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LIVE! Section 377: Shashi Tharoor says it is about freedom, not sex

21:34  Internet to remain open as govt approves net neutrality:  

The Telecom Commission today approved net neutrality rules which bar service providers from discriminating against Internet content and services by blocking, throttling or granting them higher speed access.

Some mission critical applications or services like remote surgery and autonomous cars will however be kept out of the purview of net neutrality framework.

“The Telecom Commission today approved net neutrality as recommended by Trai expect some critical services will be kept out of its purview,” Telecom Commission Chairman Aruna Sundararajan told reporters in New Delhi.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had recommended restrictions on service providers from entering into agreements which lead to discriminatory treatment of content on the Internet.

Trai had favoured tweaking of licensing norms of players to ensure “explicit restrictions” on discrimination in Internet access, based on content. 

The department of telecom will set-up a multi-stakeholder body for monitoring and enforcement of net neutrality comprising government representatives, IoT providers, telecom operators, civil society members and consumer organisations. 

The DoT will seek recommendations from Trai on traffic management for critical services.

TC also approved the new telecom policy —  National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) 2018 — for seeking approval of the Union Cabinet, Sundararajan said.

“Everybody in the meeting today said that digital infrastructure is even more important than physical infrastructure for India… CEO of Niti Ayog (Amitabh Kant) said that for…districts, we must ensure digital infrastructure is provided at the earliest. Therefore, India must have ease of doing business and enabling policy environment,” she said.

The NDCP aims to attract USD 100 billion or about Rs 6.5 lakh crore investments, 40 lakh new jobs, 50 megabit per second broadband access to every citizen in the digital communications sector by 2022 with the help of reforms.  — PTI

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21:04  Section 377: Shashi Tharoor says it is about freedom, not sex:  

Congress leader Shashi Thraoor today said that by not taking a ‘clear stand’ on scarring of section 377, the Bharatiya Janata Party has ‘betrayed Hindu values, as the issue is about freedom and not sex.

“This is an issue which I keep explaining to people. It’s not about sex, it’s about freedom. Our constitution grants every citizen of India certain rights of equality, liberty, dignity, the right to freedom of expression, their own right to their autonomy over their own bodies. All of these rights are in the Constitution,” Tharoor told ANI.

“Last August, the Supreme Court also passed a right to privacy, which specifically said that since the right to privacy is embedded in all of us, we also have the right to private intimate behaviour in our own personal lives,” he added.

Taking on similar lines, Tharoor said that he tried to bring a private member’s bill twice in the Parliament in this reagrd, but it was opposed by the BJP.

“Section 377 is overdue for removal. I tried to bring a private member’s bill in the Lok Sabha, not just once, but twice. And the BJP MPs shouted it down and voted against me. The only hope for seeing a progressive hope in this area would be through the judicial process. I am very glad. some 35 petitions have come forward in Section 377. I am very confident that the court will do the right thing. The Government of India unfortunately has not taken a clear enough stand. The BJP is divided (on this issue),” Tharoor said.

“The irony is they are the party of Hindutva and Hindu tradition has actually been extremely accommodative of various kinds of alternative forms of sexuality. Our ancient texts are full of references. Temple sculptures show various kinds of sexuality. It’s ironic that the party of Hindutva is betraying Hindu values in order to uphold a colonial era moral code of the Victorian period enforced on us by the British. It’s so savagely ironic,” he added. — ANI


20:58  India emerges as world’s 6th largest economy, surpasses France: WB data:  

India emerged as the world’s sixth largest economy in 2017 surpassing France and likely to go past the United Kingdom, which is at the fifth position, according to an analysis of data compiled by the World Bank.

             

In 2017, India became the sixth largest economy with a Gross Domestic Product of USD 2.59 trillion, relegating France to the seventh position.

 

As per the data, the GDP of France stood at USD 2.58 trillion.

 

The United Kingdom, which is facing Brexit blues, had a GDP of USD 2.62 trillion, which is about USD 25 billion more than that of India, the data showed. 

          

The US is the world’s largest economy with a size of USD 19.39 trillion, followed by China (USD 12.23 trillion) at the second place.

         

Japan (USD 4.87 trillion) and Germany (USD 3.67 trillion) are at the third and fourth places, respectively.

Based on GDP size, other three countries in the top ten are Brazil (8th), Italy (9th) and Canada (10th).

         

Indian government has taken various reform measures to improve the ease of doing business in recent years. These include implementation of the Goods and Services Tax and the IBC (Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code).

The country’s economy grew at a seven-quarter high of 7.7 per cent in the three months ended March 2018, helped by higher government spending and investment. 

 

As per the IMF’ World Economic Outlook released in April this year, the size of the Indian economy was pegged at USD 2.61 trillion, ahead of France with a GDP of USD 2.58 trillion.

 

The International Monetary Fund pegged the size of the UK’s economy at USD 2.62 trillion, slightly bigger than India. — PTI 

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20:44  Munna Bajrangi was shot seven times by Baghpat jail inmate:  

Gangster Prem Prakash alias Munna Bagrangi, who was killed in the Baghpat district jail here by a co-prisoner, had been shot at seven times, the police said today.

The postmortem examination report of Bagrangi said he was shot at seven times by jail inmate Sunil Rathi, Superintendent of Police Jai Prakash said today.

He said one of the bullets had hit Bajrangi’s head and a portion of his head was badly mutilated on the right side.

“A pistol, two magazines and 22 cartridges have been recovered from a drain inside the jail,” he said, adding it was yet to be ascertained as to how the pistol reached inside the jail. 

“A probe is on,” he added.

