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Congress workers distribute beef curry in front of police station in Kerala's Kozhikode

Kozhikode: Amid reports of beef being dropped from the menu for state police trainees in Kerala, the Congress workers distributed beef curry and bread in front of the Mukkam police station in Kozhikode on Tuesday.

The distribution of beef curry and bread was initiated by Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) general secretary Advocate K Praveen Kumar.

"This is a clear sign of Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan's Sangh leanings. He met Modi immediately after taking oath as CM and by understanding with BJP he appointed Loknath Behra as Director General of Police.

Behra had given a clean chit to Modi and Amit Shah earlier in Gujarat riot case. Now Behra is implementing Sangh agendas by the admittance of Pinarayi. Congress will expose Pinarayi's double stand all over the state," Kumar told reporters here.

However, earlier this week the Kerala police department said that reports of beef being omitted from the menu prescribed for the newly trained police batch are baseless.


The clarification came after a section of media carried reports that beef is omitted from the menu.

"As per the decision of the Mess Committee which consists of trainees' representatives and police officers, they were instructed to prepare healthy meals with food available in their respective areas.

The aim is to ensure that the trainees get the energy they need through diet, " the statement issued by the police department read.


'Aadhaar has nothing to do with citizenship issue': UIDAI clarifies on notices sent to residents in Hyderabad

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) clarified that reports of some residents being served notices by the RO Hyderabad, over their Aadhaar being allegedly obtained on false pretences, were not being presented in the "correct perspective" in some media reports.

"There are news items in certain section of media regarding UIDAI issuing notices of inquiry to some residents for obtaining Aadhaar on false pretence on the complaints from the State Police which suspect them of being illegal immigrants. UIDAI clarifies that these reports are not presented in correct perspective and Aadhaar has got nothing to do with the citizenship issue as such," a press release by the UIDAI on Tuesday read.

The agency further said that RO Hyderabad had received reports from the state police of 127 people having obtained "Aadhaar on false pretences as in their preliminary enquiry they were found illegal immigrants", hence disqualifying them from obtaining the Aadhaar number.

"As per the Aadhaar Act, such Aadhaar numbers are liable to be cancelled. Therefore, the RO Hyderabad has sent notices to them to appear in person and to substantiate their claims for getting an Aadhaar number," the release added.

It further said that after the completion of the process, "if it is found and proved that if any of them has obtained Aadhaar by submitting false documents or through false pretences, then their Aadhaar is liable to be cancelled or suspended depending on the severity of the transgression. Severe errors like forged documents, etc, will lead to appropriate actions, including suspending or cancelling the Aadhaar." However, the agency clarified that this is a routine quality improvement process that is regularly taken up by it.

The release went on to add that "UIDAI has postponed the personal hearing to May 2020" from February 20, as it may take the 127 residents "some more time to collect their original documents that they had submitted for obtaining Aadhaar." Through the release, the agency also said that the Supreme Court of India in its landmark decision has directed UIDAI not to issue Aadhaar to illegal immigrants.

Three persons, all Muslims and residents of the old city of Hyderabad, have been asked to appear before the inquiry officer on February 20 along with necessary documents in original to prove their citizenship.

Auto-rickshaw driver Mohammed Sattar Khan is among those issued notices by the UIDAI. As they have been asked to appear at a function hall, it triggered speculations that a significant number of people may have received the notices.

Khan received a letter from UIDAI's regional office here, stating that it received a complaint/allegation that "you are not an Indian national and you have obtained Aadhaar through false pretences, making false claims and submitting false documents. An enquiry has been ordered by the regional office, UIDAI, Hyderabad to ascertain the veracity of the complaint/allegation".

He has been directed to appear before Amita Bindroo, deputy director/inquiry officer, with all necessary documents in original to prove "all your claims of citizenship and if you are not an Indian national, to prove that you have entered the territory of India legally and your stay is valid".

According to the notice, failure to appear in person and produce the documents in original will be construed that he had no defence against the complaint and the matter would be decided suo moto.


