Mon, 07 March 2022
Russia makes list of 'unfriendly' countries

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23:31   Russia makes list of 'unfriendly' countries
The Russian government approved a list of countries and territories that are 'unfriendly' with Russia and has imposed sanctions against the country after the start of a special military operation of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine.

The list includes the United States and Canada, the European Union states, the United Kingdom (including Jersey, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Gibraltar), Ukraine, Montenegro, Switzerland, Albania, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, North Macedonia, and also Japan, South Korea, Australia, Micronesia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan, reported TASS News Agency.

The government noted that according to this decree, Russian citizens and companies, the state itself, its regions and municipalities that have foreign exchange obligations to foreign creditors from the list of unfriendly countries will be able to pay them in rubles.

The new temporary procedure applies to payments exceeding 10 million rubles per month (or a similar amount in foreign currency).    -- ANI
22:35   Pilot averted mid-air collison of my jet: Mamata
Two days after her chartered flight experienced mid-air turbulence, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said another aircraft had come in front of her plane, and it was the prompt action of the pilot that averted a head-on collision.

The Bengal government had on Saturday sought a report from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) after Banerjee's aircraft encountered turbulence, leaving her back and chest injured.

The state government also sought to know from the DGCA if approval was accorded for the route taken by Banerjee's chartered flight.

She was returning from Uttar Pradesh after winding up her campaign for the Samajwadi Party.

"Another plane, all of a sudden, came in front of my aircraft. If the situation had continued for 10 more seconds, there would have been a head-on collision. It was due to the efficiency of the pilot that I survived. The plane climbed down 6,000 feet. I suffered injuries on my back and chest. I still have pain," she told reporters in the assembly.

Banerjee also claimed that her plane did not fall into any air pocket.

On Friday evening, a chartered flight carrying Banerjee from Varanasi to Kolkata faced turbulence, causing the plane to rock violently.

The pilot managed to land it safely at Netaji Subhas Chandra International Airport.

However, Banerjee suffered injuries caused by the steep climb-down the flight had to make to cope with the turbulence.

The CM was on board a Dassault Falcon 2000, which is a 10.3-tonne lightweight plane with a capacity of carrying a maximum of 19 people, including two flight attendants.   -- PTI
22:32   Manipur: Repolling to be held in 6 booths tomorrow
Repolling will take place on March 8 in six booths in two districts of Manipur, where assembly elections were recently held, officials said on Monday.

Voting in these polling stations in Ukhrul and Senapati were declared to be void following violence on March 5 during the second and final phase of the assembly polls in the state, they said.

The repoll will begin at 7 am and conclude by 4 pm in Ukhrul, Kalhang, Pen, Ngamju, Yangkhullen and Mao Marafii.

An estimated 84.90 per cent turnout was registered in the second phase.

One person was killed and another suffered injuries on March 5 after security personnel fired at a group of people for allegedly trying to snatch an EVM at Ngamju village in Senapati district, state election commission sources said.

The assembly polls will decide the electoral fate of 92 candidates, including 12 from the Bharatiya Janata Party, followed by Congress (18), National People's Party (11), Janata Dal-United and Naga People's Front (10 each).

 Counting of votes will take place on March 10.   -- PTI
21:23   Russia, Ukraine hold third round of talks
The third round of negotiations between the delegations of Ukraine and Russia began on Monday, informed the Belarus Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

'Russia-Ukraine talks kick off in Belarus for the third time,' tweeted Belarus MFA.

Notably, Russia and Ukraine will discuss political, humanitarian aspects and a military settlement during the third round of talks, Sputnik reported, citing the head of the Russian delegation, presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky.

The first round of talks between the two sides was held in the Gomel region of Belarus on February 28.

The talks are aimed at finding a way to end the Ukraine conflict.

Following the talks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office said Russia and Ukraine identified some priority topics on which they have outlined certain decisions.

The second round of talks between Russia and Ukraine over the crisis in Ukraine was held in Belarus on March 3.

The Russian delegation, in the first talks, was headed by presidential aide Vladimir Medinsky.

Earlier, Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office said the key 'issue of the negotiations is an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops from the territory of Ukraine'.   -- ANI
20:51   55.13% voter turnout recorded in 7th phase of UP
Over 55 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the seventh and last phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections for 54 seats on Monday. Voting started at 7 am.

It ended at 4 pm in the Chakia (Chandauli), Robertsganj and the Duddhi (Sonbhadra) seats, while in the rest of the segments, it continued till 6 pm.

The districts that voted in this phase are Azamgarh, Mau, Jaunpur, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Mirzapur, Bhadohi and Sonbhadra.

The voting percentage was recorded at 55.13 per cent, according to the Election Commission's 'Voter Turnout' application.

The final polling figure will be available on Tuesday, an official said.

According to the Election Commission, the polling percentage in the seventh phase of the assembly elections in 2017 was 59.56 per cent.

This time, Azamgarh witnessed 53.69 per cent voting, Bhadohi 54.26 per cent, Chandauli 61.99 per cent, Ghazipur 55.60 per cent, Jaunpur 53.55 per cent, Mau 57.02 per cent, Mirzapur 54.93 per cent, Sonbhadra 58.69 per cent and Varanasi 52.79 per cent, it showed.

A total of 613 candidates are in the fray for the 54 seats, including those falling in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's parliamentary segment Varanasi.

The fate of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party president Om Prakash Rajbhar and several state ministers will be decided in this round, in which 2.06 crore people were eligible to vote.

Besides state Tourism Minister Neelkanth Tiwari, who is contesting for the Varanasi South seat, other ministers in the fray in the last leg of the elections are Anil Rajbhar (Shivpur-Varanasi), Ravindra Jaiswal (Varanasi North), Girish Yadav (Jaunpur) and Ramashankar Singh Patel (Marihan-Mirzapur).

Dara Singh Chauhan, who resigned from the Yogi Adityanath cabinet and joined the Samajwadi Party (SP), is contesting from the Ghosi seat in Mau.

Om Prakash Rajbhar (Zahoorabad), Dhananjay Singh (Malhani-Jaunpur) as the Janata Dal-United candidate, and Abbas Ansari, the son of gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, from Mau Sadar seat, are contesting in this phase.

