Fri, 02 June 2023
6 NDRF teams deployed for Odisha rescue ops
23:47 6 NDRF teams deployed for Odisha rescue ops
One National Disaster Response Force team is at the triple-train crash site in Odisha's Balasore district while five more are being rushed to the spot, officials said on Friday.
The estimated strength of these six teams is more than 240 personnel, they said.
The teams are equipped with stretchers, gas cutters, lifting pads, first-aid kits and other equipment, and sniffer dogs, NDRF deputy inspector general Manoj Kumar Yadav said.
While one NDRF team, located at its regional response centre in Balasore, is present at the accident site, five more are being rushed from Mundali in Cuttack district, about 100 km from the crash site, the officials said.
At least 50 people were killed and more than 350 injured in a horrific triple train crash on Friday in Odisha involving the Bengaluru-Howrah Superfast Express, the Shalimar-Chennai Central Coromandel Express and a goods train. -- PTI
23:44 Govt imposes stock limits on tur, urad dal till October to check hoarding
The government on Friday imposed stock limits on tur and urad dals held by wholesalers, retailers, importers and millers till October to prevent hoarding and check price rise.
An order in this regard was issued with immediate effect by the Union food and consumer affairs ministry.
All India average retail price of tur has increased by 19 per cent to 122.68 per kg on June 2, from 103.25 per kg a year ago.
Similarly, the average retail price of urad has increased by 5.26 per cent to Rs 110.58 per kg from Rs 105.05 in the said period, as per the data maintained by the ministry.
"Under this order, stock limits have been prescribed for tur and urad until 31st October 2023 for all States and Union Territories," consumer affairs secretary Rohit Kumar Singh said.
According to the order, a stock limit of 200 tonnes each has been imposed on tur and urad for wholesalers, 5 tonnes each for retailers and retail outlets, and 200 tonnes at the depot for big chain retailers.
In the case of millers, the stock limit will be the last three months of production or 25 per cent of annual installed capacity, whichever is higher.
Whereas importers are not allowed to hold stock beyond 30 days from the date of customs clearance, an official statement. -- PTI
22:50 Deeply anguished by loss of lives in Odisha tragedy, say Prez Murmu, PM Modi
President Droupadi Murmu on Friday said she was "deeply anguished" by the loss of lives in an unfortunate train accident in Odisha and prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured.
"Deeply anguished to know about the loss of lives in an unfortunate rail accident in Balasore, Odisha. My heart goes out to the bereaved families. I pray for the success of rescue operations and quick recovery of the injured," Murmu said in a tweet.
Expressing distress over the train accident in Odisha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said rescue operations were underway at the site and all possible assistance was being given to those affected.
Modi spoke to Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw to take stock of the situation.
"Distressed by the train accident in Odisha. In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover soon," Modi said in a tweet.
"Spoke to Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and took stock of the situation. Rescue ops are underway at the site of the mishap and all possible assistance is being given to those affected," the prime minister said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the accident was "deeply agonizing".
"The train accident at Balasore in Odisha is deeply agonizing. The NDRF team has already reached the accident site, and other teams are also rushing to join the rescue operation. My condolences to the bereaved families and praying for the speedy recovery of those injured," Shah tweeted. -- PTI
22:35 Odisha mishap: Goa Vande Bharat flag-off cancelled
The ceremony to flag off the inaugural Goa-Mumbai Vande Bharat Express at Madgaon station has been cancelled in the wake of the accident involving three trains in Odisha, Konkan railway officials said on Friday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to flag off the Goa-Mumbai Vande Bharat Express through video link on Saturday morning while Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw was to remain present at Madgaon station for the ceremony.
But Vaishnaw was now heading for the accident site in Odisha and the ceremony was cancelled, officials said. -- PTI
22:28 Mephedrone drug worth Rs 4,860 crore destroyed in Navi Mumbai
The police on Friday destroyed more than 2,400 kg of seized party drug mephedrone valued in excess of Rs 4,860 crore at a facility in the adjoining Navi Mumbai, an official said.
The huge stock of the synthetic stimulant and psychotropic substance was destroyed by the Mumbai police at an incineration facility of Mumbai Waste Management Ltd at Taloja in the presence of members of high-level drugs disposal committee, he said.
The Mumbai crime branch's Anti-Narcotics Cell last year unearthed a syndicate involved in mephedrone manufacturing and distribution, and recovered 2428.958 kg of the drug valued at Rs 4,856 crore the official said.
The ANC arrested eight persons in the case and later submitted a chargesheet before a local court. Properties valued at more than Rs 10 crore belonging to the accused persons were also frozen, he said.
Mephedrone, commonly known as MD and meow meow, is banned under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. -- PTI
22:05 Amit Shah holds meet to review monsoon preparedness
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday reviewed the overall preparedness for flood management in the upcoming monsoon season and measures for formulating an overarching policy to mitigate the perennial problem of flooding in the country.
Shah said at the meeting that the rain and flood forecast currently being given for five days by the India meteorological department (IMD) and the Central Water Commission (CWC) to be expanded to seven days by next monsoon season so that the flood management can be further improved, according to a statement issued by the Union home ministry.
He said under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, efforts are being made in the field of disaster management to help minimise the loss of lives and livelihoods during disasters.
Shah directed that a comprehensive software be developed by the Union home ministry and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) by March 2024, in which scientific data will be made available to all the early warning agencies immediately for dissemination to the disaster management agencies.
The home minister also reviewed the long-term measures for formulation of a comprehensive and overarching policy to mitigate the perennial flood problems of the country, the statement said.
He directed the officials to continue to strengthen coordination between central and state agencies to have a permanent system for forecasting of floods and rise in water levels in major catchment zones and areas of the country.
21:40 22-member NDRF team reaches Odisha train accident site
NDRF's 1st team of 22 members from Balasore Railway Station (BLS) has already reached the site.
Another team from Centralised Traffic Control (CTC) of 32 members started half an hour before.
(Source: Eastern Railway)
21:37 Bengal rushes team to train accident site in Odisha
The 12841 Shalimar-Coromandel Express collided with a goods train on Friday evening, injuring several persons, at Bahanaga Bazar station in Balasore district of Odisha, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, while her officials said Bengal is sending a team led by a minister to the spot to aid victims.
The accident occurred at about 7 pm when the superfast express train was travelling from Shalimar station in Howrah to Chennai Central station in Tamil Nadu, an official said.
However, the railway version of the accident states that a derailment occurred before the goods train collided with the superfast express.
"Shalimar- Coromandel express, carrying passengers from West Bengal, collided with a goods train near Balasore today evening and some of our outbound people have been seriously affected/ injured," Banerjee said in a tweet.
The Bengal government is sending a team led by minister Manas Bhuna to Balasore, officials added.
She said that the West Bengal government is coordinating with Odisha government and South Eastern Railway.
The West Bengal government has opened an emergency control room with numbers 033- 22143526/ 22535185, she said.
A railway official said that a 22-member NDRF team has reached the accident site from Balasore, while another team consisting of 32 members has started from Cuttack.
The railways have activated several helpline numbers - 033-2638227 (Howrah),8972073925 (Kharagpur), 8249591559 (Balasore).
21:21 Coimbatore blast: NIA names 5 in 2nd chargesheet
The National Investigation Agency on Friday filed a fresh chargesheet against five persons in connection with the Coimbatore car bomb blast in October 2022, and said the prime accused was "reportedly inspired by the hardcore ISIS ideology" to carry out this terrorist attack.
The agency had charge-sheeted six people in this case in April.
The case pertains to an explosion that took place on October 23 outside an ancient temple in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu.
A vehicle-borne improvised explosives device had blown up in front of the temple.
