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President Ram Nath Kovind, Amit Shah, Yogi Adityanath visit AIIMS after Arun Jaitley’s condition becomes critical

New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited AIIMS on Friday to enquire about the health condition of former finance minister Arun Jaitley, who is stated to be "critical", sources said.

The President visited the hospital around noon, while Shah and Adityanath visited AIIMS around 11.15 pm. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey were present during their visits. According to the sources, Jaitley, 66, is critical and a multidisciplinary team of doctors is supervising his treatment. He is admitted at the hospital's intensive care unit (ICU).

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has not issued any bulletin on Jaitley's health condition since August 10. Jaitley was admitted on August 9 after he complained of breathlessness and restlessness. In May this year, Jaitley was admitted to AIIMS for treatment. Jaitley, a lawyer by profession, had been an important part in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Cabinet in the BJP government's first term. He held the finance and defence portfolios, and often acted as the chief troubleshooter of the government.

Jaitley did not contest the 2019 Lok Sabha election because of his ill-health. He had undergone a renal transplant on May 14 last year at AIIMS with Railways Minister Piyush Goyal filling in for him in the finance ministry at that time. Jaitley, who had stopped attending office since early April last year, was back in the finance ministry on August 23, 2018. In September 2014, he underwent bariatric surgery to correct the weight he had gained because of a long-standing diabetic condition.


West Bengal: BJP MP Roopa Ganguly's son arrested for ramming car in Royal Calcutta Golf Club

Kolkata: BJP Rajya Sabha lawmaker Roopa Ganguly's son was arrested by Kolkata police after he rammed his car into a wall late on Thursday night.

Ganguly's son Akash Mukherjee was behind the wheels when his car crashed into a wall in Golf Green area of the city.

"Car driven by Akash Mukherjee, son of BJP MP Roopa Ganguly somehow lost control and dashed a wall of Royal Calcutta Golf Club. He sustained minor injuries. Local police took charge of the involved vehicle along with the driver," said police.

Mukherjee will be produced in court today by the Jadavpur Police and further investigation in the case is ongoing.


UN Security Council to hold closed door meeting on Kashmir today

United Nations: The UN Security Council will meet here on Friday to discuss India revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir after Pakistan wrote a letter on the issue to the world body.

China, the closest ally of Pakistan, asked for "closed consultations" in the Council, which will meet at 10 am (7:30pm IST) to discuss the matter. A UN diplomat had told PTI that China had asked for closed consultations on the Security Council agenda item 'India Pakistan Question'. "The request was in reference to the Pakistani letter to Security Council President," the diplomat said. The Council's schedule said "Security Council consultations (closed) India/Pakistan", listed for 10 am.

Closed meetings are not open to the public and no verbatim record of statements is kept. Consultations are informal meetings of the Security Council members and are not covered in the Repertoire. The Repertoire, mandated by the General Assembly, provides comprehensive coverage of the Security Council's interpretation and application of the United Nations Charter and its own Provisional Rules of Procedure since 1946. Its primary purpose is to provide Member States, including those elected to serve on the Security Council, the United Nations system, academics and others with a source of information regarding the evolving practice of the Security Council.

According to UN records, the last time "the Security Council addressed the dispute between India and Pakistan over the territories of Jammu and Kashmir" under agenda item 'The India-Pakistan question' was in 1964-65. Then, by a letter dated January 16, 1964, the representative of Pakistan had requested the President of the Council to "convene an immediate meeting" of the Council to consider the Kashmir situation. India had asserted that the Pakistani request was "a propaganda move." The issue of Kashmir was also raised under a separate agenda item 'Situation in the India/Pakistan subcontinent' in 1969-1971.

Following India's decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan formally called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss India, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said. Qureshi has sent a formal letter to the president of the Security Council, Polish Ambassador Joanna Wronecka, through country's Permanent Representative Maleha Lodhi to convene the meeting. Qureshi said the letter will also be shared with all members of the UNSC.

