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LIVE! Govt announces Rs 10 lakh reward to anyone giving clues in Gauri Lankesh’s murder

16:26  Govt announces Rs 10 lakh reward to anyone giving clues in Gauri Lankesh’s murder:  

The Karnataka government today announced Rs 10 lakh reward to anyone who provides clues about the killing of senior journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh.

The announcement was made by Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy, a day after the city police asked public to share any information that they may have in connection with the case through a specific phone number and e-mail id.

“Chief Minister (Siddaramaiah) has given instructions to intensify the investigation and nab the culprits as soon as possible. We have given enough officials to the SIT, if they need additional officers we are ready to give,” Reddy said.

Reddy said, “We will give Rs 10 lakh reward to anybody who gives

clues about the culprits.”

Siddaramaiah today held a meeting with the SIT on the investigation that is in progress in connection with the case.

Reddy, along with SIT chief B K Singh, Director General of Police R K Dutta and Intelligence DG A M Prasad were present at the meeting.

The state government had on Wednesday announced the  formation of a 21-member SIT team headed by IGP (Intelligence) B K Singh to probe the killing that has led to a wave of country-wide protests and condemnation across the political spectrum.

Gauri Lankesh, known to be an anti-establishment voice with strident anti-right wing views, was shot dead at close range by unknown assailants at her home here on the night of September 5. 


16:18  Adityanath, deputies elected unopposed to legislative council:  Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, his two deputies and a minister were today declared elected unopposed to the Legislative Council.

No other candidate was in the fray for the bypolls to the five vacant seats in the upper house.

Adityanath, deputy chief ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma and minister Swatantradev Singh had filed their nominations papers for the by-election on Tuesday.

The four were declared elected unopposed, Principal Secretary (Vidhan Sabha), Padeeep Dueby, who is also the returning officer, said.

Meanwhile, the nomination papers of another minister Mohsin Raza were found valid on scrutiny today, he said.

Opposition parties did not field any candidate for the by-election to these five seats.

The chief minister had filed his nominations on the seat vacated by Samajwadi Party member Yashwant while deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya filed nominations on the seat held by SP member Bukkal Nawab.

Their term was to expire in July 2022.

Deputy CM Dinesh Sharma filed his nominations for the seat vacated by Ashok Bajpai and Swatantra Dev Singh for the seat vacated by SP member Sarojni Agarwal.

Their term was to expire in January 2021.

Raza, the only Muslim minister in the Yogi cabinet, had filed his nominations for the seat vacated by Bahujan Samaj Party member Thakur Jaiveer Singh.

But the term of the seat is just for around eight months as it will end in May next year.

Adityanath and Maurya had won the last Lok Sabha elections from Gorakhpur and Phulpur (Allahabad) seats respectively.

Adityanath had taken over as the chief minister on March 19. He had to become a legislator within the stipulated six months of assuming office. — PTI


15:58  SC bans NEET agitations in Tamil Nadu:  The Supreme Court has banned agitations on NEET in Tamil Nadu. Political parties and pro-Tamil outfits have been staging state-wide protests over the suicide of a 17-year-old girl who had moved the Supreme Court against the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test-based medical examinations. They sought immediate withdrawal of the entrance exam.

The SC today directed the Tamil Nadu government to ensure no agitations
takes place in the state over the NEET exam issue and issued a directive to the government to book anyone involved in stalling normal life in the state.

The state has been witnessing widespread protests after Anitha, the daughter of a daily wage earner, hanged herself at her house in Ariyalur district on September 1.

She was reportedly upset after reports emerged that the state would not be exempted from the ambit of NEET. She could not get a medical seat despite scoring high marks in class XII examination due to a poor showing in the entrance test.

File picture


15:47  Omg! Appalled and disappointed, says Shilpa Shetty over attack on photographers :  Shilpa Shetty posts an apology for the assault on two photographers who were taking pictures of the actress and her husband outside a restaurant in Mumbai.

Shetty who is in Amritsar, posted on Instagram, “Omg, appalled and disappointed at the way these photographers were bashed up.. Really unnecessary… Feel bad for the paps they stand for hrs sometimes for a shot.. They are part of my fraternity and no one needs to be beaten for doing his job. Absolutely condemn what happened.”

She added that she had just landed in Amritsar and was at the Golden Temple..

Two bouncers of a private security agency were today arrested for allegedly assaulting two photo journalists outside a restaurant in Mumbai, police said.

The incident took place last night when the two press photographers were clicking snaps of actress Shilpa Shetty Kundra and her husband Raj Kundra, while they were coming out of the hotel in suburban Bandra, an official of Khar police station said.

While the actress and Kundra were moving inside their car, the two bouncers allegedly pushed the photographers, who were taking their pictures, and later manhandled them, the official said.