“Bagrangi had an argument over ‘supari’ (contract killing) with Rathi after which the latter killed him. This has come to the fore but it is  being verified,” he said.

Mafia don Bajrangi was shot dead inside Baghpat jail on Monday morning hours before he was to be produced in a local court in a case of extortion of money from a former BSP legislator. — PTI  


20:43  Centre seeks report from J-K govt on IAS officer’s ‘rapistan’ tweet:  

The Centre has sought a report from Jammu and Kashmir government on IAS officer Shah Faesal’s “rapistan” tweet, official sources today said.

   

The state government has been asked by the department of personnel and training to share details of the case based on which future course of the action in the matter will be decided, they said.

 

Faesal, a 2010-batch IAS officer currently pursuing a mid-career masters programme in the US, is facing disciplinary proceedings over his controversial tweet.

In a notice to Faesal, the General Administration Department of Jammu and Kashmir, which is under the Governor’s rule, said, “You have allegedly failed to maintain absolute honesty and integrity in the discharge of official duty and thus acted in a manner unbecoming of a public servant.”

 

Faesal had earlier tweeted, “Population +patriarchy +illiteracy +alcohol +porn +technology +anarchy = rapistan(sic)”. 

 

As per guidelines, civil service officers can face disciplinary action if they criticise government policies.

 

The IAS officer, however, defended the post saying he had not criticised government policy. “If rape is part of government policy, then I plead guilty for criticism of the government policy,” he tweeted. 

 

Faesal, who had earlier made headlines when he topped the civil services exam, appeared dismissive of the notice issued to him. — PTI

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20:34  Wimbledon 2018: Djokovic enters semifinals:  

Three-time champion Novak Djokovic reached his eighth Wimbledon semifinal with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over Japan’s Kei Nishikori.

Djokovic will be playing in his 32nd Slam semifinal where he will face either world number one Rafael Nadal or fifth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro.

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20:07  I never promoted terror, claims Zakir Naik:  

Controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, who is wanted in terror-related cases in India, today claimed that he has never promoted terror and his aim has always been to promote communal peace and harmony.

      

In a statement, Naik, who has taken shelter in Malaysia to evade arrest in India, claimed that the media had “resorted to doctored video clips, out-of-context quotations and a host of dishonest schemes to accuse me of terrorism, hate speech and even money-laundering.”

      

He also lauded Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad for allowing him to stay in that country.

      

Mahathir Mohamad, whom Naik met recently in Malaysia, has rejected India’s request for extradition of the Mumbai- born preacher, arguing that he had caused no harm to the host country.

      

“I have never promoted terror, in the name of Islaam or otherwise,” said Naik, who is wanted in cases related to terrorism, hate speech and money laundering in India.

      

Insisting that “any statement ascribed to me that is against humanity is a fabricated statement,” he said, adding “My aim has always been to foster communal peace and harmony — the exact opposite of the accusations hurled at me.”

      

In the statement issued through his spokesperson, Naiik went on to add that “time and again, I have reiterated that a Muslim cannot be a good Muslim unless he is a good human being.”

      

Naik, who used to preach on a religious TV channel now banned in India, said that “not a single lecture out of the thousands that I have delivered, has every received objections from non-Muslims in India until September 2012, when a group of religious fanatics sought to tarnish my image.”

      

He said that while he hoped that “justice and peace (would) return to my homeland, India”, he was “indebted to Malaysia”.

      

Naik is facing charges, including for hate speech and money laundering, in India and has been living abroad since 2016 to evade arrest.

      

He is facing a probe by the National Investigation Agency after his sermons on his ‘Peace TV’ were cited as a reason by Bangladesh for an attack in Dhaka in 2016, which left 22 people dead. — PTI


19:43  About 23 million children in age group of 15-18 years working in India: CRY:  

About 23 million children between 15-18 years of age in India are working, of whom 19 million have dropped out of school, according to a study conducted by a leading NGO.

 

The report by Child Rights and You or CRY said about 9.2 million youngsters in the age group of 15-19 years are married and 2.4 million girls in the age group are mothers.

The report, which looks at the status of Indian children between the ages of 15 and 18 years, laid emphasis on the need to reach out to all stakeholders, including legislators, policy makers and decision makers, who deal with children of this age group.

 

The report also said that about 23 million children between 15-18 years of age in India are working under the protection of the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act that allows 15-18-year-olds to work in non-hazardous’ occupations.

 

But 19 million out of the 23 million children drop out of education due to various factors, including inability to manage both work and education.

The total number of children in the age group of 15-18 years is 100 million, according to the data by the Census 2011.

 

On the high dropout rate, the report recommended an amendment in the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education and said that schemes should not be treated as a substitute for extending free education up to higher secondary levels.

 

“There is also a need to make gender equality a primary goal of school system and provide free secondary education for families from below poverty line,” the report said.

 

The report also said that over 60 per cent of the kidnapping and abduction victims and 25 per cent of all female rape victims were from the age group of 15-18 years.

 

“The crime against children is a worrying trend which requires urgent attention of deep rooted issues of poverty and unemployment,” it said.

The report cited data from Census 2011, National Crime Record Bureau 2015-16 and National Family Health Survey 4 of 2016. — PTI

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19:32  Indiscipline will not be tolerated: Army chief to force:  

Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat has asked all the army formations and bases across the country to comply with laid down disciplinary provisions, cautioning that violators will face strict action.

 

In a communication to the 12 lakh strong army last week, Rawat said the force must utilise its scarce resources judiciously and even noted that there should not be any misuse of the provision to provide liquor and groceries to armymen through CSD canteens, official sources said.

Gen Rawat also said that cases of corruption and moral turpitude will be dealt with strictly, and asked the personnel not to indulge in sycophancy for promotion and growth in career.

