Fri, 03 February 2023
50 govt websites hacked, 8 data breaches last yr

Timeline  Refresh

22:46   50 govt websites hacked, 8 data breaches last yr
Union Minister for Communications, Electronics, and Information Technology on Friday informed Rajya Sabha in a written reply that 50 government websites have been hacked in the year 2022-23.

Union Minister informed the upper House on the question of the details of instances of hacking of central ministries/departments and state government websites since 2020, year-wise.

In response to a parliamentary question raised by Communist Party of India MP Binoy Viswam, the minister said that as per information reported to and tracked by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), a total of 59, 42 and 50 websites of the central government ministries/departments and state governments were hacked during the years 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively.

'CERT-In has further informed it has detected and prevented 2,83,581, 4,32,057, 3,24,620 malicious scams during the years 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively,' he informed Rajya Sabha.

Vaishnaw further said that as per the information reported to and tracked by CERT-In, a total number of 6, 7 and 8 incidents of data breach related to government organisations were observed during the years 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively.

'There have been attempts from time to time to launch cyber-attacks on Indian cyberspace from both outside and within the country. It has been observed that such attacks compromised computer systems located in different parts of the world and use masquerading techniques and hidden servers to hide the identity of actual systems from which the attacks are launched,' he added.

The Union IT minister further informed the Rajya Sabha in a written reply that CERT-In coordinates incident response measures with affected organisations, service providers, respective sector regulators as well as law enforcement agencies.

CERT-In notifies the affected organisations regarding cyber incidents, along with remedial actions to be taken. It also issues alerts and advisories on an ongoing basis regarding the latest cyber threats/vulnerabilities and countermeasures to protect computers and networks.   -- ANI
22:43   Pathaan protest: Man who shouted inflammatory slogans denied bail
A court on Friday denied bail to a 29-year-old man arrested for allegedly raising inflammatory slogans during a protest over the release of the film Pathaan in Madhya Pradesh's Indore.

Additional sessions judge Surekha Mishra rejected the bail plea of Tauseef Shaikh, a tailor, after hearing the arguments of both the sides.

'India is a secular country and no citizen is bigger than the nation. In such a situation, it is the responsibility of every citizen to maintain peace and harmony in the country,' the court said in its order.

The kind of slogans raised by the accused to spread violence and hatred against other religions reflected his 'anti-national mindset'.

During the arguments on the bail plea, additional public prosecutor Abhijit Singh Rathore appeared for the state government.

A protest was held at Kastur Talkies complex in Indore on the call of Bajrang Dal during the release of the film Pathaan on January 25.

The right-wing activists had protested against Khan's co-star Deepika Padukone showcasing in a 'saffron' bikini in the song Besharam Rang.       

People belonging to the Muslim community had alleged that an objectionable slogan was raised against Prophet Muhammad during the Bajrang Dal protest.

A large number of people from the community had gathered at Badwali Chowki to protest against the alleged sloganeering on January 25.

The police arrested six persons, including the accused, for allegedly raising the slogan 'Sar Tan Se Juda' during the protest, while seven persons, including local Bajrang Dal convener Tannu Sharma, were arrested for allegedly raising objectionable slogans at Kastur Talkies, officials said.  -- PTI
21:56   Delhi LG, CM skip weekly meeting amid tussle
The weekly meeting between Delhi Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal could not take place on Friday as the two sides were engaged in a tussle over governance-related issues.

Sources at the LG's office said Kejriwal did not turn up at the Raj Niwas for the meeting scheduled at 4 pm and no reason was given by his office in this regard.

An official at the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) confirmed that the meeting did not take place, without giving any reason for it.

With the ruling Aam Aadmi Party, led by Kejriwal, slamming Saxena over a range of issues, including a proposal to send school teachers for training to Finland, the weekly meetings between the two constitutional functionaries have not been taking place for several weeks.

Accompanied by his deputy Manish Sisodia and other AAP MLAs, Kejriwal had marched to the Raj Niwas last month and sought a meeting with the LG, alleging that his government's proposal to send teachers to Finland was not approved by Saxena.

The LG had invited Kejriwal and Sisodia for a meeting with him, but the chief minister turned down the offer, insisting to take other AAP MLAs along with him.

In a letter to Saxena, Kejriwal had suggested a meeting with him and was asked to bring 10 of his MLAs and the deputy chief minister last week.

However, Kejriwal excused himself from the meeting with the LG, saying he was scheduled to inaugurate mohalla clinics in Punjab.

The last meeting between the chief minister and the LG took place on January 13.  -- PTI
21:24   Rahul writes to PM over 'plight' of Kashmiri Pandits
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to look into the 'plight' of Kashmiri Pandit employees who do not want to return to the Kashmir Valley without a guarantee of their security, and accused the Union Territory administration of adopting an 'insensitive' approach towards them.

In a letter to Modi, Gandhi flagged the issue of the recent spate of targeted killings of Kashmiri Pandits and others by terrorists, which he said, has created an atmosphere of fear and gloom in the Valley.

He wrote to the prime minister, saying a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits met him during the Jammu leg of the Bharat Jodo Yatra that was aimed at uniting the whole of India in a thread of love and unity.

'They (Kashmiri Pandits) said government officials are forcing them to go back to work in the Kashmir Valley. In these circumstances, forcing them to go back to the Valley without any surety of their safety and security is a cruel move,' Gandhi said.

Till the situation improves, the government can take services from these Kashmiri Pandit employees in other administrative and public facilities, the former Congress chief said in his letter in Hindi to Modi.

'At a time when the Kashmiri Pandits are pleading for their safety and families' concerns, and expecting sympathy and affection from the government, use of words like 'beggars' by the Lt Governor for them is irresponsible. Prime Minister, you may not be familiar with this insensitive style of functioning of the administration,' Gandhi said.

'I have assured the Kashmiri Pandit brothers and sisters that I will try my best to convey their concerns and demands to you. I hope that you will take appropriate steps in this regard as soon as you get this information,' he said in the letter on Thursday.

A Kashmiri Pandit delegation had called on Gandhi during his Bharat Jodo Yatra in Samba district and briefed him about their issues, including the 'targeted killings' by terrorists and the resultant protest by those employed under the prime minister's package.

Nearly 4,000 Kashmiri Pandits are working in different departments in the Kashmir Valley after their selection under the prime minister's employment package announced in 2008.

The package has two major components -- 6,000 jobs for the youth from the community and building as many accommodation units for the recruited employees.

However, many of the employees fled to Jammu after one of their colleagues, Rahul Bhat, was shot dead by terrorists inside his office in Budgam district on May 12 last year in what was described as a case of targeted killing.   --  PTI
Representative image only
Representative image only
21:15   Odisha: Ailing woman forced to get off bus, dies
An ailing 50-year-old woman died on a road after she, along with her son, was allegedly forced to get down from a private bus on the way to Berhampur from Bhubaneswar, as her condition deteriorated.

The son did not get help from anyone on the highway till the police arrived and took her to a hospital where she was declared brought dead, her relatives said on Friday.

He also did not have enough money to hire an ambulance.

"The incident occurred on Thursday afternoon when Runu Swain of Padmatola village was returning home after being treated at AIIMS, Bhubaneswar, accompanied by her son Sujit.

