Thu, 21 September 2023
Modi to interact, dine with 'Team G20' tomorrow
Edappadi K Palaniswami (right) and O Paneerselvam/File image
23:59 AIADMK chief Palaniswami moves HC against expelled leader Panneerselvam
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief Edappadi K Palaniswami has approached the Madras high court seeking to restrain expelled leader O Paneerselvam from claiming to be the party coordinator and using the party's two leaves symbol, flag and letter head.
When a suit filed by Palaniswami came up for hearing on Thursday, Justice RN Manjula ordered notice to Paneerselvam and posted the matter to October 6 for further hearing.
In his suit Palaniswami, the plaintiff, sought to restrain Paneerselvam from interfering with his functioning as the general secretary of the AIADMK.
He made a plea to restrain Paneerselvam from continuing to claim to be the AIADMK coordinator while he was expelled from the party in 2022.
In his plea, Palaniswami said the Election Commission in no uncertain terms has recognised him as the general secretary, the top post, and has uploaded the amended bylaws and list of office bearers on its official website.
Panneerselvam is deliberately misrepresenting by claiming to be AIADMK coordinator when no such post exists in the party any more.
Panneerselvam has been "wilfully and fraudulently damaging the reputation of the AIADMK by misusing its official letter heads and misleading the public into believing that he is still continuing as the coordinator of the party," the AIADMK general secretary submitted. -- PTI
23:48 Press Council issues guidelines for LGBTQ news coverage
The Press Council of India on Thursday issued guidelines for covering news related to the LGBTQ+ community asking journalists to avoid use of words such as 'eunuch' or the phrase 'sex-change surgery' and opt for transgender woman and gender affirmative surgery respectively.
"Do not use transgenders in your article; 'transgender' is an adjective. Use transgender person, transwomen, transmen, and/or trans* persons," the guidelines for covering news on the LGBTQ+ community said.
The purpose of this docket is to enhance the understanding of gender, sexuality, its terms and usage, the Press Council of India said.
The term "alleged" should not be used when describing LGBTQIA+ identities and relationships '" such as "alleged transgender person", or "alleged relationship"-- which are all as real and valid as any other, it said.
The guidelines also recommend journalists not to focus on a transgender person's previous gender identity by using phrases like "he was a she", or "she was he" or their transitioning process and surgeries.
"Take care when using the word 'homosexual'. Outside of scientific and clinical discourse, the word has outdated and discredited connotations of psychological disorder," the PCI said.
The guidelines also advise journalists not to use words such as 'sexual preference', 'special rights' and 'gay lifestyles'.
"They are pejorative terms. Being Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Asexual, or Queer is Sexual Orientation. Secondly, it is not special rights that the community is asking for but 'equal rights'," the guidelines stated. -- PTI
23:38 Family protests in Jammu over death of soldier; army says probe underway
The army on Thursday said an inquiry is underway into the death of a soldier in West Bengal last week, hours after the grieving family staged a protest in Jammu against his alleged murder.
Rifleman Amit Singh, a resident of Akhnoor sector of Jammu, was posted in West Bengal and was found dead at a private hotel at Sukna in north Bengal near Siliguri on September 15 with preliminary inquiry by police suggesting suicide.
However, his family alleged he was murdered and demanded an inquiry into the incident.
The soldier's last rites were conducted in his Jourian village on Sunday with military honours.
The family took to streets again on Thursday and blocked the main road near their village for over four hours in support of their demand for an impartial inquiry into the circumstances leading to his death.
They accused the commanding officer and his wife of the murder.
"Indian army regrets the unfortunate demise of Rifleman Amit Singh. We stand with the kin of the soldier in this hour of grief. An investigation is underway by the Indian Army as well as the local police authorities," Siliguri-based Trishakti corps of Indian Army wrote on X.
It said "appropriate action will be taken based on the outcome of the investigation/inquiry. Indian army stands committed to fairness and Justice".
Jammu-based White Knight Corps of the Army reposted the tweet of the Trishakti. -- PTI
23:26 Modi to interact, dine with 'Team G20' tomorrow
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with 'Team G20' at Bharat Mandapam on Friday, his office said.
He will also address the gathering on the occasion and the interaction will be followed by dinner, it added.
The interaction will see the participation of around 3,000 people, who have contributed to the success of the G20 Summit.
It will especially include those who have worked at the ground level to ensure the smooth conduct of the summit.
These include functionaries like cleaners, drivers, waiters and other staff from across various ministries, it said.
The interaction will also be attended by ministers and officials of various departments. -- PTI
PTI Photo/Rediff archives
22:47 NIA seeks info about 10 wanted accused in SF consulate attack
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has released pictures of 10 wanted accused in the March 2023 attack and vandalism at the Indian consulate in San Francisco, USA, and has sought information about them from the general public.
The agency has issued three separate "request for identification & information" notices against the wanted accused, seeking any information that could lead to their arrest or apprehension.
The attack on the Indian consulate in San Francisco had taken place in the intervening night of March 18 and 19, 2023, when some pro-Khalistani activists trespassed into the consulate and tried to burn down the consulate.
On the same day, slogan-shouting Khalistani supporters had broken through the makeshift security barriers raised by the city police and put up two so-called Khalistani flags in the consulate premises, damaged the consulate building, assaulted and caused injuries to the consulate officials.
Further, in the intervening night of July 1 and 2, some accused person trespassed into the consulate and attempted to set the consulate on fire while officials were still inside the building.
The NIA had initiated a probe in the matter after registering a case on June 16, 2023. A team of NIA officers visited San Francisco in August for investigation into the said case.
To know about the 10 accused, you can read NIA's post on X here.
22:40 No problem with BJP, we want Modi to become PM again: AIADMK leader
The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam does not have any problem over its (electoral) ties with the BJP and wants Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be reelected in the 2024 Lok Sabha election, AIADMK senior leader and former state minister Sellur K Raju said on Thursday.
Like the AIADMK, which is clear on who should be prime minister, the BJP too should be focused on projecting AIADMK general secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami as the chief ministerial candidate in the next assembly election, he said.
"We have nothing against BJP leaders like Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and JP Nadda. But we don't relish BJP state president (K Annamalai) insulting our leader C N Annadurai," Raju told reporters in Madurai.
Apparently advising the state leadership to be focused on not causing a rift in the relationship, he said, "We want Narendra Modi to become prime minister again. And as far as Tamil Nadu is concerned, the BJP should accept Palaniswami as the chief ministerial candidate." -- PTI
22:13 Malayalam actor Suresh Gopi nominated president of Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute
Malayalam actor-politician Suresh Gopi was on Thursday nominated as the president of Kolkata-based Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute and chairman of its governing council.
Union minister Anurag Thakur shared the news on microblogging site X and congratulated the actor.
"Many congratulations to veteran film actor @TheSureshGopi ji on being nominated the President of the @srfti_official society & chairman of the governing council of @srfti_official for a period of 3 years," the I&B minister wrote.
Thakur said Gopi's "vast experience & cinematic brilliance" will enrich the esteemed institute. "I wish you a fruitful tenure," he added in his post.
Gopi, a national award-winning actor known for films such as Kaliyattam, Manichitrathazhu, Commissioner, and Paappan, is a former Rajya Sabha MP from the BJP.
In February, Gopi drew widespread criticism from netizens over his controversial remarks against non-believers at a temple function in Ernakulam district on the occasion of Shivaratri. -- PTI
Modi, Biden and Trudeau
22:01 Both India and Canada are important for us: US
Amid the rising tensions between India and Canada, US State Department's Hindustani Spokesperson Margaret MacLeod on Thursday emphasised that the US has its own relations with India and Canada, noting that both are important for the United States.
Macleod further said that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's allegations are concerning.
"The allegations levied by Canadian PM Justin Trudeau are very concerning. We are keeping in touch with our Canadian allies. We urge the Indian government to cooperate in this investigation," she added.
Notably, she said, "US and Canada have their own relation and US and India have their own relation, both are important partners for us. But most importantly, the guilty should be brought to justice."
21:49 We are not looking at provoking India: Trudeau
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is at the UNGA, spoke to the media on Thursday about the diplomatic standoff with India.
Trudeau, who answered the questions in both English and French as Canada is a bilingual nation, said, "I call upon the Government of India to work with us, to take seriously these allegations and to allow justice to follow its course. We are not looking at provoking India."
