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LIVE! BJP leader Mukul Roy among 4 booked for TMC MLA’s killing

15:26  Indian man in Dubai charged with sexually harassing British tourist:  

An Indian man in Dubai has been charged with sexually harassing a British tourist inside a lift at a residential tower.

The 24-year-old Indian worker was charged at the Dubai Court of First Instance after the prosecutors accused him of exposing himself to the 35-year-old tourist and inappropriately touching her.

‘Around 4.40 pm on the day of the incident, I was going to practise yoga at the gym on the 37th floor. An Asian man took the lift with me. It was just the two of us.

‘He stood so close to me in a way to touch me. I was moving away but he would not step away from my left side. I could hear him moaning,’ the victim was quoted as saying by the Khaleej Times.

“He walked out at 34th floor and when I reached the 37th floor, I found his semen traces on my clothes,” she told the public prosecution investigator.

The victim reported him to the hotel security and the surveillance cameras were checked. The lift did not have any camera but the defendant was captured on camera right before he entered the lift after her, the report said.

A police corporal said they arrested the suspect the next day at the same tower.

“He admitted during interrogation that he stood very close to the woman in a way to touch her on purpose more than once,” the police said.

The woman’s clothes were seized. The defendant’s DNA traces were found on the tourist’s clothes, as shown in a report.

A ruling will be pronounced on February 25, the report said.

The detained Indian worker has denied the charge in the court.  — PTI


15:14  BJP leader Mukul Roy among 4 booked for TMC MLA’s killing:  

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Mukul Roy was among the four people booked on Sunday in connection with the killing of Trinamool Congress MLA Satyajit Biswas in West Bengal’s Nadia district, a senior police officer said.

Of the four people named in the first information report, two have been arrested, an officer of the West Bengal Police told PTI.

Biswas, 41, who represented Krishnaganj constituency in the state assembly, was shot from point blank range by unidentified assailants on Saturday evening inside a Saraswati puja marquee at Phoolbari area in the district bordering Bangladesh.

He was immediately taken to a local hospital where doctors announced him ‘brought dead’.

“So far, we have arrested two persons in this case and detained another three. A country-made revolver used to shoot the MLA has also been recovered.

“As per our primary findings, it seems that the victim was fired from behind and the act was the result of a well-planned plot,” the officer said.

Asked about the chances of the assailants fleeing the area, the police officer said the state police have been put on a high alert.

“Nadia shares border with Bangladesh and there could be a possibility of them (assailants) trying to escape to the neighbouring country. Police have been put on high alert to check the movements along the border,” he said.

Roy, a former TMC member of Parliament, joined the BJP last year after his relations soured with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Claiming that the attack was a conspiracy by the BJP, TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee said Saturday that those involved in the killing will be punished after a full- fledged inquiry.

He also said the saffron party was trying to create disturbances ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and resorted to ‘politics of murder’ by singling out leaders having mass bases.

The allegations were termed ‘baseless’ by Roy and BJP state president Dilip Ghosh.  — PTI


14:03  5 terrorists killed in Kulgam encounter; locals protest:  

Five terrorists were killed on Sunday in an encounter with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kulgam district, the Army said in Srinagar.

The gunbattle broke out after the ultras opened fire on a search team of the security forces in the district’s Kellem village this morning, an Army official said.

He said five terrorists were killed in the encounter.

The identity and group affiliation of the ultras are being ascertained.

Weapons and war-like stores have been recovered from the encounter site, the official added.

Clashes between protestors and security forces broke out near the encounter site, a police official said.

Heavy stone pelting resulted in injuries to four Central Reserve Police Force personnel.

The official said the law enforcing agencies were trying to restore order in the area.  — PTI/ANI


13:33  Centre claims over 3.79 lakh new jobs in its departments in 2 years:  

As debate intensifies over rising unemployment in the country, the Modi government claims to have generated over 3.79 lakh jobs between 2017 and 2019 in its various establishments, according to the interim budget for 2019-20.

The government said it has generated 2,51,279 jobs in central government establishments between 2017 and 2018.

This is estimated to go up by 3,79,544 to reach 36,15,770 on March 1, 2019, shows an analysis of documents of the interim budget, presented by Union Finance Minister Piyush Goyal on February 1.

The data assumes significance as the Congress and other opposition parties have been targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over rising unemployment.

The government has rejected the charges.

Replying to the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the president’s address to Parliament on Thursday, Modi cited data from provident fund, National Pension System (NPS), Income Tax filings and sale of vehicles among others to say crores of new jobs were created in the formal and unorganised sectors, including transport, hotels and infrastructure.

