11:37 Gauri Lankesh’s sister thinks there’s only one suspect: Gauri Lankesh’s sister Kavitha Lankesh has said she thinks only one group harboured a possible motive to kill the journalist: “Right-wing activists”.
“Only one, I think. The Right-wing activists. Most of it she used to write about that,” Kavitha said on being asked which group – Maoists or Hindu Right-wing outfits – she thought was responsible for the death of her sister.
“The Naxalites had nothing to do with it, I think. She only tried to get them for discussions and live a mainstream life. I don’t see how that can lead to a threat and kill her,” Kavitha added. Read more
11:23 Plaint against BJP MLA who said Gauri Lankesh killed for writing against RSS: A group of Congress workers in Sringeri have filed a police complaint against Bharatiya Janata Party MLA D N Jeevaraj, who said yesterday that journalist Gauri Lankesh was killed for her statements against the right wing.
“She may have written some things against us in her paper. That is democracy, that is a different matter. But who will pay the cost of her life?” he asked.
Going further, he also hit out at the language that Gauri had used in her writing, titling her article Chaddigala Maaranahoma (Death of the RSS).
“If she had refrained from writing articles like that she would have probably been alive today,” he said.
However, after a controversy erupted over his statements, the MLA said that his words were misunderstood.
Meanwhile, Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah, along with Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy, held a meeting with the special investigation team investigating the murder to assess progress. — Agencies
10:20 Eat beef in your country before coming to India, jokes tourism minister: The newly-appointed Union Tourism Minister Alphons Kannanthanam has apparently asked the tourists coming from abroad to ‘eat beef in your own country and then come to India’.
The statement came in the aftermath of him being questioned about cow vigilantism and restrictions on beef consumption in several states of India and how it has affected India’s hospitality sector.
“They should eat beef in their own country and then come to India,” he quipped and laughed.
Kannanthanam was addressing the 33rd annual convention of the Indian Association of Tour Operators in Bhubaneswar.
This also comes close on the heels of Kannanthanam’s earlier statement that beef would continue to be consumed in Kerala.
However, when the minister was asked about his earlier statements, he said, “It’s a cock-and-bull story. I am not the food minister to decide on it.”
Alphons Kannanthanam is a bureaucrat-turned-politician, and was appointed as the Minister of State for Tourism (Independent Charge) in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new team.
Earlier, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Harsh Vardhan had ordered that the ministry has notified the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 to ensure that the sale of cattle is not meant for slaughter purposes.
Regulating animal trade is a state business, but animal welfare is a central subject, thereby providing the window for the ministry to notify the rule.In lieu of this, there was widespread opposition of the order, with many states openly denying accepting the notification. — ANI
IMAGE: Union Tourism Minister Alphons Kannanthanam. Photograph: ANI
09:30 Security forces start sanitisation drive at Dera HQ in Sirsa: Sanitisation drive continues at Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters in Sirsa, Haryana.
A JCB machine has been brought to facilitate the operation. Authorities have also called 10 blacksmiths inside the HQ.
Information and PR Department Deputy Director Satish Mehra said that court commissioner A K S Pawar has reached the Dera premises and search ops have begun.
“The situation is normal,” he said.
However, surrounding areas will remain under curfew till the ops continue. — ANI
09:13 Trump does not rule out army action against North Korea: President Donald Trump has said that military option against a defiant North Korea is certainly an option for him, but hoped that he does not have to use it.
“Military action would certainly be an option. Is it inevitable? Nothing is inevitable. It would be great if something else could be worked out,” he told reporters at a news conference with the Kuwait’s Emir Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah yesterday.
“We would have to look at all the details, all of the facts. But we’ve had presidents for 25 years now, they’ve been talking, talking, and the day after an agreement is reached, new work begins in North Korea, continuation on nuclear. So, I would prefer not going the route of the military, but it’s something certainly that could happen,” Trump said in response to a question.
Stressing that the United States military is now stronger than ever, Trump said, “Hopefully we’re not going to have to use it on North Korea. If we do use it on North Korea, it will be a very sad day for North Korea”.
