14:57 French football legend Raymond Kopa dies aged 85: AFP
14:46 Rahul defamation case: Matter adjourned till Apr 21 : A Maharashtra court on Friday adjourned till April 21 the defamation case filed by the RSS against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s remark regarding Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.Gandhi was not present in the court today.
Earlier in November last year, Gandhi was granted bail on the basis of personal surety by Maharashtra’s Bhiwandi court.
A local RSS functionary, Rajesh Kunte, had filed the case against Gandhi for claiming at an election rally on March 6, 2014, that the right wing organisation had killed Mahatma Gandhi.
Though the apex court has stayed the proceedings against him, Gandhi appeared before Magistrate D.P. Kale in Bhiwandi on July 8 last year.
Gandhi had in September last year withdrawn his petition filed in the apex court and said that he would face the trial.
He expressed his readiness to face the trial after the top court refused to interfere with the criminal proceedings pending against him before the trial court.
He moved the apex court challenging the Bombay High Court’s order refusing to quash the defamation case and summons issued to him by the trial court.
14:43 ‘RAW’ agent Kulbhushan Yadav will not be extradited, says Pakistan : Pakistan has categorically ruled out possibility of handing over a former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Yadav to India. Pakistan believes Yadav is a RAW agent.
Radio Pakistan has this story: Pakistan’s advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz informed the Pakistan Senate today that the process has been started to prosecute Kulbhushan Yadav in Pakistani courts. A list of questions has also been handed over to India to seek more information from them in the light of the statements of Kulbhushan Yadav.
Sartaj Aziz said the purpose of sharing dossiers with the United Nations was to prove the direct and indirect Indian intervention in Pakistan. He said our stance in this regard is also being acknowledged at the international level.
Kulbhushan Yadav was arrested last year in Balochistan on charges of spying and stoking terrorism and sectarianism in the country.
14:24 Karnataka: Congress leader and former minister Kumar Bangarappa (son of former CM Sarekoppa Bangarappa), joins BJP.
13:46 BJP’s ‘sipahi’ Gajendra Chauhan backs ban on ‘gay’ Malayalam film : Not long after Prakash Jha’s ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ was denied certification, the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) has found its latest victim in the Malayalam film ‘Ka Bodyscapes’ and FTII chairman Gajendra Chauhan justifies its move.
“I would like to appreciate Censor Board and revising committee that they stopped the film from showing. I got to know that Lord Hanuman has been shown in a derogatory manner. I object,” said the 60-year-old to ANI on the last day in his office.
According to Chauhan, films like ‘Ka Bodyscapes’ shouldn’t be allowed in India as nobody has the right to hurt a religion and its views.
He added, “Court should also not allow it. What do they have to prove by making movies on freedom of expression and artistic values? Do they want to show the future generation their parents in bad light?”
CBFC believes that ‘Ka Bodyscapes’ glorifies gay and homosexual relationship, but seems like Chauhan is against the flick for not the same reason.
“Make a movie on sexual orientation that can teach something, not hurt a religious belief. I condemn the movie,” Chauhan continued.
The movie follows the lives of three young people in Calicut – “Haris, a gay painter; Vishnu, a rural kabaddi player and their friend Sia, an activist who refuse to conform to dominant norms of femininity, struggle to find space and happiness in a conservative Indian city.”
Director Jayan Cherian posted the official letter from the CBFC on social media, adding, “It’s official, Mr. Pahlaj Nihalani (chairman of the CBFC) put the final nail in my coffin!”
The letter, from the second revising committee, reads, “The second Revising Committee felt that the film is glorifying the subject of gay and homosexual relationship, nudity accentuating vital parts of male body (in paintings) in closed shots in the whole movie.””The film is explicit of scene offending Hindu sensibilities depicting vulgarity and obscenity through the movie. The religion of ‘Hindu’ is portrayed in a derogatory manner especially Lord Hanuman (shown in a poor light as gay) which may cause law and order problem in the society.”
“The film contains posters depicting homosexuality throughout the movie and derogatory remarks against women. Abusive language is used in most of the places and also a female Muslim character is shown masturbating. The film has references to Hindu organisations indirectly which is unwarranted.”