The prime accused who drove the vehicle, Jamesha Mubeen, was killed in the blast, the National Investigation Agency said.
Mubeen, the NIA said in a statement, was "reportedly inspired by hardcore ISIS ideology to commit this horrendous act of terror."
The five men charge-sheeted on Friday, under various sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Explosive Substances Act, are Umar Faaruq, Firose Khan, Mohamed Thoufeeq, Sheikh Hidayatullah and Sanofar Ali. -- PTI
The view of a derailed train coach in Odisha/ANI
20:59 47 hurt, fatalities feared in Odisha train crash
Four coaches of the Coromandel Express derailed in Odisha's Balasore district on Friday evening after a head-on collision with a goods train, officials said.
Some 47 injured persons have been admitted to Balasore hospital, fatalities feared, they said.
The accident happened around 7.20 pm near Bahanaga Bazar station when the train was on the way to Chennai Central station from the Shalimar station near Kolkata, they said.
Accident relief trains have been dispatched to the spot, a South Eastern Railway official said.
The state government directed the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action (ODRAF) Force to assist in rescue operations.
The RailMadad temporary helpline for queries regarding the derailment of Coromandel Express is 044-2535 4771.
20:21 Air India Express to start Haj flights from Kannur, Kozhikode on June 4
Air India Express will start operating Haj flights from Kannur and Kozhikode on June 4.
In a release on Friday, the airline said the Haj charters will be carried out in two phases.
In the first phase, it will operate 44 flights from Kozhikode and 13 flights from Kannur to Jeddah and plans to carry 8,236 Haj pilgrims.
In the second phase, the carrier will operate 44 flights from Medina to Kozhikode and 13 flights from Medina to Kannur.
"This is the first time the airline is operating Haj services after winning the government-released bid for the two cities in Kerala," the release said.
According to the release, the airline has introduced colour-coded pouches for elderly pilgrims to carry their boarding passes and brightly coloured luggage tags for easier identification and to prevent baggage mishandling.
The airline will transport Zam Zam water on the return ferry flights and keep it at Kozhikode and Kannur airports. Upon arrival, each pilgrim will be offered a 5-litre can of Zam Zam water, it added. -- PTI
20:03 Tata Memorial Centre aims to double share in cancer treatment by 2030
Tata Memorial Centre is aiming to double its share of cancer patients it serves per year to 20 per cent of the total number of such patients in the country by 2030 from the present 10 per cent, its director Rajendra Badwe said on Friday.
Currently, the centre provides treatment to 10 per cent of the country's total cancer patients per year.
The premier cancer treatment and research institute, backed by Tata Group and the government, is expanding facilities and educational capabilities to train the manpower, which will be required to achieve the target, Badwe told reporters in Mumbai.
"Presently, India has about 13 lakh cancer patients every year, 10 per cent of those are treated at Tata Hospital. We would like that to be doubled to somewhere about 20 per cent of the total national problem," the director said, adding that the aim to double is being sought to be achieved by the end of the decade.
He said the hospital feels there will be a huge increase in the total number of patients getting affected by cancer per year as urbanisation goes up in the country and listed out data, which showed that for one lakh population in cities, 100 get afflicted with cancer, while the same comes down to 60 in semi-urban areas. -- PTI
20:00 Modi to address joint meet of US Cong on June 22
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a joint session of the US Congress on June 22 during his official state visit to the country, top congressional leaders announced on Friday.
"On behalf of the bipartisan leadership of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, it is our honour to invite you (Prime Minister Modi) to address a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday, June 22," they said in a statement.
The statement was signed by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries.
This will be the second time that Modi will be addressing a joint meeting of the US Congress.
President Joe Biden will host Prime Minister Modi for an official State visit to the US, which will include a state dinner, on June 22. -- PTI
19:31 Savarkar biopic attempt to distort history: Forward Bloc
The All India Forward Bloc on Friday alleged that a biopic of Hindutva ideologue VD Savarkar by actor Randeep Hooda was an attempt to distort history to "satisfy the interests" of the Sangh Parivar.
The Left party asserted that the claim in the teaser, which has been recently released, that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh and Khudiram Bose were inspired by Savarkar was untrue.
"The teaser of the bio-picture on VD Savarkar released by actor Randeep Hooda is an attempt to distort the history and to satiate the interests of the Sangh Parivar," AIFB general secretary G Devarajan said in a statement.
He claimed there is "absolutely no similarity" between Netaji and Savarkar in terms of ideology, outlook and methods of action.
"Savarkar's ideology was diametrically opposite to that of Netaji," Devarajan said. -- PTI
19:12 Govt wants to make sedition law more 'draconian': Cong
With the law commission backing the sedition law, the Congress on Friday accused the BJP government of planning to make it more "draconian" and giving a message ahead of the general elections that it will be used against opposition leaders.
Alleging that the BJP uses the sedition law as a tool of "subversing, subjugating, and silencing dissent", the opposition party also asked why the government has not yet had the courage to do away with the law despite the apex court rendering it inoperative and making strong observations in that regard.
Addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said, "A message of colonial mindset has been given that there will be a distance between the ruler and the ruled and through this law, the foundations of the republic will be uprooted. A message has been given ahead of the general election that we will use this in a one-sided manner particularly against opposition leaders."
The Congress' attack comes after the law commission backed the penal provision for the offence of sedition, saying repealing it altogether can have serious adverse ramifications for the security and integrity of the country.
The commission has recommended enhancing the jail term in sedition cases from a minimum of three years to seven years, contending that it would allow the courts greater room to award punishment in accordance with the scale and gravity of the act committed.
In a report on the 'Usage of the Law of Sedition', the Commission said its earlier report had termed the punishment for Section 124A (law of sedition) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) "very odd" as it has provisions for either life imprisonment or a three-year jail term, but nothing in between. The minimum punishment under the sedition law is paying fine.
Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code dealing with sedition is at present under abeyance following directions of the Supreme Court issued in May, 2022.
Singhvi said in a terrible, tragic, and treacherous development, the law commission has recommended that Section 124A of the IPC should "not only be retained, but also made more harsh".
"The BJP government now plans to become more draconian, drastic, and deadly than the colonial regime," he said.
In an unpleasing development, the 22nd Law Commission of India has recommended that Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalises sedition, should be retained in the statute book with certain and more "draconian changes", Singhvi said.
"In a nutshell, the law commission proposal makes the existing sedition law far more draconian, invasive and prejudicial by enhancing the lower end of the punishment from three to seven years," he said.
It ignores the spirit of the Supreme Court proceedings in May and October last year which had rendered the entire offense of sedition in the country inoperative and clearly intended it to be repealed, Singhvi alleged.
The Congress leader claimed that there was a "massive rise" in sedition cases since 2014 with an annual rise of 28 per cent in sedition cases for the period between 2014 and 2020, compared to the yearly average between 2010 and 2014. -- PTI
19:10 Go First crisis pushes airfares higher, staff face uncertain times
From a surge in airfares to rattled aircraft lessors to thousands of employees staring at uncertainty, it has been a month of continued turbulence since cash-strapped Go First suspended flights from May 3.
As the government and other stakeholders hope that Go First restarts operations at the earliest, plans are being worked out for the budget airline's revival.
A section of Go First staff are optimistic about restarting of operations, another section are pessimistic about the airline's future course considering what had happened to erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines and Jet Airways, according to employees who spoke to PTI.
Earlier this week, senior executives of Go First discussed the revival plans with senior officials of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
Apart from the uncertainty staring at more than 7,000 Go First staff, a significant fallout is the spike in air ticket prices on certain routes that used to be serviced by the airline, which was operating around 170-180 flights daily.
