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LIVE! Wife of BSF jawan who posted video on bad food will be allowed to meet him

17:12  Jaya’s soul will not forgive OPS, says AIADMK:  The late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s soul “will not forgive’ O Panneerselvam for trying to split the AIADMK, the party said on Friday as it sought to keep up the pressure on the caretaker chief minister, who has refused to give up the post to VK Sasikala, a confidante of Jayalalitha.

Vaigaichelvan, spokesperson of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, said those aligning with Panneerselvam were “beyond their expiry date” and the people will ignore them. He expressed confidence that Sasikala will soon be sworn in as chief minister.

Sasikala, who made her political moves after the December 5 death of Jayalithaa, claims to have most of the members of the legislative assembly on her side. But some senior leaders such as E. Madusudanan, chairman of the Presidium, have switched sides to join Panneerselvam. Panneerselvam, who was a Jayalalithaa loyalist, says Sasikala coerced him into stepping down although he had been doing a good job after taking over the mantle when his mentor died.

The AIADMK spokesperson said those leaders “who had been ignored by Amma, those who are beyond their expiry date (politically),” have joined Panneerselvam. “Even Amma’s soul will not forgive Panneerselvam for trying to split the party,” he told reporters. He expressed confidence that Sasikala, elected leader AIADMK legislatur party on Sunday, will soon take over as Chief Minister. “Chinnamma (Sasikala) had met the Governor yesterday. Good news will come soon. She will become Chief Minister,” he said. He also iterated the party’s stand that its rival the DMK was behind Panneerselvam’s revolt.

17:04  Chandni Chowk beautification case: Delhi HC orders that rickshaws can’t run without registration from April 1.


17:04  HC seeks TN govt’s response on ‘illegal detention’ of MLAs:   The Madras High Court today sought the Tamil Nadu government’s response to allegations that AIADMK MLAs were being illegally detained in a resort near Chennai and 20 of them were on a fast.

Referring to claims by the counsel for habeas corpus petitioners that the 20 MLAs were on a fast protesting their illegal detention, a division bench of justices C T Selvam and T Mathivanan said if true, it was a matter of serious concern, but added the court cannot act on mere submissions of counsel.

“(Counsel) K Balu submits that 20 of the MLAs are refusing food and drink owing to their illegal confinement. If true, the matter is one of serious concern.

“However, this court cannot act on the mere say of the counsel. Given the nature of the case, it would only be appropriate to afford the state an opportunity to inform its response,” the bench said in its order and adjourned the matter to February 13 for further hearing. The allegations were made by the counsel when the HCPs seeking to trace and set at liberty MLAs T Ramachandran and Geetha came up for hearing.


16:42  Wife of BSF jawan who posted video on bad food will be allowed to meet him:  Sharmila Yadav, the wife of BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav, who had filed a Habeas Corpus petition claiming her husband had been untraceable and feared that he was being illegally detained, will now be able to meet her husband.

Her husband, Tej Bahadur Yadav, had posted a video on his Facebook page on the poor quality of rations handed out to BSF jawans, which went viral.

After the Centre responded that he has not been in illegal detention, but is in the Samba sector of Jammu and Kashmir, the court intervened that Sharmila be allowed to travel to meet Yadav. She will now be staying for two days with her husband at his post in Samba.

The Centre has also told the court that Yadav has not been taken to any undisclosed location and has merely been moved to the 80th batallion of the BSF.

On Friday, a bench headed by Justice G.S. Sistani asked the Centre as to why can it not allow Sharmila to meet her husband if she has some apprehensions about his wellbeing.

How can your officers be so insensitive? Why can the woman not meet her husband, said Justice Sistani.

The court was not impressed with the call chart placed before it by Additional Solicitor-General Sanjay Jain to show that the man and his wife have been in telephonic contact till February 7, 2017.

Image: Tej Bahadur Yadav with his wife Sharmila in picture posted on his Facebook page last month. He captioned it simply, My wife ke sath.


16:19  Without naming him, PM says Rahul most joked about Cong leader on Google:  

Continuing his scathing attack on the Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that the maximum number of jokes you can find on Google are on a certain Congress leader.

“If you search on Google, you will find maximum jokes on the Congress leader than on any other minister,” said Prime Minister Modi while addressing a rally in Bijnor, UP.

The Prime Minister continued, “The way he talks…his antics are such that even senior Congress leaders stay 10 feet away from him.”

