Thu, 05 May 2022
Do everything to save lives in heat wave: Modi

Timeline  Refresh

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23:35   Edtech firm Vedantu lays off 200 employees
Edtech firm Vedantu has laid off 200 employees as it did not find them in sync with the company's growth expectation. 

When contacted, the company spokesperson confirmed the development and said the firm is also hiring over 1,000 new people. 

"We have over 6,000 employees out of which 120 contractors and 80 full-time or 3.5 per cent of the total strength are academics or assistant teachers, who were being reevaluated. We have an annual contract with them, and at the beginning of every academic year, we follow a process of load rebalancing, where we rejig pertaining to these roles, based on our growth expectations," the spokesperson said. 

The spokesperson said the reassessment cannot be done in the middle of the year as the learning experience and continuity of the teachers throughout the year is the company's priority. 

"With more technology intervention, restructuring of the class format, and changes in the categories, we relook at these roles of our academics and assistant teachers. As we synchronize our growth goals for this year, we are also hiring more than 1,000 employees in various teams, including over 100 for similar positions," the spokesperson said. 

Last month, edtech company Unacademy laid off around 600 employees on account of non-performance and role redundancy as the company looks to enhance efficiency and become profitable by the end of this year. -- PTI
23:13   Allahabad HC reserves order on bail plea of Azam Khan
The Allahabad high court on Thursday reserved its order on the bail application of Samajwadi Party MLA Azam Khan in the case of grabbing of enemy property for his Mohammad Ali Jauhar University project. 

The order has been reserved by Justice Rahul Chaturvedi. 

An FIR was lodged against Khan and others for alleged grabbing of enemy property and misappropriation of public money of more than hundreds of crores of rupees. 

The FIR was lodged at police station Azem Nagar in Rampur under the IPC and the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. 

It was alleged in the FIR that during the Partition one Imamuddin Qureshi went to Pakistan and his land was recorded as enemy property, but Khan in collusion with others grabbed the 13.842-hectare plot. -- PTI
23:06   Do everything to save lives in heat wave: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday chaired an important meeting to review preparations for heat wave management and monsoon preparedness in which he stressed on the need to take all measures to avoid deaths due to heatwave or fire incidents. 

During the meeting, the India meteorological department and the National Disaster Management Authority briefed about the persistence of high temperatures in March-May 2022 across the country, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement. 

Prime Minister Modi observed that "we need to take all measures" to avoid deaths due to heat wave or fire incidents, according to the statement. 

He also added that the response time towards any such incidents should be minimal. 

Modi stressed that in view of rising temperatures, regular hospital fire safety audits need to be done. 

The prime minister also spoke about the need to work to substantially reduce the vulnerability of forests across the diverse forest ecosystems in the country against fire hazards, enhance the capabilities of forest personnel and institutions for timely detection of a possible fire and for fighting fires, and to speed up recovery after a fire event, according to the statement. 

Modi directed that in view of upcoming monsoon, arrangements for monitoring the quality of drinking water need to be ensured to avoid contamination and resultant spread of water-borne diseases, it said. -- PTI
22:57   Jet Airways is back, does a positioning flight
'And, she's here! Our aircraft, VT-SXE, operated a positioning flight this evening from Hyderabad to Delhi as 9W101. Some photos here of the aircraft in Delhi and of colleagues celebrating this momentous day!,' tweeted Jet Airways on Thursday evening.
22:34   Rahul returns after making headlines through his personal visit to Nepal
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi returned home on Thursday after concluding his personal visit to Nepal, days after he made news back home for allegedly attending a nightclub here in the Himalayan nation. 

He was in the country to attend a wedding party of a non-resident Nepali businessman's daughter Sumnima Udas. 

Rahul had also visited the famous tourist hub of Kathmandu Thamel and the cultural city Lalitpur during his visit to the country from Monday. 

A purported video of Rahul attending a night club sparked controversy in the media as the video went viral. 

"We had extended an invitation to Gandhi to attend the wedding of my daughter," Bhim Udas, Sumnima's father who also served as Nepal's ambassador to Myanmar, had said last week. 

The BJP alleged that Rahul was at a nightclub when his party was "exploding", evoking a sharp response from the Congress Party which said he was in Nepal to attend the marriage of a journalist friend, and that is not a crime. 

Congress general secretary and chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Gandhi was in Nepal for a private wedding function and had not gone there uninvited. 

He also said it is not a crime to attend a wedding of a friend or a family member. 

Sumnima, a former CNN correspondent, got married to Nima Martin Sherpa on Tuesday. 

A reception was held on May 5 at Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bauddha, the bride's father Bhim said. -- PTI
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22:17   Lalitpur gang-rape: Accused cop sent to jail
The station house officer arrested on charges of raping a minor girl in Lalitpur was on Thursday sent to 14-day judicial custody. 

With this, all the six accused in the case have been sent to jail following court orders, the police said. 

"Accused SHO Tilakdhari Saroj was produced before a district court which sent him to 14-day judicial custody," superintendent of police Nikhil Pathak said. 

The 13-year-old girl was allegedly raped by four men over three days and was sexually assaulted again by the SHO of a police station where she had been left by her attackers, police said. 

Saroj was arrested in Prayagraj on Wednesday and was brought to Lalitpur. 

Deputy inspector general of police Jogendra Kumar had removed the entire staff of the Pali police station after the incident came to light. 

While Dharmendra Singh has been made the new SHO of the police station, new staff has also been posted there, officials said. 