Campaigning in this phase reached its crescendo with Modi leading the BJP's poll blitzkrieg in Varanasi and its adjoining districts.

The state has 403 assembly seats and the results of the elections will be declared on March 10.   -- PTI
20:03   Exit polls: Uttarakhand may go either way
Uttarakhand (70 seats)

ABP News-C Voter
BJP: 26-32
Cong: 32-38
AAP: 0-2
Others: 3-7

ETG Research
BJP: 37-40
Cong: 29-32
AAP: 0-1
Others: 0-2

Times Now-VETO
BJP: 37
Cong: 31
AAP: 1
Others: 1

BJP: 31-33
Cong: 33-35
AAP: 0-3
Others: 0-2

Republic TV
BJP: 35-39
Cong: 28-34
AAP: 0-3
Others: 0-3

TV9 Bharatvarsh-Polstart
BJP: 31-33
Cong: 33-35
AAP: 0-3
Others: 0-2

Zee News-DesignedBox
BJP: 26-30
Cong: 35-40
AAP: 0
Others: 3-6
19:32   Exit polls: Close fight between BJP, Congress in Goa
Goa (40 seats)

India TV-Ground Zero Research
BJP: 10-14
Cong+: 20-25
TMC+: 3-5
Others: 1-4

BJP: 17-19
Cong+: 11-13
TMC+: 0
Others: 3-11

Republic TV
BJP: 13-17
Cong+: 13-17
TMC+: 2-4
Others: 2-10

Zee News-DesignBoxed
BJP: 13-18
Cong+: 14-19
TMC+: 2-5
Others: 2-6
19:10   Exit polls: BJP to retain power in UP
Exit poll results for Uttar Pradesh (403 seats):

BJP+: 211-225
SP+: 146-160
Congress: 4-6
BSP: 14-24

Republic TV
BJP+: 240
SP+: 140
Congress: 4
BSP: 17

News 18_ P-MARQ
BJP+: 240
SP+: 140
Congress: 4
BSP: 17

ETG Research
BJP+: 230-245
SP+: 150-165
Congress: 2-6
BSP: 5-10
18:48   Exit polls predict AAP sweep in Punjab
Punjab (117 seats)

India Today-My Axis
Cong: 19-31
BJP+: 1-4
AAP: 76-90
SAD+: 7-11
Others: 0-2

TV9 Bharatvarsh-Polstart
Cong: 24-29
BJP+: 1-6
AAP: 56-61
SAD+: 22-26
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
18:23   Ukraine, Russia FMs to meet on March 10
Ukrainian, Russian foreign ministers to meet in Turkey on March 10. Min Dmytro Kuleba and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have agreed to meet in Turkey's coastal Antalya province, as per their Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu: The Kyiv Independent
18:20   Exit poll results for 5-state elections in a bit
The seventh and final phase of voting in Uttar Pradesh concluded today and with this the assembly elections in the five states - Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Uttar Pradesh - has also ended. While the counting of votes is on May 10, all eyes are now on the exit polls.

Uttar Pradesh: saw a fierce battle between Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party and the ruling BJP.

Punjab: The Congress led by Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi is eyeing a second consecutive term. The big challenger is Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party.

Uttarakhand: A three-pronged contest with the ruling BJP, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party vying for power.

Goa: A single phase poll  with the Congress, AAP, TMC and BJP vying for power.

Manipur: voted in two phases.
18:14   A change in name
A pub called 'Putin' in Jerusalem has changed its name. Pic courtesy: @NewVoiceUkraine

18:08   After COVID dip, TV ad volumes grow 22% in 2021
Overall television advertising volumes grew 22 per cent to 1,824 million seconds in 2021, after getting hit in the previous year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) said on Monday. 

 The overall volumes had declined to 1,497 million seconds in 2020 from the 1,542 million seconds in 2019. The BCCI-promoted cricketing tournament Indian Premier League (IPL) did not seem to reflect the broader interest among advertisers, with BARC saying that the volumes in 2021 were at par at 16.80 lakh seconds. 

 The growth in the premium high-definition channels advertising at 11 per cent did not keep up with the same in the standard definition segment at 22 per cent, it added.
17:42   54% voter turnout in UP till 5 pm
54.18 per cent voters turnout recorded till 5 pm in the seventh and final phase of the UP elections. 
17:35   Court sends NSE ex-MD Ramkrishna to 7-day CBI custody
A Delhi court Monday sent former managing director and chief executive officer of National Stock Exchange Chitra Ramkrishna to 7-day CBI custody in the NSE co-location scam case, saying her custodial interrogation was required for fair and proper investigations. 

 Special Judge Sanjeev Aggarwal passed the order after hearing arguments from CBI and the counsel appearing for accused. 

 "It appears that the custodial interrogation of the above accused would be required to find out the detailed modus operandi adopted by her in conspiracy with the other co-accused persons involved in the present case including co-accused Anand Subramanian. The present case may be of unimaginable magnitude," the court said. 

 It further said that her custodial interrogation would also be required for confronting her with Subramanian, who is already in police custody, in order to find out the entire ramifications of the transactions in question, to dig out the voluminous digital evidence pertaining and to find out the role of other players in this case of swindling the institutional investors, foreign institutional investors and honest retail investors. 

 "Therefore, police custody remand of this accused is required for fair and proper investigations, as there are more than reasonable and substantial grounds for doing so... In these peculiar facts and circumstances, in the interest of justice and for fair investigations, accused Chitra Ramkrishna is remanded to police custody till March 14, 2022. She be produced before the Court on March 14, 2022," the judge said. 

 The probe agency had sought her 14-day custodial interrogation.
17:32   Market mayhem: Investors lose Rs 11.28 lakh cr in 4 days
nvestors' wealth has tumbled by over Rs 11.28 lakh crore in four days, tracking a heavy decline in equities amid intensifying conflict between Russia and Ukraine. 

 Sliding for the fourth straight day on Monday, the BSE benchmark Sensex plummeted 1,491.06 points or 2.74 per cent to settle at 52,842.75, weighed by weak global equities and elevated crude oil prices. 

