12:55 Kanhaiya Kumar to contest LS poll from Begusarai:
A day after the Grand Alliance allotted just one seat to the Left parties in Bihar, the Communist party of India on Saturday confirmed that it would field former Jawaharlal Nehru University students union president Kanhaiya Kumar from Begusarai in upcoming Lok Sabha election.
“The executive committee meeting has been called on Sunday to decide on the number of seats the party will contest but a final call on Kanhaiya has been taken,” CPI Bihar secretary Satyanarayan Singh said.
The Grand Alliance in Bihar on Friday announced its seat sharing pact for 40 Lok Sabha constituencies.
According to the pact, Lalu Prasads Rashtriya Janata Dal will contest 20 seats, the Congress 9, the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party 5 and Jitan Ram Manjhi-led Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular three seats. The Vikasheel Insaaf Party has got three seats and the CPI-ML Liberation one from the RJD quota.
Begusarai is likely to see a triangular contest with NDA’s Giriraj Singh, CPI’s Kanhaiya Kumar and RJD’s Tanveer Hassan.
12:37 Indian Navy rescued more than 192 people in cyclone-hit Mozambique:
As part of its relief operations in cyclone-hit Mozambique, the Indian Navy has rescued more than 192 people and provided assistance to 1,381 people in medical camps set up by it, a statement said.
Cyclone Idai made landfall in East and Southern Africa around March 15 causing widespread destruction and loss of human lives in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.
In response to a request from Mozambique, India immediately diverted three naval ships to the port city of Beira, a ministry of external affairs statement said.
Over the last several days, the three ships, INS Sujata, ICGS Sarathi and INS Shardul, are undertaking Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief in coordination with local authorities and the High Commission of India, Maputo.
“As of now, the Indian naval crew has rescued more than 192 people. Medical assistance has been provided to 1,381 persons in medical camps set up by the Indian Navy,” the statement said.
India’s Chetak helicopter undertook several sorties to facilitate aerial survey by disaster management officials of Mozambique to rescue people in coordination with local authorities and for dropping food and water packets in the cyclone-affected areas.
To sustain relief operations, another ship INS MAGAR, suitably loaded with relief materials is being sent to Mozambique, the MEA said.
The Indian Navy was the first responder in the evolving humanitarian crises in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai. Assistance is also being sent to Zimbabwe and Malawi, two other countries hit by the cyclone, it said. — PTI
12:30 11 TN fishermen arrested by Sri Lankan Navy:
Eleven Tamil Nadu fishermen were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy near Neduntheevu for allegedly fishing in the island nation’s waters, an official said.
The fishermen, hailing from Rameswaram, have been taken to Karainagar in Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu fisheries department assistant director Yuvaraj said.
Their two boats were also seized.
The Sri Lankan Navy personnel allegedly damaged over 50 fishing nets and seized GPS equipment from them.
The incident forced fishermen in more than 500 boats to return without fishing, the official said. — PTI
12:28 Normal life affected in Kashmir due to strike by separatists against JKLF ban:
Normal life was affected in Kashmir on Sunday due to a strike called by the Joint Resistance Leadership, an amalgam of separatist groups, to protest against the ban on Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front led by Yasin Malik, officials said.
Shops and business establishments remained closed while public transport was off the roads in most parts of the Valley due to the strike called by the JRL, they said.
The officials, however, said the strike call evoked little response in some parts of the Valley as the weekly flea market, locally known as Sunday market, operated normally.
This is the second organisation in Jammu and Kashmir which has been banned this month. Earlier, the Centre had banned the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir.
The Yasin Malik-led JKLF was banned on Friday for a series of violent acts and being in the forefront of separatist activities in the militancy-hit state since 1988, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba had said.
Separatists on Saturday called for a strike against the Centre’s decision to ban the JKLF, saying it was “undemocratic” and “political vendetta”.
“The Government of India’s decision of banning the JKLF for five years is highly authoritarian, autocratic and pure political vendetta,” the JRL said in a statement.
“The way the Government of India is announcing bans and crackdowns on the organizations associated with the Kashmir struggle, arresting the leadership and slapping them with draconian PSA, killing youth in custody …. exposes their hollow claims of democracy,” it added.
The JRL said by imposing ban on organisations and booking separatist leaders in “fake” cases , the government “cannot change the reality of the Kashmir issue”. — PTI
12:00 Soldier killed in ceasefire violation by Pak in J-K’s Poonch:
An army personnel was killed in firing by Pakistani troops along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district, officials said.