The accused SHO was arrested from an area near the Allahabad high court. 

Five others, including the girl's aunt and the four men who had lured the victim to Bhopal and raped her, have been arrested as well, they added. 

Police sources said the girl was lured to Bhopal, about 240 kilometres from Lalitpur in Uttar Pradesh, by four men and they allegedly raped her for three days and then left her near the Pali police station. -- PTI
21:22   Collegium recommends two names for elevation to SC
The Supreme Court Collegium headed by CJI NV Ramana has recommended the names of Chief Justice of Gauhati high court Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Gujarat high court Judge Justice Jamshed B Pardiwala for elevation to the apex court, sources said. 

Justice Dhulia will be the second Judge to be elevated from the Uttarakhand high court while Justice Pardiwala will be the fourth Parsi to adorn the Bench of the top court. 

Justice Dhulia, born on August 10, 1960, hails from Madanpur, a remote village located in Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand, and joined the Bar at Allahabad high court in 1986. 

Justice Pardiwala, born on August 12, started practicing law in the high court of Gujarat in the year 1990. 

The Collegium consists of CJI Ramana and Justices U U Lalit, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud, and L Nageswara Rao. -- PTI
21:16   Child rights panel seeks action against Kamra
The apex child rights body NCPCR has sought action against comedian Kunal Kamra for tweeting a "doctored" video of a boy singing a patriotic song in front of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

The NCPCR also sought immediate removal of the video. 

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, in a letter to Twitter's grievance officer, said a complaint was received by it regarding Kamra tweeting the "doctored" video of a minor singing a patriotic song to further his own political agendas. 

"The Commission has taken cognizance of the complaint and is of the view that using minors for propagating political ideologies is a violation of the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. Further, the Commission is apprehensive that using children for such promotional purposes is harmful and detrimental to their mental well-being," it said. 

Therefore, the Commission said, the video should be taken off the platform immediately and appropriate action should be taken against the official account of Kamra for posting such content. -- PTI
21:09   Kerala police challenge bail granted to ex-MLA George in hate speech case
The police on Thursday filed a plea before a court here seeking to cancel the bail granted to senior Kerala politician PC George, accused of making a hate speech against Muslims in Kerala at a conclave last week. 

In its plea filed before the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court-II, the police alleged that George violated the bail conditions. 

The conduct of the accused subsequent to the grant of bail is in sheer violation of the bail condition and therefore the bail granted to him is liable to be cancelled under Section 437(5) of CrPC on that ground alone, it said in the plea. 

The police alleged that soon after he was granted bail, George addressed the visual media in front of the judicial officer's quarters, Vanchiyoor and said he is still sticking to what he stated in the speech and was justifying the same which amounts to repetition of the same crime and spreading communal hatred further. 

The police pointed out that the court, while granting bail, had directed the accused not to make and propagate controversial statements which may hurt the religious sentiments of others while on bail. -- PTI
20:23   Navneet's health issues neglected in jail: Ravi
MLA Ravi Rana on Thursday alleged that prison officials did not pay attention to his wife and independent MP from Amravati Navneet Rana when she complained of health issues and requested hospitalisation.  

Ravi Rana, MLA from Badnera in eastern Maharashtra's Amravati district, was released from Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai around 4 pm on Thursday. 

Two hours earlier, Navneet had been released from Byculla women's jail in Mumbai.

Both had been arrested by Mumbai Police for `sedition' and `promoting enmity between different groups' on April 23 following their call to recite the Hanuman Chalisa outside Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's private residence 'Matoshree' in Mumbai. 

A court granted them bail on Wednesday.After walking out of prison,  Ravi Rana visited Lilavati hospital in suburban Bandra where Navneet Rana was admitted after release. 

A video clip from inside the ward, which showed him consoling  her as she lay on the hospital bed and wept, went viral.

Earlier, as he headed for the hospital, the MLA showed a copy of Hanuman Chalisa which he was carrying to the media persons. -- PTI
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19:54   Bypolls to two RS seats in Bihar, Telangana on May 30: EC
Bypolls to two Rajya Sabha seats -- one each from Bihar and Telangana -- will be held on May 30, the Election Commission said on Thursday.  

The Bihar seat fell vacant on December 27, 2021 following the death of Janata Dal-United member Mahendra Prasad. 

His term was to otherwise end on April 2, 2024.

The bypoll to the Telangana seat was necessitated following the resignation of TRS member Banda Prakash on December 4, 2021. 

His term also was to end on April 2, 2024.

As per the established practice, counting of votes will take place an hour after the polling is over at 4 pm.

The notification for both the bypolls will be issued on May 12, the EC said in a statement. -- PTI
19:29   LIC IPO fully subscribed on Day 2
LIC's public offer, the country's biggest-ever initial public offering, was fully subscribed on the second day of bidding on Thursday.  

Against 16,20,78,067 shares on offer, 16,25,35,125 bids were received, making the public issue fully subscribed, as per data on stock exchanges as of 6.24 pm.

Of the total, the policyholders' portion was subscribed a little over three times, while that for employees was subscribed 2.14 times.

Qualified Institutional Buyer and Non-Institutional Investor portion has received a tepid response so far. 

Non-institutional investors' segment was subscribed 46 per cent, while QIBs' portion was slightly lower at 40 per cent.

Retail individual investors picked up nearly 91 per cent of the 6.9 crore shares set aside for this segment.