During the session, the benchmark tanked 1,966.71 points or 3.61 per cent to 52,367.10. In tandem with the heavy sell-off in equities, the market capitalisation of BSE-listed companies plunged by Rs 11,28,214.05 crore in four days to stand at Rs 2,41,10,831.04 crore. In the four sessions, the BSE benchmark has shed 3,404.53 points or 6.05 per cent. -- PTI
17:29   Ukraine rejects Russia's plan for evacuation
The Russian plan for a humanitarian corridor to three Ukrainian cities fell through as Ukraine vetoed the idea, calling it an "unethical stunt". The "corridors" were to be opened from Kyiv, Mariupol and the eastern cities of Kharkiv and Sumy. 

Russia announced new "humanitarian corridors" on Monday to transport Ukrainians trapped under its bombardment - to Russia itself and its ally Belarus, a move immediately denounced by Kyiv as an immoral stunt.

The announcement came after two days of failed ceasefires to let civilians flee the besieged city of Mariupol, where hundreds of thousands of people are trapped without food and water, under relentless bombardment and unable to evacuate their wounded.
Polish peopl donate clothes at the Poland-Ukraine UN refugee relief camp
Polish peopl donate clothes at the Poland-Ukraine UN refugee relief camp
17:19   17 lakh refugees from Ukraine: UN
The United Nations' refugee agency says the number of people who have fled the war in Ukraine has increased to more than 1.7 million. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees on Monday put the number of people who have arrived in other countries since the Russian invasion started on February 24 at some 1.735 million. That's up from more than 1.53 million on Sunday. 

 Nearly three-fifths of the total - nearly 1.03 million -- arrived in Poland, according to the agency. Over 180,000 went to Hungary and 128,000 to Slovakia.
17:13   Scindia thanks this 'family' for evacuation from Ukraine
Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Monday lauded a family that helped in the evacuation of 7,457 Indian students from Ukraine under ongoing Operation Ganga amid escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, and thanked it for 'braving the odds and working tirelessly'.

"Indebted to this family that got 7457 of our students back to safety. #OperationGanga brought together people from across regions & occupations. And,it's incredible to have seen each brave the odds & work tirelessly on mission-mode without rest -almost like a machine! Thank you," Scindia tweeted. 

India has evacuated 16,000 citizens from war-torn Ukraine. Another 4,000 are left to be brought home. 
17:01   No water, food, cash, power: Students in Sumy
"It has been 10 days (since) we have been waiting here but there is no ray of hope (as to) when we will be evacuated," says a distraught Indian medical student stranded in the embattled northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy in a video message. 

 There is no power, no water supply and shops are refusing to accept cards, even though ATMs have run out of cash, said the Sumy State University student. 

 "We are not able to buy even food and essential items," she said. 

 Around 700 Indian students are stranded in Sumy, which has been witnessing intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops for days now. India has been making efforts to evacuate its citizens from the city but with little success due to heaving shelling and air strikes. Another Indian student stranded in Sumy, Aashiq Hussain Sarkar, told PTI,

 "Our willpower is going down. We are feeling demoralised... We are still waiting for an update." Ajith Gangadharan, a fourth-year medical student, said, "We were almost ready to leave on foot. The government asked us to stay put and not take any risk so we stayed back. But for how long?"

 Exasperated, the Indian students in Sumy had on Saturday posted a video clip announcing that they had decided to risk the walk to the Russian border in biting cold amid the fighting, raising fears about their safety in the corridors of power in New Delhi. 

 Soon after the video went viral, the Indian government asked the students to remain in shelters and assured them they will be rescued soon. 

 Melting snow to slake their thirst and fast running out of supplies, hundreds of Indian students trapped in Sumy stand on roads every morning hoping "today is the day" when they will be rescued from the savagery of the war that has engulfed Ukraine. 

 The wait, however, has got longer as fierce fighting blocks their way to safety across the Russian border. 

 Over the last few days, the students have been sending SOS messages and posting videos on social media, pleading for their urgent evacuation. 

 The Indian embassy in Ukraine has said a team from the mission has been stationed in Poltava city to coordinate the safe passage of the Indian students in Sumy to western borders via Poltava, and advised them to be ready to leave at short notice. 

 The war in Ukraine has gone on for over 10 days without any indication of humanitarian corridors getting created for the passage of foreign nationals to safety. 

 To evacuate its citizens from war-hit Ukraine, the Indian government has launched 'Operation Ganga' under which thousands of stranded people, mostly students, have been evacuated from nations bordering Ukraine's western frontiers. 

However, the evacuation from the eastern part remains a challenge. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday spoke to Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and sought his "support" in evacuation of Indian students stuck in Sumy. PTI
Indians wait to go to Lviv at the Polish border
Indians wait to go to Lviv at the Polish border
16:25   India evacuates 16,000 citizens, 4,000 left: MEA
Ukraine updates: 
-- MoS MEA V Muraleedharan: Out of 20,000 Indian citizens, we've been able to evacuate more than 16,000 citizens. Around 3,000 citizens are still there in the neighbouring countries of Ukraine. Around 600 students are there in Sumy. The Embassy is making arrangements to evacuate them.

-- Russia-Ukraine delegation meeting could begin in under 2 hours. The Russian delegation is currently waiting in Brest, Belarus.

-- President EU Commission: The EU commission will table proposals on how to quickly get rid of our dependency on Russian fossil fuels. This means diversifying suppliers, switching to LNG and pipeline gas, repowering the EU by investing in renewables and improving energy efficiency. 
16:12   Sensex nosedives 1,491 points
Equity benchmarks received a severe drubbing on Monday, with the Sensex tumbling 1,491 points amid extremely weak global makets and elevated oil prices triggered by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. 

Extending its downtrend for the fourth straight session, the 30-share BSE Sensex opened on a weak note and slumped 1,966.71 points or 3.61 per cent to 52,367.10 during the day. 

It finally managed to recover some of the lost ground and settled at 52,842.75, a decline of 1,491.06 points or 2.74 per cent. Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty tanked 382.20 points or 2.35 per cent to close at 15,863.15.