Chauhan on Friday said he is a BJP ‘sipahi’, adding his ideology is same as the saffron party.
Chauhan told ANI that the government was happy with his work and added that he did his best as the chairman of FTII.
“I feel that I have played a 20-20 match. I had to make more runs and overs were less. I had very less time and a lot of work, but I am happy that I was able to do my work..I am a ‘sipahi’ of BJP and whatever work they tell me to do. I will do it with all my heart. BJPs ideology is my own ideology,” he said.
13:30 SC no to urgent hearing on PIL for probe in ex-CM Pul’s death: The Supreme Court today refused to grant an urgent hearing on fresh PIL seeking independent probe into the alleged suicide of former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Kalikho Pul.
“Sorry. Declined,” a bench comprising Cheif Justice J S Khehar and Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul said. Advocate M L Sharma, who filed a PIL in his personal capacity, had sought urgent listing of the plea saying “a criminal conspiracy” was on to defame the highest judiciary of the country.
“There should be an independent probe into the alleged suicide note and the death of Pul,” he said. The plea also sought investigation into the role of some lawyers who were allegedly espousing the cause of Pul’s wife Dangwimsai Pul.
On February 23, Pul’s wife had withdrawn her letter for CBI or NIA probe into the allegations levelled in her husband’s purported suicide note against some former and serving persons holding constitutional posts and politicians.
Pul had committed suicide on August 9 last year. His body was found hanging in the official residence of the Chief Minister at Itanagar. After months of intense political developments, Pul had taken over the reins of Arunachal Pradesh on February 19, 2016 for a brief period but had to relinquish the job following a Supreme Court order in July.
12:51 Shabana@UK Parliament : Shabana Azmi will be speaking at The House Of Lords in the UK Parliament on Identity and Integration on 9th March on the theme, Separate but Equal’, she tweets.
12:48 Grenade attack on CRPF bunker in Kashmir’s Pulwama district, 2 injured: Just in: Suspected militants hurled grenades at a CRPF post in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Two jawans have been injured. The CRPF post is at a busy market area. Last month, another grenade attack took place in Kakapora area in Pulwama. Prior to that an attack by Hizbul Mujahideen militants on an army convoy left three personnel dead and wounded five others, including two officers, in South Kashmir’s Shopian district. A civilian caught in crossfire was also killed.
12:29 Indian origin girl racially abused in New Yorki: An Indian-origin girl in the US has been allegedly racially abused by an African-American man (pictured alongside) who called her inappropriate names and yelled “get out of here” when she was travelling in a busy commuter train. Ekta Desai, who lives in New York, took a video of the incident that occurred on February 23.
The video was then shared by a website ‘The Voice Raiser’ and has since then gone viral and viewed by hundreds of thousands of people.In the video, the African-American man is seen abusing the girl, saying words like “Freedom of speech’ and “Black Power.’ Using expletives, he tells her to “get out of here.’As the girl is recording the video, the man gets visibly angry and is seen shouting at her.
“This man was on the same PATH train as me along with 100 other passengers, I had my headphones on and it was like any other day. Next thing I know he is yelling on my face (Did not bother to listen/react),’ Desai wrote on social media.
Desai said she did not react to the man but he continued shouting and questioned as to why she was taking his photo and pictures. Several people have reacted sympathetically towards the girl after the video was posted online.
Desai said she reported the matter to police authorities, who allegedly said the man appears to be “emotionally unstable’ and she should be careful. Desai then contacted Kundan Srivastava, a Human Rights activist and founder of The Voice Raiser, who said the US government should “punish’ the man for “harassing and abusing women and also insulting our nation.”
12:13 DU limps back to normalcy with NSUI’s rose day : The Congress Party’s students wing, NSUI, starts the ‘Gift a rose’ campaign outside Ramjas college to restore peace in the campus.
Teachers, students and journalists were wounded on the Delhi University campus as group clashes broke out over the disruption of a literary festival in Ramjas College allegedly by members of the ABVP.
Violence erupted over the forced cancellation of a seminar organised by the Ramjas college Literary Society, for which JNU students Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid were invited.
