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LIVE! Re-investigate 26/11 case, put Saeed on trial: India tells Pak

18:11  Re-investigate 26/11 case, put Saeed on trial: India tells Pak:  

India has asked Pakistan to re-investigate the 2008 Mumbai terror attack case and put on trial Jammat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed who is currently under house arrest in Lahore under the anti-terrorism law.

India has made a fresh demand in a reply to Pakistan’s request to send 24 Indian witnesses to record their statements in the case, an interior ministry official told PTI on Wednesday.

“We have received a reply from Indian government in response to our letter regarding sending 24 Indian witnesses to Pakistan to record their statements in the Mumbai terror attack case.

“But instead of entertaining our request India has sought re-investigation of the case and also demanded trial of Jammat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed and Lashkar-e-Taiba operation commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi in the light of evidence it had provided to Pakistan,” the official said.

The Pakistan government on January 30 had put Saeed and the four leaders of JuD and Falah-e-Insaniat under house arrest in Lahore under the country’s anti-terrorism act.

Saeed, who carries a reward of USD 10 million, was also put under house arrest after Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008 but he was freed by court in 2009.


17:36  Agricultural growth contributed to Q3 GDP, explains Jaitley:  Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who returned to India after his meeting with top government officials and business leaders in London, today said the third quarter was substantially impacted by demonetisation, which admittedly had led to squeeze of currency in the economy.

“We had the Q3 data, which was released yesterday showcasing that the months were substantially affected by demonetization,” Jaitley told reporters here.”The agriculture growth is record high, which has contributed to the Q3 GDP,” Jaitley added while claiming that remonitisation has picked up substantially, which has its own resilience on the economy.

The government yesterday pegged the GDP growth at a higher than expected 7.1 percent for the current fiscal despite the note ban issue.It has said that the agriculture sector has been doing exceptionally well, helping India retain the tag of world’s fastest growing major economy.

“During my visit, I had detailed discussions with various UK investors who are extremely buoyant and positive about India,” he said.”They are extremely buoyant about the fact that under the present global situation, India is the only economy, which has been the able to bring reforms and maintain higher rate of growth as far as the economy is concerned,” Jaitley said while talking about the India-UK relationship that is regarded as the “hugely important” partnership.

He added the UK Government post Brexit is keen in expanding their relationship with India

17:25  Uber CEO caught on video arguing about fares:  Uber’s CEO says he needs leadership help after a video has emerged of him arguing with a driver about fares. In a video obtained by Bloomberg News, Travis Kalanick is seen discussing Uber’s business model with the driver. When the driver argues that Kalanick is lowering fares, Kalanick lashes back, saying: “some people don’t like to take responsibility. They blame everything in their life on somebody else.” Once the video went public, Kalanick issued a statement to Uber employees. He apologizes to the driver, says he must “grow up” and adds: “I need leadership help and I intend to get it.” It’s the latest scandal to hit Uber, which last month had to respond to accusations of sexual harassment in the workplace.

17:21  Back home after Oscars, Sunny Pawar meets Uddhav :  Mumbai boy and “Lion” star Sunny Pawar and his family met Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at his residence today.

Back from Los Angeles, Sunny said he had a great time at the 89th Academy Awards ceremony. The eight-year-old child actor, who hails from a suburban slum in the city, rose to global fame overnight with his Oscar-nominated film “Lion” starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman. He played the role of young Saroo Brierley in the Garth Davis-directed movie.

“I had a lot of fun at the Oscars. I am really happy and I really enjoyed attending the Oscars,” Sunny said at the airport after returning from the US in the early hours today.

“Lion” is the true story of a young child who is separated from his family and later gets adopted by an Australian family. When he grows up, he uses Google Earth to find his real parents. Sunny’s family is on the cloud nine and is proud of him.

“We all are very happy that Sunny has reached this far. It all seems like a dream. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see the Oscars due to some technical problems we will surely watch it soon,” Sunny’s grandfather Bhima Pawar told PTI.

His mother Vasu says his son has been a movie buff and one of his favourite films is Hrithik Roshan’s “Krrish”. “I don’t know what to say… It’s all happening too quick. Happiness is a small word to describe my feelings at the moment. We are thankful to the entire team of ‘Lion’,” she said, adding that Sunny is good at studies as well. 

Image: Lion actor Sunny Pawar accompanied by his parents and siblings met Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, his son Aditya and senior leader Manohar Joshi at Matoshree. Pic: Sahil Salvi


16:51  Shared loo, no cot, AC for prisoner Sasikala: DIG prisons :  AIADMK General Secretary V K Sasikala does NOT enjoy a separate bathroom or facilities like geyser, air-conditioner, cot and mattress in her cell at the central jail in Bengaluru, prison authorities have said.

