Sun, 22 May 2022
AAP leader Khan sends legal notice to Delhi police

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23:12   AAP leader Khan sends legal notice to Delhi police
Aam Aadmi Party leader Amanatullah Khan has sent a legal notice to the Delhi police through his lawyer demanding an 'unconditional public apology' for allegedly violating his and his family's 'fundamental rights.'  

Khan, an MLA from Okhla, was recently arrested during an anti-encroachment drive in Madanpur Khadar and had earlier been declared a 'bad character' by the Delhi police. 

He is currently out of jail on bail. 

"The Delhi police is constantly targeting me. This time Delhi police attacked my right to live with dignity besides defaming my family. The Delhi police is weaving imaginary stories about me without any evidence," Khan tweeted Sunday sharing the copy of the notice. 

The legal notice sent to Delhi police commissioner on Saturday by Khan's lawyer demanded an "unconditional, written, public apology" to his wife and children allegedly for "brazen infraction" by the force of their fundamental rights. 

The notice claimed that Khan, who is also the chairman of Delhi Waqf Board, was "peacefully" protesting against the anti-encroachment drive by South MCD in the interest of the local public on May 12. 

The proposal for declaring Khan a "bad character" was sent on March 28 by the Jamia Nagar police station in Southeast district and was approved on March 30. 

A total of 18 FIRs have been registered against him, the document said. 

According to the police, a person who has involvement in several cases, including that of murder and attempt to murder, and can disturb peace in an area is declared a "bad character". Police keep an eye on such people. -- PTI
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23:05   Delhi sees 365 fresh Covid cases, one more death
Delhi on Sunday reported 365 fresh COVID-19 cases and one more death, while the positivity rate stood at 1.97 per cent, according to data shared by the city health department. 

With this, Delhi's COVID-19 caseload increased to 19,03,554 and the death toll climbed to 26,201. 

A total of 18,543 COVID-19 tests were conducted in the national capital the previous day, the department said in its latest bulletin. 

Delhi had logged 479 COVID-19 cases on Saturday with a positivity rate of 2.06 per cent and one death. 

The city saw 530 cases and zero deaths on Friday, while the positivity rate stood at 2.17 per cent. On Thursday, the capital recorded 520 cases with a positivity rate of 2.09 per cent and one death. 

The number of daily COVID-19 cases in Delhi had touched the record high of 28,867 on January 13 this year during the third wave of the pandemic. 

The city had recorded a positivity rate of 30.6 percent on January 14, the highest during the third wave of the pandemic. 

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Delhi came down to 1,912 from 2,138 on Saturday, the bulletin said. -- PTI
22:26   PM Modi leaves for Japan on two-day visit
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday evening left for Japan on a two-day visit to attend a summit of the Quad leaders which is aimed at further bolstering cooperation among the member nations of the influential grouping and discussing developments in the Indo-Pacific region. 

In a statement, Modi said the summit will provide an opportunity for the leaders of the four member countries to review the progress of the Quad initiatives. 

Besides Modi, the summit in Tokyo on May 24 will be attended by US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Australian prime minister-elect Anthony Albanese. 

"A visit to further the 'force for global good'. PM @narendramodi emplanes for Tokyo. Quad Leaders' Summit with PM @AlboMP of Australia, PM @kishida230 of Japan, and @POTUS @JoeBiden awaits," external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted. 

Modi will also hold separate bilateral meetings with Biden, Kishida and Albanese on the sidelines of the summit. 

"In Japan, I will also participate in the second in-person Quad Leaders' Summit, which will provide an opportunity for the leaders of the four Quad countries to review the progress of Quad initiatives," Modi said in his statement. 

"We will also exchange views about developments in the Indo-Pacific region and global issues of mutual interest," he said. -- PTI
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22:22   Three killed as nor'wester lashes Jharkhand
Three persons were killed in Jharkhand's Garhwa district, as bamboo trees came crashing down on them amid a Nor'wester that struck the state on Sunday, a senior police officer said. 

The victims, all in their mid-50s, had gone fishing to a pond in Mahulia village when rain accompanied by hailstorm lashed the area, forcing them to take shelter under the bamboo grove, superintendent of police Anjani Kumar Jha said. 

Some bamboo trees were, however, uprooted by the gusty winds, which then fell on the fishermen, killing two on the spot, he said. 

The villagers, on hearing screams, were able to rescue the third person, but he succumbed to his injuries during treatment at a nearby health centre, Jha explained. 

The bodies of the three victims have been sent to Garhwa Sadar Hospital for post-mortem, the SP added. -- PTI
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21:08   Temperature dips in national capital
The national capital on Sunday recorded a maximum temperature of 39.3 degrees Celsius, a notch below normal, the India meteorological department said.                  

According to it, the city recorded a minimum temperature of 23.1 degrees Celsius, three notches below the season's average.                  