"As a country of the rule of the law, we have an obligation to ensure that those processes unfold in a rigorous and independent manner and that is what we are ensuing and we stand for international based order. We are highlighting how unacceptable it would be for any country to be involved in the killing of a citizen on their home soil..." Trudeau said.
"As I said on Monday, there are credible reasons to believe that agents of the Government of India were involved in the killing of a Canadian on Canadian soil, which is something of utmost and foundational importance in the country of rule of law, in a world where international rules-based order matters.
"We have an independent justice system and robust processes that will follow their course and we call upon the Government of India to engage with us, to move forward on getting to the truth of this matter," he said.
"I think it's extremely important that as a country with a strong and independent justice system we allow those justice processes to unfold themselves with the utmost integrity. But I can assure you, the decision to share these allegations on the floor of the House of Commons was not done lightly. It was done with utmost seriousness..."
"...I had a direct and frank conversation with the prime minister (Modi), in which I shared my concerns in no uncertain terms...
"We call upon the Government of India to take seriously this matter and to work with us to shed full transparency and ensure accountability and justice in this matter.
"We are a country of the rule of law. We are going to continue to do the work necessary to keep Canadians safe and to uphold our values and the international rules-based order. That's our focus right now."
21:30 Aparna Iyer appointed as Wipro CFO as Jatin Dalal resigns
Bengaluru-headquartered IT company Wipro on Thursday said its CFO Jatin Dalal has resigned to pursue other career opportunities, and Aparna C Iyer was appointed as chief financial officer with immediate effect.
Iyer will report to CEO Thierry Delaporte and will join the Wipro Executive Board, the company said in a statement.
"Wipro today announced that it is appointing Aparna C Iyer as Chief Financial Officer, effective immediately," the IT firm said. Dalal is stepping down "to pursue other career opportunities", according to the company.
Wipro's top boss Delaporte said Iyer is an accomplished and results-driven leader.
"Throughout her 20-year career with Wipro, she has been a dynamic, forward-thinking strategic partner to our business leaders," Delaporte said.
Delaporte noted that Iyer has been integral to Wipro's finance transformation over the last few years, playing a key role in financial strategy and planning, investment programmes, and transformation initiatives.
"Her commitment to creating lasting value, expertise across the full spectrum of finance operations, and her experience in working with a range of stakeholders will be instrumental in achieving our financial objectives," he said. -- PTI
21:14 Army installs national flag at Ajote War Memorial in J-K's Poonch
A 70-foot-high national flag has been hoisted at the Ajote War Memorial near the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district, a defence spokesman said on Thursday.
The tricolour was installed by the Army in collaboration with the Flag Foundation of India, the spokesman said.
He said the national flag was dedicated to the people by Commander of 93 Infantry Brigade Brigadier Rajesh Bisht in the presence of senior district officials, including Poonch deputy commissioner Yaseen M Chaudhary, district development council chairperson Tazeem Akhter and senior superintendent of police Vinay Kumar Sharma.
A large number of veterans and ex-servicemen were also present.
The hoisting of the national flag at Ajote is of great significance for the people of Poonch as every resident identifies himself with this nation, the spokesman said. -- PTI
20:53 Punjab cops raid 1159 gangster hideouts, detain 30
Amid the ongoing drive to break the gangster-terrorist nexus in Punjab, the state police on Thursday launched a state-wide crackdown against various gangsters and raided over 1159 suspected places and hideouts of their associates.
As per the police officials, one person was arrested while 30 were detained for further questioning.
The simultaneous raids were carried out from 7 am to 2 pm on the directives of Punjab director general of police Gaurav Yadav, wherein, all the residential and other premises of associates, relatives and friends linked with various gangsters, were thoroughly searched in all the 28 police districts in the state, an official statement from the police department said.
Special DGP (law and order) Arpit Shukla said that all the commissioners of police and superintendents of police were directed to depute an adequate number of police personnel to conduct these raids and meticulously check the whereabouts of these associates to make this operation successful, which was aimed at disrupting the nexus between terrorists, gangsters and drug smugglers based in India and abroad.
The police teams were also asked to detain suspicious persons during the operation, he added. -- ANI
PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti
20:45 Mehbooba attacks BJP for felicitating religious preacher booked under PSA
PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday hit out at the BJP for allegedly felicitating a religious leader, jailed under the stringent Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, after his release.
"Religious leaders now released and felicitated by the BJP after being slapped with the PSA were earlier accused of being a security threat by the ruling party," Mehbooba posted on X.
She was purportedly commenting on a photograph in which BJP leader Darakshan Andrabi, who is the chairperson of the J&K Waqf Board, was seen felicitating religious preacher Mushtaq Ahmad Veeri.
He was released from the jail recently. Veeri and four other preachers were booked under the PSA last year.
"While they engage in dirty political games wonder what it will take to free other preachers accused of the same crime? Ishfaq Bukhari, Abdul Majid Dar, Manzoor Misbahi & Fayaz Shah continue to languish in jail," Mufti wrote in the post. -- PTI
Swati Nayak on X
20:30 Indian scientist to receive World Food Prize's Norman E Borlaug Award
Dr Swati Nayak, a top scientist at the International Rice Research Institute, has been named the 2023 recipient of the prestigious Norman E Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application.
Nayak is the South Asia Lead for Seed System and Product Management at the IRRI at New Delhi.
Endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation, the award recognises Nayak for her innovative approach to engaging smallholder farmers in demand-driven rice seed systems, from testing and deployment to equitable access and adoption of climate-resilient and nutritious rice varieties, a release from the World Food Prize Foundation said on Wednesday.
The award is given to exceptional scientists under 40 and someone who works in the field of food and nutrition security, hunger eradication in memory of the Nobel awardee and Green Revolution's chief architect Dr Norman Borlaug.
Based in Delhi, the scientist from Odisha, Nayak is expected to receive the award at Iowa next month.
Nayak received a Ph.D. in Competitive Intelligence & Strategic Management for Agricultural Extension Management Strategy at Amity University (2017-2022), a Master in Rural Management at the Institute of Rural Management Anand (2008-2010) and a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at Acharya NG Ranga Agriculture University (2003-2007). -- PTI
20:10 Shah Rukh offers prayers at Lalbaugcha Raja in Mumbai with son AbRam
Superstar Shah Rukh Khan on Thursday offered prayers at the famous Lalbaugcha Raja in Mumbai along with his younger son AbRam. Lalbaugcha Raja is a Lord Ganesha idol kept at Lalbaug, a locality in Mumbai, during the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi.
SRK was seen in his old famous ponytail look and donned a white shirt, while AbRam looked cute in a red kurta.
Several pictures and videos of the superstar surfaced on social media.
The history of the Lalbaugcha Raja is quite famous as it is the popular Ganesh idol of Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, located at Putlabai Chawl, a place of worship founded in 1934.
The Lalbaugcha Raja Ganapati idol has been taken care of by the Kambli family for over eight decades.
Lalbaugcha Raja's first look was unveiled earlier on Friday evening, days ahead of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. Ganesh Chaturthi is a 10-day festival that starts on the fourth day of the Hindu lunisolar calendar month 'Bhadrapada' and this year the festival commenced on September 19. -- ANI
MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi
19:58 Germany grants counsellor access to baby Ariha
Ministry of external affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Thursday highlighted the concerns regarding the baby Ariha case and said that the German authorities have granted counsellor access to baby Ariha.
"German authorities granted counsellor access to baby Ariha on August 31. The interaction with the child included the relevance of cultural immersion with a view to enable the child to remain connected with Indian traditions and culture," the MEA spokesperson highlighted.
While addressing the weekly press briefing, Bagchi further assured that the Indian government is in constant engagement with the German authorities on this case to safeguard the child.
Moreover, he said that the resources related to Indian festivals and customs were provided by the Indian embassy to keep the child in touch with her faith and culture.
"Resource material relating to Indian festivals, customs and practices were handed over by our embassy with the expectation that the child's caregiver would incorporate the same in her routine to enable her to remain in touch with her faith and culture. We remain in constant engagement with the German authorities on this matter to safeguard the child," Bagchi added. -- ANI
19:44 Media mogul Rupert Murdoch steps down as chairman of Fox and News Corp
Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch has announced his retirement from the Fox and News Corporation Boards, the New York Times reported.
His son Lachlan will become the sole executive in control of the worldwide media empire following Murdoch's announcement.