In a purported video of the incident that was shared on a messaging app, the two bouncers were seen punching the photographer duo, leaving them with swollen face.

Based on the complaint filed by victims, Sonu and Himanshu Shinde, a case has been booked under IPC section 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), rw 34 (common intention), against the two bouncers, Khar police station senior inspector Ram Chandra Jadhav said.

The accused, identified as Kanchi Purve and Kadar, were arrested today, he said, adding further investigation into the matter was underway. Meanwhile, Bastian Hotel, where the incident occurred, has expressed shock and said the two bouncers involved, were hired for Bastian via external vendors.


15:25  Parallel moves by Modi govt on Rohingyas:  India’s foreign office is gently prodding Myanmar to economically develop the country’s violence-ravaged Rakhine state while the home ministry plans to deport Rohingya refugees who fled the province, the parallel moves suggesting dissonance within the Narendra Modi government. Read more


15:21  Army to induct women in military police:  The Army has finalised a plan to induct women in the military police, a senior officer said today. The plan — being seen as a major step towards breaking gender barriers in the force — is to induct approximately 800 women in military police with a yearly intake of 52 personnel per year, Adjuntant General of the Army Lt. Gen. Ashwani Kumar said.

In an interview to PTI in June, Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat had said the Army was looking at inducting women jawans and the process would start with the induction of women into military police corps.

Lt. Gen. Kumar said the decision to induct women in Corps of Military Police would help in investigating allegations of gender specific crimes. Currently, women are allowed in select areas such as medical, legal, educational, signals and engineering wings of the Army.

The role of the military police includes policing cantonments and army establishments, preventing breach of rules and regulations by soldiers, maintaining movement of soldiers as well as logistics during peace and war, handling prisoners of war and extending aid to civil police whenever required.

Image: The all-women contingent of the India Army practises ahead of a Republic Day parade.


14:50  BJP and Modi busy dividing society: Rahul Gandhi:  Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today alleged that the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were busy dividing society in their quest to retain power. Only the Congress ideology could take on the BJP and the RSS, he said at a party rally.

Gandhi also took potshots at the Modi-led government on demonetisation and described the exercise as a total flop. “Entire India knows that it turned the black money of India’s ‘thieves’ to white,” the Congress leader said.

“First they said demonetisation would result in checking terror. Then they said demonetisation would check black money. The reality is that everyone in India knows that 90 per cent of black money is in real estate, gold,” he said.

“We don’t know the reason why Modi was after the cash of farmers, poor labourers and housewives,” he said. Gandhi also took a dig at RBI, saying it took almost a year to announce that 99 per cent of the scrapped currency had been returned to the coffers.

“We had asked in Parliament about the amount of black money unearthed in the demonetisation exercise. It took RBI a year to say that 99 per cent of old money came back in the coffers,” the Congress leader said. He blamed the government for GDP reaching “a low of 4.5 per cent”. “Who will own responsibility for this? The prime minister is responsible for this,” Gandhi said.

File pic.


14:36  No-fly rules finalised, has minimum 2-year ban:   Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha today announced the finalisation of the country’s first no-fly list. The minister said the motive behind the No-Fly List was the safety and security of passengers, which was a priority with the government. 

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has now put in place 3 levels of unruly behaviour and a penalty for each level.  The DGCA also said that if the Home Ministry informs it about a certain individual then that person will also be added in the No-Fly List.

A draft of the proposed no-fly list was floated in May with the ministry holding internal discussions to define a ‘boundary’ crossing which an unruly passenger would be put in the list.

A number of incidents involving members of Parliament such as Ravindra Gaikwad of the Shiv Sena and JC Diwakar Reddy of the TDP assaulting airline staff had resulted in clamour for an official no-fly list. Airlines such as Air India and IndiGo had barred the two MPs from flying for a few days after which they backed out.

Image: Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad who was banned from flying by several airlines after he assaulted an Air India staffer in March.

14:01  Gurugram: School student found dead inside toilet:  A Class II student of Ryan International School in Gurugram’s Bhondsi was found dead inside the toilet of the school premises on Friday. The school authorities found the child’s throat slit and a knife beside the body. The police is investigating whether it is a case of murder or an attempted suicide. Details awaited. 

13:57  Lankesh murder: BJP asks what SIT will do if Rahul has already given verdict:   The BJP today lashed out at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in a strongly-worded attack on his comments against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Sangh parivar in the wake of the murder of activist-journalist Gauri Lankesh.

Senior BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad condemned the “malafide comments” on the “regrettable and unfortunate killing” of the journalist-activist. Various party leaders, he added, had spoken out against the murder. Showing copies of news reports of Lankesh’s brother, Indrajit Lankesh, claiming that she had worked for the surrender of Naxalites, Prasad asked why the Siddaramaiah government had not provided her security.

