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LIVE! Bengal govt challenges HC nod to BJP yatras in state

20:14  Bengal govt challenges HC nod to BJP yatras in state:  

JUST IN: West Bengal government approaches Chief Justice’s division bench of Calcutta high court challenging the single bench order granting  permission for yatras by the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state.

The matter will be placed before the Chief Justice bench tomorrow.

The Calcutta high court on Thursday allowed the Bharatiya Janata Party’s rath yatra programme in West Bengal, setting aside the state government’s refusal on apprehensions of communal unrest.  — ANI, PTI


19:31  Now BJP MLC says Hanuman was Muslim:  

In an interesting twist to the debate over Lord Hanuman after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath termed the god a Dailt, his party colleague and member of legislative council Bukkal Nawab on Thursday said the deity was ‘actually a Muslim’.

“Lord Hanuman belongs to all, and as far as I think, Hanuman ji was actually a Muslim,” Nawab, who left the Samajwadi Party to join the Bharatiya Janata Party when the Yogi Adityanath government came to power, told reporters in Lucknow.

He argued that the deity’s name is very similar to the names among Muslims and many of them are named after him.

Hamara manana hai Hanuman ji Musalman the. Isliye Musalmanon ke andar jo naam rakha jata hai… Rehman, Ramzan, Farman, Zishan, Qurban… Jitne bhi naam rakhey jaate hain, woh karib karib unhi par rakhe jaate hain,” he said.

Nawab, 64, who publicly offered prayers at a Hanuman temple last year, is the latest political figure to have weighed in on Lord Hanuman’s identity.

While campaigning during the recent Assembly elections, Adityanath reportedly said, “Hanuman was a forest dweller, deprived and a Dalit. Bajrang Bali worked to connect all Indian communities together, from north to south and east to west.”

On December 4, BJP MP Savitribai Phule took exception to the manner in which the deity is depicted.

“Lord Hanuman was a Dalit and a slave of ‘manuwadi‘ people. He was a Dalit and a human. He did everything for Lord Ram, then why was he given a tail and his face blackened,” she asked.

A Jain priest in Bhopal has claimed Lord Hanuman was neither a Dalit nor a tribal, but a Jain.

Bukkal had given up his Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council seat to pave the way for a BJP minister to become a legislator within the stipulated six-month period and continue in the government.

After openly supporting the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, the prominent Shia politician last year donated a 30-kg brass bell at a famous Hanuman temple.

He offered prayers there, prompting the SP to comment, “It is nothing but a publicity stunt. He is hopping from one temple to another to hog media limelight.”

When the BJP returned the favour and gave him an MLC ticket for the UP council’s biennial elections, he said, “My wish has been fulfilled by Lord Hanuman.”

During the 2017 UP Assembly election campaign, Bukkal had caused a stir by saying he would be happy to see a Ram temple come up at the disputed site.

The legislator had said he would help the cause by carrying the first brick for the temple at Ayodhya. He also promised to contribute Rs 15 crore towards the temple’s construction and a ‘mukut’ (crown) for Lord Ram.

Bukkal, who is president of the Rashtriya Shia Samaj or RSS, a different avtar for the acronym which is generally associated with the Hindu nationalist group, was subsequently ostracised by the Darul Uloom Deoband seminary for indulging in idol worship.

As an SP MLC, Nawab was considered close to party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav.  — PTI


18:39  LS to take up triple talaq bill for discussion on Dec 27:  

The Lok Sabha on Thursday agreed to take up for discussion the triple talaq bill on December 27 after the Congress agreed to participate in the debate.

As the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, was taken up for consideration, Leader of the Congress in the House, Mallikarjun Kharge, suggested it be taken up for discussion next week.

Parlimentary Affairs Minister Narendra Singh Tomar sought an assurance from the Opposition that it would allow discussion on the bill without disruption on that day.

“I request you to take the bill on December 27. We are all going to participate. Our party and other political parties are ready to discuss (the bill),” Kharge said.

To this, Law Minister Mani Shankar Prasad said, “As Kharje ji has made an open promise, we have no problems in having a discussion on December 27. I urge that this debate be held in a sanguine and peaceful manner.”