He said deserving people will get recognition and their dues.

Officials said the disciplinary instructions are in force for last several decades and Gen Rawat asked the force to comply with them.

In the note, the army chief also said that no Sahayak or orderly should be attached to any retired officers except those eligible for such privileges, the sources said.

Gen Rawat also emphasised on physical fitness of the 12-lakh strong force and advised them to refrain from consuming unhealthy foods. — PTI 


19:25  Strong evidence against those arrested for Naxal links: Maha CM:  

Several pieces of evidence have been found against those arrested for alleged Naxal connection to the Bhima-Koregaon violence, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today said.

Evidence suggesting a direct link of the accused with Naxal leaders was found during the probe, he told the Legislative Council in Nagpur.

Police also found some e-mails (sent or received by the accused) pertaining to “conspiracies”, the chief minister said.

MLC Kapil Patil had raised the issue during Question Hour, noting that there was also a lawyer among those accused.

There is a difference between sympathising with an ideology (such as Naxalism) and actually practising it, he said, asking whether the government will consider releasing the accused from prison until the judicial inquiry in the

matter is complete.

Neelam Gorhe of the Shiv Sena sought to know the status of investigation and when a charge-sheet will be filed.

Replying to Gorhe’s question, Fadnavis said, “A judicial inquiry is underway, and hence making acomment on this will not be appropriate.”

Police will file the charge sheet in the stipulated period, he said.

Last month Pune Police arrested five people from Mumbai, Nagpur and Delhi, including Dalit activist Sudhir Dhavale, for allegedly having close links with the Naxals.

Dhavale was one of the organisers of Elgar Parishad, organised to commemorate 200 years of the Bhima-Koregaon battle on December 31 last year.

Police said they were probing whether the Naxals instigated the violence that took place the next day at the Bhima-Koregaon war memorial in Pune district. — PTI 

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19:12  Jaya said no to weight loss surgery, wanted to reduce it through diet: Doc :  

J Jayalalithaa was against weight loss surgery to improve her health, a doctor said during her deposition before a one-man panel probing the former Tamil Nadu chief minister’s death.

 

During cross-examination, Dr Jayashree Gopal, a diabetologist with a leading hospital, deposed that Jayalalithaa had said “no” to surgery and opted to reduce weight through diet.

N Raja Senthoor Pandian, the counsel of Jayalalithaa’s aide V K Sasikala who cross-examined the doctor, said the advice was rendered to improve the health.

“The doctor had advised Jayalalithaa that a weight loss surgery would make walking easy and help ward off disorders like thyroid.

“However, Jayalalithaa had said she would try weight reduction through diet,” the lawyer said, quoting the doctor’s deposition.

Jayalalithaa had also expressed her inability to go in for physical exercises in view of her public engagements, the counsel said.

Sweets taken by Jayalalithaa during her hospitalisation in 2016 was within limit and in accordance with her dietary plan and it was for celebrating the AIADMK’s victory in the bypolls that year, Pandian told reporters.

Besides Dr Jayashree, Dr D Shantaram and an official of a public sector bank were cross-examined yesterday.

The deposition of Dr D Shantaram showed that Sasikala had taken due care of Jayalalithaa’s health, the lawyer said.

Dr Shantaram of Apollo Hospital, who had treated Jayalalithaa since 2000 for diabetes, had deposed that the late leader’s health began deteriorating since March 2015.

Even during her incarceration in 2014 at a Bengaluru jail, Jayalalithaa’s blood sugar levels were at the “correct level,” according to Dr Shantaram’s deposition.

Dr Jayashree said a video of Jayalalithaa in Apollo Hospital, (which was leaked to the media) was actually shot in that hospital.

“A regrettable thing for us is that the Commission’s advocates wanted Jayalalithaa madam’s personal bank account to be marked as exhibit and it has been done,” he said. — PTI

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18:28  Jayant Sinha expresses ‘regret’ over garlanding lynching convicts:  

After drawing criticism from all quarters, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha today expressed regret over his recent act of garlanding eight people convicted of lynching a man to death.

“I have said many times that the matter is still sub-judice. It won’t be fair to talk on this. Law will take its own course. We have always worked towards punishing the guilty and sparing the innocent. If by garlanding them (Ramgarh lynching case convicts) an impression has gone out that I support such vigilantism then I express regret over it,” Jayant Sinha said in New Delhi.

On July 6, a photograph went viral in which the minister could be seen felicitating eight convicts, who came out on bail, of lynching a meat trader in Jharkhand state last year.

Jayant Sinha’s act received strong criticism not only from the opposition, but also from his father and former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha.

“Earlier, I was the Nalayak Baap of a Layak Beta. Now the roles are reversed. That is twitter. I do not approve of my son’s action. But I know even this will lead to further abuse. You can never win,” Yashwant Sinha earlier tweeted.

On Tuesday a petition was also started on Change.org which demanded removal of Jayant Sinha’s Harvard Business School alumni status.

The petition was also supported by Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Twitter. — ANI


18:15  Soldier killed in encounter with terrorists in Kupwara:  

A soldier was killed today in an encounter with terrorists in a forest area in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir. 

   

Security forces launched an operation in Kandi forest area of Kupwara after an Army patrol was fired upon by militants, an army official said. 

He said a gunbattle broke out between the two sides in which one soldier was critically injured. 

 

The jawan was evacuated to an army hospital where he succumbed to injuries. 

 

The operation was in progress when last reports came in, he added.  — PTI 

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17:46  Govt in Ambani’s pocket: Kejriwal on Jio institute row:  

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today slammed the government over the selection of Jio Institute for the “Institution of eminence” status, saying it “is in Ambani’s pocket”.

