Airline seat scam case: Praful Patel not to appear before ED today

Airline seat scam case: Praful Patel not to appear before ED today

New Delhi: Former Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel will not appear before the Enforcement Directorate on Thursday for questioning in connection with the multi-crore rupee airline seat allocation scam case.

Patel told ANI, "Due to prior commitments, I have requested the Enforcement Directorate for another date." The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader was on June 1 summoned by the agency to appear before it on June 6 in connection with the case.

On March 30, the ED had filed a charge sheet against the accused corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar in which the name of the former minister had also come up.

The agency had alleged that Talwar, who is accused of facilitating the dispersal of profit-making routes of Air India to private airlines, was in touch with Patel.

"Talwar finalised various communications on behalf of Emirates and Air Arabia to be addressed to the then Minister of Civil Aviation Praful Patel," Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) DP Singh, appearing for the agency, had told Special CBI Judge Anuradha Shukla Bhardwaj on May 1. Talwar was extradited from Dubai on January 30.


TMC worker killed in Cooch Behar, party leader blames BJP

TMC worker killed in Cooch Behar, party leader blames BJP

Cooch Behar: A TMC worker identified as Ajijar Rahaman was killed in Cooch Behar on Wednesday, making it the second such incident in the state this week.

Following the death of Rahaman, a local TMC leader accused a BJP leader of being complacent to the crime along with his other associates.

"Azhar Ali, a member of BJP and some other people beat up and killed Ajijar Rahaman," he said.

BJP, however, refuted the charges and asserted that the murder took place due to a personal issue.

Nisith Pramanik, BJP MP from Cooch Behar, said, "A personal issue was the cause of the incident, TMC is trying to politicise it. The deceased's family itself is saying it was due to personal reasons, no BJP worker has any role in it." This comes two days after TMC leader Nirmal Kundu was shot dead by three bike-borne assailants in North Kolkata's Dum Dum area.

Kundu was the TMC president of Ward 6 of North Dum Dum municipality area under Nimta Police station.

Two suspects have been arrested in connection with Kundu's death.


Jaipur milkman’s daughter tops Rajasthan class 10 boards

Jaipur milkman’s daughter tops Rajasthan class 10 boards

Jaipur: Milkman’s daughter Sheela Jat has topped the Rajasthan Board’s Class 10 exams by securing 595 marks out of 600 or 99.17 per cent, as per the results declared on Monday.

Sheela, of Jaipur, secured 100 each in Maths and Science, 99 each in English, Hindi and Social Science and 98 in Sanskrit.

She hails from a poor background and her parents are illiterate. While her father, Mohanlal Jat, who owns four buffaloes, sells milk, her mother is a housewife. There is no smart phone in her house and hence, she is unaware of any social media handles readily used by students these days.

Sheela says she wants to study medicine and become a neurosurgeon. “I want to pursue my career in medical stream and become a neurosurgeon so that I can treat patients suffering from brain cancer,” she says. She also has a message for her fellow students. “One should never get disappoint with lesser marks. I have scored low in my earlier exams in school. Although I was shocked after receiving low grades, but then I learnt from my failure to attain this score,” she added.

She also said: “My father could not study in his life… however, he motivated me to study.” He also taught me how difficult life is without becoming literate, she added.

India battles heatwave conditions, Churu hottest at 50.3 degrees Celsius

India battles heatwave conditions, Churu hottest at 50.3 degrees Celsius

New Delhi: There was no let-up in heatwave conditions in large swathes of India on Monday, with Rajasthan’s Churu remaining the hottest in the country at 50.3 degrees Celsius. Temperatures remained three to five notches above normal in Haryana, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir, while there was slight relief for Odisha and Telangana after the states received scattered rains.

The maximum temperature in Delhi was 40.6 degrees Celsius. The Palam Observatory recorded a high of 42.6 degrees Celsius. The city recorded a low of 29.4 degrees Celsius and the humidity levels oscillated between 39 to 62 per cent.

