Today Picture

Netherlands: Dutch police arrest Utrecht tram shooting suspect

Utrecht [Netherlands]: Dutch authorities on Monday arrested the suspect accused of opening fire inside a tram in Utrecht city in central Netherlands which left three people dead and five others injured.

The gunman, Gokmen Tanis, who hails from Turkey, was arrested by the police after a manhunt was launched to nab the suspect, Central Netherlands Police chief Rob van Bree said. Meanwhile, a second suspect was arrested and sent to custody. However, it is unclear whether he was involved in the shooting or not, CNN reported.

Netherland: Gunman kills 3 on Dutch tram, mayor says terror likely
Following the arrests, Dutch authorities downgraded the terror threat level in Utrecht province to Level 4, which was raised to 5, during the attack, meaning critical. Police said that they were considering “a possible terrorist motive” for the shooting. Terming the attack as a “deeply disturbing” one, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the shooting was “an attack on our tolerant and open society.”

Security has been beefed up across the country in the wake of the attack with heavy deployment of police at places of worship, railway stations, airports, government buildings and, educational institutions. The shooting comes less than a week after twin terror attacks at two mosques in New Zealand’s Christchurch city killed 50 people.

Sheila Dikshit writes to Rahul, Sonia Gandhi; says coalition with AAP will ‘harm’ Congress in long run

New Delhi: Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit has written to party president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi saying forging an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in Delhi would harm the party in the long run, sources said on Monday.

Dikshit, along with three working presidents HaroonYusuf, DevenderYadav and, RajeshLilothia, also expressed discontent over Congress leader PC Chacko’s phone survey through Shakti app to determine views of party workers on the alliance, the sources added.  In the letter, Sheila urged Rahul to clear the air over a pre-poll alliance with AAP so that there is no confusion among the party cadres, the source mentioned.

Sheila Dikshit in minority in deal with AAP in Delhi
Chacko had recently held a meeting with Delhi’s district heads on the issue of alliance where it was decided that Rahul would take a final call in the matter. Last week, Dikshit, after meeting the Congress president, had declared that there was unanimity among party leaders with regards to an alliance with AAP in Delhi. Following the announcement, AAP president and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said there are “rumours” that the Congress has a “secret understanding” with the BJP and asserted that his party is ready to fight the “unholy alliance.”

On February 28, Chacko had met Dikshit and stressed the need for an alliance with the AAP, said a source. The source also said the AAP is willing to tie up with the Congress at least in Delhi, Haryana, and Punjab. However, a section of Congress leaders is not in favour of this, the source added.  The 17th Lok Sabha election in Delhi will take place on May 12 and results will be announced on May 23.

Extradition warrant issued against Nirav Modi, arrest imminent: Sources

London/New DelhiA London court has issued an arrest warrant against fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, the main accused in the USD 2 billion PNB scam case, in response to a request by the Enforcement Directorate for his extradition in a money laundering case, officials said on Monday. They said the investigative agency has been recently informed about the issuance of the warrant by the Westminster Magistrate Court against Modi and he is expected to be put under formal arrest by the London Metropolitan police soon.

The warrant was issued a few days back and the ED was subsequently informed, they said. Modi, 48, will be subsequently brought before the court to secure bail and the legal proceedings for his extradition will begin thereafter, they said. Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London has issued an extradition warrant against Modi, making his arrest imminent, according to sources in London involved with the case.

While the UK court and Scotland Yard said they cannot confirm or deny the warrant until an arrest has been executed and an accused has been formally charged, officials aware of the developments confirmed that a warrant was issued last week with authorities in India being made aware on Monday. “The reason we do not comment on an arrest until it takes place is because the individual must be charged before anything can be established,” a Metropolitan Police spokesperson said.

Now that a warrant has reportedly been issued, Modi – wanted by India in relation to the Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case – can choose to voluntarily surrender at a police station or have to be arrested by Metropolitan Police officers charged with executing the warrant. The business tycoon’s arrest, which could take place within days, would lead to Modi being produced before a District Judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London to be formally charged, following which he is expected to seek bail.

The case will then follow a similar pattern through the UK courts as that of liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who remains on bail since his arrest on an extradition warrant in April 2017 on Rs 9,000 fraud and money laundering charges. The 63-year-old businessman has since filed an application seeking leave to appeal against his extradition ordered by UK home secretary Sajid Javid last month. Mallya’s case is in final stages in that country.

