October 1, 2020. The rules under the Act are under preparation. The committee on Subordinate Legislation, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have granted an extension of time up to April 9 and July 9 respectively to frame these rules," Rai added.The CAA was passed in December last year. The law grants citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan and came to India before 2015. In February, violence took place in the northeast area of Delhi between groups supporting and opposing the CAA which led to the deaths of at least 53 people. (ANI)
12:16 E-commerce grows by 36 per cent in last quarter in India: Report
The last quarter of 2020 saw e- commerce order volume growing by 36 per cent in India with Personal care, Beauty and Wellness (PCB&W) segment being the biggest beneficiary, according to a report.
In October to December 2020 period, PCB&W and FMCG & Healthcare (F&H) categories' volumes grew by 95 per cent and 46 per cent year-on-year (YOY) respectively, said the Q4- 2020 -E-commerce Trends Report', released by Unicommerce and Kearney. Tier 2 and 3 cities accounted for a 90 per cent YOY incremental volume and value growth, it said. -- PTI
12:15 Census 2011 finalised and published, without caste data: Home Ministry
Ministry of Home Affairs on Wednesday said in Rajya Sabha that the data of Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) conducted in 2011 excluding the caste data has been finalised and published.
Member of Parliament (MP) Anbumani Ramadoss from Tamil Nadu asked, "Will the government release the socio-economic and caste census taken in the year 2011, if so then what are the details."
Responding to his query, the Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai said that SECC was conducted by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) and the then Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) in rural and urban areas respectively.
"The SECC 2011 data excluding the caste data has been finalised and published by MoRD and HUPA. The office of the Registrar General of India had provided logistics and technical support in conducting the SECC 2011. The raw caste data has been handed over to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for classification and categorization of the data," he added.
Ramadoss also asked whether the government will take the caste-based census in 2021 and what are the details.Responding to him, Rai said, "In the census, the castes and tribes which are specifically notified as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as per President Order under Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 and Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order 1950, amended from time to time, are enumerated."
11:56 No civilian knew of Art 370 abrogation: Govt to RS
The government on Wednesday denied that civilians, including a journalist, were privy to information related to the abrogation of Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The Central government got the approval of Parliament on August 5, 2019 for the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.
" No sir, Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy told the Rajya Sabha when asked whether civilians, including a journalist, were privy to knowledge about the abrogation of Article 370 prior to the information being shared with Parliament on August 5, 2019. PTI
Also read: 10 things we know from 'ArnabGate'
11:49 4 hurt in blast in LPG godown in Mumbai
Four people were injured after a major fire broke out in a godown where LPG cylinders were kept in suburban Andheri on Wednesday morning, officials said.
The blaze erupted around 9.40 am due to a cylinder blast in the godown located on Yari Road in Versova area of the western suburb, they said.
Four people were injured and they taken to the nearby Cooper Hospital, a civic official said. At least eight fire engines and seven water jetties were rushed to the spot, he said, adding that firefighting is still on.
11:39 Twitter suspends 500 accounts after govt request
In response to the ''legal requests'' from the Central government, Twitter on Wednesday informed that it has taken multiple enforcement actions -- including permanent suspension of over 500 accounts for clear violations of Twitter's rules.
The social media giant in a statement said, "Separate to our enforcement under the Twitter Rules, over the course of the last 10 days, Twitter has been served with several separate blocking orders by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India, under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act."
"We took a range of enforcement actions -- including permanent suspension in certain cases -- against more than 500 accounts escalated across all Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology orders for clear violations of Twitter's Rules," the statement added.
The company informed that they took steps to reduce the visibility of the hashtags containing harmful content, which included prohibiting them from trending on Twitter.
"Following the reports of violence in recent weeks, we are sharing a granular update on our proactive efforts to enforce our rules and defend our principles in India," it said.
It further said that they separately withheld a portion of the accounts identified in the blocking orders under our ''Country Withheld Content'' policy within India only.
"These accounts continue to be available outside of India. Because we do not believe that the actions we have been directed to take are consistent with Indian law, and, in keeping with our principles of defending protected speech and freedom of expression, we have not taken any action on accounts that consist of news media entities, journalists, activists, and politicians," the statement added. -- PTI
11:01 Glacier disaster: Death toll 32, missing 206
As many as 32 bodies have been recovered so far from different areas hit by the glacier burst in Chamoli district, while 206 people including 25-35 persons stuck inside the Tapovan tunnel are missing, according to the State Government.
The rescue operation at the 2.5 km long Tapovan tunnel in Chamoli continued on Tuesday night. The teams worked to remove slush and debris in the tunnel. Around 30 people are feared trapped inside.
Machines removed more slush from the tunnel the whole night. A joint team of ITBP, NDRF, SDRF and sister agencies entered the tunnel this morning.The tunnel is still approachable till about 120 meters. More slush and water coming from inside the tunnel is making the way ahead difficult.