The House has been witnessing disruptions over a range of issues, including protests by the Congress which is demanding a joint parliamentary committee probe on the Rafale deal.

The fresh Bill to make the practice of triple talaq among Muslims a penal offence was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday to replace an ordinance issued in September.

Under the proposed law, giving instant triple talaq will be illegal and void and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband.

The fresh bill will supersede an earlier bill passed in the Lok Sabha and pending in the Rajya Sabha.

The earlier bill was approved by the lower house. But amid opposition by some parties in the upper house, the government had then cleared some amendments, including introduction of a provision of bail, to make it more acceptable.

But as the bill continued to face resistance in the Rajya Sabha, the government issued an ordinance in September, incorporating amendments.

An ordinance has a life of six months. But from the day a session begins, it has to be replaced by a bill which should be passed by Parliament within 42 days (six weeks), else it lapses.

The government is at liberty to re-promulgate the ordinance if the bill fails to get through Parliament. Introducing the bill, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said despite the Supreme Court striking down the practice of talaq-e-biddat (instant triple talaq), terming it unconstitutional, divorces in this form were taking place.

Citing details of instant triple talaq cases, the government had last week informed the Lok Sabha that till now 430 incidents of triple talaq have come to the notice of the government through the media.

Of these, 229 were reported before the Supreme Court judgement, while another 201 came to the notice after it.

These cases were reported between the period of January 2017 and September 13, 2018.  — PTI


17:55  Parrikar won’t be medically examined: HC :  Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court today dismissed a petition seeking medical examination of ailing Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar while upholding his right to privacy and also ruled that ill-health does not make one incapable to occupy the constitutional position.

In October, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane
had announced that Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar was suffering from pancreatic
cancer and wanted to be with his family.

He has got pancreatic cancer, there is no hiding of this fact, Rane
told reporters at Aldona in North Goa after inaugurating a state- run
medical facility.


17:16  CBI vs CBI: HC reserves verdict on pleas of Spl Dir Rakesh Asthana:  The Delhi High Court Thursday reserved its verdict on pleas of CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana and others seeking the quashing of FIR against them on bribery allegations.

Justice Najmi Waziri concluded the arguments in which CBI Director Alok Verma maintained that all mandatory procedures of law were followed while registering an FIR against Asthana on bribery allegations.

The complainant Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Babu Sana had alleged to have paid bribe to get relief in a case. Sana had also made allegations of corruption, extortion, high-handedness and serious malpractice against Asthana. The FIR was also lodged against DSP Devender Kumar. — PTI


17:09   Jolted Narendraji from deep slumber: Rahul’s jibe at GST :  In a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he said most goods will attract sub-18 per cent GST slab, Congress president Rahul Gandhi Thursday said that his party has jolted him “out of his slumber”.

Gandhi took a swipe saying the “PM now wants implement what he once called Congress party’s Grand Stupid Thought”.

“The Congress Party has finally jolted NarendraJi from his deep slumber on Gabbar Singh Tax. Though still drowsy, he now wants to implement what he had earlier called the Congress Party’s, “Grand Stupid Thought”. Better late then never Narendra Ji!” Gandhi tweeted.

Indicating that further simplification of the Goods and Services Tax is on the anvil, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had Tuesday said his government wants to ensure that ’99 per cent things’ attract sub-18 per cent GST slab. “Today, the GST system has been established to a large extent and we are working towards a position where 99 per cent things will attract the sub-18 per cent GST slab,” Modi had said.

He indicated that the 28 per cent slab of GST would only be restricted to a few select items, such as luxury goods. The announcement invited strong criticism from the Congress, with former finance minister P Chidambaram saying “belated wisdom” had dawned upon the Centre.

“Government says 99% of goods will be at 18 per cent GST. Belated wisdom. We should have started with 18 per cent as the standard rate. Having scrambled the egg needlessly when GST was introduced, Government is trying to unscramble it! Typical of NDA,” he said Wednesday.

