Thu, 30 June 2022
Rebel MLAs dance in Goa as Shinde becomes CM

Timeline  Refresh

23:39   Delhi police collects laptop, hard disks from Zubair's Bengaluru residence
A four-member Delhi Police team on Thursday seized a laptop and hard disks belonging to Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair from his residence in Bengaluru, officials said. Zubair was arrested on Monday for allegedly hurting religious sentiments of Hindus through an "objectionable" tweet he posted in 2018. 

On Tuesday, a Delhi court extended his custodial interrogation by four days. 

The Delhi police team reached Zubair's residence at RT Nagar area in Bengaluru at around 11:30 am and collected electronic evidence, including his laptop and hard disks, a senior police officer said. 

Zubair has been brought back to Delhi where he will be further questioned about the case, he said. 

On Wednesday, the police had written to multiple banks seeking information about Zubair's account details and other financial transactions. 

The officer also said the mobile phone being used by the co-founder of the fact-checking website had been formatted and did not have information related to the case. 

According to police, Zubair said he had lost the phone which was allegedly used in posting the objectionable tweet. 

Meanwhile, the anonymous Twitter handle which flagged the tweet and raised a complaint, does not exist on the microblogging site anymore, sources in the Delhi police said. Zubair has been booked under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, language etc.) and 295A (deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code, according to police. -- PTI
23:25   Rebel MLAs dance in Goa as Shinde becomes CM
Rebel Shiv Sena MLAs broke into a dance in the lobby of the Goa hotel where they are staying when they heard that Eknath Shinde was going to be the next Chief Minister of Maharashtra. 

While Shinde arrived in Mumbai earlier on Thursday, the MLAs of his faction stayed back in Goa where they had landed from Guwahati a day earlier. 

In the evening, BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis made a stunning announcement during a press conference that Shinde would be the next CM. 

It was widely expected that Fadnavis, leader of the largest single party in the Maharashtra Assembly, would become the CM and Shinde his deputy following the Uddhav Thackeray government's collapse. 

A video showed rebel MLAs dancing to the tune of Marathi songs in the lobby of the five-star resort after Fadnavis made the announcement. 

The hotel had put up a big TV screen in the lobby. Shinde later spoke to them on a video call, informing them about the development. -- PTI
Representational image
Representational image
23:18   Scuffle at Tihar Jail during search, 16 inmates, 7 staff members injured
Sixteen inmates and seven jail staff were injured in a scuffle at Tihar prison in west Delhi, officials said on Thursday. 

According to a senior prison official, a routine search was conducted in ward number 4 of central jail number 8 on Wednesday by a team of the jail staff. 

During the search, some inmates obstructed the staff and started abusing them. 

The staff tried to bring the situation under control but the inmates did not relent and began banging their heads against the wall and inflected self-injuries with sharp-edged objects, the officer said. 

The injured inmates were treated at the prison dispensary, and four of them were sent to the DDU hospital, the officials said, adding that seven staff members received minor wounds. -- PTI
23:03   Aryan Khan asks court to return his passport, moves plea
Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan, who got a clean chit from the NCB in the last year's drugs-on-cruise case, on Thursday moved a plea before a special NDPS court, seeking return of his passport. 

The court directed the Narcotics Control Bureau to file a reply and posted the matter for hearing on July 13. 

Aryan Khan was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau in early October last year in the high-profile drugs case, but the probe agency didn't name him as an accused in a charge-sheet filed in May. 

The NCB let off Aryan Khan and five others due to lack of sufficient evidence. 

Aryan Khan had submitted his passport in the court as per his bail conditions. 

On Thursday, he moved an application in the special court, through his lawyers Amit Desai and Rahul Agarwal of Desai Desai Carrimjee and Mulla, seeking the return of his passport, citing the charge-sheet that does not name him. 

The 24-year-old was arrested by the NCB on October 3 last year, following a raid on a Goa-bound cruise ship off the coast of Mumbai. 

Aryan Khan spent over 20 days in prison before he was granted bail by the Bombay high court. -- PTI
22:38   Fadnavis becomes 4th former Maha CM to accept junior post in another dispensation
Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday became a fourth Maharashtra politician who accepted a junior position in a government after having served as chief minister. 

Fadnavis, earlier in the day, made a stunning announcement that rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde would be sworn in as the new chief minister following the collapse of the Uddhav Thackeray government, and he himself would not be part of the ministry. 

But later BJP chief J P Nadda said Fadnavis would be part of the government and eventually Fadnavis took oath as Shinde's deputy. 

Fadnavis was chief minister for full five years from 2014 to 2019. 

After the 2019 assembly elections, as the Sena fell out with the BJP, Fadnavis became chief minister again with the support of a group of NCP MLAs led by Ajit Pawar, but had to resign within three days as they could not muster the numbers. 

A former chief minister accepting a junior post in a subsequent government is rare, but Maharashtra has witnessed such situation in the past. 

Congress leader Shankarrao Chavan became chief minister in 1975 and served for two years, before being replaced by Vasantdada Patil. 

In 1978, Sharad Pawar, a minister in Patil cabinet, brought down the government and became chief minister. 

Chavan became finance minister in the Progressive Democratic Front government led by Pawar. 

Shivajirao Patil Nilangekar was the chief minister of Maharashtra from June 1985 to March 1986. 

Years later, he became revenue minister in the Sushilkumar Shinde government in 2004. 

Narayan Rane, then with the Shiv Sena, became Maharashtra Chief Minister in 1999 and served for less than a year. 

Later, after he had left the Sena to join the Congress, he became revenue minister in the Vilasrao Deshmukh-led government. -- PTI
22:13   Maha nod for metro car shed at Aarey, Jalyukt Shivar
The new Maharashtra government has directed the state's advocate general to inform the court that the metro car shed will be built in Aarey itself, ANI has reported quoting sources.

It also reported that Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis has directed officers that a proposal be brought in at the earliest to resume is pet project, Jalyukt Shivar scheme.
Uddhav Thackeray
Uddhav Thackeray
22:09   Uddhav greets Shinde, Fadnavis
Former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday greeted Eknath Shinde, once his trusted confidant who led a rebellion against him on becoming the Maharashtra chief minsiter.

'I extend my greetings to the new CM of Maharashtra Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis. I hope that good works take place in Maharashtra through both of you,' Thackeray said in his message.
21:59   Maharashtra assembly to meet on July 2, 3
A two-day special session of the Maharashtra legislature will be held from July 2. 

The decision was taken in the first cabinet meeting after Eknath Shinde took over as the new chief minister of the state, officials said. 