The crisis at Go First, having its roots in non-availability of Pratt & Whitney engines resulting in grounding of more than half of its operational A320 neo fleet, reached a flash point as the promoters of the carrier decided to suspend flights and sought voluntary insolvency resolution proceedings on May 2.
The airline has not flown since May 3 and its petition for the insolvency proceedings was admitted by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) on May 10.
Also, many lessors who have leased planes to the no-frills carrier have challenged the insolvency proceedings as they seek to exercise their rights to take back the aircraft despite the moratorium on the carrier's financial obligations and transfer of assets.
Travel portal Cleartrip's Vice President - Air Category - Gaurav Patwari said the significant capacity reduction due to Go First being non-operational has contributed to the spike in airfares.
"There is a sharp spike in fares especially for travel within D15 which can be attributed to the ongoing Go First issue. The fares within D15 travel have increased by 22 per cent and at the aggregate level up by more than 20 per cent over April for domestic travel," he said.
Generally, D15 refers to booking 15 days before travel.
"The spot fares in May have risen significantly versus April primarily due to peak season demand and a reduction in capacity due to the grounding of Go First, thereby creating an imbalance in demand and supply. The fares in D0 to 1 window are up by 40 per cent. We expect the current scenario to continue till mid of June," he said. -- PTI
18:51 98 killed, 310 injured in Manipur violence: Govt
At least 98 people lost their lives and 310 others were injured in the ethnic violence in Manipur that broke out a month ago, the government said in a statement on Friday.
A total of 37,450 people are in 272 relief camps at present, said the statement, issued by the Chief Minister's Office (CMO).
In all, 4,014 cases of arson have been reported since the violence broke out in the state on May 3, it said.
"The number of deaths is 98 and the number of injured reported is 310," it said.
Over the last one month, the state police has registered 3,734 cases and arrested 65 people for their involvement in the violence, the statement said.
"Sporadic incidents of firing or torching of houses by miscreants are becoming rare now as coordinated effort is made by different security agencies," it said.
The Army, Assam Rifles, CAPFs and local police have been deployed in vulnerable places, it added.
Till now, 84 companies of central armed forces have been deployed, the statement said.
"More companies are being deployed. Flag march and area domination exercises are being carried out widely. Search operations will be conducted from today to recover snatched arms and ammunition," it said.
The government appealed to the people to surrender the snatched arms and ammunition.
"Stringent legal action will be taken against any person if caught with snatched arms and ammunition," it said.
So far, 144 arms with 11 magazines have been recovered by the security agencies, said the statement.
Meetings were being held with village heads and civil society organisations to resolve conflict and bring peace, it said, claiming that the situation is normal in most of the districts.
18:30 BJP is in Pankaja Munde's blood: Maha BJP chief
Maharashtra Bharatiya Janata Party chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule on Friday downplayed the statement of former MLA Pankaja Munde that she belongs to the party but the party does not belong to her.
Pankaja Munde, daughter of BJP stalwart late Gopinath Munde, is often at the centre of speculation that she has been sidelined since her defeat in the 2019 Assembly polls from stronghold Parli to Nationalist Congress Party leader and cousin Dhananjay Munde.
After the first expansion of the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis cabinet in August 2022, she had said she might not have been "qualified enough" to get a berth, which once again led to talks about her being unhappy in the saffron camp.
Speaking to reporters in Hingoli, Bawankule said, "The BJP is in the blood of Pankaja Munde. She is the inheritor of Gopinath Munde's legacy. She is working day and night to strengthen the party."
On Maharashtra NCP chief Jayant Patil's comments that the BJP is facing issues due to some NCP functionaries joining it, Bawankule said his party is an ocean and all those getting inducted will be given work as per their strength.
"It is an open offer. Those who want to join the BJP can come and work as per our ideology. The BJP is an ocean and can accommodate all," Bawankule claimed. -- PTI
18:03 Arrest Brij Bhushan till June 9: Khap Mahapanchayat
A "khap mahapanchayat" Haryana's Kurukshetra on Friday demanded the arrest of outgoing Wrestling Federation of India chief and Bharatiya Janata Party MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, accused of sexually harassing some women wrestlers, and gave the government time till June 9 to act on its demand.
The meet deliberated on the next steps to be taken in the agitation pertaining to the wrestlers' issue.
Talking to reporters after the "mahapanchayat", Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait said WFI chief Singh should be arrested.
He said they are giving the government time till June 9 to act on the demand, else the agitation will be intensified by holding panchayats across the country and the wrestlers will return to Jantar Mantar in Delhi for protest.
Representatives of various khaps and farmers' outfits reached the Jat Dharamshala from different places, including Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
Farmer outfits had held a "khap mahapanchayat" in Uttar Pradesh and a series of protests in Punjab and Haryana on Thursday, showing solidarity with the wrestlers who have accused Singh of sexually harassing female grapplers, including a minor. -- PTI
17:54 Mayawati agrees with Rahul's remarks on Dalits
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Friday said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's recent remarks on the 'miserable condition' of Dalits and Muslims in the country is a "bitter truth" for which previous governments of the Congress, the BJP and other parties at the Centre were responsible.
In a series of tweets in Hindi, she said, "The statement given by (former Congress president) Rahul Gandhi during his US tour pertaining to the miserable condition of crores of Dalits and Muslims, and the insecurity to their lives and religion, in India, is a bitter truth for which the governments of the Congress, BJP and other parties at the Centre, were completely responsible."
"Irrespective of the government of the Congress or the BJP in different states, including UP, injustice, atrocities and exploitation of the poor and deprived (sections of society) by those belonging to the majority section has been a common thing. It was only during the BSP government in UP that the rule of law was established and justice was done to everyone," she said.
"Along with this, history is filled with 'black chapters' of innumerable communal riots and casteist incidents (triggered) for political and electoral self-interest...," Mayawati tweeted.
Gandhi had on Thursday said the Bharatiya Janata Party would be "decimated" in the next three-four assembly elections by the Congress, emphasising that they have the basic requirements needed to defeat the ruling party which do not have the support of the vast majority of the Indian population.
He also said that the Muslim League party was "a completely secular party, there is nothing non-secular about the Muslim League...", defending the Congress's alliance with the Indian Union Muslim League in Kerala.
Gandhi is in the United States for a three-city tour. -- PTI
17:33 HC allows Sisodia to meet ailing wife at his home
The Delhi high court on Friday permitted Aam Aadmi Party leader Manish Sisodia, under arrest in cases related to alleged irregularities in the city government's excise policy, to meet his ailing wife at his residence on Saturday.
Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma directed the Tihar Jail Superintendent to take Sisodia, the former deputy chief minister, to his residence where he has been allowed to meet his wife from 10 am to 5 pm.
The high court made it clear that Sisodia shall not interact with media or any other person except his family members and also not access phone or internet.
"Let the petitioner be taken to his house tomorrow from 10 am to 5 p to meet his wife, the court said.
The high court was hearing Sisodia's petitions for regular bail and interim bail in the money laundering case lodged by the Enforcement Directorate and reserved its orders.
Sisodia has sought interim bail on the ground of deteriorating health of his wife who is suffering from multiple sclerosis.
The high court also directed the ED to verify the medical documents of Sisodia's wife and asked it to file a report positively by Saturday evening.
In the CBI case involving alleged corruption, the high court has kept the interim bail plea pending.
Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, representing the ED, argued earlier also a similar interim bail plea was filed by Sisodia on identical grounds which was later withdrawn, hence no ground was made for calling a report from the agency.
He said Sisodia's wife was suffering from the ailment for the last 23 years, and as the AAP leader was holding 18 portfolios, he was a very busy minister and had no time for home.