China's coronavirus death toll surges past 2,000, at least 74,185 infected

Beijing: The death toll from the coronavirus epidemic in China crossed the 2,000-mark on Wednesday with the death of 136 more people, while the overall confirmed cases climbed to 74,185, authorities said.

The National Health Commission said in its daily report that 2,004 people had died of the disease known as COVID-19. NHC said 1,749 new cases of novel coronavirus infection have been confirmed.

Of the new deaths, 132 were reported from the worst-hit Hubei Province and one each from Heilongjiang, Shandong, Guangdong and Guizhou.


Another 1,185 new suspected cases have been reported. On Tuesday, 236 patients became seriously ill, while 1,824 people were discharged from hospital after recovery.

The commission added that 11,977 patients remained in severe condition, and 5,248 people were suspected of being infected with the virus, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

By Tuesday, 62 confirmed cases including one death had been reported in Hong Kong, 10 confirmed cases in Macao and 22 in Taiwan including one death.

China's daily number of newly recovered novel coronavirus patients has surpassed that of new confirmed infections for the first time, according to NHC.

So far, 14,376 patients infected with the novel coronavirus had been discharged from hospital after recovery, NHC said.

On Tuesday, Dr Liu Zhiming, president of Wuhan Wuchang Hospital in Hubei, died of the novel coronavirus pneumonia highlighting the risks posed by virus to the medical staff.

Liu was a leading neurosurgeon in Wuhan. Last Friday, the NHC said a total of 1,716 medical workers had been confirmed contracting the infection. As of February 11, six medical workers were killed while treating patients.

This included the whistle-blower ophthalmologist, Dr Li Wenliang who was reprimanded by police for alerting about the virus over the social media in December.


'Saving big deal for later': Trump hints trade deal unlikely during India trip

New York: US President Donald Trump has indicated that a full-fledged trade agreement with India was unlikely during his visit there next week -- or even this year -- but a "very big one" was in the offing.

"I don't know if it'll be done before the election, but we'all have a very big deal with India," he told reporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Tuesday when he was asked about the likelihood of it during the visit to India.

But he left room open for a symbolic preliminary agreement.

He said, "I'm really saving the big deal for later on. We're doing a very big trade deal with India. We'll have it."


Trump's assertion that a trade deal may not be done "before the election" in November could be meant to goad India into making concessions to complete it soon.

Complaining about the progress of the trade deal negotiations, he said, "We are not treated very well by India." He quickly added, "But I happen to like Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi a lot."

Trump, who is into show and pomp, sounded eager about the trip encouraging reporters to come along telling them, "It's going to be very exciting; I hope you all enjoy it."

Referring to the main programme in Ahmedabad of inaugurating the Sardar Vallabhai Patel Stadium, he said that Modi "told me we'll have seven million people between the airport and the event."

"And the stadium, I understand, is sort of semi under construction, but it's going to be the largest stadium in the world. So it's going to be very exciting."

All agog, he repeated the number of the welcoming crowd: "But he says between the stadium and the airport, we'll have about seven million people."

The stadium will have a capacity of 110,000 people.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is not going on the trip to India with Trump, which was already an indication that a full-fledged trade pact more than a year in negotiations was not going to be signed.

One of the final sticking points is India's proposed law modelled on European legislation to require financial companies like credit card issuers to store data in India.

With the proposed law before Parliament, it would be difficult for Modi to agree to the US demand that there should be no such provision.

Another is with the Indian restriction on importing dairy products from animals fed with offal -- the leftover products from the butchery of animals.


Mumbai: Civic schools give Rs 5,000 fixed deposit to all girl students

Mumbai: In an attempt to encourage education among female students studying in Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) schools, they are being provided with Rs 5,000 as fixed deposit (FD) in their bank accounts. Parents claim they will use this money for the higher education of their children as most of them are from the economically weak sections of the society with low income.