Javid had certified India’s extradition request for Modi earlier this month, triggering the legal process in the courts, kick-started with the issuance of a warrant. News of the certification of India’s request came just as Modi was tracked down to a three-bedroom flat in the Centre Point tower block of luxury apartments in the West End of London. He is believed to have arrived in London last year and was able to travel in and out of Britain at least four times since his passport was cancelled by the Indian authorities in February 2018.

The revelation of Modi’s whereabouts in London comes a day after his 30,000 sq ft seaside mansion at Kihim beach in Maharashtra was demolished by authorities using explosives. During some of his stay in London, he was reportedly also living in the heart of the city above his jewellery boutique called “Nirav Modi” on Old Bond Street, which has since closed down.

Modi, a diamond jeweller whose designs have been worn by Hollywood stars, is now believed to be running a new business, which describes itself on the UK’s Companies House register as a wholesale trader in watches and jewellery and a retailer of watches and jewellery in specialised stores. Modi and his uncle, Mehul Choksi, are the main accused in the PNB scam and they both left India before the details of the fraud came to light in January 2018.

Modi has been chargesheeted by both the agencies and the ED has also attached his assets worth Rs 1,873.08 crore under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), and has also seized assets linked to him and his family worth Rs 489.75 crore.

Priyanka Gandhi kicks off 2019 Lok Sabha election campaign from Prayagraj, visits Bade Hanuman Mandir

Pryagraj: With less than a month to go for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Congress General Secretary and eastern Uttar Pradesh in-charge Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Monday kicked off her political campaign from here.

Priyanka Gandhi left Swaraj Bhawan, her ancestral home, and arrived at the Bade Hanuman Mandir, popular as ‘Lete Huye Hanuman Mandir’ near Prayagraj Sangam. She offered prayers at the temple, as well as to the river Ganga. She then embarks on her much-anticipated boat ride from the Manaiya Ghat in Kachnar tehsil of Prayagraj district, according to party leaders.

On the first day of her three-day river ride from Prayagraj to the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she will cover the distance up to Sitamarhi ghat in Bhadohi district. On her way from Manaiya to Sitamarhi, she will make her first pit stop at Dumduma ghat and interact with the villagers.

The 47-year-old younger sibling of Congress President Rahul Gandhi will also hold discussion with students onboard the boat that are being called “Sanchi baat”.

Priyanka Gandhi is also supposed to meet the family members of a slain Central Reserve Police Force trooper, who died in the February 14 Pulwama attack. After leaving Dumduma ghat, the Congress leader will reach Sirsa ghat and then also visit the Lakshagrih ghat. She was expected to arrive at Sitamarhi ghat in the evening.

On Sunday, she held marathon meetings with party workers at the Nehru Bhawan party’s state headquarters in Lucknow. Congress had won only two seats from the state in 2014.

After CM Parrikar’s demise, Congress formally stakes claim to form government in Goa, second time in 48 hrs

Panaji: Congress late on Sunday evening formally staked claim to form the government in Goa, hours after state chief minister Manohar Parrikar passed away. The opposition Congress, which is the single largest party in the 40-member Goa assembly, wrote to Governor Mridula Sinha, the second time in 48 hours.

The letter signed by Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader Chandrakant Kavlekar and Girish Chodankar, President Goa Pradesh Congress Committee states that coalition allies had aligned with the BJP in 2017 on the condition that it would support a BJP-led government only if the coalition was headed by Parrikar, the then Defence Minister.

BJP, allies meet in Goa to discuss Government formation
“Now, in view of Mr Parrikar’s death, BJP has no allies,” the letter submitted.

It said that it was up to the Governor to ensure “smooth transition and transfer of power”.

“Congress being the single largest party, it is submitted that the leader of the Congress party is entitled to be invited to form the next government. We, therefore, hereby once again stake our claim to form the government and request Your Excellency to extend the invitation to our leader to form the next government,” the letter stated.

Meanwhile, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari who arrived in Cidade de Goa met with BJP leaders and alliance partners for government formation.

“Government will be finalised and in place by 9:30 am on Monday, BJP MLA Michael Lobo said.
“BL Santosh and Nitin Gadkari will with BJP MLAs and chief ministerial candidate will be decided by Gadkari and Amit Shah,” Lobo told ANI.