The initial public offering will close on May 9.

The government aims to generate about Rs 21,000 crore by diluting its 3.5 per cent stake in the insurance behemoth. -- PTI
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19:18   Works of Majuli-Jorhat bridge on Brahmaputra temporarily halted
The construction works of the ambitious 8.25-km bridge over the Brahmaputra, connecting the world's largest river island Majuli with Jorhat in Assam, were temporarily halted after detection of a "minor issue", officials said on Thursday.  

The Rs 925.47-crore bridge project is being executed by UP State Bridge Corporation Ltd, which claimed that there is no fault at all regarding construction and the works are going on as per schedule.

Sources in the Assam government said the construction works were suspended earlier this week to examine the wells, where the pillars of the bridge will be erected, and found a packing on one pillar that looked like "a crack".

Necessary steps are being taken to address the issue and work on the concerned pillar will be started once the approval is given by the government department concerned, while works on other wells will start from Friday again, they said.

"I have been told that there is a small issue and it has been taken care of. Things are fine with construction works," a top official of the Assam government's public works (building & NH) department told PTI on condition of anonymity.

Another official of the department, who is directly involved with the issue, said that the local press reported a crack on the under-construction bridge a few days ago and the public works (building & NH) department swung into action immediately.

"There was an issue with the casting between two lifts. A packing was inserted and it looked like a crack from the outside. The work was immediately stopped on Monday and tests were carried out on all the wells," said the official, who wished not to be named. -- PTI
18:49   Uttarakhand CM Dhami to contest bypoll from Champawat
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami will contest the upcoming bye-election from Champawat assembly seat, the BJP announced on Thursday. 

The central election committee of the Bharatiya Janata Party has given its approval to Pushkar Singh Dhami for the upcoming Uttarakhand assembly by-election 2022, stated the press note issued by the BJP. 

Earlier, BJP MLA Kailash Gehtori had resigned from the Champawat assembly seat paving the way for Dhami to contest assembly by-polls.

Despite the BJP winning the 2022 assembly elections in Uttarakhand with a majority, Dhami lost the Khatima seat to Congress candidate Bhuwan Chandra Kapri.

Earlier on Monday, the Election Commission announced the schedule for the by-polls in three assembly constituencies in Odisha, Kerala and Uttarakhand.

According to the Election Commission, the polling in these seats will be held on May 31 while the counting of votes will take place on June 3.  -- PTI
18:24   Omar Abdullah tweets party MP's death, apologises
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Thursday apologised for tweeting the announcement of the death of the party's MP Akbar Lone.   

Based on Abdullah's tweet, PTI had put out an alert saying Lone had died following a brief illness.

Minutes later, Abdullah withdrew his Twitter post and said, "I owe a great apology to Lone Sb. He is recovering well. My father misunderstood the news & in turn I made a mistake with my tweet. My sincere apologies to Lone Sb & his family." -- PTI
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17:49   TN announces fare-free travel in govt buses for children
The Tamil Nadu government on Thursday announced fare-free travel for children within 5 years of age in all kinds of buses operated by all the government-run transport corporations.          

Making announcements in the assembly on new initiatives (2022-23) for his department, Transport Minister SS Sivasankar said children within 5 years of age would be allowed to travel without paying fare in all kinds of buses run by government transport corporations.         

Presently, for children between 3 and 12 years of age, 'half-fare' (half of the fare collected from adult passengers) system is operational.        

To increase revenue, a portion of the luggage space in long distance buses would be offered for a fee on a trial basis to parcel and courier services, he said.         

Introducing automated travel ticket system, integrating all public modes of transport, on the lines of the National Common Mobility Card norms, and setting up a centre to redress the grievances of passengers of government transport corporations were among his other announcements. -- PTI
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17:33   Over 51,000 Indians born in 170 countries in 2020; 10,817 died abroad
Over 51,000 Indian children were born in 170 foreign countries in 2020, maximum in United Arab Emirates, while about 10,817 Indians died abroad in that year, according to data prepared by the Registrar General of India.  

The births and deaths of Indian citizens in foreign lands in 2020 was registered in Indian missions and posts abroad under the Citizenship Act, 1955, the RGI's report 'Vital Statistics of India based on the Civil Registration System' for 2020 said.

As many as 51,089 children were born in 170 countries of which 16,469 were born in UAE, and 6,074 were born in Saudi Arabia in 2020, the report said.

Among the other countries where these children were born include Kuwait (4,202 children), Qatar (3,936), Italy (2,352), Australia (2,316), Oman (2,177), Bahrain (1,567), Germany (1,400), and Singapore (1,358).

A total of 768 Indian children were born in Spain, 620 in South Africa, 578 in United Kingdom, 388 in Sweden, 156 in Zambia, 37 in the United States, and four in Pakistan.

Of 10,817 Indians who died abroad, 3,754 died in Saudi Arabia, 2,454 in UAE, 1,279 in Kuwait, 630 in Oman, 386 in Qatar, 312 in Bahrain, 254 in the US, 216 in Italy, 166 in Singapore, 19 in the UK, and six in Pakistan. -- PTI
17:15   Kejri introduces opt-in power subsidy from Oct 1
From October 1, the Delhi government will provide subsidy on electricity to consumers who opt for the scheme, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Thursday.  

The Delhi consumers at present get 'zero' power bill up to 200 units of electricity and a subsidy of Rs 800 on consuming 201 to 400 units of power per month.