So she can be taken care of by an attendant, and the court may grant Sisodia permission to go with an escort and visit his wife, Raju said.
During the day, the high court also heard arguments and reserved order on the bail plea of businessman Vijay Nair, the Aam Aadmi Party's communication in-charge and a co-accused in the money laundering case arising from the alleged scam.
Senior advocate Rebecca John, representing Vijay Nair, argued the ED has converted this bail hearing into a mini trial by taking four dates.
He has been accused of raising money from the 'South Group' to be paid as kickback to officials and politicians.
17:30 Internal matter: MEA on power struggle in Afghan embassy
As the Afghan embassy in Delhi reels under a power struggle after the Taliban appointed a diplomat to head the mission in place of the incumbent, India on Friday said it is an "internal matter" of the embassy.
"From our perspective, this is an internal matter of the Afghan embassy and we hope that they would resolve it internally," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said when asked about a question on the matter.
Ambassador Farid Mamundzay Mamundzay, who was appointed by the previous Ashraf Ghani government, has been operating as the Afghan envoy even after the Taliban came to power in August 2021.
However, the Taliban in April appointed Qadir Shah to head the mission. Shah has been working as a trade councillor at the Afghan embassy since 2020.
When Mamundzay was on a visit abroad, Shah tried to take charge of the embassy as the charge d'affaires late last month, but his attempt was stalled by other diplomats at the mission, people familiar with the matter said.
On May 15, the Afghan embassy said there is no change in its leadership following reports that Shah was appointed by the Taliban as the charge d'affaires to head the mission replacing incumbent Mamundzay.
"The embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan categorically rejects the claims from an individual claiming to have taken charge of the mission in New Delhi at the behest of the Taliban," the embassy headed by Mamundzay had said in a statement.
People familiar with the matter said Shah wrote a letter to the MEA requesting recognition when Mamundzay was travelling abroad.
In June last year, India re-established its diplomatic presence in Kabul by deploying a "technical team" to its embassy in the Afghan capital.
India had withdrawn its officials from the embassy after the Taliban seized power following concerns over their security.
It is learnt that the Taliban, on multiple occasions, communicated to New Delhi that the diplomats in the Afghan embassy in India do not represent Kabul any longer and made around 14 attempts to remove the ambassador from the embassy in the last over two years, the so. -- PTI
16:50 Is Cong with democracy or Modi: Kejriwal
While seeking support against the Centre's ordinance control over administrative services in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday met his Jharkhand counterpart, Hemant Soren, in Ranchi.
Giving a strong message to the Congress party, Kejriwal said that the party has to decide whether it is with "democracy, constitution, and 140 crore people of the country or with PM Modi".
Notably, Kejriwal had on May 23 embarked on a nationwide tour to seek support from the Opposition parties against the Ordinance.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor has so far met West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin former Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and his deputy Tejashwi Yadav.
Addressing the joint press conference with his Jharkhand counterpart Hemant Soren, Kejriwal said, "Last month, a grave injustice was done to the people of Delhi. They were insulted and their democratic rights were snatched. In a landmark judgment on May 11, the Supreme Court ordered that the government elected by the people of Delhi will have the powers. But unfortunately, on May 19, the government circumvented the order by bringing the ordinance. The Modi government said that they won't allow the elected government to function".
"The ordinance will now go to the Parliament. BJP has the majority in Lok Sabha but in Rajya Sabha, it only has 93 out of 238 members. So, if all the non-BJP parties come together, this bill can be defeated," he added. He further called the ordinance an "attack on the foundation of democracy" and urged all the parties to come together against it.
16:45 Pakistan to release 200 Indian fishermen and three civilian prisoners
Pakistan will release 200 Indian fishermen and three civilian prisoners as a humanitarian gesture, foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari announced on Friday.
Last month, Pakistani authorities released 198 Indian fishermen, languishing in a prison in Karachi after being arrested for allegedly fishing illegally in the country's waters. They were handed over to India at the Wagah border.
"Today, Pakistan is releasing 200 Indian fishermen and 3 civilian prisoners. Earlier, 198 Indian fishermen were repatriated on 12 May 2023," Bhutto Zardari said in a tweet. "This is in line with Pakistan's policy of not politicising humanitarian matters. Compassion should take precedence over politics," he added.
16:31 Small newspapers get govt ads worth crores its nine years of Modi
A look at three papers topping the list of print outlets with a large number of central ads. Read the report here.
16:28 My idea of India is different from BJP's: Rahul
Rahul Gandhi speaking at Stanford University, US on his idea of India. "I have a completely different concept of India. I don't see India the way they do. They see India as a top-down centralised system, whereas I see India as a diverse nation with multiple cultures, religions, and languages. I see it as a decentralised system.
"While we were walking in the Bharat Jodo Yatra, we had no force; the force was on the other side. The BJP had the police, institutions, media, and social media.
"All the force at the disposal of the Modi government could do nothing. The more they tried to apply force, the less it worked.
"Power comes when you get close to the truth. They have the force, but they don't have power."
During his three-city US tour, Gandhi took a swipe at the ruling BJP government, saying it is "threatening" the people and "misusing" the country's agencies. Gandhi also said the BJP and the RSS are controlling all the instruments of politics in India. He said that the normal tools that have historically been used in politics were not working anymore.
16:06 All 5 poll guarantees in this fiscal: K'taka CM
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah who chaired a Cabinet meeting on Friday said that the five guarantees promised by the Congress ahead of Assembly elections will be implemented in the present financial year.
"We held a cabinet meeting today. We discussed all five promises thoroughly. We have decided that all five guarantees will be implemented in the present financial year," Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.
The five 'main' guarantees, which Congress promised to fulfil after coming to power in Karnataka, were 200 units of free power to all households (Gruha Jyoti); Rs 2,000 monthly assistance to the woman head of every family (Gruha Lakshmi); 10 kg of rice free to every member of a BPL household (Anna Bhagya); Rs 3,000 every month for unemployed graduate youth and Rs 1,500 for unemployed diploma holders (both in the age group of 18-25) for two years (Yuva Nidhi) and free travel for women in public transport buses (Uchita Prayana).
Adressing a press briefing, after the Cabinet meeting, Siddaramaiah said that the implementation (of guarantee about 200 units of free electricity) will begin from July 1.
"A total of 200 units of electricity will be free. Consumers who haven't paid their bills till July will have to pay," he added.
On the Gruha Lakshmi scheme, which promises Rs 2,000 every month to every women 'kartha' of a family, will be implemented from August 15, the CM said. The online application will be opened from June 15 to July 15. Beneficiaries will have to submit Aadhaar card and bank account details.
"June 15-July 15 Aadhar card and application need to be filed. Then from July 15-August 15 after analysing the bank accounts," he said.
The Congress Cabinet in the State touched its full strength of 34 on May 27 after the induction of 24 more ministers in the cabinet. The Karnataka Cabinet was expanded after the Chief Minister and Shivakumar held consultations with the party's central leadership.
On May 20, Siddaramaiah took oath as the Chief Minister along with DK Shivakumar who took oath as his deputy. This was followed by the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government issuing the orders for the implementation of five guarantees which were promised by the party before the elections.
15:58 Cong on IUML flak: Remember Advani praised Jinnah?
The Congress on Friday hit back at the BJP over its criticism of Rahul Gandhi for calling the Indian Union Muslim League "completely secular", saying the party he referred to was different from the Muslim League, for which the BJP has "more love" and whose leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah was hailed by L K Advani.