The present strength of the Goa Assembly stands at 37 instead of 40. The Congress has 14 lawmakers and BJP has 13 lawmakers. Three MLAs each of the Goa Forward Party and MGP, an Independent, and one NCP legislator fill the remaining seats of the Goa Assembly whose strength was truncated after the death of BJP MLA Francis D’Souza and the resignation of two MLAs — Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte.

Manohar Parrikar to be cremated with State Honours at 5 pm today, 7-day mourning in Goa

Panaji: The cremation of late Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar will take place full state honour on Monday evening. The funeral procession will be taken from Kala Academy, Panjim, at four in the evening and last rites will be performed at five in the evening at Miramar.

Parrikar’s mortal remains will be kept at the BJP head office, Panjim, between 9:30 am to 10:30 am and would be moved to Kala Academy for the public to pay their last respects. The public can pay homage to Parrikar from 11 am to 4 pm. The state of Goa will also be observing seven-day mourning to grieve the loss of late chief minister.

“As a mark of respect to the departed dignitary, seven days’ State Mourning will be observed throughout the state of Goa from March, 18 to March 24, both days inclusive. During the period of State Mourning, the National Flag will fly at Half Mast on all the buildings throughout the state of Goa where it is regularly flown and there will be no official entertainment,” an official statement said.

Union Minister Rajnath Singh will be going to Goa to pay his respects to Parrikar. Chief Ministers of various BJP ruled state are also expected to arrive in Goa to pay their last respects to Manohar Parrikar. A meeting of the Union Cabinet has been called tomorrow to pay condolence to the deceased leader.

The Centre has already announced the National Mourning on March 18. Meanwhile, the Governor of Goa Mridula Sinha has condoled the demised of chief minister on behalf of the state Government and the people of Goa. In her condolence message, the Governor has said that she is deeply sorry to hear about the sad and the untimely demise of Manohar Parrikar.

“As a political leader he had, in his own way, chartered a new approach to various problems and succeeded in resolving many of them by his sincere personality,” she said. “Manohar Parrikar was an able Administrator and has raised the stature of the State of Goa to the highest level. He created an ideal for all the leaders to emulate and follow his path. He will be remembered as a social worker who gave his whole life to the cause of people,” she said.

Congress-led opposition a leader in Goa assembly, Chandrakant Kavlekar also expressed grief over the death of Parrikar and stated that Goa has lost one of the greatest leaders of the soil. “This loss is certainly irreversible and incalculable. Though I had political differences with him, I respected him as an individual as well as a leader of great abilities. He proved himself as a true fighter who fought against the dangerous illness of cancer, while continuing with the regular service of the state,” he said. Parrikar, 63, breathed his last on Sunday evening after a prolonged battle with cancer.

Christchurch mosque attacks: Gunman sacks lawyer, to represent himself in court

Christchurch: Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old Australian-born suspect accused of gunning down 50 people during Friday’s terror attacks here dismissed his lawyer and is planning to represent himself in future court hearings, raising fears that he could attempt to use the trial to express his extremist views.

Richard Peters, the attorney who represented Tarrant in the hearing at the Christchurch District Court on Saturday, confirmed the news and said that the accused “appeared to be lucid” and was not “mentally unstable”, New Zealand Herald reported.

Peters said that the accused was insisting that he wanted to represent himself in the court and his job had come to an end after Saturday’s hearing. Tarrant, who appeared before the court on murder charges on Saturday, was remanded in custody without plea until April 5.

Meanwhile, Australian counter-terrorism police on Monday searched two homes in New South Wales state linked to the gunman. The house of Tarrant’s sister was raided in Sandy Beach town, near Coffs Harbour at around 8:30 am (local time). Police then raided a second home at Lawrence town, near Maclean, north of Coffs Harbour, according to New Zealand Herald.

“The primary aim of the activity is to formally obtain material that may assist New Zealand Police in their ongoing investigation,” the Australian Federal Police and New South Wales Police said in a joint statement. Law enforcement personnel also re-iterated that Tarrant’s family will continue to cooperate with the police by questioning them at times.

“The community can be assured that there is no information to suggest a current of impending threat related to these search warrant,” the police said in the statement. Owing to the raids at two houses, the gunman’s mother and sister have been moved to a safe house by the police.

New Zealand is currently on a state of high alert after Tarrant, who is believed to have lived in Dunedin, killed 50 people in the Al Noor and the Linwood mosques in Christchurch. Tarrant live-streamed his gruesome act on Facebook for 17 minutes and police believe that the accused had single-handedly carried out the terror attack at both the mosques under a span of 36 minutes during the Friday prayers for which a large number of worshippers had congregated.

