Sat, 14 May 2022
Army chief visits forward areas in eastern Ladakh
20:45 Army chief visits forward areas in eastern Ladakh
Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande visited some of the most difficult and inhospitable forward locations in eastern Ladakh and reviewed India's overall military preparedness during his three-day tour of the region amid the lingering border row with China, officials said on Saturday.
They said the Chief of Army Staff interacted with the troops in multiple locations along the Line of Actual Control in the high-altitude region and took stock of the ground situation.
Gen Pande concluded his three-day visit to Ladakh on Saturday.
The Army chief, accompanied by senior commanders, visited some of the most difficult and inhospitable forward locations in eastern Ladakh to have first-hand knowledge about the prevailing situation, the officials said.
"General Manoj Pande #COAS visited forward areas in #Ladakh to review the operational preparedness. #COAS interacted with the troops & complimented them for their steadfastness & high morale," the Army tweeted.
On Thursday, senior commanders briefed Gen Pande at the Fire and Fury Corps headquarters in Leh about the overall security situation in eastern Ladakh.
The Fire and Fury Corps is responsible for guarding the LAC with China in the Ladakh region.
Gen Pande's visit to Ladakh came days after he said China's intention has been to keep "alive" the overall boundary question with India though it remains the "basic" issue between the two countries.
While referring to the eastern Ladakh border row, the Army chief had said the Indian Army's aim is to re-establish the "trust and tranquillity" between the two sides but asserted that "it cannot be a one-way affair".
He also asserted that the Indian Army's aim was to restore the status quo ante prior to April 2020 in eastern Ladakh.
The eastern Ladakh faceoff began on May 4-5 in 2022. India has been insisting on the restoration of the status quo ante prior to the standoff.
India and China have held 15 rounds of military talks so far to resolve the eastern Ladakh row. As a result of the talks, the two sides completed the disengagement process last year on the north and south banks of the Pangong lake and in the Gogra area.
India has been consistently maintaining that peace and tranquillity along the LAC were key for the overall development of the bilateral ties.
Each side currently has around 50,000 to 60,000 troops along the Line of Actual Control in the sensitive sector. -- PTI
20:02 Wheat export ban to cool down retail prices: Govt
Pointing out that retail prices of wheat and wheat flour have risen in the past year by up to 19 per cent, Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey on Saturday said the government's decision to ban wheat export is expected to cool down the domestic prices in a week or so.
He said the tight global supply, including a slight fall in wheat output in India, has spiked global prices up sharply. Consequently, the domestic prices of wheat and atta (wheat flour) have also shot up in the last month.
The likely fall in wheat output in India and even in the government's procurement is unlikely to affect the public distribution system (PDS), he said and asserted, "PDS will be run smoothly."
On Friday, the Commerce Ministry imposed a ban on wheat export with immediate effect. However, it has allowed wheat shipments with valid irrevocable letters of credit (LoC) issued on or before the date of the notification.
The country has contracted for the export of 4.5 million tonnes of wheat so far this fiscal. Out of which, 1.46 million tonnes was exported in April, as per the official data.
The Food Secretary, while addressing a press conference along with his Commerce and Agriculture counterpart, said, "Global demand was rising and different countries were putting restrictions. Sentiments were driving prices. We are quite confident, now also the sentiments will push down the prices."
These days in several areas, inflation is imported along with the global prices. And this was happening in the case of wheat also. International wheat prices have been going up. Wheat from other countries was selling as high as USD 420-480 per tonne, he said.
In this backdrop, India had to impose curbs on wheat exports to keep a check on rising domestic prices and protect the interest of consumers, he said.
The decision will definitely help in softening the prices. However, it will not be possible to predict how much prices will fall. "But the domestic prices will no doubt cool down in a week or so," he said on the sidelines of the press conference.
Sharing a presentation on the price situation, Joint Secretary in the Food Ministry Subodh Kumar said: "There is a price rise in last one month and one year as far as wheat and atta is concerned. Prices in the south zone are higher than other zones."
The daily average retail price of wheat has increased by 19.34 per cent to Rs 29.49 per kg on May 9 compared with Rs 24.71 per kg in the year-ago period. Similarly, retail atta prices have shot up by 14.27 per cent to Rs 32.91 per kg from Rs 28.8 per kg in the comparable period, he said.
In the wholesale market too, the daily average price of wheat rose 21.55 per cent to Rs 25.82 per kg on May 9 compared with Rs 21.24 per kg in the year-ago period, while atta price rose 15.88 per cent to Rs 27.89 per kg from 24.06 per kg in the comparable period, he said. -- PTI
Yamuna river getting dry in summer
19:42 Delhi grapples with water shortage amid heatwave
With the Yamuna drying up under the blazing sun and Haryana not responding to SOS calls, authorities in Delhi are barely meeting the drinking water demand in several areas, officials said on Saturday.
The level in the Wazirabad pond has dropped to 670.70 feet, the lowest this year. It was 671.80 feet on Thursday.
The pond level had dropped to 667 feet on July 11 last year, prompting the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) to move the Supreme Court seeking directions to Haryana to release additional water in the Yamuna.
The DJB has thrice written to the Haryana Irrigation Department in this connection in a fortnight -- on May 12, May 3 and April 30.
"Even flow via CLC (Carrier-Lined Channel) and DSB (Delhi Sub-Branch) is fluctuating... The lifting of 120 cusec of water from the Wazirabad pond is affected due to low pond level. This will affect water production adversely. Due to peak summer, the water requirement is more," the SOS sent on Thursday read.
"It is requested to supply 150 cusec of raw water additionally through DD-8/river route, so as to ensure that 120 cusec of raw water reaches the Wazirabad pond in this time of crisis, till the arrival of monsoon," it read.
According to officials, there has been no response from the neighbouring state whatsoever, leaving Delhi to fend for itself.
The production capacity at Wazirabad, Chandrawal and Okhla water treatment plants has reduced to 85 per cent.
It could further decrease to 75 per cent on Sunday, a DJB official said on condition of anonymity.
"We have resorted to water rationing and have been able to meet the demand so far. However, the situation could turn worse if Haryana does not respond and release additional water in the river," the official said.
Adhering to its Summer Action Plan, the DJB has deployed extra tankers to cater to areas facing water shortage and is trying to augment water supply through tube wells.
The Delhi government last month said it will supply around 1,000 million gallons of drinking water every day during the summer season as against 935 MGD earlier to meet the rising demand.
It had said 1,198 water tankers will be deployed across the capital during the peak season (April-July) to prevent water scarcity.
Haryana supplies a total of 610 million gallons of water a day to Delhi through two canals -- CLC and DSB -- and the Yamuna.
The CLC and the DSB are supplied water from Hathni Kund via Munak canal and the Bhakra Beas Management Board.
Besides, Delhi receives 253 MGD from Uttar Pradesh through the Upper Ganga Canal, and 90 MGD is drawn from ranney wells and tube wells installed across the city.
The Chandrawal and Wazirabad water treatment plants have a capacity of 90 MGD and 135 MGD, respectively.