Khalid was arrested last year in a case of sedition over organising a rally on the JNU campus in which anti-India slogans were allegedly heard. Rashid was the then the JNU student union vice president.
Students owing allegiance to the ABVP were unhappy with the invite to Khalid and Rashid.
Image: Students from the NSUI distribute roses to fellow students outside Ramjas College.
11:51 Bijapur (Chhattisgarh): Two jawans injured in an ongoing encounter between police and Naxals in Mirtur area.
11:45 Not being part of any Bollywood camps was a wrong move: Govinda: Actor Govinda says the film industry has big camps and feels it was a wrong move on his part to not get into any. The 53-year-old actor had a successful career in the 90s but it slowed down after he joined politics in mid-2000s. Though he made a comeback of sorts with “Partner”, his recent outings like “Happy Ending” and “Kill Dill” couldn’t do wonders at the box office. Govinda says the backing of a particular camp boosts an actor’s career, which he realised much later.
“There are massive camps in Bollywood. I never belonged to any camps but I think it was a wrong move. I should have had. It affects your career. It’s one big family,” Govinda told PTI.
“In that one family, if you create harmony and build good relations, it works. If you are a part of it, if you are blessed, you will do very well.”
The actor says during his low phase, people made his journey more difficult and that is when he looked up to megastar Amitabh Bachchan, who had battled his away through financial difficulties. “I have struggled a lot, let me tell you, it is not so easy. When I was struggling, people didn’t make my way easy. I heard and saw what had happened to Bachchan sir, but didn’t know it will happen with me. He could do it, come out of it, that was inspiring.”
Govinda says his financial struggle was “daunting” and he found immense difficulty in even getting his films made. “It (financial struggle) is tiring. It is daunting, people misbehave, they don’t write (movies) for you properly, some even ask for money again and again, saying they get paid better writing for TV.” “Industry was always money-oriented but now it has become very costly. It is very tough for an actor to make a film and release.”
Govinda’s latest film “Aa Gaya Hero” has again been pushed and will now hit the screens on March 17. He has also produced and written the film.
When asked about working with frequent collaborators, like filmmaker David Dhawan and actor-friend Salman Khan, he says, “Friends in the industry cannot do much. They have to do hard work for their own business, look after their own work. Friends only can be friends, not God. So, you have to do things on your own.”
11:31 ‘If I live in constant fear of being arrested, I’ll stop the work I do’: “The Congress or Kejriwal may be corrupt but at least you will not be thrashed black and blue. Your children will not be threatened by those regimes. If the Aurangzeb road memory is valid, then the memory of the 2002 Gujarat riots is also valid.”
In an interview with Rediff.coms Syed Firdaus Ashraf, journalist-turned-activist Teesta Setalvad, talks about her new book Foot Soldier of the Constitution: A Memoir and the state of secularism in the country. Do read
11:28 The Congress party is comatose if not dead: When the Congress party vanishes as a national force (meaning when it can no longer get sufficient votes to hold onto its symbol, the hand), it will not have been the first large Indian party to die,” says Aakar Patel. Read the column here.
11:16 Uphaar case: SC to hear Gopal Ansal’s plea against jail term on Monday: SC agrees to hear on Monday the plea of Gopal Ansal against the jail term in Uphaar fire case. A fresh plea has been filed by real estate baron Gopal Ansal seeking modification of the SC verdict asking him to serve the remaining jail term in the Uphaar fire case.
The apex court had recently asked Gopal Ansal to undergo the remaining jail term in the case while his elder brother Sushil Ansal got relief from incarceration with a prison term already undergone by him in view of age-related complications.
The younger brother has sought similar relief claiming that he was 69 years old and would suffer irreparable damage to his health if he is sent to jail.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar assured senior advocate Ram Jethmalani that it would ascertain the availability of the bench which had heard the review and would list it for hearing on Friday.
Senior advocate K.T.S. Tulsi, appearing for the Association for Victims of Uphaar Tragedy, opposed the plea saying there cannot be a review of the review judgment.