Replying to an RTI query by a Chennai-based lawyer, the DIG (Prisons), Central Prison at Parappana Agrahara, said except for a television set, other facilities were not allowed to her.

Sasikala is serving a jail term in the Bengaluru prison in the disproportionate assets case in which she and two of her relatives were convicted by the Supreme Court.

Replying to the February 20 RTI application from M P Rajavelayutham, the DIG confirmed that she was allowed to meet her nephew and AIADMK Deputy General Secretary T T V Dinakaran for 35 to 40 minutes.

Dinakaran had met Sasikala in the prison on February 20 for the first time after her loyalist E K Palaniswami won the vote of confidence in the Tamil Nadu Assembly two days earlier.

To another query on whether any recommendation was made to the Karnataka government to transfer Sasikala and her relative Elavarasi, also convicted in the case, to the Central Prison in Chennai, the authority replied “No such application received from the said convict prisoners.”

The prison authority’s reply come amid reports in a section of media that Sasikala had been provided facilities such as a mattress and a separate bathroom.

Sasikala, Elavarasi and V N Sudhakaran, another convict in the case, were lodged in the prison on February 15 after they surrendered before the trial court following the Supreme Court order upholding their conviction and four-year imprisonment.


16:42  Bengaluru molestation: Woman identifies attacker:  The Bengaluru Police achieved a breakthrough in the Kammanahalli sexual assault case in which a woman was groped and molested by two men on a scooter on the night of December 31, 2016.

The assault victim identified the accused during an identification parade.
The video of the assault had gone viral hours after the mass molestation incident on New Year’ eve in Bengaluru, sending shockwaves across the country.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Ravi Kumar told India Today that the victim needed much persuasion to be a part of the identification parade as she was in a state of shock.

Following the December 31 assault, she changed her house too, the officer said. With the police promising her protection, the victim agreed to turn up for the identification parade, and identified the accused.

The accused was arrested after a massive search was launched by the Bengaluru Police. The main accused Aiyappa (19), along with Leno (20), Sudesh (20), James (20), Somashekar (24) and George (23), was arrested within a few days of the incident.

On the night of December 31, Aiyappa along with his friend Leno allegedly groped and molested the woman who was on her way home after New Year celebrations.

The entire act was caught in a CCTV camera installed outside a house in the area where the woman was attacked.

The video clip showed the woman falling on the road after escaping from her attackers even as some onlookers watched from a distance.

16:12  2 women cops for Gurmehar Kaur’s home :  Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur, in the centre of a countrywide debate on free speech post her campaign against ABVP, was today provided security by Punjab Police at her native place in Jalandhar.

Jalandhar Commissioner of Police Arpit Shukla said, “I have put up two lady constables at her residence.”

The security has been provided in the wake of “some threats” she had received earlier, he added. A case of sexual harassment and criminal intimidation was registered by Delhi Police against unknown persons in connection with the alleged rape threats to Kaur after violent clashes at DU’s Ramjas College between ABVP and AISA members.


15:56  Hmmm… GDP numbers highly suspect, says Cong:  The Congress today dubbed the GDP numbers as “surprising” and “highly suspect” that could dent India’s global credibility and accused the prime minister and the finance minister of “misleading” the public.

Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said the GDP numbers released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) are “misleading” as these do not factor in the adverse impact of demonetisation, including losses in jobs and production.

“The GDP numbers that have been released are surprising and highly suspect. The GDP growth as projected is questionable and will also undermine the crediblity of Indian data globally,” he told PTI.

Asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley not to “mislead” the public and address the real issues instead, the senior Congress leader said the government “propagandists” should refrain from “premature celebrations and misplaced euphoria”.

“The prime minister and the finance minister remain in denial in furtherance of their narrow political agenda for short-term benefits and are not addressing the real issues.

“The government, the prime minister and the finance minister are guilty of misleading the people by ignoring the sufferings inflicted on the poor, especially the farm labour, the factory workers and the daily wage earners due to their ‘reckless’ decision,” he said.

Sharma said as per its own admission, the CSO has stated that it has not been able to collate the data of impact of demonetisation, including the losses in jobs and production especially in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector.

“Therefore, the GDP numbers, ignoring the harsh ground realities and based on increase in revenue from indirect taxes, are artificial and highly misleading,” he said. He said institutions monitoring the Indian exconomy and analyists have pegged the loss to the economy at Rs 2.50 lakh crore post demonetisation.


