10:59 Update: Supreme Court says mediation process has to start within four weeks and to be completed within eight weeks. The next hearing is in six weeks.
10:53 Mediator Sri Sri’s views on the Ram Mandir issue: In March 2018, speaking to a television news channel, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had said on the Ram Mandir issue: “If the Ram mandir issue is not solved, we will have a Syria in India.”
Speaking to India Today TV, Ravi Shankar added: “Muslims should give up their claim on Ayodhya as a goodwill gesture. Ayodhya is not place of faith for Muslims… We cannot make Lord Ram to be born in another place.”
While speaking to NDTV on the same issue, Ravi Shankar said, “If the court rules against a temple, there will be bloodshed. Do you think the Hindu majority will allow it (ruling against a temple)? They will garner resentment towards the Muslim community.”
10:50 Sri Sri among three mediators in Ayodhya case :
Just in: Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench refers Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case for court appointed and monitored mediation for a “permanent solution’.
Justice Khaliifulah (Retd) to be the chairman, for court appointed and monitored mediation for a “permanent solution’, and also comprise Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu. If the three mediators want they can actually add more mediators. . The mediation proceedings will take place in Faizabad. Supreme Court says mediation proceedings should be held on-camera.
The Supreme Court in its order also said that the reporting of the mediation proceedings in media will be banned. Four weeks have been given to the mediators arrive at a decision. The mediation will remain confidential.
10:38 Nirav Modi’s illegal Rs 100-cr bungalow to be blown up with dynamite today: In Maharashtra, authorities continue demolition of PNB scam accused Nirav Modi’s bungalow in Alibag, Raigad district. Fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi’s Rs 100 crore, 30,000 sq ft, plush Alibaug bungalow will be fully today using controlled blasting. Reports say explosives will be used to demolish it.
The 33,000 square foot luxurious bungalow is illegally build, violated coastal regulation zone norms and state regulations, say authorities.
However, the foundation of the structure is said to be so robust that authorities have so far struggled bringing it down using just heavy machinery, and may take months this way. To speed up the process, they have now decided to demolish the building through a controlled explosion, using dynamite.
The office of the District Collector of Raigad in Maharashtra on Tuesday started the second phase of the demolition of beach villa.
On Wednesday morning, a team of policemen and officials from the district collector’s office along with workers took down part of the structure, which were mainly of glass.
Image: Authorities have begun demolishing the bungalow, but the foundation is so robust that it will take months to bring it down. This is why it will be blown up with dynamite today. Pic: ANI
10:22 Mukesh Ambani’s son appointed member of Badri-Kedar temple committee : Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat appoints industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s son Anant Ambani as a member of the Badrinath Kedarnath Temple Committee. The BJP government at the Centre is also the ruling party in Uttarakhand.
File pic: Mukesh Ambani with son Anant.
10:16 Will there be mediation in Ayodhya case? SC to take decision today:
The Supreme Court is scheduled to pronounce today whether to refer Ayodhya’s Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case to mediation for amicable settlement.
A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday had reserved the order after hearing various contesting parties.
Hindu bodies except Nirmohi Akhara have opposed the suggestion of the apex court to refer the issue for mediation, while Muslim bodies have supported it.
The bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer, had concluded the hearing by asking stakeholders to give the names of possible mediators.
The bench had said it was conscious of the gravity and impact of the issue on ‘public sentiment’ and also on ‘body politics of the country’.
It has also said that the judges were aware of the history and was seeing that the dispute be resolved amicably as ‘It is not only about property. It is about mind, heart and healing, if possible’.
The bench had also said it was not appropriate to pre-judge that the mediation would fail and people would not agree with the decision.
“We are conscious about the gravity of the issue and we are also conscious about its impact on body politic of the country. We understand how it goes and are looking at minds, hearts and healing if possible,” the bench said.
Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad high court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
09:53 UN appoints Padma Lakshmi as Goodwill Ambassador:
Indian-American television personality and food expert Padma Lakshmi has been appointed by the United Nations Development Programme as its newest Goodwill Ambassador, supporting the agency’s fight against inequality and discrimination around the world.
UNDP announced Lakshmi’s appointment on Thursday, on the eve of International Women’s Day.
