11:44 Is Pakistan defending Jaish-e-Mohammed, asks India :
In a strong statement against Pakistan, the government today said that Islamabad has not shown serious intent to address the concerns of India and the international community when it comes to reining in terror groups operating from its soil.
“It is regrettable that Pakistan still continues to deny Jaish-e-Mohammed’s own claim of taking ownership of Pulwama attack. Pakistan foreign minister said, ‘they (Jaish-e-Mohammed) have not claimed responsibility of the attack, there is some confusion’ Is Pakistan defending the JeM?,” asked ministry of external affairsspokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a press briefing.
“If Pakistan claims to be a naya Pakistan (new Pakistan) with a nayi soch (new thinking), it should demonstrate naya action (new action) against terror groups operating from its soil,” Kumar said.
Kumar also said that the United States is examining Pakistan’s use of F-16 fighter jet aircraft against India.
“There are eyewitness accounts and electronic evidence that Pakistan deployed F-16 aircraft and that one F-16 was shot down by Wing Commander Abhinandan. We have asked the US to also examine whether the use of F-16 against India is in accordance with terms and conditions of sale,” Kumar said.
10:53 Modi to contest from Varanasi, BJP does away with ‘Above 75’ rule:
In a hope to continue his winning streak, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to contest from Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi seat again in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The second seat will be finalised later.
A decision in this regard was taken at BJP Parliamentary Board meeting on Friday, which was held for nearly three hours to discuss key poll-related issues. The prime minister had defeated Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal with over 3 lakh votes in the last elections, while Congress candidate Ajay Rai was way behind with just 75,000 votes.
Besides the seat for PM Modi, the BJP members also came to a conclusion that there will be no blanket ban on leaders above 75 years of age. Any candidate who is capable of winning, even if he or she is above 75, will be given a ticket, a source close to the development said.
After the 2014 victory, PM Modi-led party changed its rules for party members, which included retirement from active politics after 75 and diminishing chances of getting party tickets after reaching 70. However, this year the norms seem to have been amended again as several prominent BJP faces will be ruled out if the party chooses to stick with the 2014 rule.
This includes 91-year-old LK Advani, 85-year-old Murli Manohar Joshi and 77-year-old Kalraj Mishra.
10:25 Reports of army jawan missing incorrect, clarifies defence ministry:
The defence ministry on Saturday clarified that no soldier has been abducted contrary to reports that an army jawan has been kidnapped by terrorists while on leave from Jammu and Kashmir’s Budgam district.
“Media reports of the abduction of a serving Army soldier on leave from Qazipora, Chadoora, Budgam (J-K) are incorrect. Individual is safe. Speculations may please be avoided,” said the defence ministry.
On Friday night, reports emerged that an army jawan was kidnapped by terrorists while he was on leave and at his residence in Qazipora, Chadoora in Budgam.
The army jawan was reported missing from on Friday evening with police suspecting he could have been abducted by a terror group.
This comes at a time when Kashmir is simmering with tensions ever since the Pulwama terror attack by a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist, which killed 40 CRPF jawans.
10:11 Stop misuse Of Armed Forces’ work in polls: Ex-Navy chief to EC:
Former Navy chief Admiral L Ramdas (retired) has asked immediate intervention of the Election Commission in stopping political parties from using the Pulwama attack, Balakot air strike and Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s operations to influence the electorate.
In an open letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, Admiral Ramdas expressed concerns on “recent instances” of parties using armed forces’ heroics for political gains.
“With elections due in a few weeks from now, it is particularly important that there should not be any misuse of these recent events by any political party to send triumphalist or jingoistic messages which can influence the electorate,” he said.
In his two-page letter, the former navy chief said the armed forces have always prided themselves on belonging to a structure, an ethos and an environment which have been both apolitical and secular.
“And it is in this context that as a responsible citizen and a proud veteran of the Indian Armed Forces, I share our collective sense of dismay and deep concern at how some political parties are brazenly pushing their agenda using images, uniforms and other examples, showing pictures of the armed forces with political figures, in public spaces, in media, election rallies and so on,” he said.
The former navy chief said it was completely unacceptable since it has the potential to destroy the very foundations and value system of the armed forces, drawn from the vision, the spirit and intent of the Constitution.
He said he could not circulate the open letter for more signatures “although many veterans are duly agitated by these attempts to compromise the integrity and secular nature of the Indian Armed Forces”.
“We, therefore, urge the Election Commission to immediately intervene and send a strong message to the political parties that there should be no misuse of the photographs as indeed any other material/reports or other information pertaining to the armed forces for electioneering in any way,” he said.