The two plants lift raw water from the Wazirabad pond, treat it and supply to northeast Delhi, west Delhi, north Delhi, central Delhi, south Delhi, including Delhi Cantonment, and New Delhi Municipal Council areas.
Delhi requires around 1,200 MGD of water, while the DJB supplies around 950 MGD.
The government has targeted increasing the water supply to 1,180 MGD by June 2023. -- PTI
19:08 Jakhar an asset, Cong shouldn't lose him: Sidhu
Shortly after Sunil Jakhar announced to quit the Congress, party leader Navjot Singh Sidhu on Saturday called the former state unit chief "an asset" and told his party not to lose him.
Sidhu further said any differences can be resolved on the table.
Jakhar announced his decision to part ways with the Congress that last month removed him from all party positions for alleged anti-party activities.
"The Congress should not loose #suniljakhar . Is an asset worth his weight in gold . Any differences can be resolved on the table," said Sidhu in a tweet.
Jakhar, the disgruntled leader whose decision comes during the party's three-day 'Chintan Shivir' in Udaipur, went live on his Facebook page to make the announcement.
"It is my parting gift to the party. These are my last words to Congressmen. Good luck and Goodbye Congress," Jakhar said while announcing that he was parting ways with the Congress.
The former Punjab Congress president had been upset with the party for serving him a show-cause notice on April 11. However, Jakhar chose not to reply to the Congress disciplinary committee panel.
During his 'dil ki baat' live on his Facebook page, Jakhar also attacked some leaders "sitting in Delhi" and particularly targeted party leader Ambika Soni for her statement made last year in which she had the party should go with a Sikh face
Notably, AICC incharge of Punjab affairs Harish Chaudhary had written to party president Sonia Gandhi, seeking disciplinary action against Navjot Sidhu for trying to "portray himself above the party." -- PTI
18:49 Omar concerned over 'dangerous game' of polarisation
National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah on Saturday expressed concern over the "dangerous game" of polarisation "being played" in the country and claimed that even his party is being looked at with suspicion despite thousands of its workers sacrificing their lives in Jammu and Kashmir.
"The people are frightened to go outside Jammu and Kashmir because of the prevailing situation in the country, where the first person under attack is a Muslim. A dangerous game is being played by exploiting the sentiments of a particular community (against another)," Abdullah said addressing a party workers' rally in Poonch district.
Accompanied by senior NC colleagues including General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar and former minister Mian Altaf, Abdullah travelled from Srinagar to Poonch through the historic Mughal Road and offered prayers at 'Peer Ki Gali' shrine enroute for peace and prosperity of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Taking strong exception to the developments over azan (Muslim call for prayer), 'halal' meat and Hijab (head scarf) in the recent past, the former chief minister said "some people have problems with everything about Muslims" even as the Constitution treats every religion equally.
"There should be no religious difference. By pitching one religion against another, India is being destroyed," he warned.
In an apparent reference to the Bharatiya Janata Party, the NC leader said they are looking at his party with suspicion.
"We do not understand what our fault is. We linked with the country, gave numerous sacrifices as thousands of our workers and leaders were killed and those at the podium are the ones who had a narrow escape (in terror attacks)," he said.
Abdullah said the National Conference is targeted because it talks about having friendly relations with the neighbouring country.
"When it (BJP government) holds talks with them (Pakistan), there is no problem but when we advocate for dialogue (for peace in the region) we are dismissed as anti-nationals," he said and referred to the statement of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that 'Dost Badle Ja Sakte Hain, Padosi Badle Nahi Ja Sakte' (you can change your friends but not neighbours).
"We were reminding them of the statement of Vajpayee so that there is peace on the borders and the border residents can take their livestock across the fence for grazing. War is not going to take us anywhere but friendship will," he said.
He said the NC's dialogue with the neighbouring country was its fault but wondered what happened after a prolonged hostility on the borders between the two countries.
"Today, there is a ceasefire (between India and Pakistan) along the borders. This happened when they talked with each other and agreed to silence the guns," he said. -- PTI
18:32 Peshawar mosque blast mastermind killed: Police
The mastermind of the Peshawar blast along with one of his companions was on Saturday killed in a targeted operation in the suburb of the district, which lies at the heart of Pakistan's restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, police said.
According to the police, the terrorist named Hassan Shah, a resident of district Khyber, was killed in Pishtakharra of Peshawar in a joint counter-insurgency operation conducted by Peshawar police and the Counter-Terrorism Department of Pakistan.
The slain terrorist was gunned down along with his companion, the police confirmed.
According to the police, both the terrorists belonged to a banned outfit of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a militant organisation fighting the government of Pakistan to enforce the law of Sharia across the South Asian nation.
The police said the security forces had geared up the search operation in the area to arrest the remaining culprits.
As many as 57 people were killed and over 200 injured in the suicide blast at the Ahle Tashih mosque of Kucha Risaldar in Peshawar city on March 4 this year.
The militant group Islamic State, claiming the responsibility for the attack, had added that the lone suicide bomber was from neighbouring Afghanistan.
The attack in Peshawar's congested old city was the worst in years in Pakistan as the country faces renewed militant attacks mostly carried out by the Pakistani Taliban since last August when the Afghan Taliban swept into power and America ended its 20-year involvement in Afghanistan. -- PTI
18:27 Marathi actor Ketaki Chitale detained by police over post about Pawar
Thane Police on Saturday detained Marathi actor Ketaki Chitale after a case was registered against her for allegedly sharing a `derogatory' post about NCP president Sharad Pawar on social media platforms.
The post in Marathi, shared by her on Friday, was purportedly written by someone else.
It only mentioned the surname Pawar and the age of 80. The NCP supremo is 81 years old.
It contained phrases like "hell is waiting" and "you hate Brahmins", allegedly referring to Pawar whose party shares power in Maharashtra with the Shiv Sena and Congress.
"The offence against Chitale was registered at Kalwa police station in Thane on Saturday based on a complaint lodged by Swapnil Netke," a police official had said earlier.
The case was registered under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 500 (defamation), 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory), 505 (2) (making, publishing or circulating any statement, rumour or report promoting enmity, hatred or ill will between classes), 153 A (spreading disharmony among people), he said.
In Pune too, the NCP submitted a letter to the police demanding action against Chitale. -- PTI
18:13 Mundka fire: Families await identification of victims
Standing outside a Delhi hospital on Saturday, Ludhiana resident Aman Kumar broke down while talking about his fiancee, who was among the several people killed in a massive fire in Delhi's Mundka.
Grieving relatives gathered at the Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital at Mangolpuri as many of them awaited identification of charred bodies of their kin.
The fire started from the first floor of the four-storey commercial building that houses the office of a CCTV cameras and router manufacturing and assembling company, police earlier said, adding more than 30 fire tenders were pressed into service.
"I was supposed to marry her in November this year," thirty-year-old Kumar said in a choked voice as tears rolled down his cheeks when asked if a family member was admitted to the hospital.
His relative Jatin said Kumar's fiancee, Drishti, died in the tragedy but her body is yet to be identified.
"She used to work in the building in Mundka. We got to know about the incident yesterday about 5.30 pm and rushed to Delhi from Ludhiana. She didn't survive," he said.