The Opposition party also said that it would like to remind the BJP that Hindu Mahasabha president Syama Prasad Mookerjee aligned with Jinnah's Muslim League to form the government in Bengal during the British rule. At an interaction with the media at the National Press Club in Washington,
Gandhi was asked about being in alliance with the IUML in Kerala while talking about secularism, to which he responded by saying, "Muslim League is a completely secular party. There is nothing non-secular about the Muslim League."
Gandhi's remark drew a sharp response from the BJP as its leaders alleged that the Kerala party is guided by the same mindset which was behind Jinnah's All India Muslim League.
In a tweet, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, "Shyama Prasad Mookerjee was in league with the Muslim League in the government in Bengal when (Mahatma) Gandhiji launched Quit India movement. SPM was singularly responsible for the partition of Bengal."
He also tagged a tweet by Congress leader Amitabh Dubey who had slammed BJP IT department head Amit Malviya for his criticism of Gandhi, saying "You're confusing the Kerala-based IUML he is talking about with Jinnah's Muslim League that took Savarkar's two-nation theory to its logical conclusion."
"The same Muslim League with whom BJP founder SP Mukherjee and Hindu Mahasabha formed coalition governments in Bengal, Sind, NWFP (North-West Frontier Province)," Dubey said.
Congress' media department head Pawan Khera hit out at the BJP over its criticism and said the BJP-RSS have more knowledge of Pakistan's politics and Jinnah's Muslim League as they share a historical 'jugalbandi'.
"Those with entire political science (degree) should have some knowledge of the politics of their country," Khera said.
He said Muhammad Ismail, the founder of the Indian Union Muslim League, was a member of the Constituent Assembly and during the war with China, he had offered his son, Miyan Khan, to join the Indian Army.
15:32 1983 World Cup winning team urge wrestlers not to take hasty decision
Concerned that the protesting wrestlers can take the extreme step of immersing their medals into holy river Ganga, members of the 1983 World Cup winning cricket team on Friday urged the elite athletes not to take a hasty decision and hoped their grievances will be heard and resolved. Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia, who have been demanding the arrest of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Birj Bhushan Sharan Singh for alleged sexual exploitation of women wrestlers, took their protest to Haridwar on May 30 but did not carry out the threat of immersing their medals into Ganga. On May 28, the Delhi Police had detained the wrestlers for violation of law and order when they marched towards the new Parliament building without permission. The Police also cleared the protest site and made it clear that the wrestlers will not be allowed back at Jantar Mantar. The police action against the wrestlers had invited criticism from different quarters.
"We are distressed and disturbed at the unseemly visuals of our champion wrestlers being manhandled. We are also most concerned that they are thinking of dumping their hard earned medals into river Ganga," a statement released to PTI by the 1983 World Cup wining team read.
"Those medals have involved years of effort, sacrifice, determination, and grit and are not only their own but the nation's pride and joy. We urge them not to take any hasty decision in this matter and also fervently hope that their grievances are heard and resolved quickly. Let the law of the land prevail," the statement read further.
BKU's Rakesh Tikait attends a Mahapanchayat held by BKU president
15:25 Khap mahapanchayat begins on wrestlers' protest
A "khap mahapanchayat" is underway in this Haryana district to deliberate on the next steps to be taken in the agitation pertaining to the wrestlers' issue.
The representatives of various khaps and farmers' outfits reached the Jat Dharamshala from different places, including Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
Farmer outfits had held a "khap mahapanchayat" in Uttar Pradesh and a series of protests in Punjab and Haryana on Thursday, showing solidarity with the wrestlers who have accused outgoing Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh of sexually harassing female grapplers, including a minor.
Talking to reporters here before the "mahapanchayat" started in the afternoon, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait said the wrestlers are the country's pride and all they are demanding is justice in the case.
Tikait said while they are meeting at Kurukshetra, many organisations and khaps are holding meetings in other states, including Maharashtra and Rajasthan, to press for action against the "injustice being done to the country's daughters".
He said the government will have to "bow down" in front of the genuine demands of the protesting wrestlers. Tikait said specific charges have been levelled against the outgoing WFI chief and police must take immediate action against him.
He said even the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has condemned the manner in which the protesting wrestlers were treated by the Delhi Police over the weekend, describing it as "very disturbing".
The wrestlers were allegedly manhandled by police personnel when they attempted to march towards the new Parliament building after its inauguration on Sunday. Tikait said even though the outgoing WFI chief "is making different statements, there is no statement from the government's side yet" on the issue.
Brijbhushan Singh has been accused of several cases of molestation
15:02 Sushma Swaraj's daughter speaks on WFI chief...
Rejecting the charge that the BJP was following "double standard" in the Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh case, party leader Bansuri Swaraj on Friday said FIRs have been registered against him and after investigation, the judicial process will take its natural course.
Swaraj, the daughter of the late foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, addressed her first press conference after taking over as the co-convener of the Delhi BJP's legal cell.
She also targeted the Arvind Kejriwal government, saying it "delayed" by nine months the appointment of public prosecutors for trial of cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Justice delayed is justice denied, she noted.
Swaraj, a Supreme Court lawyer, denied the charge that her party was following "double standard" as Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) president and BJP MP Singh, who was accused of sexual harassment by some wrestlers, was yet to be arrested by the Delhi Police.
"The FIR has been registered in that case and now it's under the jurisdiction of police. I have deep faith in the judiciary that after the investigation, the judicial process will take its natural course," she said.
The Delhi Police has registered two FIRs against Singh on complaints by some women wrestlers. Singh has denied the charges. Swaraj was appointed the co-convener of the Delhi BJP's legal cell in March this year.
The Congress party tweeted this saying, 'Who is protecting Brijbhushan Singh?
14:48 Anurag Thakur: Want justice for wrestlers, but...
Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on Friday said everyone wants justice to be delivered to the wrestlers demanding action against outgoing Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, but it will happen only after following the due process of law.
Thakur's remarks came days after the country's top wrestlers, protesting for more than a month over allegations of sexual harassment against Singh, threatened to immerse their medals in the Ganga river in Haridwar.
"The government favours an unbiased investigation.... All of us want justice to be delivered, but it will happen after following the due process," Thakur said in an interactive session at the India Economic Conclave organised by the Times Network.
The minister said the Delhi Police is investigating the case, which was filed after a government-appointed committee submitted a report on the allegations against Singh, who is also a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP.
"There is no question of bias," Thakur said to suggestions that the delay in action was because Singh was a Lok Sabha member of the ruling party at the Centre. The minister said the Delhi Police is expected to file a chargesheet in the matter soon.
"All of us are in favour of a speedy investigation," he added. Thakur said the government had agreed to every demand of the wrestlers, set up a panel to probe the charges levelled by them against Singh and asked the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to appoint a committee of administrators to run the affairs of the WFI. "Be it an athlete or a woman, if any atrocity has been committed, they should get speedy justice," he said, adding that the incidents the wrestlers have referred to had taken place seven years ago.
Thakur said the wrestlers were told that an FIR could be filed at any police station, but they wanted the intervention of the government.
Several Olympic and World Championship medal-winning wrestlers, including Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sangeeta Phogat, have been protesting here demanding Singh's arrest for allegedly sexually harassing several female grapplers, including a minor. PTI
Jigna Vora's character in Scoop
14:07 HC refuses relief to Chhota Rajan on Scoop release
The Bombay High Court on Friday refused to grant any urgent relief to jailed gangster Rajendra Nikalje, alias Chhota Rajan, who had filed a plea against web series Scoop, noting that the series was already released on Netflix.
A vacation bench of Justice S G Dige directed the makers and producers of the series, including Hansal Mehta and Netflix Entertainment Services India on whose platform the series has been released, to file their affidavits in response to Rajan's plea by June 7.