A person with knowledge of the situation said that the elder Murdoch will now lead the two businesses as chairman emeritus, the New York Times reported.
"I am writing to let you all know that I have decided to transition to the role of chairman Emeritus at Fox and News. For my entire professional life, I have been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change. But the time is right for me to take on different roles, knowing that we have truly talented teams and a passionate, principled leader in Lachlan who will become sole Chairman of both companies," Murdoch said in a note to employees as he announced his retirement.
The letter is posted by journalist Piers Morgan on his social media handle X.
"Neither excessive pride nor false humility are admirable qualities. But I am truly proud of what we have achieved collectively through the decades, and I owe much to my colleagues, whose contributions to our success have sometimes been unseen outside the company but are deeply appreciated by me," Murdoch wrote.
Murdoch created his media empire from a small local newspaper concern in Australia starting 70 years ago. -- ANI
19:25 Nirma buys Glenmark Life Sciences for Rs 5651 cr
Glenmark Pharmaceuticals on Thursday said it will sell a 75 per cent stake in its subsidiary Glenmark Life Sciences to Nirma Ltd for Rs 5,651.5 crore.
The company's board at its meeting held on September 21, 2023, considered and approved the sale of 91,895,379 shares representing 75 per cent share capital of Glenmark Life Sciences Ltd to Nirma Ltd at a price of Rs 615 per share, aggregating to Rs 5,651.5 crore, the Mumbai-based drug maker said in a regulatory filing.
As part of the transaction, the company, Glenmark Life Sciences and Nirma have agreed to certain non-compete and non-solicit arrangements for a specified period, it added. -- PTI
19:15 HC restrains Udhayanidhi from linking ex-CM Palaniswami to Kodanad case
The Madras high court on Thursday restrained Tamil Nadu youth welfare minister Udhayanidhi Stalin from making any references to former Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami in the Kodanad heist-cum-murder case.
Justice RN Manjula directed Udhayanidhi against making any reference, that is defamatory or falsehood, in respect of the subject matter.
When a suit filed by Palaniswami, the plaintiff, came up for hearing, she granted an interim injunction restraining Udhayanidhi and ordered notice to him returnable by two weeks.
In his submission, Palaniswami said Udhayanidhi, while commenting further on Sanatana Dharma on September 7 had targeted him as well by making a false statement in reference to the Kodanad case and a so-called corruption case.
The leader of opposition said he was not even remotely connected to any FIR or chargesheet, nor has he ever been called for any investigation in respect of the 2017 Kodanad case. -- PTI
19:10 Uproar in AP assembly over Naidu's arrest, Speaker suspends TDP members
The arrest of TDP leader N Chandrababu Naidu in connection with the AP Skill Development Corporation scam rocked the Andhra Pradesh assembly on Thursday, and all the members of the opposition party were suspended for allegedly disrupting the proceedings.
Assembly Speaker Tammineni Sitaram barred three members-- two from Telugu Desam Party and one from YSR Congress-- for the rest of the session.
While the other opposition legislators were suspended for the day for indulging in sloganeering demanding the release of former CM Chandrababu Naidu and seeking a discussion on the matter.
Naidu is currently lodged in a prison in Rajamahendravaram.
The Speaker also warned Hindupur MLA and actor Balakrishna for "twirling his moustache" and "slapping the thigh" in the House, saying he will excuse the legislator this time as it was his first instance of 'unacceptable' behaviour.
After announcing the suspension, Sitharam adjourned the House to Friday.
The legislators who were suspended for the entire session are P Keshav, A Satya Prasad from TDP and K Sridhar Reddy of YSRCP. Sridhar Reddy was suspended from the party for alleged anti-party activities a few months ago. -- PTI
18:37 10 hurt as mobs storm police stations in Manipur
More than 10 people were injured when Manipur security forces fired tear gas shells on protesters for trying to storm police stations and court arrest demanding the unconditional release of the five arrested youths on Thursday.
As a precautionary measure, the state government cancelled curfew relaxations in the twin districts of Imphal from 5pm, officials said.
Responding to a call by six local clubs and Meira Paibis demanding the release of the five village volunteers, hundreds of protesters holding placards and shouting slogans tried to enter the Porompat police station in Imphal East and Singjamei police station and Kwakeithel police outpost in Imphal West district.
However, police and RAF personnel deployed at strategic positions fired several rounds of tear gas shells to disperse the crowd.
A protester, identified as Th Bimola at Porompat said, "We were left with no option but to court arrest as the government failed to release the five village volunteers. If such village volunteers are arrested, who will protect the Meitei villages in the periphery of the hills and the valley Kuki Zo militants."
Similar attempts to enter Mayang Imphal police station in Imphal West district and Andro police station in Imphal East district were also reported. -- PTI
18:30 Tight security arrangements put in place ahead of DU students' union polls
Around 500 security personnel will be deployed at Delhi University's North Campus for the students' union elections on Friday, officials said.
Adequate arrangements have also been made in the South Campus of the university for the election.
They said that more than 10 station house officers have been deployed to ensure security at the colleges while 25 police motorcycles are patrolling the area.
Deputy commissioner of police (North) Sagar Singh Kalsi said the local police, central paramilitary forces and reserve staffers will be deployed to provide adequate security during voting and on the counting day.
"More focus will be on the security of strong rooms, counting centres and colleges. We have certain priority areas... there should be no inconvenience to the public and traffic movement should not be hampered. The police will take measures to ensure that there is no crime against women," Kalsi said.
He said that several pickets have been put in place, round-the-clock vigil has been increased and social media is being monitored.
Deputy commissioner of police (southwest) Manoj C said picket checking and patrolling are underway.
"Outsiders will not be allowed (on the campus) during the election. We are also in touch with the administration of the colleges. Adequate security arrangements have been made for the election in South Campus. Patrolling on vehicles as well as on foot is underway," the DCP said. -- PTI
18:10 32-year-old Indian banker scales world's eighth highest mountain peak in Nepal
A 32-year-old Indian banker on Thursday successfully scaled Mt Manaslu in Nepal, achieving the feat of being the first Indian climber to summit the world's eighth highest mountain peak in this season.
Sunil Kumar, who hails from Haryana, reached the peak of Mt Manaslu which stands at 8,163 metres above sea level at 5.25 am local time.
He was accompanied by another Nepalese climber Sangita Kumari Rokaya and two mountain guides, according to the organiser of the expedition.
Kumar climbed the mountain situated on the northern side of central Nepal in Gorkha district.
Mountain guides Lakpa Gyaljen Sherpa and Chhangba Sherpa also reached the mountain peak at the same time around 5.25 am local time on Thursday, according to Nivesh Karki, executive director of Pioneer Adventure Pvt. Ltd who organised the expedition.
They are returning to the base camp after scaling the peak, -- PTI
17:48 16 deer die due to disease in Bengaluru zoo
Sixteen deer have died at Bannerghatta Biological Park in Bengaluru due to an abdominal related disease and internecine fight, officials said on Thursday.
This comes close on the heels of the death of seven leopard cubs which were infected by a highly contagious virus -- Feline panleukopenia.
According to officials, 37 spotted deer were shifted from St. John's Hospital in Bengaluru to Bannerghatta Biological Park here last month.
Out of them, 16 deer died due to 'hemorrhagic enteritis and endocarditis' and fighting among themselves. Following these deaths, Karnataka minister for forest, ecology and environment Eshwara Khandre on Thursday visited Bannerghatta Biological Park and held a meeting with its senior officials.
The minister directed all the zoos in the state to be on high alert and instructed the officials concerned to take necessary precautionary measures to prevent infection of wild animals (belonging to the cat species).
Noting that the Park was a very safe and protected place, Khandre termed the death of animals on such a scale as 'shocking'. -- PTI
17:36 Bomb threat at Delhi school, turns out to be hoax
The Lal Bahadur Shastri School in RK Puram received an email about a bomb on the premises that later turned out to be a hoax, the police said on Thursday.
Information was received regarding the bomb threat email from Lal Bahadur Shastri School, Sector-3, RK Puram on Thursday.
The police reached the school where an inquiry revealed that the LBS school administration on Wednesday received an email regarding a bomb alert, which they might have checked today, the officer said.
Bomb squad personnel combed the premises around 8 am and no IED or bomb was found, a senior police officer said.