The whole family is in a state of shock, Jatin said.
Seventeen-year-old Kavita, a resident of Madanpur village, was anxiously looking for her sister who was inside the building when the blaze ripped through it.
"My sister was at work when we got to know about the fire around 4.30 pm. I was told that the building was on fire and my sister might be trapped inside. After coming here (hospital) I found that my sister's name was not there in the list of people admitted to the emergency section," she said.
"I am hoping that she may have survived," she added.
Kavita's cousin, Pankaj Kumar, said their sister worked in the CCTV manufacturing unit in the building and was the only earning member in the family.
"Her father has mental health issues and the family was dependent on her income. We've been asked to give details about the clothes she was wearing yesterday in case she is among the charred bodies retrieved from the site," he said.
In the videos that emerged on social media on Friday, thick plumes of smoke billowed from top of the building as people trapped inside could be heard crying for help while some jumped down in a desperate attempt to escape the flames.
Some could be seen using ropes to escape while local residents too came forward to help.
The police on Friday said at least 27 people were killed and 12 injured in the incident. They did not, however, specify other details like the gender or age of the deceased.
According to the fire department, the death toll could rise to 30 as some charred remains were found in the building during cooling operations in the morning. -- PTI
17:27 50% quota for SCs, STs, minorities in party: Cong
The Congress is likely to bring in a measure to ensure 50 per cent representation to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs and minorities at all levels of the party organisation.
A decision on this has been taken by the panel on social justice and empowerment formed by party chief Sonia Gandhi to lead discussions on this issue at the Congress' three-day 'Nav Sankalp Chintan Shivir' here, party leader K Raju said.
He added that it is likely to be recommended for approval of the Congress Working Committee.
Raju said the panel is also likely to propose establishing a social justice advisory council to the Congress president.
This advisory council will look at issues and give recommendation to the president, he said. -- PTI
17:10 Match-fixing racket influenced IPL results: CBI
The CBI has booked three suspected punters, one from Delhi and two from Hyderabad, in connection with alleged fixing of Indian Premier League matches ''based on inputs'' from Pakistan, officials said on Saturday.
The central agency has started a country-wide probe, they said.
The CBI received information that "a network of individuals involved in cricket betting are influencing the outcome of Indian Premer League matches based on inputs received from Pakistan", the FIR alleged.
The agency has listed one Dileep Kumar, based in Rohini, Delhi, and Gurram Vasu and Gurram Satish from Hyderabad in its FIR as accused. The network which is operational since 2013 was also cheating the public by "inducing them for betting", the officials said.
The racketeers have bank accounts (mule accounts) using fake identities and know your customer documents in connivance with the unknown bank officials, they said.
"These bank accounts have been opened by submitting forged details such as multiple dates of birth and without due diligence done by the bank officials.
"A part of the money received from the general public in India on account of such betting activities is also being shared with their associates based in foreign countries using hawala transactions," the FIR has alleged. -- PTI
17:03 BJP to pick Tripura CM Biplab's successor today
The BJP legislature party in Tripura will meet later on Saturday to elect its new leader to succeed Biplab Kumar Deb as chief minister, sources said.
Senior BJP leaders Bhupender Yadav and Vinod Tawde have been appointed as observers for the election of the legislature party leader, they said.
Union Minister Yadav and the party's national general secretary Tawde are already in Tripura and will attend the legislature party meeting.
Besides them, the party's state incharge Vinod Sonkar will attend the meeting, they said.
Deb on Saturday said he has submitted his resignation to Governor SN Arya.
Deb made the announcement after meeting the governor at the Raj Bhavan in Agartala. -- PTI
16:43 Why Oppn silent on Gyanvapi survey, asks Owaisi
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimen chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Saturday questioned the "silence" of Opposition parties, including the Congress and the Samajwadi Party, on the video survey of the Gyanvapi Masjid complex in Varanasi, alleging that they are keeping mum because Muslims are not their vote bank.
Owaisi said the Constitution allows Muslims to follow their culture and identity and "we would continue to do so, both at home and outside".
"Why Opposition parties like Congress, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party are silent on the issue of the Gyanvapi mosque? They are not saying anything because Muslims are not their vote bank," the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimen (AIMIM) chief told an Eid Milap programme in Ahmedabad.
The Gyanvapi mosque is located close to the iconic Kashi Vishwanath temple.
A court had ordered a videography survey of the Gyanvapi Masjid complex on a suit filed jointly by five Hindu women seeking permission for daily prayers before idols on its outer walls. The survey resumed on Saturday following a local court order amid tight security arrangements, officials said.
Dubbing BJP, Congress, AAP, and Samajwadi Party "fanatic parties, Owaisi alleged they wanted Muslims to remain Muslims only at home and accept their (the parties) culture when outside.
"The Constitution of India allows you to follow your culture, your identity. We will continue to do so, both at home and outside," the Hyderabad MP said.
"I am here to tell you, and also to the government, that we have lost one Babri Masjid, but will not lose another mosque. They took away our (Babri) mosque through cunning and by murdering justice, but remember, you will not be able to snatch another mosque," Owaisi said.
He said the Gyanvapi masjid has been a mosque and will remain so.
Owaisi said the 1991 law, the Places of Worship Act, says that the religious character of a place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947, will remain unchanged, and those attempting to change its nature and character can be jailed for three years. -- PTI
16:31 Tripura CM Biplab Kumar Deb resigns
Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Saturday said he has submitted his resignation to Governor SN Arya.
Deb made the announcement after meeting the governor at the Raj Bhavan in Agartala.
He went to New Delhi and met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Bharatiya Janata Party president JP Nadda on Thursday for a confabulation on the party's affairs in the Northeastern state.
There have been rumours of infighting within the BJP's state unit.
Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Dev Varma, who is related to the erstwhile Tripura royal family, is expected to take charge in the interim, sources said.
The state is slated to go to assembly elections next year.
16:10 Mundka fire: 29 still missing; death toll likely to rise
A day after a massive building fire in outer Delhi's Mundka claimed 27 lives, frantic relatives were still searching for their loved ones as police said 29 people were unaccounted for.
According to the fire department, the death toll could rise up to 30 as charred remains were found in the building during cooling operations on Saturday morning. Twelve injured were undergoing treatment at a hospital in Delhi.
They said the four-storey building, which did not have a fire safety certificate, had a single entry and exit point which could have been the reason for the high number of casualties.
"The building had a single escape route which is why there were so many casualties. Twenty-seven people have died," Chief Fire Officer Atul Garg said.
Officials said there was only one narrow staircase for entry and exit which made escape from the burning building difficult.
Garg said it is suspected that an explosion in an AC may have triggered the fire.
Harish Goel and his brother Varun Goel, owners of a CCTV camera and router manufacturing and assembling company, from whose office the fire is suspected to have started, have been arrested, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Outer) Sameer Sharma said.
Garg added it was difficult to ascertain whether the remains found on Saturday morning were of one person or more.
Of the 27 deceased, seven have been identified so far as Tania Bhushan, Mohini Pal, Yashoda Devi, Ranju Devi, Vishal, Drishti and Kailash Jyani, the DCP said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy, Manish Sisodia, visited the spot on Saturday. The chief minister announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those injured in the fire, which started from the first floor of the building.
Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal said he was "deeply pained" by the loss of lives in the tragedy, and called for immediate steps to prevent such incidents in the future. He also extended his condolences to the bereaved families. -- PTI
15:56 'Sheer hypocrisy': KCR's daughter targets Shah head of his Telangana visit
Ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi MLC Kalvakuntla Kavitha on Saturday posed a slew of questions to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, on issues like price rise among others, on the day of his visit to the city to attend a Bharatiya Janata Party meet.
Taking to Twitter, Kavitha, daughter of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, said Amit Shah should tell the people of Telangana as to when the Centre would "clear" the pending dues to the state.
"Shri @AmitShah Ji welcome to Telangana !! please tell the people of Telangana when will the central government clear the following ::
"Dues of Finance Comission Grants : Over Rs 3000 crores , Backward Region Grant : Rs 1350 crore, GST Compensation: Rs 2247 crore," she noted.
The TRS leader also sought Shah's response to "skyrocketing" inflation, "record breaking" unemployment, "maximum" communal riots under BJP rule and fuel being "most expensive".
Kavitha wanted Shah to explain to the people as to why the Centre failed to sanction Telangana a single IIM, IISER, NID, medical college during the last eight years.
"Amit Shah ji , Isn't it the sheer hypocrisy of the Union Govt. to accord the National project status to Upper Bhadra project in Karnataka, Ken Betwa river linking project & denying the same for Palamuru Rangareddy Lift Irrigation Scheme & #KaleshwaramProject of Telangana?" she asked.
The ruling TRS and BJP have been engaged in a bitter war of words for several months as they gear up for next year's assembly elections in Telangana.
Amit Shah's public meeting has been arranged to mark the culmination of the second phase of state BJP president and MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar's 'padayatra'.
15:53 China not to host 2023 AFC Asian Cup due to surging COVID-19 cases
China will not host the AFC Asian Cup final round next year in view of the surging COVID-19 cases in the country, the continent's football governing body said on Saturday.
Asian Football Confederation said it has been officially informed by the Chinese association that it would not be able to host the continental showpiece next year.
"Following extensive discussions with the Chinese Football Association, the Asian Football Confederation has been officially informed by the CFA that it would not be able to host the AFC Asian Cup 2023," the AFC said in a statement.
China were named as hosts of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup in June 2019, at the AFC Extraordinary Congress in Paris. The 24-team competition was to be hosted across 10 Chinese cities from June 16 to July 16 next year.
"The AFC acknowledges the exceptional circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the relinquishment by China PR of its hosting rights," the AFC said.
The Indian team is vying for a place in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup and will feature in the final qualifying round to be held in Kolkata next month.
The AFC said it worked closely with the CFA and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) during the preparations and several milestones were achieved, including the launch of the tournament logo and the unveiling of the newly completed Shanghai Pudong Football Stadium last year.
"The AFC appreciates that China PR, the CFA and the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 LOC have made this very difficult but necessary decision in the collective interests...which has also provided the AFC the required time to assess the situation regarding the hosting of the AFC Asian Cup 2023."
The AFC said it will continue to work closely with its commercial partners and stakeholders to chart out the future course of action. -- PTI
Actress Ketaki Chitale
15:52 Case against Marathi actress for FB post on Pawar
An offence was registered in Maharashtra's Thane city against Marathi actress Ketaki Chitale on Saturday for allegedly sharing a "derogatory" post on Facebook against Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, with the party leaders demanding a strict action against her.
The post targeting Pawar shared by the TV and film actress on Friday was purportedly written by someone else.
The post in Marathi makes no direct mention of the NCP's chief's full name. But it mentions the surname Pawar and the age of 80.
The NCP patriarch is 81-year-old.
Comments like "hell is waiting" and "you hate Brahmins" are part of the post that allegedly criticises the veteran leader, whose party shares power in Maharashtra with the Shiv Sena and the Congress.
"The offence against Chitale was registered at Kalwa police station in Thane on Saturday based on a complaint lodged by Swapnil Netke, who alleged that the actress posted objectionable content against Pawar, and her post might strain the relationship between the two political parties in the state further and create trouble," a police official said.
The case against Chitale was registered under Indian Penal Code sections 500 (defamation), 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory), 505 (2) (making, publishing or circulating any statement, rumour or report promoting enmity, hatred or ill will between classes), 153 A (spreading disharmony among people), he said.
Meanwhile, in Pune, the NCP submitted a letter to the police demanding action against Chitale over her post.
NCP's Pune city unit president Prashant Jagtap said, "The social media post by Chitale is defamatory. She has defamed Pawar and his daughter Supriya Sule in the post. This post may create unrest, which is why we have given a letter to the cyber police, urging them to take action against her."
The NCP also demanded that the actress be arrested for the post.
"Following the NCP's letter, we are in the process of registering a case against the actress," Dagadu Hake, inspector of cyber crime police station said.
Reacting to the post, Maharashtra Housing Development Minister Jitendra Awhad said the youths attached to the NCP will register offences in "at least 100-200" police stations in Maharashtra in connection with the post.
Some of the NCP leaders also sought to link the BJP and the RSS for such remarks being made against Pawar on social media.
He said NCP workers will not tolerate such "hideous' comments about their leader.
"Those who want to tolerate, will tolerate. But we feel uneasy by reading something of this sort. Society will feel uneasy.
"In Maharashtra, our youth will go to at least 100-200 police stations to register offenceHe is the father of the family - that is NCP. He is everything for us and such hideous comments are made about him and that too by a woman!," Awhad told a news channel.
Another Maharashtra minister and senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal also called for immediate action against the actress.
"Immediate action should be taken. It doesn't matter if she is an actress, actor or any minister. She has no right to make such a statement," Bhujbal said. -- PTI
15:27 Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan becomes UAE's president
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan will be the next president of the UAE.
The 61-year-old leader will be the country's third president.
This comes after Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan died on Friday aged 73 after a years-long battle with illness
15:18 Denial of justice would lead to anarchy: CJI
It is imperative for a healthy democracy that people feel their rights and dignity are recognised and protected, Chief Justice of India N V Ramana said on Saturday, stressing that denial of justice would ultimately lead to anarchy.
Addressing a function in Srinagar, the CJI urged lawyers and judges to create a congenial environment for litigants who are often "under a lot of psychological stress".
He lamented that the justice delivery mechanism in India is very "complex and expensive" and the country is far behind in making courts inclusive and accessible.
"For the functioning of a healthy democracy, it is imperative that the people feel that their rights and dignity are protected and recognised. Expeditious adjudication of disputes is the hallmark of a healthy democracy.
"Denial of justice would ultimately lead to anarchy. Soon the institution of the judiciary would be destabilised as people will look for extrajudicial mechanisms," the CJI said.
The Chief Justice of India was here to lay the foundation stone of the new complex for the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
"Peace shall only prevail when people's dignity and rights are recognised and protected," he said.
Chief Justice Ramana said in India, the courts have the constitutional duty of adjudication of rights and upholding the aspirations of the Constitution.