“Indrajit Lankesh is on record having said publicly that his sister was working actively to ensure the surrender of Naxalites…so was she doing it with consent and approval of the state government…and if so why was she not provided adequate security?” Prasad asked at a press conference. It had also been said that Naxalites were unhappy with this. “Why was there such a security failure by the Congress government in Karnataka?” he added.

Condemning every murder is correct but why did my liberal friends maintain silence after the killings of BJP-RSS workers in Kerala and Karnataka? Does an RSS worker in Kerala have the right to follow his ideology or not?– Even before the I of investigation could start, Rahul Gandhi publicly alleged that RSS and right wing ideology is responsible. On this unfortunate, dastardly killing, the great Rahul Gandhi — who always speaks without doing any homework — already gave a certificate that the Sangh and right-wing organisations were responsible for the murder– Would like to ask the Karnataka CM in the light of that (Rahul Gandhi’s) comment, should we expect a fair probe by the SIT and does CM agree with comment?

Taking on Cong Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Prasad asked why he had not questioned his party’s government in the state. Rahul has already blamed RSS wing groups for killing the journalist, Prasad said. How then could a fair probe be expected from the Congress government in Karnataka, he added.

Stressing that the BJP respects everyone’s right to express their feelings and sense of repulsion, Prasad lashed out against “so called liberals of double standards” who remain silent on on the killings of RSS workers in Karnataka and Kerala.


13:29  Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s plastic currency found :   Mobile Internet services have been suspended with immediate effect in Sirsa district to prevent any disturbance of public order and to curb spread of rumours in view of the “sanitisation” exercise being carried out at the Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters.

During the sanitation drive, several plastic coins in Rs 10 denominations — the Gurmeet Ram Rahim currency — was found. 

Mobile Internet services, including 2G, 3G, 4G, CDMA and GPRS, all SMS services and all dongle services provided on mobile networks, except voice calls, in Sirsa district shall remained suspended till 23:59 hrs of September 10, according to an order issued by the Haryana government’s Home Department said.

“This order is issued to prevent any disturbance of peace and public order in district Sirsa and shall remain in force till 10.9.17 (23:59 hrs)..,” it says. The orders have been issued under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017.

The order said, “whereas, it has been reported by Deputy Commissioner, Sirsa, that in order to stop panic among public on account of this (sanitisation) operation and to curb spread of rumours in district Sirsa…therefore considering the critical situation and to maintain peace and communal harmony in the state..temporary suspension of telecom services is ordered.”

An exercise to carry out “sanitisation” of the sprawling Dera Sacha Sauda sect headquarters premises began at Sirsa this morning.


12:59  Coach Gopichand has a new student:  After her upcoming biopic ‘Haseena: The Queen of Mumbai’ actress Shraddha Kapoor, has bagged another biographical film. The yet untitled film has is based on badminton champion Saina Nehwal. Saina posted this picture today with her coach P Gopichand and Shraddha Kapoor, saying, @NSaina “Today’s badminton practice session … Gopi sir, @ShraddhaKapoor and me #Biopic.” 


12:47  Sunny Leone is co-owner of Premier Futsal franchise:  Premier Futsal today announced actress Sunny Leone as the co-owner and brand ambassador of the Kochi-based franchise Kerala Cobras. Premier Futsal Season 2 is set to kick off on September 15 in Mumbai where matches will be played at NSCI, Worli until September 17.

The next round of matches are to be played in Bengaluru from September 19 to September 24 at Koramangala Indoor Stadium.

The semi-finals and final are scheduled to be held in Dubai from September 26 to October 1, Premier Futsal said in a media release. The inaugural edition of the five-a-side event featured soccer legends Luis Figo, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Hernan Crespo, Michel Salgado, Falcao and Ronaldhino, who is all set to return for this season too, the release added.


12:45  Military-judiciary nexus behind crippling of Pakistan’s democracy, say experts:  The removal of Nawaz Sharif from the office of Prime Minister through a Supreme Court ruling is being seen by experts as a shot in the arm for the judiciary-military nexus in Pakistan.

Sharif’s ouster came under intense scrutiny at a seminar ‘Withered Democracy in Pakistan — The Role of the Deep State’ held in London recently.

The seminar saw academicians from Britain and the United States of America get together to discuss the evolution of politics, the role of armed forces, democracy and judiciary in Pakistan.

The seminar was organised by Democracy Forum at Senate House.Farzana Shaikh, a Pakistani-origin fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, described the country as a “bonsai democracy” or a state restricted by its environment.

She said, “And yet the emergence in the last decade to competing institutional forces in Pakistan that have sought to muzzle in on space once thought to be exclusively to preserve the so-called deep state has arguably made business of conspiring against democracy far more challenging than at any time in the past”.