"The Delhi government will now ask people whether they want to avail subsidy on electricity. From October 1, only those consumers who opt for it will be provided the subsidy," he said during an online briefing. -- PTI
16:25   211 arrested so far after communal clashes in Jodhpur
As many as 211 people have so far been arrested in connection with the communal clashes in Jodhpur before Eid, police said on Thursday while asserting the situation in the city was under control.
A curfew clamped in the city following the violence continued for the third day on Thursday with the police saying all efforts were being made to maintain law and order.
The police have appealed to the people to maintain peace, not believe in rumours and inform the local police officials about any rumour being spread.
Director-General of Police M L Lather said so far 211 people have been arrested for disturbing peace and harmony.
As many as 191 people have been arrested under IPC section 151 (knowingly joining or continuing in assembly of five or more persons after it has been commanded to disperse), and 20 others under other sections, the state police chief said.
In a statement, Lather said four FIRs have been registered by the police and 15 FIRs based on the complaints by people.
Tension broke out in Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's constituency Jodhpur on the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday, ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr, over the installation of Islamic flags on the Jalori gate circle, a roundabout alongside the statue of freedom fighter Balmukund Bissa, as members of the other community alleged that a saffron flag, which they had put up there ahead of Parshuram Jayanti, had gone missing.
The issue snowballed into stone-pelting and clashes.
The situation was brought under control in the early hours on Tuesday with heavy deployment of police but tensions escalated again in the morning after prayers at an Eidgah close to the circle.
Shops, vehicles and houses were pelted with stones near the area. Looking at the situation, a curfew was imposed in 10 police station areas of Jodhpur city. -- PTI 
16:10   Won't allow Raj Thackeray to enter Ayodhya': BJP MP
Ahead of Maharashtra Navnirmal Sena chief Raj Thackeray's visit to Ayodhya, Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Uttar Pradesh, Brijbhushan Sharan Singh, said  Thackeray "must apologise to North Indians" lest he won't allow him to enter Ayodhya. 

"I have requested UP CM Yogi Adityanath as well not to meet him until he seeks an apology," Brijbhushan told ANI.
16:03   J-K delimitation panel signs final order
The three-member Delimitation Commission on Jammu and Kashmir, headed by Justice (retd) Ranjana Desai, on Thursday signed the final order on redrawing the assembly constituencies of the Union Territory, a day before its term was to end, officials said.
A copy of this order and the report, detailing the number of constituencies and their size, will be submitted to the government after which the order will be issued through a gazette notification.
The commission has proposed increasing the number of seats in the UT from 83 to 90. Besides, there are 24 seats in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) that continue to remain vacant.
For the first time, nine seats have been proposed for Scheduled Tribes.
The panel has also proposed six additional seats for Jammu and one for Kashmir. As of now, the Kashmir division has 46 seats and the Jammu division 37.
Formed in March 2020, the panel was granted a one-year extension last year.
The panel has Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra and the state election commissioner of Jammu and Kashmir as its ex-officio members.
In February, it was again given a two-month extension to complete its task. Its term was to otherwise end on March 6.
15:48   Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani gets jail for 2017 'Azadi' march
Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani gets jail for 2017 'Azadi' march
A magisterial court in Mehsana on Thursday convicted Gujarat independent MLA Jignesh Mevani and nine others in a five-year-old case of holding an 'Azadi march' without permission and sentenced them to three months' imprisonment.
Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate J A Parmar held Mevani and nine others, including NCP functionary Reshma Patel and some members of Mevani's Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, guilty of being part of an unlawful assembly, under section 143 of the Indian Penal Code.
The court also imposed a fine of Rs 1,000 each on all the 10 convicts. 
The Mehsana 'A' division police had lodged an FIR under IPC section 143 against Mevani and others for taking out the 'Azadi march' from Mehsana to Dhanera in Banaskantha district without permission in July 2017. 
Reshma Patel, then a supporter of reservation for the Patidar community, was not a member of any political party when she took part in the march.         
Of the total 12 accused named in the FIR, one had died, while one is still absconding. -- PTI  
15:32   MP Navneet Rana walks out of Mumbai jail
Independent MP Navneet Rana walked out of a jail in Mumbai on Thursday, a day after a court here granted bail to her and her MLA-husband Ravi Rana, more than a week after they were arrested in an alleged case of sedition.
After being granted bail on Wednesday, the necessary documents had not timely reached the prisons where they were lodged.
On Thursday, Navneet Rana, the Lok Sabha memer from Amravati in Maharashtra, came out of the Byculla women's jail in south Mumbai around 2 pm, an official said.
She will be admitted to a private hospital in suburban Bandra for the treatment of an ailment, he said.
Her husband is yet to released from the Taloja jail in neighbouring Navi Mumbai.
The Rana couple was arrested on April 23 by the Khar police here under sections 124 (A) (sedition) and 153 (A) (promoting enmity between different groups) of the Indian Penal Code.
The couple had announced that they would recite the Hanuman Chalisa outside Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's private residence `Matoshree' here, which angered workers of the Shiv Sena, Thackeray's party, leading to tension.
The couple later dropped the plan, citing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the city the next day.
But the police, nonetheless, booked them for sedition and 'promoting enmity between different groups', among other offenses.
The special court for hearing cases against MPs and MLAs laid down several conditions while granting them bail on Wednesday. -- PTI 
14:24   4 terror suspects with explosives detained in Haryana
Four terror suspects have been detained along with explosives in Haryana's Karnal, said the police on Thursday.