"One of the major challenges to the protection of rule of law and human rights is the inability of the formal justice system to deliver speedy and affordable justice to all. The justice delivery mechanism in India is very complex and expensive," he said.
He said the judiciary must be at its innovative best to ensure that the challenges to its working are met with just and Constitutional measures.
"Technology has been a strong aid to the judiciary. Now, virtual courts are bridging the gaps of accessibility by reducing time, cost and distance. But in a country like India, where a vast digital divide still exists, much needs to be done in order to harness the full potential of technological innovations," he added.
The Chief Justice of India expressed happiness after laying the foundation stone of the new high court complex in Srinagar.
"Solving the problems of infrastructure is very close to my heart. I have consistently emphasised the need for the development and modernisation of infrastructure. Sadly, post-independence, judicial infrastructure has not been overhauled to meet the demands of the growing needs of modern India.
"We are far behind in making our courts inclusive and accessible. If we don't attend to this urgently, the Constitutional ideal of access to justice would stand defeated," he said. -- PTI
15:07 Heavy traffic on Mumbai's Eastern Express Highway
A massive traffic congestion is being witnessed on the Eastern Express Highway since morning with long queues of vehicles stretching from Vikhroli to Ghatkopar on the Expressway.
The flyover over the junction where JVLR (Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road) merges with the Eastern Expressway has been closed for 12 days from May 13-24.
14:55 Kejriwal's meeting on demolition drive cancelled
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's meeting with his party's MLAs, which was scheduled for Saturday, has been cancelled in the wake of a massive fire in outer Delhi's Mundka in which 27 lives were lost, official sources said.
Several other events, including the inauguration of electric vehicle charging points by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, have been cancelled as well, they said.
Kejriwal, national convenor of the Aam Aadmi Party, was scheduled to hold a crucial meeting with party legislators here to prepare a strategy to counter the anti-encroachment drives launched by the BJP-ruled municipal corporations in the national capital.
The meeting was scheduled to begin at 11 am at the chief minister's official residence in Civil Lines.
The fire in the four-storey commercial building on Friday started from the first floor that houses the office of a company which manufactures and assembles CCTV cameras and routers, the police have said.
Kejriwal and Sisodia visited the spot to take stock of the situation.
The Delhi chief minister announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those injured in the blaze.
"A magisterial enquiry has been ordered into the incident. The families of the deceased will be given a compensation of Rs 10 lakh, while the injured will be given Rs 50,000," he said.
14:44 Ranas pray at Delhi Hanuman temple against MVA govt
Independent lawmakers Navneet and Ravi Rana on Saturday recited the Hanuman Chalisa at the Hanuman temple in Delhi and claimed to have prayed for removal of the "biggest danger looming over Maharashtra in the form of Shiv Sena".
The couple was arrested last month on sedition charges after a call for reciting the Hanuman Chalisa outside Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's residence in Mumbai and released on bail 12 days later.
Dressed in a saffron sari and accompanied by her husband and scores of supporters, Navneet Rana, the independent Lok Sabha member from Amravati, walked on foot from her North Avenue residence to the Hanuman temple in Connaught Place to offer prayers.
"Uddhav Thackeray is the biggest danger looming over Maharashtra. I have come to offer prayers to rid Maharashtra of this danger," Navneet told reporters outside the temple.
The Rana couple also performed aarti at the temple.
The temple visit comes on a day when Thackeray is scheduled to address a massive rally in Mumbai.
Meanwhile, Navneet Rana accused the Shiv Sena of abandoning the cause of Hindutva by joining hands with the Congress and NCP to grab power in Maharashtra.
"Uddhav Thackeray has forgotten the legacy of Balasaheb Thackeray. Balasaheb was the real torchbearer of Hindutva, these are duplicates," she said to questions on Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut's remarks that the time had come to show the real style of Shiv Sena.
Navneet Rana dared Thackeray to take action against "those offering prayers at Aurangzeb's grave" instead of targeting her for espousing the cause of Hindutva.
AIMIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi had offered prayers at the grave of Mughal ruler Aurangzeb at Khuldabad, near Aurangabad in Maharashtra.
Keeping up the attack on Shiv Sena, the Rana couple said they would "overthrow Shiv Sena's Lanka of corruption" from Mumbai Municipal Corporation, where elections are due.
Shiv Sena has been controlling the reins of power in Mumbai municipal corporation, the country's richest civic body, since 1996.
14:37 Sonia chairs meeting of AICC top brass on next phase of mass agitation
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday discussed the party's action plan for the second phase of the mass contact programme to take on the policies of the government as well as rising inflation and unemployment in the country.
She presided over the meeting of All India Congress Committee general secretaries, Pradesh Congress Committee presidents and legislature party leaders during the party's Nav Sankalp Chintan Shivir in Udaipur.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi also spoke at the meeting and called for planning the next stage of the action plan for Jan Jagran Abhiyan, sources said.
The Congress launched the mass agitation/contact programme - 'Jan Jagran Abhiyan' -- from November 14 to November 29, 2021 to highlight various issues, including inflation, price rise, recession, unemployment rate and farm distress.
The party is now planning to launch Jan Jagran Abhiyan 2.0.
Top Congress leaders from across the country are here for a three-day brainstorming conclave to decide on the party's strategy on key issues and revamp of the organisation. -- PTI
14:00 Gyanvapi survey over for day; to resume Sunday
The videography survey of the Gyanvapi Masjid complex in Varanasi resumed on Saturday amid tight security arrangements, officials said, and added that the survey work went on in a peaceful manner.
They said that the survey will continue on Sunday.
"The survey work went on in a peaceful manner. And, there has been no objection from anyone. Everything is normal and conducive, and all parties co-operated," Police Commissioner of Varanasi A Satish Ganesh told PTI.
"Today's survey is over, and it will continue tomorrow (Sunday) as well," Ganesh told PTI.
"The authorised persons -- all parties, their advocates, court commissioners and videographers -- have reached the spot, and the survey has started," District Magistrate of Varanasi Kaushal Raj Sharma had earlier told PTI.
The mosque is located close to the iconic Kashi Vishwanath temple and the local court is hearing a plea by a group of women seeking permission for daily prayers before the idols on its outer walls.
An important meeting was held with all parties concerned on Friday, Sharma had said earlier, and added that an appeal was made to them to cooperate in the commission's work and the maintenance of law and order.
More than 1,500 policemen and PAC jawans have been deployed as part of the security arrangement.
The officials said the movement of people has been stopped at a distance of 500 metres from the Gyanvapi complex. Police have also stopped vehicular movement coming from Godaulia and Maidagin areas of the city.
Before entering the Gyanvapi premises, advocate Madan Mohan Yadav, who is appearing for the Hindu side, said all members of the survey team were told to assemble at 7.30 am at the gate number 4 of the Kashi Vishwanath temple complex.
Special lights and cameras were arranged to carry out the survey work, he said.
The mosque management committee has indicated that it will cooperate for now with the team assigned the task by a local court.
In his order on Thursday, District Civil Court (Senior Division) judge Ravi Kumar Diwakar had turned down a plea by the mosque committee to replace Ajay Kumar Mishra, who was appointed advocate commissioner by him to survey the Gyanvapi-Gauri Shringar complex.