The national capital is likely to get some respite from the scorching heat on Tuesday. The India Meteorological Department has predicted a partly cloudy sky with chances of rain or thunderstorm accompanied by lightning and gusty winds.

Churu, also known as the gateway to the Thar desert, remained the hottest place in the country for the third consecutive day with a maximum temperature of 50.3 degrees Celsius. In most cities of Rajasthan, maximum temperatures were four to eight notches above normal, whereas the minimum were three to five degrees above normal, a meteorological department official said.

Sriganganagar was the second hottest in the state at 48.8 degrees Celsius, followed by Bikaner at 48.4 degrees Celsius and Kota at 47.4 degrees Celsius. The MeT department has predicted severe heat wave in east and west Rajasthan for the next two days.

If the maximum temperature of a weather station in the plains crosses 45 degrees Celsius for two consecutive days, it is termed heatwave. And if the temperature breaches 47 degrees Celsius for two days, it is termed severe heatwave.

Haryana also reeled under heatwave conditions, with Narnaul being the hottest place in the state at 47.2 degrees Celsius — five notches above normal. Hisar sweltered at a high of 45 degrees Celsius, three notches above normal.

In Punjab, Amritsar braved a hot day at 42.2 degrees Celsius, two notches above normal, while Ludhiana recorded a maximum of 40.5 degrees Celsius. According to the MeT department forecast, many places in the two states could get respite over the next few days.

Jammu and Kashmir’s winter capital, Jammu, also recorded an above normal maximum temperature at 41.1 degrees Celsius. The city recorded a minimum temperature of 30.8 degrees Celsius, over five notches above the season’s average. Long power outages amid high temperatures left the residents exasperated.

Vidarbha and Marathwada regions of Maharashtra also battled heatwave conditions. The IMD warned that there will be no respite till June 7.

Nagpur, the biggest city in Vidarbha, was the hottest in Maharashtra with a maximum temperature of 47 degrees Celsius. The minimum temperature in city stood at 29.7 degrees Celsius, slightly above normal. Meanwhile, rains brought relief to residents in some parts of the country.

Various parts of Hyderabad and its neighbouring areas in Telangana received a brief spell of rain on Monday evening, the weather department said. The city, which has been witnessing temperatures above the 40-degree mark for the past few days, recorded a maximum of 40.2 degrees Celsius on Monday.

Other parts of the state recorded higher temperatures. Adilabad was the hottest in the state at 45.4 degrees Celsius, followed by Nizamabad at 44.4 degrees Celsius.

Rains in most parts of Odisha, mainly the western region, brought down the mercury. Titlagarh, which was the hottest place in the state on Sunday at 43.8 degrees Celsius, saw the maximum temperature dip to 31 degrees Celsius on Monday. Several other parts of the state recorded maximum temperatures below the 40-degree mark.

Bhubaneswar recorded a high of 35 degrees Celsius, Talcher recorded a maximum temperature of 39.3 degree Celsius, while the mercury stood at 38 degrees Celsius in Sundargarh. According to the IMD forecast, no significant changes in maximum temperatures are likely over the next two-three days.

Patnaik betrayed people of western Odisha: BJP

Patnaik betrayed people of western Odisha: BJP

PTI : Bhubaneswar: A day after Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik vacated the Bijepur Assembly seat and retained Hinjili, opposition BJP Monday accused him of having betrayed the people of the western region.

“By resigning from Bijepur Assembly constituency, Naveen Patnaik has simply betrayed the people of western Odisha,” BJP national secretary and newly-elected Lok Sabha member from Bargarh, Suresh Pujari, said. Coming down heavily on the BJD president for his move, Pujari said the people of entire western Odisha had high expectations when Patnaik chose to contest from Bijepur. “Now, the people of the region feel cheated,” he said.

The BJD supremo had contested the recent assembly elections, held along with the Lok Sabha polls, from his home turf Hinjili in Ganjam district, as well as Bijepur in west Odisha, and emerged victorious from both the constituencies.