The jailed gangster had on Thursday moved the court against the web series, saying that the use or misuse of the attributes of his personality without his prior consent amounted to infringement of his personality rights as well as defamation.
When the court was informed that the series has been released and all the six episodes were available, Rajan's advocate Mihir Desai said the makers could be directed to remove his name and image from the series.
Justice Dige, however, refused to pass any order granting any relief to Rajan. "The series is already released. All the episodes are published. We will see on the next date. Let reply affidavits be filed by all the defendants. List the matter on June 7," the court said.
The bench also permitted Rajan to amend his suit to change the reliefs sought by him and also to justify how it was a matter of intellectual property rights.
Senior counsel Ravi Kadam, appearing for Netflix, told the court that Rajan has been convicted in the case of murder of journalist Jyotirmoy Dey and the judgment is available in public domain.
In such circumstances, anyone can use his name or image, Kadam said. The bench then asked what if he (Rajan) was acquitted in the appeal filed by him in the high court. To this, Kadam pointed out a Supreme Court judgment that said till the appeal is pending the lower court judgment convicting a person stands.
Desai told the court that Rajan was not disputing the fact that he has been convicted in the case, but he is the only one whose real name and image has been used. "Everybody else's name and image is changed then why is it that only Rajan's name and image is used as is," Desai said, adding that Rajan has a copyright on his image. Justice Dige then jokingly said what happens in cases of twins.
To this, Desai replied, fortunately or unfortunately Rajan does not have a twin. Rajan, who is presently lodged at Tihar jail, sought a stay on the release of the series and an order to take down the trailer.
He also sought a permanent injunction restraining the makers of the series, including Hansal Mehta and Netflix Entertainment Services India, from infringement of his personality rights. Rajan has also sought damages of Re 1 to be paid to him or for the makers to deposit the money earned by them through the telecast of the trailer of the series, and for the amount to be used for "public good or upliftment of the society".
The makers of the series were never permitted to use or misuse Rajan's name and image, associate him to any voice and/or any events, without prior permission, the petition stated.
In June 2011, journalist Jyotirmoy Dey was killed. Rajan and 11 others, including journalist Jigna Vora, were accused in the case. In May 2018, Rajan and eight others were convicted in the case. Vora was acquitted. "Scoop", a six-episode Netflix series, is inspired by Vora's 2019 jail memoir "Behind Bars in Byculla: My Days in Prison". PTI
Read the review here.
13:47 Man tries to kill girlfriend for refusing PDA
A 28-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly trying to strangle his girlfriend and banging her head against a rock after she refused to get intimate with him at a public place in suburban Bandra, police said on Friday.
The woman who suffered serious injuries in the alleged attack is now stable and her boyfriend has been booked for attempt to murder, he said.
The incident took place on Wednesday when the couple were at Bandra Bandstand, a popular promenade and coastal area in Mumbai. Police said accused Akash Mukherjee is a resident of Kalyan on the outskirts of Mumbai. He and his girlfriend, who is also aged 28 years, were colleagues in a company where he works and were in a relationship for the past few years.
On Wednesday, both took a local train from Kalyan to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) and visited tourist spots like the Gateway of India and Girgaon Chowpatty before heading to Bandra Bandstand in the evening, he said. After some time, Mukherjee told his girlfriend that he had embraced her religion to marry her.
Soon, he demanded to get intimate with her prompting the woman to reject his advance, the official said.
Enraged by her refusal, Mukherjee allegedly tried to strangle her and hit her head against a rock. He also tried to drown her in a drain following which she began screaming for help, the official said.
Those present near the spot called the police, who took Mukherjee into custody and sent the woman to the hospital.
Based on his girlfriend's statement, Bandra police arrested Mukherjee on the charge of attempt to murder. The woman, who sustained serious injuries, is stable now, added the official. PTI
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13:21 Modi to be invited for Ayodhya Ram temple ceremony
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be invited to the Ram Temple in Ayodhya for the consecration ceremony of the new idol of Lord Ram, an official of the temple's trust said.
Ram Temple Trust general secretary Champat Rai said that the decision was taken in the recently held meeting of the members. Rai said that the ground floor of the temple will be ready by October.
Two months will be spent in the trial of its operation and by December, it will be thrown open to the devotees.
A letter will be sent to the prime minister and he will be asked to give his permission regarding any favourable date between December and January 26, 2024, he said. This letter will be signed by the president of Sriram Janambhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, the official said.
After the consecration of the idol of Lord Ram, the temple will be officially inaugurated for worshipping and offering prayers.
In the meeting held in Ayodhya this week, 11 members were present, while founder member K Parasaran joined virtually.
However, Rai said that no date has been fixed for the consecration of the idol in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. Swami Govind Dev Giri, the treasurer of the temple trust, is consulting the astrologers regarding the dates. So far talks have been held with seven astrologers for a suitable date, he said. PTI
12:41 UP govt refuses nod for WFI chief's Ayodhya rally
BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, the former WFI chief accused of sexually harassing women wrestlers, said a rally in Ayodhya in his support had been "postponed for a few days while the police are investigating the charges" against him. The UP government has refused permission for the rally.
Singh had earlier announced that he would address the rally on Monday "with the blessings of Sadhus".
His statement on cancelling the event came as details emerged of the charges listed in FIRs filed against him by wrestlers, who have been demanding his removal.
In the statement, he again claimed he was being "falsely accused" by political opponents and their parties.
12:17 Maha: SSC results out, pass percentage 93.83
The Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education on Friday declared Class 10, or SSC, results that saw a pass percentage of 93.83, a drop of nearly 3 points from last year, board officials said.
The overall pass percentage stood at 96.94 last year.
Maintaining the trend, girls yet again outshone boys, posting an overall pass percentage of 95.87. The pass percentage for boys stood at 92.05. The Kokan division topped the list with 98.11 per cent of students clearing the board exam, while the Nagpur division was at the bottom with a pass percentage of 92.05, said board chairperson Sharad Gosavi.
Of the other divisions, Kolhapur posted a pass percentage of 96.73, followed by Pune (95.64), Mumbai (93.66), Aurangabad (93.23), Amaravati (93.22), Latur (92.67), and Nashik (92.22). A total of 15,29,096 students registered for the SSC exam that was held in March-April this year and 14,34,898 students cleared it, they said. PTI
12:13 Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny to hit India on June 29
Hollywood star Harrison Ford-led "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny" will release across Indian cinemas on June 29, a day ahead of its worldwide theatrical premiere.
The film, directed by James Mangold, marks Ford's final appearance as the legendary hero archaeologist. "#IndianaJones and the Dial of Destiny hits the screens in India a day before worldwide release.
Only in cinemas June 29 in English, Hindi, Tamil & Telugu," Walt Disney Studios India posted on Instagram on Friday. The action-adventure franchise was launched in 1981 with the release of "Raiders of the Lost Ark", which was followed by "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (1984) and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989).
The fourth film in the series was 2008's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull". Written by Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth and Mangold, "Indiana Jones 5" also stars Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Mads Mikkelsen, Boyd Holbrook, Thomas Kretschmann, Toby Jones, Antonio Banderas and John Rhys-Davies.
Filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who directed the first four movies, is producing the upcoming fifth installment along with Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Simon Emanuel. PTI
11:53 Sidda gets moving on roll out of five guarantees
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday held a meeting of senior officers of the State government to take a decision on implementing the five guarantees promised by the ruling Congress ahead of the Assembly elections.
The Chief Minister held a meeting with the senior officers before the state Cabinet meeting. The cabinet is expected to take a decision on the five promises made by the state government.