“Akhilesh you embraced this kind of a leader when even his own party avoids him? Now I sincerely doubt your wisdom,” the PM added all the while refusing to name the leader.

Training his guns at another political rival the, Samajwadi Party, the Prime Minister said that the truth of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav will be exposed on March 11 (UP polls result day).

“On March 11, Akhilesh will be exposed,” he said.

Condemning the incident of imprisoning BJP workers, the Prime Minister said that the SP is misusing law for its own benefit.


16:10  Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa appointed Principal Honorary Air ADC to the President of India from Jan 1, 2017, says the Ministry of Defence. 

16:05  SC refuses to lift ban of selling, transportation of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR:  The Supreme Court on Friday refused to lift ban of selling and transportation of firecrackers in Delhi and NCR.

The ban to continue till next the date of hearing.A total of 100 firecracker companies moved the Supreme Court on January 30 seeking modification of its earlier order which had put a ban on selling of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR.

The Firecracker Association, earlier in December last year moved the apex court, challenging its earlier order of banning firecrackers in Delhi-NCR.

On November 25 last year, the apex court banned the sale of fire crackers in Delhi and NCR region until further notice in wake of the alarming air pollution in the region.

The top court had asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to file a reply within three months regarding the harmful effects of fire crackers.

The apex court is also mulling on the decision of imposing a national ban on manufacture of fireworks.


15:39  Not part of any NASA space mission: Shawna Pandya clarifies:  

Canada-based Indian-origin neurosurgeon Shawna Pandya has said that she is not part of any NASA mission and that the possibility of her flying in space hasn’t increased or decreased in the last 24 hours. 

Denying reports by several media outlets she will be the third Indian-origin woman to fly in space (after Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams), Dr Shawna — in a Facebook post on Friday — clarified a “few misstatements” that have been doing the rounds. 

“There has been no new announcement, flight assignment or selection of missions with respect to my work as a citizen-scientist astronaut with Project Possum (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere) or The PHEnOM Project (Physiological, Health, and Environmental Observations in Microgravity). I am no more or less likely to fly than any other member of these projects than I was 24 hours ago. I remain, however, a steadfast, committed and dedicated teammate and crew member to the work of both projects,” she wrote.

“My work is separate from the work of the Canadian Space Agency and that of NASA, and should not be represented as such. The Canadian Space Agency astronaut selection is ongoing and will be finalized this year; I am not a part of the selection. While I have previously interned at NASA-Johnson Space Center, I have no current affiliation with either organization, and would like to clarify that any reports or articles claiming as such are mistaken.”


15:34  IndiGo flier hurt as co-passenger opens safety door before take-off:  

In a major safety scare, an IndiGo flight passenger opened the safety door of the aircraft before take off on Friday. 

The airline has registered an FIR against the passenger.

“IndiGo confirms the unruly passenger behaviour reported on flight 6E 4134 from Mumbai to Chandigarh, this morning. Just after boarding was completed and the aircraft was stationary, a passenger seated on 12C suddenly opened the emergency exit door and inflated the slide. IndiGo staff observed this and immediately alerted the captain-in-command. In the process, a passenger seated on 12A was bruised,” said an IndiGo spokesperson.

“The flier was handed over to security staff and the CISF at the Mumbai airport,” the spokesperson added.

“Any untoward behaviour that compromises the safety of our passengers, crew or the aircraft is of serious concern. IndiGo has filed a complaint against this passenger. This matter is now with the local authorities. We regret the inconvenience caused to other passengers,” said the spokesperson.

The flight was travelling from Mumbai to Chandigarh.

15:31  India makes Test history, scores 600 plus totals in 3 successive matches:  

So India have finally declared their first innings on a massive 687 for six in 166 overs, scoring at more than four runs per over through their innings.

India has now become the first country in Test history to score 600 plus total in three successive matches.

Saha was unbeaten on a fine innings of 106, while Jadeja entertained during his brisk knock of 60 as the duo were involved in an unbroken stand of 118 runs for the seventh wicket. 

14:43  Jawan in Samba, not missing: BSF responds to worried family :  Just in: BSF responds to jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav’s wife saying he is at Samba and not under arrest. His family has filed a petition in the  High Court, saying they have no idea of his whereabouts. The family claims they have sent two letters to the BSF Director General to know where Yadav is, but received no reply. The BSF constable’s Facebook video about the food served at the Line of Control had created a storm last month.

