Fri, 31 March 2023
Aaftab moves court after manhandling by jail inmates

Timeline  Refresh

Shraddha Walkar with Aaftab Poonawala/ANI
Shraddha Walkar with Aaftab Poonawala/ANI
23:39   Aaftab moves court after manhandling by jail inmates
A court here on Friday directed authorities to ensure the safety of Aaftab Amin Poonawala after his counsel claimed that he was "manhandled" by other inmates while he was produced in court. 

Poonawala is accused of strangling his live-in partner Shraddha Walkar on May 18 last year and disposing her body after chopping it into pieces. 

Additional sessions judge Manisha Khurana Kakkar issued the directions to authorities while hearing arguments on the charges against Poonawala. 

"... it is submitted on behalf of the accused that he had been manhandled by other inmates during his court production. Lock-up in charge, Saket Court, as well as jail superintendent, are directed to ensure that the accused is produced safely during court productions," ASJ Kakkar said. 

As it completed its arguments in the case, the Delhi police had on March 20 told the court that there are "incriminating circumstances revealed through reliable and clinching evidence which form a chain of events".

The court had then posted the matter for hearing the response of Poonawala's lawyer. Poonawala has been booked for the offences under Sections 302 (murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence) of the Indian Penal Code. 

On Friday, special public prosecutors Amit Prasad and Madhukar Pandey appeared for the Delhi Police.
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23:14   Maoist commander surrenders before police in Telangana
A member of the banned CPI -Maoist party, allegedly involved in various extremist activities in Telangana and neighbouring Chhattisgarh, surrendered before the police in Mulugu district on Friday. 

M Jogaiah alias Jangu, CPI -Maoist Telangana state committee action team commander, had joined the party in 2016. 

Later, he was promoted as area committee member and inducted into the "action team' as a member and elevated as action team commander of the CPI -Maoist Telangana state committee till August 2022, a release from the police said. 

He was involved in the murders of civilians, encounter with security forces, it said. 

According to police, disenchantment with the CPI -Maoist ideology, discrimination against cadres of lower rank and beating them up indiscriminately were among the reasons for turning himself in. -- PTI
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22:55   Air India to introduce premium economy class in US flights
Air India on Friday said it will introduce premium economy class for travel from May 15 in select flights to the US. 

The premium economy class will initially be available in select flights operated with Boeing 777-200LR aircraft on Bengaluru-San Francisco, Mumbai-San Francisco, and Mumbai-New York routes. 

In a release, the airline said it has "opened sale for the new cabin, for travel starting May 15, 2023, becoming the first and only Indian carrier to offer the choice of four cabin classes -- first, business, premium economy, and economy". 

The premium economy class seats will also be rolled out on several other routes, it said. 

The loss-making airline, which is now owned by the Tata Group, in November last year revealed plans to add premium economy class in some of its aircraft. 

"We are introducing premium economy experience for our customers on select flights for now, with a plan to extend it to many more routes soon, as we rapidly expand and modernise our fleet," Campbell Wilson, managing director and chief executive of Air India, said. 

The popularity of premium economy has grown among travellers around the world, as people are increasingly opting for upgraded, yet affordable flying experiences, he said. -- PTI
22:34   Maha to honour Savarkar in week-long programme
The Maharashtra government will organise a 'Veerbhoomi Parikrama' from May 21 to 28 to mark the birth anniversary of late Hindutva ideologue VD Savarkar, state minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha said on Friday. 

The ruling Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress have been engaged in a war of words over Savarkar, mainly due the opposition party's Rahul Gandhi routinely mocking the late Hindutva ideologue for "apologising" to the British to get out of jail. 

The ruling Shiv Sena-BJP, which has also attacked former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray for his silence on Gandhi's remarks, had last week said it would organise 'Savarkar Gaurav' yatras across the state. 

A grand theme park and a museum will be built in Bhagur in Nashik, where Savarkar was born on May 28, 1883, Lodha said. 

"The Veerbhoomi Parikrama will be organised at Nashik, Ratnagiri, Sangli, Pune and Mumbai. The programme will include literature festival, songs and discussion on Savarkar. Nashik was chosen because it is the birthplace of Savarkar and it is where revolutionary organisation Abhinav Bharat was formed," Lodha said. -- PTI
22:19   Former BJP MP joins Congress in MP
Ahead of year-end assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Bharatiya Janata Party's former MP Makhan Singh Solanki joined the Congress on Friday. 

He made the switch in the presence of senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Digvijaya Singh, party functionaries said Solanki was elected as a member of the Lok Sabha from Khargone-Barwani seat in 2009, party leaders said. 

Singh along with other members of the party welcomed Solanki in a function in Silavad in Barwani district. Assembly elections in MP are scheduled to be held later this year. 

The 2018 elections in the state had thrown up a hung Assembly, with the Congress emerging as the largest party with 114 seats in the 230-member House. 

The BJP won 109 seats. 

The Congress formed a coalition government under Kamal Nath, but it fell in March 2020 after several MLAs loyal to Jyotiraditya Scindia walked out and joined the BJP, paving the way for Shivraj Singh Chouhan to return as chief minister. -- PTI
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22:06   21 arrested in Mumbai over Ram Navami clashes
As many as 21 persons have been arrested  so far in connection with the stone pelting at a Ram Navami procession in Mumbai's suburban Malad (West), the police said on Friday. 

Tensions began on Thursday night following  disputes over the loud DJ music being played in the procession as it was passing through the vicinity of mosques in the Malvani area, a police official said.

A First Information Report (FIR) has been registered against nearly 300 identified and unidentified persons at the Malvani police station, he said.

As per the FIR, more than 6,000 persons had participated in the  Ram Navami procession organised by the Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other Hindu organisations. 

The procession began from Ram Janki temple late in the afternoon. 

Around 7.25 pm, as it was moving towards Jama Masjid, around 100 to 150 people objected to the high volume of music as namaaz was going on in the mosque, said a local police official.

As the volume of music was not lowered, there was some slogan-shouting and one of the men who had objected to loud music allegedly hurled a stone at the procession and it hit a participant, he added.

Police personnel deputed for security along the route immediately took the man who had thrown the stone into custody, he said.

As per the FIR, when the procession was near the Ali Hazrat mosque around 8.45 pm, a mob of 200 to 250 persons began to pelt stones.

As the police tried to bring the situation under control, some people in the mob hurled stones at them and manhandled some police personnel, the FIR said.
21:44   Top legal brains working on Rahul review plea: Cong
The Congress has contended that there is no delay in the filing of a review petition challenging the Surat court verdict against Rahul Gandhi in a defamation case and it is likely to be registered "shortly" before the sessions court. 

Sources said the 168-page judgement of the Surat court against Gandhi has been translated by experts and the petition is ready for filing, but his legal team is taking an "abundantly cautious approach" keeping in view its repercussions that it could have on the two other similar cases filed in Patna and Ranchi courts on the same grounds. 

The sources also said that Gandhi's legal team handling the case has 30 days (from March 23) to file an appeal before the sessions court. 

But they are prepared to go to the next level, sources in the party said, noting that Gandhi stands disqualified as he has taken on Prime Minister Narendra Modi "consistently and directly" ever since the 2016 demonetisation, followed by GST bill and privatisation, with the latest attack being on his relationship with businessman Gautam Adani. 

Top legal advisors of the Congress are working on the review petition which will be filed before the Surat sessions court in a day or two, they added. 