A meeting of all agencies including senior officials of ITBP, NDRF, Army and local administration has been called today to decide further course of action.
The police have issued a helpline number to provide information about bodies that have not been identified yet.
"People, who know someone who is missing, can contact DIG Law and Order on +91 7500016666, they will be sent photos of 24 bodies that are yet to be identified, on WhatsApp," police said.
A joint team of ITBP, NDRF, SDRF and other agencies conducting rescue operations used drone cameras to see feasibility to enter beyond cleared site inside Tapovan tunnel.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah informed the Lok Sabha that efforts are underway on a war footing to rescue those who are trapped in a tunnel after a glacier burst in Chamoli district.
A glaciar broke in the Tapovan-Reni area of Chamoli District of Uttarakhand on Sunday, which led to massive flooding in Dhauliganga and Alaknanda rivers and damaged houses and the nearby Rishiganga power project. -- ANI
10:55 Jallikattu out of Oscars race
Filmmaker Lijo Jose Pellissery's "Jallikattu", India's official entry in the Best International Feature category at the 93rd Academy Awards, is out of the Oscars race. The Malayalam-language movie is not part of the shortlist of 15 features that will be vying for a spot in the final five, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) announced on Wednesday.
Thomas Vinterberg's"Another Round", starring Mads Mikkelson, has made it to shortlist that also include Andrei Konchalovsky's "Dear Comrades!" (Russia), Agnieszka Holland's"Charlatan" (Czech Republic) and two documentaries -- "The Mole Agent"from Chile and "Collective"from Romania. The other contenders are "Quo Vadis, Aida?" (Bosnia and Herzegovina), "Two of Us" (France), "La Llorona" (Guatemala), "Better Days" (Hong Kong), "Sun Children" (Iran), "Night of the Kings" (Ivory Coast), "I'm No Longer Here" (Mexico), "Hope" (Norway), "A Sun" (Taiwan) and "The Man Who Sold His Skin" (Tunisia). Films from 93 countries were eligible in the category.
In the nominations round, Academy members from all branches are invited to opt-in to participate and must view all 15 shortlisted films in order to cast a ballot. Pellissery's "Jallikattu" is based on the short story Maoist by Hareesh and stars Antony Varghese, Chemban Vinod Jose, Sabumon Abdusamad and Santhy Balachandran. The film had its premiere on September 6, 2019 at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival and received widespread critical acclaim.
Also read: What sending Jallikattu to the Oscars means
10:50 Nadda in Bengal's Kharagpur today
Bharatiya Janata Party President JP Nadda arrives at Hariatara village ground in Kharagpur, to attend party's 'Cha Chakra' (chai pe charcha) program. 'Kamal' is the way ahead, it'll bring development in Bengal. Recently, Modiji dedicated Rs 4700 cr for a refinery project, Rs 25,000 cr for highways. All this development will be possible only when Mamataji leaves and lotus blooms.
10:37 BJP issues whip to members to be present in LS
The Bharatiya Janata Party has issued a three-line whip to its Lok Sabha members to be present in the House today and support the government's stand.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will today also lead the Congress attack during debate on the union budget and will be the first speaker from his party in the discussion likely to be taken up by Lok Sabha.
The discussion on Union Budget 2021-22 is slated to be taken up after a reply to the motion of thanks on the President's address by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Lok Sabha sat late on Monday and Tuesday to allow participation by members of various parties in the motion of thanks on the President's address.
The first part of the budget session will conclude on February 13. The Parliament will again meet on March 8 and the budget session will conclude on April 8. ANI
10:21 Sensex jumps over 150 pts in early trade
Equity benchmark Sensex jumped over 150 points in early trade on Wednesday tracking gains in index-heavyweight stocks like Reliance Industries, Bajaj Finance and TCS, amid largely positive trend in global markets and sustained foreign fund inflow.
After opening on a choppy note, the 30-share BSE index was trading 108.91 points or 0.21 per cent higher at 51,437.99. Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty advanced 39.45 points or 0.26 per cent to 15,148.75.
UltraTech Cement, Bajaj Finserv, Bajaj Auto, Bajaj Finance, HCL Tech and Reliance Industries were among the gainers in the Sensex pack, rising up to 2 per cent. On the other hand, Bharti Airtel, Axis Bank, L&T, HDFC Bank and Infosys were among the laggards.
In the previous session, Sensex ended 19.69 points or 0.04 per cent lower at 51,329.08, and Nifty slipped 6.50 points or 0.04 per cent to 15,109.30. Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) were net buyers in the capital market as they purchased shares worth Rs 1,300.65 crore on Tuesday, as per exchange data.
According to Binod Modi Head-Strategy at Reliance Securities, domestic equities look to be good at the moment. A sharp recovery of FPIs flow post the announcement of Union Budget augured well for the markets. On the global front, US equities finished mostly lower after six consecutive sessions of gain.