09:23 Nirav Modi spotted in London, has started new diamond business: Report:
Fugitive billionaire diamantaire Nirav Modi, one of the prime accused in the Punjab National Bank scam, has been tracked down to the United Kingdom.
The 48-year-old most wanted man now lives in an 8 million apartment in London’s West End and is now involved in a new diamond business, UK-based newspaper The Telegraph has reported.
The UK daily has also released a video of Nirav Modi walking freely on the streets of London.
With a handle-bar moustache, longer hair and a jacket, Nirav Modi is not easily recognisable.
As he is confronted by the newspaper over allegations levelled against him, Nirav Modi says “no comments” as he continues to smile.
The intel agencies had earlier provided input the Nirav Nodi had changed his appearance to disguise people.
An extradition request against Nirav Modi is pending since September last year before the UK authorities.
Recently, the Enforcement Directorate attached properties of Nirav Modi worth 147.72 crore in connection with the 13,000 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case.
The attached properties belong to Nirav Modi’s – Firestar Diamond International Private Limited, Firestar International Private Limited, Radheshir Jewelry Company Private Limited and Rhythm House Private Limited.
08:47 NDA government did not create jobs, lied about it: Chidambaram slams Modi:
Repeating his view that unemployment will be the most important issue in upcoming Lok Sabha elections, former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram accused PM Modi of “lying” about jobs.
He alleged that not only the government is guilty of not creating jobs, but also lying about it.
Congress has been attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue of unemployment for a long time. However, the intensity of criticism increased after data from National Sample Survey Office became public. NSSO survey showed that unemployment rate in the country is at 45-year-high at 6.1 per cent.
Chidambaram has underlined again and again that this is a very serious matter and that the issue of unemployment will be the one on which Lok Sabha elections will be fought.
08:15 Service rifle of policeman snatched at gunpoint in JK’s Kishtwar:
Suspected terrorists on Friday snatched the service rifle of a policeman in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar district, officials said.
The policeman is posted as a personnel security officer of district development commissioner, Kishtwar, Angrez Singh Rana.
PSO Daleep Kumar claimed that some masked gunmen intruded into his residence at Shaheedi Mazar area of the town late night and decamped with his AK-47 rifle and mobile phone after threatening him and his family, the officials said.
They said the area was immediately cordoned off and a massive hunt has been launched to nab the gunmen and recover the looted weapon.
The PSO was being questioned, the officials said adding further details are awaited.
Suspected terrorists killed a senior BJP leader and his brother in the town in November last year. The case was handed over to the National Investigation Agency but the culprits are still at large.
08:06 Rafale documents not stolen, petitioners used photocopies: AG:
Attorney General K K Venugopal claimed the Rafale documents were not stolen from the defence ministry and that what he meant in his submission before the Supreme Court was that petitioners in the application used “photocopies of the original” papers, deemed secret by the government.
His comments in the apex court on Wednesday that Rafale fighter jet deal documents were stolen caused a political row, with Congress president Rahul Gandhi targeting the government over stealing of such sensitive papers and seeking a criminal investigation.
“I am told that the opposition has alleged what was argued (in SC) was that files had been stolen from the defence ministry. This is wholly incorrect. The statement that files have been stolen is wholly incorrect,” he said, in an apparent damage-control exercise.
Venugopal said the application filed by Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Prashant Bhushant, seeking from the court a review of its verdict dismissing pleas for a probe into against the Rafale deal, had annexed three documents which were photocopies of the original.
Official sources said the AG’s use of word stolen was probably “stronger” and could have been avoided.
The government had also warned The Hindu newspapers with a case under Official Secrets Act for publishing articles based on these documents.
00:24 ‘Hadd Sarhad Ki’: IAF mocks Pakistan with a poem :
Amid tensions between New Delhi and Pakistan after Indian fighter jets bombed a camp of terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad in that country, the IAF on Friday tweeted a poem whose lines can be construed as a jibe at
Through its twitter handle @IAF_MCC, the Indian Air Force tweeted the Hindi poem ‘Hadd Sarhad Ki’ penned by Bipin Allhabadi.
The first two lines of the poem read, “Today, someone has crossed borders/Because someone has crossed all limits.”
The tweet also had a picture of a fighter jet in the background.
Tensions between India and Pakistan flared up after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror group killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Kashmir’s Pulwama district
on February 14.
India launched a counter-terror operation in Balakot on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 and captured its pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, who was handed over to
India on March 1. — PTI