“I’m not negotiating with you. Maybe we’ll have a chance to negotiate with somebody else, but I don’t put my negotiations on the table. Unlike past administrations, I don’t talk about them. But I can tell you that North Korea is behaving badly, and it’s got to stop,” he said. — PTI
08:33 Army, police enter Dera HQ in Sirsa to conduct search ops: Security personnel and concerned officials have entered premises of Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters in Sirsa to conduct searches as ordered by Punjab and Haryana high court.
41 Paramilitary companies, four Army columns, Police of four districts, one SWAT team and one dog squad deployed for search of Dera HQ in Sirsa.
A bomb Squad is also accompanying officials.
Heavy security has been deployed at Satnaam Chowk, main entrance to the Dera headquarters in view of search ops inside.
A curfew has been imposed in areas surrounding the HQ in Sirsa, there will be no relaxation till search operations continue.
Dera spokesperson Vipassana Insan said that ‘Dera has always followed the law’ and appealed followers to maintain peace. — ANI
08:13 BJP on #BlockNarendraModi: PM follows Rahul, Kejri too: The Bharatiya Janata Party has dismissed as ‘farcical and fake’ the row over Prime Minister Narendra Modi following some Twitter users accused of making objectionable comments over journalist Gauri Lankesh’s murder, and and said it shows selective approach to right to freedom of expression.
In a statement, BJP’s IT department head Amit Malviya termed the row a one-way street, saying opposition leaders like Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi or Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal are ‘never questioned’ for behaviour of their followers.
Modi following a person is not a ‘character certificate’ of a person and is not in anyway a guarantee of how a person would conduct himself.
‘He is a rare leader who truly believes in freedom of speech and has never blocked or un-followed anyone on Twitter. We have multiple examples of leaders curbing free speech on social media, including the previous PMO handle,’ he said.
The PM still follows Parthesh Patel, ‘a former BJP volunteer who joined the Congress and abused the PM in the worst possible language,’ he said.
The controversy is ‘mischievous and contorted’, he said, adding that Modi is the only leader who freely engages with people on social media platforms.
‘Rahul is never questioned for the abuse by Tehseen Poonawala, who also happens to be his relative.
‘Kejriwal is never questioned for the abuse and rape threats his supporters shower on others. Thus, this debate is not only farcical and fake, but also an exhibit of selective right to freedom of expression,’ he said in a statement.
Modi, Malviya said, also follows Rahul Gandhi, who is an ‘accused in loot and fraud’ and also follows Kejriwal, who ‘abused’ him on Twitter and ‘told a woman ‘settle kar lo‘ when she complained of a party member molesting her’.
Malviya said Modi follows ‘normal people’ and frequently interacts with them on various issues.
Some twitter users had yesterday posted abusive comments targeting the slain journalist.
The prime minister was criticised for allegedly following some of them on Twitter from his personal handle. — PTI
IMAGE: Statement by BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya. Photograph: @BJP4India/Twitter
01:34 Modi govt should be renamed as ‘derailment sarkar’: Congress :
The Congress on Thursday attacked the government over back-to-back train derailments, and said the Modi dispensation should be renamed as “derailment sarkar”.
Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said railway safety was in shambles in the country as daily train accidents pose a grave threat to passenger safety.
“Third derailment in 24 hours. Who is accountable? “How many derailments will it take for the Railway Ministry to sit up and take notice?” asked the Congress on its official Twitter handle.
Three trains jumped off the tracks in Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi and Maharashtra within a span of nine hours on Thursday, the latest in a string of such incidents which saw the exit of Suresh Prabhu as railway minister in the Cabinet reshuffle last Sunday.
Luckily, barring injury to a passenger in the accident in the national capital, no casualties were reported in other incidents.
Surjewala said, “3rd train derailment today. Safety in shambles. Modi Sarkar should be renamed as ‘Derailment Sarkar’!”
After the second derailment, he said daily train accidents exposed the grave threat to passenger safety as the railway ministry remained in “deep slumber”.
“Another train accident caused by derailment in UP Post reshuffling of cards, when will we have passenger safety measures in place?” he asked on Twitter.
Surjewala also accused the railways of “criminal negligence”.