On Saturday, the minimum temperature in the national capital was 29.8 degrees Celsius and the maximum 42.4 degrees Celsius, both three notches above normal.                  

The relative humidity oscillated between 77 per cent and 29 per cent on Sunday while the rainfall recorded in the 24 hours till this morning was 0.8 mm, weather officials said.                  

According to the IMD, the national capital may have generally cloudy sky on Monday and receive light rain with thundershowers and squall of a speed 50-60 kmph.                  

The minimum and maximum temperatures are likely to be around 27 and 37 degrees Celsius respectively. -- PTI
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20:43   Mumbai logs 234 new Covid cases, no deaths
Mumbai on Sunday reported 234 new coronavirus positive cases, which raised the city's infection tally to 10,62,908, while the toll remained unchanged at 19,566 as no death was reported, the civic body said. 

A total of 151 patients were discharged during the day, taking the recovery count to 10,42,048, the health department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said. 

With 8,612 tests conducted during the day, the overall test count increased to 1,70,66,748. There are 1,294 active cases in the city at present. 

The recovery rate of Mumbai is 98 per cent and the case doubling rate is 4,208 days. -- PTI
20:37   Global warming needs to be urgently brought under control: Union minister
Union Minister Bhupender Yadav on Sunday said biodiversity offers goods and services that provide a natural habitat and are essential for a well-functioning global economy.        

Approximately 40 per cent of the world's economy is based on biological products and any effort at conserving biodiversity would be able to succeed only by tackling the challenges that arise due to global warming, the minister for environment, forest and climate change said at an event in Chennai.        

"Global warming has to be urgently brought under control," he said, after inaugurating an exhibition on the occasion of International Day for Biological Diversity.        

He noted that the country was on track to achieve its biodiversity targets at the national level and was also contributing significantly towards achieving the goals at the global level. -- PTI
20:28   SP to lead charge against Yogi govt on price rise, law and order in assembly
The first session of the 18th legislative assembly of Uttar Pradesh is set to begin on a stormy note with the Samajwadi Party -- the main opposition party -- aiming to corner the BJP-led state government on the issue of price rise and law and order.  

"The current BJP-led government in the state is responsible for the price rise of various commodities ranging from fuel to vegetables, fruits and edible oil. The law and order situation in the state has worsened. The health sector is in a very bad shape, and patients' attendants are being beaten up in hospitals in Kanpur," Samajwadi Party MLA from Sishamau assembly constituency in Kanpur said.

"The situation is very grim. We will raise all these issues in the assembly, and will seek an answer from the government," he said.

He said that the BJP-led government has "miserably failed" on all fronts. The session will commence on Monday with UP governor Anandiben Patel addressing the members of legislative assembly as well as the legislative council, special secretary to UP Vidhan Sabha Brij Bhushan Dubey said.

The 2022-2023 Budget is likely to be tabled on Thursday. -- PTI
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19:51   Ship carrying relief materials from India for Sri Lankan people reaches Colombo
An Indian ship carrying urgent relief supplies like rice, life-saving medicines and milk powder for the people of crisis-hit Sri Lanka arrived in Colombo on Sunday and the consignment was handed over to the government in the island nation.  

Indian high commissioner Gopal Baglay handed over to Lankan Foreign Minister GL Peiris the consignment which consists of 9,000 metric tonne  of rice, 50 MT of milk powder and more than 25 MT of drugs and other medical supplies.

"Sri Lanka today received Rs 2 billion worth humanitarian aid including milk powder, rice and medicines from India. Our sincere gratitude to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Hon. @mkstalin and the People of India for the support extended. I also appreciate the assistance given by the @IndiainSL and CWC Leader @S_Thondaman in Sri Lanka," Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe tweeted.

This is also the first consignment under a larger $16 million commitment of 40,000 MT of rice, 500 MT of milk powder and medicines by government of Tamil Nadu, an official release said. -- PTI
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19:37   SII seeks nod for Phase-3 trial of Covovax
The Serum Institute of India has sought permission from the country's drug regulator to conduct Phase-3 trial to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of its COVID-19 vaccine Covovax as a booster dose in children aged two to 18 years, official sources said on Sunday.                  

The Drugs Controller General of India had granted permission in March for conducting Phase-3 clinical trial of Covovax as a booster dose in adults.                  

In an application, SII director for government and regulatory affairs Prakash Kumar Singh has sought permission to conduct the Phase-3, observer-blinded, randomised, controlled study in children aged two to 18 years in India who have already received primary vaccination against COVID-19 with Covovax at least six months ago.                  

The study will evaluate the immunogenicity and safety of the vaccine as a booster dose in comparison with the placebo.                  