Elsewhere in Asia, bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul were trading with gains in mid-session deals, while Tokyo was in the red.05 per barrel. PTI
09:46 Discussion of Budget may begin in RS, a rarity
Departing from the usual practice, the discussion on Union Budget on Wednesday is likely to start first in Rajya Sabha in the ongoing Parliament session. This is only for the sixth time ever that the Upper House will take up the discussion before the Lok Sabha.Normally, discussion on General Budget is taken up first in Lok Sabha.
But in 1955, 1959, 1963, 1965 and 2002, discussion on Budget commenced first in Rajya Sabha.The discussion on General Budget is listed after consideration of Major Ports Bill in Rajya Sabha, Wednesday. In Lok Sabha, it is listed after the ongoing discussion on Motion of Thanks on the President's address today.
The first part of the budget session will conclude on February 13. The Parliament will again meet on March 8 and the budget session will conclude on April 8.
Presenting the first-ever digital Union Budget, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman earlier this month had said that India's fight against COVID-19 continues into 2021. -- ANI
09:42 'Rishiganga has been obliterated from the map'
While rescue efforts are on in full swing, the narrow tunnel and the massive slush that was brought down by the glacial flood are hampering rescue operations, confirm Swati Bhadauria, the district collector of Chamoli, and Yashwant Singh Chauhan, the superintendent of police.
Both the top officers in charge of Chamoli district tell Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com that rescue efforts have gathered momentum and the Indian Army, the Indo Tibetan Border Police and the National Disaster Response Force are working hard to clear the debris that has blocked the main tunnel of the Tapovan Vishnugad Power project, where as many as 30 workers are reported to have been trapped. Read the report here.
08:57 Priyanka to attend kisan mahapanchayat in UP
Amid the ongoing farmers protest at the Delhi borders, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is set to attend kisan mahapanchayat in Uttar Pradesh's Saharanpur district on Wednesday.
She will also offer prayers at Shakumbhra Devi Temple before attending the programme.
The Congress leader is also expected to also conduct a dialogue with farmers in Bijnor and Muzaffarnagar districts on February 13.
Congress had earlier extended its full support to the call for 'chakka jam' from farmers for three hours last week.
The grand old party and the other opposition parties have raised their concern against the new farm laws.
Farmers have been protesting at different borders of the national capital since November 26 last year against the three newly enacted farm laws: Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. -- ANI
08:39 Goons in UP kill constable, injure inspector
A police constable was killed and an inspector was badly injured after being allegedly attacked by goons in Uttar Pradesh's Kasganj, while they had gone to raid an illegal liquor factory in the area.
According to CP Singh, District Magistrate, Kasgunj, the inspector and the constable had gone in search of criminals in Nagla Dhimar village in Kasganj on Tuesday, where they were attacked.
"In an unfortunate incident, constable Devendra lost his life. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has announced to give ex gratia of Rs 50 lakh and job to a family member of the constable," said the DM.
Chief Minister's Office also confirmed the DM's statement and said, "Chief Minister has directed for the treatment of the inspector who has been injured and announced an ex gratia of Rs 50 lakh and a government job for a family member of the constable who lost his life."
Chief Minister Yogi Aditynath has also instructed for strict action against the 'elements involved in the alleged hostage of Police personnel in Kasganj'.
"Action to be taken against the culprits under NSA," the CMO said. -- ANI
08:17 Lok Sabha sits past midnight, PM's address today
Sitting past midnight, Lok Sabha members participated in the debate on Motion of Thanks to the President's address.
After most of the participants had made their point, Speaker Om Birla adjourned the House at 1 am Wednesday.
Sources said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to reply to the debate on Wednesday evening.
Lok Sabha usually sits between 4 pm and 9 pm but the timing was increased as members were willing.
President addressed the joint sitting of Parliament on January 29 in the beginning of the Budget Session. -- PTI
00:01 Considering action against Mahua Moitra: Minister
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi on Tuesday said the government may take action against Mahua Moitra, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP for remarks over Ram Mandir and the Chief Justice of India (CJI) in the Parliament on Monday.
"Raising the issue of Ram Mandir judgment and bringing the then CJI and other things, it's a serious matter and we're thinking of taking appropriate measures," Joshi told ANI.
The government is mulling a breach of privilege notice against for her remarks.
The remarks were, however, expunged from the Parliamentary proceedings.
A senior minister in the government said her remarks were against the rules.
He said that Article 121 has rules on restriction on the discussion in Parliament and provides that no discussion shall take place in Parliament with respect to the conduct of any judge of Supreme Court or of High Court in the discharge of his duties except upon the motion for presenting an address to the President praying for the removal of the judge as hereinafter provided.
Moitra, who was taking part in the motion of thanks on the President's Address on Monday, did not take any name but was apparently referring to a former CJI. -- ANI