Qureshi had air-dashed to Beijing for consultation with the Chinese leadership on the issue of raising the Kashmir issue at the UNSC. He had also said that China backed Pakistan on the issue and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang told him he believed "China will stand up for justice on the Kashmir issue". During his bilateral meeting with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday in Beijing, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar conveyed that the decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was an internal matter for India.

He said the issue related to changes in a temporary provision of the Constitution of India and was the sole prerogative of the country. Jaishankar noted that the legislative measures were aimed at promoting better governance and socio-economic development and there was no implication for either the external boundaries of India or the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. "India was not raising any additional territorial claims. The Chinese concerns in this regard were therefore misplaced," he said.

Jaishankar told Wang that these changes had no bearing on Pakistan as it was an internal matter. After India revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status on August 5 and announced the bifurcation of the State into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, Pakistan announced that it will approach the UN Security Council against New Delhi's decision. India has categorically told the international community that its move to scrap Article 370 of the Constitution removing the special status to Jammu and Kashmir was an internal matter and has also advised Pakistan to "accept the reality".

By Yoshita Singh/PTI


Terror groups in PoK launch anti-India protests, threaten for jihad in Kashmir

Muzaffarabad [PoK]: In an exclusive video from Muzaffarabad city of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), terror outfits are seen regrouping with an aim to launch 'jihad' against India.

The Pakistani authorities are now encouraging terror groups like Hizbul Mujahideen and United Jihad Council (UJC), headed by Syed Salahudeen to come over ground in their bid to target India after the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A from Jammu and Kashmir. On Thursday, Khalid Saifulla, and Naib Ameer of Hizbul Mujahideen along with former mujahideen (terrorists) participated in an anti-India protest outside the Press Club in Muzaffarabad where he gave a call for jihad against India.

"Action works more than words. My friends, we are all ready for jihad. (Syed) Salahudeen, move forward, we are with you," said Saifulla in his hate speech against India. Saifulla also praised former military ruler General Zia Ul-Haq for threatening India with war when Rajiv Gandhi was its Prime Minister.

Giving a brief on a conversation between Zia and Rajiv Gandhi, he told the gathering "Mr Rajiv you want to invade Pakistan? Ok fine, go ahead! But please remember one thing that after that people will forget Changez Khan and Hilaku Khan and will remember Zia and Rajiv Gandhi only. Because it will not be a Conventional War."

He added, "Pakistan may possibly suffer annihilation but Muslims will still survive because there are several Muslim countries in the world. But remember there is only one India and I shall wipe out Hinduism and Hindu religion from the face of the earth! And if you don't order complete de-escalation and demobilisation before my return to Pakistan, the first word of mouth I will utter will be "Fire"!" Terrorists in Pakistan continue to openly hold rallies despite the country is in Grey List of Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the international watchdog against money laundering and financing of terrorism. This is not the first time Pakistan has found itself on one of FATF lists of not-so-good guys; the country was there in 2008 and from 2012 to 2015 too.


J&K government offices to be open from today, easing of public curbs to be mulled after namaaz: Official

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir government secretariat and other offices will start functioning from Friday while easing of public curbs would depend on day's development after the 'namaaz', a Raj Bhawan spokesperson said on Thursday.

Governor Satya Pal Malik directed the resumption of normal functioning of the government secretariat and other offices after a review of the security scenario in the state on Thursday evening, he added. The governor also ordered for making arrangements to facilitate the government employees' movement to work, he said. Governor Malik took the decision after a review of the security scenario in the state that ensured peaceful Independence Day celebrations across the state, including in its various district headquarters and elsewhere, the spokesperson said.

He said the government would be watching the situation during Friday prayers (namaaz) and based on the day's developments, relaxations could be considered for the general public as well, he added. The governor conducted the security review in a high-level meeting attended by his advisor and the state government secretary amongst others at the Raj Bhawan here in Srinagar and expressed satisfaction over the security scenario in the state, said the spokesperson.

"There were no untoward incidents anywhere. Strong security arrangements were in place which thwarted any attempts to disturb the celebrations," he added. The governor also thanked the people for being cooperative during the period of restrictions and assured them that the same would be be reduced gradually, he said. The governor also reviewed the conclusion of the Shri Amarnath Yatra, which was formally closed on Thursday after the customary worship of the holy mace (chhari) of Lord Shiva at the Amarnath cave shrine. The mace was taken to the holy cave on Wednesday by a helicopter and was brought back to Srinagar after the worship today.