"On the way, her condition suddenly deteriorated and Sujit pleaded with the driver and conductor to take her mother to a hospital at Chhatrapur or Berhampur.

"However, the staff of the bus allegedly forced them to get off the vehicle in the middle of the road on NH 16, about four kilometres away from Ganjam town.

"After getting information about the incident, our employees along with local people reached the spot," said Ganjam police station inspector in charge, Santosh Kumar Behera.

"The police arranged an ambulance that took her to a hospital and then to her village. Sujit lamented that his mother could have survived if she got medical treatment immediately. No police complaint was made in this regard," Behera said.   -- PTI
20:20   Fire at Telangana Secretariat before inauguration
Ahead of its inauguration on February 17, a fire broke out in the newly-constructed Telangana Secretariat building in Hyderabad in the early hours of Friday, officials said.

No one was injured in the incident, they added.

The newly-built 'Dr B R Ambedkar Telangana State Secretariat Building' is scheduled to be inaugurated on February 17, the birthday of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. He will inaugurate the new Secretariat.

The blaze was reported from the ground floor of the building around 2.30 am and over 10 fire engines were deployed to bring it under control, officials said.

Visuals on social media showed black smoke emanating from the premises.

The exact cause of the blaze was being ascertained, officials added.       

Terming the incident unfortunate, Telangana Bharatiya Janata Party president and party MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar alleged the fire broke out due to poor quality of work.

In a release, the BJP leader demanded that the decision to inaugurate the new Secretariat on Rao's birthday be postponed adding it should be inaugurated on the birth anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar.

"All kinds of works including fire safety should be checked and measures should be taken to avoid any accidents," he said.

Telangana Congress president and MP A Revanth Reddy said 'covering up' the incident of fire breaking out in the new Secretariat building in the name of a mock drill is wrong.

"It seems that the safety standards are not being followed due to the pressure to inaugurate the building on chief minister's birthday on February 17," Reddy alleged.

The TPCC chief demanded that an all-party delegation should be allowed to visit the spot to ascertain the truth about the fire.

Meanwhile, several Congress leaders and members of the party raised slogans against Rao when they were 'stopped' by police at Gandhi Bhavan as they attempted to reach the new Secretariat building.

The Congress leaders had planned to visit the new Secretariat building complex to ascertain the facts over the incident, the party said in a release.  -- PTI
19:22   Can't provide security to every Chinese: Pak Punjab govt
The government in Pakistan's Punjab has told Chinese nationals residing in the province that it will not provide security to all of them and asked them to hire private security firms for the purpose, amidst frequent terror attacks in the country.

The directive from the home department of Punjab province was issued on Thursday, days after a deadly terror attack in a mosque in the police lines area of Peshawar city killed 101 people, mostly policemen.

'The Punjab Home Department has directed the Chinese nationals living in the province or working with private companies to hire private security companies of A category for their security,' said the directive.

However, the Punjab government clarified that it would continue to provide security to Chinese nationals working on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and other government-related projects in the province.

In the recent past, there have been several incidents in Pakistan in which Chinese nationals residing in the country for both government and private projects have been targeted.

China has been pressing Pakistan to provide fool-proof security to its nationals working in the country's restive regions.

In one such major incident in July 2021, ten Chinese nationals, mostly engineers, were killed and 26 others were seriously injured after a suicide attack on a bus that was ferrying them to the work site of the Dasu Hydropower Project in Kohistan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

One of the major reasons why the number of Chinese workers in Pakistan has soared is the ambitious CPEC.

The CPEC, which connects Gwadar Port in Balochistan with China's Xinjiang province, is the flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.  -- PTI
18:44   Muslims offer namaaz and still...: Baba Ramdev
In provocative remarks at a meeting of seers, Yoga guru Ramdev accused Muslims of resorting to terror and abducting Hindu women while comparing Hinduism to Islam and Christianity. 

He alleged that the two faiths were obsessed with conversion while Hinduism taught its followers to do good. 

"Muslims offer namaaz five times a day and then do whatever they want. They kidnap Hindu girls and commit all kinds of sins. Our Muslim brothers commit a lot of sins but they definitely offer namaaz as they are taught to do so. Hindu religion is not like this," he said on Thursday at the gathering in Barmer. 

A video of his speech has surfaced on social media. 

"I am not criticising anyone but people are obsessed only with this. Some people talk about converting the entire world to Islam and others want to convert the world to Christianity," Ramdev said. 

He claimed that these faiths had no other agenda. 

Continuing his attack on Muslims, he said they become terrorists or criminals and yet offer namaaz. He also referred to the attire of orthodox members of the community. 

He said Hinduism teaches people not to engage in violence and dishonesty. 

"Wake up early in the morning, pray to God, do yoga, do good work and good deeds by worshiping your deity. This is what Hindu religion and Sanatan Dharma teach us," Ramdev said.
18:17   No proposal to regulate finances of political parties: Govt
There is no proposal to regulate the finances of political parties, the government told Lok Sabha on Friday.

Responding to a question on 'whether the government proposes to regulate the finances of political parties', Law Minister Kiren Rijiju replied in the negative.

In his written response, he said from time to time, the government has taken steps to bring electoral reforms to improve the existing electoral practices in the country.

"Electoral reforms are continuous and ongoing process and in order to improve the existing electoral practices in the country, the government, after examining various proposals of the Election Commission of India, implements the same through various amendment Acts from time to time," he said.   -- PTI
17:43   Overall exposure to Adani Group is at Rs 27,000 cr: SBI
The country's largest lender SBI on Friday said its overall exposure to the Adani Group is at 0.88 per cent of the book or around Rs 27,000 crore.

SBI chairman Dinesh Khara said the bank does not envisage the embattled ports-to-mining group facing any challenge to service its debt obligations and stressed that SBI has not given any loans against shares to the group.

Lending to Adani Group projects is with regard to ones having tangible assets and adequate cash flows, Khara said, adding that the group has an excellent repayment record.

He also said there has not been any refinance request, which has come from the Adani group.  -- PTI
Infographic: KBK Infographics
Infographic: KBK Infographics
17:24   Top gainers at BSE Sensex today
From the Sensex pack, Titan, Bajaj Finserv, Bajaj Finance, HDFC Bank, HDFC, State Bank of India, Mahindra & Mahindra and IndusInd Bank were among the major winners today.
Infographic: KBK Infographics
Infographic: KBK Infographics
17:21   Sensex closes at 60,841.88 today
BSE benchmark Sensex zoomed 909.64 points or 1.52 per cent today to settle at 60,841.88.
16:58   MVA snatches Amravati council seat from BJP
In a boost to the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), its candidate Dhiraj Lingade won the Amravati division graduates constituency of the Maharashtra legislative council on Friday, defeating sitting legislator Ranjit Patil of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). 

Counting of votes for the Amravati graduates seat lasted nearly 30 hours as it ended at 1.30 pm, even as the process had begun at 8 am on Thursday. 

The results of four other seats of the Upper House of the state legislature 
were declared on Thursday, and two of those four seats were won by the MVA -- an alliance of Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress. 