15:16  Obamas sign book deals Penguin Random House:   Former US president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama have signed book deals with Penguin Random House.

According to the Guardian, the financial terms were not disclosed for the books, for which several publishers had competed, although it was reported that bidding reached more than USD 60 million.

Earlier, fellow Democrat and former president Bill Clinton earned USD 15 million for rights to his 2004 memoir “My Life” after he left office, while Obama’s immediate predecessor Republican George W Bush reaped some $10m from his book “Decision Points”.

The former president and first lady have previously published through Crown, a Penguin Random House imprint. 


15:02  Not allowed to speak in Jamia because I am in BJP: Shazia Ilmi:   Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Shazia Ilmi on Wednesday claimed that she was not allowed to speak on the issue of triple talaq at a seminar in the Jamia Millia Islamia University because she belongs to the saffron party.

“I was invited to speak and was one of the participants in a panel discussion and it was to be on triple talaq. It is a very important issue on that we had to debate, but there was a lot of pressure on the organizers. They felt if Shazia will speak then it would lead to some kind of disturbance in the campus,” Ilmi told ANI.

Asserting that double standards and hypocrisy prevails in the political narrative, Ilmi alleged that she was barred to speak in the event just because she was from the BJP.”I have never ever caused any disturbance. I have always spoken against violence and led a very successful Anna Hazare campaign. How can they blame me as I have no track records of violence? Just because I am in BJP and there is open discrimination, I was not allowed to speak,” she added.

“Because we are part of a party, because we call the bluff of Communist and call Congress corrupt, we have to face this harassment,” Ilmi said.

As per reports, protests erupted in Jamia University after the organisers rescheduled the event and also changed the list of speakers removing Ilmi.Ilmi was scheduled to attend a seminar at the college organised to discuss the controversial triple talaq issue on February 16.

The incident came to light at a time when assault on freedom of speech is coming under spotlight in the national capital where two incidents – Delhi University’s Ramjas College row and Gurmehar Kaur controversy, triggered a stir.


14:34  Caught!:  Siliguri (West Bengal): CID have arrested BJP leader Juhi Chowdhury in connection with the child trafficking case. She was arrested from the India-Nepal border.


14:30  Modi mocks economists over post-note ban GDP:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi is addressing an election rally at Maharajganj in Uttar Pradesh before the sixth phase of polling in the state. Speaking at the rally, the PM said, People have made BJP victorious in five phases that has taken place so far, you only have to give bonus in the sixth phase.
Excerpts from the speech…

“One has expertise in ruining the country, other has expertise in ruining UP. What will happen if they come together? asked PM on SP-Congress alliance.

“Juice santre, nimbu ka hota hai. Nariyal ka juice hota hai kya? Nariyal Kerala mein hota hai par ye Manipur me nariyal ka juice nikalenge. Cong neta ne Manipur me kaha vo nariyal ka juice nikal ke London me bechenge. Gareeb se gareeb bache ko pata hai nariyal ka pani hota hai,” said PM

“Desh ne dekh liya Harvard (University) walon ki soch kya hoti hai or hardwork ki soch kya hoti,” PM on GDP growth rate during demonetisation.
“Ek taraf vo hain jo Harvard (University) ki baat karte hain or ek taraf ye gareeb ka beta hardwork se desh ki economy badalne me laga hai,” said PM on GDP.

“UP Govt ki website pe bataya gaya hai life in UP is short and uncertain, in this respect UP resembles Saharan Africa. I started Swachh Bharat Abhyan across India, but people of UP took it to another level by cleaning all dirt from politics in the state.

“5 phases ka hisaab lagg chuka hai, UP ki janta 15 saal ka badla le rahi hai. Jinhone UP ko loota unse log chun-chun ke badla lenge,” Modi said.


14:11  Pranab Mukherjee’s first and last visit to Kochi as president tomorrow :  In his maiden presidential visit to Kochi-Muziris Biennale, president Pranab Mukherjee will visit Aspinwall House, the main venue of the Biennale tomorrow. In the evening, he will deliver the K S Rajamani Memorial Lecture at Le Meridien Convention Centre. He will leave for Chennai at 6.50 pm.

Yesterday, Venu Rajamani, press secretary to the President, will inaugurate an exhibition of 111 caricatures of the President drawn by artists from different countries. The exhibition is part of the National Cartoon Caricature Festival to be held in the city from May 4 to 8.

Last week, a high-level meeting convened by the Chief Secretary had assessed the security arrangements for the Presidents visit.

The District Collector inspected the security preparedness at Fort Kochi, where the President will be attending two programmes.

