Vaishno Devi yatra remains suspended due to forest fire

Jammu: The annual pilgrimage to the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine remained suspended for a second consecutive day on Thursday following a forest fire, police said. Around 25,000 pilgrims were currently stranded at the Katra base camp for clearance to start the uphill trek to the shrine located in Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district. However, helicopter services have resumed.

“A huge forest fire broke out yesterday (Wednesday) in the Trikuta Hills,” a police official said. The fire department have deployed helicopters to douse the flames. Trenches were also dug to prevent the fire from spreading out. “The blaze has been contained to a large extent. For the safety of the pilgrims, the passage to the shrine will only be permitted after the blaze is completely put out,” the official added. Over two crore pilgrims visit the shrine every year.

Anti-Sterlite protest: Internet services temporarily suspended in Thoothukudi

Thoothukudi (Tamil Nadu): Amid the ongoing anti-Sterlite protest, Internet services have been temporarily suspended in Thoothukudi. The services were suspended on Wednesday from 9 pm onwards and will remain so until further instruction is issued by the administration. One person was killed and three others injured earlier yesterday as fresh violence broke out in Anna Nagar, thus taking the death toll of the Sterlite protest incident to 12.

On Tuesday, 11 people were killed and over 65 got injured during protests against the construction of a new copper smelter by the Sterlite industries in Thoothukudi. The agitation turned violent after protesters were barred from marching up to the plant, due to which they began to pelt stones and toppled police vehicles. In retaliation, police officials resorted to lathi-charge and tear gas to disperse the crowd to contain the situation.

Unnao rape case: CBI takes BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar in three-day custody

Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh): Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday took Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar in three-day custody in connection with the rape of a minor girl. A case has also been filed against Unnao MLA Sengar on charges of criminal conspiracy for falsely implicating the rape victim’s father.

The girl was allegedly raped by the BJP MLA at his residence on June 4, 2017, where she had gone to his house seeking a job. When the family complained, the victim’s father was instead booked by the police under the Arms Act on April 3 earlier this year and put into jail on April 5. He later died in a hospital, with the postmortem report mentioning serious injuries on his body.

BJP leader from Uttar Pradesh arrested for raping a woman on promise of job

A local BJP leader from Uttar Pradesh was arrested by police over rape charges on Tuesday. Kanhaiya Lal Mishra, who is a former president of the BJP’s Bhadohi district unit, was arrested for raping a 32-year-old woman in Varanasi.

According to woman, the incident occurred when Mishra called her to a lodge in Varanasi on the promise of job. Mishra, who is in his early 50’s, set up a meeting of the victim with a woman government officer at a lodge in Englishia Line.

The victim alleged that she was in touch with Mishra on the phone for a couple of months and since she was acquainted with Mishra, she agreed to go to the lodge. The victim also alleged that Mishra sexually assaulted her when she entered the room of the lodge. “She resisted and raised an alarm which drew other guests at the lodge to outside Mishra’s room. She also called the emergency police response system and the others informed Sigra police,” said a police officer.

After receiving the complaint, police rushed to the spot and took Mishra to police station. “A case was registered against Kanhaiya Lal Mishra under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code following a complaint by the woman and he was arrested,” said Inspector Satish Singh, the station officer of Sigra police station. He also informed that the woman was sent for medical examination.

Earlier, one of BJP’s MLA Kuldeep Sengar was arrested for allegedly raping a minor in Unnao. The case is under investigation by CBI at present. Now, the Mishra’s arrest is likely to create a situation of embarrassment for BJP in Uttar Pradesh.

AAP to support SP, RLD candidates in Uttar Pradesh bypolls

Lucknow: The AAP on Tuesday announced it will support the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) candidate in the Kairana parliamentary bypoll and the Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate in Noorpur assembly constituency, voting for which will be held on May 28.

Aam Aadmi Party Rajya Sabha member and national spokesman Sanjay Singh told IANS that his party had decided to throw its lot behind the opposition so as to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party candidates as its divisive politics needed to be defeated.  “We have decided that there has to be solidarity amongst the opposition parties on these two seats and hence this decision,” said Singh, who also is the in-charge of UP affairs.

Though AAP is a fringe player in the state, its decision is being seen as a boost to the opposition unity to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will seek a second term in the office in 2019. The Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Nishad Party have already thrown their lot behind the SP and RLD candidates.