Gandhi was convicted and was given a two-year sentence in the 2019 defamation case over his remarks on Modi surname, following which he was disqualified as member of Lok Sabha. 

The Congress has said it will fight the matter both politically and legally and will take the issue to the public. -- PTI
21:21   Sikh businessman shot dead in targetted attack in Pakistan's Peshawar
A Sikh businessman was shot dead on Friday by unknown assailants in Peshawar, in the latest incident of targeted attacks against minority communities in Pakistan. 

The incident took place at 3 pm when armed men on a motorcycle opened fire at Dayal Singh, a businessman in Peshawar's Dir Colony area, police said. 

The gunmen fled the scene after committing the crime, they said. 

The police have collected 30 bore bullet shells from the site of the crime. 

CCTV footage from the shop has been obtained and the police have launched an investigation into the attack. 

The Peshawar killing comes a day after a Hindu doctor was shot dead by unknown assailants in Karachi. 

Last week, shopkeepers from the minority Hindu community were assaulted in the Sindh province for "allegedly violating the Ramzan ordinance," according to the Express Tribune newspaper. 

About 15,000 Sikhs live in Peshawar, mostly in the Jogan Shah neighbourhood of the provincial capital Peshawar. 

Most of the members of the Sikh community in Peshawar are involved in business, while some also have pharmacies. In September last year, a well-known Sikh hakeem (Unani medicine practitioner) was shot dead by unidentified gunmen inside his clinic in Peshawar. 

In 2018, Charanjit Singh, a prominent Sikh community member, was killed by unknown men in Peshawar. -- PTI
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21:03   Stampede at food distribution centre kills 11 in Pakistan's Karachi
At least 11 people, including women and children, were killed and several others injured in a deadly stampede at a Ramzan food distribution centre in Pakistan's port city of Karachi on Friday, officials said.                  

The stampede took place after some people unknowingly stepped on a live wire where food was being distributed, leading to the tragedy.                  

Soon, people started pushing each other, due to which some even fell into a nearby drain, the police said.                  

At least 11 people, including women and children, died in the stampede and several others were injured.                  

"Initially two persons were electrocuted after stepping on the live wire and that led to panic and stampede, SSP Ameerullah told PTI.                

Two children and two women fell in a drain when its wall collapsed due to the rush of the people, he said.                  

At least 11 other people, including women, have died while trying to get free flour from government distribution outlets in Pakistan's Punjab province in recent days.                  

With the latest incident in Karachi, the death toll from stampedes across free food centres in Pakistan has risen to at least 22. -- PTI
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20:44   Jaipur blasts: 4 acquitted men yet to walk out of jail
The four men who were acquitted by the Rajasthan high court earlier this week in the 2008 Jaipur serial blasts case are yet to be set free as a related case is pending against them in a trial court, officials said. 

The pending case pertains to the recovery of an unexploded bomb after the serial blasts in Jaipur which had claimed 71 lives and left 185 injured. 

Their lawyer SS Ali said a bail application of the four will be moved in the trial court on Monday. 

On Wednesday, the Rajasthan high court acquitted Mohammad Saif, Mohammad Salman, Saifur and Mohammad Sarvar Azmi, who were given the death sentence by a lower court in December 2019 for the serial blasts, and slammed the investigating agencies for their "shoddy investigation". 

It also affirmed the acquittal of a fifth accused, Shahbaz Hussain, by the trial court. 

While Shahbaz Hussain is currently on bail, the four are lodged in a jail in Jaipur. -- PTI
20:19   IIT Madras faculty to hold special classes for students of govt schools in UP
The Uttar Pradesh basic education department has signed an agreement with IIT Madras, under which its faculty members will hold special online classes for students of government schools in Varanasi, an official said on Friday. 

The agreement was signed under the Project Vidya Shakti. 

Special online classes in Mathematics, Science and English will start in 100 schools of Varanasi as a pilot project. 

According to a statement, basic education officer Arvind Pathak said IIT teachers will teach students of classes 6 to 8 of government schools in Varanasi. 

All classes will run online after school hours. 

The official added that there are 70 smart classes in selected schools of Varanasi. There will be 30 more smart schools soon. 

The Indian Institute of Technology Madras will have a local coordinator for technical support in each school, the official said. -- PTI
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20:04   Under-construction bridge collapses in Himachal's Hamirpur, no casualties
An under-construction bridge collapsed in Himachal Pradesh's Hamirpur district but no one was injured, officials said on Friday. 

The construction workers were not present at the site when the bridge collapsed on Thursday night, they said. 

The workers had laid three slabs of the bridge on the Kot-Jahoo Road. 

The bridge ostensibly collapsed a few hours after the shuttering of one of the slabs was removed, the officials added. 

The 75-metre-long bridge is being constructed at a cost of Rs 2.4 crore. 

Public works department assistant engineer Anil Kumar said technical deficiencies were discovered during inspection of the bridge by senior officials and the contractor was directed to rectify those. 

Vijay Chowdhary, the department's superintendent engineer in the district, said a report had been sought from the executive engineer and added that he would visit the spot again. -- PTI
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat
19:39   Pak people unhappy, Partition a mistake: Bhagwat
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat on Friday said people of Pakistan were not happy after more than seven decades of Independence and they now believe the partition of India was a mistake. 

He was speaking at a function to mark the birth anniversary of teen revolutionary Hemu Kalani, which was attended by Sindhis from different parts of the country. 

"It was Bharat before 1947 (Partition). Those who broke off from Bharat, are they happy still? There is pain out there," Bhagwat said in an apparent reference to Pakistan. 

However, in a reference to the acrimonious relationship the two nations have now, Bhagwat underscored the fact that India did not belong to a culture that calls for attacks on others. 

"I do not mean to say Bharat should attack Pakistan. Not at all. We don't belong to that culture that calls for attack on others," he said. 

"We are from the culture that gives a befitting reply in self-defence," Bhagwat said apparently referring to the surgical strikes on terror camps in that country, adding "we do it and we will keep doing it". 

"People of Pakistan are now saying the division of Bharat was a mistake. All are saying it was a mistake," Bhagwat asserted. -- PTI
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19:30   Delhi likely to receive light rain on Saturday: IMD
Parts of the national capital are expected to receive a shower of rain accompanied by thunder and lightning on Saturday with the maximum temperature likely to settle at 30 degrees Celsius, according to the Indian meteorological department forecast. 

The rainfall in the past few days has kept the temperature from surging. Even on Friday, the city witnessed a trace of rainfall and the maximum temperature was recorded three notches below normal at 28.5 degrees Celsius. 

Meanwhile, the minimum temperature stood at 16.8 degrees Celsius. According to IMD, in the past nine hours ending at 5.30 pm, the capital registered 0.1 mm of rainfall. 

The humidity oscillated between 100 per cent and 56 per cent. 

The weather department has predicted a generally cloudy sky with very light rain and thundershowers in one or two places for Saturday. 

"The maximum and minimum temperature would be around 30 and 15 degrees Celsius, respectively," the IMD said. 

Strong winds followed by a thunderstorm hit the national capital for the second consecutive day on Thursday. -- PTI
19:10   Yediyurappa rules out son's contest with Siddaramaiah
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader B S Yediyurappa on Friday ruled out his son B Y Vijayendra being fielded from Varuna constituency to take on Congress leader Siddaramaiah and said he would fight the election from Shikaripura.