The school was scheduled to conduct an exam for 400 students on Thursday.
The exam went off smoothly after the bomb squad's search, the officer added.
In May, the Delhi Public School in Mathura Road received a similar hoax email about a bomb.
The Indian School in Sadiq Nagar received two bomb threats, the last on April 12 via email.
The first one was over the phone in November 2022. Both turned out to be hoaxes. -- PTI
17:28 BSE Sensex top losers today
Equity benchmark indices Sensex and Nifty buckled under selling pressure for the third straight session to settle nearly 1 per cent lower on Thursday as investors pared exposure to auto, banking and financial shares amid a sluggish trend in global markets.
The 30-share BSE Sensex fell 570.60 points or 0.85 per cent to settle at 66,230.24.
The Nifty declined 159.05 points or 0.80 per cent to end at 19,742.35.
Mahindra & Mahindra, ICICI Bank, State Bank of India, UltraTech Cement, IndusInd Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Tata Motors, Bajaj Finserv, Axis Bank and Power Grid were the major losers in the Sensex pack.
Tech Mahindra, Bharti Airtel, Infosys, Asian Paints, Hindustan Unilever, Larsen & Toubro and Titan were the gainers.
MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi
16:54 Temporarily unable to process visas in Canada due to: India
India on Thursday said Canada did not share any specific information with India on the Hardeep Singh Nijjar case.
Addressing the media, the external affairs ministry said, "We provided specific information with Canada on anti-India activities carried out from Canadian soil."
The MEA also said that the Indian high commission and consulates in Canada are temporarily unable to process visa applications as work in that country has been disrupted due to security issues.
On Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's charge of link between the killing of Nijjar and agencies associated with the Indian government, MEA said, "These charges are politically motivated, and there is a degree of prejudice."
India has also apprises its leading allies of its views on the diplomatic row with Canada.
On the tit for tat expulsion of diplomats by the two countries, the MEA said it expects a reduction in the Canada's diplomatic presence in the country.
"Expect a reduction in Canada's diplomatic presence in India as we feel there should be parity of strength, rank equivalence by both sides," the MEA said.
Canadian diplomatic presence in India is higher than that of India in Canada, there should be parity in strength, MEA said.
16:44 India begins anti-dumping probe into import of Chinese drawer sliders
India has initiated a probe into the matter of alleged dumping of drawer sliders by Chinese firms in the country.
The move is aimed at protecting domestic players from cheap imports from the neighbouring country.
The probe was started after a complaint by Highhope Furniture Fittings Manufacturers Associates Pvt Ltd was received, which stated that the domestic industry is getting injured due to an increase in dumped imports.
Directorate General of Trade Remedies, the commerce ministry's investigation arm, is probing the dumping of Telescopic Channel Drawer Slider' originating in or exported from China.
The product under consideration is a small device that helps in smoothly closing and opening of the drawer.
The product is an essential component of modern furniture design that enhances the functionality and aesthetics of drawers.
It said that there is sufficient prima facie evidence of injury being caused to the domestic industry by dumped imports from China.
It added that there is sufficient prima facie evidence that the normal value of the goods in China is higher than the ex-factory export price, indicating the item is being dumped into the Indian market by Chinese exporters.
"The authority initiates a suo motu anti-dumping investigation on the imports," the notification said. -- PTI
16:31 Trudeau refused 'presidential suite' at hotel during G20
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, during his visit to India for the G20 Summit, refused to stay at the presidential suite, and stayed at a regular room in the same hotel, informed sources.
Notably, presidential suites are specially designed by Indian security agencies as per security protocols and every global leader
Trudeau stayed at the Lalit Hotel in the national capital during his stay for the G20 Summit.
However, despite being offered a presidential suite, his delegation refused to stay there and instead stayed at a regular room in the same hotel, sources said.
According to sources, Trudeau's delegation told Indian security agencies that this decision is being taken due to cost considerations. However, the Indian agencies have said that there is no information about the exact reason behind Trudeau's staying in a normal room.
Notably, this was not the only irregular episode from Trudeau's visit to India.
The Canadian PM was scheduled to depart from India on September 10, however, he had to extend his stay after a technical snag on his Airbus plane.
According to sources, the Indian side had offered services of aircraft 'Air India One' to Canadian PM Trudeau and his delegation to fly back, after coming to know about the delay in the departure of the Canadian PM and accompanying delegation due to the glitch in their special aircraft.
However, the Canadian side declined the offer and instead chose to wait for the backup aircraft, sources said.
Finally, Trudeau was able to depart from India only on September 12.
Meanwhile, the tensions between India and Canada heightened on Monday, after Canadian PM Justin Trudeau alleged India's involvement in the killing of Hardeep Nijjar a designated terrorist in India.
This was followed by Canada expelling an Indian diplomat from the country.
India rejected the allegations made by Canada, dubbing them as "absurd" and "motivated" and in a reciprocal move also expelled a senior Canadian diplomat from the country on Tuesday.
16:08 Punjabis are in panic: Badal on India-Canada ties
Amid strains in India-Canada ties, Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Thursday met Home Minister Amit Shah and hoped for a quick resolution to disputes between the two countries, noting that Punjabis in large numbers live there and the deteriorating relations have left them in a state of panic.
Badal told reporters after the meeting that it is very disturbing to hear of the woes of Punjabis, including a large number of Sikhs, because of the worsening relations between the two countries.
"There is a sense of panic among Punjabis. Both governments, India's as well as Canada's, should find a solution as soon as possible," he said.
With India repeatedly conveying its concerns to Canada over Khalistani activities on its soil, Badal said Sikhs have been the most patriotic people who made maximum sacrifices during the independence struggle. The community should not be blamed for what a few persons do, he said.
The issues involving the two countries should be settled rather than escalated, he said. There are over 18 lakh Indians in Canada and a large number of them are Punjabis, he noted.
India on Thursday "suspended till further notice" its visa services in Canada. The move comes amid the escalating diplomatic row that erupted following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's allegations of a "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of a Khalistani separatist in June. India has rejected the charge as absurd.
The India-Canada ties have been on a downward spiral in view of increasing activities of the pro-Khalistani elements in the North American country. India believes the Trudeau government is not addressing its genuine concerns. -- PTI
15:56 Pakistan's general elections to be held in last week of January 2024
Pakistan's election commission on Thursday announced that the general elections in the country will take place in the last week of January 2024.
In a statement, the electoral body said that it reviewed work on delimiting constituencies and the initial list for the delimitation of constituencies would be published on September 27.
It added that the final list would be issued on November 30 after hearing objections and suggestions regarding the list.
The commission said that polls will be held in the last week of January 2024.
General elections are scheduled to be held in Pakistan within 90 days after the dissolution of the National Assembly, which was prematurely dissolved on August 9.
The previous government just days before the end of its term announced that the elections could take place only after a new census was completed and new constituency boundaries were drawn.
The move triggered fears that the polls meant to be held within 90 days may be delayed till next year as the delimitation process would take about four months to complete.
The decision to shorten the timeframe of the delimitation comes amid mounting pressure on the ECP from several political parties that pressed for timely elections.
The Constitution also provides that the ECP should complete the delimitation process within 120 days. -- PTI
15:39 Canada temporarily 'adjusts' staff presence in India
Canada on Thursday said it is assessing its staff complement in India and taking action to ensure safety of its diplomats in the country claiming that some of them have received threats on various social media platforms.
The Canadian high commission said Ottawa expects New Delhi to provide for the security of its diplomats and consular officers in India and that it has decided to "temporarily" adjust staff presence in the country as a precautionary measure.
The comments from the high commission came amid heightened diplomatic tensions between the two countries following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's allegations of a "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada in June.
India on Tuesday rejected the allegations as "absurd" and "motivated" and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa's expulsion of an Indian official over the case.
"In light of the current environment where tensions have heightened, we are taking action to ensure the safety of our diplomats. With some diplomats having received threats on various social media platforms, Global Affairs Canada is assessing its staff complement in India," the high commission said.
Global Affairs Canada handles Canada's diplomatic and consular relations.
"As a result, and out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to temporarily adjust staff presence in India. All of our locations are staffed by diplomats and locally-engaged staff to ensure business and operational continuity," it said.