According to the police, three suspects are from Punjab's Ferozepur and one hails from Ludhiana. The accused have been identified as Gurpreet, Amandeep, Parminder and Bhupinder.

FIR has been registered into the matter.

"Desi pistol, 31 live ammunition, 3 iron-container with explosives, and nearly Rs 1.3 lakh have been recovered," said Ram Poonia, SP, Karnal.

"As soon as we got a credible input, we acted on it and alerted our team. The vehicle has 'DL' in its number, however, the owner of the vehicle is yet not known. The detention was made near the Bastara toll," Poonia told reporters here.

The SP further informed that the accused were in touch with a Pakistan-based man who asked them to drop arms and ammunition at Adilabad, Telangana.

"Accused Gurpreet received explosives sent from across the border using a drone in Ferozepur district. Earlier, they dropped explosives at Nanded," he said.
12:55   Bulldozer drive near Shaheen Bagh cancelled
The South Delhi Municipal Corporation's anti-encroachment drives in the Kalindi Kunj-Jamia Nagar area near Shaheen Bagh and in Sriniwaspuri were cancelled till Friday due to the unavailability of an adequate police force, civic authorities said on Thursday. 

 According to SDMC authorities, the drive was planned for Thursday to remove temporary and permanent encroachment from roads and government land in the area. 

 "Today's drive in Kalindi Kunj-Jamia Nagar area has been cancelled due to the unavailability of an adequate police force. 

 "The police informed us that adequate force cannot be provided for the drive today. We will reschedule the drive accordingly," Rajpal Singh, the SDMC's central zone chairman, told PTI. 

 On April 28 too, a demolition drive scheduled in Jasola and Sarita Vihar was cancelled due to the unavailability of an adequate police force. The SDMC on Wednesday carried out an anti-encroachment drive in Karni Shooting Range near Tughlakabad, removing 13 temporary shops and other structures. 

 Encroachment drives were planned in SDMC areas after Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta wrote to the party-ruled civic body's mayor on April 20 to remove encroachment by "Rohingyas, Bangladeshis and anti-social elements". 

 The North Delhi Municipal Corporation had come under fire from several civil rights groups and opposition parties after it bulldozed structures in the Jahangirpuri area in an anti-encroachment drive. It was stopped following the Supreme Court's intervention. 

 The SDMC has prepared a 10-day action plan to remove encroachment from these areas, including Shaheen Bagh. The drive is likely to be conducted in Shaheen Bagh on May 9. 

 On May 10, the drive is slated to be conducted near the Gurudwara Road near New Friends Colony. On May 11, it will be conducted in Meharchand Market, Lodhi Colony near Sai Baba Mandir and near JLN Metro station, civic officials said. -- PTI 
12:35   PK announces 3,000-km padyatra, not party in Bihar
Poll strategist Prashant Kishor at a press conference held in Patna today, said he would undertake a padyatra of his home state, Bihar, and bring in a new dispensation. 

He stopped short of announcing his own party, a move he had hinted at after his fallout with the Congress. 

"In next three to four months, I will meet many eminent persons of Bihar who can help build the idea of 'Jan Suraaj' (good governance) and make them a part of it. I will embark on 3000 km padyatra across Bihar from October 2, from the Gandhi Ashram, in west Champaran," Kishor said. 

Prashant Kishore added that there are no elections in Bihar in the near future, so a political party was not part of his plan for now. But he left questions on his future open.

"I want to start from zero- I will spend the next three-four years reaching out to people with the idea of Jan-Suraj (public good governance)," he said. 

On the Congress party, he said, "Congress needs to decide how they want to function further, not me. They took whatever decision they deemed important and so did I. Congress doesn't need any Prashant Kishor, the party has even more capable people. They know what they have to do."
12:27   SC to hear on May 10 pleas challenging sedition law
The Supreme Court on Thursday said it would hear arguments on May 10 on the legal question whether the pleas challenging the colonial era penal law on sedition be referred to a larger bench and granted time to the Centre to file its response. 

A special bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Surya kant and Hima Kohli commenced hearing arguments on a batch of pleas against the sedition law and after sometime adjourned it to next Tuesday. 

 At the outset, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, sought few more days' time for filing the reply, saying the draft response made by lawyers awaits approval by competent authority as the issue is of extreme importance. Secondly, some fresh matters have been served recently and the contents of those pleas also needed a response. List this matter on next Tuesday at 2 pm. 

The Solicitor General to file counter (affidavit) by Monday. No further adjournments (will be granted), the CJI said. The bench, on April 27, had directed the Central government to file the reply saying it would commence the final hearing in the matter on May 5 and would not entertain any request for adjournment. 

 Concerned over the enormous misuse of the penal law on sedition, the top court in July last year had asked the Centre why it was not repealing the provision used by the British to silence people like Mahatma Gandhi to suppress the freedom movement. 

 Agreeing to examine the pleas filed by the Editors Guild of India and former Major-General S G Vombatkere, challenging the Constitutionality of Section 124A (sedition) in the IPC, the apex court had said its main concern was the "misuse of law" leading to rise in number of cases.
11:58   Battle of videos breaks out between Sena, Raj
A battle of videos has broken out between Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray and Shiv Sena, with both claiming the legacy of Bal Thackeray. 

Shiv Sena has hit out at Raj Thackeray by sharing a video of the party founder Bal Thackeray in which he is seen taking a veiled jibe at the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief. 