Addressing reporters, he said, "There is already pressure to field Vijayendra from Varuna, but I have said it long back though there is pressure from Varuna, he should contest from Shikaripura. So, there is no question of Vijayendra contesting from Varuna for whatsoever reason."

Yediyurappa added that Vijayendra will fight from 'my constituency' (Shikaripura in Shivamogga district), so there is no question of asking him to contest from Varuna.

To a question on Vijayendra's statement that the BJP has got its own strength and he would abide by the party's decision, Yediyurappa said, "His statement is correct but I am saying that he will contest from Shikaripura. I will convey this to the party high command and Vijayendra. There is no question of him contesting from Varuna in Mysuru."

Yediyurappa is sitting MLA from Shikaripura, and has already announced his retirement from electoral politics.

Assembly elections will be held in Karnataka on May 10.

Yediyurappa had on Thursday raised expectations of a high-voltage fight between Vijayendra and Siddaramaiah by not ruling out the possibility of his son throwing his hat in the ring in Varuna.

Varuna in Mysuru district has become among the key seats to watch out for as Siddaramaiah, the Congress legislature party leader and former chief minister, is set to enter the fray in this segment, currently represented his son Yathindra.   --  PTI
18:56   32nd witness turns hostile in Malegaon blast case
A witness in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, who had allegedly booked a hotel room for the accused days before the incident, turned hostile before a special court in Mumbai on Friday. 

He became the 32nd witness to be declared hostile in the case, in which BJP MP from Bhopal Pragya Singh Thakur is one of the key accused. 

The witness, who worked at a hotel in Madhya Pradesh's Indore, had in his statement to the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) claimed that he had booked rooms for the accused in the case. 

However, during his deposition before special NIA judge A K Lahoti on Friday, the witness said he doesn't remember what he told the probe agency, following which the court declared him hostile. 

The court has examined 307 witnesses until now. 

Six people were killed and more than 100 injured on September 29, 2008, when an explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon town in north Maharashtra, some 200 km from Mumbai. 

The ATS probed the case initially before the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over. 

A total of seven accused, including Thakur and Colonel Prasad Purohit, are facing trial in the case.
18:44   Man arrested in Delhi for insulting saffron flag
A young man was apprehended for allegedly insulting a saffron flag placed near a mosque in northeast Delhi's Jyoti Nagar, police said on Friday.

The incident took place on Wednesday.

A first information report (FIR) was registered against Falz Alam (18) for disrespecting the flag near the mosque Moula Baksh situated at B-Block, Ashok Nagar, a video of which went viral on social media.

"Alam was booked under Indian Penal Code sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and 120 B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) at the Jyoti Nagar police station," Deputy Commissioner of Police (northeast) Joy Tirkey said.

He said the alleged role of two minors in making the video of the incident is also being probed.   -- PTI
18:09   Rajkumar Vishwakarma is new chief of UP police
Rajkumar Vishwakarma, a 1988 batch officer of the Indian Police Service (IPS), has been made the acting director general of police (DGP) of Uttar Pradesh, the state government said on Friday.

Vishwakarma has been posted in place of acting DGP Devendra Singh Chauhan (1988), who is retiring on Friday, a spokesperson of the UP government said in a statement.

Vishwakarma, the second most senior officer in the Uttar Pradesh cadre after 1987 batch IPS officer Mukul Goyal in the order of seniority, has a tenure till May 31, 2023.

A native of Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh, Vishwakarma is currently posted as the director general and chairman of the Police Recruitment and Promotion Board. 
17:46   Interest rates up on most small saving schemes
The government on Friday raised interest rates on most post office saving schemes by up to 0.7 per cent for the April-June 2023 quarter in line with the firming of interest rates in the economy. 

While the interest rates for popular PPF and savings deposits have been retained at 7.1 per cent and 4 per cent, respectively, there has been an increase between 0.1 per cent and 0.7 per cent in other saving schemes, a finance ministry statement said. 

The highest increase was in the interest rate of the National Savings Certificate (NSC), which will now attract 7.5 per cent, up from 7 per cent, for the April 1 to June 30, 2023 period. 

The new rate for the girl child savings scheme Sukanya Samriddhi has been increased to 8 per cent from 7.6 per cent. 

The interest rate on the senior citizen savings scheme and Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) is 8.2 per cent (up from 8 per cent) and 7.6 per cent (up from 7.2 per cent), respectively. 

KVP will now mature in 115 months as against 120 months earlier. 

Interest rates were increased in the last quarter as well. 

Interest rates for small savings schemes are notified on a quarterly basis. 

With the revision, a one-year term deposit with post offices would earn 6.8 per cent (up from 6.6 per cent); for two years -- 6.9 per cent (up from 6.8 per cent); three years -- 7 per cent (up from 6.9 per cent); and five years -- 7.5 per cent (7 per cent). 

The interest rate on Public Provident Fund (PPF) has been retained at 7.1 per cent and that of the savings deposit at 4 per cent. 

Monthly Income Scheme has been increased by 30 basis points to 7.4 per cent. 

The Reserve Bank since May has raised the benchmark lending rate by 2.5 per cent to 6.5 per cent, prompting banks to raise interest rates on deposits as well. 

The RBI raised the repo rate or short-term lending rate by 25 basis points last month. This was the sixth consecutive rate hike after a 40 basis points increase in May and 50 basis points hike each in June, August and September. 

n all, the RBI has raised the benchmark rate by 2.5 per cent since May last year.
17:41   Don't have right to know PM's qualification, asks Kejriwal on HC order
Does the country not have the right to know the academic qualification of the prime minister, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asked on Friday after the Gujarat high court set aside an order of the Central Information Commission for providing information on Narendra Modi's degree to him.

Allowing the Gujarat University appeal against the seven-year-old order of the Central Information Commission (CIC), Justice Biren Vaishnav also imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 on Kejriwal and asked him to deposit the amount within four weeks to the Gujarat State Legal Services Authority (GSLSA).

Reacting to the high court verdict, Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi, 'Doesn't the country even have the right to know how much the PM has studied? He vehemently opposed showing the degree in the court. Why? And those who demand to see the degree will be fined? What's happening?'

'Illiterate or less educated PM is very dangerous for the country,' the Aam Aadmi Party chief alleged in the tweet.  -- PTI
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17:13   Two hybrid terrorists held for attack on social media journalist
Two hybrid militants of The Resistance Front (TRF) were arrested in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir for their alleged involvement in an attack on a social media journalist last year, the police said on Friday. 

During the course of investigation of the case, a special investigation team (SIT) was constituted, which, on the basis of oral, circumstantial and technical evidences, rounded up a number of suspects, a police spokesman said. 

During questioning, two suspects, identified as Suhaib Reyaz and Anayat Ullah Iqbal, both residents of Saidapora Payeen village of Shopian, admitted their involvement in the terror attack, the spokesman said. 

He said it also came to fore that the duo was working as hybrid terrorists of proscribed terror group TRF -- an offshoot of Lashkar-e-Tayiba (LeT). 

On their disclosure, the weapon of offence -- a pistol along with its magazine and five pistol rounds besides, an IED -- were recovered by the security forces in the orchards of Saidapora Payeen, the spokesman said. 

Waseem Ahmad Wani (27), a resident of Heerpora area of Shopian, who ran a YouTube news channel, escaped unhurt after two motorcycle-borne militants shot at him on December 25 last year.
17:03   Indore temple tragedy: Kin donate organs of victims
The families of eight of the 36 persons killed in the Indore temple stepwell roof collapse overcame deep sorrow to donate vital body parts of their deceased kin.