In responding to media queries, the high commission said Global Affairs Canada will continue to take all "appropriate measures to protect the health and safety of all our personnel, including locally-engaged staff, and to protect our operations in India." -- PTI
15:22 'No problem' between BJP-AIADMK: Annamalai
Bharatiya Janata Party Tamil Nadu President K Annamalai on Thursday asserted that there is no problem between his party and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.
He also said that he does not have any problem with any AIADMK leader.
The "common thread" that linked like-minded parties in the NDA is Prime Minister Narendra Modi and all who accept his candidature for the post of PM in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls are in the NDA alliance, he said. "Does the AIADMK accept it? Yes," Annamalai said.
All those who have accepted Modi's leadership should join hands, he told reporters.
The BJP leader reiterated that he had not spoken ill of Dravidian icon and late Chief Minister C N Annadurai and had only recounted an incident from 1956. Hence, he said there is no question of tendering an apology.
Late DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi had recalled the same incident during his tenure as chief minister in 1998, he said.
Ideologically, the AIADMK and BJP are divergent, and the differences in terms of ideological standpoints are not unusual and it is not a big deal, he said. "What is important is the common thread, which is Prime Minister
Modi and the AIADMK stands for a united nation with a strong leadership to lead it," he added. -- PTI
15:18 Message behind Kailash Meghwals suspension
'The suspension of Kailash Meghwal, Rajasthan BJP MLA, after he levelled corruption allegations against Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, is another example that the Sangh throws away when you are of no use. It happened with Advani, once a champion, today is nobody. Today with Kailash Meghwal, tomorrow it may also happen with the Supreme Leader,' Rahulseeker posts on X, here.
15:13 What happened to Air India Kanishka in 1985
At a time of heightened Indo-Canada tensions over Khalistani terrorists in the North American country, the report of the Honourable Bob Rae, Independent Advisor to Canada's Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, on outstanding questions with respect to the bombing of Air India Flight 182, makes for timely reading.
The flight, for those who may not know, left Toronto with a bomb onboard the 'Kanishka' aircraft, which exploded off the Ireland coast on June 23, 1985, killing all 329 passengers onboard.
The report into one of the worst air tragedies can be read here.
15:04 US court relief for Covid sceptic PIO doctor
A US federal court of appeals ruled earlier this month that the White House, surgeon general, CDC and FBI "likely violated the First Amendment' by exerting a pressure campaign on social media companies to censor COVID-19 skeptics -- including Stanford epidemiologist Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, reports Rikki Schlott in New York Post.
For Dr Bhattacharya, the ruling came as second enlightenment, he says.
"It's a ruling that says there's a democracy of ideas. The issue is not whether the ideas are wrong or right. The question is who gets to control what ideas are expressed in the public square?' he tells Schlott, here.
14:56 Not a rosy picture for Indian workers in Gulf
'From 2019 till June 30, 2023, the Indian embassies in Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, together received 48,095 labour complaints from Indian migrant workers. All reported issues indicate signs of forced labour as defined by the ILO.'
Rejimon Kuttappan reports in Indiaspend.com here.
Soumya Ranjan Patnaik
14:51 Naveen Patnaik expels 2 MLAs including 'Sambad' editor
Ruling BJD president Naveen Patnaik on Thursday expelled two MLAs including Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, also the owner-editor of Odiya daily Sambad, on charges of anti-people activities.
"Two MLAs have been expelled from the BJD. They are Sudhansu Sekhar Parida from Remuna and Soumya Ranjan Patnaik from Khandapada," Patnaik told reporters.
Soumya Ranjan Patnaik was earlier removed from the party's vice-president post on September 12.
As the editor of Odia daily Sambad, he had written two signed editorials attacking his own party. He had criticised CM's private secretary VK Pandian for allegedly exercising influence beyond his official position.
The latest action against Soumya Ranjan Patnaik comes after after the economic offence wing (EOW) of Odisha police registered a case against him under different sections of the IPC including cheating and fraud.
"It is a serious case of organised bank fraud involving loans worth crores of rupees taken in the name of more than 300 employees of Sambad by using fraudulent means and forged documents," a BJD statement signed by Chief Minister Patnaik said.
Similarly, Remuna MLA Sudhansu Sekhar Parida has been accused of misappropriating government subsidy worth Rs 3 crore meant for farmers. The matter is being inquired into by the state vigilance following an order of the Lokayukta, the BJD press note said.
14:45 '3 Idiots' fame actor Akhil Mishra dies at 67
Actor Akhil Mishra, best known for his role in "3 Idiots", died after a fall at his residence in Mumbai on Wednesday evening, said a publicist for his actor-wife Suzanne Bernert. He was 67.
The publicist said Mishra, who had blood pressure issues, succumbed to injuries following the accident in the kitchen.
"He was on a chair in the kitchen trying to do something when he fell down and hurt his head and back. He was later rushed to the hospital by the family and neighbours.
"He was still coherent while going to the hospital. And then internal haemorrhage started. Despite the doctor's best efforts, he could not be saved," the publicist told PTI on Thursday.
According to the publicist, Bernert was in Hyderabad for a shoot when Mishra passed away.
Mishra, who mostly played character roles in films and TV shows, is best remembered for his role of librarian Dubey in 3 Idiots, starring Aamir Khan, R Madhavan and Sharman Joshi.
He had also worked in films and serials such as Don, Gandhi, My Father, Uttaran, Udaan, and Shrimaan Shrimati, among others.
According to the publicist, Mishra's mortal remains have been sent for a post-mortem examination.
14:19 DGCA suspends approval of Air India's Flight Safety Chief for 1 month
Aviation watchdog DGCA on Thursday said it has suspended the approval of Air India's Flight Safety Chief for one month for certain lapses.
On July 25 and 26, the regulator's team carried out the surveillance of Air India in the areas of internal audit, accident prevention work and availability of required technical manpower.
The surveillance found deficiencies in the accident prevention work carried out by the organisation and the availability of the requisite technical man power as required in the approved Flight Safety Manual and the relevant Civil Aviation Requirements, DGCA said in a release.
"The approval of Chief of Flight Safety of Air India has been suspended for a period of one month for the lapses established," it said. -- PTI
14:09 Movie theatres announce National Cinema Day on Oct 13, tickets to cost Rs 99
Multiplex Association of India (MAI) on Thursday announced that the National Cinema Day will be held on October 13 this year.
Movie enthusiasts will be charged only Rs 99 per admission at cinema halls across the country, the national multiplex trade body said in a press release.
Over 4,000 screens at multiplexes from India, including PVR INOX, Cinepolis, Miraj, and Delite, have teamed up to participate in the National Cinema Day celebrations, it stated.
"This special occasion brings audiences of all ages together for a day of cinematic bliss, celebrating the incredible success of multiple films at the box office this year.
"It's a heartfelt 'thank you' to all the moviegoers who contributed to this success and an open invitation to those who haven't yet returned to their local cinema," the association said.
According to MAI, cinegoers can watch any show of any film on October 13 for Rs 99, excluding the recliner and premium formats.
Last year, the association marked the National Cinema Day on September 23, which saw the highest ever single-day admissions of 6.5 million. -- PTI
14:07 Bharatanatyam exponent Saroja Vaidyanathan dies from cancer
Bharatanatyam dancer Saroja Vaidyanathan died at her residence here in the early hours of Thursday after battling cancer, her daughter-in-law and dancer Rama Vaidyanathan said. She had turned 86 on September 19.
"She passed away at around 4 am today morning. She had been battling with cancer for some time now," Rama told PTI.
The classical dancer was conferred the Padma Shri in 2002 and the Padma Bhushan in 2013. Vaidyanathan was known for her extensive contribution to Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music in the form of 10 full-length ballets and nearly 2,000 choreographies.
Rama remembered her mother-in-law and guru for leaving a 50-year-old legacy behind in the form of Ganesa Natyalaya, a classical dance school in the national capital.
"It is now our duty to take her legacy forward. I remember her for the love and affection she gave all of us. Where I am today is solely because of her," Rama said.
The last rites will be performed at the Lodhi Crematorium on Friday at 2 pm.
Minister of Culture G Kishan Reddy took to X to pay condolences on Vaidyanathan's demise.
"Saddened by the news of the passing away of Smt Dr Saroja Vaidyanathan - revered 'Bharatanatyam' Guru & Padma Bhushan Awardee and a prolific choreographer. Her contributions to the field of art & culture are laudable. My condolences to the family of Dr Saroja Vaidyanathan," Reddy posted.