In Amravati, MVA's Lingade bagged 46,344 votes, while BJP's sitting MLC Ranjit Patil secured 42,962 votes, an official said. 

The counting got delayed because no candidate could secure the necessary quota of votes required for the win, the official said. After the counting of votes ended, the figures were sent to the Election Commission for approval, and the results were declared at around 4 pm. 

Voting for the five council seats -- three teachers segments (falling in Nagpur, Konkan and Aurangabad divisions) and two graduates constituencies (Nashik and Amravati divisions) -- was held on January 30 and counting began on Thursday morning. 

Teachers and graduates fulfilling certain criteria and enrolled as voters formed the electoral college for these elections. 

The ruling BJP-Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena combine suffered a setback as MVA-backed candidates clinched three of the five legislative council seats. 

These were the first MLC polls after the Eknath Shinde-led government took charge in June last year. However, there were no candidates directly fielded by either of the Shiv Sena factions (led by Shinde and Uddhav Thackeray each).
16:16   Fin Secy: Adani-led market rout is storm...
The stock market turmoil created by rout in Adani group shares is a "storm in a tea cup" from a macroeconomic point of view, finance secretary T V Somanathan said on Friday, emphasing that India's public financial system is robust. 

The senior most bureaucrat in the finance ministry also said that movements in the stock market per se is not the government's concern and there are independent regulators to take necessary action. 

 Replying to a question on the impact of the fraud allegations on the Adani group on financial system considering banks and insurance companies exposure to the group, Somanathan said India's public financial institutions are robust. 

"There is absolutely no concern from the point of view of financial stability, either for depositors, or for policyholders, or for anyone holding shares in these institutions. The share of any one company is not such as to create any impact at the macro level and so there is absolutely no concern from that point of view," he told PTI in a post-budget interview. 

 The stock price of Adani Enterprises fell by over 70 per cent from its peak of Rs 4,190 in December, last year. Since January, the BSE Sensex has slumped by over 1,000 points largely driven by sell off in Adani group stocks. 

 Asked if the turmoil in stock market will impact revised estimates of disinvestment collections, Somanathan said these gyrations do not affect the macro economy at all. 

 "They are a side show. They are of interest to those who are interested in stock markets and investment. From macroeconomic point of view, this is a non-issue. It's a complete non-issue from our point of view. It's a storm in a tea cup as far as macroeconomics are concerned, not in respect of markets." The secretary further said that the fluctuations in the stock market prices is not a concern and it is an universal phenomenon of all stock markets in all circumstances. 

 "The government's concern is with creating the right investment environment, creating a well regulated set of financial market... making sure there is transparency and that the market functions well; making sure the information asymmetry is reduced; and making sure the government's own macroeconomic policies are sound," Somanathan said. -- PTI
16:00   SRK's Pathaan nears Rs 700-crore mark
Yash Raj Films' "Pathaan", featuring superstar Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone and John Abraham, is close to breaching Rs 700 crore gross worldwide in nine days. 

 The Siddharth Anand-directed spy thriller raised Rs 15.65 crore net in India (Hindi Rs 15 crore, all dubbed versions Rs 65 lakh). 

 According to Yash Raj Films (YRF), "Pathaan" has recorded Rs 259.6 crore in overseas territories alone, while gross collection in India stands at Rs 436 crore.

 Also featuring Dimple Kapadia and Ashutosh Rana, the blockbuster film follows Shah Rukh's Pathaan, an Indian intelligence agent, who resurfaces to thwart a terror attack planned by mercenary group Outfit X, led by Jim (John) on the Indian capital. 

 "Pathaan" is Shah Rukh's first big screen release as a lead in over four years after "Zero" (2018). It is the fourth movie in producer Aditya Chopra's spy universe, following Salman Khan's "Ek Tha Tiger" and "Tiger Zinda Hai", and "War", featuring Hrithik Roshan. -- PTI
15:44   Adani drops out of world's top 20 richest list
Industrialist Gautam Adani slipped out of the World' Real-time Billionaires list of Forbes on Friday and was placed in 22nd position. Gautam Adani's wealth had declined 21.77 per cent or USD 16.2 billion. 

 The current net worth of the industrialist was USD 581.1 billion at 1.23 pm (IST) on Friday afternoon, while Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani's net worth was at USD 82 billion. 

 On Thursday, Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani, who stood at the 10th spot on the Forbes Real-time billionaire list for 2023 after being overtaken by Reliance Industries Chairman Ambani on Wednesday, further slipped and came to the 15th spot on the list. 

 On Thursday morning, Ambani overtook Adani to become the richest Indian in the world with a net worth of USD 84.3 billion, according to Forbes. 

 However, at the top of the list is French luxury fashion giant Louis Vuitton's founder and CEO Bernard Arnault Bernard Arnault. However, these values fluctuate constantly. If there is a gain in Adani's stock, it is expected Adani's personal wealth will rise too. -- ANI
15:41   Court grants bail to Anil Deshmukh's aide
A special court on Friday granted bail to Kundan Shinde, an aide of former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh, in a corruption case being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). 

 Special CBI judge S H Gwalani allowed the bail plea of Shinde, who worked as a personal assistant to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Deshmukh, Shinde's lawyer Aniket Nikam said. 

 The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had in June 2021 arrested Shinde in connection with a money laundering case, and later the CBI took his custody in a corruption case. 

 A special PMLA court on Wednesday allowed Shinde's bail plea in the money laundering case. Other accused in the case include Anil Deshmukh and dismissed assistant police inspector Sachin Waze. Deshmukh is out on bail, while Waze continues to be in judicial custody.

 Former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh in March 2021 alleged that Deshmukh, the then home minister, had given a target to police officers to collect Rs 100 crore per month from restaurants and bars. -- PTI
15:15   French firm not re-evaluating investment in Adani
French energy giant TotalEnergies, which had in past years taken stakes in two Adani group listed firms, on Friday said it has not performed any re-evaluation of its holdings because of volatility in stock prices following allegations of fraud.

 In a statement, the French firm said its investment in Adani group entities were undertaken in full compliance with the Indian laws and its own internal governance processes. The company has a 37.4 per cent stake in Adani Total Gas Ltd and a 20 per cent holding in Adani Green Energy Ltd. -- PTI
14:59   Pakistan's forex reserves hit 10-year low
Pakistan's central bank said on Friday that its foreign exchange reserves have dropped by 16.1 per cent to USD 3.09 billion at the end of the last fiscal week, the lowest in nearly 10 years.

 Financial analysts said that the foreign exchange reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan would cover just around three weeks of imports. 

 The central bank said the reserves had come down by USD 592 million because of external debt payments. It said that presently foreign exchange reserves held by commercial banks stood at USD 5.65 billion, taking total liquid reserves in the country to USD 8.74 billion.

 The cash-strapped Pakistan government is presently trying to convince the International Monetary Fund to release much-needed money under a stalled bailout programme. 

 The government is optimistic that once the IMF agrees to release its tranche of USD 7 billion bailout package Pakistan would also be able to get the money released from other platforms and friendly countries that are closely following developments. 

 A top analyst with investment firm Arif Habib Limited (AHL) calculated that the reserves are at their lowest since February 2014 and now only cover 18 days' worth of imports. The situation will improve a lot once the IMF resumes its programme and this must be done as soon as possible to avoid any economic meltdown, he said. 