On the first day, election to the post of assembly speaker will be held, they added. -- PTI
Jai Krishan Singh Rouri/Twitter
Jai Krishan Singh Rouri/Twitter
21:54   AAP MLA Jai Krishan Singh elected as Punjab assembly deputy speaker
AAP MLA Jai Krishan Singh Rouri was unanimously elected as the deputy speaker of the Punjab assembly on Thursday. Rouri is a two-time MLA from the Garhshankar assembly constituency in Hoshiarpur district. 

On the concluding day of the budget session of the Punjab assembly, Rouri's name was proposed for the post of deputy speaker by AAP legislator Baljinder Kaur. 

Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema seconded Rouri's name in the House. -- PTI
21:22   Parliament's monsoon session starts on July 18
The monsoon session of Parliament will commence on July 18 and continue till August 12, Parliament secretariat announced on Thursday.  

The session will have 18 sittings and will perhaps be the last one in the existing Parliament building.

The election to the office of President of India will be held on the first day of the monsoon session, followed by the counting of votes on July 21.

The new president will be administered the oath of office in the central hall of Parliament on July 25.

The election to the office of Vice President will be held on August 6 and will assume office on August 11. -- PTI
21:03   Shinde, Fadnavis hold first cabinet meet
Within minutes of being sworn-in, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis held the first cabinet meet of the state's new government, in Mumbai, on Thursday night.
20:59   Eknath Shinde is fourth Maha CM hailing from Satara
Eknath Shinde on Thursday became the fourth chief minister of Maharashtra who hails from Satara district. 

NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who himself has roots in the western Maharashtra district, noted this in a tweet congratulating Shinde. 

While Shinde cut his teeth as a Shiv Sena leader in Thane near Mumbai, he hails from Dare Tamb village, 60 km from Satara city. 

Before him, the state had three chief ministers from the district: Yashwantrao Chavan (the first CM of the state), Babasaheb Bhosale and Prithviraj Chavan. 

While Pawar, another former CM, is mainly associated with Baramati in Pune district, the NCP leader told reporters that his family has roots in Koregaon tehsil of Satara. 

"After late Yashwantrao Chavan, Shree Babasaheb Bhosale and Shree Pritiviraj Chavan, another Satara-kar has taken over as the Chief Minister," Pawar tweeted earlier in the day. 

Vijay Mandake, a senior journalist from the district, said leaders from Satara have always been influential in state politics. 

Ganesh Utekar, a Shiv Sena leader from the district and resident of Shinde's native Dare village, said it was a pleasant shock for all of them when BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis announced Shinde as the next CM. 

"Everybody in the village is celebrating the development," he added. 

Shinde, who completed his primary education in a local school, visits the village regularly and does not miss the annual village fair, Utekar said. -- PTI
20:46   Monsoon session of Parliament begins on July 18
Just In: Parliament's monsoon session to be held from July 18 to August 12: Lok Sabha secretariat.
Representational image
Representational image
20:24   Mumbai logs 1,265 new Covid cases, 1 death
Mumbai on Thursday logged 1,265 new coronavirus cases, about 16 per cent less than the previous day, while one more patient succumbed to the infection, the city civic body said. 

With these additions, the overall COVID-19 tally in the city increased to 11,12,492, while the death toll rose to 19,610, said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in a bulletin. 

The metropolis reported 239 fewer COVID-19 cases and one less death compared to the previous day. 

On Wednesday, Mumbai had reported 1,504 coronavirus cases and two fatalities linked to the respiratory disease. 

Also, after a gap of seven days, Mumbai has seen a single death. 

Notably, the city has reported a whopping 662.98 per cent rise in COVID-19 cases and a staggering 1,433.33 per cent jump in deaths in June as compared to the previous month. 

In June, the financial capital of the county has reported a total of 45,619 COVID-19 cases and 44 fatalities as against 5,979 infections and just three deaths in entire May. 

As per the bulletin, 12,718 new COVID-19 tests were carried out in the last 24 hours, taking their cumulative number to 1,75,13,726. 

On Thursday, 14,129 coronavirus tests were conducted in the city, which has a positivity rate (cases detected per 100 tests) of 9.9 per cent. 

Also, 2,478 more patients recovered from the infection, pushing up their total count so far to 10,82,252, the BMC said. -- PTI
20:15   NIA probes radical groups in Udaipur killing
The NIA is looking into the role of 'local self-radicalised' groups and other linkages of the two prime accused in the brutal killing of Udaipur tailor Kanhaiya Lal Teli, officials said on Thursday. 

The federal agency is waiting to get the custody of Riaz Akhtari and Ghouse Mohammad so that it can begin their questioning as part of the case registered against them under various sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Indian Penal Code. 

The NIA said the two wanted to "strike terror among the masses across the country" through the gruesome act. 

The duo had posted videos online claiming responsibility for the attack and also issued a threat to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Officials said the agency is looking into the role of "local self-radicalised gangs" and their possible international linkages even as preliminary probe suggests that more people could be involved in the conspiracy to murder Teli. 

Akhtari and Mohammad are being taken to Jaipur where they would be produced before a special NIA court, officials said. -- PTI
19:45   Here's a pic of Fadnavis taking oath as deputy CM
Former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis taking oath as the deputy chief minister at Raj Bhavan, Mumbai, on Thursday evening.

How many former CMs can you think of who agreed to become deputy CM?
Eknath Shinde sworn in
Eknath Shinde sworn in
19:37   Shinde takes oath as Maha CM, Fadnavis dy CM
Rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde was on Thursday sworn in as Maharashtra chief minister by governor BS Koshyari. 

Former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who was instrumental in the fall of the MVA government headed by Uddhav Thackeray, was sworn in as deputy CM. 

The rest of the cabinet, comprising both rebel Shiv Sena and BJP leaders will be sworn in later. 

Details soon.
19:27   Mumbai Raj Bhavan gets ready for swearing-in
The Mumbai Raj Bhavan gets ready for the swearing-in of Eknath Shinde as Maharashtra chief minister.

19:26   Eknath Shinde arrives in Raj Bhavan
Rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde has arrived in Raj Bhavan, Mumbai, for his swearing-in as Maharashtra chief minister shortly. 
Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot meets the family members of Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur/ANI
Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot meets the family members of Kanhaiya Lal in Udaipur/ANI
19:20   Indore's wholesale market shut for half day to protest Udaipur tailor's killing
Traders at the wholesale market in Madhya Pradesh's Indore city shut their establishments for half day on Thursday to protest the gruesome killing of a tailor in Udaipur. 