From the 30-share pack, Indusind Bank, Axis Bank, Maruti Suzuki, Bajaj Finance, Bajaj Finserv, UltraTech Cement and Mahindra & Mahindra were the biggest drags, tumbling up to 7.63 per cent. In contrast, Bharti Airtel, HCL Technologies, Tata Steel and Infosys settled in the green.
A worried mother waits to board a train. Gleb Garanich/Reuters
A worried mother waits to board a train. Gleb Garanich/Reuters
16:01   How many deaths needed to secure skies: Zelenskyy
Ukranine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses his country and the world at large: 

"During the night, Russia hit Mykolayiv residential areas, using rocket artillery. They hit Kharkiv neighbourhoods, they hit other cities too. This had zero sense from a military standpoint, it's simply terror.

"If the invasion continues, and Russia is not stopping, a new sanction package is needed.

"A boycott of Russian export, refusal to buy Russian oil & petroleum products. You can call it an embargo or a moral thing to do, when you refuse to give money to terrorists.

"How many more deaths are needs for you to secure our sky? We are waiting for this decision, either (for you to do it) with the force you have or provide us with planes and anti-aircraft systems that will give us the strength to do it."

15:43   Indian doc in Ukraine refuses to leave without his jaguar and panther
An Indian doctor, Girikumar Patil, famously known as 'Jaguar Kumar' refuses to leave Ukraine without his pet jaguar and panther.  "I called the embassy but didn't get a proper response. My place is surrounded by Russians but I'm trying my best. I treat them like my kids," he says. His jaguar is named Yagwar and the Black Panther is called Sabrina.
15:36   So noisy, mummy!
A girl reacts during an air raid siren as people wait to board a train in Ukraine last week. Gleb Garanich/Reuters
15:34   Putin assures Modi of safe evacuation from Sumy
PM Narendra Modi speaks on the phone to Russian President Putin. 

The phone call lasted for about 50 minutes. 

They discussed the evolving situation in Ukraine. 

President Putin briefed PM Modi on the status of negotiations between the Ukrainian and Russian teams.

The PM urged President Putin to hold direct talks with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in addition to the ongoing negotiations between their teams. 

Modi appreciated the announcement of ceasefire and establishment of humanitarian corridors in parts of Ukraine, including Sumy.

Modi stressed the importance of safe evacuation of Indian citizens from Sumy at the earliest. President Putin assured Prime Minister Modi of all possible cooperation in their safe evacuation
15:12   11,000 Russian troops killed: Ukraine
Ukraine claims the Russian military has lost over 11,000 troops, 46 planes, 68 helicopters, 999 armored vehicles and 290 tanks. 

Russia has snubbed a hearing at the United Nations' top court into a legal bid by Kyiv to halt Moscow's devastating invasion of Ukraine. A row of seats reserved for Russian lawyers at the International Court of Justice was empty Monday morning as the hearing opened.
15:08   Russia bombs Ukraine's Mykolaiv
Russia launches a heavy bombardment of the Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, state-run media reported on Monday.

"Russian artillery pounded the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv overnight on March 7, resulting in fires at residential buildings, according to Ukraine's State Emergency Service," The Kyiv Independent reported.

Meanwhile, Russia says it will open humanitarian corridors from 10:00 am (European Time) on March 7 to allow the evacuation of civilians from several Ukrainian cities experiencing heavy fighting, including the capital Kyiv and besieged port city Mariupol.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov today said that Kyiv is making every effort to open humanitarian corridors in Mariupol.

"The country's leadership is doing everything possible and impossible to provide humanitarian corridors," Reznikov wrote on Facebook, assessing the situation in Mariupol, reported Sputnik News Agency.

Image: A destroyed car is seen in front of a house damaged by shelling in the village of Marhalivka. Oleg Pereverzev/Reuters

A family flees Irpin. Pic: Carlos Barria/Reuters
A family flees Irpin. Pic: Carlos Barria/Reuters
15:00   Ukrainian familys dash for safety ends in death
The bridge was just a shell of its old self, blown up days earlier by Ukrainian soldiers intent on slowing the Russian advance on the capital, Kyiv, but battered as it was, it offered a lifeline to civilians desperate to flee the fighting.

On Sunday, as Ukrainian refugees were milling near the entrance to the structure, calculating their odds of making it safely over the Irpin River, a family laden with backpacks and a blue roller suitcase decided to chance it.

The Russian mortar hit just as they made it across into Kyiv.

A cloud of concrete dust lofted into the morning air. When it settled, Ukrainians could be seen running madly from the scene. But not the family. A mother and her two children lay still on the roadway, along with a family friend.

Read the report in the New York Times here. 
14:36   Former NSE MD produced in court
CBI produces ex-MD and CEO of National Stock Exchange (NSE) Chitra Ramkrishna before court, seeks 14-day custody in NSE co-location case. 

The CBI has sought a 14 day-remand of Ramkrishna to confront her with officials of NSE and SEBI, says CBI counsel in court

A Delhi court on Saturday denied anticipatory bail to Ramkrishna amid reports of her being questioned by a senior psychologist of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory to ascertain the facts relating to the mysterious yogi and the co-location scam at the bourse.
14:30   Friend China refuses to help Russia over Ukraine
Despite sharing strong ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and criticizing the West over the sanctions against Russia, China's President Xi Jinping has not stepped in to help Moscow.

Radio Free Europe reported that the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a Chinese-led development bank, suspended all business with Russia and Belarus on March 3, a possible sign of the limits to Beijing and Moscow's relationship. Similarly, the Shanghai-based New Development Bank also suspended business with Russia the same day.

Meanwhile, many companies including PayPal, American Express Sunday announced the suspension of their operations in Russia and Belarus over the ongoing military operation in Ukraine.

This comes a day after credit card and payment giants Mastercard and Visa announced that they were suspending operations in Russia and that their cards issued by Russian banks will no longer work outside the country.

Image: A man and a child escape from the town of Irpin, after heavy shelling on the only escape route used by locals. Carlos Barria/Reuters
14:17   Over 35% voter turnout till 1 pm in UP
The average voter turnout in the last leg of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections on Monday was reported to be at 35.51 per cent till 1 pm.

Election Commission of India's data shows that the highest voter turnout was witnessed in Chandauli with 38.45 per cent, followed by 38.05 per cent in Mirzapur and 37.08 per cent in Mau district. 