Tamil Nadu: Sterlite Copper expresses sorrow over violence in Tuticorin

Tuticorin (Tamil Nadu): Sterlite Copper has released an official statement expressing sorrow and regret over the deaths that took place during the anti-Sterlite protest in Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin on Tuesday. In a late night statement, Sterlite Cooper said it has appealed to the government and the authorities to ensure safety of its employees and the surrounding communities.

It added that the plant is currently non-operational as the company was awaiting approval for it. “It’s with great sorrow and regret that we witnessed today’s incidents around the protest today at Tuticorin. The company has appealed to government and authorities to ensure safety of our employees, facilities and surrounding communities. Sterlite Copper plant is non-operational as we await approval for the consent to operate,” the statement read.

The months-long protest of the locals, demanding the closure of the Sterlite Copper plant in Tuticorin over pollution concerns, turned violent on Tuesday, resulting in the death of nine. More than 65 people have been injured in the clashes between agitated protestors and police officials. The protestors tried to gherao the collector’s office and torched vehicles inside the premise.

Police officials resorted to lathi-charge and tear gas to disperse the crowd to contain the tense situation. The Sterlite Copper plant and its proposed expansion in Tuticorin have invited several protests by locals and others who allege that the plant was polluting groundwater in their area.

Condemning the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK)-led State government for the unrest and the deaths, Kamal Hasaan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam blamed the government for the unrest in the state. The party in its statement said, “The peaceful protest by the people of Tuticorin against Sterlite, demanded justice was ignored by the Governments. Negligence of the Governments is the reason for all the unfortunate incidents. Citizens are not criminals. They are the ones who lose their lives, earlier due to Sterlite and now due to the Government’s orders.”

BJP to observe ‘Anti-People’s Mandate Day’ today

Bengaluru (Karnataka): The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is set to observe the swearing-in ceremony of the Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress coalition government on Wednesday as ‘Anti-People’s Mandate Day’ in the state. In a statement on Tuesday, the BJP termed the alliance between the Congress and the JD-S as an ‘unholy’ one, alleging that they “hijacked the people’s mandate”.

BJP president for Karnataka, B. S. Yeddyurappa will lead the demonstrations in Bengaluru. “The Congress and JDS have hijacked the people’s mandate and entered into an unholy alliance. On the day this unholy coalition government takes office, that is tomorrow, Wednesday, 23.5.2018, the BJP has decided to observe this day as “Anti People’s Mandate Day,” the statement read.

The statement also mentioned that thousands of party functionaries will stage black flag demonstration throughout the state. “In Bangalore, state BJP President B.S. Yeddyurappa will lead the demonstration at 11.15 a.m. at the Mahatma Gandhi statue, Opposite Hotel Maurya, Ananda Rao Circle. State unit general secretaries Kum Shobha Karandalaje, Aravinda Limbavali, R. Ashok, N. Ravi Kumar, MP P.C. Mohan, city President Sadashiva, office bearers and hundreds of party functionaries will be present,” the statement added.

H. D. Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in ceremony will be held on Wednesday in the presence of a multitude of eminent leaders. Among the confirmed attendees are United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijay, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Samajwadi Party chief, Akhilesh Yadav, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and son of former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, Tejaswi Yadav, Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao, along with son K. Taraka Rama Rao will also be present to witness Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in. Other notable guests include the founder of Rashtriya Lok Dal, Ajit Singh (also an ex-Union Minister), actor-turned-politician and founder of Makkal Needhi Mayyam, Kamal Haasan and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief M.K. Stalin.

After Karnataka election petrol, diesel prices hiked again

New Delhi: In line with the price hike announced earlier, the cost of petrol and diesel across India has been hiked as of 6:00 a.m. this morning.

As per the Indian Oil Corporation website, prices of non-branded petrol have been revised to Rs. 75.61 per litre in Delhi, Rs. 76.83 per litre in Bengaluru, Rs. 78.29 per litre in Kolkata, Rs. 83.45 per litre in Mumbai and Rs. 78.46 per litre in Chennai.