Image: The place where the Biennale is being held gets a makeover. Tiled floors, cement work on the walls, replaced dirt floors, which though looked spruced up, took away from rustic feel of the venue. Pic: Rajesh Karkera


13:38  Jitu Rai wins gold at Shooting World Cup:  Just in: India win gold in shooting. Jitu Rai wins gold in the Shooting World Cup.

Indias medal tally at the Shooting World Cup has swelled with Olympian Jitu Rai adding another two medals to his kitty.

Jitu Rai also won the bronze medal in the 10m Air Pistol event at the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) World Cup in New Delhi on Tuesday.

This is Rai’s third medal having claimed the top prize in 10m air pistol mixed event with Heena Sidhu on Monday.

The 29-year-old Rai shot a total of 216.7 in the eight-man final to finish third on the podium.


12:37  SC refuses urgent hearing on plea for police reforms:  

The Supreme Court today refused to accord urgent hearing on a PIL seeking reforms in police force across the country, saying “nobody listens to our orders”. 

“Sorry. Declined,” a bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul said when the counsel sought urgent hearing of the PIL on the issue. 

“Police reforms are going on and on. Nobody listens to our orders,” the bench said when Ashwini Kumar Upadhya, lawyer and Delhi BJP spokesperson, insisted on an urgent hearing.

Upadhya, in his plea, has sought directions to states and the Centre to implement massive reforms in the police force including a fixed tenure for senior officers.


12:33  Mocking Gurmehar for speaking up is despicable: Gambhir:  

Veteran Indian batsman Gautam Gambhir has come in support of Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur, who launched an online campaign against the ABVP, after the February 22 violence in Ramjas College, saying, she is entitled to her opinion just as every other citizen and mocking her for it is despicable.

Posting a powerful video on his official Twitter handle, Gambhir said, “The freedom of expression is absolute and equal for all! High time we learnt that and practised it daily in every sphere of life.”

The one-minute video message has the 32-year-old cricketer as saying, “I have the utmost respect for the Indian Army. Their service to the nation and all of us is unmatched. However the recent events have left me with a sense of disappointment.”

“We live in a free country where everyone is entitled to their opinion. If a daughter puts up posts about the horrors of war with the attention of achieving peace, she has all the rights to.”

“It is not an opportunity for everyone to show how patriotic they are and gang up to mock her. She is entitled to her opinion just as every other citizen is. Every one may or may not agree with it but mocking her for it is despicable,” he added.


12:21  Delhi HC dismisses Kejriwal’s plea seeking Jaitley’s financial details:  

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s application seeking bank account details of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and his family.

Last week, Kejriwal had moved the court seeking details of bank accounts, tax returns and other financial records of Jaitley who has filed a defamation suit against him.

The Aam Aadmi Party supremo in his application had contended that he is seeking such financial records of Jaitley and his family members from 1999-2000 to 2014-15, “to disprove” the claims made by the senior BJP leader against him and five other party leaders who were named in the defamation case.

Jaitley had filed the suit in 2015 seeking Rs 10 crore damages from Kejriwal, Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai.

The AAP leaders had allegedly attacked Jaitley and his family members in various fora, including social media, over alleged irregularities and financial bungling in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) of which he was the president for about 13 years till 2013.

12:04  Just In: India successfully test-fires its indigenously developed supersonic interceptor missile, say defence officials.

12:03  It’s back to school in Kashmir post-winter:  Schools in Kashmir division and other areas falling under the winter zone in Jammu region reopened today after remaining closed for months.

Schools in the Valley were closed due to repeated disruptions in the academic calendar due to the unrest and the subsequent winter break. 

Despite fresh rainfall, which brought down the temperatures, children dressed in their uniforms made their way to schools to resume the learning process which was severely affected by the unrest last year. 

“The schools have reopened as per schedule today. We hope that the situation in the Valley remains peaceful now, so that the students’ valuable academic time is not lost again,” an official of the education department said. 

However, the schools in some of the snow-bound areas of north Kashmir including Gurez, Machhil, Tangdhar and Keran will remain closed till March 12 in view of apprehensions of avalanches and landslides, the official said. The schools in these areas will reopen on March 13.

12:02  Just In: The Delhi HC dismisses Arvind Kejriwal’s application seeking the bank account details of Arun Jaitley and his family.


11:53  Gurmehar, Phogats have right to express views without being bullied: Viru:  Cricket icon Virender Sehwag who has found himself in the middle of a huge controversy over Kargil martyr’s daughter Gurmehar Kaur’s, tried to clear the air one more time today. 