The party has also accused the Centre of double speak and hypocrisy on the issue alleging that the government is now eating its own words by implementing all that it had earlier mocked. — PTI


16:47  Kushwaha joins mahagathbandhan:  
Leaders of the mahagathbandhan in Bihar, including Hindustani Awam Morcha leader Jitan Ram Manjhi, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav and Congress leaders Ahmed Patel and Shaktisinh Gohil meet in Delhi. Ahmed Patel, who is representing Rahul Gandhi, said, “There is a gathbandhan in Bihar and it’s a matter of happiness that Upendra Kushwaha is joining the mahagathbandhan.”

The announcement of Kushwaha joining the grand alliance of opposition parties in Bihar was made at a press conference at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi in the presence of senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, AICC state in-charge Shaktisinh Gohil, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav and opposition leader Sharad Yadav.

The RLSP chief said, “We had said that we have many options and UPA was one of them. The wholeheartedness shown by Rahul Gandhi and Lalu Yadav is one of the reasons I joined but the biggest reason I’m here is the people of Bihar.”

The former Union minister joined the United Progressive Alliance after holding talks with the Congress leadership. Kushwaha’s joining the UPA is likely to give a boost to the formation of a grand alliance in Bihar to counter the NDA combine of Bharatiya Janata Party-Janata Dal(U)-Lok Janshakti Party.

The Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal, former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi-led Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) are already part of the UPA in Bihar and are seeking to give a fight to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.


16:06  Naseeruddin says he fears for his children in today’s India :   In an apparent reference to the recent mob violence, actor Naseeruddin Shah said at many places the death of a cow is being given more importance than the killing of a policeman. The veteran actor also expressed anxiety over the well-being of his children, who he said have not been brought up as followers of any particular religion.

Shah made the comments in a video interview with Karwan-e-Mohabbat India and the organisation shared it on its YouTube channel on Monday.

The actor said the “poison has already spread” and it will be now difficult to contain it. “It will be very difficult to capture this djinn back into the bottle again. There is complete impunity for those who take law into their own hands. In many areas we are witnessing that the death of a cow is more significance than that of a police officer,” he added.

Shah, who is married to actor Ratna Pathak Shah, said they chose not to give any religious education to their children — Imaad and Vivaan — as he believes “being good or evil has nothing to do with religion”.

His fear for his children’s safety is reminiscent of Aamir Khan’s comments on intolerance in 2015 that had sparked a major controversy.

“I had received religious education as a child. Ratna (his wife) was from a liberal household so she received next to none. And we chose not to give religious education to our children because I believe being good or evil has nothing to do with religion. “We taught them about good and bad, what our beliefs are. I did make them learn a few verses from the Quran Sharif, as I believe reciting them improves one’s articulation. Just like one’s articulation improves reading from the Ramayana or Mahabharata from its original…” Shah added.

On December 3, a mob, including right-wing activists, attacked a police station over alleged cow slaughter in the areas. The incident led to the deaths of Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh and another man. PTI

Image: Picture courtesy: Naseeruddin Shah’s Facebook page.


15:58  Cheers, Priyanka!:  @priyankachopra tweets this beautiful image saying: “And the party don’t stop… “

Nineteen days after their grand Jodhpur wedding, Priyanka and Nick held a reception in Mumbai last night that the bride has called home for many years now. The invitees to the reception — which was held at a suburban hotel in Juhu on Wednesday evening — included family, friends and the media. Another reception is scheduled on Thursday evening for Bollywood celebrities at a five-star hotel in suburban Bandra.

15:42  Modi to address two rallies in Kerala:   Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address BJP workers at a public meeting in Pathanamthitta, the central Kerala district where the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa Temple is located, on January 6. He will again visit the state on January 27 to inaugurate a conference of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the saffron party, in Thrissur, BJP sources in Thiruvananthapuram said.

The selection of Pathanamthitta as the venue for the prime minister’s public meeting assumes significance in the wake of the boiling Sabarimala women’s entry issue and the continuing protest of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over it. The two meetings to be addressed by Modi will also virtually turn out to be the curtain raiser to the BJP’s campaigns for the coming Lok Sabha elections in the southern state. Modi’s visit is expected to give a boost to the BJP state leadership, which is facing intense criticism from various quarters for calling back-to-back hartals on the Sabarimala row. 

15:21  Jaitley’s quip on ‘Undeclared Emergency’ :  Arun Jaitley tweets: If any NDA/BJP Government had stopped an opposition Programme, it would have been called an “Undeclared Emergency’. Why Silence now?