 The IMF has set several conditions for resuming the bailout, including a market-determined exchange rate for the local currency and an easing of fuel subsidies, both conditions which the government has already implemented. Last week, the central bank removed a cap on exchange rates and the government raised fuel prices by 16 per cent. The Pakistan rupee was trading at around 270 rupees in the interbank market and more in the open market. PTI
14:45   K Viswanath funeral: Rajamouli, Keeravani, Chiranjeevi attend
The film industry has been left shattered by the demise of veteran director Kasinadhuni Viswanath. Several Telugu stars including SS Rajamouli, music director MM Keeravani, actor Chiranjeevi and others paid their last respect at his funeral. He was 92. 

K Viswanath was undergoing treatment for age-related health issues at a private hospital in Hyderabad. His rituals and last rite rituals are being held in Hyderabad. SS Rajamouli and MM Keeravani attended the last rites and bid adieu to the late director. 

 Superstar Chiranjeevi was seen offering prayers and paid his last respect to the late Dadasaheb Phalke awardee. 

 Viswanath started his professional life as an audiographer. His filmmaking career began under director Adurthi Subba Rao after a brief stint as a sound engineer, and he later went on to work as an assistant director for the Telugu film Pathala Bhairavi in 1951. With the 1965 movie Aatma Gowravam, Viswanath made his directorial debut and went on to win the state Nandi award. -- ANI
14:14   Moody's assessing fiscal flexibility of Adani Inc
Moody's Investors Service on Friday said it is assessing overall financial flexibility, including liquidity position, of Adani Group firms given a significant and rapid decline in stock value post release of the Hindenburg Research report. 

 "These adverse developments are likely to reduce the group's ability to raise capital to fund committed capex or refinance maturing debt over the next 1-2 years," Moody's said. 

 Adani Group stocks have taken a beating on the bourses after US-based short-seller Hindenburg Research made a litany of allegations in a report, including fraudulent transactions and share price manipulation at the Gautam Adani-led group. PTI
PM Modi with BJP National Prez JP Nadda at the BJP's CEC meeting on Wednesday. Pic: ANI
PM Modi with BJP National Prez JP Nadda at the BJP's CEC meeting on Wednesday. Pic: ANI
13:54   Biggest corruption of century: Oppn on Adani
Opposition MPs continued to question the government on the Adani row as both Houses were adjourned soon after the session began for the day on Friday.

The Opposition parties have been demanding the constitution of a Joint Parliamentary Committee on the issue of Hindenberg's report against the Adani Group dubbing it a "scam". 

After the Houses were adjourned today, the Opposition MPs held a press conference hitting out at the government.

Congress Rajya Sabha MP Pramod Tiwari called the alleged scam the "biggest corruption of the century" executed "under the watch of the government".

"We gave the notice under Rule 267 against the biggest scam of the century. We are only demanding a JPC or a probe under the CJI. Where was the ED, the income tax department when millions of rupees were withdrawn? This is the biggest corruption of the century executed under the watch of the government," he said.

"We demand a probe into the matter. We have always been saying that the government's policies are only to benefit its friends," the Congress MP added.

Samajwadi Party MP Ram Gopal Yadav alleged that the government is not ready to listen to the Opposition claiming that it is not worried about the developments.

"The country's economy has collapsed. People are worried that they want to withdraw money from the banks but there is no money. The Opposition is demanding a probe into the matter. The government is not ready to listen. The public is worried but the government is not," he said.

Speaking to ANI, Shashi Tharoor said that the government does not want to discuss any issue that it "thinks will embarrass them".

 Earlier today, a number of Opposition leaders including Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, DMK Rajya Sabha MP Tiruchi Siva, Congress MP Pramod Tiwari, BRS MP K Keshava Rao, Shiv Sena MP (Uddhav Thackeray faction) Priyanka Chaturvedi, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Dr Syed Naseer Hussain, and CPI(M) MP Elamaram Kareem gave suspension of Business notice to their respective Houses to hold a discussion on the allegations levelled by Hindenburg against Adani Group. 
13:41   SC notice to Centre over appeals against blocking BBC series
Update: The Supreme Court on Friday directed the central government to produce original records relating to its decision to block a BBC documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots. 

A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and M M Sundresh issued notices to the government and others on pleas filed by veteran journalist N Ram, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan and lawyer M L Sharma. Sharma had filed a separate petition and it has now been tagged with similar pleas challenging the government's decision to block the documentary. The matter is listed for next hearing in April.

 "We are issuing notices. Counter affidavit be filed within three weeks. Rejoinder within two weeks after that. The respondents will also produce original records before this court on the next date of hearing," the bench said. 

 At the outset, the bench asked the petitioners why they did not approach the high court in the matter. Senior advocate CU Singh, appearing for Ram and the others, submitted that the government has invoked the emergency powers under the Information Technology (IT) Rules to block the documentary. He said he was seeking a direction to the Centre to place on record all the original records. 

 The Supreme Court said it is also a fact that people have been accessing the documentary. It had earlier agreed to hear the plea taking note of the submissions of lawyers Sharma and Singh seeking urgent listing of the petitions against the government's ban on the two-episode BBC series using its emergency powers. 

 One of the petitioners has also alleged that the ban on the documentary 'India: The Modi question' was "malafide, arbitrary and unconstitutional". Reacting strongly after Ram filed his plea, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju had tweeted, "This is how they waste the precious time of Hon'ble Supreme Court where thousands of common citizens are waiting and seeking dates for justice". 

 Ram and others, in their pleas, have sought a direction to restrain the government from curbing their right to "receive and disseminate information" on the documentary. 

 "All citizens, including the press, have the fundamental right to view, form an informed opinion, critique, report on, and lawfully circulate the contents of the documentary as the right to freedom of speech and expression incorporates the right to receive and disseminate information...," the plea said and referred to several apex court orders on freedom of speech and expression. The plea has also sought quashing of "all orders directly or indirectly censoring" the information, including those shared on social media. 

 "Issue a writ of Mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order, or direction to the respondents restraining them from giving effect to orders curtailing freedom of speech and expression without first putting them in the public domain on a centralised database," the plea said. 

 The plea, which has made Twitter Communications India Private Ltd and Google India parties, has also sought a direction for the restoration of the tweets of the petitioners. "The power of the executive under Section 69 A to lay down directions for blocking public access' is limited to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence relating to above," it said.

 The contents of the BBC documentary are protected under Article 19(1)(a) (freedom of speech and expression) of the Constitution, it said, adding that the contents of the series do not fall under any of the restrictions specified in Article 19(2). 

 "On January 17, 2023, BBC released the first in a two-part documentary series titled, 'India: The Modi Question' which critically appraises the role of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was the then chief minister of Gujarat in 2002 when riots broke out in which thousands of people lost their lives," the plea said.

 It challenged the decision of the secretary, information and broadcasting ministry, to ban it. The impugned directions were issued under Rule 16 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 to Twitter India to block 50 tweets with links to YouTube videos of the BBC documentary. Consequently, Bhushan's tweet and the link to the URL shared by Moitra were removed. 