12:29  Cong’s Digvijaya Singh posts abusive meme against PM Modi:   Congress’ Digvijaya Singh posted an abusive meme on Friday taking a potshot at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his followers who were termed as ‘Bhakts’, a derogatory term used on the social media against those who were supporters of PM Modi.

The meme posted by Digvijaya had a picture of PM Modi with text next to it  showed the PM holding up two fingers and saying he had two achievements, making fools out of his bhakts and making bhakts out of fools.

Singh added a caveat to his post by saying, “Not mine but couldn’t help posting it. My apologies to the person concerned. He is the best in the art of fooling!”

Digvijaya Singh has since deleted the tweet.

Digvijaya Singh is a member of Parliament from Rajya Sabha and General Secretary of the Congress Party.  — ANI


12:27  Delhi HC refuses to restrain Republic TV from airing news on Sunanda Pushkar:  The Delhi High Court refuses to pass an interim order on Shashi Tharoor’s plea to restrain Arnab Goswami, channel from airing news on Sunanda Pushkar’s death.

In May, the Congress MP had filed a civil defamation suit against Arnab Goswami and his news channel Republic TV in the Delhi High Court claiming damages and compensation of Rs 2 crore for allegedly making defamatory remarks against him while airing news relating to the death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar.

The Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram has also sought a direction from the high court to restrain the TV channel from broadcasting any show relating to the death of his wife till the investigation is completed by the Delhi Police.

The Congress leader, in his lawsuit, has made Goswami and Arg Outlier Media Asianet News Private Limited, the company which owns Republic TV, as parties.

He has referred to the broadcasting of news items from May 8 to May 13 when the TV channel claimed to air an expose connected to the death of his wife.

The lawsuit filed through advocates Muhammad Ali Khan and Gaurav Gupta denounced the news, claiming that the recordings were released in a sensational manner so as to appease the viewers and created a non-existing controversy by maligning his public life and public image.

“It is not out of place to say that defendants (Goswami and TV channel) broadcast news reports and alleged expose’ which were intended to lead the viewers to believe that the deceased was murdered either by plaintiff (Tharoor) or at the instance of the plaintiff.

“Such a broadcast clearly has the potential of adversely impacting the ongoing investigation into the death of the deceased,” the plea said, while seeking to restrain from “maligning and defaming him in any manner” by reporting or broadcasting the news relating to the death of Pushkar. 

12:08  Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy announces a Rs10 lakh reward for any clue related to the Gauri Lankesh murder.


11:48  Chinese jailed for diamond heist at Mumbai exhibition dies :  A 48-year-old Chinese national arrested for alleged theft of diamonds died in the Thane central jail, a prison official has said.

The Vanrai police in adjoining Mumbai had arrested Jiang Changquing and another Chinese national Deng Xiaobo (45) on August 1 for allegedly stealing two diamonds worth Rs 36.5 lakh from an exhibition centre in suburban Goregaon.

Both of them were subsequently remanded in judicial custody and lodged in the Thane central jail. On August 29, while having lunch with Xiaobo in the prison, Changquing collapsed all of a sudden, Thane jail superintendent Nitin Waychal told reporters yesterday. He was rushed to the jail hospital and then taken to Thane civil hospital where doctors declared him brought dead, he said.

The jail authorities and the district police later informed the Chinese Embassy about the death, Waychal said. The deceased had no previous medical history, he said.

The autopsy was done at Mumbai’s J J Hospital where the body was handed over to Changquing’s family members on Wednesday, the official said.

The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel had nabbed Changquing and Xiaobo at the Mumbai international airport minutes before they were about to board a flight to Osaka in Japan on July 31, police earlier said.

The duo, who had arrived in the city on July 30, visited an international jewellery exhibition at NESCO ground in Mumbai’s Goregaon area on July 31 afternoon. They engaged the sales executive at one of the stalls in conversation, asking several questions, and managed to steal diamonds on display by replacing it with fake ones. The stall owner noticed the theft after the duo had left.

The police then alerted CISF officials at the airport. The duo had cleared immigration checks when the CISF personnel apprehended them, police had said.

The police interrogated the accused for about seven hours with the help of an interpreter, and recovered the stolen diamonds, they said. Subsequently, both were arrested on August 1 under relevant IPC sections for cheating and theft.

Image: CCTV grab of one of the two Chinese nationals at the stall at the exhibition centre in Goregaon.


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

11:27  Magnitude 8 earthquake rocks southern Mexico: USGS:  An earthquake of magnitude 8.0 struck southern Mexico today and was felt as far away as Mexico City, the US Geological Survey said, issuing a tsunami warning. It hit offshore 120 kilometres southwest of the town of Tres Picos in the state of Chiapas.

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

Photograph: 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

Photograph: 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”.

Source: Rediff