Wholesale traders associated with groceries, bullion, utensils, iron products and cloth among others closed their establishments for half day in protest against the brutal murder of tailor Kanhaiya Lal, said Ramesh Khandelwal, the chairman of Ahilya Chamber of Commerce and Industries. 

"The trading community is angered by the brutal murder of Kanhaiya Lal. We demand that the accused murderers should be awarded capital punishment," he said. 

Kanhaiya Lal, a tailor, was on Tuesday killed in Rajesthan's Udaipur by two men who had posted videos online that said they were avenging an insult to Islam. 

The local body elections in Indore are scheduled to be held on July 6, and both the BJP and Congress have supported the bandh call given by the traders' body. 

Bajrang Dal and other right-wing organisations staged agitations in parts of Indore and set fire to an effigy of terrorism and the Rajasthan government. 

According to eyewitnesses, protestors thrashed the effigies with slippers and shoes before setting them on fire. -- PTI
Devendra Fadnavis
Devendra Fadnavis
19:16   Fadnavis to be Maharashtra deputy CM: Nadda
The BJP's central leadership has decided that former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis should become a part of the Maharashtra government, BJP president JP Nadda announced on Thursday. 

"So, made a personal request to him and the central leadership has said that Fadnavis should take charge as the deputy CM of Maharashtra," the BJP's national president said.

Home Minister Amit Shah too confirmed that Fadnavis has agreed to Nadda's request to become Shinde's deputy chief minister.
18:32   PSLV C-53 with 3 Singapore satellites lifts off
ISRO's PSLV C-53, carrying three commercial satellites from Singapore, lifted off from the spaceport in Sriharikota on Thursday. 

This was the second dedicated commercial mission of the space agency's commercial arm NewSpace India Limited. 

The launch vehicle carrying DS-EO satellite along with two other co-passenger satellites lifted off at 6.02 pm from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. 

This is the 55th mission of PSLV. -- PTI
18:03   Mo-Sha stage managed Maha drama
Senior journalist Nikhil Wagle sums up Eknath Shinde as Maharashtra's new CM, succinctly: He tweets, "This is the magnificent game of Modi-Shah to end Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena. The 'sacrifice' of Fadnavis is bunkum. Now, (Shinde) will have to obey his masters."

17:49   From one dynast to another...
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on the Maharashtra drama: "Eknath Shinde as CM is very bad news for #UddhavThackarey and his branch of the Shiv Sena. Uddhav was probably counting on a BJP CM giving, him a political weapon to target Shinde with. This makes the job of rebuilding their Shiv Sena much more difficult for Thackerays," tweets the former J-K CM.
17:38   Phansalkar takes charge as new Mumbai police commissioner
Senior IPS officer Vivek Phansalkar on Thursday took charge as the new police commissioner of Mumbai. Phansalkar succeeded Sanjay Pandey, who has retired from the police service. 

The 1989-batch IPS officer's appointment to the top post was announced by the Maharashtra home department on Wednesday. 

Phansalkar took charge of his assignment at the police commissioner's office situated at Crawford Market in South Mumbai around 4.45 pm. 

He was serving as the DG and MD of the Police Housing and Welfare Corporation before his current appointment. Phansalkar has served the Maharashtra Police in various key capacities, including as Thane police commissioner and state ATS chief. PTI
Monsoon marches on
Monsoon marches on
17:36   Waterlogging common during monsoon: Study
Nearly 86 per cent of the people surveyed as part of a national study have claimed that their district gets waterlogged during the monson season which leads to traffic woes, loss of productivity and accidents, a statement said. The finding of the survey came on a day on which Delhi received its first monsoon showers that brought traffic to screeching halt and led to waterlogging.
17:33   Winners and losers at the markets today
Tech Mahindra was the biggest laggard in the Sensex pack, dropping 2.09 per cent, followed by Bajaj Finance, Bajaj Finserv, Tata Steel, IndusInd Bank, HCL Tech and M&M. In contrast, Axis Bank, SBI, Kotak Mahindra Bank, NTPC, Larsen & Toubro and Reliance Industries were among the prominent gainers, rising up to 1.74 per cent.
One of the men accused of beheading a tailor
One of the men accused of beheading a tailor
17:31   Tailor killers linked to terror gang, not group: NIA
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) which has taken up the case of the brutal murder of a tailor in Udaipur says the accused will be presented in court tomorrow.

"Riyaz Akhtari and Ghouse Mohammad, the accused in the brutal murder of a tailor, will be presented in a special NIA court in Jaipur by 5 pm today or tomorrow. They will be questioned in Rajasthan and not brought to Delhi. "Some media reports about the links of the two accused with some terrorist outfit is based on speculation. Preliminary inquiry suggests that there may not be any terrorist group involved in the murder but a terror gang," the NIA said.

17:30   SII seeks nod to export 32.4 lakh doses of its Covid vaccine Covovax to US
The Serum Institute has sought the Centre's approval to export 32.4 lakh doses of the COVID-19 jab Covovax under the brand name Nuvaxovid to the US, which will be the first vaccine to be exported to the country by any Indian manufacturer, official sources said on Thursday. 

According to a communication sent to the government by Prakash Kumar Singh, Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at the SII, the shipment is likely to be dispatched on July 3 if due approval come in time, an official source told PTI. 

 The sources said it will be the first instance of any Indian manufacturer's vaccine -- Covid or non-Covid -- to be exported to the US. 

 "It is a matter of pride for us and our country that in line with clarion call of our Prime Minister Narendra Modiji's 'Making in India for the world' and under leadership of our CEO, Dr Adar C. Poonawalla, our made in India world class Covovax vaccine will be the first life-saving vaccine of our country to be exported to United States of America. Also, our firm is committed to fulfill the dream of our PM to make India a pharmacy hub of the world," Singh has said in his communication, according to an official source. -- PTI
Eknath Shinde with Governor Koshyari
Eknath Shinde with Governor Koshyari
17:24   Decision of 50 MLAs... introspect, says Shinde
Maharashtra CM-designate Eknath Shinde speaking at the joint presser with BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis: "A total of 50 MLAs are with us, including 40 MLAs from Shiv Sena. We have fought this battle so far with their help. I will not let even a scratch mar the trust that these 50 people have placed in me, let alone break that trust. 

"We went to former CM Thackeray with our constituency's grievances and  development work. We advised him on the need for improvement as we started realizing that it would be difficult for us to win the next elections. We demanded a natural alliance with the BJP.