Singh is learnt to have stated that it has become evident that the protection offered against COVID-19 wanes after a two-dose schedule of vaccines and that more than 100 countries have started administering booster doses. -- PTI
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19:14   Maharashtra govt slashes VAT on petrol and diesel
A day after the Centre reduced excise duty on fuel, the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government on Sunday slashed the VAT on petrol by Rs 2.08 per litre and diesel by Rs 1.44 per litre. 

A statement issued by the government said the state exchequer will have to bear an annual loss of Rs 2,500 crore as a result of this decision. 

After reducing the VAT on petrol and diesel, the per month revenue from petrol will reduce by Rs 80 crore, while that from diesel by Rs 125 crore. 

The central government on Saturday announced a record Rs 8 per litre cut in excise duty on petrol and Rs 6 reduction on diesel. -- PTI
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18:53   There is no Shivling inside Gyanvapi mosque: SP lawmaker
Samajwadi Party MP Shafiqur Rahman Barq on Sunday claimed that there was no Shivling' in Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi and the word was spread about it to stoke sentiments for the upcoming 2024 parliamentary elections. 

"All these circumstances are being created due to 2024 elections. If you go into the history there was no 'Shivling' and nothing else in the Gyanvapi mosque. All this is wrong," Barq, an MP from Sambhal, told reporters outside the Samajwadi Party office. 

Barq was in Lucknow to meet SP chief Akhilesh Yadav. 

On Ayodhya, Barq said, "Though a Ram temple is being constructed, I still say that there is a mosque there".

"Ye takat ke bal-boote pe ho raha" (This is purely a display of power). We are being targeted. Mosques are being attacked. The government doesn't run like this. Government should run with honesty and rule of law. There is a rule of Bulldozer, not of law," he alleged. 

A local court in Varanasi on May 16 directed the district administration to seal a spot in the Gyanvapi Masjid complex after counsels representing the Hindu petitioners said a Shivling was found during a court-mandated videography survey. 

A mosque management committee spokesperson disputed the claim, telling a television channel that the object was part of a fountain. 

A day later, the top court directed the district magistrate of Varanasi to ensure the protection of an area inside the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex where a 'Shivling' was said to have been found and allowed Muslims to offer namaz' and perform religious observances. -- PTI
18:46   New statue of Raja Ram Mohan Roy unveiled on his 250th birth anniversary
Describing Raja Rammohan Roy as a great social reformer and visionary, Union Minister for Culture G Kishan Reddy Sunday virtually unveiled a statue of the `Father of Bengal's Renaissance' at Salt Lake on the occasion of his 250th Birth Anniversary. 

Reddy who also spoke virtually at a function at Science City to mark the anniversary described the man best known for his fight to abolish the inhuman practise of Sati or immolation of widows, as a "a thinker, an educator, a journalist, a visionary." 

"Rammohan Roy was a great social reformer, a thinker, an educator, a journalist, a visionary. He is not only the pride of Bengal but the country. Installing his statue will inspire the present generation of youths," he said. 

Both the functions organised by central government bodies were marked by a lack of representation from the state government. 

The day was also observed by the state government at with floral tributes were paid before his statue at his former residence now converted into Kolkata Police Museum, which primarily showcases arms and ammunition used by Indian freedom fighters. 

A drama `Bharatpathik Rammohan' (India's Visionary: Rammohan) was staged at Madhusudan Mancha to mark the occasion. 

The day was also observed at the polymath's ancestral house of Radhanagar, Hooghly district as well as at Rammohan Library on Sukia Street where various student bodies paid tribute to him and the relevance of his vision in present day India. 

Singing by Brahmo Music Choir, quiz competitions, lectures by eminent dignitaries and a multimedia presentation based on different aspects of the social reforms advocated by Raja Rammohun Roy were held during the day at various locations. -- PTI
18:15   BJP MP Arjun Singh rejoins Trinamool Congress
In a jolt to the saffron camp in West Bengal, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Arjun Singh on Sunday rejoined the Trinamool Congress, ending weeks of speculation over his possible switchover to the ruling party. 

Singh was welcomed into the party by TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee at his office in south Kolkata. 

"Warmly welcoming former vice president of @BJP4Bengal and MP from Barrackpore, Shri @ArjunsinghWB into the All India Trinamool Congress family. He joins us today in the presence of our national general secretary Shri @abhishekaitc," the TMC said on its official Twitter handle. 

Singh, one of the prominent Hindi-speaking leaders of the TMC, had joined the saffron camp just ahead of the Lok Sabha polls in 2019 and went on to win from the Barrackpore Lok Sabha seat. -- PTI
17:34   Kejriwal hosts lunch for KCR; discusses political situation in country
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal met his Telangana counterpart K Chandrashekar Rao at the AAP leader's residence here on Sunday.                  
The two chief ministers had lunch together and discussed various issues, including the current political situation in the country. 

Later, they left for Chandigarh, officials said.                  

