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LIVE! Shiv Sena to fight BMC polls alone, rules out alliance with BJP

19:57  Shiv Sena to fight BMC polls alone, rules out alliance with BJP:  

Ruling out alliance with the BJP, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray said that his party will contest the Mumbai civic polls alone.

“I will not go into alliance, from now the fight has started, said Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray at a rally. 

“In 50 years of Sena’s existence, 25 years were wasted because of the alliance. We’re not greedy for power,” Uddhav said.

The BMC polls will be held on February 21, and results will be announced on February 23. 

The Shiv Sena is the key ally of the ruling BJP in Maharashtra as well as at the Centre. However, the two parties contested the 2014 assembly elections separately and later joined hands to form the government.


19:15  Pak jitters draws UAE closer to India:  

Rajeev Sharma tells us: Here’s an explainer of the usefulness of the standard lip service expression of resolute opposition to terrorism ‘in all its forms and manifestations’ wherever committed and by whomever that finds a mention in the India-UAE joint statement.

Why should this expression be important specially when Pakistan itself, with its well known track record of exporting terrorism, uses this phrase in almost all its diplomatic outreaches with foreign countries?

Yet, it has its significance.

When the UAE joins India in saying this and voicing disapproval of countries giving religious and sectarian colour to political issues and that it is the responsibility of all States to control the activities of the so-called non-State actors, it is important because the UAE has traditionally had very close relations with Pakistan.

In fact, the UAE had supported Pakistan militarily in the 1971 India-Pakistan war.

The UAE is making such statements because of its mortal fear of spread of radicalisation within the Emirates, knowing well that Pakistan is a major source of the spread of radicalisation.

The ‘T’ word scores big in the India-UAE joint statement released on the conclusion of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s India visit.

The two sides had an intensive discussion on terrorism and counter terrorism which is evident by the fact that nine of the 62 points in the joint statement are devoted to this issue.

Four terrorist attacks find specific mention in the document; two of these of last year (on the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot in January 2016 and on the army base in Uri in September 2016) while the other two being more recent happenings in Afghanistan (the terrorist attacks in Kabul and Kandahar on January 10, 2017 in which several UAE diplomats and nationals were killed).

Image: PM Modi General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Adu Dhabi  during the 68th Republic Day celebrations at Rajpath in New Delhi on Thursday. Photograph: Kamal Singh/PTI Photo


18:51  Actor Shia LaBeouf arrested at anti-Trump art installation :  Hollywood Actor Shia LaBeouf has been arrested following a scuffle at the site of his protest against new United States President Donald Trump in New York.

The “Nymphomaniac” star was taken into custody by police allegedly after a disagreement which involved LaBeouf assaulting a man with divergent political opinions, reported the Guardian

The 30-year-old actor’s ‘He Will Not Divide Us’ livestream anti-Donald Trump protest has been ongoing since the Republican took office last week.

While it is not clear exactly why LaBeouf was arrested, an earlier video from the event showed a man approaching the actor and embracing him before shouting, “Hitler did nothing wrong”.

Another website TMZ claimed that LaBeouf scratched the man and grabbed his scarf.


18:14  Mafia-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari joins BSP:  

Mafia-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari has joined the Bahujan Samaj Party and will contest the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections from Mau Sadar, party chief Mayawati said on Thursday.

The BSP will also field Ansari’s son Abbas and brother Sigbatullah from Ghosi and Mohammadabad Gohna, respectively.

Mukhtar Ansari, a founder of the Quami Ekta Dal, is the current MLA from Mau Sadar. He has been a member of the BSP before.

Last year, the QED merged with the ruling Samajwadi Party, but Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was unhappy with the move — given Ansari’s criminal antecedents, and the fact that the merger was formalised due to his uncle’s Shivpal’s initiative.


17:26  Roger Federer in Australian Open final:  Roger Federer’s superb run continued as he downed compatriot Stan Wawrinka in a five-set thriller to enter the Australian Open final in Melbourne Park.

He won 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3. 

He will either face Rafael Nadal or Grigor Dimitrov in the title round.


17:20  A special Beating Retreat Ceremony takes place the Wagah Border on the occasion of the 68th Republic Day.

