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On Last Day of Hearing in Supreme Court, Sunni Waqf Board Seeks to Withdraw from Ayodhya Title Dispute

The move comes amid reports of a possible rift between members of the board following FIRs against its chairman ZA Faruqui.


New Delhi: On the last day of hearing in the Ayodhya land dispute case, the Sunni Waqf Board — one of the petitioners — has sought to withdraw from the title suit, the mediation panel has informed the Supreme Court.

The move comes amid reports of a possible rift between members of the board following FIRs against its chairman ZA Faruqui. The Uttar Pradesh government has recommended an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against Faruqui into alleged illegal sale and purchase of land for the board.


Faruqui was on Monday provided security on the orders of the apex court after he apprehended a threat to his life. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi took note of the communication addressed to it by a member of the mediation committee that Faruqui has informed him about the threat.

Sources aware of the development said after the FIRs, Faruqui had attempted to change his Advocate-on-Record in the Ayodhya case. He allegedly also wrote to the mediation panel, asking for a fresh round of talks, without the knowledge of his legal team.

In its proposal to the mediation panel, the board has suggested giving up its claim on the disputed site but sought that Places of Worship Act, 1991, should be made water-tight. It has asked that the government take over maintenance of around 22 mosques in Ayodhya, many of which were damaged in the riots after the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

It has also asked the Supreme Court to form a committee to check the status of other religious places under the control of the Archaeological Survey of India.

Wednesday is the last day for hearings in the title dispute after the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it looked forward to conclude the arguments before its advanced deadline of October 17. A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has been hearing the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit for 39 days and had earlier set the deadline to finish arguments on October 18. This was later brought forward to October 17, but the CJI on Tuesday indicated that it would like to conclude all arguments by Wednesday instead of Thursday.

The judgment will be reserved by the bench if the arguments conclude. The bench, also comprising justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer will have to pronounce the ruling by November 17 as the CJI will retire on that date. If the judgment is not delivered before his retirement, the entire matter would have to be heard afresh.

The CJI has previously said the bench will have only four weeks to write the judgment and it will be a “miracle” if the court delivers the judgment in this time frame.

The court had sped up the hearing in the case that was pending for decades and conducted day-to-day hearing, including miscellaneous days reserved for other matters, to ensure that the bench arrives at a verdict.

The top court is hearing appeals against the September 2010 verdict of the Allahabad High Court. The high court had divided the disputed 2.77 acres of land, including the spot where the Babri Masjid stood until December 6, 1992, and the area around it, equally among the Nirmohi Akhara, the Sunni Central Waqf Board, UP, and Ramlalla Virajman.

The bid to arrive at a negotiated settlement to the dispute via a mediation process failed after Ramlalla Virajman said no to further mediation. Days later, the side arguing for the mosque also turned down an invitation by the Supreme Court-appointed mediators.

With the closing in of the verdict, the Ayodhya administration has tightened curbs imposed under Section 144 till December 10.


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Farooq Abdullah detained at his house in Srinagar, daughter Safiya in judicial custody: Police

Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah has been detained at his house in Srinagar, police said on Wednesday.

Abdullah's daughter Safiya, who was detained yesterday during a protest against ending the state's special status, is in judicial custody, the Jammu and Kashmir police added.

Safiya and Abdulla's sister Suraiya Abdullah were detained in Srinagar on Tuesday afternoon during protests against the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.


Many political leaders, including the Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah have been placed under detention or house arrest since August after the central government announced its move on Kashmir.

People's Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti was also detained. The Supreme Court last month allowed Mufti's daughter Iltija to travel from Chennai to Srinagar to meet her mother.


Right to Food Act ensures that 7.16 crore people in Maharashtra do not go hungry

New Delhi: The Food Security Act has given 81 crore Indians the right to food said Union minister of state for food and civil supplies, Raosaheb Danve. In Maharashtra, 7.16 crore are availing the benefit of this Act. Danve was speaking on the eve of World Food Day, which is observed every year on October 16.

"The government is committed to supply food to the lowest segments of the society. To ensure that no one goes hungry, the Antyodaya scheme was launched in 2000 for people living below the poverty line. Currently 2.5 crore citizens are benefiting from this scheme, wherein 35kg of foodgrain is distributed to each household every month," Danve said.