Patnaik on Sunday vacated the Bijepur assembly seat and retained Hinjli. Senior BJP leader and former minister, Jayanarayan Mishra also lashed out at the chief minister for his decision. “It is diffucult to understand why Naveen Patnaik chose to contest from Bijepur and decided to vacate the seat now,” Mishra, an MLA from Sambalpur, said.

Accusing Patnaik of cheating the people of western Odisha for years, Mishra said the special package announced by the chief minister before his resignation from Bijepur seat was nothing but a trick to hoodwink the people of the region.

Patnaik had on May 30 announced a Rs 1,330-crore package, including plans to provide pucca houses to 34,000 households in the assembly constituency. “The so-called package is the first move to betray the people of western Odisha and Bijepur in particular by the government in its fifth term,” the BJP leader alleged.

Despite the BJD’s “sinister design”, the BJP will put up a strong fight in the by-election in Bijepur, he said. Dismissing the allegations, BJD leader and Health Minister Naba Kishore Das said the chief minister is not going to ignore the people of Bijepur, as he has already stated that development of the region is his responsibility.

Besides announcing the special package for the development of the area, Patnaik has promised that he will personally monitor implementation of the projects, Das said.

Gautam Gambhir bats for Amit Shah, slams Mehbooba Mufti

Gautam Gambhir bats for Amit Shah, slams Mehbooba Mufti

New Delhi: BJP’s newly elected parliamentarian Gautam Gambhir on Monday took to Twitter to criticize former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for attacking Home Minister Amit Shah. Mufti criticized Shah for expecting a “quick fix” to the Kashmir issue.

While I am all for a talk-based solution to Kashmir problem but for Mehbooba Mufti to term Amit Shah’s process as ‘brute’ is ‘ridiculously naive’. History has been witness to our patience and endurance. But if oppression ensures security for my people, then so be it,” Gambhir tweeted. Mufti on Monday called for a political solution of the Kashmir issue by involving all “stakeholders”.

“Since 1947, Kashmir’s been looked through the prism of security by successive governments. It’s a political problem that needs a political redress by involving all stakeholders including Pakistan. Expecting a quick fix through brute force by newly appointed HM (Home Minister Amit Shah) is ridiculously naive,” she said.

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar inducts 8 new ministers in cabinet

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar inducts 8 new ministers in cabinet

Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Sunday expanded his cabinet with the induction of eight new faces — all from his Janata Dal (United). Members of allies, the BJP and LJP, were left out from the cabinet expansion. Kumar, after the cabinet expansion, said the BJP was offered a berth in his cabinet, but the saffron party was not too keen.

Seconding Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister and BJP’s senior leader Sushil Kumar Modi said the party was offered a ministerial berth, but it opted out of it for now. “Nitish Kumar has offered BJP to fill the vacant ministerial seat. The BJP decided to fill it in future,” the deputy chief minister tweeted.

The new ministers – Narendra Narayan Yadav, Shyam Rajak, Ashok Choudhary, Bima Bharti, Sanjay Jha, Ram Sewak Singh, Niraj Kumar and Lakshmeshwar Rai – were administered the oath of office and secrecy at a function at the Raj Bhavan here by Governor Lalji Tandon.

Kumar said the vacancies were majorly created by JD(U) ministers, who resigned from their posts for various reasons. Tension seems to have been brewing between the alliance partners over allotment of berth in the Narendra Modi cabinet, although Kumar asserted that there was “no unease” between the partners.

The JD(U), he had said, decided against joining the Modi ministry as allies were not given “proportional representation” in the cabinet. Three seats in the Nitish Kumar cabinet fell vacant following the election of JD(U) ministers to the Lok Sabha.

The three ministers who were elected to the Lower House of Parliament included Water Resources Minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh, Disaster Management Minister Dinesh Chandra Yadav and LJP’s Bihar unit chief and Animal and Fisheries Resources Minister Pashupati Kumar Paras.