"BJP has 120 MLAs, but despite that Devendra Fadnavis did not take the post of CM. I express my gratitude to him along with PM Modi, Amit Shah and other BJP leaders that they showed generosity and made Balasaheb's Sainik (party-worker) the CM of the state."

"When 50 MLAs take a decision, it calls for introspection," he said, without naming Uddhav Thackeray.

Just goes to show that if a self-professed chaiwallah can be PM, a former auto driver can be a CM.  
Representational image
Representational image
17:16   Portion of five-storey building collapses in south Mumbai
More rain in Mumbai = Building collapses.
A portion of a five-storey residential building collapsed in Kalbadevi area of south Mumbai on Thursday, and at least 60 to 70 people were evacuated safely from the structure, a fire brigade official said. 

The incident took place around 2 pm in Badamwadi area of Kalbadevi, a densely populated locality in the city, the official said. 

"A portion of a cessed MHADA building collapsed in the afternoon. There is no report of any injury so far," an official from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said. At least 60 to 70 people were evacuated safely from the premises before the collapse," he said. 

 Five fire engines were pressed into service and the work of clearing the debris was underway, he said. 

Janak Sanghavi, a former corporator from the area, said the building Janak Bhuvan was undergoing repairs at the time of the incident. Residents of the building were rescued before a portion of the structure collapsed, as the plaster of the building was falling, he said.
17:04   He lost his seat but emerged a bigger man
Cartoonist Mahmud's intelligent take on the Maharashtra political drama.
16:55   Fadnavis won't be part of Shinde-led Maha govt
Maharashtra's CM shocker, rebel Shiv Sena MLA Eknath Shinde, says, "The decision that we have taken is committed to Balasaheb's Hindutva and for the development work in the constituencies of our MLAs. We have 50 MLAs with us." 

BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis made the dramatic announcement of he and Shinde met Governor B S Koshyari at Raj Bhavan.

It was considered a foregone conclusion that Fadnavis will become the CM for the third time, in alliance with the Shinde-led Sena rebels.

"I won't be part of the Eknath Shinde-led ministry; will support it from outside," Fadnavis said.
16:48   Eknath Shinde to be Maharashtra CM: Fadnavis
"Eknath Shinde to be the Maharashtra Chief Minister, oath ceremony to be held at 7.30 pm today," BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis announces in a joint press conference with Shinde.

It was considered a foregone conclusion that Fadnavis will become the CM for the third time, in alliance with the Shinde-led Sena rebels.

"In 2019 BJP and Shiv Sena had an alliance and we got required numbers in Assembly elections. We hoped to form the govt but Shiv Sena chose to get into an alliance with those against whom Balasaheb protested throughout his life," BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said. 

"Shiv Sena formed an alliance with those who are against Hindutva and Savarkar. Shiv Sena insulted the mandate of the people. On the one hand, Shiv Sena opposed Dawood (Ibrahim) and on the other hand, they kept such a man in the cabinet who went to jail on allegations of helping Dawood. They were in alliance with someone who insulted Savarkar," claimed Fadnavis.

"After the swearing-in ceremony today, we will have a cabinet expansion and Shiv Sena and BJP leaders will take oath. I will stay out of the government," announces Fadnavis.

The drama in Maharashtra politics never ends. If that wasn't a story mein twist, what is!
16:35   Fadnavis, Shinde meet guv, stake claim to form govt
Eknath Shinde & BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis meet Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari & stake claim to form the government
16:34   So long and farewell, Mr Thackeray
Maharashtra Congress leaders on Thursday met Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray at his residence `Matoshree' in suburban Bandra a day after he resigned as chief minister. 

 It was a courtesy call as they had worked with Thackeray as part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition government for the last two-and-half years, said Congress leader Nitin Raut. 

As to whether the MVA, an alliance of Sena, Congress and NCP, would continue, he said it was yet to be discussed. 

"Congress would function as an opposition party," he said. 

 State Congress chief Nana Patole said the party would contest the coming local body polls on its own, while the decision as to whether to continue the alliance for Assembly and Lok Sabha polls would be taken by the party leadership. 

 The three parties would be together in raising issues concerning common people, Patole said. 

Besides Raut and Patole, Congress leaders Prithviraj Chavan, Balasaheb Thorat, Amit Deshmukh, Sunil Kedar and Yashomati Thakur met Thackeray.

"We assured Thackeray that Congress is with him and we would fight the new government on the political as well as legal fronts as it is coming to power through corrupt means," Chavan told PTI. 

 The Sena chief told them that he would not give up, Chavan added.

 From the Sena's side, Thackeray's son Aaditya, Sachin Ahir, Vinayak Raut, Bhaskar Jadhav, Diwakar Raote and Subhash Desai were present, sources said.
16:32   Done deal
Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari can't stop smiling under his mask as he feeds sweets to Eknath Shinde.
16:13   Markets end on flat note in choppy trade
Benchmark indices ended on a flat note on Thursday, with the Sensex dipping 8 points as fag-end volatility wiped out intra-day gains amid weak global trends. 

 The BSE benchmark Sensex slipped 8.03 points or 0.02 per cent to settle at 53,018.94. During the day, it had gained 350.57 points or 0.66 per cent to 53,377.54. The NSE Nifty fell 18.85 points or 0.12 per cent to 15,780.25.

 Among the Sensex pack, Tech Mahindra, Bajaj Finance, Bajaj Finserv, M&M, Tata Steel and IndusInd Bank were among the major laggards. In contrast, Axis Bank, State Bank of India, Kotak Mahindra Bank, NTPC and Larsen & Toubro were the prominent gainers.
16:12   Fadnavis likely to be sworn in as Maha CM at 7 pm
BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis and Eknath Shinde reach Raj Bhawan. BJP state president Chandrakant Patil congratulates Shinde (alongside) when the rebel leader arrived at the house of Devendra Fadnavis.

Fadnavis is likely to be sworn in as Maharshtra Chief Minister at 7 pm today, say reports.
15:49   The prize draws near...
First look: Eknath Shinde meets BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis at the latter's residence, this evening. With them are BJP state president Chandrakant Patil and senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar.
Devendra Fadnavis with with party workers in Mumbai yesterday
Devendra Fadnavis with with party workers in Mumbai yesterday
15:43   Shinde, Fadnavis to meet governor to stake claim
BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis and rebel Shiv Sena MLA Eknath Shinde are likely to meet Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari today, according to sources. Shinde, who spent Wednesday night in a Goa hotel after returning from Guwahati with his camp, arrived in Mumbai this afternoon and met Fadnavis.
15:19   Eknath Shinde meets Fadnavis in Mumbai
Eknath Shinde arrives at the residence of BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis in Mumbai. He is scheduled to meet Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari as well.