 "The secretary, information and broadcasting ministry issued the impugned directions in his capacity as authorized officer under Rule 13(2) of the IT Rules 2021. The directions are prima facie illegal as they are in direct contravention of the interim order... passed by the Bombay High Court ...," the plea said. The first episode of the documentary was aired on January 17, it said, adding that the second one was aired on January 24. Sharma's PIL also urged the apex court to call and examine the BBC documentary -- both parts one and two -- and sought action against persons who were responsible and involved directly and indirectly with the 2002 Gujarat riots.

 He has raised a constitutional question in his PIL and the top court has to decide whether citizens have the right under Article 19 (1) (2) to see news, facts and reports on the 2002 Gujarat riots. Sharma has sought a direction to quash the government order. 

 The plea claimed that the BBC documentary has "recorded facts" which are also "evidence" and can be used to further the cause of justice for the victims. On January 21, the government had issued directions for blocking multiple YouTube videos and Twitter posts sharing links to the controversial documentary. PTI
13:30   Govt too rattled to discuss Adani: Tharoor
The Narendra Modi dispensation has been "stalling" the Opposition's demand for discussions on every issue which it feels would embarrass it, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor alleged Friday, slamming the government for "not allowing" discussion in Parliament on Adani Group stock rout. 

 Lok Sabha proceedings were adjourned till 2 pm on Friday due to protests by opposition members demanding a probe by a joint parliamentary committee into the fraud-allegation-triggered rout in Adani Group company stocks. 

 The Thiruvananthapuram MP said Parliament is a place to discuss issues facing the nation so that people can see "the concerns of the MPs and what the MPs are focussing on". 

 "Sadly, however, our government doesn't see the merit of it. So they are stalling (discussions). As a result, now we have lost two days," he charged. "All the opposition parties unitedly want to discuss this (Adani Group issue) extremely important issue as it affects the citizens of this country. They believe that this is a matter of sufficient importance that the government should permit," Tharoor told PTI in the Parliament House complex.

"But the government doesn't want to discuss any issue that it thinks would embarrass it," he alleged. 

 "The government didn't want China (border situation) to be discussed in the last session. It also didn't want unemployment and price rise to be discussed," Tharoor claimed.

 "I just hope there are some points they will see the merit in coming to an accommodation with the opposition and in working out an arrangement whereby every issue that matters to our public can be discussed," he added. -- PTI
13:05   SC notice to govt on Modi BBC docu ban
The Supreme Court issues notice to the Centre on a plea seeking direction to restrain the Central government from censoring the BBC documentary relating to the 2002 Gujarat Riots. The SC seeks a response from the Centre within three weeks. The court posts the matter for hearing in April. 

 The lead plea was filed by Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, veteran journalist N Ram and lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan.

In their appeal to the top court, they have sought a direction to restrain the centre from curbing their right to "receive and disseminate information" on the two-part BBC series called "India: The Modi Question" 
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma
12:37   Assam Police arrests 1,800 people in massive crackdown on child marriage
The Assam Police have arrested over 1,800 people so far on Friday in a massive crackdown on child marriage, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said. 

 The crackdown began early in the morning across the state and it will continue over the next three to four days, Sarma told reporters on the sidelines of a programme.

The police had registered 4,004 cases of child marriage in less than a fortnight since the state cabinet decided on January 23 to take action, with the arrest of offenders and a simultaneous launch of an extensive awareness campaign. 

 The chief minister said the crackdown was continuing and a clear picture will emerge by evening on the number of arrests and the districts from where those were made. 

 The highest number of 136 arrests so far has been made in Dhubri where 370 cases have been registered, followed by 110 in Barpeta and 100 in Nagaon. 

 Those having married girls below 14 years of age will be booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, and cases under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 will be registered against those who have married girls in the 14-18 years age group. They will be arrested and the marriages will be declared illegal. If the boy is also below 14 years of age, he will be sent to a reform house as minors cannot be tried in the court. The priests, kazis and family members involved in the conduct of such marriages will also be booked," Sarma had said earlier. "Assam Govt is firm in its resolve to end the menace of child marriage in the state. So far @assampolice has registered 4,004 cases (of child marriage) across the state and more police action is likely in days ahead. Action on the cases will begin starting February 3. I request all to cooperate," the CM tweeted on Thursday. Sarma chaired a virtual meeting with the superintendents of police in the presence of Director General of Police G P Singh on the state-wide police action.
12:15   Adani row adjourns LS proceedings till 2pm
Lok Sabha proceedings were adjourned till 2 pm on Friday due to protests by opposition members demanding a probe by a joint parliamentary committee into the fraud-allegation-triggered rout in Adani Group company stocks. 

 Soon after the House met for the day, opposition members were on their feet shouting slogans and demanding a probe into the tanking of the Adani Group scrips and sought a probe into the business practices of the corporate giant. 

 Speaker Om Birla appealed to members to participate in the discussions during the Question Hour, which he termed as significant. 

"Honourable members Question Hour is very significant. Today issues related to health, G20, defence and other important issues are being taken up for discussions. This is a good opportunity for all of you to discuss and debate over them.

"Such important issues are being discussed in the House but you are not taking part in it," he said. 

 Birla said the House will take up the Motion of Thanks to the president for her address at the beginning of the Budget session. The House is also going to discuss the Motion of Thanks to the president for her address. You don't want to thank her," he asked.

 She is the country's first tribal woman president and it was her first address to the joint sitting of the both houses and you all should participate in it, he said. 

 The speaker appealed the MPs to stop their protests and participate in the discussions.

"What do you want to show to the people of the country (by protests). I will give you enough time to raise your issues if you give proper notice," he said. 

 However, an unrelenting opposition continued their protests and sloganeering, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the proceedings till 2 pm.
12:07   1,000 Byjus employees get pink slip
Byju's has handed the pink slip to 900-1,000 employees in a fresh round of layoffs, according to media reports, although sources in the company said the move was part of the "optimisation' strategy that the edtech giant had announced last year that included sacking 2,500 workers.

The latest job cuts have swept across verticals such as product, content, media and technology teams, according to the people familiar with the matter. The Bengaluru-based firm has also reportedly sacked top officials including ones drawing annual salaries of Rs 1 crore and above.  

The move by India's most valuable start-up comes amid a funding winter and steep losses. Byju's, valued at $22 billion, is targeting to be profitable by March this year.

According to the company sources, the layoffs are not new but part of the "optimisation' strategy involving laying off 2,500, or 5 per cent, of its employees. To avoid redundancies and duplication of roles, and by leveraging technology better, around 5 per cent of Byju's 50,000-strong workforce is expected to be laid off across product, content, media, and technology teams in a phased manner, according to the sources. The company declined to comment. 
-- Business Standard/Peerzada Abrar
11:57   Testing times
The Congress party on the Adani row shares this tweet saying, Fill in the blanks (emoji of pointing finger).

Rahul Gandhi has always raised the alarm on the Centre's closeness with what he calls, 'suit-boot sarkar'.
Gautam Adani
Gautam Adani
11:46   Adani shares down 30%
Adani shares down 30 per cent in early trading. 
This morning, S&P Dow Jones has said it will remove Adani Group's flagship firm Adani Enterprises from sustainability indices with effect from February 7 following a media and stakeholder analysis triggered by allegations of accounting fraud.