This money is deposited in the bank accounts of female students while they are studying in civic-run schools. Anjali Naik, chairperson of BMC education committee, said, “Students receive the money once they complete their education in BMC schools. We want to create awareness so that parents do not deprive their daughters from educational opportunities. Financial assistance is a major help as most of our students belong to families with low monetary income.”

Parents revealed that though this money is a small amount, it helps them to fund their education for next two years till they reach Class 10. Kailash More, a parent, said, “Our children study for free in BMC schools till Class 8 but then we have to enrol them in other state-run schools for Class 9 and 10. This amount helps us to buy basic necessities like books and uniforms.” While, Latika Mistry, another parent, said, “Though the amount is minimal, we shall use it to buy new stationery for our children.” A budget of Rs 7.86 crore has been allotted for this project for this year.

The amount is generally given to students if they complete basic elementary education (Class 1 to Class 8) in civic schools, said Saeeda Khan, BMC education committee member. Khan said, “Students receive the amount if they study from Class 1 till Class 8 in BMC schools. The education department has helped to open accounts in nationalised banks for these students based on their Aadhaar card.” While Aarti Pugaonkar, another committee member, said, “Students are given a FD certificate which they can encash as per the maturity date mentioned on it.”

Teachers claim this provision should be implemented in Zilla Parishad (ZP) schools in rural districts of Maharashtra. Hansraj Desai, a teacher, said, “More than Mumbai, girls in ZP schools in remote districts of Maharashtra are deprived of educational facilities. Low financial income, orthodox traditions and rudimentary cultural practices affect girls in rural areas. It would be helpful if this provision is extended to ZP schools where there is a dire need of financial help.”


Poll strategist Prashant Kishor to get 'Z' category security in West Bengal

Poll strategist Prashant Kishor is likely to be accorded 'Z' category security in West Bengal. The development comes amid hearsay that the architect of several successful political campaigns might join Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress ahead of the 2021 assembly polls.

The sources at the state secretariat told CNN-News18 that that official formalities on providing Kishor enhanced security have already been completed.

Hitting out, CPI(M) Legislative Party leader Sujan Chakraborty asked why was Kishor being provided 'Z' category security at the expense of the state government despite having no relation with public life in West Bengal.

"Is @PrashantKishor being provided Z Category security? At the #GoWB expenses? Why? No relation with public life in #Bengal. Is it planted by @AmitShah ? Seems the closeness with @MamataOfficial is causing one insecure! Highly deplorable & conspicuous!" he tweeted.

Dr.Sujan Chakraborty

Is @PrashantKishor being provided Z Category security? At the #GoWB expenses? Why? No relation with public life in #Bengal. Is it planted by @AmitShah? Seems the closeness with @MamataOfficial is causing one insecure! Highly deplorable & conspicuous!

7:52 AM - Feb 17, 2020
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The JD(U) last month expelled Kishor, who was its vice-president, saying his conduct in the recent past had made it clear that he did not want to abide by the party's discipline. Kishor, like the West Bengal chief minister, has been a strong critic of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Population Register (NPR).

After its dismal performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the TMC hired Kishor to strategise and fix the lacunae before next year's assembly elections. Kishor's strategy worked for the party in the November bypolls as it won all three assembly seats.

There would be no dearth of buses in Delhi soon: CM Arvind Kejriwal

New Delhi: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday assured Delhiites that soon there would be no dearth of buses in the national capital.

"It did take time. But finally we were able to overcome all obstacles. So, buses have started arriving," he said in a tweet. "I can assure all Delhiites, soon there won't be any dearth of buses," Kejriwal added.

Arvind Kejriwal

It did take time. But finally we were able to overcome all obstacles. So, buses have started arriving. I can assure all Delhiites, soon there won’t be any dearth of buses.

View image on Twitter
7:09 PM - Feb 17, 2020
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At present, there are around 6,000 buses plying in the city.

In the "guarantee card" released in the run-up to the recent assembly elections, the Aam Aadmi Party had promised more than 11,000 buses and to increase the length of the Delhi Metro network to over 500 kilometres.