Jaunpur saw a voter turnout of 35.80 per cent while 35.68 per cent was recorded in Sonbhadra, 35.60 per cent in Bhadohi, 34.60 per cent in Azamgarh and 34.15 per cent in Ghazipur.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Parliamentary constituency Varanasi recorded the least voter turnout of 33.55 per cent. -- ANI
14:12   Grateful for support, Zelenskyy after PM's call
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweets after his phone call with PM Narendra Modi. "Informed Indian PM Modi about Ukraine countering Russian aggression. India appreciates the assistance to its citizens during the war and Ukraine's commitment to direct peaceful dialogue at the highest level. Grateful for the support to the Ukrainian people," Zelenskyy said. 

Modi on Monday held a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy amid the ongoing conflict with Russia, and sought continued support from his government for the evacuation of Indian nationals from Sumy.

The Prime Minister also appreciated the continuing direct dialogue between Ukraine and Russia, Government of India sources informed. In a phone call that lasted for about 35 minutes, Modi thanked President Zelensky for the help extended by the Government of Ukraine in the evacuation of Indian nationals from Ukraine.
14:09   Wouldn't say Warne is the greatest spinner: Gavaskar
Batting icon Sunil Gavaskar feels the late Shane Warne sent down "magic deliveries" during his career and mastered a difficult craft but the legendary Australian wasn't the greatest spinner of all time as his performance in India was "pretty ordinary." 

 Warne, since making his debut in 1992, played 145 Tests for Australia, picking up 708 wickets with his leg-spin. 

In his 194 ODI appearances, he snared 293 scalps. But when Gavaskar was asked if the Australian was the greatest spinner he has seen, the former India captain said he rated India's litany of spinners and former Sri Lanka bowler Muttiah Muralitharan higher than Warne. 

 "No, I wouldn't say that no. For me, the Indian spinners and Muttiah Muralitharan were certianly better than Shane Warne," Gavaskar said on 'India Today'. 

 "Because look at Shane Warne's record against India. It was pretty ordinary. In India, he got five wickets only once in Nagpur, and that too because Zaheer Khan swung wildly against him to give him a fifer. Warne, 52, died of a suspected heart attack on Friday in Koh Samui, Thailand, sending shockwaves around the cricketing world. 

 "Because he did not have much success against Indian players who were very good players of spin, I don't think I would call him the greatest," Gavaskar said. Muttiah Muralitharan with a greater success he had against India, I would rank him over Warne in my book, he added. -- PTI
14:00   Ruling party can use 'unfair' means during counting of votes: Tikait
Counting of votes for 5-state elections is on the 10th. Ahead of it, Bhartya Kisan Union (BKU) national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait has alleged that the ruling party can use "unfair" means during the counting of votes for the Uttar Pradesh elections on March 10. 

Voting in the six assembly seats, including Muzaffarnagar, Budhana, Pyrkazi, Khatoli, Murapur and Charthawal were held in first phase on February 10. 

The ruling party can use unfair means to win during the counting of votes to be held on March 10, the BKU leader said after visiting Navin Mandi here where EVMs are being kept. 
13:57   Rupee plunges to record low of 77.02 against USD
The Indian rupee plunged to a record low of 77.02 against a US dollar on Monday as a sharp rise in crude oil prices amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict dampened investors' sentiments.

At the interbank foreign currency market, the rupee hit a low of 77.02 against a US dollar in the intra-day trade on Monday against its Friday's close at 76.16 against a dollar. 

The Indian rupee has weakened sharply in the last couple of weeks due to a sharp rise in crude oil prices in the international markets.

The Brent crude oil price surged to near $130 a barrel, the highest level since 2008. -- ANI
13:35   In India, Shane Warne was a conjuror without rabbits
"I have a fuzzy memory of Shane Warne's first Test because it happened a fortnight before my son was born in January 1992. The cricketing reason I remember that match is Ravi Shastri's double hundred which put India in a position to force an unlikely win in Sydney, though Australia managed to draw the game."

Read Mukul Kesavan's column on Shane Warne here.    
13:33   Relief material reaches Kyiv
Empty trains carry relief material from Lviv for people in Kyiv, Ukraine. Visuals from Kyiv railway station that remains deserted.
13:25   Russians kill Ukranian handing out bread
The Kyiv Independent: Hostomel village council confirms that on March 7 Russian troops killed the head of Hostomel territorial community Yury Prylypko. He was killed along with two other people while giving bread and medicine to Hostomel residents. 
13:12   Dangers ahead
"India needs to be careful in all this horse-trading and tightrope walking as Vladimir Putin invokes nuclear power to undo Mikhail Gorbachev's handiwork and push back history. 

"Trying to prevent a special session of the United Nations General Assembly to discuss the crisis is hardly the way to ensuring that Ukraine's ambassador there will jump up from his seat to embrace India's representative as he did Singapore's. 

"It would have been different if India had been prepared to confront the United States of America over NATO's eastward march and the coup that toppled Ukraine's democratically elected president but such candour isn't India's diplomatic style."

India may not pull off its tightrope walk on Ukraine, writes Sunanda K. Datta-Ray. Read the column here. 
13:10   Tea exporters worried about payment issues with Russia
Tea exporters on Monday expressed concern over how to solve payment issues for their shipments to Russia since the CIS country's several banks have been blocked to access to a global financial system SWIFT, in the wake of the Russian-Ukraine crisis. 

Indian Tea Exporters' Association (ITEA) chairman Anshuman Kanoria said everything is uncertain and premature in the context of the conflict. But the blocking of access to SWIFT for several Russian banks is worrisome. 

Russia is the largest importer of Indian tea, followed by Iran, with which there is also a payment problem due to sanctions imposed by the US, he said. 

 The US along with its key allies, including the European Union and the UK, had decided to disconnect key sanctioned Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. 

 During the last calendar year, Russia imported 34.09 million kilograms of Indian tea, followed by Iran at 26.18 million kilograms, according to Tea Board data. 

 Besides the payment issues with Russia, tea cargo movement to the country is also a problem as no delivery is taking place at a Black Sea port and most of the shipping liners are not taking cargo to Russian destinations, he said.
13:04   Nawab Malik jailed in money laundering case
Maharashtra Minister and NCP leader Nawab Malik sent to judicial custody by Special PMLA court in Mumbai. He was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on February 23rd in connection with a money laundering case involving gangster and terrorist Dawood Ibrahim.
12:54   Russia may unleash new weapon: Syrian fighters
Russian President Vladimir Putin is looking to recruit Syrian soldiers to fight in Ukraine amid the escalating conflict in Kyiv, The Wall Street Journal reported citing US officials.