They said the cross-border firing started in Shahpur and Kerni areas of Poonch around 5.30 pm on Saturday and it continued intermittently through the night.
The Indian Army retaliated strongly but the casualties suffered by Pakistan were not known immediately, the officials said, adding Pakistani troops used mortar and small arms to target forward posts and villages.
The soldier was critically injured around 4 am in the firing and was immediately evacuated to the military hospital, the officials said.
They said he succumbed to injuries, taking the number of army personnel killed in the last four days to two. — PTI
11:54 Minor raped at gunpoint in UP’s Shamli:
A 16-year-old girl, who had gone out to relieve herself, was allegedly raped at gunpoint in Bhabisa village in Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli district.
The incident took place Saturday, they said.
The girl’s father in his complaint alleged that the accused, identified as Kapil, took her into his house and raped her at gunpoint. He also threatened her with dire consequences if she disclosed the matter, police said.
The girl was found in an unconscious state at the accused’s house, they said.
Kandhla station house officer D K Tyagi said a case was registered against the accused under Indian Penal Code Sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) and Sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
The accused has gone absconding and efforts are on to nab him, the SHO said.
In another incident, a five-year-old girl was allegedly raped when she had gone out with her mother to a fair in Mirapur police station area in Muzaffranagar district Saturday.
According to the complaint lodged by the family, the girl had gone missing for some hours from near a temple where the fair was organised, SHO Santosh Kumar said.
She was allegedly raped and abandoned by the accused in a serious condition.
A case was registered against unidentified persons and the girl was shifted to hospital, the SHO said. — PTI
11:02 Swaraj seeks report into kidnapping of 2 Hindu girls in Sindh:
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has sought details from the Indian envoy in Pakistan into the reported abduction of two Hindu teenaged girls and their forcible conversion to Islam on the eve of Holi in Sindh province.
In a tweet, Swaraj, while tagging a media report about the incident, said she has asked the Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan to send a report on the matter.
According to the media report, the incident took place in Dharki town of Ghotki district in Sindh province on the eve of Holi. It said the Hindu community in the area staged protests, demanding action against perpetrators of the alleged crime.
India has been raising the issue of plight of minorities, particularly the Hindu community in Pakistan. — PTI
10:33 Akhilesh takes MSY’s Azamgarh seat; SP patriarch not a ‘star campaigner’:
Samajwadi Party has released its list of star campaigners.
Akhilesh Yadav, Ram Gopal Yadav, Azam Khan, Dimple Yadav and Jaya Bachchan included in the list; party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav’s name not there.
The party has also declared that Akhilesh Yadav will contest from Azamgarh, a seat currently held by Mulayam. — ANI
10:28 Priyanka’s influence ‘bound to grow’ in long term: Tharoor:
Though Uttar Pradesh is her ‘karm-bhoomi‘ for now, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s influence in the Congress is ‘bound to grow’ in the long term, party leader Shashi Tharoor said in Thiruvananthapuram.
Priyanka, 47, was appointed All India Congress Committee general secretary of Eastern Uttar Pradesh on January 23 this year, marking her formal entry into politics.
The party is hoping that the move will boost its prospects in the politically crucial state which sends 80 MPs to Lok Sabha.
“She (Priyanka) is a very impressive lady, who speaks well, speaks with confidence, idiomatic and fluent Hindi. She is very comfortable in public gaze and reminds a lot of people of her grandmother,” Tharoor said when asked about Priyanka Gandhi’s formal plunge into politics.
“That’s on the very upbeat side. Perhaps more modestly one should say, she is at the moment general secretary for one-half of Uttar Pradesh. And that’s going to be her karma-bhoomi.
“That’s where she will be working in the immediate prospect. But in long term I think her influence in the party is bound to grow and her popularity among the people has already been established,” Tharoor told PTI in an exclusive interview.
Priyanka recently launched the party’s polls campaign in eastern UP with her three-day ‘Ganga yatra’ on boat, where she reached out to voters residing along the banks of the holy river. On the poll alliances of the Congress in various states, Tharoor said it varies from state to state.
“Each state has got a different logic. We have possible alliance with some parties in some states and are fighting against them in another state,” he said.
There was nothing wrong in the adjustments made between the Congress and the Communist Party of India-Marxist in West Bengal, he said.
While both the parties are engaged in a bitter fight in Kerala, the national leadership has agreed to some adjustments in West Bengal.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has been using this to accuse the two parties of ‘double standards’.