"Hon'ble Chief Minister Shri @ArvindKejriwal hosted Hon'ble Chief Minister of Telangana, Shri K. Chandrashekar Rao at his residence for lunch, today," the Delhi Chief Minister's Office tweeted.                  

Kejriwal and Rao, along with Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, are scheduled to pay tributes to the martyrs of the Galwan Valley clash against the Chinese troops and the farmers who died during the anti-farm law stir last year, in Chandigarh later in the day.                  

On Saturday, the Telangana chief minister, accompanied by Kejriwal, had visited schools and Mohalla clinics of the Delhi government.                  

Rao is in Delhi as part of his week-long tour to attend national-level political and social programmes.                  

On Saturday, he had also met Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav. -- PTI
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17:27   62 booked for 'pro-Pak' slogan in Jharkhand
As many as 62 people, including a newly elected panchayat samiti member, have been booked for allegedly raising pro-Pakistan slogans at a panchayat poll victory procession in Jharkhand's Hazaribag district, a senior police officer said on Sunday. 

A video clip of the procession outside Bazar Samiti, where several people were heard shouting 'Pakistan Zindabad', went viral on social media, following which the police swung into action and registered a case in the matter, Hazaribag superintendent of police Manoj Ratan Chothe said. 

No arrest has been made so far as the police are still verifying the authenticity of the clip, Chothe explained. Local leader Amina Khatoon's victory in the first phase of panchayat elections prompted her supporters to take out a rally on Saturday from Shiladih in Barkatha block, he said. 

"An FIR has been lodged against 12 named people, including the newly elected panchayat samiti member of Shiladih, and 50 unknown persons. The team is working to ascertain the truth behind the viral video. If it is found to be authentic, strong action will be taken against everyone," the SP added. 

This was the second such incident reported amid the four-phase panchayat polls. 

On April 21, a candidate for the post of gram panchayat head in a village of Giridih district, along with two of his supporters, was arrested for allegedly raising similar pro-Pakistan slogans, as he was on his way to file nomination for the election. -- PTI
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17:09   Punjab targets 12 lakh hectares of paddy area with DSR technique
Punjab's agriculture department has set a target to bring 12 lakh hectares of paddy area under the direct seeding of rice technique, which will be almost double of the area covered last year. 

According to an official spokesperson, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, who also holds the portfolio of agriculture, directed the department to make concerted efforts to bring around 12 lakh hectares under this technique. 

The DSR needs far less water for irrigation, improves percolation, reduces dependence on farm labour and improves soil health, thus enhancing yield of both paddy and wheat by 5-10 per cent. 

Under the DSR technique, paddy seeds are drilled into the field with the help of a machine that does seeding of rice and spray of herbicide simultaneously. 

While in the traditional method, young paddy plants are raised by farmers in nurseries first and then these plants are uprooted and transplanted in a puddled field. 

To encourage farmers to sow paddy through the DSR, the state government already decided a Rs 1,500 per acre incentive to farmers for the sowing of paddy through this technique. 

A sum of Rs 450 crore has been earmarked to provide incentive to farmers for promotion of less water-consuming and cost-effective DSR technology. 

With reports suggesting that rats were damaging direct sown paddy in some areas, the chief minister directed the agriculture department to provide rat-control pesticides to farmers free of cost. 

Director agriculture department Gurvinder Singh said DSR technique helps in saving nearly about 15-20 per cent water as compared to the conventional puddling method. -- PTI
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16:40   Steel dome of newly constructed Meghalaya assembly collapses
A portion of the newly constructed Meghalaya legislative assembly building collapsed but there were no reported injury, officials said on Sunday. 

The 70 tonne dome of the Rs 177.7 crore building constructed by a UP-based UPNRNNL collapsed at around 12:30 am last night, they said. 

According to an executive engineer of PWD (building) overseeing the constructions, the collapse could have been triggered by a design fault. 

"The weight of the steel dome was perhaps too much for the columns and the beams to bear. This resulted in the entire structure coming down," PWD executive engineer Ransom Sutnga said. 

He said it would take another two weeks to clear the debris. 

The engineer who rushed to the site early morning, said that it would take at least another 8 months to raise a new dome structure. 

Assembly officials said the designs of the entire building was approved and vetted by officials of the IIT-Rourkee. 

Work on the new building was started in June 2019and was to be completed by August 2022. -- PTI
16:22   Imran Khan again praises India's fuel price cut
Pakistan's ousted prime minister Imran Khan has once again praised India for reducing fuel prices with the help of "discounted oil" from Russia, saying this is what his government was working to achieve with the help of an "independent foreign policy." 

The Indian government on Saturday cut excise duty on petrol by a record Rs 8 per litre and that on diesel by Rs 6 per litre to give relief to consumers battered by high fuel prices that have also pushed inflation to a record high. 