United States officials told the Journal that Moscow is specifically recruiting Syrian fighters for their expertise in urban combat fighting. 

An American assessment indicates that Russia, which has been operating inside Syria since 2015, has in recent days been recruiting fighters from there, hoping their expertise in urban combat can help take Kyiv and deal a devastating blow to the Ukrainian government, according to four American officials. 

The move points to a potential escalation of fighting in Ukraine, The Wall Street Journal said citing experts.

Troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Russia, have been fighting a fierce battle in urban centres for nearly a decade, giving them a skill set hard to find among Russian troops, The Hill reported.

One official said while it's unclear how many Syrian fighters will join the battle, some are already in Russia preparing to enter the conflict, per the Journal.

The involvement of Syrian troops would further internationalize a war that began with Russia's invasion on February 24.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week that over 16,000 foreign fighters have volunteered to defend the country, calling it an "international legion."

Image: A service member of pro-Russian troops in a uniform without insignia walks next to an armoured vehicle with symbols "Z" painted on its side in the separatist-controlled village of Bugas. Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
12:35   Modi speaks to Ukraine president for 35 minutes
Prime Minister Modi spoke over the phone to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for about 35 minutes. The two leaders discussed the evolving situation in Ukraine. The PM appreciated the continuing direct dialogue between Russia and Ukraine. 

This is Modi's third call to to the Ukranian President. He spoke to  Zelenskyy on February 26 . After India abstained during a vote in the United Nations Security council, Zelensky spoke to PM Modi and sought India's political support at the UNSC.

Modi will also speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin today.
12:29   Ukraine FM asks EU, G7 to impose more sanctions against Russia
Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba on Sunday asked European Union (EU) and G7 countries to impose a specific set of sanctions against Moscow to further "pinch the Russian economy", a media report said.

Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba sent letters to all his counterparts in the EU and G7 countries with a specific list of the sanctions "in order to finally pinch the Russian economy and end the war in Ukraine". 

The development comes amidst Russia's continuous advances in Ukraine, encircling multiple key cities.

Earlier on February 28, in a previous meeting with the G7 Foreign Ministers, Kuleba had insisted on a full embargo for Russian oil and gas and said buying them now means "paying for the murder of Ukrainian men, women and children".

Kuleba also said that the G7 countries had agreed to provide Ukraine with more practical means to defend itself. He had said that defensive weapons, military equipment, and financial support for Ukraine were underway.

Image: A local resident reacts as a house is on fire after heavy shelling on the only escape route used by locals to leave the town of Irpin. Carlos Barria/Reuters
12:11   21.55% polling in UP in first four hours of voting
Over 21 per cent of voters exercised their right in the first four hours of polling for the seventh and last phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections for 54 seats on Monday. 

Voting started at 7 am and will end at 4 pm in Chakia (Chandauli), Robertsganj and Duddhi (Sonbhadra) seats while in the rest of the segments, it will continue till 6 pm.

 The districts where polls are underway in this phase are Azamgarh, Mau, Jaunpur, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Mirzapur, Bhadohi and Sonbhadra. The voting percentage till 11 am is 21.55 per cent, according to the ECI's Voter Turnout app. -- ANI
12:07   At the Poland-Ukraine border
Stuffed toys donated by Poles at the Polish/Ukrainian border.
Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for refugees, tweets this image, writing, "I was impressed by the outpouring of solidarity by communities through Poland in support of refugees: many volunteers in action, and piles of donations everywhere, all effectively organized by border guards and local authorities."

Over a million refugees have fled Ukraine in just a week. 
11:57   Evacuation of Indians via Budapest ends
Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri returned from Hungary on Monday along with the last batch of 6711 stranded Indian students from Budapest after overseeing the 'Operation Ganga' launched by the government to bring back people from war-torn Ukraine.

Puri reached Delhi on Monday along with the last batch of the evacuated Indians. 

Taking to Twitter, the Union Minister expressed happiness, saying youngsters of the country can now reach their respective home places and be united with their parents and families.

"Delighted to reach Delhi with the last batch of our 6711 students from Budapest. There is joy, enthusiasm & relief as youngsters reach home & will soon be with their parents & families. Deeply privileged to be of help," Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted.

Over the past week, more than 16,000 Indian students have been evacuated from Ukraine under 'Operation Ganga'.

Barring Kharkiv and Sumy, almost all Indians from the remaining regions of Ukraine have been evacuated.
The ceasefire comes at the initiative of the French president
The ceasefire comes at the initiative of the French president
11:44   Russia declares ceasefire in 4 cities in Ukraine
The Russian military declares ceasefire in Ukraine from 12:30 pm IST to open humanitarian corridors. This is happening at French President Emmanuel Macron's request.  Russia has declared ceasefires for cities of Kyiv, Kharkov, Mariupol and Sumy to allow for civilian evacuations.
11:40   Day 12: Modi to speak to Zelensky and Putin today
Update: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will speak to both Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, Government of India sources said.

PM Modi has spoke to both the leaders twice, since the beginning of the conflict on February 24 when Russia launched a special military operation on Ukraine. 

The PM had spoken to the Russian President on February 24 night and then on March 2. In his last call PM Modi reviewed the situation in Ukraine, especially in Kharkiv and both the leaders had also discussed the safe evacuation of the Indian nationals from the conflict areas, according to the Prime Minister's office.

On February 26, PM Modi spoke to Ukranian President Zelensky in which the latter briefed the Prime Minister in detail about the ongoing conflict situation. 

After India abstained during a vote in the United Nations Security council, Zelensky spoke to PM Modi and sought India's political support at the UNSC.