In her new role, the Emmy-nominated television personality and award-winning author will mobilise support for the Sustainable Development Goals with a focus on fighting inequality, discrimination and empowering the disenfranchised.
Lakshmi was named the Goodwill Ambassador by UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.
“As we celebrate International Women’s Day let’s remember that women and girls face some of the worst discrimination and hardships in the world,” Lakshmi said at a press conference held at UNDP headquarters.
She said her main focus as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador will be to shine a spotlight on the fact that inequality can affect people in rich and poor countries alike.
“Many nations have greatly reduced poverty, but inequality has proved more stubborn,” she said.
“Inequality is further compounded by gender, age, ethnicity and race. It especially affects women, minorities and others who face unimaginable discrimination in the societies in which they live.
Steiner said Lakshmi has a strong record of speaking out for those who have been left behind and of fighting discrimination.
“We need more voices like hers to ensure we can meet the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals our shared roadmap for peace and prosperity for people and the planet,” he added.
Lakshmi has been a judge and host, as well as executive producer, of Bravo Television’s Emmy award-winning series Top Chef.
She is also a New York Times bestselling author, the co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America, a Visiting Scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an ambassador for the American Civil Liberties Union advocating for immigrants’ rights.
09:26 ‘Happy to be surrounded by 4 strong women’: Vadra’s message for Women’s Day:
Robert Vadra, husband of Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in a Facebook post on Women’s Day said, “Today and every day is your day! Make the most of it. May India become a safe and secured country of your dream…Wish all wonderful women, a Happy Women’s Day!
Describing his mother, mother-in-law, wife and daughter as “hardworking, courageous, compassionate and determined”, Vadra, who is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with alleged land scams, said that he is “happy to be surrounded by four strong women.”
Adding a postscript he said, “I will celebrate the day with them, once I am back from ED interrogation. I have already deposed for 10 days of almost 64 hours, cooperating with the interrogations. I believe in truth and justice.”
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has made it clear that she is not worried about the questioning of her husband Robert Vadra. The Congress has vehemently denied any wrongdoing by the businessman, alleging that that the actions of the investigating agencies are being driven by the ruling BJP.
09:04 President, PM Modi extend greetings on Women’s Day :
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended their greetings.
President Kovind in a message said “On International Women’s Day, greetings to women in India and across the world. Women are the sheet-anchor of society, an inspiration for their families and for our nation. Let us strive to ensure equality of opportunity for every woman and every girl child.”
In a message released on the eve of the International Women’s Day he extended his best wishes to all on this happy day.
“This day is dedicated to woman power. Keeping pace with the changing times, women have proved themselves in every sphere of life and have won laurels for their talent. I am confident that Indian society will continue progressing towards greater womens empowerment and the continuous emphasis on gender equity will usher in new opportunities for women and for society,” he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday extended his greetings and saluted women power.
“On International Women’s Day, we salute our indomitable Nari Shakti,” he tweeted.
“We are proud to have taken numerous decisions that have furthered women empowerment. Every Indian is proud of the stupendous accomplishments of women in various spheres. #NewIndia4NariShakti,” he added.
In a video, he goes on to commend women for making strides in all fields, taking the country forward.
08:37 Toll in grenade attack at Jammu bus stand climbs to 2: One more person has died in the hospital after succumbing to his injuries, increasing the death toll to 2 in the grenade attack at the Jammu bus stand on Thursday.
On Thursday, a grenade explosion rocked the crowded general bus stand in the heart of Jammu city killing a teenager and injuring 32 others.
The third grenade attack by terrorists on the Jammu bus stand since May last came just three weeks after the Pulwama terror strike on February 14 that killed 40 CRPF jawans bringing India and Pakistan on brink of war.
The grenade attack was carried out inside the general bus stand area around 11.50 am resulting in the death of 17-year-old Mohammad Sharik, police said.
08:22 Air India to operate 12 international, 40 domestic flights with all-women crew:
On International Womens Day, national carrier Air India will be flying 12 international flights and over 40 domestic flights with an all-women crew.