The large-hearted families agreed to donate the skin and eyes of their loved ones whom they lost after the roof of the stepwell collapsed during a  'havan' held on the occasion of Ram Navami at the Beleshwar Mahadev Jhulelal temple, said voluntary organisation Muskan Group.

"After persuading the kin, we coordinated with doctors and bureaucrats. With a heavy heart, the families under grief gave their nod for organ donation to see their deceased kin in others," said Sandipan Arya of the organisation.     

So far, family members of Indra Kumar, Bhumika Khanchandani, Jayanti Bai, Daksh Patel, Laxmi Patel, Bharati Kukreja, Indar Chandki and Kanak Patel have given their written consent for eye and skin donation, he said.   

Their eyes have been donated to an organisation working in this field, MY hospital and Sankara Eye Bank.

Choithram Hospital authorities have received the skin donated by the kin of the deceased, Arya said.

The families could not be contacted for their comments as they were preparing for the victims' last rites.

Additional District Magistrate of Indore Ajaydeo Sharma told PTI, "A request from Muskan Group, a voluntary organisation working in the field of organ donation, came in. The district administration helped them get consent and other support."

The temple located in Indore's Patel Nagar, where the tragedy took place, had been constructed after covering the square-shaped stepwell of around 20 ft x 20 ft size about four decades ago.

According to an eyewitness, during the religious programme, there was a huge crowd of devotees at the temple and its floor, which was the roof of the stepwell, caved in as it could not bear the load.   -- PTI
Pic: KBK Graphics
Pic: KBK Graphics
16:33   How the markets fared in FY23
Benchmark indices Sensex and Nifty ended the last day of 2022-23 fiscal with nearly 2 per cent jump on Friday in line with firm trends in the global markets and heavy buying in index major Reliance Industries.
Pic: KBK Graphics
Pic: KBK Graphics
16:30   The big gainers today
Among the Sensex firms, Reliance Industries emerged as the biggest gainer as it jumped over 4 per cent. Nestle, Infosys, ICICI Bank, Tata Motors, Tata Consultancy Services, HCL Technologies, Tech Mahindra and Axis Bank were the other major winners. Sun Pharma, Asian Paints, Bajaj Finance and Titan were the laggards.
16:22   Sisodia's bail plea dismissed in excise case
A Delhi court on Friday dismissed a bail plea of former deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia in the excise policy case lodged by the CBI. Special Judge M K Nagpal dismissed Sisodia's plea. 

 On March 24, the Delhi court had reserved its order. The agency on February 26 had arrested Sisodia in connection with alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22. PTI
16:14   Sensex zooms 1,000 points on last day of FY23
Benchmark indices Sensex and Nifty ended the last day of 2022-23 fiscal with nearly 2 per cent jump on Friday in line with firm trends in the global markets and heavy buying in index major Reliance Industries. 

 Fresh foreign fund inflows also added to the positive momentum in the equity market. The 30-share BSE Sensex zoomed 1,031.43 points or 1.78 per cent to finish at 58,991.52. 

During the day, it jumped 1,108.38 points or 1.91 per cent to 59,068.47. The broader NSE Nifty climbed 279.05 points or 1.63 per cent to end at 17,359.75. 

 Among the Sensex firms, Reliance Industries emerged as the biggest gainer as it jumped over 4 per cent. Nestle, Infosys, ICICI Bank, Tata Motors, Tata Consultancy Services, HCL Technologies, Tech Mahindra and Axis Bank were the other major winners. Sun Pharma, Asian Paints, Bajaj Finance and Titan were the laggards.
16:10   Mumbai: 21 held, 300 booked for Ram Navami clashes
Police have registered a first information report (FIR) against nearly 300 persons and arrested 21 so far in connection with a clash between two groups during a Ram Navami procession in Mumbai's Malvani area, an official said on Friday. 

 The incident occurred on Thursday night at Malvani in suburban Malad (West) when the procession was going on and some people objected to high volume DJ and loud music accompanying it.

 Those involved in the clash are being identified with the help of drone and CCTV footage of the area at the time and action is being being according to their role, he said. 

Nearly 300 people have been booked, 21 persons arrested so far and more arrests are likely, the official said, adding that the probe in the case underway. 

 In the FIR, police have pressed charges under Indian Penal Code sections 353 (assault or use of criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 332 (whoever voluntarily causes hurt to any person being a public servant in the discharge of his duty as such a public servant), 145 (joining or continuing in unlawful assembly) and 143 (unlawful assembly). Earlier, police had apprehended more than 20 persons on the charge of rioting and said the process to place them under arrest was on. 

 During the clash between the two groups on Thursday night, stones were hurled, which triggered panic in the area. Additional police force was called in and the police personnel used force to disperse the crowd, the official said. 

 Senior police officials and some local political leaders rushed to the spot and appealed for peace, he said. 

 After the incident, supporters of a right-wing organisation gathered outside the Malvani police station and demanded action against those who allegedly pelted stones. A large number of police personnel were deployed in the area and the situation was brought under control, he added. PTI DC NP
15:21   Details of PM's degree not needed, HC fines Kejriwal
The Gujarat High Court today ruled that the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) need not furnish the degree and post-graduate degree certificate of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

A single-judge bench of Justice Biren Vaishnav set aside the order of the Chief Information Commission directing the public information officer (PIO) of the PMO and the PIOs of Gujarat University and Delhi University to furnish details of Modi's graduate and postgraduate degrees.

Pertinently, the court also imposed costs of Rs 25,000 on Arvind Kejriwal who had sought details of the PM's degree certificate.

The Central Information Commission had directed the Gujarat University to furnish information on PM Modi's Master's degree in 2016.
Bhagwant Mann's children Dilshan and Seerat
Bhagwant Mann's children Dilshan and Seerat
15:08   Mann's daughter gets threats from Khalistanis in US
Expressing concerns over Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann's daughter reportedly receiving death threats in the USA, Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal on Friday appealed to the Indian Embassy in Washington DC to ensure her safety.

 Maliwal said that the reported threats to Mann's daughter are an act of "cowardice". 

 "Read reports of Punjab CM Shri @BhagwantMann 's daughter receiving death threats in the USA. It is an act of extreme cowardice. I appeal to the @IndianEmbassyUS to ensure her safety," the DCW chief tweeted. 

 The Chief Minister's daughter, Seerat Kaur, who lives in the US, got the alleged threat amid protests by pro-Khalistan supporters in the US against the recent crackdown on Khalistan sympathiser Amritpal Singh who has been declared a fugitive by the Punjab Police.

 Meanwhile, the United States government has condemned recent violent incidents that have taken place during protests at Indian diplomatic facilities in the US, while also terming that violence, or the threat of violence is never an acceptable form of protest and is of "grave concern."

 The response from the US Department of State comes after the pro-Khalistan supporters in the US threatened the Indian embassy and Indian Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu during their protest on Saturday. 

 On Saturday, Pro-Khalistan supporters in the US threatened the Indian embassy and Indian Ambassador to the United States Taranjit Singh Sandhu during their protest.

 While rallying outside the mission, a protestor in his speech made a direct threat to the Ambassador that the "hypocrisy" will come to an end and that the Ambassador could face a similar fate to what former president of India Zail Singh faced back in 1994. 