17:16  NIIF CEO Sujoy Bose to help draw framework for UAE’s $75 bn investment:  

Rajeev Sharma tells us: Contrary to a media report which said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Abu Dhabi’s visiting Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan did not discuss Abu Dhabi’s proposed $75 billion investment pledge, the proposed investment in Indian infrastructure indeed came up for intensive discussion between the two leaders on Wednesday. This has been confirmed by the just released India-UAE Joint Statement.

Clause 35 of the 62-point joint statement says thus: ‘The two leaders reviewed the progress in realising the USD 75 billion target for UAE investments in India’s plans for rapid expansion of next generation infrastructure development. Prime Minister Modi invited UAE participation in Indias National Infrastructure Investment Master Fund as an anchor investor. The two leaders agreed that the Joint Working Group formed under the MOU on the framework for facilitating the participation of UAE Institutional Investors in National Infrastructure Investment Fund should meet regularly to boost investment ties to realize the full potential.’

Now the ball is in India’s court and the Modi government is expected to fast track negotiations with Abu Dhabi on the proposed $75 billion investment.

Former senior World Bank official Sujoy Bose, who was appointed CEO of the Rs 40,000 crore (Rs 400 billion) National Infrastructure Investment Fund last June, is likely to play a pivotal role in India-UAE negotiations.

However, these negotiations are going to be a long process and it may take quite a while before the first tranche of the $75 billion investment materialises.


17:15  Targeting Pak, India-UAE condemn use of religion for terrorism:  

In a veiled attack on Pakistan, India and the UAE have condemned efforts by States to use religion to sponsor and sustain terrorism against other countries, and resolved to cooperate in countering terrorism by adopting a policy of “zero tolerance” towards the menace.

An India-UAE joint statement today, said the two sides agreed to coordinate efforts to counter radicalisation and misuse of religion by groups and countries for inciting hatred and perpetrating acts of terrorism.

Acknowledging the common threat posed by terrorism to peace and security, the two countries reaffirmed their “strong condemnation of and resolute opposition to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, wherever committed and by whomever, and declared that there could be no justification for terrorism anywhere”, it said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan had held comprehensive talks yesterday on bilateral, regional and international issues after which the two sides signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement and over a dozen pacts in key areas like defence, security, trade and energy.

Without naming Pakistan, the statement said, “The two sides condemned efforts, including by States, to use religion to justify, sustain and sponsor terrorism against other countries.

“They further deplored efforts by countries to give religious and sectarian colour to political issues and pointed out the responsibility of all States to control the activities of the so-called ‘non-State actors’.”

16:17  PM condoles death of soldiers in Gurez sector avalanches:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the death of 10 soldiers in two avalanches in Gurez Sector of Kashmir. In a tweet, the Prime Minister said he was “deeply saddened” at the death of the jawans. 

“Deeply saddened at the death of our Veer jawans in avalanche in Kashmir. Have directed the authorities for speedy search and rescue ops,” the prime minister wrote on twitter.

Ten soldiers were killed after two avalanches hit Gurez Sector of Kashmir last evening.


16:14  Indian ambassador to Pakistan Gautam Bambawale unfurls tricolour in Islamabad during Republic Day celebrations at high commission of India. 


15:35  Opening collections: ‘Raees’ beats Kaabil’ in box office battle:  

Shah Rukh Khan starrer Raees has raced ahead of Hrithik Roshan’s Kaabil at the box office after both films opened simultaneously on Wednesday.

Rahul Dholakia directed Raees starring Shah Rukh as a bootlegger, has garnered more than Rs 20 crore while Hrithik’s film Kaabil helmed by Sanjay Gupta has earned over Rs 10 crore at the box office on day one.

Raaes had a better opening as it did Rs 19-20 crore business on day one while Kaabil made Rs 10.5 crore at the box office. Shah Rukh is a bigger star, also people are liking the story of Raees so it has affected Kaabil,” distributor Rajesh Thadani said.

According to Thadani, Raees opened in 3500 screens while Kaabil opened in 2700 screens.

“The occupancy for Raees was 60-70 percent yesterday while for Kaabil it was 25-35 percent occupancy. Today the morning shows were housefull for both the films,” he said.

Another distributor Akshay Rathi too said that Shah Rukh’s movie had an edge over Hrithik in theatres.