13:30 'Goodbye Congress': Sunil Jakhar quits party
"Good luck and Goodbye Congress," former Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sunil Jakhar said on Saturday while announcing his decision to quit the Congress, which had removed from all positions for alleged anti-party activities.
The disgruntled Congress leader, whose decision comes during the party's three-day Chintan Shivir in Udaipur, went live on his Facebook page to make the announcement.
"It is my parting gift to the party. Good luck and Goodbye Congress," Jakhar said while announcing that he was parting ways with the Congress.
The former Punjab Congress chief had been upset with the party for serving him a show-cause notice.
The Congress had last month removed him from all the party positions for alleged anti-party activities. -- PTI
13:21 Heatwave in Delhi to worsen, 'orange' alert issued
A heatwave spell scorching Delhi for the last two days is predicted to worsen on Saturday, with the India Meteorological Department issuing an 'orange' alert, warning that the mercury may soar to 46-47 degrees Celsius in parts of the city.
The maximum temperature at the Safdarjung Observatory, Delhi's base station, is predicted to settle at 44 degrees Celsius as against 42.5 degrees Celsius on Friday.
Delhi on Friday saw the mercury rise to 46.1 degrees Celsius at Najafgarh. The weather stations at Jafarpur and Mungeshpur had recorded maximum temperatures of 45.6 degrees Celsius and 45.4 degrees Celsius, respectively, six notches above normal for this time of the year.
Pitampura also reeled under heatwave conditions, recording a maximum temperature of 44.7 degrees Celsius.
A 'yellow' alert has been issued to caution people about a heatwave on Sunday.
The IMD uses four colour codes for weather warnings -- green (no action needed), yellow (watch and stay updated), orange (be prepared) and red (take action).
Cloudy skies and thunder may provide some relief from the intense heat next week.
This is the fifth heatwave -- one in March and three in April -- in the capital this summer season.
With scanty rains owing to feeble western disturbances, Delhi had recorded its second hottest April this year since 1951 with a monthly average maximum temperature of 40.2 degrees Celsius. A heatwave at the month-end had sent the mercury soaring to 46 and 47 degrees Celsius in several parts of the city.
13:12 Status of places of worship should not be changed: Cong
No attempt should be made to change the status of any place of worship as it would lead to huge conflict, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said on Saturday.
It is to avoid such conflict that the Narasimha Rao government had passed the Places of Worship Act, he added.
His remarks came a day after the Supreme Court refused to stay the inspection of the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi mosque complex in Varanasi.
Chidambaram said the Places of Worship Act was passed after deep consideration and the only exception in that act was to the Ram Janmabhoomi.
"We believe that all other places of worship should remain in the status they are and they were. We should not make an attempt to change the status of any place of worship, that will only lead to huge conflict and it is to avoid such conflict that the Narasimha Rao government passed the Places of Worship act," he told reporters.
The top court has agreed to consider listing the plea of a Muslim party against the survey of the Gyanvapi premises.
A bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices J K Maheswari and Hima Kohli was told by senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the Muslim side in the Gyanvapi mosque case, that the plea has been filed against the survey being conducted at the Varanasi site.
"We have filed in relation to a survey which has been directed to be conducted in relation to the Varanasi property. This (Gyanvapi) has been a mosque since time immemorial and this is clearly interdicted by the Places of Worship Act," Ahmadi said on Friday. He said the direction to conduct a survey has been passed and an order of status quo be passed at the moment
Varanasi's fast track court headed by a civil judge (senior division) had on April 8, 2021 directed the Archaeological Survey of India to conduct a survey of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple-Gyanvapi Mosque complex and ascertain if a temple was demolished to build the mosque that stands adjacent to the temple.
The Allahabad high court, however, stayed the Varanasi court's order on petitions by Anjuman Intazamia Masjid and the Sunni Central Waqf Board. -- PTI
12:38 Cong slams wheat export ban, says move 'anti-farmer'
The Congress on Saturday hit out at the government over the ban on the export of wheat, saying it was an "anti-farmer" measure as it deprives farmers of reaping the benefit of higher export prices.
According to an official notification, India has banned wheat exports with immediate effect as part of measures to control rising domestic prices.
Asked about the government's move at a press conference on the second day of the Congress' ongoing 'Chintan Shivir' in Udaipur, senior leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram said, "I presume that it is because the central government has failed to procure enough wheat. It is not that wheat production has come down, it is more or less the same. In fact, it may be marginally more."
Chidambaram said that on Friday, a Chhattisgarh minister had told him that the government there had procured 97 lakh tonnes of paddy.
If procurement had taken place, there would not have been any need to ban the export of wheat, he said.
"But let me add, banning the export of wheat is an anti-farmer measure. It deprives the farmer of reaping the benefits of higher export prices. It is an anti-farmer measure and I am not surprised, this government has never been very friendly to the farmer," Chidambaram said.
The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said in a notification dated May 13, "The export policy of wheat is prohibited with immediate effect."
However, the export shipments for which irrevocable letters of credit (LoC) have been issued on or before the date of this notification will be allowed, the DGFT said. -- PTI
12:28 Mundka blaze: 25 out of 27 bodies not yet identified
As many as 25 out of the 27 retrieved bodies from the site of a fire incident that took place in a four-story building near Mundka metro station in New Delhi have not yet been identified, according to a police official.
The National Disaster Response Force reached the spot and began the search and rescue operation last night soon after the fire incident.
"Rescue mission is on. The NDRF is checking if there are more bodies. 27 bodies have been recovered so far, but 25 of them haven't been identified. The forensic team will check DNA samples while 27-28 missing complaints have been registered," said DCP Outer District, Sameer Sharma.
Meanwhile, the ongoing search operation that began on Friday night is likely to be completed soon, according to an NDRF official.
"The search operation is going on continuously. We have found small parts of bodies on the second floor. I think the search operation would be complete in 3-4 hours," said Vikash Saini, Assistant Commandant, NDRF.
12:15 'The Archies' first look unveiled
Three star kids -- Suhana Khan, Khushi Kapoor and Agastya Nanda -- are set to start their film careers with Zoya Akhtar's Netflix film The Archies, the filmmaker announced on Saturday.
Suhana Khan and Khushi Kapoor, daughters of superstar Shah Rukh Khan and Bollywood producer Boney Kapoor, and Agastya Nanda, the grandson of megastar Amitabh Bachchan, are among the seven actors who will feature in the live-action musical film.
The other four actors are Super 30 star Mihir Ahuja, Dot, Yuvraj Menda and Vedang Raina.
Akhtar took to Instagram and shared a teaser video, unveiling the cast of the film, which is set in the 1960s.
"Ain't nothing like old school. Grab your gang 'cause the Archies are coming soon on @netflix_in!" she wrote in the caption.
The filmmaker also unveiled the official poster of the film in another post, writing, "Get ready to take a trip down memory lane 'cause The Archies is coming soon only on @netflix_in"
Netflix has partnered with Archie Comics for the film, which Akhtar and her longtime collaborator Reema Kagti are also producing under their production banner Tiger Baby.