 "Violence or the threat of violence against diplomatic facilities and personnel in the United States is a grave concern and will not be tolerated," a US Department of State spokesperson told ANI. Multiple incidents of protests by supporters of Khalistan have been staged outside the Indian embassy and the San Francisco Consulate. -- PTI
15:00   Navjot Sidhu likely to be released from Patiala jail on Apr 1
Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu is likely to be released from the Patiala jail on April 1, said his counsel HPS Varma on Friday. The 59-year-old was serving a one-year sentence in a 1988 road rage case. 

 On May 20 last year, Sidhu, the former Punjab Congress chief, was jailed following his surrender before a court in Patiala after he was sentenced to one-year rigorous imprisonment by the Supreme Court. 

 The top court had in its order said any sympathy in imposing an inadequate sentence would do more harm to the justice system and undermine the public confidence in the efficacy of law.

 A 65-year-old man, named Gurnam Singh, had died in the incident. Varma said as per the Punjab Prison rules, a convict with good behaviour is entitled for general remission. "He is most likely to be released on Saturday from the Patiala jail," said Varma. PTI
14:38   'Amritpal is finished politically'
"If he had stood there and offered arrest, he would have had some chance of revival. But he escaped while others were arrested. His political career is over," says Mandeep Singh Bajwa, the national security and strategic affairs analyst based in Chandigarh.

"It is evident that he was suspect because he has been giving statements in favour of Khalistan and threatened the country's home minister with elimination, yet there was no ED, IT, NIA investigation against him," Bajwa tells's Nikhil Lakshman.

Karnataka CM Basavraj Bommai's car being checked
Karnataka CM Basavraj Bommai's car being checked
14:35   EC officials search Bommai's car in poll-bound state
Election officials on Friday intercepted and checked Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai's car when he was on his way to a temple in Chikkaballapura district. The Model Code of Conduct is in force in the State, which goes to polls on May 10. 

 A video showing officials checking the vehicle has gone viral on social media. According to sources, Bommai was heading to Ghati Subramanya temple in a private car -- as he had surrendered his official car on the day the election schedule was announced on Wednesday -- when it was stopped at Hosahudya checkpost. 

 "Nothing objectionable was found, and officials then allowed the vehicle to go, and the Chief Minister continued his journey," sources added. PTI
14:29   Modi heads to Chennai next week, BJP plans this...
Bharatiya Janata Party is planning a huge welcome for Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit likely next week in Chennai where he is likely to flag off Vande Bharat Express among other developmental programmes, sources said on Friday.

Prime Minister is likely to visit Tamil Nadu's capital Chennai where he will inaugurate the new terminal of Chennai Airport, flag off the Vande Bharat Train and attend an event of the Ramakrishna Mission, sources said. 

The BJP is planning a massive welcome in which over 30,000 people are expected to line up the streets to welcome the Prime Minister upon his arrival.

State president Annamalai who is also the co-in-charge of poll-bound Karnataka has been supervising all the arrangements.

"We are also speaking to the concerned authorities if we can arrange for a public meeting/meeting where the PM can address the party workers while he is in Chennai," a state office bearer told ANI talking about the party's plans of arranging a public meeting.

"PM Modi is the biggest face for the BJP as the saffron party looks to make inroads down South, especially in Tamil Nadu," he added.

Recently, the nomination of noted music maestro Ilayaraja to Rajya Sabha, is an interesting indication in that direction. -- ANI
14:04   3 Covid deaths likely due to comorbidities: Kejriwal
The Delhi government is keeping an eye on the spurt in COVID-19 cases in the national capital and is 'prepared to face any eventuality', Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Friday. 

"Only three deaths have been reported over the last four-five days. In all three patients, co-morbidities were "very severe" and it has been assessed that the fatality was due to co-morbidities and perhaps Covid was "incidental", but one can't say that," he said.

 Addressing reporters after chairing a review meeting on the Covid situation in Delhi, Kejriwal, however, said there was no need to worry as of now and that the city government was taking all required steps. "The Delhi government is keeping an eye on the COVID-19 situation and it is prepared to face any eventuality," he said. 

 Delhi recorded 295 fresh COVID-19 cases on Thursday with a positivity rate of 12.48 per cent, according to data shared by the Health department. On Wednesday, the city had logged 300 cases, the first time since August 31, while the positivity rate had mounted to 13.89 per cent Two Covid-related deaths were also reported on Wednesday. -- PTI
13:46   Woman gangraped in a moving car in Bengaluru
A woman sitting in a park in Bengaluru was allegedly kidnapped and raped by four persons in a moving car, police said on Friday. All the four accused have been arrested and investigations are on. The four allegedly pulled the woman, who was sitting at the National Games Village Park in Koramangala, into their car, at around 10 pm on March 25 and sped away in the vehicle. They allegedly raped her in the moving car, the police said.

They dropped her near her house on March 26 morning and threatened her with "dire consequences" if she reported the incident to the police. The police further said the victim then underwent treatment and lodged a police complaint. "We are investigating the matter. All the four have been arrested and they are being interrogated," a police officer said. PTI
A Ram Navami procession in Kolkata
A Ram Navami procession in Kolkata
13:31   BJP, not Hindus, behind Ram Navami clashes: WB CM
"Hindus not behind violence in Howrah, it was carried out by BJP," says West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and pledged to help all those whose properties have been vandalised in the Howrah violence.

The organiser of the Shobha Yatra in West Bengal's Howrah and Vishva Hindu Parishad leader Inderdev Dubey on Friday claimed that they did not deviate from the approved route and had sought permission from the authorities in advance.

The organiser claimed that Trinamool Congress conducted a yatra ahead of the VHP's yatra, following which the incident of stone pelting occurred. Dubey's claims came after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said, "Why did they change the route and take the unauthorised route to particularly target and attack one community?"

Several vehicles were set on fire after two groups clashed in West Bengal's Howrah amid Ram Navami celebrations. During the procession, the rioters vandalized public and private properties and set vehicles on fire.

Speaking to reporters, Dubey claimed that they had sought police protection near a particular area on the route of the yatra, where he alleged disturbances occur every time.

"We followed the route map for the yatra which was submitted to the authorities. We even sought permission from the Railways as we had to cross a railway gate, so that railways does not face any problems. We had repeatedly requested the Police to provide protection to the yatra near PS Shivpur as disturbance occurs near there every time. We had given every information to the administration regarding the banners which would be displayed and slogans that would be raised during the procession," the organiser of the Shobha yatra claimed. -- ANI
Arvind Kejriwal is a yoga practitioner
Arvind Kejriwal is a yoga practitioner
12:43   Who stopped Delhi's free yoga classes? CM says...
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Lt Governor VK Saxena for the suspension of free Yoga classes under the 'Dilli ki Yogshala' programme and asked who benefitted from the action. 

 Kejriwal's remarks come on the back of Punjab's AAP-led government starting free Yoga classes in the state. Last year, the AAP dispensation in Delhi accused the BJP of "conspiring" to shut down the 'Dilli ki Yogshala' programme by pressuring officials. 

 At the time, the Delhi government alleged that Saxena did not approve the programme's extension beyond October 31. 

 Tweeting in Hindi, Kejriwal said, "When the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) ordered the Lt Governor to stop free Yoga classes in Delhi, we started them in Punjab. 

"In Delhi, 17,000 people used to do Yoga daily in the free classes of the Delhi government. Their Yoga was stopped. Who benefited from this? The one who works is bigger than the one who stops the work." 