Shinde on Thursday said that there has been no discussion with the the BJP on portfolios, but talks would happen soon.

A spokesperson of the Shinde camp, Deepak Kesarkar, said that they have given Shinde full authority to take a decision on the cabinet berth-sharing in the government. He said that they did not revolt for the cabinet berths, but for the development of the state.
15:00   Raj Thackeray's message to Uddhav
Uddhav Thackeray's cousin and MNS chief, Raj Thackeray, tweets a message, presumably for the former CM. (See alongside).

Devendra Fadnavis had said that he had spoken to Raj Thackeray for his support in the Floor Test. The Floor Test will not take place after Uddhav Thackeray handed in his resignation to the governor last night. 

Homilies aside, this tweet by Raj Thackeray falls in the category of 'kick a man when he's down'. The MNS has only one MLA in the assembly. 
14:43   Eknath Shinde lands in Mumbai
Maharashtra Shiv Sena MLA Eknath Shinde lands in Mumbai from Goa.

A colleague on his way to Andheri from Mahim says a convoy of policeman is accompanying Shindes convoy. Traffic was halted on Western Express Highway for around 10 minutes for the convoy to pass. There are cops every 150 minutes along the route.  
14:37   7 dead, 45 missing in Manipur landslide
A massive landslide triggered by incessant rains has caused damage to Tupul station building of ongoing Jiribam -- Imphal's new line project. Landslide also stuck the track formation, camps of construction workers. Rescue operations in progress. 19 people already rescued and are being treated at Noney Army Medical unit. Evacuation of critically injured in progress. Bad weather and fresh landslides affecting rescue operations. 

Seven bodies have been recovered so far. Rescued people being shifted to hospital. Around 45 persons are still missing, says Solomon L Fimate, SDO of Noney district.
14:35   Gunfire heard close to Loya Jirga hall in Kabul
Just in: Gunfire was heard close to the Loya Jirga hall in Kabul city. The exact cause and location of the incident have not been clarified yet. A  Taliban meeting is being held today in the Loya Jirga under the name of Ulema Meeting.

The first-ever 'Loya Jirga' or grand assembly of religious scholars and elders opened in Kabul on Thursday,
14:15   Zubair brought to Bengaluru
Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair brought to Bengaluru by an Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations (IFSO) unit of the Delhi Police Special Cell. He has moved Delhi HC challenging the police remand granted by the Patiala House Court to the Delhi Police Special Cell.
Kangana Ranaut in her Instagram video
Kangana Ranaut in her Instagram video
14:08   Kangana celebrates Uddhav's 'demolition'
 Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut, on Thursday, via social media shared her reaction to Uddhav Thackeray's recent resignation from the post of Maharashtra Chief Minister.

The 'Queen' actor took to her Instagram handle and shared a minute-long video along with the caption, "When evil takes over, destruction is imminent. After that, there is creation. The lotus of life blooms." 

In the video, she discussed the re-birth of democracy and stated that the current time is the most pivotal in the history of Indian democracy since 1975. 

Kangana further referred to her two-year-old statement regarding Uddhav Thackeray-led state government.

In Hindi, the actor said, "In 2020, I had said that democracy is a belief system. And those who destroy this belief system because of greed for power are doomed. Their arrogance will be demolished. This shows a person's character."

"Hanumanji is considered the 12th avatar of Lord Shiva. And when Shiv Sena itself bans Hanuman Chalisa, even Shiva himself can't save them. Har Har Mahadev. Jai Hind, Jai Maharashtra," she added.

Uddhav Thackeray resigned as Maharashtra CM last night. The Governor accepted the resignation and asked Uddhav Thackeray to continue as CM until an alternate arrangement is made.
13:51   Maharashtra: BJP claims support of 170 MLAs
Maharashtra Bharatiya Janata Party leader Girish Mahajan on Thursday claimed that his party has the support of 170 MLAs, way above the 145 majority mark in the 288-member House that is necessary to form a government in the state.

The BJP is set to return to power in the state with the support of rebel Shiv Sena MLAs led by Eknath Shinde after chief minister Uddhav Thackeray tendered his resignation on Wednesday night, leading to the collapse of the 31-month-long three-party Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.

Speaking to reporters in Mumbai, former minister Mahajan said, "We have a support of 170 MLAs. We can comfortably face a floor test whenever we are asked to prove majority."

The BJP's strength in the House is 106, and it claims to have the support of at least 13 legislators.

Meanwhile, sources said that Eknath Shinde will reach Mumbai from Goa this afternoon to hold talks about government formation with BJP leaders.

Shinde had landed in Goa from Guwahati on Wednesday night with a group of 50 MLAs, of whom 39 are Sena dissidents, while others are independent legislators and those from small parties.

It is not yet clear if the Shinde-led group will merge with any party.

Shinde on Wednesday night reiterated that they are Shiv Sainiks and will remain in Shiv Sena.   -- PTI
13:29   Zubair's plea against police remand to be heard tomorrow
Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair has moved the Delhi HC challenging the police remand granted by Patiala House Court to the Delhi Police Special Cell. His lawyer mentioned the matter before Delhi HC's vacation bench today. The matter will be heard tomorrow.
Deepak Kesarkar, spokesperson of the Eknath Shinde camp
Deepak Kesarkar, spokesperson of the Eknath Shinde camp
13:26   Didn't celebrate Uddhav's resignation: Rebels
Deepak Kesarkar, spokesperson of the Eknath Shinde camp holds a press conference in Panaji where the rebels are holed up. 
"Yesterday, CM Uddhav Thackeray resigned. We didn't indulge in any kind of celebration as removing him was not our intention. We are still in Shiv Sena and it is not our intention to hurt and disrespect Uddhav Thackeray. We have not gone to SC against Thackeray. 

"Eknath Shinde has left for Mumbai. He has said that whatever decision will be made, it will be for the development of the state.

"We have not backstabbed anyone. These statements given by Sanjay Raut are just to spread displeasure among people. We are not against the Thackeray family. We are ready to talk to Uddhavji if he breaks the alliance with MVA but he is still with them.

"Maharashtra BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis will decide the oath-taking date. It is the prerogative of the Governor to give him that date. Our negotiations have already started and we will form a govt."
13:04   Shinde leaves for Mumbai to meet guv, Fadnavis
Rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde left Goa for Mumbai on Thursday afternoon, where he is scheduled to meet Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. 