 

“Earlier congress government was in Ambani’s pocket, now the Modi government is in Ambani’s pocket. Has anything changed?” Kejriwal tweeted in response to former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha’s tweet on the issue.

Sinha in a tweet had said, “Jio Institute has not even been set up. It is not in existence. Yet govt grants it eminence tag. That is the importance of being M Ambani.”

The government yesterday granted “Institution of Eminence” status to IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay and the Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in the public sector, and Manipal Academy of Higher Education, BITS Pilani and Jio Institute in the private sector.

The selection of the yet-to-be-established Jio Institute as one of the six “Institutions of Eminence” drew sharp criticism from various quarters with many questioning the process of selection and the motive behind it.

The HRD ministry had yesterday clarified that the tag was conditional and it would get only a letter of intent for now. — PTI  

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17:37  Thai cave rescue to be made into film:  

The daring rescue of 12 schoolboys and their football coach in the waterlogged caves of Thailand will be soon seen on the big screen.

 

The story will be getting a film treatment with Pure Flix Entertainment, which produced God’s Not Dead, is planning a feature film on the subject.

The studio will team up with Kaos Entertainment on the project, which will be made on the budget of around USD 60 million.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the CEO and co-founder of Pure Flix, Michael Scott, spent several days on the scene — which serves as his home for a part of the year.

“The bravery and heroism I’ve witnessed is incredibly inspiring, so, yes, this will be a movie for us,” Scott said.

The studio claimed that Scott has offered assistance in rescue efforts at Chiang Rai for the past four days.

“Pure Flix joins the rest of the world in thanking God for answering prayers for the successful rescue of those trapped in the cave in Thailand,” the studio said in a Facebook post.

“Managing partner Michael Scott, from his home in Thailand, has been helping at the cave rescue in Chiang Rai the past 4 days (sic),” it read.

Scott said the film will be released under diffusion banner Pinnacle Peak, which launched “Little Women” in September.

“It’s not necessary to make this a Christian film, just an inspirational one,” he said.

No directors, writers or actors have been attached to the project as of yet.

The 12 boys and their coach got trapped in the Tham Luan Nang Non cave on June 23, when they were exploring it after a soccer practice and it became flooded by monsoon rains.

They were found 10 days later by a pair of British divers, huddled together in the pitch dark cave.

Their rescue operation lasted three days and was joint effort with many countries and eminent  extending help. — PTI  

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17:15  Unnao rape: CBI files chargesheet against BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar:  

The Central Bureau of Investigation today filed its chargesheet against Unnao Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar in connection with the killing of a person, whose daughter was allegedly raped by the lawmaker, in prison, officials said.

Sengar was named as accused in the chargesheet.

On July 7, the CBI had named Sengar’s brother and four others in its first chargesheet.

A 17-year-old girl has alleged that she was raped by Bangermau MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar of the BJP at his residence when she had gone to meet him with a relative seeking a job last year.

She had been running from pillar to post and even tried self-immolation in front of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanaths official residence alleging police inaction.

Her father had come from Delhi to attend the court hearing on April 3 for registration of a case related to rape of her minor daughter against the MLA.

In the evening, he was allegedly abused and beaten up by the accused in front of his house during which he sustained serious injuries. 

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16:52  Plea in HC against ‘Sacred Games’ for allegedly defaming ex-PM:  

A plea was today filed in the Delhi high court seeking removal of certain scenes from the Netflix series Sacred Games, claiming that its content was derogatory to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

 

The plea, which alleged that certain scenes and dialogues in the show defamed the late Congress leader, was mentioned earlier in the day before a bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar, which allowed it to be listed today.

When the matter came up for hearing in the afternoon, the acting chief justice recused from hearing it without giving any reason.

The plea will now be heard by a different bench tomorrow. — PTI  

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16:13  Sanjay Dutt to pen autobiography next year:  

Actor Sanjay Dutt will come out with his autobiography next year in which he will reveal many interesting stories that he “never had the chance to tell before”.

  

The memoir will be published by HarperCollins on his 60th birthday on July 29, 2019.

“With this book, the reader will finally get to look into his soul. Finally, we will get to hear the fascinating stories about his youth, his Bollywood stint in the ’80s and ’90s, his experiences in prison, and his self-discovery, that have never been told before,” the publishers said.

The autobiography is billed as “perhaps the biggest, most dramatic and honest star memoir to emerge out of Bollywood”.

A biopic on the controversial actor, titled “Sanju” and starring Ranbir Kapoor as Dutt, was recently released to rave reviews. The film has amassed over Rs 250 crore at the box office. 

Commenting on the book, Dutt said, “I have had the fortune of living a remarkable life, full of ups and downs, joys and sorrows. There are so many interesting stories to tell that I’ve never had the chance to tell before. I am looking forward so much to sharing my memories and emotions with readers everywhere.”

— PTI

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16:04  Centre opposes dropping adultery as an offence:  

The government told the Supreme Court today that it does not want to drop adultery as an offence, saying such a move will only weaken the institution of marriage.

In an 11-page affidavit that will come up before a Constitution Bench, the Centre said the provision punishing adultery – Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code – “supports, safeguards and protects the institution of marriage”.

The government agreed to the thought that “stability of a marriage is not an ideal to be scorned”.

The Constitution Bench will decide whether the pre-Independence provision of adultery in the Indian Penal Code treats a married woman as her husband’s “subordinate” and violates the constitutional concepts of gender equality and sensitivity. 

The petition filed by Joseph Shine, represented by advocates Kaleeswaram Raj and Suvidutt MS seeks to drop Section 497 as a criminal offence from the statute book. 