  Kejriwal launched the 'Dilli Ki Yogshala' programme in December 2021 to enable all Delhi resident to get free Yoga training at their doorsteps six days a week. PTI
A anti-mosquito coil
A anti-mosquito coil
12:24   6 suffocate to death due to burning mosquito coil
Update: As many as six people died due to suffocation while two others were injured after a fire broke out in a house at Mazar Wala Road, Machhi Market, Shastri Park, informed police officials on Friday. 

 Police rushed to the spot and found that the injured had been taken to Jag Pravesh Chandra Hospital. 

 "Six people in a family were found dead in their house in the Shastri Park area after they inhaled carbon monoxide produced from the burning Mosquito coil that had fallen over a mattress sometime during the night. The toxic fumes caused inmates to lose consciousness and later died due to suffocation," said DCP North East district Joy Tirkey. 

 According to the DCP, the injured are being treated for burn injuries. "The deceased include four adult males, an adult female and a half-year-old child. The injured include a 15-year-old girl and an adult male," said Joy Tirkey.
12:09   India's FTP 2023 eyes $2 trillion exports by 2030
The government on Friday came out with Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2023 which seeks to boost the country's exports to USD 2 trillion by 2030 by shifting from incentives to remission and entitlement based regime. 

 Unlike the practice of announcing 5-year FTP, the latest policy has no end date and will be updated as and when needed, said Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) Santosh Sarangi while briefing media about FTP 2023. 

 Earlier, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal unveiled FTP 2023 which will come into effect from April 1, 2023. The DGFT also said India is likely to end this fiscal year with total exports of USD 760-770 billion as against USD 676 billion in 2021-22. 

 The last five-year policy came into force on April 1, 2015. 

However, it was extended several times in the wake of coronavirus outbreak and subsequent disruptions in economic activities globally. 

The last extension was given in September 2022 till March 31, 2023. The new FTP identifies four new Towns of Export Excellence (TEE) -- Faridabad, Moradabad, Mirzapur and Varanasi -- in addition to the already existing 39 TEEs. The FTP benefits have been extended to e-commerce exports, which are estimated to grow to USD 200-300 billion by 2030.

 The value limit for exports through courier service is being increased from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh per consignment, he said. The new FTP also seeks to make the Indian rupee a global currency and allow international trade settlement in the domestic currency. 

 The DGFT further said FTP 2023 is dynamic and responsive to the emerging trade scenario. He also said the department of commerce is being restructured to make it "future-ready". PTI
11:37   Probe over packet thrown at Azam Khan's house
Rampur Police has launched a probe into the incident in which a packet containing some clothes and other objects were thrown outside the house of senior Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan in the Uttar Pradesh district. The incident that took place at around 6.17 pm was captured on CCTV in the area. 

According to the footage, an unidentified man was seen throwing the packet outside the house of the Khan. According to the police the packet contained some articles of clothing and has been confiscated by police.

 "We got information late at night that a packet was thrown at Azam Khan's residence. In the packet, there are some clothes, a cap. We have taken possession of the packet. According to CCTV footage, the incident took place at 6.17 pm. A man was seen in the video, however, he has not been identified yet. The man crosses the road and throws the packet and moves on," Sansar Singh, Additional Superintendent of Police, Rampur said. 

The police said that an investigation is underway to ascertain the reason behind the incident and that action would also be taken against the police guard on duty. 

 "We will investigate who is this man and why did he throw the packet. There was police guard at home. If there police negligence and will take action against it also," the ASP said. 

 Azam Khan and his son Abdullah Azam Khan have been disqualified from the Uttar Pradesh legislative Assembly after their convictions in court cases. -- ANI
File pic
File pic
11:15   Pak body recruits PoK youth for jihad in Kashmir
Fear of youth in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) coming out on the streets holding Indian flags have prompted the Pakistan military to empower the militant organisation Islami Jamiat e Tuleba (IJT) in every school, college and university to unleash terror and call for renewed 'jihad' in the valley. 

 On March 18, the youth walked miles from the city of Rawalakot to the crossing point at Titrinote demanding the opening of borders between PoK and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. 

They were attacked by the IJT members while youth leaders were delivering anti-jihad speeches. Slogans such as 'Hum lay kay rahen gay Azadi (We will get our freedom),' that once echoed in Jammu and Kashmir, 'Arr par jorr do, tutay rishtay khol do (Open the border and re-establish broken relations)' are now part of every single political or social agitation across PoK. 

 Amid constant uproar in the valley, the Islami Jamiat e Tuleba (IJT, Islamic Students Society), gave an open call to local youth inviting them to join the jihad against India in the Union Territory of Jammu Kashmir in a recent event held in Rawalakot city in the Poonch Division of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). 

 The event was attended by more than 200 youth who were gathered from all over the Poonch Division of Rwaalakot district in PoK. IJT is the militant student wing of the infamous Jamat e Islami and is allegedly funded and controlled by Pakistan inter-services intelligence agency (ISI). It has always been used to crush dissent against the military that pops up in educational institutions in Pakistan.
10:51   Family of 6 die of mosquito repellant inhalation
Six people of a family were found dead in their house in the Shastri Park area on Delhi after they inhaled carbon monoxide produced as a result of the overnight burning of mosquito repellant while they were sleeping, says DCP North East district. Details awaited.
10:34   India reports over 3,000 Covid cases for 2nd day
India continued to report over 3,000 COVID cases for the second day in a row with 3,095 new infections in the last 24 hours, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Friday. 

The country recorded the highest one-day fresh infections in the last nearly six months.

The country had reported 3,016 cases on Thursday with a case positivity rate of 2.73 per cent which declined to 2.61 per cent today. The weekly positivity rate jumped to 1.91 per cent today from 1.71 per cent yesterday.

According to the ministry, the active caseload in the country increased from 13,509 yesterday to 15,208 today which is 0.03 of the total number of cases.

As many as 1,390 patients recovered from the disease in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of recoveries to 4,41,69,711.The recovery rate in the country currently is 98.78 per cent.

The ministry informed that 220.65 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far under Nationwide Vaccination Drive, of which 95.20 crore are second doses and 22.86 crore are precaution doses. 6,553 COVID vaccine doses have been administered in last 24 hours, the ministry said.

As far as the testing in the country is concerned amid the rising COVID cases, 1,18,694 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued revised guidelines for Covid-19 in the wake of the surge of cases in the past week across the country.

"Antibiotics should not be used unless there is clinical suspicion of bacterial infection. The possibility of coinfection of COVID-19 with other endemic infections must be considered. Systemic corticosteroids are not indicated in mild disease," revised guidelines said.

As per the revised Covid-19 guidelines, maintain "Physical distancing, indoor mask use, hand hygiene, Symptomatic management (hydration, antipyretics, antitussive) Monitor temperature and oxygen saturation (by applying a SpO probe to fingers) Stay in contact with the treating physician.
A Ram Navami procession in the Khidirpur area of Kolkata
A Ram Navami procession in the Khidirpur area of Kolkata
10:26   24 held for violence during Ram Navami in Vadodara
Police have detained 24 persons for allegedly hurling stones at two Ram Navami processions in communally-sensitive areas in Vadodara city of Gujarat, a top official said on Friday. 

 The incidents had occurred on Thursday when Ram Navami was celebrated. Vadodara Police Commissioner Shamsher Singh said the situation in the city was under control and people were carrying out their routine activities. 

 "We have so far detained 24 persons in connection with the stone pelting incidents that occurred during the Ram Navami processions in the city on Thursday. They will be formally arrested soon after the registration of first information reports (FIRs). The situation is completely under control and normalcy was restored yesterday itself," Singh said. 