 Shinde and other rebel MLAs, who arrived in Goa on Wednesday night from Guwahati, stayed at a resort at Dona Paula near Panaji. 

While other MLAs continued to be at the resort, Shinde stepped out amid a tight police security around 12.20 pm. 

 "I am going to Mumbai to meet the Maharashtra Governor. All other MLAs are staying in Goa at present," Shinde told reporters outside the resort. 

 Party sources said that Shinde is also likely to meet senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis, who is expected to make a comeback as chief minister.

 On Wednesday night, Uddhav Thackeray resigned as Maharashtra chief minister, which paved the way for the return of the BJP to power. The rebel Shiv Sena MLAs led by Shinde are likely to support the BJP to form a government. PTI
12:39   Will be going to Mumbai today, says Shinde
Update on Maharashtra politics: Rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde says he is going to Mumbai today. "MLAs are still here in Goa but I am going to Mumbai today," says Shinde. He and his MLAs are holed up in Goa. The left Guwahati yesterday. 

Eknath Shinde this morning said that there has been no discussion with the BJP, but added the talks will happen soon. The rebel leader instrumental in the fall of the MVA in Maharashtra, also asked people not to believe the ministerial lists and the rumours surrounding them.

"There has been no discussion with the BJP about the distribution of ministerial seats which and how many ministerial posts, it will happen soon. Until then, please don't believe the ministerial lists and rumours about it," he tweeted.
12:34   The Making of Zubair
Shy of wearing the tag of a 'journalist', Zubair has shaped the news cycle on many days of the past year. Read more on the journalist arrested for a 2018 tweet from a Hrishikesh Mukherjee film. Zubair remains in police custody.

12:30   Ajit Pawar wishes Supriya Sule
It's NCP MP Supriya Sule's birthday today. Her cousin and former Maharashtra deputy CM Ajit Pawar sends wishes her way. Ajit Pawar who is NCP supremo Sharad Pawar's nephew, tweets, "Heartfelt wishes on your birthday, Supriya Sule. Wish you good health and a long life always."
Uddhav Thackeray with his resignation letter to Governor Koshyari
Uddhav Thackeray with his resignation letter to Governor Koshyari
12:18   HC dismisses PIL against Thackerays
The Bombay High Court on Thursday termed as "politically induced litigation" a PIL filed by seven citizens seeking action against dissident Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde and other rebel MLAs of the party, and said it would hear the plea if the petitioners deposit Rs 1 lakh as security. 

 A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice M S Karnik also dismissed another public interest litigation (PIL) filed by social worker Hemant Patil seeking registration of an FIR against Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, his son Aaditya Thackeray and party leader Sanjay Raut for "sedition and breach of public peace". 

 Both the pleas were filed earlier this week. The petition filed by the seven citizens said Shinde and other rebel MLAs had caused political turmoil and instigated internal disorder. 

The plea also sought a direction to the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to submit a detailed plan of assurance detailing the process of governance in absence of several of its ministers.

In his PIL, Patil sought the court to restrain the trio (the Thackerays and Raut) from making any further statements against the rebel MLAs. 

 The high court, while hearing Patil's plea, said there was recourse in law for the petitioner to approach a magistrate's court with a private complaint.

While hearing the PIL filed by seven citizens, the bench asked their lawyer Asim Sarode if the plea should still be heard in view of the developments on Wednesday (wherein Uddhav Thackeray resigned as Maharashtra chief minister). Sarode said the court ought to take cognisance and act against the rebel MLAs for abstaining from work and neglecting their duties. 

 The bench then asked why the court should take cognisance of this. "You have elected the ministers, you take action. Why should we take cognisance?" chief justice Datta asked.

 The court then asked Sarode which rule says that the MLAs or ministers have to remain in the city or state all the time. Sarode then sought time to find out if there was any such rule. 

 "Prima facie, we are of the view that this is an absolutely politically induced litigation. The petitioners have not made requisite research. We direct the petitioners to deposit Rs one lakh as security within two weeks," the court directed. The bench said if the money is deposited then the PIL shall be placed for hearing after three weeks and if not then it shall stand disposed of. -- PTI
12:12   Till a replacement is found
Former Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray tweets this picture with Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari saying he has given in his resignation yesterday, but the governor has asked him to assume charge till a new CM takes office. 
12:05   The Persistent Challenge of Extremism in Bangladesh
On July 1, 2016, Bangladeshi militants carried out an attack, targeting mostly foreigners and non-Muslims, at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka. The Bangladeshi government responded to the attack with a concerted and controversial counterterrorism campaign. 

Although the number of terrorist incidents has been in steady decline since 2016, Islamist groups continue to operate, recruit, and carry out small-scale attacks while aspiring to perpetrate greater violence. This report examines the dynamics, drivers, and manifestations of extremism in Bangladesh and discusses measures to weaken its appeal.

Read more here. 
Devendra Fadnavis relishes a victory for the BJP in Maharashtra
Devendra Fadnavis relishes a victory for the BJP in Maharashtra
11:50   BJP core committee holds meet on Maharashtra
A meeting of the BJP core committee is underway at Sagar Bungalow, residence of former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. Maharashtra BJP in-charge CT Ravi, party leaders Chandrakant Patil, Girish Mahajan, Praveen Darekar and others present. 

The stage is set for the return of a BJP-led government in Maharasthra with Uddhav Thackeray resigning as chief minister shortly after the Supreme Court declined to stay the floor test called by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari in a special Assembly session on Thursday. 

 The BJP which is the single-largest party in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly with 106 MLAs, is likely to stake claim to form the government.

Pic: Sahil Salvi
11:45   Traffic snarls, waterlogging as monsoon hits Delhi
As Delhi received its first monsoon showers on Thursday morning, providing respite from the oppressive heat, woes began for commuters as they battled traffic snarls and waterlogging. 

 The Delhi Traffic Police, through a tweet, asked commuters to plan their journey accordingly. 

 As per IMD report, Thunderstorm with light to moderate intensity rain and gusty winds' would occur over and adjoining areas of entire Delhi. Commuters are advised to plan their journey accordingly," the traffic police tweeted. 

Earlier this month, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had said the Delhi government is ready to combat waterlogging on a war footing and it is focussing on solving the problem with micro planning. 

