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BJP MLA seen brandishing gun claims viral video edited, terms it 'intrusion of privacy'

Dehradun: After a video purportedly showing him dancing to a Bollywood number with guns in hand went viral, suspended BJP MLA Kunwar Pranav Singh Champion on Wednesday claimed that the clip was edited and termed it an intrusion into his privacy.

"The video which has gone viral is edited and an intrusion into my privacy. I never used abusive words against anyone as is being shown by the media," he told a private news channel.

The guns with which he is seen dancing were "licensed, unloaded and not pointed at anyone", he said, adding that "there was nothing wrong in dancing with guns". He said he had been playing with guns since his childhood.

Accusing the media of not showing the positive side of his personality, he claimed at the age of 53 he was the fittest MLA in the country. "Show me a single four time MLA who has my level of fitness at the age of 53 and is as highly qualified as me. I am defying age. But the media never shows these positive aspects of my personality," Champion said.

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BJP MLA Pranav Champion who was recently suspended from the party for threatening a journalist, seen in a viral video brandishing guns. Police says, "will look into the matter and also verify if the weapons are licensed or not." (Note: Abusive language)


However, taking cognisance of the viral video, Pradesh BJP sent him a show-cause notice and made a recommendation to the central leadership of the party for stern action against him saying indiscipline cannot be tolerated.

"There is a code of conduct for people's representatives in BJP which is a disciplined party that cannot compromise on principles," party's Uttarakhand in-charge Shyam Jaju said in a statement here.

"Champion is already suspended from the party for three months. A recommendation has been made to the central leadership of the party for his permanent suspension," Jaju said.


US House passes bill removing country cap on Green Card, to benefit Indian IT professionals

Washington: The US lawmakers Wednesday passed a Bill aimed at lifting the current seven percent country-cap on issuing Green Cards, a development which would benefit thousands of highly-skilled Indian IT professionals.

A Green Card allows a person to live and work permanently in the US. Passed by the US House of Representatives, the Bill, on being signed into law, would considerably reduce the agonising wait for talented professionals from countries like India seeking permanent work and residency permits in the United States. Titled the Fairness of High-Skilled Immigrants Act, 2019 or HR 1044, the Bill was passed by the 435-member House by an overwhelming majority of 365-65 votes.

As per the present system, out of the total number of family-based immigrant visas to be given by the US in a particular year, the people of a country can be given a maximum of seven percent of such visas. The new Bill seeks to increase this seven percent per-country limit to 15 percent. Similarly, it also seeks to eliminate the seven percent per-country cap on employment-based immigrant visas. Additionally, it removes an offset that reduced the number of visas for individuals from China.

The bill also establishes transition rules for employment-based visas from FY 2020-22 by reserving a percentage of EB-2 (workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability), EB-3 (skilled and other workers) and EB-5 (investors) visas for individuals from other than the two countries that get the largest number of such visas. As per another provision of the Bill, not more than 85 percent of the unreserved visas, would be allotted to immigrants from any single country.

Before it can be signed into law by the US president, the Bill, however, has to be passed by the Senate, wherein the Republicans enjoy a majority. An identical bill sponsored by Senators Kamala Harris and Mike Lee are likely to be taken up soon. The Senate bill S386 currently has 34 co-sponsors. Congressman John Curtis, speaking on the floor of the House, said the Bill will create a first-come, first-served system providing certainty to workers and families and enabling the US companies to flourish and compete in a global economy as they hire the brightest people to create products, services, and jobs, regardless of where they were born.

If President Donald Trump "is serious about merit-based legal immigration, he should help usher this bill into law," said Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren. The passage of the Bill was hailed by Indian professionals from across the US, particularly those from the Silicon Valley in California, Seattle area in Washington state, the Greater Washington DC area and the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

The Department of Homeland Security, however, has said it does not support the Bill. "This bill would do nothing to move the current employment-sponsored system toward a more merit-based system," said Joseph S Joh, Assistant Director and Senior Advisor in the Office of Legislative Affairs, Department of Homeland Security. Top American IT companies welcomed the passage of the bill and urged the Senate to pass it at the earliest.