Most of the recruitment was done by the Ministry of Railways, police forces and the direct and indirect tax departments.

The budget documents give a sector wise break-up on how the jobs were added in central government establishments. It said Indian Railways will generate the highest number of jobs — 98,999 by March 1, 2019 against its actual strength of 12,70,714 in March 2017.

There will be 79,353 additional jobs in police departments by March 1, 2019, up from the actual strength of 10,52,351 as on March 1, 2017.

Similarly, jobs in direct tax departments will touch an estimated 80,143 by next month as against 50,208 in March 2017 (an increase of 29,935 jobs). In indirect tax departments, the government said there were 53,394 employees in March 2017.

This went up to 92,842 in March 2018. It also gave the same figure (92,842) as the estimated strength of indirect tax establishment as on March 1, 2019.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation will have 2,363 more personnel by March 1 this year against its actual strength of 1,174 in March 2017, the document shows.

Similarly, for the Department of Posts, it said there will be 4,21,068 personnel on March 1, 2019 as against its actual strength of 41,88,18 in March 2017.

In the Ministry of External Affairs, 11,877 people are estimated to be working by next month as against its actual strength of 10,044 in March 2017, which was estimated to have reached 11,870 in 2018.  — PTI


13:14  PM takes a swipe at Naidu, says he’s senior in switching sides:  

Taking a swipe at Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said he had only replicated the Centre’s development programmes instead of his assurance of initiating new schemes for the poor in the state.

Addressing a rally, Modi said Naidu had claimed he was his senior but instead was ‘a senior in switching sides and ditching his father-in-law, N T Rama Rao, former chief minister’.

Naidu promised the sunrise of Andhra Pradesh but is fixated with the rise of his own son N Lokesh, Modi charged.

The chief minister promised the redevelopment of Amaravati but is now engaged in his own development, the prime minister alleged.

He said Naidu had not initiated any new programmes for the poor but was only putting his stamp on the National Democratic Alliance government’s development schemes.

On providing clean fuel in the country, Modi said while in 60 years, only 12 crore gas connections were given, the NDA government had given 13 crore gas connections in just four years.  — PTI


13:01  When Lal Bahadur Shastri asked ‘who is Meena Kumari’!:  

At a function in a Mumbai film studio where Pakeezah was being shot, the then home minister Lal Bahadur Shastri failed to recognise Meena Kumari when she garlanded him and asked journalist Kuldip Nayar sitting near him who the woman was.

Meena Kumari was at the height of her success as an actress when this incident took place.

Shastri was invited to the shooting of Pakeezah, in which Meena Kumari was the heroine. There was also much pressure from the Maharashtra chief minister to attend it and Shastri could not say no.

This interesting account of Meena Kumari’s encounter with Shastri on the film sets finds mention in Nayar’s new book On Leaders and Icons: From Jinnah to Modi, which he finished only weeks before he passed away last August.

The function was attended by leading personalities from the cinema world.

‘Many top actors were present. Meena Kumari garlanded Shastri. Amidst loud applause, Shastri asked me in his soft voice who the lady was. Meena Kumari, I said in amazement. Shastri expressed his ignorance. Yet never did I expect him to admit this in public,’ Nayar wrote.

He, however, praised Shastri for his innocence and honesty.

Shastri made a brief speech on the occasion.

‘He began his speech with the remark, ‘Meena Kumariji, mujhe maaf karna, maine aapka naam pahle dafa suna hai‘ (Meena Kumari ji, please forgive me, I have heard your name for the first time). The legendary beauty of Hindi cinema, the darling of millions across the nation, was a figure of embarrassment and sat impassively in the front row,’ the book said.

Shastri was given a tour of the film studio. For him, it was like going through a routine exercise. Shastri’s speech made no comment about the sets or the film itself, Nayar wrote.

In the iconic movie directed by Kamal Amrohi and released in 1972, Meena Kumari played the lead role of a golden-hearted nautch girl from Lucknow. Raaj Kumar, Ashok Kumar and Nadira were also in the film.

In the book, published by Speaking Tiger, Nayar recounts his experiences of meeting many of the men and women who shaped the destiny of pre- and post-Independence India, revealing hitherto unknown aspects of their personalities and shedding light on many key events in the country.