It also decided to give Rs 200 per cylinder subsidy to Ujjwala Yojana beneficiaries for 12 cylinders in a year. Khan tagged a South Asia Index report in his tweet which said that "after buying discounted oil from Russia, the Indian government reduced petrol price by 9.5 rupees per litre.  Diesel price has also been reduced by 7 rupees per litre.' 

Taking to Twitter, the 69-year-old cricketer-turned-politician said: "Despite being part of the Quad, India sustained pressure from the US and bought discounted Russian oil to provide relief to the masses. 

"This is what our government was working to achieve with the help of an independent foreign policy."   

India, the world's third-biggest oil-consuming and importing nation, has in recent weeks snapped few cargoes available from Russia at deep discounts as part of its plans to diversify its import basket. 

In another tweet, Khan said: "Pakistan's interest was supreme but unfortunately the local Mir Jafars & Mir Sadiqs bowed to external pressure, forcing a regime change and are now running around like a headless chicken with the economy in a tailspin." 

Khan often terms his political opponents as Mir Jafars & Mir Sadiqs, the historical figures who had betrayed their masters and helped the British rulers. 

This is not the first time when Prime Minister Khan has praised India to the surprise of Opposition parties. -- PTI
15:55   CBI registers FIR against 5 officials in Bengal school recruitment scam
The Central Bureau of Investigation registered an FIR against five members of an advisory panel of the West Bengal School Service Commission in connection with its probe into alleged irregularities in recruitment to Group C posts in state government-aided schools, an official said on Sunday. 

The central agency named the advisory committee's former chairman Shanti Prasad Sinha, SSC's ex-chairman Soumitra Sarkar, commission's former secretary Ashok Kumar Saha and its ex-programming officer Samarjit Acharya in the FIR. 

It also mentioned Kalyanmoy Ganguly, the president of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education in the first information report. 

The CBI slapped charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery against them, the official said. 

The agency has asked the five officials to submit "details of their bank balance and income tax returns as well as details of properties they have purchased in the names of other people", the agency official said. 

In its FIR, the central agency also mentioned that the SSC advisory panel was formed "on the insistence" of the then education minister Partha Chatterjee, he said. 

The development came after state minister Paresh Adhikari was interrogated for the third consecutive day on Saturday on the 'illegal" appointment of his daughter as a teacher in a government-aided school. 

The agency had also quizzed Chatterjee in connection with its investigation into the alleged irregularities in recruitment to schools. Chatterjee, who is now the industry and commerce minister of the Mamata Banerjee government, was the education minister when the alleged illegal appointments were made. 

A division bench of the Calcutta High Court on May 18 upheld a single bench order for CBI inquiry into "illegal" appointments made in government-aided schools by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education on the recommendations of the SSC. -- PTI
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15:19   13 cows charred to death in truck fire in MP's Ujjain
Thirteen cows were charred to death after a truck carrying them caught fire in Madhya Pradesh's Ujjain district, police said on Sunday.                 

The incident took place late Saturday night near Ghinoda village under Khachrod police station limits, they said.                 

The truck was carrying more than 20 bovine animals.                 

Some people saw the vehicle, which was without the driver, up in flames and tried to douse the blaze, but five cows and eight calves died by that time, Khachrod police station in-charge Ravindra Yadav said.                 

The villagers claimed that 10-15 cows saved by them from the truck ran away into a nearby forest, he said.                 

Five cows saved from the truck were sent to a shelter, he said.                 

A search was on for the vehicle's owner, driver and helper to get details about the incident, he said. -- PTI
15:07   Delayed Ayodhya visit as I sense trap: Raj
MNS chief Raj Thackeray on Sunday claimed that political developments around his proposed Ayodhya visit were a ploy to 'trap' his party workers into legal tangles and hence, he decided to defer his trip to the Uttar Pradesh city. 

Addressing an indoor rally at a hall in Pune city of Maharashtra, Thackeray said he has to undergo a surgery on June 1 and after recovering from it, he would again address a public meeting. 

He reiterated that the MNS workers will resume agitation if loudspeakers atop mosques do not follow the noise rules. 

Thackeray had earlier asked his partymen to play 'Hanuman Chalisa' outside mosques where loudspeakers play azaan.

On Sunday, Raj Thackeray said when he posted the message about deferring his Ayodhya visit, many people were happy, while some did not like it. 

"I was watching things which were being discussed after I had announced the Ayodhya visit. Later, I got to know that it is a trap. It started in Maharashtra," he claimed. 

He said those who didn't like his plan to go to Ayodhya started "creating issues" around his visit. 

Raj Thackeray said he not only wanted to visit the Ram Janmabhoomi, but also the place where 'karsevaks' were killed back then (after the 1992 Babri mosque demolition). 