The move comes amid leading stock exchanges BSE and NSE putting three Adani Group companies -- Adani Enterprises, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone and Ambuja Cements -- under their short-term additional surveillance measure framework.

Shares of Adani Ports tanked 10 per cent, Adani Transmission (10 per cent), Adani Green Energy (10 per cent), Adani Power (5 per cent), Adani Total Gas (5 per cent), Adani Wilmar (4.99 per cent), NDTV (4.98 per cent), ACC (4.24 per cent) and Ambuja Cements (3 per cent).

Billionaire Gautam Adani denied Friday that his rise to become Asia's richest man -- a title he has lost in a phenomenal stock rout -- was due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as shares in his conglomerate slumped again.
Pic: Hitesh Harisinghani
Pic: Hitesh Harisinghani
11:44   Pink is the flavour of the season
Driving down the Eastern Express Highway in Mumbai near Vikhroli you stumble upon a sight that is sheer eye-candy. Blossoms of pink Tabebuia Rosea or the Rosy Trumpet tree in full bloom is gorgeousness that you can see from now to February. Don't miss it.  
11:12   16 Oppn parties unite to take on govt over Adani
At least 16 Opposition parties met on Friday morning to coordinate their strategy in Parliament and decided to step up their attack on the government, demanding an immediate discussion on the issue of Adani stock rout. 

 The meeting came a day after they unitedly led the charge against the government over the issue and stalled both houses of Parliament on Thursday. Various opposition parties have demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe or a Supreme Court-monitored committee investigation into the Adani issue while also seeking a discussion on it in Parliament. The opposition leaders said they want a discussion on the Adani issue and if not allowed, they will protest inside the House, sources said. 

 Among the 16 parties whose leaders met in the chamber of Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge include the Congress, DMK, SP, AAP, BRS, Shiv Sena, RJD, JDU, CPIM, CPI, NCP, NC, IUML, Kerala Congress (Jose Mani), KC (Thomas), and the RSP. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said the opposition demand remains the same. "Only an independent investigation will save LIC, SBI and other institutions forced by the prime minister to invest in the Adani Group," he said. 

 The Congress has been alleging that the investments made by public sector LIC and SBI into the Adani group have been "forced" by the prime minister.

 The government has not responded to the issue so far. Adani group stocks, where LIC is heavily invested, have lost over USD 100 billion in value since a tiny New York short seller came out with a damning report alleging financial and accounting fraud by the ports-to-energy conglomerate. The Adani group has denied all charges and called the report malicious and full of lies.
Representational image
Representational image
10:50   Plane returns to Abu Dhabi after fire in engine
A Calicut-bound Air India Express flight from Abu Dhabi returned to Abu Dhabi airport after flames were detected in one of the engines soon after take-off, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said on Friday.

Air India Express informed that the aircraft landed safely and all passengers are safe. According to DGCA, 184 passengers were onboard when the flight took off.

"Soon after taking off and climbing to 1,000 feet, the pilot detected a flame in one of the engines and decided to go back to Abu Dhabi airport," Air India Express told ANI.DGCA said that Air India Express B737-800 aircraft returned to the Abu Dhabi airport due to a mid-air flameout.

"Today an Air India Express B737-800 aircraft VT-AYC operating flight IX 348 (Abu Dhabi-Calicut) was involved in Air turnback due to the No. 1 engine flameout at 1,000 ft during the climb," DGCA said. 

Earlier on January 23, an Air India Express flight from Trivandrum to Muscat landed back 45 minutes after taking off due to a technical glitch, officials said. -- ANI
10:38   Threat call to blow up Ram Janmabhoomi complex: UP Police
A threat call was received at Ram Lalla Sadan in Ayodhya to blow up the Ram Janmabhoomi where the construction of Ram temple is underway, police said on Thursday. 

 According to Superintendent of Police Madhuban Singh, a man named Manoj Kumar who resided at the Sadan received a call from an unidentified caller from Delhi at around 5 am on Thursday, threatening that there would be a blast at the Ram Janmabhoomi.

 "Manoj Kumar who is residing at Ram Lalla Sadan in Ayodhya got a call on his phone at around 5 am today where a person from Delhi said that by 10 am there'd be a blast at Ram Janmabhoomi. Teams are formed to arrest the person. The man would be arrested soon and action would be taken against him," Singh said. Further investigation into the matter is underway, he added. -- ANI
10:25   Adani Inc to be dropped from Dow Jones indices
S&P Dow Jones has said it will remove Adani Group's flagship firm Adani Enterprises from sustainability indices with effect from February 7 following a media and stakeholder analysis triggered by allegations of accounting fraud. 

 The move comes amid leading stock exchanges BSE and NSE putting three Adani Group companies -- Adani Enterprises, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone and Ambuja Cements -- under their short-term additional surveillance measure (ASM) framework. 

 "Adani Enterprises will be removed from the Dow Jones sustainability indices following a media and stakeholder analysis triggered by allegations of accounting fraud," S&P Dow Jones Indices said in a statement. 

 It will make the changes to the Dow Jones sustainability indices, effective prior to the opening on February 7. Shares of Adani Enterprises were trading 15 per cent lower on the BSE in the morning trade on Friday. 

The counter had plunged over 26 per cent on Thursday and more than 28 per cent on Wednesday. The 10 listed Adani Group firms have faced a combined erosion of over Rs 8.76 lakh crore in past six trading sessions.

 On Wednesday, Adani Enterprises said it will not go ahead with its Rs 20,000-crore Follow-on Public Offer (FPO) and will return the proceeds to investors. -- PTI
09:55   Day 2: Oppn to meet again on Parl plan on Adani
Opposition parties will meet Friday morning to coordinate their strategy in Parliament, a day after they unitedly led the charge against the government over the issue of the Adani Group stock rout. 

 Various opposition parties on Thursday stalled both houses of Parliament over the Adani issue and demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe or a Supreme Court-monitored Committee investigation into it. 

 "Floor leaders of Opposition parties will meet at 10 am in the chamber of Leader of Opposition (in Rajya Sabha) Mallikarjun Kharge in Parliament House to coordinate strategy," said Congress general secretary Communications Jairam Ramesh. 

 "The demand remains the same. Only an independent investigation will save LIC, SBI and other institutions forced by the Prime Minister to invest in the Adani Group," he said. 

 Sources said the Trinamool Congress may not attend Friday's meeting as they are not in line with other parties on the matter and want only an SC-monitored probe into the issue. 

 The Congress has been alleging that the investments made by public sector LIC and SBI into the Adani group have been "forced" by the prime minister. 

 The government has not responded to the issue so far. 

 Adani group stocks, where LIC is heavily invested, have lost over USD 100 billion in value since a tiny New York short seller came out with a damning report alleging financial and accounting fraud by the ports-to-energy conglomerate. 