Terming the penal provision as archaic, the apex court had said it was time to re-consider its past decisions and consistent view from 1954 onwards that the penal provisions was necessary to uphold family ties. 

Section 497 makes adultery an offence only with respect to a man who has a relationship with somebody’s wife. The wife is considered neither adulterous nor an abettor in law, while the man faces a jail term of up to five years.

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15:32  25 students fall ill after consuming mid-day meal at Delhi school, hospitalised:  

Over 25 students fell ill after consuming mid-day meal at a government school in Delhi’s Narela area and were rushed to a hospital, the police said.

  

“We have received information that about 26 students were taken ill after consuming mid-day meal. They have been taken to Satyawadi Raja Harish Chandra Hospital,” a senior police official said.

According to hospital authorities, the children had complained of abdominal pain.

“All students are stable and likely to be discharged soon,” a senior doctor said.

This is second such incident within a week. Two girls were taken ill after having mid-day meal on Saturday at a Delhi government school in East Delhi’s Khichdipur in which a dead lizard was allegedly found. 

— PTI

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15:24  
The situation at Nalasopara station in Mumbai early this morning. 

Earlier today, trains working between Bhayander to Virar had been suspended due to the water on the tracks. Mumbai in the past four days has been lashed with heavy rain with the weather department.

The Mumbai suburbs were clobbered with 184.3 mm rainfall, against the normal of 19.4 mm, which was 850 per cent higher. Mumbai city followed closely behind with 165.8 mm rains on Tuesday against the normal of 17.8 mm, or 831 per cent higher.

Photograph courtesy:  Amritkalash Shrivastava

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15:13  Thai cave rescue to be made into film:  

Only a handful of people witnessed first-hand the horror of the incarceration for more than a fortnight of 12 schoolboys and their football coach in waterlogged caves beneath a mountain in northern Thailand.

But the saga, whose developments were tracked religiously by millions around the world, is soon to be seen on the big screen, with plans already afoot for a movie version.

Pure Flix Entertainment is teaming up with Kaos Entertainment on the project, estimated to have a budget of around $45m.

Pure Flix co-founder and CEO Michael Ellis, who is partly based in the country, has been at the rescue site gathering testimony for several days.

The bravery and heroism Ive witnessed is incredibly inspiring, so, yes, this will be a movie for us, Scott told The Hollywood Reporter.

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14:40  Burari case: Post-mortem confirms hanging as cause of death:  

In the latest development in the Delhi Burari deaths case, the Delhi Police on Wednesday received the post-mortem report. As many other aspects of the case which raise more questions with each answer, the report is also hinting at more unanswered queries. 

Even as the panel of doctors confirmed that ten of the eleven Bhatia family members hanged themselves and committed suicide, there is ambiguity surrounding the death of the family’s senior most matriarch, Narayani Devi.

Out of the eleven Bhatia family members, ten post-mortem reports suggest that the cause of death was due to hanging and ante-mortem injuries. However, the doctors in the panel are yet to conclude cause of death of the senior citizen despite the case going into its eleventh day. 

On Tuesday, a team of doctors revisited the crime spot to gather more evidence to ascertain the real cause of death. The doctors’ team will give their final opinion on the eleventh death in a few days.


13:54  

Jammu and Kashmir: One killed and four others injured in a blast in Shopian earlier today. 

More details awaited.

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13:34  SC slams Centre for “lethargy” in protecting Taj Mahal:  

The Supreme Court today slammed the Centre and its authorities for their “lethargy” in taking steps to protect the Taj Mahal, dubbing the issue of preserving the historic medieval structure a “hopeless cause”.

  

The apex court also expressed anguish over the Uttar Pradesh government failure to come out with a vision document to preserve and protect the Taj Mahal. 

It directed the Centre to furnish full details of the steps taken and action required to be taken for protecting the iconic monument. 

A bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said no concrete steps have been taken by the government, despite a parliamentary standing committee report on Taj’s protection.

The Centre told the bench that Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur was assessing air pollution level in and around the mausoleum and will give its report in four months.

It said a special committee has also been set up to find the source of pollution in and around the Taj, which will suggest measures to prevent it.

The bench said it will hear the matter on day-to-day basis from July 31. 

— PTI


13:31  Simultaneous polls beneficial, says ex-CEC T S Krishnamurthy:  

If electoral reforms are implemented quickly, there may not be any justification for simultaneous polls for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, says former Chief Election Commissioner T S Krishnamurthy.

If our political parties behave well during elections, strictly follow model code of conduct, observe the ceiling on expenditure, and avoid violence, hatred and muscle power,there may not be any justification for the concept, he said.

“Since they do not follow any of these requirements and since they do not respect rule of law during election time, simultaneous polls will certainly benefit in terms of cost-benefit ratio,” Krishnamurthy said.

“Simultaneous polls idea can be implemented only if there is a constitutional amendment and additional adequate paramilitary forces,” he added.

Krishnamurthy listed law to regulate political parties, public funding of polls through national election fund, changing the first-past-the-post system and barring criminal elements from contesting polls as key electoral reforms.

“If these four (reforms) are brought in, there may not be any justification for simultaneous polls,” he felt.

— PTI

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13:18  3 people die in Rajasthan as onlookers remain busy taking selfies:  

Three accident victims in Rajasthan’s Barmer district succumbed to their injuries on Tuesday as onlookers clicked pictures and selfies instead of helping them.

The accident victims who were lying on the road in a pool of blood while onlookers made videos and clicked pictures of the incident then died on the spot.