The Right to Food Act came into force on July 5, 2013, giving every citizen the right to food. This Act was amended from time to time, so as to accommodate maximum beneficiaries. Seventy-five per cent of the rural population and 50 per cent of urban India have food on their plates as a result of this act.

Under this scheme, a ration cardholder can obtain rations from anywhere in the country. The scheme has been implemented in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on a trial basis. The scheme will be entirely digitalised nationwide, from June 2020. There are 23,18,46,416 ration cardholders in the country, which includes 1.46 crore ration cardholders of Maharashtra. The Centre currently has 664.20 lakh metric tonne (MT) of foodgrain in storage. This includes 407 lakh MT of wheat and 256 lakh MT of rice. The government has identified essential commodities necessary for the common man, including 22 items like salt, sugar, milk, onion, tomato and pulses, Danve said.

India has now become self-sufficient in the production of foodgrains and we are exporting food, Danve said.


'His life will keep on inspiring people': PM Modi pays tribute to APJ Abdul Kalam on his birth anniversary

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday paid tribute to late former President APJ Abdul Kalam on his 88th birth anniversary and remembered his contributions to the country.

"My heartfelt tribute to Dr APJ Abdul Kalamji on his anniversary. He dreamt of the India of 21st century, which was capable and then went on to give his exceptional contribution to the goal.

His ideal life will keep on inspiring the people of the country. India salutes Dr APJ Abdul Kalamji on his Jayanti," Modi's tweet, which also had a short video highlighting the key achievements of the former President's life embedded, read.

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh too remembered the former President and asserted that he continues to live on in the hearts and the minds of the people of the country.

"Remembering former President of India and a phenomenal scientist, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam on his birth anniversary. He was a people's President who would continue to live in the hearts and minds of the people of India. I bow to him on his Jayanti," Singh's tweet read.

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, better known as the 'Missile Man of India' for his contributions towards the development of the country's missile projects was born on October 15, 1931, at Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu.

In 2002, Dr Kalam became the 11th President of India and famously became the 'People's President' for his friendly nature to one and all.

In 2010, the United Nations decided to recognise October 15 as World Student Day. Dr Kalam was very dedicated towards teaching and he always referred to himself as a teacher first.

The former President suffered a cardiac arrest on July 27, 2015, and passed away while giving a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong.

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar while paying tribute to Kalam, reminded citizens that it was due to his extreme love and dedication to the students that the former President's birthday was celebrated as the World Students Day.

"The birthday of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam - the most popular President of India -is celebrated as World Students Day. He was a real teacher and loved students and even died while delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong. My tributes to the Bharat Ratna Abdul Kalam," Javadekar's tweet read.

Absolutely no governance in state, says NCP leader Hemant Takale

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Hemant Takale, visited the office of The Free Press Journal and Navshakti on Monday and speaking to the editorial team, decried the lack of governance in Maharashtra and explained how the economic condition of the state had deteriorated in the last five years.

Team FPJ

How do you assess the performance of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the last five years?

There is absolutely no governance in the state. Over the last five years, the economy of the state has fallen significantly. The chief secretary of the chief minister is frequently being changed, companies are being shut down, foreign investors are fighting shy of investing, farmer suicides are on the rise and most importantly, there is an environment of fear and oppression being created. Whoever questions the acts of the government is dubbed anti-national. This is a serious threat to healthy governance and democracy.

With Congress and NCP heavyweights switching to the BJP, it seems as though the fight has gone out of the opposition. Aren’t the upcoming elections going to be completely one-sided?

We are campaigning aggressively. With our campaign rallies – the Shivswarajya Yatra, Halla Bol and Jail Bharo Andolan, not only were we able to reach out to the people of Maharashtra but also gained their confidence.

People have completely lost faith in the present government and they are about to vote them out in the assembly elections. Farmers and youth are infuriated with the BJP-Sena rule.

So you are confident of coming back to power? What do you think will be the margin of your victory?

Yes, we are confident we'll be back. You can see that in the speeches of BJP also. Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are constantly bringing up Article 370 in their speeches.

How is Article 370 relevant to the election in Maharahstra? Isn't it evident they are doing this only to divert attention from the real issues ailing Maharashtra right now -- the issues of unemployment, poverty and inflation, to name just a few.

The government is turning a blind eye to this and people can see that, they are not fools. The govt has been only successful in dividing people on the grounds of nationalism.