He also mentions about Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s flawless recitation of his poetry even after consuming a full bottle of Black Dog whiskey.  — PTI


12:48  Deposits in Jan Dhan accounts set to cross Rs 90,000 cr:  

Total deposits in Jan Dhan accounts are set to cross Rs 90,000 crore with the government making the flagship financial inclusion programme more attractive especially by doubling accident insurance cover to Rs 2 lakh.

According to data from the finance ministry, the deposits, which have been steadily rising since March 2017, have already reached Rs 89,257.57 crore as on January 30, and are steadily rising.

The deposits stood at Rs 88,566.92 crore on January 23.

The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) was launched on August 28, 2014, with an aim to provide universal access to banking facilities for all households.

Enthused by the success of the scheme, the government has enhanced the accident insurance cover to Rs 2 lakh from Rs 1 lakh for new accounts opened after August 28, 2018.

The overdraft limit has also been doubled to Rs 10,000.

The government has also shifted the focus on accounts from ‘every household’ to ‘every unbanked adult’.

According to the latest data, there were 34.14 crore account holders under the PMJDY.

An average deposit in these accounts was about Rs 2,615, compared with Rs 1,065 on March 25, 2015.

Over 53 per cent of the Jan Dhan account holders are women, 59 per cent accounts are in rural and semi-urban areas.

As per the data, 27.26 crore accounts holders have been issued RuPay debit cards with an inbuilt accident insurance cover.  — PTI


12:10  No AP minister to receive PM on airport; TDP protests visit:  

Telugu Desam Party workers staged protests against Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he arrived Sunday on his first visit to Andhra Pradesh after the ruling TDP severed ties with the National Democratic Alliance.

The Chandrababu Naidu-led party quit the Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance protesting the ‘injustice’ done to the state post-bifurcation.

Giving the protocol a go-by, none of the state ministers turned up at Vijayawada airport to formally receive the prime minister, who is on an official-cum-political visit.

BJP leaders alleged that people were ‘thwarted’, from reaching the venue in large numbers and said countdown would start for Naidu when Modi commences his rally.

This is Modi’s first visit to Andhra Pradesh, a year after the ruling TDP walked out of the BJP-led NDA.

The ruling party organised protests in various cities and towns in the state Sunday in protest against Modi’s visit.

At Vijayawada and Guntur, TDP workers donned black shirts and took out rallies demanding that ‘Modi go back’.

In his daily teleconference with the party leaders, the Chief Minister dubbed Modi as the ‘modati drohi‘ (first betrayer) of Andhra Pradesh.

“Modi is coming for a war on AP. They have done all injustice to the state, destroyed the systems and ruined the country. Modi is facing protests wherever he is going in the country.

“He has come to AP to mock at us,” Naidu said.

Elaborate security arrangements had been made in and around the Gannavaram airport in the wake of the call given by the chief minister for protests against the prime minister’s visit.

After the reception on the airport tarmac, the prime minister flew to Guntur by a special IAF helicopter.

Protests were also organised on Saturday in some parts of the state against the visit.

The Congress called for observance of black day on Sunday over Modi’s ‘failure’ to honour the promises made to Andhra Pradesh post-bifurcation, party sources said. In Vijayawada, the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India-Marxist organised a demonstration on Saturday protesting Modi’s visit.

Reports said similar protests were held in Kadapa and Kurnool districts as well.  — PTI


11:12  Truth will prevail: Vadra ahead of questioning in another land scam case:  

Ahead of his questioning in Jaipur over Bikaner land scam, Robert Vadra, Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law, said on Sunday that he was “fine, good and disciplined” to deal with anything he is put through.

“Just want to say thank you to all my friends and acquaintances who have reached out in support from all over the nation, at this time. Im fine, good n disciplined to deal with anything, Im put through. Truth will always prevail. Wishing you all a happy Sunday n a healthy week (sic),” he posted in Instagram.

Vadra is expected to depose before the ED in Jaipur on Sunday in another money-laundering case related to an alleged land scam in Bikaner, after being grilled by the the Enforcement Directorate a day earlier.

After two sessions of questioning on February 6 and 7, officials said the investigating officer of the case wanted to put across more questions to Vadra in connection with the case and hence he was asked to depose again on Saturday.

The ED case against Vadra relates to allegations of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property located at 12, Bryanston Square, which is allegedly owned by him. 


10:55  Devotees prefer early-morning dip at Kumbh to avoid rush, reach back home in time:  

Hours before sunrise, lakhs of devotees had already taken dip in Sangam on Basant Panchami the third and final shahi snaan during the Kumbh. Many were seen carrying the holy water of the Ganges, a sense of satisfaction reflected on their faces.