"Today the US House passed the legislation to ensure people from all countries are treated alike in the Green Card process. This promotes a fair high-skilled immigration system that's good for the business and our economy," said Microsoft president Brad Smith. "This bill will help ensure those seeking permanent residency don't have to wait for extraordinary long periods, -- projected at 50 years or more for people from countries like India and China -- simply because of their country of origin," said FWD.US president Todd Schulte, hailing the passage of the FHSI Act.

FWD.US is an advocacy organization representing top Silicon Valley firms including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and DropBox. "Eliminating 'per-country' caps for employment-based Green Cards and raising caps for family-based green cards will make the system fairer for immigrant families and strengthen the United States' ability to recruit and retain top global talent by establishing a fair and predictable path to permanent legal status," he said.

Hindu American Foundation too welcomed the passage of the Bill. "It is now up to the Senate to ensure that fairness is delivered to high-skilled immigrants who have been stuck in a decades-long backlog waiting for their chance to become full-fledged contributors to the American economy. The time to act is now," said Jay Kansara of the Hindu American Foundation.

By Lalit K Jha/PTI

Fresh set of resignation letters of eight MLAs sent to Karnataka Speaker, says BJP leader

Mumbai: A fresh set of resignation letters of eight rebel MLAs who are camping in Mumbai was sent to the Speaker of Karnataka Assembly Wednesday, said a BJP leader from Maharashtra.

Another two rebel Congress MLAs -- housing minister MTB Nagraj and K Sudhakar -- who resigned Wednesday were likely to arrive here during the night or in the morning, he added. "The earlier resignation letters had some technical errors hence they were rejected by the Karnataka Speaker. We have sent a fresh dispatch of resignation letters via Speed Post as well as emailed copies to the Speaker," the BJP leader said.

"Copies of these letters will also be delivered by hand to the Speaker. This time we are taking utmost precautions and leaving no chance to the opposition," the leader said. Earlier Wednesday, high drama was witnessed in the city as police detained Karnataka Congress minister D K Shivakumar who was on a mission to woo back a dozen rebels holed up in a luxury hotel here as the JD(S)-Congress government in the southern state is teetering on the verge of collapse.

Karnataka crisis: 10 rebel MLAs of Congress and JDS move Supreme Court

New Delhi: The political crisis in Karnataka Wednesday reached the Supreme Court as 10 rebel Congress and JD(S) MLAs moved their plea alleging that the state Assembly Speaker has been deliberately not accepting their resignations.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi took note of the submission of senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the rebel MLAs, and assured him that it will see whether their petition can be listed for an urgent hearing tomorrow. The senior lawyer said these lawmakers have already resigned from their membership of the assembly and wanted to contest fresh elections. He sought the hearing either on Wednesday or Thursday on the plea in which it has been alleged that the Speaker had acted in a partisan manner and deliberately not accepting their resignations.

"We will see," the bench, which also comprised justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, said when Rohatgi was pressing for an urgent hearing saying "time is the essence" in the matter. The state Assembly Speaker had held on Tuesday that the resignations of nine out of 14 rebel MLAs were not in order. The Congress has sought the intervention of Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar in disqualifying its rebel legislators and accused the BJP of using money power to lure its members. The BJP has denied the charge.

A total of 13 MLAs--10 of the Congress and three of the JD(S)--submitted their resignation to the Speaker's office on July 6 triggering a fresh political crisis in the JD(S)-Congress coalition government in the state. Another Congress MLA R Roshan Baig resigned on Tuesday. The 14 MLAs who submitted their resignations are S T Somashekhar, Munirathna, B A Basavaraj, Pratap Gouda Patil, B C Patil, Ramesh Jarkiholi, A Shivaram Hebbar, Mahesh Kumathalli, Ramalinga Reddy, Anand Singh and Baig (all Congress), and Gopalaiah, Narayana Gowda, Adagur H Vishwanath (all JD-S), the speaker said.

Senior Congress leader and Karnataka Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar was on Wednesday prevented from entering the premises in Mumbai where the rebel MLAs are stationed. On Tuesday midnight, 10 of the 12 MLAs put up in the luxury hotel in Powai wrote to Mumbai Police, saying they feared a threat to their lives, and asked that Shivakumar be prevented from entering the hotel. Shivakumar, the Congress troubleshooter, said he will not leave without meeting the MLAs.