 The Public Works Department (PWD) has set up a Central Control Room from where 10 critical waterlogging sites in Delhi are being monitored 247 through CCTV cameras. PTI
11:15   Cong: Uddhav should have faced trust vote but...
Maharashtra Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat: "I feel that he (Uddhav Thackeray) should've faced the trust vote, but he gave his farewell speech at the end of the Cabinet meeting. 
"Uddhav Thackeray is a sensitive person with a simple nature. He did not like a few things, so he resigned.
"All our MLAs were present for the trust vote today. But now the next strategy will be discussed in today's meeting (at the Maharashtra Vidhan Bhavan). There's no dispute in Congress regarding the name change of Aurangabad to Sambhajinagar," Thorat said. 

The Floor Test that was convened by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari was challenged in the Supreme Court by the Shiv Sena. 

The apex court, however, declined to stay the Floor Test and in its observation said that the floor of the House was the only way to settle these issues of democracy.

Minutes after the order by the top court, Thackeray addressed the people of the state via social media in which he announced his decision to step down as chief minister and as a Member of the Legislative Council.

The announcement brought an end to the political crisis that erupted in the state for over a week with a faction of Shiv Sena MLAs revolting against him for joining hands with NCP and Congress to form the government.
11:05   No discussion on portfolios for BJP yet: Shinde
Rebel Shiv Sena MLA Eknath Shinde tweets, offering his respects to Bal Thackeray for his 'thoughts on Hindutva', the late Sena leader Anand Dighe for his teachings and says that their focus will remain on the 'vikas' or progress of all the people of Maharashtra and the MLAs work for the people.

"How many BJP MLAs will be given ministerial posts has not been discussed. It will be done soon, but till then, please don't believe the ministerial lists and rumors about it," Shinde tweeted.   

Rebel Shiv Sena MLAs led by senior leader Eknath Shinde, who are currently camping in Goa, will hold a meeting on Thursday to decide the way forward as they are likely to support the BJP to form the next government in Maharashtra following the resignation of Uddhav Thackeray as the chief minister.
Devendra Fadnavis meets MLAs
Devendra Fadnavis meets MLAs
10:46   Maharashtra Assembly special session postponed
To bring you up to speed on Maharashtra politics, Maharashtra Assembly Secretary Rajendra Bhagwat has informed all state MLAs that as per the Governor's orders the special session that was scheduled on Thursday will  not be convened.

The special Assembly was scheduled today with the only agenda of a Trust Vote against the Maha Vikas Aghadi government led by Uddhav Thackeray Minister who resigned as chief minister late Wednesday evening. 

In a circular, Rajendra Bhagwat, Principal Secretary, Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, informed all state MLAs that as per the Governor's orders, there's no need for a floor test now, so today's special session will not be convened. 
10:45   Raut drops sketch of a 'clawed' Uddhav
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut tweets this image alongside saying, "Nemke hech ghadle' or 'finally this is what happened' and an image of claw marks on the back of a man, presumably former Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray. Uddhav has said that he is hurt at being backstabbed by his own people -- the rebel faction of Eknath Shinde. 

"We got emotional yesterday when Uddhav Thackeray resigned as Chief Minister. Everyone has faith in Uddhav Thackeray; people of every caste & religion support him. Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Pawar trust him," Sanjay Raut said today.

"I will be going to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office tomorrow," he added.

ED had sent a second summon to Raut, asking him to appear before them on 1st July in connection with the Patra Chawl land scam case.

"Shiv Sena is not born for power, power is born for Shiv Sena. This has always been Balasaheb Thackeray's mantra. We will work and come to power on our own once again," Raut added.
Maharashtra's new CM?
Maharashtra's new CM?
09:58   Devendra Fadnavis eyes CM post for 3rd time
 The stage is set for the return of a BJP-led government in Maharasthra with Uddhav Thackeray resigning as chief minister shortly after the Supreme Court declined to stay the floor test called by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari in a special Assembly session on Thursday.

The BJP which is the single-largest party in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly with 106 MLAs, is likely to stake claim to form the government.

This is what is likely to happen:
-- As Leader of the Opposition, Devendra Fadnavis is set to stake claim to the Chief Minister's post for the third time. Fadnavis, who met the party's top brass twice in a week in Delhi, said that the future course of action will be announced today.

Thackeray took to social media yesterday to address the people of the state in which he announced his decision to step down as chief minister and as a Member of the Legislative Council.

The announcement brought an end to the political crisis that erupted in the state for over a week with a faction of Shiv Sena MLAs revolting against him for joining hands with NCP and Congress to form the government.

In his address, Thackeray said, "I am resigning as the Chief Minister and also as an MLC."

The statement was followed by a celebration in the Shinde faction which had been camping in first Surat, then Guwahati and had landed in Goa on Wednesday night.

-- The BJP's state unit chief Chandrakant Patil said that Eknath Shinde, who led the faction of rebel MLAs and had been staying in Guwahati since June 22, along with Fadnavis will decide the next course of action.

-- Fadnavis was chief minister in 2014 and in 2019 was CM for just 3 days.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Supreme Court gave its go-ahead for a floor test in Maharashtra Assembly today as it refused to stay the state Governor's decision which was challenged by Shiv Sena chief whip Sunil Prabhu.

-- The BJP is likely to hold a series of meetings to deliberate on the formation of government in the state along with the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs.

-- The BJP will approach the Governor to stake claim to form the government, which the Shinde faction would back with their 39 Shiv Sena MLAs and other independents.

-- The BJP has asked all its MLAs to be present in Mumbai. 

-- Maharashtra assembly secretary Rajendra Bhagwat has informed all MLAs of the Maharashtra Assembly that as per orders of Governor there is no need of a Floor Test now and today's special session is not being convened. 
09:50   Cong MLAs to meet
All Congress MLAs to shortly meet at Maharashtra Vidhan Bhavan to discuss the present political situation in Maharashtra.
09:23   New Maharashtra govt: All eyes on Raj Bhavan
A day after Uddhav Thackeray resigned as Maharashtra chief minister, all eyes are on Raj Bhavan to see when does Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari invite the Bharatiya Janata Party to form the next government in the state.

The process for the change of regime in the state, which began with the rebellion of around 40 of 55 Shiv Sena MLAs under Eknath Shinde's leadership, got a boost after BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis met Koshyari on Tuesday night and asked him to order a floor test of the Thackeray government, claiming it had lost majority.

Thackeray, 62, resigned Wednesday night, minutes after Supreme Court refused to stay Governor Koshyari's direction to his government to take a floor test in the Assembly on Thursday.

"I don't want to play these games. If those people who were brought up by Sena chief (Balasaheb Thackeray) want to rejoice the fact that they pulled his son down then it is my mistake that I put my faith in them. I don't want the blood of my Shiv Sainiks to spill on the streets and so I am stepping down from the CM's post as well as that of an MLC," said Thackeray in a televised address, that has garnered praise on the social media for his 'grace and poise', as many described it.