"There was no untoward incident whatsoever during the Amarnath yatra this year and even in a shortened span of 30 days, over 3.30 lakh pilgrims had the darshan of the holy Lingam. This was higher than the figures in the last three years when it was open for a much longer duration," the spokesperson added.


PM Narendra Modi's Independence Day speech gives little hope for betterment of people's lives: Mayawati

New Delhi/Lucknow: BSP supremo Mayawati on Thursday sought to flay Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his Independence Day address, saying he remained silent over rising unemployment, poverty and atmosphere of fear among different sections of society and gave "little hope" for betterment of people's lives.

Talking about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, she said the government should make people of the state feel that it is actually working for their welfare as the Modi dispensation claims. Criticising Modi's "silence" over poverty, inflation, unemployment and lack of education, Mayawati also flayed him for announcing no "concrete measures" to address these issues besides those of violence, sectarian tension and casteism. "There is little hope for betterment of the lives of common people of the country," she asserted.

Terming announcements made by Modi in his sixth consecutive independence speech as the ones that exist only on papers, Mayawati, the former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, said nothing has been implemented which is visible on the ground. "How can this improve the lives of the people?" she asked. "Most of the people in the country are concerned about their livelihood," she said. Expressing concern about slowing down of economy, Mayawati said whatever claims of the growth have been made by the government appear bogus as lives of downtrodden and labourers have not improved.

"The people are concerned about the economic condition of the country and there are fears of economic slowdown," she said. Advocating some bold measures to tackle the situation, she said, "Under such conditions there is a need to initiate strict measures. It would be most unfortunate if the lives of the poor, labourers and other working people were not improved," she said. On the issue of one nation one election, she said government should come with a credible and efficient measure which helps the public at large, she added.


Chandrayaan-2: India's spacecraft to the moon successfully enters its final orbit

Chennai: India's spacecraft to the moon Chandrayaan-2 on Wednesday successfully entered the Lunar Transfer Trajectory (LTT) after its orbit was raised further, said Indian space agency.

According to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the final orbit raising manoeuvre of Chandrayaan-2 was successfully carried out at 2.21 a.m. by firing the spacecraft's motors for 1,203 seconds. "With this, Chandrayaan-2 entered the Lunar Transfer Trajectory. Earlier, the spacecraft's orbit was progressively increased five times during July 23 to August 06, 2019," ISRO said.

The health of the spacecraft is being continuously monitored from the Mission Operations Complex (MOX) at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennas at Byalalu, near Bengaluru. Since its launch on July 22, 2019 by GSLV MkIII-M1 vehicle, all systems onboard Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft are performing normal.

According to ISRO, Chandrayaan-2 will approach Moon on August 20, 2019 and the spacecraft's liquid engine will be fired again to insert the spacecraft into a lunar orbit. "Following this, there will be further four orbit maneuvers (Aug 21, 28, 30 and Sept 1) to make the spacecraft enter into its final orbit passing over the lunar poles at a distance of about 100 km from the Moon's surface," ISRO said.

Subsequently, Vikram lander will separate from the orbiter on September 02, 2019. "Two orbit manoeuvers will be performed on the lander before the initiation of powered descent to make a soft landing on the lunar surface on September 07, 2019," ISRO said. On July 22, the Chandrayaan-2 was injected into an elliptical orbit of 170x45,475 km by India's heavy lift rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV Mk III) in a text book style.

The spacecraft comprises three segments - the Orbiter (weighing 2,379 kg, eight payloads), the lander 'Vikram' (1,471 kg, four payloads) and rover 'Pragyan' (27 kg, two payloads). The Indian space agency said the major activities include Earth-bound manoeuvres, the trans-lunar insertion, lunar-bound manoeuvres, Vikram's separation from Chandrayaan-2 and touch down on the Moon's South Pole.