This is a likely reference to the West Bengal government refusing to allow the BJP to hold rath yatras in the state. The Calcutta HC today allowed the party to hold three rath yatras and directed the administration to ensure there was no breach of law and order.


15:03  RJD’s Tej Pratap Yadav allotted new bunglow in Patna :  Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tej Pratap Yadav has been allotted a government bungalow in Patna, which he had sought from the Bihar government, saying he wanted to focus on his mission of defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state.

“Does Tejashwi (Taj Pratap’s younger brother) not have a separate residence? Earlier also I didn’t live at 10, Circular Road (the bungalow allotted to his mother as a former chief minister), I used to live elsewhere. I have to focus on my fight. How will I win the fight if I go and sit at home,” Tej Pratap had told ANI on Sunday.

Tej Pratap Yadav, who is Lalu Prasad’s eldest son, has been given a residence at 7-M Strand Road in the state capital.

He had earlier alleged that his applications for a new residence were not responded to. The 29-year-old is often in the news for rather unusual reasons.He dressed up as Lord Shiva, posted images on social media showing him preparing jalebis, rode a horse last Christmas, tumbled to the ground during a cycle race and even made an error while taking an oath of office in Nitish Kumar’s cabinet.


14:33  Calcutta HC allows BJP’s 3 rath yatras :  In a huge relief for the BJP, the Calcutta High Court has granted permission for the party’s three yatras in West Bengal and directs the administration to ensure that there is no breach of law and order.

This comes after the BJP had moved the Calcutta High Court on Monday with a fresh plea, challenging the West Bengal government’s denial of permission to the party’s proposed ‘rath yatra’ in the state.

The state government had held a meeting on the ‘rath yatra’ with a three-member BJP team as per the high court’s direction, following which it informed the party on Saturday that permission could be granted for the ‘yatra’.

Representing the BJP, lawyer Saptangshu Basu mentioned the matter before the court of Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty and sought permission to file a fresh petition.

Justice Chakraborty allowed the BJP to file the petition and asked its lawyer to serve copies of it to the state government and other respondents in the matter.

The party had proposed to take out three ‘rath yatras’ in different parts of the state ahead of the Lok Sabha election in 2019. The BJP moved a division bench of the Calcutta High Court after a single-judge bench of Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty refused permission to the party to hold the yatra.

The division bench had on December 7 directed the West Bengal chief secretary, the home secretary and the director general of police to hold a meeting with three representatives of the BJP by December 12, and take a decision on the ‘yatra’ by December 14.


14:24  Harsh Vardhan Shringla appointed India’s ambassador to US:  Seasoned diplomat Harsh Vardhan Shringla was Thursday appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the United States. Shringla, a 1984-batch Indian Foreign Service diplomat will succeed Navtej Sarna.

“He is expected to take up the assignment shortly,” the Ministry of External Affairs said. At present, Shringla is serving as Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh. Senior diplomat Riva Ganguly Das, presently Director General of Indian Council for Cultural Relations, has been appointed as new High Commissioner to Bangladesh. — PTI


13:54  Pheran ban lifted:  Senior journalist and TV anchor Nidhi Razdan weighs in on the pheran ban controversy with this tweet: @Nidhi I’ve come late to this party, but yes, I wear pherans to work and I love it ! #PheranIsMyIdentity.

A ban order barring officials from wearing the pheran, a long woollen winter dress, to the office of Zonal Education Officer in north Kashmirs Langate, which triggered a massive online campaign against it, was withdrawn today.

Chief Education Officer, Kupwara, Mohammad Shafi War, said the order issued by the Langate zonal officer, Agha Abdul Rasheed, has been withdrawn.

Pheran is part of our culture. The earlier order was passed after some employees would come to work in their night dresses, said War. The earlier move evoked sharp responses from politicians and civil society in Kashmir, which is experiencing a cold wave with sub-zero temperatures. The pheran is preferred attire to battle the cold.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday uploaded pictures wearing a pheran to protest against the ban. My father and I have worn pherans to official functions and will continue to do so, Omar said.