“Both the films are doing well at the Box office and world mouth for both of them is positive. Raees has earned Rs 17 crore while Kaabil Rs 10.4 crore on Day 1 (yesterday).

“What works for Raees is the presence of Shah Rukh Khan who has been a star since longtime, the film has mass appeal, great dialogues and songs. Even Kaabil has content,” Rathi said.

According to him the collection for both the films is bound to increase today as it is a holiday.


15:26  95-year-old rule amended to give one-year extension to FS Jaishankar:  

A major change has been made by the Centre in a 95-year-old rule to give one-year extension in service to Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar.

The appointments committee of Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Monday extended services of the Foreign Secretary for one year, i.e. till January 28, next year, beyond his two-year fixed tenure ending Sunday.      

The personnel ministry amended a provision of Fundamental Rules, 1922, to pave way for the extension, official sources said.

At present, service rules provides for two-year fixed term for foreign, defence and home secretaries in addition to Central Bureau of Investigation director.

The rules have been amended to include that “the central government may, if considers necessary, in public interest, so to do, give an extension in service for a further period not exceeding one year beyond the said period of two years to the Foreign Secretary”.


15:15  Paes-Hingis pair out of Australia Open:  Indian tennis ace Leander Paes and his Swiss partner Martina Hingis crashed out of the mixed doubles competition of the Australian Open with a straight-set defeat in the quarterfinals today. 

Paes and Hingis lost 3-6 2-6 to the local pair of Sam Groth and Samantha Stosur in a quarterfinal match that lasted 55 minutes. 

The Australian duo dominated the match and broke serve of the Indo-Swiss combination in the fifth game to nose ahead before sealing the first set 6-3 with another service break. 

In the second set, Paes and Hingis were broken in the fourth game to trail 1-3. The Indo-Swiss pair were 2-5 down when Hingis served only to be broken by the Australians, who sealed the match comfortably.

14:35  NIA to probe Kanpur and Kuneru train derailments:  The National Investigation Agency to probe derailment of trains in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh and in Kuneru, Andhra Pradesh.

Hinting at the possibility of sabotage in the recent spate of train derailments, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had written to Home Minister Rajnath Singh seeking a detailed probe by the National Investigating Agency into the incidents.

At least 150 people were killed when the Patna-Indore Express derailed in Kanpur while 40 people were killed and over 65 injured after the Hirakhand Express went off the rails in Andhra Pradeshs Vizianagaram district near Kuneru station.


14:10  J&K: 6 soldiers killed in 2 separate incidents of avalanche:  

Six soldiers were killed while several others are missing after two avalanches in Gurez Sector of Kashmir, an army official said on Thursday.

An avalanche hit an army camp in Gurez sector of Bandipora district near the Line of Control on Wednersday evening in which several soldiers were trapped, the army official said.

He said rescue operations were launched and seven soldiers including a Junior Commissioned Officer were saved.

“Bodies of three soldiers were retrieved his morning,” he said.

The official said another avalanche hit a patrol party which was on its way to a post in Gurez sector on Wednersday evening.

“Rescue teams were able to retrieve three bodies from the spot of the incident while some soldiers are still missing,” the official said.

He said the exact number of missing soldiers was not yet known as heavy snowfall was hampering ongoing operations.

Representative image 

13:33  Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin passes away :   Long-serving Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin passed away today. 

Kadakin, 67, breathed his last at 8:56 am at a private hospital, officials said.

He had been serving as the Russian Ambassador to India since 2009. 

Kadakin had served as the Russian envoy to India between 1999 and 2004 as well.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was deeply saddened at Kadakin’s death.

“Deeply saddened at the passing away of Ambassador Alexander Kadakin. He was an admirable diplomat, a great friend of India & a fluent Hindi speaker who tirelessly contributed to stronger India-Russia ties,” Modi tweeted.  

The External Affairs Ministry said in Kadakin’s passing away India lost a valued friend.

“In Amb Kadakin we lost a valued friend who nurtured #IndiaRussia relationship for many decades as distinguished Russian diplomat,” MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.

Kadakin was born in Chisnau in then USSR in 1949. He graduated with honours from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in 1972. 

He began his diplomatic career as a third secretary at the Russian Embassy in India in 1972.


13:33  2 jawans missing after avalanche hits army camp in Kashmir:  

Two soldiers are missing after an avalanche hit an army camp in Kashmir’s Gurez. Rescue operations have been launched.