Air India is set to fly 12 all-women crew flights on its medium and long-haul international routes and over 40 return domestic and short-haul flights all over India to celebrate the International Women’s Day on March 8 this year, it said in a statement.
The international sectors that will have the all-women crew on its flights on March 8 are Delhi-Sydney, Mumbai-London, Delhi-Rome, Delhi-London, Mumbai-Delhi-Shanghai, Delhi-Paris, Mumbai-Newark, Mumbai-New York, Delhi-New York, Delhi-Washington, Delhi-Chicago and Delhi-San Francisco.
“Women pilots and cabin crew will be operating Airbus family aircraft as well as dreamliners to over 40 domestic destinations and back to commemorate the occasion,” the airline added.
07:55 Pak turns down visa request of UN team to interview Hafiz Saeed:
Pakistan turned down the visa request of a UN team which wanted to interview Mumbai attack mastermind and Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed on his application for removing his name from the UNSC sanctions list, according to UN sources.
Saeed was listed under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008 after the Mumbai terror attack in which 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists killed 166 people. He was released from house arrest in Pakistan in November 2017.
A representative from the Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the UN informed the UN Ombudsperson in October last year that no visa would be issued for their travel to Pakistan, UN sources said.
The UN Ombudsperson reviews requests from UN designated individuals and entities to be removed from the UN Sanctions Committee listing.
Sources said the Pakistani representative had sought that the visit be postponed till the beginning of 2019 but the Ombudsperson had made it clear that such an extension for the travel could not be given due relevant UNSC provisions.
The UN has rejected an appeal of Saeed, the 2008 Mumbai terror attack mastermind, to remove his name from its list of banned terrorists, they said.
Notably, the decision comes at a time when UN’s 1267 Sanctions Committee has received a new request to designate Jaish-e Mohammad chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist after the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed. Pakistan-based JeM has claimed responsibility for the strike.
00:20 BJP, supporters way ahead in political ad spend on FB: The Bharatiya Janata Party and its supporters accounted for a lion’s share of total political advertising worth over Rs 4 crore on Facebook, according to data compiled by the social media giant.
The advertisements run for the ruling dispensation range from promotion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government policies to those of its leaders, including BJP president Amit Shah — all of which were not necessarily paid by the party but by its supporters.
From February till March 2, 2019, the social media giant showed 16,556 ads related to politics and issues of national importance with ad spends crossing more than Rs 4.13 crore, according to Facebook’s Ad Archive Report.
The specific date on which Facebook started collecting data was not disclosed. However, on February 7, it said the enforcement of the new features and the political advertisements policy, that includes having disclaimers, would start from February 21.
Facebook is providing weekly aggregated insights for advertisements related to politics. Beginning March 4, the report is being refreshed weekly, with data from Sunday to Saturday of each week, a company spokesperson said.
The top spender in the tally was page ‘Bharat Ke Mann Ki Baat’ that ran 1,168 ads and spent Rs 1.01 crore, followed by ‘Nation with NaMo’ that spent Rs 52.24 lakh and ‘MyGov India’ that had an ad spent of Rs 25.27 lakh.
The page ‘Bharatiya Janata Party’ had an ad spend of Rs 6.6 lakh, while Shah’s page had a spending of Rs 2.12 lakh.
Compared to this, the Congress and its supporters spend much lesser amounts with the highest being about Rs 48,000. Pages like ‘Im with Congress’, ‘Congress Party admirers forum’ and ‘Vote for Congress’ had spends of Rs 684, Rs 535 and Rs 490, respectively, during the February to March 2 period.
Telugu Desam Party spend Rs 35,867 during the said period.
In February, Facebook had said political advertisements on its platform would carry a ‘disclaimer’ offering details about those responsible for running the ad as the social media giant looks to bring transparency into political ads ahead of elections in India.
The Indian government had warned social media platforms of strong action if any attempt was made to influence the country’s electoral process through undesirable means.
Over the past few months, social media players like Facebook, Twitter, and Google have promised to infuse more transparency into political advertisements on their platforms, and have since announced a slew of measures as part of election integrity efforts.
Facebook, which has over 200 million users in India, has stated that it is committed to creating a new standard of transparency and authenticity for political advertising on its platform and Instagram. — PTI