Thackeray said that he was happy he was able to fulfill his father's wish of renaming Aurangabad and Osmanabad.

The Uddhav-led cabinet had cleared the proposal to rename the two cities on Wednesday.

His resignation was greeted with jubilation by BJP leaders who distributed sweets.

BJP's Devendra Fadnavis, who is expected to make a comeback as chief minister after holding the post from 2014 to 2019, is scheduled to brief media later Thursday on the future course of action, which will include staking claim to form the next government.

Rebel Sena MLAs led by Eknath Shinde, who are now in a luxury hotel in Goa after spending over a week at posh resorts in Surat and Guwahati, are expected to return to Mumbai soon.

It is not yet clear if the Shinde-led group will merge with any party.

Shinde on Wednesday night reiterated that they are Shiv Sainiks and will remain in Shiv Sena.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Legislature Secretary Rajendra Bhagwat issued a statement saying there won't be a special session of the assembly on Thursday as the purpose for which it was convened (floor test) does not exist anymore.

Anticipating that the rebel Sena MLAs might start returning to Mumbai soon, police have beefed up security in the city, an official said.  -- PTI
08:45   Rebel Shiv Sena MLA 'receives death threat'
Ambernath MLA Balaji Kinikar, who is with the rebel camp of Shiv Sena legislators led by Eknath Shinde, has received a death threat, following which a probe is launched, police said on Wednesday.

The anonymous letter was received at Kinikar's office at Ambernath in the Thane district earlier in the day.

The letter alleged that Kinikar has been 'troubling' Shivsainiks in Ambernath and hence he will be killed one day, a police official said quoting the letter.

Kinikar's personal assistant who received the letter has lodged a complaint with police which is being probed.

Meanwhile, posters stating that Kinikar is a 'betrayer' have come up in Ambernath.   -- PTI
08:35   Amarnath Yatra begins, 2,750 pilgrims leave
The annual Amarnath Yatra began on Thursday as a batch of about 2,750 pilgrims left the base camp here for the cave shrine housing the naturally formed ice-lingam in the south Kashmir Himalayas.

The pilgrimage was flagged off by Deputy Commissioner Piyush Singla at the Nunwan base camp in the Anantnag district's Pahalgam.

The journey -- most of it on foot -- takes about three days with night halts at Sheeshnag and Panchtarni along the route.

All arrangements have been made to ensure smooth conduct of the 43-day pilgrimage, Singla said, adding, "The endeavour is to make sure that the pilgrims feel secure and visit the shrine peacefully."

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Wednesday flagged off the first batch of 4,890 pilgrims from the Jammu base camp.

Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) has also made a provision for online 'darshan' of the naturally formed ice lingam, officials said.

They said this year, the pilgrimage is expected to see higher-than-usual attendance as it is being held after a gap of three years.

In 2019, the Yatra was cancelled midway ahead of the Centre abrogating Article 370 provisions of the Constitution.

The pilgrimage did not take place in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A senior army officer recently said the threat perception to the pilgrimage was more this year.

A large number of security personnel have been deployed for the pilgrimage.

Security along the Baltal and Pahalgam routes has been beefed up. New security pickets have been set up to ensure that subversive elements do not succeed in disrupting the pilgrimage, officials said.

Besides, drone surveillance and RFID chips are also a part of the three-tier security arrangements for pilgrims.

To ensure only bona fide people attend the yatra, the SASB has asked all intending pilgrims to carry Aadhaar cards or any other biometric verified document with them.

Security personnel have been posted on the peaks leading to the holy cave shrine, the officials said, adding round-the-clock vigil is being maintained along the routes.

The pilgrimage will culminate on August 11, coinciding with Raksha Bandhan.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Pilgrims wait in queue for security checking before proceeding for the annual Amarnath Yatra, in Baltal on Wednesday. Photograph: ANI Photo
00:42   Fadnavis, Shinde will decide next course of action: Maha BJP chief
Bharatiya Janata Partyleader Devendra Fadnavis and rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde will now decide the next court of action, state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said on Wednesday night.
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray resigned earlier in the evening, a day before a scheduled floor test in the state Assembly.

The state BJP unit has asked all its MLAs to gather in Mumbai.

To a question about the BJP's next move, as it is the single largest party in the Maharashtra legislative assembly, Patil said, "The next steps will be decided by Fadnavis and Eknath Shinde."

He also said BJP workers "should observe restraint in victory." 

Fadnavis told reporters that "I will tell the party's stand tomorrow for sure."

There will be another round of meeting at the official residence of Fadnavis later tonight, sources said. -- PTI 
00:12   Maharashtra lost graceful CM: Raut on Uddhav's exit
Maharashtra has lost a sensible and cultured chief minister in Uddhav Thackeray who has stepped down gracefully, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said on Wednesday night. 
Stating that he was not interested "in playing the numbers' game," Thackeray on Wednesday night said he was resigning as the chief minister. 
"The chief minister (Uddhav Thackeray) has gracefully stepped down. We have lost a sensible and cultured chief minister," Raut tweeted.
He said they will take forward the legacy of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray and are ready to go to jail. 
"The end of traitors is never good and history can prove this. Now, it is the beginning of a massive win of Shiv Sena. We will face the baton, go to jail but will keep alive Balasaheb Thackeray's Shiv Sena," he said.
Raut also said he was grateful to Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar for persuading Uddhav, son of Bal Thackeray, to take charge as the CM in 2019. 
"Pawar provided his guidance. When his (Uddhav Thackeray's) own people (rebel Sena MLAs) were backstabbing him, Pawar remained firmly behind Uddhav," he said.
Raut added that Congress leaders always remained with the government. 
"Power comes and goes, and nobody is here permanently to remain in power".
He also said that there will be justice for sure.
"It is time for a fire test. These days shall pass soon," Raut added. 
Earlier, he had said that Thackeray is not a quitter and he will fight till the end.
He asserted that Shiv Sena will rise again and a Shiv Sainik will become a chief minister again.  
"Uddhav Thackeray is our leader. The kind of support he has..He will fight till the end, Raut said.
Without naming the BJP, Raut said those who want to grab power can do so but the future will belong to Shiv Sena.
Chairing a cabinet meeting while the Supreme Court was hearing the Shiv Sena's petition challenging the floor test, Thackeray had said in the evening that he was betrayed by his own people.
To this, Raut said Thackeray's comments brought tears to his eyes. -- PTI