Using automatic weapons, the 28-year-old gunman launched a “well-planned” attack on the mosques when devotees had assembled for the weekly prayers, following which mosques across the country were advised to shut down. Condemning the terror strikes, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had described the attack as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days” and said it “appears to have been well planned”. She asserted that the country “will not and cannot be shaken” by the attack. Ardern underlined that the country’s gun laws will undergo changes and become stricter.

PM Narendra Modi calls Manohar Parrikar unparalleled leader, true patriot and exceptional administrator

New Delhi: Expressing condolences on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Manohar Parrikar an ‘unparalleled and exceptional administrator.’ Goa Chief Minister and former Defence Minister Parrikar died at his residence in Panaji on Sunday evening. He was 63.

The Central government has declared the national mourning on March 18. “The national flag will fly at half-mast in the national capital and capitals of all States and UTs. The state funeral shall be accorded to Shri Parrikar. A meeting of the Union Cabinet has been called at 10 am on Monday,” said a statement from the Centre.

Prime Minister Modi tweeted: “Shri Manohar Parrikar was an unparalleled leader. A true patriot and exceptional administrator! He was admired by all. His impeccable service to the nation will be remembered by generations. Deeply saddened by his demise. Condolences to his family and supporters. Om Shanti.”

PM Modi also recalled his contribution towards building a modern Goa and said, “Shri Manohar Parrikar was the builder of modern Goa. Thanks to his affable personality and accessible nature, he remained the preferred leader of the state for years. His pro-people policies ensured Goa scales remarkable heights of progress.” “India will be eternally grateful to Shri Manohar Parrikar for his tenure as our Defence Minister. When he was RM, India witnessed a series of decisions that enhanced India’s security capacities boosted indigenous defence production and bettered the lives of ex-servicemen,” the Prime Minister added.

Late in the evening, Goa Chief Minister’s office confirmed that Chief Minister Parrikar passed away after “spirited battle against cancer.”‘ “We inform with deep grief that our beloved Chief Minister of Goa Shri. Manohar Parrikar passed away today evening, after a spirited battle against cancer,” the Chief Minister’s office said.

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan also condoled the death of Parrikar and said, “The news of the passing away of Chief Minister of Goa Shri @manoharparrik ji is extremely distressing. Manoharji’s energetic, sincere personality will always be remembered for simplicity, truth, thinking, and determination.” “Today the country’s politics has lost a star. We will always keep the Chief Minister of Goa, the former Defense Minister of the country on our memories. I pray to God for him and his family. Goodbye @manoharparrikar ji!” she said.

BJP president Amit Shah said: “Manohar Parrikar ji’s demise is extremely painful. In him, the nation has lost a true patriot who selflessly dedicated his entire life to the country and ideology. Parrikar ji’s commitment towards his people and duties was exemplary.” “Parrikar ji has shown the entire nation how a BJP Karyakarta, even during his toughest time, is committed to the philosophy of Nation First, Party Next and Self Last. He will always be remembered for his contributions as India’s Defence Minister and as CM of Goa,” said Shah.

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari told ANI: “BJP has faced a huge loss with the demise of #ManoharParrikar Ji… Apart from being a party member, he was a really close friend of mine. He isn’t with me today and I’m personally very pained by this. I am immediately leaving for Goa.” Speaking to ANI, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said that Parrikar’s demise has left a huge gap in politics.

“Goa CM Manohar Parrikar was a good human being. His passing away has left a huge gap in politics. We have lost a good politician. His demise has caused us immense grief. I express my grief and I pay my tributes on behalf of my party and myself,” said Kharge.

Expressing grief Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu wrote on Twitter, “Deepest condolences over the untimely death of former Defence Minister and Chief Minister of Goa Shri Manohar Parrikar. May his soul rest in peace! May God give strength and support to the bereaved family at this saddest hour.” Maharashtra Governor Vidyasagar Rao called Parrikar a visionary and cultured leader while expressing his deepest condolence on latter’s demise.

“Shri Manohar Parrikar was one of the most brilliant, cultured and visionary leaders in the contemporary politics of India. As leader of the Opposition in the Goa Legislative Assembly, as Chief Minister of Goa and as Defence Minister of India, he discharged his duty with utmost dedication, sincerity, and commitment,” he stated.