13:43  She’s vomiting on Twitter: Sonu Nigam on Sona Mohapatra:  Singer Sonu Nigam has responded to Sona Mohapatra’s tweets against him, saying that though she is “vomiting” on Twitter, he would like to maintain decorum. Mohapatra had voiced her disapproval with Nigam for his reported comment in support of Anu Malik, who is facing #MeToo allegations.

She had earlier called the music composer a “serial predator”. Nigam was quoted as saying at a media summit over the weekend that Malik, his longtime friend, was accused without any proof and had maintained a dignified silence on the #MeToo allegations.

In a statement on Thursday, the singer said, “The respectable lady vomiting on Twitter, is the wife of someone who I consider very close to me, so although she’s has forgotten the relationship, I’d like to maintain the decorum.”

Nigam said women with courage shaming their oppressors is a “refreshing” change. “Only an animal will not support #MeToo movement. Women with frankness and courage, shaming their oppressors, is a refreshing sign of changing times.

“Women have been long oppressed throughout the course of history and it’s high time to end this Tribal mindset of treating them like properties or trophies, and now they walk hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder with men,” he added.

Malik has repeatedly denied all the allegations. His lawyer told PTI at the time that the #MeToo movement was being used for his client’s “character assassination”.

Following the allegations, the music composer stepped down as a jury member from “Indian Idol”, a singing reality show of which he was part since its inception in 2004. Mohapatra was quick to hit back at Nigam. “So, now, my identity has become ‘wife’. Not only does your reporter refer to me as that, so does the defender of a serial sexual predator. Big hurray for the boys club & big hurrah to patriarchy, not,” she wrote while tagging news report on the matter. PTI

Image: Singer Sona Mohapatra walked the ramp for the designer trio Viral, Ashish and Vikrant, in 2017. 


13:08  Why no women in Bollywood delegation to meet PM, Dia asks Akshay :  Dia Mirza is the latest name to join the growing chorus, asking the reason for women’s absence from the Bollywood delegation of producers and actors that recently met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss issues faced by the film industry.

On Tuesday, an 18-member panel, including Akshay Kumar, Karan Johar, Ajay Devgn, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Ritesh Sidhwani and CBFC chief Prasoon Joshi, met the prime minister to discuss how to take the entertainment industry to the next stage.

The meeting of the delegation came under fire on Wednesday for its exclusion of female representation with some activists and filmmakers pointing out that it was 2018 and asking, “Where are the women?” Dia on Thursday took to Twitter to express disappointment over the same and shot a question laced with sarcasm, “This is wonderful! Is there a reason why there were no women in this room?” tagging Akshay in the tweet.

Her post was a retweet of the “Gold” actor’s post in which he had thanked the prime minister for taking out time for the panel. When one of the social media users pointed out that the organisers of the meet need to questioned for selecting an all-male group, Dia said, “True. Wish one of the men had asked this question. How can an entire Industry be represented only by men?”

Another tweeple said why there is a need to compare women with men at all places, the actor shot them down saying the debate is “not about competition”. “… It’s such a fundamental thing. If we hope to achieve equality we must be included in all conversations! Of course women are doing well. We are doing well despite the fact that we are excluded. And doesn’t that need to change?” she wrote.

Actor Sandhya Mridul also retweeted Akshay’s post and rued, “Great. We women have no issues to discuss. Obviously.”

In a year, where India stumbled upon its #MeToo moment leading to heated debates on skewed gender politics at workplace, including showbiz, filmmakers and directors such as Leena Yadav, Alankrita Shrivastava and Guneet Monga, among many on social media criticised the panel for exclusion of women. — PTI

Image: An 18-member panel of filmmakers met the PM on Tuesday.


12:54  Sajjan Kumar moves HC seeking time till Jan 31 to surrender:  Former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar Thursday approached the Delhi High Court seeking time till January 31 to surrender in connection with a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case in which he was recently sentenced to life imprisonment. Kumar, who was directed by the high court on Monday to surrender before authorities by December 31, sought more time saying he has to settle family affairs.

Advocate Anil Sharma, representing Kumar, said they need some more time to file appeal before the Supreme Court challenging the high court’s verdict and Kumar has to settle his family matters relating to his children and property.