Even before 2 am, a number of devotees were seen taking the exit route from the Mela area, and searching for a mode of transport to reach their respective destinations.

It was 1.45 am, and Rakesh Kumar, a resident of Banda, was heading home.

“The main reason to take the (holy) dip early was that I will get ample amount of time to reach home. The crowd was relatively less and hence there were no problems,” he said.

Deepak Kumar, who runs a caf and is a resident of Fatehpur district, said, “I took the dip at around 1.00 am. I now have time to explore the city. Apart from this, it also helps me in returning home in time.”

The devotees appeared excited and the cold breeze sweeping the Sangam area could not deter their spirit. Chants of ‘Har Har Gangey’ and ‘Jai Ganga Maiyya’ filled the air around the venue. Visitors were also seen clicking selfies at various locations in the Mela area.

As the number of visitors began increasing, police officials issued instructions to them to take a specific exit route.

“Close to 50 lakh devotees had already taken dip before sunrise,” Kumbh Mela Adhikari Vijay Kiran Anand said.



10:38  My Name Is RaGa: Rahul’s biopic to hit screens ahead of 2019 elections:  

Weeks after the announcement of a biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, another biopic on his political rival Rahul Gandhi has been planned. Titled ‘My Name Is RaGa, the film will trace the personal and political journey of Rahul Gandhi.

Rupesh Paul, whose filmography includes projects like Saint Dracula 3D and Kamasutra 3D, is directing the film. 

Paul, who is returning to direction after four years, said, The movie has no intentions to glorify Rahul or to demystify him. Its the story of a coming back of a human being who had been ridiculously attacked. Anyone who has fearlessly confronted defeat and failure can relate to this story. In that sense, I dont want to call this a biopic, its a story of any man who becomes unstoppable after he wins over a catastrophic life.

The teaser of the film has already been released and it features many members of the Gandhi family. However, Paul is planning to shoot some new scenes to cover new developments. He said, We are planning to shoot at more interesting locations like Collin College in the US where he had to study with a fake name and also the school where he completing his schooling and also a brief portions in Italy where his grandparents lived.

Though the release date of the film hasnt been announced, its likely to hit the screens before the general elections of 2019.


10:09  History professor wins $500,000 Dan David Prize:  

Sanjay Subrahmanyam, a professor of history whose scholarship focuses on the encounters between Asians, Europeans and indigenous and colonial Americans from 1400 through 1800, has been named a laureate of the Dan David Prize in recognition of his contributions to macro history.

The international Dan David Prize is awarded annually to figures who have made outstanding scientific, technological and humanistic accomplishments in fields representing the past, present and future of human achievement. Subrahmanyam is sharing the $1 million prize with Kenneth Pomeranz, a renowned historian who is a professor at the University of Chicago.

Subrahmanyam, son of India’s strategic thinkers, K Subrahmanyam and brother of former foreign secretary Dr S Jaishankar, has written 16 books and edited almost as many. Subrahmanyams work, steeped as it is in Western and non-Western historiography, conveys a fuller, more-rounded history than most other scholars have been able to provide.

Read full story HERE


09:49  Amol Palekar repeatedly interrupted during speech for criticising govt:  

Veteran actor-director Amol Palekar was repeatedly interrupted during his speech by some members of the National Gallery of Modern Art in Mumbai on Friday evening. Palekar was speaking at the opening of an exhibition Inside The Empty Box in the memory of artist Prabhakar Barwe.

A video available on social media showed Palekar criticising the ministry of culture for reportedly scrapping the advisory committees at the gallerys Mumbai and Bengaluru centres.

Referring to these reports, Palekar said, Many of you may not know that this retrospective will be the last show decided by the advisory committee of local artists and not by some bureaucrat or an agent of the government with an agenda of either moral policing or proliferation of certain art commensurate with an ideological incline.

As of November 13, 2018, the artistes advisory committees at both regional centres Mumbai and Bangalore — have been abolished, is what I have learnt, he said.

He added that he was in the process of verifying the hearsay.

At this point, an NGMA member on the stage interrupted, saying that Palekar should talk about the event.

To which, Palekar responded, I am going to talk about the same. Are you you applying censorship to that? He then said that as per his information, after the abolition of local artists committee, decisions as to whose work should be exhibited would be taken from Delhi by the ministry of culture.

He was again interrupted by a woman, who said, This is not needed at the moment, sorry… The function is about Prabhakar Barwe, please stick to that.