"If I had been adamant on going there and if something would have happened, our supporters would have taken it head-on. But, they might be booked (in cases). And, it would have affected (the MNS) during elections. I sensed this is a trap. I prefer to accept criticism (for deferring the Ayodhya visit), but don't want our party workers to get into legal issues," he said. 

On BJP parliamentarian Brij Bhushan Singh opposing his Ayodhya visit, Raj Thackeray said, "How can one MP challenge the Uttar Pradesh chief minister?" 

The MNS chief also revealed that he was suffering from pain in leg and waist and has to undergo a hip bone surgery on June 1. 

"After recovery, I will again hold a public rally," he said. -- PTI
14:17   Fire in Gujarat pharma factory; no casualty
A major fire broke out in a drug manufacturing factory in Gujarat's Gandhinagar district on Sunday, officials said.                 

There was no report of any casualty so far, they said.                     

The blaze erupted in the pharmaceutical unit located in Kalol industrial area, an official from the fire department in Gandhinagar said.                 

A call was received about the blaze around 9 am and five fire tenders were rushed there immediately, the official said.                 

"More than five other fire tenders from Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Kalol and Kadi cities were also sent to the spot. Efforts are still on to bring the blaze under control,"  Gandhinagar fire station officer KJ Gadhavi said.                 
The fire spread fast due to several drums containing a solvent stored in the factory, hence it was taking time to bring it under control, he said.                 
"As per primary information, some workers who were inside the factory came out on time. There is no report of any casualty so far," the official said. -- PTI
Azam Khan and Shivpal Yadav (right)/PTI
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13:44   Azam Khan, Shivpal skip SP legislators' meet
Azam Khan and Shivpal Yadav on Sunday skipped the party MLAs meeting called by party chief Akhilesh Yadav ahead of the assembly session. 

Khan, who was recently released from Sitapur jail, is in Rampur and could not attend the meeting due to health reasons, SP leaders said. 

Besides Khan, his son Abdullah Azam and Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party Lohia chief, who is SP MLA from Jaswant Nagar (Etawah), also did not turn up for the meeting at SP headquarter in Lucknow. 

"Both Azam Khan and his son Abdullah will be attending the session tomorrow. Azam will sit on left of Akhilesh Yadav and will raise issues regarding the BJP government," SP MLA Ravidas Mehrotra said, adding that Khan could not attend the meeting due to health reasons. 

He said Khan will first take oath and then attend the assembly session on Monday. 

About absence of Shivpal Yadav, Mehrotra said, "Though he won on the SP election symbol (bicycle), he is head of a party. Earlier also he had not attended a meeting." 

At the meeting, Akhilesh Yadav gave tips to the party legislators and asked them to raise issues of public interest. -- PTI
13:20   Punjab CM Mann leads bicycle rally on drug awareness in Sangrur
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Sunday led a bicycle rally on drug awareness here and said that his government was working on multiple plans to eradicate drugs from the society. 

More than 15,000 cyclists took part in the rally, according to the government. 

Addressing the gathering after flagging it off, the chief minister said, Sangrur is the land of revolutionaries and today the people of Sangrur have once again gathered for a noble cause. 

He said the aim of this rally is to create a mass awareness against the drug menace and wean the youths, who became its victim, away from it, according to an official press release. 

Using the adage 'an idle brain is a devil's workshop', Mann said that with more employment opportunities, there will be no space for drugs in the society. 

"Our social bond is so strong that any seed could germinate on the land of Punjab but never the seed of hatred. And when our health and mind are fit, we will together put the state on a high growth trajectory," the CM said. 

He said that in the coming days, more such awareness initiatives will be taken to promote physical and mental health of the people. 

Mann said his government is working on many plans to eradicate drugs from the society, besides opening of more rehabilitation centres and clinics for better treatment of the drug-addicts. -- PTI
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13:11   K'taka CM hints at further cut in fuel tax
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Sunday said his government will consider further cut in fuel tax, following the Centre's decision to reduce excise duty on petrol and diesel.
Speaking ahead of his visit to the Swiss ski resort town of Davos, to take part in the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting, he expressed confidence about attracting more investments into the state.
"The decision (Centre's) has come on Saturday night, let's see, we will consider it," Bommai told reporters in Bengaluru in response to a query on any decision from the state government to further reduce petrol and diesel rates, following the Centre's decision. -- PTI
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12:35   Earthquake of magnitude 5.8 Richter scale hits Japan
An earthquake of magnitude 5.8 Richter scale hit Fukushima and other prefectures in Japan's east and northeast at 12.24 pm (local time) on Sunday, the Japan Times reported. 

The focus of the quake was at a depth of about 30 kilometers in the Pacific off Ibaraki Prefecture, the Japanese meteorological agency said.

It registered a lower 5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale to 7 in the city of Iwaki in Fukushima while in some other parts of Fukushima it registered 4 and 3 in the neighbouring prefectures of Miyagi, Yamagata, Ibaraki, and Niigata. 