Sehwag who has a wacky sense of humour, tweeted, “My tweet was an attempt to be facetious rather than one to bully anyone over their opinion. Agreement or disagreement wasn’t even a factor. She has a right to express her views and anyone who threatens her with violence or rape is the lowest form of life. Everyone has a right to express their views without being bullied or threatened. Gurmehar Kaur or the Phogat sisters.”

Sehwag, who has over eight million followers on Twitter, said yesterday that his tweet wasn’t intended for Gurmehar and people had misinterpreted his words. “My tweet wasn’t intended for Gurmehar. It was plain fun but people construed the other way,” he said.

Gurmehar has been trolled over her online campaign against the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) student body after last week’s violence at Ramjas College in Delhi.

On Sunday, Sehwag had posted his photo, holding a placard which read “I did not score two triple centuries, my bat did”. The tweet triggered a deluge of reactions.

His tweet appeared to be in response to the student’s earlier Facebook post that gained major traction on social media networks. In a video post, she had appealed for peace between India and Pakistan with messages on placards, one of which said, “Pakistan did not kill my dad, war killed him’.
The 20-year-old has been given police protection after she alleged rape threats over her posts against the ABVP.

On Tuesday, Gurmehar pulled out of a march by teachers at the Delhi University students against campus violence.

Indian woman wrestlers Babita Phogat and Geeta Phogat joined Sehwag saying, Gurmehar Kaur’s view that her father was killed by war and not Pakistan was wrong for me. It’s against our nation and martyrs, said Babita Phogat in New Delhi.

Her elder sister Geeta Phogat echoed Babitas views saying: “If you speak against nation, people will obviously not like it. Irrespective of gender, the person won’t b spared.


11:38  ‘Its not a happy life, not knowing your identity’:  “I never expected it to go from Golden Globes and Oscar nominations to multiple standing ovations. My story is amazing but I did not expect it to be that captivating that it would affect viewers so emotionally.” Meet Saroo Brierley, the man behind the Oscar-nominated film Lion in an interview to Patcy N/  Read

Image: Saroo Brierley, Sunny Pawar and Dev Patel attend the Lion screening in Beverly Hills, California.


11:29  ABVP sacks 2 students who attacked Left students :  DU violence: Two ABVP members who were arrested for attacking AISA members have been sacked.

The two alleged ABVP activists were arrested for attacking two AISA supporters on the North Campus of Delhi University on Tuesday. The AISA activists, Raj Singh and Utkarsh Bhardwaj, alleged that they were strangulated by Prashant Mishra and his friends, who followed them while they were returning from arts faculty around 5.20 pm, police said.

Utkarsh and Raj claimed that they were attacked by seven-eight people near Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa College and strangulated with belts.
Police managed to nab two persons — Prashant and Vinayak Sharma — from the spot. They have been booked under IPC sections 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) and arrested, said a senior police officer.

Police are trying to identify the other students who were involved in the alleged attack on the AISA activists.

Representational image.


11:04  Iraq will be pulled out travel ban:  US officials said President Donald Trump’s new immigration order will remove Iraq from the list of countries whose citizens face a temporary US travel ban.

Four officials say the administration’s decision follows pressure from the Pentagon and State Department. They had urged the White House to reconsider Iraq’s inclusion given its key role in fighting the Islamic State group.

The new order is designed to replace an earlier Trump order that was blocked by federal courts. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorised to discuss the order before it is signed. They said six countries Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen will remain on the travel ban list.


10:53  Playwright Taarak Mehta passes away:  Renowned Indian humorist and playwright Taarak Mehta passes away at the age of 87 years after a prolonged illness.

The popular TV series ‘Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah’ is a TV adaptation of  Padma Shri Taarak Mehta’s column ‘Duniya Ne Undha Chasma’

Mehta has translated and adapted several comedies into Gujarati, and has been a well-known figure in Gujarati theatre.

The humorous weekly column, ‘Duniya Ne Undha Chasma’ first appeared in Chitralekha in March 1971 and ever since has been looking at contemporary issues from a different perspective.

In 2008 SAB TV, a popular entertainment channel, started the show Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah which became the flagship show of the channel.


10:45  Trump calls for merit-based immigration system:  US President Donald Trump on Wednesday pushed for a merit-based immigration system that could benefit high-tech professionals from countries like India.

Trump, during his first address to Congress, noted that “nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others have a merit-based immigration system”.

He said that such a system will save countless dollars and raise workers’ wages.

Trump introduced the idea of a merit-based immigration system after invoking the memory and words of late president Abraham Lincoln, saying, “Lincoln was right — and it is time we heeded his words.”

Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, will have many benefits: it will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families — including immigrant families — ‘enter the middle class,’ Trump said. Trump said he is going to bring back millions of jobs.

“Protecting our workers also means reforming our system of legal immigration. The current, outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers, and puts great pressure on taxpayers,” he said.

Trump said he believes that real and positive immigration reform is possible as long as it focuses on the goals to improve jobs and wages for Americans to strengthen the country’s security and to restore respect for laws.

“If we are guided by the well-being of American citizens then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades,” he said.

Indian IT professionals account for the largest number of foreign nationals coming to the US on H-1B visas.Indians also account for a significantly large number of foreign workers coming to the US as scientists, doctors, engineers and other highly-skilled professionals.

During his presidential campaign, Trump had promised to increase oversight of our H-1B and L-1 visa programmes that are used widely by Indian tech companies.

The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows American firms to employ foreign workers in occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year.


10:17  Kuchibhotla killing: FBI investigating shootings as hate crime:  The deadly shooting of an Indian engineer and wounding of his co-worker last Wednesday at a bar in Kansas is being investigated as a hate crime, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Tuesday.

Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was killed, and Alok Madasani, both 32, worked as engineers at U.S. company Garmin, which makes navigational devices. They were at Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe, a Kansas City suburb, when the shootings occurred.

Another man, Ian Grillot, was wounded when he chased after the accused gunman, US Navy veteran Adam Purinton, 51, who has been charged in the shootings.

“Based upon the initial investigative activity, the FBI, in conjunction with the US Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, is investigating this incident as a hate crime,” the FBI said in a statement.

The agency said it would work with the Olathe Police Department and state and local partners regarding the investigation.

The Kansas City Star newspaper reported that at least one bystander said Purinton shouted “Get out of my country” before opening fire.

The shooting received international attention and in India some suggested on social media that a climate of intolerance in the United States had been fuelled by President Donald Trump’s statements on immigration.White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Friday that it was absurd to link the killing to Trump’s “America First” stance.

On Tuesday, the White House said it was looking more like the shooting was based on race.”As more facts come to light and it begins to look like this was an act of racially motivated hatred, we want to reiterate that the president condemns these or any other racially or religiously motivated attacks in the strongest terms,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.


10:12  Why Gurmehar Kaur is wrong and why it’s dangerous to tag everyone who disagrees with her a ‘troll’:  The debate over Gurmehar Kaur has become so confusing and vitiated that at this point, taking a position is akin to putting the head under a virtual guillotine. Black and white boxes have emerged and in the kangaroo courts of media, you are either a ‘troll who bullies a martyr’s daughter and justifies rape and death threats’ or a ‘liberal’. There is little room for measured arguments, littler still for nuance and absolutely none for contrarian views. Do read


10:06  Sasikala’s nephew gets another promotion!:  TTV Dinakaran, AIADMK deputy general secretary is being designated as Special Representative of the Tamil Nadu Government in New Delhi with a status of senior Minister.

VK Sasikala’s nephew, Dinakaran’s appointment in the party’s senior position has caused a furore in the state.

Dinakaran was evicted from the party and Poes Garden in 2011 by former CM Jayalalithaa. However, Sasikala accepted Dinakaran’s apology and reinstated him back into the party on the day she was convicted in disproportionate asset case

With this elevation, Dinakaran can now sit in the Tamil Nadu Secretariat and also hold office in Delhi’s Tamil Nadu house, thereby
getting closer to state governance

Dinakaran will soon be the go to person for senior officials as he will liaise between the state and the central government on pending projects.

It may be recalled that there were reports that Governor Vidyasagar Rao rejected the induction of Dinakaran as he is facing court cases and also an Enforcement Directorate inquiry. And he is also not an MLA.

But the Sasikala faction was keen to  accommodate him at some level, especially where Dinakaran can have access to the files of the Government of Tamil Nadu. Now, this position as Special Representative will give him the entry into the system.


09:47  WB child-trafficking racket could leave BJP red-faced:  

The Hindu reports: In a major embarrassment to the Bharatiya Janata Party, the names of its central and West Bengal leaders — national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and women’s wing president Roopa Ganguly — has been mentioned by a key accused in a recent child trafficking case in North Bengal.

The accused, Chandana Chakraborty, who ran a child care home in north Bengal, alleged on Tuesday that Juhi Chowdhury, a general secretary of State BJP’s women’s wing, perhaps spoke to Vijayvargiya and Ganguly to “resolve some issues” about the child care home.