59 people died in the 1996
11:09 Whistleblower Army sahayak found dead: The Times of India reports: An Army jawan who had figured in a sting operation by a news website criticising the ‘sahayak’ (orderly) system last month was found dead in mysterious conditions in an abandoned barrack in Deolali Cantonment in Maharashtra on Thursday. Roy Mathew, a gunner, was found hanging from the ceiling of a room. Doctors said 33-year-old Mathew, whose body was decomposed, might have died three days ago.
Police sources said Mathew, who had served the Army for around 13 years, was among several jawans in Deolali seen in the video which featured soldiers walking dogs of officers and taking their children to school. The sting operation had sparked an uproar against the British-era sahayak system.
Mathew, who had been missing from his artillery unit since February 25, was facing an inquiry after the sting operation was posted online, sources said.
It is being probed if Mathew, who was attached for ‘buddy duties’ with a Colonel rank officer posted as an additional officer at the Artillery Centre in Deolali, had felt tortured or harassed after appearing in the video,” said a police source, adding that after the video was widely circulated on various social media platforms, Mathew was questioned by several officials.
The source said Mathew had run away from the unit on February 25 and had remained missing since. “He had come under huge pressure,” the source added.
On being contacted, the Army, however, said Mathew had gone “AWOL (absent without official leave)” within 24 hours of the video being aired on February 24.
Image: Soldiers distribute food to flood-affected Indians in Laxmi Chor village, West Bengal,
10:59 TN CM Palaniswami to chair his first cabinet meeting today: Edappadi K Palaniswami, who took oath as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister last month, will chair his maiden cabinet meeting at the State Secretariat in Chennai on Friday.
Palaniswami had won the vote of confidence by a steep 122-11 margin after eviction of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) members and walkout by its allies from a chaotic assembly session following a political stalemate in the state.
EPS is the third All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader, who took charge as the Chief Minister in the last nine months.
Late AIADMK supremo and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had powered the party to a rare successive term in office in the state in the May, 2016 Assembly Polls.
10:47 News18 reports: ‘Whistleblower’ Army Sahayak Mathew Roy found dead in his barracks in Deolali; Amy says he committed suicide.
10:31 I take back my harsh words on Sehwag: Javed Akhtar: Noted lyricist Javed Akhtar, who had hit out at Virender Sehwag for his comments on Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur, has said that he takes back his “harsh” words as the cricketer has already clarified his statements. “Since Sehwag undoubtedly a great player has clarified he was just being facetious and is not anti Gurmehar I take back my rather harsh words,” Akhtar tweeted. The 71-year-old lyricist had earlier called Sehwag “a hardly literate player” when the cricketer trolled Kaur after her campaign “I am not afraid of ABVP” went viral.
Later, Sehwag, in a series of tweets, had defended himself, claiming that his social media post in reply to Kaur was an “attempt to be facetious” rather than one to bully anyone over their opinion, adding that agreement or disagreement was not even a factor.
Kaur, 20, the daughter of army martyr Captain Mandeep Singh and a student of Lady Sri Ram College, had started the campaign following the violence at Ramjas College. She withdrew from her social media campaign after allegedly receiving threats.
Akhtar, however, praised cricketer Gautam Gambhir, who had said that the recent events have left him with a sense of disappointment. “My respect for Gautam Gambhir who with out any fear of trolls and right wing extremists has stood for Gurmehar’s freedom of expression. Bravo,” he wrote.
“So many war veterans and retired army officers have supported Gurmehar’s statement but perhaps they are not “nationalist” enough for some,” Akhtar added.
09:56 I was raped, sexually abused as a child, says Jane Fonda: Hollywood legend Jane Fonda has revealed that she was raped and sexually abused when she was a child. The 79-year-old star, in an interview with actress Brie Larson for Net-a-Porter’s The Edit, explained that she often felt “diminished” with the men in her life, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“I’ve been raped, I’ve been sexually abused as a child and I’ve been fired because I wouldn’t sleep with my boss and I always thought it was my fault; that I didn’t do or say the right thing,” Fonda told Larson, who has been a vocal advocate for abuse. The Oscar-winning actress touched upon the power of the word ‘No’ by saying, “Unlike you, Brie, it took me 60 years to learn how to say no… If anyone offered me anything I would say yes. I took parts I wasn’t right for and I was taken advantage of.”