Former Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar, who worked with Parrikar, said: “Extremely saddened by the news of Mr Parrikar’s demise. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family. He was easily one of the brightest stars of the country’s political firmament. His honesty dedication, hard work, and simplicity were an exemplary model for every politician. His passing away is indeed a monumental loss for clean politics. It was my good luck that I had the unique opportunity to work with him when he was the Defence Minister. May his soul rest in everlasting peace!” Sixty-three-year-old Parrikar, who was battling a pancreatic ailment since last year, breathed his last at his residence on Sunday evening.

A four-time Chief Minister of Goa, Parrikar had been in and out of the hospitals since February last year. It was in October last year that the state government made a formal announcement about the BJP leader suffering from a pancreatic ailment. He had undergone treatment in the United States as well as in New Delhi.

Parrikar took charge as the Chief Minister on March 14, 2017, and held the office till his end. He had previously served as the Chief Minister of the state from 2000 to 2002, 2002 to 2005 and from 2012 to 2014. Considered close to Prime Minister Modi, Parrikar served as the Defence Minister from May 2014 to March 2017.

Born in Mapusa in the coastal state of Goa, Parrikar studied at Loyola High School, Margao. In 1978 he graduated in metallurgical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology. Parrikar was also one of those leaders who rose in ranks from RSS to BJP. Parrikar had joined RSS even during final years of his school days and later became the Sanghchalak at the age of 26.

Often referred to as the ‘Chief Minister of the Common’ man by many, Parrikar was known for his simple style of living and for being easily approachable by the citizens of Goa. Parrikar is survived by his two sons–Utpal, an Electrical Engineering graduate from Michigan State University, and Abhijat, a local businessman. His wife Medha passed away in 2000.

Manohar Parrikar was one of Goa’s favourite sons: Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi: Congress President Rahul Gandhi Sunday condoled the demise of Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and described him as “one of Goa’s favourite sons”. He said Parrikar was respected and admired across party lines and had bravely battled his illness for over a year.

“I am deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Goa CM, Shri Manohar Parrikar Ji, who bravely battled a debilitating illness for over a year. Respected and admired across party lines, he was one of Goa’s favourite sons. My condolences to his family in this time of grief(sic),” Gandhi said on Twitter.

The Congress on its official Twitter handle also said, We condole the passing of former Union Minister & Chief Minister @manoharparrikar. We hope that his family finds strength in their moment of grief. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said, “Deeply saddened by the demise of Shri Manohar Parrikar ji, Chief Minister of Goa. My heartfelt condolences to his family members..May his soul rest in peace.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, Sad to learn about the passing away of Shri Manohar Parrikar, CM of Goa. He was a cordial man, who was admired across party lines. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.” Parrikar died at his private residence near here Sunday. He was 63. The BJP stalwart’s health, which has been fluctuating for a year, took a turn for the worse in the past two days.

Lok Sabha polls 2019: Over 1.19 crore young voters to vote for first time in Maharashtra

Mumbai: Over 1.19 crore voters in the age group of 18 to 19 years will exercise their franchise for the first time in the Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra, according to Election Commission (EC) data. Lok sabha polls to 48 seats in the state will be held in four phases on April 11, 18, 23 and 29.

Out of the total 8,73,29,910 voters in the state, 1,19,95,027 are first-timers in the 18 to 19 years’ age group, as per official figures. Of the total voters, 4,57,01,877 are men, 4,16,25,950 women and 2,083 third gender voters. An election official said they received 12,31,027 applications online after publication of the voters’ list a few months back.

Of these, 7,17,427 names have now been included in the voters’ list.

Besides, 55.75 lakh applications were received offline, of which 43.51 lakh were accepted for registration, he said. In Maharashtra, the ruling BJP and its ally Shiv Sena have agreed to contest 25 and 23 seats, respectively. The opposition Congress will fight in 26 seats, while its ally NCP will contest 22.

The opposition parties have announced names of some of their candidates. Former BJP MP Nana Patole, who joined the Congress sometime back, will be pitted against Union minister Nitin Gadkari in Nagpur. Senior Congress leader and former Union minister Sushilkumar Shinde will contest from Solapur, while party leaders Milind Deora and Priya Dutt will fight from Mumbai-South and Mumbai-North Central seats, respectively. NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule will contest from Baramati. Besides, actor Amol Kolhe will contest on the NCP ticket from Shirur while senior party leader Ajit Pawar’s son Parth Pawar has been nominated from Maval.