However, there was no threat of a tsunami, and no injuries or damages were reported as of now, reported the Japan Times. -- ANI
12:25   MNS chief urges Modi to bring Uniform Civil Code
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray on Sunday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to introduce Uniform Civil Code in the country in a swift manner. 

"I request the prime minister to bring Uniform Civil Code at the earliest and also bring a law on population control and change the name of Aurangabad to Sambhajinagar,' said Raj Thackeray in Pune. 

"Two days ago, I tweeted about postponing my Ayodhya visit. I intentionally gave the statement to allow everyone to give their reactions. Those who were against my Ayodhya visit were trying to trap me, but I decided not to fall into this controversy,' said the MNS chief.  -- ANI
12:14   8 task forces formed to monitor development work in Bengaluru
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Sunday constituted a task force headed by a minister for all the eight zones in the city to monitor developmental work and take necessary decisions in their respective jurisdictions whenever there is any emergency like heavy rains. 

The decision comes in the backdrop of flooding witnessed in several areas following the torrential rain that lashed Bengaluru on Tuesday night and incessant rains thereafter. 

"To tackle the rain related problems I have constituted zonal task force in all the 8 zones of BBMP. This zonal task force is headed by a cabinet minister and consists of all MLAs/MLCs/MPs and zonal officers," Bommai said in a tweet. 

"Ministers -- R Ashoka: South Zone, C N Ashwath Narayan : East Zone, V Somanna: West Zone, S T Somashekar: RR Nagar Zone, Byrathi Basavaraj: Mahadevapura Zone, Gopalaiah K: Bommanahalli Zone, Munirathna: Yelahanka and Dasarahalli Zones," he said. 

Joint commissioners of respective zones will be the convener of the task forces. -- PTI
Representational image
Representational image
12:09   China imposes lockdown in parts of Beijing
Reeling under the mismanagement of Xi Jinping's Zero-Covid Policy, parts of Beijing have again come under a lockdown on Sunday, as the pandemic outbreak continues to spread in more and more cities in China. 

The authorities have imposed a lockdown in the Haidian district along with Chaoyang, Fengtai, Shunyi, and Fangshan districts, China's Global Times reported citing a statement of the city government's spokesperson, Xu in Hejian. 

As per the Chinese media reports, except for restaurants offering delivery services and pharmacies, all indoor entertainment venues, gyms, training institutes, and shopping malls have been closed from Sunday. 

All graded scenic points in the capital city will be suspended, and at the same time, all parks should cap visits to 30 per cent of capacity, Global Times reported citing Xu Hejian's statement. 

The residents across five districts in Beijing have been asked to work from home until May 28 as the domestically-transmitted COVID-19 situation remains uncertain. 

While explaining the reasons for the rise in sporadic cases, Xu said that the COVID-19 situation has been complicated by the highly-contagious Omicron with most patients only presenting mild symptoms. 

He also said that the negligence of the people towards the Covid-19 precautionary norms has also contributed to the clustered outbreak which intensifies the transmission risk of the infection, Global Times reported. 

According to the national health commission report on Sunday, China on Saturday reported 157 locally transmitted confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which Beijing reported 52 new confirmed locally transmitted COVID-19 cases and 9 local asymptomatic cases.  -- ANI
11:24   Mob sets afire police station in Assam after man dies in custody
Angry mob set Batadrava police station on fire in Assam's Nagaon district after a person allegedly died in police custody. 

Assam DGP Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said that the officer in-charge of the police station has been suspended following the incident. 

"We take the unfortunate death of Safiqul Islam very seriously and have put the OC of Batadraba PS on suspension....If there is any foul play at our end, we mean to find that and punish the guilty according to the law," said the DGP. 

The DGP further said that local bad elements took law into their own hands and burnt down the police station. 

"We don't think these are grieving relatives of the dead, but as we have identified, they were bad characters and their relatives with criminal records- records that were there within the PS," he said. 

"We're investigating the allegations. Three 3 have been detained from among persons who attacked the police station. To police personnel have been injured in attack," said Nagaon superintendent of police  Leena Doley. -- ANI
10:52   Modi interacts with Thomas, Uber Cup champions
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today interacted with badminton champions who share their experiences from Thomas Cup and Uber Cup.

"I congratulate the whole team on behalf of the nation. This is not a small feat," Modi said.

India made history last week by beating 14-time and defending champions Indonesia in the final to clinch a maiden gold medal at the Thomas Cup. 

"The 'Yes, we can do it' attitude has become the new strength in the country today. I assure you that the government will give all possible support to our players," Modi added. 