The BJP leadership, however, denied the allegation.

“I have not spoken to anyone (Central BJP leaders). Juhi spoke to them and perhaps to Roopa Ganguly and Kailash Vijayvargiya. I was sitting in another room when she spoke to them,” Chakraborty told media persons in Siliguri before being produced at a local court. She also said that she approached Chowdhury for “some help” and she assured her of “resolving all the problems” about running the child care home.

09:42  Just In: US officials tell the Associated Press that the new Trump immigration order will remove Iraq from list of countries affected by travel ban


09:41  Three major hearings in Supreme Court today:  

The Supreme Court will on Wednesday hold hearing on three major cases.

One of the cases pertains to a triple talaq case filed by Shayara Banu. The 38-year-old had stirred a hornet’s nest after she challenged the triple talaq under Muslim personal law, under which a man simply has to utter ‘talaq’ thrice to divorce his wife. The consent of the woman is never taken into consideration, and as opposed to what is mandated under the Quran, the woman is never given the stipulated three months’ time. Shayara has also challenged in the apex court the concept of ‘nikah-halal’, under which a woman must consummate another marriage in order to go back to her first husband if she wants to. She also wants to outlaw polygamy within a Muslim marriage.

The Supreme Court will also be hearing a bunch of pleas filed by animal rights activists as well as a group of people seeking to stop killing of stray dogs. The activists have challenged the order passed by various civic bodies for culling of stray dogs in Kerala and Mumbai. The apex court earlier on January 17 held that stray dogs too have a right to live and said these could be eliminated only if they became a menace to the society. A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and R Banumathi dismissed a plea that all stray dogs should be killed in view rising cases of dog bites over the years, even causing death of people. The bench called for a balanced approach on the issue. It said compassion should be shown towards stray dogs but at the same time, these animals could not be allowed to become a menace to the society.

Another hearing pertains to a plea filed by Uber challenging an appellate tribunal’s order directing the Competition Commission of India’s director general to probe allegations of predatory pricing alleged by the cabs. On January 27, the apex court had ordered status quo on the probe by the CCI against Uber India Systems Pvt Ltd over predatory pricing allegations by Meru Cabs and had sought response from CCI in the matter. The Competition Appellate Tribunal had on December 7 last year ordered fair trade watchdog CCI to probe afresh the alleged abuse of dominance by the popular taxi-hailing app operator. The direction had came after Meru Travels Solutions had approached the tribunal against CCI’s earlier decision against ordering an investigation into the allegations against Uber of unfair practices including predatory pricing. The tribunal had directed CCI’s probe unit Director General to conduct a fresh probe into the allegations of abuse of dominance and anti-competitive practices by Uber.

09:33  In rare order, Pak court sets free convict in blasphemy case:  In a rare judgment, a court in Pakistan has acquitted a man sentenced to death four years ago for allegedly committing blasphemy.   

Muhammad Ishaq, caretaker of a shrine in eastern province of Punjab, was arrested and sentenced to death in 2013 after a complainant accused that he claimed himself to be a God.   

A court in Rawalpindi last week absolved him of charges and ordered he be set free, Ishaq’s lawyer Mehmood Akhtar said.   

“It was proved in the court that the charges were false. We are completing paperwork to get him out of jail,” Akhtar said.   

The draconian blasphemy laws were introduced in Pakistan by former military ruler Ziaul Haq in the ’80s and anyone charged under the laws become an easy target for extremists.   

The laws have been misused by miscreants and efforts to reform them have failed due to opposition by religious groups.   

Former Punjab governor Salman Taseer was killed by a police guard in 2011 when he termed the legislation as “black laws” and demanded reforms.

09:31  Bengal BJP women’s wing leader arrested in Jalpaiguri child-trafficking racket:  The CID on Tuesday night arrested BJP women’s wing leader Juhi Chowdhury from the Batasia area close to the Indo-Nepal border in North Bengal for her alleged involvement in the Jalpaiguri child trafficking case, reports PTI.   

With Chowdhury’s arrest, a total of four persons have so far been arrested in connection with the case for their alleged involvement in selling of babies and children across India and also to foreign couples in the last few months from an NGO, Bimala Sishu Griho.   

Sonali Mondal, chief adoption officer the NGO, Chandana Chakraborty, chairperson of Bimala Sishu Griho, and Manas Bhowmik, Chandana’s brother, had earlier been arrested by a seven-member CID team.   

The three were charged with selling at least 17 children, aged between 1 and 14 years, to foreign buyers at high price while falsely claiming that the children were handed over for legal adoption to needy couples after due screening and official procedures.   