The Adani group has denied all charges and called the report malicious and full of lies. The rout in Adani group stocks has threatened the value of investments made by the Life Insurance Corporation and public sector banks. -- PTI
09:43   30 SPECTACULAR FRAMES of Shah Rukh Khan
It's not just Shah Rukh Khan's ascension from rank outsider to reigning superstar but a willingness to stand by his political and philosophical beliefs in an increasingly bigoted environment and demonstration of extraordinary grace in the face of unfortunate controversy that makes the 57-year-old such an icon.
Sukanya Verma/ raises a toast to the man and his movie magic through 30 spectacular SRK frames. Take a look
09:39   US, Philippines to set up 4 new bases against China
The United States and the Philippines have agreed that the former's forces can use four more bases in the Southeast Asian country, apparently aimed at enhancing deterrence against China, according to NHK World.

 On Thursday, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin separately met Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr in Manila. 

 The two sides later announced the agreement to bring the total number of bases the US can use in the Philippines to nine. Details on the additional locations have yet to be announced, as per NHK World. 

 The increased US presence is apparently aimed at strengthening deterrence as China is ramping up military activities in the South China Sea and waters around the Taiwan Strait. In the press conference, Austin said that both sides had discussed concrete actions to address destabilizing activities in the waters surrounding the Philippines.

He said the US-Philippine alliance makes both democracies more secure and helps uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific, reported NHK World. President Marcos welcomed the agreement, saying it seems to him that the future of the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific will always have to involve the United States. 

He said the partnership can only be an advantage to both countries. 

 After the agreement, China reacted sharply. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a regular news conference on Thursday that defense and security cooperation between countries must contribute to regional peace and stability, and should not hurt or target the interests of a third party. 

 Mao said the United States has continued military buildup in the region for its own benefits, thereby raising regional tensions and harming peace and stability. She said countries in the region should be vigilant against such moves and try not to be taken advantage of, according to NHK World. -- ANI
09:32   The persistent threat of nuclear crises among China, India, Pakistan
Southern Asia's strategic stability is getting harder to manage because of geopolitical changes and evolving military technologies. Read more here. 
09:31   Adani: Cong to hold all-India protests on Monday
Congress general secretary KC Venugopal on Thursday said that the party will hold nationwide protests in front of Life Insurance Corporation Offices and State Bank of India branches in all districts on February 6. 

Speaking to ANI, Venugopal said, "Government at the Centre is using common people's money to support their closest friends. Congress party has decided to have nationwide agitation across districts of the country in front of LIC and SBI offices on Monday." 

 The Opposition is taking this line of argument, that the exposure of LIC and public sector banks like the SBI to the Adani Group has significant implications for middle-class savings. 

 Opposition leaders said that they expect the government to brazen it out and not concede their demand, but they will dig their heels in and try to use the Parliament stage to corner Modi. 

 Opposition parties today during the session in Parliament, sought a debate and a probe by a joint committee into the fraud-allegation-triggered rout in Adani group company stocks, forcing adjournment of proceedings in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in the pre-lunch session.

 Lashing out at the Centre over the Hindenburg report against Adani Enterprises, the joint Opposition dubbed the stock crash a "Maha ghotala (scam) in Amrit Kaal" and questioned the government's "silence" over the issue. 
-- PTI
Arindam Chaudhuri
Arindam Chaudhuri
09:18   Remember Arindam Chaudhuri? B-school cries fraud
The Delhi-based Institute of Marketing and Management (IMM) has alleged that Arindam Chaudhuri of the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) defrauded it by violating an admission agreement, misusing its name and collecting crores of rupees between 2011 and 2014.

 IIPM, however, contested the allegations and said it will soon move court seeking quashing of an FIR filed by the Delhi Police in the matter. 

 The Delhi Police lodged the FIR against Chaudhuri and his associates on the directions of a local court based on the IMM's complaint. 

 According to the FIR, IMM leased out the rear portion of the fourth floor and the entire fifth floor of its premises in the Qutub Institutional Area to IIPM in August 2011. 

Subsequently, both the institutes entered into a management consultancy agreement. Gaganjit Singh, Executive President of IMM, has alleged that soon after the agreement, IIPM stopped paying lease rent. 

 While the lease dispute was going on, Singh, who is the main complainant, claimed that he came to know in 2020 that IIPM during that time had floated an organisation called IIMM, which looked similar to IMM and collected money from students by giving them an impression that they were granted admission to IMM. 

 When contacted, IIPM strongly denied all these allegations and said that IMM was aware of all these activities as everything happened under the terms of the agreement.

 "We are moving a petition in the Delhi High Court in a day or two for the quashing of the FIR as it is frivolous and without any merit," advocate Vishal Gupta said, sharing a copy of the draft petition with strong rebuttal on all counts.

 In its complaint, IMM alleged that IIPM employees conducted admissions misrepresenting themselves to be employees of IMM. 

 "For the said purpose, the accused persons also prepared forged letterheads of the complainant's organisation and issued receipts to students confirming their admissions into the complainant's organisation. Registration fee etc was also illegally raised on the IMM letterhead," the FIR alleged. 

 It added, "All payments made for the said admissions by the students were then routed to the 'IIMM A/C of IIPM' and the same was done in complete contravention of the terms of the agreement entered into with the complainant." 

 Lawyer Arjun Mahajan, who is representing IMM, said they came to know about the alleged fraud when a student approached a consumer court against fraudulent admissions and the court sent IMM a notice to appear.

 Mahajan said, "It is alleged that the modus operandi adopted by the accused persons was to make a large number of students believe that they were being offered professional courses by IMM whereas the accused persons had no authority whatsoever to make any representations to any student or general public." 

 He also claimed that more than 1,000 students were directly and explicitly cheated by the accused persons who lured and enticed them to part with exorbitant amounts in fees whereas such students were neither provided with any classes, professional education or any kind of degrees or diplomas by IIPM. 

 Countering the allegations, IIPM's draft petition states that on March 11, 2011, IIPM entered into a deal for transfer of the brand of IMM to IIPM for Rs 52,50,00,000 and IIPM paid an amount of Rs.4.8 crore as earnest money. It was also stipulated that if IMM failed to execute an agreement within three years, it would refund twice the amount paid by IIPM to IMM as part payment, i.e., twice the amount of Rs 4.8 crore. -- PTI
The car in the Khanjawala case
The car in the Khanjawala case
08:56   Car hits bikers in Gurgaon, drags them for 4km
In a chilling reminder to the Khanjawala hit-and-drag incident in the national capital on New Year's day, two youths had a narrow escape after the motorcycle they were riding was allegedly hit by a speeding car from behind they were dragged for about four kilomteres in Haryana's Gurugram on Wednesday night, police said on Thursday.

The motorist dragged the biker and the pillion rider for 4 kilometres before driving off, police said, adding that a search was underway to nab him.

According to the police, the incident took place on Wednesday night in the Sector 62 area of Gurugram.

The youths, according to the police, were on their way home from work when a speeding four-wheeler came from behind and hit their two-wheeler.

In their complaint with the police, the youths alleged that they fell off their bike from the impact of the hit and were dragged by the motorist for about 4km even as they were stuck to the front grill of the vehicle.

They alleged that the person driving the vehicle was drunk and did not stop even after their bike got stuck under the four-wheeler.

They claimed that they kept on shouting but the motorist did not listen to them and kept on driving.

However, they did not suffer any major injuries in the incident.

They said they managed to take photographs of the scene and later shared the same with the police while lodging the complaint against the unidentified motorist.