The three accident victims were riding a motorbike when a schoolbus hit them. Reportedly, one of the victims kept pleading for help by the people around who were busy making videos of the incident.


12:47  Thai PM thanks people involved in cave rescue:  

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has thanked people involved in the rescue of the 12 boys and coach trapped in a flooded cave for more than two weeks.

  

Prayuth gave a televised national address today, saying the government’s efforts, the assistance of people in Thailand and abroad, and the outpouring of moral support made the mission a success.

He also acknowledged the loss of a former navy SEAL, Saman Kunan, who died last week while replenishing air tanks inside the cave. 

Prayuth said, “His honour, sacrifice and legacy will forever be in our hearts.” The soccer teammates had become trapped in the cave June 23 and were finally extracted by experienced divers over three days.

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12:12  On Section 377, Centre leaves decision to Supreme Court:  

The Supreme Court on Wednesday continued hearing a clutch of pleas challenging Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises homosexuality. The Centre told the court that it would not contest criminalisation of same-sex relations, adding that it leaves the decision to the wisdom of court.

On Tuesday, the five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said it will examine the correctness of its 2013 verdict that has set aside the Delhi High Court judgment that said the law criminalizing gay sex was unconstitutional

During the course of day-long arguments on Tuesday, the court also made it clear that it would not venture into the issue of marriage relating to the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community or inheritance in live-in relationships. The bench also comprises of Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.


11:49  Seven killed, two missing in Manipur landslides:  

At least seven persons were killed and two missing following landslides in different places in Manipur’s Tamenglong town early today morning, officials said. 

The landslides, triggered by heavy rain, injured seven persons who have been admitted to the Tamenglong district hospital.

The bodies of seven of the nine persons missing following the landslides have been recovered, said District Deputy Commissioner Rabinder Singh.

Security personnel and locals are carrying out rescue operations on a war footing,  Singh said.

— PTI

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11:22  ‘Pakistan wants to forcefully evict Sikhs’:  

Pakistan’s first-ever Sikh police officer, Gulab Singh, has claimed that the government wants to forcefully evict the Sikh community from the country.

Singh’s claim came a day after he was manhandled and forcefully evicted from his house, along with his family.

In an interview to ANI, Singh said, “Since 1947, my family has been staying in Pakistan. Even after the riots, we did not leave Pakistan. Now, we are being forced to leave. My house is sealed with all belongings including my slippers inside. Even this ‘patka’ on my head is an old rag which I just wrapped. I was harassed, beaten and my faith was disrespected.”

Following the incident, Singh claimed that his forceful eviction was done by the Evacuee Trust Property Board.

— ANI

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10:59  RSS to organise first ever grand Namaz and Quran recitation in Ayodhya:  

For the first time in the history of Ayodhya, a grand namaz along with a Quran recitation session will be organised on the banks of Saryu river.

The event is being organised by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its Muslim wing, Rashtriya Muslim Manch on July 12.

Around 1,500 Muslim clerics are expected to take part in the event along with many Hindu devotees. The clerics will also visit around 200 mausoleums of Sufi saints.

The clerics will first perform wazu (ablution) and then offer namaz, post which Quran khani (recitation) will be done and verses from the Holy Quran will be recited around 5 lakh times at Ram Ki Paidi ghat on the banks of the Saryu.

The event seeks to send out a message of peace and brotherhood and is also seen as an attempt by the RSS to break its anti-Muslim image.

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10:44  11th batch of 4,956 pilgrims leaves for Amarnath yatra:  

A fresh batch of 4,956 pilgrims today left the base camp for the holy cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas under tight security arrangements. 

The 11th batch of pilgrims, including 1,454 women and 97 ‘sadhus’ (seers), left in a convoy of 161 vehicles from Bhagwati Nagar for the twin base camps of Pahalgam in Anantnag and Baltal in Ganderbal district in the wee hours, officials said. 

While 2,677 pilgrims, including 632 women and 97 Sadhus opted for the traditional 36-km Pahalgam track, 2,279 pilgrims (including 822 women) are performing the yatra through the shorter 12-km Baltal route, they said.  

The 60-day Amaranth yatra had commenced from the twin routes on June 28 and will conclude on Shravan Purnima’ (Raksha Bandhan) on August 26. 

The officials said the yatra was progressing smoothly from both the routes of Pahalgam and Baltal.

The pilgrimage, however, is likely to get affected by inclement weather as the meteorological department has predicted ‘widespread to fairly widespread rains’ during the next four days in most parts of Jammu and Kashmir. 

— PTI


10:17  Here’s an update which may bring a smile to the faces of Mumbaikars:

Western Railways tweeted: “Train services on three lines have resumed between Bhayandar & Virar on restricted speed.Traffic on down fast line between Bhayandar & Virar will resume once water recedes to safe levels.”


10:07  List of trains cancelled or diverted owing to Mumbai’s heavy rains:  

As mentioned earlier, trains services are still suspended in some parts of Mumbai owing to the heavy rains on Tuesday. 

Here’s a list of trains which have been cancelled or diverted at Nalasopara, Virar and Vasai parts of Mumbai. 