However, Palekar refused to stop, and went on to mention that writer Nayantara Sahgal was invited to speak at the Marathi literary convention recently but at the last minute the invitation was withdrawn because what she was going to say was slightly critical of the situation around us.

Are we creating the same situation here? he asked.


08:57  Kumar to be grilled for second day on Sunday, Kunal Ghosh called:  

The CBI will continue the questioning of Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar for the second day on Sunday and former TMC MP Kunal Ghosh will appear in person at the investigating agency’s office here for interrogation in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam, officials said Saturday.

Three senior CBI officers questioned Kumar for nearly nine hours on Saturday about his alleged role in the tampering of crucial evidence in the scam, the officials said.

There was no briefing by the Central Bureau of Investigation on the questioning which began at around 11 am at its highly secured office at Oakland here as per the directions of the Supreme Court.

Kumar’s counsel Biswajit Deb, who is also the TMC coordinator for Meghalaya, said Kumar is “cooperating and complying” with the CBI.

“He (Kumar) has come here on the orders of the Supreme Court. He has complied earlier and he is complying now as per the orders,” he told reporters outside the CBI office.

Kumar led the special investigation team formed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to investigation the chit fund scam before the probe was handed over to the CBI by the apex court.

He will be present at the CBI office for the second day tomorrow, said Deb, who met Kumar along with two senior IPS officers from West Bengal — Javed Shamim and Murlidhar Sharma — thrice during the day for brief periods.

The agency may confront him with Kunal Ghosh who has also been called on Sunday, but a final call will be taken by the investigating officer present in Shillong, agency sources said.

The CBI is relying on a 91-page letter from Ghosh, who was expelled by TMC, to the Enforcement Directorate, detailing the role of Kumar in handling the ponzi scam probe after the main accused, Sudipta Sen and Debjani Mukherjee, both promoters of Saradha Group of companies, had fled to Kashmir, officials said in Kolkata.



08:45  Anti-Modi posters emerge in Andhra ahead of PM’s rally:  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit Andhra Pradesh for the first time after the Telugu Desam Party pulled out of the NDA last year. PM Modi is scheduled to visit Guntur, Tiruppur and Raichur today. Ahead of PM Modi’s visit, The TDP, Congress and Left parties have planned big protests and large posters of “No more Modi”and “Modi never again” have already come up across the state.

The BJP, in Andhra Pradesh, has asked its cadre to be present at the rallies and make the Prime Minister’s visit a success. The party lodged a complaint with police seeking action against those who put up the hoardings against the Prime Minister.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, one of PM Modi’s strongest critics, yesterday called on TDP workers to hold Gandhian protests during his visit to the state. “It is a dark day. PM Modi is coming to witness the injustice that was done to Andhra Pradesh by him. He is weakening the states and constitutional institutions. PMO’s intervention in Rafael is disrespect to the nation. We will do peaceful Gandhian protests with yellow and black shirts and balloons,” Naidu said yesterday.

Naidu is upset with the Narendra Modi government and accused PM Modi of not keeping his promise of giving special category status to the state.

“PM Modi is weakening the states and constitutional institutions,” said Chandrababu Naidu.


08:14  Britain’s Prince Philip, 97, gives up licence after car crash:  

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II’s 97-year-old husband Prince Philip surrendered his driving licence after causing a car crash that outraged the media and stirred a debate about old age and driving.


Buckingham Palace said Philip, formally known as the Duke of Edinburgh, took the decision on his own after rolling over his Land Rover last month.

“After careful consideration the Duke of Edinburgh has taken the decision to voluntarily surrender his driving licence,” Buckingham Palace said in a brief statement.

Police in the eastern part of England where the accident happened outside a royal residence said they had passed Philip’s file to prosecutors to determine whether anyone should be charged.

“Norfolk Police can confirm that the 97-year-old driver of the Land Rover involved in the collision at Sandringham … voluntarily surrendered his licence to officers,” said a police statement.

“The investigation file for the collision has been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for their consideration.”

A CPS spokesman said the service “will take this development into account” as it studies Philip’s case.

Few royal watchers seriously expect the duke to be punished by the police.

A witness told British media that Philip had emerged unharmed but “shocked and shaken” from the collision with the much smaller Kia hatchback.

Police said a nine-month-old baby in the back seat of Kia was uninjured. One woman in the vehicle broke her wrist and the other cut her knee.

The duke was forced to follow standard police procedure and take a breath test.

Police said the results “provided negative readings” for both drivers.

Philip came under days of media criticism for failing to quickly and publicly apologise for causing the crash.

Source: Rediff