The ruling coalition's total strength is 116 (Congress-78, JD(S)-37 and BSP-1) besides the Speaker. With the support of the two independents, who on July 8 resigned from the ministry, the BJP has 107 MLAs in the 224-member House, where the half-way mark is 113. If the resignations of the 14 MLAs are accepted, the coalition's tally will be reduced to 102. The Speaker also has a vote.


Karnataka crisis: Shivakumar escorted away by police from Mumbai hotel gates amid 'go back' slogans

Mumbai: High drama was witnessed outside a hotel here on Wednesday as senior Congress leader and Karnataka Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar was prevented from entering the premises where the rebel MLAs are stationed.

Shivakumar, who was accompanied by senior JD(S) MLAs, told reporters that he had booked a room in the hotel but was not being permitted inside. On Tuesday midnight, 10 of the 12 MLAs put up in the luxury hotel in Powai wrote to Mumbai Police, saying they feared a threat to their lives, and asked that Shivakumar be prevented from entering the hotel. "We have received a letter from the rebel MLAs," a senior police official said.

Shivakumar, the Congress troubleshooter, said he will not leave without meeting the MLAs. "I only have a heart that I have come to extend to my friends...politics is an art of possibility," he said. There was a massive police presence outside the hotel where a group was seen shouting "Shivakumar go back". Shivakumar said the police was telling him no room was booked in his name, but the minister insisted that he had booked a room in his name in the hotel.

"I am not afraid of slogans against me. Not being permitted inside because of security threat. I have a lot of respect for the Maharashtra government. I don't have weapons," he said. He wondered how could his presence be a threat to the rebel legislators. "How can I be a threat to the MLAs. We are friends. If the BJP is not involved, why so many policemen are here. I have a heart, and no weapons," he said.

On his arrival, Shivakumar said, "Let the Mumbai Police or any other force be deployed. We have come to meet our friends. We are born together in politics and will die together." He said if BJP leaders can meet rebel MLAs, why can't he. "Mumbai has a good government.Chief Minister (Devendra Fadnavis) is my good friend. I have booked a room here. My friends are here, some disputes are there, they are my friends...if BJP leaders can meet, why can't we meet," he asked.

Shivakumar noted that he had earlier played "host to 120 MLAs from Maharashtra when Vilasrao Deshmukh was the chief minister". Twelve MLAs -- seven of the Congress, three of the JD(S) and two Independents -- are in the city since Saturday after resigning from the Karnataka Assembly membership and withdrawing support to the state's coalition government they are put up.

The legislators in their letter said they don't want to meet Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy or Shivakumar and requested the city police not to allow them to enter the hotel promises, he said. The letter had names and signatures of Shivram Hebbar, Pratap Gowda Patil, B C Patil, Byrati Basavraj, S T Somshekar, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Gopalaiyya, H Vishwanath, Narayan Gowda and Mahesh Kumutali.


Rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs fear 'threat' to life during Karnataka CM's proposed visit to Mumbai hotel

Mumbai: Ten rebel MLAs from the Congress-JD(S) combine have written to the Mumbai police commissioner expressing fears of threat to their lives during visits of Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and Congress leader D K Shivakumar here on Wednesday.

The letter signed by 10 MLAs said they have heard that Kumaraswamy, Shivkumar and others are going to storm the hotel premises they are staying in and they feel threatened by this. The letter stated that the MLAs were not willing to meet the two leaders and wanted the police not to allow them to enter the hotel premises.

The signatories of the letter are Shivram Hebbar, Pratap Gowda Patil, B C Patil, Byrati Basavraj, S T Somshekar, Ramesh Jarkiholi, Gopalaiyya, H Vishwanath, Narayan Gowda and Mahesh kumutali. The copies of the letter have been marked to Zone 10 deputy commissioner of police, senior inspector of Powai police station and the management of the hotel they are staying in.


D-Company mutation from crime syndicate to terror network a 'real danger': India at UN

New York [USA]: India on Tuesday termed underworld don Dawood Ibrahim 's D-Company's mutation from a criminal syndicate into a terror network "a real and present danger" in the region.

"In our region, we have seen the mutation of Dawood Ibrahim's criminal syndicate into a terrorist network known as the D-Company," said Syed Akbaruddin, India's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, in the UN Security Council. "Its illegitimate economic activities may be little known outside, but for us, such activities as gold smuggling, counterfeit currency, arms and drug trafficking from a safe haven that declines to acknowledge even his existence, are a real and present danger," he stressed.