Image: Rescue workers pour water and hand out meds to people who were evacuated from Irpin on March 6 in Kyiv. At least three civilians were killed and others wounded as Russian mortar rounds landed between Irpin and Kyiv yesterday. Pic: Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images.
11:36   Can Rs 500 help us?
Last phase of the elections today. An elderly person reaches a polling booth in Uttar Pradesh by pulling a cart with his wife. She has a fracture and is handicapped. "I have a back problem and my wife is not well, hence we used this cart. We have no expectations. Can Rs 500, Rs 1000 (given by the state) cure us?" he asked. After casting their vote he said, "We don't want to waste our votes."
11:27   Investor wealth tumbles 5.91 lakh crore
Investors' wealth tumbled over 5.91 lakh crore in morning trade on Monday tracking heavy decline in equities amid intensifying conflict between Russia and Ukraine. 

 Continuing its decline for the fourth day on Monday, the BSE gauge plummeted 1,735.98 points or 3.19 per cent to 52,597.83, tracking weak global equities and elevated crude oil prices. 

 In tandem with the heavy plunge in equities, the market capitalisation of BSE-listed companies plunged by Rs 5,91,094.71 crore to Rs 2,40,88,326.67 crore in morning deals.

 Maruti Suzuki India, Indusind Bank, State Bank of India and Axis Bank emerged as the biggest drag from the 30-share BSE Sensex pack, tanking up to 6.72 per cent. -- PTI

Image: Ukrainian servicemen make a pitstop on March 5 in Sytniaky. Pic: Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images
11:21   Modi to speak to Putin this afternoon after ceasefire in force
To reiterate: Russia has declared a ceasefire in four cities of Ukraine for evacuation of civilians from the war zones. This comes at the behest of French President Emmanuel Macron's talks with Russian president Vladimir Putin. PM Modi will speak to Putin, but the ceasefire decision, is not at Narendra Modi's behest. The ceasefire will take place at 12:30 pm IST. 
11:15   Sting posts video of himself singing his 1985 song 'Russians' amid war in Ukraine
Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, or rather the man we know as Sting, lends his voice to Ukraine.

Sting says his 1985 song "Russians" is more relevant than ever due to the war in Ukraine.

The Grammy winner posted a video on Instagram of himself singing the song.

On Instagram, Sting writes, "I've only rarely sung this song in the many years since it was written, because I never thought it would be relevant again. But, in the light of one man's bloody and woefully misguided decision to invade a peaceful, unthreatening neighbor, the song is, once again, a plea for our common humanity. For the brave Ukrainians fighting against this brutal tyranny and also the many Russians who are protesting this outrage despite the threat of arrest and imprisonment.
- We, all of us, love our children. Stop the war.
Supplies shipped to this warehouse in Poland are delivered in coordination with the Armed Forces of Ukraine and are guaranteed to go to people most in need.
Wherehouse address:Pol-CelRampa Brzeska 63, 22-100 Chem, PolandEvery box should be labeled "HELP UKRAINE' and indicate the contents: "Medicines,' "Clothes,' "Food,' "Humanitarian Aid.'"
UK PM Boris Johnson
UK PM Boris Johnson
11:11   UK injects $100 mn into Ukraine
The UK has injected $100 million into Ukraine's economy to mitigate financial pressures created by Russia's unprovoked and illegal invasion, the U.K. Prime Minister's Office announced on March 7.
10:58   Modi to speak to Putin today
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday afternoon, official sources said. The telephonic talks will follow Modi's scheduled conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. 

 Modi's interaction with the two leaders comes amid India's all out efforts to evacuate its nationals, mostly students, from Ukraine, facing attack from Russia. Modi had spoken to Putin earlier too when the war began. -- PTI
10:38   Indian shot at in Kyiv on the way home in IAF plane
Harjiot Singh, who sustained bullet injuries in Kyiv, is being escorted to IAF's special aircraft, that will bring him and other Indians back to India from Poland. 

The incident took place on February 27 when Singh, along with his two friends, boarded a cab for the western Ukrainian city of Lviv in a bid to escape Kyiv.

"I don't know what happened to the people I was with. If they made it or not, I have no clue. I thought I will not make it," Singh said. 

Singh is enrolled in a language course at International European University in Kyiv.

Read his story here. 

Will Akhilesh Yadav win?
Will Akhilesh Yadav win?
10:28   UP polls last phase: Nearly 9% voter turnout till in one hour
A voter turnout of 8.58 per cent was recorded till 9 am in the last phase of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections on Monday.

As per government data shared by Additional Chief Electoral Officer BD Ram Tiwari of the state, the highest voter turnout of 9.99 per cent was reported in Mau, followed by 8.99 per cent in Jaunpur. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Parliamentary constituency Varanasi reported 8.93 per cent voter turnout. 
10:18   India logs 4,362 new COVID-19 cases, 66 fatalities
India has recorded its lowest daily COVID-19 cases since May 17, 2020, at 4,362, which took the total tally to 4,29,67,315, according to Union health ministry data updated on Monday.
The death toll has climbed to 5,15,102 with 66 fresh fatalities, the data updated at 8 am stated.
The country on May 17, 2020, had recorded 4,987 new cases.
The active COVID-19 cases in the country has dipped to 54,118 and comprised 0.13 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has further improved to 98.68 per cent, the ministry said.
10:17   Pak drone with drugs shot down by BSF in Punjab
A Pakistani drone carrying over 4 kgs of suspected contraband was shot down by the Border Security Force along the international border in Punjab's Ferozpur sector on Monday, an official said.
The quadcopter was detected around 3 am after troops heard a humming sound. They illuminated the area with "para bombs" to aim at the drone, a BSF spokesperson said.
He said a small green coloured bag was attached to the drone and it contained four packets in yellow wrappings and one small packet in a black wrapping.
The gross weight of the suspected contraband item is about 4.17 kgs, with packing material, and the packet wrapped in black weighs about 250 grams, the spokesperson said.
The drone's model is DJI Matrice 300 RTX. -- PTI  
10:05   Sensex tanks over 1500 points amid Ukraine war
Equity benchmarks Sensex and Nifty tumbled nearly 3 per cent in opening trade on Monday tracking weak global markets and elevated oil prices amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Extending its downtrend for the fourth straight session on Monday, the 30-share BSE Sensex opened on a weak note and slumped 1,620.73 points or 2.98 per cent to 52,713.08.
Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty tanked 447.05 points or 2.75 per cent and slipped below the 16,000 level to 15,798.30.
Sensex tanked 1,453.51 points to 52,880.30 in opening trade, while the Nifty plunged over 400 points to 15,831.85.
From the 30-share pack, Maruti Suzuki, Mahindra & Mahindra, Larsen & Toubro and ICICI Bank were the biggest drag, tumbling up to 6.3 per cent.
In the previous trade, the 30-share BSE benchmark ended at 54,333.81, down by 768.87 points or 1.40 per cent. The NSE Nifty slumped 252.70 points or 1.53 per cent to end at 16,245.35.
09:19   BJP 'goons' attacked minister Satyendar Jain's convoy, claims AAP
The Aam Aadmi Party on Sunday alleged that Bharatiya Janata Party "goons" attacked the convoy of its senior leader and Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain in the capital.
The Delhi unit of the BJP, however, rejected the charge. The party said residents of the Chhawla area in Delhi's South-West district had protested against the new liquor policy of the Arvind Kejriwal government.
In a series of tweets, the Aam Aadmi Party alleged that the Delhi unit of the BJP deployed its "hooligans" to attack Jain's convoy as it realised that it is going to lose the upcoming civic body polls.
"BJP GOONS ATTACK DELHI MINISTER @SatyendarJain's CONVOY! BJP is losing MCD elections, hence they are down to what they know best - VIOLENCE!," AAP tweeted.
On the microblogging site, the party also posted a video footage of the alleged attack.        
"This is the BJP. It's the party of hooligans and ruffians. When they are losing, they show their position. People will tell them their position," Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal said in a Hindi tweet.  