“There is nothing wrong with that and it’s not the first time. In 2016 Kerala Assembly election, they (state BJP) tried the same argument. But we had a bitter fight against them.
“In 2011 elections, that was not much an issue because the CPI-M and the Congress were fighting each other in Bengal also.
“But today, each state is reacting to its own political reality. And the political reality in Bengal is very much different from the political reality of Kerala,” Tharoor said.
Tharoor, who has been fielded from Thiruvananthapuram again, said the post-poll scenario will be more interesting as there are parties who are running independently but after the polls they are far more likely to support the Congress than the BJP. — PTI
09:46 AIMPLB calls emergency meeting on Ayodhya land dispute:
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has called an emergency meeting of its working committee in Lucknow on Sunday morning to discuss the Ayodhya issue.
All the 51 members of the committee are expected to be present in the meeting which is likely to be joined by a representatives of the Sunni Central Waqf Board.
The Supreme Court-appointed mediation committee for resolution of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute held its first sitting on March 13 and heard all parties who attended the proceedings.
The panel, headed by former apex court judge F M Ibrahim Kalifulla, had directed that there should not be any reporting of the mediation proceedings in the print or other media, pointing out the views expressed by the top court.
On March 8, the Supreme Court had referred the land dispute case for court-appointed and monitored mediation.
A five-judge Constitution bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, had said that the mediation proceedings will be held in Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh and the state government will provide the mediators with all facilities.
The bench was hearing appeals against the September 30, 2010 verdict of the Allahabad High Court which ordered a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acres of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya between the Nirmohi Akhara sect, the Sunni Central Waqf Board, Uttar Pradesh and Ramlalla Virajman. — ANI
09:36 2 workers die while cleaning restaurant’s sewage treatment unit in Delhi:
Two employees of a restaurant in New Delhi died allegedly due to asphyxiation while cleaning its kitchen treatment plant on Saturday, police said.
The incident occurred at ‘Pirates of Grill’ restaurant in west Delhi’s Rajouri Garden, they said.
Housekeeping employees Rakesh, 45, and Ajay, 19, died while two of their colleagues — Pankaj and Raju — were hospitalised, the police said.
“The incident occurred between 1:30 and 2 pm… Prima facie, it seems they went into the kitchen waste treatment plant for cleaning purposes,” Monika Bhardwaj, Deputy Commissioner of Police (West), said.
They were rushed to two nearby hospitals. Rakesh and Ajay were declared brought dead at the hospitals. Pankaj and Raju were undergoing treatment.
Rakesh and Pankaj were taken to Kukreja Hospital, while Raju and Pankaj were rushed to Guru Gobind Singh Hospital, they said.
Rakesh and Ajay used to live in a rented accommodation at Tagore Garden. Pankaj and Raju used to stay in restaurant premises.
Rakesh, Ajay and Pankaj are from Uttar Pradesh (UP), while Raju was from Bihar, a senior police officer said.
Rakesh used to work as a supervisor and was working there for the past nine years, police said.
“A case has been registered against restaurant management at Rajouri Garden police station. Further investigation is going on,” the DCP said, adding it will take time to ascertain that who was responsible for this.
In a statement, the Delhi Jal Board said, “It is a very tragic incident and we are very sad over it. However, DJB has nothing to do with it. Neither the said plant being cleaned is of DJB nor the workers belonged to DJB. They were hired privately by the owner.”
“The restaurant had been issued health licence after checking its compliance with DPCC norms for operation of effluent treatment plant. So, there is no violation on that part. The licence is valid till March 31,” a senior civic official claimed. — PTI
Image only for representation.
09:15 BJP brings 2 new faces in Himachal; drops Vajpayee’s nephew in MP:
The Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday dropped two of its four MPs, including former chief minister Shanta Kumar, from its list of candidates for all the four Lok Sabha seats in Himachal Pradesh.
The party re-nominated Anurag Thakur, the son of former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, from Hamirpur and Ram Swaroop Sharma from Mandi.
The saffron party also replaced its Shimla candidate, Virender Kashyap, with Pachhad MLA Suresh Kashyap.
Shanta Kumar, 84, had told reporters in New Delhi on Thursday that he was unwilling to contest the parliamentary election. With this, the former chief minister has apparently retired from electoral politics.
The BJP, which had won all the four Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 election, fielded state minister and Dharamshala legislator Kishan Kapoor from Kangra in place of Shanta Kumar.
Kishan Kapoor, 68, is currently the food, civil supplies and consumer affairs minister in the Jai Ram Thakur-led BJP government.