Akbaruddin made the comments during an open debate on 'Threats to International Peace and Security: Linkages between International Terrorism and Organised Crime'. Dawood Ibrahim is wanted in India to face the law of the land for carrying out serial blasts in Mumbai in 1993 in which scores of people were killed and injured. Akbaruddin stressed for collective action for destroying terror groups like D-Company, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba.

"Success of collective action to denude ISIL is a pointer that the Council's focused attention can and does yield results. A similar degree of interest in addressing threats posed by proscribed individuals, such as Dawood Ibrahim and his D-Company as well as proscribed entities, including the Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba, listed as affiliates of Al-Qaeda, under the 1267 sanctions regime, will serve all of us well," he said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has suspected that Dawood Ibrahim is currently in Pakistan after secretly recording his close aide and Karachi-based businessman Jabir Motiwala, who was arrested in London in August last year.

Holding that the location of Dawood Ibrahim was never a secret, India had on July 4 said that the FBI's remark on the issue only reveals the double standards of Pakistan and its inability to take action against terror groups operating on its soil. "The location of Dawood Ibrahim is not a secret. Time and again we have been presenting to Pakistan a list of people who are in their country. We have asked repeatedly that he should be handed over. His imprint on the Mumbai blast is very clear for all of us to see," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said in a press briefing.

"You (Pakistan) claim that you have taken action but when it comes to taking action against people who we have demanded you go into denial mode. On the other hand, you try to project to the international community that you are taking some action against the terrorists operating from the soil," the spokesperson had added. Akbaruddin stressed that collective action between countries is required to curb the flow of revenue generated by illicit activities of terror groups across borders.

"Revenues generated by illicit activities of terrorist and criminal groups are moved across borders and exchanged through open networks. This flow of resources, meant to produce violence and terror, needs to be stopped by states working together. Collective inter-state efforts are required, including at regional and sub-regional levels," he said.

"We also need to sensitise the private and public enterprises involved in facilitating legitimate transboundary financial flows and we should harness their support, so that they do not fall prey to malevolent objectives, in the vein of Osama bin Laden's string of retail honey shops," he added.


Extremely unfortunate that a "confidential letter" leaked: Urmila Matondkar

Mumbai: Actor-turned-politician Urmila Matondkar said it is "extremely unfortunate" that a "confidential letter" by her to Congress leader Milind Deora has been made public.

A letter written by Urmila to then Mumbai Congress chief Milind Deora on May 16, mentioning discrepancies at local level in the party, went viral earlier this week. Talking about the same, Urmila said in a statement, "At the outset, it's extremely unfortunate that a confidential letter containing privileged communication should be made public. There are issues to be sorted in every party. I've joined Congress with no personal interest/agenda except to serve my country."


"I have addressed the letter at the behest of the Mumbai President with sole intention to bring about betterment in the party. It is extremely significant to note and I wish to highlight that that this letter was written way before the election results or even the exit polls. Showing only my integrity, sincerity and commitment to party interest," she added.

In the nine-page letter that is now viral, Urmila had said, "Key functionaries, such as Bhushan Patil failed to hold meetings between key functionaries of the party at the block level and ward level which resulted in complete failure of communication." "As a result, there was a total lack of confidence and energy in the party workers which resulted in low participation at their level. Kondwilkar and Patil showed total lack of political maturity and disciplined by repeatedly creating controversies and animosity amongst the party workers," Matondkar claimed, while saying that she fought the elections with sincerity and integrity in her constituency.

Concluding her letter, the Congress leader proposed and suggested, "A strong disciplinary action be taken against Sandesh Kondwilkar and Bhushan Patil forthwith and changes are made at the organisational level with immediate effect to ensure a better and brighter future for the organisation." Matondkar, who contested her debut election from Mumbai North constituency, lost to BJP leader Gopal Shetty by 4,65,000 votes. The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance had trounced the Congress in Mumbai, bagging all the six seats.


World Cup 2019 India vs New Zealand Semi-Final: Weather update, stats, history; all you need to know

It has been a dream World Cup campaign for the Indian cricket team and now everything boils down to having two perfect days. The quest starts with the semi-final clash against New Zealand here on Tuesday. India and New Zealand will face each other in the ICC World Cup Semi-Finals in Old Trafford, Manchester at 3 pm IST.