The plea is likely to come up for hearing on Friday. The case relates to killing of five Sikhs in Raj Nagar part-I area in Palam Colony in South West Delhi on November 1-2, 1984, and burning down of a Gurudwara in Raj Nagar part II during that period. — PTI

12:52  Court dismisses petition for namaz at Ayodhya site :  Lucknow High Court Bench dismisses petition filed by Al Rehman Trust seeking permission to offer namaz at the disputed Ayodhya site. Court fined petitioners Rs 5 lakh saying ‘petition’s aim is to create unrest and waste the court’s time’.


12:36  Train to Kumbh:  As Prayagraj or the the more familiar Allahabad gets set to host the Kumbh Mela in January 2019 at the confluence of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati, the government has begun its ad campaigns with the Indian railways. Images of the upcoming Kumbh mela have been plastered on the train coaches of the north eastern railway. 


12:28  Rachel McAdams’ powerful photo goes viral:  Actor Rachel McAdams has shared a picture of her showing off her multitasking skills as she strikes a pose pumping breast milk while rocking Versace and Bulgari diamonds for a magazine photoshoot.

The 40-year-old actor took to Instagram where she posted, what she calls a “powerful” behind-the-scenes photo, which was clicked by photographer and founder of the magazine Girls Girls Girls, Claire Rothstein.

“This is such an inspiration to me, for when I become a mother. Swipe to read the backstory of this powerful photo taken by @clairerothstein. I love it! Girls Girls Girls magazine, 2018,” McAdams captioned the photograph.

In a follow-up post, she attached Rothstein’s post, where the photographer explained why she also decided to share the picture that has now gone viral on the Internet. Rothstein wrote, between shots, the “Disobedience” star “was expressing/pumping as still breastfeeding”.

She revealed the shoot was done six months after McAdams gave birth to her son in April. The actor, who is a private person, shocked the people in November when she revealed she was a mother to a seven-month-old boy with boyfriend Jamie Linden. — PTI

11:57  Witness files caveat in 1984 riots case :  1984 anti-Sikh riots case: One of the witnesses in the case, pertaining to the killings in Delhi Cantt, has filed a caveat in the Supreme Court. In the caveat, the witness has demanded that if Sajjan Kumar challenges the life imprisonment awarded by Delhi High Court, then the Supreme Court should also hear the victims before taking a final decision.


11:44  Kushwaha to join mahagathbandhan today:  
Ten days after he quit the BJP-led NDA, RLSP president and former Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha will formally join the Congress-led mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) this evening in New Delhi.

His decision comes ahead of a meeting of the grand alliance in the national capital to discuss seat sharing for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in Bihar, a RSLP leader said. When the mahagathbandhan meeting takes place, Kushwaha will be attending it.

The meeting will be attended by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Bihar opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav and former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, among others.

Kushwaha on Wednesday said the arrogance of the BJP and Nitish Kumar was one of the reasons behind him leaving the NDA.

“RLSP will be part of the grand alliance to take on the BJP and Nitish Kumar’s JD-U in next year’s Lok Sabha polls,” RLSP leader said.

MI Khan


11:37  Indian held in Pak arrives at Mumbai home:  Maharashtra: Repatriated Indian national Hamid Ansari arrives at his residence in Mumbai. He was released from a jail in Pakistan and arrived in India on 18 December via Attari-Wagah border.

11:14  UNGA officially adopts roadmap for migrants to improve safety:  The UN General Assembly has officially endorsed the first-ever international cooperation framework on migration for effectively addressing issues that concern the world’s 258 million people on the move and countries of origin, transit and destination.

Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was adopted by the General Assembly with 152 votes in favour, 12 abstentions, and five votes against, namely by the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Poland, and the United States of America.

An additional 24 Member States were not present to take part in the vote. India was among the 152 countries that voted in favour of the resolution endorsing the Global Compact, which was adopted by world leaders in Marrakesh, Morocco, on December 10.

The document is the first-ever negotiated global framework on a common approach to international migration in all its dimensions. — PTI

11:00  Lalu gets bail in IRCTC scam:  Delhi’s Patiala House Court grants interim bail to Lalu Prasad Yadav in IRCTC scam case. He appeared before the court via video conferencing. But the RJD leader will remain in jail as he has been convicted in the fodder scam.