>> Train No.71088 Boisar – Vasai Road DEMU of 11.07.18 has been cancelled

>> Train No. 19023 Mumbai Central – Firozpur Cantt Janata Express of 11.07.18 has been cancelled between Mumbai Central-Valsad

>> Train No. 12215 Delhi Sarai Rohilla – Bandra Terminus Garib Rath of 10.07.18 has been short terminated at Vadodara and remain cancelled between Vadodara-Bandra Terminus

>> Train No. 14707 Bikaner – Bandra Terminus Ranakpur Express of 10.07.18 has been short terminated at Valsad and remain cancelled between Valsad-Bandra Terminus

>> Train No. 12479 Jodhpur – Bandra Terminus Surya Nagari Express of 10.07.18 has been short terminated at Surat and remain cancelled between Surat-Bandra Terminus

>> Train No. 12489 Bikaner – Dadar Superfast Express of 10.07.18 has been short terminated at Vapi and remain cancelled between Vapi-Dadar

>> Train No. 59045 Bandra Terminus – Vapi Passenger of 11.07.18 has been cancelled

>> Train No. 59439 Mumbai Central – Ahmedabad Passenger of 11.07.18 has been cancelled

>> Train No. 19332 Indore – Kochuveli Express of 10.07.18 has been diverted via Surat-Jalgaon

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09:59  Rahul backs petition for recalling Jayant Sinha’s Harvard alumni status:  

Congress president Rahul Gandhi today supported a petition against Union minister Jayant Sinha that sought withdrawal of his Harvard alumni status after he felicitated criminals convicted of lynching.

  

The petition has been launched by a student of Master of Public Policy at Harvard University, Boston in the US from where Sinha has also graduated, and sought that his alumni status be withdrawn for “honouring criminals”. 

The petition to the President of Harvard University, Boston, has  condemned the minister’s action, saying it “has shocked the nation and brought disrepute to the institution”.

“If the sight of a highly educated MP and central minister, Jayant Sinha, garlanding and honouring criminals convicted of lynching an innocent man, fills you with disgust, click on the link and support this petition,” Gandhi said on Twitter, urging people to sign the petition against Sinha. 

Sinha has been at the centre of a row after he garlanded the lynching convicts at his residence in Hazaribagh in Jharkhand after they came out of prison on bail last week.

The opposition parties led by the Congress attacked him and the Modi government over the issue, saying that this act gives “a guarantee to” the perpetrators that they have the support and encouragement of the government. 

Sinha, on his part, has claimed that he unequivocally condemns all acts of violence, and rejected any type of vigilantism.

The minister has received flak from other quarters too. Former Mumbai police commissioner Julio Ribeiro, former chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and 41 other retired bureaucrats have demanded that  Sinha be sacked for felicitating the eight convicts.

In a public statement, the former civil servants said the message Sinha’s action sends out is that “there is a licence to kill minorities” and people accused of such crimes will be “enthusiastically supported financially, legally and politically”.

— PTI

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09:41  Supreme Court hearing on Section 377 to continue today:  

The Supreme Court on Wednesday will continue hearing a batch of petitions against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises homosexual activities.

During the previous hearing on Monday, a five-judge Constitutional bench had refused to adjourn the hearing after the Centre sought more time to file its reply.

The Centre requested the court to adjourn the hearing and sought four weeks to file its reply to the petitions.

The bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, however, refused and listed it for today.

Earlier in 2009, the Delhi high court had decriminalised Section 377, but the order was later set aside by a Supreme-Court bench.

Section 377 deals with “unnatural offences,” and holds “whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

— ANI


09:12  Indian intelligence infiltrated IS ring to track, arrest Afghan suicide bomber sent to hit Delhi:  

In an audacious counter-intelligence operation, unprecedented in its scale and scope, Indian security agencies infiltrated an Islamic State ring to thwart a bid by an IS Afghan suicide bomber to strike New Delhi.

The operation included the Indian plant supplying the IS operative with explosives without triggers and even arranging for his accommodation in the capital.

Read the Indian Express story HERE

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08:59  J-K government sends notice to IAS topper for rape tweet:  

The Jammu and Kashmir government has initiated disciplinary action against 2010-batch IAS exam topper Shah Faesal for his tweet about frequent rapes which was seen by the Centre’s Department of Personnel and Training as his failure to maintain absolute honesty and integrity in discharge of duties. 

  

In a notice to Faesal, the General Administration Department said, “You have allegedly failed to maintain absolute honesty and integrity in the discharge of official duty and thus acted in a manner unbecoming of a public servant. “

The GAD initiated the disciplinary proceedings at the request of  the Centre’s Department of Personnel and Training, sources said. 

Faesal had posted a tweet saying, “Population +patriarchy +illiteracy +alcohol +porn +technology +anarchy = rapistan”. 

This post drew the ire of the DoPT. 

The IAS officer, who is currently pursuing a mid-career masters programme in the US, brushed aside the notice. 

“Love letter from my boss for my sarcastic tweet against rape-culture in South Asia. The Irony here is that service rules with a colonial spirit are invoked in a democratic India to stifle the freedom of conscience.”

“I’m sharing this to underscore the need for a rule change,” Faesal wrote on his Twitter handle while posting the copy of the notice with it. 

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah commenting on the issue said the DoPT seemed to be determined to chase Faesal out of civil service. 

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08:22  US begins process to impose tariffs on another $200 billion of Chinese imports:  

The US today announced beginning the process of imposing tariffs of 10 per cent on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports, intensifying the trade war between world’s two largest economies.

The move comes after China retaliated against the US by imposing tariffs on $34 billion in US exports to China, and threatened tariffs on another $16 billion, which the Trump administration described as “unjustified”.

In response to China’s “unfair” practices, the United States on July 6 began imposing tariffs of 25 per cent on approximately $34 billion worth of Chinese imports. 

“These tariffs will eventually cover up to USD 50 billion in Chinese imports as legal processes conclude. The products targeted by the tariffs are those that benefit from China’s industrial policy and forced technology transfer practices,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said.

Soon thereafter China retaliated by imposing tariffs on $34 billion in US exports to China and threatening tariffs on another $16 billion. 

“It did this without any international legal basis or justification,” Lighthizer said.