In the National Capital Region (NCR), highest petrol price recorded is in Noida (Rs. 76.65 per litre). Meanwhile, diesel prices across India have been revised to Rs. 67.08 per litre in Delhi, Rs. 68.23 per litre in Bengaluru, Rs. 69.63 per litre in Kolkata, Rs. 71.42 per litre in Mumbai, Rs. 70.80 per litre in Chennai. The highest price of diesel in the NCR has been recorded at Faridabad (Rs. 68.20 per litre).

As per reports, the hike in prices comes in the backdrop of increase in global crude oil prices, which are reportedly estimated to touch USD 100 for one barrel. Fuel prices have been on a continuous rise recently, due to which consumers have taken to social media and other platforms to complain of the additional expense.

On Tuesday, diesel prices touched an all-time high of 66 rupees 14 paise, while petrol prices hit a 56-month high of 74 rupees 80 paise a litre. In April, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the Centre and the state governments have been considering bringing the petroleum products under the ambit of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Donald Trump attacks China over US trade deficit

Washington: US President Donald Trump today hit out at China for “fleecing” his country with hundreds of billions of dollars every year, even as high-level delegations from the two countries were holding intense negotiations in Washington over a series of trade disputes between them.

“China has taken our hundreds of billions of dollars a year from the United States. And I explained to (Chinese) President Xi (Jinping), we can’t do that anymore, we just can’t do that anymore. It’s a much different situation,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “But with all the years and all the years that you covered trade and nations and wars and everything else, you’ve never seen people come over from China to work on a trade deal. Now, will that be successful? I tend to doubt it,” he said.

The reason, he said, he doubts it is because China has become “very spoiled”. China was not the only country to face Trump’s criticism in this regard. “The European Union has become very spoiled, other countries have become very spoiled, because they always got 100 per cent of whatever they wanted from the US,” Trump said.

“But we can’t allow that to happen anymore. We’re an incredible country. We have incredible potential. The potential we have is incredible. We lost USD 800 billion on trade last year, if you add it all up. Of which, China was around the USD 500 billion mark,” Trump said, asserting that the US is not going to be doing that any longer. Trump said he does not blame China for this.

“I blame our leadership of this country from the past. We have been ripped off by China. An evacuation of wealth like no country has ever seen before given to another country that’s rebuilt itself based on a lot of the money they’ve taken out of the United States. And that’s not going to happen anymore,” he asserted. Responding to a question on his recent decision on the Chinese telecom giant ZTE, in which he appears to be giving concessions to it, Trump said he did this out of respect for President Xi who requested him in this regard.

“ZTE was a company that I spoke to with President Xi. He asked me if I’d look at that because it was very harmful to them in terms of their jobs and probably other things. And I certainly said I would — he asked me to do it and I would do that — I would certainly — out of great respect,” he said. Trump said that it was his administration that took strong action against ZTE.

“I put very strong clamps on ZTE. It did very bad things to our country and our economy. It also buys a large portion of parts for its phones and is the fourth largest company in terms of that industry. It buys the parts from the US. That’s a lot of business,” he said. “So have a lot of companies that won’t be selling those parts. But President Xi asked me to look at it. I said I would look at it. But anything we do with ZTE just a small component of the overall deal,” he said.

Trump exuded confidence that the US is going to come out fine with China. “Hopefully China’s going to be happy. I think we will be happy. As the expression goes, when you’re losing USD 500 billion a year on trade you can’t lose the trade war, you’ve already lost it,” Trump said as he blamed earlier administrations for the crisis. And those days are gone, those days are over, he said.

Karnataka Election 2018: Mukul Rohatgi says BS Yeddyurappa’s letter to Supreme Court shows majority

New Delhi: Former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who is appearing for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Karnataka crisis on Friday informed the state Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa’s letter to the Supreme Court shows majority and the same will be shown during a floor test.

Interacting with the media before appearing at the apex court for a hearing on the same, Rohatgi rebuffed the reports of alleged horse-trading of the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) leaders by the BJP.

“We will show Chief Minister’s letter to the Supreme Court, it shows he has support and support will be shown in the house,” Rohatgi said.

“There is no issue of horse-trading, it is the other way, as MLAs have been taken to resorts,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Congress and the JD(S) have shifted their MLAs from Karnataka to Hyderabad fearing poaching attempts by the BJP. The newly elected Karnataka Chief Minister, who took oath yesterday, has 15-day to prove his majority on the floor of the assembly.

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