 This comes soon after Raj Thackeray shared a video of Bal Thackeray wherein he is seen speaking against the use of loudspeakers. Raj Thackeray has warned that the MNS workers will play Hanuman Chalisa on loudspeakers. 

 The loudspeaker row in the state broke out after the MNS chief issued an ultimatum to the state government to remove the loudspeakers from the mosques by May 3.

Following the end of the deadline, the Mumbai Police seized loudspeakers from the MNS office and detained the party's Chandivali unit president Mahendra Bhanushali and others on Tuesday. 

The Police also registered a case against Raj Thackeray over his speech at a rally in Aurangabad held on May 1 where he reiterated his ultimatum. 

 In the video shared by the Shiv Sena leader, Bal Thackeray is heard saying, "People say, someone has copied my style of oratory, I don't know who? One day they will say that I have copied him if I speak in the same style. It reminds me of a joke on this." -- PTI
11:37   Modi to hold back-to-back meets on weather in Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair an important review meeting on the preparedness to deal with the heatwave affecting parts of the country and the upcoming monsoon season, government sources said. 

They said Modi is expected to hold seven to eight meetings during the day following his return from the three-day visit to as many European countries. 

 The prime minister will immediately attend office after arriving in New Delhi, they said. Several parts of the country have logged all-time high temperatures under the impact of the severe heatwave.
11:07   HM arrives in WB, 1st visit since poll defeat
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday arrived in West Bengal on a two-day visit, his first since the 2021 assembly polls. He will hold organisational meetings and a public rally, besides travelling to forward areas along the India-Bangladesh border. 

 Shah, who arrived at the Kolkata airport, was received by senior BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari and Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nisith Pramanik. 

 The home minister will on Thursday inaugurate BSF's floating border outposts at Hingalganj and lay the foundation stone of the Maitri' museum at Haridaspur, official sources said. 

 He will address a public meeting in Siliguri in the evening. On Friday, Shah will visit the India-Bangladesh border area of Teen Bigha, where he is scheduled to interact with BSF personnel. 

 The Union minister, after attending a programme at Victoria Memorial Hall in Kolkata later on Friday, will hold a meeting with office-bearers at the state BJP headquarters. -- PTI
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10:56   India logs 3,275 new Covid cases, 55 deaths
 India has logged 3,275 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry informed on Thursday.

With this, the active cases in the country now stand at 19,719, constituting 0.05 per cent of India's total Covid positive cases. 

The ministry, in a press release, informed that the weekly positivity rate in the country currently stands at 0.78 per cent, while the daily positivity rate is at 0.77 per cent.

As many as 55 deaths from the virus were also reported in the last 24 hours. -- ANI
10:53   To be fair and just
Our criminal justice system and judiciary need urgent and sweeping reforms. Read the column here 
10:38   'Terror tunnel' discovered in Jammu, security hiked
Security has been tightened in Jammu's Samba area after a small opening, suspected to be a tunnel, was found near the international border on Wednesday. 

 The Border Security Force (BSF) spokesperson said that a small opening was found in the general area near fencing in the Samba area, which is suspected to be a tunnel.

 The BSF is carrying out a detailed search in the area today.

 On April 22, two Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists were neutralised in an encounter in the Sunjwan area of Jammu. It was established during an investigation that they were picked up by a mini truck from the Sopowal area of Samba and had infiltrated from somewhere there.

The BSF had launched a massive anti-tunnelling operation in the area at the time, and yesterday, a tunnel was detected by the BSF jawans at the international border in the Samba sector. 

Two AK-47 rifles, arms and ammunition, satellite phones and some documents were recovered from them. Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Dilbag Singh had said that the killed terrorists could be part of a "big conspiracy" to sabotage Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the union territory. -- ANI
10:28   Doctor beats up patient for refusing to hand over property papers
Police have registered a case against eight people, including a hospital's medical officer and a policeman, for allegedly beating up a 36-year-old woman here in Maharashtra and then destroying the crime evidence, an official said on Thursday. 

 The incident took place in November 2020 and the case was registered on May 2 this year following directives issued by a local court last month. Thane's First Class Judicial Magistrate B H Parmar in her order on April 25 noted that the woman's allegations are supported by CCTV footage and other documents, and directed the Kalwa police to register an offence against eight persons and conducted a probe into the case. 

On November 4, 2020, the woman, Shabnam Raine, had gone to the civic-run Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Hospital in Kalwa area here to get a disability certificate for her son. 

A doctor there asked her for the ration card, electricity bill, sale deed of house and other such documents. The woman told the doctor that it was difficult for her to get such documents as she was living in a rented house.

The doctor then allegedly used foul language and abused her in a loud voice, the court noted in the order.

The woman tried to make a video recording of the incident on her mobile phone, but the security guards (who are also among the accused) present there snatched the phone. They also allegedly pushed and thrashed the woman and also touched her inappropriately, the FIR said. The woman tried to run away from there, but the accused caught hold of her and brought her to the hospital's security cabin and allegedly thrashed her. 

An official at the Kalwa police station later deleted the videos from the woman's phone, according to the FIR. The woman later moved a local court to lodge her complaint. 

The Kalwa police on Monday registered a case against the eight persons under relevant provisions, an official said, adding that no arrest has been made so far. -- PTI
10:20   Markets rebound after crashing in previous trade
Equity benchmarks bounced back in early trade on Thursday after falling sharply in the previous trade, with the Sensex rallying 651 points, following significant jump in US markets and buying in index major Infosys. 