The Sena-BJP alliance has already taken a call on who will be their next CM. Who is the CM face of your alliance?

We will decide that after the poll results. Such decisions cannot be taken overnight. Several factors must be taken into account. Our alliance believes in democracy, so we will take a call when everyone is on the same page.


Margaret Atwood, Bernardine Evaristo jointly win Booker Prize 2019 as jury breaks rules

London: Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo jointly won the 2019 Booker Prize on Monday after judges "flout" the rules by declaring a tie.

British Indian novelist Salman Rushdie's tragicomic 'Quichotte' was among the six books shortlisted for the prize. The Booker rules say the prize must not be divided, but the judges insisted they "couldn't separate" Atwood's 'The Testament' and 'Girl, Woman, Other' by Evaristo, who is the first black woman to win the prestigious award since its creation in 1969.

The rules were changed after the last tie in 1992, and organisers told this year's judges that they were not allowed to pick two winners. But after five hours of deliberations, Peter Florence, the chair of the five-member judging panel, said: "It was our decision to flout the rules." The judges said they strongly wanted both the authors to split the GBP 50,000 award at a gala ceremony at Guildhall here. "The more we talked about them, the more we found we loved them both so much we wanted them both to win," Florence said.

Seventy-nine-year-old Canadian author Atwood expressed her joy at sharing the award with a younger writer. Atwood joked to her co-winner: "I would have thought I would have been too elderly, and I kind of don't need the attention, so I'm very glad that you're getting some." "It would have been quite embarrassing for me. if I had been alone here, so I'm very pleased that you're here too," she said. Evaristo said, "We black British women know that if we don't write ourselves into literature no one else will."

"It's so incredible to share this with Margaret Atwood, who's such a legend and so generous," the 60-year-old said, after the shock joint win was announced. The others shortlisted included Lucy Ellmann for 'Ducks, Newburyport', Chigozie Obioma for 'An Orchestra of Minorities', and Elif Shafak for '10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World'. Atwood's 'The Testaments' had been the bookmakers' favourite to scoop the award. She had also made the shortlist with 'The Handmaid's Tale' in 1986, with her latest book set 15 years after the end of that novel.

The 2019 shortlist had been selected from 151 submitted books published in the UK or Ireland between October 2018 and September 2019. On Rushdie's 'Quichotte' the judging panel commented, "A picaresque tour-de-force of contemporary America, with all its alarms and craziness. Rushdie conjures a celebration of storytelling and language that will delight lovers of Cervantes, lovers of daytime television and lovers of life." This was the fifth time that the Mumbai-born novelist was shortlisted, including the 1981 win where he bagged the award for "Midnight's Children".

Rushdie's latest work is inspired by the classic 'Don Quixote' by 16th century Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes. The judging panel said this year's shortlist offered an insight into different worlds from the dystopian setting of Gilead, the monologue of an Ohio housewife and the tragicomic tale of a travelling salesman in America; to mostly female, mostly Black, British lives across generations, the trials of a young Nigerian man on a quest to improve his prospects and true allegiances within the brothels of Istanbul.

Florence, founder and director of the Hay Festival and Chair of the Booker Prize judging panel this year, said: "The common thread is our admiration for the extraordinary ambition of each of these books." "There is an abundance of humour, of political and cultural engagement, of stylistic daring and astonishing beauty of language," he said. "Anyone who reads all six of these books would be enriched and delighted, would be awe-struck by the power of story, and encouraged by what literature can do to set our imaginations free." Each of the shortlisted authors received GBP 2,500 and a specially-bound edition of their book.

Last year's winner was Northern Irish writer Anna Burns for 'Milkman', which has sold around 546,500 copies in all formats since the award. The Booker Prize for Fiction, first awarded in 1969, is open to writers of any nationality, writing in English and published in the UK or Ireland. The prize is supported for the first time this year by venture capitalist Michael Moritz and novelist wife Harriet Heyman's charitable foundation Crankstart, rather than the Man Group.

By Aditi Khanna/PTI


'Wahi Dhaak Ke Teen Pat': Manohar Lal Khattar hits out at Congress again for making Sonia Gandhi as party chief

Julana: Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar whose snark comments on Sonia Gandhi invited the ire of the Congress Party, has again criticised her and the opposition party, three months after its massive defeat in the Lok Sabha polls.