14:26  Sasikala sacks AIADMK leader who said she lacks qualifications to be CM:   AIADMK announces that party presidium chairman E Madhusudhanan has been removed from all party posts, and expelled from the party.  KA Sengottayyan replaces him.

Madhusudhanan had extended his support to O Panneerselvam at the latter’s residence and told waiting mediapersons after the meeting that his conscience was urging him to join Panneerselvam’s camp and he has surrendered to that voice.

He said says Sasikala lacks the qualification to be the general secretary of the AIADMK and has written to the Election Commission that her appointment as interim general secretary is invalid as she was not a member of the AIADMK for five continuous years, as required by the party constitution. 

14:18  Tamil Nadu governor Vidyasagar Rao to make a statement shortly. 


14:12  We are not children to be abducted, say MLAs in Sasikala’s camp:  A section of AIADMK MLAs owing allegiance to party General Secretary V K Sasikala today dismissed media reports and allegations from the Panneerselvam camp that they were being “detained” at a resort near Chennai and asserted that they were “free”.

VC Arukutty, MLA from Kavundampalayam in Coimbatore and a supporter of revolting Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, alleged that the MLAs were “detained” and “not reachable.”

“The MLAs are not reachable. They have been detained. They are legislators elected by people, so release them. Let them go and meet people,” he told reporters in Chennai.

However, the MLAs owing allegiance to Sasikala rejected the allegations. “We are free. We are keenly awaiting Governor’s invitation (to Sasikala to form government). We are not children to be detained or abducted as is being reported in a section of media,” Perundurai MLA ND Venkadachalam said.

Some of the MLAs, including former ministers like himself, were made to stay put at one place to move swiftly in case there was a need in the wake of an invitation from the Governor, he told a TV channel. Kattumannarkoil MLA N Murugumaran said he was staying at the resort near here on his own volition and that he was paying for the expenses from his own pocket.

“There is no intimidation, no abduction, no pressure. These are all cooked up charges,” he said. While some of the MLAs were staying there, others were residing at places of their choice, he said. Responding to reports that most of the MLAs were not reachable on the phone, he said he had switched off his mobile phone to avoid “unnecessary calls,” and to avoid any kind of speculations and “wrong news.”

Gudiyatham MLA Jayanti Padmanabhan also said she was not being detained as was being made out and lashed out at Panneerselvam. Former Minister and senior party leader B Valarmathi insisted that the MLAs were free and alleged they were being “intimidated” by those close to Panneerselvam.

“The MLAs are free. They are being intimidated by Panneerselvam’s relatives over phone and that is why they have switched off their mobile phones,” she said.

MAGE: AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala hands over a letter presumably containing the names of MLAs who elected her as the legislature party leader to Tamil Nadu Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao at Raj Bhawan in Chennai on Thursday. Photograph: @AIADMKOfficial/ Twitter

13:53  SBI Q3 profit more than doubles to Rs 2,610 crore as against Rs 1,115 crore in the same period a year ago.

13:44  Major security breach in Indigo flight from Mumbai to Chandigarh after passenger opened safety door of the flight before take off: ANI


13:44  Restrictions in parts of Srinagar: Police:  Restrictions in parts of Srinagar continued for the second day today to maintain law and order in the city in wake of proposed march of the separatists to Lal Chowk city centre and to the local office of the United Nations in Srinagar.

While restrictions continued in downtown (interior areas of the city), the curbs have also been imposed in the police station areas of Maisuma, Ram Munshi Bagh and Kothi Bagh in the city, a police official said.

He said the restrictions were imposed to maintain law and order in view of the call for a march to Lal Chowk and to the office of United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) at Sonwar. The official said security forces have sealed all entry points leading to Lal Chowk by putting up barricades at various places.

The security forces have also been deployed in strength in sensitive areas of the city and elsewhere in the Valley to thwart any protests.


13:12  Governor orders DGP to visit resort where TN MLAs held ‘captive’:  Tamil Nadu DGP TK Rajendran likely to visit the Golden Bay resort in Mamallapuram, where 100 MLAs are allegedly held ‘hostage’ by VK Sasikala. This comes after the DGP and Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary Girija Vaidhyanathan met governor Vidyasagar Rao.

Governor Vidyasagar Rao has asked the DGP to look into complaints that the MLAs are being held captive.