Based on the complaint, police filed a case and an investigation is underway. -- ANI
SC lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan
SC lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan
08:52   The buzz on Twitter
Prashant Bhushan on an unnamed conglomerate: "Guess who was the important tycoon who met me in my SC Chamber 4 years ago? His parting shot to me was "Narendra Bhai se kuch karwana ho to mujhe bataiye"! I would like to take up his offer now & ask him: "Narendra Bhai se kahiye ki Hindenburg Research ki report par JPC baithadein"

And Subramanian Swamy tweets: I believe Modi Govt is slowly disowning Adani as a hopeless case. Easy come easy goes.
The pecan nut
The pecan nut
08:43   Why US senators are going nuts over Union Budget
America's National Pecan Federation has welcomed the annual budgetary proposal of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to reduce the import duty on pecan by 70 per cent, a move it said would benefit thousands of farmers in the country, especially in Georgia. 

"This is great news for the pecan industry," Larry Don Womack, chairman of National Pecan Federation (NPF), said after Sitharaman in her budget proposed to reduce the import tariff on pecan from 100 per cent to just 30 per cent.

 The federation, in a statement on Thursday, described it as a significant positive change for the pecan industry that opens the US pecan export market to India. Pecans are grown in 15 states and have a significant impact on these rural economies.

"Opening the India market will be a great opportunity for our industry to expand and grow," Womack said. 

 Over the last few years, the NPF had been working with pecan growers, lawmakers and US trade representatives asking them to urge India to reduce the tariff on pecan. 

Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff said he met India's Ambassador to US Taranjit Singh Sandhu as many as seven times and even travelled to India to meet officials to present the case on behalf of pecan growers. US trade representative Katherine Tia raised the issue with Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal when he was in the city last month. Expansion of the US pecan export market to India is essential to the health of the pecan industry, said NPF executive board member Jeff Worn.

"Great news for Georgia's pecan farmers -- and our whole state economy! India reducing tariffs means USD 50 million more in trade for GA businesses. Something worth going nuts over!" said Congressman Rich McCormick. PTI
08:39   Veteran filmmaker K Viswanath dies
Dadasaheb Phalke awardee and renowned filmmaker Kasinadhuni Viswanath died at a private hospital here. He was 92. 

 Viswanath was unwell for some time and was suffering from age-related issues, sources said. He passed away at the hospital around midnight Thursday. 

 Popularly known as 'Kalatapasvi', Viswanath was born in February 1930 in Andhra Pradesh. A prominent name, not just in Telugu cinema but also in Tamil and Hindi films, he became the 48th recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke award, the highest recognition in Indian cinema. He was conferred with the award for the year 2016. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao expressed his condolences over the death of Viswanath.
08:36   Chinese spy balloon spotted over US airspace
An alleged Chinese spy balloon said to be the size of "three buses" was spotted over the United States' airspace, the Pentagon said.
The development comes days ahead of the Beijing visit of Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
"The United States government has detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is flying over the continental United States right now," Pentagon Spokesman Brigadier Gen Pat Ryder told reporters here on Thursday.
"NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) continues to track and monitor it closely," he said, adding the balloon was spotted over Montana on Thursday and is "said to be the size of three buses".
"Once the balloon was detected, the US government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information," Ryder said.
He said the balloon is travelling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground.
US President Joe Biden has been briefed about the incident, a senior defence official said, adding the Pentagon is exploring various options.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Mark Milley and US Northern Command Gen Glen VanHerck have recommended not to "take kinetic action" because of the potential risk to the safety and security of people on the ground from the possible debris field, officials said.
"Currently, we assess that this balloon has limited additive value from an intelligence collection perspective. But we are taking steps nevertheless to protect against foreign intelligence collection of sensitive information," said a defence official. -- PTI 
PM Modi at the Quad meet in 2021
PM Modi at the Quad meet in 2021
08:35   Quad agrees to leverage machine learning
Quad, an informal grouping of four countries Australia, India, Japan and the United States, has agreed to leverage machine learning and related advanced technologies to enhance cyber security, the White House has said.

Officials of Australia, India, Japan and the United States met in New Delhi on January 30-31 for the Quad Senior Cyber Group, during which they reaffirmed their commitment to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific that is inclusive and resilient, it said. 

 In the longer term, the Group committed to leverage machine learning and related advanced technologies to enhance cyber security and establish secure channels for Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and private sector threat information sharing, the White House said in a statement on Thursday. -- PTI
08:15   Ex-UK PM's brother resigns from Adani-linked firm
Lord Jo Johnson, younger brother of former British prime minister Boris Johnson, has resigned his non-executive directorship of a UK-based investment firm linked with the now-withdrawn Adani Enterprises Follow-on Public Offer (FPO).

'The Financial Times' newspaper referenced UK Companies House records to reveal that 51-year-old Lord Johnson had been appointed as a director of London-based Elara Capital Plc in June last year and resigned on Wednesday, the day when the Adani Group announced the withdrawal of the FPO.

Elara, which described itself as a capital markets business raising funds for Indian corporates, was among the bookrunners on the FPO. 

Johnson insisted he has been assured of the company's "good standing" and has stepped down due to his own lack of "domain expertise". -- PTI
Upendra Kushwaha
Upendra Kushwaha
00:39   Sulking aide asks Nitish for truth of RJD 'deal'
Disgruntled Janata Dal-United leader Upendra Kushwaha on Thursday demanded that party supremo Nitish Kumar reveal the truth behind rumours of an alleged 'deal' struck with the Rashtriya Janata Dal over the chief minister's post, when the two decided to forge an alliance last year.

The JD-U leader, who has been sulking ever since the Bihar CM ruled him out as his second deputy, besides RJD's Tejashwi Yadav, made a statement to the effect at a function in Patna.

Kushwaha, who had merged his Rashtriya Lok Samata Party with the JD-U less than two years ago, accused the RJD of having strayed from the socialist ideal of decentralisation of power and 'concentrating all authority within a family'.

"They (RJD) speak as if socialism was all about reversing the power structure, making some OBC groups the new elite. It was not. And it was in revolt against this tendency of theirs that Samata Party came into being which later came to be known as JD-U," said Kushwaha.

The former Union minister, however, added that 'our party, too, has fallen short of devolving power to the lowest strata of the society. And the rumours of a deal with the RJD is leading to tremendous disappointment among JD-U rank and file'.

He alleged that RJD leaders had been openly stating that it was high time that the CM stepped down for Tejashwi Yadav to take over, 'as per the deal'.

Silence on part of our party is only making matters worse, Kushwaha said.

"I request the chief minister, our supreme leader, and national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan to come out with the truth behind these rumours," said Kushwaha.

Notably, speculations about Kumar having agreed to make way for Yadav have gained ground with the CM himself dropping ample hints in the past that he was ready to pass on the mantle to his deputy, the younger son of Lalu Prasad.

Kushwaha claims that he had returned to JD-U at the instance of Kumar who was shattered by the party's drubbing in 2020 assembly polls.

While Kumar has made it clear that Kushwaha has now become dispensable ('jahaan jaana ho jaa sakte hain'), the latter has made it clear that he will fight for his 'share'.   -- PTI