10:51  Fire at two hotels in Mumbai, no casualties:  Fire incidents were reported in two city-based hotels, including the luxury hotel Trident, late Wednesday night, officials said. No casualties have been reported in the incidents, they said. A fire broke out at a high-end shopping centre on the ground floor of the Trident Hotel in south Mumbai at 11.04 pm, a fire brigade official said Thursday.

The blaze was confined to a shop in the shopping centre, spread in an area of 2,000 sq ft, and it was doused by 1 am, he said.

In another incident, a blaze erupted at the Afzal Hotel located near Mazgaon Circle in south Mumbai, another official said. The fire brigade got a call about the blaze around 11.37 pm. Fire tenders were rushed to the spot and the flames were extinguished by 1.15 am, he said. Some electric wiring, chimney and items in the hotel’s kitchen were damaged in the fire, he said, adding that the cause of the blaze will be ascertained after an inquiry.

The two incidents come days after a fire at the government-run ESIC Kamgar Hospital at Marol in suburban Andheri on Monday in which nine people were killed and nearly 175 others injured.

10:45  Hearing of 2nd case against Sajjan Kumar on Jan 22:   Hearing adjourned for January 22 in the 2nd case registered by CBI on the recommendation of Nanavati Commission against Sajjan Kumar and other accused. The hearing was adjourned as Sajjan Kumar’s main counsel Anil Sharma didn’t appear before the Patiala House Court today for cross examination of witnesses in the case.


10:23  Rabri, Tejashwi in court today :  Sajjan Kumar has company at the Patiala House Court. Tejashwi Yadav and Rabri Devi are on their way to the Patiala House Court for hearing in the IRCTC scam.


10:12  Anti-Sikh riots: Sajjan Kumar reaches court for 2nd case :  Sajjan Kumar reaches the Patiala House Court for a hearing in the 2nd case registered by the CBI on the recommendation of the Nanavati Commission. He is facing trial on charges of murder and rioting in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case pertaining to the killing in Delhi’s Sultanpuri.

The second case against Kumar was filed by the CBI on the recommendation of the Nanavati Commission.

Earlier this month, the Delhi High Court, while hearing the first case, convicted and sentenced Kumar to life imprisonment.

Two other accused are facing trials on charges of murder and riots held in Delhi, which occurred after the assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1984.

According to official records, about 2,800 Sikhs were killed across India, including 2,100 in Delhi, during the clashes, which broke out after Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards. — ANI

09:40  US slaps fresh sanctions on Russian spies for meddling in 2016 election, nerve agent use:  

The United States has slapped fresh sanctions on 12 Russian individuals and entities for their alleged interference in 2016 presidential election and the brazen use of a military-grade nerve agent in an assassination attempt inside America’s closest ally.

They were involved in a wide range of malign activities, including attempts to interfere in the 2016 US elections, cyber-enabled attempts to undermine international organisations and the brazen use of a chemical weapon in an assassination attempt abroad, the State Department said.

Several of these people were related to ‘Project Lakhta’, a broad Russian effort which includes the Internet Research Agency that has sought to interfere in political and electoral systems worldwide, the State Department said.

As a result of this action, any person determined to knowingly engage in a significant transaction with any of these persons will be subject to the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) Section 231 sanctions, the State Department said.

In addition, the Treasury Department designated several members of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) and individuals and entities related to ‘Project Lakhta’, including the 12 persons added to the List of Specified Persons.

Treasury also designated Victor Boyarkin for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of Oleg Deripaska.

According to the State Department, the sanctions and listings undertaken are one part of an aggressive stand against the irresponsible acts directed by the Government of the Russian Federation.

“Russian intelligence services’ cyber operations continue to seek to undermine democratic elections and delegitimise international organisations,” it alleged.

Additionally, it is clear that Russian intelligence operatives used a military grade nerve agent to carry out an assassination attempt inside the borders of America’s closest ally, a violation of Russia’s obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, the State Department charged. — PTI


08:42  Legendary kabaddi player Anup Kumar announces retirement:  

Anup Kumar, one of the most impactful kabaddi players the country has seen, on Wednesday announced his retirement with immediate effect, drawing curtains to an illustrious 15-year career.