India topped the points table of the league phase with 15 points from nine matches, storming into the knockout phase of the World Cup 2019 in their final fixture of the league stage. New Zealand qualified for the elimination round as the fourth-placed team, as Pakistan required a win against Bangladesh in their final encounter which was almost beyond the realms of possibility.

Weather to play spoilsport

The semi-final match is likely to be interrupted by rain, with light showers forecast for match day. According to the British Met Department, reports, Tuesday will likely be cloudy, with spells of light showers. As rain-threat looms large over both the semi-finals of the ongoing ICC Men's Cricket World Cup, the apex cricketing body released information regarding reserve days for the knock-out stages of the tournament. Reserve days will be in place for both semi-finals and final of the tournament. The semi-finals of the tournament will be played between India-New Zealand and Australia-England.

What is Reserve Day?

A reserve day is required if the match officials decide that the ground and pitch conditions are not suitable for play to continue on the scheduled match day. All the steps are taken to finish the match on the scheduled date even if it requires shortening the match up to 20-overs per side or extending the match up to 120 minutes. If there is still no result on the scheduled match day, then the play goes to the reserve day, and the same time and hours of play are used as the scheduled match day.

India Vs New Zealand head-to-head stats:

After their Nottingham washout on June 13, New Zealand and India haven't met at a World Cup since 2003 at Centurion, South Africa.

In the current edition, India will be playing New Zealand for the first time, as their previous match at Nottingham was washed out without toss due to rain.

India and New Zealand have had 7 previous World Cup meetings between them. New Zealand holds the edge over India with four wins, while the latter won only thrice.

Ranking of India and New Zealand:

India is second in the ODI rankings and topped the preliminary ladder with seven wins. Their only defeat was by 31 runs to England at Edgbaston.

New Zealand is ranked fourth and qualified fourth, after five wins and three successive defeats to Pakistan, Australia, and England.

Clash of captains:

Kane Williamson has 481 tournament runs, including two centuries, while Virat Kohli has 442 runs. Against India, Williamson averages 38.91 including one century (career ODI average 47.89); against New Zealand, Kohli averages 68.52 including five centuries (career ODI average 59.70).

India vs New Zealand clash of the best players:

To India's comfort, New Zealand's tournament has gone on a downward spiral during their last three games but their initial good work helped them beat Pakistan to a last-four spot. But it couldn't have been more enticing that Rohit (647), KL Rahul (360) and Virat Kohli (442) with a cumulative contribution of 1347 runs will meet their match in Ferguson (17 wickets), Boult (15 wickets) and Matt Henry (10 wickets), who have shared 42 wickets between them. Not to forget that all-rounder Jimmy Neesham (11 wickets) and Colin de Grandhomme (5 wickets) take the seamers' tally to 58 wickets.

India and Old Trafford:

The only time India played in a World Cup semi-finals in England was at the Old Trafford, in their trophy-winning campaign of 1983 when they had faced the hosts.


India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohanmmed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mayank Agarwal, Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), Tom Blundell, Colin de Grandhomme, Jimmy Neesham, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Mitchell Samtner, Henry Nicholls, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi.

(Inputs from Agencies)


Come back or face consequences: Former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah warns rebels MLAs

Amid political crisis, Congress Legislature Party leader in Karnataka Siddaramaiah has warned rebel MLAs and has said that they can face consequences if they don't come back.

He was talking to reporters after a CLP meet was convened to manage the crisis following the resignation of a total of 13 coalition MLAs, including three from the ally JD(S). The resignations were not voluntary and genuine, Siddaramaiah claimed. The former chief minister also asked the 10 party MLAs who had resigned to come back or face the consequences. All the MLAs who attended the CLP meet have reiterated their loyalty to the party, he said. Besides the MLAs, a couple of other legislators had also not attended the meeting but the latter had obtained permission, he said.

"Ever since the coalition government took over in the state, the BJP is trying to destabilise it," the former chief minister alleged. "This is their sixth attempt," he added. Of the 14 lawmakers who resigned, 11 belong to the Congress and three Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S). While 10 Congress MLAs resigned on July 6, one (Anand Singh) resigned on July 1. The 11 rebel Congress MLAs skipped the party's legislature meeting.

(Inputs from Agencies)