Pakistan seeks emergency meeting of UNSC over India's move to revoke special status to Jammu and Kashmir

Islamabad: Pakistan has formally called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss India's move to revoke the special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Tuesday.

In video message, Qureshi said that he sent a formal letter to the president of the UNSC through Permanent Representative Maleha Lodhi to convene the meeting. Qureshi said that the letter will also be shared with all members of the UNSC. "I have requested in the letter that a special meeting of the Security Council should be called to discuss those actions of India which we consider as illegal and against the UN resolutions," he said.

India has categorically told the international community that its move to scrap Article 370 of the Constitution removing the special status to Jammu and Kashmir is an internal matter and has also advised Pakistan to "accept the reality". Qureshi said that the decision to call for the UNSC meeting was taken in the meeting of high-profile National Security Committee meeting held last week. Qureshi said Pakistan considered India's actions in Kashmir as a threat to the regional peace.

"It is a mistake on part of India if it thought that it could crush the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir," he said. Qureshi said whole Pakistan will express solidary with Kashmiris on Wednesday. Qureshi said that Kashmiris must remember that Pakistan stands with them and is ready to go to any extent for them.

By Sajjad Hussain/PTI


Maharashtra floods: Nearly 5 lakh rescued from 584 villagers, evacuated to temporary 596 shelters

Pune: At least 48 people have lost their lives while three persons are still missing across the flood-battered Pune division, Divisional Commissioner's office said on Tuesday.

As per official data, 4,74,226 people were rescued from 584 villagers and evacuated to temporary 596 shelters in Pune, Sangli, Kolhapur, Satara and Solapur districts.

It said 46 villages of Pune division were completely cut off due to floods and 105 units (1079 Jawans) of different agencies along with 164 boats are deployed in Kolhapur and Sangli.

"De-induction of some of the teams have started. Most are now involved in distributing relief material and medicines. 2.5 tons of ration delivered to villages of Rajapur and Rajapur Wadi. Medical camp doctors along with medical supplies sent to villages," Defence PRO said.

In order to provide medical relief to flood victims, 302 medical teams were active in Satara, Sangli and Kolhapur. "313 ATM's have been made functional with cash available which were affected by flood while 334 are still under maintenance," the statement read.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams continuing with the rescue and relief operations in Shirol and Kolhapur. Meanwhile, the India Meteorological Department has predicted light to moderate rainfall with a cloudy in the five districts of the division.


It will be better for me to die than prove my religion: Mamata Banerjee

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Tuesday said that she would rather die than prove her religion and challenged BJP to compare the religious activities undertaken by the TMC government to that by the previous regimes in the state.

She asserted that more number of Durga pujas are being held in the state under TMC rule than under previous governments. Inaugurating a museum on the 15th century Bengali mystic and saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the TMC supremo said she is a Hindu but has respect for other faiths and religions too. Without naming the BJP, Banerjee said "It would be better for me to die rather than prove my religion before entering a Hindu temple. You(BJP) are no one that I have to prove my religion before you".

Her veiled attack on BJP took place on the day her party, the TMC staged a day-long dharna here in protest against the Centre's decision to serve IT notices to Durga puja committees. "I know more Sanskrit scriptures than those who criticise me and question my religious identity. I am a Hindu and I respect all faiths. I don't believe in dividing people on the basis of religion. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu too had said the same thing," she said.

The BJP has time and again accused her of appeasing the Muslim community of the state to secure the minority votes. Referring to BJP's allegations that Durga Puja is being curtailed in the state by the Trinamool Congress government, she said the saffron party should first look into the work it has done since it came to power at the Centre. "More Durga Pujas are being held in the state under the TMC rule than during the previous regimes. Before lecturing us they (BJP) should look into the work they have done after coming to power," Banerjee said.

"I challenge them (BJP) to compare the number of religious work that our eight-year-old government has done and that by the previous regimes. We believe in humanity and religion means humanity. It teaches us to love and respect every human being. Religion does not teach us to divide the people," she said. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu preached love and peace and was assaulted. "So was social reformer Raja Rammohan Roy. But they were undeterred," she added.