Bharatanatyam dancer and Rajya Sabha MP Sonal Mansingh also remembered Vaidyanathan for her "immense contribution to the dance world".
"Legendary Bharatnatyam exponent Guru Dr. Saroja Vaidyanathan passed away this morning leaving behind a rich legacy. My condolences to the family. Her contribution to the dance world has been immense, her loss will be deeply felt amongst the dance fraternity (sic)" Mansingh wrote on the microblogging site.
13:53 Ready to discuss LAC row with full courage: Rajnath
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said he has the courage to discuss in the Lok Sabha the issue of the border standoff between Indian and Chinese militaries.
While initiating a discussion on the success of the Chandrayaan-3 mission and other achievements in the space sector in the House, Singh referred to the country's border security and the role of science in protecting the nation's frontier.
At this, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury referred to the border standoff with China.
The defence minister responded that he has the courage to discuss the issue.
Puri himmat hain (I have full courage). I am ready for a discussion, I have the confidence to discuss it," he asserted.
The ties between India and China have been under severe strain since the deadly clashes in Galwan Valley in June 2020.
The Indian and Chinese troops are locked in an over three-year confrontation in certain friction points in eastern Ladakh even as the two sides completed disengagement from several areas following extensive diplomatic and military talks.
India has been consistently maintaining that peace and tranquillity along the LAC were key for normalisation of overall ties. -- PTI
13:42 Indian visa service resumes in Canada
A private agency hired by India to carry out initial scrutiny of visa applications of Canadians on Thursday put out a note on its website on suspension of visa services but hours later withdrew it.
The agency had put out a note that Indian visa services have been "suspended till further notice".
However, the note was later withdrawn.
India and Canada are embroiled in a diplomatic row over the killing of a Khalistani separatist leader.
The row erupted following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's allegations of a "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of a Khalistani separatist in Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June.
India on Tuesday rejected the allegations as "absurd" and "motivated" and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa's expulsion of an Indian official over the case.
In a reflection of hardening of its position, India on Wednesday advised all its nationals living in Canada and those contemplating travelling there to exercise "utmost caution" in view of growing anti-India activities and "politically-condoned" hate crimes as well as "criminal violence" in that country.
India-Canada ties were reeling under some strain for the last few months in view of increasing activities of the pro-Khalistani elements in the North American country.
India believes the Trudeau government is not addressing its genuine concerns.
Canadian MP Chandra Arya
13:02 Hindu-Canadians are fearful: Trudeau's party MP
Amid the India-Canada diplomatic standoff, Canadian MP Chandra Arya alleged that the extremist elements are "attacking" and "threatening" Hindu-Canadians to go back to India.
He has also urged all the Hindu-Canadians in the country to stay calm, and vigilant and report any untoward incident to law enforcement agencies.
Chandra Arya is an Indo-Canadian leader who comes from the Liberal Party of Canada, the same party as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
"Few days back Khalistan movement leader in Canada and the president of Sikhs for Justice which organizes the so-called referendum Gurpatwant Singh Pannun attacked Hindu Canadians asking us to leave Canada and go back to India," Arya posted on X, formerly Twitter.
"I have heard from many Hindu-Canadians who are fearful after this targeted attack. I urge Hindu-Canadians to stay calm but vigilant. Please report any incident of Hinduphobia to your local law enforcement agencies," he added.
He further said that the Khalistan movement leader is trying to "provoke" the Hindu Canadians to react and "divide the Hindu and Sikh communities" in Canada.
However, Arya also clarified that a majority of Canadian Sikhs do not support the Khalistan movement.
"Let me be clear. Vast majority of our Canadian Sikh brothers and sisters do not support the Khalistan movement. Most Sikh Canadians may not publicly condemn the Khalistan movement for several reasons but they are deeply connected to the Hindu-Canadian community. Canadian Hindus and Sikhs are connected through family relationships and shared social and cultural ties," he further said.
Arya stated that this "direct attack" on Hindu Canadians by the leader of the Canadian Khalistan movement is the further escalation of the recent attacks on Hindu temples and public celebration of the assassination of Hindu Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by "terrorists".
"Canada has high moral values and we fully uphold the rule of law," he added.
He further expressed dismay at glorification of terrorism and hate crime being allowed in the name of "freedom of expression".
12:49 33-year-old jumps off Mumbai Sealink, search on
A 33-year-old man jumped into the Arabian Sea from Mumbai's Bandra-Worli Sea Link in the early hours of Thursday, triggering a search, an official said.
The operation to trace him is being carried out by the Mumbai police and fire brigade with the help of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard, the official said.
The incident took place around 4 am when Vinay Yadav, a resident of Jogeshwari in the western suburbs, jumped into the sea from the cable-stayed bridge.
Yadav, a driver by profession, came in an Innova car, parked it on the bridge and jumped into the sea, he said.
The local police and fire brigade began a search. As they faced difficulties, the Indian Coast Guard and Navy were roped in, the official said.
The reason behind Yadav's decision to plunge into the sea is not yet known, he added.
On July 31, a 57-year-old man jumped from the sea link, triggering a search by the Navy and Coast Guard. His body was recovered the next day.
12:37 Khalistani terrorist Sukha Duneke killed in Canada
Multiple Indian agencies on Thursday have corroborated reports of the death of wanted gangster Sukhdool Singh, alias Sukha Duneke, in Winnipeg, Canada.
Winnipeg Police have confirmed the incident of shooting in the area of Aldgate Road on September 18, but have not confirmed it as being fatal.
The Winnipeg Police have also not named Sukhdool Singh as the victim.
In a statement posted on X the Winnipeg Police said "On September 18, 2023, at approximately 6:20 p.m., General Patrol officers responded to the report of a shooting incident in the area of Aldgate Road and Gobert Crescent. The Major Crimes Unit has taken over the investigation."
Sources in Indian intelligence agencies say Sukha Duneke was shot dead by an unidentified assailant.
Sources confirmed that his murder was a fall out of inter-gang rivalry. However, no gang has taken responsibility of his murder as of now.
Duneke was part of the Davinder Bambiha gang from Moga district.
He fled Punjab in 2017 allegedly with the help of local policemen.
Sukha Duneke obtained a passport and police clearance certificate on forged documents with the help of these policemen to flee to Canada, even as seven criminal cases were registered against him. -- ANI
12:33 Jimmy Kimmel tests positive for Covid-19
Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel has been diagnosed with Covid-19.
Taking to X (formerly called Twitter), Kimmel shared his health update and also informed fans about the cancellation of his "Strike Force Three" live show.
"Well, Las Vegas, I got Covid, and sadly, we need to cancel this weekend's Strike Force Three show,' Kimmel posted.
"I could never live with myself if I got my hometown friends sick. Thanks to all who purchased tickets, everyone will get full refunds and we will try to reschedule if possible," he added.
12:16 India suspends visa services for Canadians
India has suspended issue of visas to Canadian citizens "till further notice" amid the escalating diplomatic row between the two nations over the killing of a Khalistani separatist leader in Canada.
"Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21 September 2023, Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice. Please keep checking BLS website for further updates," India visa application center Canada says.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's allegations of "potential" involvement of Indian government agents in the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June unleashed a diplomatic row with India rejecting the charges as "absurd" and "motivated" and kicking out a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa's expulsion of an Indian official.
12:08 SC hands-off on order to release Cauvery waters
The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to interfere with orders of the Cauvery Water Management Authority and Cauvery Water Regulation Committee directing the Karnataka government to release 5,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu.
A bench of Justices BR Gavai, PS Narasimha and Prashant Kumar Mishra said it is not inclined to entertain the plea of Karnataka in which it has challenged the decision of the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) upholding the order of the committee on grounds that it is facing a drought-like situation due to deficit in rainfall.
The bench said expert bodies like the CWMA and Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) have considered all relevant aspects like drought and deficit rainfall and passed the order and, therefore, it is not inclined to interfere with the order directing Karnataka to release 5,000 cusecs of water.
12:06 Elgar Parishad case: HC grants bail to activist Mahesh Raut
The Bombay high court on Thursday granted bail to activist Mahesh Raut, arrested in the Elgar Parishad Maoist links case.
A division bench of Justices A S Gadkari and Sharmila Deshmukh allowed Raut's plea seeking bail on merits.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) sought the court to stay its order for two weeks so that it could file an appeal in the Supreme Court. The bench then stayed operation of its order for a week.