An army officer was killed and four other soldiers injured on Wednesday when an avalanche hit a camp in Ganderbal district. Four of a family died after their house was buried under the snow in Bandipora district, said officials.

The army said a major died while four soldiers were rescued alive from under snow and are being treated.

Representative image 


12:29  India-Pak troops exchange sweets on R-Day :  

On the occasion of the 68th Republic Day, Indian security personnel exchanged sweets with Pakistani troops along the Attari-Wagah border in Amritsar in Punjab.

Defence personnel from both the nations shook hands and exchanged several platters of sweets.

Despite cold relations between two nations, the exchange of sweets between army personnel of India and Pakistan on their respective days of national importance has been a regular feature.

Photograph: ANI


12:21  Post surgery, Sushma to resume office next month :  

Rajeev Sharma tells us: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will start attending office regularly from next month after taking mandatory complete bed rest in total isolation since her kidney transplant at New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences on December 10, 2016.

Swaraj is expected to start her usual office schedule from mid-March, knowledgeable sources said.

She has been clearing office files from her home.

The EAM has been living in sanitised conditions under medical advice and is not allowed to meet any visitors or shake hands with anyone.

Swaraj, a severe diabetic, was admitted to AIIMS in November with failing health. She surprised everyone when she took to Twitter to announce that both her kidneys had failed.

A 40–year-old woman, unrelated to Swaraj, donated her one kidney.

The 64-year-old foreign minister has emerged as a favourite of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as she is efficient at her work, is non-controversial, keeps a low profile and doesn’t talk to the media at all — qualities the PM expects from his Cabinet colleagues but rarely gets.

11:58  Indo-US defence ties the greatest ever: Top US general:  

Underlining that India is a “key player” in the region, a top American general has said that India-US defence cooperation has always been the greatest ever but at times it gets slowed down because of the bureaucracy. 

“We’ve always had a great relationship with the Indian military. For me, my experience with the Indian army, we’ve had a tremendous relationship. But sometimes we were slowed down by bureaucracy and so we’re working through that,” Gen Robert B Brown, Commanding General of the US Army Pacific Force told a Washington audience.

“So that’s helping us … We’re seeing things happening faster and we’re continuing to increase our military exercises with India, which is a key player in the region,” he added. 

“It’s the greatest cooperation I’ve seen (…),” Brown said in response to a question at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 

“So it’s really great. They (India) have a tremendous Army … and working with them is a real honour,” Brown said. 

11:50   President’s bodyguard back on Rajpath to escort Rashtrapati & Chief Guest to Rashtrapati Bhavan

11:44  Fight forces seeking to undermine constitutional values: Sonia:  

Congress President Sonia Gandhi today said the intrinsic strength of Indian Republic lies in our constitutional values and asked the people to “fight forces which seek to undermine them”. 

Extending greetings on the occassion of the 68th Republic Day, Gandhi said that the Indian Republic’s intrinsic strength lies in our constitutional values.

Today is the day to reinforce our indelible commitment to protection, preservation and practise of these constitutional ideals that comprise India’s true spirit and struggle against inequality and injustice, she said. 

“Paying respects to the freedom fighters and founding fathers of Indian Republic as also to those great men and women who drafted the Constitution,” Gandhi said, expressing hope that “every Indian will strive to fight for these values and forces that seek to undermine them.” 

11:42  President, PM Narendra Modi and chief guest, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince depart from Rajpath


10:23  UAE contingent marches down Rajpath:  We now have the marching contingent of the UAE and their military band; 179 of them marching down the Rajpath — 144 soldiers and 34 band members. 

This is the second time ever India has invited a foreign country to be part of marching contingent in Republic Day parade. Last year, it the French contingent.


10:17   Four Mi-17 V5 helicopters in inverted ‘Y’ formation, to shower flower petals.

Parade Commander Lt Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane, GoC Delhi Area of 7th Sikh Light Infantry. And Parade 2nd in command Maj Gen Rajesh Sahai.

Applause rings for Param Vir Chakra and Ashok Chakra awardees


10:07  President presents Ashok Chakra to late Hav Hangpan Dada’s wife:  

Havildar Hangpan Dada of Assam Regiment killed four intruding terrorists before laying down his life at the height of 13,000 feet in the harsh and icy Himalayan range of North Kashmir on May 26.