Party sources said the incident took place at Goyla Dairy-Najafgarh drain culvert around 12 noon.
"There was no goondaism against Minister Satyendar Jain, only local residents of the Chhawla area protested against the new liquor policy of the Kejriwal government," Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor said in a statement.
"It is really sad that the Aam Aadmi Party, which was born out of a agitational movement today cannot tolerate a people's protest," he added.
Delhi BJP media relations head Harish Khurana also hit out at  AAP and condemned Kejriwal for his remarks.  "The kind of words that Arvind Kejriwalji has used that they were BJP goons and they should be shown their position, the BJP condemns it. Arvind Kejriwal Saheb you should know that they were not from the BJP. They were locals protesting against your excise policy. You are playing a very cheap politics," he said in a video message.
09:10   Modi to speak with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will speak to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday, official sources said. 
Modi's expected talk with Zelenskyy comes amid India's all out efforts to evacuate its nationals, mostly students, from the country facing attack from Russia. 
This is the second time Modi will speak to Zelenskyy since the war began. 
The prime minister has also spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin after he launched an attack on Ukraine. -- PTI  
08:51   India's Palestine envoy Mukul Arya passes away at Indian mission
Mukul Arya, India's representative at the Palestinian city of Ramallah, has passed away, according to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Sunday.
"Deeply shocked to learn about the passing away of India's Representative at Ramallah, Shri Mukul Arya," Jaishankar tweeted.
"He was a bright and talented officer with so much before him. My heart goes out to his family and loved ones. Om Shanti," he said.
It was not immediately known how Arya, a 2008-batch Indian Foreign Service officer, died.
The Palestinian foreign ministry said it received with "great astonishment and shock" the news of the death of Ambassador Arya.
"As soon as this painful news arrived, immediate instructions were issued from President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh to all the security, police and public authorities, in addition to the Ministry of Health and Forensic Medicine, to immediately move to the place of residence of the Indian ambassador to closely monitor the case of death," it said in a statement.
It further added that "all parties are fully prepared to do what is required of them in such difficult and emergency circumstances."
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants expresses its deep sadness, loss and pain at the death of Ambassador Arya," it said.
The ministry said it is in touch with India's external affairs ministry to complete the arrangements for transporting the mortal remains of Arya.
It said Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki extended his heartfelt condolences to his Indian counterpart Jaishankar, and through him to the Indian government as well as to Arya's family.
Arya had served in the Indian embassies in Kabul, Moscow as well as at the headquarters of the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi.
He also served at India's Permanent Delegation to the UNESCO in Paris. 
Arya studied economics at the Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University before joining the Indian Foreign Service. 
08:19   Voting begins for last phase of UP assembly polls
Voting for the seventh and the last phase of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections began on Monday morning, with 613 candidates in the fray on 54 seats, including those falling in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's parliamentary segment Varanasi.  
The fate of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party president Om Prakash Rajbhar and several state ministers will be decided in this round, in which 2.06 crore people are eligible to vote. 
Voting will be held from 7 am to 4 pm on the Chakia (Chandauli), Robertsganj and Duddhi (Sonbhadra) seats while in the rest of the segments, it will continue till 6 pm.
The districts going to the polls in this phase are Azamgarh, Mau, Jaunpur, Ghazipur, Chandauli, Varanasi, Mirzapur, Bhadohi and Sonbhadra. 
Once considered a stronghold of the Samajwadi Party, the region saw the BJP making inroads in 2017 by winning 29 seats. The Bahujan Samaj Party got six seats and the SP 11.
For the SP, its patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav made a rare appearance in Jaunpur to drum up support for Lucky Yadav, the son of his long-time associate the late Parasnath Yadav. Lucky Yadav is in the fray from the Malhani seat.
Mulayam had earlier campaigned for his son Akhilesh Yadav in the Karhal Assembly segment of Mainpuri.
Besides state Tourism Minister Neelkanth Tiwari (Varanasi South), other ministers in the fray in the last leg of the elections are Anil Rajbhar (Shivpur-Varanasi), Ravindra Jaiswal (Varanasi North), Girish Yadav (Jaunpur) and Ramashankar Singh Patel (Marihan-Mirzapur).
Dara Singh Chauhan, who had resigned from the Yogi Adityanath cabinet and had joined the SP, is contesting from Ghosi in Mau.
Om Prakash Rajbhar (Zahoorabad), Dhananjay Singh (Malhani-Jaunpur) as the Janata Dal-United candidate, and Abbas Ansari, the son of gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, from Mau Sadar seat, are contesting in this phase.
Campaigning in this phase reached its crescendo with Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the BJP's poll blitzkrieg in Varanasi and its adjoining districts.
Besides addressing election rallies, he also held a roadshow for three Assembly constituencies in his Lok Sabha segment. -- PTI