12:05 Kejriwal visits Mundka fire site, orders inquiry
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those injured in the Mundka building fire incident that claimed 27 lives.
Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia visited the site of the blaze to take stock of the situation.
"A magisterial enquiry has been ordered into the incident. The families of the deceased will be given a compensation of Rs 10 lakh, while the injured will be given Rs 50,000," the chief minister said.
He said it was a massive blaze and the bodies were charred to such an extent that it has become difficult to identify them.
"The Delhi government has deployed help to identify the missing and the deceased," Kejriwal added.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had visited the site on Friday night.
11:15 Economic state of extreme concern: Chidambaram
Asserting that the state of the economy is a cause of "extreme concern", senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Saturday said taking into account global and domestic developments, it may be necessary to contemplate a reset of economic policies.
Addressing a press conference, Chidambaram said a slower rate of growth has been the "hallmark" of the present government in the last eight years, and the post-pandemic recovery has been "indifferent and halting".
Chidambaram, who heads the panel on economy constituted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to lead discussions at the three-day 'Chintan Shivir' in Udaipur, also said the time is ripe for a comprehensive review of fiscal relations between the Centre and the states.
The consequences of the poorly drafted and unfairly implemented GST laws brought in by the Modi government in 2017 are there for everyone to see, the Congress leader said.
"The States' fiscal position is fragile like never before and needs urgent remedial measures," said the former finance minister, flanked by some other members of the panel such as Gourav Vallabh and Supriya Shrinate.
Noting that the Congress-led government ushered in a new era of liberalisation in 1991, Chidambaram said the country has reaped enormous benefits in terms of wealth creation, new businesses and new entrepreneurs, a huge middle class, millions of jobs, exports and lifting 27 crore people out of poverty during a 10-year period.
"After 30 years, it is felt that taking into account global and domestic developments, it may be necessary to contemplate a reset of the economic policies.
"A reset of economic policies must also address the questions of rising inequalities, extreme poverty among the bottom 10 per cent of the population, India's rank in the Global Hunger Index 2021 (101 out of 116 countries), and evidence of widespread nutritional deficiency among women and children," he said.
The external situation has added to the pressures on the economy, he noted. "The government appears clueless on the ways to deal with these developments," he added. -- PTI
11:03 New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern tests positive for Covid
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed on Saturday that she had tested positive for COVID-19.
"Despite best efforts, unfortunately, I've joined the rest of my family and tested positive for COVID-19," Ardern posted on social media on Saturday morning, Xinhua news agency reported.
Ardern has been isolated at home with her family since Sunday when her fiancee Clarke Gayford tested positive.
"We've been isolating since Sunday when Clarke first tested positive. Neve (Ardern's daughter) tested positive on Wednesday, and I returned a weak positive last night and a strong one this morning," she said.
Stating further, the Prime Minister said: "To anyone else out there, isolating or dealing with COVID, I hope you take good care of yourselves."
Meanwhile, New Zealand reported 7,441 new community cases of COVID-19, 2,503 of which were reported in the largest city Auckland, the ministry of health said on Friday.
At present, the country has reported 1,026,715 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. -- PTI
10:39 Congress Chintan Shivir: Rahul Gandhi to meet general secys, state in-charges today
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will hold a meeting on Saturday with the party's general secretaries, state in-charges, Pradesh Congress Committee chiefs and Congress Legislative Party leaders at around 10 am.
The meeting takes place on the second day of the ongoing 3-day Chintan Shivir in Udaipur.
On the first day of the Shivir, party interim president Sonia Gandhi addressed the leaders who were invited to the event and also hit out at the ruling BJP at the Centre.
On the agenda of the party are discussions on 'communal polarisation', farmers' issues, and strengthening the party for the upcoming elections. -- ANI
Harish Goel and Varun Goel in police custody/ANI
10:36 Delhi fire: 2 company owners arrested
The Delhi police on Saturday arrested two company owners identified as Harish Goel and Varun Goel in connection with the fire that broke out at a commercial building in Mundka that claimed 27 lives.
The owner of the building has been identified as Manish Lakra and he is currently absconding. He will be nabbed soon, said DCP Sameer Sharma (outer district).
The police registered an FIR under Sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder),308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide),120 (concealing design to commit offence punishable with imprisonment),34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the IPC in connection with the massive fire tragedy. -- ANI
10:13 Army jawan dies by suicide in J-K's Ramban
An Army jawan died by suicide in Ramban district of Jammu and Kashmir, police said on Saturday.
The deceased has been identified as Ravi Kumar (25), a resident of Haryana.
He was on guard duty at Neel top post in Banihal on Friday evening when he shot himself with his service rifle, a police official said.
He said the reason behind Kumar taking the extreme step is yet to be ascertained.
The police have initiated inquest proceedings.
The body was sent to Kumar's unit after the completion of medico-legal formalities, the official said.
The mortal remains of the deceased are being handed over to his family for the last rites, he said. -- PTI
09:54 SC to hear plea against Gyanvapi mosque survey
A bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud in the Supreme Court will hear the plea seeking a stay on the survey of the Gyanvapi mosque complex, adjacent to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi.
The order directing the registry to list the matter before Justice Chandrachud was uploaded on the Supreme Court website on Friday night, where Chief Justice of India NV Ramana directed that matter be listed before Justice Chandrachud.
"Upon being mentioned by Huzefa Ahmadi, senior counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner, we deem it appropriate to direct the registry to list the matter before the bench presided over by Dr Justice DY Chandrachud," the order stated.
On Friday, senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi mentioned the matter before a bench headed by CJI Ramana asking to order status quo in the case pending before the Varanasi civil court.
The bench, however, had refused to grant status quo in the case, saying that it was not aware of the issue, as it had not seen the papers then.
"We have not seen the papers. We don't even know what is the matter. I don't know anything... how can I pass an order. I will read and then pass orders... let me see," said the CJI. Ahmadi appearing for the Anjuman Intezamia Masajid committee that manages the Gyanvapi mosque sought an order of the status quo, saying "survey has been directed in relation to Varanasi property".
This is covered by the Places of Worship Act. Now the Court has ordered the Commissioner to conduct a survey. -- ANI
09:48 BSF troops open fire at Pakistani drone near IB in Jammu
Border Security Force personnel deployed along the International Border in Jammu fired several rounds at a drone coming from the Pakistani side on Saturday morning, forcing it to retreat, an official said.
A massive search operation was launched in the area to ensure no weapons or narcotics were dropped by the flying object, he said.
"Today in the morning, alert BSF troops observed a blinking light (in the sky) and immediately fired at it in the Arnia area, forcing the Pakistani flying object to return. A combined search operation is being carried out in the area," BSF deputy inspector general, Jammu frontier, SP Sandhu said.
Officials said the Pakistani drone was spotted by the border guards around 4.45 am and some eight rounds were fired by them to bring it down.
After hovering for a few minutes in the air, the drone flew back, the officials said, adding the search operation is going on in the area falling under the RS Pura sector.
This is the second such incident to take place within seven days.
On May 7, the BSF had opened fired at a Pakistani drone in the same area shortly after it entered the Indian territory.