CID sources said Juhi Chowdhury was being brought to Jalpaiguri for further interrogation and would be produced before the district court today. 

West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh has already said the party was looking into the allegations against Chowdhury and would take action if she was found guilty.   

The CID blew the lid off a child trafficking racket after conducting raids in homes and nursing homes in Baduria of North 24 Parganas district, in Behala in the southern fringes of Kolkata and some other parts of south Bengal since November last year. 

09:19  What to look forward in news today:  

* PM Narendra Modi to address election rallies in Deoria and Maharajganj districts

* ABVP will protest against Delhi Police today demanding action in the February 9, 2016 alleged anti-India sloganeering case; Protest at 2 PM

* Barring some snow-bound areas, the schools in Kashmir division and other areas falling under winter zone in Jammu region reopen today after 74 days of winter vacation.

* Regulator Sebi will see a change of guard today with senior IAS officer Ajay Tyagi taking over the chairmanship from U K Sinha, who is leaving with “good memories” after a six-year tenure marked with ‘harsh’ actions against defaulters and several reforms in capital markets. 

* Officials from the pollution control boards and agencies of the Centre and Uttar Pradesh will be present in the National Green Tribunal court today to respond to its queries on sewage discharged from Kanpur drains into the Ganges.

* The UN Security Council will vote today on a draft resolution that would impose sanctions on Syria for the use of chemical weapons.

08:33  Action is not a choice, it is a necessity: Trump:  

More highlights from Trump’s joint address:

* We must provide the men and women of the U.S. Military with the tools they need to prevent war and if they must TO FIGHT AND TO WIN.

* Education is the civil rights issue of our time. I am calling for an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth.

* Our citizens deserve this, and so much more – so why not join forces to finally get it done?

* REPEAL and REPLACE Obamacare. Obamacare is collapsing and we must act decisively to protect all Americans. Action is not a choice, it is a necessity

* We must ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage

* Our foreign policy calls for a direct, robust and meaningful engagement with the world.  

* To those allies who wonder what kind of friend America will be, look no further than the heroes who wear our uniform.

* I am sending the Congress a budget that rebuilds the military…


08:14  Buy American, and hire American: Trump at Joint Address:  

US President Donald Trump delivered his first speech to a joint session of Congress tonight, and he addressed the central planks of his campaign the military, the border, jobs and health care. He said he will not allow the mistakes of decades past to define the course for America’s future.

Here are highlights of his speech:

* We must ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage

* Obamacare is collapsing and we must act decisively to protect all Americans. Action is not a choice, it is a necessity

* Buy American, and hire American!

* For too long, we’ve watched our middle class shrink, as we’ve exported our jobs and wealth to foreign countries.

* America must put its own citizens first, because only then can we truly make America great again.

* I am not going to let America be taken advantage of anymore

* We must restart the engine of the American economy, making it easier for companies to do business in the US & much harder for them to leave!

* My Administration has answered the pleas of the American people for immigration enforcement and border security

* I have issued a new directive that American pipelines must be made with American steel

* A surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp. What we are witnessing today is the Renewal of the American Spirit

* We are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms.

00:26  French police officer accidentally fires gun at Hollande speech :  

At least two people have been injured after a gun was accidentally fired during a speech by President Franois Hollande, French media have reported.

Hollande was speaking in the town of Villognon in central France to mark the opening of a high-speed railway line between Paris and Bordeaux when a police marksman accidentally opened fire, the Sud-Ouest newspaper reported.

The paper quoted local officials as saying the member of the elite gendarmerie protection squad charged with protecting the president was positioned on a rooftop about 100 metres from the marquee where the ceremony was taking place.

The safety catch on the officers rifle was reportedly off and the shot was fired when he tripped while adjusting his position. The bullet pierced the marquee roof, hitting a waiter in the leg and a railway employee in the foot. 


00:04  Trump gives himself an ‘A’ in terms of achievement:  

US President Donald Trump acknowledged his immigration goals may not have been communicated effectively, saying “maybe it’s my fault,” and may use his speech to Congress to address the poor messaging in his month-old administration.

The Republican Trump, a blustery newcomer to politics before winning the 2016 presidential election, gave himself a “C or a C+” on communication in an interview with “Fox & Friends” television program.

“In terms of achievement, I think I’d give myself an A. Because I think I’ve done great things. But I don’t think I have – I and my people – I don’t think we’ve explained it well enough to the American public,” he said in the interview.

“I think I get an A in terms of what I’ve actually done, but in terms of messaging, I’d give myself a C or a C+.”

Source: Rediff