Earlier at an event in 2014, Fonda revealed her mother, Frances Ford Seymour was sexually abused as a child before committing suicide when the actress was just 12.
The Supreme Court will on Monday hear the issue of compensation in the Sardar Sarovar Project on the river Narmada.
The apex court had earlier in its order awarded a compensation of Rs. 60 lakh each to 681 families affected by the Sardar Sardar Project in Madhya Pradesh and an amount of Rs 15 lakh each to 1358 families affected by the project within two months.
Earlier on February 8, the court decided to set up a panel of three former judges of the apex court to look into the issue.
A bench of the Apex Court headed by Chief Justice of India Jagdish Singh Khehar proposed to set up a three-judge panel to monitor the compensation and rehabilitation for the oustees of SSP on river Narmada in three states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Earlier, the Apex Court said that to ensure better deal for the project-affected families and had asked the Narmada Bachao Andolan and states to suggest names of experts who could be appointed in the committee which would deal with the issue of resettlement and rehabilitation of the oustees.
09:32 Kerala: CPI-M office set ablaze hours after RSS unit is bombed:
The Communist Party of India office at Nadapuram in Kozhikode, Kerala was set on fire in an apparent retaliation for a crude bomb attack on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh office hours earlier, NDTV reported quoting police sources.
Four RSS workers were injured after some unknown persons hurled a crude bomb at their office at Kallachi near Nadapuram around 8.30 pm on Thursday. The injured were identified as Babu, Vineesh, Sudhir and Sunil, they said.
The attack took place soon after an RSS functionary in Madhya Pradesh announced a Rs 1 crore bounty for beheading Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Kundan Chandravat, ‘Sah Prachar Pramukh’ of RSS in Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain, announced the reward to avenge the killing of its workers in Kerala, allegedly by CPI-M workers.
“The Kerala Chief Minister is killing our RSS workers who want to take this country forward. I will pay Rs one crore to anyone who beheads him even if I have to sell my house,” Chandravat was seen saying in a video, which has gone viral. The RSS, however, distanced itself from Chandravat’s remarks.
Representative Image used
09:01 Snapchat pops in Wall Street debut for messaging app:
Snapchat owner Snap Inc rode a wave of euphoria in its Wall Street debut today as investors sent shares of the popular messaging app soaring.
In midday trade, Snap jumped 47 per cent to $25.06 in its market debut after raising USD 3.4 billion, in the richest US tech company listing since Facebook in 2012.
The California startup known for its disappearing messages priced its offering Wednesday at $17 to give it a market value of $24 billion, which would rise even further with the jump in its share price.
Analysts have been mixed on the future of Snap, amid debate on whether it can mimic the success of Facebook or end up in the tech junkyard.
Debra Williamson of the research firm eMarketer said Snapchat inspires the same kind excitement as Facebook in its early stages.
“This is a company that is fundamentally changing communication,” she said.
“This makes Snapchat as exciting a property as Facebook when it launched. And it has a lock on the youth market which is critically important for new technologies.”
08:58 Infant Mortality Rate: Kerala now at par with US:
Kerala has become the best Indian state — at par with US — for new born babies with the ‘God’s own country’ managing to bring down the Infant Mortality Rate 6.
The IMR — number of children under the age of 1 who die for every 1,000 born — was released by the National Family Health Survey-4 in its 2015-16 report.
Going with the statistics, if India (current IMR of 41) could get it down to 6 like Kerala, more than 7 lakh children could be saved every year.
The NFHS-4 report for 2015-16 unveiled by the health ministry was conducted after collecting information from 6 lakh households, 7 lakh women and 1.3 lakh men, and for the first time provide district level estimates.
“Infant Mortality Rate declined from 57 to 41 per 1,000 live births between NFHS-3 (2005-06) and NFHS-4. IMR has declined substantially in almost all the states during the last decade. It dropped by more than 20 percentage points in Tripura, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Odisha. IMR substantially declined over the period from 79 per 1,000 live births in NFHS-1 (1992-93) to 41 per 1,000 live births in NFHS-4,” Health secretary C K Mishra said.