On Wednesday night, Sasikala herded 130 MLAs to the Golden Bay luxury resort near Chennai to prevent them from engaging with O Panneerselvam.

Multiple reports said the MLAs were taken to an undisclosed location and were not even reachable by phone. A plea was also filed in Madras High Court alleging the MLAs were being held captive.

India Today finds that Sasikala supporters have replaced resort security guards and are barring people from entering or leaving. Resort security have been relegated to duties inside the resort building itself.

Apart from mobile jammers and the WiFi being turned off, landed internet/Ethernet wires have also been deactivated.

The MLAs have been ordering largely ordering room service in their rooms, with only a few descending to the common restaurant area for meals.

Hotel staff have been tasked to patrol the corridors periodically to keep tabs on the MLAs, and this has sometimes led to quarrels. Some MLAs have questioned and fought with the staff, asking why they are loitering outside the MLAs’ rooms.

Image: The Golden Bay resort in Mamallapuram where the MLAs were taken.


12:25  I ordered rapists be hung upside down, salt put on wounds: Uma Bharti:  Union Minister Uma Bharti told a large crowd while campaigning in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr on Thursday that she made rapists “beg for forgiveness” when she was Chief Minister.

The Times of India reports: In a startling and graphic revelation, Bharti claimed that she had got rapists tortured during her tenure as chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, and had let survivors watch.

Addressing a rally in Agra, Bharti, while referring to the Bulandshahr gang rape of a woman and her daughter by robbers in August 2016, said, “The rapists should be hung upside down and beaten till their skin comes off. Salt and chilly should be rubbed on their wounds, so that they scream for their lives. That is what I had got done when I was chief minister (of Madhya Pradesh from 2003 to 2004).”

When a police officer objected, she shared, “I told him people who behave like ‘danav’ (demons) cannot have Manavadhikar (human rights). Their heads should be cut off like Ravana’s.”

Uma Bharati, who is Water Resources Minister in the central government, is known for her intemperate pronouncements.


12:12  ‘This is a battle of good vs evil, not Hindu vs Muslim’:  “There has never been a problem between Hindu and Muslims in Kairana. We are a people that smoke from the same hookah,” Kariana’s people tell’s Archana Masih. Once the seat of an influential tradition of Indian classical music, Kairana has become a metaphor for the exodus of Hindus. Listen in.

12:08  Right now: Meet between TN DGP T K Rajendran and Tamil Nadu Governor C Vidyasagar Rao underway in Chennai.


11:44  Sify cartoonist Satish Acharya’s take on the PM’s raincoat comment on Dr Manmohan Singh. 


11:43  Will hear plea to trace ‘missing’ BSF jawan: HC:  Delhi HC agrees to hear today a plea seeking to trace ‘missing’ BSF jawan, who posted video alleging that poor quality food was served to them.

Tej Bahadur Yadav – the BSF constable whose Facebook video about the food served at the Line of Control had created a storm last month – is allegedly missing. His family has filed a petition in High Court, saying they have no idea of his whereabouts. The family claims they have sent two letters to the Border Security Force Director General to know where Yadav is, but received no reply.

IANS quoted his brother-in-law saying that Yadav’s wife talked to him last on February 7. We have been calling him on his mobile number but it goes unanswered,” Vijay said. “When we contact on his official phone number, nobody tells us about his location or they put our phone calls on hold.”

Yadav’s family had earlier alleged that he was being threatened and mentally tortured. Yadav’s wife Sharmila has sought a high-level inquiry into his disappearance and the recent rejection of his plea for voluntary retirement.

11:07  How the Lashkar is raising a new army in Kashmir :  Last Friday morning, Manzoor Ahmad Magray huddled in a corner of the mosque in the south Kashmir village of Nowpora Payeen, clutching a pistol and a grenade, thinking about whether his life might be redeemed by death. The police, waiting outside, sent in his father, an ageing agricultural labourer, to urge his son to come out; officers, as well as village notables, assured the teenager he would be treated well. This wasn’t the way his friends in the Lashkar-e-Taiba had taught him: the road to redemption and manhood went to death.

Praveen Swami ‏writes that for a new army in Kashmir, the Lashkar turns to the rural poor. Read more


10:52  SC rejects plea for ‘urgent hearing’ of Sasikala’s swearing-in :  The Supreme Court declines an urgent hearing of a PIL seeking to restrain V K Sasikala from taking oath as CM. The court has said there will be no ‘urgent’ hearing of the case, but reschedules to February 17.