The 30-share BSE benchmark was trading 650.9 points higher at 56,319.93. The NSE Nifty also jumped 185.65 points to 16,863.25. From the Sensex pack, Tech Mahindra, Tata Steel, Infosys, State Bank of India, Kotak Mahindra Bank and M&M were the major gainers in early trade. In contrast, Nestle and Titan were the laggards. Markets in Hong Kong were quoting higher. Stock exchanges in the US surged higher in the overnight trade on Wednesday. 

 The Federal Reserve intensified its fight against the worst inflation in 40 years by raising its benchmark short-term interest rate by a half-percentage point on Wednesday. 

 "US equities rallied, recording the biggest one-day gain since 2020, after Federal Reserve comments suggested that the central bank is unlikely to consider a higher interest-rate hike of 75 basis points in the coming months.

"Moreover, rate hike and balance sheet unwinding quantum was on expected line without any negative surprise, which was already factored in market correction over past few days. It was like a relief rally to some extent," said Mitul Shah, Head of Research at Reliance Securities. -- PTI
10:04   Taliban stops issuing driving licence to women in Kabul: Reports
The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has stopped issuing driving licenses to women in Kabul and other provinces, media reports said.

The ban comes at a time when the country suffers from a devastating humanitarian crisis, with an acute shortage of food and other essential supplies.

Before the Taliban takeover, women in Afghanistan could be seen driving in some of the major cities of the country including Kabul. 

Notably, the situation of human rights in Afghanistan has worsened since the collapse of the Afghan government and the Taliban's return to power in August last year. 

Although the fighting in the country has ended, serious human rights violations continue unabated, especially against women.

In a recent decree, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan banned girls from attending school above grade sixth leading to worldwide condemnation. 

The leaders of the outfit have since said that the move was taken because of an apparent "shortage of teachers" and that the right of girls to study beyond grade sixth will be restored "shortly" -- ANI
09:48   Raj has 'heartburn' as Uddhav became CM: Mumbai mayor
In a veiled attack on Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, Mumbai mayor Kishori Pednerkar on Wednesday said he has "heartburn" as his cousin and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray became the Maharashtra chief minister. 
Without naming the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena president, Pednekar said he was bad-mouthing his cousin the same way he was earlier doing against the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Her comments come amid a controversy over the MNS chief's call for playing Hanuman Chalisa outside those mosques which use loudspeakers for 'azaan' (prayer call). 
"While being sure that Shiv Sena will not go ahead after (party founder) Balasaheb Thackeray, he (Uddhav Thackeray) became the chief minister of Maharashtra. That heartburn is visible in his (Raj Thackeray's) action," Pednekar told reporters at Nashik, about 200 km from here.
She also accused Raj Thackeray of being responsible for late Shiv Sena supremo and his uncle's "self-torture". 
"You were the one who brought 'Matoshree' (Uddhav Thackerays' residence) in trouble. You were the one who hurled stones on our Sena Bhavan. That self-torture to Balasaheb (Thackeray) was seen by the entire world, the country, Maharashtra and Mumbai and still you need Balasaheb," Pednekar said while replying to a question about Raj Thackeray's tweet about Balasaheb's video on loudspeaker issue.
Asserting that the Supreme Court's decision on loudspeakers came because of Balasaheb Thackeray, Pednekar said that instead of writing letters, Raj Thackeray should forcefully tell the Union government to implement the apex court's decision about loudspeakers instead of insisting it's implementation only in Mumbai and Maharashtra.
The former mayor also blamed that efforts were being made to bring troubles for chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, who was praised as "number one" CM in the country. 
"You focus on improving your graph, but don't try to erase our lines," she said while replying to a question on Raj Thackeray's suggestion to Uddhav Thackeray about choosing between Balasaheb Thackeray and NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
She also suggested comparing Maharashtra's handling of COVID crisis with the governments in other states.
Recently, Raj Thackeray had praised the Yogi Adityanath's government in Uttar Pradesh over removal of loudspeakers from mosques in that state.
"Is everything going to be alright in the country if loudspeakers are removed by creating law and order problems in Mumbai and Maharashtra," the Sena leader said. PTI  
09:40   Mumbai police urge automakers to lower decibel limit of vehicle horns
Amid a row over use of loudspeakers at religious places, the Mumbai police have requested automobile manufacturers to lower the sound limit of vehicle horns, in accordance with the Supreme Court's directions on noise pollution, an official said.
Currently, the volume of vehicle horns is in the range of 92 to 112 decibels, which violates the apex court's guidelines, he said.
"We recently held a meeting with various automobile manufactures and asked them to reduce the sound of vehicles horns in order to check the noise pollution," he said.

The city police are also taking action against loud honking by vehicle drivers, the official said, adding that honking at night will also be checked.

He said the police would also hold a meeting with automobile dealers, with an aim to make the metropolis free of noise pollution.