Raut was arrested in June 2018 and is presently in judicial custody.
He had moved HC in 2022 seeking bail and challenging the order passed by the special NIA court refusing him bail.
Raut in his plea had said his custody was unwarranted and that it was against Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
The NIA had opposed the plea saying it was not justifiable to grant an accused, booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) to seek bail on constitutional grounds.
As many as 16 activists have been arrested in the case of which five are currently out on bail.
Scholar-activist Anand Teltumbde, lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira have been granted regular bail, while poet Varavara Rao is currently out on bail on health grounds.
Another accused, activist Gautam Navlakha, is under house arrest as per the direction of the Supreme Court. -- PTI
11:43 Kumaraswamy leaves for Delhi for talks about alliance with BJP leadership
Janata Dal-Secular leader H D Kumaraswamy on Thursday left for New Delhi to meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP national President J P Nadda to discuss the alliance between the two parties in Karnataka for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
The former Chief Minister said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and JD-S patriarch and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda also may hold talks on this, if required.
Gowda, who is a Rajya Sabha member from Karnataka, is in Delhi.
"This evening there is a meeting, once we have the outcome of the meeting, tomorrow I will share everything openly with your Delhi correspondents," Kumarswamy said before leaving for the national capital.
Speaking to reporters in Bengaluru, he said, there has been no discussion on seat sharing between both parties till now.
"Neither have we thought about it (seats) so far, nor have they (BJP) proposed anything in this regard. When we discuss in the evening, we will discuss in detail about the current situation in all 28 (Lok Sabha) seats, what was the situation in the earlier election and what is the situation after the 2023 Assembly polls," he added.
Asked whether the alliance will be finalised today, Kumaraswamy said, "Let's see."
To a question as to whom he will be meeting in Delhi, he said, "Discussion is with their (BJP) decision makers like Amit Shah (Home Minister) and their President J P Nadda. If required Narendra Modi and Deve Gowda will talk."
Talks on alliance between the two parties have been in the limelight ever since veteran BJP leader B S Yediyurappa, who is also a parliamentary board member of the party, had earlier this month said his party will have an understanding with JD-S for the Lok Sabha elections, and the regional outfit will contest in four LS seats in Karnataka, which has a total of 28 constituencies.
However, Yediyurappa subsequently said discussions in this regard have not reached finality yet, and Modi and Shah, who are busy with other responsibilities, may discuss and decide on the issue in a few days.
The BJP had swept the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka, winning 25 seats, while an independent (Sumalatha Ambareesh from Mandya) backed by it won one seat.
The Congress and JD-S won one seat each.
In the elections to the 224-member assembly held in May this year, the Congress bagged 135 seats, while the BJP secured 66 and the JD-S 19.
11:31 Women's reservation bill introduced in Rajya Sabha
A landmark bill to reserve a third of seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
The 128th Constitution Amendment Bill, which was approved by two-thirds majority in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, was introduced in the Upper House by Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal.
Rajya Sabha will have a seven-and-a-half hour window to discuss the bill.The legislation is widely expected to get approval of the Upper House.
It will then require approval of majority of state assemblies. It will be implemented after a delimitation exercise based on Census data is completed.
This is the seventh attempt since 1996 to get the women's reservation bill passed.
Women presently make up for nearly half of India's 95 crore registered voters but comprise only 15 per cent of lawmakers in Parliament and 10 per cent in state assemblies.
The 33 per cent reservation for women will not apply to the upper house of Parliament and state legislatures. -- PTI
11:18 Trudeau evades questions on charges against India
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not respond to questions about India rejecting allegations made by him in Parliament about India's involvement in the killing of a prominent Khalistani separatist leader.
Trudeau was in the United Nations Headquarters to attend the high-level 78th session of the UN General Assembly.
On Wednesday, he spoke at the Climate Ambition Summit, the UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine and at the Global Carbon Pricing event at an especially constructed SDG Pavilion in the UN premises.
India has strongly rejected Trudeau's statement made in the Canadian Parliament and said "allegations of Government of India's involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated."
Trudeau has made allegations in the Canadian Parliament of the involvement of agents of the Indian government in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, the chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF).
Nijjar was one of India's most-wanted terrorists who carried a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head and was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen outside a gurdwara in Surrey in the western Canadian province of British Columbia on June 18.
Bilateral ties between India and Canada have been tense in recent months. Trade talks have been derailed and Canada just cancelled trade talks. -- PTI
10:46 Canada rejects India's travel advisory amid row
The Canadian government has rejected a travel advisory issued by India about security risks in Canada, saying it is one of the safest countries in the world, and called for calm amid the escalating diplomatic row between the two nations over the killing of a Khalistani separatist leader in this country.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's allegations of "potential" involvement of Indian government agents in the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June unleashed a diplomatic row with India rejecting the charges as "absurd" and "motivated" and kicking out a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa's expulsion of an Indian official.
India on Wednesday advised all its citizens living in Canada and those contemplating travelling there to exercise "utmost caution" in view of growing anti-India activities and "politically-condoned" hate crimes in the North American country, as the diplomatic row over the killing of a Khalistani separatist leader threatened to snowball into a major confrontation.
In a strongly-worded advisory, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi referred to "threats" targeting Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community that oppose the "anti-India agenda", and asked Indian nationals to avoid travelling to regions and potential venues in Canada which have seen such incidents.
Canada's Immigration Minister Marc Miller sought to reassure Indian nationals on Wednesday that it is safe to travel to the country even as a leader of the Sikh separatist movement banned in India has announced plans for rallies in Canadian cities on Monday that seek the closing of New Delhi's diplomatic missions in Toronto, The Globe and Mail newspaper reported.
"Look, I think everyone knows Canada is a safe country and given the events of the last two or three days and the seriousness of the allegations that it's important for everyone to stay calm," The Canadian Press quoted Miller as saying.
"Canada by any standard is one of the safest if not the safest countries in the world that is governed by the rule of law. So, I think people should read that statement for what it is," Miller said.
He acknowledged that Canadian allegations of the "potential" involvement of Indian government agents in the killing of a Khalistani separatist have heightened tensions with the Indian government.
"Given what the Prime Minister has said quite clearly to Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi, the allegations are very serious, and these are discussions that have to continue with India," he said.
"At the same time, emotions are running high, and we've asked everyone just to stay calm given the seriousness of the allegations," he added.
Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Sean Fraser said that he would not comment on the specifics of the probe into Nijjar's death because he does not want to compromise any investigations. -- PTI
10:16 Maha onion traders go on indefinite strike
Onion traders have said that they suspended auctions in all agriculture produce market committees in Nashik district of Maharashtra and their protest will continue indefinitely, a development raising the fear of shortage of the kitchen staple in retail markets and hike in prices.
An office-bearer of the Nashik District Onion Traders Association (NDOTA) said on Wednesday they were protesting against the Union government's recent move to increase export duty on onions up to 40 per cent, which will remain in force till December 31.
Taking serious cognisance, the District Sub-registrar, Co-operative Societies, on Wednesday night issued an order directing all APMCs to suspend or cancel the licences of the striking traders and submit the Action Taken Report on September 21.
"In protest against the export duty hike decision, we have decided to shut the auction of onions in all APMCs in the district indefinitely. This (export duty hike) decision of the Centre will not only make export of onions difficult but it will also affect the onions in transit, causing huge loss to farmers," the office-bearer said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Maharashtra marketing minister Abdul Sattar said that observing a bandh (shutting auctions of onions) was not right.
"Secretaries in the departments of cooperation and marketing will discuss the action to be taken as per rules and Nashik district collector will take the necessary action," he said on the sidelines of an event.
Notably, auctions of onions remained closed at most of the APMCs in Nashik district, including at Lasalgaon, the largest wholesale onion market in India, on August 20.
"We had given time till September 19 to the government to find a solution to our demands. But as our demands are not agreed to yet, we have decided to shut the auction of onions indefinitely," the office-bearer said.
The other demands raised by traders include the cancellation of export duty on onions, a 50 per cent reduction in market fees, participation by the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) and National Cooperative Consumers' Federation of India (NCCF) in auctions and a 50 per cent subsidy in transport of onions.
Accordingly, onion auctions did not take place in all APMCs in Nashik district on Wednesday including in the Lasalgaon APMC. No onions arrived at APMCs, sources said.