A veteran in the sport, Arjuna awardee Anup began his international career in 2006 at the South Asian Games in Sri Lanka. He led India to gold medal at the Asian Games and was also part of the team which repeated the feat in the 2014 edition. 


The 35-year-old had also led India to memorable Kabaddi World Cup title triumph in 2016. 


In season 2 of the Pro Kabaddi League, Anup captained U Mumba and led the team to victory.


“When I started playing kabaddi, it was a great hobby and over the years a hobby became the most important part of my life. The day I took to playing kabaddi professionally, I had one dream, to represent my country and bring back a gold medal,” Anup said.


“I am one of the few lucky people who had the opportunity to accomplish the most important dream of my life. Today, with the Pro Kabaddi League, the magnitude of the sport has grown by leaps and bounds and I could not be happier than to watch and grow and be a part of this journey. 


“Coincidentally, today is also the 10th birthday of my son, and that makes this date even more memorable. Going forward, if there is anything I am confident about, it is knowing that I will always want to be connected to the sport,” he added. 


Reacting to the announcement, Pro Kabaddi League Commissioner Anupam Goswami, said, “This is a great decision by a great player from a great stage of kabaddi. Anup has been a senior player and a role model athlete for this sport. We totally respect his decision.”


Ronnie Screwvala, team owner U Mumba, said, “When I heard of Anup Kumar’s retirement, I have to say it didn’t surprise me because he is one of the smartest and intelligent players in Kabaddi. He gets his sense of timing on the field and I think he gets his timing when he is looking at his own career off the field as well.” — PTI  


08:37  Court to hear another anti-Sikh riots case against Sajjan Kumar today:  

A Delhi court will hear today a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case against Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, who is accused of instigating a mob to kill Sikhs.


District Judge Poonam A Bamba is scheduled to record the statement of a key prosecution witness in the case and Kumar is directed to appear before the court.

Three persons — Kumar, Brahmanand Gupta and Ved Prakash — are facing trial on charges of murder and rioting in the case pertaining to the killing of Surjit Singh in Sultanpuri.

The witness, Cham Kaur, had on November 16 identified Kumar before the court as one who had allegedly instigated the mob to kill Sikhs.

Kaur had told the court that she had seen Kumar allegedly addressing the crowd in national capital’s Sultanpuri area in 1984 that Sikhs had killed “our mother” and instigated the mob to kill them.

“On October 31, 1984 we were watching TV on the demise of Indira Gandhi. On November 1, 1984 when I stepped out to look for my goat, I saw accused Sajjan Kumar addressing the crowed and was saying ‘hamari ma maar di. Sardaro ko maar do’ (killed our mother. Kill the Sikhs),” Kaur had told the court.

She had further said the next morning, they were attacked in which her son and her father were killed.

“My son Kapoor Singh and my father Sardarji Singh were pulled out of the hiding place on second floor, beaten badly and were thrown down from the roof,” she had said, adding that she herself received injuries in the attack.

During the proceedings, Kaur had also identified Kumar, who was present in the court.

“I could recognise the accused Sajjan Kumar, as we used to visit him for getting help in making ration card, passport. We used to visit the accused for getting the papers stamps as he was the MP/MLA,” she had said.


00:13  Greenpeace may halve India staff after donations row:  

Environmental group Greenpeace said on Wednesday it could halve its workforce in India to 30 early next year due to a block on its bank account after accusations of illegal donations.

The Centre has tightened scrutiny of non-profit groups over the past four years. The government says they often act against India’s interests and has revoked licenses for thousands of foreign-funded groups.

Known for its campaigns against India’s coal-fired power plants, Greenpeace has been barred from receiving foreign donations since 2015.

The Enforcement Directorate froze Greenpeace’s main bank account on October 5.

Greenpeace, which denies wrongdoing, said it only had funds to pay employees for about two more months, meaning half of the staff of 30 were at risk of losing their jobs.

“There are multi-pronged attacks on us,” said Greenpeace spokesman Nandikesh Sivalingam, blaming the coal lobby.

“The coal industry is strong and powerful even if governments do want to move away from coal, including for climate change reasons.”

Source: Rediff