The Mumbai police had recently also met various builders and developers and asked them to curb noise pollution arising out of construction work, and enable citizens to have noise-free Sundays, he said. -- PTI 
09:16   Today's India like a plane flying backwards: Arundhati
Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy has compared India of today to a plane moving in reverse and claimed that it was "headed for a crash". 
She was speaking on Wednesday at the launch of the book Why do you fear my way so much?, a selection of poems and letters by jailed human rights activist G N Saibaba.
Roy said that from spearheading "truly revolutionary movements" in the 1960s for redistribution of wealth and land, the country's leaders were now seeking votes and winning elections by distributing "5 kg rice and 1 kg salt".
"Recently, I asked a pilot friend of mine, 'Can you fly a plane backwards?' He laughed out loud. I said this is exactly what is happening here.
"The leaders of this country are flying the plane in reverse, everything is falling, and we are headed for a crash," said the author of bestselling novels The God of Small Things and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.
The 62-year-old writer described India as a land of "sophisticated jurisprudence", but the one where laws are applied differently depending on your "caste, class, gender and ethnicity".
"What are we doing here today? We are meeting to talk about a professor who is paralysed 90 per cent and has been in jail for seven years. That is what we are doing. That is enough.
"We do not have to speak anymore. That is enough to tell you what kind of country we are living in. What shame is this," she said.
Saibaba, who has over 90 per cent physical disabilities and uses a wheelchair, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2017 by a sessions court in Maharashtra's Gadchiroli district on the charge of having Maoist links and engaging in activities amounting to "waging war against the country".
The court held Saibaba and others guilty under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. His services as an assistant professor at Delhi University's Ram Lal Anand College were terminated from March 31 last year.
CPI general secretary D Raja, who released the book at Jawahar Bhawan, reiterated his demand for the immediate release of Saibaba.
He said the government of the day is highly mistaken if it thinks it can defeat a communist by labelling him as a 'terrorist' or putting him behind the bars.
"The government of the day thinks by labelling some people as 'urban Maoists, 'urban Naxalites, 'anti-nationals', 'terrorists' or putting them in prison or torturing them in prison, they can succeed.
"I warn them they can never succeed. A  communist can be killed, but a communist can never be defeated Mr Modi," Raja added.
08:38   US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tests Covid positive
United State Secretary of State Antony Blinken tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. 

"Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken tested positive for COVID-19 this afternoon via a PCR test," a US Department of State press statement informed.

"The Secretary is fully vaccinated and boosted against the virus and is experiencing only mild symptoms. He tested negative on Tuesday and again as recently as this morning," the statement added.

The statement further informed that Secretary of State Blinken "has not seen President Biden in person for several days, and the President is not considered a close contact according to guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

"In accordance with the CDC guidelines and in consultation with the Department's Bureau of Medical Services, the Secretary will isolate at home and maintain a virtual work schedule," the statement said, adding that Blinken "looks forward to returning to the Department and resuming his full duties and travels as soon as possible."

Secretary of State Blinken extended his gratefulness to the doctors, nurses, and medical staff who provide the State Department workforce with exemplary health services around the world and encourages all Americans who are eligible to get fully vaccinated and boosted in order to protect themselves and their loved ones from developing severe COVID-19 disease, the statement said.

Blinken joins a number of high-profile administration officials who have tested positive in recent weeks and months. 

Vice President Kamala Harris announced she had contracted the virus last month, and in March, White House Press Secretary Psaki cancelled her plans to travel with the President to Belgium and Poland after testing positive for Covid-19 for the second time. -- ANI
08:31   Hindu sisters fulfil dad's wish, give land to Eidgah
Fulfilling their late father's last wish, two Hindu sisters donated four bighas worth over Rs 1.5 crore to an Eidgah in Uttarakhand's Kashipur, a gesture that touched Muslims so much that they offered prayers for the dead man on Eid.
Kashipur is a small town in Udham Singh Nagar district of Uttarakhand and the gesture by the sisters won praise, at a time when reports of communal tensions are coming in from parts of the country.
Brajnandan Prasad Rastogi, who died 20 years ago, had confided to his close relatives that he wished to donate four bighas of his agricultural land to an Eidgah for its expansion.
Before he could share his last wish with his children, he died in January 2003.
His two daughters Saroj and Anita, who live in Delhi and Meerut, came to know about their father's last wish through relatives recently.
They immediately contacted their brother Rakesh Rastogi, who lives in Kashipur, to seek his consent for it and he agreed readily.
"Honouring father's last wish was our duty. My sisters have done something which will make his soul rest in peace," Rakesh Rastogi said when contacted.
"The two sisters are a living example of communal unity. The Eidgah committee expresses its gratitude to them for the kind gesture. The two sisters will soon be felicitated for what they have done," Hasin Khan of the Eidgah committee said. -- PTI  
01:07   Dharavi reports first Covid case since March 17 this year
Mumbai's slum colony Dharavi reported a new coronavirus case on Wednesday, its first infection since March 17, a Brihanmumbai Municipal corporation official said.  

The official said the slum-dominated area, once a coronavirus hotspot, has witnessed the first coronavirus infection since March 17.

With this, Dharavi's overall tally of COVID-19 cases reached 8,653, while its death toll stood at 419,  according to the BMC official.

The official said the BM's G North ward, that houses Dharavi, now has six active COVID-19 cases --  three in Dadar, two in Mahim and one in Dharavi. -- PTI
01:04   US Fed hikes rates by 0.5%, highest in 22 yrs
The Federal Reserve has on Wednesday hiked interest rates by a half-percentage point, the highest hike in the past 22 years, in a bid to bring the worst inflation that America witnessed in the past 40 years under control, reports The New York Times

The Fed also announced to reduce nearly $9 trillion balance sheet and it indicates that the central bank is withdrawing support from the economy. 

The move may not directly affect the mortgages but the home rates is expected to rise, said the report.