The government order mentions that Khandu Deore, president of Nashik District Onion Traders Association, had written a letter on September 13 to minister Sattar mentioning four demands and warning of not participating in onion auctions from September 19.
Accordingly, the minister has organized a meeting of officials of the Marketing department on September 26.
The minister also requested the traders to defer the agitation. Despite that the traders and brokers resorted to strike which has caused many problems for farmers in the sale of various agri produce, the order said.
09:25 Women's reservation bill to face RS test today
The women's reservation bill, passed in the Lok Sabha yesterday, is set for another litmus test today in the Rajya Sabha on Day 4 of the special session of Parliament.
After a spirited eight-hour debate in which 60 members participated, the Lok Sabha passed the Constitution (128th Amendment) Bill, with 454 members voting in favour and two against it.
The bill received 454 votes in favour and only two votes against it.
The women's quota can only be implemented after the first delimitation of constituencies following the passage of the Women's Reservation Bill. This is likely to occur in 2027, as delimitation is only conducted after the next census. Therefore, the bill may not come into effect until 2029.
08:59 US consulting with Canada on Nijjar killing: WH
The spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, Adrienne Watson, on Wednesday rejected reports of the United States rebuffing Canada after the latter accused the Indian government for its role in assassination of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Watson said they are "coordinating and consulting" with Canada and also "engaging" with the Indian government.
Watson made the statement in response to reports in the American media that Washington has distanced itself from Canada's allegation about New Delhi's involvement in the killing of Nijjar, a wanted Khalistani leader in India.
The report highlighted the diplomatic challenges faced by the Biden administration as it seeks to maintain strong relations with both India and Canada.
In a post shared on X, Adrienne Watson stated, "Reports that we rebuffed Canada in any way on this are flatly false. We are coordinating and consulting with Canada closely on this issue. This is a serious matter and we support Canadas ongoing law enforcement efforts. We are also engaging the Indian government."
Earlier, US National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby said "serious allegations" were levelled by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau against India in the killing of Nijjar, adding that the US wanted the matter handled in a "transparent" way.
In an interview with CBS News, Kirby urged India to cooperate in the investigation.
"These allegations are serious and we know that Canadians are investigating and we certainly don't want to get ahead of that investigation. We urge India to cooperate in that investigation as well," Kirby said in the interview.
08:22 Alarming erosion of fundamental rights in India: UN
There is a "steady" and "alarming" erosion of fundamental rights, particularly of religious and other minorities in India, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issue has told the USCIRF.
During a hearing on Wednesday, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issue Fernand de Varennes told the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that the situation in India can be summarised in three words -- "massive, systematic and dangerous".
The USCIRF had announced that it would hold a hearing on religious freedom in India on September 20. India has previously rejected USCIRF reports that alleged violations of religious freedom in the country.
Appearing before the USCIRF for the hearing on policy options for advancing religious freedom in India, de Varennes alleged there is a "steady" and "alarming" erosion of fundamental rights, particularly of religious and other minorities in the country.
"India risks becoming one of the world's main generators of instability, atrocities and violence because of the massive scale and gravity of the violations and abuses targeting mainly religious and other minorities such as Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and others. It is not just individual or local, it is systematic and a reflection of religious nationalism," he said.
The hearing comes on the heels of two successful bilateral meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden -- the official state visit of the Indian leader here in June and a bilateral meeting in New Delhi in September.
USCIRF chair Abraham Cooper claimed Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Dalits and Adivasis are experiencing "increased levels of attacks and acts of intimidation" in India.
"The national government has continued to suppress minority voices and those advocating on their behalf through surveillance, harassment, demolition of property and detention under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. These trends and their implication for the US foreign policy should not be ignored," he said.
Cooper alleged that for the past several years, religious freedom conditions in India have deteriorated, capturing international attention and highlighting the need for continued discussions and engagement on policy options for advancing religious freedom in the country.
The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan US government advisory body created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). Its recommendations are not binding on the US government.
On May 2 this year, India rejected as "biased" and "motivated" a report by the USCIRF that alleged "severe violations" of religious freedom in the country.
"The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) continues to regurgitate biased and motivated comments about India, this time in its 2023 annual report. We reject such misrepresentation of facts, which only serves to discredit USCIRF itself," the Ministry of External Affairs had said.
"We would urge USCIRF to desist from such efforts and develop a better understanding of India, its plurality, its democratic ethos and its constitutional mechanisms," it had said.
Modi's state visit to Washington in June reflects the close bilateral relationship between the United States and India, the USCIRF had said last week.
"However, over the last decade, the Indian government has enacted and enforced discriminatory policies targeting religious minorities, including anti-conversion laws, cow slaughter laws, legislation granting citizenship preferences based on religion, and restrictions on foreign funding for civil society organisations," it alleged. -- PTI
01:23 Govt employee killed by colleague over money, buried near house in Delhi
A 24-year-old government employee was arrested for allegedly killing his colleague, wrapping his body in polythene and burying it in a vacant house in his neighbourhood in southwest Delhi's RK Puram area, the police said on Wednesday.
The accused has been identified as Anish, who works at Survey of India and a resident of RK Puram Sector-2, they said.
According to police, victim Mahesh had loaned Anish Rs 9 lakh and was killed when he demanded his money back and berated Anish for splurging money on his girlfriend.
On August 29, RK Puram Police Station received a call from Mahesh's brother Anesh, who said his brother was missing, a senior police officer said.
He said his brother had left his house on August 28 around 12.30 pm and told his wife before leaving that he was going to meet his colleague Anish at RK Puram Sector 2, but never came back, the officer said.
Manesh said when he and his sister-in-law spoke to Anish about Mahesh, he said that did meet Mahesh at his house, but he had left for his house after some time, police said. Anish even promised to help the family in their search for Mahesh.
The police said during their investigation Mahesh's last location was Faridabad in Haryana.
When they went there, they found no evidence of his being there.
Anish became a suspect as he did not inform the police that the victim came to meet him on the day of the incident as he told Mahesh's family, they said.
They began questioning several suspects, including Anish, who later confessed to killing Mahesh, deputy commissioner of police (southwest) Manoj C said.
According to the officer, the accused said that Mahesh was harassing him for his money and even insulted him, so he decided to kill him.
He said when Mahesh's wife called him to ask for his whereabouts, he told her Mahesh had come and left leaving his car behind with him, the DCP said. -- PTI
00:54 Lok Sabha to discuss Chandrayaan-3 mission today
Lok Sabha will on Thursday hold a discussion on the success of the Chandrayaan-3 mission.
Just before he adjourned the House for the day after the passage of the women's reservation bill, Speaker Om Birla informed the members that Lok Sabha will take up a discussion on the success of the latest moon mission and the India's glorious space journey.
Rajya Sabha discussed the subject on Wednesday. -- PTI
Adrienne Watson, the US national security council spokesperson
00:29 'US did not rebuff Canada' over Nijjar killing
Adrienne Watson, the US national security council spokesperson, has posted on X that "reports that we rebuffed Canada in any way' on the killing of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar and its allegation of India's role in it, "are flatly false. We are coordinating and consulting with Canada closely on this issue. This is a serious matter and we support Canada's ongoing law enforcement efforts. We are also engaging the Indian government."
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com
00:24 Govt to kick-start pre-budget meetings from Oct 10
The finance ministry will kick-start month-long pre-budget meetings from October 10 ahead of the preparation of the annual budget for 2024-25.
"Pre-budget discussions to finalise RE (Revised Estimate) 2023-24 and BE (Budget Estimate) 2024-25 in respect of the Grants/appropriations will commence with effect from 10.10.2023 under the chairmanship of finance secretary and secretary (expenditure)," a meeting notice circulated by the Budget Division of the finance ministry said.
The notice dated September 20, 2023, circulated to all ministries and departments has a schedule of meetings with them.
The schedule for pre-budget meetings has been prepared taking into account various exigencies and is being circulated well in advance, it said.
Hence, it said, ministries and departments should ensure that the necessary details required should be submitted by October 5, 2023.
The pre-budget meeting starting on October 10 will continue till November 14 as per the schedule.
The Budget Estimates for 2024-25 will be provisionally finalised after completion of pre-budget meetings. It will be an interim Budget as the elections for the Lok Sabha are due early next year.
The full Budget for FY25 will be presented after the formation of the new government after the general elections. -- PTI