10:38   Nor'wester lashes Bengal, 4 killed
At least four people were killed when a nor'wester packing wind speed of 90 km per hour an hour and accompanied by rains struck the southern part of West Bengal on Saturday evening, a state disaster management official said.
One man was killed after a brick wall collapsed on him in Purba Bardhaman district, while another died in a lightning strike in Nadia district, the official told PTI.
Two boys died when the boat they were rowing in Kolkata's Rabindra Sarobar Lake capsized during the nor'wester, the police said.
Disaster Management Minister Javed Ahmed Khan told PTI that several trees fell in different parts of the metropolis causing traffic disruption.
The nor'wester hit North and South 24 Parganas, Hooghly and Purba Bardhaman districts, besides Kolkata, a Met Office spokesperson said.
The squall brought relief from the sweltering heat of the past few days but also inconvenienced commuters as fewer public vehicles plied after it.
A tree fell on the Metro Rail track between Mahanayak Uttam Kumar and Netaji railway stations in Kolkata disrupting services in a section of the city's lifeline for around 50 minutes, an official said.
"The services were affected between 4.40 pm and 5.30 pm," he said.
Flight services at the NSC Bose International Airport was halted for about one and half hours due to the nor'wester, Airport Authority sources said.
The routes of two flights were changed.
The Agartala-Kolkata Indigo flight made emergency landing at the Biju Patnaik Airport in Bhubaneswar, as did the Imphal-Kolkata Air India flight, the sources added. -- PTI
10:26   Professor arrested for emails criticizing Assam CM

An associate professor of a college in Assam's Hailakandi district was arrested  Saturday for allegedly sending emails to officials criticising government policies and using unparliamentary words against the state chief minister, a police officer said.

Police had registered a suo moto case against the professor, leading to his arrest, he added.

The officer in-charge of Hailakandi sadar police station, Ampee Daolagupu, said the accused had allegedly sent out emails to the official email account of the district superintendent of police condemning government policies and also used unparliamentary terms against the chief minister and the Education minister.

He had also purportedly criticised the National Education Policy 2020 and the ongoing `Gunotsav' in the state, an exercise by the Education department to evaluate government schools in the email, Daolagupu claimed.

"Besides the email to the SP, he had sent similar ones to other government officials of the district also," he added.

"We started questioning him on Thursday and finally, today we arrested him, the OC said.

When contacted, the principal of the college claimed that he had no official information regarding the arrest of the associate professor. -- PTI 
09:52   India reports Covid 2,226 cases, 65 deaths
India logged 2,226 new coronavirus infections taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 4,31,36,371, while the active cases dipped to 14,955, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Sunday.
The death toll climbed to 5,24,413 with 65 fresh fatalities, the data updated at 8 am stated.
The active cases comprise 0.03 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 98.75 per cent, the ministry said.
A decrease of 41 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours. 
The daily positivity rate was recorded at 0.50 per cent and the weekly positivity rate at 0.50 per cent, according to the ministry.
09:44   Security tightened ahead of Raj Thackeray's rally in Pune
Heavy deployment of the police has been made at Ganesh Kala Krida Manch in Pune where Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray will address a rally today. 

"We are expecting 10,000-15,000 people to attend today's rally. Raj Thackeray will talk on many issues, including his Ayodhya visit," said Sainath Babar, Pune MNS president. 

Thackeray has postponed his planned Ayodhya visit which was scheduled for June 5.

In a Twitter post, the MNS chief said that he will share more details on his visit to Ayodhya at his rally in Pune on Sunday. 

The MNS chief has been at the centre stage of the loudspeakers row in Maharashtra.

The controversy started after Thackeray on April 12 gave an ultimatum to the Maharashtra government to remove loudspeakers from mosques by May 3, failing which, he warned, MNS workers will play Hanuman Chalisa on loudspeakers. -- ANI
08:50   Will think why I became vessel of hatred: Azam Khan
Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan, who was released from Sitapur district jail on Friday in an alleged case of cheating, said he will contemplate why he became such a vessel of hatred.

On being asked why his party did not raise any concern for him, the SP leader said he was in jail for a long time, therefore, he does not know what happened outside the SP must have some compulsions. 

"I was in jail for a long time, don't know what happened politically. There must have been some compulsions (for SP). I have no complaints but regret that no change could come. I will think about where I missed out in my loyalty, hard work, and sincerity that I became such a vessel of hatred," Khan told ANI. 

The Samajwadi Party leader was released from Sitapur district jail on Friday, a day after the Supreme Court granted him interim bail in an alleged case of cheating. He was granted bail in a cheating case lodged at the police station in Rampur.

The Supreme Court had earlier expressed displeasure with the prolonged delay in the announcement of judgment by Allahabad HC on his (Khan's) bail plea and called it a 'travesty of justice'.

Last week, the Allahabad HC had granted Khan interim bail in the case related to wrongful possession of the land.

Khan was lodged in Sitapur jail since February 2020 as many cases are registered against him. -- ANI