China’s coronavirus death toll rises to 1,886; WHO warns against ‘blanket measures’

Beijing: The death toll from China's new coronavirus epidemic jumped past 1,800 on Tuesday after 93 more people died in Hubei province, the hard-hit epicentre of the outbreak.

In its daily update, the province's health commission also reported 1,886 new cases, a decline on the number of new cases reported on Monday. Among the deaths, 93 were in Hubei Province, three in Henan, and one in Hebei and Hunan respectively, according to the National Health Commission, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday warned against "blanket measures" over the novel coronavirus outbreak, pointing out the epidemic outside of China was only affecting a "tiny" proportion of the population.


WHO also said that - with a mortality rate of around 2 percent -- COVID-19 was "less deadly" than other coronaviruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). WHO officials rejected the suggestion that all cruises should be halted to avoid risking a new nest of infection like the one on the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess off Japan.

"Measures should be taken proportional to the situation. Blanket measures may not help," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva. The outbreak, which has infected some 70,500 people in China and killed over 1,800, has battered manufacturing and tourism across the region and led to multiple travel restrictions including for flights and cruises.


Naxal woman arrested from anti-CAA protest march in Bihar's Gaya

Gaya: A Naxal woman was arrested from an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protest march in Gaya, according to Superintendent of Police (SP) City, Rakesh Kumar on Monday.

The arrested Naxal woman has been identified as Kalawati.

"We received information that Naxals were planning to gather people under the guise of protest. She was wanted in an earlier case as well and therefore she was arrested," Kumar told reporters on Monday.

"They were trying to strengthen their banned organisation using the protest," he added.

The official further added that the arrested woman will be produced in the court. Further investigation is underway.


Miffed by CM Uddhav Thackeray's decision, NCP presses for formation of SIT in Elgar case probe

Mumbai: Miffed by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's unilateral decision allowing National Investigation Agency (NIA) to take over the Elgar Parishad case, Nationalist Congress Party has strongly pressed for the formation of a special investigation team (SIT) to conduct a parallel inquiry into the case.

At a meeting chaired by NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Monday, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh was asked to seek legal opinion and launch an inquiry under Section 10 of the National Investigation Act, 2019. Thereafter, the home ministry, through executive decision, can form an SIT and launch the probe.


Deshmukh said he will speak to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and take a decision. However, NCP ministers were aggressive in their demand that the state government exercise its power under Section 10 and conduct an inquiry into the Bhima Koregaon violence and the Elgar Parishad case.

Section 10 of the National Investigation Act 2019 reads: “Power of State Government to investigate Scheduled Offences — Save as otherwise provided.

In this Act, nothing contained in this Act shall affect the powers of the State Government to investigate and prosecute any Scheduled Offence or other offences under any law for the time being in force.”

NCP minister, who did not want to be identified, told FPJ: “The state government may not probe Scheduled Offences but it can establish an SIT to inquire into the actions of the Pune police.”

Pawar on December 21 last year and thereafter had expressed strong displeasure over the manner in which the Pune police had arrested the nine activists and demanded suspension of the officers concerned.

Senior advocate Nilesh Pawaskar said as far as the investigation of Scheduled Offence (as mentioned in the Schedule of Act) is concerned, the NIA can probe it; but how the investigation is carried out is clearly out of NIA's control.

“The State has every right to probe the conduct of the investigating officers. In the present case, if the officers have investigated the case in an erroneous way, then the state government is clearly authorised to probe and come to a legitimate conclusion,” he noted.

NCP spokesman and Minister of Minority Affair Nawab Malik said, “In Section 10 of the NIA Act, there is a provision that the state government can conduct a parallel inquiry. Our Home Minister will take a decision soon, on forming the SIT.”

On January 1, 2018, violence had erupted during the 200th-anniversary celebrations of the Bhima Koregaon battle. One person lost his life while several others were injured in the incident. The police had filed 58 cases against 162 people.

A Sessions Court on February 14 passed an order in the Bhima Koregaon case, transferring all records and further proceedings of the case to Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court, Mumbai.