 Stones were hurled at two separate Ram Navami processions when they were passing through the city's communally-sensitive areas of Fatehpura and nearby Kumbharwada. At least two persons were injured in stone-pelting by a mob at Kumbharwada, the police said. 

 Local BJP MLA Manisha Vakil was part of the procession which came under attack at Kumbharwada. In some videos of the incident aired by new channels, people can be seen running for shelter during stone pelting, while a chariot that was carrying a statue of Lord Ram, was also pulled away to a safer place by the devotees to save it from stones.

 Some of the injured persons told reporters that miscreants hurled stones on them from the terraces of nearby structures. Hours before that incident, stones were thrown at a Ram Navami procession, organised by the Vishva Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal, in Fatehpura area.
10:15   Ex-Cong colleague Sibal disagrees with Digvijaya
A day after Congress leader Digvijaya Singh thanked Germany for taking note of Rahul Gandhi's disqualification from Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal on Friday said that "we don't need endorsements from abroad" as "our fight is our own". 

Disagreeing with Singh, Sibal, who quit the Congress last year, also asserted that "we don't need crutches to walk ahead". 

 Singh had thanked the German foreign ministry and Richard Walker, Chief International Editor of Deutsche Welle for "taking note of how Democracy is being compromised in India through the persecution of Rahul Gandhi".

 He also tagged a tweet and a video posted by Walker on the German foreign ministry reaction to Gandhi's disqualification. In a tweet, Sibal said, "Digvijaya Singh: Thanked Berlin for 'taking note of how democracy is being compromised in India'. My thought: We don't need crutches to walk ahead. We don't need endorsements from abroad. Our fight is our own and in that we are together," Sibal asserted.

Sibal, who was a Union minister during the UPA 1 and 2 regimes, quit the Congress in May last year and was elected to the Rajya Sabha as an independent member with the Samajwadi Party's support. 

Sibal recently floated a non-electoral platform 'Insaaf' aimed at fighting the alleged injustice prevailing in the country. 

 The BJP on Thursday had seized on Singh's remarks thanking Germany to accuse the Congress of "inviting foreign powers for interference into India's internal matters".

 Following Singh's remarks and the BJP's attack, the Congress said it firmly believes that India's democratic processes themselves have to deal with the threats posed to its democracy. It also hit out at the BJP, accusing it of attempting to divert attention from the Adani issue. 

 Without taking names, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh had said on Twitter, "@INCIndia firmly believes that India's democratic processes themselves have to deal with the threats posed to our democracy by Mr. Modi's 'assault' on our institutions & his politics of vendetta, intimidation, threats & harassment." PTI
09:47   Ram Navami@Malvani: DJ, stone pelting, 20 held
Police have apprehended more than 20 persons in connection with a clash between two groups during a Ram Navami procession in Mumbai's Malvani area, an official said on Friday. 

 The incident occurred on Thursday night at Malvani in suburban Malad (West) when the procession was going on and some people objected to high volume DJ and loud music accompanying it. 

 "The police have so far apprehended more than 20 persons on the charge of rioting and the process to place them under arrest is on," the official said.

 During the clash between the two groups, stones were hurled, which triggered panic in the area. 

Additional police force was called in and the police personnel used force to disperse the crowd, the official said. Senior police officials and some local political leaders rushed to the spot and appealed for peace, he said. 

After the incident, supporters of a right-wing organisation gathered outside the Malvani police station and demanded action against those who allegedly pelted stones. A large number of police personnel were deployed in the area and the situation was brought under control, he added. PTI
09:32   On a tyre and a prayer...
A portion of a road caved in near Hauz Rani Red Light on Press Enclave Road in New Delhi. Traffic diversions likely. 
09:28   US Senate confirms Richard Verma for top State Department position
United States Senate on Thursday confirmed Indian American Richard Verma as Deputy Secretary of State, Management and Resources, a position which is normally seen as the CEO of the powerful State Department in the US Government.

 Verma, 54, was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 67-26. He served as the US' Ambassador to India from January 16, 2015, to January 20, 2017, and is currently the chief legal officer and the head of global public policy at Mastercard.

 During the Obama Administration, Verma served as Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs. Earlier in his career, he was National Security Advisor to United States Senator Harry Reid while he was Democratic Whip, Minority Leader and then Majority Leader of the United States Senate. 

 Verma has served as Vice Chairman of The Asia Group, Partner and Senior Counsellor at Steptoe and Johnson LLP, and Senior Counsellor at the Albright Stonebridge Group. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force, where he served as a Judge Advocate. -- PTI
Amritpal Singh
Amritpal Singh
09:09   Cops recover toy drone near Amritpal's village
A toy drone was recovered on the outskirts of Amritpal Singh's village in Punjab's Amritsar district, senior officials with Punjab police said on Friday. According to officials, the toy drone was seized from Rayya village located on the outskirts of Amritsar on Thursday. 

"Police have recovered the toy drone on the outskirts of Amritpal Singh's village in Punjab's Amritsar area. The drone does not have a camera in it. The police have taken out the batteries," said DSP Harkrishan Singh. 

 "Police are on high alert," he added. 

 Earlier on Wednesday, 'Waris Punjab De' chief and pro-Khalistan leader Amritpal Singh surfaced in a new video and said he was not "a fugitive" and will soon "appear in front of the world". In the unverified video, Amritpal Singh sought to address some comments about the video that surfaced on Wednesday. 

 "I uploaded a video yesterday. It was addressed to people. The Public thinks that maybe the video was made in police custody because I was looking here and there in that video while talking. You can see other earlier videos, I don't talk too much looking at the camera," he said. -- ANI
08:58   Tension in Mumbai's Malvani over Ram Navami
Tension prevailed in Mumbai's Malvani area as two groups clashed with each other during a Ram Navami procession on Thursday night. A man was reportedly injured in the incident, police said on Friday. 

 "Tension prevailed for some time during the Ram Navami procession in the Malvani area but the police handled it and the situation is under control," DCP Ajay Bansal said. 

 Some of the participants alleged stone pelting, which created panic among people, DCP Bansal said.

 "One person suffered minor injuries in the incident. Legal action is being taken," he added. The situation in the area was under control, said the official. Further probe is underway, police said.
08:48   Ajay Banga poised to become World Bank chief unopposed
Indian-American business leader Ajay Banga is poised to become the next President of the World Bank which on Thursday said he is the sole nominee for the post as no other candidates were nominated.
The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors will interview Banga before he is formally appointed. 
In February, President Joe Biden announced that the US would be nominating Banga to lead the World Bank because he is "well equipped" to lead the global institution at "this critical moment in history."
The World Bank on Wednesday closed a month-long window for nominations for its next president, with no alternatives announced to 63-year-old Banga.
Banga is the only application received for the position of president of the World Bank, the financial institution said. 
"The Board received one nomination and would like to announce that Mr Ajay Banga, a US national, will be considered for the position," the bank said.
"In accordance with established procedures, the Board of Executive Directors will conduct a formal interview with the candidate in Washington D.C., and expect to conclude the Presidential selection in due course," said a media release issued by the bank.
The bank has not announced the timing of the interview.  
The former Mastercard Inc. chief, Banga currently serves as Vice Chairman at General Atlantic.
A new leader of the World Bank is expected to be chosen by early May.
"Over the next few months, you will see the World Bank undergo an important transition. We expect that Ajay Banga President Biden's nominee will be elected President of the World Bank," US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing on Wednesday.
"He will be charged with accelerating our progress to evolve the institution to better address 21st-century challenges. This evolution will help the Bank deliver on its vital poverty alleviation and development goals," Yellen said.
If confirmed, Banga would become the first-ever Indian-American and Sikh-American to head either of the two top international financial institutions: the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
08:47   Trump's indictment more about revenge: Prez candidates
Indian-American Republican presidential candidates Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy have claimed that former US president Donald Trump's indictment in a criminal case was about "revenge" and said it was a "dark day" in the history of the country. 