A PIL was moved in the Supreme Court on Monday seeking to restrain AIADMK leader V K Sasikala from being sworn in as Tamil Nadu chief minister on the ground that the apex court was likely to pronounce within a week the judgment in a corruption case in which she and late CM J Jayalalithaa were accused.

The PIL was filed by Chennai resident Senthil Kumar, general secretary of NGO Satta Panchayat Iyakkam, hours after the apex court indicated it could deliver its judgment on the appeals challenging the acquittal of Jayalalithaa and Sasikala in a 19-year-old disproportionate assets case.

Kumar, who mentioned in the plea that he will argue the matter in person, sought a stay on Sasikala’s swearing in, contending that if she was convicted and forced to resign, there was a possibility of riots erupting all over Tamil Nadu. He said law and order may worsen in such an eventuality as the state was already facing a “desperate situation” due to cyclone, demonetization and death of Jayalalithaa.


10:25  Trump calls Chinese prez, promises to honour One China policy:   President Trump told Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday night that he will honor the “One China” policy that recognizes Beijing as the only legitimate Chinese government.

The two leaders spoke by phone Thursday night, the White House said in a release, their first phone conversation since Trump’s inauguration.

“The two leaders discussed numerous topics and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our ‘one China’ policy,” the release said.
“Representatives of the United States and China will engage in discussions and negotiations on various issues of mutual interest.”

Trump accepted a call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen after his election, breaking with the long-standing protocol. He later told the Wall Street Journal that “Everything is under negotiation, including ‘One China.’

“The White House described the Thursday call as “lengthy” and “extremely cordial,” and said both men had extended invites to visit their respective countries. The release came shortly after the publication of a New York Times report that described China as “stung” by Trump’s call with Taiwan. Officials told the Times that Xi would not agree to speak with Trump until after his public acknowledgment of the policy, which in effect cuts off official governmental ties with Taiwan, officially named the Republic of China. China — officially the People’s Republic of China — considers Taiwan to be a breakaway region.

The policy was put in place under President Jimmy Carter, and he was the last president to speak with a Taiwanese leader.The call comes one day before Trump is set to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Washington, after which they will play golf at Trump’s Palm Beach resort. 

10:05  US President Donald Trump calls Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, says will respect ‘OneChina’policy: White House.

10:04  Two more Gujarat temples deposit gold under GMS:   Two more temples, both from Gujarat, have joined the government’s Gold Monetisation Scheme, taking the total so deposited since the launch in November 2015 to around six tonnes.

Progress is slow but some experts say the scheme needs to be given some time before it picks up. Sometime earlier, the Shree Somnath Trust, near Junagadh, had deposited a small quantity of gold under GMS with Dena Bank.

This was refined by the Gujarat Gold Center, one of the oldest gold refineries in the state, at Ahmedabad. In end-January, another North Gujarat temple, Ambaji’s, Shri Arasuri Ambaji Mata Devasthan Trust, deposited 6.3 kg of gold with Dena Bank, through the same Centre.

This is the first such incidence, of a private refinery route being used to deposit gold.Sources close to the temple said they were testing the mechanism.

“More deposits will be made in the near future,’ the source said. The Ambaji temple is said to have another 100 kg which can be deposited.

Rajesh Bhayani/Business Standard


09:48  The man who declared the end of history fears for democracys future:  Francis Fukuyama, an acclaimed American political philosopher, entered the global imagination at the end of the Cold War when he prophesied the “end of history” — a belief that, after the fall of communism, free-market liberal democracy had won out and would become the world’s “final form of human government.”

Now, at a moment when liberal democracy seems to be in crisis across the West, Fukuyama, too, wonders about its future.

“Twenty five years ago, I didn’t have a sense or a theory about how democracies can go backward,” said Fukuyama in a phone interview. “And I think they clearly can.” Read more


09:39  Jessica Alba, Tyra Banks cut ties with ‘Celebrity Apprentice’:  

Jessica Alba and Tyra Banks have pulled their products from US reality show The New Celebrity Apprentice due to the programme’s ties to President Donald Trump.

The organisers of the #GrabYourWallet campaign named Banks’ makeup and skincare brand, Tyra Beauty, and Jessica’s The Honest Company among their firms to boycott, after both featured on the programme, which is executive produced by former host Trump.