Drone activity from Pakistan has increased after the BSF detected an underground cross-border tunnel in the Chak Faquira area of Samba district on May 4. -- PTI
09:36 India bans wheat exports with immediate effect
India has banned wheat exports with immediate effect as part of measures to control rising domestic prices, according to official notification.
However, the export shipments for which irrevocable letters of credit have been issued on or before the date of this notification will be allowed, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade said in a notification dated May 13.
"The export policy of wheat is prohibited with immediate effect," the DGFT said.
It also clarified that wheat exports will be allowed on the basis of permission granted by the government of India to other countries to meet their food security needs and based on the request of their governments.
In a separate notification, the DGFT announced the easing of export conditions for onion seeds.
"The export policy of onion seeds has been put under the restricted category, with immediate fact," it said.
The export of onion seeds was earlier prohibited. -- PTI
09:12 J-K probe agency conducts raids at 12 places in terror-financing case
The State Investigation Agency of Jammu and Kashmir has conducted raids at 12 locations, including at the native house of the APHC Pakistan chairman in Bhadarwah, in connection with a terror-financing case, officials said.
The case was registered at the Gandhinagar police station and subsequently transferred to the SIA for an in-depth investigation, they said.
The sleuths of the investigating agency, with the assistance of the local police, carried out raids in Jammu, Kathua, Doda and Kashmir on Friday, the officials said.
They also raided a house in Bhadarwah's Masjid Mohalla locality.
According to reports, raids were conducted at the residence and shop of a man selling electronic items.
The reports said the SIA raided the house of Zubair Khateeb in the Masjid Mohalla locality.
Zubair's father Hussain Khateeb is reportedly in Pakistan for more than 20 years. Khateeb is associated with proscribed terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen.
The reports said a Wifi router was seized from his shop. -- PTI
09:01 Delhi fire: No NOC for building, owner absconding
Hours after the Delhi fire tragedy came under control, the police said the commercial building that caught fire near Mundka metro station on Friday evening did not have fire the mandatory no-objection certificate while also informing that the building owner is absconding.
The police official said that the building owner has been identified as Manish Lakra.
"The building did not have a fire NOC. The owner of the building has been identified as Manish Lakra who lived on the top floor. Lakra is currently absconding, teams are on the job and he will be nabbed soon," DCP Sameer Sharma (outer district) told reporters.
As many as 27 people died in the fire accident so far and 12 persons are injured, police said.
"A total of 27 people have died and 12 are injured. We'll take the help of the forensic team to identify the bodies. FIR has been registered. We've detained company owners. There are chances that more bodies may be recovered as the rescue operation is yet to be completed," he added.
Meanwhile, the divisional officer of the fire department also informed that there was only one staircase due to which, people could not move out of the building. -- ANI
08:21 Mercury soars to 47.8 deg C in UP's Banda
A heatwave seared Uttar Pradesh on Friday with the maximum temperature soaring to 47.8 degrees Celsius in Banda district, the highest in the state.
In nearby Jhansi district, the mercury crossed 47.6 degrees Celsius during the day, breaking a decade old record of maximum temperature in May, according to the MeT department data.
Kanpur recorded 46.7 degrees Celsius, Prayagraj 46.6 degrees Celsius, Hamirpur 46.2 degrees Celsius, Orai 46 degrees Celsius and Agra 45.5 degrees Celsius, it said.
The maximum temperature in state capital was recorded at 42 degrees Celsius.
The MeT department has issued warning of heatwave conditions at isolated places over western Uttar Pradesh in the next 48 hours.
The weather in the state is most likely to stay dry on Saturday, according to the MeT department's forecast. -- PTI
08:18 Punjab reschedules summer holidays, schools to close from Jun 1-30
Punjab has rescheduled summer holidays in all schools, which will now close from June 1 to 30 instead of from May 14, Education Minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer said in a statement in Chandigarh.
He said the decision was taken after demands from the students, parents and the teachers to schedule the summer holidays on the pattern of previous years.
The education department has reconsidered its decision and decided that the classes in the offline mode would be held from May 15 to May 31, in all the government, aided, private schools while the summer holidays have been scheduled from June 1 to June 30, he said.
A fortnight ago, the Punjab government had declared summer vacation in all schools from May 14 in view of the severe heatwave scorching the state.
The minister said that the offline classes getting disrupted on many occasions owing to the COVID-19 pandemic during the last two years, the students' studies had been adversely affected.
"Hence, it was the demand of the parents as well as the students toschedule summer holidays as before," he said.
He also said that from May 15 till May 31, the primary school timings would be from 7 am to 11 am while the middle/high/senior Secondary schools would open from 7 am till 12:30 pm. -- PTI
08:14 Security beefed up for Gyanvapi mosque survey
Security has been tightened around Gyanvapi mosque with deployment of police personnel in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh ahead of the videography survey, which will begin shortly on Saturday.
"Today we'll enter the underground cell and begin videography. We will go in by 8 am," says Adv Shivam Gaur, representing petitioner Rakhi Singh. -- ANI
00:21 Case filed for arrest of Mahinda for violent clashes
A Sri Lankan court on Friday was moved to direct the Criminal Investigation Department to immediately arrest former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and six others for alleged criminal intimidation and aiding and abetting attacks on peaceful anti-government protesters here this week, according to a media report.
The personal complaint was lodged before the Colombo Magistrate's Court where attacks on peaceful protesters outside the prime minister's residence and near Galle Face were cited, Daily Mirror Lanka reported.
The protesters who were attacked by the supporters of Mahinda Rajapaksa were demanding the ruling leadership resign and take responsibility for the unprecedented economic crisis plaguing the country.
Colombo Fort Magistrate Thilina Gamage has ordered the petition to be taken up before the Colombo Chief Magistrate court on May 17.
The complaint was lodged by Attorney Senaka Perera.
The petition demands the immediate arrest of former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Members of Parliament Johnston Fernando, Sanjeewa Edirimanne, Sanath Nishantha and Moratuwa Municipal Council Chairman Saman Lal Fernando, Senior police officials Deshabandu Tennakoon and Chandana Wickremeratne.
Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since gaining independence from Britain in 1948.
The crisis is caused in part by a lack of foreign currency, which has meant that the country cannot afford to pay for imports of staple foods and fuel, leading to acute shortages and very high prices.
Thousands of demonstrators have hit the streets across Sri Lanka since April 9 seeking the resignation of President Gotabaya and his brother Mahinda, as the government ran out of money for vital imports.
Mahinda resigned as prime minister on Monday, hours after his supporters attacked anti-government protesters, prompting authorities to impose a nationwide curfew and deploy Army troops in the capital.
The attack triggered widespread violence against pro-Rajapaksa politicians.
At least 9 people died with over 200 being hospitalised. Some 58 of Mahinda Rajapaksa's government colleagues have seen arson attacks on their personal properties.
Mahinda Rajapaksa, who served as the country's prime minister thrice, saw his residence set on fire on Monday. Mahinda Rajapaksa, along with his wife and family, fled his official residence -- Temple Trees -- and took shelter at the naval base in Trincomalee. -- PTI