Suresh Kashyap, 48, has worked in the Indian Air Force for more than 16 years.
Ram Swaroop Sharma was fielded from Mandi despite former telecom minister Sukh Ram’s grandson, Aashray Sharma, being also a claimant.
The BJP also declared candidates for 15 out of 29 Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh, dropping five sitting MPs, including Anoop Mishra, nephew of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Mishra, MP from Morena, had lost the 2018 assembly polls from Bhitarwar seat. He has been replaced by Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar, currently representing Gwalior Lok Sabha seat.
The other four MPs who have been dropped are Gyan Singh from Shahdol, Bhind’s Bhagirath Prasad, Chintaman Malviya from Ujjain and Betul’s Jyoti Dhurve.
The BJP has fielded Himadri Singh, a former Congress leader who recently joined the BJP and daughter of former Congress MP and ex-Union Minister Dalbir Singh, from Shahdol (ST) seat.
From Bhind (SC), the BJP has fielded Sandhya Rai replacing sitting MP, Bhagirath Prasad, a former IAS officer. From Ujjain (SC), Anil Firojiya has been given a ticket in place of sitting MP Chintaman Malviya.
Firojiya, had, incidentally, lost from Tarana in the 2018 assembly election. Dhruve has been replaced by Durgadas Uike in Betul (ST) seat.
Those who have been re-nominated are BJP state unit chief Rakesh Singh from Jabalpur, Union minister Virendra Kumar from Tikarmgarh, former Union minister Faggan Singh Kulaste from Mandla, former state BJP president Nandkumar Singh Chouhan from Khandwa, former Union minister Prahlad Patel from Damoh, Ganesh Singh from Satna, Janardan Mishra from Rewa, Riti Pathak from Sidhi, Uday Pratap Singh from Hoshangabad and Sudhir Gupta from Mandsaur. — PTI
08:46 Probe ordered into ‘purification’ of place where Parrikar’s body was kept:
The Goa government has ordered an inquiry into reports that a ‘purification ritual’ was conducted on Saturday at the state-run Kala Academy in Panaji, where the body of former chief minister Manohar Parrikar was kept.
Art and Culture Minister Govind Gawade told PTI that he had ordered the inquiry after a section of the media reported that a purification ritual was carried out by some persons on the academy premises where Parrikar’s mortal remains was kept on Monday before final rites.
“I have taken a strong note of these activities…. We cannot promote or patronise unscientific activities in government buildings,” Gawade said.
Parrikar, 63, died on Sunday after battling a pancreatic ailment for a year. — PTI
08:35 Cong fields Harish Rawat from Nainital, Khanduri’s son from Garhwal:
The Congress on Saturday fielded former chief minister Harish Rawat from Nainital and veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader B C Khanduri’s son, Manish Khanduri, from Garhwal in its list of candidates for all the five Lok Sabha seats in Uttarakhand.
It has fielded state Congress president Pritam Singh from Tehri Garhwal, Pradeep Tamta from Almora (SC) and Ambrish Kumar from Haridwar.
With Monday being the last date for filing nominations in Uttarakhand, all eyes were fixed on the Congress to announce its candidates for the five seats going to polls on April 11.
The BJP has already announced its candidates for the five seats on Thursday.
It will be a clash of heavyweights in Nainital with Harish Rawat taking on state BJP president Ajay Bhatt and Pritam Singh battling it out with sitting MP Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah in Tehri.
Though Harish Rawat had lost both the seats he had contested in the last assembly polls, he continues to be a seasoned and the most prominent Congress leader in the state, enjoying a connect with people at the grassroots.
Bhatt, on the other hand, is not only the state BJP president, but a former MLA from Ranikhet who was the Leader of Opposition in the assembly when Harish Rawat was chief minister.
Bhatt had also lost his seat in the last assembly polls.
Tehri will also witness a tough battle for Pritam Singh who will be up against Mala Rajya Laxmi Shah. Singh is credited with winning the Chakrata seat despite his party faring poorly in the last assembly election.
Though a sitting MP from the Tehri royal family which has a strong political hold in the constituency, Shah faces the challenge of overcoming an anti-incumbency factor and taking on a strong opponent in Singh.
Pauri will witness an interesting battle with Manish Khanduri, son of former chief minister B C Khanduri, up against Tirath Singh Rawat, the BJP veteran’s political disciple.
Both the candidates will try to cash in on the popularity of Khanduri, who had opted not to contest this time.
Khanduri is the most formidable leader from the state with a strong support base in his constituency. — PTI