The campaign was launched to rally against the businesses associated with the President as a protest against the controversial policies that have kicked off his term in office.

However, boycott organiser Shannon Coulter has since removed Jessica, who has also worked as an adviser on the show, and Tyra’s companies from the list after they cut ties with the series, reported Contactmusic. 


09:21  ‘He is sitting on the chair Nehru sat on, Vajpayee sat on’:   Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s jibe in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday — “only Dr Sahab knows the art of taking bath in the bathroom while wearing a raincoat. No one else does” — during his reply to the debate on the President’s address has predictably evoked an angry response from the Congress party, apart from coming in for criticism across the political spectrum.   

On Thursday, former finance minister P Chidambaram responded to Modi’s remark — who was not present in the House, however — and said, “He is my prime minister as much as he is your (BJP members’) prime minister. Please prevail upon your prime minister to use language which is moderate and respectful — to his office and to the office held by his predecessors.”

Read the report in The Telegraph, here.

09:21  Note ban: FinMin officials set to depose before PAC:  

Rajeev Sharma tells us: Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee will meet on Friday on the issue of demonetisation.

Top finance ministry officials will depose before the parliamentary panel including Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia and Banking Secretary Anjuly Duggal.

Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel appeared before the PAC on January 20, two days after his deposition before another parliamentary panel, the standing committee on finance.

The finance ministry’s top brass had been summoned by the PAC last month along with Dr Patel, but the PAC agreed to their request for another date as they were busy with preparation of the Budget.

This will be the first time when the finance ministry’s top officials will depose before the PAC on demonetisation.

Significantly, the Modi government has not yet given the exact number of cash deposits received by the banks, post offices and cooperative banks during the 50-day window given by the government which closed on December 30.

The RBI governor too declined to disclose the number of cash deposits, saying that the counting was still on. The finance ministry officials are also likely to duck this question today.


09:03  Pakistan 36-nation naval exercise begins today:  

Pakistan is hosting warships from 36 countries, including Russia, China and the US, in the Arabian Sea for a naval exercise beginning today.

Codenamed Aman-17, the five-day-long exercise will be held in the north Arabian Sea.

Russia has sent three ships for the exercise which, according to Pakistan Navy, is held every two years to raise awareness about naval affairs and improve coordination between different navies. Four ships from the US, and one each from Indonesia, Australia and Turkey will also participate. 

Other participants of the exercise themed ‘Together for peace’ include China, Japan, Sri Lanka, the UK, and France. 

Commander of the Pakistani Fleet, Vice Admiral Arifullah Hussaini said the exercise has helped navies to work together in eradicating terrorism, human, arms and drug trafficking.

He said Pakistani naval ships were also ensuring free sea trade in the Gulf of Aden. 

“This region, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, is very important as well as complex. It is from here that the world’s oil is transported,” he added.

Asked about India focusing on increasing its naval assets, Hussaini said the Aman-17 exercise was aimed at promoting inter-operability and not at preparing for war.


08:54  Trump’s border wall with Mexico will cost US Rs 1.4 lakh crore:  

President Donald Trump’s “wall” along the US-Mexico border would be a series of fences and walls that would cost as much as $21.6 billion (Rs 1.4 lakh crore), and take more than three years to construct, based on a US Department of Homeland Security internal report accessed by Reuters. 

The report’s estimated price-tag is much higher than a $12 billion (over Rs 80,000 crore) figure cited by Trump in his campaign and estimates as high as $15 billion (Rs 1 lakh crore) from Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The report is expected to be presented to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly in the coming days, although the administration will not necessarily take actions it recommends.

The plan lays out what it would take to seal the border in three phases of construction of fences and walls covering just over 1,250 miles (2,000 km) by the end of 2020. With 1,046 km of the border already fortified, the new construction would extend almost the length of the entire border.


08:50  Prez estate to take a big step towards lower power bills today:  

An annual savings of around Rs 80 lakh in electricity bills is expected from the solar power project to be inaugurated today in President’s estate.

President Pranab Mukherjee will inaugurate the first phase of the project under which 670 KW of solar power will be generated through rooftop solar panels installed on seven buildings in the estate.

“The savings in electricity bills resulting from this project is expected to be approximately Rs 80 lakh per year. The generation of solar power will result in significant reduction in carbon footprint and make the estate more energy efficient,” a release issued by the President’s secretariat said.