The five 'main' guarantees promised by the party in its poll manifesto are -- 200 units of free power to all households (Gruha Jyoti); Rs 2,000 monthly assistance to the woman head of every family (Gruha Lakshmi); 10 kg of rice free to every member of a BPL household (Anna Bhagya); Rs 3,000 every month for unemployed graduate youth and Rs 1,500 for unemployed diploma holders (both in the age group of 18-25) for two years (Yuva Nidhi) and free travel for women in public transport buses (Uchita Prayana).
The members of Karnataka State Contractors Association who made the '40 per cent corruption' allegations against the previous BJP government in the state, also met CM Siddaramaiah in Bengaluru, under the leadership of the Association's president D Kempanna.
Notably, "40 per cent corruption" was one of the striking issues in the recently held assembly polls which many experts believe dented BJP's campaign.
The Congress Cabinet in the State touched its full strength of 34 on May 27 after the induction of 24 more ministers in the cabinet.
11:33 Indian female wrestlers: The body politic of resistance
"In wrestling, to be on your back, shoulders hitting the ground is to be "pinned', defeated. This is where every bout ends. In the photo, as unknown hands try to yank Sangeeta upwards onto her feet and into the police van, she is being held down by her cousin Vinesh. What looks like defeat is actually a snapshot of resistance."
Sharda Ugra on the wrestlers' protest. Read the column here.
Photograph: Kind courtesy Mark Zuckerberg/Instagram
11:10 Zuckerberg cracks Murph challenge
From The Guardian newspaper: Mark Zuckerberg has raised internet eyebrows after revealing he has taken part in an intensive challenge in which he ran a mile, completed 100 pull-ups, 200 press-ups and 300 squats, before running a further mile, all while wearing a 9kg weighted vest.
The Facebook founder, in a post on his own page, said he had completed the "Murph challenge' in 39 minutes 58 seconds, a time that one user said would put him in the top 1% of those who completed the event, which is named in memory of a US navy seal who was killed in Afghanistan," The Guardian reported.
"It's not the first time Zuckerberg, 39, has boasted of his athletic achievements," The Guardian noted. Rrecent posts celebrated the medals he won in his first jiu jitsu tournament (gold and silver) and a sub-20 minute 5K.
10:59 BJP slams Rahul for calling Muslim League secular
Union Minister Kiren Rijiju has lashed out at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his "completely secular" remarks for the Indian Muslim League party stating that it was "extremely unfortunate" that some people in the country "still consider the person who supports the Muslim League as Secular".
Rijiju also asked how Mohammad Ali Jinnah's Muslim League which was "responsible" for India's partition on religious lines be a secular party. Taking to Twitter, the BJP leader said, "Jinnah's Muslim League is a secular party? The party responsible for India's partition on religious lines is a secular party? Extremely unfortunate that some people in India still consider the person who supports the Muslim League as Secular!"
The Indian Union Muslim League, is an ally of the Congress-led UDF in Kerala. Rahul Gandhi represented Wayanad in the Lok Sabha before being disqualified from Parliament.
Responding to a question on Congress' alliance with the Muslim League during his interaction at the National Press Club in Washington DC, Rahul Gandhi said, "Muslim League is a completely secular party. There is nothing non-secular about Muslim League. I think the person (who sent the question) has not studied the Muslim League."
Gandhi is currently on a visit to the US.The BJP has criticised Rahul Gandhi for his remark stating that the Congress leader's compulsion to remain acceptable in Wayanad that he called Muslim League a "secular party".
10:53 Law panel backs sedition law with changes
The Law Commission has backed the penal provision for the offence of sedition, saying repealing it altogether can have serious adverse ramifications for the security and integrity of the country Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code dealing with sedition is at present under abeyance following directions of the Supreme Court issued in May, 2022.
The Commission said repealing the provision on the mere basis that certain countries have done so is essentially turning a blind eye to the glaring ground realities existing in India and that it can be retained with certain safeguards to prevent its misuse.
Amid allegations of misuse, there have been demands for the repeal of the provision. In its report submitted to the government recently, the panel said cognizant of the views on the misuse of Section 124A, it recommends that model guidelines curbing them be issued by the Centre.
10:27 Groping, sexual favours... FIR against Brij Bhushan
As BJP MP and former WFI chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh reiterated that he would hang himself if charges against him were proven, the charges against him in the FIR filed by the Delhi police suggest he is a serial molester.
According to an NDTV report, Singh allegedly touched women athletes inappropriately on the pretext of checking their breath, groped them, asked inappropriate personal questions, demanded sexual favours in exchange for the federation bearing the cost of treatment of injuries sustained during tournaments, offered "unknown edible not approved by the dietician or coach", brushed his hands across a minor's breast and stalked her.
The FIR is based on the complaints of seven women wrestlers at Delhi's Connaught Place police station last month. He has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.
10:22 Personal Data Protection Bill to be tabled during monsoon session
The Personal Data Protection Bill, which has been overdue, will now be introduced in the parliament's monsoon session, said Lt General (Dr) Rajesh Pant, National Cyber Security Coordinator, Government of India on Thursday while addressing the Global Privacy & Data-Protection Leadership Meet 2023 organised by ASSOCHAM.
This bill, if approved by Parliament, will replace the 2011-notified Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practises and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules.
He added that the Telecom Bill, which will replace the Telegraph Act of 1885, and the Digital India Act, which will replace IT Act 2000 as revised in 2008, are two additional significant laws that the Indian government is currently working on.
The industry needs to be more transparent about how they collect and use customer data, give customers more control over their personal data, protect customer personal data from unauthorised access, and comply with applicable laws, Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Pant reiterated while citing some data from Gartner.
Some of the key challenges being faced include increased use of AI, globalisation of the economy, increasing incidence of cyber-attacks, and growing public awareness on privacy issues, he elaborated.
10:00 All eyes on Sidda's second Cabinet meeting
All eyes are set on the Karnataka Cabinet meeting on Friday where a decision will be taken on implementing the five guarantees promised by the ruling Congress during the Assembly elections in May.
The Congress had said that it will implement these schemes if it formed a government in Karnataka. The party stormed into the Vidhana Soudha by winning 135 out of 224 seats winning an absolute majority.
The five guarantees promised are 200 units of free power to all households (Gruha Jyoti), Rs 2,000 monthly assistance to the woman head of every family (Gruha Lakshmi), 10 kg of rice free to every member of a BPL household (Anna Bhagya), Rs 3,000 every month for unemployed graduate youth and Rs 1,500 for unemployed diploma holders (both in the age group of 18-25) for two years (Yuva Nidhi), and free travel for women in public transport buses (Shakti).
The Congress government has estimated that the implementation of these schemes may cost about Rs 50,000 crore every year.
"We have announced five guarantees. We discussed them elaborately yesterday. Tomorrow, we will take a decision. We have assured that we will give 10 kg rice. There is no second thought about implementing it but I will explain to you after the Cabinet decision," Food and Civil Supplies Minister K H Muniyappa had said while speaking to reporters on Thursday.
Explaining further, he said: "We will implement the guarantees we have promised in a phased manner." With regard to the Anna Bhagya scheme, he said the state government will ask the Centre and the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to provide rice to Karnataka.
"In case, they (Centre and the FCI) refuse, we on our own will procure rice through tender or though organisations and distribute it to the beneficiaries," Muniyappa said.
During elections, Congress leader and former party president Rahul Gandhi had said these schemes will be implemented on the day the government took over. However, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah after assuming power on May 20 said the government has agreed in principle to implement the guarantees and sought time till the next cabinet meeting.
"We have given approval in principle. We will get details, discuss, financial implications will be looked into and then we will do it for sure. Whatever the financial implications may be, we will fulfil these five guarantee schemes," Siddaramaiah had told reporters after the first Cabinet meeting.