 A grand jury in Manhattan on Thursday voted to indict Trump for his role in paying hush money to a porn star. 

A New York Times report added that an indictment is expected to be announced in the coming days. By then, prosecutors working for the district attorney Alvin L. Bragg will have asked Trump to surrender and to face arraignment on charges that remain unknown for now.

 In an interview with Fox News, Haley said, "From everything I've seen from this New York district attorney, this would be something he'd be doing for political points. And I think what we know is when you get into political prosecutions like this, it's more about revenge than it is about justice". 

 "I think the country would be better off talking about things that the American public cares about, than have to deal with some revenge by some political people in New York," she said. 

 Trump, who has announced his candidacy for the 2024 presidential polls, is the first president in American history to face criminal charges. 

"I believe this witch-hunt will backfire massively on Joe Biden," he said in a strongly worded statement after the news of his indictment broke.

 Ramaswamy termed Trump's indictment "politically motivated" which would "undermine public trust in our electoral system and our justice system". "It is un-American for the ruling party to use police power to arrest its political rivals. Principles go beyond partisanship. The American people should decide who governs, not politically ambitious prosecutors," he said. -- PTI
08:34   Indore stepwell collapse death toll rises to 35
The death toll in the Indore temple stepwell roof collapse rose to 35 on Friday, an official said. The slab constructed on top of an ancient `bawdi' or well collapsed during a 'havan' program held on the occasion of Ram Navami at a temple in Indore city on Thursday. 

 So far 35 bodies have been recovered from the stepwell, District Collector Dr Ilayaraja T told reporters. 

 The Beleshwar Mahadev Jhulelal temple in Patel Nagar where the tragedy took place had been constructed after covering the well about four decades ago. PTI
08:07   Donald Trump indicted over porn star hush money
A grand jury in Manhattan has voted to indict former United States President Donald Trump for his role in paying hush money to a porn star, according to The New York Times.
The New York Times quoted five people with knowledge of the matter to say that the grand jury on Thursday voted to indict Trump for his role in paying hush money to a porn star, "a historic development that will shake up the 2024 presidential race and forever mark him as the nation's first former president to face criminal charges."
The report added that an indictment is expected to be announced in the coming days. "By then, prosecutors working for the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg," will have asked Trump to surrender and to face arraignment on charges that remain unknown for now.
The report added that on Thursday, three lead prosecutors on the Trump investigation walked into the Manhattan court building where the grand jury was sitting minutes before the panel was scheduled to meet at 2 pm.
One of the prosecutors carried a copy of the penal law, which was likely used to read the criminal statutes to the grand jurors before they voted.
"About three hours later, the prosecutors walked into the court clerk's office through a back door to begin the process of filing the indictment," the report said.
It added that Trump has consistently denied all wrongdoing and attacked Bragg, accusing him of leading a politically motivated prosecution. PTI 
Representational image
Representational image
01:27   Create market for Himalayan caterpillar fungus: Mandaviya in U'khand
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Thursday suggested creating a market for caterpillar fungus, known as keeda jadi, found in the upper Himalayan region as an experiment. 

He made the suggestion during his visit to the border village of Malari in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand where he talked to locals and district officials to review the progress of development works in the hill state under the Vibrant Village Programme. 

The programme is a centrally-sponsored scheme, to ensure the comprehensive development of villages along the northern border areas. 

Also known as 'yarsa gombu', 'Keeda Jadi' is found at a height of over 3,500 metres in the Himalayas. 

Known for its aphrodisiac qualities, it is also nicknamed the 'Himalayan Viagra'. 

The Union Minister also gave his consent to name the government hospital in Joshimath after Gaura Devi -- one of the pioneers of the Chipko movement. 

He also called for increased mobile connectivity in the border villages and a push to tourist-related activities. 

Talking to reporters, Mandaviya said roads, mobile networks, power and water connectivity and health facilities have improved in border areas in recent years. -- PTI
UAE Prez Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan/Reuters
UAE Prez Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan/Reuters
01:18   UAE president names eldest son as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi
The president of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Wednesday named his eldest son Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and his likely successor as UAE's president, according to state-run WAM news agency, CNN reported. 

According to CNN, the move comes ten months after MBZ became president of the Persian Gulf nation after the death of his brother Sheikh Khalifa. Oil-rich UAE is a member of the OPEC oil cartel and controls some of the world's biggest sovereign wealth funds. 

The nation is a federation of seven emirates, each with its own ruling family, which also includes the regional business and tourism hub Dubai. 

MBZ also appointed his brother Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed as vice president of the UAE, a position he will share with the ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the UAE Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 73, who is also his father-in-law. 

The position was previously held solely by the ruler of Dubai. Sheikh Mansour, 52, has been deputy prime minister of the UAE since 2009, and this month became the chairman of Mubadala, one of the UAE's sovereign wealth funds that manages $17 billion worth of assets. 

Sheikh Mansour is also the owner of the Premier League's Manchester City Football Club, as per CNN. --ANI
00:57   Goa hotel employee arrested for assaulting woman tourist from Netherlands
The police on Thursday arrested a man hailing from Uttarakhand who worked at a hotel in Goa for allegedly attacking a woman tourist from the Netherlands. 

The alleged incident had taken place late Friday night. 

Superintendent of police (North Goa) Nidhin Valsan told reporters that the accused, who is from Dehradun, worked as a bar tenderer at the hotel in Pernem area. 

The woman said in her complaint that an unknown man aged between 25 to 30 years trespassed into her rented tent on the hotel premises. 

As she started screaming, the accused tried to hold her and threatened her. 

When a local man came to her rescue, the intruder ran away. 

He then returned carrying a knife and attacked her as well as her rescuer before fleeing. 

The police registered a case under various sections of Indian Penal Code related to trespassing, outraging modesty, attempt to murder and causing grievous hurt, amongst others. -- PTI
Antony Blinken/Michael Varaklas/Pool/Reuters
Antony Blinken/Michael Varaklas/Pool/Reuters
00:38   US urges its citizens to leave Russia 'immediately'
US State Department Secretary Antony Blinken on Thursday requested the Americans living in Russia to leave the country "immediately", after the reporter was arrested in Moscow. 

Taking to Twitter, Blinken said, "We are deeply concerned over Russia's announcement it has detained a US citizen journalist. The @StateDept's highest priority is the safety and security of US citizens abroad. If you are a U.S. citizen living or travelling in Russia -- please leave immediately." 

 These remarks came after an American reporter for Wall Street Journal Evann Gershkovich was arrested in Russia on espionage charges, according to Al-Jazeera

In a statement, Blinken said, "We are deeply concerned over Russia's widely-reported detention of a US citizen journalist. We are in contact with the Wall Street Journal on this situation. Whenever a U.S. citizen is detained abroad, we immediately seek consular access, and seek to provide all appropriate support." 

"In the strongest possible terms, we condemn the Kremlin's continued attempts to intimidate, repress, and punish journalists and civil society voices," the statement added. -- ANI