As part of the inaugural event, a day-long exhibition showcasing various aspects of energy conservation and green energy is being held with support of Tata Power Delhi

Distribution Limited (TPDDL), Rural Electrification Corporation, Green Jobs Sector Skill Council, Bureau of Energy Efficiency, Central Electronics Limited and Energy  fficiency Services Limited.

Painting and science model competitions as well as a ‘Nukkad Natak’ (street play) on the theme of energy efficiency/solar power will be organised on the occasion, the

release said. 

08:47  National Women’s Parliament begins in Vijayawada today:  

In a first-of-its-kind event bringing ‘women empowerment’ at the centre stage of debate and deliberations, a National Women’s Parliament will be held near Vijayawada today.

With the main theme of ‘Empowering Women-Strengthening Democracy’, the three-day conclave will be held at Pavitra Sangamam on the outskirts of Vijayawada in the capital region and will be attended, among others, by Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama.

Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly is organising the event and the state government is hosting it with support of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and Inter-Parliamentary Union, among others. 

Though the conclave was supposed to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi via video conference, it has now been cancelled because of his preoccupation, Assembly Speaker Kodela Sivaprasada Rao said on the eve of the conclave. 

The vision of NWP is to enable and encourage social, political and economic empowerment of women in all strata of the society and one of its objectives is to generate new ideas, theories and ideologies for women empowerment, Rao said. 

As many as 91 women parliamentarians, 401 legislators, 300 social and corporate sector women leaders from India and abroad are expected to attend the NWP, while over 10,000 “socially and politically sensitive” girl students will be networked with the leaders.


08:43  Royal family to take boot officials for granting Padmavati shooting permission:  

The former Jaipur royal family has decided to take disciplinary action against the officials for not providing them details about Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film ‘Padmavati’, which courted controversy and protests by Karni Sena and giving permission for its shooting at Jaigarh fort in Jaipur.

The shooting was going on at the Jaigarh fort, owned by the former royal family, when the members of Karni Sena staged protest and vandalised the set on January 27, accusing Bhansali of distorting the historic facts in the film. 

“The department set up to take care of shootings and granting permission did not provide full information to the Royal Family relating to the film and gave permission to shoot it. When it came to the knowledge of the Royal Family, disciplinary action is being taken against the erring officials of the department,” a release from the family said.

Former Rajmata Padmini Devi in statement said that Jaipur Royal Family stands committed to protect the proud history of Rajasthan.

“Anyone attempting to twist or change the history of Rajasthan will not be tolerated,” she said. 

08:34  Major setback, embarrassment to National Human Rights Commission:  

A damning report to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recommends that accreditation to India’s National Human Rights Commission be deferred till November, 2017.

The recommendation has been made by the Global Alliance for National Human Rights Institutions, affiliated to the UN’s OHCHR, late in January. This would mean that till accreditation is renewed, the NHRC will be barred from representing India in the UN’s Human Rights Council as well as the UN General Assembly.

The NHRC’s selection and appointment process came in for sharp criticism in the report, which notes the lack of uniform and precise criteria for appointing members, and because no advertisement for vacancies in top posts is given out.


00:14  You created fizz without soap: Uddhav attacks PM over ‘raincoat’ jibe:  

Taking on Narendra Modi over his “raincoat” remark, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray said that the Prime Minister had created “fizz” without soap.

“Though he wore a raincoat, (former Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh at least bathed using water. You (Modi) did not even use water to bathe everybody (in the country). You created fizz without soap,” Thackeray said, in apparent reference to hardships caused by the demonetisation.

The Sena leader was addressing a campaign rally in Mumbai for Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation polls.

Referring to the former Prime Minister during a speech in the Rajya Sabha yesterday, Modi had said, “Dr sahab’s image remained clean despite his government being mired in scams, as only he knew the art of bathing with his raincoat on.”      

Uddhav said had he not severed ties with BJP (for BMC elections of February 21) his photo too would have been there in posters with Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and Pappu Kalani (former MLA of Ulhasnagar who was accused of murder). I am relieved that I did not have to join the likes of Kalani,” he said.

“We are accountable to people. Earlier BJP had faces like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishna Advani. Now they have faces of goons. Now Kalani is with Modi and Shah on posters,” he alleged.

Source: Rediff