US Senator Mark Warner, who is Co-Chair of the Senate India caucus and Ranking member of powerful Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has said that while India and the US have a very strong relationship between the intelligence community, there is enormous concern not only about Pakistan’s role in unrest in Kashmir, but also the terrorist organisations from Pakistan.
Responding to a question on Pakistan after his remarks at the Widrow Wilson Center, a top American think-tank, Warner said it is in the best interest of Pakistan not to differentiate between different groups of terrorists.
Praising India’s patience, Warner said India today has risen to a place where it sees itself as a major international partner.
“I want to send a strong message that Pakistan can’t play both ways, supporting one group of terrorists one hand and taking action against the others,” he said.
08:44 India to participate in Permanent Indus Commission meet in Lahore:
India is set to participate in the meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission, scheduled to be held in Lahore in March.
Pakistan forwarded the invitation to India to resolve the Indus Water Treaty, sources say.
The Permanent Indus Commission is a bilateral commission of officials from India and Pakistan, created to implement and manage goals of the Indus Waters Treaty.
The development comes after the relations between the two nuclear-armed nations plummeted following the Pathankot terror attack that took place in January last year.
Pakistan has firmly stated that it will not accept any alterations or changes to the IWT after India had said that it is ready to engage in further consultations with Islamabad on the matter of resolving current differences over the Kishenganga and Ralte projects under the treaty.
Islamabad has argued that India was buying time to complete its two disputed water projects and then insisting that since the project was already complete, it could not be modified.
Pakistan is raising its objection to building of the Kishanganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric plants by India saying that it violates the provisions of the treaty.
Tensions increased over the water dispute when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year threatened to block the flow of water into Pakistan. The World Bank had earlier asked both the countries to consider alternative ways to resolve their disagreements over the Indus Water Treaty Dispute 1960.
08:25 Trump on Sessions row: ‘It is a total witch hunt!’:
US President Donald Trump has just released a statement on the scandal surrounding his Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions is accused of lying to Congress about his conversations with Russian officials.
Yet, he insists he did not speak with Russia about any political campaigns, which was the specific question asked of him by Senator Al Franken.
As the White House indicated earlier on Thursday, Trump stands behind his man.
In his statement, the president argues that Sessions said nothing wrong and the calls for his resignation amount to nothing more than a “witch hunt.” The media, he says, are ignoring the real story.
He said on Twitter: “Jeff Sessions is an honest man. He did not say anything wrong. He could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not intentional. This whole narrative is a way of saving face for Democrats losing an election that everyone thought they were supposed to win.
“The Democrats are overplaying their hand. They lost the election, and now they have lost their grip on reality. The real story is all of the illegal leaks of classified and other information. It is a total “witch hunt!””
Taloja jail authorities sought the special NIA court’s nod to shift Lt Col Prasad Purohit, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, from the prison’s hospital, where he has been staying for seven years, to a high-security ‘anda cell’.
“The authorities told the court that Purohit has been staying at the jail hospital for seven years and they want to shift him back to the high-security anda cell,” special prosecutor Avinash Rasal said.
The court, in an order in the past, had said Purohit should be kept in the jail hospital only for a certain period. However, the order that the jail authorities received did not specify this.
00:04 Syrian army announces recapture of Palmyra from Islamic State:
The Syrian army said on Thursday it had recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra from Islamic State for the second time in a year, with help from allied forces and Russian warplanes.
Islamic State retook Palmyra in a surprise advance in December, after having been driven out eight months before. “With backing from the Syrian and Russian air forces, units of our armed forces recaptured the city of Palmyra, in cooperation with the allies,” the military said in a statement.
The army and Iranian-backed militia advanced inside Palmyra on Thursday as Islamic State withdrew completely, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said.
Islamic State militants retreated to areas in the east, the Observatory reported.
Government forces took control of swathes of Palmyra and conducted combing operations to clear mines on Thursday, it said.During Islamic State’s first occupation which ended in March, the ultra-hardline jihadist group destroyed some of Palmyra’s priceless archaeological heritage and is believed to have razed other parts of the historical ruins since regaining control in December.