He has been awarded Ashok Chakra, the highest peace-time gallantry award.


10:07  President presents Ashok Chakra to late Hav Hangpan Dada’s wife:  

Havildar Hangpan Dada of Assam Regiment killed four intruding terrorists before laying down his life at the height of 13,000 feet in the harsh and icy Himalayan range of North Kashmir on May 26.

He has been awarded Ashok Chakra, the highest peace-time gallantry award.


10:03  68th Republic Day parade gets underway:  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomes President Pranab Mukherjee and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the chief guest at the parade.

The 68th Republic Day parade gets underway.


09:55  Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets Vice President Hamid Ansari at Rajpath


09:49  The President’s cavalcade has left the Rashtrapati Bhawan with the chief guest, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.


09:47  PM Modi lays wreath at Amar Jawan Jyoti:  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi lays wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti.

He is accompanied by the three service chiefs — Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat, Navy Chief Adm Sunil Lanba and IAF chief ACM B S Dhanoa.

ANI‘s Smita Prakash notes that the Prime Minister chose to give the naval salute this time. Last time, he gave the army salute.

09:38  ASSAM UPDATE: There have been 6 low intensity blasts (in upper assam). All in no man’s land. No damage of any kind, says Assam DGP Mukesh Sahay.


09:30  Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh at Republic Day celebrations in Raipur.

09:26  Twin blasts in Assam’s Charaideo area; no casualties reported.


09:11  Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan at Republic Day celebrations in Bhopal


08:39  R-Day: Google shows special stadium doodle:  

Search giant Google in its special doodle to mark the 68th Republic Day, today showed a stadium full of people amid a sea of tricolour decking up the arena. 

The doodle displays one-half of the stadium, with crowd on two corners, while a saffron-coloured band runs along the inner periphery of the semicircular track.

The outer periphery of the track is shown decorated with tricolours and a semi-circular patch of green marks the space in the centre.

The word G-O-O-G-L-E has been spelt out in an arced fashion in the running tracks in bold green surrounded by two green grid patterns and one in red. 

The internet giant, ever year comes up with a special doodle to mark the day. Last year, it showed a march of a richly caparisoned camel contingent of the Border Security Force, a major attraction at the annual parade at the Rajpath. 

The 68th Republic Day Parade will showcase India’s military strength and achievements in a range of areas and its diverse culture on the ceremonial boulevard today.


00:18  Government assures full protection to Bela Bhatia:  Two days after activist Bela Bhatia was accused by protesters as being a Maoist sympathiser and told to vacate her house in Bastar district, senior state Home department officials on Wednesday visited her residence in Pandripani village and assured her of full protection.

Principal Secretary (Home) BVR Subramaniam, Special Director General (anti-naxal operation) D M Awasthi, Bastar Superintendent of Police RN Dash and other officials visited the activist and assured her of full protection by state.

“We have assured Bhatia that we are committed to extend full protection to her. In democracy, every citizen has equal rights to work freely anywhere in the country,” Awasthi said.

On January 23, villagers held a protest outside her rented accommodation and asked her to vacate it for being a ‘naxal sympathiser’.

However, the activist had claimed that a group of men barged inside the house and asked her to leave immediately, failing which they will set the house ablaze.

Bhatia had said she would leave the house on January 24, but not Bastar, as her landlord was being pressurised.

She has been working in the region for past several years.


00:14  Trump orders review of restriction on torturing prisoners: Report:  United States President Donald Trump’s administration is drafting an executive order that would allow the Central Intelligence Agency to reopen overseas ‘black sites’ that were used to torture suspects after 9/11, the American media reported on Wednesday.

The order also would undo many of the restrictions on handling detainees put in place under former President Barack Obama to roll back practices authorised during George W Bush’s administration, the New York Times reported.

It would revoke the directive that gives the Red Cross access to all war detainees in US custody, and would order the Pentagon to continue to use the Guantanamo military prison facility ‘for the detention and trial of newly captured’ detainees, including Islamic State jihadists, according to the Times.

The order calls for a high-level review of policies regarding secret overseas CIA prisons, as well as of enhanced interrogation tactics that have been widely condemned as torture, and are now prohibited by law. — Agencies

Source: Rediff