As a result of China’s retaliation and failure to change its practices, the President has ordered USTR to begin the process of imposing tariffs of 10 per cent on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports, he said.

“This is an appropriate response under the authority of Section 301 to obtain the elimination of China’s harmful industrial policies. The USTR will proceed with a transparent and comprehensive public notice and comment process prior to the imposition of final tariffs, as we have for previous tariffs,” Lighthizer said.

Alleging that for many years China has pursued “abusive” trading practices over intellectual property and innovation, Lighthizer said the USTR’s Section 301 report found that Chinese policies and practices force US innovators to hand over their technology and know-how as the price of doing business in that country. 

— PTI

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08:09  Mumbai rains: Train services disrupted, passengers stranded:  

Mumbai has been reeling under the impact of heavy monsoon rain. 

The city received five times the normal amount of rain, which led to waterlogging on roads and rail tracks. 

In Mumbai’s suburban area of Nallasopara, water levels rose to 460 mm, making it impossible to run trains.

On Tuesday morning, Central and Harbour line local trains are running on time but Western line local train services between Vasai Road to Virar are still suspended. 

Western Railways tweeted: “Trains are running on restricted speed only between Churchgate-Bhayander section.”

In a second tweet, it said, “Local trains running normal bet Churchgate–Bhayander. Though water level has come down, on tracks at/near Nallasopara, it is still not at safe level. Suburban services will start bet Nallasopara-Virar as soon as water level comes down to safe level.”

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07:47  Trump congratulates Thai Navy SEALs for successful rescue op:  

United States President Donald Trump congratulated the Thai Navy SEALs for the “successful” rescue of the 12 boys and their coach from a flooded cave in northern Thailand’s Chiang Rai.

“On behalf of the United States, congratulations to the Thai Navy SEALs and all on the successful rescue of the 12 boys and their coach from the treacherous cave in Thailand. Such a beautiful moment – all freed, great job!,” Trump tweeted.

According to the recent development the parents of all 12 boys and their coach will get to see their sons through a glass at the hospital where they are recuperating.

“The remaining children along with the coach have left the cave safely. All parents will get to see their sons through a glass at the hospital by tonight,” The Straits Times quoted Head of Thai cave rescue mission Narongsak Osotthanakorn while addressing media on Tuesday.

The rescue operation, which commenced on Sunday, was carried out in three phases.

On Sunday, it took 11 hours to bring out four persons. On Monday, a second rescue operation by the same team of divers took only nine hours to bring out the next four, the report said.

All eight boys were rescued by divers using guide ropes and shared oxygen tanks.

Further three boys were rescued this morning. All were being treated in a Chiang Rai hospital in an isolation ward. The rescued boys are said to be in “high spirits.”

Rest two including the coach were rescued later in the day.

The footballers were found by the British divers on late Monday night last week with footage showing them visibly weak and huddled on a mud mound deep inside the Tham Luang cave.

— ANI

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00:45  Burari deaths: Notes in family registers say they may not see next Diwali:  

The registers recovered from the Chundawat family’s residence in north Delhi’s Burari has mentioned about “wandering souls,” while apprehending that the family might not see the next Diwali, said a senior police official.

   

One of the deceased, Lalit Singh Chundwat, had visitations from his father’s spirit during which he would act and talk like his father and dictate notes, the police official said.

In a November 11, 2017 entry in the register, Lalit had mentioned about “someone’s mistakes” behind the family’s failure to “attain something.”

 

“Dhanteras aakar chali gayi. Kisi ki purani galti ke aabhaav se kuch prapti se door ho. Agli Diwali na mana sako. Chetavni ko nazar andaaz karne ke bajai gaur kiya karo (Dhanteras has already been celebrated. You are far from achieving something due to someone’s mistakes. There is a possibility that you might not see the next Diwali. Don’t ignore the warnings),” the entry said.

            

The notes also mentioned about “other souls accompanying the spirit of Lalit’s father”, who had died in 2007, and “how those spirits are still yearning for salvation.”

            

“Four souls are still wandering with me. If you improve yourself, these souls will be freed. You feel that by completing all the rituals in Haridwar, the souls achieve salvation. I am accompanied by the souls of others also,” said the note written in Hindi on July 19, 2015.

 

The notes quoted Lalit’s late father soul as saying that the souls of various late relatives of the extended Chundawat’s family — those of Sajjan Singh, Hira, Dayanand, Ganga Devi were accompanying him and longing for salvation. “

             

Sajjan Singh was the father of Lalit’s wife Tina, Hira was the husband of Lalit’s sister Pratibha, and Dayanand and Ganga Devi were in-laws of his sister Sujata Nagpal, who escaped the gory mass suicide.

             

The notes also mentioned about “doing good deeds” and talked of late “Dhruv’s phone addiction and how it’s not good”, besides about “one of the women of the family getting into frequent quarrels with others.”

 

The notes also mentioned about virtues of late Lalit and Tina and ask the other family members to be like them, said the officer.

             

An entry also advised the family members for reading and “re-reading the notes” and following the instructions in them, while also cautioning the family members against “worrying too much about Lalit.”

The notes have warned about how the construction of the house was delayed and how Priyanka Bhatia’s ‘manglik dosh’ affected her marriage prospects as “someone did not follow what was written in the notes.”

  

The entries also mentioned that the phenomenon of the spirit of Lalit’s father visiting his son would not occur in presence of outsiders in the house.

             

“This explains why Lalit did not show such behaviour when there were guests in the house for Priyanka’s engagement. During our questioning, we found that Lalit along with his wife exercised considerable control over the family,” the officer said. — PTI

Source: Rediff

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