Speaking at a public meeting here on Monday, Khattar said, "Rahul Gandhi resigned from the post of Congress president and said that the president should be not from the Gandhi family.

I thought it was a very good move, but after three months who was made the President?" Khattar replied to his own question with the phrase 'Wahi Dhaak Ke Teen Pat' (remaining in the same situation).

What Khattar meant was that even after losing the elections and after Rahul Gandhi's resignation, the Congress party had chosen a member of the Gandhi family as the party president.

On October 13 at a poll rally, Khattar had said: "After losing the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi resigned as the Congress president and started saying that the party should get new president from outside Gandhi family,"

"We thought this was good, to move away from nepotism (parivarvad)... But they spent three months moving around the country in search of a new party president.

After three months who became the president? Sonia Gandhi. Khoda Pahar Nikli Chuiya, Vo Bhi Mari Hui. This is their condition," added Khattar.

Khattar also hit out at Congress party saying that they have made huge promises in the polls but these promises but the party won't be able to fulfil the promises.

Khattar further said, "We have a scheme in which the person works for 100 days and get paid Rs 7,000 for that but the Congress has announced that they will give money even if the youth does not work.

So they are promoting a habit of freebies among the youth." "Haryana is known for its hard work and we will not allow our youths to not work and get things for free," he added.

The assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra are scheduled to take place on October 21 and the results will be declared on October 24.


BJP following same corrupt practices of previous government: Prakash Ambedkar

Aurangabad: Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) chief Prakash Ambedkar has alleged that the language being used by BJP leaders during the election campaigns shows their "dictatorial" attitude which doesn't suit the democracy.

He also charged the BJP-led government of being involved in "corrupt practices", but said its way of grabbing money was different from the previous Congress and NCP-led dispensations.

Addressing an election rally in Maharashtra's Aurangabad district on Monday, he appealed to the Muslim community to support secular forces and start a "new chapter of friendship with VBA".

He said BJP leaders were claiming that they will win around 240 Assembly seats out of total 288 in the state.

"They think they will never go out of power, but they should remember that it is the voters who decide the government, not the political parties," he said.

"The language being used by BJP leaders in their campaign is of dictatorship and doesn't suit the democracy," the Dalit leader said. Hitting out at the BJP-led government, Ambedkar alleged that it was following the "same corrupt practices of the previous government".

"The only difference is their way of grabbing money is different," he added. He claimed several projects undertaken for expanding the road network served as a medium of grabbing money for the government.

The rates which the sub-contractors get for making roads were quite less, compared to what the head contractors were getting, he said.

Ambedkar said the welfare schemes which the BJP-led government was trying to implement were available during the tenure of previous dispensations also.

Hitting out further at the government, he said malnutrition was not just limited to tribal-dominated villages, but was spreading in other areas also. "But, the government doesn't want to address this issue," he said.

On the problem of scarcity in some parts of western Maharashtra, he said if 40 TMC of water going to some private power projects there is reserved for drinking and agricultural purposes, it will end water woes in 50 per cent of the drought-prone areas.

Ambedkar also hit out at the All India Majlis-e- Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM), which snapped ties with his party last month.

"The Muslim ward members in Auragabad were elected on Muslim votes in 2015, but they voted for the Shiv Sena in the state Legislative Council elections held a couple of months back," he added.

The AIMIM-VBA alliance did well in the April-May Lok Sabha polls in terms of votes received, but their ties broke ahead of the state Assembly polls.

Earlier, the VBA-AIMIM managed to hurt the Congress- NCP in several seats in the Lok Sabha polls, prompting the opposition combine to call the former as the "B team" of the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena.

Polling for all 288 Assembly seats in the state will be held on October 21 and counting of votes will take place on October 24.


10 killed after cylinder explodes in Uttar Pradesh's Mau district

Mau: At least 10 people died and 15 others were injured when a cylinder exploded in a two-storey house in Walidpur area here on Monday, a senior UP government official said. Food was being cooked in the house when the explosion took place.

Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi said, "As per the District Magistrate of Mau, the death toll in the blast stands at 10." "UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has taken cognizance of the blast in Walidpur where 10 persons have died.

He has expressed deepest condolences to the family of the deceased and directed the DM and SP to immediately provide all possible relief and help to the injured persons," he said.

District Magistrate Gyan Prakash Tripathi said around 15 people sustained injuries in the blast.