09:43 Terrorist killed in encounter in J-K's Rajouri
A terrorist was killed in an encounter with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir's Rajouri district on Friday morning, officials said.According to officials, the encounter was reported in Dassal forest area of the district.
"A terrorist was killed in the encounter in Rajouri's Dassal forest area," Army officials said."
A search operation in the area is underway," they added.
09:35 Bhojpuri singer shot at during her show in Bihar
Popular Bhojpuri singer Nisha Upadhyay received a bullet injury allegedly in celebratory firing at her show in Bihar's Saran district, police said.
The incident happened in Sendurva village in Janta Bazar police station area on Tuesday but it came to light after videos of the show went viral on social media, the police said on Thursday.
Upadhyay was hit on her left thigh and was admitted to a private hospital in Patna after the incident, they added.
"No complaint was lodged regarding this incident. I have also come to know about it from social media. Further information is being gathered," said Nasruddin Khan, the Station House Officer (SHO) of Janta Bazar.
Her condition is now stated to be stable.
Condemning it, Bihar Art and Culture Minister Jitendra Kumar Rai told PTI that celebratory firing was a criminal offence and people must understand it.
"I have been informed about it. It's highly condemnable and action must be initiated against the accused. People must know that celebratory firing even with licensed guns at public gatherings, religious places, weddings or other functions is a criminal offence. The accused must be punished," he said.
"I am sure that the police will examine how the incident took place, who all were involved in the firing, and how the gunshot was fired," he added.
Despite repeated attempts, Upadhyay's family could not be reached for comment. -- PTI
09:12 Biden trips, falls at Air Force Academy graduation ceremony
United States President Joe Biden tripped on a sandbag and fell after he handed out the last diploma at a graduation ceremony at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado on Thursday, CNN reported.
He got up quickly and walked back to his seat and appeared fine afterward.
In a video after the fall, which went viral on social media, Biden was seen walking without assistance to this seat in the stands.
He was also seen smiling and jogging towards his vehicle at the conclusion of the ceremony.
After the tripping episode, the White House said the President was fine after the fall, according to CNN.
Biden stumbled as he was jogging away from the podium, where he had just delivered the academy's graduates their commencement address.
He congratulated hundreds of cadets and distributed certificates for more than 90 minutes.
He stumbled as he was making his way to his seat and fell on the floor.
Two Secret Service personnel and an Air Force Academy administrator were among the men who grabbed hold of Biden's arms to help him stand up again.
Biden indicated that something had gotten in his way as he stood back up and gestured towards the spot where he had fallen, reported CNN.
"Sandbags were set up in front of the platform close to where Biden had been standing, as seen in the video. Without assistance, the President made his way back to his seat in the audience and seemed upbeat as the ceremony came to a close."
'He's fine. There was a sandbag on stage while he was shaking hands,' communications director Ben LaBolt tweeted.
The President remained silent when questioned about the incident as he left Colorado an hour after he fell.
At 80, Biden is the oldest President in the country.
He has suffered similar falls, one of which happened in Delaware, his home state, while riding a bike.
He was also pictured tripping on the stairs as he boarded Air Force One, CNN reported. -- ANI
08:40 Manipur: Army responds to messages alleging bias
The Indian Army released a statement on Thursday stating that all its ranks were race, caste, creed, and gender neutral.
The clarification came in light of alleged misinformation on social media, discrediting officers of a certain community for doing internal security tasks in violence-hit Manipur.
'All ranks of the Indian Army are race, caste, creed and gender agnostic- fair to all and fear none. Officers and troops of the Indian Army are posted to all parts of the country as per the requirement of the organisation,' the statement said.
It added that a message posted on Twitter and Facebook circulated through messaging apps was giving out details of Army Officers of a particular community performing internal security duties in Manipur.
Refuting charges made on Facebook and Twitter concerning officers of a particular group executing internal security chores in Manipur, the release stated that the viral message on social media was undermining the fundamental foundation of trust and ethos of Army personnel.
'Compounded with casting aspersions on their loyalty and integrity towards the nation, the message is aimed at maligning the very foundation of faith and ethos of officers of the Indian Army,' the statement read.
The statement posted by the Army mentioned that the very officers being discredited 'spent sleepless nights, gone without food and water, rescued thousands and provided refuge to people beyond religion, caste or creed in Manipur'.
'It must also be noted that the numbers depicted in the list represent a minute fraction of the total number of officers posted in all formations and units in Manipur currently,' the statement said.
It stated further that the Army's tweet was an attempt to dispute the 'heinous message that had been circulated on social media and that the institution had never allowed regional biases to interfere with its operations'.
'The post is an attempt to undermine an institution that is a microcosm of the nation and has never let regional biases interfere in its functioning and the Indian Army strongly refutes this hideous message,' it said. -- ANI
00:52 Khalistani terrorist declared proclaimed offender
A special NIA court in Chandigarh has declared a wanted member of the proscribed terror group Sikhs for Justice, who is currently based in Germany, a proclaimed offender in the Model Jail tiffin bomb case of April 2022, an official said.
The official said Jaswinder Singh, alias "Multani", of Mansoorpur-Mukerian village in Punjab's Hoshiarpur district has been identified as the mastermind behind planting the IED bomb outside the wall of Model Jail, Burail, Chandigarh, with the intention of spreading terror and causing violence.
Multani has been declared a proclaimed offender under section 82 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, a federal agency spokesperson said.
The tiffin bomb, along with a detonator, was found in a black bag outside the jail on April 22 last year.
The spokesperson said, "Multani is currently based in Germany and has a non-bailable warrant against him."
The NIA court issued the NBW on January 5.
The National Investigation Agency has also declared a reward of Rs 10 lakh and issued a lookout circular against him.
The tiffin bomb case was originally registered against unknown persons by the Chandigarh Police under the Explosive Substances Act.
The NIA subsequently take over the case in May 2022 and re-registered it with additional provisions under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. -- PTI
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah
00:42 Siddaramaiah appoints poll strategist Sunil Kanugolu as his chief adviser
The Congress' master strategist in Karnataka Sunil Kanugolu, the brains behind the 'PayCM' campaign against the previous Bharatiya Janata Party government, has been appointed as Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's chief adviser.
An order for Kanugolu's appointment was issued on Wednesday.
He has been given a position equivalent to a cabinet-rank minister till the next order.
A former associate of political strategist Prashant Kishor, Kanugolu hails from Ballari.
According to Congress sources, Kanugolu had prepared the strategy behind the 'PayCM' campaign in September last year.
The 'PayCM' campaign poster featured a QR Code with the image of the then Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai in the centre with the message "40 per cent accepted here" to allege that a 40 per cent bribe was being charged for every government work. -- PTI
Murder accused Sahil
00:18 Delhi murder: Knife used by Sahil for crime found
The police have recovered the knife allegedly used by 20-year-old Sahil to kill a teenage girl in northwest Delhi's Shahbad Dairy area, the police said on Thursday.
A senior police officer said the accused's police custody was extended for three more days by the court on Thursday.
He was again questioned and on his instance, the weapon of offence was recovered, the officer added.
Sahil was cross-questioned as he frequently changed his statements, he said, adding the three friends of the victim, Bhawna, Ajay alias Jhabru and Neetu, too were individually questioned and their versions corroborated.
The officer said the route taken by the accused while fleeing the crime scene has been established.
On Wednesday, the police had recreated the crime scene.
Sakshi (16) was stabbed over 20 times and bludgeoned to death with a cement slab allegedly by Sahil on May 28.
She had 34 injury marks on her body and her skull was raptured. -- PTI