One post fell vacant last year after Manju Verma resigned as Social Welfare Minister in the wake of the Muzaffarpur shelter home case. Among those who attended Sunday’s swearing-in ceremony were Sushil Kumar Modi, Bihar Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Choudhary, RJD Bihar unit president Ram Chandra Purbey and several ministers of the Nitish KUmar government. This is the second time in two years when Nitish Kumar expanded his cabinet. On July 29, 2017, he has inducted 27 ministers from all three NDA constituents, the JD(U), the BJP and the LJP.

Violinist Balabhaskar death: Police to question man arrested in smuggling case

Violinist Balabhaskar death: Police to question man arrested in smuggling case

Thiruvananthapuram: The Crime Branch team probing the death of violinist Balabhaskar will question Prakash Thampi, who was arrested by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in a gold smuggling case.

Thampi was the programme coordinator of Balabhaskar’s shows and, according to the probe team, also the last person to call Balabhaskar before his car met with the accident. Vishnu, another associate of the musician, is on the run.

Balabhaskar, 40, was travelling with his wife and two-year-old daughter in the city, when their car met with an accident in the wee hours of September 25 last year. While the daughter died on the spot, Balabhaskar passed away on October 2. His wife and driver escaped with injuries.

While the musician’s father C.K.Unni has alleged foul play in the accident, one of his relatives, in a Facebook post recently, questioned his wife’s silence on Thampi and Vishnu.

According to sources in the know of things, the DRI officials will also meet Unni to take his statement. “I have doubts over the manner in which my son died. I am told that the DRI officials will be meeting me. One thing I know is that both Thampi and Vishnu were my son’s managers,” said Unni.

Though the police initiated a probe in the tragedy on Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s orders, the case took a new turn last month, when the DRI officials arrested a Dubai-based beautician Sareena Shaji smuggling 25 kg gold from Oman at the Thiruvananthapuram airport.

Her arrest led to several more arrests, including that of Thampi as well as a senior Customs officer at the airport.

The police team is still clueless as to who was at the wheel of the car when the accident took place. While his wife claimed it was the driver, the driver said the musician himself was driving the vehicle.

On Saturday, stage artiste Kalabhavan Soby told TV channels that he saw two men suspiciously moving around the accident site when he passed through the area soon after the tragedy. Soby said he would be glad to give a statement to the probe team.

HM Amit Shah visits National Police Memorial, pays tribute to martyrs of central, state police forces

HM Amit Shah visits National Police Memorial, pays tribute to martyrs of central, state police forces

New Delhi: Home Minister Amit Shah Sunday visited the National Police Memorial here and paid tributes to over 34,000 policemen who laid down their lives while serving the nation. Shah said India is secured because of the supreme sacrifice of the police martyrs.

“I visited the National Police Memorial this morning and paid tributes to our martyrs of the central and state police forces, who have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty,” he tweeted after visiting the memorial located in the capital’s Chanakyapuri area.

The home minister said he was overwhelmed after visiting the memorial which was erected as a mark of respect to over 34,000 policemen who sacrificed their lives protecting the nation.

“I salute their valour and courage. A grateful nation is indebted to them for their supreme sacrifice,” he said.

Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and Director of the Intelligence Bureau Rajiv Jain accompanied Shah.The National Police Memorial, a 30-foot-tall and 238-tonne black granite structure, was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 21 last year on the occasion of police commemoration day.

Post Lok Sabha results, Congress social media head Divya Spandana goes missing from Twitter

Post Lok Sabha results, Congress social media head Divya Spandana goes missing from Twitter

New Delhi: Days after the announcement of Lok Sabha results, the official Twitter handle of Congress social media head Divya Spandana, known for targeting the BJP, has gone missing from the micro-blogging site.

A search for @divyaspandana on the micro-blogging site says “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!”. There has been no official confirmation on the reason behind the Twitter account going missing.

Spandana was among the Congress leaders who took jibes at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders on Twitter.